Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Program

On Sunday our church had it's special Christmas program. I was blown away by all the work that it entailed, and the amount of people that showed up! In a church that normally draws about 30 on a good day, we had a little over 100. All of our chairs were taken up and many people were left standing. Kevin and I were roped into participating in one of the plays that the youth put on, fortunately we didn't have lines! The play was basically about the spirit of hate who wanted to assassinate love. Hate sends all of his best spirits, egoism, jealousy, wealth, sickness, poverty and others, but still love is not defeated. In the end an unknown spirit comes in and offers to kill love and this time the spirit actually succeeds. As the spirit is leaving Hate demands to know who it is, and the spirit reveals itself as "custom." I was a little confused by the big reveal at first, but the point of it all is that our love is not sufficient to withstand all that life has to throw our way, and that we need to look to God as the source of our love and life. On the night of the play we were heavily made up. I had to wear all red since I was the heart. I hardly own anything red, and certainly no red pants, so someone's stretchy red pants were donated to me. Unfortunately they were a little tight and a little short! I was also the recipient of red and orange high tops. Fortunately I was wearing a poster board heart, so the tightness of the pants was not obvious. I had four hearts painted on my face, one on each cheek, my nose and my forehead. I was also doled out a generous amount of glitter and my eyebrows were plastered with red make up. Kevin was not spared in the make up department either. He was one of the evil spirits, and I must admit, he definitely looked evil! (Scarily so!) In the end the play went well.

The kids also put on a whole musical. It was amazing. Eva the pastor's wife worked with them for weeks. They made all of their costumes, the pastor made a stage by stacking bricks alongside one another two layers thick, and they also rigged up a whole curtain that fell from the ceiling. One of the young women in the church had painted sheets to make a back drop. It was unbelievable. Even though we come from a tiny church with very small resources everyone worked together to produce an amazing product. After the service we shared a meal together and the children broke a piñata. I actually discovered that it is from a Christmas tradition that pinatas were created. The tradition is called a posada. Posada means "inn." In a posada children go from house to house looking for shelter, in the same way that Mary and Joseph did when they went to Bethlehem. As were Mary and Joseph they children are turned away time after time. As they go along the tradition is that they sing different songs. Finally they reach a house that offers them hospitality and a large fiesta is held. At the fiesta the children break a piñata, which is meant to represent the power of sin and how it is broken. As the piñata is broken God's blessing is released, represented by the sweets (though at Christmas often fruit) which fall from the broken piñata. It is a really neat tradition.

Tomorrow Kevin and I will be leaving for Guadalajara with our family. One of the cousins of the family with which we live is having a wedding, so everyone is going out there for the wedding. It is about six hours away. We will be back in Mexico City to celebrate Christmas, and then on the 26th we are going to Monterrey, because one of the brothers of our family and his wife are having a baby on the 20th. We look forward to getting to know more of Mexico and spending time with our family. Please be praying for us as we travel.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Last Week

Last week was an extremely busy one for the Book-Satterlees. It is amazing how much life can speed up without you really even noticing it! On Monday we set up for our first Club de Tarea (Homework Club). Our plan is to have it Mondays and Wednesdays in the mornings and afternoons. Here in Mexico City some children go to school in the morning, and others go in the afternoon/evening. We wanted to reach both groups, so we set it up so we would have time in the morning and afternoon. The basic idea is to supplement what the kids are doing in school and really encourage them to enjoy learning and to think critically. We have a time of crafts, reading, homework help and group games. Or at least, that is the plan. It hasn't actually worked out that way yet! Which brings us back to Monday. Sunday night we stayed up late cutting out the last strips of paper for our Advent Chain craft, we arrived Monday morning ready to go, but by the end of the morning we had a grand total of 0 children. :) We weren't that discouraged, however, because we sat outside by our sign and were able to chat with many different parents and kids throughout the day. By the end of the week we had a total of 2! December is a difficult month to begin something like this because of the approaching vacations. We are quite alright with a slow start, however, it is giving us some time to evaluate our schedule and our plan of action. Yesterday, Monday, we had one person in the morning and one in the afternoon. The fun part is that both of these individuals are people who have never participated in anything that our church has done before, including English classes, so it is fun to know that we are bringing in a wider crowd than just the kids at our church. We are pretty certain that once January starts we will begin having a larger number of participants, but in the mean time I am thankful for a gradual start!

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to go to one of the basureros of Mexico City, or the dump. There is a whole community of people who work and live in the basurero. The conditions are pretty overwhelming. We went to the basurero with an organization called Operation Serve International. This organization brings doctors and nurses, as well as other lay people, to the basureros to provide medical services for the people. In the summer there is a group here every week. I was able to translate for one of the doctors and Kevin worked in the optometry tent. Although none of the people there were optometrists, they had a cheat sheet and a number of different lenses which enabled them to fit people with glasses that improved their visions. It was a really amazing experience for us both. Many of the people who spoke with the doctor ended up opening up about things that were going on in their life that went far beyond their physical well-being. It was a little overwhelming, but I felt really privileged to be able to hear some of the stuff that they are going through, to pray with some of them and just to hold their hand.

I know this is becoming a really long blog entry, but I also want to comment briefly on the beginnings of our volunteering with World Vision (WV). Although I feel a little less useful here, I feel as if we are learning a lot. We are working in the area of human rights. On Saturday mornings we meet with a group of young people who are representatives of their different communities. The Saturday morning workshop is led by two men who are part of a program that teaches young people who have dealt with a lot of hurt and pain in their lives that they are truly of worth, that they can overcome their circumstances, and ways to respond to difficult life circumstances that do not include violence. We also help out when WV goes to different schools or fairs. In these instances we have different games that are directed towards teaching children their rights and basic civic responsibilities.

Ok, so that it is about it for now. Congratulations to those of you who have actually made it to the end of this marathon blog! We really appreciate the love and support we receive from all of you. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers!