Sunday, June 28, 2009

San Judas Tadeo - Saint Judas

Today is the day that many celebrate Saint Judas Tadeo.

Wikipedia says: "Hoy en día, la tradición católica reconoce a San Judas Tadeo como el santo de los casos difíciles y desesperados." (Literally: Lately, the Catholic tradition has recognized Saint Judas as the saint of difficult and desperate things.)

Today we left the house and a swarm of people were carrying their figure of San Judas Tadeo, the very apostle who betrayed Jesus. This is a very strange thing for me, and quite disheartening as well. We just came off of going to the Bascilica of Guadalupe, an astounding site of religious devotion. And today millions of people went to pay honor the the saint of difficult and desperate times.

It shows very much of the need here for spiritual longing and acceptance. There is a deep need in Mexico and people turn to Saint Judas or the Santa Muerte (Saint Death) to fill those needs. God is too holy to bother it seems. Or people are happy with being the status quo sinner who need a little cosmic riches now and then.

Here is a prayer to Saint Judas:

¡Santo Apóstol San Judas, fiel siervo y amigo de Jesús!, la Iglesia te honra e
invoca universalmente, como el patrón de los casos difíciles y desesperados.
Ruega por mi, estoy solo y sin ayuda.

(My paraphrase translation)
Holy Apostle Saint Judas, faithful servant and friend of Jesus. The Church honors and invokes you universally as the patron of difficult and desperate cases. Cry out for me; I am alone and without help.

Te imploro hagas uso del privilegio especial que se te ha concedido, de socorrer
pronto y visiblemente cuando casi se ha perdido toda esperanza. Ven en mi ayuda
en esta gran necesidad, para que pueda recibir consuelo y socorro del cielo en
todas mis necesidades, tribulaciones y sufrimientos, particularmente (haga aquí
su petición), y para que pueda alabar a Dios contigo y con todos los elegidos
por siempre.

I impolore the use of your special priveledge that you conceded - the priveledge of helping (helping to pay what is due) rapidly and visibly when you had almost lost hope. Come to my aid and my great need that I might receive consolation and help from heaven in all my needs, trials and sufferings particularly (insert specific need), and that I might worship God with you and all the elect forever.

Te doy las gracias glorioso San Judas, y prometo nunca olvidarme de este gran
favor, honrarte siempre como mi patrono especial y poderoso y, con
agradecimiento hacer todo lo que pueda para fomentar tu devoción. Amén.

I give you thanks glorious Saint Judas and promise never to forget this great favor or honor you forever as my special and powerful patron and with thanksgiving will do everything I am able to foster your devotion. Amen

Forgive my poor translation skills as I'm still learning this, but that is the gist of the prayer. This is a good example of the sorrow and lonliness that people feel here, and yet believe in a God unattainable.

This prayer is also used more as a sway to get many things that people want, and it brings the heavens down to their level for their direct needs.

Yet we had a Savior who was incarnated to our level who gives us peace and good news. He helps the poor, was betrayed (by somebody mentioned above) and died, and was resurrected that we might have life and have life abundantly.

We pray for those who feel the need to pray to somebody other than God. As the fireworks of celebration occur during the night we hope that God will be recognized for the good news he brings.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Baby News

So far pregnancy stuff has gone pretty smoothly here in Mexico. Everyone told me that my second trimester would be the time I felt the best, and so far that has held true. Sometimes one of the mildly frustrating parts about pregnancy here is that everyone seems to consider me to be an invalid on some level. However, there are times when that condition has its perks, on public transportation for example. People, in general, offer to give their seats to me, and I gladly accept! I find it interesting to note, however, that often it is the women who first offer me their seats, rather than men. Perhaps it is because they too have been pregnant and know it is nice to sit down rather than be jostled by the crowds -- who knows?

Because this is my first pregnancy, most of what is happening as my "panza" (belly) and my baby grow is unexpected and new. One thing that surprised me was how fun it was to feel the baby moving. I first started feeling movement a few weeks ago, but now it is much more often, and a lot stronger. It was really neat when Kevin first felt the baby move. I am sure as the baby gets bigger and has less room the movements might be more on the painful side, but for now I am enjoying it.

On Monday morning we went in for our ultrasound. Both Kevin and I were a little bit nervous, so it was good to hear the doctor say that everything is developing well and that "todo está completo." Watching the ultrasound made me think of a little fish because the baby kept going in circles. We also found out that we are expecting a little girl! I honestly had no idea what sex the baby might be, nor, to my surprise, did I really have a strong desire for either a little boy or girl. Still, when we found out it was a little girl I found my excitement mounting, not necessarily because it is a little girl, but more because this revelation made the little person growing inside of me feel even more real. Next week we will have our doctor's appointment for the month and she will look over our ultrasound and other tests I have had, so you can be praying that goes well. God has truy been answering our prayers for health for all three of us and continued development for our daughter.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Prayer For Street Youth

Arriving this year in the center of town where we hold our weekly meetings and daily Spanish classes, we found also a large encampment of street children on the block right outside the doors where we meet. This is obviously something we need to be careful about, not that there has been any trouble.

One thing my friend and co-worker Andrew were talking about is an in to talking with thes guys. Yesterday we had our chance and we talked to Mario, one of the group.

It is said that if youth don't get off the street within the first week, it is likely that they won't ever get off the street. Mario has been on the street for four years. He was a curious guy, curious about the United States and for the most part pretty respectful. Residual effects from drugs, glue-sniffing and alcohol were prevalent, but he wasn't high or drunk when we talked to him.

Mario also worships the Sante Muerte otherwise knows as Saint Death. Sante Muerte is a growing trend here in Mexico. She is the patron saint of death, and since death is inescapable in the minds of many, she blesses them in the present. In effect worshipers of Sante Muerte are selling their souls.

Some people worship Sante Muerte because it is a new trend and cool to be evil. In Mario's case, it is likely that he doesn't feel he is worthy to have any other celestial being be his patron saint, let alone God or Jesus. So he settles for the best he thinks he can get.

We asked Mario how the Sante Muerte has "blessed" him as he put it. He said with drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. When pressed, he admited that she only blessed him, "mas o menos" (more or less). Andrew suggested that God loves him, whereas the Sante Muerte wants only to consume him. He nodded a very non-commital nod.

I am very grateful for the blessings that I have been given in life, but they have not really prepared me to empathize or to understand Mario. That doesn't mean I'm counted out of the ministry of reconciliation that Paul writes in II Corinthians 5. What it does mean is that I need to turn more then towards God.

I'm studying a spirituality of mission - i.e. how spirituality effects the action of Christian mission. In this case, I'm totally dependent upon God to become at the very least empathetic. Spirituality is a connection with God, but also as he has commanded his followers, is to love others as well. Relationships, in effect then are spiritual, not in a pantheistic, relativistic way, but rather driven by the original loving God. Mario and I shook hands upon saying goodbye. That was a spiritual act as I am overcoming my own insecurities by taking the dirty hands. I'm overcoming my own fear by having at the very least somebody I pray for and am beginning to care about.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Birthday in Mexico

Feliz Cumpleaños a mí.

Yesterday was a fun and relaxing day of celebration. Woke up to one of my favorite Mexican breakfasts, chilequiles and a cup of coffee. I chatted with Mom and Jen, which was good. Leah and I went to the Zocalo where we walked around for a while and then she beat me (ON MY BIRTHDAY) at a game of cards at one of my favorite coffee shops here in D.F. After that the family shared some great food and we went off to our church from last year. It was a blessing to be able to connect with people then. We came home to find our family still all at the house and the boys played some video games, until I finally went to bed.

All in all it was a great birthday. And in good Spanish grammar, I now have 28 years.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Spearhead Orientation

This week has been a busy week, full of excitement, and a lot of work. Wednesday (almost) all of our summer Spearheaders arrived, one girl's flight ended up being cancelled then rescheduled -- she finally arrived around 5:30 am on Thursday morning. But by Thursday breakfast we had everyone together, 14 in total. Thursday and Friday are spent giving the students a whirlwind introduction to Mexican culture and life as well as giving them seminars which will hopefully be helpful for their summer ministries. In the picture below Kevin is giving a talk on "What to do if you don't speak Spanish". The Spearheaders come with varying language abilities from none to quite a lot...and since Kevin remembers what it was to come with none, he has given this talk for the past couple summers.

I am really excited about the families and churches the students will be working with this summer, as well as the group of Spearheaders who have come. Below you can see us (almost all, a couple people are being blocked) taking our "funny" picture before the Mexican families came to pickup their students. Paul, the director, is the one hanging upside down. :)
Before the families came each team prayed for the roommate pairs. Two people, one a boy and one a girl will be living on their own with their Mexican family.

So the summer has "officially" begun. It is hard for me to believe that Kevin and I are already approaching the one month mark back here in Mexico City. I have a feeling the next couple of months will just whiz by. I hope to treasure each moment and live it to the fullest, but I am also excited to come to the end of the summer and to be able to look back on what God has done. Please be praying for each of the Spearheaders in their first weekend with their Mexican families. We will keep you posted on further events.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tomorrow the Students Come

It is 11:02 the night before the students come. We've had a long day of preparations and the culmination of our prep work these past few weeks begins tomorrow as the first flights arrive at 12:30. We're very excited to have the students here this summer and we know how much they will learn.

Please be praying for safe travels tomorrow and for a packed orientation time that will afford us little sleep, but hopefully a lot of fun.

The summer just begins.