Monday, November 25, 2013

Latin America Mission: A Ministry of United World Mission

We haven't said a lot about the transition involved with LAM merging into UWM, mostly because our day to day life has been affected minimally and we weren't quite sure what to expect. Last week we met with John Bernard, our new president, as well as several other staff members from the UWM sending office. They helped us hammer out details over administrative issues (if you are a financial supporter hopefully you have already received information), and also to just listen to us and hear more about our ministries.

A few things we are excited about:

1. Expansion: Not every Avance participant who comes through our doors feels called to Latin America. Now we have the opportunity to direct them towards other opportunities worldwide after their training is complete, all while staying within the same family.

2. Networking: UWM has traditionally had very few/no short-term options, but they are begining to change that. We have the opportunity to share what we have learned in this journey with other programs, as well as learn from them.

3. Servant Leadership: Our overall impression, really from the first day that we met with UWM leadership, was that they are humble, good listeners, equippers, and overall wanting to support the legacy and mission of LAM and its missionaries.

Last week was a flurry of activity and most days we did not arrive home until 10:30 or 11 pm, but we are thankful for the time that we were able to spend with the UWM staff. Please continue to pray for us all as we look to become one family rather than two seperate distinct ones, and for the immense amount of administrative work that is necessary to make this merger happen as smoothly as possible.

Thank you!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day of the Dead: Part 2

Living in Mexico as parents is much different than living in Mexico as childless young marrieds. We experience this difference in many different ways all the time, but it especially hit home to me this past week leading up to the celebration of Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead.

As childless young-marrieds we were fascinated by the cultural phenomenon that is Día de los Muertos. It is so interesting to see the colorful altars strewn throughout the city and partake in the delicious pan de muerto, or bread of the dead.

On the other  hand, there is an incredible heaviness that accompanies this holiday which is intertwined with the belief that the dead actually physically come back to partake of the altar built in their honor. As I said last week, this celebration has prehispanic origins. It is a perfect example of the syncretism of indigenous religions with Christian beliefs that is a hallmark Mexican Catholocism. Mexicans embrace death in a way that is very different from most Americans, which is not always a bad thing, but the sadness lies in the fact that the victory over death and life through Jesus Christ is all but forgotten. Death rules supreme.

Now, bringing it back to the parenthood aspect, I find that because Día de los Muertos is presented so attractively to children it is hard to explain to a four-year-old why it is as Christians that this is not a celebration we embrace. After our museum visit Eliana surprised me by asking to build our own ofrenda, or offering for the dead. I asked her why she wanted to do so and she told me that she viewed the whole celebration as one big party, and she wanted to partake. I explained to her that as followers of Christ we believe that those who die are with Jesus in a place so wonderful they do not want to leave, and that one day all Christ followers will be together in that wonderful place. I struggled to explain it to her in a way that would not frighten her with some of the deep spiritual darkness that surrounds the practices and beliefs of this holiday. In the end I believe that this will be an ongoing discussion, one that  grows in depth as she grows older.

Kevin and I began to realize that, while it is easy for us to hold on to our beliefs as Christians and observe cultural celebrations that hold deep religious significance with objectivity, our children will be initially understanding these celebrations as teachings that they must accept or reject as part of their belief system. It will be impossible for them to avoid exposure, so as a result we must be extra prayerful and intentional about teaching them about Christ and his perspective on these aspects of life here in Mexico. Next time I want to be more prepared, not be taken by surprise. It is a reminder, however, that as a parent I am continually learning and continually in need of grace!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Field Trip: National Museum of Popular Culture

Next Friday and Saturday Mexico will celebrate the Day of the Dead. It is actually celebrated on two days, the first day remembering all of the children who have passed, and the second day the adults. The Day of the Dead is a huge deal here, it started out as a prehispanic tradition, but was incorporated into  the Catholic tradition as well. On the Day of the Dead people build altars filled with pictures of the deceased along with their favorite things, food they liked and certain cultural elements. Some of the cultural items are marigold flowers (the flower of the dead), a special bread (literally called bread of the dead), colorful paper cut out into different designs, candy skulls, alcohol like tequila or pulque (for adults), as well as some other regional items. Every region of Mexico tends to decorate their ofrendas (the altar honoring the deceased) in a little bit of a different ways. Paper mache skeletons are very common as well. Some of the altars are incredibly intricate.

Today Eliana's preschool went on a field trip to the National Museum of Popular Culture where they learned about the Day of the Dead.

There will be ofrendas decorating the entire city soon, and some are extremely unique and intricate. While the U.S. is preparing to celebrate Halloween, Day of the Dead definitely takes presidence here, although Halloween is growing in popularity. I hope to share a few more thoughts about this extremely cultural holiday next week. For now I hope you have a happy Friday and a great weekend!

Monday, October 14, 2013

Eliana turns four!

Eliana has now officially spent a little over half her young life here in Mexico! When I think of it that way it seems kind of crazy, our children are definitely growing up in an environment very different from the ones that we knew. We look forward to seeing how God will use this unique formation in this little person whom we love so much. On Saturday we had a "princess tea party" with a few of Eliana's closest friends. Eliana enjoys her toys, but more than anything she loves to "dress up." We arrive home from school and within minutes she is out of her school clothes and into her dress up clothes. We love her imagination, watching her play, whether it is on her own, or with others, is so fun. Here are a few pictures from the day.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Tuesdays :)

Our first Tuesday meeting. Do you see our littlest Avancista?
(Hint she's hard at work next to Erik)
Just thought I would share this photo from our first team meeting last Tuesday. Every Tuesday morning we meet as an Avance team to give trainings (in this photo Paul is sharing a talk about ministering effectively in Mexico), and we discuss assigned reading books (we are currently reading this one), as well as check in and pray for one another. Thankfully most meetings happen at our house, and generally coincide with Owen's napping schedule. This way Kevin and I are both able to participate instead of "tag-teaming it". Looking forward to seeing our Avancistas tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pray for Mexico!

Some of you may know, and others may not, but Mexico has been hard hit by flooding as a result of Hurricane Ingrid and Tropical Storm Manuel. All of Mexico is mobilizing to reach the affected, but recovery will not be easy and the loss is great. Here are some of the statistics:

* 139 deaths
* 1.8 million people affected by flooding and heavy rains
* More than 58 thousand people have been evacuated
* 12 states and 830,406 people have been affected by loss of power
* 43,000 schools damaged
* National highways closed in five states (in the State of Guerrero 50% of their highways have been damaged)
* There are still some towns that have not received any aid because transportation to these affected zones is impossible

It has rained more this September than it has for 125 years. While we are cushioned from much of the devastation here in Mexico City, my heart is breaking for the thousands who have lost loved ones, homes, and their livelihood.

Sunday, September 22, 2013


On Tuesday afternoon we welcomed our four new YearOuters! I am pleased to introduce you to Erik, Elizabeth, Amanda and Robin (pictured below).

A few words I would use to describe this year's group are: energetic, outgoing, Southern (all three are from the South), motivated, and caring. The start of this year's YearOut program really snuck up on me, and I feel as if I hadn't spent as much time thinking and dreaming of what our team might be like. It was wonderful to start to get to know each person this past week during orientation, it excited me to begin to think of how God is going to work in and through each one. :)

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Viva México!

Yesterday we celebrated Mexico's Independence Day. (Here is a flashback to our first Independence Day, complete with Eliana's own "grito"). This is now our third Independence Day. Last year was very low-key as I had just given birth to Owen. This year we actually celebrated with our church on Saturday. It was a very fun party with crafts for the kids, a dancing competition, good friends and delicious food.

A couple of common patriotic dishes are chiles en nogada...

...and pozole.

Usually pozole is made with pork meat, so when pozole time comes around (though people enjoy it all year long) this is not an uncommon sight in most supermarkets:

In case you are wondering what exactly is displayed in these pictures, they are various cuts of pig heads! You will notice a large ear in the bottom right hand corner of the first picture. This isn't something you commonly find in most supermarkets in the States! ;)

All in all we had a wonderful, albeit very busy, weekend. Qué viva México!

Friday, September 13, 2013

He's One!

It hardly seems possible that a year ago this happened! I feel so privileged to be Owen's mom. One of my favorite moments from the early days was the day we brought him home from the hospital and Eliana met him for the first time! It is fun to watch as their relationship continues to develop, each day they love to be with one another more and more. I treasure my sibling relationships so much and I look forward to seeing Eliana and Owen grow in theirs.

Owen continues to be a happy, smiley boy. Everywhere I bring him people comment on what a happy baby he is, that and his blue eyes! He loves animals with a passion, especially dogs. His one very clear word at this point is, in fact, "dog." He is on the brink of really taking off with his walking, but for now is content to hold our hands or cling to the wall as he maneuvers his way around our apartment. Here are a few of my favorite Owen pictures from the past year:

Happy birthday sweet boy!!