Monday, July 29, 2013

Teotihuacan -- Last outings of the summer!

Today we loaded up all our Avancistas and headed to one of our last outings of the summer, the pyramids of Teotihuacan! It was a beautiful day and we had a great time. Here are some photos.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

And the last shall be first

One of the most exciting parts of being part of a mission's discipleship program is that we have the opportunity to participate in a wide variety of ministries vicariously through our Avancistas (participants of Avance). Recobro is one such ministry that is especially close to our heart. Recobro is Spanish for "recovery". Recobro is a home for women and children who have some type of disability. Two of our Avancistas volunteered with Recobro this past year Jackie (on the left, a social worker), and Jessica (on the right).
Yesterday we held a team ministry event at Recobro for all of our summer interns in combination with our team of Mexican Avancistas who went to Honduras over spring break. The Avancistas put on a number of skits and shared their testimonies. Here are a couple of pictures from the event.

The most meaningful part of the entire event for me, however, happened after the "official" program had ended. We turned on some worship music and all of the residents of Recobro stood up to participate. We were all touched by the joy, the earnestness, and the complete abandon with which they worshipped. The presence of God was so tangible in that moment, and the idea that Jesus taught that "the last shall be first" kept repeating over and over in my mind. These women and children have been abused, abandoned and overlooked. Every one has a story that breaks your heart. But according to the values of our Heavenly Father and his kingdom, to the extent that they have experienced rejection from this world they will receive acceptance and honor when one day they are with their Maker. I, for one, cannot wait for that day.

One of our Avancistas wrote on his Facebook post: "Mind blowing experience today.... So beautiful to see so many people so loving and happy and in love with God."

I hope and pray that each one of us might also be able to embody this joy and complete abandon in our daily walk with God.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stepping out of my comfort zone and enjoying life in community

One of my (Leah's) greatest insecurities about living here in Mexico is cooking for others, well, particularly cooking Mexican food.  Kevin and my first year and a half here in Mexico City was spent living with our Mexican family, and we are blessed with a Mexican mamá who is an excellent cook.
While living with her I definitely learned some great tips, but overall when it comes to doing things on my own I always worry about how they will be received. Will people like it? Does it taste right? As a result, when hosting, I tend to stick to dishes that are not Mexican. I am already an extranjera or foreigner, so people expect me to be a little different :). However, there are times when I have to make something for a group event, and more often it is a guisado. A guisado is a dish that is generally prepared in one pan with a number of different ingredients. There are probably hundreds of different types of guisados, and they generally are used as taco fillings. Basically, preparing a guisado is the Mexican version of a potluck dish, or perhaps a casserole! Here is a picture of a number of different guisados laid out for a taco bar:
I am definitely a fan of the Mexican potluck, maybe even more so than the American version. Still, when it comes to my own contributions I am always a little nervous about how they will be received. I have perfected one of my favorites, rajas con crema, or peppers in a cream sauce, but that is probably one of the most basic guisados (and delicious) that you can prepare. If I have a choice about what to bring, that's what I do. However, recently I was asked to make some kind of a chicken guisado, so I had to step out of my comfort zone. My friend Nydia had told me how to make a simple chicken guisado a while back, also with a cream sauce, so I decided to give it a try!

The sauce was a blended mixture of cream cheese, sour cream, broth, garlic, poblano peppers, and (according to my friend Nydia the secret ingredient of Mexican cooking) salt. After the sauce was made I shredded cooked chicken and with that I had a chicken guisado! It actually turned out pretty well. 

As I reflected on the fact that I feel unconfident preparing Mexican food for Mexicans I began to see an advantage, I really have to rely on others in order to prepare it. It is a great opportunity for me to reach out to my Mexican friends and continue to put myself in a learning posture and in the process I am able to build relationships and have more practice in humility! This particular time the dish was a success, but it was also a fairly simple recipe. The truth is that in the future as I attempt more complicated dishes there is definitely room for failure! However, even when I "fail" I think it is important to not only look at the final product as what was accomplished, but the entire process and what I learn along the way. Overall, little by little I am letting go of my perfectionist self and learning to enjoy the journey, relying not just on myself but on others and most of all on God.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Life in Mexico

Today Eliana, Owen and I headed to a park next to one of  our favorite cafes where Kevin was having a meeting. We had a wonderful time playing while he was chatting, and to top it all off the neighborhood was having free zumba classes for kids so Eliana got to join in, so fun! Here are some pictures and a video (unfortunately without sound) of Eliana zumba"ing" it up. :)

Sunday, July 7, 2013

The pink bib :)

These are the faces of trying to figure out why I put a pink bib on him, haha!

Thursday, July 4, 2013

For freedom Christ has set us free...

"For you were called to freedom brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for self-indulgence, but through love become slaves to one another. For the whole law is summed up in a single commandment, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Galatians 5:13-14 (NRSV)

Today the U.S. will be celebrating freedom, freedom from England, freedom to be a self-determining, democratic state. We will be getting together with a group of missionary friends for a barbecue and just to enjoy being together. We will miss the fireworks, but hey, we get fire crackers almost every day of the week living here in Mexico! As I reflect on my freedoms afforded to me as a U.S. citizen, I am thankful, but I cannot help but think that the U.S. version of freedom just does not add up to God's idea of freedom. Reading the passage from Galatians above, I am struck by the phrase, "...through love become slaves to one another." Freedom is not fully experienced on one's own. So often we think of freedom as "my" rights, not often do we think of freedom as only fully experienced when we are putting another's welfare above our own. My citizenship is officially in the United States of America, but my true citizenship is in God's Kingdom. I feel as if it is so easy for us to confuse Kingdom values with our earthly version of them. But as it says in 1 Corinthians 13:12 "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then we shall see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known." So today, if you are an American citizen, but also count yourself as a citizen of God's Kingdom, I challenge you to reflect on the freedom that we were given on the cross, and what it truly means to live in and enjoy that freedom. For, as it says in Galatians 5:1, "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free."