Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Goodbye is hard

It was so hard to say goodbye to our friends in Mexico. The night before we were to leave, Sierra was up half the night, just crying her heart out over missing Mexico and her friends, her little babies at the pre-school and her little hamster Oliver. Everyone wanted to know when we'd be back and we didn't know what to say. Only the Lord knows!

The girls in my English class at the orphanage were all getting downcast about a week before it was time to go. Carmela stopped coming until the last day, and I knew it was because she was so sad. My heart was heavy and it was so sad to say goodbye.

When we went to say goodbye to Mari (Jasmine's mom), she just burst out sobbing and clung to me for several minutes crying and crying. It was so hard! Goodbyes are so hard!

By the time morning rolled around, it was time to go. Head 'em up, move 'em more tears, just march. Little old Ramon came out to help us load up, and so did Javier. I've really grown to love Ramon and was sad to say goodbye to him.

So, we loaded up the truck and moved on to Beverly...Hills, that is...haha. We had told Ramon we'd help him bring a few bags to the US since we were stopping over in Anaheim for a few days and that's where his family lives and he wanted to have some of his stuff taken there. Boy...that one falls into the category of not knowing what you are agreeing to!! He loaded us up with 5 (count 'em...1,2,3,4,5) big, huge bags - each about 60-75 pounds! Two of them were actually those giant yard waste bags. He was certain there would be porters to help us through....but no...not a porter to be found the entire time!! I was so exhausted trying to lug those 5 bags, PLUS our own stuff!!

We got to the bus station to take a bus to the Guadalajara airport...the bus was supposed to leave at 4:30 am. We got there at 4:15 am and everything was closed up. I was a little worried because our flight was at 7:20 am. We didn't have one minute of spare time to be late. I was also worried that all the extra luggage would arouse suspicions and we would be pulled aside for additional checking.

There were two men there who were very friendly - one of them lives in California and he was very chatty. They'd been there since 2:30 am and were also waiting for the bus to Guadalajara. Finally, about 4:25 am the guy came to sell us our tickets. The bus was late - it didn't get there until 4:40...and I was feeling anxious!! I kept worrying about it and worrying about it and Sierra kept saying "Mom - you need to leave that to the Lord!" I was thankful for her words, but also a little bugged! Haha...I got over it quick enough. She had to tell me several times because I'd give up the worry for about a minute and then pick it up again - you know...that worrying just might make the bus go faster! I suppose not.

At any rate, Sierra's new friend - the guy from the bus station - gave her $5 for Disneyland and she was just pleased as punch about that. American dollars looked so strange!! We finally pulled into the airport about 6:15 hour until our flight left. I sent Sierra off to find a porter while I got the bags off the bus. She did find a guy with a handtruck and he helped us get into line for our flight, but then left us there with all of our bags! There were about 40 people ahead of us, so I had quite a ways to drag our stuff...first one bag, then back for another, and then another...and so on and so forth until they were all pulled forward - just about the time the line started to move again! Sierra ran off to use the bathroom and the people behind me were trying to cut in front because of my luggage moving issues and the lady was coming by to look at our documents and I was feeling pretty darn frazzled!!!

We finally got up toward the front of the line. They were checking everyone's bags and unzipping them and searching through...they were opening boxes that were taped and tied shut and I was anticipating some issues with our many bags. When we were about 3rd in line, a guy at the counter pointed to me and asked if we were traveling together (me and Sierra) and I said yes and he motioned me to the counter! I didn't get my bags checked! We just went right up and plopped them on the bag counter! I was so thankful and so relieved. We were pretty significantly over-limit with the bags, but he only charged us $51! I was feeling really good. We got our tickets with 45 minutes to take off, and then went to go through the line to get checked. We got through pretty quickly and with no problems...we headed to our gate and they loaded us up the bus that would take us to our airplane - we didn't get checked there, either! The Lord was really with us, because we ended up not getting checked anywhere! So, we loaded up and that was that - we were on our way.

We got to LAX and were heading out to get our luggage. Some lady in the customs department was waving to us that it was fine to cut through the line so we did and went over to get our luggage. I started thinking that it was strange that we didn't get our passports checked and verified so I went and asked another official looking guy - turns out we misunderstood and were supposed to get in line to do that, but they just took us up to another guy who looked over our passports and stamped us through. We got our luggage and loaded it up on two of those handcarts, but everything kept falling off because there was so much and those black plastic bags don't exactly sit squarely. That was frustrating and I was sweating and frazzled and I'm sure the people behind us were thinking some unfriendly things about us! Oh well...we finally got through, got out to the curb and picked up a van to Disneyland within minutes! Our driver was hilarious and was really complaining about our bags, but in a good natured way, and I really liked him.

We ended up sitting next to a woman on her way to a convention for psychologist's and she was also a Christian, and her daughter was getting ready to leave and go to Costa Rica with her family for 6 months to do missions so it was really cool to sit with her and talk. She was from Chico, which is our next step toward going to missions (more on that next time).

We finally got to our hotel and got checked in - the guy at the front desk was so nice. We called Ramon's family and they came and got his stuff, so we were down to just our two backpacks (Praise the Lord!). We went to Disneyland, but within two hours came back because we were so tired and we went to bed! Our first American meal??? Taco Bell!!! HAHA! What goobers, huh?

So, back in the USA....still thinking it's pretty strange to put the TP into the toilet and US Dollars are looking pretty strange. It's weird to speak English and have everyone around us understanding what we are saying...guess we'll speak Spanish when we want to talk in "code"...

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Big Surprises

Well, you may have noticed that I haven't been blogging much in the past few weeks...that's because we had a big surprise coming up and I didn't want to ruin it!

Oh gosh, where to begin? Well...a few months ago I started to realize that I was doing quite a bit to help the people of Mexico and I loved it - I can definitely see that this is part of the calling on my life. Both Sierra and I feel like we thrive in these conditions and we love the people we've come to know. We love the culture, and we love being servants.

I began to realize, however, that something was missing. We were providing people with food, clothing, money, toys....many things that they needed for TODAY. But what about TOMORROW? What happens when we leave? What hope will these people hold onto for their futures and the futures of their children and families?

I also was beginning to see some of the side effects of giving, giving, giving to people. It was robbing them of their dignity to provide for themselves, of the pride that comes in working hard. It was causing greediness and jealousy to come out in the children, along with a demanding spirit. In other words, it was not always bringing out the best in people!

Now, believe me...I still love to give to people. I want to serve them and bring joy, hope and happiness into the hearts of people who don't have a lot of that. I will never forget how excited Jasmine was to receive that barbie doll. It is my privelege to serve others and I find a deep joy in doing so.

What I realized, however, is that I want to give them more...something everlasting, that will continue to provide hope and joy - the true kind that comes from deep within our spirit. I realized that people need more than food and clothes and shelter - for certainly these are the basics and we all need them...but people need their spirits nurtured in addition to their physical needs. I began to realize that I was ready to take my own faith walk deeper and that I was desiring to share with them the hope I have, the hope in Christ Jesus - a hope that is everlasting and will endure beyond this life.

I started to look into missionary programs and decided to pursue an opportunity with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). When I first became a Christian 15 years ago, I was on fire to go do missions, and I started applying to YWAM at that time. It ended up not working out at that time. So anyway, I started the application process to YWAM for a school that starts January 15, 2006. I realized that I would want to spend the holidays with my family before leaving for the 6 month mission and so began to make preparations to come home a bit earlier than expected.

As you may guess...this is where the "big surprise" comes in (hehe). I changed my flight and my parents knew about what was going on...but not my sister. My parents had just come home from Israel and so they invited my sister and her family over to see the pictures and visit....after they were here for a little bit, Sierra and I came running out of the bedroom yelling "MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!" was SO great! My niece Allie was jumping up and down and my sister was jumping up and down and everyone was so excited! It was awesome! They couldn't even believe that we were home! We had lots of fun visiting that night.

The next day we went to church and it was fun to see everyone again. Afterward, we went "GEOCASHING" with my sister and some other people in the church - have you tried this? It is SO MUCH fun! It's basically like a scavenger hunt using GPS machines to find locations and you have to try to figure out clues and stuff. We did it as a race with 5 teams and then pizza afterward....what a blast. I definitely want to do it again.

So, we've been home for 6 days now and have been having a great time relaxing and visiting and having a cup of (good) coffee here and there. It's been a huge blessing to be here with my family...they are so, so, so special to me!

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Cirio and the Tarascans

Wow, am I tired!!! We got home this morning at 5 am!

We started out yesterday at 9:30 am...well, that was the plan anyway - remember, this is Mexico. I thought we were doing good when the truck showed up at my house at 9:20 or so to pick up the bags of clothes. We loaded up and headed over to the church. There were about 20 or so people, and about 40 more bags!

We loaded up the truck with as much as we could while the other ladies and myself got the rest of the bags tied up. The kids were playing around and having fun. The pastor said he had to go get the other trucks and off he went. Apparently one of the people who had a truck got the days mixed up so we short one.

So, we waited. And we waited...and I reminded Sierra we were in Mexico and we laughed. We played tag with the kids, keep away and other games. Sierra ran back and forth to the house at least 6 times.

A couple of hours later, they showed up with one old van. How on earth would we fit everyone plus the band equipment and remaining bags in the van??? It was impossible. A few people volunteered not to go. A few more people showed up, ready to go. We started loading the bags and the band equipment in the back...there was a seat missing so we had a bit more space. We put things under the seats and between the seats and against the doors. Next we started loading people...first a young woman and a little girl on her lap. Next another young woman and a boy on her lap. Finally me with Sierra on my lap. All six of us on a seat for 2. Then another kid climbed up on top of the bags in the back and made a space there. Then another kid came and stood next to me with his head out the window in the 2-person seat. Then the driver, then a woman and her baby and finally the pastor. counted correctly - 12 people in all! We squeezed another 3 in the truck and off we went. I'm sure you can guess...but nary a seatbelt among us.

The little boy standing next to me is a handful and he wanted to hang his head and hands out and wouldn't listen about bringing them in. This was a common theme throughout the day, which made our trip a little harder to bear. We sang songs and did the Spanish version of "There's a hole in the bottom sea" and the kids fought over the Gameboy until I finally took it and put it away. The truck was having a lot of problems losing oil and overheating, so we stopped frequently to deal with that and also to use the restrooms and get food.

As it started to get dark we pulled off the highway onto a dirt road and began driving up. The further we went, the more the road resembled a dry riverbed. The van kept bottoming out. At one point Sierra and two of the boys hopped out of the van and road the last 1/2 hour on top of the bags in the back of the truck - boy, did they think they were something!

We passed several people walking, and a few burros - one poor burro had 4 kids of various sizes on it, with the mom walking alongside! The houses were made of wood, and the wooden slats were spaced apart so that they didn't provide very good protection from the elements...but probably had good ventilation!

We finally pulled into Cirio at around 8, I think - it was dark and we were hungry. We quickly unloaded everything from the vehicles and the band began to set up. Sierra really pitched in with unloading everything and everytime I turned around she was there to grab another bag! I started to introduce myself to some of the women and admire their babies and to make friends with the kids.

This is an area that is significantly colder than where we are at in Tepa - it's up in the mountains and let me tell you, it was freezing! The women had a fire going and so we huddled around the fire while the the band tuned their instruments. Sierra, in her usual good form, had a ton of kids playing tag within minutes. They all watched her with a mixture of amusement and awe and giggled at everything she did - she has certainly found her element here in Mexico, as far as being the center of attention!

Soon enough the band was ready, so we all went inside and began to worship. There were about 75 of us all together. Sierra and I were dancing and clapping and jumping around. People were enjoying the music, and as some time went by they began to really worshp and get into it. There was one young man - I would guess he was in his early 20's - he was really going for it, jumping and praising and dancing. It was so great to watch. After worship we had a short service and the pastor shared his past with drinking and drugs and I think that was really powerful. They talked about how Jesus doesn't look at what you do or what you have, but at your heart and that all he wants is for us to do is love him with our hearts. After the service many people went up for prayer.

Afterward we visited with people a bit more and then we got dinner - it was about 11:30 by the time. Dinner was great - meat, beans, tortillas, avocados, nopal, salsa and sodas to drink. Michoacan is the place where all of the avocados are grown, so we had plenty of them! They gave us all a huge bag to bring home, too. Nopal is cactus - it's really tasty, as long as you "de-slime" it first!! It's got this slimy stuff in it and that kind of grosses me out...but the taste is yummy.

We finally loaded up and got going about 12:30 in the morning. Two of the older boys decided to sleep in the back of the truck, so we were down to 10 of us in the van. The younger kids were sleeping, so we laid them on the floor in the back of the van and the mom, baby and one of the young women also. I shared the back seat with one of the young men and Sierra slept on the floor against the sliding door. Then of course we had our driving and the pastor up front keeping him awake. Sierra slept a bit off and on, but I wasn't able to sleep at all so we just sang a bit and visited a bit.

We finally pulled in about 5 am and off to bed we went! We're both still pretty tired - late nights (all nighters!!???!) don't work well with us - but we're so happy we did it. When we got home, Sierra said "that was fun, I want to do it again!" which sums up how we both felt.

Thursday, November 24, 2005


Today is Thanksgiving in the family are going different directions to celebrate the holiday, but we are all together in heart - for this I am thankful!!

In a short while Sierra and I will be going with our church down to Michoacan to a very poor community. Remember all that laundry I did? Today we will see the fruition of our labor as we hand out clothes to the poor and introduce them to Jesus, have music and food, and generally join together with them in fellowship. I'm so excited! I'm really disappointed about not having my camera.

As I'm getting all the clothes together by the door to make it easier to load them on the trucks, I'm thinking about all the time and effort it took to do the washing, hanging out and folding and I'm glad I was able to do it. I think the Lord wants us to give good gifts, like He gives to us...and having the clothes clean and smelling nice is my way to make this gift good.

I'm reminded of how the kids pitched in to help, and they had so much fun racing up and down the stairs, trying to out-do each other on who could take the most clothes upstairs to hang them out to dry...laughing and egging each other on, begging me to give THEM the clothes so they could be the one to take them upstairs. What a blessing!

The other day I walked to the grocery store and after shopping, took a taxi home. As I drove up, Sierra came running up yelling "Mommy!!!!!" and all the other kids (about 6) came running up also...all of them asking "do you need help, Senora?" and they all grabbed a few bags out of the taxi and brought them inside, giggling all the way, with Sierra in the lead. What a blessing!!

This week, at the pre-school, I made those little handprint turkeys with the baby's hands for their's such an easy project and yet everyone was so impressed! The kids here don't get much in the way of art projects (read: nothing), so they had a good time and the teachers liked it too. Then, at the orphanage I had the kids do the same project...they were so great, and had so much fun just getting in there with color crayons and paper. The kids were ages 13-23 and most of them had not used crayons much and they all were having a blast coloring - what a blessing to take part in bringing them joy in such a simple way.

Yesterday, I showed them how Snow White signs her name at Disneyland and they all wanted me to write THEIR names like we spent a lot of time doing that as they wanted me to do it over and over - all curly Q-ish and pretty.

I have so many blessings to be thankful for, and I'm glad that we have this holiday to remind us to focus on our blessings...things that make our life better and more fulfilling and bring us joy - things we should be remembering every day and living with an "attitude of gratitude"...that's how I want to live.

Happy Thanksgiving to All...and thank You Lord, for all of my many, many blessings!

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Our God is an Awesome God!

I am not a person who holds things close to my I feel is generally right out there for anyone willing to know - meaning I don't just "emote" all over the place, but if someone wants to know whats going on with me, I will tell them.

I grew up learning that not telling the WHOLE truth is the same as lying, so I am compulsive about telling all that is on my heart...this is not always good, I've found. A lot of people simply don't care and a short "I'm fine" will suffice! As for myself, I feel like I'm being dishonest with people if I am not trasparent. I guess this is why I'll never be a great businesswoman!

Okay, now I'm starting to sound pathetic...I'm not...really!! Well, I probably am, but not in the desperate way that is coming through with this little confession! I'm sure my sister is laughing at me right now...she is a "processor" (along with my mom) and they always are asking me what I think about stuff, but I am not a processor so my answers are kind of short...haha! I guess it's all about perspective...I'm just not as deep as they are!

But back to the point...I've got some ideas running around in my head about what comes next for me and I wanted to wait for the "right" time to share them with my family...but I was beginning to feel dishonest because I wasn't sharing it NOW. I know there is some timing involved with sharing things in your heart, and with getting things put together in your mind and researched out and all that...but sometimes it feels like that window of opportunity is only open for so long and if you go beyond that it feels contrived and manipulative.

Well, with some things going on for me, I was beginning to feel that way...that waiting was contrived and manipulative. It's funny, but the deeper you dig, the deeper you feel the need to dig! I once heard a very wise person say....when you find yourself in a hole - stop digging!

So, of the things I want to do (drum role, please) is go to missionary training for 6 months starting in January 2006. I think I've shared how I feel God calling me to go deeper in my faith and deeper with Him and I want to respond to this call. As I've served in various ways here in Mexico, I've come to realize that I want to offer more - I want to offer people the eternal hope that is only in Jesus. And I feel totally unprepared for that!!! It's SOOOOOOO uncomfortable for me, let me tell you! This is NOT where I would have seen myself, but here I am.

I've been filling out applications and asking for references and all of that, and need to raise $7,000 in support to go.

Anyway...more on that later! As far as my heart, I was feeling like some of the things going on for me weren't being put out there, and I was waiting for the "right" time to share it...but, as I wasn't feeling good to wait. Yesterday I was feeling really down, sad. I was having a lot of self doubt and not sure whether or not I was doing the right thing, or if our time in Mexico has been well I living life on Purpose?? Has our time here, particularly our time here in Tepa, been beneficial? If we were do to it again, would we have stayed in Tepa after the disappointment with the orphanage? Maybe not...we both have a real heart for Chiapas, and perhaps we should have stayed there. But the thing is...God uses it all. He has us here for a purpose...maybe not the purpose we originally thought, but it's for something. And if we heard wrong and should have been somewhere else? Well, praise God...he works all things to the good of those who love the Lord! Either way, we can trust Him! Yeah God!

So I prayed a lot yesterday and through the night. This morning I decided I would try to put it down in an email to my I wrote a long email to my dad and you know what...I feel SO MUCH BETTER!! All my sadness is lifted and I'm feeling hopeful and excited again. Sometimes we just need to get it all out on the table, to be transparent. I am so thankful that I come from a family that encourages transparency and honesty and we all can truly support one another in many families live with secrets and lies and don't share with each other.

I'm feeling great now...and don't you worry...I will tell you all about YWAM and the other things going on my heart and mind in due time!!!

Saturday, November 19, 2005


Decepcionada is the word for disappointed...although it looks much closer to the word deceived. And that's how I feel right now - disappointed and deceived.

My girls at the orphanage have been working so's been almost three months now that they've been working every single day. I wanted to give them a treat and so I asked the nuns if I could invite them to my house for dinner and a movie and to have a "girls night out" of facials and fingernail polish. They told me no...just plain no. I asked why and they said it isn't common, so no.

I'm so disappointed...the girls are really disappointed, too. I don't know if they don't trust me, or think I will start shoving Christian propaganda down their throat, or what! I'm trying to see it from their point of view, but it's still hard. I had had such high hopes for our time at the orphanage, but it hasn't happened.

This makes me sad for the kids there, and especially for the girls in my class...they are older - from 14 to 23...and I so wanted to give them a special time. I'm not giving up, though...if I can't bring them out of the orphanage for something special - well, by golly, I'll bring something there!

I still dream of someday living and working in an orphanage...on a full time basis, not just an hour or two a day. Those kids can use all the loving they can get! Well, I guess that's true of all of us, isn't it?

Friday, November 18, 2005

Dia de los Muertos

A few weeks back we went to Mexico City again. As you might recall, I spent a few days in the hospital there...well, when I was admitted to the hospital I was required to put down a $20,000 peso deposit (roughly $2,000 dollars) until my travelers insurance paid the bill. So, I had received word that my insurance had paid the bill and I could come to Mexico City to collect my deposit.

We happened to get there on October 31, which as you all know, is Halloween in the States. Halloween is not really celebrated in Mexico...although it is making some inroads in a few of the bigger cities. We saw a few kids in costumes, but that was about it.

What is celebrated with fervor, however, is Dia de los Muertos...Day of the Dead, on November 1st and 2nd. This is a huge holiday for the Mexicans. It's a mix of all sorts of things...honoring loved ones who have passed away, paying homage to pre-hispanic tradition and also a nod to the Catholic traditions brought over by the Spaniards when they came for the gold and silver here in Mexico.

People make altars to the deceased, and decorate the altars with purple and orange marigolds...these are supposed to have the smell to bring the dead to the altar. Also on the altar are food, drink, alcohol, cigarettes, and all sorts of things like that. The idea is to put all the things that the deceased would enjoy on the altar. There is also the skeleton dolls that are pretty famous for Mexico...they are doing all sorts of things...everything from taking a bath to riding a horse and anything else you can think of. All over they sell candy skulls and bread with "bones" on it (made out of dough). It really is actually beautiful, but I felt uncomfortable with it in many ways. For many, it is only a symbol of respect for the dead...for others it is a way to communicate with the dead.

While we were in Mexico City, we stayed at the Moneda Hostal...the place we were at when I got so sick. Everyone of the staff remembered us! They were all happy to see us and glad to know I was feeling was great, and a real testament to their staff. The cook, the woman who offered to keep Sierra while I was in the hospital, was there and was really happy to see us. We spent a lot of time visiting with her...turns out she's a Christian! She wanted to invite us for dinner, but we had to leave before she could have us over.

One day we went to Xochimilco, on the outskirts of Mexico is a place where they have all these water canals and you can rent a boat to go through them. It's known as the Venice of Mexico. We rented a boat for 2 hours...these boats are pushed along by a guy at the back with a long pole...all the boats are decorated beautifully with flowers and painted bright colors. They take straw and fashion it into designs and paint it. All along the byways of the canals are people in other little boats and they are selling flowers and food and candy and all manner of things. Other boats carry mariachis and other types of musicians who will play for you. It was beautiful and relaxing. Sierra tried her hand at pushing the boat along and it was a lot harder than she thought! She had to balance on the edge of the boat and maneuver a pole that weighed as much as she did and was about 20 feet long...all the while keeping the boat going in the right direction! A few times she almost lost the pole, but our trusty conductor was able to get it.

Another day we went to Six Flags, which is also in Mexico City. We thought it would be real quiet because it was a Tuesday, but it was a little crowded by school groups. We had fun, though! It's a lot like any other Six Flags in the States, although they did have some fun rides..Superman and Spiderman. We were disappointed that several rides were closed for refurbishment. While we were standing in line for the Spiderman ride, we talked a bit with the people in front of us...a young girl and two young guys...they were probably in their early 20's. We all rode together and then after the girl gave Sierra her bracelet as a memory of her new friend and her time in Mexico. It was so sweet! We ended the day with a water's one of those kind where you are on a giant wheel/inner tube boat and it's "white water"...we got SOAKED!! Not only was it white watery, but they also dump water on you at every chance. The first was going by some ceramic kids squirting us in various ways...holding a hose, a watering can, etc. One of the "kids" was "peeing" on us!! And they actually had his little private out there doing it, for all the world to see! We couldn't believe it! We also were taken under a waterfall, and by sprinklers...let's just say we were totally soaked. It was getting cold by this time, so we ended up buying matching Superman sweatshirts.

Back at the hostel, Sierra was making friends with everyone. Ricky, the guy who was so into lime juice as the ultimate cure for all ills was there and he gave her a little doll...also as a memory of her time in Mexico and her friend. They were supposed to be having a costume party, so Sierra spent all sorts of time trying to put together a costume, only to be disappointed that she was the only one to dress up (well, besides me in my old standby Pippi Longstocking braids). One of the other guys who worked there fell in love with Sierra and they had fun playing dominoes with the other travelers from all over the world. He said when she is 25, he will be waiting for her! NOT what a mom wants to hear! Haha...he meant it in good fun.

Of course, Sierra being Sierra...she was cartwheeling her way through the city and causing all sorts of commotion as other kids were trying to get in on the cartwheel action. A few of the vendors by the hostal would yell out at her every time we passed by..."more cartwheels, more cartwheels!" This has been a very interesting little phenomenon here in Mexico...everyone is absolutely fascinated by her ability to do cartwheels and backbends...and she has an endless supply to give them! Not to mention high kicks!

We now love Mexico City and are no longer afraid of it...and I have to say - the Metro is awesome!! After Mexico City, we decided to go to Guanajuato for a few days before returning to Tepa. We took a long bus ride...they do seem to be getting longer and longer...and ended up staying at a youth hostel there in town. Guanajuato is a beautiful little city. It was made rich by the silver mines, so the architecture is beautiful. Now it is a college town, and the college is known for it's Arts program. It's a very romantic little place, built up the sides of the hills so it sits in a "bowl" of sorts.

We walked around a lot, just looking around. We also went to their famous mummy museum. There is something in the soil that mummifies the bodies that are buried's very weird. The people have to pay "rent" on the burial sites because there isn't much room. After a few years, if they don't pay rent anymore, they exhume the bodies and if they are "good" mummies, they put them in the museum...the others are burned. It is creepy but very interesting!!

The famous artist Diego Rivera was born in Guanajuato, so we went to the museum in the house where he was born and looked at some of his paintings...that was really interesting and Sierra enjoyed looking at the different techniques he used.

There is a gondola tram that will take you to the top of one of the is probably at a 75 degree angle! We went up that to see the view and also the statue at the top. It is fun to ride, but scary to look down! Boy, it is steep! At the top we found a museum of the "legends of Guanajuato" so we decided to check it out. It scared us!! It was all dark and we were the only ones there! It was one of those animated ones, where you see one scene at a time. Man, the Mexicans love gory, scary stuff! We were freaking out and were real glad when it was over.

One of the legends is actually true, though, and pretty one point the Spaniards were taking over the city and they had taken control of a big building on a hill and were shooting all the Mexicans who were fighting. Finally, this one guy took a huge slab of rock and tied it to his back and was able to get to the door of the building and set it on fire. The rock protected him from the bullets, while the door on fire smoked out the Spaniards and gave the Mexicans a chance to come in and take back the city. It didn't turn out well, however...eventually the Spaniards got it back, and they took the heads of all the leaders and hung them out on hooks at the four corners of the building. Ugh!

After all this excitement, we were happy to return to Tepa and relax for a day before getting back to work.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Random Thoughts & Observations

A few weeks ago, when we still had a car to use, we drove to work at the orphanage. Upon driving home, I noticed there seemed to be some confusion in the street ahead...a couple of guys were running around pulling cable or power lines or something, from the power lines overhead. We slowed down and noticed that another couple of guys were holding a ladder while a third guy climbed it...the ladder was leaning AGAINST the power lines, in the middle of the street! Some other guys were trying to set up a similar situation on the other side of the basically we had to drive between these two ladders that were precariously perched against the power lines while the guys were trying to climb them....we laughed all the way home, saying "only in Mexico!!"

Then, the other day we were walking home from work at the pre-school and this big, shirtless, hairy man with a cigarette hanging out his mouth came running after us! We were thinking "what on earth!" when he approached us with a handful of oranges...he wanted to give them to us and to tell us how he had picked them himself from a tree in Oaxaca and how they were really sweet! Again...only in Mexico!

There is this older couple who live down the street. They must be in their late 80's. The woman is quite debilitated and bent over. Every single day the old man takes her on walks to get her moving a little bit. Sometimes he takes her out in her wheelchair, and they ever-so-slowly make their way around the block. Sometimes she walks behind him, holding onto his belt for support as they (even more) ever-so-slowly walk up the street and back. It is the sweetest thing to see them together and makes me sad that I have no one to grow old with. Sierra says she'll take care of me when I'm old and debilitated, and that's such a sweet thing for her to say! She really does have a heart of gold.

Right now Jazmin is asleep on the couch next to me. She loves to come to my house and just hang out. Sometimes she throws her hat in the air and catches it for entertainment. Sometimes she just sits on the couch on watches. Sometimes she likes to take naps. She starts to throw a fit sometimes when her mom or grandma come and tell her it's time to go home...but I tell her

if she wants to spend time with me she has to obey her mom and grandma; then she bucks up and puts on a brave face and obeys. She's so cute.

Sierra has started to collect stamps...they are Disney stamps and you put them in a little book. you get a pack of stamps for 3 pesos. She does this with her friend Samadi...they are having lots of fun going to the centro for the packs of stamps, and then coming home and going through their stamps and putting them in their books, bartering and trading with the doubles. Sometimes Sierra gets mad at Samadi because he is always trying to get her to pay for his stamps. We talked about being able to set boundaries and saying "no" without feeling like a heel...a hard thing for us!

One thing we really like here in Mexico is the can go to these juice shack types of places and for about 7 pesos they will make you any concoction you want. And they do have the concoctions! We like orange, strawberry and lime with a little bit of honey and vanilla. They use every kind of fruit imaginable, plus vegetables and herbs. All made fresh for you.

One this we really DON'T like here in Mexico is the's terrible! And they don't sell cream! So, I don't drink much coffee anymore. Sigh. I miss it.

Another thing we don't like is how EVERYONE uses their horns for EVERYTHING!!! It's a regular horn cacophony! We still jump at the sound of horns, but everyone else just tunes them out.

Seatbelt laws do exist in Mexico, but they are not enforced and most people do not pay attention to them. It is not at all uncommon to see kids 2, 3, 4 years old having complete control of the steering wheel! Our neighbors taught their daughters to drive at 12 so they wouldn't have to drive them all around...although the legal age to drive is 18.

It's very common for people to approach us and ask if we are from the US...and they love to share their stories about how they lived and worked in the States (usually California), and how they were deported...they love to practice their English with us and everyone wants to learn to speak more!

Well, those are all my thoughts for I'll be completely empty-headed for the rest of the day! Haha.

Monday, November 14, 2005

You versus You

I have to say that learning a new language can really give you such a depth of understanding of your own language, as well as life in general. Knowing Spanish has expanded my English vocabulary and provided for interesting insights into words and phrases commonly used in my speech.

It is interesting to note's so strange, but often when I'm speaking in Spanish and can't think of a word, I'll totally forget what the word is in English - it's like I have an image in my mind of what I want to say, but I can't formulate the word in either language. I have done some research on language acquisition and it appears that when we learn our mother-tongue as children that language is stored in one area of our brain...if we learn another language as adults, the new language is stored in another part of our this explains the difficulty of going back and forth between the two, as they are stored in different "rooms" (so to speak!). The really cool thing is that for kids, when they learn multiple languages, they are all stored in the same part of the brain, making it easier to go back and forth between the two (or more) things like translating are much easier. Isn't that fascinating?

I've heard that once you have learned 2 languages, other languages become much easier to learn. I'd love to learn more languages...French, Italian, Portuguese...language is so fascinating.

But, that's not really what I wanted to write about today. I wanted to write about You versus You. In English, we have one word for "You" can be singluar or plural, it can be formal or casual. How are you? How are you (all)? How are you (boss)? How are you (child)? You are my...friend, lover, parent, pastor, group of buddies, etc. It's used universally in speaking to one or more persons.

In Spanish, there are a variety of ways to communicate "You"...and they each indicate a different relationship. "Tu" indicates friend, close relation, peer, child. "Usted" indicates someone you don't really know, someone of higher station than you, a title of respect. "Ustedes" indicates "you" plural...and can be used both formally and informally.

What is amazing about this is that when we speak of Jesus and of God to one another, and when we speak TO them, in church or on the street....the form of "You" that is used is "Tu"...the casual, friendly, close relationship form of speaking to someone. I think this is so cool, and so awesome, and indicates a depth of the word that is absent in the English language.

You are God. You are my God. You are with me in times of need and in times of plenty. Pretty drab, right....but consider this....TU eres Dios. Tu eres mi Dios. Tu eres conmigo en tiempos de necesidades y en tiempos de plentitud. Look at friend, my close companion. The relationship is so much deeper. I just love that!!

That is the magic of understanding languages...I remember one of my favorite lessons in church. We were looking at some passages in the Bible and going back to what they said in the original our English Bibles, it looked like this (John 21:15-19)...

15When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?"
"Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
16Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?"
He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you."
Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
17The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?"
Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you."
18Jesus said, "Feed my sheep...and then he said "Follow me!"

When you read this in the English language, you're like..."man, why is Jesus being so repetitive? Simon Peter SAID he loved him!"'s so easy to miss the point. But when we looked at the original text and the nuances within the original language, it was more like Jesus was saying "Peter, do you truly love me", and Peter responded..."Lord, you must be able to see that I love you. Again Jesus asks and again Peter responds the same...the final time Jesus says to Peter "do you love me as a friend?" and Peter responds "you know (as the exalted one) that I love you"....there is such a difference in the depth and nuance of what is going on here than is properly communicated when translated to English...the different types of love being discussed, as well as the different types of knowing of one another. It is so fascinating!

At any rate, I am so glad to call Jesus "TU"...Tu eres mi Senor!

Sunday, November 06, 2005


There is a young woman at the orphanage where we are working. Her name is Rose and she is 23 years old. She comes every day to my English class and is my best student. She is a little thing, and as sweet as can be. Last week she shared her story with me.

She grew up in a small village about an hour outside of Tepa. She has 5 brothers and sisters and her family is quite poor. Since they lived so far out of town, she never went to fact, no one in her family ever did. When she was 17 years old, she decided that she really wanted an education, so she enrolled herself into elementary school...imagine being 17 years old and going to school with 5 and 6 year olds!

I asked her what the hardest thing to learn was...reading, writing, what? She told me that reading came very easily to her. She finished elementary school in 2 years and at the age of 19 entered into secondary school (which is like middle school or junior high). After a year, she had completed her studies there.

She wanted to continue her studies, but was unable to because of finances - that is when she came to the orphanage and asked to live there. She has been there a year and is her 3rd year of prep school (like our high schools). She is 23 and is in classes with 15 and 16 year olds. She graduates in another year.

I think it is so amazing that this young woman had the dream, desire and will to get her education. She overcame so many obstacles...age, finances, family order to become the person she wanted to be. She is quite an inspiration. I told her she should write a book and inspire others! Right now she lives in the orphanage and works at a laundromat. She's not sure exactly what she wants to do next, but she would like to come to the US someday.

I think it would be so fantastic to find a way for her to come live as an exchange student to the States...somewhere she could attend Jr College and learn English. People like this, who work so hard with so little, are truly an inspiration and make people want to be better themselves...and also makes us want to help them and give them a leg up.

I'd love any input on how to help Rose along her path to success!!

Blessings 101

One really nice thing that we have here in Mexico is the ability to have a woman come in and help me with the house once a week. For 70 pesos, she comes in and scrubs this house from top to bottom! I've become very attached to Mari and her family. She is a single mom with 3 kids - Samadi who is 11, Jasmin who just turned 4 and the baby. They live with Mari's mom a few doors down.

Mari cleans a few houses a week, for whomever she cleaning jobs aren't very easy to come by. She generally makes less than $200 pesos per week...that is less than $20! Can you imagine living on $100 per month or less? Her brother pays for the rent of the house (about $100 per month), and she uses the money she makes to buy everything else....water, gas, electricity, food, clothes for the kids. As you might imagine, they don't have a lot.

Sierra and Samadi play together all the time. He is a nice boy and they have a lot of fun. Jasmine has become my little shadow, and is over at the house all the time. She loves to follow me around, helping when she can, but mostly just watching what I do.

One day Mari told me that another woman in the neighborhood told her that she should give Jasmin to me!!! I couldn't believe that someone would say that, but knowing the woman who said it...well, unfortunately I believe it. Of course, Mari said she could never give her children away.

The kids eat dinner with us occasionally, and I love this because it feels like a big family, which I've always wanted.

At any rate, one day Mari was over and we were talking and she mentioned that Jasmin had wanted a Barbie for ever and a day, but she just didn't have the money to buy one. She was upset because one of the families who she works for hasn't been paying her, and there have been some other problems with them (this is the same lady who told her to give Jasmin to me). This family is quite well off and they have a girl who is an older teen...apparently the girl had all sorts of Barbies that are just sitting up in the attic, but she won't give any of them the Jasmin.

The next time Sierra and I were at the Mercado, we found these Barbie knock-offs....four of them for 95 pesos. We decided to buy them for Jasmin. That afternoon we went over to Jasmin's house and hid the Barbie's behind a couch and I told her that I'd heard from a little birdie that she had wanted a Barbie. She just looked up at me like, "yeah...but that'll never happen". I told her that there was something for her behind the couch. She was confused, so Sierra pulled them out. She still didn't quite get it. Her face looked like "oh, look...Sierra has what I've always wanted...great". Sierra held them out to her and said, "no, these are for you"....all of a sudden her little face lit up and she was jumping up and down and screaming "I love them, I love them!!".

It was always dream of making someone so excited and happy with a gift that they jump up and down in excitement. Unfortunately for those of us from the US, our kids are generally so accustomed to getting the things they want that we rarely see this kind of joy exhibited. Her excitement made me so excited and happy that I kept on talking about it for 3 days. Sierra grew quite somber and thoughtful, and this led to a great conversation about how much it means to be appreciated for the things we do for one another and how when we feel appreciated we want to do more for each other. I noticed her really trying in the next few days to show her excitement about small things...this is an area of struggle for her and it is a source of disappointment for me when she takes without gratitude. It's an area we are working on and could use your prayers!!

For the both of us, it was wonderful to be to be used by God to bless Jasmin and her family. It was so cute...literally 15 kids from the neighborhood all came running to see what the fuss was about and all the girls immediately began playing together with the Barbies - it was truly a blessing to us to be a part of the excitement!!

Sunday, October 30, 2005

La Drama!!

Oh my drama can rear it's ugly head.

I got the bill for the electricity & phone the other day and told Ramon about it. The bills both say that they are from June to October, so I asked him how he wanted to handle the June, July and August portion of the bill. He ran to the neighbor to get him to intervene and talk to me. I told the neighbor I got here in September, and am happy to pay my portion, but wanted to know how to handle the June, July and August portion. He went to Blanca to get her to explain to me that I had to pay all of it because I didn't understand the bill and they were all running around like chickens with their heads cut off. I got really mad and felt they were taking advantage of me and said again I would pay my portion, but not for the months preceding me even being here. It's turned into a huge drama, worthy of some tv drama or comedy...I'm not sure.

Then Mari, the lady who helps me with cleaning the house, got involved and wanted to let me know that Blanca isn't paying her properly and she doesn't know what to do.

THEN, all the kids have bought hamsters this last week and are all having a blast playing with them and making homes for them and taking care of them. Sierra took her money and bought a cage for it and promised Samady (Mari's son) that he could have it and her hamster when we leave. They are a really poor family and Mari couldn't afford a hamster, so we thought this was a great idea. Well, Miros (Blanca's daughter) wanted the house and asked Sierra if SHE could have it when we left...but only the house and not the hamster. Sierra told her that she'd promised it to Samady, so now Miros and her mom are mad, and some of the kids are teasing Sierra that Samady is her "boyfriend"...which is totally not the case, but you know how kids teasing can get to you when you are 11.

I hate drama, and I especially hate being in the middle of it. Can't we all just get along???

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Sounds of Mexico

Mexico is a loud country...there is just no getting around that. It's an interesting exercise to begin to learn the sounds of Mexico...beyond the clip-clop of the burro's feet and the crowing of the rooster, the shouts of children and the bang-bang-bang of fireworks is an entire language made up of sounds.

In the morning we'll often hear a major rattling...turns out it's chains being drug behind a truck to announce the coming of the garbage man. Everyone out to take out their garbage...the garbage truck is here!

Later we hear a garbled and variously pitched..."nanner neeny nanner neeny"...that's the water truck, here to deliver your water!

Sometimes we hear loud music blasted from megaphones on top of cars...that's the gas company with tanks of gas.

Everyone has a different sound...from different water companies to gas (propane or natural?), fruit trucks, ladies with carts of yogurt to sell, kids begging, people asking for money for all manner of purposes, name it. And everyone understands these sounds and knows what's coming by the sound coming up the street. If they need it, they scoot outside to purchase their wares. It's so much fun!

The old people just sit in front of the houses for most of the day and watch the goings on, while the kids are in and out playing and helping in the house. The rythm of the day is puncuated by the sounds that travel up and down the streets. I love it!

Updates on Itzel

Oh, my little Itzel!! She wasn't at school all week last week. This week she was there Tuesday, but not Thursday. I've talked with the teachers a little bit about her situation and it's so heartbreaking. Her mother is embarrassed for anyone to see her and doesn't take her out of the house. She doesn't do anything with her to help her to grow at all.

I really do believe that she could walk with the help of a walker and learn to communicate with sign language. I asked the regular teachers if the mom would be offended if I bought her a walker and began to work with her to learn to use it and they said no. I just love this little girl and my heart is breaking...I'd love to just take her with me!

I'm going to call the school for disabled kids and see if they can help in some way and maybe get her into classes there with her mom so her mom can learn too....Please, please keep praying on this!

As for Andrea....well, I think that little girl is just a frightened little thing. I got her out of her crib, but only if she is totally connected to me and her blanket. She doesn't like the other kids touching her or being near her, but I am pushing her to do that a little bit at a time. I actually got her to laugh, which was so much fun...she actually smiled and laughed!! I'll keep you updated on how she is doing, too.

Friday, October 21, 2005

No clever titles

I just came from my church here in Tepa...Cristo es el camino (Christ is the Way), and spent some time speaking with the pastor there. He is a wonderful man! We talked for a long time about what I am doing here and hoping to accomplish. I also told him where I am at and where I am heading from here.

In November we will be taking clothes, food and other items to Michoacan to a poor village to distribute everything and also to have a church service. Si & I will go along, and I'm really excited about it. We may stay behind a day or two to go to the Monarch Butterfly Reserve which is where 10's of thousands of Monarch butterflies migrate to for the winter to lay their eggs. It's a pretty amazing process they go through...but more on that another time.

Anyway, so I offered to sort and organize and wash all the clothes. I may have gotten in over my head....there are about 15 of those huge yard waste sized bags filled with clothes...and all very dirty...that I get to wash in my (rather small) wringer-washer (oh, about 6 hours a load) and then hang to dry and then get off the line and fold and organize back into the bags. PRAY FOR ME!!! We leave November 17, so I have only a few weeks to do this, in addition to everything else. Well, I'm just excited that I can help out, so it's all good.

I also will be speaking with the youth this week about missions and organizing them to deliver food with me. I did this last week and it was great. You cannot imagine what $500 pesos will buy! I went to the market and bought 12 kilos of tortillas (a kilo is 2.2 pounds), 6 kilos of beans, 3 kilos of pozole, and at least 2-4 kilos each of green beans, apples, bananas, oranges, lettuce, radishes, cactus, potatoes, 3 different varieties of peppers, and several other things that I can't rememer right now and are fruits and vegetables we don't get up in the States! It was over 100 pounds of food!! We drove around looking for people to give it to and ended up finding about 6 families, with a total of close to 50 people represented in those families. Sierra handed out candy and little toys to the kids (stuff we bought from Oriental Trading Company) and made up the bags of food.

I'm excited to get the kids helping, and I think they will find a real blessing in reaching out to others in this way. The pastor would like to expose them to missions, so I am also going to try to see if we can organize a trip to Chapala where there is Youth With A Mission (YWAM) campus. We'll see if that will happen, but I hope it does. Do please pray about these things for us and I will keep you updated on the progress.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


We have never had cable before, and therefore, no tv...we have a tv set, but it's really only good to watch movies on with the DVD player. We have cable weird is that??

I now know why I never wanted cable...there is SO MUCH junk out there...and the commercials should be banned. They are awful...we've learned to mute the tv during commercials and do something else so we don't have to look at that junk. Although I have to admit...the tv can be addicting! We found ourselves watching way too much and I had to put a limit on it.

One show we have found that we adore is "Touched By An Angel" this is a show worth watching. I cry like a baby at every episode! I'd heard of it, and now I get to watch it. It is an amazing's about Angels who are sent by God to help people in various situations. One of them is the Angel of Death, and he escorts people to be judged by God when they die.

Whenever the Angels reveal themselves to people, they ALWAYS say..."I am a messenger of God, and He has sent me here with a message for you...He wants you to know that He loves you very much"'s so incredible - no matter what they did or who they are, the first thing they are told is about God's Love. And isn't that what the Bible tells us? About God's incredible love for us, regardless of what we've done or who we are. It's so uplifting.

It also goes into choices...and the fact that we have free will...therefore, the Angels can never "make" someone do something...and they don't know what will happen or what the outcome it...the person ultimately has to decide what to do and how to live.

I understand this was a hugely popular show...and I'm so glad, because it gives us some of God's Truth right in prime time - amidst all the other junk out there, it's a nugget of gold.

Please Pray for Us

I was looking through some missions websites, and came across this daily prayer list for missionaries and their comes from the Covenant World Missions...Covenant is the denomination I belong to, and my home church is Redwood Covenant Church in Santa Rosa,'s a great list (I modified it only slightly), and really hits the areas that are so very important to Si and please, do pray for us when you think of it. Thank you so much!

How to Pray for Missionaries and Their Kids
For Missionaries:
- Relationship with God
- Warm personal devotions
- Growth in spiritual life
- Discernment of God's leading
- Awareness of God's power
- Protection from temptation and sin

- Physical and Emotional Health
- Physical strength, good health
- Freedom from depression and loneliness
- Wise financial management
- Personal and family safety
- Time to smell the flowers

- Family Life
- Parenting skills, happy children
- Open communication in the home

- Communication
- Fluency in the language, ability to communicate
- Cultural adaptation and understanding
- Relationship with home church

- Effective Ministry
- Open doors for witness and evangelism
- Responsive hearers
- Best use of time

- Relationships with Co-workers
- Honesty and openess
- Affirmation, appreciation of others
- Submission to one another in love
- A sense of humor

- Adopted Country
- Political situation and economic conditions
- Issues of wealth and poverty
- Relationship with government, visas
- Spiritual battles
- Strong national church
- Need for new missionaries

For missionaries' children:
- Relationship with God
- Acceptance of Christ as personal savior
- Spiritual growth
- Personal devotional life
- Protection from temptation and sin
- Fellowship with other Christian kids and adults

- Relationship with Family
- Acceptance of parent's call and work
- Open communications with parents
- Love and happiness and trust in the family
- Affirmation received from parents and siblings

- Friends and School
- Dealing well with loneliness, homesickness
- If home schooling, able to learn and sustain interest
- Compatible friends, playmates, activities

- Adopted Country
- Ease in language learning
- Friendships with nationals
- Appreciation of local culture and activities
- Church participation with enjoyment

- Safety and Health
- Protection from accidents and diseases
- Protection for dangerous situations
- Peace, stability and integrity of local government
- Ability to trust God when crises arise

- Home Assignment Years
- Dealing with changes and loss
- Fitting in to school, church
- Finding friends for one year
- Accepting differences between home and field

- Re-entry to Home Country
- Choosing the right school, job, or profession
- Resisting temptation
- Handling finances, other matters with maturity
- Overcoming loneliness

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Ramon the new Roomie

As you may remember, we are living in the house of a man whose wife recently passed away. She had had cancer for the past few years and lost her battle less than 2 months ago. Apparently she was a wonderful woman.

The house is pretty dark, and I think the style would be considered "garrish"...not my style, but it's alright. There are 3 bedrooms, but the master is kept locked. Sierra and I share one room and have use of the rest of the house. I had pictures...but, you heard that story.

About a week ago, Ramon (the owner) came down to Mexico. I guess he was too sad to be where his wife died (in Anaheim, CA) and wanted to get away for awhile, and also to get rid of the stuff in the house (and there is a LOT of stuff!). We weren't sure when he'd get day he wasn't coming til December, the next he was coming in two weeks, then in November...he finally showed up a week ago Saturday.

It was a bit awkward, and I wasn't sure how we'd do with sharing the space with a stranger. It's been a little tough, but not the end of the world. The first few days he ended up pretty sick with heart problems and low blood sugar...I was really afraid he'd come here to die and was really, really hoping he wouldn't!

He is trying to sell everything...and he wants really high prices for it all, so he spends a lot of time arguing with people about the value of his stuff. He thinks anything less then 10 years old is "basically new"...but somehow I get the feeling that if he was buying this stuff he'd want it dirt cheap. My neighbor Blanca says he is "stingy"...and hits her elbow - apparently the Mexican version of being tight-fisted!

Blanca is doing everything for him...making his meals, cleaning his house out, keeping on top of his medication...and he only complains. She wants a few things like kitchen stuff and he is charging her outrageous prices! It's a little tough living with him...but he is letting us live here and he is letting us use the car around town, so I it is really okay.

People have different gifts...I have the gift of loving children and poor people and desperate people. I like old people, but my gift is not in taking care of them...I get very impatient. Ramon isn't my favorite, but I prayed God would give me a good attitude (because it was lacking)...and I really can say I've seen a change in my attitude...I'm feeling more soft towards him, and wanting to reach out to help more...I made beans and soup for him one night and am trying to offer to take him places and that sort of thing. I am trying to turn the cheek when he complains or takes our waters and sodas. It is a struggle as my flesh continues to want him to be appreciative, and to take count of things I do for, it's still something I'm praying about!

As I said, my camera is missing...I am afraid that his niece may have taken it, but everyone has made this a big drama with everyone telling me who they think took it and who isn't trustworthy...oh, how I hate that!!! Everyone talking about it makes me more sad than the actual fact that it is missing. Some of the adults blame the kids and say they are "bad" kids...when I've only seen gracious, polite and kind children here in our neighborhood (one noted exception of an older boy...but he's nowhere around the kids who play together with Sierra).

So, that is the short story of Ramon, our new Roomie...I have to remember...this is HIS house, and we are thankful to have a place to stay. He really isn't all that bad, and is mostly just stuck in his ways. I am looking at this as an "opportunity" for growth and compassion and learning.

Monday, October 17, 2005


On Friday we thought it would be fun to take off for the weekend...we're realizing we don't have much time left here and don't want to just laze around all weekend long. We were faced with rainy weather most of the weekend, so weren't sure where to go...we finally decided on Guadalajara, which is only about an hour and a half away.

We got there Friday afternoon and went to Tonala, a suburb of Guadalajara. We walked around a bit and looked at the crafts, and then we went to Tlaquepaque and got a hotel. We walked around Tlaquepaque for awhile, and then went to our hotel to go to bed.

The next morning we got up and took a taxi to the zoo. Our taxi driver told us he was a missionary!! We were really excited and told him we were, too! He was so excited. He told us all about a group of people he is with who "dance for Jesus" and showed me a picture of him carrying a cross on a rural road...he said he carried it, dancing and singing, for 14 hours. We had a great time talking...we was what I would call a Charismatic Catholic! He was very proud of the fact that he'd been married for 24 years and had never been with anyone but his wife. In Mexican culture it is not unusual for men to have mistresses (part of the "machismo" phenomenon), so this was saying something. We agreed to have him pick us up after the zoo closed at 6:30 pm.

We went to the cost $40 pesos for me and $1 peso for Sierra!! We also bought tickets to go on their "Africa" tour where you ride in an open air truck through an area where the animals live in a more natural setting...the cost? Under $3 dollars for both of us! We made a bee-line to the African Safari, figuring the earlier in the day the better. It was so cool!! There were only about 6 of us and we rode on this bumpy road in the "savannah" and saw all sorts of animals living "wild". At one point we stopped and a huge giraffe came over to our truck and we got to feed him was great! We were glad we did the safari.

After, we went and saw the other animals, too...the zoo is set up really well and is a nice place. They have a jungle area, an Australian outback area, kiddie zoo, reptile area, nocturnal area. In the jungle area they have an aviary where you can go in and see all sorts of birds and also a monkey house with little squirrel monkeys - for $5 pesos you can buy a little cup of food to feed the monkeys. Oh my gosh - this was definitely the highlight of the day! We ended up buying something like 6 cups! We quickly learned if we just sat still that a bunch of these adorable little critters would be crawling all over us pronto. At one point I had 5 or 6 on me, with two on my head...they were picking at my hair!! I was getting REAL nervous that they would get in a fight on my head and bite me! Sierra was having a blast...they seemed really drawn to her and they were all over and around her. We were really laughing and having a good time.

One BIG bummer that happened this camera has disappeared. I'm so disappointed. I have turned the house upside down looking for it, and it's simply gone. I don't know if someone took it or the old man living here sold it by accident (more on that later). It had the pictures from Mexico City, Guadalajara (last month, not this trip), our new "home" and Tepatitlan...all gone. Please pray it turns up.

Since we didn't have our usual camera, we bought one of those disposable, hopefully we'll get a few pictures with that...but I won't be able to post them like I could with my digital. Big Sigh.

Back to the to the zoo...or actually a part of it, is an amusement park with rides - basic fair-type rides, but rides nonetheless. Sierra was really wanting to go there...I mean, they put in right in plain view, what kid wouldn't??? So, we was $10 to get in, including all of the rides, so I thought it was a pretty good deal. We did the standard Pirate Boat, Bumper Cars, Roller Coasters and all was fun in that amusement park, fair like, wait in line and get your 2 minutes of thrills sort of way. There weren't many people there, so we did get in a lot of rides.

After a full day of this, boy were we tired! Especially me, being old and all. Whew! We got out to the entrance and our friend the taxi driver was there (remember him?)...he laughed at how tired we looked. Sierra swore she wasn't as tired as me, but then practically fell asleep on the way home. She was hungry for BK, so he took us to one and I ran in and got us some food to go. We got back to our hotel and ate, watched tv for a little bit and hit the sack.

The next morning (Sunday) we got up and had breakfast (did I mention it was included with the hotel?? cool!) and met a woman from the US who lives in Mexico now...she's been here 11 years and doesn't speak Spanish! How is that possible?? After breakfast we walked around and window-shopped a bit in Tlaquepaque, and then went to the Centro in search of a bookstore that had English language small feat, surprisingly! We were sadly unsuccessful and found only a few over-priced magazines ($6 to $7 dollars for a magazine!!). I especially want to find "The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe" as we have every other book in the series but that one, and we have some lessons we found for it with the movie coming out and all. Bummer!

We ended up getting a few of those over-priced magazines, if only for the luxury of reading in our own language...and decided we were too tired to keep going, so we headed for the bus station and on home.

We ended up getting home about 6:30 or so...had a little dinner, took showers, got a load of laundry started and hopped into bed. It was good to get out of town and and come home exhausted at the end of the weekend.

*POP* goes the finger!

Everyone sing the tune of "Pop goes the Weasel"...

Mom & Si are doing laundry
Puttin' the clothes through the ringer
Si's gets her hand caught in the roller
*POP* goes the finger!

Oh yes...the song almost captures the grossness! many blogs about my daughter's accidents.

So, in order to do laundry, we have a really old washer. We have to fill it up (15 minutes), put in some soap and swish it around to mix it, then put in the clothes. It agitates for a few minutes, and we drain it (move clothes out of way to drain better)...then we re-fill it for the rinse cycle...repeat this process about 3 times to get a good rinse. Finally, drain water, and turn on ringer - put clothes through ringer and then hang on clothes line.

One thing we've learned is how to be weather's a real bummer when you start your laundry (the washing takes at least 4 hours per load...and this is if you're on "top" of it the whole time) and then it starts getting overcast and rainy! It's happened. One night the laundry was out and we had to run up to the roof to pull it down at 10:30 at night when a storm started. So, we've had to learn how to predict weather patterns, which is interesting.

Well, getting back to the subject of this post...we were in the process of putting the clothes through the ringer and Sierra was pushing the clothes through and I was getting them out of the washer and handing them to her when all of a sudden I heard a scream...I freaked and hit the big red button that releases the ringer ('s a safety feature!). Her pinky finger and knuckle looked a little funny and she couldn't bend it. I was worried she'd broken her finger.

I went next door to Blanca's house and asked her to look at it and to see if she thought it was broken and I needed to take her to a doctor. She thought maybe it was sprained. I asked her where to go and she came with me to show me.

We drove about 15 minutes to the outskirts of town and pulled into a rundown neighborhood - Blanca asked where some guy was and we went to his house, but he wasn't there. We were told to come back after 3 pm - about another hour.

We go to work at the orphanage at 4 pm, so we went back to the house and I gave Sierra some ice for her hand and we waited a little while. At about 3, Sierra and I headed back over to this guys house. We got there and knocked on the door and some really, really old guy came out looking a little scruffy. I asked if he was the doctor and he said yes and invited us into his front room where there was a curtain pulled across the side of the room. He pulled the curtain back to reveal an old cot with a blanket. I was not inspired with confidence! I wondered if this was one of those back-country "healers" you hear about! I told him what had happened and he felt around Sierra's finger and hand a bit, and then suddenly *POP*...he put her knuckle back in place. Apparently she had dislocated knuckle. He said she would be sore for a few days or so, but would be fine. I asked how much we owed him and he said whatever we wanted, so I gave him $40 pesos and we were on our way!

We went to the orphanage for our English class, and then to the pharmacy to get one of those finger braces for her. It's been a few days and she is still a little sore, but can bend her hand pretty well. We've been singing our own little version of "Pop goes the Weasel" ever since!

Friday, October 14, 2005


So, we went to church last weekend again and it was another great service. We are talking about pride and humility, and really going in-depth about it. It's great!

This is our last week working at all three week it will be just the pre-school and the orphanage. I'm looking forward to that, even though I feel bad about missing the kids at the other school.

At the pre-school, we work with the babies...there are 15 in the class. We are there on Tuesday and Thursday mornings until about 1:30 pm. It's so interesting, the differences between American pre-schools and Mexican pre-schools. This is considered a very good school, and is run by the Catholic Church. The woman who runs is it Sister Leonor, a sweet and gracious woman.

I originally went to school to be a pre-school teacher, and spent several years teaching. I took a lot of pride in my room, having different areas for the children where they could explore their world without getting too overwhelmed...reading area, block area, home play area, etc. We had circle time and snack time and play time and nap time. We had units to learn basic concepts and weekly lesson plans that reinforced the concepts. I really enjoyed it, and was good at it.

The pre-school, on the other hand, is totally different. The rooms are basically plain...there really isn't a lot in them. In the baby room where we are at there are some cribs, a changing table and a few things to climb on. There are exactly 3 old, dirty doll missing an arm and most of it's hair. One duplo block (like a giant lego) and a small plastic horse. That's it. One toy per 5 kids! The babies that don't walk are mostly left in walkers or in their strollers. The babies that do walk basically just walk around. The wierd thing is the babies seem totally happy and content. The teachers are loving and responsive, but with 15 babies they don't do any sort of lessons or games or singing.

There are 3 rooms, all fairly narrow and is the "outside" play room with a few climbing type structures. The other has the changing table and two cribs and is the smallest of all, but is where the teachers spend the most of the day. The third has 5 or so other cribs and is for the sleeping babies. The kids are often put 2-3 to a crib and the sheets are not changed regularly. All are fed with one spoon out of the same bowl. There is no sink in the room to wash hands so the teachers use that no-water type stuff for their hands.

The kids eat breakfast at 9 am, and then all get changed and play until about Noon when one teacher fixes all their hair. At 1 pm they eat lunch...the walkers go to the kitchen and the babies get fed. After lunch they all get changed into new diapers and new clothes and then get laid down for bed.

Sierra plays with one little girl named Esperanza...she is about 1 1/2 and is so cute. Sierra spoils her rotten...she carries her all the time and does whatever Espe wants! She can't stand to hear her cry or look unhappy, so she is constantly entertaining her. She loves to change her closthes and feed her and do her hair...she's even changing her diaper! It's really sweet.

There are a lot of cute babies...big brown eyes and lots of black hair - so precious! There is one little girl that I really want to love. She is disabled..she is 5 years old, but looks about 2. They said her disability is that she has cerebral paralysis, but I don't know what this means, really. Her eyes are set too widely apart and they don't focus well. She has the look of autism, and she doesn't have good motor functioning. She doesn't talk or really make much sound at all except she occasionally cries...even this is very quiet and sounds so pitiful. It's not a demanding cry, but a heartbroken one that pierces my heart. They generally leave her in the walker all the time, but I've been taking her out of the walker and holding her and loving on her. I think she could learn to walk with therapy, and even to communicate...perhaps by sign language. I've been working with her to get her to stand up and roll over. I feel like I want to just love her as much as I can and whisper God's love into her little soul. Her name is Itzel.

I'm glad we're at the pre-school. I think Sierra is learning a lot by helping out with the babies and it's great to see her fall in love with Espe. I feel like I'm doing something important by loving on Itzel. I think it was a good choice to stay there.

New Directions

So, we'd found a church and were really happy about that. We were also working at 3 jobs, as well as homeschooling and keeping the house, Rotary meetings and whatnot. I was feeling like we'd taken on too much.

I'd been asked to teach some private English lessons and was feeling like we were just going, going, going too much....we had gone from one extreme to another. One of the reasons we wanted to leave the US for awhile was to slow our pace down, spend more time with each other and with others, having deeper relationships and learning to appreciate and live life more.

We were both feeling sick...stuffy heads, runny noses, sore throats...we were in the full throes of a cold! Sierra wasn't getting her schoolwork done and we were so tired we weren't spending much time just visiting.

Most of all, we felt like we were just not doing what we'd set out to do. We felt like volunteers, and nothing more...and we didn't feel like we were being much of a blessing or really making a difference. It had been a few weeks and it just didn't seem like what we were here for.

I talked to Sierra about it to see how she felt...she also felt we were overdoing it. We wanted time to explore still, and to do school more, and to spend time together and with friends...not to mention time to just relax. I had decided to let Sierra choose which school she wanted to be at so that she would have more "buy-in" with what we were doing and she could have some ownership of it. She chose the pre-school...she had bonded with a little girl named Esperanza and was totally in love! She wanted to be with her.

Since I didn't want to be a flake at the other school, we went back for another week so we could let them know and not leave suddenly. This week was the last week for us at the school for the handicapped kids. I am sad that we won't be there because I really think these kids are special, but I do feel it is the best route for us.

God Moves

So, backtracking a day after teaching English we were waiting for the bus and there was a woman who was there also waiting for the bus. She struck me as beautiful. Sierra had taken up a lot of space on the bench, so I had her clean up her stuff and asked the woman if she wanted to sit down. She declined and said she preferred to sit in the shade.

We waited for the bus and when it finally came, I glanced back at her and noticed she was putting a book in her seemed to me it was a Bible. We all got on the bus and went on our way. I kept wondering...was that a Bible? Is she a Christian? I wanted to ask, but the bus was crowded and we weren't close enough to talk.

Finally, our bus stop came and Sierra and I got off the bus. I was surprised that the woman got off, too! I decided to be bold and just asked, were you reading your Bible? She said yes, she was. So, being bold again (this is very unlike me...I'm not usually bold in matters concerning anything personal), I asked if she was a Christian. She said yes and I, I mean, are you a Christian or a Catholic? She again responded she was a Christian. I was really excited! You see, there are many, many Catholics in Mexico, but not many Christians...I believe it's something like 93% of Mexicans consider themselves Catholic, 4-6% Chrisitian and 1-3% "other".

I've come to think that mostly the Catholicism here is symbolic and somewhat superstitious. It's interesting that everytime the bus goes by a church, the entire bus will do the cross symbol and kiss their fingers. It's a comfort to people, but I don't see a lot of people whose lives are dictated by what their faith says. I suppose the same is true of US "christians"...people who identify themselves by a particular religion, but it really has nothing to do with their day to day lives. Maybe earlier in American History, christianity was more embedded in the culture, as it is here in Mexico...thus making it an interesting intertwining of belief, culture and habit. I have a lot of thoughts on this, but won't bore you with my ill-thought-out philosophies!

So, anyway...back to the bus stop and the woman...I told her I was so excited to meet her as are missionaries here and working with the orphanage, but felt like I was not being "fed" and was anxious to find a church. She told me that the church was just up the street, so we went there with her...turns out it was only 3-4 blocks from where we are living! We went in with her to see it, and visited with her for awhile. Her brother is the pastor, and she is the Sunday School teacher for the pre-schoolers. They are building the church still, and so it is not all done. They have two rooms set aside for missionaries! I was really excited and felt so great. They are collecting donations of clothes and blankets to take to Michoacan in November - I told her I'd love to help out and go with them to Michoacan. Her name is Maria Elena, and she was also excited. She said at the bus stop she had had a feeling we were Christians! This made me feel really good. We told her we'd see her at church on Sunday.

That Sunday we got to church about 10:45. They start prayer at 10:30 and service at 11. Boy, do these people pray!! People were walking all over the church, praying out loud. It seemed pretty chaotic, but in an exciting way. Everyone was really passionate about their particular prayers. It wasn't being led by anyone and people weren't particularly praying together, but everyone was together...that sounds strange, I know. It was really cool!

Service started slowly, with people still praying while music started. By about 11:15 or so, everyone was singing along with the band and more people were showing up. The music was really uplifting...mostly fast songs, and people were dancing and some people were even jumping and dancing around the building with tamborines and other musical instruments. Everyone was clapping and raising their hands - it was great. I hadn't realized how "hungry" I'd been for Christian fellowship until I got there...I was overwhelmed with emotion most of the time and kept crying. Sierra kept asking why, which was really bugging me!!! I remembered really thinking my mom was wacky when she'd cry in church all the time, and how I'd ask her what was wrong...and now I know how she felt!

Everyone was so welcoming and it was great to be there. There was a girl who was turning 15 and was having her Quincinera, which is a sort of "coming out" party for young ladies, announcing them as young women. It's quite an ordeal and is as elaborate and fancy as a wedding. Families often spend as much as $20,000 US dollars for this party! She showed up at church in this beautiful baby blue formal and her hair done just so...she was gorgeous. The pastor had everyone go up and greet and hug her and the congregation was invited to the party afterwards. His sermon focused on Ephesians 6...about children obeying and honoring their parents, and the promise that they would live a long, happy life...and also for parents not to exasperate their children and to remember that it is more important to capture your childs heart than it is to have little robots. It was a great much as I understood!! Haha!

So, we didn't get out of church until...oh, about was like a 3 1/2 hour sermon! Yikes! I figured my pastor back home, John Strong, would have loved it! He is always chagrined at having to keep it at an hour and fifteen.

We were supposed to have left at 2 to go to a party (every Sunday there is a party of some sort), and we were late. I didn't really want to go...after working all week we were tired and I just wanted to relax a bit. We got home and found out our friends were waiting for us, so I felt really bad to tell them we weren't going! However, that is what we did, and then we enjoyed the rest of the day hanging out together.

Overdoing it

Monday came bright and early...we had to be at the school at 8:30 am. This means up by 7 am to get ready and out the door at 8 am to catch the bus. The bus is about 20 minutes, and then we have to walk 6 blocks to the school. We got a hot chocolate to drink along the way.

We got to the school and couldn't find the director. We were supposed to be checking out different classrooms every time, but didn't know where to go. Someone told us to just go back to the one we'd been at before. We got there and the teacher told us he had to go for an appointment and he'd see us later. Another girl was there as well. Some of the kids remembered us and that was fun.

The kids were wild. They wouldn't listen to anything and everyone seemed really wound up and bothered. One boy in particular was really having a hard time and was screaming and kicking. It was totally out of my range of ability and the kids were not listening to me at all. I asked the girl if she'd been here before...turns out she is a student teacher, but is usually with another class. She should have been taking control of this class, but wasn't doing anything. I felt like I had to take charge and it was only my second day as a volunteer!! The kids were really hitting each other a lot, and out of their seats and wouldn't sit down. One girl named Sandra kept running over and taking the paint off the shelves, and also the markers. She would run away when I tried to get it from her.

Two girls were putting their sweaters and backpacks on their desks to block out another girl and so the third girl was crying. Another boy, Erik, started throwing things and really freaking out. He was pulling everything off the shelves and throwing it...puzzles, chalk, everything. The sub was doing nothing but saying "oh my". I said...I'm going for help!

I went to the office and asked for someone to help us. They got the school counselor and she came in to was total mayhem and she really had to work to get those kids under control. Erik and another girl never did and spent time with me and her forcing them to sit down and not hit, kick, bite or throw. was a hard day! I was exhausted.

The next day we started at the pre-school, working with the babies. Sierra was supposed to help with the 3 year olds, but decided she wanted to be with me. She had a terrible attitude and was getting in the cribs and demanding my attention because she was jealous I was holding babies. I was so mad at her! I was embarrassed! Otherwise, the babies were cute and it was fun to hold them.

That week went on, and the next, and we continued to work each day, basically from about 8 to 6. We had a break of a few hours in the afternoon, and Sierra was doing her schoolwork. At night we were exhausted. All the babies at the daycare were sick with colds and by Thursday I could feel I was coming down with it, too. I woke up Friday with a sore throat and stuffy nose. By that afternoon, my throat was very sore and I was all clogged up. We decided to take it easy for the weekend.


I had been teaching English at the orphanage for a few days and was really enjoying it. There were about 5 girls who were coming regularly, and they are all really sweet. They are from 11 to 23 years old. I am cautious to ask too many personal questions because I don't want them to feel uncomfortable, but I am curious as to their stories. I hope as we get to know one another better that they will open up to me.

Sierra is enjoying being with the kids, too, and is a natural teacher (which is no surprise!!). She tends to take the younger ones and they play vocabulary games while I tutor the older ones with their homework. We're having a lot of fun coming up with lesson plans and putting together ideas for games to teach them. We are finding that we usually run over by at least 30-45 minutes and I think the nuns are annoyed, but they haven't said anything!

We also started to help out at the school for disabled kids. The first day we were in a class with children of various disabilities, and they are all quite profoundly disabled. They have the abilities of about 2 year olds, but are ages 9 to 20. We helped them with cutting, coloring, matching and that sort of thing. Since they have the ability and mind of 2 year olds, we are also often keeping them from hitting one another and that sort of thing...the thing is, these kids are STRONG!! Mostly, they are really sweet and it's so heartwarming to be with them. I really believe God has a special place for them in heaven. One boy, Martin, is just as sweet as can be...unfortunately, he seems to be somewhat of a target for the other kids and they will just randomly go up and hit him. Sierra has taken him under her wing a bit and that seems to help.

We were scheduled to start at the pre-school the next week.

Volunteer Opportunities

As I said, I was so disappointed about the response I got from the orphanage. I began to doubt if I had heard the Lord correctly...I thought, "Maybe I heard it partly right"...I wasn't sure what to do. I did an internet search for other orphanages in Mexico and put out the word to some other people about what was going on. I found a few orphanages that seemed like something I would like to be involved in and emailed them, but didn't hear back. Many said they needed 3-6 months notice for volunteers. I spoke with some Rotary friends.

Sierra and I were getting pretty bored just hanging around the house all day. School wasn't taking very long and we were spending too much time watching tv. I was praying a lot, asking God what He wanted from us. I still felt that the mission field is where we belonged, but it didn't seem to be working like I had planned.

We went to a birthday party one Sunday for a woman who was turning 88. There were probably 300 people there!! It was as big as a wedding. I found out that her kids throw her this big of a party EVERY year! I ran into some friends I had met from last year...they had been in Rotary but aren't any more. I had really connected with them last year and was disappointed I wouldn't be seeing them at the meetings. I spent quite a bit of time visiting with Jose Luis and fact, they were the ones who had introduced me to the Mother Superior and the orphanage the year before. I told Angelica what was happening and she said we should have lunch the next day and she would tell me about some other places I could do some work at. She told me her sister is a missionary for the Catholic church and just left to go to Africa to work with children there.

The next day I met with Angelica and we spent the morning with her showing me the best places to shop....bread at this store, meat at this one, fruit and vegetables another, cheese at yet another. Shopping is a major undertaking here in Mexico!! Next she took us to a school for disabled children. I could tell she had been there before as everyone knew her and paid her a lot of respect...she told them we wanted to volunteer and we were told we could come 2-3 days per week in the mornings. Next we went to a pre-school, with the same results. In a short amount of time we had 3 jobs and were plenty busy 5 days a week.

We had lunch with Angelica and her family - they are really wonderful people and I am so glad they are our friends. I was happy to have work to do, but a little nervous, too, because it had been such a whirlwind! I figured we'd take it day by day to see how it went.

Saturday, October 08, 2005


We pulled into Tepatitlan around 3 pm and grabbed a taxi to head to Martin and Blanca's house, who were going to help us get settled. I had met them last year when I was here with Rotary for the Festival de Hermandad...Martin loves to sing and is a real party guy. When we got to their house, Martin was out of town but Blanca was in and welcomed us warmly. We spent the day visiting and getting acquainted. They have 4 kids, one of which is the same age as Sierra so they had a good time playing.

Blanca explained that Martin's aunt lived alone a few blocks from the plaza and that she didn't really like to live alone and had said we could live with her. I wasn't too happy about this as I really wanted to live alone, but Blanca explained that there really aren't any furnished apartments here in town to rent. We went to visit with Martin's aunt and she was a nice woman. Her home was very small and filled to the brink with breakable, valuable stuff. She wanted $300 per month. I explained that I really couln't pay more than $200. She said this would be fine. We would have the upstairs room...I felt that even $200 was a bit expensive for just a room, and was concerned we wouldn't be comfortable there because it was so fancy. I expressed my concern to Blanca.

Later that night Martin came home and Blanca told him that we'd visited his aunt...he understood how we felt and we decided to try to find another place. The house next door was empty as the owners live in Mexico City so Martin thought maybe they would be willing to rent it out to us for a few months.

The neighbor across the street also lived out of the area with their kids in the US. The wife had recently died and Blanca was helping to clean up the house and get rid of old stuff. That night they spoke with the owner Ramon, who said he would be happy to rent it to us. We agreed on $250 for the house and we would be responsible for the utilities we used. We got in and cleaned the house over the next few hadn't been lived in for awhile so everything was really dusty and dirty. However, we were glad to have a place to call our own and were anxious to settle in.

We spent the next week or so going to the grocery store, settling into the house and getting acquainted with the town. I was still getting tired quickly from having been sick, so we rested as much as needed.

On weekends Martin would invite us to go with them to various ranches in the surrounding areas to visit friends and family and eat dinner with them. This was always fun and everyone is very welcoming.

The second week we were here we went up to the orphanage to talk with them about what we were to do. We went several times, but every time the Mother Superiour was busy or not there. I was getting very frustrated. One of the nuns then gave me her phone number so I called to set up an appointment...she told me to come in the next day.

We went in and spoke with one of the nuns for quite some time. She seemed excited to have us and we met briefly with the Mother Superiour...she remembered me from last November and also seemed happy to have us there. We were to start off teaching English in the afternoons and then help with the children in the evening preparing them for bed and getting their clothes out for the next day. This would work well for us as then Sierra could do her schoolwork during the day.

While we were there two women came them had a 10 year old daughter and didn't want her anymore - she said she was too rebellious. I couldn't believe it!! Giving up your 10 year old daughter!! I was heartbroken and wondered if I should offer to take her. The nun responded that they don't take children simply because they are rebellious...the family must be too poor to care for them, or the government removes the child due to abuse. They wouldn't take the child. The woman was well-dressed, as was her friend. Money didn't appear to be a problem. What a heart-breaking situation, especially for an unwanted 10 year old little girl. How rebellious could she be?

The next day we headed to the orphanage to get to work. We taught English for awhile, and then played with the kids for some time. At dinner I asked what we should do and a nun said she needed to talk to me. She took me and Sierra to the seating area and told us they only wanted us to be there from 4-5 pm to teach English. I asked why and she didn't really have an answer...I expressed that we had intended to work 4-5 hours per day, and this is what we'd talked to the Mother Superiour about. She just nodded and looked at me. I was so disappointed. I wanted to cry. Did I give up everything back home for this?? What was wrong with us? I was angry and felt ashamed. This is not what I had imagined.