Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I am in the United States to spend Christmas with my family. I'll be here until Jan.5th and then will fly back to Puebla. The second semester of school begins Jan.7th. We're half-way through!

I've done some shopping the last few days. None of the shopping was for Christmas presents since I already had those, but I have gone out and about to buy things that are hard or impossible to get in Puebla. Although the last-minute shoppers are out in abundance, people have been polite and patient.
My dad, sisters, and I went out two nights to see the Christmas lights. One neighborhood near here has the tradition of lavishly decorating the houses with lights, automated figures, and musical trees. It's quite the show! Fashion Island, a ritzy mall about 1/2 hour from here, boasts the biggest Christmas tree in the world. It's quite a sight, and we go every year to see it.
Have a blessed Christmas and a wonderful new year. Enjoy the time with friends and family, and remember the Reason for the Season. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given. And the government shall be on his shoulders, and he shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

all over the place

This has been an insane last few weeks. I neglected to write here last week, but then I've also neglected writing emails to friends and family. For the last few weeks, I have hardly been home.

Speaking of home, the location changed last weekend. Another American missionary named Florina had been looking for a place to move when her lease expired in December. She and Bethany explored the surrounding neighborhood and found a house for rent two doors down from our apartment. The house has three bedrooms (more or less...) and lots of space (but almost none of it is storage space). It was unfurnished, but friends of Florina loaned her some furniture, and other missionary families contributed some more. We still lack a stove and oven but hopefully will be able to buy one in January.

The house has its quirks, the most 'interesting' being the stairs. The are triangular shaped. If you go up or down, you must lead with your right foot or you will end up trying to balance on the point. You also have to be careful to duck when you reach the bottom, or you will smack your head on the doorway.

After spending all last Saturday moving, I went to church Sunday morning at Dios es Amor and then went out with the usual group to Huejotzingo. We are teaching the kids three different Christmas carols - I'm learning them in Spanish right along with them. After the song practice, we showed the kids how to make paper beads, and they set to work starting the necklaces for their mothers. This afternoon they will string the beads to finish the gifts.

On Friday three other PCS teachers divided up time in my classroom so that I could go with Abraham and his mother Six to the Sierras to deliver the offering that the children at Huejotzingo had collected for Luciano, a missionary that Dios es Amor supports. It was a long day. I left home at 6:30 to take the city bus to another bus station where I met Abraham and Six. We took the 7:30 bus to the Sierras. Arriving three hours later, we then waited another hour (in the sun, trying to thaw - it's cold there) at the station for Luciano to arrive, and then we piled into a combi for the 1 1/2 hour drive on the widing roads to his house.

Almost as soon as we arrived, Luciano's wife served us chicken stew and fresh tortillas - the best I've ever tasted. We took some time to explore the area near Luciano's house, climbing first uphill to see their view of the valley and then clambering downhill to see the spring where the villagers gather water and do their laundry. On returning to the house, Abraham gave Luciano the offering which Luciano had not known we were bringing. After the brief stay, it was time for us to catch the return combi and then again the bus to Puebla and the city bus home.

Saturday afternoon, Abraham graduated from a one-year course he had been taking in counseling, so I attended the ceremony, and then we left from there to go to the quinceaƱos of a young lady Abraham knows in Huejotzingo. The family is Christian, so the ceremony began in their church and then everyone gathered at their house for feasting. And what feasting it was! The plates were so heaped with meat, rice, and tortillas that I couldn't imagine finishing everything. Not to worry - we weren't expected to eat it all. In fact, after everyone had eaten their fill, the servers brought heaped plates for people to take home.

No taxis or combis passed by after we left the party, although it was still evening. Happily, a family stopped and took us and another group of party-goers into the open back of their truck. We crouched in the back, trying to avoid the cold wind, and soon arrived in the Huejotzingo zocalo where we could take the bus home.