Monday, December 14, 2009

Virgen de Guadalupe

On December 12th, the Catholics of Mexico celebrate the appearance, 500 years ago, of the Virgen de Guadalupe to Juan Diego. She is, according to the belief of many, one incarnation of Mary, the mother of Jesus. The main area for worshipping her is the Basilica in Mexico City, but Puebla also has a church specially dedicated to her.

Abraham has an assignment for one of his seminary classes to investigate and report on Catholicism in Mexico. The afternoon and evening of the 11th and again on the 12th morning and once more at night, we joined swarms of people outside of the church to conduct interviews. The park by the church was filled with carnival rides and vendors of everything from food and drinks to tee-shirts and trinkets. By night, it was a blaze of light and sound, so filled with people that at times we couldn't even move through the crowd.

We interviewed five women and five men, chosing a range of ages. Our questions included asking if they were Catholic and why. At the 'why' question, the women I interviewed gave me blank looks. Some of them asked, "What do you mean?" Well, of all the religions in the world, why that one? All but one answered, "Because my parents are." The interviews revealed that many didn't really know what they believed or why. Several admitted to never reading the Bible.

At midnight on the 11th/12th, Abraham and I watched part of the service in the Basilica on t.v. It was very disheartening to see the thousands of people streaming in and through the church, giving their adoration to the "mother of God."

The afternoon of the 12th, Abraham and I met Ken out at Huejotzingo to practice "Joy to the World" and the script of A Christmas Carol with the kids. More kids came this week than last week, but we still haven't had all the participants together at one time. Our Scrooge has never rehearsed with the kids, and we're not entirely sure he'll actually show up. Never a dull moment...

On Sunday afternoon, we all stayed busy putting up Christmas decorations, putting more layers on piñatas, rehearsing the song and the script, distributing snacks and cleaning up afterward, and going over the normal Bible story. Next week on Sunday is the actual presentation, but we will go to Huejotzingo Saturday in the morning rather than in the afternoon, because one of the girls has her quinceaños celebration in the afternoon.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

the Christmas season

Advent has begun. This year in my class, we're doing different Christmas-related activities each day and discussing the story of Jesus' birth. A few days ago, I asked my fifth and sixth graders to write down as much of the Christmas story as they knew. The results were surprising: these children of pastors and missionaries had many errors in their stories. I hope that by the time we leave for vacation on the 18th, the children will know the true story.

Meanwhile, we continue to work with the children in Huejotzingo. Abraham and I edited Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol and converted it into a reader's theater. We have started going on Saturday afternoons as well as on Sundays in order to practice two songs and the reader's theater. Last Saturday we also started making piñatas. Although many of the kids do not read well, they are starting to learn their parts.


Last Sunday a friend of Abraham's from the seminary invited him to speak at his church. This church is brand new and meets in a home. Abraham spoke from Luke chapter 2, emphasizing how the shepherds shared the news of Jesus' birth immediately. We too have the privilege and responsibility to share the Good News.

This season in Mexico is one when the focus leaves the birth of Jesus and turns to Guadalupe. Thousands of pilgrims walk, drive, or bike to the Basilica in Mexico City to adore the virgin on Dec. 12. We've been seeing pilgrims traveling, carrying their images and pictures. Please pray that the true message of God's Gift to humanity would break through the confusion of the traditions surrounding Guadalupe.

On Sunday evening, Abraham and I set up our first Christmas tree. We found a good artificial tree at a swap meet and bought lights and bulbs to decorate. After returning from Huejotzingo, we put the tree together and strung lights. The results are lovely! This will be our first Christmas as a married couple and my first Christmas away from my parents, brother, and sisters. We will be starting new traditions together.

"God bless us, every one!"

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thankful

It has been awhile since I´ve posted. For some time I was working on editing a copy of The Christmas Carol in Spanish so that the kids in Huejotzingo could do a readers´ theater presentation of it on Dec. 21. It will be a challenge to get the readers´ theater together since many of the children do not attend school and therefore don´t read very well. Today Abraham and I took the 1 1/2 hour bus ride out to Huejotzingo to begin rehearsals. Until the performance, we´ll continue going on Saturdays in addition to our normal Sunday afternoon visits.

Please join us in prayer. We believe God is calling us to work full time in Huejotzingo in the near future and are considering buying property there. At present a smallish lot with nothing on it costs anywhere from $6,000 to $8,000 USD to buy. That is a very good price, but we simply don´t have the money for it. However, if God would have us move there and own our property, he will provide.

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Abraham and I joined the Puebla Christian School staff for a potluck feast a week before the actual Thanksgiving day, but we also invited my mother and brother-in-law to celebrate at our house the date of Thanksgiving. It was their first time eating a Thanksgiving meal, since Mexico does not celebrate this holiday (Abraham had to go to school that day, and Ken skipped his to join us). We enjoyed the traditional foods, although the "turkey" was actually chicken, and Ken bought tortillas to complete the meal. When we had finished eating the main meal, we were too full for apple pie just yet, so Abraham and I went to rent a movie. After the movie, it was too late for Ken, Six, and Chava to go home, so we set up makeshift beds, and they stayed the night.

There are so many things I thank God for during this season. My wonderful husband, my families, work that I enjoy, provision for all our needs, faithful supporters, health, a beautiful home, the children in Huejotzingo, and the list goes on... What are you thankful for?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Acapulco


A week ago, Abraham and I took an emergency trip to Acapulco. A friend of my brother-in-law had died unexpectedly, leaving some property in Acapulco to my brother-in-law who lives in the States. This friend who had died was someone Abraham and I met 11 months ago when we had chance for an expense-paid trip to Acapulco in January. Last week, my brother-in-law asked Abraham if he could go take care of the paperwork involved with the properties and also comfort the other friends who had lived with the man who died.

Abraham asked me if I could go too, so we found a substitute for the afternoon for my class and caught a bus for the seven hour trip. We arrived in the early evening, on time for the body to be brought to the house. What followed was, for me, an entirely new experience. People had gathered for the wake, and many had brought candles, pictures of saints, or flowers which they set around the coffin. One of the women began the velorio (wake) service which lasted about 20 minutes. After that, Abraham spoke about the story of the Prodigal Son from Jesus' parables.

Near midnight, after talking with the friends at the house, Abraham and I left for the restaurant where, 11 months before, we had eaten garlic shrimp prepared by the man whose life ended so suddenly in October. The restaurant had been closed for some time. We pushed two couches together and covered them with sheets, and that became our bed for the two nights we stayed.
Saturday morning, Abraham spent quite a long time sorting through legal papers and talking on the phone with my brother-in-law to find out what needed to be set aside and copied. We joined the friends to take the body to be cremated, and then we went downtown to make a huge bundle of copies. That took until evening, and then we returned to the house to talk again with the grieving friends until late night.

Sunday morning was our only chance to see the beach. We took the bus to a lovely beach called Caleta, and enjoyed the clear water, bright skies, and hot weather. We could only stay about an hour, however, because the bus leaving for Puebla pulled out at 12:30. Even though we hurried and the taxi ride to the station felt like Six Flags, we made the bus with only 5 minutes to spare.
Finally, at nine p.m. we entered our home in Puebla. It had been far from a vacation visit to the beach! I'm so glad we can sleep in tomorrow, since this week at school felt very long and tiring.
Thank you for your continued prayers for our health and safety. Your support is vital.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Alarm clocks

On Friday night PCS held the annual Fun Fall Fest, the school's alternative to Halloween and Day of the Dead. Like last year, this year I painted faces. Because my station was outside, I had more customers than the previous year when I was inside. The drawback was the mosquitoes. When the dark came, so did they - in great swarms.

Thank you for your prayers for Abraham and I. In the morning on Friday Abraham went with his seminary classmates to some ruins. On the way back they got lost, so the driver tried to make up time while returning to the seminary. As they sped along the road, they hit a dip and flew. The group in the car behind them said it looked as though the car would flip. Typical of Puebla, only the driver was wearing a seat belt, so had the car flipped, everyone would have been seriously injured or killed. Thank God for his hand on them.

On Sunday we visited Flor and baby Jeronimo. He is a very tranquil child and slept peacefully as Abraham and I took turns holding him. Someone from church had donated a crib and some food, so we gave those to the family. Abraham also passed by to see how Don Ezekiel was doing, but he was not home. Please keep praying.

On a quirky note: Abraham and I received the gift of a clock that takes the time from Colorado. Supposedly the clock is always exact. The problem is, Mexico changed time over the weekend and the US did not. I manually changed the clock, but sometime during Sunday night, the clock changed itself again. When the alarm rang at "6:15" this morning, I got up and got ready for the day, all the while with the nagging suspicion that something wasn't right. Why was it dark outside still? Why couldn't I hear the neighbors? When I went to the kitchen to begin breakfast, I saw the normal clock - it was still 5:35. This gave me time to make banana muffins and soup for tonight's dinner , read my Bible, and take the laundry down from the line. I still don't plan to get up an hour early every day. Until the US changes as well, we will put the alarm at 7:15.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jeronimo!

I have not been to visit Flor since just after her baby was born, but Abraham had the chance to see them Wednesday of last week. The baby's name is Jeronimo, since he was named after the saint for Sept. 30. St. Jerome is not a bad person to be named after; he is called the 'Doctor of the church' for translating the Bible into Latin.

Sunday Dios es Amor celebrated eight years of life. Several people were baptized, and Abraham was the one who baptized three of them. This was his first time baptizing.

Mixed with the happiness and celebration of the anniversary was profound sorrow. Early that morning, one of the elders of the church received the news that his son had died in a car crash at midnight. His son was only 23. He and his friends had been drinking, and the driver drove the car off a bridge, killing all 5 people. Please pray for Andres and his family. This is the last in a series of tragedies that they have faced recently.

Yesterday, the fifth and sixth grade class moved back to the PCS campus. It was an extremely hectic day, since when we arrived we found that there were no chairs, and the desks that had been moved back into the room were the wrong ones (some of them were first and second grade size). Also, all the books that had been on the shelves were stacked on one table, the plants were in the hallway, the fish tank was filthy, and one of the high schoolers had put another spider in with the tarantula to see if they would fight (the tarantula was boarding in another room during our absence). Because the kids didn't have a place to sit or put their text books, I had them help me reorganize and shelve the books rather than try to conduct class. However, after they finished, the desks and chairs still hadn't arrived, so we had language arts and grammar class while seated on the floor. The students had math class in another room, and then it was lunch time, with music class following in yet another classroom. Only during last period did we finally have desks and chairs, and the kids were able to put away all their books. Now the room actually looks as it should.

Abraham continues to work hard with the multitude of seminary homework. There are many times when he goes to bed late and gets up early in order to finish all the reading. Please pray for energy and strength. Pray also for his eyes; the eye infection he had as a child makes it hard for him to see well and makes his eyes tire and sting quickly.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

It's a boy (who doesn't have a name yet)

Finally Flor's baby is born. She had to have a cesarean on Wednesday, because he just didn't want to come out. Abraham and I went to visit today. Both baby and mom are healthy, although Flor is, understandably, still tired. Please continue to pray for her as she takes on the responsibility of being a mother at such a young age.

We also visited Don Ezequiel at his home, and he came to the Bible lesson for part of the afternoon. He is doing poorly and talked openly of being tired of life and of wanting to die. He said he would not make it to his next birthday which is this month. Pray for him and for his up-coming medical testing. So far he does not have a specific date for the testing, but it should be soon. He is very discouraged and is in a lot of pain.

Last week on Thursday my students joined the first and second graders for a field trip at a gigantic park in the city. We went to look for insects and composite flowers, since both classes had been studying them in science class. At first when we arrived, we reviewed the information that the children had learned, and then they explored for awhile. About half hour later, we called them back and gave them a list of items to find. Gradually as they were looking for the items, we moved toward the park's aviary, since some of the kids had brought the money to enter. Those who entered the aviary after lunch thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

My students are adjusting well to being at the seminary. It is more difficult, since we share the space and every Monday, Tuesday, and Friday the kids have to stack their books next to the teacher's desk, but on the other hand, the kids have a much bigger space to play in during recess. We'll be at the seminary for at least another month. It's very much a play-it-by-ear situation, and certainly never boring!

Monday, September 28, 2009

moving


When most of the classroom ceiling looks like this, it's time to move. Thankfully, the seminary where my husband attends has a room where the fifth and sixth grade can have class. We're sharing with other seminary classes, so it's a bit awkward, but at least we're not inhaling mold and paint flakes anymore. We don't know exactly how long this move will be, since the roof is currently under repair. The leak is so bad that the classroom under mine began to leak too!

As of Sunday, Flor still had not had her baby. Although they may be wrong in the count, her father claims she is now at ten months. I've never heard of anyone carrying a baby for that long, but even if she's not a full month overdue, she's definitely past the date the doctors gave her. Keep her in your prayers. Remember she is only fourteen, and her parents are planning for her to have the baby at home.

Abraham and I went to visit Don Ezekiel as well, but he was not home. His wife told us that he has some good moments and some bad. She referred obscurely to his "going out for distraction" when he feels bad. Drinking? She didn't say that, so hopefully not. He was supposed to undergo a medical study two weeks ago, but they forgot to go, so the doctors rescheduled Ezekiel's test for another week from now. He needs your prayers.

My husband Abraham has not been selling tamales for several weeks now. He and his mom decided, with the cost of ingredients increasing, it was not worth trying to continue. I'm glad to have him home every evening, and it is good that he has more time for the abundant homework from the seminary. Please pray that he is able to keep up with all the assignments - there is a load!

Friday, September 18, 2009

God isn't always the answer

...at least if you're answering on a Bible quiz, and the questions are ones like "Who were Adam and Eve?" or "Who was the first murderer?" One of my students is a native Spanish speaker, and he's really having a hard time with all this English. Last week when I gave the students a Bible quiz, he decided that answering "God" to everything would be a safe bet. Well, no.

Another student has terrible spelling, but at least I understand what he's trying to convey. On the same Bible quiz, I had the question "Who is our adversary (enemy)?" He replied, "Satin is our enemy." I guess if you're trying to sew a prom dress or something, satin can seem to be a formidable enemy! On a science test, he responded to one question by saying that honey bees die within a few hours after singing. I guess that's why I've never heard them sing. They want to keep living.

The atmosphere in our classroom is "interesting" at present. The rains recently picked up significantly, and it turns out this room has a gigantic leak. We have buckets strewn about everywhere trying to catch the drops raining down, but even so, the carpet is soaked. We have two fans going full blast and also a heater. The paint is flaking down from the ceiling, along with mold and mildew. Not healthy! Yesterday, someone began to repair the roof during school, so that on top of the noise of the fans, we have the sound of pounding. If the pounding fixes the roof, I don't mind!

Mexican Independence Day was Sept. 15, and we had the 16th off school. On that day Abraham and I visited Six and watched Kung Fu Panda. We all went over to church in the afternoon for the celebration there. Although it was raining almost all afternoon, quite a few people showed up to play the games and eat the potluck dinner.

The Sunday before, we had a small fiesta in Huejotzingo. We played hot potato in two different forms, and then served tostadas to the kids and the parents who came. When the kids had finished eating, Abraham and I went to visit Flor to see if her baby had been born. While there, we found out that her father was on bed rest for a back injury. Flor's baby hadn't been born yet, all though by this point, the child may have been born. Please pray for her, for her father, and for the rest of the family. With the father on bed rest, the two oldest boys are in charge of earning.

Monday, September 7, 2009

The school weeks are already flying by, and we only just started. I have a good, studious group of students. I can give them assignments, and they will work independently. What a difference from my students in 1st and 2nd grade last year! The little ones last year couldn't even read, so trying to find independent work for them was difficult.

On Saturday afternoon, Abraham and I went out to church at Dios es Amor to join the youth group for an afternoon of games and socializing. We arrived in time for the game of futbeis (kick ball) which the women lost soundly - although we might have come back for a win if it hadn't begun to rain (hah). When the rain chased us inside, we started a rousing game of four square that lasted until people began to go home at 8.

Like usual, we went to Huejotzingo on Sunday afternoon. Instead of starting with the Bible story immediately, we started out with four square, and then the kids ate their snacks before Abraham told Bible story. While the children wrote in their Bible booklets afterward, Abraham and I visited Flor to see if her baby had been born yet and to give her some donations from the church. Please continue to pray for her. The baby has not been born yet, although they expect it will arrive this week. She will have the child at home - risky considering that she is only 14 years old.

Also continue your prayers for Don Ezekiel. The medicine he was taking had helped with the pain, but it has returned now. He is angry at God for allowing this illness, although he is still willing to meet with Abraham and pray.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

New beginnings

After a very active summer, school has resumed once more. This year, instead of the youngest students in the school, I have the younger middle ones. My class consists of four fifth graders and four sixth graders. On the first day, the students entered with the dazed look of "I haven't gotten up this early for months!" Don't worry kids, I hadn't either.

Most of the day we went over rules and procedures, so by the time school let out, I was really tired of the sound of my own voice. Happily, that is all over now, and on this second day, the kids are hard at work on their language arts assignments.

At first look, it seems that when I split the class, my sixth graders will be able to do most of their work independently. That is very helpful, because in fifth grade I have two boys who do not speak English very well and two other boys who need quite a bit of supervising to make sure they complete their work.

Along with his brother, mother, and alternating helpers from the church, Abraham and I continue to go every Sunday afternoon to the mission in Huejotzingo. One of the men, named Don Ezekiel, who has begun attending needs your prayers. He has been in pain for two years and until a few weeks ago, the doctors could not figure out what was wrong. Recently however, they took a scan that revealed nodules in his intestine. The doctors were able to prescribe medicine that helps with the pain, but the nodules cannot be removed without expensive surgery, and they are life-threatening. We do not know if Don Ezekiel has accepted Jesus as his savior, although he has some church background and is definitely interested in learning more.

Another person in Huejotzingo who needs your prayers is Flor. Although she is only fourteen years old, she is seven months pregnant. Her baby is due mid-September. She is living with her parents, two older brothers, and three younger siblings. Please pray for her health, wisdom, and future as she will soon be raising her own child.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Two VBS weeks

These past few weeks have been very busy. Abraham and I moved from the house we were living in while the owners were in the States to the apartments at Puebla Christian School for a brief stay. Lord willing, we'll be moving into the seminary apartment this coming Saturday. It will be my fifth place of residence this summer, but as far as we know, we'll be staying there until Abraham graduates from seminary in a couple years, so that is a blessing!

Four afternoons a week, for two hours each time, I have been teaching English to a varying group of children. Two of the boys will be in my fifth/sixth grade class this year. They are going to have to work very hard, as their level of English is quite low. Besides those two boys, the current class list has nine other students.

On Monday of last week, the vacation Bible school at Dios es Amor began. More than two hundred kids attended, and the church campus swarmed with young, energetic youth and the church volunteers who lead games, sang songs, held crying babies, cooked, cleaned, taught lessons, lead groups, and organized data. My role was washing dishes all morning Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and helping my husband Abraham with games on Tuesday and Thursday. Sunday the church held the finale for the VBS, inviting parents and family members to attend while each age group of the children presented their "participación" and then received their diploma.

This past Monday the VBS at Huejotzingo began. It's a smaller group of kids and therefore we have only two age groups. With only two age groups, the time is also shorter, so in a way, it's an easier week than the past week at Dios es Amor. In another way, it's every bit as hard. The Huejotzingo kids are not used to attending school regularly, so they are also unaccustomed to following a set schedule or listening to directions. Many of them don't read very well or don't read at all. All the volunteers working this week have to be willing to help in all areas and also have to know how to interact with children who have a different culture from the Dios es Amor kids.

Please pray for us as we continue this week. The children and their families mostly don't have a church of any kind. As a culture, they are mostly Catholic, but that is more by tradition than by conviction. Please pray for our health and energy. Everyone who is working in Huejotzingo this week also worked at Dios es Amor, so we are running tired. Thank you for your support!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Married!


Well, for the second time. The first time we got married according to the laws of Mexico in a civil ceremony in front of a judge. We were well and truly married, but the majority of the people at our church didn't think that counted, so we couldn't live together until June 21st when we married at Dios es Amor. It was a very beautiful day, and we had many willing helpers, so neither of us felt any stress or nerves. We were free to enjoy the ceremony and the reception afterward.

The day before was certainly interesting. My sister, mother, brother, and I arrived in the morning to begin the church clean up. A few at a time, the helpers began to arrive. We commeced washing chairs and tables, sweeping, dusting, mopping, and re-arranging in the church while several other people in the kitchen started preparing the chicken for mole. Not long after this, the men arrived to put up the huge tarp and set out their tables and chairs.
All went smoothly for quite some time. Everyone was working hard but having a good time, and there was much laughter and smiling. Early in the afternoon, the sky began to cloud over, and soon the rain hit. Not just any old rain, but pouring, pounding, dousing rain sheeting down, and with it a tremendous wind. The tarp, which the men had almost finished putting up, lifted, pulling at the securing ropes, and collapsed.

We went into high gear. The men dashed around re-securing the tarp and cutting more holes in it so it would drain and not collapse again. Once the rain stopped, almost everyone emptied out of the church and kitchen to sweep, squeegie, and otherwise push and pursuade the water to leave the basketball court where the reception would be the following day. As I took my post by the gate to sweep the water into the parking lot, I couldn't help thinking, "How many American brides can talk about sweeping water off a basketball court the day before their wedding?" Not many, I bet, but with all the help, soon even this difficulty turned into a chance for laughter and play. The man and boys began splashing each other with the water, making the sweeping look more like a game than work.





The roads to the church flooded, and our flower girl couldn't come. Our ring bearer arrived an hour late with his family, but that wasn't a problem, because the man officiating hadn't come either. Although the rehearsal was supposed to start at 4, we didn't begin until around 5:30. Stressful? Not really. We had plenty to laugh about then too. My brother and sister opted to go barefoot rather than wear sopping tennis shoes, and everyone was wet at least to the knee. We laughed uproariously when the pastor accidentally instructed us to light the Bible on fire rather than the candles. I wouldn't trade the memories. Totally unique, and certainly full of family and friends enjoying the time together.





The day of our wedding, we had the almost glitch-less ceremony at 11:15, and it ended by 12:40. The guests filed out to the reception, the church's women's group along with Puebla Christian School friends began filling plates, and the men's group and youth group began taking traysful out to the guests. Abraham and I went back in the sanctuary for pictures, and then we "meeted" and greeted. Even so, we did have the opportunity to eat some of the delicious food before cutting the cake, tossing the bouquet and garter, and then leaving at 2 for our trip by van, bus, metro, another bus, and then finally airplane to the honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta. And we created plenty of memories there too. The story in brief is on facebook if you follow the above link.

Friday, June 19, 2009

very soon to marry - again


Tomorrow is Abraham's and my church wedding. Finally! As anyone who has ever gotten married in a ceremony probably knows, there are so many nit-picky details that come up as the planning happens. Happily, here in Puebla and among the Dios es Amor church community and among the school folks, there are many people ready and willing to help. Librada washed the church windows and curtains and is getting up super early Sunday morning to finish the mole, Janelle drove out to pick up potted daisies for the table decorations, Manuel and Ruth made the ceremony bulletin, Mike took me to get my dress from the dry cleaners and will take me out to church at 8, Joe set up skype so my oldest sister could see the ceremony although she is in the US, Sarah and her sister did the flower arranging, and many more people helped in many other ways.

Today during the Great Church Clean Up, a lot of people turned up to help. We had our fair share of happenings. As my family and I walked up to the sanctuary, our first sight was the corpse of a dog who'd died during the night. Later, poor Abraham and Kevin (my brother) were the lucky ones to cart the body to the dump in a wheel barrow.

After the huge tarp had been put up outside for shade, a torrential downpour lifted it off its poles and filled the basketball court where the tables for the reception were going to go with 4 or more inches of water. About twelve people, including Abraham and I, spent the next hour sweeping and squeeging the water off the court. In one particularly grand puddle, people used dust pans to scoop water into buckets to carry off the court. I kept thinking, "How many American brides spend time before their wedding sweeping water off the church's basketball court? What memories."

Our wedding rehearsal was over an hour late because of the downpour which flooded roads. Our flower girl never even arrived.

There will be hitches tomorrow, but I already have stored up memories of willing help and lots of moments of laughter. When we return from the honeymoon, we'll have even more stories to tell.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

good byes, syncretism, Vivaldi's Gloria

Friday the children cleaned out their desks, scrubbed stickers (and germs) off the tops, and loaded their back packs with a year's accumulation of school work. At eleven in the morning, the final bell rang, and the 2008-09 school year ended. What a year it has been! While preparing the Powerpoint that I will be sending out in June, I reflected on how different this presentation will be from last year's. This summer I will be one of the few American missionaries not returning to the States. Instead, on June 21st, I will be marrying my best friend, and the two of us will be staying somewhere in Puebla - although we still don't know exactly where.

Both on Friday and on Saturday, we had farewell meals. Friday was a hamburger barbecue at the PE field, and Saturday we met for a buffet brunch. Each staff member received a Puebla team jersey to remind us that this year's focus was team building. Five of the team members will be gone next year. Two of them will hopefully return the following school year, but three of them are leaving permanently. Saying good-bye is never fun. There are other missionary families also leaving this summer for home assignment or permanently.

Saturday after the brunch, Abraham and I took a bus downtown to take care of some errands. While walking past one museum, we noticed it advertised free entrance. Since the place is rarely open, neither of us had been inside before. We decided to enter, and enjoyed the tour of the mansion. The family had been extremely catholic, and many art pieces showed their religion. Curiously, they also had a Buddha and several Zeus busts. When Abraham pointed out the incongruity of the beliefs, the guide didn't understand. "They gathered art from many cultures," he agreed. Not exactly what Abraham meant.

In the evening, we had the wonderful opportunity to see a free performance of Vivaldi's Gloria at a Baptist church downtown. The Puebla Symphony and choir played and sang beautifully. They opened with Pachelbel's Canon in D, one of my favorite classical music pieces.

video
Because of a comment on the blog - Where I was standing with my husband and a friend, we didn't even feel the earthquake that happened recently here. The only way we knew it happened was that people came out of the school asking, "Did you feel that!?!" No, we didn't.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Spring Concert



Last Thursday evening, after many months of hard work, all the students of PCS performed their spring concert, entitled The Root Beer Barrel Cafe. The theme was movies and musicals, so the children sang a variety of show tunes, and my little munchkins had a Three Little Pigs skit which I narrated. For the final song, the students and staff sang "Resplendent in Your Glory" in praise to the God who gives us voices to sing.

Today we began our last week of school, and then several of my students and most of the staff will leave to the US for the summer or, for some, permanently. I will not be returning to the States for the foreseeable future. Abraham's and my church wedding is fast approaching, and we have plenty still left to do to prepare. Many of you should have received your invitations in the mail during this last week.

We need your prayers as we prepare for the wedding and plan where to live. We had thought we would live in apartments near the seminary where Abraham attends graduate school, but two weeks ago, the woman who had been renting Abraham's tiny house abruptly decided to move out. It would be best if we didn't have to live in the house, because it is more than an hour away from here, but we cannot afford to make house payments and pay rent at another place at the same time. If you would like to begin financially supporting us, you can make checks to Newport Mesa Church and include an insert or letter explaining that the money is for Rachel Greenlee. The address for Newport Mesa is 2599 Newport Blvd., Costa Mesa, CA 92627. Any amount would be a great help to us as we begin our new life together. Thank you for your support and prayers.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Love in the Time of Influenza



Not that I recommend the movie of almost the same title, but it did seem an appropriate title for this blog. We've got a lot going on here. I'm sure everyone has heard all about the swine flu, but it's another story actually living where it's changing our every day lives.

It is so hard to know what is really true. Are hundreds dying? Thousands? A handful? One report says one thing, another says another thing. The reality is, we don't know, but people are panicking. All public places are closed, by order of the Mexican government. Anyone in public service - bus drivers, taxi drivers, etc. - have to wear face masks and latex gloves. Of the few people walking around outside, about half of them have masks as well. All schools, churches, government buildings, museums, and theaters are closed, as well as some restaurants. The plan is for everything to reopen May 6th, but that will only happen if the ministry of health believes the flu threat to have diminished enough.

During all this brouhaha, the date for Abraham's and my court wedding arrived. We were concerned that the court would be closed, since it is a government office. Abraham called the day before and then again in the morning of April 29th. The office was open! Therefore, at 10 a.m. a 'great cloud of witnesses' gathered with us at the court, and we began signing and finger printing a bunch of papers. Our four legal witnesses also signed, and then all of us went into a back room with the judge. She looked over our papers, and then, with solemnity, read the vows. Abraham and I said our 'I dos' and the judge declared us married. Just like that!

We returned home and the party began. There was plenty of good food and more than abundant laughter. The guests stayed until late afternoon, and then in the evening, Abraham also left. We are continuing to live in separate houses until after the 'real' wedding. Kind of a bizarre arrangement, but we did the court wedding so early in order to avoid last minute snafus.

Please pray for Mexico and for the flu to end. Pray for wisdom for the authorities to know how long to continue this virtual quarantine of the entire country. Pray for Abraham and I as we continue preparing for the church wedding and as we begin married life (although not together yet).

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter and vacation

He is risen! He is risen indeed!

I hope you had a truly blessed Easter and took the time to remember all that Good Friday and Easter mean. On Friday Abraham, Six, Ken, and I went to Huejotzingo at three p.m. to present the true meaning of Good Friday to the kids. We hung curtains over the entrance to the back room, and Abraham went back there. Another man who had come with us represented the high priest, and he was the only one who could enter the 'Holy of Holies' to communicate with Abraham. After this introduction, Abraham came out, lit a candle to symbolize the life of Christ, and briefly told the story of the events leading up to Jesus' death. Usually, when Abraham is telling a Bible story, the kids are fairly chatty and restless, but this time they listened absolutely attentively. After this, Abraham explained to the children that Good Friday is his birthday, spiritually speaking, and told them that they could talk to any one of the adults if they too wanted to have new life. Four of the children did approach us and pray to accept Jesus into their hearts. Please pray that they grow, and that their parents also accept the Good News.

Saturday night I spent at the Lechugas' house, because Dios es Amor had a sunrise service on Easter, and buses don't run that early. We were supposed to get up at 4:30 to leave at 5, but someone's alarm didn't go off, so we woke up with ten minutes to get ready before the pastor and his wife arrived to pick us up. About half the regular congregation showed up for the pre-dawn service, and we enjoyed a time of celebrating the resurrection of our Lord. Following the service, we ate a pot-luck breakfast together, and then some people stayed to watch the movie Facing the Giants. Those of us going to Huejotzingo saw about half of it before leaving.






Once at Huejotzingo, Abraham and I went out inviting the families like we normally do. Once the kids had gathered, I sneaked back outside to hide twelve eggs with symbols of the Easter story inside them. The kids sang some songs with Abraham and then searched high and low for the eggs. Once back inside, those who had found an egg opened them in numerical order and explained what was inside and what it meant. If they didn't know the significance, Abraham told them. We sang a few more times, shared a snack, and then left for home.








Back at my home, Florina had invited several people for a special Easter lunch. We ate good food and shared lots of fellowship, but I was more than ready for bed by 11. It had been a very long day.

Starting today, it's vacation time from school, but there is plenty to keep me busy. Wedding planning continues at a great pace. More and more details keep surfacing, but we've also completed a few things. For example, today Abraham and I finally planned the actual ceremony. We also went into the registro civil and the office of immigration this morning and will be returning there tomorrow to, Lord willing, finish all the paperwork and set the date for the civil ceremony.

After completing our visits to the offices today - and they are not close to each other - we took the one hour bus ride to Abraham's neighborhood so that we could go to a clinic. I needed a mole removed, since a few people had told me that it should be removed and analyzed. Please pray that it turns out to have no suspicious cells, because if it does, the doctor will have to remove all my moles, and there are quite a few.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Little Red Hen


Last week I read aloud the story of the Little Red Hen to my students. We're starting to talk about chickens since, I suppose, they sort of go with spring. Anyway, once we'd finished reading the story, we then began making a batch of very simple bread, an experience most of the kids hadn't participated in before. They thoroughly enjoyed watching the dough rise and then kneading it after it had risen for a few hours (chanting, "Push, turn, fold" according to the directions I'd given them in how to knead). The next morning, they ate fresh bread with honey, and then the PCS teachers got to eat the left-overs.

Yesterday I assigned the students to teams, and they began writing their own version of the Little Red Hen story. It will be interesting to see how they turn out. One of the teams has an owl as their main character and a meerkat, an elephant, and a worm as the three lazy characters. My little "Happy Feet" student is in that group, and he's loving the chance to write a story. Hm, perhaps I should have the class do more creative writing.

On Sunday afternoon we took a chocolate cake, vanilla ice cream, and some chocolate cupcakes for the kids at Huejotzingo. This is our first time celebrating their birthdays, and we combined January, February, and March birthdays. Two of the kids helped me decorate the cupcakes before the others arrived. When the kids came, Abraham told them the Bible story of Nicodemus and about being born again. He explained what Jesus meant by being born again, and told the children they could talk with any of the adults in the room if they wanted to be born again.

After that, those who had birthdays chose which cupcake they wanted to eat with vanilla ice cream, while the rest of the children ate pieces of chocolate cake. We plan to celebrate birthdays every three months, and we would also like to begin doing crafts with the kids once a month, but at present we don't have the funds to buy the supplies. Please continue to pray for the kids and families of Huejotzingo and PCS.