Sunday, September 28, 2014

Tour of Mexico - Part 2

I'll try to get back into my groove, and share a little of the second leg of our trip: from Iguala, Guerrero, to Irapuato, Guanajuato, and where we were in between.  There are 31 states, plus a federal district in the country of Mexico, and we visited or at least drove through part of 20, including the one we live in, on this trip.  Between the two of us, we have actually visited at least 5 others, but at different times.  

Our trip took us at least 5,000 km, which means that for around 70 hours we were sitting in the van (not including all the meetings we Also sat, or stood, through).  We were able to visit almost all of our co-workers.  We listened to all the Odyssey CD's that we have twice, except for one, plus oldie-goldies like Ants-hill-vania, Agapeland with Bonnie Butterfly and Floyd Frog, Jungle Jam, etc.  We were happy, we were crabby, we got car sick (but not too many times, thankfully!), we laughed, we were extremely tired, we tried new foods, met lots of new people, saw old friends, and went to places we had never been to before.  It was an amazing trip, and one we will not soon forget!  You can read about the first part of our trip here.

Our time in Iguala was just wonderful all around!  We chatted, the kids played and swam, we enjoyed getting to know the believers there, as well as "sharpen iron" with the other missionaries. 
Monday night on our way to meeting, the van was acting weird, and when we got to meeting, it wouldn't restart when Tim tried it.  We wondered what we would do, but afterwards, it started right away, so we headed out.  It quit again on us as we were driving down the road, but we really wanted the van to be on the other side of the road.  Tim and I both jumped out and pushed it while it still had momentum, and we were doing okay, except there was a big lump along the center line and we couldn't get it over it.  Thankfully, 2 men came and helped us, but boy, were my arms and back sore the next day!

Tuesday morning, Shad, Debi and Joe left to head back north.  We sure missed them being there!
Wednesday morning was my 31st spiritual birthday!  We were invited to Abisa√≠ and Carmen's for both breakfast and lunch.  After breakfast, Carmen, Andrea and I went to a neat market while the guys chatted and the kiddos played.  Duncan and Anna and John D joined us all for lunch, and that was nice.  We said our goodbyes to everyone after meeting, still thinking we would be able to leave the next day.  The believers were so kind, and it was really hard to imagine leaving them.
To make a long story short, the van couldn't be fixed the next day like we had thought it would, so instead of leaving Thursday morning, we left Friday, which unfortunately meant that we missed going to Pachuca to visit Harrys R, but fortunately, we were able to get John D's whole four days of ministry in!  He covered wisdom: in general, making decisions, with money, and within the family - it was really good!
On Thursday we realized we had to stay at least one more night, and we went to see the huge flag that is an attraction there.  Iguala has a ginormous flag, that weighs 250 kg, and measuring 55 X 31.4 meters.  Like I said, it's Huge!  After meeting that night, we stayed up late and got a good chat in with the Becketts and Andrea, and that was really nice!  One more random thing about our time there, is that in the evenings especially, we would this weird sound that was kind of like a long drawn out, "gheech, gheech".  They were iguanas - very abundant around the house.

John D in one of his teaching meetings.
A coconut fell down and Shaelyn found it.  Duncan cut it open and everyone was excited to see the inside!

A weird-coloured picture of breakfast at Abisai and Carmen's.

Andrea holding Donovan and Gwendalyn

Sitting with a new friend outside the hall

Shaelyn, Keren, Kyla

Montsi and Mika

At the flag pole

Duncan took this panoramic photo of us at the bottom of the flag - I thought it turned out pretty cool, and you can get a better idea of the size of the flag.

A little closer - our family

Duncan and Tim

Gwennie in one of the Beckett's cool hammock chairs

Shaelyn was actually asleep like this.  It was our last night there.

Just about to leave - Andrea and Shaelyn

Duncan, Anna and Donovan

Friday morning we were up early, but Tim really wasn't feeling well.   It was very sad, saying goodbye to Duncan, Anna, Donovan and Andrea - we had such a nice time with them!  We got "lost" going out of the city, as our GPS sent us several different ways, but they had all been closed off - we wondered for a while if maybe we would have to stay longer...  After about an hour of driving, we finally left the city!  We drove all that day, through some mountainous regions, and lots of other lovely scenery, traveling through from the state of Guerrero, through Puebla and then Veracruz, meeting up with a few other missionary men (John N, Paul T and Timothy S) who were going to a legal conference in Puebla, and Tim got a ride with them.  I continued on to the city of Veracruz, and got to the Nesbitts house.  It was great to visit with Bek and the kids, and the men all arrived Saturday afternoon.  Unfortunately, Tim was really sick while he was gone, and missed some of the conference.  He had a fever, chills and stomach pains, and was just generally miserable.  Everyone was supposed to sleep in (rustic) cabins there, but one couple was heading into the city, and offered to take Tim so he could sleep in a hotel.  He had a better night's sleep than he would have, and even felt like eating a little in the morning.
Saturday was just an easy day, with the kids playing in and outside, running off some energy.  Saturday night when the guys got back, we got to meet Timothy S, and have supper with him and Paul.  We wished we could have met Timothy's wife and son, Jenna and Levi, but they were in the UK while were there.  Timothy and Jenna live in Xalapa - about an hour and a big from Veracruz.  Paul and his wife, Barb, live in Zapopan, Jalisco, where we visited a little later in the trip.
Sunday in Veracruz is very busy.  I will try to never complain about my Sundays again.  There is the morning meeting in Veracruz, with a half hour break and snack, and then gospel meeting.  We left the hall, raced home and ate a delicious pork roast dinner that had been waiting for us in the crockpot, then quick as anything ran out the door to drive an hour to Cotaxtla.  There was a ministry meeting, then a half hour break and snack, then gospel meeting.  Did I mention it is dripping hot in Veracruz?  It doesn't get as high temps like in Hermosillo, but the humidity is off the charts!  There was no A/C in either hall.  Thankfully, the weather was cloudy in the morning, and there were some decent fans in Veracruz, but in Cotaxtla, it's like a furnace in the building.
Monday was Moriah, David and Jake's first day at school for the new year!  They were there until about 2pm, and in the morning, John and Rebekah took our family to the local aquarium!  I felt bad that their kids were missing out, but apparently they had gone just a couple of weeks before.  There was a neat dolphin show, lots of different fish, a ginormous tank of sharks, and we actually saw some sharks eating other fish - kinda cool and gross all at the same time.  There were some parrots and a toucan in one area - they were so pretty - and an area with some penguins!  We had a really nice time! That evening we got mostly packed up, then stayed up late talking - which is always wonderful and crazy all at the same time!!  =)
One day all the girls got dressed up with pink shirts and jean bottoms.  I went and got Gwendalyn and I changed too so we matched all day!  =)

This was funny (for us).  We heard Nata starting to squawk in the other room, so Tim went and checked on him.  He must have either tried to sit down on this thing, or had had climbed through, but his short got stuck on one of the twirls at the bottom, and he couldn't go anywhere!  We were just thankful he didn't pull the whole water jug on top of him!
Just before we went in to the aquarium.

One of the pretty parrots

A Great White Shark in the background, getting ready to swallow Alisa and Nathaniel whole!

It's not really clear, but the girls are standing on clear glass with the water underneath them - it was pretty cool!


On a merry-go-round at the aquarium

The kids had SO much fun on their kids' scooters and cars.  David and Jacob were very kind, letting ours use their things, an well as taking them on rides!

Our gracious hosts, John and Rebekah
Tuesday morning we were up early, making sure we got to say goodbye to the three kids before they left for school - they are so sweet!  We finished packing up, and then said goodbye to John and Bek.  We were so blessed by being with them - they are such a special family!  It was about seven hours of driving to get to Irapuato, Guanajuato (I think the two names together sound so funny!)  We drove from the state of Veracruz through the states of Puebla, Hidalgo, Tlaxcala and Quer√©tero before getting to Guanajuato.  Ricky S has been in Irapuato with Ross V for about a year.  Ross was up in Canada while we were there, so Ricky was on his own.  He really reminded me of my brother Jeff, and actually, when we arrived at the hotel where we stayed and Ricky was coming up to the van, one of the girls called out, "Mommy, Uncle Jeff is here!"  After we got our things settled into the hotel, we went to the town center, just a few blocks away.  One of the believers is a shoe-shiner there, so we met him, and then had some yummy corn for supper.  Ricky loves kids, and all our kiddos instantly became best friends with him, too – it was really nice!  That night I was uploading our pics onto the laptop to save.  Somehow all the pics from my phone have disappeared.  =P  Thankfully, Tim had been taking some, too, so I’m trying not to think of all the pics we’re missing.
Wednesday morning, we met at the restaurant downstairs for breakfast, then went off to a lovely park for the kiddos to wear off some energy, and for the adults to get in some ‘get-to-know-one-another’ time.  Our fun was stopped pretty suddenly when it began to Pour rain down.  Thankfully there was a shelter (with lots of holes in the roof), that kept most of the rain off.  Once it finally started to subside somewhat, we made a run for it, and got back into the van.  Ricky had arranged for us to have dinner at a restaurant, and invited all the believers that attend the hall there to join us.  One family, and two brothers came, and it was neat to meet them, and spend a little time getting to know them.  The kiddos all had naps in the afternoon, then there was meeting that night, and we got to meet some other believers, both from Irapuato, and some others that live outside the city on a ranch.  After meeting, Ricky took us out for tacos (he totally spoiled us the whole time we were there!), and that’s when it was chilly!  We were around 2000 meters above sea level, and the nights got pretty cool.  Thankfully we had sweaters for everyone!
A picture from at the park

Out for lunch at Pollo Feliz with some of the believers and family

Wednesday night after meeting - Ricky and another believer outside the hall - "Bible Center"

If you can see this clearly (sorry about the bag in the windshield), it shows us driving down a main road, and men trimming the trees - they're on ladders, ON the road!  Can't think this is anything but an accident waiting to happen!
We said goodbye to Ricky, and left about mid-morning on Thursday.

It makes me sad that there are so few pictures (although it made it a lot easier getting the post ready), but I'm so thankful that Tim was taking pictures too, and that we have what we have.  More in the next post!  =)

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Thankful Tuesday 20

Okay, so it's not a great start, being a day late, but I already had most of it ready, and didn't want to miss again.  No problem finding lots of things to be thankful for, so here goes...

I'm thankful:

1. to have been able to go on such a great trip!  We had such a great trip south, and I'm so glad we got to go.  We met lots of new people, saw some old friends, ate some new foods, saw lots of new scenery!  We all loved it!

2.  to be home!  It was great to be gone, but there's really nothing like Home Sweet Home, is there!?!  There is still a little organizing to do now that we're here, but we've pretty much settled back in.  The night we arrived home, Alisa turned to me and said, "Hey Mommy, I like this place!"  Ha ha!  Yep, me too!

3.  that the rain stopped.  It rained from a Thursday until last Tuesday, and it was SO muddy when we got home.  There's been so much rain the last little while that we actually have algae growing in our back yard where the water sat, as well as on the road outside our gate where it also accumulates.  While I think we're due for another down pour, it's been nice to have it at least dry for a few days again.

4.  for a new wagon.  Tim's parents sent money for us to get one, and this is the one Tim picked out.  We got it just before we left on our trip, so it didn't get put together until we got back.
The first two to catch a ride! 
Shaelyn has spent a ton of time pulling the younger kiddos around already!  She has managed to get a turn or two herself, though!
5.  to have started back to school again.  We began again on Monday, and honestly, the first two days were a little crazy and stressful.  I admit to having turned on a video for the littles this morning just to have some uninterrupted focus time.  I love routine, which is something we definitely didn't have while we were away, so I'm looking forward to our time being a little more structured over the next bit.

6.  for family time.  Monday night after Tim got back from speaking at the rehab center, we all walked to the park.  The wagon was filled with roller blades, a jug of water and cups, plus to littles, while the rest walked, were strollered or carried.  Tim and the three eldest put their blades on when we got there, and they had a hoot of a time over the next hour.  We watched the music at the fountain, and then Tim taught the girls some new tricks while I had the littles at the playground.  It was a nice night!

7.  to have our second trip blog post almost done.  Hopefully by tomorrow at the latest!

8.  to be able to see our "family" and friends here in Hermosillo again - did I mention it's good to be home?!?!  =)

9.  to be back to regular Bible reading.  Being on a trip is hard on regular personal and family devotions.  I was thankful several times on the trip to have the Bible on my phone so that I could read in the dark without waking anyone else in the room up.  Now that we're home, though, it's so nice to have a bit better of a schedule (we're still working on it) and have everyone sleeping in their own beds in their own rooms, and getting up at more regular times.

10.  for a happy marriage.  I've been reminded again recently how important it is to pray for and work on our marriage.  Tim loves and respects me, and both tells and shows me so.  I try to reciprocate the same to him, and try not to take him for granted.  We do fight occasionally, and then we ask for forgiveness.  We mess up sometimes, and then make up and try again.  It's not perfect, but most of the time it's really good!  I'm thankful that we can live and work together, and I pray the Lord will continue to preserve our marriage and family for His honour and glory.

This morning I read these verses, which hit me almost as hard as when I remember reading them for the first time 3 years ago (I had read them more times than that, but hadn't noticed them before).  I'll share them with you:

"Remember this and stand firm, ... I am God, and there is no other; 
I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 
'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,'... 
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
Isaiah 46:8-11

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Home again, and Baby Girl is 10 months old!

Hello there!  We're Home Sweet Home after our trip south.  It was a Fabulous trip overall, and we're so thankful for the opportunity we had to go.  I will try to get Tour of Mexico - Part 2 done soon.  You can see Tour of Mexico - Part 1 here.  Unfortunately, I lost about 200 pics after I thought I had downloaded them to the laptop, then deleted them off of my phone afterward.   Most of them were scenery pics, but there were lots that weren't.  I've checked everywhere and can't find where they've gone.  If anyone has any suggestions, I would be happy to hear them!  =)

Our littlest darling is 10 months old, today.  I took this photo today, but she has had a temperature yesterday and today, and slept a lot.  Not a very happy girl right now.  Praying she is better, soon!

Friday, September 5, 2014

6 Years in Mexico!

6 years ago, on a Friday night, we arrived to hot and humid Hermosillo to a warm welcome from the dear believers here - mostly young people, who helped us unload our vans and trailers, and move us in.  I'm so thankful for these years the Lord has had us here.  Thankful for Him stretching us and changing us, thankful that He continues to work in our hearts to make us more like His Son.  I'm thankful for the people we've met and gotten to know, for the culture and language we are still learning, and the places we've been able to visit.  I'm thankful for the children we brought with us, and the children who have been born here.  I'm thankful for our family up in Canada and the US, who continue to love us and pray for us, and I'm thankful for our "family" here, who loves us and pray for us.  I'm thankful the Lord has continued to keep us safe, and has allowed us to live in freedom here.  I'm thankful for the people we've been able to share the good news of the gospel with, and see the changes He has made in their lives.
I pray the Lord will continue to direct our steps, and that we will willingly and joyfully follow Him, wherever that may take us.

If you're interested in reading how we came to be in Mexico, you can read this post here.