Thursday, December 18, 2008

Goodbye...

There is a mixture of goodbyes in this post. First of all, I was going to put a bunch of embarrassing photos of Spencer up, but I am not going to get it done, so - Spencer, you lucked out, man.

The first of the news is that Spencer left, Monday, for Indiana. He plans to be there for one and a half to two years before returning to sunny and warmer than Indiana, Ixtlan.

That all being said, I am much more lonely than before. In a matter of a month, less really, I have gone to living with two other guys to living alone. Bleh... Well actually, I haven't had a chance to really see how it is yet. I will be interesting. The house is a much colder, less personal place without other people there. I will have to keep you updated as time goes on.

So, Spencer (yes, I am pointing you out in front of all my hundreds of faithful readers - that statistic might be a little sarcastic), it was a good time. I will probably be talking to myself and have a long beard down to my stomach and not know what the light of day is and have myself locked away in my room as a hermit by the time you come back. If that happens, save me, please.

On the other side of things, I, too, am leaving Ixtlan, but only for two weeks. Yes, "I'll be home for Christmas," but I am not really dreaming of a white Christmas. I kinda come to like the warmer weather. It's kinda nice.

So, I will probably see you all real soon. I hope so anyway. I hear there's a winter storm going through right now. That could be problematic, we'll see.

Merry Christmas, everyone. I should have taken a picture to post as my Chistmas Card. I wasn't thinking. Oh, well.

Paz y esperanza al mundo.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Tortillas and the such-like

So an important endevour on any excursion to Mexico is learning to make tortillas. Really not that difficult, or so it would appear and so the people would tell you. Well it turns out that it is a quick way to learn humility and reinforce the fact that you don't really know everything in the world. The actual making of the raw tortilla is easy, provided you have the little machine that you use to smash them. I haven't even dared doing it by hand. The hard part is getting them on the griddle, fogón (as it is said here), without folding it over, ripping it, putting holes in it, whatever it might be. Then there is the matter of cooking them. You aren't actually making tortillas if you don't use your bare hands to flip the things on the griddle. That means that you are in the constant process of burning off your fingerprints. And of course the tortilla has to be flipped at just the right time so that it "inflates" and you have the perfect tortilla. Anyway, Spencer and I are in the process of learning this. Not as easy as it would seem. Although I do believe that it provides a constant source of entertainment for everyone who might be in the area. Here are the pictures.



Hot, hot, hot.....



I couldn't resist a quick bite.



Impressive, huh?

Friday, November 21, 2008

Las Cuevas

Thursday was the Day of the Revolution here in Mexico, so on Monday (the official day off), we went to an area known as Las Cuevas. It was about a 25 minute ride out into the country to the middle of nowhere where there happens to be a sand mine (or processing plant and a cave. The young groups started out to the caves with plans to arrive for the sunrise, but didn't leave on time at all and got out there in time to enjoy the cool wind and a fire.

We journeyed on to the cave and venture deep into the dark depths of the caves. Really only about 75 yards deep.

Here is a picture of the soon to be married Matt and Ruth at the entrance of the cave.




Next we found the big piles of sand. It turns out that it is both fun and slightly dangerous to play in the sand. We spent a significant amount of time filling our clothes with sand as we rolled down the hill and tried to see how far we could jump off the top of the hill. A couple of us ended up will a few bumps and bruises and sore muscles, but we all survived just fine.


Flying isn't easy...for most people.


Landing could be a little rough...


...but climbing was usually worse.

We ended with a late breakfast of tortillas and guisadas (see the picture below). It was very tasty and satisfying. I was even able to practice my tortilla making skills a little. None one was terrible impressed with the gringos' tortilla skills. More on that in a later post.

Here is a picture of the food. It was quite tasty (no, Spencer, Matt, and I didn't make any. we were in charge of the 'safer' things - anything you didn't have to cook.)



It was a realy great time for the young group to be able to have some time together and to get to know each other better. The fellowship is priceless when there seems to me so much going on down here. A day off can make all the difference in the world when it is spent with the right people.

**********

On a very different note. We ask that you pray for the school here. We hope to start a elementary school here next August and we need teachers to be able to continue with the accreditation. So far we have not found any. So we are praying that God would provide, that He would bring licensed, Mexican, primary teachers, that are also Christian. It seems like a long list of prerequisites, but we know that God is in control and He can provide abundantly for us.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A lot can happen in a month.

So, a lot can happen in a month. Sometimes it feels like nothing has happened besides get ready for class, teach, grace, get ready, etc. It is pretty amazing that I ever had any time in the states. That being said. I feel like I am starting, finally to get the hang of teaching English a little better. (You would think I should know already since I did go to college for that. Of course there is a broad difference between teaching English to seventh graders and teaching English to people who don't speak the language.) If anyone ever tells you that English is an easy language to learn you have my permission to call them a liar to their face. I find that suddenly I don't know the Enlgish language well enough. There are hundreds, I'm pretty sure it will end up being millions, of small intricacies of the English language. I never knew how much count and non-count nouns ruled our lives. (look it up sometime if you don't know what that means, I am not going to explain all the funn things about them here. No one would ever return.

So, you might ask what has actually happened in the past month. Dr. Loren Shrenk came with a group to do eye surgeries. I stayed out of the way and hid in my classroom as normal. It was a fine week and everything went smoothly. Praise God for many lives that could be touched that week.

We also had Peter and Penny Shroeder here with their two kids, Jonah and Jared. Penny spent two years here in Ixtlan several years ago and it was nice to have her and Peter here to visit. We made a lot of memories and even had my first bonfire since leaving the states. Can you believe it Milford folks, I actually went through almost the entire fall season without a bonfire.

There was also an unfortunate incident where I lost the vast majority of my clothes and ended up with, well, not much left. Don't worry. I was able to restock and am getting along just fine. I will say that my hands are kinda cold today. I am in the office so the sun hasn't hit it to warm it up yet. So it's a little chilly. I am going around in a T-shirt today. So, the weather is pretty nice. It warms up quite nicely during the day. Beautiful weather actually.

I will save more information for what will hopefully be another post in the near, a couple of days, future. I will leave you with a couple of things.

First, some pictures from Jovenes, more correctly called Ninos as of late.

Some of the 'older' kids playing volleyball.



Pedro and I. As you can see we get along great.



Here are some of the girls, deceitfully calm



A final note on the last month in Ixtlan. I have discovered, well several things, but they all boil down to this. If you look at Jesus and His teachings in the gospel, He presents a pretty radical message, one that we fight against all the time. I have to think that we spend too much time trying to figure out the right way to do things instead of just living them. We need to live out what the gospel says and do what it teaches. Not sit down and discuss how it should be and then live by a list of guidelines for giving or for solving interpersonal relationships. We need to live the gospel. Not that I can do that.

I challenge you all to read the gospels, a gospel, or the sermon on the mount and see it as anything but radical. If we lived like that, we would be noticed by the world. We would make a difference. There wouldn't be any way that the world could ignore us.

Well, until next time.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Still here...

Well, it seems like I haven't posted here for a while, but it was just last week. The festival here in Ixtlan is getting ready to get roaring. It has been going all week, but this weekend is the big weekend. I have been busy enough that it hasn't bugged me that much, but I also sleep on the side of the house away from the plaze, where all the noise is. It goes quite late (1-2 o'clock) and Spencer has to deal with all the noise. The fireworks do start at about 5:30 every morning which can be annoying (they apparently don't want you to miss out on anything, they don't realize that by shooting off the fireworks I am missing out on sleep - no, I don't get up at 5:30).

I never thought I would be quite so busy with the English classes. I manage to spend most of my time working with that in one way or another. I have some time to take breaks, but I am looking forward to when I start to get things more nailed down, like maybe next year (although there is a large chance I will be teaching in the school as well, which means new curriculum). The classes are enjoyable, even if I daily make a fool out of myself in one way or another. Speaking another language is a good way to get a good start on that.

The big news around here lately is that Rudy, Rosario and Natan have left to spend about two months in Barra Vieja with the small group of believers there. They will have a lot of opportunity there to work that group as well as develop some other connections with the people in that community. It is tough to see them leave, but we know that God will be glorified and that their presence in Barra Vieja is an answer to many prayers.

The dry weather is coming, we haven't had rain for a couple of weeks maybe, a big difference compared to every night, and that means it is cooling down too. I haven't opened my window at night for the past week probably. Mornings are nice and cool and evenings make me thing of campfires. Milford group, have a campfire for me some night and take some funny pictures, someone else will have to step up to the plate for that one (I'm sure that won't be a problem).

Friday, September 26, 2008

Festival

If you follow the CVE blog, this will sound extremely familiar.

The town of Ixtlan is celebrating their patron saint San Fransisco, this week as well. It is a time of loud fireworks early in the morning and late at night (5:30 in the morning), loud parties at night, and overall not-to-penatent behavior. It is a time when the spiritual confusion and evidence of poor Biblical teaching is very evident.

It is a time when we are reminded of the importance of our prayers for the people here. Pray that their eyes could be opened to the truth. They are blind and don't know it. They are thirsty and are trying to get water from broken cisterns. They are seeking God, but missing him. Pray that their eyes would be open. Pray that they could recognize their thirst. Pray that the deception would be lifted from their eyes.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Happy Birthday, Mexico

Today, the 16th of September is Mexico's Independence Day. The young group here celebrated yesterday by having a potluck of authentic Mexican food. We had a lot of fun together. It was good to have a chance to talk and spend time together as a young group. Jovenes has been full of really young kids lately and it was nice to be able to just have the young group together without all those other distractions.

Here are some pictures from the festivities.



This is the food for the evening. We had plenty and everything was extremely tasty. The Cervantes Chiles Rellenos, we especially spicy. The cake over on the side was Matt and I's work. We spent a lot of time laboring over it. (It was a difficult choice between that and all the other cakes at Aurrera, our Wal-Mart.) I think we're still actually missing a dish or two. Oh, and notice please the tri-colored drink options we offered.



Here is the whole group. In front: Me, Lalo, and Spencer. Row 2: Alvaro, Maggie, Ana, Claudia, Marcie, Gige, Christy, and Lupita. Row 3: Matt, Lupita, Issa, Ruth, and Gloria. (Welcome back to Ixtlan, Gloria)



Here we are in a more normal setting. It took us a long time to get into that formation for the group picture. You can see a few of our beautiful Red, White and Green decorations as well.



Lastly, we finally got the happy couple together for a photo. Here are Matt and Ruth. I have to say, Matt looks pretty good in that sombrero. He makes a dashing, but still extremely tall, Mexican.

Anyway, we all ended up very full, but happy, I do believe. It was a very nice evening, one I hope we can repeat often.

Tomorrow we have classes again. I it was nice having a two day break, but I know that I need to get back to the classes. The good news is that after this week, we should have all the student books and teacher books that we need. That will be a nice accomplishment, and make life a little bit easier.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Currently: Still alive and kicking

I have been having technical difficulties with my Internet lately and so I have been off on the updating thing. I keep having ideas about what to write about, but then I forget them when I sit down to write.

School: Things have been going well and I am excited to be teaching. I have a bit of a teacher's dream job. I teach three classes a day. I don't start until 2:30 in the afternoon. I only teach for days a week. On the other hand I am teaching in a different language. That is a little more difficult. I also have a kid, Diego Alejandro, I am tutoring in English on Saturday mornings for two hours and next Wednesday we are starting a conversation hour at noon (it will be Monday through Thursday as well). So, the days are really pretty full. I have a lot to do with planning and all that. It is fun and exciting through.

Even better is the fact that I know have both my teacher's books and can actually teach a little better using the books. There is a lot of stuff that is just confusing and difficult without the books.

Life: Yes, this is a separate section than school. I have to congratulate myself on a pretty significant accomplishment. I can cook and eat eggs (over-easy) in the morning with a total of 6 dishes. That is without washing any for reuse and that isn't eating out of the skillet either. This is the way guys live, always trying to find new ways to do fewer dishes.

Other news: The river almost flooded here the other day. It was hitting the bridge on the way to Limon and La Plaza which was a pretty big deal. A little higher and there would have been some farmers having some problems. Thankfully, it didn't rain anymore and the river didn't flood.

That was the big news this week.

Keep praying for us. Life keeps going and there is always more Spanish to learn.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Love is in the air.

Yes, yes, love is floating around in the air here in Ixtlan. Marshall anounced the engagement of Matt Gerber and Ruth Cervantes yesterday. Perhaps some of you faithful readers have heard this already from other sources, but I suppose there are some that have yet to hear.

I know that I am failing miserably in my job as a blogger in not posting a picture of the couple, but I don't have one. There, it's as simple as that. Spencer and I are going to have to get used to living with a googly-eyed Matt. At least he takes the jokes well.

Pray for them both as they begin to grow together. Pray that their relationship would be a testimony to the community here in Ixtlan as well.

Monday, September 1, 2008

...and take a deep breath.

Well, it's over. The first day of English classes came and went. In a way the day was surreal. It seemed like it would never come. It seemed like it was just a distant dream that we kept planning for, then BOOM!!!!!! here it is.

An update since the last refresher about the classes. I am teaching 3 classes. The first starts at 2:30 and is for 10-12 year olds. There are 12 kids in that class. It is going to be a fun class with a lot of energy and excitement. There are actually a lot of boys in the class which is fun.

The second class starts at 3:45 and is for 13-17 year olds. This class is more challenging because there are a lot of different levels of English comprehension. They get English starting in Secondary, I think, and so the older kids definitely have an advantage. A few of them seem to be less understanding of my poor Spanish than others as well, but I think the class will be a good one in the end.

The third class is the adult class which has 17 students. This was a fun class as well. They were all ready to learn and came with a lot of energy, especially considering that we started at 7:45. Again there is a large range of language comprehension, but it is a little easier to handle in this class.

Here is the surprising part of the day. Everyone had notebooks and were taking notes (the 10-12 year olds were constantly asking if they should write things down). Maybe it was just the classes I taught, but I am not used to that. I'll sure take it though.

In case you are wondering what the main thing you do on the first day in a class teaching English as a foreign language, I'll tell you. The most important thing is making sure that everyone has an English name (which complicates matters some because I have to relearn names of some people). This being finished, we can continue on with other important things like pronouns, "to be" and the like.

So, thank you for all the prayers, they are definitely working because I am realizing that I really have a lot to learn about teaching English. (Just thinking about the English vowel sounds could make someone go crazy.) Keep those prayers coming.

In other news, Deysi (Daisy to you English speakers), the dog, was trapped in the school bathroom for, well, long enough for us to go looking for her a time or two (Spencer and Matt said they prayed for her, but Marshall was enjoying her absense). Luckily she was set free this morning and is fine and dandy, probably never to go into the bathroom again. She did decide to try to join my adult class tonight and I had to chase her out. I don't think she needs the class. She has been raised bilingual. (Deysi, ven, ven...Daisy, get it, girl) Poor dog is probably more confused that we know.

Anyway, good night. I am all tuckered out and have another big day tomorrow. You probably do too.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Attack of the killer plants!

A refresher on the past week of my life, since I haven't written for over that long. Last Friday I climbed "La Mula" a mountain close to Ixtlan. No, not alone. A small group of us left at about 10:00 and it took about a half an hour to climb through the jungle the rainy season produced. It was super peaceful at the top and it was calming to just sit there and relax.



Here is the mountain. Intimidating, eh? We went to the top of the ridge on the left. There is a cross at the top that you can see at all in this picture. My dear family will be horrified to hear that I got really worn out at first. I don't know what my problem was, but I had to stop and rest. It was rather embarrassing. I will put your worries at ease, though, and say that I was doing fine at the top and had my normal mountain climbing vigor back.



This is the view from the top. The city is Tecamatan. You couldn't really see Ixtlan from the top. It is weird to look around up there, to see nearly 20 towns, if not more, and realize that there is only one Christian church in all of them.



The mighty cross at the top of the mountain with Spencer at the top. The view from there was spectacular. Yes, I climbed up there too. Don't tell Grandma P. (I don't have a cell phone down here or maybe I would have tried to call her.)



Here are the results of the killer plant. It didn't show up until the sunday after our climb. The really dark spots actually blistered. Whatever the plant was must have had poisonous juices. Spencer has a small spot on his arm too. We don't have a clue what plant it was, but I think it makes me look pretty tough. At Bible study today Lupita and Lupita said it looked like I got in a fight with a cat. You should see the cat...


In other news, I spent Monday through Wednesday in Guanajuato with Juan, a friend of our family from the states.

It was a crazy three days of meeting his family and friends. Eating (and making) some pretty tasty food. Meeting more family. Touring the countryside.

I also got a chance to spend time with some kids he is mentoring which was really fun. We worked mainly on reading and writing. It was a lot of fun to get to know them as well as the rest of the family. Pray for them all. There is a lot of work that God can do there in Juan's family and in his town. Sorry, no pictures. I didn't want to be a tourist...and I always forgot to take my camera with me.

Coming soon...THE SCHOOL DESKS ARE HERE!!!!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Cat fights and calmness

Sometimes, this would be one of those times, I know I should update the blog, but I just don't know what to write about. For instance, the cat fight just outside last night was, well unwelcome, but it probably doesn't warrant an entire blog on its own.

I we haven't had any other exciting rain storms. We nobody's come or left. Things are pretty quiet. It's nice for a change. The first couple of months had a lot of things going on. I missed the calmness that we have now. It is one of those things that I have to appreciate, because very soon it will be very busy and crazy.

English classes start in about a week and a half. That means a lot of planning. It means, we have to get the desks in, we have to get classrooms set up, we have to get the books, which still haven't come in. It's a waiting game, we know that everything will work out fine in the end. I am really looking forward to the classes and having fun with the students. I just pray that they learn what they are hoping to learn.

I realized awhile ago that I hadn't shown any new pictures of the school, and then never took the time to post about it. So here y'all go.



This is a front shot of the school on the left are the bathrooms, on the right are the offices. There are two levels to the school with three classrooms on both levels. That's six classrooms for all you who don't feel like doing math.



Here is a classroom. I didn't have a key so I had to take the picture through the window. They are pretty nice and big classrooms. They echo a lot right now, but that should get better as we get more stuff in the rooms.



This is just another view of the front of the school. It is really nice. Everything is bright and well done - thanks to all the guys that worked on it.



The back side. As you can see, the school is pretty big compared to everything else around it, but it will be a really nice building and school once everything gets going.

I guess that covers it for now. More later, as always.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Vinieron aguas... (The Rain Came Down...)

Yesterday was a fine normal day. Everything went well, quiet and calm. And then we had church. Nothing terrible happened, but we had a rain delay for about a half hour.

We had finished singing and had the first prayer when it started to sprinkle. I use sprinkle lightly here, because they were some pretty big drops. You know the ones that say, "Hey, guess what! It's going to rain...really hard." So then Matt got up to start talking and it proceeded to rain and hail and get really windy. So much so, in fact, that we couldn't hear Matt. So, we all sat and waited until the storm passed. I can't guarantee that it was a half hour, but it was pretty close.

Of course, when it rains that hard, water always gets in somewhere. So there were several people walking around with mops to soak up any renegade waters. That also meant water here in the guest house, unforturnately for Spencer whose window wasn't latched. It blew open and his bed got soaked. Pobrecito Spencer.

A special thanks to our two volunteers. Bev and Anita Schlatter are here for two weeks visiting and practicing Spanish. They are neices of Marshall and Jan. Also here for a quick visit are the Troxel brothers. I haven't seen much of them, but I know that Rudy and Rosario are enjoying their presence.

Today was the last day of Inscripciones, registration, for English classes. We currently have 26 students. This is of course a far cry from the 65-70ish that we guess from our surveys, but it is probably better to have small classes since both Ruth and I are new at this teaching English as a foreign language thing. It is probably better if we are going to treat these classes as a ministry opportunity as well. We have several contacts that we believe will still be wanting to sign up as well. So the numbers will probably increase in the next couple of days.

Well, that should update all of you who weren't shocked to death when you saw that I updated again so quickly. Happy recovery!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Basketball

Spencer was gettin on me today for not updating this thing. I didn't realize the last time I posted was the 6th. It's been a week already. Where do I begin.

I am sitting here listening to dogs barking, kids yelling as they play, sheep, and the distant, echoing boom of fireworks. Yes, fireworks. In the midst of all this I realize that this is one peaceful place. It is 7:35 and I am calming down for the evening. I was in the school all day doing registration. We have two days left and expect quite a few people to come sign up yet. Classes are slowly getting a little fuller. We aren't getting as many as we initially thought to come and sign up, but it might be more effective both for teaching and for outreach to have small classes.

Last night we went and played basketball with a bunch of kids from Llano. Actually, part of the group played some other games, but I played basketball. Imagine at least 15 highly energetic and excitable kids running around a small basketball court. They probably ranged from about 7 to 12. It makes for a pretty fun time. We had a lot of fun. As will happen with kids, it doesn't always go as smoothly as planned, but we made it. Pray for the kids in Llano. The come from a very rough area. They don't have a lot and their lives can change a lot if their lives are changed by God.

That's not much of an update, but at least it's something. More later.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Adios, Grant!

Grant se fue. Que triste!

I have to start this with an apology to Grant. I know you left a week ago and I should have had this posted a long time ago, but it hasn't gotten done until now. So here is you official goodbye post, Grant.

Grant was here in Ixtlan for about two months this summer and has realy helped out a lot, especially when we all up and left him for a week. He was a good guy to have around, always ready to help out, build a cabinet, or drive the vans. Of course Grant and I were roommates as well which means I now don't have anyone to wake up as I stumble out of the room in the morning anymore.

Here are several of us the night before Grant left. We also went to the plaza for aguas (no not bottled water, icy cold drinks like Horchata and Limon con chaya or something like that) as well. That was nice. Lupita, Lupita, and Issa are in front and Grant and I are in the back (yeah I meant to put Lupita twice, too)



And here is a picture of Alvaro, previously spelled Albaro (my bad Alvaro), who finally got over his fear of having a picture taken.



In other news, we are still registering. Going has been a bit slow, but I think there will be a lot more peopel next week, it's a little like Indiana here, I think everyone is waiting until the last day.

Also, as is Mexican culture, we are supposed to keep the street in front of our house swept clean. As a group of guys living together, we have been very lucky to get our house clean, let alone the street. With the help of Jason and Rebekah Stoller, who were here visiting for a couple of days, we got the street swept and carried away a five gallon bucket of street dirt. Oops, I think we let it go a little too long.

Alas, it is about three and I should get going so I can get back to the office for our afternoon reistration, but hopefully this gets you back up to date a little. I have kinda gotten a little behind.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Inscripciones




Registration has started for English classes. It is really going to happen. We haven't actually had to many people sign up yet, but I am quite certain that there will be many more people coming by in the next few weeks.

Ruth and I are in the school office most of the day. Our hours are 9-1:30 on Monday - Friday and then 3:30 - 6:30 on Mondays and Thursdays as well. It makes for some slow times in the office, but there is a lot to do. It is fun to have people come in and to be able to "do something." I was telling Ruth today that I came down here planning to teach English and now it feels like I am finally getting serious about it.

There is still a lot to do to prepare for the classes. Sometimes it is a little overwhelming to think about it, but it is exciting to think of all the things that I will be able to do in the classes even if it is a lot of work. I will have to update you on the classes later when we have a better idea of how many students we will actually have.

In the meantime, my schedule fills up fast with all the things that are going on. The registration, Bible studies, Church services, taking care of day to day things. It feels good to be busy (although some would argue that sitting in an office all day waiting for people to come sign up wouldn't really be considered busy - that would be Marci, also known as Marcela).

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Well, I'm back

For all who have been wondering what has happened these past few days (I returned to Mexico and proceeded to post nothing about what's going on down here) hopefully this post will help fill in the blanks.

First of all, a disclaimer for the next while, my comupter and the Internet are not getting along right now, so I have to borrow someone else's computer to access the Internet until I figure out how to make the two behave and be friends again. Not as easy as it would seem. Therefore, I cannot say when the next post will be, but I will be working on it, don't worry.

As for the quick trip home. Everything went really well. It started off with a quick trip to Mexico City with my dear sister Jodi. We went to the Zoo and wandered around the historical center of town which was really interesting. We had a good time there and were able to see all kinds of cool things.

The week passed really fast at home. We got Rhett and Laura married off smoothly. That was nice. It was also fun to see everyone and to spend some time catching up with what was happening around home. There it is always amazing what all can happen in a couple of weeks. I miss the times that I had just to hang out with people and share my life with everyone back home. You don't really realize what everyone means until you have been away for awhile.

I did come back to Mexico last Thursday. It was really hot. It was nice and cool when I left, but really hot when I got back. I am happy to say that it has cooled down some since I got here.

Yesterday, Saturday, Ruth, Rudy and I went to Zamora to choose books for the English classes. Some of you will be surprised and probably horrified to hear that we spent 3 hours at the counter of a bookstore flipping through books before we made a choice. Those of you who teach, have taught, or are connected with teaching will probably be surprised that we could pick out books in only three hours. It was a good trip though and it is nice to know that we have that much taken care of.

A further update on the English classes. We are starting registration on Tuesday this week which means that we will be spending a lot of time in the office waiting for people to come by an register. We will have registration open until the 15th of August and then, whether I am ready or not, classes start the first of September. We have looked at the schedule a little more and at this point we are planning 5 classes. We will have a class for 6-9 year olds and a class for 10-12 year olds at the same time (no I am not teaching both of those classes, I can't - Ruth will be teaching the 6-9 year olds). We will also have a class for 13-17 year olds and then two classes for the adults. This should keep everyone split up pretty well and not overwhelm us with too big of classes.

It is currently a sunny Sunday afternoon. We have nothing planned until 5:00 when we have a singing and some volleyball. It will be a quick afternoon and then starts a new week.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Going home...

Yes, already. But only for about a week.

I am going to be out of the country (by that I mean Mexico) for about a week. So I will probably not get much updated between now and then. I will ask that you pray for protection in travel not just for me but for Spencer as he goes home for a chance to see his family, Matt as he goes to Barra Vieja with Frank Sauder, Marshall as he goes to Magdalena for a board meeting, and Jodi and I as we travel home as well. Pray also for Grant as he will be taking care of a lot of things by himself in the next week. Also pray for Jan as she will be alone, too, when Marshall is gone to Magdalena. Pray that all the traveling and all the work can result in God's glory.

Just to finish up the past weekend. We had a lot of kids show up for church that hadn't been here before. A lot of really neat kids that we hope will keep coming around. Rudy taught a class of 11 boys that were 10 and older that was nonexistent last Sunday. I was able to help and it was pretty neat. A lot of possibility and opportunity there. Continue to pray for the kids that are still coming around and are still interested.

I guess I will see a lot of you in a couple of days. If not, I'll see ya' when I see ya'.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

The weekend after Escuelita...

Last night we have Jóvenes which is essentially a night for young people. Usually we have a Bible study, play some volleyball and then finish the night with some palomitas, or popcorn (of course with hot sause, the only way to eat popcorn). We start at about 5:00 and the evening usually goes until about 8:30. Well, having just had Escuelita things change a bit.

Last night we had over 40 people show up for the night. Most of them quite young for jóvenes. We had planned on bigger numbers, but we weren't really thinking we would have so many. Spencer did a great job adjusting his Bible study on the go and volleyball was a little different having so many really young kids there, but we all managed to get by and I think everyone had a great time. Today, being Sunday, we are planning on a much larger crowd for church too which means we have to have extra rooms set up. Pray for all these kids that are coming around, that they would feel the power and love of God as they come around to the different events that we have.



A group of kids play knockout during Jóvenes. They would get really excited about it too, believe my ears.



Some of the typical attendees of Jóvenes. You can see we had little games going on all over the place (notice the volleyball behind them).

To those who have started to wonder if I am ever really going to teach English. We have a start date for classes now. September 1st. We will register from August 1-15th-ish. So, yes, I am actually going to teach English, even if it seems like I have forgotten all about it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

More Escuelita

Continuing the theme of Escuelita, I am providing you with another video of the fun. This one centers more on the van ride. It doesn't give you a complete picture of what it is like on the bus, but you can get an idea.

video

Things have gone well with Escuelita we get a few more kids coming as the week goes on. It has been rainy this week which makes things even more interesting, and muddy. We have two more days. Continue with the prayers for this week. Pray that hearts can be touched and changed.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Escuelita...Monday

So today we started Escuelita. We had over 200 kids show up today. It was a lot of fun. The kids were really good and everything went well. All the work that was done before was well worth the time. There is what some people might call chaos, but if you pause to look, you realize quickly that it is very organized chaos at the least. Kudos to Matt for all the work he did organizing the week and kudos as well to all the church members that are helping. We would be truly lost without them. Above all praise goes to God. It is His work.

I am helping with the younger kids. Specifically, Spencer and I are helping with Claudia's and Lupita's class of 8-9 year olds. It is a pretty big class with over 40 kids. Below are some videos I took. They can say a lot more than words could ever say, so I will stop typing and let you watch.

video

I also get to drive a van FULL of kids from Corea to Ixtlan. Corea is a psudo-suburb of Ixtlan. (I don't thing Ixtlan is big enough to have a suburb, but Corea is maybe three quarters of a mile from Ixtlan). Anyway, driveing a van with well over twenty kids, quite possibly over thrity is an experience that you don't get very often. It is more fun than you'ld think, especially when I only have to drive to Corea not the longer drive to Limon or La Plaza.

Continue to pray for the week. There are four more days and we know that God can do a lot in the lives of the kids if we trust Him to produce the fruit in their lives.

On a different note: Jodi is arriving from Morelia sometime today to help for the week. It will be fun to have her around town and being a part. It is hard to believe that we will be heading back for Rhett's wedding in less than a week and a half. <

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Escuelita is here!!!!

A quick note before this week begins. Please pray for our Escuelita (Vacation Bible School). It is a huge responsibility and a lot of live can be touched. We will begin heading out tomorrow in the vans and trucks to round up the kids at about 10:00 and the Escuelita starts at 11:00. We could have over three hundred kids show up.

Pray that the teachers and helpers would have patience and wisdom. Pray that everything comes together smoothly. Pray for safety while we are driving. Pray that the kids understand the stories that they hear and the message that is being taught to them. Pray that above all, God would be glorified.

I'll try to get back soom with a post about how things are going and more updates about the week, but it should be interesting.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A quick note...

It may have been a little confusing in the last post, but to clarify, we are really spoiled here at the guest house. Jan fixes us lunch every day. So, we pretty much never go hungry. We eat very well at lunch, which is typically the large meal around here anyway. So for supper we, the four guys at the guest house have to fend for ourselves. It is usually a pretty humorous situation, we all wander around the kitchen for a bit wondering what type of cereal we should have tonight because I just had Corn Flakes for breakfast and I don't really want them again, so we pullout the Branies and eat them. (Branies, or Brainies, as we like to call them resemble some type of shredded wheat type cereal nicely coated with powdered sugar.) Anyway, that might help to understand the end of the last post.

Chairs

So on Tuesday, Marshall and I made a trip to Morelia to investigate chairs and desks for the school. The idea was to get bring some back so that we had at least some for Escuelita. So Marshall drove us there and we found the factory after only asking for directions once and managed to get 40 chairs purchased and loaded into the back of the truck.

Now the fun part of this story is that I drove back. So for about 2 and a half hours I drove through Mexico with a load of chairs. It was, I guess, a very good introduction to Mexican driving. Which is good because I get to bus people to church on Sunday. So we managed to get the chairs home alright even with a stop in Zamora.

They are all now sitting in the classroom locked up and I don't have a key or I would show you what they all looked like. Instead you have to imagine on your own. the aren't that comfortable, but do we really want the students sitting in chairs that put them to sleep? Not if Jan just served them lunch. They would all be in deep digestive sleeps. We are really spoiled here. You should see the difference between lunch and supper. It's pretty drastic, especially if we don't buy tacos from the street.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Preparing for VBS

A week from today we are startingour week of VBS, better known here as Escuelita. That means that we have to begin preparing. Escuelita can bring in over a couple hundred kids from the community and is a huge event. Thankfully, we have some extra room this year in the school which will help to hold all the kids. So, today we began some of the preparations. We filled in 400 invitations to hand out to the people in Ixtlan, we will go around on Saturday and again on Sunday to hand those out. We also cut out some "Pigs" that are a craft that go along with one of the stories. We have to get a lot of that stuff done for the younger kids so they don't hurt themselves or take up three days just trying to cut out and fold a little box.



Here Grant and Lupita work on filling out invitations. They are still working on their first 100. Concentration was perhaps sporadic at best for a while there. I was cuttng out and folding the pigs with Albaro.



Albaro was ready for something a little more exciting after we finished the pigs. Turns out it was raining out so vollyball wasn't such a great idea.



Here is the pile of pigs that Albaro and I made. It isn't as impressive as it seems it should have been, but there are 50 little pigs there, I think.



Albaro decided that we needed some music while we filled out the rest of the invitations. I am pretty sure he just didn't want to fill out the invitations. He sat at that piano and messed around for quite a while. If you are wondering, he doesn't play the piano and wasn't terrible proud to be playing either which made for an interesting and unique experience.

We have a lot more to get ready for, but we did get a good chunk of work done today. That was nice. Escuelita will be here before we know it, but it will be a really great week. Tiring, I am sure, but great.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Futbol (not americano)

So, Saturdays here are soccer days. At about 11:00 in the morning someone heads off in the van and picks up a bunch of rowdy boys about 11-12 and under. We had a good 8-10 in the van and then picked up about that many more back in Ixtlan. So we end up with at least 15-20 boys in this little barn to play soccer.

Now, I just want to make sure this picture has been created correctly for you. There are 4 American young men, to be polite, and a bunch of Mexican kids running around. That is enough to make people think that we are crazy, but then we start playing soccer with them? Soccer is like the unamerican sport. Sure it is played in the US, but what do we really know about the sport? We have to convince our soccer stars to move in from other countries. So, these crazy Americans want to play soccer with a bunch of Mexican kids.

Who, I ask, do you think the experts here are?

I hope you didn't say the Americans. Needless to say, it was a lot of fun. The kids behave really well. They are good enough that we can really have fun. They are also good enough that the goal is the post for the basketball hoop. (I will say it isn't any whimpy basketball post. Made of concrete, etc. but still much smaller than an actual goal. And these kids are good.

So if you want some good exercise, come down on a Saturday, these kids will put you through the works.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The first week

Well, one week ago today I left home and came down here to Ixtlan. I really didn't know entirely what I was in for. A lot has happened in a week. I have a lot to learn about Ixtlan, about the people, about Spanish, about God. I think the same would be true no matter where I would go. We often feel we know so much, when in reality, we don't know a thing. We are just on the edge of knowledge. Every time we go a little further we just realize how much bigger everything is than what we thought.

Anyway, you probably don't want to listen to me wax philosophic. Blehh... get that taste out of your mouth and on to something different.

What have I done in the past week you may be wondering. What does a person do in Ixtlan?

We have a Bible study or Chruch or something every evening down here. That means that I have done a lot of that. I have gotten a lot of practice listening to Spanish that way. The Bible studies are done with groups or couples in the community. It is a great way to get out and get to know people a little better.

I have made a couple of trips to Zamora already. Zamora is were we go for and "Walmart runs" we might need to go to, although here they would be called "Aurrera runs". "Walmart" here seems to be a lot like walking into a Sam's Club. I don't think I will have a problem with not having the things that I need. Zamora is about 30 minutes away. It is a pretty nice city with some pretty good food.

I have had a lot of time to plan for the English classes as well. I am realizing that I have a lot of things to learn about English and about teaching English to people who don't know the language. It is a pretty daunting task, but I am excited about the possibilities that it will open up. I need to work a lot more on the different parts of the class, but it is making some slow progress.

A last thought:
Spencer said it pretty good the other day he said that the reason he came down to Ixtlan was because he heard there was this lady that cooked up really great food down here. Mom, don't worry. Jan will never let us starve, although I may eat too much. And there is always the taco stand down the road.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Jodi

Jodi reminded me of something in a comment on Rambling. I got to see her last weekend. I think she just about squeezed me to death but I managed to step the side and make it more of a side hug than a front on hug which I think saved me.

OK, I may be being a little bit facetious. It was great to see her and she seems to be doing alright. She didn't really try to hug me to death I don't thinks, but it was pretty....intense, some people might say. She has definitely gotten better with the whole speaking Spanish thing, which is great.

We did also get a chance to talk to Mom, Dad, Holly and Micah all at the same time on Skype. Mom and Dad were in Morris. and so we all talked together. It felt kinda like we spent the evening with them. A short, very strange evening, but an evening none the less.

Here is picture of Jodi and I as proof.



She is panning on coming again next weekend. We'll see.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Bienvenidos a Ixtlan

Here I am. Sitting in the guest house wondering where to begin. There is so much to say and yet how can you say it all. How can you fit your life into weird little letters. I don't know so I guess I won't try too hard.

The weekend is past. It was a great weekend. We had both baptisms and communion. It was a great chance to see the church, to get to know the people who attend, and to pick up where I left of last summer when I visited. Of course, I discovered that I don't really know Spanish. I have some studying to do there, but thankfully the people here are patient and willing to listen to bad English and still be able to carry on a conversation. It is slowly coming back and I am glad to have the support that I have.

Time fills up here with studying and learning the language and Bible studies and picking people up and droppong people off. I haven't had a chance to sit down and discuss what is going to happen with the English classes yet. There are a lot of things to figure out first. Once we have things nailed down a little bit more, I will be able to do some planning.

Mike and Deb Lehman are leaving today so things will be a little different. We won't have anyone cooking us breakfast anymore. Prayers that they are able to return home safely.

Here are some more pictures. These were taken from the second floor of the guest house. Not real interesting, but part of what I see every day.





Coming soon: Lalo, our tagalong little brother.