By far the most common misconception we hear about when we are in the U.S. is that Mexico is one huge, hot, dry desert. Nathan and I were talking about this right after we crossed the border a few weeks ago. As we drove through breath-taking scenery and said over and over “wow… look at that… definitely is not desert.” That’s when the idea struck. I’m going to take pictures! All the way to Chiapas! Unfortunately it didn’t occur to me until the second day across the border. But hey! That’s when it gets really pretty, anyway.
So grab a tall glass of horchata, sit back, and enjoy a quick tour through the real Mexico! (You can hover over the picture for a description.)
We have never been so thrilled to be pulling in to San Cristobal as we were this time. It’s so good to be back where God has called us to serve!
There you have it!! Mexico is so much more than desert. If you haven’t already been, you must put Chiapas on your list of places to visit! We’d love to show you around our beautiful state.
I have a running list in my drafts folder that I add to now and then. I came across it today and after adding a few new things, decided I should just share it on here with you. I have SO little time to blog these days that I figure if I’ve got something written down, I might as well share it. 😉 So here it is! Things I love about living in Mexico.
- When we’re running late, no one minds! We will likely still be the first ones to arrive!
- My kids are perfectly comfortable in 2 very different cultures.
- I am learning to speak another language, and so are my girls!
- Flowers are cheaper than dirt. Literally.
- Awesome Chiapas coffee, French pastries, Argentinean steak, and Japanese sushi… all in the same block!
- My kids get to witness God providing for our needs on a regular basis, in miraculous ways!
- Due to the constant flow of visitors, my children are learning to interact with a lot of different people, and are also turning into great little hostesses.
- The green!!! I never knew there were so many shades of green until I saw the vegetation here.
- The coziness of falling asleep or waking up to the sound of rain… for months at a time!
- Getting to be a part of people experiencing Mexico for the first time. Seeing people’s perspective on missions and the world change before our eyes!
- Hot, fresh tortillas. And a tortilleria (a store that makes and sells them) just around the corner. Just pennies for a little stack of them.
- I have a new and fresh appreciation for my beloved United States of America. Everything sparkles a bit brighter when we go back.
- We are just a couple hours drive from several different beaches/oceans.
- Produce here tastes different. Mangoes are sweeter, avocados are creamier (and cheaper) and pineapples taste like they’ve been dipped in sugar!
- Our life here is chalk full of uncertainty, which I prefer to call “ADVENTURE!”
- Hearing Nathan and myself refer to Casa Hogar as “our orphanage” and knowing that we have a relationship with those kids that we wouldn’t have if we didn’t live here.
- Cilantro grows in my back yard like a weed!
- Knowing that we are smack in the center of where God wants us to be right now. That, in and of itself, is worth any sacrifice we have to make to live here. No amount of American comforts can replace the peace and joy that comes with knowing that you are being obedient to His call on your life!
For days now I’ve been itching to sit down and blog, but just haven’t had the time. It’s been crazy busy here lately! Plus, the topics pressing on my typing fingers haven’t been particularly blog-worthy. So I suppose it’s a good thing that I haven’t had time to let them out. Even now, it’s 10:30 at night and I’m having to look at the screen with my head tilted back a little so I can make out the words I’m typing. Last night wasn’t particularly kind to me in the sleep department, and I’m totally feeling it. But I finally got Brennah to go to sleep a few minutes ago, and the quiet of my house is too much for me… I must take advantage of it… if only for a few minutes!
So Nathan and the current GE team left this-morning for the Zoque jungle. I know I’ve said it a hundred times before, but hey. A little repetition never hurt anyone. I am so proud to be married to him! I love how passionate he gets when he talks about the status of any given project he’s got going. I love the way he lights up when someone asks him a deep question about the Zoque or Ch’ol people. God has given Nathan some unique abilities that I think he’s doing a great job putting to use.
That’s the end of my rabbit trail. Back to topic.
This is day 1 of 5. Hopefully, Nathan and team will be back on Friday night just in time for dinner. They will be doing water filter installation (you can check out the Projects page on our website if you are wondering what on earth I’m talking about), a stove installation, and a children’s program. They should be pretty busy, and come home pretty wiped out. I’m told that the days just fly by for these teams. Which is odd, because they get incredibly slow for us! It’s a bit of a shock to my system, actually, because things have been so nuts the last few weeks. So today when I started dragging and thinking “wow we must be close to bedtime” and realized it was only 5 pm, I couldn’t believe it. As in, I actually checked another clock thinking “that can’t be right.”
In order to better survive these times of being single mom for a few days, I try to give myself lots of projects. This is never difficult as my house almost always looks like a bomb went off. Or at least like a few toddlers tore through it. Either way, the look is about the same.
Todays project (after getting our monthly update sent out) was the kitchen. It’s slowly been building clutter, and the disorganization has been getting more annoying. So I tackled it. You should see my sparkling counters! Actually, I’ll take a picture for you right now.
But you see that stove in the back? That’s the object of my deep-thinking tonight. Sortof. It inspired deep thoughts, anyway. It was starting to look a little grungy from all the cooking of the last few weeks. It had been wiped, but not CLEANED. There’s absolutely a difference!! So I cleaned it. But just the outside. As I wiped the oven door and opened it ever so slightly to clean that top edge, I was met by the smell of burnt food. Ew. My first thought was “GROSS I will clean that next.” But as 10 pm approached and I grew weary of listening to Brennah yell from her bed, I abandoned that idea. I finished scrubbing the stove-top, counters, sink, and even a few cabinet fronts. Then headed towards the sound of the baby yelling. As I sat in the dark nursing the cranky one, I thought about my oven. It looks so pretty now! Well kindof. Whatever got burned in there last made a sortof smoke stain that I haven’t been able to get off. But over all, it looks great!
You’d never guess that my oven is insane.
I’m totally serious. Not only is it insane, but it hates me! It has started freaking out, beeping like mad, just as it gets up to temperature. The only way to make it stop is to unplug it for about 5 min to try and reset it’s weird little brain. So not only does it stink of burnt food, it’s insane. But it looks nice!
That’s when it occurred to me. I don’t want to be like my oven. Obviously, I don’t want to be insane (though I’m sure there are those who would say I’ve already arrived at that destination…) but more than that, I don’t want to stink like something burning inside me. I don’t want people to see me and say “aw what a nice Christian missionary wife,” then get a look inside and say “ew.” Because that’s what I think when *I* look inside me. I can distinctly smell something burning. Anger stinks. Bitterness has a particularly nasty scent. Hurt feelings left to fester just smell rotten.
Tomorrow I will tackle the inside of the oven. Tonight I’m asking the Lord to begin cleaning out the places in me that need scrubbing.
I’ve heard rumor that we have some friends (maybe even family??) who have said “what are Nathan and Julie doing down there, anyway?” This makes me think that maybe I haven’t done a good job of portraying our world via the monthly e-mail updates I send out. So I figured I would just sit down and write a “what we do” note, to sum it all up very clearly. At least, as clearly as I can! Here goes. Hold on, I need to make myself a mocha first…
Ok here goes! So I’m sure you already know that my little family and I live in Chiapas, Mexico. If you look on a map, you’ll see Chiapas at the veeeeery bottom of the “chili pepper” shape. We are as far South as you can go, without running into Guatemala. The name of our city is San Cristobal de las Casas… though San Cris is much easier! San Cris is one of the 10 oldest colonial cities in the country… or maybe it was South America? Anyway it’s really truly beautiful, either way. It’s easy for me to imagine what the climate in the Garden of Eden was like after living here for almost 5 yrs. A hot day for us is 80 degrees… most days we’re between 65-70. We don’t really have a distinct summer/fall/winter season change here. The big change happens between dry season and rainy season. Typically, rainy season means that we get rain for several hours every day. There are days when we wake up to rain, watch it rain all day, and go to bed with it still raining! But those days are pretty rare. Generally, we wake up to fog, then the sun comes out for a few hours. By early afternoon the clouds roll in and we see rain for several hours… usually clearing up by dinner time.
According to Wikipedia, there are 63 languages spoken in Mexico. That seems awfully low to me (like, 200 lower than I expected) but I think it’s due to the definition of languages. When a dialect becomes SO different from it’s original language that the two can’t communicate anymore, we (and the organization we get our info from) call it another language. But even at 63, people are surprised! We all expect that if you live in Mexico, you speak Mexican! Er, Spanish. While that is generally true (the majority of people in Mexico can communicate basic ideas in Spanish if they’re not fluent), there is a HUGE number of people that are much more comfortable with their native language (or “heart language”). That huge number of people is why we are here.
Something like 80% of the indigenous people of Mexico are illiterate. That means that *even if* there was a printed Bible or evangelistic or discipleship materials in their language, it wouldn’t do them any good. What good is a Bible if you can’t read it? So how do you communicate the Gospel to a person that can’t read? This is where Nathan comes in. He (and his parents) have been working for years to get audio and video materials translated, recorded, and distributed. You may be familiar with “The Jesus film” made by Campus Crusade. (http://www.jesusfilm.org/) We’ve worked to get that made in several of the local languages here. This is an EXCEPTIONAL tool! Many of the jungle trips include at least 1 showing of this movie. While some of the people may have heard of Jesus, it’s a whole `nuther ball game to watch a film about his life, death, and resurrection in their own language!
Right now, we are focusing on 2 indigenous people groups. The Zoque (pronounced SO-kay) and the Ch’ol (pronounced chole). One group is about 6 hrs West, the other is 6 hrs East. This is why we’re located in San Cris… it’s very much in the middle of many different people groups! Right now, as far as we can see and have been told, there are no missionaries working with either of the groups I mentioned. They both have a printed Bible, but like I mentioned earlier that doesn’t do anything for the majority of the people.
Currently, we’re only a few chapters away from getting the Zoque New Testament finished, and Ch’ol is completely done! Then, Nathan will go to a village to install water filters (you can read about this project on our website… www.terrelltimes.com under the Projects page and Pure Water Project). The filters are a huge need and we have more requests than we are able to fill right now! They provide a perfect open door for Nathan to say “hey, while I’m here, let me give you a gift!” And when he goes back to a home to check on their filter, he brings another book or two of the New Testament while he’s at it. He takes as much time as he needs to in each home, asking if they enjoyed the last CD, if they had any questions, etc. I am so proud of him! When I’m with Nathan in these people’s homes, I can’t get over how they just open up and talk him. I love how accepting he is of everyone, and they obviously feel that too.
This brings me to my next point. Yes, he goes to the jungle without us! I have spent MANY hours dreaming of a travel trailer that we could all go together in. But since he goes to so many villages, and just sleeps in his truck or a hammock that he carries with him, there is nowhere for me and 3 little girls to stay! So for now, we stay home and hold down the fort while Daddy goes to the jungle. He’s usually gone for about a week out of every month. During the summer, when we have lots of teams coming down, he’s gone MUCH more often. But we love teams, so it’s all good in the end.
Does that cover everything? I’m sure it doesn’t. Tell ya what, if there is something I missed or a question you still have, send it as a reply (or e-mail or facebook) and I will write up an answer post. 🙂 But this is long enough for now. If you read all the way through, congratulations! Here’s a cyber-gold star for you!