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!
Do you ever feel like you learn incredibly deep life-lessons from your children? They certainly don’t do it on purpose. But I find that as I have little talks with my girls throughout the day, Jesus is whispering the same words to my heart. This happened to me a couple of days ago as I sat with Gabi, combing her hair and chatting about nonsense. I casually said “I love your hair, Gabs.” She turned to me, with a surprised look on her face, and said “really Mom?” Of course I replied “Yes!” I went on to tell her that I love everything about her. I love her because she’s mine. Because there is no one else in the whole world quite like her. Nothing would ever change that, ever! No matter where she goes, what she does, who she grows up to be, what she looks like in 20 yrs… I will love her. She happily said “awww thanks, Mom. I love you too!” as she trotted away with her sisters. In that moment, alone on the couch, I felt my Savior’s gentle tug on my heart. It was like He whispered “you know I feel that way about YOU!” I melted. How tender and sweet He is to me!
We had another learning experience last week. On this particular day, the girls had been particularly destructive in the toy area. So as I made dinner, I had the girls start cleaning up. After a couple of minutes, Cloe plopped down in the middle of the mess and called to me; “Mom! I can’t do this!! It’s too hard!” I walked back, saw that not even a dent had been made in the disaster, and sat down to talk with Cloe. I asked if she knew which toys went in which baskets. She said yes. I asked if she had made this mess. She said yes. So then, what’s the problem? “Well,” she replied “I guess I *can* do it… I just don’t want to. It’s a hard job. I would rather do an easy job.” I smiled and said “that’s understandable. But it’s the hard jobs that make us stronger!” Cloe decided she wanted to be strong, so she would try. I went back to making dinner, but conviction stung my heart. Because for several weeks now, I’ve been whining about a hard job.
Summertime on the mission field is a little crazy. It’s the time of year that people are more available for mission trips, so it’s when we have the most teams to host. This summer is no exception to that rule, and I’ve known that for months now! The only difference between this summer and last summer is that we are (hopefully) going to be moving in to our upstairs addition next month! Yes, this is wonderful news. I am elated!!! We’ve been dreaming and praying about having those rooms finished for years. Can it actually be turning into a reality? It sure looks like it! I can hardly wait. But with the acquiring of new space, comes a big mess. Like, HUGE. The girl’s bedroom will have the door, wall, and ceiling removed. A staircase will be built. Everything repainted. THEN we’ll be done and can move in! In the meantime, we’re looking at 3 weeks of the girls not having a bedroom. We’ve talked about just moving into the apartment downstairs for that time, but we still have teams coming down. Back-to-back from now until October! But beyond that, trying to imagine keeping house, doing school with my girls, attending language school myself, and hosting teams in the midst of it… how?? The times that Nathan and I have sat down with our calendars to work on details and dates, I find myself near tears. It seems like so much. I confess that I’ve whined to God more than once “I can’t do all this. It’s too hard! Can I have an easier job?”
Last week I read this blog. As a rule, I just love anything this gal writes! But that particular post really hit me between the eyes. She wrote about cheerfully and peacefully accepting the circumstances that God has you in *right now*. Lovely! Just rather convicting. But the straw that broke the camel’s back came yesterday morning.
When I was in MI, my sweet “other mom” (Siri, Amanda’s mom) gave me this daily devotional called “Jesus Calling.” I love it! It’s just a little blurb taken from different Scriptures, written as if Jesus was saying these things right to you. Here is the page for April 10:
“Trust Me in every detail of your life. Nothing is random in My kingdom. Everything that happens fits into a pattern for good, to those who love Me. Instead of trying to analyze the intricacies of the pattern, focus your energy on trusting Me and thanking Me at all times. Nothing is wasted when you walk close to Me. Even your mistakes and sins can be recycled into something good, through My transforming grace. While you were still living in darkness, I began to shine the Light of My Presence into your sin-stained life. Finally, I lifted you up out of the mire into My marvelous Light. Having sacrificed My very Life for you, I can be trusted in every facet of your life.” (Jer 17:7, Rom 8:28, Ps 40:2, 1 Pet 2:9)
Okay Lord, I’m listening now. I get that You’re talking to me, attempting to address this weakness of mine. I have no expectations of You swooping in to take away all the upcoming hardships. I am only completely confident that You’ll be by my side through all of it, having designed each situation for my good.
I went to bed feeling peaceful, but a little nervous last night! In the back of my mind I had this slight feeling of dread, knowing that the next few weeks/months are going to be really hard. This-morning I opened up my little devotional and here is what it read:
“This is the day that I have made. Rejoice and be glad in it. Begin the day with open hands of faith, ready to receive all that I am pouring into this brief portion of your life. Be careful not to complain about anything, even the weather, since I am the Author of your circumstances. The best way to handle unwanted situations is to thank Me for them. This act of faith frees you from resentment and frees Me to work My ways into the situation, so that good emerges from it. To find Joy in this day, you must live life within it’s boundaries. I knew what I was doing when I divided time into twenty-four hour segments. I understand human frailty, and I know that you can bear the weight of only one day at a time. Do not worry about tomorrow or get stuck in the past. There is abundant Life in My Presence today.” (Ps 118:24, Phil 3:13-14)
Okay then. I’m just going to take care of today! That means today’s school, today’s dishes, today’s laundry, and start cleaning the downstairs to prepare for the team arriving on Wednesday. I can do that. It’s definitely more managable than figuring out the next month’s details right now! I know lots of people with harder “to-do” lists than mine. Whatever your list looks like today, I hope you know that God has equipped you for it and wants to be near you through it!
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!