Something Different

A couple months ago I bit my tongue…literally. I’m sure you can probably imagine what happened after that. Yes of course, some friends flew down from Maryland and spent their vacation with us. Well, maybe you wouldn’t have predicted that would have happened and neither would we, but it happened nonetheless.

When I bit my tongue, the wound was rather deep and located in the middle of my tongue rather than on the edge. That odd location for such an injury combined with the fact that a couple of my meds interact in such as way so that my blood doesn’t coagulate easily led to a rather serious bleeding situation that I couldn’t get under control. We weren’t quite sure what to do, and the ideas we found on the Internet were not helping. Just at the moment that we opened the front door to head to an emergency room, our friends from Maryland called and coached us through the medical solution. They’re both nurses and have both worked in ERs and many other situations over their medical careers. After over 2 hours on a video chat session, the worst of the bleeding finally passed and about 5 or 6 hours later, the bleeding finally fully stopped.

While we were on the video chat (of course, I wasn’t doing much talking because I was applying a lot of pressure to the middle of my tongue with my thumb and fingers), they mentioned that for a long time, they’d been thinking about coming down here for a visit. In fact, we’d initially met them here when they came for a week of family ministry with their teen daughters. We hadn’t known them at that time, but their trip down here coincided with the presence of other work teams staying with our co-workers, and since we had just moved here from language school a couple weeks before their arrival and were just settling in, we had the only missionary guest room available in the area. So, they stayed with us, and we’ve been friends ever since!

While Beverly (the wife) talked with Beth (and I listened), Glenn (the husband) was searching for flights to Mexico. He came up with a flight itinerary for mid-February, and the planning began. This would be their vacation time, and they really wanted a chance to see and observe the culture and our ministry as much as possible.

We took them all over the place to some great local and regional destinations. We visited museums and an opal mine, climbed a pyramid, toured an official Talavera ceramic pottery factory, soaked in very hot thermal water at a water park, and ate lots of great food including Indian/Hindu, Canadian poutine (they’re both Canadians!), tacos al pastor, enchiladas, mole poblano, tacos arabes, a molcajete filled with meats, melted cheese, cactus, onions and salsa, fresh squeezed juice, churros, and much more! I think I gained 10 pounds from all our culinary excursions despite walking well over 10 miles throughout their visit!

We also  visited the Bible seminary and Christian school in Puebla, met a number of our missionary co-workers, helped a few people with some minor medical issues. They shared some of their life and church experiences with our church body, and they did a great job teaching our MKs about the heart and how it works (I got to be part of the heart “display!”), as well as showing our older MKs some microscope slides involving blood and organ tissue. Cool stuff!

Whew! What a vacation! They’re anxious to come back and are seriously considering becoming part-time “finishers” doing some ministry of some kind down here when they retire some time in the not too distant future (maybe 5 years or so).

Here are some sample images of all the above:

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The Job

We’ve gotten ourselves into a Groundhog Day type loop and I’m not sure we’ll ever get out!

A couple weeks ago we learned from Lupe and Rocío that they were having significant problems with their house situation. We knew that would be coming because they weren’t following any of the advice (esp. legal advice from a good lawyer) about how to deal with going through the purchase and construction process. Things were starting to fall apart.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but the immediate issue was that the electricity they were borrowing from the neighbor was 220V not 110V. This they seemed to know, but what they didn’t know was that their electric bill instead of being around 40 or 50 pesos as they’ve usually experienced was around $1,200 pesos! They didn’t know that the 220V was more expensive (and it damaged a few things as well!).

So, Beth took Rocío to the local electric company to find out what needed to be done to get it done correctly. (They also went to the water company because their water source was cut off and that needs to be done correctly too…and that’s an even longer and more complicated story…and will be a very expensive one should they ever get everything in place to get water service which they desperately need!) They needed a concrete post constructed with a couple of meters and a metal pole that could receive the wires and then for those wires to be run to the house about 100 meters away.

To get the post built correctly, Beth looked up the contractor that did a lot of work for the community center years ago and seemed to do good work with concrete and apparently he fixed something here at the house last summer when we weren’t here but Beth’s mom was here. So, Lucio the contractor and David the son-in-law came and we took them up to Lupe and Rocío’s house to show them the situation and last week they did that job (we paid for it b/c by this point, Lupe and Rocío are out of money). That was about $125 USD but a good investment with which to help them.

While we were discussing that job, I realized that our house has needed electrical work since about day 1 of living here in 2005! We’ve never had success in getting much done here with various workers, so if Lucio can do this kind of work, surely he could handle our job here. He assured me that he and David could do it and they know exactly what to do and how to do it.

So, this Tuesday they came to get to work on the electrical issues. However, the shower that Dayton and I use in the main bathroom developed a leaky faucet gone rogue that has been a problem for quite awhile but was manageable until a couple days before Lucio and David arrived for the electrical job. So, they looked it over and looked over the electrical work and made a list of things and said they could come back on Wednesday to get to work. In the meantime, I had expanded the list to a few lighting issues, the entire kitchen issue, the grounding issue, and a toilet base that was leaking and presumably needed a new wax seal.

Yesterday, the electrical job began…as a plumbing job! Once the wall was torn into, it was obvious that the original design was unusual and would require a different approach than is normal but not too difficult to do. I took Lucio to a couple of supply stores that he normally buys from and bought about $250 USD in supplies. David was busy fixing a bad bathroom light in the master bathroom (that hasn’t worked since 2005 or so), checked a bad light in the bathroom of Beth’s mom upstairs (turned out to just be a bad lightbulb!), and then fixed an oddly/poorly designed switch and outlet in the guest room (how do you plug something into an outlet that the metal door to the room opens right into whatever is plugged in?!?).  David was able to keep the switch there and moved the outlet to another location. Mind you, this is all concrete/brick walls so this means chiseling and banging and drilling.

Finally, the shower was up and running except there was a problem with the cold side and that faucet (a brand new part!) would need to be replaced internally (but he said it doesn’t cost much and he’d take care of it). In the meantime, we were to use the hot side and take showers to see if there were leaks before he uses concrete and puts the tile back. Of course, there were two leaks so today, instead of working on electrical stuff, Lucio ended up fixing the two leaks.

Whew!

And then…

The bathroom (and ironically the kitchen a mile away…somewhat figuratively) are on the same water line and there are two hand valves outside that bathroom up along the stairwell to the 2nd floor. These have always been a bit aged and haven’t opened and closed easily, began leaking…profusely. They finally wore out. So, late this afternoon when they were about to leave, Bethie and I went walking to find a store that could sell me two particular valves for this new plumbing project. We managed to find them and enjoyed a smoothie on the walk home as a reward for nothing in particular.

Meanwhile, David did manage to replace to our our three circuit breakers (the old ones were horrible and probably damaged…not to mention they noted that they were a really cheap brand…the owner of this house doesn’t realize it but he does everything exceptionally cheaply…and typically poorly). He also managed to ground our circuit panel which hasn’t been done correctly for since before we moved in here. Progress!

Tomorrow, the extra plumbing job hopefully will be completed and the final electrical job will be at least started. They will replace the kitchen circuit breaker and then run a better set of wires (all the wiring in this house is too thin…re-wiring the house is the ultimate solution but we’re looking at something in the thousands of dollars…no can do) and a separate ground wire (b/c 3-wire just doesn’t seem to exist here and the system isn’t set up for that). They’ll run a flexible, waterproof conduit up on the exterior wall, across part of the roof, and then down to the outside of the kitchen, and then run it to all the outlets in the kitchen. This will mean we’ll have a grounded kitchen with proper wiring for our fridges, the microwave, the washer and dryer, and all the smaller appliances we have in there. What a great thing this will be!

Oh, and once they’re done with that. I need to have them re-seal the roof (it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to do it), and once they’re finished with that, then whatever I haven’t finished with the repainting of the house, they finish that too! My health has not been good these past few weeks, so having these guys work us into their schedule has been a rich blessing. And labor is pretty reasonable here. They worked about 10 hours apiece so far. Cost of labor to-date for 20 combined hours: $65 USD. I can’t afford NOT to have them do work for us! 🙂

There you have it, the electrical/concrete job that turned into an electrical job that turned into a plumbing job that turned back into an electrical job that will hopefully turn into a sealant job and finally…dare I say “finally”?…a painting job. It’s all so simple!

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the Mural

Our local market received a work of art…painted right on the sidewall…it’s simply wonderful. I hope to get back over there with my regular camera (this pic was with my cheap cell phone) and get a better photo. It’s probably the most beautiful work of art in this city.

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Planning Before the Steps

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Unusual Sunday today. Enjoyed a brief visit from a missionary with a youth and sports ministry who we haven’t seen in years. All our church families had family obligations that prevented them from being able to attend our weekly service. I used the extra time to FINALLY clean up my office (sorting, tossing, filing, finding! cleaning, thinking), and to get my desktop calendar taped up on the wall.

I’m grateful to have a wall like this. I love being able to visualize the year and the challenge to remember to write appointments and reminders on it. Unfortunately, January and February are a little hard to see from my desk, but I need the exercise anyway. 🙂

Reflecting on the challenges of 2016 I’m reminded that I can and should plan my way, but it is indeed the Lord who directs my steps. None of us know if we’ll be here on this earth by the end of this year’s calendar. That’s a truth that I will never forget and never fear.

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Protected: A New Year

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Christ is Come!

Merry Christmas to all of you on this one and only Christmas Eve of 2016.

Today we were up and at ’em and getting a feast ready for our small church body to enjoy.  One family was out of town, and another one unexpectedly was unable to come, so we were down to just two families and our co-worker Tina B. came from Amealco and joined with us. We had plenty of food for the 10 of us since we prepared enough for a few more than that.

We sang a few Christmas hymns and read the Christmas story while discussing a few aspects of it along the way. I have to admit that of all the details we’re given in Luke, I’m always fascinated by the account of Simeon on circumcision day. Not that it’s any more spectacular than any other part of the story, but I love that he was ready and always on the lookout for the Lord’s coming. May we be such people too.

Cameron is home and we’re enjoying having him, but a little sad that he leaves for Dallas on Friday. So little time. Glad for the time we have. He’ll be flying back to Chicago on January 7 from DFW. Glad to report that he passed all his first semester classes! He works hard at Moody and puts in a lot of hours working in the kitchen and studying. It doesn’t leave him much time to enjoy all of campus life, but we’re grateful he is able to attend and follow the Lord’s leading toward ministry as he studies and grows along with so many others who love Jesus.

Here are a few pics from today’s activities (there was even a little time just before everyone arrived for a round of a board game).

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‘Tis the Season

No reminders are needed that this is the season of “holiday overload.” I don’t know about you, but I sometimes find that I need to shut out all the “Christmas noise,” at least some of which obscures the purpose and meaning of the holiday. As with many things I need to find a balance, but the balance is dynamic and sometimes I’m ready to dive into more music and decorations and celebrations while at other times I feel the need to retreat to a quiet place and shut out the noise and lights and sparkly fun and meditate on the Word and pray in the silence, if silence can be found. Maybe you can relate to this.

Over the past couple of weeks, we’ve added to our Christmas list of experiences. I’ve been focusing our informal Sunday services on the Advent, even lighting a candle each week as a symbol for our themes covered so far: Hope, Peace, and Joy. Next Sunday, we’ll consider Love. Each service we’ve added an extra touch of Christmas to our service. The first Sunday Beth made a huge pot of Mexican Christmas punch (“ponche” is served hot and filled with fruit). The second Sunday we added cookie decorating. Yesterday, Beth made a sort of American spiced cider (Bethie-style). I have no idea what we’ll do for next Sunday. Hopefully, we’re (i.e. Beth’s) not out of ideas yet!

Our church has decided to celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve with a fellowship lunch and a Christmas devotional. Most Christmas celebrations in Mexico involve family and parties that last past midnight. So to avoid conflicting with family plans, a late night, and the cultural noise, we’ll celebrate together a little earlier, a lot quieter, and enjoy a time of worship filled with hope, peace, joy, and love.

We recently helped out with a Christmas fellowship for church leaders in the region. Beth and her mom made about 150 plain Christmas cookies for decorating at the event. Beth also made a “cheese ball snowman.” We provided 3 poinsettias (and Beth’s mom also provided 3 poinsettias) to adorn the stage during the event and to be given away at the conclusion of the event. It was a special evening to serve and to reconnect with many beloved believers we do not have the opportunity to see very often.

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“Ponche”

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Decorating Christmas Cookies

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A Work of Love

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“Flour-y”

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Hearts

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Love

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Ready

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Cookie Decorating Materials

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Hundreds of Cookies

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Blooming Beauties

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“Frosty the Cheeseball Man”

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The Christmas Devotional

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Prepping for the Cookie Decorating

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Good Listeners!

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A Feast of Snacks

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Tasty Fingers!

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Intently Decorating Cookies

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Hours of Fellowship

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The Most Festive

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This Is the Real Meaning of Christmas…”Jesus was born.”

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And This Is the Real Reason for Christmas.

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