Today was a good example of how simple plans are the best plans here in Mexico. The reason for that is many times nothing goes as planned so simple plans are more flexible and easier to change.
As you may know we have “church” in our home each Sunday. It’s in English. The couple we’re discipling, Jason and Kristin, come each week with their young son, Justin. I teach an informal lesson with J&K, and Beth teaches Justin and Dayton. Cameron sometimes joins my group but usually Beth’s group.
A few weeks ago an American woman we met a couple years ago at Cameron’s tennis classes came back into contact with us after over a year of having lost track of her. She’s promised to come three different Sundays and has so far come once.
So back to the way things go…
On Friday I met Jason downtown after his work where he was doing some payday shopping and I drove him home. I needed to loan him my drill and extension cord so he could drill into the cinder blocks which make up part of the back of their little apartment. He needed to hang up a tarp so as to cover their washing machine and protect it from the coming rains of rainy season. It rained a few nights ago and they weren’t quite ready for it. They also discovered some leaks coming through into their living room which required a couple of buckets to catch the drips. (I’m sure we all have some drips that we’d like to contain with a couple of buckets…but I digress.) So, on the way to his house I spotted a paint store and figured I’d buy him a liter of sealant so he could apply it to the leaky roof.
Upon arriving at and finally leaving his house I mentioned something about seeing them on Sunday for our Bible study and they replied that they had already told us they weren’t able to come this week. Oh…I missed that. Sure enough. Beth knew.
Well, that changed some things for me. I had been trying to get on-task with coming up with this Sunday’s message beginning in Romans 2 and now I was just given a free pass. I could focus on our upcoming mission trip to Iowa and the four messages that I need to get ready for there.
I came home and asked Beth to call Jenny to see if she was planning on coming. If she wasn’t, then maybe we could make a family plan for the morning since we don’t often have a Sunday morning free. Beth called and Jenny said she was coming. Oh. Well…that’s great! We really want to keep building that relationship and to develop a better foundation for some spiritual input into this family.
Later that Friday evening, I hear voices in the dining room. Jenny was supposed to come over. I guess she did but she had already come and gone. These voices were of Carmen and her two teenagers. We had no idea they were coming but they wanted to talk about something. They finally got around to the point. They wanted to order some work shirts for her husband, Juan, from a website in the USA but needed someone with an American credit card who could purchase it and eventually bring it down. Oh…OK.
So, we pick out the 5 shirts and they decided that since there were a number of special deals on this site that they wanted a couple more things…two dresses, several t-shirts, a couple of hoodies, four flip flops…stuff like that. It ended up ringing up to a bit over $200 and 20 items. We’re flying up to Chicago in less than 2 weeks and we’ll need to find a way to get all this stuff into our luggage coming back. (They did pay me in pesos on the spot so that was all good, although I intentionally managed to short myself about $20. Hope that helps them out some.)
On their way out Carmen mentioned that Cristian (her teenage son who was here) needs to hone his English skills so he would be coming to our Sunday morning service to help with his English. Oh…OK. That’s all good too.
So on Saturday, I get out last week’s message and tweak it a bit to use for this week. That way whoever shows up for next week’s service will be caught up through our conclusion of the first chapter of Romans.
Late Saturday evening the phone rang. It was for Beth’s mom. Good. We’ve learned to cringe at Saturday night phone calls. I don’t know why. Later we find out that there’s a group of believers from Querétaro coming to the church across town today and we’ve just invited them to lunch in our home. How many people? It wasn’t clear. Could be around a dozen guests. Yikes! OK, no need to panic; we’ll buy chickens and tortillas and everyone will get something to eat.
Sunday morning, we usually see our attendees arrive around 10:30…sometimes as late as 11:00. I was determined to get going as soon as possible because I didn’t want to see us concluding a late service with a large lunch party coming. 10:30…quiet. 10:45…no one yet. 11:00…Beth decides Jenny’s not coming. Cristian? No, surely he wasn’t coming. Beth pulled out the Bible survey for kids that we’ve been using with the boys and launches into their place in Numbers. Upon wrapping that up around 11:20, the doorbell rings. Someone coming now, nearly an hour late? Yup. Cristian…and his sister and his parents, Juan and Carmen. OK. But Juan and Carmen don’t speak English; and sister speaks very little English. This is going to be interesting.
So, after 10 minutes of getting them to come in and to have a cup of coffee, we get started. The beauty of this lesson last week was that I had discovered some excellent video clips of the passage we were covering and the American pastor was much better at teaching it than I would ever be so we watched that via the projector. That works great for English-speakers but it became a chore to stop it every 30 seconds to a minute to try and translate/summarize-translate what was being said.
This also doesn’t work well with Carmen present. She may be the most talkative woman we’ve ever met. She “could talk fleas off a dog” as we say in the South. So, our 28 minute video took about 2 hours to get through, between watching it, translating it, and then Carmen adding her own sermon comments to it, etc. It was quite an interesting experience. I noticed her teenagers had a habit of looking off in some other direction when their mother was in the middle of one her breathless “sermonettes.” They looked a little annoyed but they did their best to not appear to be rude, after all the closing sin from the list of Romans 1 is “disobedience to parents.” I’m sure they didn’t want to get struck dead right there on the couch. They were trying hard. For my part, I just tried to listen faster. That woman can really tear up the track records for speed-talking.
BTW, Jenny never did show up.
In the end, we finished up just in time. I think everyone enjoyed the message, including me. I know Beth did. She never gets to join the adults so this was a special opportunity for her.
Juan really needed to get home so he could get some lunch and get ready to leave for his job which is several hours away by bus…actually it takes 3 buses to get there. He stays in the area of his job in a very small apartment during the week which he shares with another worker. He only comes home on weekends. They may move over to that region after the kids finish high school but that may be a couple years yet. I decided to drive them home.
In the meantime, our lunch guests have finished their church service across town and are ready to head to our house. Beth was going to go out and get the chicken and tortillas but I had unwittingly decided to drive Juan and Carmen and kids across town to their house. There wouldn’t be room for Beth in the car too. So, she wasn’t able to go out and buy the food. We’d work something out.
We ended up with just three adults and two kids as guests for lunch. Three other adults were invited elsewhere. I’m not sure where we got the idea there would be ten or more guests. I think there was another family or two who decided not to join this group coming from Querétaro. Lunch was great and we had a very sweet time of fellowship with a family I hadn’t seen since 1999 at my father-in-law’s memorial service.
Nothing went according to plan today, but it all worked out fine.
Would this bother you? It does take an American mindset a lot of adaptation to get used to this. We aren’t anywhere near good at it, but we try to go with the flow and make the best of it. My ears are tired but maybe a good night’s rest will solve that.
I hope the phone doesn’t ring tonight. It just might. In ministry here in Mexico, that’s pretty much the way things go…and that’s OK.