Friday, December 9, 2011

curious surroundings...

Yes, curious surroundings is what I found myself in when I first arrived in Mexico.  Although, thanks to my many spring break trips to Mexico in high school & college, not much was new to me- however, there is a large difference in visiting and living.  On the way to work today I began to think about how this once strange and foreign environment has become my home. Now, don't get me wrong, Puebla is a huge city and I'm still learning my way around- bus, taxi, walking and all BUT I don't look around anymore and think about how strange things look or how different they are from the States.  So, I thought for a good laugh or two I would compile a list of the things about Mexico that I have gotten used to and in some instances grown to love.  Enjoy!

1. When Mexicans are sick, they wear a mask over their mouth.  Like a dentist or doctor.  I was afraid an epidemic was breaking out at first.  Don't worry, it's for your protection!
2.  Buildings are started...and never really finished.  There's always rebar sticking out the top of buildings because... you never know when you might want to add another floor.
3.  The gas trucks, tamale vendors, the man on his bicycle selling elotes and many others that drive around with a loud speaker on top of their car and a trunk full of food.  I may be used to this one but it's still just as annoying.  Although it does serve as a nice wake up call at 7am.
4.  The view from my door of the most beautiful church all lit up on top of a mountain. every. single. night.  It's gorgeous and yet a constant reminder of the stronghold of Catholicism on this country.  What a great reminder to pray.
5.  Food carts EVERYWHERE.  On every corner and lining every street.  You can get just about anything.  And I love quesadillas from street vendors.  I think they have become my new favorite and go-to food.  Simple cheese and tortilla at home or a thick and huge one off the street.  Quesadilla of the day:  cheese with chicharron and squash flower.  Amazing.
6.  Kids not in car seats.  This one's still hard for me but yesterday as I rode in the car with Samy jumping all around the backseat with me, it felt pretty normal.  Still, frightening but it's one of the biggest Mexican norms.
7.  The smells- I can't even begin to explain them to you.  Some good, some awful, but over time I have gotten pretty used to them.  The worst has to be the smell that rises from the taco cart on the street down below while I'm in Zumba...about to puke anyway.  There's a certain smell to Mexico and every once and a while you can find it in Rogers, aka. "Little Mexico".
8.  Driving with no adherence to any sort of rules OR lane markings.  Still makes me nervous sometimes.
9.  Little mini-buses packed with people like a clown car.  Sometimes it's quite a sight to see a group of people climb their way out and there's still not an inch of space left.
10.  Steady yet sometimes unpredictable weather.  Right now, it's generally 35 at night and 75 at the highest in the daytime.  Sometimes this makes it difficult to decide what to wear and how many layers you need to wear or bring with you.  But one thing's always true, because of the concrete buildings (without heat)  it's always colder inside than it is outside.  Thank the Lord for space heaters.

This morning I was thinking there were a lot more things to add to this list but I can't remember them at the moment.  I'll add to later if I think of them.

I praise the Lord that He has changed my once curious surroundings to what's now my very comfortable temporary home.  I know that He is totally responsible for every ounce of peace, joy, love and comfort that I have found here.  He knows everything we need and often gives it to us even when we don't ask for it.  That's what grace means to me.  From the beginning God has put this whole "me and Mexico" thing together and He continues to provide and direct.  I can't wait to see what He has in store.

Can't wait to be home in the states in 5 days and in Arkansas a few days after that!  What a homecoming it will be!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Don't watch Grey's before bed...

I made the horrible mistake of watching Grey's Anatomy before I went to sleep last night.  Although, it was not a particularly gruesome or gory episode- just the one where Izzy's mom comes because she has cancer (for you avid Grey's fans out there).  I even buffered it with a little X-Factor before going to sleep...but this did not protect my dreaming-mental state.  I had the wildest dream that someone who I'm pretty sure was Owen (on Grey's) was performing surgery on me- on my bed.  I was wide awake and apparently felt nothing as he continued to pull things out of my body and lay them on my bed.  I was appalled that he was getting blood all over my quilt that my mom made me and kept thinking of ways I could wash it out.  However, Owen's surgery was unsuccessful and he told me he "didn't want to kill me so he was going to take me to San Jose."  At the time I thought he meant California.  We got on a Mexican style mini-bus and headed for San Jose, but the bus driver said we couldn't go there.  And that's the end...but then I had a second dream that I was thinking about the previous dream and how weird it was and that I should write on my blog about it.  SO STRANGE, RIGHT?  I know.  But what's even stranger is that I was telling Cati about my funny dream this morning and she says, "You know that San Jose is actually a hospital here, right?"  I had no idea!!  What a creepy dream and sequel dream.  I felt that because I dreamed about writing it on my blog, I had better do it.  And, I'm just slightly bored at the moment, so I hope reading this has been as entertaining for you as it was for me to write it.

In other news, I'LL BE IN THE STATES IN T-13 DAYS!  And arriving in Arkansas December 20th!  Can't wait to be home and start the Christmas celebrations with family friends.  So excited that today is the beginning of December! I was feeling crafty last night and made advent-envelope calendars for my family here and some friends too!  Don't you just love advent calendars?  Gives you something to look forward to each day and with sweets it's a great reminder of the sweetest gift that's ever been given- sweet baby Jesus! Hope you are already having fun celebrating...and don't forget...DON'T WATCH GREY'S BEFORE BED!  Don't say I didn't warn you.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Feliz Día Acción de Gracias

I think I know how the pilgrims felt...okay, so my last few months in Mexico haven't exactly been equivalent to the pilgrims' miserable, probably scary and extremely difficult first year in America BUT on some level I think I share their sentiments.  To be in a new place is sometimes hard, exhausting, interesting, sad, funny, exciting, encouraging and a range of other emotions, but after the pilgrims' first year...they were ready to celebrate!  Ready to celebrate that they survived and that the Lord took care of them.  (Right?  I apologize in advance if I botch any Thanksgiving history that I might have forgotten since the 3rd grade when we did the whole pilgrims and indians play.)  They struggled and they sacrificed a lot- their homes, their comforts and even family members.  While I do not know the loss of my family members, they are currently VERY far away.  And I am not having to build a house with my bear hands and wood that I chopped myself- my general surroundings and comforts have changed and some all but disappeared.  But despite all these things, we find the strength, joy and peace to say THANK YOU, LORD!  Thank you for the last year and all the good things, thank you for the hard things, thank you for providing and caring, loving, stretching and helping us survive.  I think that today, for maybe the first time in my life, I actually put myself in the shoes of our great ancestors, the first Americans, the Pilgrims- and truly understood the meaning- their meaning and intention of Thanksgiving.  It took being just a few thousand miles away to reach this point in my life but I feel so grateful just to understand it.

And like the pilgrims, I had a few "Indians" to help me with the meal.  While we are so unfortunately unable to purchase canned pumpkin here in Mexico, hence the pumpkin pie that was missing from our otherwise lavish spread of pies and cakes left-over from Hiram's birthday, we do however have just about every other traditional Thanksgiving food.  Praise the Lord for that!  I mean what's Thanksgiving without the food, right?  The Indians knew this!  This might be another reason why my family's favorite line about me is, "Caroline...she always did love a good indian."- we think alike and I'm very proud of my Cherokee heritage too.  But all jokes aside, I could not be more grateful for my "Mexican family" that God has blessed me with this year.  And new friends that feel like old friends.

While I missed my family tremendously today on one of the most special holidays in my family and all of America, it was a Thanksgiving day that I will never forget. Today we changed the usual phrase of "I am thankful for..." to "I am thankful to God for..."  because really, who else is there to which we are to be thankful?  He has so graciously given, taken and cared for each and every one of us.

I hope that you and yours enjoyed today with family, friends and lots of good food (maybe a pumpkin pie for me too!)  But most importantly I hope that today was a day to remember what the Lord has done for you this year.  "Give the thanks to the Lord for HE IS GOOD...His love endures forever."

And friend, I am thankful for you.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guadalajara : take 2

What a blessing it was to go back to Guadalajara last week...the place where it all began (well, sort of).  Last November, I went with a team from Fellowship on a trip to Guadalajara for a medical mission/equipping trip.  It was during that week that I made the big decision that I would come back here to work with the children's ministries of El Camino and their daughter churches.  It was also a week filled with new friendships and countless faces of sweet children.  As I was preparing and packing before the trip last week, I was a mix of emotions- excited to see if the same kids showed up, nervous if they would remember me, but mostly I kept thinking about how great I knew the week would be and how much I wouldn't want to leave.  (In case you know know, after things are off and running here in Puebla, I will probably spend some time in Guadalajara as well.)  Well, it was exactly that!  I got to see nearly every single precious face of every kid I met last year and meet some new ones too. 

Meet Karla.  Look how much she's grown in the last year....but she still loves that shirt! :)

Esmerelda & Jennifer.  The cutest sisters ever.

Jenny has lost some teeth since last year too...but she's still posing just the same.

Edgar Francisco.  One of my new friends and possibly the sweetest little boy I have ever known.  He loves to tickle, help others, teach Spanish and learn English.  He has a heart of gold.

These next two chicas are extra special to me...

Andrea...I was blessed enough to be with Andrea as she accepted Christ last year.  Since then, she has remained the screen saver on my phone.  What a great reminder of prayer her sweet face is to me.

Johana.  She and Andrea are cousins and the three of us formed some kind of special bond last year.  I think about this girls every day and have been praying for them and their family over the last year.  Well, this year, I got to meet their family!!


me with their abuela (grandma)

Yes, all these people (and more) live in this one house together.  The grandparents, and five grown children, each with their spouses, two families each have a baby, one family has four children and another two!  It's one big crazy family but they are sweet as they can be.  This family has touched my heart and they have a special place.  I got to spend a couple of hours at their house the last night...the girls were teaching me all kinds of dance moves and introducing me to all the family members.  The whole time I was praying in my head asking God, "What do I do in this situation?"  I know that like most Mexican families, they are Catholic and know that this family particularly is very involved in the Catholic church.  They literally live right across the street from the church we work with, Iglesia Biblica Nueva Vida en Cristo (New Life in Christ Bible Church), their kids often go to the church and they know why we are here.  But I just kept telling God, "I want to be intentional.  Is just being here and showing them love enough?  God make something happen!"  And He sure did!  Before I knew it, we were all sitting down talking and they were asking me questions about my beliefs and Christianity- even telling me how beautiful they thought it was and so much more real than their own Catholic religion.  It was a huge answer to prayer!  I am so grateful for the time that I got to spend with them and the seeds that the Lord planted.  I continue to pray earnestly for this family and so many others in Mexico that are held so tightly by "the rules" and "the cultural requirement" of Catholicism.  

I pray that layer by layer, God will begin to open their eyes to his wonder and love, 
so that these children, 


 might grow up to be world-changing followers of Christ!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

warm pajamas & peanut butter

Thanks to Beth, Becky and Dick, I now have enough warm pajamas to survive the winter and the Ramirez household has a plethora of peanut butter!  Having them here this last week was so fun!  It was food for my soul, and of course was a time filled with laughter, hilarious moments and immense blessing.  We spent our days in meetings- dreaming, planning and talking over ministry plans for the kids and families of El Camino.

But Thursday was a special the words of Beth it was....interesting.  Define for yourself what you think that might mean!  I have had my first taste at 'modeling'.  Diana, my co-worker at church, is also in cosmetology school in the afternoons.  Well, a couple of weeks ago, she told me she had a project and asked me if I would like to be her model.  Of course!!  I am so glad that Beth and Becky were here to experience this with me.  It was fun, hilarious, interesting, creative, some projects shocking and some just plain awkward.  I felt like I was a model on an episode of Project Runway or something.  Hair, make up, shoes, dress- the whole package had to be right and effectively display her creative theme based on the Tango.  I think she did a great job, but you can judge for yourself...and yes, those are real rose petals on my eyes.

Hope everyone is enjoying tastes, smells, sights and fun of FALL!  I really miss it-the beautiful trees and leaves, pumpkins and gourds decorating every front porch and kitchen table, little kids in (happy not scary) Halloween costumes (I have my fill of terrifying zombies and witches here), pumpkin bread and Fall parties.  BUT last week, I went over to the Glessner's (an American family that lives here) to enjoy a little pumpkin carving, apple cider and pumpkin bread!  It was a delicious taste of fall and I was so grateful for it!  Happy Fall Y'all!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Is it really time for Christmas decorations?

Year after year, the time comes when I walk into Wal-Mart, Hobby Lobby, Target, etc...and am utterly shocked to find amidst the now-dwindling-from-the-shelves pumpkins, scarecrows and Halloween costumes- CHRISTMAS DECORATIONS!!  This year, although my scenery has changed and I no longer frequent Hobby Lobby and Target, I have discovered that I will never escape Wal-Mart or Sam's and I was once again shocked as I found the section of Christmas trees and ornaments beginning to overtake the gigantic stores.
This is just a sign of how quickly the year has gone by and how much faster it's going to continue to fly!  I can't believe that I have been living in Mexico for nearly 2 months now.  It is crazy how much longer it feels like I have been here and yet some days it feels like I just got here.  So much has happened in such a short amount of time and so much more is going to happen in the next two months.  Before I know it, it's really going to be the appropriate time for those Christmas decorations and I'm going to be back home in Arkansas for a little Christmas celebration.  And just on a side note, I hope that all of you follow the "No Christmas trees or decorations until AT LEAST the day after Thanksgiving" rule??  I mean, give the turkey, Indians and Pilgrims their day!  
So, last week my dad came to visit and we had a blast!  What a time of comedic relief- if you know my dad, you know how much he loves to talk and will strike up a conversation with anyone...well, he doesn't let a language barrier stop him!  He doesn't care if he's gotta raise the volume, use facial expressions, hand motions or a translator, he's going to talk to anyone and everyone.  Sometimes it might drive me crazy but I secretly admire this part of his personality.  He doesn't let anything stop him from showing love to everyone and isn't afraid to just be himself.  I can't tell you how many people told me (despite the language barrier between them) how much they enjoyed meeting my dad and that he is such a nice and genuine person.  Now, that's someone that I want to be like.  So glad dad got to come experience a little of my world here in Mexico.
Welcome to Puebla, Daddio!

You know he was taking pictures the whole time!

Sight-seeing in beautiful Puebla

Dad confirmed that I will be bringing home one of these cuties to join the McIntyre clan in December!!

The city of Puebla better look out because tomorrow night, Dick Nelson, Becky Lentz and Beth Kenyon arrive!!  Here comes trouble.  And I couldn't be more excited.  They're only here until Saturday but it's going to be a packed week full of meetings and a little fun here and there.  :)  Beth and Becky are also going to be speaking at a "conference"  for the leaders in the children's ministry on Friday night.  Really, it's just a training/'get-together to talk about this new ministry' time but conferencia is the word we use for this in Spanish...sounds so much more serious, I know.  I think Beth felt a little pressure when I told her it was a conference.  Ha!  Please be praying for this time- this is a big opportunity for Diana and I to get to know the existing leaders, recruit new leaders, encourage and refocus everyone and to introduce a lot of new and revolutionary (for here) ideas in children's ministry.  We are very excited and can't wait to see what God has in store.  Because as I was reminded today in Colossians, God always does more than we can imagine or ask for- every. single. time.  Can't wait to see... 

I'll try to keep you updated and send out a newsletter at the end of the month.  But no promises because it's getting crazy around here!  In the midst of all our planning, strategizing, training and recruiting to be prepared to start our new ministry in January (and we have to be ready to start before I leave for home December 15th), we will be going to Guadalajara for a week in November to meet up with a medical missions team from Fellowship!  Much to do, much to be thankful for and much to glorify the Lord!  

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

getting settled

Well, after not really "working" for my first month in Mexico, we have now kicked it into high gear.  Last week, I started working with the new children's director and my one and only teammate, Diana.  I absolutely love this girl!  She's 23, married and has the cutest little boy named Samuel (a.k.a. Sammy). Once again, God has wiped out my plans that I thought were great, and given me HIS plans that are so much greater.  For nearly the last year, we had been planning on me working with a woman named Edith, but change of plans and in comes Diana.  What a blessing!  She and I get along great, understand each other really well (for the most part...sometimes with the help of google translate!), we have the same vision and passion and share many of the same ideas.  I think we make a pretty good team if I do say so myself.  After a week of working together, we both said we felt like we had known each other for years.  I am so extremely grateful for this friendship and team that God has provided.  And as always am thankful to be reminded for the one thousandth time of Isaiah 55:8. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.  And praise Him for that!  Amen?

{Diana & I at the Women's Retreat last weekend}

I pray that God is showing up in your life and turning all your plans upside down.  I'd rather live in the unknown and chaos of God's magnificent plans for my life than the assuredness of my pathetic plans.  Love to all!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Got Brains?

Today...I ate brains or sesos in Spanish.  Yes, that's right, the brains of a cow.  Nicely disguised and deliciously flavored in a fried taquito which was served to me without knowing what I was about to eat.  But let me start from the beginning.

It was a special day at church today, sweet little baby Dana Haciel was dedicated before the church.  It was the sweetest baby dedication I have ever seen in my life.  After Hiram prayed over the baby and her parents, the mom, dad and 3 teenage sons sang a song that they had written for her.  It was precious!  I'm sure if I could have understand every word of the song, I would have been crying.  So, in typical Mexican fashion, such a celebration calls for a party!  And what a party it was!  First, I ate the brain taquitos.  Actually, I ate two before I knew what they were...but the shocker knowledge didn't stop me from eating two or three more.  They were delicious and you'd never know they were brains.  Who knows what's next for me?  Tongue?!?  They say it's quite good.  We'll see about that...  Of course it wouldn't be a Mexican feast without plenty of rice, nopales (cactus), tortillas, lots of meat and so much more.  And as with all meals, you must end with coffee and in special occasions, cake!  I am learning that it's very common to have jello with your cake here.  It's like a different version of the classic cake and ice cream combo; except I wouldn't advise having a mixed spoonful of jello and cake- gross!  We ended the party with several rounds of hilarious karaoke.  Ladies first, then the men, a couple of solos and then the boys finished it out as we were leaving.  It was so fun!  I think karaoke could be the key to learning spanish.

Another day, another party, another weird food that I have learned to like...I think I'm getting used to living in Mexico.  :)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

my prayers

I love prayer.  Sounds so cliche, I know, but it really is amazing.  We can pray, in our heads while walking down the street, out loud over others, together with believers, alone, screaming, crying, rejoicing, writing in a journal, there are no limits and there are no rules to prayer.  It's one of the few things I can think of that you can't do wrong.  No one can tell another person they aren't praying right or that their own method is the right or best way.  What a gift from God that we can choose whatever form we want to simply talk to Him.  The God of the universe who created all things large and small, oversees all things and holds everything together, not only allows me to talk to him, but He listens to me and WANTS me to talk to Him.  If ever you don't feel blessed, just think about that.  

Prayer is also one of the most powerful ways that I have seen the Lord work.  There have been times in my life where I have experienced God so deeply and supernaturally through my prayers and the prayers of others- miracles and signs and wonders.  He is amazing and He lives and breathes in our prayers.  Overwhelms me as I think about it right now.  

It's also one of the best ways to be closer to our Father.  How do you know a friend, if you never talk to them or tell them anything, better yet, listen to them??  Someone told me this as a child and it has stuck with me ever since.  Such a good reminder.  I call the Lord my best friend, but do I treat Him like my "best girlfriends"?  No, I shouldn't treat Him like them in many respects, but do I give Him the time to have daily conversation with Him?  Not just quickly throw my problems or thanks at Him.  Now, that's a way to quickly lose a friend.  But luckily He never leaves, even when I treat him in a way that would make any friend drop you on the curb.  

Prayer not only brings us into communion with the Father, but it can link us and bond us to people in a way that no other experience can.  "The family that prays together, stays together."  I think we've all heard this one before.  I am so grateful for my family, immediate and extended, that has a strong history of praying together and for one another diligently.  I have so many relationships with friends that have been changed by prayer in so many ways.  Relationships that at times, they don't exist to the human eye, but because of prayer, I am forever bonded to this person and their heart.  When someone is grafted on your heart in prayer, they don't ever leave.   For example...

these women.  
Kassie Roland, Jessica Hinson, myself and Laurel Eddleman (also not pictured: Nancy Scott, Elizabeth Ray, Autumn Gardner, Rachel Davis and Lindsay Cannedy)  For nearly five years, we spent every Wednesday night, praying and sharing and leading a cell group to...

these girlies.

Each of these girls has a special place in my heart.  Sometimes you don't even have to pray with someone but just by praying for them your relationship and love for them can grow.  That is the truth with these 20-some, (and almost 20 in age) now college divas.  Even though I can't spend time with them like I used to, I continue to pray for them the same scripture I started praying for them back when I first started leading their cell group.

Be assured that from the first day we heard of you, we haven't stopped praying for you, asking God to give you wise minds and spirits attuned to his will, and so acquire a thorough understanding of the ways in which God works. We pray that you'll live well for the Master, making him proud of you as you work hard in his orchard. As you learn more and more how God works, you will learn how to do your work. We pray that you'll have the strength to stick it out over the long haul—not the grim strength of gritting your teeth but the glory-strength God gives. It is strength that endures the unendurable and spills over into joy, thanking the Father who makes us strong enough to take part in everything bright and beautiful that he has for us.  Colossians 1:9-12


I met beautiful, 13-year-old Andrea Elizabeth in Guadalajara, Mexico in November of 2010.  By God's divine providence, she and I somehow became close enough in a few days that I was given the opportunity to talk about Christ with this sweet girl, who had never heard of Jesus, and help her make her decision to accept Him into her heart.  Every time I see her picture, I get excited because although I may never see her again on this earth, I will see her in Heaven one day.  :)

Sonia Maribel

and Johanna & Ana Maria.

It's amazing how in an orphanage of hundreds of children, three can touch your heart in a special way.  That's what these three girls did when I went to Casa on the Rock in Guatemala two years ago.  I don't know why, but we connected in some way and they have been forever grafted on my heart.  These beautiful girls will be on my prayer list for the rest of my life.

The little girl who held my hand.  

I don't even know her name.  She's the shorter one of these two orphan girls living with many others at a place called Home of Hope in Thailand.  One day, we took the kids to the park to play games (at least you can run around if you can't talk...Thai?  That's a serious language barrier!)  While walking home, I held hands with this little one.  I couldn't talk to her (which was killing me!)  so instead I prayed for her.  And as I prayed for her, I felt the Lord speak to me in a voice that was maybe the loudest and clearest I have ever heard Him in my life.  He told me, I am this child.  Whatever you do for her, you do for me.  Love her even though you don't know her.  I am here!  Wow!  What a moment and what a little girl!  I know God has great plans for her life.  He rescued her and used her to speak to me when I needed to hear his voice.  I always thank God for her and pray for her life.

I hope that you have been blessed with people in your life that have been grafted onto not only your eternal prayer list but onto your heart as well.  

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Do you Zumba?

In case you don't know...I'm kind of obsessed with a little thing called ZUMBA!  If you're like me and you love to dance, have fun and move around to fast paced music (also dislike running, yoga & other slow paced exercise and getting your "meathead" on with the weights) then you would love zumba.  So what is it?

Zumba: (zoom-bah)  According to wikipedia, Zumba involves dance and aerobic elements.  The choreography incorporates hip-hop, salsa, merengue, mambo, martial arts and some Bollywood and belly dance moves.  Squats and lunges are also included."  I love how they added this extra little tag line.  Don't we all love lunges and squats.  Oh but they're so good for you!!

My friends, Kat, Nolan and I have been going to Zumba at the Lowell World Gym pretty regularly for a while now.  I think it's safe to say we have an obsession.  "If you do zumba dances in public, at a party, concert or club - you might be a zumba fanatic."  Since leaving home, I have been having severe withdrawals from my favorite heart-pumping exercise - until last night!  I am now in the land of Zumba on every corner.  Literally every corner.  And it's not just in gyms or athletic clubs- there are places that specifically have Zumba classes.  I love it!  So, when a new gym just opened up on the corner of our street that we live on, we had to go check it out.  I suckered Ana Luisa, the 14 year old daughter of the family I live with, into going with me.  At the start of the class, it seemed we were going to have our own private class with our rambunctious, loud, short but strong and very energetic teacher.  Lucky for us, two more women showed up and completed our class of 4 students to 1 teacher.  Although some of my familiar surroundings from our classes at the World Gym were lacking {coin-shakey-skirts, 1,000 people, my favorite teacher ever, and my friend Jose}  the moves and music were so much the same!  What a relief.

Sorry to say we won't be returning to this gym again...the first class was free but unless you join their gym, it's 40 pesos/class (around $3.50).  Next time we are going to try out another nearby "Zumba-only" place.  It's only 15 pesos a class- only a little more than a dollar!  Crazy!

So, I faced my fears and "zumba'ed" in Mexico!  I even lured in another possible fanatic.  Nothing like a little zumba class to make me feel right at home!

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Breakfast...or desayuno for you Spanish quite possibly one of my favorite meals.  What's better than eggs, bacon, waffles, fruit, yogurt, etc, etc?  Quesadillas, bread toasted with cheese or beans or BOTH, and many other fine Mexican breakfast delicacies.  This past summer, my breakfast nearly every day consisted of eggs and fruit or Greek yogurt and fruit.  Oh how I miss my greek yogurt.  Despite the fact that there are at least 7 cases of yogurt at each Wal-Mart, Bodega, Superama or any other grocery store, there is no greek yogurt.  However, if you like those yogurt smoothie drinks- you are in luck here.  Too bad I don't.

But I have found a new favorite.  Probably not nearly as healthy but it sure is good...eggs & corn flakes!  That's right a boiled egg with corn flakes.  Like in the same cup.  Wierd, I know!  I had never seen anything like it.  First of all, to most of us (at least in the south), there is no need to differentiate between types of boiled eggs.  We simply boil them until they are hard, or hard boiled eggs.  But we just call them boiled eggs.  Well not in Mexico.  If you ask for a boiled egg, you will get a soft, runny, almost scarily close to raw egg.  But when you put this in a coffee cup, cover it with corn flakes, add a pinch of salt and crunch it all is de-licious!  I wasn't sure what to think of this strange breakfast of champions at first but now I could eat this nearly every day.  You should give it a try!

Also, tonight, I am going to eat a chile enogada!  It's a fried pepper, stuffed with meat and fruit and then you add a creamy sauce over top...I can hardly wait for dinner.  :)

Thursday, September 15, 2011

El 15 de Septiembre

Today is no ordinary day in's the 15th of September and 'el día de independencia'!  I have seen many fun and interesting sights already (you can check them out on facebook ) but I'm sure that tonight will top them all.  I'm waiting to send out a newsletter update until tomorrow so I can share the pics with everyone. :)  We are having a fiesta at the church tonight to celebrate.  Everyone is bring traditional Mexican dishes- yum!  And the dance group at church will be performing a traditional dance too.  I'm pretty excited to see this.

The top 10 things I am getting used to...(not in any particular order)
1. not flushing toilet paper
2. toilet paper that is scented (very strange when blowing your nose)
3. not drinking or brushing your teeth with sink water
4. dust being on everything, all the time, even if you dust every day
5. no carpet. tile floor everywhere.
6. not having my car...or sonic runs...or target...or independence!  (just kidding)
7. people wearing winter jackets when it's 50 degrees out
8. construction sounds (they are building new houses in front of and behind our house)
9. tortillas. all. the. time.  flour, corn, blue corn, take your pick.  they are everywhere!
10. Spanish.  (sort of.  maybe i should say 'being confused 75% of the time' haha)

Things really are going great so far.  I haven't really gotten started working at church yet.  I have however started painting the office that Edith and I will share.  It was pink.  Pink walls.  Pink floweredy floor.  So we are giving it a little face-lift.  They said that being the designer, I could do whatever I wanted with the office!  I don't think I've ever been given such free reign.  Let's hope I don't get out of control!  :)  I am enjoying spending lots of time with the family I'm living with (Cati, Hiram, Ana Luisa, Esteban and Daniel) and the Aguirres too.  They just moved to their own house yesterday.  It's much different around here without them.  Cati is also teaching me Hebrew!  In Spanish!  It's like a double whammy of a lesson for me.  But the Spanish gets a little better everyday.

I love how God brings little things and big things together in your life to make a huge connection for our feeble little minds.  Amidst His grand plan of bringing me to Mexico, I am reading Lineage of Grace by Francine Rivers (she is amazing by the way!  If you haven't read Redeeming Love, you must!), and I continue to be encouraged by the lives of these women who had no idea they were a part of God's plan to save all people by bringing the Messiah into the world.  The other night I had so many thoughts floating in my head but when I read the following verses in the book, one after the other, I was exploding with excitement.  It was one of those, "Thank you God!  Because of what I am reading right now, I know that you are hearing my every thought, prayer and cry...even the ones I don't say to you." encouraging moments.  I love those.  I hope you have one of those today too.  God is so good!

"If you need wisdom-if you want to know what God wants you to do- ask him, and he will gladly tell you.  He will not resent your asking.  But when you ask him, be sure that you really expect him to answer, for a doubtful mind is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind."
James 1:5...

"Even when I walk through the dark valley of death, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me.  Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me."  Psalm 23:4

"Jesus said, 'Don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing  Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things?  Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs."  Matthew 6: 31-32

"Wait patiently for the Lord.  Be Brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord."  Psalm 27:14

"God says, 'My thoughts are completely different from yours...And my ways far beyond anything you could imagine.  For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.'"  Isaiah 55:8-9

Monday, August 29, 2011

We made it!!

Just wanted to let everyone know that we made it safely here...with all bags...and on time...with zero problems!  Praise the Lord!  Thank you everyone for your prayers over each and every detail of today.  I am so grateful that Miguel Aguirre came to meet us in Mexico City and help us with the bus to Puebla.  I don't think we could have done it without him!  God continues to reveal that He already has it all worked out.  :)
Well I'm off!! Just boarded in xna. We will be in Puebla at noon.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

So glad we sang this song at church Saturday night.  Felt like someone was reading my mind...or hearing my prayers.  :)  

Full Attention
May Your voice be louder
May Your voice be clearer
Than all the others

May Your face be dearer
May Your words be sweeter
Than all the others in my life

Please keep my eyes fixed on You
Please wound my heart so deep in You
Keep me abiding, keep me abiding
Keep me abiding that I may be a fruit

May Your your presence be truer
May Your presence be nearer
Than all the others

And may Your light shine brighter
And may Your love move deeper
Than all the other my God
Than all the others in my life

Please keep my eyes fixed on You
Please wound my heart so deep in You
Keep me asking, keep me near
Keep me abding that I may be a fruit
Keep me close to You
Oh, right next to Your heart
Close to You

Thursday, August 18, 2011

change in giving info

I am now affiliated with Mountain Movers International!  Fellowship is still my sending organization but my support will just be handled by MMI.  We all think this will be much easier and less confusing for supporters.  I am so grateful to be blessed by this ministry of love- they give 100% of donations directly to the missionary!   Here's a little more info about them and how my giving information has changed.  

Mountain Movers International is a non-profit, non-denominational ministry.  They serve missionaries/ministries around the world that are focused on God's kingdom work.  For each ministry, they keep track of the various contributions, receipt and thank the donors, and inform the people in the field of donations received.  They serve as the back office for authentic grass roots "boots in the field" ministries.  First and foremost, they are "field driven".  It is the entrepreneurial missionary in the field that they are supporting.  They do not take any percentage from the funds received, and there are no service fees.  MMI is a public foundation that is "donor controlled" rather than "donor advised".  That means they are not only morally obligated to ensure that the funds get to the intended project, but they are legally required to ensure it.  It is the law as well as a sacred trust, and they take it very seriously.  They depend on general donations from individuals, churches and corporate donors to cover their administrative expenses.  

At this point, you may begin supporting me through MMI.  All checks must be made payable to Mountain Movers International with my name listed on the memo line.  You will receive a receipt for you donation along with an envelope for your next donation, should you choose to give monthly.  For convenience, online donations may be made through their website  Please note that PayPal does deduct a small fee.  For all online donations, be sure and include my name in the memo portion.

Also, just a sidenote...I'm leaving in 11 days!!  Even though saying goodbyes is sad, I'm getting super excited!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A little visit to Chatt-town...

Before leaving for Mexico, Mom and I thought we should pay a little visit to MeMe & Bobba in Chattanooga.  I am so glad we went!  Whenever I can see the Pyramid and cross the bridge into Memphis, it always feels like coming home- even after all these years.  

After having already been in the car for 6 hours, we had to stop at the original Neely's Barbeque for a little lunch.  De-lish!!  And what a neat place.  There are pictures all over the walls of the Neely's with all kind of celebrities and old-timey pictures of the Neely family tree.  How ironic that the picture hanging behind mom was a picture of Giada, one of her faves from the food network.  After we were stuffed, we trucked it up the mountain and to MeMe's house we went.

 It's the little things that you can only enjoy at your grandparents' house that I love the coffee mugs with pictures of grandkids on them.  Look at cute little Will King back in 1995.  I thoroughly enjoyed my morning coffee drinking out of this.  :)

Sweet Bobba.  Sorting the mail really wore him out, so he had to put his head down and take a rest.   Even though he can't remember my name anymore and hardly knows where he is, he still makes me laugh as hard as he always has.  I love that about him.

If you're ever in Chattanooga, you have to go to the Knitting Mill Antique Shop.  It is the best and one of the biggest antique shops I've ever seen with a huge variety of all types of things- everything from a large assortment of hats like these that we found, and tons of dishes and glass.  Mom and I came home with only a few more things than we had before.  We do have a bit of an obsession with china & glassware.  

I think I would love to live in the sixties...only if I got to wear hats like this all the time.  So cute!

We can't be in Chattanooga and not see a list of people, some of them being my mom's oldest & dearest friends from high school, Cindy & Mary.   Here's Mary and Mary Ann- besties for life!

me & my meme 

Now, here's a little piece of my family history...Ankar's Hoagies.  My mom's family grew up next door to a Greek family that started this famous Chattanooga restaurant centuries ago.  It's a must that we eat there, at least once, every time we are in Chattanooga.  I got my annual fix with a camel rider, fried mushrooms and the best baklava I know of.

Meet Bobby Kile, or little Bobby as we like to call him.  The youngest of all the grandchildren and believe me he's soaking it all up!  He's full of energy and attitude but the cutest thing you've ever seen all at the same time.

We also went to some new places that we've never been in Chattanooga.  I think it's pretty obvious how much mom loved McKay Used Bookstore.  Her Hardy Boys collection is nearly complete thanks to the four more she found there.  This place was unbelievably huge, organized and clean.  That's my kind of bookstore.

One last stop at a Chattanooga tradition and our short weekend in Chatt-town was over.  Lunch at The Epicurean, a good ol' meat & three.  With a menu of fried oysters, meatloaf and fried trout, we felt very at home in the deep south.  Oh, how I love it!

On the long journey back from Chattanooga, we made a pit-stop in our old home-town of Franklin in Nashville, Tennessee.  I hadn't been there in years!  It was so fun to see how things have changed...and how somethings haven't changed at all.  While they now have a traffic light in front of our very neighborhood entrance, our house has a new paint job and Loveless Cafe isn't just biscuits & ham anymore, some things like my elementary school haven't changed a bit!  A little trip down memory lane can make me so sentimental.  We also got to have dinner with my oldest friend, Laura Meriwether, her parents and boyfriend.  There are years where we don't get to see each other at all, but by the time 2011 is over, we will have seen each other three times.  What a lucky year!

I'm so glad we took this trip to our "home-land".

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

It's Official!

So, it's really happening...on August 29th I will board a plane for Puebla, Mexico and won't come back until December 15!!  This is as real as it has felt yet.  32 days and I'll be there!  Let the countdown begin...

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Make that one more!

I now have two people on my monthly support team!  And many more awesome one-time givers.  Praise the Lord for the wonderful people He has surrounded me Lydia, the woman who has been cleaning our house for years.  She is probably one of the most Godly and in-tune with the Spirit women I have ever known in my life.  When she came by today, she told me that she got my letter I left for her last time and that she took it to her church and shared it with them.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude when she told me that they, as a group, have been saving their money and have been praying for me.   It amazes me that this group of people who don't even know me would be so willing to spend time in prayer for me and give their money to support me.  I am so grateful for the web of people that God has put into place to make this whole thing work out.  Just one of the million things that blows me away about God.  It's nice to feel small when you think how BIG He really is...and yet He holds us in His hands and cares about our every thought.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Keep it coming...

It's official....I have one committed monthly supporter!!  Thank you Thommy & Bekah Greer.  I am so thankful and blessed to have you on my support team.  And to everyone else who has given thus far, thank you!  I know that God already has my support team all lined up- I just can't wait to see who He has chosen.    I guess I just have to keep working hard to figure out who they's like a treasure hunt.  :)  Hopefully everyone got a letter in the mail...if you didn't and you would like to receive info & updates, please let me know!

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

All set!

Makeover for my blog...check!  Support letters going out in the mail tomorrow...almost check.  The move date is set for sometime in the middle of August.  Please be praying that financial support would come in quickly and monthly supporters would be dedicated.  Getting excited!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Much to do.

I gotta get back to this whole blogging thing. I'm about to move to Mexico...well in July...hopefully. There will be so much to tell from everyday. I'm sure it will be non-stop hilarious stories of awkward moments and stupid things I do in a new culture. And of course food. What good twitter-er/ facebooker/ blogger doesn't take pictures of the food we eat? And we winder why other countries call us Americans gluttons. :) But for now, I'm not sure why I'm updating my blog instead of going to sleep. So...night.