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
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!
Posted by Caroline at 2:00 PM