11/26/09

Raw Material.

I have been thinking about something lately and since I'm experimenting with being able to post from my trailer I thought I'd follow it through to its not so logical conslusion. I've been struggling lately with who I am. Trying to figure out in the midst of feeling pretty darn useless what God can do with a person like me. I have felt very humbled these past weeks.

Its just me. No job well done to point to. No accomplishments. No big contributions to the work here. No minsitry that I can tangibly point to. Just little old me homeschooling my kids, hanging laundry, chasing a two year old and loving on a handful of others as best I can. To say I am feeling insignificant even lonely at times would be an understatment. Its been hard not to get discouraged sometimes. For the most part I am so happy here and I do know that discouragment is something we came prepared to face. It's not unexpected but it still comes.

Stress, opposition and conflict (not here in Mexico) has also had me feeling about as big as an ant ready to be crushed.

How can God use someone like me?

I talk too much.
I am shy.
I am a strange combination of the two.
I am compasionate to a fault sometimes. I cannot even stand to see a houseplant get thirsty.
I am a jump in with both feet kind of person.
When faced with stress or confrontation a person's instincts will either be to fight or flight.
I completely lack the flight instinct.
I am a big chicken when I should be brave.
I am bold when I should be meek.
I am relaxed when I should be alert.
I am stressed when I should be calm.
I sometimes speak before thinking through how my words are being recieved.
I am prone to disorganization.
I am sometimes a lazy parent and take the easy way out even though I know I will pay for it later.
To borrow a word from a blog friend, I'm down right spazzy.

How can God use someone like that? I don't know. I don't know why he would want to. I'm sure there are other people who are more tactful, orderly and less prone to goofing up than I am. As far as raw material goes I think he's got His work cut out for him .

I'm just me.

I want God to make me the best me possible. The woman that he created me to be without the pitfalls of selfishness, pride, fear, envy , insecurity, bad attitudes, self pity etc. that creep into my life when I least expect it. Maybe to weed out those things we have to be faced with them head on and see them for what they are. Sometimes it takes a ridiculous amount of conflict to bring those things out to the surface where we can actually see them and sometimes it takes stripping away all those things we selfishly hold on to and put our pride in. Both are happening simutaneously and I don't know how much more mirror looking I can stand.

I have asked God to change me, grow me up, mould me and make me more like him.
I guess I shouldn't be surprised when that process sometimes involves pain or discomfort. It's been a crazy couple years in so many aspects of life but we have seen God do amazing things in the midst of it all.

I cried to God last night that I think I've had enought pruning for this season. I don't know that I'm through yet but maybe a break would be nice. I do know that the more severly we are pruned the more fruit we have the potential to bear.

I'm just feeling a bit steeped in humility right now. I feel God working though ,draining any last bit of pride in myself out and replacing it with dependance on Him alone. That is not an all bad place to be. Wrapped in the arms of a loving God.

I feel better just writing that down. I don't know what it is about journaling this way, about sharing my heart that makes me feel less alone. Maybe because I know someone else may be able to relate.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy thanksgiving to all my American relatives and friends!
We just enjoyed a wonderful turkey dinner brought down and cooked by a group of American volunteers. The meal was provided for all the kids and staff here and i heard included about 40 turkeys. It was delicious and I even snagged a spare piece of pie for later. I warned everyone that the piece of pie in the fridge was waiting for me and my coffee. We'll see how long it goes untouched. :)
I just discovered that I am able to access blogger.com even though I have not been able to access anything blogspot. com from my home here at the orphanage. This post is actually an experiment of sorts. I can't actually bring up my blog or anyone else's from here but I can post a blog I think. I haven't made the pictures work yet though.
Let me know if you see it! I am still able to read comments through my email page so please fee free to comment occasionally. Yes that is a big old hint. :) I think I may have lost my readers.....that tends to happen when you can't make the blog rounds very often. I'm hoping I can catch up on some reading as well as writing on my next trip to the cafe.

HAPPY TURKEY DAY!


11/21/09

Baja 1000


This friday, other than attending Mexican festivities, Roman and his dad set out in search of the Baja 1000 route. They camped out at the pit stop at Santa Marta for a few hours.
They didn't stick around long enough for the cars to pass by but watched the speed demon motorcylcists racing. They weren't dressed nearly warm enough and poor Roman froze. Bad mommy. I should know better, just because its 25 degrees celcius when they leave at 3 doesn't mean they won't freeze their tails off by 5. It dropped nearly 20 degrees. Thats the Baja for you.
Roman had a blast though!
I just realized reading over my last paragraph what a woman I am. My take on the evening of cars, motorcycles and burning rubber was....my poor boy got cold. Oh well I'm a mom....its seared into who I am, why fight it?

Roman was given the royal treatment by the racers waiting for their turn to drive and the pit crews there. One motorcylist was especially kind and let Roman join his pit crew.




He even let Roman wear his pit crew jacket and use a light stick to wave in the ridersf brother who was going to switch off with him.
My boy felt pretty important.
This guy is one of the top Baja 1000 racers. What a genuinely nice guy!



Don't get any ideas Roman! I know how fast and dangerous that race is.


One of the pit crews.
All around the crews were Mexican fans camped out around bonfires and of course lots of grills cooking up things like goat tacos.

The boys passed on that delicacy, but they had a great time and came home with tons of stories I'm sure they'll be telling for years.
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Fiesta Mexicana!


This weekend was Revolution Day in Mexico. We had to wikepedia it becuase we had no idea really what we were celebrating.
It does mean lots of fun though. We watched a parade in town , complete with dancing kids dressed up in their little revolutionary costumes. It was so cute! I thought it would have been funny to paint a little mustache on Silas, dress him up and send him out. He wouldn't stand out would he? I didn't do it though I just chuckled to myself like a nerd thinking about it.


People were selling eggs everywhere. They cleaned out the shells and filled them will flour and confetti then covered the hole and decorated them. The kids and their friends had a blast as you can imagine. Just when we thought Silas' hair couldn't get any whiter we filled it with flour!




At the local park we found a ton of food stalls set up for the occasion and unlike fairs back home or in the states the food wias cheap! I ate like a pig of course. My new favorite sweet treat is Bunuelos (I think that is what its spelled like...could be wrong). Basically its a flour tortilla deep fried and dipped in what I think might be melted raw sugar cane (could be wrong on that one too) it forms a delicously sinful carmelized coating on a cruchy pastry like tortilla underneath. mmmm.

Other than a lot of Mexican fair food they even had some rides. They were kind of expensive...in comparison so they each only had one ride. Silas chose this one. Coming from Disneyland it was...well...very Mexican...but the kids loved it.

It was so much fun to be out among the people and the culture just having fun. We were just one of the crowd, other than the fact that we don't exactly pass very well as Mexican. We do our best. :)

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The Dayhome


There are some big things happening at the Dayhome for children with disabilities. This past week they all went out to watch the foundation being poured for their new building. In this new building they will continue to get an education, learn lifeskills , recieve medical attention when needed and of course a lot of love...just in a new and more spacious setting.


Alexis, Domitila and little Angel.




Here Martin is discovering a straw can be used for so much more than just drinking his milk.



The princess, miss Alondra. She is the teeny tiniest litle girlie here.

I just can't help but love these kids! They may have bodies or minds that don't function quite like ours do but they are a blessing to all who know them.
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Just another Sunday Afternoon.


We are finally feeling well enough to resume our Sunday afternoon trips to the ocean. Last Sunday we took Minerva and another little girl to Sanddollar Beach. It is about a 40 minute drive south but it is well worth the trip. The beach is a virtually empty expanse of breathtaking beauty. The water shockingly clear and the sand dunes and the multitude of seashells keep the kids busy for hours.
The weather has cooled a bit but its still a beautiful day at the ocean!


My girls. One is 8 years old and one is a very petite 13 year old. She is Triqui , origionally from the southern state of Oaxaca. There are many tribes with their origional native languages in the Mountains of Oaxaca. They often migrate north to Baja to find work in the fields of strawberries and vegitables here. Some of the people here are so tiny. She is absolutely gorgeous and such a sweetheart. I told more about her story in one of the last posts.

Minerva spending some time with her "Tio".


It was so good to see her playing like a child. She has had to grow up way too quick and her heart still carries the burden of her younger siblings who have not yet joined her at the childrens home. Seeing a big smile on that face usually haunted by big sad eyes was such a blessing.

A highlight of the afternoon was spotting a large whale and a whole school of dolphins swimming by.
Thats not a bad afternoon for a bunch of Canadian prairie kids! :)


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Always

Last night I was listening to our satellite radio and a song came on that was beautiful. The last couple weeks have been difficult in ways that have nothing to do with our being in Mexico. We love our life here. Life is still messy though and being far away from those we love doesn't always make it easier. Sometimes seemingly hopeless situations get us distracted and discouraged. I have felt a lot of that this past couple weeks. Sometimes it feels like we are facing chaos and confusion that is just too big for us. Heartache is unavoidable in this life. I felt led a couple days ago to start reading the Psalms , a beautiful book of poetry written by the ancient king of Isreael, David.
I love how he cries out so honestly to God expressing his confusion and his fears. He cries out to God for rescue, vindication and for relief. My heart is also crying out for deliverance and rescue for me and for loved ones. God sized problems require God sized deliverance. I know he hears our prayers and sees our pain. There is no confusion with God, there are no surprises. Our circumstances don't shock him. He knows. He will come. Not always the way we expect but he will come. Always.

The song is by Building 429 and is called "Always". I looked up the song on youtube and found the video. Talk about a tear jerker! I'm not usually a crier, but it had me blubbering like a fool. Maybe part of it was that the boy they used in the story looks just like my almost 3 year old...I'll blame the rest of the tears on hormones and stress and the fact that it is a beautiful video.

I am trying to link it up here because the song is just so touching and such a good reminder to us of where God is when we are going through chaos in our lives.

I don't have much time to play around and figure out how to bring it up on my blog but I attached it so if you click below it should take you there...
Always

Brownies and a really cool fort


We were finally able to have Minerva (the girl we now sponser) over to our trailer to make some brownies. It was the first time her and her brother had been to our home. I think she enjoyed it. We all enjoyed the end result. The kids were excited to surprise "Tio" (Uncle) with them.


I think I may have mentioned or showed pictures of the kids "tire fort" . They now have a new and improved fort in the same location thanks to some other girls who came to help. They scrounged through the "junk piles " behind the warehouse where all sorts of treasures have been discarded after the recent demolition of the daycare and renovation of several casas.
This is the office of course. Now you know why I enjoy the coffee shop in town. Just kidding this isn't my computer. :)
Every good childhood fort now needs a computer...a sign of the times.


And a puppet theatre is a must.


I have no idea where this thing came from origionally but what a find. They have it propped up on some tires and an old grate.
They explained the tires underneath make it "giddy-up". As you can imagine each one of their attractions and tires are coated in a layer of Baja dirt.
Their imaginations are working overtime though.
Good filthy fun!
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Some Baja scenery.


It's been a couple weeks since I have been able to return to my favorite internet spot for some quality alone time. Just me , my latte and my computer.
Since I last updated we are all much healthier. Nathanael (the hubby) got really sick that next week and spent most of the the week in bed with a high fever and nasty cough. It was a good two weeks of flu for us. However, last week were all feeling better and very much enoying being back at life here. Last week was a really good week here, not because of any one thing in particular but because we weren't taking anything for granted.



This is just some cactus pictures I took while we were out on a Sunday afternoon drive exploring some back roads.
Pretty exciting stuff , I know.
It gives you an idea of the terrain here though.
It is very dry right now, as you can see they could use a good rain.
Those cactus survive somehow though. When the plants around them are all literally turning to dust they are standing tall and proud. Ok, maybe saying a cactus looks proud is a bit of an exageration....or is that personification?
If I were to give it human qualities I would say it is a proud, tenatacious survivor in the harshest conditions. Although these kinds of cactus can survive on the rock alone they are actually very fragile.



I though this cactus was really cool. Especially the location. I can't help but wonder how old it would be.
Most of the other cactus around here are small and flat like nopales (that are actually good to eat) or what we like to call spagetti cactus because they are grow in big long curly bunches. Silas has had his share of run ins with various species of cactus. The worst is the kind that look absolutley harmelss, even pretty, but you get too close and you find your little hands full of hair sized pokers. They pack quite a sting and are very hard to remove because they are so hard to see.


Sometimes we find beauty here in the most unexpected places. If someone has taken care to provide water the sunshine of the Baja will grow many kinds of exotic fruits and flowers. Just when we thought we would see nothing but rock and dust on our excursion we would turn a corner and find a gorgeous oasis of green.
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11/7/09

Create in me...


Isn't he the cutest little rugby player you ever did see?

Roman doing his best Darth Vader impression. Now he just needs his cousin's halloween costume ;) Poor guy is pretty miserable. It takes a lot to slow this monkey boy down but he went down hard and fast this week.

This is just a random snap shot while waiting in my car in town. I got bored and started snapping pictures.


My hubby has done a LOT if digging! They will be pouring cement next week.


I'm going to switch gears a little now. I am surrounded by so many spiritual giants here. So many lives and saints that are totally unoticed, unapplauded but portray the very life of Christ. I am humbled and challenged by each one of the servants here that I come across, from the woman who serves by cleaning the bathrooms each morning to house mothers who care for 15 children. The humility and joy in which they face the daily challenges of life astounds me.

God does not expect us to imitate Christ. That is not only phony but impossible. We must allow the very life of Christ to manifest itself in the nitty gritty stuff our lives are made of. That can only be done by the penetrating and changing power of the Holy Spirit being allowed to have His way in our lives.
" God engineers circumstances and brings us into difficult places where no one can help us, and we can either manifest the life of Jesus in those conditions, or else be cowards and say "I cannot exhibit the life of God there. We deprive God the glory."
Oswald Chambers

We often have no control over what life brings across our path. We face situations, people and problems that we think we must deal with in our own strength. We will not allow God into that part of our life , we feel like we need to protect God from the reality of our messy lives. We will not allow Him to have His way but will instead avoid and hide from His illumination and glory.

"..because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy." Hebrews 10:14

Once we are made perfect in Gods eyes through Christ, we should no longer fear the spring cleaning of the Holy Spirits work in our lives. We should welcome it. We are not perfect...God knows that better than even we do (we can delude ourselves after all) but He sees in us the perfection of Jesus Christ. Notice the words "being made" holy. That is an ongoing action. He is working out that perfection in us. Its a process.

No one is beyond His unfathomable mercy. The vilest sin and sinner can experience freedom and forgiveness. What a God of incredible Justice and Mercy combined! It's hard to even really comprehend. He reconciles our past, our present and our future...as irreconcilable as they can seem. Sometimes as Christians we accept the gift of salvation but forget that we are being renewed and transformed. That transformation also based on God's mercy. We are a new creation.

Genesis 1:1 is a passage not often applied to us individually because it talks about creation. I think it can also apply to us since as believers we are called a "new creation" through Christ.

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.
Now the earth was formless and empty,
darkness was over the surface of the deep,
and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.
And God said "Let there be light."
and there was light.


How many of us have lives that are 'formless and empty'?
The blanket of darkness threathens to smother us as we go through the motions of living. Hope is long gone and light seems like a fantasy that we dare not dream of.
But even as we were lost in darkness the Spirit of God was there with us, preparing us , convicting us, calling us.
He creates order out of disorder. He creates light out of darkness. He brings peace to the chaos that is our lives.
God said "let there be light" and there was light....simple as that.

What is not so simple is that we sometimes do all we can to avoid that light. We have to much to hide, to much we cling to, too many walls that keep us secure and safe from that scrutinizing light.

If you are not constantly changing, growing, being shaped a moulded to manifest more of the Spirit of God in your life it's fair to ask , have you ever been changed? I hope that answer is an enthusiastic "Yes ! I am a new creation!"

"If you are going to be used by God. He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all, they are meant to make you useful in his hands and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls so that you will never be surprised at what you come accross."

"The circumstances of a saints life are ordained of God. In the life of a saint there is no such thing as chance. God by his providence brings you into circumstances that you cannot understand at all but the Spririt of God understands. God is bringing you into places and among people and into conditions in order that the intercession of the Holy Spirit in you takes a particular line."

Oswald Chambers

Cambiame Dios.
Amen.
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Just Life


Here is a picture of me and my kids...at least they were all my kids last Sunday.


Roman spends A LOT of time on his bike. What a life he has here!


Playing bottle caps with one of the boys. Roman is now obsessed with his budding collection of professional wrestler tokens. He keeps loosing them to the other boys though since they play "keepsies".


Silas playing Rescue Heros with another little boy.

In the last post I wrote a lot about this past week of life here. I must admit the elation and excitement of the first couple weeks wore a little thin this past week. I remember this happening last time we came after about two weeks it started to feel like a camping trip gone horribly wrong...then in time it began to feel like home. This time has been a lot easier because it felt like home the moment we arrived, I haven't even minded living in the trailer. Even with that head start my attitude became less than enthusiastic as I nursed and entertained sick kids in a confined space. Even before our illnesses I was starting to struggle with that feeling of isolation and uselessness here. I think that is one of my biggest struggles that I battle with living here. There are SO many jobs and ministries that I would love to be more involved in. I realize though that for now my job is my 3 children. They are my first ministry. After that comes relationship building with the other children here. Its a slow process sometimes frustrated by my limited verbal skills. Patience and contentment was in shorter supply this past week and discouragement seemed to creep in. I really do appreciate the freedom that not being in a full time staff position offers me. My husband is working full time and putting his carpentry and building skills to good use. I need to just enjoy, relax and take full advantage of every oppurtunity God brings accross my path.

Last night I tucked my kids into bed at 7 pm and went out for a walk. It was a dark, calm and clear night...and I REALLY needed to get out. The palm trees were gorgeous sillueted against the starry sky. I walked and then sat quietly and soaked it all in. I listened to the crickets, the distant barking of dogs and then to that still small voice that is so easy to miss in the hussle of activity. I prayed and I prayed. As I prayed I walked through the mission grounds laying my hands on the various buildings, praying for the kids and the staff in each of the buildings. (My husband was probably wondering what on earth had happened to me.) I came home with a renewed perspective and the feeling of isolation from life here was gone. I can't choose how God will use me here but I know he will use a heart that is fully surrendered to him. This is His work...I just have the privaledge of witnessing it.





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First and Last


Last Sunday was our first outing with the two children that we have sponsered since last winter. We have sponsered other children in the past through other amazing organizations but we wanted to sponser some kids that we would have the chance to meet this winter. Little Lluvia and her brother Cesar have had their sweet faces on our fridge for several months. We have corresponded and looked forward to meeting them in person.
We met them shortly after our arrival here but this was the first day to actually go on an outing to them. To la playa (the beach)!
This was the third beach we have visited since we arrived in Baja Norte. Another beautiful day with some beautiful kids.

Lluvia (her name is rain in english) worked her way into her 'Tio's" heart pretty quickly.


Roman met up with some fishermen returning to the beach. They let him check out their strange and colorful collection.


Cesar was one happy boy playing in the waves. He had been very stand-of-ish and shy towards us in the previous weeks but we saw a new side to him that afternoon.


After getting everyone dried off and changed the kids played at a nearby playground while we ordered supper at a beach side restaurant. Cesar rehearsed over and over again what he was planning to order. He practiced saying in a very grown up and polite way "I would like to order french fries and a strawberry soda please" (in spanish of course). He was over the moon excited about those french fries and his own soda.
This is what we had hoped was many outings with these two kids but the next morning we caught wind that they were unexpectadely leaving to return to mom. I'm so glad we had a chance to say goodbye and send them off with some photos and a couple little gifts from Tia and Tio.

With each closed door another one opens. We promptly marched ourselves over to the sponsership office and knew which children we were going to sponser next.
We are now the proud Tia and Tio (aunt and uncle) to Minerva and another little boy Alejandro.
They are both new to the orphanage and something about them has tugged at our hearts since we arrived. It was so much fun to go to Minerva (with the lady who does the sponsership) and tell her that we had picked her. That smile that beamed accross her face was priceless! She now proudly calls us Tia and Tio. All the little girls love Nathanael. He is like a big silly kid magnet. He sat in church the other day surrounded by 4 girls ages 8-11...all fighting over who would hold his hand. He walked back with them holding onto his hands and the back of his shirt. One of those girls was Minerva who can now proudly say "he's my tio". Aili admitted to feeling jealous sharing her daddy with her peers but she understands.

They are just craving healthy love and attention so much. We have a lot of background information on both of our new kids which is nice. I won't go into details but it would break your heart. No child should have to live through what these two kids have. Neither one even knows their birthday or how old they are. No one has ever loved them enough to keep track. They are from different "families" but have both experienced profound abuse and neglect. It makes me cry just to think about how they each came to be here. Minerva arrived after running away from a mother who was attempting to kill her, since then her mother has changed her mind and asked for her back so she can sell her. Just imagine what that does to a child emotionally.


Its been a LONG week of infirmity. I suspect it will be the first of many many strange and strong Mexican viruses that knock us out this winter. When we were here 4 years ago we had our share of illness. We have been fortunate to go for the first couple weeks here with no problems at all.

Nathanael was talking to the young dr. we have on staff at the mission and he was explaining that the kids that come from Canada and the States have the hardest time with the colds and flus here on the Baja. He said he had been reading that in Canada viruses get wiped out and stopped before they can mutate too many times and get super strong. For whatever reason..climate, environnment, population and knowledge about transmission. He told us in Mexico the viruses just keep building and mutating season after season. Not only do we have very little immunity to the variety of viruses here but they are stronger than the colds we are used to . I can attest to that!
At home we are rarely ever sick and if a cold does come around our immune systems wipe it out before it causes us much misery. Here we get colds that knock us out, fill us up and last for a long time. I'm pretty much in mucas misery right now.

I'm trying to keep our immune systems as strong as possible. Limiting sugar and trying to get lots of rest and nutrition. The nutrition is something we have to work at here. The basic food groups here in the cafeteria are hydrogenated vegi oil , starch and sugar.
Good stuff. There are a couple educated woman working here that are currently trying to retrain the cooks in healthier prep methods and using vegitables etc. We are grateful for the food provided us and it is very tasty but like my hubby said "It'll keep us alive another day but it will slowly kill us". :) I planted a tiny garden in our plot but it will take a while.

The whole H1N1 virus thing thats going around like wild fire all over North America has everyone a little jumpy. What's likely just a bad cold has me attempting to isolate our family from mainstream activities here. There are many babies and children here in frail health and I would hate to transmit something yucky to them.
The hardest hit this week was Roman. He is still sick. His fever has gone down a bit today but his breathing was getting very bad (very loud and wheezy and he was looking a little blue around the gills) so we called over the doc. Its so nice to have one on staff full time here now. He serves the orphanage, the staff, as well as the surrounding community. He found Roman a nebulizer and we'll give that a try. I would say that Roman is my healthiest kid back home. He never so much as catches colds. He does have the weakest lungs though.


After days of being cooped up in a 30 ft trailer with sick kids I'm ready to drug us up and re integrate ourselves into life here...at least once the fevers are gone. So far we're just waiting on Roman.

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