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25 March 2017

83/365

The day started very early and continued very full. Miles to travel, groceries to buy, laundry to wash, linens to fold. Movements in slow motion cry out for coffee. A trip back down the road, hurry to pick up one, to pick up three more, to be at dinner on time- until all comes to a halt when traffic slows to a crawl, obstructed by a highway collision. That's when you give up and just enjoy the wait; today, late is your fate. Not long later, the laughter started, the silly memories replayed out loud until we could hardly speak. That's when we caved to the cry for drinks from the drive-thru. That's when you realize that your kids know just when to take advantage of your weakness and that's when the easy familiarity of friendship is the sweetest part of the day.

82/365

Everyone needs a specialty. Honestly, who could ever go wrong with sugared up cream cheese layered between crescent roll dough and covered in butter and cinnamon sugar?

(but I really don't know why they call it sopapilla cheesecake. Any New Mexican can tell you that no legit sopapilla has cinnamon sugar on it!)

23 March 2017

81/365

Today's images include
sitting at my desk quiet, the pink of morning dawn filtered through the shades;
the drawings of schoolkids, a funky monkey sketched out in a fast food booth filled with friends;
a post office queue and wait to obtain a new passport;
trains and cars making circuits on the table and stories of Thomas and George on the couch;
deaf girls critiqued by their sewing teacher and seams turned by accident and ripping out labels from samples, tiny pieces of white thread stuck to the legs of my dark jeans;
iced down Topo Chico in a sweaty glass bottle;
soapy suds for washing plastic cup after plastic cup after plastic cup;
smiling children with glue all over their hands;
dinner served, just enough for everyone;
text from evening services, to make me smile and to sigh;
bulk groceries, boxes and bottles and bags put away, stocked and ready for the week to come;
sitting on the couch listening to chatter from home, a connection that makes 50 miles sound much farther.

22 March 2017

80/365

"In approaching any new culture our first task is always to remove our shoes, recognizing that we are standing on holy ground. We are not bringing the Lord somewhere new, because he is already here. Our primary task, therefore, is to identify God's fingerprints and to trace his footprints in the new environment."
- Dirty Glory by Pete Grieg

21 March 2017

79/365

-ING on a Monday in Reynosa-

Outside my window... bougainvillea in bright bloom.

I am thinking... about my to-do list, today and beyond.

I am thankful for... the crazy back & forth life I get to live between the United States and Mexico.

From the kitchen... (well, not MY kitchen. I'm mostly at the Isaiah 55 mission this month with spring break short term teams...) I am washing a lot of plastic cups and oatmeal nearly every morning, and loving the food our tremendous Tencha and Leti serve up every day.

I am wearing... capris and the Adventure shirt (NOTE! the Adventure shirt has been mishap free for a good long while now!)

I am creating... I painted walls today and scrubbed paint off of floors. Does that count?

I am going...  home to Harlingen tomorrow! (for 26 hours, anyways!)

I am reading... Major Pettigrew's Last Stand and Dirty Glory right now.

I am hoping... my back is better soon and very soon.

I am hearing... sounds of Mexico, music and dogs and fans.

Around the house... I'm at the mission this week, so my "house" is home to 30ish people, a short-term team from Alabama and the Isaiah 55 staff. LIfe is busy and sometimes dirty and always dusty and always a blessing.

One of my favorite things... today a kid from the neighborhood walked into the house we are painting. I told him, "Bienvenidos a mi casa." He said, "¿En serio?" The look when I said, "Sí, en serio" was priceless. Playing Jenga with the girls tonight, watching the little guys make art, and then, sitting and nothing else at the end of the day.

A few plans for the rest of the week: home to see my girls and ESL and time with my favorite little guy and then back to Reynosa to finish the week. 
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19 March 2017

77/365

The golden evening brightens in the west;
Soon, soon, to faithful warriors cometh rest.
Sweet is the calm of Paradise the blest.
Alleluia! Alleluia!

- "For All the Saints" by William W. How (1864)


76/365

"It surprised him that his grief was sharper than in the past few days. He had forgotten that grief does not decline in a straight line or along a slow curve like a graph in a child's math book. Instead, it was almost as if his body contained a big pile of garden rubbish full both of heavy lumps of dirt and of sharp thorny brush that would stab him when he least expected it."
- Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Helen Simonson



18 March 2017

75/365

March means Spring Break for schools and Spring Break means short-term teams serving at Isaiah 55 Ministries. This March, teams are mostly participating in two projects- cleaning up a house in the neighborhood to use as classroom space for the high school deaf school and as a residence for staff (even me and Tim!), and constructing dug-outs and bleachers at the nearby neighborhood sports fields. "How does that spread the Gospel," many will ask. Sometimes we are surprised.

As you might imagine, the locals notice a group of gringos and the activity down at the ballfields. Neighborhood kids like to come over and watch and play with the workers when they take a break from digging holes and mixing concrete. This week, one of our kids, a regular at our evening outreach, started hanging out at the fields, and even jumped into the work to help out. He impressed one of our team members, an adult from Illinois. This man doesn't know much Spanish, keeping his sentences short, our team member told our young friend, "I don't know if I will see you here again, but I hope that I will see you in heaven."

That simple sentence started the neighborhood kid thinking. He pulled our pastor, Mario, aside, to ask about that- "see you in heaven"? Mario spend an hour talking with this kid about being a disciple of Christ, about trusting and walking with Him, about living a life that glorifies and honors Him. This kid, who just a couple of years ago was asked to leave our Vacation Bible School activities daily because of his behavior and attitude, is beginning to understand the Gospel. He expressed a desire to be baptized. He even promised not to hit or say bad words. (smile!- that's pretty huge!) Our prayers are fervent for this kid and for others. The conversation will continue.

Sometimes I hear those considering short-term missions say, "But I want to do something that will mean something." Be assured that yes- even gathering on the ballfield can be a witness to the community. Even mixing concrete and cleaning up a dirty house can give opportunity to share the very Good News of Jesus. Even a simple farewell can be a seed for change. Join us in praying for Gospel transformation in our community as God uses these short-term teams in the coming weeks and months.

74/365

Spring break-ers.


73/365

"Ma, me, mi, mo, mu," said my little friend as she read her own handwriting. Then we read the line backwards. Then we read the syllables on cards. Then we mixed them up. I am pretty sure that we got past the point of memorization, and that she really started to put the sound with the symbol. She is learning to read.

Do you remember learning to read? I don't. Of course I know that I wasn't born reading, but it was so long ago...
I can not remember NOT reading.

What started as an evening outreach to minister and teach neighborhood kids with Bible lessons and art projects and computer skills grew when we began to figure out that our kids were coming to us not knowing how to read. Very few of these kids go to school. Several attended classes sporadically for a period of time, but did not finish even 6th grade. A handful are at the neighborhood elementary school but continue to supplement their learning.

Keila and volunteers that she has recruited from the church come daily to sit next to these kids and teach the skills required to pass the test to graduate from primaria, and then from secundaria. We all know that our life changes when we learn how to read. But showing up and sitting together, correcting and encouraging, teaching and motivating, day after day- our hope and prayer is that those things will have eternal value too.

15 March 2017

72/365

Truth be told, we girls all rather thought that it was the end for this furry friend. What began as an annoyance a few nights prior steadily escalated into a health crisis for our octogenarian pup. I expected the worst when we carried him into the vet on Monday morning and gently laid him on the exam table. After lab work and x-rays failed to reveal anything critical or immediately life threatening, we left him for a dose of B12 and fluids. We were slightly encouraged but still, apprehensive.

Imagine our surprise when we returned at the end of the day, and out walks our Dillon, tail wagging at top speed, as if to say, "Girls! Get me outta here!" We left with meds and special food and the checking account a bit lessened, but grateful. Once home, he still retired hard at the end of the day, but we're pretty sure he has yet a little time left with us. We'll take it.