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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.

13 March 2017

71/365

It took about 4 hours into the day to be certain of the time. Like most of life at the US/MX border, it's hard to be sure. I spent the night in Mexico, but my cell phone,  also my clock, never quite knows where it is. I can sit in one spot, not move a bit, and watch the label at the top of the screen change from US to Mexican cellphone coverage, TMobile to TelCel, TMobile to Movil, back and forth, back and forth. Would the phone clock make the change on it's own? And when the alarm goes off in the morning- how will I know what's right? I'm pretty sure (but not absolutlely positive) that I woke up an hour early, on the day when we already lost an hour of sleep. So, it seems right that the rest of the day was hazy and slow, a rest to start the week.

70/365

Today I want to remember-
slow moving morning,
Do not be afraid or dismayed,
calls that restore,
helpless to help,
lying on the bed,
"I feel old." "I do too."
mesmerizing henna,
how very hard marriage is,
how important to say "I'm sorry."
the ease of serving,
the promise of tomorrow.

12 March 2017

69/365

Brown paper packages tied up with string. 
These are a few of my favorite things.
- "My Favorite Things," from The Sound of Music

"Bring 3 of the SAME of your favorite thing...," said the invitation. "Looking forward to fellowshipping with each of you!!"

But which favorite thing to choose?
The price limit helps narrow the list, and yet, to decide on one single favorite...

The Moleskine journal that holds my thoughts, jotted down morning after morning or the black fine point pen I use to scribble?
The bars of soap that I buy in multiple packs every time I'm at Trader Joe's?
My favorite dark chocolate bar?

I think about what makes a favorite thing. It has to be that perfect combination of size and color and scent and usefulness and perhaps some other often unnamed characteristic that simply appeals to my senses. Sometimes it comes from experience and stories in life; usually it has to have some time of proving itself worthy of "favorite." Favorites certainly are grown over a span, rarely created in a moment.

I finally decide on a little pitcher of Mexican pottery, a design of white and blue with blue and yellow flowers. It is a piece that references my relationship to Mexico, and how I love a hot cup of coffee with a splash of half and half. It might be useful to display a few cut flowers, if called to serve in that way. It's something I would delight to receive and so it is an easy decision to give, as well.

We gathered and told stories of our favorites, verses and hymns, pastimes and foods. We had a glimpse into the best parts of one another, because isn't it contagious, the enthusiasm that comes when we reveal our favorites? To sit in a circle and take turns, hear voices of young and older alike, that gives joy to relationship.

These are a few of my favorite things.