Sunday, August 30, 2009

What a FUN women's retreat!

This weekend we had a women's retreat at Camp Koinonia. Heather Hower was in charge and did a SUPERB job! Here she is giving out prizes for anyone who showed up on time for the meeting time! Actually, EVERYONE got a prize, but the ladies got SO EXCITED when their name was called! And Annie was up front too, "helping" and eating her sucker! She's a little doll and got LOTS of attention all weekend!

Christy O'Brien and company (Alejandra and Juanita) were the worship team. What a great job they did! Christy is doing great and does a wonderful job with the music! She makes beautiful bracelets of course I had to buy a few to give as gifts! Thanks, Christy!

We had between 50 and 60 women from San Juan, Queretaro, Celaya, Saravia, Amealco and north and south Mexico City. It was wonderful to see "old" friends and make "new" ones! Only five of us from San Juan went - yes, I was disappointed, but the five of us had a super time together! And YES, it was cold at camp! I was cozy warm at night under my warm blankets, but the meeting tent is COOOOLD! But the fellowship was very warm!

Carina from the Tlalpan Bible Church in Mexico City was our speaker. She was great! She challenged us to be Una Mujer equilibrada en su interior. Loosely translated that is Being a Balanced Women from the Inside. She was a blessing to all of us, really spoke to our hearts.

We helped prepare meals, clean up after meals and at the end of the retreat, everyone helped clean up the camp! I helped with breakfast the first morning. Here's Rosy, Ivonne's daughter, helping the ladies fix chicken and a salad for lunch. Rosy leaves for La Roca (The Rock) Bible Institute in Guadalajara in just a week!

Roxana and Yolanda making necklaces with Scrabble blocks! They came out really cute! Rosana is a BRAND new Christian - 10 days old! She brought her two little boys, 2 and less than one, and is expecting! Yolanda did a lot to help her. They had known each other years ago while working at a hotel, so it was a joy for Yola to meet her again! Roxana lives in San Juan, so we're already planning a baby shower!!

Not many kids were at the retreat - those who did come had to entertain themselves (except for the tiny ones - we had baby sitters for them). Here one of the boys found some BEUUUUUTIFUL flowers for his mom! I thought it was a very sweet gesture!!

Workshops! We had workshops! Here ladies are making brownies - and we later enjoyed eating them!

Butterfly clips! Other workshops were scrapbooking (either cards or bookmarks, or whatever each one wanted to make!), sewing little "make-up" bags (or "whatever" bags!). All the workshops were fun! VERY SIMPLE crafts, but the ladies were delighted! And some of them sewed a seam with a sewing machine for the first time in their lives! Sara Musgrave is a VERY PATIENT, VERY SWEET teacher!

Here we are! At least most of us. Some of you will recognize Christy O'Brien, third row. Two Hower boys are in the front - there's Heather Hower in the front, I'm there somewhere! Our speaker, Carina, is seated in the pink sweater. What a super bunch of ladies! As we said good-bye, most of the ladies said, "I'll see you next year!" YES! We gotta keep meeting this way!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Happy birthday Justin - the BIG THREE!!!

Justin making a new friend at his birthday bash - Bethany O'Brien! They're both as cute as can be and sure had fun together!

Peanut LOOOOVED the party! Especially when people started handing her bones!! Wow! The kids loved her. Here's Adaia petting her. She is so gentle with the kids - it's nice! When they got out their water guns (I don't know WHO got those for them!!!), they started squirting her and of course she loved it! I got soaked trying to fill the guns with the hose! But it was sure fun!

Justin's cake was adorable! A truck! Wow! Justin is crazy about trucks, cars, anything that moves and especially if it makes noise! He got quite a few as gifts and was just beside himself thinking about playing with ALL THOSE CARS and trucks!!

Not all the kids got to hit the piñata. I think it was Angel who broke it - but no one complained! It was totally stuffed with goodies and everyone went home with their bags - and tummies - full of the sweet stuff!! I was amazed how few candy wrappers were on the ground! It was nice!

Happy birthday boy! I told Kristin we needed to do this again, it was so much fun! OK, who's birthday is next???

The "adult" table - we didn't all fit around the tables, but everyone still got plenty to eat: roasted chicken, rice, frijoles charros (beans), tortillas, lots of salsa, nopales, soda pop and lemonade. Our "community yard" is such a perfect place for a picnic party! And it was a beautiful sunny day!

The "kid's" table.

Nothing like a bouncy to be the hit of the party! It was hard getting the kids away from it for a couple minutes to eat, and they were back at it immediately after!

Kristin and Justin

Justin and two of his cousins, Alexa and Tania.
I wrote in my last blog that Lynette was the littlest guest, but nope, Joel was! And is he a cutie! He's all smiles most of the time too. His mama and daddy are Francisco and Gaby and his DOTING grandma is Ivonne. Behind Joel you can see our oldest guest, Michelle O'Brien's Grandma who is visiting - I can tell you her age, because she tells everyone anyway! She's 90 and quite the lady! I hope I have her energy when I'm 80 - I'd rather NOT be 90!! I enjoyed having her here and I know Tim and Michelle are enjoying her!

El Chavo piñata!! What fun. Hand picked by the birthday boy, Justin! He knew as soon as we walked in the store which piñata he wanted!

The absolute highlight of the party was the bouncy castle! Wow! Did the kiddos have a ball with it! Tim and Michelle brought it - thank you SO MUCH, guys!

There's Jason helping Justin up on the bouncy. Justin was wild with excitement from the minute he arrived until they left! I'm sure he'll sleep good tonight!

Some of our guests

Miguel and Minerva and their five kiddos. They're a really, really sweet couple!

Francisco and Gaby (Gaby is Ivonne's daughter) and their two little ones, Vanessa 3 and Joel 6 months.

I think Lynette was the littlest guest - she's two and very tiny! And very cute!

Miguel and Minerva's two oldest children, Adriana and Miguel. They're just the cutest and sweetest kiddos - all five of them. That's Samuel O'Brien behind Miguel.

Marta came with her daughter Susy and that little Lynette is Marta's granddaughter. Marta's much too young to be a grandma, but she's gone and done it twice already!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

What am I here for???

Do you ever feel like you're floundering? Wondering what in the world is going on? Well, for the past week I've kind of felt that way. Suddenly I had THREE gals that I wanted to share Jesus with, BUT.... Yes, but...

...But when I got to Rosa Maria's house on Tuesday, she wasn't there! And that was after going around the HUGE UNWIELDY San Juan blocks three times to find a parking spot! I called her later and her daughter had invited her for supper and said she was going to keep inviting her so she wouldn't "read" the Bible with me! But Rosa Maria assured me she'd be home next Tuesday! I'll call first.

...But I've found it impossible to get together with my neighbor Estela for over two weeks. I wondered if she was avoiding me. Well, this morning I caught her arriving home from an errand! Yay! She wasn't avoiding me, she has some serious legal problems in her family and has been traveling to Amealco everyday to try to sort them out. (She described them, and YES, they're serious!) She said, "Please pray for me!" Which I assured her I was already doing! "And let's get together for coffee when this is over." I'd even be willing to drink coffee if it meant getting together with her!

...But when I called Rosa Juana to see if she was home yesterday, no answer, all day. So, I didn't go. But then I got thinking, maybe her phone doesn't work - a distinct possibility here in Mexico! So, today I headed to her house. Well, sure enough she wasn't home, and there's a bill stuck in her door, so she's probably been gone a couple days. I'll keep trying!

...God has His reasons for these disappointments. And I'm just waiting on Him!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Run, Peanut!!

Peanut LOOOOOOOVES it when they water our "community yard." When we go out to chase the ball, all I have to say is, "Run, Peanut!" and she's OFF! She chases the water, bites it, barks at it, and gets totally soaked. If I'm not careful, I also get soaked when she comes back to me!

Here's our beautiful palm tree near the entrance of our community. It used to have dead palm leaves hanging from it, but they've been removed. They're still piled up below the tree (see last two pictures), but eventually someone will come take them away.

Here she comes bringing the ball back to me, so I can throw it again! She loves it! She wears herself out chasing that ball, but never tires of doing it!

Here she comes again. Oops! Where's the ball?! Well, she had it a minute ago, but that spraying water got in the way and she had to chase it awhile! So, the ball was forgotten. Do you see it? I don't either! I have to carefully watch where the ball lands, or I'll end up searching our whole yard for it! Because she has no clue where she left it! Several times today she forgot about her ball, came chasing back to me and looked at me as if to say, "Well, where's the ball!" Oh, you dog of little brain!

Tuna drink

We call them "tunas." That's not to be confused with the tuna fish! It's a fruit - I guess you "gringos" would call it prickly pear fruit! It grows on the nopal cactus.

There are red tunas, orange tunas and green tunas, which, in our area are the most common. I've seen the red ones, but they're so tiny, I just pass them up. But the other day I bought 2 kilos of green tunas for just 12 pesos (less than a dollar). So, now, what do I DO with all these tunas??? I ate some of them. To eat, you must peel first, but CAREFUL, they're full of prickers! It's best to touch them with a towel, rag or anything to protect your fingers! Those prickers are hard to get rid of (I tell you from experience!). Once peeled, they're luscious. OK, OK, so they're a little tough to eat, cause they're completely filled with seeds, but still delicious and very juicy! But there are still lots left. So.....

I made a delicious drink! Very refreshing, so sweet, you hardly need to add sugar. Just pop the tunas in the blender (after peeling them, of course!), blend with water, add more water and just a tad of sugar. Delicious!

I know that when Alan, Beth and the boys return from the States, we won't be having this drink at a meal anytime soon, so I have to enjoy it now! But notice the cool mug!! It's blown glass and has these cool chiles on the side - fun to drink anything, be it tuna or lemonade from this mug!

Sad trees in our neighborhood

We've had some big trucks in our neighborhood recently. They're pruning the trees - I wouldn't actually call it that, I'd call it, sheering them! The big palm tree near the entrance does look nicer without all the dead palms it used to have hanging from it, but the rest of the trees don't look any better than they did before - in fact, they look a little worse! But I guess they'll grow back!

Nice or awful? It sure eliminated a lot of our shade!!

And notice the dried out grass. It's supposedly rainy season now, but we've had very little rain. They do water the grass, but it still isn't very green.

Two birthday parties in two days!

Yesterday Mary invited me to her birthday dinner. She made the pozole, but her daughters did all the rest: cut the veggies, set the tables, made the jamaica, and cleaned up afterwards! There were 16 of us there, including myself and Tim and Michelle O'Brien who brought along Michelle's 90 year old Grandma. The rest of the guests were Mary's husband, children and 2 grandchildren. What a grand time! The cake was a tres leches (three milks) cake - and delicious!

And today at church we had visitors from Mexico City - about a dozen of them! Stu and Cristina Grewatz had brought several folks from their church to "camp out", complete with tents, here in Santa Cruz Nieto (which is a part of San Juan). Mary invited them to eat with their family - and she invited me too! How could I refuse?? Nacho bought broasted chicken and Mary had fixed macaroni and black beans. Stu sneaked out before we ate and bought a gorgeous - and delicious - cake to help Mary celebrate her birthday again! She was certainly surprised!! There were about 21 of us at this party! What a super time with my "hermanos".

I took some great pictures of the birthday "girl" and her hubby, as well as some of the families who were there, but I think I accidentally deleted them. So be it! Learning experience???

Sunday, August 9, 2009

An amazing three days!

A team of 17 folks from Beloit, Kansas are at Camp Koinonia right now. Many of them participated in a Medical Caravan held last Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As people from the community arrived, they were directed first to these tents set up in the driveway, where they were presented with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and given literature. The children were directed to another larger tent where they sang, learned Bible verses, listened to Bible stories and did handwork. From there they went to the doctors' and dentists' offices and received free help for their problems. I was privileged to serve as translator for Dr. Kris Kringle (OK, I'm kidding!) - Dr. Kris Kimple! He was a delightful man and so sweet and gentle with his patients. We worked almost non-stop for the three days, taking a break for a quick lunch, then back at work until 6 PM. We could have kept working, but needed a break - but the next day the community folks were back early - and every person I talked with was extremely grateful for the wonderful help these doctors and dentists were able to give.

It takes A LOT of people to run a Medical Caravan - and here we are! Three Mexican dentists participated, a good group from Celaya, three American doctors and one Mexican doctor, several ladies served as cooks, teens assisted the dentists, and quite a number of young people served anywhere they were needed. And yes, the young people cleaned the bathrooms and washed dishes twice a day! With a smile!

The meals were simple, but good. There is no "dining room" at our camp, so we all sat around wherever we could find a spot, to eat our meals.

Several of the men on the team from Kansas worked on - would you believe!! - a miniature golf course! I don't know how much cement they worked with, but it was a lot! Each evening, it was obvious that they had worked HARD in the hot sun. Soon this mini golf course will be finished and the young people are VERY EXCITED for the chance to initiate it!

More Medical Caravan pictures

Now, no one at the camp is cuter than Annie Hower! Here's she's scarfing down her breakfast. Notice, some of her scrambled eggs landed on the cement blocks! She loves all the extra attention when there are lots of people around!

We had a lot of really cute kids, but these two were some of the cutest! They're twins and were obviously very close - and very cute! As soon as Dr. Kris' little light got near them, their mouths popped open - they knew the drill! They weren't very sick, which was nice - some of the little ones were pretty sick, but I think the doctors were able to really help.

Here's Dr. Kris in his cubbyhole. All the workers wore the scraves like he's wearing. I would sit on the chair behind him and the patients would sit on the chairs in front of him or on the cot.

One of our hardworking dentists was Dr. Paty from Puebla. Back in the dark ages (80's!!) we got acquainted with Paty in Puebla. Cheryl Eberline took Judi to her, then the Moses's took her under their wing, led her to the Lord, discipled her and even took her on an extended trip throughout the U.S.! It was an incredible joy to see Paty again and spend time reminiscing! She said to say HI to all of my kids - so, HI! She remembers them as very small children and I was delighted to show her my pictures!

This dentist - I forget his name - came from Querendaro, where he has a successful dentist office and has been on many, many Medical Caravans. His wife and two children always accompany him - reminded me of the days my kids and I always accompanied Dad on his trips! They are a delightful couple.