Wednesday, December 30, 2009

If the Babe had Stayed a Babe

It's still close enough to Christmas to read a Christmas poem! So, here goes!

If the Babe had stayed a babe,
where would we be today?
If He had never grown
to be a fruitful man;
To bear our sin according
to the Father's Plan?
We'd be lost, without a shred of Hope
to lift us from the mire
of guilt and shame.
If the Babe had stayed a babe.

When you and I are born
into the Kingdom
with new Life from above,
We are babes in Christ
with room to grow and love.
Our spirits must be nourished.
First with milk and then with meat
from God's own Holy Word.
We read it and apply it,
or we'll be left as babes,
Whining and complaining
when we don't get our way.

As sure as there is life,
there will be places
rough to tread
And burdens heavy
to be borne.

Only those mature in faith,
fully trusting in the Lord,
can weather all the storms.
Let's look beyond the manger;
celebrate the empty tomb...
welcome Holy Spirit
To empower and sustain.

A baby is a precious sight--
a wonder to behold.
We're glad to feed and carry it
for a year or so.
Our Father up in Heaven
does the same for us;
never wearies of our calls
Nor flees when we entreat.

But family and friends
would just as soon
see us grow up!

Written by my dear friend Betty Henry Taylor

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Fun reading

I'm always busy reading something. Two great books: Lost Horizon and The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Wow!

Last night I was going to read JUST ONE MORE CHAPTER before going to sleep. OF COURSE!! At 11:45 I finished the book and frankly, it was worth staying up for! This is a book for young people, and, even though it's about a girl, the subject matter would be of great interest to young boys too. So, go for it! Check it out and ENJOY!

I'm already into another young people's book, The Sign of the Beaver. This one won't take so long, as it's quite short, but it sure starts out with a BANG!

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas

We invited several friends to join us for a sumptuous Christmas dinner, provided by all of us: ham, turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, cranberry salad, corn and peas, green bean casserole, pineapple casserole, cranberry sauce, you know all the totally AMERICAN goodies that we gringos enjoy at Christmas! The one "Mexican" item was the ponche - the very Mexican hot Christmas punch made with a number of fruits - very delicious! The fruits we used to make it were: guayabas, apples, tejocotes, prunes, tamarind, pineapple, apple juice, sugar cane, I think that's all! Each cook makes it differently and I've never faced a ponche I didn't enjoy!

And of course our desserts included pies - pumpkin and apple - and Grace's wonderful fruitcake that she makes every year for Paul's birthday!

I of course forgot to take pictures during dinner, but here you see Bethie cutting the pies, there's Jason and Kristin and on the right Paul and Grace. Tim and Michelle with their three little ones also joined us. It was a great evening filled with good food, fun and fellowship.

Everyone got a turn, first Bethany the littlest in the group. She didn't do much damage,
but sure had fun!

Next Justin. He did a LITTLE more damage, but still not much!

Samuel may be little, but he has a way with that stick! Look out!!

Look out! Here comes a good "swinger" Kathryn! But the piñata still didn't suffer much.

Zorro - oh, I mean Dayton - on his second turn, managed to break that Christmas tree! He donned his favorite (or one of his favorite!) outfits - Zorro! As you can see, he's grown a bit since getting that outfit - looks like high water Zorro to me! But he still manages to squeeze into it! Maybe it's about time to pass it along to a smaller cousin - I'll discuss this with him!!

I may have misspoken - Was it Dayton or Cameron that broke the piñata?? Whoever it was sure had fun at it anyway!

The best part of the piñata!!

Look at that haul Justin got! That should do him for about the next 12 months! No???

End of the evening, running with Dayton's shining thingys (or whatever they're called!!)

And WHY did I include this picture of darkness!?? Well, the lights are the kids running, the two beady eyes on the right are Peanut's - she was running too - running AWAY from those scary lights comin' at her!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Popo and Ixta

Here are a few pictures that Greg, one of the musicians, sent me. Aren't they great?? I can never get enough of those two volcanos, they're so beautiful! I also stuck in a couple pictures of the gang chowing on pizza and shopping at the Parian! Actually, it looks like they're "shopped out" and ready to go home!

It smells like Christmas!

"It smells like Christmas! I love it when it smells like Christmas!" Those words from daughter Bethie.

So, what does Christmas smell like in San Juan del Rio, Mexico? Pine Christmas trees?? Nope. Chestnuts and an open fire? Nope. But here's a hint - it involves fire!

Fireworks! Of COURSE! We as a family mix our three cultures: American, Mexican and Guatemalan, into one fabulous Christmas celebration! And the Guatemalan Christmas always involves fireworks. There it's at midnight, but we did it early - around 7:30 this evening. We can't get too many REALLY dangerous fireworks, as they've been outlawed, but did find some "cebollitas" (little onions that sparkle - they look like little onions), some other interesting stuff and of course the extra long sparklers. What fun! Join us!!

My sparkler and Dayton's mix to make a great big sparkle!

Alan's sparkler SHRUNK!

The sparklers here are huge - and SOOOOO safe! Look out, guys, don't get in each other's way! Poor Peanut, our dog, was cowering in a corner, trying to stay out of the way, but wanting to be close to us!

Dayton and his sparkler

Cameron going in circles till he got totally dizzy.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Another poem!!

Not one, but TWO poems this week! I received via e-mail two wonderful poems that I really want to share! So here's the second wonderful poem!

Jesus is Better than Santa
Santa lives at the North Pole.

JESUS is everywhere.

Santa rides in a sleigh

JESUS rides on the wind and walks on the water.

Santa comes but once a year

JESUS is an ever present help.

Santa fills your stockings with goodies

JESUS supplies all your needs.

Santa comes down your chimney uninvited

JESUS stands at your door and knocks.. and then enters your heart.

You have to stand in line to see Santa

JESUS is as close as the mention of His name.

Santa lets you sit on his lap

JESUS lets you rest in His arms.

Santa doesn't know your name, all he can say is "Hi little boy or girl, what’s your name?"
JESUS knew our name before we did. Not only does He know our name, He knows our address too. He knows our history and future and He even knows how many hairs are on our heads.

Santa has a belly like a bowl full of jelly

JESUS has a heart full of love.

All Santa can offer is HO HO HO

JESUS offers health, help and hope.

Santa says "You better not cry"

JESUS says "Cast all your cares on me for I care for you.

Santa's little helpers make toys

JESUS makes new life, mends wounded hearts, repairs broken homes and builds mansions.

Santa may make you chuckle but

JESUS gives you joy that is your strength.

While Santa puts gifts under your tree

JESUS became our gift and died on the tree.

It's obvious there is really no comparison.

We need to remember WHO Christmas is all about.

We need to put Christ back in Christmas.

Jesus is still the reason for the season.

Remember Those who Serve Us

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
My daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
Transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
Completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
Secure and surrounded by love I would sleep.
In perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
So I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
But I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,

Then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
And I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
A lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
Perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
Standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked without fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
You should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"
For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
Away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts..

To the window that danced with a warm fire's light
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."
"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
That separates you from the darkest of times.

No one had to ask or beg or implore me,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before me.
My Gramps died at ' Pearl on a day in December,"
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas 'Gram always remembers."
My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
And now it is my turn and so, here I am.

I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
But my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile.
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
The red, white, and blue... an American flag.
I can live through the cold and the being alone,
Away from my family, my house and my home.

I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
Or lay down my life with my sister and brother..
Who stand at the front against any and all,
To ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

" So go back inside," he said, "harbor no fright,
Your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least,
"Give you money," I asked, "or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
For being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget.
To fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
To stand your own watch, no matter how long.
For when we come home, either standing or dead,
To know you remember we fought and we bled.
Is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
That we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

To Kill a Mockingbird

Well, since the high schoolers here in the Bajio Co-op were reading To Kill a Mockingbird, I thought it would be fun to read it too. After a couple nights - almost all-nighters - I finished it! It's an incredible book, "taking readers to the roots of human behavior - to innocence and experience, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred, humor and pathos." If you haven't had a chance to read it, go for it! I highly recommend it!

Monday, December 21, 2009

Popo and Ixta

This morning Popo and Ixta were just beautiful! So, who are these "people"? Popo, or Popocatepetl, and Ixta or Ixtaccihuatl are snow covered volcanos near Puebla, Mexico. (Go ahead, say them!!) Since the best place to get pictures is from the roof of Puebla Bible Seminary, I climbed up there to shoot them! My camera doesn't even begin to show how beautiful they are, sorry. One of the musicians from the States got some better pictures and said he'd send me some, so when I get them, I'll upload them for you!

Malinche was also clear today! It doesn't have snow right now, but does at times! Living further north, I DO MISS THESE BEAUTIFUL MOUNTAINS!


Coro Unido

I just returned from spending five days in Puebla, Mexico (a four hour ride by bus). Last Wednesday I first headed to the Mexico City airport to meet orchestra musicians from the U.S. - Michigan, North Carolina and Ohio, and took them to Puebla. Thursday morning I again headed to the airport to meet two more musicians. I spent a lot of time just waiting those two days, but everyone got in safe and sound.

I loved listening to them rehearse. I stayed at the Puebla Bible Seminary and assisted Phyllis Brown and four of her children prepare meals for the musicians, ran errands and did whatever was needed to take some of the pressure off Terry and Helen Vanderwerf.

This is the 9th time for the Coro Unido to perform at Christmastime. Terry Vanderwerf is the director, and, with the help of hundreds of people, it was a fabulous performance this year. Over 300 voices, about 90 children, a professional orchestra and a Christmas tree that is indescribably beautiful!

There are about 95 singers in the Christmas tree! Besides them, there were singers on both sides of the tree. It was very impressive when the curtain opened to this beautiful sight.

The Christmas story, of course, does not end at the manger or even with the Magi's visit. The stories of the crucifixion and resurrection were told in beautiful music along with the drama of the cross on the right and Jesus' resurrection on the right! It was amazing!

The children did an incredible job as they joined in for several songs with the adult choir and orchestra. Included was the bell choir as well. I have ordered four DVD's which I will give as gifts. I was so privileged to see this performance this year, not just once, but twice!

People from all over came! Of course the majority were from Puebla, but I visited with folks from Uruapan (about 8 hours away) and Orizaba (3 hours east of Puebla). They all felt the trip was well worth it! Check out their poster at

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Campanas por doquier

Campanas por doquier
resuenan sin cesar;
proclaman con placer
que hoy es navidad.
Los niños con canción
la grata nueva dan
de este día de amor y buena voluntad.

Navidad, Navidad
Hoy es navidad.
Es un día de alegría y felicidad.

El niño de Belén
nos trae la salvación,
con júbilo sin par,
se entona la canción.
Yo te amo, mi Jesús;
tus glorias cantaré,
en este día tan feliz
me regocijaré.

WHAT?? You wanted an ENGLISH poem? Oops.
OK, here's a very rough translation:

Bells ringing everywhere
sounding without ceasing:
proclaiming with pleasure
that today is Christmas.
The children in a song
give the good news
of this day of love and good will.

Christmas, Christmas
Today is Christmas.
It is a day of happiness and joy!

The child of Bethlehem
brings us salvation.
With great joy
we sing this happy song.
I love you, my Jesus,
your glories I will sing
on this very happy day,
I will rejoice.

Now, do you recognize the song in English?? I did not translate the "real" words of the song. It´s a very, very secular Christmas song that I know you´re heard A LOT this Christmas. In 1927 Ellie Chastain de Naylor translated the first verse, which is still quite secular. Then, in 1966 our dear friend Robert Savage (missionary in Ecuador, I believe), wrote a second verse, making it a beautiful song sung to our Saviour Jesus Christ!

Any guesses what song it is??? OK, I'll tell you


Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Alan and Beth have been studying with Jason and Kristin. You can read all about it at This past Sunday I got a glimpse of what they do, since my church wasn't meeting till 5 PM. Cameron and Dayton play Legos with Justin while.......

Alan and Beth study with Jason and Kristin. Jason and Kristin are growing
and learning so much, and we're definitely seeing big changes in their lives.
Be sure and check out Alan and Beth's blog for more info! Very interesting!

Abundant Life Bible Church Christmas party

I first got acquainted with Rosa Juana and Aracely (mother and daughter) in October at the Medical Caravan at Amealco. They expressed interest in a Bible study, so Mary from church began studying with them. They live in Santa Cruz Nieto, which is and was a small town, but has now become a part of San Juan del Rio. They have both accepted Christ as their Savior and are anxious to learn more. Sunday afternoon I went to get them and and Aracely's 4 year old twins, Karen (left) and Carolina (right). The girls have never, ever been to church, so it was an interesting time, but they were pumped and had a wonderful, wonderful time! The service went a little long and was rough on the girls, but they survived (so did we!!), and later expended all their energy on the FIVE piñatas that came after dinner!

The best part of the entire program was the young children singing and then expressing what they were thankful for. It was very sweet! Marta, kneeling in front, is one of their teachers, and does such an excellent job with them!

After a delicious dinner of chicken, spaggeti, salad, bread and ponche came THE PIÑATAS!! FIVE OF THEM! I was ready to go home after the first one, but my guests wanted to stay till the LAST HURRAH, so we didn't leave till after 10 PM! The kiddos had a blast - that is, the kiddos of ALL ages! This little girl didn't do much harm to the piñata, but some of the older kids - and adults - did!

I COULD show you pictures of ALL the piñatas, but you get the point! The older kids had to be blindfolded, but the little ones just hit at it. Someone at your left is standing in the back of a pickup pulling the rope up and down! The men took turns - that's hard work, especially when the older kids get their turns!

Reyna on the left is a faithful member of the church, along with her grandchildren Odalyz and Alejandro. Ana, her daughter, is a believer, but has not come to church for quite some time. But she came Sunday! Several times I glanced at Reyna and saw her wiping tears from her eyes! She was so thrilled that her daughter came, and felt so welcomed that she said she's going to start coming again! God is good!

Saturday, December 12, 2009


Cruz was our honored guest at a baby shower last night. She and her husband Alfredo have a little boy, Ivan, who is 9. They have tried to have more children, but, as she told me, the Lord hasn't seen fit to give them another one until now. Ivan is ecstatic about having a little brother. "We won't be able to buy you everything you want now, you know, with a new brother." "Oh, that's OK!" was his quick reply!

Gaby led us in some fun games, which our ladies LOOOOOVE! Especially the little prizes Gaby gives to the winners!

Cruz received many lovely gifts

Several kids joined our party and of course one of the cutest was Joel, Gaby's little guy! He watched, played with his book, ate whatever was given him, then slept!

Everyone brought delicious goodies to share. The meat and nopales in the white dish was PICA, PICA, but so delicious! In fact, everything was delicious! We love to eat, that's for sure!

I brought out my "bag of tricks" which contained gifts for Cruz, all representing how she was to now live with a little one on the way. Examples: a toy (play and spend time with your child), a book on marriage (don't neglect your marriage!), a lotion (take care of yourself too!) and several others. Cruz seemed to really appreciate each item and was so grateful to us for celebrating with her! She said, "Wow! So many ladies came out!" I said, "Of course! We love you and want to celebrate with you!"

Pray for Cruz and Alfredo. Having taken some medication early on in her pregnancy when she was sick with the flu may have had some consequences for her baby. We're all praying for a healthy baby and for peace for his parents as they wait for this blessed event.

Ruby Bridges

Last night I watched the movie Ruby Bridges. HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you watch it with your family - with your kids, with your parents, with your aunts and uncles, with your cousins, with anyone who's willing to watch it! Los Angeles Times says, "An exhilarating Tale!" Disney presents the inspiring true story of one little girl whose strength and dignity during the racially charged 1960's helped change history! This isn't a new movie, but it needs to be seen by all of us! So, go check it out!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas....

....not because there's snow, cause there isn't! But because we're having Christmas celebrations upon Christmas celebrations! And of course there are Christmas deco's all over San Juan. Check out Alan and Beth's blog for some GREAT pictures of our town! (

I got in on two team Christmas parties this week!! I joined Alan and Beth's team on Sunday (mainly because I live in the same house and I gotta eat too - ha!) and today I joined my team (Young at Heart Team) for dinner, fun, singing and a white elephant exchange. Both parties were fun and at both parties I ended up two very non-useful gifts in the exchange, except that in the first party my gift included a Snickers Bar - that made it totally worth it! Here are a few pictures of the fun!

Tara and Ben Smith

Go Kathryn and Bethany!

The kids frosted and decorated sugar cookies. Since this team consists of a BUNCH of kids, all 11 and under, it's a zoo! But a fun one! Cameron is the oldest and sometimes feels a little left out, since he's so much older than the other kids. We included him in the adult white elephant exchange and he had a super time! He got a great gift too - just cause it happened to be the one he brought!! A can of sugar cookies and some chocolate peppermit sticks!

Dayton had a ball, but he didn't eat his cookie! He thought it had to be baked AFTER decorating it! So, by the time it set around awhile, he didn't want it!

Lots of great food and the pies were outstanding! Pumpkin, apple, pecan and blueberry cheesecake!