Friday, May 28, 2010

Childhood memories can be so fun

I have very few unhappy childhood memories. I know I'm very fortunate, because many of my friends had such unhappy, tragic childhoods. And Wednesday evening when Bethie, Joy and I were walking around Zona Rosa in Mexico City, some of those happy memories came bouncing back.

We were on the street called Niza. Hey! I remember that street. "Let's walk this way a bit." "Yes! There they are!!"

The Luau! A wonderful Chinese restaurant, very elegant!
We sometimes would go there when I was a kid and young person!
In fact, we ate there once with my parents when Ken and I were engaged!
And another time when we were expecting our first child!

What happy memories!

And there's the Chalet Suiso!
A fantastic Swiss restaurant!
We would eat there sometimes too!
Both of these restaurants were a bit pricey - at least for our budget,
so we didn't go often, but the memories stand out!
How fun to see these places again!

We should have eaten there!
But the Papa John's Pizza was luscious . . . .
and probably fit our budget better!

Then, as we were walking along, another memory popped into my mind...
There was a library somewhere in Zona Rosa
and ALL the books were in English!
I used to take the bus as a teen ager (yes, by myself!!)
to the Zona Rosa, spend hours in that library
and check out books to read.
How I loved that library!

One more memory of the Zona Rosa!
A candle shop!
A tiny candle shop, stuffed full of wonderful, exotic, aromatic,
unusual, sometimes weird, beautiful candles - any kind you could possibly imagine!
We didn't usually buy much, because they were EXPENSIVE
but we loved that little shop!
I doubt it's even around anymore,
and that's sad.

Books, books

It seems I'm always reading something. In the last week or so, I've read a couple books that are outstanding. And the Shofar Blows is an incredible story: "When Paul Hudson accepted the call to pastor the struggling church, he had no idea what to expect. But it didn't take long for Paul to turn Centerville Christian Church around. Attendance was up, way up. Everything was going so well. If only his wife could see it his way. Still, he tried not to let her quiet presence disturb him." That just gives you a hint - and believe me, you may NOT believe what all happens! I couldn't put it down till the wee hours of the morning.

"Natasha's father is a leader in the underground church of the Soviet Union. When Georgi Vins is forced to spend time in hiding and in prison, Natasha looks to her beloved grandmother for spiritual guidance, but in her teens, Nathasha reaches a personal crossroads." The true story of:
- Lives preserved in spite of brutal restrictions
- Family preserved through imprisonment and long separations
- Faith preserved in the midst of hostile unbelief



Our women's retreat held May 21-23rd was a huge success this year! Almost 100 ladies showed up - we didn't know till the day of, just how many would show! We DO have registration ahead of time, but we STILL didn't know how many would show! Ladies and teens came from Queretaro, Celaya, Saravia, Milagrito, San Juan del Rio, Amealco, Mexico City, and maybe some other places, I don't remember!

Friday night we watched the movie Fireproof. The ladies really got into it! And of course, there were many tears! We trust God spoke to many hearts!

Here, as we lined up for a meal, Heather Hower is giving out surprises! Each lady received a little bag of "goodies" provided by Joy Hutchinson's church, Heather and me! Some were GREAT, others were so-so, but every lady anxiously awaited her number to be called! They don't really CARE what the surprise is, they just are happy to get one!

Christy O'Brien led us in worship and did such a fantastic job! Juanita, our "in-house chef" took time off during the worship time to sing along. She's a young lady of many talents! Each worship session was a time of huge blessing and encouragement! THANKS, CHRISTY and JUANITA!

On Sunday morning, for our devotional time, we all hiked down to the pond, sang together, then each found a private spot to have our own time with the Lord! It was a memorable time, very meaningful to all! What a beautiful spot God has given us for our camp!

Lupita was one of our speakers. She had just had surgery on her feet a few days before camp, so came just in time to speak, then had to head home.

What a beautiful woman of God is Lupita!

I spoke on the Quiet Time, Sara Musgrave spoke on Jesus as our Counselor - and of course I didn't get pictures of either of us!

Chely was our last speaker, talking about the importance of INNER BEAUTY. Actually, all the speakers spoke on INNER BEAUTY and how it's so much more important than any outer beauty.

Chely was fantastic! Wow! Another beautiful woman of God!

So, how can we make our retreat BETTER next year? I'm not sure we can! Soon we'll meet to evaluate the time and start planning for next year.

The ladies can't wait!!

Our "SPA" workshop was a huge success! Wow! What fun everyone had and many asked if we were going to do this next year! Well, maybe! We'll see!

Mary Kay was there! Here the Mary Kay ladies show their products and they also gave facials to whoever wanted them. And they had lots of customers! Christy O'Brien, an enthusiastic Mary Kay consultant, is on the right!

Joy hard at work!

Joy Hutchinson came from Midland, Michigan to give ladies massages at our SPA! How the ladies loved it! Again, "Will you do this next year?" Joy gave 60 massages and would have given many more if there'd been more time - and energy! She worked so hard and we're SO GRATEFUL to her for doing this labor of love for the ladies of Mexico!

Hair cuts!

And I even saw some ladies getting their hair ironed!

If it's curly, we want it straight!
If it's straight, we want it curly!
Go figure!

The Crazy Cabin

Not our official name, but it fit!
There were 17 of us in a cabin for 14 - two teens slept with their moms and Ivonne's 2-year old grandson slept with her. The top bunks have no "steps" for climbing up, so there was lots of laughter as the "younger more nimble" gals climbed up onto their bunks!

Here's Joy, and she was the sanest in our cabin!!

The gals told me Saturday morning that most of them stayed up VERY LATE laughing, giggling, solving the world's problems, solving ALL our church's problems, goofing off, and of course LAUGHING and GIGGLING SOME MORE!

When my head hit the pillow at 11:30, I was asleep, so they had to report to me in the morning all that they'd resolved!

The best decisions are NOT made after 11:30 PM! Trust me!

Juanita, on the right, was our "in-house chef" for the weekend. Eva, on the right, was her right hand gal. They did an admirable job feeding all of us delicious meals and we hope to see more of Juanita at our camps and retreats!

Fancy kitchen, huh? It isn't the Hilton, but we're very happy with it, especially now that it has been expanded, thanks to Dennis Kirsch, who came down from Canada with his wife Sharon, and for several months worked to make our kitchen bigger. So, if you think it's tiny now you would have seen it before! We're so grateful to Dennis and others who did this labor of love!

Our scrap booking - or card-making - workshop was a HUGE success! We just put out paper, cards, scissors, glue, punches, plus a lot of other goodies, and the ladies went to town! Some gals spent most of their workshop time right here and went home with some great treasures!

Mints! I hadn't made these before and was the one "leading" the workshop, so by the third round, we had it down! Such fun and so yummy! On the first two rounds, we didn't add enough powdered sugar, so could only make little mint balls!

We also made chocolate no-bake cookies (on the left) which were a huge hit! Most gals here in Mexico use their ovens for storage ("You want a napkin? Sure, I'll get one out of the oven for ya!"), so by using this stove-top recipe, they could take it home and easily do it themselves! No cookies were left over either!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Gaily The Troubadour

In the book Gaily the Troubadour, published in 1936, Arthur Guiterman wrote the following poem. Reading his observations, you wouldn't guess it was written 60+ years ago.

First dentistry was painless;
Then bicycles were chainless
And carriages were horseless
And many laws, enforceless.
Next, cookery was fireless,
Telegraphy was wireless,
Cigars were nicotineless
And coffee, caffeinless.
Soon oranges were seedless,
The putting green was weedless,
The college boy hatless,
The proper diet, fatless,
Now motor roads are dustless,
The latest steel is rustless,
Our tennis courts are sodless,
Our new religions, godless.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Revving up for the women's retreat

It's getting closer. Tomorrow is THE DAY our women's retreat officially starts! On Tuesday I took a bus into the BIG CITY (That's Mexico City for those who don't know!) and met Joy Hutchinson (from Michigan) at the airport. We took a taxi back to the north bus terminal, then back home here to San Juan by around 5 PM. And we've been PLAYING ever since! We've gone to Tequisquiapan, to the market, to the death museum (YES!! There's a Death Museum here in our town! Very interesting!), just walking around town, checking out the office where I usually work - but not this week! Tonight we joined Alan, Beth, Cameron, Dayton, Paul, Grace, Laura and Ann at Corral de la Vaca for a delicious meal. And before heading for camp tomorrow, Joy and I will drive up to the community outreach center here in San Juan and introduce a visiting group from the U.S. to ObreroFiel. More later and hopefully lots of pictures, of our women's retreat. So far about 100 have signed up, so we're excited!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Meadow Mouse

It isn't quite Wednesday, but I have a visitor and tomorrow will be busy, so I'm getting a head start! I don't know why I chose this poem, cause it's cute, I guess!

The Meadow Mouse
By Theodore Roethke

In a shoe box stuffed in an old nylon stocking
Sleeps the baby mouse I found in the meadow,
Where he trembled and shook beneath a stick
Till I caught him up by the tail and brought him in,
Cradles in my hand.
A little quaker, the whole body of him trembling,
His absurd whiskers sticking out like a cartoon-mouse,
His feet like small leaves,
Little lizard feet,
Whitish and spread wide when he tried to struggle away,
Wriggling like a minuscule puppy.

Now he's eaten his three kinds of cheese and drunk from
his bottle-cap watering trough --
So much he just lies in one corner,
His tail curled under him, his belly big
As his head; his batlike ears
Twitching, tilting toward the least sound.


And this morning the show-box house on the back porch is
Where has he gone, my meadow mouse,
My thumb of a child that nuzzled in my palm? --
To run under the hawk's wing,
Under the eye of the great owl watching from the elm
To live by courtesy of the strike, the snake, the tomcat.

I think of the nestling fallen in the deep grass,
The turtle gasping in the dusty rubble of the highway,
The paralytic stunned in the tub, and the water rising --
All things innocent, hapless, forsaken.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

What I see in my wanderings

Tonight was "search the frig for supper" night. I found Ruben some mac and cheese, myself some picadillo (hamburg, veggies and I think it had some salsa in it) and fruit salad. We ate supper together, Ruben and I. Ruben, an adorable 3, is spending a few days with us while his mom and dad take a much- needed vacation. His big brothers, Silas and Tucker are at Bryan and Lori Smith's, his little sister Annie is spending these days with Enrique and Blanca Colorado. And we got Ruben!! I'm not usually "in charge" of him, but tonight Bethie was very busy - as you'll see in a minute. Ruben is licking the beater - one bite of mac and cheese - a couple licks - another bit of mac and cheese - another lick - etc.!

Wow! A whale showed up at our house! I think he's gonna get eaten tomorrow at Co-op in Queretaro!

Ruben should be good for the dentist before we're done with him! He looooved licking Aunt Bethie's spatulas and mixers! He even grabbed a sharp knife covered with lard, but Bethie caught him before it got to his tongue! Whew!!

And what creation do we have here? Looks like, but no, it couldn't be.... It could be???

I thought so! A snorkeler! And he's gonna be swimming among the sharks - notice the fin rising up beside him. But he'll be OK, cause he'll get eaten, not by sharks, but by KIDS!

And last but not least, I wandered upstairs to my room. THREE computers?? What's going on here? My email addresses got updated, that's what, and all three computers are synced. Whatever that means, huh? Well, it means whatever email comes into one, goes into the others, and my addresses are all the same, when I change one, it changes on the other two computers. But why THREE computers?? One is my HOME laptop, one is my OFFICE laptop and the little teeny one is my TRAVEL laptop!


I've been wanting to post this poem for awhile and today is the right day! When people ask me where I'm from, I tell them, "Mexico City" and of course most of them don't believe me! I'm too "gringa" to be from that city! And, I guess ORIGINALLY I'm from Chicago, since I was born there, on the north side, at Ravenswood Hospital. But I didn't stick around long, just four months, then I was off to see the world (or at least Mexico!) with my parents and big sister. So, essentially, Mexico City IS MY city!

But Chicago is still "my kind of town!"

(1914, 1916)
By Carl Sandburg

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nations' Freight Handler;
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women
Under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman
Kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children
I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give
them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse
And strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger
Set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted again the
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrific burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of
The people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud
To be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads
And Freight Handler to the Nation.

Kid's stuff

You can tell I love to read. And I just finished two books that are normally designated for KIDS! The first was William Wilberforce, God's Politician. It was written especially for 4th graders! Go figure! No wonder I enjoyed it!

Then I read Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. I don't know what age it's designated for, but it kept me interested! Not that I don't know the story - actually, I don't remember ever reading that before! And WOW! It was such a true picture of life and of the expectations, not just of Pip, but of so many of us. We want to BETTER ourselves, but forget that we were already BETTER!

I'm now working my way through a high school English lit book, enjoying some fascinating short stories!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day at Iglesia Biblica Vida Abundante

Mother's Day is a BIG DEAL in Mexico! Today at church, each mom was presented with a little heart to wear, then a little crocheted butterfly. Then, after the service, the young people presented us with a card they had created. Very creative! The M-a-m-i on the card is - yes, Mami!!

And of course PICTURES! Here are the moms who were present today, plus a couple little girls! I'm there in the back trying to peek between two gals! A lot of moms were missing today, because they went to visit THEIR moms.

Then a picture of the ABUELAS! The little girl in front isn't an abuela, she's a nieta!

Then a meal cooked by the men and served by the young people. Sergio (above) with two of his children, was the main cook! According to his wife, Tina, he's a wonderful help in the kitchen at home - when he's home! He works long hours at the Kimberly factory, but he enjoys getting into the kitchen.

The chicken was delicious, but some of the pieces were raw! They quickly took them back and fried them to perfection! My piece was OK on top, but when I turned it over, it was fairly raw, so I left the rest! The rice was delicious. And dessert? Well, since the tortillas arrived after most of us had finished our meal, I guess they were dessert! Served with watermelon and tamarind drink. The men did an admirable job and we had a lot of fun visiting and eating and congratulations the men on their hard work!

The young people prepared a drama, which was supposed to be done as a shadow, but since it was a bright sunny day, we couldn't really see the shadows! But they did a very creative and good job, and we enjoyed it! It was basically an angel and God talking back and forth, demonstrating the perfect person that God created - a MOM of course!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Torches of Joy

I just finished another exciting book, and this one is a REAL LIFE book! Torches of Joy by John Dekker is the story of John and Helen Dekker's trials and triumphs as they took the Gospel to the Dani people of Irian Jaya. Probably no other tribal people in history have embraced so much change with such great enthusiasm in so short a time. It's a wonderful story, one I could hardly put down till I finished it.

And if the name Dekker sounds familiar, yes John and Helen's son Theo (Ted) Dekker writes exciting books as well. Maybe you're familiar with some of them: Blink, Black, Adam, Infidel, Sinner, Skin, and I could go on! I've only gotten as far as Adam, but according to Bethie, they're all fantastic and page turners! Check out these two authors!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


Euclid, an ancient Greek, is called the father of geometry. Maybe you already know this! He wrote about lines, circles, and angles, and his batch of books and ideas are still studied by young mathematicians. This poem I dedicate to all the teachers out there, but especially the MATH teachers!! You know who you are!

By Michael Dahl

Euclid once annoyed his neighbors
With his pen-and-paper labors,

Scribbling scraps with squares and vectors,
Points and lines and intersectors,

Proving on a piece of parchment
What a cube or cone or arch meant.

When his paper heaps grew higher,
Euclid's neighbors threatened fire.

So he stuffed his stacks and columns
Into thirteen massive volumes.

Euclid's manners were not sloppy--
Every neighbor got a copy.

Too bad I couldn't include the picture that went with this poem. It's classic!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

I Have Lived a Thousand Years

Another incredible and gut-wrenching book, written by Holocaust survivor, Livia Bitton-Jackson. She was 14 when she World War II ended, but, as she wrote, she had lived a thousand years. Just to quote one tiny part of the book:

'We didn't know anything. We had no idea. You must believe me. Did you have to work hard also?' 'Yes' I whisper. 'At your age, it must've been difficult.' At my age. What does she mean? 'We didn't get enough to eat. Because of starvation. Not because of my age.' 'I meant, it must have been harder for the older people.' For older people? 'How old do you think I am?' She looks at me uncertainly. 'Sixty? Sixty-two?' 'Sixty? I am fourteen. Fourteen years old.' She gives a little shriek and makes the sign of the cross. In horror and disbelief she walks away, and joins the crowd of German civilians near the station house. So this is liberation . It's come. I am fourteen years old, and I have lived a thousand years."

I don't know WHY I read books like this, but I just can't stay away from them. I love biography and autobiography. There are a bunch on my shelf right now, so excuse me, I gotta go find the next one to read....

Love to read

You know, I'd a thousand times rather curl up with a good book than watch TV ANY DAY!! I don't get much TV time these days, cause I'm too busy. Yep, busy curled up reading a good book. I did throw a book in the garbage the other day (I won't tell you which one - and no, it wasn't from our FABULOUS MCMANUS LIBRARY!) because it totally went against all I believe as good and pure. But, for the most part, every book I've read so far has been fabulous! I write a little note in the front of each book I read so that whoever picks it up later will know its worth - whether good or mediocre or just plain bad. Actually, if it's bad, I don't even read it. I started one the other day, got to page three and put it back on the shelf - not worth my time. Not bad, just not worth my time!

I just finished another of Karen Kingsbury's incredible books. You know how Dad used to hand me the book to finish reading, since he was weeping and couldn't finish! Well, I would have had to hand this one off!

I'm one of Karen's biggest fans!