Sunday, December 25, 2011

Streetwalking with Jesus

I just finished reading this fascinating book by John Green, who, along with his wife Carolyn, started Emmaus Ministries in Chicago, reaching out to people most of us would steer clear of, not wanting to become "contaminated."

Here is what the flyleaf of the books says: "
Green didn't set out to be another Dorothy Day or Mother Teresa, and would be quick to tell you he hasn't become one. Struck by the words of Micah 6:8 and the acts of a homeless man who gruesomely ended his life in Green's presence, Green vowed to constantly ask himself: How can I live justly? To whom do I show mercy? How may I walk humbly with God?

Green shares the lessons he learned regarding these hard questions through the stories of men who struggle to escape poverty, addiction, and sexual sin - while encountering Christ in the process. But this book is much more than the account of out Emmaus Ministries combats a social problem to which most of us wish to remain blind.

It is about finding joy in service to others and experiencing love in reaching out to the suffering, all under the shelter of God unconquerable, abiding love.

Yes, Streetwalking with Jesus will sober you..."

I highly recommend that you read it! It will change how you look at those who are suffering and help you see the amazing things God is doing in the lives of those who come in contact with Emmaus Ministries.

Friday, December 23, 2011

And the Christmas season continues

Last night we visited our neighbors Jorge and Azucena. We spent a couple hours just visiting and enjoying the snacks they had put out for us. They are Nicaraguan and have been gone to Nicaragua for the past several months. We always greet each other, but this is the first time we've actually been able to visit. Pray that we'll be a witness to this couple.

And more Christmas season was very obvious at the market today. The first one being that it was PACKED! We were getting a little claustrophobic by the end of our purchases! Bethie couldn't get through the crowds with our little market cart and I barely could get through carrying two market bags. If in the pictures it looks crowded, well, it was!

We don't see snow, or Santa Clauses - a few, but very few - or the usual Christmasy items you expect in the U.S., just lots and lots of piñatas, candy and more candy, fruit to make ponche (sugar cane, tejocotes, guayabas, tamarind, apples), oranges and tangerines galore that are in season right now, and yes! More piñatas! They´re everywhere! And yes, we have one in our house that´s STUFFED, ready for the Bible study group on Christmas Day!

Any guesses? You see quite a lot of this during this time of year. Yams, cooked with enough sugar to give us all diabetic heart attacks (is that possible???) Amazingly sweet. And it was amazing that in the short time I stood there, at least four people stopped by to get their stash for the Christmas celebration. No, not my favorite.

Another very Mexican custom, the posadas. These strings of decorated ribbon are put up all along the street, indicating that there is a posada being held there. And traffic is cut off, making for terrible traffic jams. But that's OK! The posada must go on!

The best waited for us for on the way home. This piñata store sells the BEST piñatas! We don´t usually buy here, because they´re a bit pricey. Can't imagine how much that huge star would cost - didn't ask - but it's beautiful to drive by and look at!

Christmas programs, barbacoa, ponche, Christmas games, gifts, and much more!

It's feeling a lot like Christmas these days. It's even beginning to LOOK a lot like Christmas (no snow though, thankfully!). At the church's Christmas dinner/program, we started out with some Christmas songs with some of the junior highers and their teachers Rosy (R) and Gaby (L).

Followed by a radio program, which included a "spot" with cooking tips. Like, how to serve yourself a bowl of cereal!! And Yeyo on the right, was happy to test it out! The entire radio program was very creative and fun.

Then dinner! Barbacoa (BBQ), which is NOTHING like U.S. BBQ. The meat has been cooked for several hours, and is then chopped and put into tortillas like a taco. You can add salsa, onions, cilantro, lime juice and ENJOY! Our own Francisco and Gaby, who have a barbacoa stand, made dinner for us. It was accompanied by all the ponche (hot Mexican punch) we desired. Very delicious.

Sunday morning I joined Alan and Beth's Bible study group in our home, since our dinner at church was Sunday evening. We had a time of carol singing, a video message, then a Christmas object lesson by daughter Bethie.  She didn't know she was going to give the lesson, but she's as good at ad libing and impromptu messages as her Dad was! Very fun lesson!

Sunday afternoon a bunch of us "gringos" got together for a potluck dinner, then games. The following pictures show the "opening-the-gift" game. You need a chocolate bar covered with about 50 layers of Christmas giftwrap, large gloves, a hat, a scarf, two die and a knife and fork. The one to finally get through to the candy bar is the winner! That is, if there's anything but crumbs left!

Bethie's turn
Cameron's turn

The adults played one game, the children another. Here Kara has finally gotten to the chocolate!

On Monday our ladies' prayer group met at a local restaurant for fellowship and a gift exchange. We need to meet like this more often!         

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dawn's Prelude

Since coming home, I've been really busy unpacking, organizing, getting ready for Christmas activities, one of which took place just a day after arriving home, etc. But there's always time to read! I just finished reading "Dawn's Prelude" by Tracie Peterson. I don't recall reading any other books by her, but WOW! This one was really good! It's a romance, but much more than that. It is the story of evil trying to overtake good, but of course not winning! Check it out!