As of this past week we have officially lived in Mexico for one year! This last year has flown by. In honor of the past 12 months we decided to share a bit about them! 🙂 After one year in Mexico we have experienced a lot, learned a lot too and are growing to love the country we have the privilege of serving in. First, I am going to recap this years events for those who are interested but if you don’t want to read about the year in review you can skip to the bottom and just read our answers to some fun questions. Hope you enjoy!
A Year in Review
Moving down to Mexico at this time last year was a whirlwind. After two weeks of travel (because of our many planned stops) we arrived in El Paso, TX to get our visas and wait for our new license plates. The Chubb’s met us up in El Paso and travelled with us as we made our way down into Mexico.
We spent the first month living in the home of another missionary woman who works for our organization while we searched for our own place. One thing that made this time especially difficult was the cold weather. Mexican homes are not typically insulated and so most mornings we woke up able to see our breath. Our friend Z helped us find a house and also helped us get our household appliances purchased. He along with another friend, H.M., also worked with us to negotiate the rental agreement for our new home.
Thankfully, we were able to be moved into our house one week before Christmas. Christmas day, however, contained its own surprises as we woke up with no propane in our gas tank, meaning we were freezing cold and unable to cook or shower. Thankfully, our friend Z came to our rescue again and was able to get the propane company to come to our house on Christmas day.
After Christmas and the New Year, we began the new year with Jude starting his first year (well, half-year) in kindergarten. He caught up quickly and by the end of the semester was ready to begin first-grade. Beth & I also began our Spanish “Take-Off Course.” This was a five-week class thrusting us into the Spanish language, while also learning about Mexican history and some culture. Iris enjoyed the time spent with her cousin Lily and new friends as they were babysat together during our daily classes by a nice Mexican woman who only spoke Spanish.
Shortly after the take-off course I was able to make a trip to a small mountain town with three other men to help work on one of our fellow cross-cultural workers home. I spent the good portion of five days painting, and for meals enjoyed being fed by another American family living out there or in the homes of local Mexicans. It was my first time traveling within the country and even being in a small Mexican town. The city we moved to and currently live in has almost one million people living in it and is very developed.
After take-off course ended and after this trip, we plunged ourselves into full time Spanish language and Mexican culture study. Beth & I both had friends, me from church and Beth from our Spanish teacher, to help me with language study for a while. Our initial progress in the language was slow and steady. We were able to get out and explore our city as well during this time.
In April, I made a quick trip up to Oregon to see my grandmother before she passed away. I was thankful to have arrived in time to see her alive and talk to her before she passed only a day after my arrival. This was a bitter-sweet visit up to Oregon as we were sad to see my grandmother go but thankful that she was no longer in any pain and in the arms of her Savior she loved dearly. I also had the opportunity to make a visit to a new partnering church in Oregon and got to see some friends and meet the pastor of the church.
After my return, we continued our studies full-time until we headed for our field conference in June.
Our Mexico Field Conference took place a few hours southeast of us, and most everyone who works for our organization in the country was in attendance. This was an edifying time of prayer, fellowship and corporate instruction as we were taught from the Word and heard updates from our co-laborers serving around the country. It was during conference that we thought Iris broke her arm falling off of a chair by the pool, but thankfully we were able to make a quick and cheap visit to the local hospital and after an x-ray found out her arm was not broken. Whew!
After conference, we settled back into language and culture study, and continued building friendships in the community and in our church. It was about this time that we began to consider how we can get out and serve in the local community. Beth learned of an orphanage from some girls in our church, and made a visit out to one. After her visit we made plans to visit again and decided to try to spend time at the orphanage once a week. Beth helps with dishes and lunch clean-up and then crafts, while I spend the time hanging out and playing with the boys mainly.
Sometime after conference we began Spanish classes once again for three days per week and then spent time with our language helpers and studying independently outside of those classes.
In August, we took a three day trip to a town called Creel to visit Mexico’s famous Copper Canyon. Our family along with two other families and a single friend made the four to five hour trip south and were able to stay in someone’s home for free while there. We were able to visit the canyon, take a sky tram across it, see a huge waterfall and spend some great quality time with our new friends in Mexico.
September began with Jude starting first grade and our family settling in for the school year, and since that time we have been diligently studying Spanish and learning about Mexican culture. We had our first language evaluations at the end of October, just a month ago. We both placed at a level we were happy with, somewhere mid-way through the Spanish language. We still have a long way to go, but considering how much time we have spent learning, we seem to be making good progress.
As we shared Thanksgiving this past week, we had a lot to say thank you to the Lord for. It has been a stretching year but a good year. We are thankful for our family, our home, the privilege of being in Mexico, our friendships down here, the food, but most importantly our Savior who has called us, keeps us, provides for us and loves us faithfully.
Some Fun Q & A
- Tom’s answers will be non-italics
- Beth’s answers will be in italics
What are your favorite foods?
As for me, my favorite food down here keeps changing. I have gone through phases where I love something for a while and then I am on to something else. A lot of stuff down here is very spicy, so you have to make sure to ask if it is spicy or not if you want to avoid your mouth being on fire. I like a type of cooked meat called “Carne Al Pastor.” It is hard to describe but it is layers of meat cooked over a pit with pineapple juices flowing over it. It is delicious. We order it from a restaurant and they also give us a stack of corn tortillas, limes, onions, cilantro, and pineapple chunks to build our own tacos. It is… very good.
This country has food figured out! It’s hard to even explain how delicious and wonderful most food here is-seriously! I (like Tom), go through phases of liking certain things but I will name a few that stand out as being at the top of the list! I guess I just need to start with the tortillas. Just the tortillas alone here are insanely delicious. Just about everything you eat here is either in a tortilla or needs a tortilla to dip in it. Baker’s crank fresh tortillas out by the hundreds each morning and they are just too delicious and perfect!
Moving on..Burritos in the morning. At first when we arrived the idea of eating a burrito as a breakfast item seemed pretty strange but now I am in love with them! Every morning from about 8am-11ish you can buy all kinds of warm fresh burritos from people on the side of the road. People make them in their homes and then lug them along the roads in their coolers. They cost about 60 cents per burrito and you can get everything from mixtures of potatoes and beef inside them to eggs, cheese and refried beans. They are so good that I have to limit myself to one or two a month so they do not become an addiction (:D) and they are SO GOOD! (Tom has limited himself to only one or two… a week…)
I also love carne al pastor as Tom mentioned, montados (don’t even get me started as to how amazing they are) and currently I am super into “mole y pollo”, which is chicken mole. It is shredded chicken in a dark brown mole sauce that is just the perfect balance of sweet and spicy. Chicken mole with warm fresh tortillas is hard to beat! Oh and I cannot forget to give an honorable mention to churros! SOOO good, especially when they are hot and fresh and they give you dipping sauce or fill the centers with carmel…
What has been your favorite thing that happened during the year?
Besides actually being able to move down here when we did, which was a miracle, I most enjoyed the two trips out of town I have been able to make. One to the small mountain town and the other to Creel to see the Copper Canyons. The trip to the mountain town was great because it was essentially a lot of edifying, friendship building with other godly guys. Then the trip to Creel was fun, because it was just that… fun. We were able to practice our Spanish a lot and see important culture, but it was also a good time of friendship building.
My highlight of the year was the only trip I went on! 🙂 I love how traveling broadens my perspective on so many things and teaches me so much. I learned a lot and had so much fun when we got to visit the Copper Canyon in Creel. We look forward to traveling more in the coming year and learning even more about this amazing country.
How has the Lord showed Himself faithful this past year?
I heard a missionary say one time, “A walk of faith is an ongoing adventure with God where He provides both the transportation and the transformation.” The journey of walking with Christ and serving Him is an adventure. You never know what lurks around the next corner, but you get to see Him meet your anxieties with His peace and your fear with His presence, and you get to experience surprise blessings along the way, available to all who engage in a walk of faith with Him.
This past year was no different. We have experienced many new exciting things down here and in the process He continues to provide for us and transform us along the way.
At this point in our ministry as people serving cross-culturally by the support of many of you, we have lost count of how many times the Lord has provided last minute for pressing needs. In the middle of this past year, we found that we were at the end of all of our resources with nothing in the foreseeable future to relieve our financial burden. (Sometimes we tell many of you, our supporters and those who follow our ministry, when we have a pressing need, but sometimes we don’t for various reasons. We generally do not like to make special financial plees, but sometimes have to and we know you understand.) Anyways, on this particular occasion, we decided not to say anything and to just pray to the Lord about our needs. Just at the right time, the Lord provided through an unexpected one-time surprise gift which took care of every single one of our financial burdens at that time!
God has shown Himself faithful by keeping us here! 🙂 This last year held many months when we literally thought we might not be able to stay here financially. We did not know the future or what God had for us to do but each time we just cried out to Him, asking that He provide for our needs if He did wanted us to stay and as Tom shared, He did. Even now we have no idea what He has for us here in a lot of ways but He is clearly supplying for our needs and keeping us here so we are thankful for that and will continue to trust Him!
Another aspect of His faithfulness has been through his comfort and care for us emotionally. Even as we moved down here last year there were those who felt it was too soon for us to come here so quickly after the pain of leaving PNG and honestly we wondered ourselves if it was too soon! But the Lord blessed us with a new direction and purpose quickly while He also provided us with incredibly comforting and understanding (new) leadership and we started our adjustment to a new place but also processed and grieved as we needed too. We have such a loving Father!
Do you have any funny stories from this past year?
Well, I actually had an embarrassing thing happen about two weeks ago. Back when I visited that small mountain town in February, I was given some delicious tiny sweet bell peppers from one of the ladies out there. Ever since that time I have been trying to find the same type of sweet bell peppers. I had searched all of the local stores and had not been able to find any. Then last week, I was at the grocery store and I thought for sure I had found it. It was a small orange pepper and without hesitating I popped it into my mouth and began to chew it. Huge mistake! Turns out it was a habanero pepper, one of the world’s hottest peppers. My mouth was on FIRE. My eyes were watering, my nose was running and the inside of my cheeks felt like they were bleeding it was so hot. I bought some horchata (a sweet white drink made from rice milk) because it resembled milk, but it barely helped. After about half an hour things were back to normal, with the exception of my lips which burned for another hour or so.
Rule #1 of living in Mexico: DO NOT put unknown peppers into your mouth… ever.
I don’t have one embarrassing story per say but I feel like living here is a constant practice in embarrassing yourself. I have repeatedly accidentally started speaking Tigak or Pidgin to people only to catch myself and certainly appear to them as though I am choking on my own words as I shake my head and try to start over in ONLY Spanish. Or I will not know how someone wants to greet me (sometimes people I am meeting for the first time) and I will either ready myself for a cheek kiss and not receive one from them or vice versa. With gals this is awkward, with men, even more awkward! Aghk! Drives me crazy and makes me want to crawl into a hole!
Is there anything we can pray for you for the next year?
Please pray for us to continue to make progress in our Spanish language and Mexican culture studies. Our goal is to be FINISHED with language & culture study by this time next year. This will allow us to transition into our full time ministry, which we are still praying about and looking into our options. Also, please pray for us to build really great friendships with people down here, and that we would have a heart of understanding and compassion as we seek to reflect Christ in all that we do.
You can also pray for Jude and Iris and there adjustment to this culture. Pray for them especially in the area of being more open and wanting to learn Spanish!
Thank you so much for praying for our family this past year and thank you for taking the time to read this & celebrate with our family ONE YEAR in Mexico!