This past Christmas we were blessed to be able to go to Michigan and spend time with all of my siblings, my parents and some precious friends as well. It was a huge gift to us and one we are so thankful to the Lord for. This blog is just going to be a few highlights of our time back as well as some fun comparisons and impressions we had of being back in the states for those holiday weeks.
Family Time Highlights
For those of you who know my family well enough you know that getting all of my siblings and their families together was a big deal! Two of my siblings (as well as our family) are full time missionaries and my brother and his family live in California. Thankfully my sister and brother-in-law who serve in southeast Asia were on their home assignment and planned to be at my parents house so we were all able to converge there! To put it in other terms, all of us siblings traveled a combined 15,500+ miles to be together in Michigan! Wowsa! Who knows how many years it will be until we can all be together again but we treasured this year for sure!
We were so blessed to meet the two new nephews we had yet to meet. Solomon Bruce and Shem Burris. There is nothing like meeting these babies in person, feeling how heavy they are, observing their personalities, enjoying there sweet sounds and just being with them. Both those little guys stole our hearts and we are forever grateful for the first part of the life long relationship we will have with them.
Naturally, my parents house was filled to bursting and there was little merit in trying to keep the place tidy while we were all there together because it was impossible. So many toys, so many diapers, so many kids clothes, coats, boots, stuff everywhere! But it was wonderful chaos. Spending time with each other was great. Laughing together, catching up on life and just agreeing… like only a family member can. “Getting” each other like only your blood relations do. It was such a treat!
Watching our kids with my parents was fun. Seeing what they wanted to do and didn’t want to do, and just enjoying the chance for them to make more memories with them now that Jude and Iris are just a bit older. Even in the two weeks since we have been back in Mexico the kids have already reminisced about their time with “Grampa & Gramma” and how great it was. Sometimes they will even sigh over it. 😀
One thing we were able to do together that was very fun was an idea my brother Davy had. twenty years ago a picture was taken of we four siblings that was just one of those pictures that hung around a lot and became a bit of a memory. My brother had the idea that we should recreate that same picture when we were together since the birch tree where the original picture was taken is still standing across the road from where my parents live, in what used to be my Grandparents front yard. So we did it! We all did our best to wear similar clothing to the original photo, did our hair like it had been and also did our best to mimic our distinct facial expressions and poses! My brothers-in-law took the pictures and helped us pose and it was great fun! It would have been harder not to crack up laughing if we all hadn’t been freezing to death without coats on and trying to get done with it! Ha!
Of course looking at the pictures is funny and neat but they also make me think. They make me think about the twenty years that have passed, how God has grown my siblings and I. He has changed us all, matured us, led us to our spouses and given us children. He has led us faithfully, comforted us in deep loss and pain and loved us perfectly. He has never left us and never given up on us. Its amazing and humbling and we are so thankful for all that He has done! Maybe we’ll retake the picture in another twenty years… 🙂
Aside from our wonderful time with our family, it was a real treat to be back in our sending church, Grace Point. Seeing beloved people, giving hugs, the kids getting to enjoy their old classes and sitting in a service where we could understand everything that was going on and could comprehend every single word being said! WONDERFUL! There is nothing like being able to sing in your own heart language to the Lord! A privilege that we desire for every tribe and tongue! But I will say- the messages and time of singing seemed very short to us, as they are both much longer in our church down here in Mexico!Comparisons and Impressions
As soon as we boarded our first flight to head to Michigan the kids were already noticing that they could suddenly understand almost everyone. Wow-English! Our usually introverted Iris (here in Mexico) almost immediately blossomed into an extrovert as she began striking up conversations with everyone she could! I was so embarrassed because on SEVERAL occasions she pointed and said to us (not whispering) “Those people speak English! They do! They do! I heard them!” Many were the times when we reminded the kids, yes, we are in fact in the United States- most of the people here speak English! It was so funny!
For me it was really nice to go in public and not be stared at. Even though I have dark hair, olive skin and kinda dark eyes, people can somehow still tell I am not a Mexican here. Ha! 🙂 Being stared at is basically a constant part of being out in public here and although it does not necessarily upset me because I understand why, it was so nice to be able to walk into a store and have no one even blink in my direction! I also enjoyed the ease of communication. Never having to worry that I would not be able to successfully communicate. I knew every store, knew where everything was, I knew what to expect and didn’t wonder if I would accidentally offend someone either! It was relaxing bliss!
Returning to Mexico was also an interesting experience and different than I expected. I noticed how much easier it was than the first time and that was encouraging. Several times in the airport I had brief interactions with Mexican speakers and was able to easily respond to them in Spanish without having to think about it. A man asking me if I was in a line, a woman wondering if I had left my rings in the public restroom or if knew who they belonged to, a woman telling me how cute my kids were, me telling another woman how cute her baby was… it was all just natural! How different from over a year ago when I could not understand a word of Spanish! Phew!
Coming back to our house was also really nice. Having Jude tell us which way we needed to go on the highways to get back to our house and seeing our kids race inside and almost immediately seem to come back to their full personalities and Jude shouting, “Wahoo! There’s no place like home!” I shocked myself as I internally agreed, yes. This is our home, we have adjusted a lot, we have gone through a lot, this is our home. My heart is thankful for God allowing our trip. I have said to Him, thank you Lord for taking us away from Mexico for three short weeks and then allowing us to come back refreshed and more able to recognize how for you have brought us and all that You have done!
One day after returning to Chihuahua I took Iris to the grocery store with me and watched her go through her own little “reverse culture shock” moment, or culture shock, or… well actually I don’t know what direction her culture shock goes since she has lived most of her life in two cultures other than the US. Anyway. We were checking out and as usual a person was walking to the end of the register area to bag our groceries for us. Today, like many other days it was a young girl. I always think kids look younger than they are here so to me she looked about eleven but was most likely fourteen or so. Regardless she had a very young face and as I smiled at her and greeted her I noticed that Iris’ eyes were bugging. She looked at me shocked and said, “Uh Mommy, where are the little girls parents? Is she going to put our things in the bags?????? Is she old enough to do this?!” I was trying so hard not to laugh and was very glad that no one (to my knowledge) could understand what Iris was saying. I quietly reassured Iris that is was ok and that here in Mexico this was a job that this girl could do and it was fine. Ha! Oh man, classic! After being reassured everything was ok Iris promptly wanted to tell the girl she was beautiful and gave her her tip. So all of that happened smoothly. 🙂
So there you have it, a few of the countless things we are thanking the Lord for from this past holiday season! We did not deserve the trip to Michigan, we could have survived without it but the Lord gave it to us anyway because He is a good Father who loves to give good gifts to His children. He provided for every cent of the tickets through my mom’s fundraiser selling her amazing snowmen (If you don’t know about this and are curious, ask me!) and worked out every little detail.
I hope you had a wonderful holiday season in which you were able to notice and thank the Lord for the good gifts He has given!