Familiar and Foreign

Muy buenos dias a todos y todas,

For those that may not know, I spent 7 months in Guerrero, Mexico in 1998, completing an internship with MCC doing various agricultural / appropriate technology projects. Those months were perhaps the most formative of any that have shaped my vocational interests.  Now 12 years later I find myself back in Mexico (may I even call it an adopted homeland?), looking forward to connecting more deeply with the people with whom we’ll work and live.

So after the first 2 weeks I am again enjoying some of what was once familiar to me, such as…….

Colour – I find Mexico so rich and alive in colour, and expressed through various elements of its culture – art, houses, floral diversity, and of course the salsas…the vibrancy of colour in these aspects is a good reminder of the beauty and diversity of Mexican culture. Some of the photos below were taken with this blog post in mind, and believe-you-me, I could have included many, many more examples!

Painting of Indigenous women from Oaxaca

El centro en Cuernavaca

Hilary inside one of the many unique rooms of the late Robert Brady residence (now a museum)

Ezra helping show the actual size of this plant's leaf

Family Hospitality – Once again I am living with a host family while attending language school (same one!).  A different scenario this time, as I am just one part of my family of 4.  As well, there are no children in our host home and seemingly few on our block (as such, we hear a lament from Ezra now and then for his Akron playmates), and our hosts have a significantly higher level of material wealth.  While these differences make for some new experiences, several constants remain: the hospitality of the whole family (including Abuela at 96 years old), their enjoyment of children, and their rootedness in their Christian faith.  Perhaps most apparent is the presence, service and blessings of La Mama’, who greets, feeds, cleans, and visits with and generally looks out for us.  And we have been doubly blessed, as not only Senora Maria is a student of the Word, but our Spanish instructor as well.  This makes for good conversation, friendship, and bien practica (Spanish).

Cuernavaca – the city continues to impress me…for having nearly 1 million people its pretty laid back, and has a dignified spirit.  Carrying the title of City of Eternal Spring (actually its name literally means Cow’s Horn, a resort-y type place, kind of like Moose Jaw), its easy for nature-loving types as myself to lose my way finding yet another beautiful public garden (sorry no vegetables).   Indeed a wonderful place to learn Spanish.

One small section of La Catedral in Cuernavaca - built from 1529-1552

Had to put this one in....trees never cease to amaze me

Now this post is getting rather long and I have yet to describe what is foreign, or NEW.  Well there are numerous, but for the moment I will focus on that which draws my attention the most…..

Helping children adjust – while indeed it can be romantic to bring one’s family to another country, another culture, its also a lot of hard work, patience and perseverance (and I’m only in week 2!).  Adding our own new stresses to those of the kids, and it can be complicated to figure out the better ways to allow flow and/or structure to guide the day.  One thing we have observed is that while yes it appears children are like sponges in absorbing language, it may not mean they immediately begin using that new language to converse.  But its also interesting to see Ezra, in moments of unstructured play, blurt out some Spanish words that he’s already absorbed.  And for the record (especially those curious grandparents!) Ezra and Hilary are doing quite well amidst their obvious challenges.  And so once the kids are in bed, our challenge is to switch gears and focus on language learning.

Mi compadre – one other “new” aspect for me this time around is that I am serving with MCC with my partner, companion and wife, Jacquie.  No mushy stuff here, but suffice it to say that a 12-year dream is being fulfilled……

Jacquie in our host home entrance....off to another day at school!

OK, last a few logistics – we’ll be staying in Cuernavaca until Nov 24th, afterwhich we return to Mexico CIty for a MCC team meeting, and then we’ll venture to our assignment location in San Cristobal.  Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.

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