Inside, Outside and Beside Culture

Greetings friends and family,

Lately its been rare that I’ve had a night with little to do.  The past two weeks has been bien ocupado with getting ready to move to San Cristobal, getting here, and getting settled into a house that was bare-ly empty when we arrived on the 7th of Dec.   We (our family plus Luke, a fellow MCCer who came with us to help us get settled) will always recall the comida we had that first afternoon, sitting on the floor eating a roast chicken and tortillas with our hands, thinking that in 3 hours it begins to get dark and cold.  Yet as we have experienced before, God’s provision had gone before us, and within several days (including many things that went much easier than anticipated), we were a functioning home unit.

San Cristobal is an interesting and lovely small city – the cultural heart of the Maya in southern Mexico, a tourist/traveler’s trap, and a regional trading point for the numerous Indigenous communities that surround the city.  What this means is that the city has a unique culture, one that we are only beginning to see and experience.  Perhaps a first observation has been that while local folks are very accustomed to the presence of foreign travelers, at least some of our neighbours seem somewhat surprised to see foreigners living in their neighbourhood.  Although I will certainly say that several folks in our Colonia have been quite friendly and welcoming.  Today we attended a Nazerene church in our area and were very warmly received; it was wonderful to be part of their worship and teaching.  For us, being a family with small kids, we believe that being part of a local church community may be one of the deepest and most fulfilling ways to understanding our Mexican brothers and sisters, and their culture from the inside.  This is one of our most earnest prayers…..please join us if you wish!

Life is beginning to settle down for us, and we are making every effort to enjoy the Christmas season, through the new and exciting ways of a new culture, but also to retain some of our traditional Canadian (or perhaps Mennonite) customs…..for example, Jacquie and the kids found a home of some American ex-pats who sell traditional Christmas baking….mmmmm…cappuccino squares with my coffee today!  As for Christmas plans we will likely stay around San Cristobal for the most part, although we hope to go to Tuxtla (capital city of Chiapas and significantly warmer!) for a couple of days as a family, and as well we will host my parents for a few days over the New Year (as they venture by bus from west-coast Huatulco to visit us in the mountains!).

I was able to participate in a youth workshop yesterday with my fellow workers from INESIN (the organization that I will work with for the next 3 years).  It was a youth forum on the Environment and the Bible.  I was grateful to be part of a team that is very like-minded to myself, and appreciated their rootedness in Scripture yet challenging of some of the default reactions of Christians in not considering and/or caring for creation.  Needless to say I am excited to become fully integrated into the INESIN team in the New Year – as a family we were invited to their Christmas comida, and we thoroughly enjoyed the close-knit sense of community amongst the staff and their families.

Wishing you all a very blessed and wonderful Christmas wherever you may be….

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