Summer time….family gathering

There is a sweet sense of summer that we Canadians feel each year, come late June and early July.  Get outdoors, go on vacation, soak up the sun (albeit nowadays with SPF 1000!), and of course see the relatives (especially for us mennonites).  This July, for us at least, has been like tasting a tamarindo treat for the first time….sweet, but different.  Our first summer having kids out of school, first summer in Chiapas (we were pleasantly surprised by the recent 2 week spell of warmer, drier weather), and a nearly month-long visit from my brother Trace and his wife Tracey and their children Parker, Carter, and Kaci.

I am not sure if I can express via blog how meaningful their visit was to us.  Time for us to reunite over food and drink, time for the cousins to play, time for contributing hands-on work to our assignment, time for us all to explore new places in Chiapas, time for laughter over mis-pronounciations, time for sharing and learning more of each other (and this night after they have left, time for sadness-in-the-moment and also joyful reflection).  In particular I want to acknowledge all that their family did during their time to bless the places where we work – bringing donated items from Canada to Pinguinos school, and spending 6 half-days working at INESIN in a variety of maintenance/improvement jobs, (things like re-painting walls and staining window frames, developing a new garden so INESIN can eat more home-grown food, bagging seeds for my trips to the communities, and even doing a baking workshop with Jacquie). As described by INESIN staff, La Familia Block showed a spirit of commitment, hard work and friendship that was most evident.  A few pictures below show some of the results of their hard work at INESIN.

Tracey and Camila (student at Pinguinos school) enjoying play time

Trace (now known as Santiago) re-furbishing window frames at INESIN







Kaci baking muffins at INESIN

Working hard to get all the grass out for another garden bed (queen size)







Not all was work though, we had time for playing and exploring. A few of our traveling highlights included a day-trip to Chiflon, Tenam Puente and Comitan, exploring the Cañon del Sumidero by boat, and other days to nearby places of interest.  During July there are many festivals happening in San Cristobal, so often we`d stroll down to the Centro and catch the sights and sounds (lately a great clown duo that the kids love…he really does swallow his sword!).  A few times we also got together with other friends from San Cris in our homes (or other meeting places) for food and fellowship (a sure success for the mennonite traveller). As always, the getting around was part of the adventure, whether by foot, colectivo, taxi, horse, boat, or all 9 of us packed into a Jeep Cherokee.  I can certainly  say that their family spent many miles on foot, and embraced the countless moments to learn and absorb Chiapanecan culture.

Exploring Las Cascadas El Chiflon

Classic photo spot for Cañon de Sumidero






Top of the pyramid at Tenam Puente

Parker with INESIN colleague Abi at final bbq






Horseback riding at Rancho Nuevo (I think Carter was hoping for more of a gallop!)

Santiago and I.....Chiapas 2011










As we have said in the past 8 months, we are loving life here in San Cristobal, yet a notable gap in our lives has been the absence of family.  Thankyou Trace and Tracey, Parkr, Carter and Kaci for a wonderful month being together as family, one we will fondly remember. Interestingly, earlier in the month I had a very good conversation with a friend and colleague at INESIN, in which we mutually acknowledged the gift that comes from having spiritual family close to us, to be with us along the way.  And so while time with our natural family must come to a close, we are blessed to be supported by many brothers and sisters in Christ who have welcomed the forgeiner (now us!) into their land, their city, and their homes.

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