Some thoughts and reflections we have shared newsletter style and decided to include on our blog as well.
Happy New Years to you all!
LIFE IS MORE COMMITTED.
At different moments and in different ways all of our lives became more involved this past year of 2012. In January, Rick was given more responsibilities in coordinating and managing the “community strengthening” project at INESIN – in many ways a welcomed challenge, yet also a greater time commitment. As a natural result his heart is even more rooted in the community groups with whom he works, and in turn his perspective continues to be formed. Perhaps most notable is recognizing the beauty and dignity in how cultures express their reverence for the Creator, and the resulting affinity to care for the creation that sustains them. For Rick, the words “abundant life” have taken on new meaning. We are grateful this year the whole family was able to visit three of the nine communities in which he works; to deepen friendships and gain a bit more understanding of the richness, diversity, and struggle of life in a rural community.
In turn, since September Jacquie has taken on a more focused administrative role at Yirtrak, the organization that runs both the kids’ schools (preschool and elementary); a change bringing added challenges but also a greater sense of purpose and belonging. The kids as well are more connected to their friends and school communities, especially Ezra who has a hard time leaving at the end of the day. These schools have also been an opportunity to work together alongside other families and teachers invested in these education projects. As a family we continue to enjoy our small Presbyterian church community, Dios es Soberano – God is Sovereign – the kids are right in the mix with their Sunday school class that Rick frequently teaches, and Jacquie enjoys singing with the church choir named “Shalom.” We are also thankful to be involved in the lives of our colleagues, our friends, our MCC teammates and those whom we meet along the way – relationships which bring many blessings and at times challenges. For us, these commitments help to nurture an ability to both give and receive a sense of family.
LIFE IS MORE NORMED.
Sometimes Rick likes to joke that the kids are a thorough mix of two cultures – Canadian and Chiapanecan, hence the term ”Chiapa-nadienses”. Hilary has spent more than half of her almost 4 years of life in Chiapas (she dreams of playing in snow one day), and Ezra in particular can rattle off jokes, games and stories in Spanish with hardly a foreign accent. In many ways our life here in San Cristobal has become normal, with regular trips to the market, catching cabs and colectivos, and eating chalupas and tacos al pastor. That said, life, culture and landscape are diverse in Chiapas, let alone all of Mexico, as we experienced again this past month via a visit to the Mennonite communities in Chihuahua (northern Mexico) for an MCC team retreat. Our perspectives have been influenced as we observe how people express their faith in a different culture, how relationships are most-often valued over productivity, and how people live more “in the present” without the unnecessary, self-imposed stress of constructing a future without hardship. I (Jacquie) still remember during out visit to British Columbia this summer sensing both the strangeness and comfortable familiarity of many things Canadian, which made me realize how accustomed I could become to one way of life while still appreciating another. Reflecting a bit deeper reveals to us that while our life in Mexico becomes more familiar and routine, we also experience negative aspects of the culture that counter the image of the festive life of this land and its people – the history and persistence of corruption, violence, racism and poverty, on a daily basis are often expressed in subtle ways such as distrust, superficiality or fatalism. So in one sense it is an amazing place to live and work, yet on the other hand forces us to look to God for direction, and to commit ourselves to the work for hope, justice and peace.
ON THE PERSONAL SIDE.
On a more personal note, both Ezra and Hilary have reached new phases in life; Ezra is a school boy, reading, writing, looking up to the bigger boys, and wrestling with his Dad. He continues to be thoughtful, creative, and very into learning about this world, the Bible, and often interested in designing traps, forts and art. Hilary is the preschooler, with lots of energy, often humorous, and both a princess and a tomboy. We are blessed to see signs of faith as she expresses her desire to learn about and be with Jesus. And yes, while they have their sibling squabbles they are the best of friends. In watching our children live here over the past 2+ years, we are often impressed with the gift of children, their ability to grow, learn and adapt, which challenges us and give us the hope that transformation is possible. Jacquie finds herself youthfully playing in a basketball league, reaching out to new friends, still learning Spanish, and thankful and humbled by God´s love and truth, and the call to live justly and peacefully. Ricardo keeps busy growing gardens, collecting seeds, biking around San Cristobal, and visiting with whoever may be up for a chat.