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A few months ago, a few of our kids as if we could go to a concert by a Christian Spanish Artist Alex Zurdo. I don't know his music real well. During covid we would do family exercises to his music. So we decided to make it happen. To have some of our older girls actually singing Christian music is a good thing. Now I know that Christian music can be an area of contention in some circles. Music is so important especially to young people. What they listen to is also important. For some of our kids, it is an area we have had to make some compromises. I grew up with only Christian music bands like DC talk and Petra were some of my favorites. But when you bring kids into your home, you can't change everything all at once. You can change all the outward stuff by setting rules but it doesn't change their heart. They will still be drawn to things they want to do. So music is an area, we have felt would change as each kid changed. We do often talk about what songs are talking about and how pernitrates your thoughts so naturally.
So yesterday afternoon, we got to the music venue, a bull ring on the coast of Tijuana. The ticket said three o'clock. We stood in one line to turn in our online tickets. I didn't notice but we had preferred tickets not general admission. We were in the long line of maybe 200 people in front of us. After waiting for two hours to finally made it to the entrance they said we needed to be in the different line, which was another 500 people in it. There was a guy who saw us and said let me see what I can do. So we stood for another 10 minutes. He came back and then brought us through the line. We got bracelets for our tickets. Then they told us to follow this usher guy. Ok, so we did that. We walked all the way around and then down the venue to the main floor. So we ended up on the main floor about 4 rows back on the right side. We sat down and then an usher lady came up and said we were in the wrong area but said we could stay. So we were in the VIP section. There were ushers all along the way checking our bracelets. No one ever stopped us. So the Lord knew where we would end up. The music started at about 5:30.
Alex Zurdo was the main artist, he didn't start until 8:30pm. Three of my girls knew all of his songs. Seeing your kids singing songs some of which are straight from scripture was amazing. As a parent you can't force them to like a certain music. They were all jumping around and screaming as many people do in concerts. This was the first concert that many of them had ever been to. It was a joy to be apart of this memory that these kids now have. It was a joy to hear them all talk excitedly while we were leaving to go home.
We are coming into a busy season of Christmas. It is a challenge every year to set aside time with the family to help us focus on the real reason for Christmas. Now I know that we are all faced with the same difficulties with many activities going on. We are right there with you. What is the priority? To get everyone a Christmas present they want? Is it to celebrate and have a "good time" in whatever definition that entails? After many years as a pastor, I would spend the month of December helping our church focus on Advent. This year, I am not doing that in the same way. I have no congregation to preach to per se, but with the arrival of two of my nephews visiting from Illinois, that would mean we are 14 in total. Is this not a group of people? Is a small group of believers considered a part of the body of Christ? Why yes, of course. I ask questions like this to help me remember that we are the church. I make excuses as to why I do or don't do something. The business of this season can be an excuse not to get to what matters and why we celebrate the coming of Jesus as a baby. We remember. We remember how God sent Jesus as a baby into the word that we might be saved through him. I need this reminder to continue looking at each opportunity we get to share and focus on how Jesus came and will come again one day.
Levi and I were able to fly home to Minnesota from the 11th to the 20th of this month. It was the first time I had been home since my dad died three years ago. For Levi, it was nearly five years since returning to the US. Someone loaned us a car to use so I could cart my mom around doing errands, shopping, and a few medical appointments, which she cannot do since she does not drive.
When we got home, I was able to continue working on the storage room at our new home. It is only about 10'X9', but it will give us space for an office/school room/storage room. We have only a few details left to finish it, but Jessie started moving books and things in last night (Sunday evening). It is incredible how big a five-bedroom, two-bathroom home can become small. It is the 12 people you try to put into it.
When you live in the interior of Mexico, drywall is not used as much because of the moisture and termites eating the wood studs. Our experience has been that anything wood was eventually eaten by termites. So construction is done with bricks and cement. The reality temperature change is not that extreme at least in Autlan, Jalisco. The coldest it ever got was in the high 40's on rare occasions. But during December and January the lows at night are in the mid 50's. Most days it would warm up to the mid 70's low 80's, so there was no need for heaters or a furnace. Moving north where we live now, the temps get into the 30's and has even snow on a rare occasion. But the houses do not have furnaces. So most houses are made similarly to the United States with wood, insulation and drywall. The home where we now live is a 5 bedroom, two bathroom house. It is a decent size house but for a family of 12 it can feel squished. There is a storage room off the side of the house that was never finished on the inside. So after clearing it out, adding insulation, getting the electrical set up, we are starting to put up drywall. Jessie and I love to work on projects together. So getting this room done will mean we will have a school room/storage room. It will be nice to have a space for the school books and have the extra space for when we have visitors stay with us. I will post pictures once we get closer to finishing it. Just one of the many projects we are working on to get settled into our new home.
Here I am sitting in my new office, at the border headquarters for Tecate Mission International. I have started to work as the assistant to the executive director of the mission.
For whatever reason, I was reminded of this page. I thought to myself, maybe I should start blogging here again. It may be wishful thinking or maybe having a place to express what we are going through after being in Mexico for almost 16 years.
Wow 16 years. Where has the time gone? The Lord has been faithful in leading our family. It has been quite an adventure. We are are excited about this new chapter of ministry opportunities. To be honest, it is a different place to be in after being so comfortable living and working in Mexico. Now we are faced with the question of where would God have us in the local church? Having 10 kids and going to any Sunday morning service instantly adds a group of people to anywhere we attend. So that one thing we are seeking the Lord about. Where should we connect into a local body?
Like so many, we are coming to the end of the school year. For over a week we have been dealing with a cold that is being past around. With any kind of sore throat and cough now, it makes you wonder is this covid? It is not. Jessie and I have not gotten sick as of yet. We hope it stays that way. It is not easy to keep the wheels moving with this family, school, gymnastics, bible studies and birthdays not to mention feeding everyone.
There is an election in the coming day. We will be glad it is over with so much campaigning going on. There was local rally for different parties every evening of the week it seemed like. There were political parties walking down our street inviting people to come and participate in the rally. There were fliers in your mail box everyday. Just yesterday, I took a look at one just to see I recognized anyone participating in that political party and sure enough I knew a few people in the photos. That is when you know you have lived somewhere long enough. We are permanent residents of Mexico, so we are not allowed participate in anything political.
When you live in a 3rd world country, the problems you face are just normal everyday life. The city maintains various wells in town. The well pump that supplies our area was down for over a week. Every Mexican home has at least one tank for water at the base of the home and usually one tank on the roof. Where we live, it was designed for groups so our lower tank is fairly large. We have yet to start our rainy season so we water our plants two or three times a week. With a family of 11, there is at least 2 or 3 loads of laundry everyday. Now as you can see from the picture above at the top of page, we have 5 young ladies ranging from the ages of 14 to 17. There is a lot of showering that goes on with so much hair. (My showers are pretty quick with no hair to shampoo.) So in the middle of the week, we ran out of water. The tank on the roof was still half way full, but would not have lasted a day of showers, flushing the toilet, and laundry. So what do you do when that happens you may ask, you have to call a tanker truck who will pump water into your tanks for about $15 dollars. But when will the tanker truck arrive? Everyone else is needing water as well. I found a guy who would bring some water the next day at 11 AM. So no showers for the evening. We were relieved to be able have the tanks full again. We were concerned how long it would last. Praise the Lord, the city fixed the well so we are back to having our tanks filled from 8 AM to 12 PM everyday.
For the those who have not seen our latest video update here is the link.
Our last post was from 2019! What??? Has it been that long? Is there anyone who still checks this? If you do, we would love to hear from you. I am going to try to get back into the swing of posting on here.
For many of us who have had a great deal of change from the time the Covid virus hit last March, life as we know it has changed. Our family has grown to 11 in that time. We are blessed!
Jessie and I had talked causally about how we were going to home-school our Spanish speaking kids before the virus arrived. The resources were not so readily available compared to those that are in English. When our world stopped a year ago, we were forced to do home-school. Such a change but truly a blessing for the Lord. I became a home-schooling dad. Jessie and I worked out a schedule to figure out how and what we were going to try to teach our kiddos. It is Bryan, Levi and Kianna who need the most hands-on ages 12,10, and 11. So Jessie and I trade off-and-on the classes we teach them. From 9:30 AM - 2 PM everyday, we are "in" school. Only recently, we have changed the hours so that I can get some more time to do things like this. We have to be organized that is for sure.
One of the biggest challenges is food. What do you feed a family so big? When you have this many mouths to feed, you have to plan out meals. My loving wife Jessie has been gifted with organizational skills. She has a list for everything. She spends so much time working on a menu to help us know what we are going to be preparing and eating through out the weeks. This has taken time to perfect but takes the stress out of trying to figure out what to feed, 5 teenage girls from the ages of 14 to 17. Anyone can tell you that teenagers are funny about food sometimes. For example, we will serve up something like spaghetti one week which they absolutely loved to the point of having two helpings. And then two weeks later, serve it again and they turn their noses up at it saying "Can I have something else?" There are few meals that everyone is completely happy with. We make it work.