Thursday, April 23

Fun Fact Friday -- The Sinaloan Moving Van

In the course of our 17 years of married life, we've moved a few times and each of those moves had its "memorable moments". There are a couple of pictures in my mind of very precarious loads -- one being the time we fastened the galvanized dog kennel to the flatbed trailer and piled all our earthly belongings into the "cage". I'm sure we were quite a sight, but we were nothing compared to this photo taken on Highway 15 in Mexico!

As far as I know, there are no "U-Haul" type places down here. If you want to move it, you just move it. Hey, you'll notice that this guy does have tail lights. Pretty snappy! Note: this is one of the reasons we recommend that you travel during daylight hours in Mexico. You don't want to miss these photo opportunities!!!

Friday, April 10

Thank you, Benjamin Franklin

This week's Fun Fact Friday is about a funny cultural difference between Mexico and the US. Even things which look the same "on the outside" are sometimes very different here! Take, for instance, Daylight Savings Time.

Daylight savings time, which was first suggested by the famous inventor Benjamin Franklin, is not the same all over the world. We received a note some weeks ago from a friend in the States reminding folks to move their clocks forward. Unsure whether or not Mexico changed on the same date, we Googled. Sure enough, Mexico is different. In Mexico, clocks are changed on the first Sunday of April.

Funny thing is, no one really talks about it here. I remember in the States there were bulletins on the nightly news, blurbs on the radio and -- as mentioned before -- people sending out friendly reminders via internet the day before the time change. Do I need to say that we missed the time change?

We showed up an hour early on Sunday to prepare to lead the worship service and found Pastor Ricardo standing at the door. Almost immediately we knew what was up. "Did the time change today?" we asked. "Yes. Church is over and everyone's gone home." Liar. We laughed.

So what do churches do here when more than half the church doesn't show up on time? We postponed church to 11. After all, it's not like anyone really had any place else they had to be!!!

We are improving. Last year we didn't realize that the time had changed until the Monday after. Yes, life is a little more relaxed here!

Wednesday, April 8

Fantastic Fifteen

The quince años, 15 year, birthday is a big deal in Mexico. Some families spend as much on the XV birthday as they would on a wedding...or maybe more. Even poor families sometimes borrow $1000 or more to be able to purchase a fancy dress, flowers, cake, etc., etc., etc. Plus the fact that you just can't have a XV party without a meal. We learned that when our daughter, Sarah, turned 15.

The XVaños ceremony symbolizes, in the Christian church, the coming-of-age of the young lady and celebrates the fact that she has reached womanhood and has dedicated herself to remain pure until marriage. One person described it as a wedding ceremony without the groom. That's not far from the truth! There is as much or more symbolism in the XV ceremony as there is in the wedding ceremony!

We went to a XV party on Saturday. True to the nature of small birthday parties here, most of the village showed up to help celebrate. Here are some photos to give you a "feel" for the atmosphere.

Here is the quinceñera with her ladies in waiting (15 of them) and their escorts.

The girls are always very excited to be included in the ceremony.

The boys, not usually so much!

The father of the quinceñera prays a blessing over his daughter.

Muy bonita!

One of the cutests things I saw, though, was this little princess. She and her cousin were in charge of the ring pillow, and they did their job well. Precious, eh?

I think the pink bubble gum adds the finishing touch to the ensemble, don't you?

Los Jovenes -- The Youth

Our youth group continues to meet on Saturdays -- although last week we cancelled because of a quince años party, and this week we're cancelling because of semana santa. Next weekend, a local pastor is hosting a youth fellowship weekend, which the kids are looking forward to attending.

Two weeks ago, the Guasave Alliance of Churches sponsored a city-wide youth concert. Each church was invited to bring a "youth band" or worship team to share a few songs. Boca's youth band consists of Sarah on guitar and Caleb on drums and neither of them was really excited about getting up to perform in front of a couple of hundred youth. We're praying that God would be raising up a few more Christian instrumentalists in Boca!

We did, however, take a van full of kids to the concert. I think the final headcount was 25.

The concert was great. Several local churches have fantastic worship bands, some of which do tours and concerts of their own. Here are some shots of one of the groups.

It's been, well, awesome watching God work in the lives of a couple of the young men of Boca. When we arrived three years ago, there were no youth in the church. We believe that through our kids' example -- not that they are perfect, but rather that they are genuine -- God has been drawing some of the youth of Boca to Himself. Aby and Esteban stop by our house frequently, usually bringing friends with them, and we try to always be available for them...and to keep a little food on hand for their visits! Youth are, afterall, youth no matter what country you're in!

The guys are planning another "wilderness camping excursion" for next week before the boys go back to school. Pray that God would give Doug insight as he works and plays with these young men.

I noticed at the last youth meeting we had, that while there were about 15 young men and women inside listening to Luz's teaching, another 3 or 4 were standing just outside the church door listening. One young man sat on his bicycle for almost an hour just listening...not moving. I prayed that God would be speaking to this young man's heart.

We believe that God is preparing to do some mighty things in the lives of the youth of Boca del Rio and Las Glorias. It's a privelege to be here to witness it first hand!

Pray for the youth of Boca del Rio!

Friday, April 3

Fun Fact Friday -- Tope!

Today's Fun Fact is one of the first things we learned when we visited Mexico years ago.

Anyone who has ever traveled by bus or car in Mexico has seen a sign which looks something like this:

What is a "tope"? Well, it's pronounced TOH-peh and the English equivalent is "speed bump". But you've never seen a speed bump like this in the States!

A tope is designed to slow down traffic. It definitely does its job! Who needs a policeman parked on the side of the road with a radar detector? Just put a 6 inch tall cement hump in the road!

People around here make topes wherever they want to slow people down. The highway department puts topes at the entrance and exit of every small town along the road. In the States you see "Speed Zone Ahead" signs. Here you see "Tope a 100m". If you don't slow down in the States, you might get a ticket. If you hit one of these things going more than about 15 miles per hour, you will be airborn. I would call that self-critiquing behaviour!

In small, rural villages, residents sometimes put topes in front of their houses to slow traffic down. Here's the one we made last week to try to slow down the weekenders who love to go "off-roading" near our house. What do you think your neighbors would say if you suddenly decided to dig a trench across the road in front of your house? In the States you might get sued because someone spilled their coffee when they hit it!

It has succeeded in slowing people down a bit, and some people are avoiding the road all together! Yeah!

Yes, we have acclimated.