Monday, April 17, 2017

Life in a Foreign Country - Everyday Living

We had many people ask us during our Home Ministry Assignment (formerly known as furlough) what it's like to live in a foreign country. So I thought I'd mention a couple ways life is different for us here. Next time, I'll address another aspect of life in a foreign country.

Despite the fact that we live in an extremely modern city, there are certain conveniences and luxuries that we missionaries can certainly take for granted. Take something so simple as doing laundry, for example. Most Mexican homes do not have laundry rooms--indeed, many don't even have dryers. Washing machines are kept in a "service room" outside of the home, but typically with some kind of covering over the exposed area. Clothes are line-dried, for the most part. For us to have not only a washing machine and a dryer is a huge luxury (and a real blessing, particularly during the months of rainy season, from roughly May through October or November).

We're in the process of setting up an area for laundry on the roof of our home. Troy's been working on a platform for the washer and dryer in one of the two small rooms that had formerly been used as the maid's quarters. Once it's finished, we'll hire movers to "fly" both machines up to that room (NOT a job I'd want). This morning, he moved my clotheslines from the back yard to the roof. Surprisingly, I actually have more line room up there than in our longish, yet narrow yard. The added benefit is that it's open to all the breeze, and gets far more direct sunlight, which should enable the clothes to dry in significantly less time (the dryer is only used during rainy season, and once it's hooked up, I'll tumble dry all of our ling-hung clothes for about 10 minutes to soften them up). This was really the best solution to our dilemma of what to do with the machines during rainy season, as they are currently exposed to the elements (I do keep a tarp or cover over them when not in use, we don't keep them plugged in at all times, and they are currently on platforms, which keep them out of the water when it rains). The only negative thing to keeping laundry upstairs is my intense fear of heights, and our lovely spiral staircase to the roof. The solution, of course, is for Troy and the kids to carry laundry up and down the stairs for me, so that I can have both hands free to hold onto the railing. During the summer months and on weekends, when they're home during the day, the kids will be responsible for the laundry. But for now, it's mama's job.

However, laundry isn't the only thing different about life in Mexico City. Due to the extreme levels of smog (and particularly during the winter and early spring's dry season), only the newest cars are allowed to "circulate" every day. For those of us who aren't blessed with a brand new vehicle, our cars must be parked one day each weekday, and two weekends a month (and for even older cars, it's more often, but I can't remember the exact break-down). Inconvenient, to be sure. Especially on those Saturdays you're not allowed to circulate. For us, our weekday off is Monday. So, every Monday, we march across the street from our house to the taxi stand, and hire two taxis to get the kids to school and Troy to work. He accompanies two of the kids in one taxi, and I accompany the other two in another. Then, once the kids have been let out at the school, we take one of the taxis back toward our house, Troy disembarking 3/4 of the way home, where it's close enough for him to walk to work. The blessing of this is that it's enabled me to have much practice time conversing in Spanish with my drivers. As I'm not one to just sit in silence (as much as some of them probably wish otherwise), I've struck up conversations in my limited (and sometimes very messed up) Spanish, making myself speak, mistakes and all. It's been very good for me! We try our best to make sure all errands are run ahead of no-circulation days, and make sure we have plenty of cash on hand for taxis if the need arises. Most of the time, the weekends at home are welcome times of rest where we've been able to get work done at the house. As inconvenient as it is not to be able to circulate every day, I remind myself that there are literally millions of people in the city who don't even own a car at all. They must always rely on public transportation or taxis to get them where they need to be. And as we learned first hand in Costa Rica, where we spent a year without a car, trying to run errands without one is a huge annoyance (particularly doing a big shop--which is why many people without a car only shop for a day or two at a time).

Despite the differences, however, we are thrilled to be back in the city we love, ministering to (and working with) the people we love. It truly is a beautiful city, full of interesting things to do and see.

Monday, January 23, 2017

My First Day at MEFI

Today's post is written by our oldest daughter, Tayler, about her experience visiting the drop-in-center for homeless street youth, MEFI. The 11th and 12th grade classes go once a month and spend the day ministering to the "chavos" there. Here, in her own words, is what happened on her first visit to MEFI.

Since I am a junior this year, I get to go with the juniors and seniors once a month to MEFI—the drop-in center for homeless youth my mom partners with. So today was the day we went to MEFI.

After a couple prayers, we set off in a large twelve passenger van. We went to a store to get some supplies we would need to make brunch. Then we went to MEFI.

We were greeted by a couple of the chavos, as they are called in MEFI. Then for the next hour and a half, we helped with various tasks and talked to some of the chavos. There were ten in total that came today, one girl and nine guys.

Brunch came, and after first serving the youth, we got plates and ate with them. Today we had scrambled eggs with pieces of hotdog, fruit, juice, corn tortillas, and some bread. Some of the chavos had coffee.

After brunch, we went upstairs for devotions. My Math teacher went with us and he did the devotions. He talked about Joshua and that we have to choose today whom we will serve, God or not God.

After the prayer, we walked to a park. Most of the guys—chavos and my classmates alike— played soccer. The remaining guys played basketball with all of us girls. Then after that we played some simple games for children, but as the chavos really loved playing those kind of games, we kept on playing.

Finally, it was time for us to leave. We went in the van and drove back to the missionary school we came from. All in all it was a good day and very humbling.

At first I was nervous because it was my first time going to MEFI. I vaguely knew what to expect, and I didn’t know the chavos. But as the day wore on, I felt more at ease. As the day continued, I began to treat them like they were one of us. I didn’t treat them like they were bad people, cause they aren’t, they are just kids about my age or a little older, who have gone through far different things than I have.

While my Spanish is not the best, I tried to have conversations, doing my best to talk to them. I played games like tic tac toe with the chavos, ate a meal with them, and had conversation around the table. We laughed together and had fun.

Even though they’ve had bad experiences, we still have one thing in common: we’re just young people who want to have fun, to feel at home, and to feel like we belong.

I am glad of my experience with MEFI and I eagerly await for the next time I get to see and have fun with the chavos again.