Monday, May 28, 2012

The "Andador"


The Andador in San Cristobal...actually there are two "andadores" that run perpendicular to each other. The word "andar" means "to walk," and therefore, these are two roads for pedestrians only. Along the Andador, there are shops, restaurants, cafes, street vendors...and unfortunately beggars.

We have been considering how to respond to the constant presence of vendors and beggars. Do we buy their nicknacks, bracelets, shawls, or food? If so, how often? Or, from how many each day? Do we set a daily amount that we can buy or give away? Or, maybe the question is, to whom do we give or not give? It's really a complex issue.

Just look at this little girl. She can't be any older than our Ellie. She is carrying her little brother on her back, with her basket of items to sell. Makes you wonder where her Mom and Dad are...

Once we stopped and decided to buy something, suddenly we were descended upon by a whole horde of vendors! (Actually, the one with the purple shawl is the little girl's Mom. And the little girl told her to go was her sale.)

This little girl...she is only one of the many who walk the streets day in and day out.

Today while I was out, walking on the andador, I saw another little girl. She sells small, clay animals in her little basket. We see her just about every time we walk the andador. Her words are always the same, "Buy one!" And we've always responded, "no, thankyou." She will repeat her demand a few more times as she gets in our personal space, and then change her demand to, "Give me a peso!" She is maybe 6 years old. Today she was accompanied by a smaller boy. I scrambled today to do something different. What were my options? Buy an animal. Give her a peso. Tell her to go away.

"I know you. I see you here often. What's your name?" I asked.
"Give me a peso!" she replied.
"What's your name?" I repeated.
"Give me a peso!"
"What's your name?"
"Why do want to know my name? Give me a peso!"
"You want me to give you a peso. I want you to give me your name. Then, I'll give you a peso," I said.
"I'm Carlos!" her companion quickly offered.  And I gave him a peso.
"I'm Marta. Now give me a peso," she said.

Today, I pray for Marta and Carlos, by name. I pray that I will see them again, and that God will give me wisdom to begin a friendship with these two little children. I pray that I can share the Hope that comes from knowing our Lord and Savior. I pray that God will change their lives so that 30 years from now, Marta is not sending out her little girl to beg on the streets. I pray that Marta and Carlos will accept the one true God.

Monday, May 7, 2012

A New Church Experience

Last night we were invited to a mission church with Pastor Josue. We arrived at 6pm, chatted with the people, watched our kids restrain the urge to chase the chickens, and got started around 6:30. As we sang praises, I tried to take it all in. Unfortunately, Matthew was very uncooperative. He cried and fussed...and eventually took it up a notch to screaming.

But as I sat there in my rickety wooden folding chair, I was amazed at this small body of believers. They were meeting in a small concrete and wood building with a tin roof. The wooden walls were insulated with cardboard, and the electrical wires were tacked to the cardboard. But there were flower arrangements in front of the pulpit, and curtains on the windows. Most importantly, there were smiles on the faces of the 30-some believers in attendance. Half of those in attendance appeared to be kids, and their sweet voices filled that church with praises. I wish I had the camera with us to share with you.

The first hour and a half was music and a Bible activity. For the Bible activity, the Pastor had everyone turn to Psalms and then he would start reading a random Psalm from the first verse. As someone found the chapter, they stood and read the rest of the chapter. It was a fun competition that had people scurrying through their Bibles. Pastor Josue repeatedly encouraged the people to read the Word, and to know the Word.

At 8:00pm the "sermon" began. It was actually the telling of the story of Jesus healing the paralytic man. The man's friends lowered him through the roof where Jesus was teaching because there were so many people in the house that they couldn't get in any other way. The words of Jesus, "your sins are forgiven" was the main focus of the message. Isn't that what it's all about anyway? Clay's friend, "F" was there with us last night...the one that he met on Friday. "F" rededicated his life to Christ, having strayed from the Path. I am amazed at how the Holy Spirit used the message of forgiveness to speak truth to "F." 

We left the church at 8:40...everyone else was preparing for cena (the evening meal) and then another prayer service was to follow. As we left, a lady approached us and asked about the church. She said she lived near there and attends a "church" but had heard that she shouldn't bow to idols. She was looking for a church where she could learn what the Bible teaches. Again, I am amazed at the working of the Holy Spirit. Where had this lady learned that worshipping idols is wrong? I don't know, but the Holy Spirit is working in her life to teach her Truth.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Just Stop Touching My Babies!

I have gotten very frustrated over people insisting on touching my babies, specifically Matthew and Levi. People occassionally touch Ellie's hair, but it's nothing compared to the touches the little ones have had to endure. We can hardly go anywhere without people rubbing their fingers through the boys hair, or grabbing their hands, caressing their cheeks. Even the occasional kiss on the cheek, or worse on the lips. EWWW!

While shopping, I am often in a bit of a rush. No time for dawdling. I'll be walking at a brisk pace, baby in my arms or carried in my wrap and someone will step in front of me and stop. The sole purpose is to make me stop, so they can touch the baby.

Or I'm perusing the laundry soap options, trying to discover which is the best one, the best price, etc. And of course, someone steps in between me and the soap. Can't they see that I'm busy? Ugh!

It's especially frustrating because the kids have been sick so much. Most Americans know that germs are passed from hand to hand contact...or worse, kisses on the mouth. Recently, when someone was trying to touch Matthew's face, Clay calmly told them that our babies have gotten sick a lot lately. If they would like to touch the baby, they were welcome to touch his feet, but please not his hands or face. The woman looked a bit confused and replied, "You only have to give him a kiss on his head when someone touches him and he won't get sick."

After that, I was buying beans in the market and saw an interesting sack of...well, I didn't have any idea. So I asked the vendor what it was and he replied, "Ojo de venado."  Well, I know that the translation of that is "deer eye" but that didn't make any sense to me. "Do you eat it?" I asked naively. He impatiently responed that it was for "mal de ojo" or the "evil eye." And that was the end of the conversation. He wasn't interested in telling me more.

"Ojo de Venado" or "Deer Eye"
I shared my little discovery with Clay and we went back, taking the kids and their cameras. (Kids can get away with taking pictures of anything! Sometimes people get annoyed and turn away when we pull out our cameras. Or they demand money.) Clay asked the vendor all kinds of questions, and the man willingly shared.

From what we've been able to discover, many people believe that if they look upon a person or an object with envy or jealousy they can cause harm to come to that person or thing. For example, if they look at their neighbor's car with jealousy, they can cause the car to break down. Or if they look at a beautiful baby, they can cause the baby to get sick, or even die. The "evil eye" in this culture is usually not given on purpose. They don't want to cause harm. So, to take away the "curse," they have to touch what it is they are admiring.

Another way to protect from the "evil eye" here is to wear an amulet that looks like an eye, such as the deer eye. Sometimes it's a bean or marble that is painted to look like an eye. Other people may tie a red ribbon to a baby to attract your attention away from the baby's face. (Although I haven't seen that, just read about it.)

So now, when I walk through the market and the ladies reach out to touch Matthew or Levi, I have more compassion. They are admiring the beauty of my children, with their blue eyes, blond hair, and light skin. But their cultural understanding tells them that they must touch the child so as to not cause them harm. They mean well, and I need to respond in a loving way that will not offend them, even though I don't believe in their superstition of the "Mal de Ojo." I believe in the one true God. And I seek a way to reveal that Truth to the people around me. I pray that God will show me how to love the indigenous people with His love, and to reveal His truth in a meaningful way.

El Día del Niño...Day of the Child

Yesterday was the Día del Niño, or the Day of the Child. It's quite the event in Mexico. Many schools are closed so that kids can spend the day with their parents. (Which is great if the parents don't have to work...) It was neat to see so many kids walking around the plaza with their parents yesterday.

Ryan and Ellie did have school, but they didn't mind. School for them was more like a big party! There were clowns, games, and candy!
Ryan and Ellie came home with Minnie and Mickey buckets...
FULL of candy, chips and juice boxes. Yep, just what they need!