Thursday, November 8, 2012

Cultural Struggle or Just Plain Sin?

Tonight I'm struggling with how to react to a situation that has arisen. Maybe "react" isn't the right I said I'm struggling. Stuggling with what to think, what to feel, and how to act. I come from an American Christian Culture, or more precisely a Southern Baptist Culture of the United States, which has engrained in me certain Truths. And I'm surrounded by Mexican Indigenous Culture...which although some have heard the Gospel and responded to it, their Indigenous Culture runs deep.

Let me try to explain...

I've known "L" practically since we arrived in Chiapas in February. I feel that I know her somewhat. She is a single mom who works hard to provide for her daughter. "L" is active in her local church and often attends Prayer Meetings or "Youth" meetings. ("Youth" is defined here as anyone who is not married, so although she's a young 20-something, she fits this category.) 

We once asked her the story of how she came to be a single mom. She explained that she was studying for a career in medicine when she met a guy. She found out she was pregnant, and while she was doing her internship in another town, the father of her child married another woman. He is aware of their child, but has nothing to do with either one of them.

She went on to explain that this had all happened during a rebellious stage of her life. She had grown up in a Christian home, and when she realized she was pregnant, it prodded her to return to her faith. That was 5 years ago...

And this week "L" shared that she is 3 months pregnant. I was shell-shocked. I didn't congratulate her. I didn't know what to say. I didn't even know that there was a man in her life. "L" shared that they have been seeing each other for awhile. He's a Christian and goes to her church. They have talked about getting married, but they don't know when.

Wow...well, that got me to thinking about the Gospel as it has been shared here in Mexico, specifically. And the impact, or lack of impact, that it's had on the lives of Believers.

From my Southern Baptist background, I see a problem with this scenario. Here we have a man and woman who are not married, and they are expecting a child. A man and woman who go to church together. But in Indigenous culture, does a man and a woman get married? Or do they simply begin living together, in the same sense as a "common law" marriage? They are seen as married by those around them, but without the ceremony?

Is this a sin issue? Or just a cultural difference? Or is it a cultural issue that God would deem sinful? Is there a point where the Gospel was reaching the Indigenous people of Mexico, but all they really hear is the Salvation message? Are they only being told the hellfire and brimstone message, to repent and turn to Christ?  Are we failing to give them the meat? Are we teaching them how to live according to God's plan?

I do believe that God's plan is for one man and one woman. Jesus' own words from Matthew 19:4-5 state, “Have you not read,” says Jesus, “that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’” (quoting from Genesis 1:27, 2:24). The Bible does not say "Do not have premarital sex," but it does say to leave your family, and to cleave to your spouse, and become ONE flesh. And 1 Corinthians 7:2 says, "But because of the temptation to sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband."

I'm not trying to throw sticks at anyone who doesn't believe the same. That's between you and God. (And I believe He loves each of us, inspite of our sins.) My thoughts (which are rambling wildly tonight), are on the Indigenous people of Mexico, specifically the ZK people who we yearn to reach with the Gospel. Are we prepared to take the whole message to them? The message is more than just repent so that you don't burn in's about His Word. His Plan. His Love. His Forgiveness.

So my response toward "L" will be one of love and support. I want to make sure that if it's money that is keeping her from marrying the father of her baby, that I can give her a wedding present. (Cost is often a huge factor. Weddings are expensive.) I want to make sure that if she needs medical care, we help her acquire it. I want to encourage her to seek the Lord. And I want to offer to walk with her through the ups and downs. I want to love her like the Lord loves her.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Sea Turtles on the Beach

A few months ago, Clay went fishing on the coast. While he was there, they told him that he should plan to come back in October, during the full moon to see the sea turtles laying their eggs. How cool is that, right? So we made plans...and invited friends. Unfortunately, I didn't think about getting a picture of all SEVEN kids. We made quite a sight...2 men, myself and 7 mostly blonde kids.

Anyway, we were there to see turtles...even if the kids thought our purpose for the trip was to go swimming! We never did see a momma turtle. Turns out that this is the end of the egg laying season and we should have gone in September. Clay and I did see momma tracks leading from the ocean up to the beach and then back again. And we were able to see lots of babies at the turtle reserves. They collect the eggs, and protect them until they hatch. Then they release the babies back in to the ocean.

We had a great time, although I'm ready to admit that I really don't like sand. When we first got to the beach, Clay said something about living there for a month would be sufficient to enjoy the beach, but then he'd be ready to go back home. I realized that a day was sufficient to live directly on the beach. Especially this beach with it's ultra-fine sand that sticks to everything. Don't get me is beautiful. Especially the sunsets and all the little creatures...but it's HOT even in November!

Isn't this the cutest little thing?

Ryan thought the baby turtles
were pretty cool!
Matthew wasn't too sure what that thing was at first!

These little crabs were everywhere!
And they were quick too!

We spent the night on an island, so we had to cross the
bay in a boat. The kids loved riding up front!

This is the cabin that we rented!


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dr. Seuss in Mexico?

Fire is hooktuk
Chair is ooktuk
Fan is sooktuk

Ever feel like you live in a Sr. Seuss book?

Yep, that's what we're speaking these days...or at least, we're trying to speak it! The ZK language has no similarities to Spanish because it was a language that was spoken by an indigenous group long before Christopher Columbus ever sailed the ocean blue. It's still spoken in "Pine Hill," especially by the older generation. And the women and children.

I can't wait to have some level of fluency in this language. Or at least a level of comprehension! I've made a friend in "Pine Hill." Her name is Guadalupe, a common name for men and women in Mexico. She's very helpful, very friendly. At least when it's just the two of us chatting. But when she's around the other women, they speak primarily in ZK...leaving me to smile and nod. I'm sure that most of the time they are not talking about me...but then again, I know that they sometimes are. Like when I hear the word "catolica," and they all turn to look at me.

Yep, my friend Guadalupe just told all the women that I'm not Catholic. And now, they're looking at me suspiciously.

"Oh, so you're Adventist."
"No, I'm not Adventist. I'm a Christian. A follower of Jesus Christ."
"Well, if you're not Catholic, you're Adventist."

Oh how I long to speak their language so that I can share what the Good Book says. Many of them, although they declare themselves to Catholic, really have no idea what the Bible says. The freedom from vices, promises of eternal life, hope,'s all in there. And someday, I'll get beyond "hooktuk and ooktuk" to "God's love."