Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dance of the Parachico

The state of Chiapas is full of cultural diversity in the form of indigenous people groups. One group that has caught our attention is the Zoque. Overall, they are a small indigenous group who many have never heard of. Recently we went to the Zoque Museum near Tuxtla Gutierrez. While there we learned that during the Festival of St. Sebastian, the Zoque danced the Parachico.

So we headed to the town of Chiapa de Corzo to see the dancers, hoping to learn more about the history behind the dance...

We had seen the men's costumes...with a mask that resembled a white man. But why?

And we had never seen the women's costumes. They certainly resembled traditional Spanish dresses.
And again, we asked why?

Interestingly, most people who were dressed up for the festival couldn't really tell us why. One man explained that there was a Spanish and Arab influence, which would make sense since the Moors from Northern Africa had invaded Spain in 711AD and weren't run out until 1492. There is a lot of Arab influence in Spain. And of course, Mexico was colonized by the Spanish.

Later we were able to learn more of the legend that dates back to the 1760s...

Maria de Angulo was a rich, Catholic lady of Spanish origen who lived in Guatemala. She had a son who was sick and she had been seeking anyone who could help heal him. She came all the way to Chiapas, Mexico where she found a "witch doctor" who cured her son.

A few years later a drought hit the area of Chiapas. Doña Maria returns with her servants, carrying corn, beans, fruit and vegetables. They walked through town, carrying baskets and yelling, "Para el Chico" which means "for the boy" because she was thankful for the healing of her son. In the evenings, Doña Maria's servants danced and entertained the people.

Today, the women dance in remembrance of Doña Maria and the men in remembrance of the servants.

The people were equally inquisitive of us!
Notice the "basket" that Ellie is holding. It's full of confett which the
women throw, representing the food that Doña Maria handed out.


     This is Rex. He's the newest member of our family and he has quickly earned a place in our hearts. We first met on January 6 when we visited an orphanage for Kings' Day. At the time, he was only 3 weeks old. Much too young to leave his mommy. So we patiently waited three more weeks...

     At 6 weeks of age, we're getting up in the middle of the night as if he were a baby! Seems kind of crazy, but it's worth it. He's already learning his name and he's very comfortable inside his kennel. Best of all, the kids love him. They seek him out all day long to play with him.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

My How Life Has Changed

     As we near our one year anniversary of life in Mexico, it has made me think a little about how much life has changed...

1. Primary difference--speaking a new language! Well, not really new. Clay and I were both mostly fluent in Spanish when we got here. But now we use it every day, all day long. And it's absolutely awesome watching my children speak with the children around them in Spanish. Our next big challenge--learning our third language!

2. Washing dishes by hand, which equates to a LOT of dishes with 6 people in the family.

3. No indoor heat, which means when you get cold you put on a sweater instead of bumping up the thermostat.

4. Buying the majority of our fresh produce in the market and not the grocery store. And occasionally I even buy my chicken and beef in the market too...I admit, it took me awhile to get comfortable with that idea!

5. Homeschooling the two older kids.

6. We have TWO phones in our home, plus two cellphones. One is our Mexican landline, the other is our internet line for calls to the U.S.

7. Cooking on a gas really need to pay attention to make sure you don't run out of gas or you can't cook. (and without gas you won't have any hot water)

8. I cook a mostly from scratch now--bread, biscuits, pies, etc. And I enjoy it!

9. We have a maid who does dishes, washes clothes, scrubs the toilet, irons, mops...she will even watch all four kids so we can do ministry or have a coffee date.

10. We have a daytime and nighttime security guard!

11. I regularly have fresh cut flowers in my home! (Wouldn't you if you could get a dozen roses for less than $1.50?)

12. I've become a hoarder. If I find cranberry sauce at Sam's Club in February, I buy it. You might not find it in November for Thanksgiving Dinner. Or peanut butter M&Ms...Or a hair product for curly hair...

So much change...some of it difficult. Some of it just plain wonderful.  And then there are the amazing husband, my beautiful children, and my Loving Lord. I am so thankful that God has brought us here.

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Trip to the Orphanage

You never really know what to expect when you go to an orphanage. Will it be clean? Will the children be well behaved? Will they be skittish and shy? So many questions...

Images from "Little Orphan Annie" or "The Three Stooges" came to mind...but it was nothing like that.

On January 6, many Latin American people celebrate Epiphany or Kings' Day. Traditionally, it's the celebration of when the "three" kings delivered their gifts to baby Jesus. (The Bible never says there were 3 kings, or wise men--just three gifts.) In Latin America, many parents use this day to give gifts to their children instead of Christmas day.

So this year, on January 6, we joined some friends and delivered gifts to children who live at Casa Hogar Canan. What an experience! There were 22 young people, from age 5 months and up, who live in this particular house. We delivered Christmas presents, blankets, clothes, chalkboards, and hopefully the love of Christ.

This sweet girl captured the hearts of many!

This precious boy...
his father didn't watont him, so he broke his skull.
His mother sought refuge in the orphanage.
The bigger boys received nerf guns, and it didn't take them long to set up a war zone with old tires!

This guy was ready to help in any way he could!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Missed Opportunities

Today I spent an hour all alone with my Savior. It was a blessed, peaceful time. And it was also a time of conviction. I actually had time to LISTEN, not just spout off my list of wants and needs. Overall, God has been speaking to my heart about prayer, so it was a time to connect, listen, and learn.

Over the past few weeks, I have been praying that the Lord would open doors for me to invest in the life of a woman. I prayed fervently that He would bring someone into my life. I so desperately want to be involved in ministry outside of my home. But I just haven't had the opportunity to meet anyone, and I was sad.

As I sat with God this morning, He reminded me of this prayer.

And then He reminded me of three women who have rang my doorbell this week.

THREE women!
     One was selling lotion and perfumes.
          One was asking if I needed a house helper to clean.
               And one asked if I had laundry she could wash, or old clothes that she could have.

With the first lady, I considered buying something because I so desperately wanted to help her and her little girl that was tied on her back. Instead, I gave her some dry beans and some other food.

When the second lady came, I actually had 3 (unexpected) visitors sitting at my kitchen table. (A whole other story for another day!) She asked if I needed a helper. I assured her I already had one. She asked if my helper came every day. I assured her that she did. Then she asked if my neighbor needed a helper. I assured her that she did. And then she asked if my neighbor's helper came every day. I assured her that she did. Then we repeated the whole conversation, and she left.

The third lady is the one who grieves my heart the most. She was disheveled, dirty, and her front teeth were rotted away. (Something I now recognize as a sign of malnutrition.) She had an equally dirty and disheveld child on her back and another one held her hand. The children's faces lacked the bright-eyed look that children should have. Instead, only blank stares. Why didn't I invite her in? I have SO much that I could have shared with her. I have food. I have clothes.

And I have the life changing Gospel that I could have and should have shared with her.

But that day I was too busy...and now my heart aches for this mother of 2 little ones.

I pray that I will always be prepared. Prepared to rearrange my schedule to accomodate a woman in need. Prepared to share from my abundance. Prepared to share a story from the Book that transformed my life.

"But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have."
1 Peter 3:15