Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A word from Sarah

We are feeling well sustained by God through people's prayers. It's wonderfully amazing to notice the number of times a day that God provides just the right strengthening, provision, language skill, friend, helper etc, at just the right time. Even trivial things like today i went to find a clothes shop that Karina had won a voucher to. I found the address, but it just looked like a suburban house. I was about to drive away when someone pulled up who clearly looked like the owner of a dress shop. Sure enough, she caught my eye, spoke to me in English, and in I went. It didn't really matter if i never went into this shop, but God takes care of the details.

There are far more valuable ways that God is caring for us, but I think the trivial demonstrate the breadth of God's care of us as individuals.

I had my best and worse language experience last week. On Tuesday I climaxed by bursting into tears on Miriam's teacher when she asked how I was. On Friday I walked along the river to talk to a stranger to practice my Spanish. The first lady said no, but the second was perfect. (There was much terror and prayers between the first and second!) She spoke to me clearly and slowly, was patient to correct me and help me to get things right, and she only used English to help me over a hurdle every now and then. We walked and talked for 40 minutes - and it was in Spanish all the way. I'm sure God gave me the gift of tongues just for the morning to give me a lift, because he knew I needed it!

The swine flu is having a huge effect on Mexico and Monterrey in particular. To cancel all schools, unis and public gatherings,  for almost two weeks, in about 6 states (more than 30million people) is a huge deal. The streets here are very quiet like very early on a Sunday morning. Shops are open, but there's just about no-one in them. Some people are wearing face masks, but not everyone.

We are perfectly well and are trying to make the most of the time that we have. We're being proactive in home schooling the girls and helping them progress in English, Spanish, maths, violin, basketball and art. Although this afternoon we all went to a friends house and sat around chatting and eating icecream in the back courtyard while 6 kids played in a huge paddling pool! (A good option when it's 32.)

Thanks again for your prayers. They are a delight to God, and sustenance for us.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Latest on the swine flu

Hi everyone,

I guess you've heard about the swine flu outbreak by now. It started in DF (Mexico City) but has now made it here to Monterrey. There have been 10 cases and 1 death so far (although that lady had come from DF).

Now, at 10pm we have just heard that schools will be shut for the next 2 weeks - including Universities - so there will be no language school for me. I  think that decision will be reviewed in a couple of days but we have to wait and see. We are being urged to not gather in large groups, have personal contact etc.

There doesn't seem to be a great deal of worry amongst the people around us - I think they are looking forward to a bit of a holiday from school - but we'll see how that mood changes as and if the situation gets worse.

We'll certainly be praying that things don't get worse here in Mexico - perhaps you could join us in that.


Sunday, April 19, 2009

The calm before the storm...

We were woken by a very unusual sound today - thunder, accompanied by rain! This is very unusual for Monterrey - at this time of year the maximum temperatures are around 35C and the humidity is around 20%. The dust blows in from the desert and its generally hot and dry.

We've been enjoying a week off from school and all the usual routines this week - but it all starts again tomorrow. The girls will go back to school and Sarah and I are starting at a new language school. We'll be in class for 2 hrs, 3 times per week and will be trying to find regular conversation partners outside these hours. Sarah will be in the Level 1 class to try and get some grammar basics cemented to complement her growing conversation skills, and I'll be in Level 3, building on the intensive month class that I completed in March.

School, and language school will go until mid-June, when we have the long end-of-academic year holiday - almost two months. This is when it gets seriously hot in Monterrey, so we don't know what we'll be doing in that time.

If you have spare prayer time, perhaps you could be praying for us all as we get back into the routine of early mornings, driving to school and classroom work. It's been a luxurious two weeks of sleeping in and enjoying some rest.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Back from a week in Guadalajara

Hi everyone,

Happy Easter (it's still Easter here). We've just returned from a 2100km round trip to Guadalajara. Here's a few pictures, some thoughts, and some prayer points.

The front of the main cathedral in Zacatecas

Yes - there were lots of cactuses (ii?)

It wasn't all hard work.

Jan Kennington (grey hair) at the MOCLAM stall.

We went to Guadalajara for VIVE09, a missions conference run by COMPA, the Mexican IFES affiliated group. It was kindof like MYC with a missions twist (if MYC means anything to you!) with about 700 people there.

Each day there were talks, seminars, meals, fun and lots of singing - which was good for us because it really helps us in our Spanish learning. There were a number of speakers, speaking on a range of topics from themes in John's Gospel to Being Christian in the professional workplace.

All sorts of things struck me, but one particular one was that there was a great emphasis in being a Christian within your profession, God has led you into that profession - make the most of it as a 'mission field'. It was interesting to hear that, whereas in Sydney we often hear the call to leave the profession you are in and become a 'professional' minister. I don't think I heard that issue raised once.

The conference was held at a hotel owned by the University of Guadalajara, situated about 30km from the city - so it was quite nice. As you'll see from a couple of photos, it wasn't all hard work.

We came back through the colonial mining town of Zacatecas (8,600ft) which was a great insight into some Mexican history.

Today is Easter Day, so we thought before we went to our own church we might go into the Catholic Cathedral in town and have a look at how Mexican Catholics 'do' Easter. And what did we find? Well, nothing really. There were lots of crowd barriers and extra seats seat up - but it was all for Friday - 'Black Friday' as it is called here. Their emphasis on Easter is on the death of Jesus - its almost as if the resurrection doesn't rate a mention. But while we thought about it, thats exactly what we see in all the religious art here - Jesus is either a baby (usually in the arms of Mary), dying or dead (often in the arms of Mary). He is practically never portrayed as risen or glorious - I'm sure there are lots of theological themes to chase through there.

Anyway - its been a big week. I (Pete) have been quite unwell along the way (heavy flu, then side effects from antibiotics) but am getting better now.

Here's a few prayer points.

- for a smooth trip and a safe time on the roads
- for a good opportunity to meet up with some old friends and make some new ones
- for a great insight into COMPA, how and where they are operating
- for the safe arrival of our boxes from Australia while we were away

- for a good week as a family this week - the girls are off school for another week
- for progress in Spanish, and for good decision making in terms of what language learning option to use next.
- that we'd be gracious and gentle as we seek to proclaim the news of the risen Jesus.