So here's what we've been up to so far. Monday and Tuesday were largely focused on things a missionary would do entering a culture. We had two good teachings Mon & Tue mornings by Eddie Passmore. Monday he spoke to us about three roads we need to walk in our life with Christ. 1) road of conversion (Paul on Damascus road. Likewise we must encounter Christ and be saved). 2) road of commitment (as Ananias chose to obey God even though going to talk with Paul didn't make sense to him, we must commit ourselves similarly). 3) road of compassion (the good Samaritan - we must care for the hurting and obey Christ's command, "Go and do likewise"). I (Michael) was particularly challenged by these last four words of Jesus. I'm asking, Lord what would you have me be doing to love my neighbor (the point of Christ's Samaritan tale), that I'm not?
Then we touched on language learning, with the Dean of Men, Dan Silver. A very good, short lesson in navigating the Spanish language. That afternoon, Dave Burdette (missionary in Mexico for almost 30 years) gave the first of two lessons on learning the various ways a culture communicates, being aware of those so as not to inadvertantly hinder the gospel. For example, single women in Mexico don't generally initiate contact with men, or act boisterously. To do so can imply looseness. So for a female ministering in Mexico, she might want to be careful lest she present the gospel in a way that left her hearers thinking Christians were loose.
After learning the theory, we headed out to observe the Mexican people, begin to identify differences from our own norms, and try to determine what they mean. We went to a park, a traveling market (see pics), and a mall. Some intersting observations: most people we saw (even in families) weren't wearing wedding rings. Men seem very involved with their kids, including affectionate touch in public. People are very open to their children approaching and playing with you, even though you're a stranger - we even watched them encourage it. (Can't imagine us doing this in the U.S.)
Today we moved on to some practical work a missionary might be involved with. We spent most of the day serving at the Deborah House, a christian shelter for battered women and their children. We did a bunch of manual labor and played with the kids. Ray, the director, talked to us about the ministry and the plight of some of the women in Mexico. Some facts. 85% of Mexican women will be victims of domestic violence at some point. And there only 4 shelters for them in Tijuana, a city of 2 million people! Legally, domestic violence is not currently a convictable offense, unless the wounds inflicted are severe enough to require more than 3 weeks healing. So, one woman who came through had actually been cut severely by her husband with a knife, but the doctors thought she'd heal in w few weeks, so the husband was not convicted. There are some legal changes underway, which may provide better deterence in the future.
It was great to get our hands dirty and play wihh beautiful children who need to be loved. Considering what they may have seen growing up, it was remarkable to see their willingness/desire to interact with us guys.
We've done A LOT of eating, too. As one of our speakers pointed out, one of the differences between Mexico and the USA is that folks tend to be more relationally oriented than task oriented in Mexico. And that means eating with people! I think they're onto something. :-)
We've wrapped up most evenings worshipping around a fire, on the porch overlooking the lights of the city. Beautiful. And a treat to do it with other believers who all didn't know one another before the week began. It's been good. Challenging teachings, practical lessons, chances to put them into practice, and opportunities to serve. I think the Lord is at work.
Tomorrow we get to help build a family a house. Hard to believe we've only been here 3 days. Seems longer (in a good way).
I'm attaching a bunch of various photos for y'all to enjoy. Please keep praying for us!
View from the Castillo porch in the morning. Great view for devotions, and thinking about people who need Jesus.
Dan Silver teaching a Spanigh language session in the Castillo.
Group getting ready to do cultural observation in a park.
Chess in the park.
Giant Mexican flag. Apparently it is somewhat less than a football field in size.
Molly and Cassie enjoying Fresas con Crema (strawberries and cream) at a Micchiocana (ice cream stand)!
Evening worship. Lights if Tijuana in the background.
Exploring a travel street market. Since many folks don't have a vehicle to go shopping, markets typically visit a neighborhood once a week or so, and have everything from computers to kitchenware, lingerie to tools, fresh produce to pirated movies. Think Astoria's Sunday Market, but steps from your front door, cheaper, and with more variety.
Fresh produce - yum! We've had Mexican
Papaya and mangos every morning for breakfast.
This group has not been afraid to try new things. Cassie is drinking jamaica, a tea made from hibiscus blossoms, and Tish is drinking horchata - a cinnamon rice milk drink that's delicious, although Cassie would disagree.
More pics in a sec