Church Planting among the Nahuatl

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¡Feliz Cumpleaños!

Which in Spanish means “Happy Birthday!”

Yesterday was Liesl’s 28th birthday, so this past weekend, we did our fair share of celebrating…Mexican style! Below are some of the highlights, hope you have fun looking at all of the pictures and reading about Mexican birthdays.

Pete says my birthday lasted for 4 days…okay, I guess he’s right. On Friday night Pete took me out for a birthday dinner at Olea, a seafood restaurant here in Chihuahua. We shared a few different things including marlin quesadillas, shrimp, and calamari. Also, when we were seated, our hostess gave Pete a menu written in English, and me one in Spanish. (thought that was kind of funny)

Our Mexican names!

After dinner we headed to Starbucks for a couple birthday lattes…a treat down here since we try and save our fun money for culture outings with our language helper and host family. My vanilla latte tasted so yummy! I love the Mexican names on our cups. In Spanish the “z” is pronounced as an “s” sound so my cup reads, “Lisa.”

On Saturday night Marta & Higinio, our host “parents,” hosted a birthday party for me. Some close family and friends were invited, and we celebrated with taco salad, agua de Jamaica, a pumpkin cake (pastel de Calabaza) with chocolate frosting, and a piñata!!

After everyone enjoyed a meal together we all went outside to the front of the house where Heber and Pablo were ready with the piñata. They had the cute Hello Kitty pinata strung on a rope that stretched from the roof of the house to the top of the gate in front. I was blindfolded, spun around 10 times, and then let loose on the piñata! 🙂 Everyone watched and cheered as I swung at the cute little piñata’s face. It was much harder than it looked, and everyone was yelling, “Arriba, Atras, Enfrente!” Which means, “Up, behind, in front!” It was crazy, and honestly a pretty good workout.

Getting ready for the piñata action

Posing with Hello Kitty

Putting on the blindfold

Lili spun me around 10 times, anymore and I might have fallen over

This was much harder than it looks

Yep, definitely missed on this one

This seriously was one tough piñata

I was finally able to pin it down to have better leverage

Do I look like a Samari warrior in this one?

All the kids collecting the candy (dulces.)

If you liked the piñata pictures, Pete also took several videos, which are pretty hilarious. He is posting them on his facebook so feel free to check them out!

After all the piñata fun we headed indoors for cake, ice cream, and singing. Usually the tradition goes, after the birthday song is sung to the birthday guy/gal the “mordida” occurs. This is where the birthday person’s head is pushed directly into the cake! Fortunately my cake was in a 13×9 glass pan and they were afraid I might knock a couple teeth out during the mordida, so they obstained from the tradition.

Lili made the cake it was so yummy! Everyone sang Happy Birthday in Spanish, actually they have a few different songs they sing at birthdays. Once cake was served everyone sat around and sang together. After the singing everyone stayed and talked, so we got alot of exposure to many different Spanish conversations going on at once. By 11pm we were so tired we head home. It was a great party, and as you can see we are very blessed with a great family and friends down here to help adjust to our new life.

Lili made me a delicious calabaza cake

Blowing out the candles!

The Mexico Field Chairman and his wife. They serenaded us with some Johnny Cash and Abba! Who would have thought...

Heber played some songs in Spanish and the family sang along. This seems to be tradition at some of the birthday gatherings.

On my actual birthday day, Pete and I packed a lunch and headed to the Deportiva north for a picnic. It was very relaxing, we even napped on the grass. Afterwards, we planned our language sessions for the week and did grocery shopping for the next two weeks. On the way home Pete surprised me with a stop at one of our favorite local tamale and burrito places, Paquime. We grabbed burritos and tamales to go for dinner and headed home. I also got to talk with my Mom, Dad, and brother Jay once we got home! It was a wonderful 4 day birthday, and I hope you enjoyed the post.

Check back soon, I am planning on posting a new recipe near the end of this week!

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Recipe of the Week: Espinaca con Betabeles, Queso, y Pasitas

So…I’ve decided I would like to try something new on the blog!

I think it would be fun to start including some recipe posts of Mexican dishes or other recipes I try out and like enough to share with all of you. (I will be still be doing regular updates on our ministry and language learning as well) To be honest, I don’t remember the last time I followed a recipe exactly so these will be my versions of the originals. I hope you all enjoy this new addition, and maybe try some of the recipes. If you do, please comment and let me know how you liked them!

Okay first up…

Espinaca con Betabeles, Queso Chihuahua, y Pasitas –  (Spinach with Beets, Chihuahua Cheese, and Raisins)

2 bunches of spinach (maybe around 6-7 cups)

2 bunches of medium beets (about 3.5 inches in diameter)

1/8 cup olive oil

1 large white onion; cut in half and then into thin slices

5 garlic cloves, chopped

2 serrano chilies, chopped fine (less if you don’t like spicy…this dish has some heat)

4 ripe roma tomatoes

1 cup packed golden raisins

1.5 tsp. salt

2 limes, halved

1 cup diced Chihuahua cheese (or other soft white cheese)

Trim the greens from the beets and wash well. Put the beets in a large saucepan and pour in enough cold water to cover them by 3 inches. Bring to boil and cook until the beets are tender, around 25-35 minutes. Drain and cool to room temperature.

While the beets are cooling, wash the spinach and drain. Next heat the oil in a wide, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 3 min. Add the garlic and serrano chilies, cook stirring for about another 3 min. Add the tomatoes, all but 2 Tbsp. of the raisins, and the salt. Cook until the tomfatoes are tender, raisins are plump, and most of the tomato liquid has cooked off, about 10 min, or so. While this is cooking, slip the skins off the beets and cut beets into bite-sized cubes, set aside.

When the tomatoes and raisins are tender, add the spinach cook until just wilted and incorporated into the sauce. Remove from heat and squeeze the juice from the limes over the top. Transfer the spinach mixture to a large platter and top with the diced beets, the remaining 2 Tbsp. of raisins, and the cheese. Serve hot, or warm as the cheese begins to melt a little on top of the greens.

This made roughly 4-5 main dish servings for us, and we loved it. It also makes great cold leftovers, kind of like a beet salad


The finished product

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Finally I am able to upload pictures again! So, as promised here is a visual glimpse into our lives here in Mexico!
The last 3 weeks Pete and our friend Pablo have been working hard long hours building a closet for our bedroom. They used the carpenters shop at the NTM Mission Office, and as of tonight we finally have it installed and in our room. We love it, they did such a great job.

Pete working hard on building our bedroom closet

Cabinets for the top of the closet

The finished product

 Not only have we been working on things for the house, but we’ve spent many hours language learning as well. We are in the beginning stages of Spanish which is where we learn and drill lots of vocabulary,  begin to conjugate verbs in simple tenses, and experience cultural and language learning events and situations with Mexican friends and language helpers. One of the things we do to learn vocabulary is called Total Physical Response (TPR). This is where we will display and number of items and point to them one my one reviewing ones we have already learned, having our language helper say the name for the items in Spanish. Once we are comfortable with all the items we will reverse roles, our helper will say a Spanish word and we will point to the correct item. We also take pictures of all the sets of words that we learn and record our helpers voice, so we can practice on the computer in our free time.

Liesl taking through some kitchen verbs with Cesar

Our set up of some items in the cocina

Cleaning and random living room items

Teaching Cesar how to make muffins

 Other things we look to do with our helper include Culture Events, like the one we went to this last Friday, the Festival del Taco. Which literally means Festival of Tacos. This is exactly what it was, we were not dissappointed. There were probably 20-25 different taco stands, all featuring their specialties. Between the 3 of us we were able to try many different tacos including Camarones (shrimp), Marlin, seafood combo, Barbacoa (head meat), El Pastor (slow grilled pork) and Carne Asada (steak). Everything we had was delicious, but I think our favorites were the Camarones and Marlin. At the Festival we also experience live Mexican music, and and our first hail storm!

Festival del Taco

Tacos El Pastor

Tacos con Camarones, Marlin, and other seafood...our favorite!

Pete enjoying some Carne Asada

It was very fun!

Tacos from Jalisco

Dancing with the pescado

Mexican band

Here’s just a few more photos of things we have been doing. Hope you enjoyed them all! Hope to update again soon! 

Running and walking in the sun at the Deportiva

Flowers in bloom

Look at that contrast. It really is beautiful here.

Tamales rojo & verde

Chile relleno (Dad this one's for you)

Homemade mole!

The mural of Mexican history in El Centro

The Cathedral in El Centro

Visiting our host family's ranch in San Andres'

El Palomar

Bye for now


And then Life Got Busy

Since we arrived in Chihuahua I have been doing so well with posting about our weekly events, new relationships with national Mexicans, adventures in language learning, ministry opportunities….and then life got busy. Doesn’t it always? Because of how full our days have been with language learning opportunities and the responsibilities of setting up our home and getting settled in a new city and culture I have challenged myself to get up earlier to enjoy some time for just myself in the mornings. Time to think, read, and pray about what the day holds, and to commune with the Lord…just me and Him.

I’m loving these times!  What the Lord shows me in His Word completely sets the tone for my day; how I interact with people, my attitudes, how I choose to approach language and culture learning and even how I choose to nuture my relationship with Pete.  Every time I have needed encouragement the Lord has given that, when I’ve needed a swift kick in the pants to remind me why I’m here, He’s given that, and the reminders of His faithfulness, strength, and love in my life are evident when I read truth about His character shown since the beginning of time.

So, I’ve been reading the last two weeks in Corinthians and this morning I read in Chapter 9 how Paul with the Lord’s strength gave up his personal rights so that he could be most effective in ministry. He tried to find common ground with everyone he came in contact with so that he might by God’s grace save some. (1 Cor. 9:22-23) This was a true reminder of what Pete and I are here in Chihuahua to do. We are not here for our own agenda, to see how many different Mexican foods we can try, or to settle into our own little life routine…but rather we are here for God’s glory. We are here to find common ground with our neighbors, our host family, to learn their traditions and take part in their daily routines. God brought us here so that we might learn flexibility to immerse ourselves in the Mexican culture, so that by His grace we may minister to bring the sweet aroma of Christ into their lives. This was such a great reminder to me as it is easy, even here where are surrounded by a different lifestyle to retract ourselves from the unfamiliar, the uncomfortable. It’s easy to want to have your own time, to do your own things, and forget about the reason that God brought us here, not only to learn Spanish, and to prepare to minister in a tribe, but to learn what it means to become all things to all men, so that God may use us to save some.

That’s what God has been teaching me this week. We thank you for all of your prayers regarding our ministry and language learning here, but also for your encouragement and faithfulness in praying for my (Liesl’s) Grandparents. It has been a rough time for the whole family, but we are all resting in God’s perfect timing and grace in the situation.

The last couple of weeks have also been filled with all sorts of culture events and language learning opportunities as well, and I was planning on including a bunch of pictures for you all to enjoy…but wordpress is being quite difficult and won’t let me load any of them. Boo..:( another lesson in being flexible. So, I guess you will have to wait, I promise to post them as soon as I can.

Happy Easter to everyone!