Web Log 30
Saturday, July 26
(from memory, Aug 21)
Wow. I just looked through todays pictures and this was a doozer of a day. We met at the church early and took micros downtown to the same central plaza where we meet a couple years ago for team orientations. Here we met up with the other teams, both American and national, that were part of this years campaign. Since we did not travel together this year, this was out chance to see old friends from Arizona as well as all the people from ElRuenevo that we have worked with for the past six years. Most of the youth from ElRuenevo that were involved in the last few years where there, which was really cool. Felipe gave the usual orientation talk and we spent some time just hanging out. Then we split into four group to go have a look at the city. Groups went to ____ downtown, took a turibus, went to _____ and Chipultapec. I joined the Chipultapec group (about 50) and we took off to the nearest micro stop that would take us by the entrance. Chipultapec is the largest park in MexicoCity and is basically a world of it's own. It houses large markets, historic areas, a castle, monuments, a lake, and lots of other stuff. We toured the castle all together and then broke up into small groups to go explore the park. Since there were not enough nationals to go around, I ended up with a group of a few girls that I had to keep an eye out for the whole day, so I didn't get much shopping done in the market we went to.
The coolest part was probably the mime we ran into off to one side. This guy and his clown sidekick were putting on a pretty good show to a crowed of a couple hundred. We crowded in at the start of one of his acts and Deron and Tori ended up being roped into the gig. The guy was definetly the best mime I have ever seen and we discussed his technique with the group later and learned a lot from his skill. Just subtitles like how to get a clearly defined audience border etc. His wistling is something we couldn't aspire too, but it was fun. Luckily Nikki showed up in time to explain to the crowed who we were and what we were doing at the end of the show because we basically we drew as much attention as the mime.
Back at the church, it was time for a party. All of the english students from the summer english classes were invited over the meet the teams. We spent the evening eating dinner and hanging out with the students. I got the meet one young fellow by the name of Hector who knew a bit more english than the rest. When I walked away after our conversation I had a strong feeling that I was going to see more of him as the week went on and felt the urge to pray for him more than I already was every minute of our conversation. When we debriefed as a team that evening I discovered I was one of several with that feeling about him.
(recreated from notes, Aug 27)
Today was something I learned from, and even enjoyed, but would rather not repeat. We got up fairly early this morning but managed to be late for breakfast and even later for church since our host family wasn't in much of a hurry. Since we left the car downtown yesterday we rode in the back of a truck to church in the crisp morning wind, and I forgot so much as a poncho this morning. As soon as everybody was gathered we all prayed and piled into a couple of micros which dropped of off at a monument downtown for orientation with all the other teams and some sightseeing. It was really great to see friends from ElRuenevo again and it made me miss not being with them this year, but I think I understand one reason the Lord worked it out this way. (in retrospect, there were several others) The teams that ElRuenevo got paired with this year are much less experienced and they are better equipped for handling that. The Queveses are back!
I chose the chipultapek group when we split off to go see some sights. We had 52 in our group and split in half for transportation to the park. We toured the castle together and then broke up in to smaller groups to explore. I ended up being in a small group with two girls and no mexican since they were somewhat short. It worked out fine in the end but was rather stressful being in charge of safety in all the hubbub.
Not that we are not gringo light bulbs already, but we made ourselves quite conspicuous by showing up at this guy's mime/clown act in one of the little squares. He spotted us and pulled a Deron and Tori into his act for quite sometime. This was a lot of fun and we larned a lot about good mimes (this guy was one of the best I've seen), but I was quite concerned he was going to take a wrong turn and make the event too crewed.
We got back to the monument about on time along with the plaza group, but the turibus group was over an hour late since they had trouble finding busses with enough seat at almost every stop. Unfortunately the plaza group had an incident on the metro with two of their girls. They all piled into the back of a metro car and couldn't see what was going on with two guys who slipped in behind them. Definetely a bad situation. While waiting on the turibus group we had to fend off a continuous stream of queers from the monument area -- more stress. I am grateful to the Lord for protecting us today, but worn out from being involved.
Back at the church, it is Kristi's birthday and we had a graduation party for their ESL students, then back home in the back of the truck, this time in the rain. What fun.
Friday, July 25
(from memory, Aug 21)
Thankfully we didn't have to be at the church this morning until ten o'clock, so we got to sleep till just past seven. Breakfast was modest, but true to Mexican food ethics, consisted of one more course of food that necessary. We pilled into the car, this time much more comfortably without the daughter and all our luggage and reached church just in time for group introductions. Juan Manel and a handful of Mexicans are the only people around at this point, but we spend some time talking and them praying for the week. Next come the piles and piles of flyers that need to be cut out and the four clowns that need costumes and makeup. Fliers in hand and clown in tow we hit the streets for a morning of inviting people, especially kids, to the VBS program that will be happening all week. Except for the dogs, the reception is amazing -- parents calling their children out of their houses to greet the clowns and spending time talking to us, as much as possible with out inability to speak their language. Each group of us had one or two younger nationals with us that did most of the talking, which made pretty much all of into clowns.
Back at the church and fed, we set to work decorating three classrooms and practicing clown skits for VBS the following day. One jungle, one temple, one Noah's Ark, two clown skits and one mime.
When it came time to go home, we took the car to Arturos work (a large government building in a down-town area), dropped off the car which he could not drive the next day and took the Metro home from there. This time however we added Dan to our ranks since his family had less room than ours. My roommates now consist of Jerod, Joe, Dan, and Aaron.
(recreated from notes, Aug 27)
Gosh I love this city. If nothing else, where else can you get a world class meal of an appetizer, ten tacos al pastor and a drink for four bucks? Yes, Arturo took us out to get tacos tonight. Maybe it's that I have had any in months, but these seemed like some of the best, and certainly some of the cheapest. Dan Bellum joined us tonight and raised the bar on the spanish about ten notches and I'm quite in the dark now. I came too close to trouble this afternoon for comfort when some dude started hollering at us when I escorted a girl up the street a block. It's one thing to be a body guard just in case. It's another to be one when it's essential. The three extras that have been at ElRuenevo for six weeks showed up this afternoon after english class graduations and I got to meet Susan for the first time. She's really neat. Seeing Gam and Margo together is just a little bit odd, but oh well. Two pictures are really stuck in my head from yesterday. One is of Niki electrified with excitement when she meet us at the airport. The other is of Renee on the micro on the way to the church. Something about her look as she viewed this city for the first time -- full of wonder and compassion -- made me aware that the Lord had this moment, in mind for her since she was created. What else He may have in store fir her is more than I can guess, but this one scene really stood out to me as a reminder of how we are all created for a purpose.
Thursday, July 24
(from memory, Aug 21)
We stayed with Shiloh and Kara at their grandparents house last night. Ordered pizza at eleven o'clock and had a grand time talking about everything until late into the night. I think most people got to bed by one but I stayed up late writing yesterdays weblog and praying. I had the whole upstairs cupola thing to myself including a couch with a fold out bed. I went to sleep on the bed, decided it was rediculously uncomfortable, and folded it back up into a couch and spent a very restful night in perfect comfort. I woke up on my won about 5am and packed my things and was quite chipper by the time anybody else got up. We grabbed some showers and breakfast, said our good byes to Kara and hit the road by just after six.
Right now memory does not serve me as to who rode in my boat on the way down there, but the ride was mostly uneventful. The obligatory McDonnalds? stop in Soccoro took the traditional ten minutes longer than necessary but far be it from me to break ten years of Hope road trip tradition. The only other incident was when my windshield wiper decided it wanted to go for a fly and went skipping over the top of the car to join Shiloh behind me. Oh well.
We arrived at Cetro Biblico La Luz in El Paso shortly after ten o'clock to find the team from Faith waiting for us. The vans to shuttle us across the boarder to Juarez showed up shortly after and we got to the little airport and checked-in in record time. On of the big national soccer teams happened to be on the same flight to MexicoCity with us and caused quite a commotion in the airport, but in-country customs and such are so simple compared to flying internationally.
This was the first time I have flown into MexicoCity during daylight. It looks less spread out than at night, but you see more of how tall and crowded it is, especially the creasant shaped down-town area that takes minutes to fly over just by itself. MC is truly massive.
Hugo and a few others from Betel were at the airport to greet us. For me it was a little odd arriving and not having anybody I knew there to make it feel like coming home. We hiked from the airport to a location about a block away where to chartered microbuses were waiting to take us the twenty or so minutes to the church. My first impressions where of how few people there were at the church compared to my experiences at ElRuenevo. Betel is much smaller, which I got used to as the week went on, but I always felt like we were a little overpowering to the place. Our host families trickled in as the evening went on and they got off work for the day. Our family showed up closer to the end (which I later learned was because they live so far from the church), and the four of us guys pilled into Arturo's little Nissan car along with all our airport luggage and Cori his daughter. I haven't been so crammed since, well the last time I was in this city. Fourty five minutes later when we arrived as his home I had one limb that I could feel -- my head. Everything else woke up (very painful process) about ten minutes later. We didn't talk to Arturo much in the car because we couldn't aid out clumsy spanish with gestures, which make all the difference sometimes.
When we arrived at the apartment complex that Arturo manages and he showed us our room, complete with concrete walls, floors and ceilings, a little bathroom and one bed looked quite comfortably roomy. We deposited our stuff and piled upstairs into the tiny living room, met Corine and stumbled through some conversation for a couple hours. We learned a little bit about the family and the church, but it's hard to communicate until you get a little bit used to being in another culture and getting to know people a little bit.
Goodnights and prayers said, we discovered that our little shower had one temperature -- icy cold. After some fooling with a little blow up air mattress that needed a whole plugged with the cap of a mag-light, we dropped off to sleep.
Wednesday, July 23
I spent the morning packing my bags and finishing up some last minute stuff on the ol' puter before heading out shopping for the afternoon. Most errands went as well as errands do, but a couple were more than I bargained on.
One of the last stops was Comp USA, more because I had a little time to kill than because I needed anything. It was a bad idea because I left the store feeling rather depressed. I know what kind of talent and resources it takes to develope the kinds of gadgets that are everywhere in there, but instead of useing that skill to develope really inovative products, they use it develope products that are as dumbed down as talet can make them. Why? There is more money in it. Watching a salesman selling laptops made me want to cry. People were buying things that cost ten times to much and does 100 times as much as they can use at their skill level. The rest is wasted. The worst is watching people buy things they don't need and paying more when a product that would actually serve them BETTER is sitting right next to it but it costs less so they think it's less because the salesman told them it was less. Urrrrgg. I am not opposed to people having more than they strictly need, but to pay thousands for things that will never be used is wasteful and depressing.
I passed out in Walmart today. After squatting down reading something on a lower shelf I stood up and bashed my head. The combined effect of the bump and the standing up to fast and it being 100 degrees made me blackout for a little bit. When I recovered I started walking back towards the front in search of a drink, only to find myself LOST. Yes lost. It took five tries to figure out which direction was which and where the front of the store was. Ok so I was still half delirious, but stores have no business being so big that you can actually get lost in them.
Speaking of store and rip-offs, I red the label to the ring-worm medication I got and discovered that it was primarily acitone. Top shelf of your garage anybody? Pretty high tech. I guess it'll kill it, but I can't help thinking the bleach would have worked just fine.
I went to Walgreens to restock on some clown and mime makeup items for the team. After asking three different ladies for various kinds of items it dawned on me that the advice I was being fed presumed that the items were for me and they seemed to treat that as quite normal. This is a messed up world.
I wound up done with all my errands about an hour before the evening worship and sendoff meeting was to start at church, so I just went up there and hung around. I sat in the sanctuary and started thinking about all the times I had been there in the past. For worship, meetings and services, drama and parties, sleep-overs and hangouts. I thought of all the plays I've been in and all the acting I've done from that stages. All the wires I have run. All the friendships that have been built in that place, and all the things I have learned from working there. I couldn't help but stop and just thank the Lord for some of the lessons learned there that could have been learned elsewhere or not at all.
Farther back in the church in the newly redecorated college room I was looking through the bulletin boards of pictures from the last several years. One that surprised me a lot is a shot from across the street as we began out historic taco crossing in MexicoCity two years ago. I had no idea the event had been caught on film!
Anyway, I have to be up in about four hours to drive to El Paso, so I should go to bed. I'll try to keep updates flowing here as possible from MexicoCity.
Tuesday, July 22
Didn't do much today. Sat around and read, cleaned out the car, took a nap, you know, tough stuff. Took JohnBellum? out to dinner at Taco Cabana.
Monday, July 21
We met and practiced skits with the team from Faith this evening. It was good to be able to start working with them before we get down to MexicoCity. We each have eleven traveling on Wednesday and both of us have had three people down there for the last couple months.
Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger people. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers, pray for power equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be a miracle. -- Philips Brooks
I confirmed that the growing red spot on my leg is ring-worm. Akin to athletes foot and contagious although quite curable. I was going to go for the bleach treatment recommended in one google result, but being answerable to a team leaving the country is going to mean I have to have "real" medication. Humbug.