Sunday, September 29, 2013

La familia

Llevo tres semanas aqui en mi trabajo y con mi familia tepozteca. For three weeks now I have called Tepoztlán home. 

And I have to apologize because I am still struggling with this blog thing! The one thing I thought I would be very motivated to work on... is proving to be very difficult! But I’m here now and I’m not leaving the computer until I have a entry!

I think today I would like to share with you some things about my wonderful family. With all of us together we are 11 people. Whenever we talk about going somewhere together they say, “Somos un tribo.” “We are a tribe.” And apparently according to Tepoz tradition, if you invite one of us somewhere... we are ALL free to attend! And there are a lot of festivals here in Tepoztlán. I have only been here 3 weeks and the first weekend was the celebration of the christian baptism of the tepozteco king, the second weekend was Independence day weekend, the third weekend was my aunt's birthday and a baptism celebration at the neighbor’s, this weekend was the Dia de Elotes (corn) on Saturday and the celebration of San Miguel today. Then next weekend is a big birthday party for Tadeo who is turning two. I’ve also attended three birthday dinners. When I first arrived they told me that it is always a fiesta here in Tepoz. They weren’t joking!

So yes there has been a lot of comida de fiesta or celebration food! But besides that I have felt welcomed and loved in this new place. I have been taken in as a member of the family and I know that I have people looking out for me. I am surrounded by my Tepozteca host mom, three host aunts/sisters, and an uncle/brother. Then with the “kids” there is Tadeo who will be turning 2, Angie 4, Dariana 13 and Herme who just started college. Also two extranjeros that are like grandparents as well (and with whom I can speak english!), and then myself. 

With members of the family I have climbed to the top of tepozteco for the evening celebration, climbed to the cascades, watched Tadeo ride in the Independence day parade, learned to make cappuccinos, played a lot of UNO, and danced. Oh yes, I must share with you about dancing! Three days a week we have had a family friend come to the house to teach us. In the courtyard members of the family and community are learning to dance Cumbia. What a better way to spend the evening than dancing with the family?! :)

The view from the rooftop (where I dry my laundry)

Our first night in Tepoz,
Herme helped Gabe and I climb to Tepozteco for the evening celebration

Reenactment in el zocalo (center of town) 

Roasting Elotes (corn on the cob)
Sept 28th is the Dia de Elotes
(But I think I've had roasted elote at least 6 times since I've been here)

Angie :)

Tadeo riding in the Independence Day Parade

Independence Day

At the Casacadas with Dariana

Dariana, Herme & Me
We made it to the Cascadas and higher :)

There have been some difficult and homesick days (that maybe I’ll write about later), but over all I have been blessed with the presence of some amazing people who have taken me in as their own and begun to share their lives with me. For that I am eternally grateful. 

I shall try to write again soon. Perhaps I’ll talk about my volunteering or so many other things I have to share, if I can just get myself to write!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

En todas las cosas, sea Dios glorificado

In the time that we have spent in Mexico City (aka distrito federal or DF) during our orientation we have been staying at a convent with some pretty wonderful nuns. We have been constantly reminded through them and our host families in Tepoztlán what hospitality means and how it can warm the heart of a traveler far from home. They have graciously cooked us wonderful meals, practiced their english with us, welcomed us with big smiles every morning for breakfast and shared stories with us. 

Interior courtyard of the convent

Hermana Faviola, who has become particularly special to us, has shared with us her knowledge of history, language, La Virgin de Guadalupe, the political situation in Mexico and her experience with inequality here and from her time living in the United States years ago. But there is one particular conversation that took place shortly after we arrived at the convent that I really value.

After talking about many challenging things our world faces, our country coordinator asked her: What keeps you going? What gives you hope?
Hermana Faviola said, well of course it was Jesus, and she went on to share that Jesus gave the disciples the commandment to love their neighbor as themselves.
She used her hands to illustrate:  with her palms up she held them at unequal heights as if she was a balancing scale. Then she slowly brought one hand up and the other down so that they were equal. She explained that Jesus brought God down to us and into each and everyone of our neighbors. She pointed to each of us and then to the other guests at the convent who were there. “You have a lot of work to do,” she told us. 

Ealier today another hermana joined us for our closing worship service together. She also joined us for our ending “group hug.” At the end she pointed to the altar. She called our attention to the fact that Jesus is holding his hands out (it reminded me of the hug we were in!) and that he looks like he is ready to tell us something: “Proclamen a todos el reino de Dios” (Proclaim to all the kingdom of God) it said above. 


Across the world and across denominations and religions I have felt the church alive, vibrant, loving and welcoming. 


Sometimes the gospel is written in very subtle ways in the world. Other times it is spelled out for you. 

“What gives you hope?” 

“Jesus, of course!”

En todas las cosas... sea Dios glorificado. (In all things... may God be glorified.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

How do you eat your corn?

Coming to a new country I knew that there would be things that would surprise me. I also knew that many things that I do would be strange to other people. I did not, however, expect how I eat my corn to be one of them. 

I have been around enough mexican food in the US to know that corn on the cob or elote is often eaten with some combination of mayo, chili and or cheese. Not quite my favorite yet. But I learned through my temporary mexican host family in Tepoztlán this week that lime and salt is also a very delicious combination (and probably a lot healthier!). I was sitting at the table with the family and my YAGM roomie Rachel when we tried the lime (imitating our 7 year old “host niece”). We commented on how good it was and that we really liked it! Then I went on to explain that at home I love corn on the cob but that I typically eat it with “mantequilla y sal.” I did not expect the jaw dropped, perplexed look that came over my host father and mother’s faces. I turned to Rachel to make sure that mantequilla was the word for butter! It in fact was and they replied that they would have to try it sometime. 

I was prepared for the way that they eat this particular favorite food of mine to be different. I however did not expect them to be so stunned by my way of eating it!

Culture is the rose colored glasses through which we see. We often don’t notice that we have them on, but every now and again we catch glimpses of what our glasses look like and how they tint our world. During orientation in Chicago we had the opportunity to listen to Sunitha Mortha talk about Cross-Cultural Competency and how Culture is our response to “How do we do life?” This experience with butter on corn is just one small example. I’m excited and a little scared for all the ways I will be challenged to experience new ways of life and see my own ways of living more clearly this year and bring you all along on the journey. :)