The week we moved in, we met the trash guy; his name is Manuel.  I know that for sure because I asked him about five times before it finally stuck.

(this has happened to me with everyone I've meet the past couple of months; it stiiiinks.  Remembering people's names is so important - - but all the names are new! all of them! I can't remember all the names!)

 When we first moved in, Manuel asked me to separate all the trash - - food products go in one bag, everything else goes in another;  I do that for him.  And every day we all put our trash on the front step and he comes along and picks it up and puts it into the little cart that he pushes all throughout the streets of our neighborhood.

So today we crossed paths with Manuel as he picked up our trash, and we chatted.  (Manuel is always good for a pleasant chat), and we found out that when he takes our trash away, our recyclables get recycled, and that all of our food products get taken to some sort of processing plant that turns all of our food into compost.  He told me that 50% of the trash in our delegation gets sorted and processed like this. 50% !!! and that the remaining 50% doesn't get processed, only because they are lacking the facilities to do it. 
That surprises me! 50% off all the food leftovers in our delegation get composted?
does it surprise you?
I'm super impressed.

I've decided that we NEED to have Manuel and his family over for dinner sometime soon- - can you imagine all the insight he would have into our neighborhood?  maybe I should bump him to the top of the list?


I forgot that if I invited our neighbors to come at 5 - - of course they really wouldn't come till 6. (but they came!)   They trickled in . . . one with a chocolate cake, then another with salsa flavored pork rinds  . . . and then we put on another pot of coffee. 
They were a fantastic group to have over; they answered all of our questions - - telling me what Mexican dishes I needed to learn to cook, and discussing what they thought the needs of our neighborhood are,  and what the underlying issues are that contribute to those needs.  They asked us questions too - - they wondered what we were doing here and if the kids were adjusting well. And when they left, the neighbor to our left said "if you need anything - - anything!  please come over and we will do what we can to help;  because I've decided that I like you!" 
of course this has got me wondering why we didn't throw ourselves a party sooner  (suddenly the hellos between us are all friendlier, and that one neighbor doesn't avoid eye contact any more)  And I'm starting to feel excited about having them over on an individual basis. . .
(hmmm. what should I cook for them?)


I've had my cup of coffee.  Now I'm off to do a whirlwind cleaning for our housewarming party.  I invited most of the neighbors in our complex (there are 8 units),  and most said they would come.
There is a little part of me that wonders, though,  if they will all cancel last minute
(like our double date did last night)
but I'm going to clean the house anyways,
and I'm going to pray that we have sweet conversations with anyone who does come.


Joshua just finished  reading the Secret Garden out loud to us.  It's convinced me to compost again, and it's got Malachai speaking Moorish ( a Moorish that sounds surprisingly like a southern accent).

Have you ever read The Secret Garden?  I wish I could have had a conversation with Frances Hodgson Burnett  and let her know that Jesus was the Magic that she was so intrigued with - - that he is the one who pulls the sun up in the morning, and then back down at night; who makes the plants to spring up and can transform dreariness and death  into joy and life!

I hope someone told her . . . I get the sense that she was desperate to know . . . 


Dear Rachel,
I forgot to tell you - - right before we left for Mexico, Ginny and I were chatting in the kitchen and she asked me: "how is Rachel doing?"
Before I could answer, Selma called out confidently from the other room - "well, she's fine, but she misses me!"
(she's a cheeky one, huh?)
much love,
p.s. we miss you!


We spent yesterday morning at school with Josu and Selma - - they danced (oh baby! did they dance!);
I applied Josu's mustache several times throughout the afternoon;
and we spent the evening (noche Mexicana) with some friends and neighbors.
Thankfully Joshua had enough wits about him to notice that Malachai was wearing his Spain soccer jersey
and had him change 
right before we left for the gigantic party 
celebrating Mexico's revolution against tyrannical Spain.


The city is getting ready for its independence celebration:
Flags hang everywhere,
the street vendors that usually peddle candy and cigaretts are now selling red, green and white trinkets;
my friend Gaby has been practicing her dance steps (mmm . . . zapatadas, I think she calls them.);
I bought an embroidered top and a dancing skirt for Selma;
I found something that will work just right to paint a little mexican mustache on Josu.
Tomorrow the festivities begin!


We spent Saturday morning at DAYA, watching  the babies as Karla  did a workshop with the girls;
It was good to be there.
Malachai and I had a significant conversation on Friday night when  he realized that playing with the babies at DAYA  would not necessarily be fun.  (I think it clicked  when I told him that he could roll the ball to the babies, but not actually play a game of soccer with them)
I reminded him that I wash his dirty clothes - - not because it's fun for me, but because I love him;
and that sometimes, Papa's work isn't fun, but that he works as an expression of love for the world and for his family.
"And what about Jesus?"  I asked him.
Malachai laughed;
he got it.

And the next morning  Joshua held crying babies, Malachai helped a little guy climb up the ladder and slide down the slide 20 times, and Josu  held little Jonatan's hand  for almost a solid hour;  even Selma got in on the love:
It was good to be there.


Malachai came home from school last week, and over lunch he told us about a discussion they had had in class; apparently there was consensus amongst the students - - the president of Mexico is a terrible president.  Why?  Because there is still extreme poverty all throughout the country. The class was worked up into a frenzy:
one girl proposed a manifestation - - they would make banners and march in the streets until they got on tv; and then one boy suggested that they bring guns and knives - - just in case . . .
This made for good lunch conversation.
We talked about why it might or might not be the president's responsibility to solve the crisis of poverty  in the country he leads; we talked about individuals we know who are risking themselves and thinking creatively to care for the those who have needs, and we asked what he or his classmates were doing to care for the poor in Mexico. 

The following day Malachai reported back to us that he had gone to class and proposed a plan:
They would help the girls at DAYA (a home for abused girls - - young teenagers who often have babies of their own)
the students who had money could give money,
the students who had no money could give some of their old baby toys for the babies to play with.
the students who had neither money nor toys could go visit DAYA  and just give their sweet smiles to the girls and their babies.
So he put it to a vote- - and according to Malachai there was "a great chorus of voices agreeing to this plan!"

We have talked with the director of Malachai's school, who has gladly agreed to go ahead with their plan.
will it really work?  Possibly . . . but I don't know.
will they make a significant dent in providing for the needs of those girls and their babies? Maybe;
or maybe not.
Ahhh . . . but it's absolutely a worthwhile investment;


(the strawberries got too roughed up in the market cart; 
they will be turned into sauce)

Joshua and I, and Barry and Karla are reading through When Helping Hurts.  I thought that I had read it before, but I guess that Joshua had read it, and had read me all the things he underlined as he went along, so I just thought that I had read it.
that happens to me every once in a while.
(thanks to Joshua, I think I'm way more well read than I actually am)

Last week we read through the first couple of chapters and discussed them as a team.  We talked about how Jesus - - our King, embodied his kingdom.
throughout his ministry
He taught that he was king,
and he showed that he was king.
He taught what his kingdom is like,
and he showed what his kingdom is like.

My mind and heart are lingering over this marvelous king.
I'm thinking about what implications this has for me and how I follow him.
(he is my king after all!) 


We have been dropping in to a pleasant  little flea market on Saturday mornings as we continue our furniture hunt;  I hear that the one that we really should go to (with the best selection and the best prices) happens on Sundays . . . but that we should never ever go with the kids . . . or even by ourselves for that matter.  Apparently we need to go with  "a man that knows people". 
Or something like that. 
We have had a few offers, so we'll go eventually . . .
We walked away from our last Saturday morning  flea market trip without any furniture, but I picked up this little beauty on the way out;  I mean, it was only  2 dollars . . . how could I not snag it? 
I do have 3 sisters
and 3  sisters-in-law (that pretty much count as sisters)
and a whole list of sister-like friends
surely I can find someone who wants it?!


A dear friend emailed me from the US this week and simply asked how I was doing.
thank you for asking, friend.
(sometimes I want to cry when I think about how many friends have called or emailed asking the same thing - - but then again, I seem to cry about everything these days)

SO. here's the quick list of how I'm doing
1. I'm surprisingly stressed about setting up the house.  buying so much so fast is not normal for me (I start to fear - - is it too expensive?  is it so cheap that it will fall apart soon? do I really need this? will I regret buying this? I don't think I need that thing, but does my family need it? . . . and on and on.  it's all jumbled up in my head and I start to hyperventilate and my mind goes numb . . . )
2. I'm enjoying meeting new people and eating new foods. . .
3. but sometimes meeting so many new people within such a short period of time overwhelms me.
4. and last week I almost had a meltdown in the grocery store because I recognized all the food products lining the shelves, but I just couldn't decide what to buy because it all seemed so out of my normal cooking habits.
I'm gloomy this morning.