The highways were amazing, gas only costs 70 cents a liter at the state owned PEMEX stations all along the route, and we managed to get two nights at different hotels and buy groceries with our very, very limited Spanish. The only issues were some technical difficulties with visas and car permits at the border (that proved that I still have lots to learn with being patient), and a brief interaction with a Police Officer while driving behind Susan to her home in Mexico City (I followed Susan instead of the police officer on his motorbike and it all worked out!).
The countryside on way down was very different than anything we had seen so far. Instead of the Saguaro cactus forests that we saw in Arizona, the hils are covered with lots of palm trees. It is very dry, and also exceptionally hilly. We had no idea that Mexico had so many mountains. In fact, for most of our drive down from the border, we drove between two mountain chains that converge in Mexico City. The drive down took us through kilomoters of nothing but wilderness, with the odd small town right along the highway, which included such diverse things as stands selling snake skins, horses staked out on the meridan to graze, lots of little shops advertising "Vulcanizador" (tire repair, which we thankfully haven't needed), and small herds of livestock being herded by children and adults.
And then of course, there are the gigantic Mexican Bulls!
(Seriously, we were totally messed up by this guy! It ends up that he is just a billboard advertising Mexican beer, but when we first saw it just outside of Nuevo Laredo we thought it was real!) The picture also shows the great Mexican toll roads, which only cost us about $35 from the border to Mexico City (MC).
Being in MC is a bit surreal. For almost 10 months we have been telling people we would be going here, and now that we are, God has again showed us why we needed to come here, and that he is always with us. Susan is the one woman director, administrator, and teacher at CETA, Centro de Educacion Teologica de la Alianza, the Christian & Missionary Alliance Seminary in Mexico City. Months back I offered and she accepted that I could teach a seminar on Parenting for Spiritual Growth that I had done at GMC. So yesterday I had the amazing privilidge of teaching and sharing with seven great Mexican Christians who are excited about serving in their churches' CM program. Susan translated for me, and we all laughed at certain points, and enjoyed growing closer to God together. And I realized again that God has blessed me with the opportunity to learn so much, and that I have the responsibility to use my teaching gift to pass on his truths to others.
While we haven't seen much of MC yet, we have seen lots of Lois' favorite car, the VW bug. (It seems that it was only three years ago that they stopped making the old style here in Mexico, so they are everywhere!) We have experienced some of the traffic, the insanely huge speed bumps everywhere (seems that stop signs don't work so well, but a two foot bump on the road sure slows you down!), the noise of the many buses, and the wonderful smells from the taco shops. Susan is going to show us many of the major tourist spots this week, and we are very excited about that.
But even if we were stuck in her apartment for the next week, MC would still be a highlight of our trip (and not just because she has a huge apartment with lots of bedrooms, Canadian satelite TV, and a very friendly cat named Toby). It would be because of our church experience this morning at an Alliance church in Atizapan a "suburb" of MC.
About 70 Mexican believers gather here weekly, under the ministry of Pastor Arturo and his family. What could have been a long, boring service for us and our children because we don't speak Spanish, turned into a powerful experience of God through his Spirit. God once again blessed us "beyond what we could ask or imagine." There is so much to say, so I will just list it.
- There was a patch of grass, a swing and a football behind the church that we could play with before the service began.
- Monica, a translator friend of Susan's at the church translated for Lois during worship while Susan translated for me.
- Pastor Arturo chose to preach in English for us his Canadian visitors, and Monica translated for the rest of the church!
- The church has one Sunday School teacher who speaks English, and this was her Sunday to teach (and she brought her Spanish/English Bible!).
- The Pastor's children were in Sunday School, and their daughter Lisa Marie who was (surprise!) Lorianne's age, and their son Samuel (who is 8 like Caleb) speak English.
- The sermon was on pride, an issue that one soon to be lead pastor needs to work on.
- At the end of the service, the church gathered around us, layed hands on us, and prayed for us! They prayed that God would lead and guide us in our new ministry in Emo.
- As we were being prayed for, Elizabeth, the Pastor's wife, received a word from the Spirit and shared with us that God through his strength and not ours would do a mighty work in the church, and that he would provide for and look after our children.
Truly, we were humbled and blessed by the morning, and God's grace towards us and our children. Afterwards we went out for lunch with the Pastor's family and had a great time sharing and encouraging one another in our faith journey's as our children played and had fun together.
So the adventure continues, and it gets better all the time. In two weeks we will be back in Winnipeg, and less than a month we will be in our new home in Emo. But for today, we again say "Thank You" to our great and awesome God who is so gracious and kind to his children.