Monday, May 15, 2006

Mexico: Part 6

Monday, March 13

The next day dawned and Marshall and I got up at our usual time, 7:30. I think Nancy made us huevos revueltos, scrambled eggs, that morning. She mixed chopped bacon and cheese into it. Great way to make eggs!

We were scheduled to meet at the Landrums' home at 10:00 for "team time," and we needed to get there somehow. Cuco left early for work, Josue left for school around 7:15, and Nancy was going into work around 9:30. As it worked out, Nancy's father, also a believer, came by in his car to drive us over to the Landrums', and Nancy to work. (She sells advertising in a local newspaper.) So we ended up getting to the Landrums' house first of all the students!

When I first stepped outside on this morning I was surprised at how warm it was! I asked Marshall if this day was any warmer than Saturday. "About the same," he replied. And to think I was chilly even in long pants and a jacket Saturday. I was definitely not well! Thus it was refreshing and cause for praise to the Lord again for my restoration to health.

By this time in the week, Marshall had already taken around 500 MB of photos and he wanted to burn them to a CD, so, with Brenda's gracious permission, we went upstairs to the office and I helped Marshall with his project. Meanwhile, everyone else arrived, and we became late for the meeting because of the computer work!

After a short devotional given by Ryan, we sang a few songs accompanied by Willie on his guitar, and then Craig told us some history of how he and his wife became missionaries.

Soon I found out the talents of Ryan and Scott. Ryan was very interested in origami and was folding some paper cranes. We found this interesting because I used to be big into origami when I was younger, and we both have the same first name. When I pulled out the juggling balls I brought along, Scott eagerly began trying to juggle four, for he was pretty good at three already and had good form.

After lunch, with which we enjoyed some mangos, we headed over to the kinder where we were to meet some others of the church for evangelism. The day prior to our arrival in Mexico first contacts were made in the neighborhood of the kinder, where they handed out tracts and asked the people to read them. Today were the followup visits in which we would ask the people what they thought about what they had read, and explain the gospel. Obviously we don't speak Spanish that well, so Ken and I were teamed up with Alberto, and everyone else was matched to a Spanish-speaker as well.

Not too many houses out, Alberto had a chance to talk at lenght with a middle-aged woman named Margarita. I didn't catch a lot of what they were saying, but it was very encouraging to see that she was (mildly) interested, and polite enough to chat. As we left after about fifteen minutes, Alberto pointed out a small sticker on the gate, which featured la Virgén de Guadalupe, some popular virgin Mary shrine. So much more we appreciated the opportunity to converse with her!

As we moved on, many people were not home, and since we were unclear exactly which streets to cover, many people received the tracts for the first time. After a couple of blocks, however, there was one elderly woman seated outside a little shop who, when asked what she thought of the tract she received, said distainfully, "I don't have an opinion; it doesn't interest me." How sad to see a soul, likely convicted by the gospel contained in that tract, dismiss it callously. So many people are set in their ways, trusting in the rituals of the Catholic Church for salvation, that it may be enough to discourage one. But knowing that the little church on the east side of town was built from such as these is assurance that God's Spirit working in people's hearts, co-laboring with faithful witnesses produces fruit!

After making use of the allotted time, we returned to the kinder. There we shared with one another how things went and enjoyed some more fellowship.

Here Ken and Emily are talking with Alberto

Next on the agenda was a trip to downtown Leon to see a little bit of the city, which also offered a chance to do some souvenir shopping. All the students, Ken and I, and Craig picked up the big bus, la oruga and began the trip. The orugas are interesting buses. They are about one and a half times as long as American city buses, and accordian-hinged in the middle. It's from this that it gets the name oruga, which means caterpillar! There is a lot more standing room in Mexican buses than American, because it is a more common mode of travel. Everyone uses it! Even middle school students going to and from school.

We walked a few blocks from the bus stop downtown, passing many leather shops on the way. Leather and women's shoes seem to be the biggest industry in Leon, judging by the number of shops specializing in them!

We soon reached the square, which was square. And big. And had more people in it than you would ever see in a similar setting in the States. Mexican people love to hang out outside! It did so happen that there was some sort of political/communist rally-type event ocurring there which did account for a large chunk of the people, but still there were so many just enjoying the weather, shopping, etc. In the center of the square was a fountain that was the image of lions standing in a pool with a large bowl on their backs. They were the lions of Leon. Los leones de Leon. We got a pretty good group picture there:

Beth, Emily, Scott, me, Marshall, Ken
Celina, Amy, Caleb, Willie

Everywhere we went, Willie was handing out tracts, repeating the phrase taught him: "Le regalo un folleto" ("I 'gift' you with a pamphlet," indicating the fact that it was free). It was a real encouragement to see his enthusiasm and single-mindedness for evangelizing according to his ability.

Making our way around the square, Craig recommended a certain ice cream shop there, so we all bought some ice cream. It seemed blueberry was a favorite among us. While there, Willie met a young couple sitting at a table. Because he knows, practically speaking, no Spanish, he soon called Ken over to interpret. It turned out these folks were Christians and excited to hear about the mission we Americans were there for. They even exchanged e-mail addresses with Ken and urged him to contact them if we were ever in the area again! The brotherly bond in Christ is boundless!

While Ken was talking to them, the rest of us purchased and finished our ice cream. So while Ken got his, Willie got talking to another man outside and enlisted the help of Craig. Craig and this man talked for a good long time, possibly 20-25 minutes. He reported to us that the man had been in the Catholic church, tried Buddhism, and several other things, apparently trying to find a religion that really worked. He's another soul needing fervent prayer.

Also during that time, a man and his teenaged son came by and set up a homemade marimba on the stone-paved walkway and began to play some tunes. This was something quite typical in Mexico, especially when they hopefully solicited tips from the bystanders.

Finally we were all ready to go, so we made our way back to the bus stop, Willie dealing out tracts all the way. We had to switch buses partway through the trip, and one of them was packed. Do you know what Mexicans do when there's no room on the bus? They don't wait for another...they pack it tighter! We were literally shoulder to shoulder and back to back to everyone on the bus. Craig was shouting our destination for us to hear. "Next stop!" The buses only stop for about a minute, which, for a vehicle that packed, made it possible that people would either miss their stop or miss their bus, depending on which side of the doors they were. We were concerned that only some of us would make the stop! Nevertheless, with much pushing and "Con permiso!" we all got off together.

Mexican bus rides are a blast! Adventure! Excitement!

Anyway, we headed over to the Landrums' favorite restaurant, Tacos Don Luis. As you can see, like all Mexican store-fronts, the restaurant was open across its whole width to the street. Never have I had better, more authentic tacos! There were choices of pork, beef, and sausage, with or without cheese, and you could add as much lettuce, onion, or hot sauce (yeah!) as you wanted. The tables were about waist high, and you could either sit on stools or stand to eat. They had Coke, Sprite, and a couple of other choices of beverages, served in glass bottles. That's something you don't find here. We ordered what we wanted and watched in awe as the men chopped, cooked, fried and assembled the meat and tortillas into tacos. Using blisteringly hot griddles. With bare hands. They could grab a tortillas, throw some meat in it, throw some hot sauce on it, throw it on a paper plate and hand it to you in five seconds, absolutely no kidding. That's Fast Food! Once you were done with your tacos or quesadillas, a waiter might come by and take more orders, delivering them to you.

Like I said, great food. And great service. All at a cheap price. Each taco was about 80 pesos, or close to 80 cents American. The cost of living in Mexico is much cheaper, as is the average income, so I'm not really sure what it was like for a Mexican to pay 80 pesos, but it sure was cheap for me.

Good music too. Eventually a man came in with a boombox, and the restauranteurs pointed him to a spot in the restaurant and an electrical outlet. He plugged in the boombox, which he held in his hand, pulled out a notebook of handwritten words, and proceded to sing to accompaniment tracks on a CD. The musical style was Ranchero, specifically Vicente Fernandez songs, if that means anything to you. Fernandez and his son, Alejandro, are amazingly popular singers in Mexico, and my dad has a couple of their CD's from his business trips down there years ago. It's really nice, traditional Mexican music. So this man was singing these songs, without amplification, and he was clearly heard above the cacophany of the restaurant. Quite a talent that man has!

When dinner was over--probably around 9:30 pm (lunch is usually around 3)--Craig told Marshall and me that we had to take the bus by ourselves back home. He told us what bus stop we were at and which one we had to go to. We were both good-naturedly nervous about it, but it couldn't have been simpler. (By the end of the week we were old pros.) We got home and I told Nancy and Cuco what we did that day. Nancy asked what we were doing tomorrow, Tuesday. Going to San Juan de los Lagos, I replied, to see the cathedral. Josue joked, "On your knees?" The cathedral there is a big pilgrimage spot where millions of people come to every year, often on their knees. Even some in the church in Leon made the pilgrimage before they trusted in Christ alone for their salvation, believing that all their so-called righteousness was as filthy rags before God. But more about that in my accounting of the next day.

We showed them Marshall's digital pictures on the TV, which they enjoyed immensely, then I think played dominoes and eventually went to bed around midnight.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you had a great time down there! That's neat that you and 'otro' Ryan both like origami.

Those Mexican bus rides do sound like fun!

Thanks for the update! Even though I already heard about it, it's nice to read a more detailed account. Looking forward to more... : )