Today on our agenda was going to the capital of the state, Guanajuato, Guanajuato (like New York, NY!), which was about an hour's drive to the east of Leon. Since Nancy had taken us to the Landrums' house yesterday via oruga, we now knew how to get there; so we went alone.
Just before the team time started, Oscar showed up. He was supposed to have come yesterday to help out with the tract distribution, but got the day mixed up, and so here he was! Once he understood he arrived on the wrong day, he decided he could go with us to Guanajuato since he had the day free anyway.
I fail to remember who brought the devotional today. Perhaps it was Marshall. Oscar understood English fairly well, so we didn't feel bad about speaking in English the whole time! When it came time for singing, we sang some songs in Spanish and some in English, including Maravillas (God of Wonders), Señor Tu Nombre Exaltaré and it's counterpart Lord I Lift Your Name on High. Then we sang a unique song in 5/4 timing: How Deep the Father's Love for Us. Wonderful, deep words in that hymn!
Oscar volunteered to help drive us to Guanajuato, so Amy, Beth, Marshall, Emily, Celina, Scott, and I all traveled with him in his Mercury van. The middle bench seat was taken out so Emily, Celina, and I all sat on the floor. For an hour drive. Mexico is such fun!
Some typical scenery outside
First glimpse of Guanajuato nestled in the mountains
While Craig and Oscar parked the cars in a lot, the rest of us walked down from the overlook through narrow alleys and stone steps, finally reaching the streets. They were all cobblestone and only one car-width wide. It's quite an old city, not built for cars. We met up with Craig and Oscar at a tree-covered plaza, where Willie continually distributed tracts.
Back to the point: as we headed back to the green plaza from our tour, Ryan spotted a little stand selling all kinds of beautiful flowers, and went over to it as we passed by. The rest of us continued on, and he soon he caught up with the group, carrying four red carnations, which he then gave to each of the young ladies. This was another evidence of that "gentlemen's club," and a touching reminder to us all that we appreciate godly young ladies. Caleb made a point of complimenting Ryan for that gesture, and I know the ladies must have all felt special.
Once we got back to the plaza, we met a missionary family based in the city—Joel and Amy Hernandez, and Ivan and Sarah their children. Ivan was attending university and was practicing his very good English with us as we ate lunch (late in the afternoon of course). We were eating in a nice restaurant next to the plaza, where there was a jazz pianist playing lots of American big band/jazz on a keyboard with its accompaniment styles. My brother, Ken, who is a piano tuner, remarked that was the closest he came to seeing a piano all week!
Sadly, Marshall wasn't feeling well in the stomach, and only had a glass of water before heading out to rest on a bench in the plaza.
After lunch we said goodbye to the Hernandezes and Atsushi, and went to the market. The Market was huge—a big building with hundreds of little shops selling shirts, leather products, food, sunglasses... I don't even know what all. Here's a view from the second level:
I was not going to buy anything unless it was useful to me, so as not to waste money. Not far inside the building I saw a shop selling leather belts. I knew I had been in need of one, so I bought a genuine leather belt for about $8.50. Good deal.
As we headed back to the cars, we stoped at the Teatro Cervantes where there was a large statue of Don Quixote and his squire, Sancho.
Ryan, Atsushi, and Marshall
Atsushi, Craig, and Brenda
During the trip back to Leon it got dark (because it was late), and we began to see some thunderstorms.Ooh! I thought excitedly, we finally get to experience some weather other than sun! Ha! The rain lasted a couple of minutes at the most. It was a sprinkling of large raindrops. I guess March isn't the rainy season, right? Anyway, Scott got a couple of good photos of lightning with his camera, so he was happy.
We drove directly to the kinder on the east side of Leon for the Thursday night church meeting. It was pure joy to see the believers once again, assembling in the name of Christ. Normally this mid-week meeting consists of a testimony time, sharing prayer requests, and praying, but since we were there, Craig recommended that six testimonies be shared, alternating Mexican and American, with Craig translating.
Craig joked that they didn't know what to call us. Americanos? No, Mexico is part of North America. (The USA is usually called Estados Unidos in Mexico) Are we estadounidenses? No; technically Mexico is the United States of Mexico (Estados Unidos de Mexico). So what's left? Gringos? That's a derogatory term in the USA, so let's not use that. Now what? Gueros! Yes, let's use that! When Marshall and I were playing dominoes with Nancy and Cuco, I learned that guera is the term for the blank/white tiles. So the Mexicans joked that we should be called the same thing, since we are so light-skinned! It was hilarious!
The testimony from a man named Josue (introduced on Sunday) was especially moving. As he recounted how he came to belive in Christ as his Savior, he could not hold back tears. He came from a violent, alcoholic home, and followed in his parents' footsteps. He became a boxer and a champion in the state, but nothing satisfied him. Finally the gospel was preached to him and the Holy Spirit opened his eyes to the truth and he was saved. He had only been saved about a year and two months at that time, but he obviously loves the Lord and is growing daily, though his parents and siblings are still un saved. Thankfully his wife Lupita is also saved.
That testimony time was such good fellowship, and enabled us to get to know one another a more on a deeper level. We ran out of time for prayer, unfortunately. Afterward I gave Josue a hug and said "Voy a orar por tu familia" (I will pray for your family). With tears still in his eyes he thanked me.
We had some refreshments afterwards—Coke of course—and some more fellowship. Eventually someone got us visitors together for a group photo...which quickly turned into a visitors-and-instant-brothers-and-sisters photo as some dear Mexicans joined us!
Middle: Fernando's sister, Samuel (who preached in the street) holding Betito (whom you will see later), me, Amy, Emily, Beth, Celina, and Alberto
Front: Willie, Josue, and Oscar
There was setting on a table in the room a can for collections to help fund Fernando's trip to Turkey, coming up soon. He was going to visit the Landrums' oldest daughter, Sarah, and her husband Jerry who are missionaries there. He is burdened for the Turks and may become a missionary. I was happy to contribute some to his trip. Fernando also had a handful of leather souvenier bracelets he gave to each of us as a reminder of him and our trip to Mexico. I'm not a bracelet-wearing man, but I couldn't say no. It was a gift from a beloved friend!
When it came time to say good-bye, we knew we would see some people the next day when we would go to Lagos de Moreno to a swim park, but for those we wouldn't see, it was sad. Might we return next year? I don't know, but the common bond in Christ ties our hearts together forever. We shall see each other again some day, even if it's in heaven.