Monday, January 5, 2015


The past year was an adventure! In October we traveled to buenos aires, Argentina to attend a special assembly. It was a wonderful experience! Just the encouragement we needed to continue our adventure in Mexico. Friends from Clifton, AZ also attended. It was very nice to catch up on news from our old home. We traveled LAN airlines. We would definitely chose to travel with them whenever possible. The employees were very customer oriented. The food was good. The plane was clean with each seat having its own screen where you could chose to watch movies, listen to music, watch the flight path, or play a game. It also had ports to charge your electronics. Wine was served with dinner. Snacks were served. They had a gluten free meal for me. Great airline! Before landing the sound system announces that the cabin will be sprayed per Argentina's requirement for insect control. It was done so quickly and calmly that it was over before I had time to think about it.

The Argentina brothers and sisters had waited 20 years to host an international assembly. They were so excited and hospitable. Our schedule was full. They fed us whenever they could. The food was excellent! Wine was full bodied and readily available. Argentina beef is delicious! One day we were taken to an assembly hall to enjoy "a day in the country." The friends showed us their horse skills, vocal talents, barbecue skills, and dancing. There also were llamas, donkeys, and other animals. It was amazing and delicious! We could walk the beautiful grounds pausing to enjoy interactive displays about the local customs. At one point we were invited into the assembly hall auditorium where we enjoyed entertainment by our brothers and sisters. Most were amateur entertainers but some were professionals in their field. One was a brother who spun the balls on the ends of ropes. Very fast, very impressive! The regional dances were delightful! I truly loved this entire day! We were offered wine with our lunch! Best barbecue ever!

One afternoon we were bussed to another assembly hall where we were fed while enjoying local talent of all ages. The children were precious. We were eventually invited into the auditorium where our brothers and sisters who are in the entertainment field performed for us. It was so beautiful! One brother sang opera! Wow! Others played jazz type songs. Some danced. Jehovah's people are certainly a talented bunch! We were not expecting such a spectacular show, what a treat! Interspersed throughout all of the entertainment were interviews of long time servants of Jehovah as well as information about Argentina's theocratic history. All of the performances on all of the days were just wonderful! Well done Argentina! 

We toured Bethel one day. It is not just one location but several buildings close by each other that make up the Argentina branch. The brothers were anticipating many changes with the scheduled move in April 2014 of all the printing to Brazil. It was going to mean many changes for many of the Bethelites. At the Bethel housing area a white tent had been set up to feed us lunch! Yummy! The grounds were beautifully kept. We toured all of the different departments within the branch. Each department gave us a gift. So sweet! The legal department showed us a video about the legal milestones of the preaching work in Argentina. For decades the witnesses were banned. In the afternoon we were ushered into a large building where a stage and seats were set up. Once again we were entertained by our brothers and sisters but this time they were all bethelites! Fun show! After the performances we were fed dinner! What a lovely way to end our day at Bethel! 

We went on a bus tour of the city one afternoon. We did stop in an old part where the original metal clad buildings are still standing. They are painted bright colors. I really wanted to see the inside of one but didn't get a chance to. The area is an artsy/crafty place. Fun but probably best not to go at night. We saw the building where Eva Peron spoke to her populace. It is pinky in color and legend is that the paint was mixed with animal blood. The city is full of ornate older buildings that speak of days past when women still wore fur and men smoked cigars.... In the downtown area many large buildings had been private mansions of the ultra rich but when crime reared it's ugly head the wealthy moved to the country while their former homes were turned into embassies or financial institutions. We did go a local grocery store in the downtown area by our hotel. We noticed that customers would go through the checkout line but their purchases were placed in plastic totes and stacked toward the front of the store. The explanation is that you take what you need right now and the rest of your groceries will be delivered the next day to your home which is probably an apartment in a high rise building. Great system! No one could really tell us the cost of living since most are subsidized. Some are only paying $6 for electricity. Education is free including universities. Medical care is affordable too. The people seem very the downtown area there are many bookstores. So imagine you in your downtown apartment after you put away your groceries enjoying a glass of wine, outstanding steak and a new book! Lovely!

Everyone drinks mate. It is a tea. It can be in a teabag or loose. Usually the tea leaves are placed in your favorite mate cup, some add sugar which is the way I prefer to drink it, then you add hot water. It is sipped from a straw that is usually metal but some are plastic. The mate straw has a strainer at the bottom to prevent the tea leaves from clogging your straw. Now the thing is that once you sipped the liquid "all gone" you are not really done with it for the day. You would simply add more hot water to your cup throughout the day. Mate is supposed to help you sleep and stay awake if that is what you want it to do. It is supposed to boost all around good health. The country is crazy about it. Their are special carriers for your mate cup and hot water thermos. The assembly halls have hot water dispensers to refill your cup or thermos. When asked if you would like a sip the local custom is to sip and thank them. It is thought that the hot water kills any germs or bacteria. I am not in agreement. I was unknowingly rude because I said no thank you whenever I was offered a sip. Didn't know about proper local behavior until the day I was leaving for which I was thankful! Just like coffee there is much talk about only buying mate that has been harvested mindfully. Some companies are plowing up the rain forest to plant mate. Not good for the local vegetation.

We went to a dinner tango show. Delicious and great show. When the waiter poured the wine he also left the bottle! 

The actual special assembly was held at another assembly hall. Beautiful grounds! The seating was in the round. Brother Lett was the guest speaker. The program was in Spanish so Bro. Lett had a translator on the platform with him. He even had his prayer translated saying that it would be better to know what you are saying amen to! Wonderful program! The attendance was about 6,000. Robin listened to the program translated into English on his radio. We were given lunch boxes each day. Our hotel provided a buffet breakfast each day of our stay. The friends were so worried that we would be too hot since the assembly hall was open sided with no a/c only fans to move the air. There was a water bottle station where we could obtain water throughout the day. They were so thoughtful. They even came round to our seats collecting the empty bottles. Argentina recycles! We loved meeting so many Argentina brothers and sisters. 6,000 was just about right to feel close.

Throughout the assembly we met brothers and sisters who were part of the construction team building a new assembly hall by the airport. They would cheerfully remind us that our buses would be stopping by on Sunday on our way back to the hotels after the last session of the assembly. We confirmed that we had been told about this special stop and were excited to see the hall. What we didn't know was what they had planned for us! When our buses arrived we were welcomed by the construction team. The building was almost finished but completion was scheduled for summer if 2014. In what would be the auditorium there was a slideshow showing the progress of the build to that point. And there was....yes! You guessed it! Food! The workers had slabbed a tree that had fallen so that they could use them as tables on sawhorses. Cheeses, breads, sausages, fruit, desserts and drinks were all beautifully presented on these makeshift natural wood tables. Sp pretty! With great fanfare the brothers wheeled in a food cart that had hotdogs for those who didn't want the other food. How thoughtful! A member if the building team was a couple we had met at my sister's home in Santa Barbara! What a small world! Once again we were overwhelmed by such loving hospitality! We have seen pictures of the completed assembly is beautiful!

We went to a wonderful zoo. Beautiful grounds! Always great to see animals! and of course, eat together!

A highlight was going in service with a local congregation. We had the privilege of working with an older couple who are fluent in over 6 languages each...the wife is japanese and the husband is lebanese but they met in Canada in an English congregation. They are now serving in an Armenian congregation but had hoped to serve in Turkey since they do speak Turkish. We worked high rise apartments and rang the apartments and spoke on intercoms! The friends said to smile because the householder can hear it in your voice! We ended our morning by doing some street work. Fun! We returned to the Kingdom Hall where we met for service and enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the friends and.....yes! they entertained us!! One little boy was especially sweet.

I will be giving you a link to see our pictures!

The night before we left we attended the English congregation meeting in downtown Buenos Aires. Beautiful KH in the middle of the is very modern looking with three floors and an elevator.  The first floor had a reception desk and one kingdom hall, the second floor had two kingdom halls and the third floor was apartments for the caretaker and traveling brothers. It was at this meeting that we met a brother from Tabasco who was studying at cooking school and was part of the French congregation but was visiting English that night. Stranger yet was after we moved to Tulum we met a very nice couple, the husband was Canadian but the wife was from Tabasco and the wanttobe chef was her brother!! Small world!

We were so organized the following morning....packed and ready to get the taxi to the airport. Arrived in plenty of time. Made our way up to the counter to be told we were at the wrong place! Wrong counter? Wrong terminal? No! Wrong airport! No one looked at our tickets to see that our return flight was out of a different airport! We didn't know there were two airports. Was it closeby? No, it was across town and we had to face the morning traffic rush...bummer. We were worried as we passed our we thought we might never see again.  It took an hour to get across town. We were just on time to check in...not exactly how we had planned it. The first lag of our trip to Chile was shared with many friends from Chile returning home. Really a treat to meet so many brothers and sisters. We had a long lay over in Chile but could not leave the airport because Robin only had permission from Mexico to travel to Argentina.

Forgot to tell you that Robin had some hurdles in finishing his paperwork for his permanent resident visa status...the immigration office called to ask us to meet with them with a translator because there had been a mistake made on Robin's paperwork...and it was their mistake. So we took along a brother who was the best choice...very professional. Robin was asked to sign a paper that explained that a mistake had been made and that his paperwork would have to be restarted but that all of the fees would be transferred to the new application. The mistake went back to when we crossed the border the first time...Robin was treated like a tourist and not as a permanent resident. The problem was that the new paperwork would not be finished before our trip to Argentina so Mexico gave Robin a permission slip to leave the country but it had to stamped when exiting and upon re-entering and submitted to them within  5 days and any deviations could void his paperwork so....we dared not leave the airport. Chile is expensive. We had a hamburger, fries and a beer...came to $33,000 pesos! At the time it figured to about $60.00 dollars! Wow!! Even for airport food that was way pricey!

So we came home to Tabasco. Robin finished his paperwork and in return got his permanent resident green card. Only took about 5 months and around 15 trips to hindsight we should have hired a paralegal to help us. They usually charge about $ would have been worth it!

Then we moved to Tulum and that brings us to the end of 2013! On the bus ride home to Tabasco from Mexico City our bus was rocked by teachers on strike...they broke a window...we had to change buses later on...but the 12 hour trip turned into a 19 hour trip and when we did arrive in Paraiso I was so excited that I left my 3 month old Samsung tablet on the bus and when we returned, no one could find it even though the bus had not left the fault on two counts...leaving it and for never installing the tracking software...very sad.

Monday, September 15, 2014

A year? Really?

Hard to believe that a year has passed since I last wrote an entry. So much has happened. Many blessings...many obstacles to endure or overcome but with Jehovah's spirit all things are possible. 

We are fine, a little older, grayer, maybe a little wiser but definitely more experienced in living outside of our home country. Let me tell you about this past year...

We continued to travel to Villahermosa, Tabasco to meet with the English congregation each week through December. There was a real feeling of disconnect and feeling isolated. A new bridge was being constructed on the highway to Villahermosa. We could expect traffic delays of half an hour to more than four hours. Since the traffic slowed and everyone wanted to be where they were going often the two line highway became five lanes with motorcycles trying to make their way through the maze of cars, trucks and buses. Amazingly, during this travel period we only saw less than five traffic accidents but lots of close calls. Since there was so much craziness on the highway we decided not to drive but to take public transportation. So our trip went like this...we would leave our home about 8 or 9 in the morning to make it to Villahermosa for a 1pm meeting. We would walk half a block to a main road by the river and try to get a taxi or funky bus, which ever came first, to take us to Paraiso where we would go to bus station where buses left every 30 minutes for Villahermosa. That was what their schedule said but break downs, traffic jams and weather could cause major delays. Sometimes these were very nice large buses but more often they were smaller 21 passenger vans in varies states of road was a smaller van. The vans usually did not have good suspension and bounced around quite a bit. There was no option to prebuy tickets so as to guarantee you would ride in the larger bus. We learned early on not to sit in the last row of the van, aka collectivo. Drivers liked to go as fast as they could and then come to a sudden stop. Very hard on the neck...very painful. If one van was sold out you simply had to wait for the next one. Once we felt quite pleased with ourselves for scoring seats on a very nice large bus. We knew our necks would be spared on this trip. We did not factor in the driver's style...he wanted to stay on schedule at all costs...even if it meant creating a new sixth lane beyond the shoulder of the road after days of constant rain where we saw people kayaking out to their mailboxes..added to this sobering situation was the fact that at one point he was on soft ground with just a drop off to the river below on one side. The nice bus wasn't nice enough to have seat belts. It was scary! And remember at some point all those lanes had to merge back into one or two lanes. Vws, semi trucks, buses, motorcycles, bicyclists and pedestrians all fighting for their right to be on the road and ahead of you. Oh and don't forget the vendors who tried to make a buck selling you snacks! Ughhhh! Sometimes when we started off from our home it was pouring rain and the street was flooded to our ankles. On those days we packed our meeting clothes! Once in Villahermosa we had to get a taxi to go to the Kingdom Hall. Villahermosa has a flat rate for each group of passengers so taxis always want to get as many people in as they can. Taxi drivers have set routes so you cannot flag down an empty taxi and expect them to take you where you need to go. You can stand in the rain and have 20 taxis tell you no. After meeting a kind sister or couple would drop us off at the bus station. One time the buses were delayed due to weather and road construction but the bus office wanted to close so they shooed us outside to wait with the mosquitos. Another time we thought maybe it would be easier to drive our car to the bus station in Paraiso and park it closeby so that when we returned we could just drive ourselves home and not have to find a taxi. Sounded like a good idea except that the return bus was delayed and we did not return until after midnight. We had not been able to find a parking spot closeby but figured two and a half blocks is not that far...but in the middle of the night when we were the only ones on the street it seemed more like 2 miles away! On the trip home from Villahermosa passengers got off all along the way although officially the bus doesn't make any stops. Many of the passengers were college age young women. Some would be dropped off along the way where they would find an unlit dirt street to finish their walk home. Yikes! I worried about their was explained to me that they would be fine. No harm would come to them if they were harmed the assailant would be quickly punished and life would go on but maybe not his.... So did women feel pretty safe? Yes. Good method? What if someone was falsely accused? Life would still go on but not his and justice would not have been served. So glad Jehovah will met out true justice!

One of the blessings of these difficult months was getting to know a Canadian couple in the Villahermosa English congregation. The hospitality and love they extended to us was just what we needed at that time. We often would go to Villahermosa on Sunday and stay over for their Monnday night meeting. We stayed with this wonderful couple! If we arrived way to early or too wet for meeting we could take a taxi to their house where we could enjoy a hot shower, good company and maybe a nap! They have proven to be a continual source of encouragement. They are still in Villahermosa although their congregation has been made into an English group hosted by a Spanish congregation. They have about 20 publishers and all of Tabasco as their territory! 

So now we get to the part of how we ended up here on the Yucatan peninsula...but that is for another post!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Alone but not alone...

Many, many changes here. Our old Paraiso congregation is doing well. The awesome thing about serving in a foreign language is that everyone there is there by choice and it makes for an outstanding group of brothers & sisters. Everyone was sad by the sudden cancellation of our congregation but they also want to serve Jehovah as fully as possible so like when an RBC project is finally completed we think “What next?” For all of us the next thing was to attend the English district convention in Merida. Some did decide to forego the cost of attending and chose to attend a Spanish convention in Villahermosa. But for those who did attend it was an opportunity to see old friends and to exchange contact information so as to stay in touch. Lots of group pictures were taken. Lots of hugs. Some tears but not much. The interesting thing was there was an air of excitement…a new chapter in the theocratic lives of many was starting. Some are choosing to return to a Spanish congregation that needs help. Some will be supporting their family in a Spanish congregation. Some are going to help in the indigenous language congregations or in sign language. Throughout the convention the new changes in the English congregations was referred to...very nice to hear and not just have it ignored.

Merida was nice. We stayed with relatives of friends here. It was a very busy household with eight house guests. Wonderful host family, wonderful brotherhood! The convention was held at the assembly hall. We took an ADO bus to Merida from Paraiso and the host family picked us up at the bus station. Merida is a beautiful city with all of the stores you are accustomed to shop at along with traditional local artists/crafters shops in a colonial setting with cobblestone streets.We had thought that we have a low attendance at the convention but it was about 200 more than last year with a high around 900. The drama was the most beautifully costumed drama I have experienced so far. Lots of rain. Very loud on the roof so that the sound volume had to be increased. ADO buses are great! Not at all like the Greyhound. Clean and well run. 

Interesting scene in Merida is---are you familiar with the vendors and beggars who are always trying to sell you something, clean your window or just get a handout when you are stopped at traffic lights in Mexico? In Merida Mennonites sell their cheeses that way!! Strange to see red headed or blonde tall men in overalls and straw hats between the cars! Apparently there is a large Mennonite community in the Merida area.

Most of our Paraiso Ingles congregation are attending a Spanish congregation here in Paraiso who have started a new group in El Chivero which is between Paraiso & Comalcalco. They want to help make the group into a congregation. The territory is rural, in the jungle. We will be working with them in service on Wednesday. For now Robin and I are isolated pioneers in the Villahermosa Ingles congregation. Villahermosa has their meetings on Sunday at 4pm and on Monday at 7:30pm. It is an hour and a half commute for us. We took a bus to our first meetings because there is a huge amount of construction on the highway. They are building a bridge and redoing how the roads run. You can run into construction/traffic jams that can add 30 minutes or more to the commute time. It costs us 40 pesos each to ride the bus one way. Once in Villahermosa we get a taxi to the Kingdom Hall. The friends have given us a ride back to the bus station after meetings. 

Some of you have had some questions regarding the changes in the English field here in Mexico. Sadly we have had to experience the downsizing twice. Our new congregation had to make changes on Monday. This is how they handled it, I hope you find it encouraging and that it helps to answer some questions that you might be asking.

“The Monday night meeting was normal until the How Did We Do Last Year? part. The congregation had accomplished much over the past service year. The brother explained how the goal had changed a little...we are now looking for native English speakers and not people who speak English. 2 Tim. 4:5 So different service activities would be set up including public witnessing using the carts, letter writing on Saturdays, telephone witnessing, witnessing at the airport when flights from the U.S. come in, at English schools, getting referrals of other native English speakers from native English speakers, evening witnessing and during your daily activities whenever you hear English start a conversation with them. Get contact information if possible from the person such as phone number, email address, home address or where they work. This all calls for courage to approach strangers. 2 Tim. 4:17 ...if you hear English find out if they are native speakers and if so, get their contact information The Bro. thanked the 43 publishers for their hard work as seen in the figures for the last service year: 43 publishers, 18,800 hours, 230 books, 300 brochures, 6,200 magazines and 55 Bible studies.

The next part started off with Luke 21:1-4 The Bro. said that all in the congregation were like the their all. To remember that Jesus noticed what she did and he notices what you do. You are all cheerful givers. He referred to Jehovah’s chariot as described in Ezekiel’s vision and that it feels like it took a sharp turn but that is really not the case. We are being told to re-focus. Acts 2:8 It does not mean that the work has been done wrong all these years it is just a readjustment to narrow our focus. He read from a letter that said “deported and those who have learned English are not part of your territory.” So, calls will have to be turned over to the Spanish congregations as well as Bible studies. It does not have to be done immediately but he felt sure all of the changes could be made by the end of October. He said to continue conducting your studies and take someone who will take it over for you. Take someone from the other congregation on your calls to introduce them to the new person. He also said that the letter said “in the vast majority of cases” so there would be exceptions as to turning over calls and Bible studies. The English speaker database will shrink considerably since now only native speakers will be on it, so the need for a large congregation will shrink too. Spanish speaking brothers and sisters are being encouraged to return to Spanish or other fields that need help. He announced that some of the Spanish speakers in the congregation will be asked to stay in the English field if possible but that after meeting the brothers and sisters were asked to meet up with their service overseers to learn who was being asked to stay. It was sad but very lovingly done. The congregation is now made up of only 18 brothers and sisters. 8 are native English speakers from other countries. 10 were asked to stay from the Mexican English speaking brothers and sisters.

Many have asked why we don’t just go to a Spanish congregation? Our directives from the C.O. is to stay in the English. So, for us that means we have to move. We still have not decided on where. We plan to move from Puerto Ceiba at the end of the year. Until then we will have to travel back and forth to Villahermosa for meetings. We will try to do our service here in the Paraiso area.

We have to decide on moving to beach cities or to a city on a mountain that is popular with tourists and ex-patriots. One brother has offered a house he owns as a rental to us. We are pretty sure that we will take his offer. It is a condo with a modern kitchen. Right now we are thinking maybe we would like to try living in an “american style” home in a gated community where we should be able to walk our dogs and not have stray dogs around. If we tire of it we can always move to a regular house in town.

For now we have to work on getting to Argentina. The practical thing would be not to go but we would lose our cost of the tickets and that was big...close to $2,000 dollars. So we will go on a shoestring budget. When we come back we will face the expense of moving.

We are going to have to be creative with our ministry here. We are only allowed to speak to foreigners. We are calling on our old calls and Bible studies letting them know who will be calling on them and that there is no longer an English congregation in the area but there is one in Villahermosa. So Rob and I are alone in service most of the time. We will be stepping over and working with the Spanish on Wednesdays.

We just got a call from the Immigration office and need to be there in Villahermosa on Monday morning at 10am. Robin’s paperwork has been such a headache. I will be so happy when he is done with it if ever. They asked us to take someone who can translate Spanish for us because no one in the office can do that for us and nothing is in English. We are not in Kansas anymore where everything is in English & Spanish!

I had waited to photograph our new home so that I could make some changes. Otherwise you might have questioned our choice. But now I will stop working on it since I am leaving. I had really wanted to put in a vegetable garden.

All in all it is exciting to be part of the changes in the English field in Mexico. We know Jehovah will bless it. We are excited to see how the congregations develop and grow.  We have loved getting to know the friends here in Tabasco both in the English & Spanish field and in sign-language. We love the beauty of Tabasco. We love the people of Tabasco. We have been shown tons of support and lovingly cared for by the friends. This first assignment has not only enriched our lives it has made our love for the brotherhood grow. Most importantly it has helped us to see how time and again Jehovah keeps his promise to care for his people no matter where they are serving in the world. We look forward to the next chapter in our theocratic lives.

Speaking of which, Mexico was invited to apply for international conventions next year in the U.S. Rob and I will be applying but the choices are less than our favorites. We have New Jersey, Texas and Hawaii to pick from and there are only two that will have English all of the others are in Spanish but by then our Spanish should be getting pretty good. We thought since we will be going state side to visit family why not attend one if possible?

Love you!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013


How are you? We are doing well. Still adjusting to living here. Life is better with internet and cable with some English stations! I get to the point that I hunger to hear English. The congregation is made up of Mexicans learning English. One sister is from Belize so she speaks with a British accent. One young couple who are on their way back from the U.S. speak English, the wife is from CA and the husband is from Wales. We are divided into two service groups, Comalcalco and Paraiso. We are in Paraiso since that is where we live so it also makes us the only native English speakers in our group. Not being able to hold a regular conversation with our new friends can make us frustrated. Rob may have imagined a new audience for his jokes but it has to wait until they can understand...and many jokes are based on culture so if you do not know the culture you will not understand why a joke is funny. Poor Rob. One of our young pioneer sisters has just become a private English teacher. She giggles whenever we mention it but she reminds us that she only needs to know more than her students and she is right.

Having internet is wonderful because it gives me the opportunity to communicate with all of you but especially with my children and grandchildren! Love chatting with them and hearing how their lives are going. I have not set up Skype yet but I am almost there so keep us in mind if you use Skype.

We feel overwhelmed at times with the amount of interest we find. Rob could be conducting so many more Bible studies if he just had the time.  We are working hard to cover our area searching out English speakers. We go door to door and ask if they speak English. We really do need help!

We have started an English Watchtower study here in Paraiso at the Kingdom Hall here. We have been having an average attendance of around 16, 10 are from our congregation who live here in Paraiso but the extra 6 keep changing each week. If all of them showed up we might have 30 in attendance.  The surprising thing is that there are many more men who would like a Bible study than women. More men speak English. Strange.

We have decided to take a bus to our English convention in Merida in an effort to save money and wear-and-tear on our car. We do lots of driving while in service. We drive to Comalcalco at least twice a week. The topes (speed bumps) and potholes are hard on the car. We would really like to have two cars, a smaller SUV for personal use and travel. The mini-van works well for service and meetings.

We have our special assembly day in November in Tuxla, Chiapas.  We will probably take a bus there too. Chiapas is very green and mountain-y. Beautiful. Tuxla is a large city with familiar stores and restaurants. It should be a fun weekend.

We will be going to Argentina in October for a special convention in Buenos Aires. We are very excited.  We will be seeing some dear friends from Clifton there. It will be nice to see old friends and share new experiences.

It is the rainy time of the year here. Rain almost every day. Our house has a couple of is where an a/c unit that went in the wall was..there is a piece of wood sitting there. Rob had run a bead of silicon around it. It only leaks if there is a heavy downpour.  The rain has mostly happened at night with lots of thunder. Our roof is a laminate so it sounds loud.  I like it. Weeds grow like weeds! I am trying to decide if I want to have grass in the front or gravel.  I will have to research which choice mosquitos like then do the other.

We still like our new home. The neighborhood is friendlier than the last one. Americans are still a sort of rarity here especially to have one just living next door. Some people do not like Americans while others tolerate us but most just respond to friendliness. So if you are friendly they are friendly towards you. Our house is older and has lots of little quirks but all in all it is working out. I now have a 4-burner propane stuffa. I still do my laundry by hand.  Water has to be pumped up to the water tank, tinaco. Electricity is not 100% of the time but more than where we lived before. We can walk to a store and restaurants from here. We also have a library and a mercado where we can buy fresh vegies and such. We can also get rides in a pochi movil. I haven't touched the yard yet but I have plans to have a vegie garden and an herb garden. Bottom line is that we live in a 3rd world country. To be fair, we do believe that just as in the States, it all depends on where you live and we live where people are slow to make changes.

Sad to report, crime and violence has affected us but it is nothing in comparison to what many of you think of Mexico as being. Our car was broken into. Our belongings were scattered all over the floor board. Rob's precious GPS unit was taken. Michelle Garmin. She was very useful in getting around and finding gas stations while traveling. Rob's service "manbag" was taken too. Usually he has his Bible stuffed into it but this time he didn't so happily he still has his Bible. All of our car chargers were taken along with our ipod player that plays through the radio. We aren't sure of what else was taken since we are unsure of what we really had in the car. Our literature was left, sunglasses left, bug repellent left, territory maps left, inhalers left, umbrellas, left. Brown jacket and blue shawl taken. One of our neighbors who grew up in Pasadena and does not have a car now offered her driveway as a place to park.  Our carport is short and the van would block the front door. Right now the car is parked at the neighbors. This experience just reminded us that we must be diligent about locking doors and bringing valuables back into the house when we come home.

We are still dealing with the immigration office. There are people who work as brokers for you with the immigration office. The problem is that it is hard to find them and if you do not speak Spanish it can be extra difficult to locate one. Once in the immigration office you become aware of people who seem to know many who is the brokers greeting their clients. I think you might want to find out how much they charge and seriously think about obtaining their services so that your immigration paperwork can be completed in a timely manner. Since we are trying to save money & put less wear on the car we tried taking a bus to Villahermosa which is a little over an hour away but has lots of road construction going on. Anyway we went on Thursday to pick up Rob's permanent resident card but we were wrong...after our bus ride we have to find a taxi...once there we waited for our number to come up and then we were told that it was not possible to continue working on his paperwork since he still owed another $1,000 pesos. No one had told us. The office closes at 1pm and it was 12:50 so we said that we could not go and come back in come back tomorrow  was the reply. Ughhh So we canceled our service plans. On Friday we headed back out our front door. Catch a bus to get into town and then get the bus to Villahermosa. Before leaving for Villahermosa we went to Bancomer bank and paid the $1,000 pesos...all bills can be paid at banks, the immigration office does not take payments. So we arrived in Villahermosa, got a taxi, got to the immigration office, shocked to see it filled with waiting people...end of the month maybe? Anyway, our turn came up and then we were surprised again. No, they could not accept our payment...the receipt had Robin's Mom's maiden name on it...same as was on the first payment of $3,900 pesos receipt but no, this one was no...they explained that they were wrong to have accepted the first receipt and could not possibly make another error. So we needed to walk to the Bancomer branch about 4 blocks away and get the name changed. They would tell the guard to let us back in. I'm thinking...they could have done this yesterday. So, off we go. Once at the bank there is about a 50 person lane for those without accounts who are just paying for something.  So we wait and stand. Did I tell we did not have breakfast and now no lunch... Our turn! and then it was a "not possible" this was not made at this need to go back to Paraiso and have them change it.  It is 1:30 by now and the Paraiso bank closes at 4pm. Oh, the helpful teller must do this today because only today can this be changed or cancelled. Can they call Paraiso and have them cancel the transaction? Oh no, not possible. I point out that they are the same bank but she points out that she is in Villahermosa and the receipt was done in Paraiso.Rob decides to pay again so that we can go back to the immigration office today. So we pay and we walk back and let the staff know that we could not change it...they still said no, they could not accept it. So, we gave them the new one...they took it and said that Rob would still need to get his fingerprints done ...could they do them today? No, it is not the time for it...25 days  from the day when the receipt is accepted...which receipt? the first one for $3,900 or the $1,000? the staff person says oh, yes, that would be from today when we finished paying. So Rob and I will be going back 25 days from the first one just in case she is wrong. After that Robin will have to wait 2 weeks to get his card. But this is not the end....we race out of the office, get a taxi back to the bus station, get a bus to Paraiso...we run into construction traffic and then heavy rains. We got back to the bank with 8 minutes to spare. There were about 30 people in line. Finally our turn, and, you guessed it, no, not possible you must go to the teller that made we go stand by his window. Our turn, "not possible to do not have an account with this bank" Ughh! we ask questions but still the answer is no not possible. I ask if we can speak with the bank manager. She ignores us but there is a man in an office at the end of the room with a desk and a suit on...the suit only, not the desk. We asked if he was the president of the bank, he responded by asking why we were asking. He spoke English! We told him about our problem and how at no point did Villahermosa say that Paraiso would only refund if we had an account there. He said "no problem, please wait..." He went out and spoke to the teller. Came back and said that because we did not have an account he could not give us cash but had to refund with a check. He took Rob's passport info and had him sign the check and then he cashed it for us! What a day! Then we had to find a bus to bring us back to our home, Puerto Ceiba. We had our first food of the day at 7:30pm. I will be so happy when we are done with immigration. The sad thing is that after we are done with Rob we will start with my immigration status.

Today we ran errands. Found a dry-cleaner who happened to also be a lavenderia...where they do laundry. I had planned to find one to leave my sheets, towels and bedspreads at...these are too heavy and large to do by hand. There are no laundromats in our city or in Colmalcalco. No machines to feed and do your own laundry. Your options are to do it at home or leave it at a laundry place where they will wash, dry and fold for you. You are charged per kilo. We tried out a corner comedor---Lupita's which turned out to be a very nice restaurant that offered regular food and not tacos or pollo asado or empanadas. We paid our rent & cable/internet ...found coffee filters...they are sold next to the irons and small appliances at the grocery store who does not sell coffee makers but does sell coffee but does not place the filters next to the coffee because they belong in the small appliance section  because they are for a small appliance...okay.

We have found out that we are pretty adaptable and resilient. We can change course when necessary and it is often necessary. One surprise is that there is a slight change in weather to make us think that a change is coming...maybe a sort of fall. Decorations are going up all over the place for Mexico's independence day. Last weekend we missed the Oyster festival because we did not know about it and the funny thing is that it was here in Puerto Ceiba! It was only one day, Saturday and we spent it going in service, coming home for Robin to work on the talk he was giving that evening at the kingdom hall, then we went to the kingdom hall and out for tacos! Totally missed the oyster festival! This week we may be getting our windowscreens put in on all of the windows but the two that already have screens so we will be able to have a cross breeze! It will be so much nicer to open more windows. You learn to appreciate simple things like window screens. After Argentina we are planning on working on getting our house together...washing machine, mattress, bed frame, etc. Until then we have that camping feeling while living in our house! complete with a propane stove!

Thats about it for us for now.  Tabasco is beautiful and so is the rest of this area we would love to have you come visit but if you can't please write. Hearing from you on one of our bad days can make such a difference. Love you

Monday, August 19, 2013

Soapbox Time!!

Okay the question is---do you know someone who is living in a different part of the country or in a different country so that they can help the local population? Do you write them? Regularly? Have you thought that maybe you should drop them a line or call? Since I am now living in a "foreign" country I have to tell you how much hearing from home means to me. Those who stay in touch may make the difference between having a miserable day or thinking of how to resolve the day's challenges in a positive, productive manner. 
I would like each one of you to make a list of those who you have thought you should communicate you have their email addresses? Can you get it from other friends? Compile a list of people you want to write to and their email addresses. Then think about what day each month might be a good day to do that. Schedule it in. You can do a sort of form letter for friends and family perhaps personalizing it a bit for each. Asking specific questions. They will be thrilled to hear from you and you will be happy that you wrote them. It is a win/win situation.  Today was laundry day here...I do laundry by hand; no washing machine yet. A third of the way through the laundry there was no water in the house and so it came on for a couple of minutes around 5pm but is gone again. My neighbor said that some pipe had broken. I have a back up well that I can pump and turn the pump on to fill my water tank but once done, I still have no water. There must be a valve turned off somewhere.  I need to contact my landlord. Yesterday we stopped with friends to visit some friends and ending up eating outside. It was pleasant but the mosquitoes were nasty so today I have about 30 new bites on my legs...and they were just looking normal. Bummer. I have been taking an antihistamine to keep the itching and swelling under control. Some days are just easier. So tomorrow if I have water I will work on some laundry. I really do hope that you take my suggestion seriously and write those letters. You have the power to spread some joy and good cheer. Do it! Thanks for listening!

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Hope all is well with you. We are fine. Still adjusting. Here is some of our recent happenings to bring you up to date!

We had to re-import our car which meant that we needed to take it out of the country and bring it back in. The U.S. is much too far away and would have been a big expense, so we went to Belize. It is about an 8 hour drive (400 miles.) Many of you know that I hate the condition of most of the roads here--potholes & speed bumps. The road to Belize was surprisingly pretty good. Rob says it was the best so far. At the border we had to pay on our visa for being in Mexico for more than 30 days. We had to cancel our last car import permit so that we can get our $200 deposit back. Then we went to Belize. We have to admit that we sort of chickened out. Those from Belize say no problem enjoy our country and others have all of these warnings to give you. We had planned to stay a night or two. We got as far as the free zone between Mexico and Belize. If you actually go into Belize you have to pay taxes/insurances which are not huge amounts but add up. We decided to hold off exploring Belize for a future trip, say in six months when we have to do this all again. So we headed back to Mexico and had to do all of the paperwork again. We got our passports stamped (which you may remember is why we had to go back to the states in May--nothing like being being an illegal in Mexico!) Paid for visas, paid to import the car again and paid non-refundable tax. Of course the office needed copies of some documents and of course they do not make the copies, so we had to drive to a small border town and make the copies and go back. Everything is always very complicated and nothing is in English. Our Spanish is improving but understanding government papers is a whole different matter --important not to get it wrong! Afterwards we went back up to Chetumal and found a cute Mexican resort on the beach. It wasn't fancy but clean and the location was beautiful. I will be posting some pictures.

We had to go to the immigration office  in Villahermosa before July 25th for Robin to finish his paperwork. We got to the office on Wednesday at 1:30pm...the office closed at 1pm! Bummer. So we drove home and drove back to Villahermosa on Thursday. Rob still has to go back one more time...he has until August 22nd. Once they needed copies and some pictires of Robin and of course they do not make copies or take pictures. We did find a copy place but not a place where they take pictures. So we decided to go back another day. Walking to the mall near by sounded like a great idea...malls make us feel like we are in the U.S.

Okay, now for the new house. We reluctantly agreed that we needed to move out of the jungle for a number of reasons, the top one being not being able to get internet service from any company. We also did not have electricity all of the time which is not a big deal unless it is 100 degrees with 100 % humidity or it is night time and Robin's cpap machine will not run. We also had a neighborhood theif who would take stuff out of our yard. I could not leave chairs in my patio or clothes on the line. He stole shoes from  outside my front door. My landlord came and took my mangos off of the tree in the back yard. He came while I was gone and was surprised to find out that we had already chopped down our bananas! The bananas were good and we shared with friends but not with him. So we thought we had a house picked out that would work just fine.  The renter had given notice that she was moving at the end of the month. When we came back from the states we met with the owner of the house and arranged for us to rent it and we would give notice to our landlord. We gave notice. Then we got a call from our new landlord who said that the renter had changed her mind and might not be moving until November. Sorry. We were shocked by how flippant he was about telling us that it would not be possible for us to rent his house. I visit an older lady who lived in the Pasadena area for 30 years when she was a girl. She had told me that she had a house for rent but we thought we had found a house so we thanked her for wanting to help us. Now we asked her if her house was still available but no, she had rented it out and the lady was very happy. But she did know of a house that would be available soon. Animal doctors were renting it but had decided to move back to Villahermosa. So we met the owner, later saw the house and rented it. It is an older Mexican house. Larger than the last house. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, dining room, living room, kitchen, storage area, covered palapa (patio), front porch, back porch and a huge yard. The price was the same as the house we were renting. So we saw it on a Thursday, signed the paperwork on Sunday and moved in on Monday. The inside has been painted. The kitchen is orange, the bedrooms are light yellow and the porches are lime green. I will be painting the living room and dining room white. I will take pictures of it for you. Now we have a place for you to stay when you come viist or to give the public talk! Our dogs love the house and yard.  The house is down the street from an ice-cream store!! A family in our congregation are re-modeling their house and gave us a refrigerator! Now I need to buy a washing machine. I have been doing my wash by hand except for the towels, jeans/pants and sheets. I strung laundry line around my round palapa. I want to put a veggie garden out in the front planters. Our Boston Terrier loves to help me garden. She cultivates the pots with her paws.....not very effective but very destructive. I plan to keep her out of the front yard. We now have a front gate that can be locked so that no one can enter the property without us letting them in.Never thought I would like to live in a locked gated house but it is better than people taking stuff from your back yard.

We had 16 attend our first WT study in English in Paraiso! We are delighted that 2 Bible students came along with 4 English speakers from the Spanish congregations here. Since we have so much territory to cover and need lots of help to do it we want witnesses who speak English but are in local Spanish congregations to join us. We do not have enough help to do the search work looking for English speakers, call back on those we have spoken with and conduct Bible studies. Forming an English congregation here in Paraiso would be wonderful. Right now we meet in Comalcalco which is about 30 or so minutes away. Not bad you say but most people do not have cars so they take buses and they may take an hour or so. But the buses stop at 8pm so any who attend from Paraiso need to find a ride back or take a taxi which for them is expensive. Also the "highway" is like some crazy video driving game...people crossing, stray dogs, vendors, motocycles, parked cars, u-turns made from the right lane, buses picking up and dropping off, bad roads and weather. The road is being repaired so Rob is being positive and saying that when it is finished we will have a nice road for about a month... also while it is being worked on there are new challenges...there are no "work ahead" signs.. you just see that everyone has come to a stop or is merging to one side or another. They do not work on the roads in sequential order from here to there. So they work on this patch of road for about an eighth of a mile then about a mile or so later you encounter more road work on the other lane and so it goes. People cross to the concrete dividers and then climb over it...some have babies, some are chubby, some have bicycles, some are on crutches (wonder how that happened...), and some are burdened with packages. There are pedestrian crossing bridges but most do not use them. Honestly I believe they should but they do look quite steps, two ramps to climb up and two ramps not to slide down. So getting Bible students to join us at KH is no easy task when life is so complicated here. During the day people go all over on buses.

One of the differences from living in the states is that I have two machete wielding senior citizens "mowing" my yard right now. They cut to the ground but plants grow back quickly here. I have been working on the house--cleaning, painting but have not started with the outside. I want to plant a vegetable garden. I have only met one person with a vegetable garden and she was raised in the states!

 Rob had to finish his immigration paperwork. We started the week by going to IFE office here in Paraiso to see if he could finish up by just getting an identification card but no, they said he had to go to the Secretary of Exteriors in Villahermosa to get naturalized status first. Rob wanted to go back to the immigration office in Villahermosa who had given him a checklist of items to bring back to finish up his paperwork. So, on Tuesday we took a really ugly rickety bus from our house to downtown Paraiso and then got a small mercedes van/bus to Villahermosa for $40 pesos each. The vans are newish and look very nice but ride is crazy. We sat in the last row on one bus and the bouncing was painful...I worried for Robin's neck and mine. When we waited for our last bus Rob said that if the only seats available were in the back we would wait for the next bus but we ended up sitting in the first row. It was a much nicer ride! On Tuesday before we left our house on our adventure a young brother in the Spanish congregation showed up to go out in service with us. We apologized and explained how we had to go to the immigration office in Villahermosa. He said "no problem" and followed that with "I will go with you and help you!" Yeah! He was very helpful and were very glad to have him with us. He helped us get a taxi from the bus stop in Villahermosa to the immigration office. So, you see an empty taxi and think I will wave it down and it will take me to where I want to go....that would be wrong.  Not all taxi-s go to the same areas so first you need to ask if they would take you to wherever you need to go. It may take asking over 10 taxicab drivers to find one who is going where you need to go. Secondly, you do not look for an empty look for one that has room for your group. On Tuesday we were a party of 3 so we looked for a taxi that only 1 or no passengers. On Wednesday we looked for taxi-s who had 2 or less passengers. We had to get 3 passport type photos of Rob prior to going to the immigration office. In Puerto Ceiba there is a small Mercado that includes a small photograpy shop where the young photographer said that he could take the pics and give them to us right away for $40 pesos. So Rob took the pics. At the immigration office in Villahermosa on Tuesday the ladysaid oh, these are too big! We need 3 mini-pics! Bummer. The immigration office person told Robin and Jose to go to the nearby mall and get the pics made while I wait for our number to be called. Rob was able to get the pics and get back in time to claim his place in line. The pics cost $200 pesos! The immigration officer was still puzzled as to how Robin got "residence permanente" from the Mexican Consulate's office in Douglas. We call it a blessing! Our items were looked through after which she decided that Robin needed to write a letter in spanish stating that he had been given permanent resident status. So, we went home and had our WT  study in Paraiso. Got home at 10:30 after cleaning the hall and getting everyone back home. Up early on Wednesday to work on the letter. Jose came by and corrected the letter. I was soo proud and smugly thought it was perhaps perfect..but no. The letter had to include what Robin would be doing here in Mexico, how he would support himself, where he would be living and with whom. Then Jose left. We would be on our own. We took the buses. The road to Villahermosa is being worked on, a new bridge is being built. We had to go to a bank before we left Paraiso. Banks here are the place to go to pay for hotel reservations, electric bills and immigration payments as well as other payments. We had thought that Robin's immigration paperwork would cost the same as a visa about $36 dollars but no, it was $3,900 pesos!! Yikes, it will be a tight budget until the end of the month! (and there goes my washing machine stash money...athough Rob is pushing for a bed first...I still think the washing machine is more important) Happily the immigration office was happy with all of our paperwork and money payments. We need to return in 2 weeks to pick up Robin's permanent resident card.  Wahoo!!
We have been having rain. It pours for a short time and may rain lightly for a while. Sometimes we hear thunder but nothing like the monsoon season in Arizona. Strangely, we have not seen a rainbow here. We will keep looking. Our roof is fiberglass so the sound of the rain is loud. We like it. Our dogs are less than thrilled.

So that is about it for now. We love having internet service now. Talk to you later!

Friday, July 5, 2013


Hi, Sorry about not posting. I have lots to tell you but no internet yet. Sad. We hope to move by the end of the month to a house where we can get internet service!!! I will be soooo happy!! Love you!