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!

Monday, May 13, 2013

More Learning Done But Maybe Try Another Learning Method Next Time.....

Hi, I haven't posted a blog entry in a while. We are settling in. The novelty of our situation has began to wear off. There is still much to learn about living in Mexico. We had our first experience with the local traffic police. One of our friends had a slight fender bender. This friend is notorious for being a slow driver so he was probably going about 10mph in downtown traffic when another car tapped his bumper. Both drivers got out of their cars and surveyed the damage. Our friend's suv suffered a small dent to bumper. The other car had a dent on their front right fender by their light. The other driver did want the traffic police called over who were just at the end of the block. He said that he did not have insurance. Our friend said since both cars received slight damage they could just call it even. Our friend is from the States but has dual citizenship. He speaks Spanish. At this point our friend got back in to his vehicle and drove to the grocery store about a half mile to a mile away. The other driver followed him. When our friend stopped, the other driver got out and yelled at him for smashing into his car and driving away! The uproar caused a crowd to form. Police were called. The locals were horrified that a tall American (who cares if the American is of Mexican descent and is a citizen of Mexico) would do such a thing to an older Mexican couple. The police arrived. At this point our friend knew that things were not going well. He asked how much they wanted. How much did he have to pay? The police said that he had to go to the police station to settle the incident. It was at this time that we arrived to help. (We had dinner plans with them, so, they had been texting us as to why they were late.) There were about 10 or more police surrounding him and saying that since he was not cooperating and had such a bad attitude they had to take him in. Our friend was handcuffed. The police only reached his shoulders so if the situation wasn't so serious it would have been comical. The police led him to a police truck with an extended cab. Our friend had to scrunch up to fit in it. We followed a motorcycle police to the station. I asked our friends if they had photographed their cars. No, they had not done so. They asked if I had my camera with me. No, I did not but I had my cell phone. So out came the iphone and I started taking pictures. When I took a picture that included the director of the police station, I was in trouble. First of all the police do not like pictures taken. Secondly, the director does not allow any pictures taken of himself. He grabbed my phone. I grabbed it back! He had a wild look in his eye as if he would throw it against a wall. Couldn't let that happen! He told me that he should arrest me for taking pictures. He told me that in my country I would be arrested. He was very angry with me. It was at that point that I decided it might serve my friends' best interests if I kept a low profile. Before I went into hiding I showed a policeman that I was deleting the director's picture from my phone and to please tell him that I did it. I did call some other friends in to help. One brother wanted to speak to a policeman but no one would...but I did run across the director again and sincerely apologized for taking his picture. He said sorry was not good enough and that I belonged in jail. After that encounter, I had Robin park the van out on a side street and took refuge in it until the entire situation was resolved 2 hours later. Our friend was accused of leaving the scene of an accident. He had to pay $1,500 pesos to the older couple and a fine of $1,200 to the police for “leaving the scene of an accident.” At one point the wife of the older couple complained of stomach pains brought on by the accident so our friend's wife and another friend who was being a wonderful go-between with the police (along with her husband) volunteered to take this poor lady to the hospital to get her checked out...she had an instant recovery! Before the older couple left the station, they told our friends that they were friends with most of the policemen there and that they were good friends with the director's parents so he needed to watch his back! A threat! It was heartwarming to see many of our new friends from the Spanish congregation come by and, as was already mentioned, we were so thankful for our friends from the English congregation. This Mexican couple were so calm and respectful to all involved. One brother from the English congregation works for the city and knows many of those involved. He made some phone calls in our friend's behalf. By midnight our friend had paid up, was released and was driving himself home! Later we learned that if the police impound your car you must pay an impound fee each day in cash and another lump sum when the car is released! Yikes! So, you never want the police to take your car. Another important lesson is that if you have a fender bender it is best to resolve it on the spot. Pay up there. I questioned rather the person would do the same thing as the older couple even after you give them money....the brothers were shocked by my question....they replied that no, the other people would honor the settlement....another one of those “things-that-make-you-go-hmmmmm....” Our neighbor thought that the older couple did not want the police involved at the scene of the accident because then when a crowd formed there would be ones who saw the accident and they could have said that the older couple were to blame so they took it somewhere where they could accuse our friend and no one would know how it really happened. We have been hearing about other newcomer's traffic stories...seems that some have had to spend a night or two in jail due to a traffic/car infraction. Now that would be very scary. At one point one of the officers told our friend that this was how he was treated in the states....could he be holding a grudge? I have to say that up to this night I had found the traffic police pleasant and helpful but this was during the day. At peak traffic times, the traffic police control traffic flow. It helps! I have been always thankful to see them directing traffic. Showing respect to those in authority here is important. One of the big reminders that we are-not-in-Kansas-anymore!

A Visit State Side!!

We are going back to the States this month for a 2 week visit! I am so excited! We are leaving this Thursday or next. Megan & Sage have been helping us find flights. We still need to work out our internet problems. When we come back we will make getting internet in our home our mission. Our American phones will be working when we are in the States so feel free to call us! We would love to visit with some of you in person.

We will be getting some immigration paperwork done. Shopping. Clothes are pricey here. And I need to tell you about laundry...but that is for another time. Wii & other games are pricey here...about $100 each! American food....particularly a steak!! No, thick steaks here. No roasts either....but that is another story too! For me, gluten free food!! And giant green salads!!!

Number one thing to do in the States---> See our family!! I am so missing them! Especially the grandchildren!! It will be great to visit with them! We might be able to spend some time with our brand new daughter-in-law!

Now that I know a little more about life down here, I know what items I have in storage that would be very useful to bring back. We also want to downsize our storage units. Leaving the country was not the planned organized affair I had envisioned. I did not give ourselves enough time to pack and organize. I think it was part of a denial mentality. I certainly did not expect to be sick when we were leaving. I am still so very grateful for all of the love and help we were given at the last minute. We could never have left on time without it. Our brotherhood is a wonderful, wonderful thing. Jehovah provides the help we need from the least likely source. We had not expected our community to be so involved in our move. But they were....and we are so glad for all of their help and support during that time!!

We have not gotten our return ticket yet but I will be researching how much an extra bag will cost me verses sending myself a box through fed-ex or DHL. A $100 for a large suitcase is sounding quite reasonable!.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

A Random Update on Life Here....

Hi, Still no internet in our house. Still fighting with the internet service who sold us a wifi device that would work in our area. It did not work. Very disappointing. Everything else is going pretty smoothly. Settling in to life in a foreign country is bound to take some time. The weather ranges from very nice in the 70's to very warm in the 90's with high humidity. We have a mini-split air-conditioning unit in our bedroom. Rob likes to sleep in a cool room then he can face the sticky hot day ahead of him. Whatever it takes to get us through the day! We now have a dining room set and two smaller tables to use as desks. The young man who made our chairs is now working on a living set for us. It will not be ready until after the 15th at the earliest. Whenever we get it into our home will be a positive change. I really miss having something to sit on other than the bed or a dining room chair. Robin and his dog have discovered that they really enjoy napping in a hammock! They try to get in some “hammock” time on the days that they can. We go out in service on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday. We usually start around 9am and work until noon or 1pm. We take a lunch break that allows us time to go to the wifi coffee shop or for Rob to have “hammock” time. Both activities allow us time to cool down. We regroup for afternoon service at 3pm and then again at 6pm. Our service days end anytime from 6pm to 9:30pm. Long days. Saturday at 2:30 is our public talk and Watchtower study at the Kingdom Hall in Comalcalco which is about a 25 minute drive from Paraiso. Mondays and Tuesday mornings are our “down” days. I clean house on Monday in preparation for the English classes here that start from about 5pm and last until 8pm or so depending on how much visiting one family wants to do afterwards. I also try to do some cooking for the week. I will try to make at least two main dishes and freeze some for during the week. If I make salsa, it is made on Monday. We have a chile bush that is covered with small red chiles that are surprisingly very hot! They are hot even when they are still green...don't ask me how I know this.... Some of our citrus trees are starting to bloom. Our seasons seem to be the same as in the states.

It was hot today...about 98 and humidity. The people here say it will get warmer.... Something to look forward to...maybe. Rain is in the forecast so that will cool things down.

Our van is getting work done on the brakes tomorrow...replacing the pump or something. So we will carefully drive it to the mechanic brother and take a bus to the bus terminal downtown and run some errands and then get taxi back to our house. We will have to get a bus to pick up the car later. If it rains it will be cooler and wet and muddy....if it doesn't it will be hot and sticky.

My neighbor sister runs a chicken ranch about 3 miles from here. We buy chicken from her. It is pretty tasty. Robin and I are not sure what to do with the feet so I have been freezing them. On Monday one of the English class students said she loves them to add flavor to her soup or to cook them up for the dog's food. I gifted her with about ten frozen feet. I did take a picture of some in a frying pan but that was shock value only. Today our dainty pioneer partners smacked their lips while talking about how delicious chicken feet are...okay, another group to gift them too!!

My neighbor has been washing our clothes. She has an outdoor kitchen with dirt floor but she has a washing machine and a real stove!! Such wealth!! She prides herself in getting all the stains out of any garment. Her wash does come back clean albeit a little worn from the extreme cleaning efforts. I am not comfortable with her doing my personal items so I hand-wash some items. I have a clothes line but no clothes pins. My very smart and practical neighbor showed me that with the plastic laundry line that I have you can separate the twisted cords and put corners of your laundry through. Very clever! I have had my clothes ironed but I am so picky about this that it has only been a one time occurrence. I don't mind ironing our clothes in the early morning.

We have had some help with the gardening. The brush was sort of wild around the house and we had been thinking about cutting some of it back when the neighbor showed up with a machete and said that they would like to cut the growth back from the side of the house so that the snakes will keep away....yeah, about them snakes.... Here's the thing...when we first came in September we asked about the critters and challenges of living here aside from the obvious. Everyone said “no problem.” When someone says “no problem” it usually applies to them....”no problem” for them since all of their growth is cut back....”no problem” for them because they know what to do and so on. The “no problem” part usually does not include you...for you there could very well be a huge problem overhead....a huge spider ready to pounce you but hey, no will not hurt me!

There is also a mosquito season during the summer months. I will definitely let you know how that goes. I have changed my opinion of “Off” and “Raid.” Raid is very effective for ridding a house of bugs and the smell is really not that unpleasant. I use ecologically sound bug repellents as much as I can to the point that I am sure if I were to have a blood test today they would find citronella in my blood. I spray my shoes, Bibles and umbrella with Off. Before we leave the car to walk to an 8pm Bible study that is conducted on the porch, I spray Off on my legs and elbows. I have such a huge reaction to a mosquito bite that I really don't want to get any if I can help it. I have been so against these products for most of my life but now I see how truly helpful they are...much like the invention of light bulbs. I know some of you are saying ewwww...but doesn't problems with mosquitoes pale in comparison to the bugs and stuff in Myanmar? Have you read the 2013 Yearbook?

There are lots and lots of taco places. We have been trying them out as we go. Tacos are usually pork, beef, beef ribs, the hump on a brahma type cow, brains, intestines or tongue. We stick with pastor which is the pork cooked much the same way the Greeks cook gyro meat. I have tried the hump, called ube or something like was tasty but I probably won't eat it again because I am a food snob. Oh, sometimes they do offer the breasts from a cow....and no, I will not try these. I do order argentine chorizo tacos as well as regular beef tacos. The cows here are a Brahma mix. They are very thin. Beef is usually served as skirt steak. If you are looking for a U.S. -type steak just get that silly thought out of your mind. They are not to be found. In San Cristobal, Chiapas we did find an Argentinian restaurant that had great steaks!

It is surprising that beans and rice are not served with every meal like in the U.S. -when you order Mexican food. Tacos come with condiments...salsas, lime slices, onions, cabbage, pickled carrots and other items. It is strange to order a meal and only get meat and tortillas. Tortillas are bought each day here. Tacos are about 6-8 pesos each. Tortillas run about 7 pesos for half a kilo. Warm tortillas are still an amazing flavor for me! Good childhood memories of La Tolteca.

Vendors go through neighborhoods throughout the day selling tortillas, bottled water, fruit, chicken, ice cream, newspapers, snow cones, furniture and some buy scrap metal. Each vendor has a different song or whistle or bell. Robin and I are still not sure which is which. Robin hates the noise from these vendors so he is happy to live on a dirt road where there is only one other house. Few vendors venture down our nick of the woods, or our nick of the jungle.

Vendors can be found on the streets throughout the city. Almost anything is sold from these primitive kiosks. You can buy fruit, pottery, furniture, tacos, hats, hammocks, plants, candy, toys, cookies, empanadas, crabs, gum, and other items that I can't remember.

Small open stores line the downtown streets. Most do not have window store fronts, they just have a rolling metal garage door that is down when they are closed and up when they are open. Most store owners are friendly and helpful. Our favorite type of store is a “papeleria” which is probably spelled wrong. It can be a photo copy center or just an office supply type store with paper and pens. You never really know what you will find in each store so when we have the time we stop in and take a look.

The downtown area has the big Catholic church and a public downtown park where vendors gather to market their wares. A sister sells cut up jicama, mangos,or ciwellas. I picked a large container of jicama to munch on but she would not surrender it before she doctored it up with hot sauce and salt and lime. A brother sells popcorn there too. The park is also a good place to find foreign visitors. It is very nice to be able to just talk to someone in English who understands what you are saying. Saturday and Sunday is the when the park fills with local people out to enjoy the nice evening and treat their children to some delightful treats. We did buy some corn from a vendor. It was served in a cup. Cut corn with cream was ladled into the cup then butter, then mayonnaise then cheese, salt and pepper....did not taste as good as you might think.... They do sell corn on a stick but they butter these, mayonnaise, put some heavy cream on it and then the cherry-on-top is hot sauce....I bought one plain. The corn is not the sweet corn type. Bummer.

Empanadas are popular here. Almost anything can be made into one. In fact there are empanada restaurants where you pick what you want in your empanada. They are usually made with a corn masa for which I am very glad since I can eat these. So, I have tacos and empanadas to chose from; not bad! Marisco empanadas are popular here. You can get shrimp, crab or fish empanadas with or without cheese. Forgot to say that tacos here are usually just the meat in a corn tortilla and then you add the condiments. If you want cheese then you order it “a gringa.”

Let's talk cheese. The cheese is good. Oaxaca cheese is sort of like mozzarella or string cheese. It is great on a quesadilla since it seems to melt easily. Easy to find parmesan cheese. There are gouda cheese around and no that is not the opposite of “bada” cheese! Cheddar cheese seems not to be around. We will have to look around in the grocery stores in Villahermosa, the state capital which is about an hour's drive from here. I have heard that the Walmart there has gluten free items!! Must check that out! There is a mayan cheese that is sold by vendors and in the stores. It crumbles easily and tastes a lot like queso fresco in the States. There are some queso fresco cheeses available for a very low cost. A package is about 3.50 pesos.

I have one less morning chore to do...sadly my large mango tree is done for the season. I did enjoy the mangos. We gave lots away. We learned to make “mangoladas”....mashed mango mixed with the red pepper/limon stuff and frozen with a stick in it. You then pour “chamoy” on top of it before you eat it. It is surprisingly very good! My favorite way to use my mango crop was to make salsa with it...onions, mangos, chile, lime juice and cilantro. Yummmm!!! especially on chicken tacos!

Let's talk “gallina” is when the chicken is walking around taking in the sunshine and eating his grub. “Pollo” is what you eat! And Tabascanos love to eat pollo! Everywhere they are roasting chicken on grills---pollo asado. It is usually very tastey but can sometimes be disappointingly dry and flavorless. It is always a good value for the money. A whole chicken runs about 100 pesos but you get tortillas, hot sauce, onions, sometimes cabbage, sometimes beans, sometimes rice, and chiles. So for us it is a great value since it will feed us for more than 2 meals.

Tabasco is Mexico's chocolate maker. I have cacao trees outside my bedroom window. Tabasco is famous for its pozol. Pozol is a chocolate flavored drink made with cacao and corn meal. My neighbor makes the best. It comes in a loaf about the size of meatloaf. You break off pieces and put in the blender with water and some sugar if you want. While you are drinking it you need to swish your cup around to keep the corn meal from settling to the bottom. You will find Tabascanos doing that with any cup in their hand. I like pozol cold and with sugar. It is supposed to help you take the heat. It is sort of a meal replacement...when it is too hot to eat, you can always drink some pozol!

Umbrellas. People here love them for shade. There is a real learned skill in how to manipulate your umbrella while walking through crowded, narrow streets. I am still working on it. Today I tried just wearing my hat but it flew off. Thankfully Rob was behind me so he retrieved it for me. I may have found out why the women prefer umbrellas to hats....I also, think that vanity comes into play....hat hair and all.

I may have trouble finding shoes here...most shops carry women's shoes up to a size 9 which is a Mexican 6. I am a 10! I will keep looking.

Service is very enjoyable. We teach English to those in our car group. We have started doing an English search again. We are working all of our territory, door-to-door and asking if anyone in the home speaks English if they do then we talk to them and invite them to our English Bible meetings. We make return visits when we are too hot. Four of our regular pioneer partners, a mom and her three daughters, do not drive so we drive them to their studies and do a “search” in the area around their study's house. Good times! We just work in the Paraiso area. Since Paraiso not only includes the city but the outlaying beach areas, service can be rather scenic!

Today we rode public transportation for the first time. We got a bus from the mechanic's place into town. We walked around downtown familiarizing ourselves better with the city. We took a bus back to pick up the van. The first short bus was a better ride than the bigger bus we took back. Buses cost 7 to 8 pesos.

Water. We have water delivered to the house about twice a week. It is $14 pesos for 5 gallons. The water to the house from the pipes stops about 9am and comes back on around 7pm. We have to make sure that we have plugged the pump in to fill the water tank on the roof. Taking showers has been more enjoyable now that the weather is warmer. We do not have a water heater. If you order water at a restaurant they want to know what kind....plain, mineral, pina, coco, jamica, orange or something else. So many is like being at a “subway” for water...decisions have to be made. At home I have made pozol, pineapple water, orange water, jamica, mango water, and horchata.

On my one burner stove I have made American breakfasts...fried potatoes & eggs. I have fried chicken, made chicken mole, chicken stew, quesadillas, fajitas, and more. I have fried bananas. It works. Glad to have the microwave to help out!

All fruit and vegies have to be washed in water with microdyn. They need to stay in the water about 10 minutes. I make it a habit to wash everything before it goes into the fridge.

Since there is no hot water in my house I follow the regional building committee's procedure of giving the dishes one last rinse through bleach water.

Our Life Here Part 1

(From a couple of weeks ago...but I was not able to post...the no internet problem.)
Hi, Still no internet connection at our house! This has become the biggest hurdle to get past. We heard of a cable company in our area that offers internet too. Let's hope it is true and works! Wednesday – Friday & Sunday are our service days. They are long! :) We start at 9am and sometimes finish at 9:30pm! Our day is varied with return visits, Bible studies, and English speakers search work (where we go door-to-door asking if English speakers live here). So, it really is not too bad. I have been having to pick up mango-s each morning in our yard. Our mango tree drops the fruit throughout the day. They are small mango-s but very tasty! I love mango-s!! I think our tree will be done by the end of this week. We have another mango tree but the fruit is just starting to form; very cute! These mango-s are supposed to be large. It will take a while for the fruit to grow and then ripen. Our dogs seem to be enjoying their new yard. We still leave them in the house when we are gone.

I buy my food both from the local grocery store and from the local market. Papayas, pineapples, oranges, bananas and many other fruit are sold from the back of parked pick-ups throughout the city. My neighbor is a partner in a chicken farm so, we buy our chicken from them. I was surprised to find out that a whole chicken included the feet! They cut up chicken different here so Rob and I are always trying to guess what piece it is...we always get the legs & wings correct! There is a brother who owns a meat market here. I will go check it out and buy some beef from him. Cheeses are different here. Lots of softer types. The Oaxaca kind is sort of a string cheese in ropes that are curled round into a roll. The Oaxacan type works well for quesidillas. We were told that manchego cheese is a cheddar cheese but Robin and I think it tastes more like a Jack cheese. We buy our tortillas from the tortilla shops around town. Our bottled water gets delivered as does our propane for our stove. I do not have a washing machine or dryer so, our neighbor sister does the wash. I really want to buy my own machine so that I can do my laundry my way. I handwash my personal items because I find it strange to have someone else do this. Her husband made my dining room table as well as our other tables. We had a return visit make our 6 chairs. The wood chairs were about $5 more than buying plastic chairs. We did buy a small A/C unit for our bedroom. It works fine. We are in our bedroom right now. Rob is working on his talk for Tuesday night. He also has the special talk on April 6th in Comalcalco where the Paraiso English congregation meets. Busy times for him.

The beach is about a 10 minute drive away. This week many in Mexico have time off and much of it is spent at the beach. This is probably not the week to go to the beach.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

No Comments?

Hi, So I struggle to get internet so that I can communicate with you and then I find that no one has left a comment? How sad. Maybe I will forget updating this.... You might not realize how important your notes are to us.  We really miss everyone and not getting any communication makes us really sad. Love you!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Rest of the Trip Here Story

Hi! Back at the wifi coffee shop! So here is another trip update---

The day's drive was pretty uneventful, (thankfully), and we ended the day in Poza Rica, Veracruz. We drove over many bridges. The most impressive of the bunch was one by Tampico. It was very tall. I felt like we were climbing a mountain. When we got to the top, Rob told me to look around at the view but I was so freaked out that I did not even take a picture! In Poza Rica we stayed at a Quality Inn. Great hotel—-clean, welcomes dogs, good restaurant with a wonderful breakfast buffet included in the hotel rate and a....laundry!!!!

After enjoying a wonderful breakfast we continued on to Paraiso. Veracruz is full of bridges and most bridges have tolls. The tolls can be $28 pesos per car or as much as $285 pesos. The roads were terrible---full of huge potholes. I complained that with so many tolls you would think the roads would be in better shape. I was sure that anything breakable in the van was broken. As the sun was setting we found ourselves about two hours from Paraiso—the question now was what do we do? Press on since it was only two more hours? Obey the instructions Bethel gave and not drive in the dark? We decided to press on. Bad choice. We were unable to avoid many potholes. With one huge thump, we finally got a flat tire. We drove off to the side of the road and tried to contact the friends from the Paraiso
congregation. Megan was very helpful during this trying situation. The highway is not like in the States. There are two lanes of traffic in each direction but because of the potholes cars and trucks are going all over the road. There are no overhead lights. We kept our hazard lights on. At one point there was a knock on my window. It was a man. I thought for sure that I was going to be killed—not that I am dramatic or anything! The first thing out of my mouth was that we are Jehovah's witnesses on our way to Paraiso. The man said that he too was a witness but I, of course, had my doubts. He told us that he also was driving a mini-van and that he too had not been able to avoid the pothole and now had two flat tires! He wanted to know if we could help him by lending him our spare so that he could go get his two tires patched....there are 24 hour tire shops, muffler shops and local outdoor eateries all along the road. We now found out that his car included four other men who were all on their way to Compeche to work on a construction crew. Robin went off with them and one young man was left to sit on the highway with me. I found out that they were not witnesses but all related somehow and that many in their family were witnesses. After they got back it was their turn to help us. Our van weighed too much for our jack. The jack broke. The men said okay, they would use their jack. They tried to put the van on blocks to help level it off and then a man got under it. I could not watch. It was so dangerous. I busied myself making traffic move over. After the car was leveled the jack was put in place and once again the weight was too much, the jack broke. The man said he didn't know what to do. Just then a brother from a nearby congregation drove up in a white truck. We emptied the van into the bed of his truck. The spare was put on and we found out that we had bent the wheel too. The man said that we were lucky that our friends showed up just in time but Robin told him no luck but Jehovah helping us! He agreed and said that they needed to study the Bible and go to meetings. He also said that he felt that Jehovah used him to help us and keep us safe. I hope he does study. They will be in Compeche for five months. We said our good-byes and they were on their way. The brother decided that it would not be safe for us to go far on our spare so we followed him to his brother's house in La Venta where we spent the night after having a dinner of quesadillas with nopal (cactus). In the morning we had breakfast with the family and then Robin went to try to get the tire repaired and the wheel hammered out. The tire was not repairable and neither was the wheel. I spent the time walking to the markets with my wonderful new friend. She stopped at a brother's photography shop and introduced me. We also stopped by a pioneer couple's home. The market was interesting. There is so much to learn how to do. We returned home in a rickshaw! Fun! After lunch, we reloaded the van and were back on the road being especially careful with any potholes. So our two hours had turned into a day's delay and unexpected expenses. Must learn to be obedient!!

We arranged for friends to meet up with us at a Pemex station in Paraiso. We were very excited to see our new home. We had decided to rent a home in a Pemex neighborhood for $6,000 pesos but when the sister went to sign the paperwork it had just been rented. Then she found us a condo in a gated community for $4,500 pesos without a/c. Both places were three bedrooms, two bath and patio. Kitchens are varied here. A kitchen might include just a sink or it could be with everything just like in the States. The Pemex home had just a sink but the condo had an American type kitchen with cabinets. The sister signed the paperwork for the condo but on Saturday before we arrived that Monday was told by the owner that he was cancelling the contract because he wanted to do some work on the home and increase the rent! On Sunday the sister and her husband were out to dinner with his parents and their friends when the topic of finding a house for us came up.
The parents' friends said that the house across from them had been vacant for eight months due to a divorce. They contacted the owner who agreed to rent to us for $3,000 pesos. It is a two bedroom, one bath, laundry room and a kitchen with a sink, cabinets, refrigerator and a one burner “stove.” It also has an enclosed yard with a palapa, covered patio. There are coconut, mango, lemon, orange, and papaya trees along with pepino brushes (brushes with tiny chiles that turn red when ripe). Today, (3/5/2013), we had an a/c unit installed in our bedroom. In April and May it is supposed to be really hot here. We did have to secure the yard better for our dogs. We did clean up the yard and are still working on it but that is something I enjoy doing. We have a bumper crop of mangos. I harvest each day! I really like this house! On the down side---we do not have water from 9am to about 7pm but we have a water container on the top of our house so we do have water in the house. We do not have hot water. Yes, we take cold showers!! I am sure that in April and May we will welcome them. :)

Service has been very enjoyable. Long days. On Wednesday, Thursday and Friday we start at 9am and work all day, regrouping at 3pm, 6pm and 8pm. Since dinner is usually around 9 or 10pm here, nobody minds if we call on their house before dinner. Very different. On Tuesday night we have a meeting in Comalcalco (about a half hour drive from here.) On Saturday at 2:30pm we have meeting at the same Kingdom Hall followed by an English class at a nearby brother's home. We just attend and help the brother out who is teaching. On Monday nights Robin has an English class in our home. We will be splitting up into two groups. I will get the very new English students.

Last Friday we drove to San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas. It is about a five hour drive from here. We are at sea level in Paraiso but San Cristobal is close to 8,000 ft elevation. They had a cold snap so we froze. The city's convention center auditorium was cold. The hotel did have hot water but no heat in the rooms so Rob went to bed early because he was so cold. Chiapas is a beautiful state. They grow lots of grains and coffee!! San Cristobal was just what you would imagine a colonial town to look like—narrow cobble stone streets. They are very smart in developing/preserving the town to be tourist friendly. Many of the streets in the center of town are block off from cars so that pedestrians can shop and walk easily. We want to visit again but take the bus so that we can enjoy the drive and not have to worry about driving around. A taxi ride is $25 pesos. The peak attendance at the assembly was 400 with 5 getting baptized. The audience only filled about a sixth of the auditorium. On Sunday night we ate at La Lupita's. Many brothers and sisters were there. Apparently there is a list of restaurants that give assembly attenders a discount and this one was on it. Rob and I went in for the 'tacos & margaritas.' The nice surprise was that there was live music...a girl violinist. She played 'Kingdom' songs! Yes, she was our sister!

I will tell you more about living here and the changes we have had to make later. Love you!

Sunday, March 3, 2013


Children from our congregation who sang to us! So precious! especially my grandchildren! :)


Heading on back to Paraiso tomorrow morning.  We have been in Chiapas since Friday in order to attend an English circuit assembly.  San Cristobal is a beautiful colonial town.  Narrow cobbled streets. We stayed in a Mexican hotel.  Nice. Affordable and walking distance to a quaint shopping/restaurant area. Tonight we were at a restaurant filled with brothers and sisters and some joined our table since there was a seating shortage. The food was good. Nice to get to know more people.  Benny and Jenny came from Florida. He is from Mexico.  The nice surprise was that there was violinist that started to play. She played kingdom songs! She is a sister! Very nice! We are now back in our hotel.

Here are some photos of San Cristobal and of the drive up here.  We are at almost 8000 ft. elevation.  Paraiso is at sea level. It was very cold here. Love you!
Pictures: border crossing, pioneer mtg, skyscrapper in Tuxla, colonial streets and buildings in San Cristobal