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!