Yikes, almost been a month since I've posted! I hadn't realized so much time had passed...we've had a busy month with several different activities, including a women's retreat, a quick trip to Mexico City to renew Jkaile's U.S. passport and Jojo's birthday! I think the highlight of the last few weeks, however, was the trip we made to the towns of Ixtepec and Cuetzalan with the Sexton family. The Sextons are appointees with Pioneers and were on their vision trip to scout out the different PI teams in Mexico to see where God might be leading them to work in the future.
Town of Ixtepec
And of course, they couldn't really get to know what our ministry is about unless they made a visit to some Totonacan communities in the mountains, which we were happy to show them! We chose to take them to visit Miguel and Magdalena and family in Ixtepec, where we spent two nights before spending the day at the Coffee Festival in the town of Cuetzalan.
We had so many experiences in those three short days, it would be hard to describe it all here in one post, but I will try to highlight the important parts...or at least the parts that I thought were most interesting!
Miguel had visited Ixtepec before, but this was my first time there. I really hit it off with Magdalena and we ended up talking until late that first night we were there, as we shared our hearts with each other. The conversation continued the next day as she showed us around town (the guys had all gone to Mr. Miguel's garden). I was honored that she was so open with me about her life experiences and I shared back with her about some of mine.
Magdalena preparing corn tortillas
Miguel and Magdalena with a Proclaimer
(audio Scripture device)...it has the New Testament
in their Totonacan dialect
The next day, we were invited to eat at another family's house and they served us each a large piece of fried pork with black beans and freshly made corn tortillas...which was humbling because their house is very small, has a dirt floor, and the walls are made out of 'carrizo', which are cornstalks woven together.
The next day, this family also bought us a bunch of cookies for our trip home! We had a great time at their house, Miguel shared some thoughts on Bible storytelling with the family, the kids chased chickens and saw their bunnies and Micah found a meteorite!
After lunch, we visited another family who lived a ways out of town where Jojo had an interesting experience in their outhouse...he had to go while we were there, but the outhouse was even more primitive than usual and just had a hole with nothing to sit on. Once he figured out how to use it, we realized we had forgotten to bring the toilet paper with us from the van. After some thought, the kids decided to give him some banana leaves! Then Jkaile thought it would be fun to wipe with banana leaves as well, but to his great disappointment, he couldn't produce anything that needed wiping! Boys...
I didn't get any pictures during that visit because I was busy practicing the Bible story that I was to present in the Miguel and Magdalena's church that night. The people consider us to be something like pastors, even though we've tried to avoid having that image, so when they heard we were coming, they asked if we would speak at their church (they are without a full-time pastor right now). We agreed, but decided to present the teaching in a Bible story format with Miguel presenting part of it and me the other.
My part was to share the story of the birth and life of John the Baptist and I was having trouble remembering all of it, particularly the parts that contained prophecy about Jesus. I also struggle a bit to remember the stories when I present them in Spanish, which obviously is my second language. So I was practicing the story when Magdalena informed me that they would be translating it to Totonacan during the service...I didn't know that, so I asked her to help me practice it with a 'live' translation. She did that for me and then she told me that since she liked the story so much, she wanted to translate for me in church that night, even though she wasn't the 'designated' translator! I was pleased because I had enjoyed working with her and I think we make a great team.
It seemed like the people enjoyed the story that we presented. We're just beginning to learn more about oral communication principles and how to put them in practice. These concepts are definitely new for the Totonacans. Traditionally, they are an oral culture, but oral communication principles have not been used much in church settings. We're in the process of exploring how oral communication principles could be used in evangelization and discipleship in the Totonacan context and we're excited about the possibilities because so far, they are responding positively. But that is a whole other topic for another day...
It was hard to say goodbye to Miguel and Magdalena the next day, but we hope to go back to visit soon! The town of Cuetzalan is not too far from Ixtepec, but the roads were quite twisty and sure enough, some of us were getting a bit carsick! At one point, Jojo threw up quite violently and we had to pull over to get him cleaned up (I even had to wash his hair!). Fortunately, we quickly found a place where someone had built a small tank to hold the water being piped down the hill. It was there, basically out in the boonies, that we met a man who spoke English because he had lived in New York for many years! You just never know who you will run into!
We finally got to Cuetzalan, where we planned to enjoy the last day of the Coffee Festival (and yes, I bought some coffee, about 3 pounds of whole beans). The sights were quite enjoyable as there were many traditional Totonacan dancers there from many different towns participating in the traditional ceremonies and rituals.
Totonacan 'voladores' (flyers) performing
in front of the Catholic church
Religious procession taking saints
and other images into the church
Lots of Totonacans in traditional dress
We liked Cuetzalan a lot and we felt like we didn't get enough time to really explore as we'd have liked...there are some caves, waterfalls and ruins in the area that we'd like to go see sometime. Every time we go to the mountains, it seems like it's getting harder and harder to come home...I think we'd like to make one of these mountain communities our home!
The town of Nanacatlán
On the way home, we caught a glimpse of Orizaba at sunset, truly a breathtaking sight! Orizaba is the highest peak in all of Mexico and is often covered in clouds, so we were thrilled to catch these pictures.