I apologize for the length of time since our previous update. Busy, crazy and hectic don’t even come close to describing this past month for us! We have certainly been experiencing the “culture shock” that we didn’t experience when we moved to Jerez last year. Hmmm… Where to begin…
First, we have had many challenges getting used to our new house! One of our first hurdles was learning to manage our running water. Shortly after moving here we discovered that we only have running water between the hours of 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. and after that we have to rely on the water stored in a small tank on the roof. It is between these hours we have to make sure to do laundry, wash dishes, take showers, etc in order to have sufficient water for the flushing the toilet the rest of the day. Second, the electricity is primitive the say the least! Not only does it go out frequently but it is definitely not up to code! haha! Often we will start smelling smoke and find an outlet literally melting because the house is not equipped with any circuit breakers/fuse boxes. It makes for great fun since the house is almost all wood. Third, the house is constantly under siege from bugs and reptiles of every imaginable size and color! We have screened in everything but it’s a little bit like trying to hold back the ocean. The boys and I are constantly covered in mosquito and spider bites. I currently have at least 25 to 30 bites on my legs, and Sam has quite a few on his back! For some reason the bugs leave Nathan alone. Definitely not fair! haha! Finally the house does not seem to want to stay still. We have had numerous earthquakes since arriving and it is unnerving to say the least, especially when they occur in the middle of the night!
Second, the food here in Oaxaca is nothing like we expected. Mexican food is Mexican food right? Wrong! Normal food here consists of armadillo stew, iguana tamales in banana leaves, ant salsa, venison, giant freshwater shrimp, and even skunk! Most normal fruits and vegetables cannot be purchased here in Pluma along with common items such as flour, baking powder, and various baking needs. I could make a list of the local tropical fruits and vegetables a mile long including seven different types of bananas! They even grow their own type of cereal grain here, ameranto. Also because it is a tropical climate everything grows to extraordinary sizes! For example the lemons here are larger than grapefruit and the cabbage heads are twice the size of a soccer ball. They have a very unique culture and are extremely proud of their traditional way of eating.
Next, Nathan’s English classes are going extremely well! They have been meeting for about 6 weeks now and there are well over 100 people enrolled ranging from 5 to 60 years old! He has classes that meet Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday so between the classes, class preparation, and homework grading he is very busy. The entire culture here is so different than what we were used to in Jerez! Not only are there no bars on the windows but most people never lock their doors. The people here are so nice and welcoming! They are genuinely thankful for the English classes and, while the classes are free, are always bringing us gifts of fresh fruit and new foods to try as a way of saying thanks. It has been a wonderful way to build relationships in the community and to share the gospel! Because of the relationships and trust we have built through the classes we have been given many opportunities to share our true reason for being here, the Gospel. For example the other day, over Easter weekend, I was in town doing my daily grocery shopping. An elderly woman, whose kids and grandkids are in the English classes, asked why I was purchasing so many eggs! I told her that in the U.S. it is traditional to paint eggs with your kids on Easter. She got very excited and asked if I was Catholic after all since I celebrated Easter (in her mind there was no way a Christian celebrated Easter)! This opened the door for an almost hour long conversation from Scripture about why we celebrate Easter and the sufficiency of Christ payment which allows us to receive His grace free and without merit. I am looking forward to future conversations with her and praying that the Lord will open her eyes to the truth of the Gospel. Our prayer is that the seeds planted, both in our personal conversations and in the class, will grow through the power of Christ and regenerate the hearts of the hearers.
Sorry this update is so long. There is so much more that I wish I could share, from the suburban breaks going out in the middle of the mountains to exploring the jungle villages surrounding Pluma preparing for future ministry opportunites, but those will have to wait! There have definitely been some challenges and adjustments along the way but the Lord has been so good in providing for us, guiding us and protecting us. It is wonderful to know that God has everything in His sovereign control and is directing everything to His honor and glory! Please continue to pray for the ministry here in Oaxaca and also for our upcoming trip to the states next month. Finances are always tight, but with traveling it seems like it will be impossible to make everything work. However, we know that nothing is impossible with our God and He will supply for all of our needs. Thank you for your continual support, love and prayers!
Nathan, Mary, Nef, Sam, & Jack