Just the Same


May 2010.


February 2011.

Many things change in nine months, but some things stay just the same.

~Natalia

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The Rally

One of my top favorite things about our church here is how often they host conferences, outreaches, and special events. Each conference, whether missions-related, aimed at the youth of the city, or a refreshing weekend for the women of the congregation, is well-planned and executed and the handful of events that I have participated in have been a blessing to me.

This weekend was one of the church’s biggest annual events; the Rally. The Rally is a three-day event held at a huge lot on the other side of the city, kind of close to the bus station. Thursday and Friday evening and all day Saturday, people from surrounding towns and villages come to play games, climb on huge inflatables, eat delicious free food, and more importantly, hear the message of Christ’s love and plan for them.

Thursday afternoon found Rubi, Kenia, Karen, Ana and myself in the Rally’s tented-in kitchen, sporting the customary denim skirt, and matching white shirts and yellow aprons. We were a part of a team of about 30 men and women from the church, all bustling around preparing the fixings necessary for make 3000 tacos. The evening ended in a fast-paced, organized, tri-layered assembly line, where I found myself squeezed in between Kenia and Hermana Rosa, trying my best to keep the women to my right and left supplied with tortillas as they served warm tacos to the hungry crowd.

The same team of five girls plus Hermano Manuel spend Friday evening in the Rally kitchen as well, this time preparing toppings for a incredibly large number of pizzas. Rubi and I spent a significant amount of time at the dough table, rolling, patting, and flouring pizza dough into the appropriate shape. Few cooking-related activities are more enthralling than mashing, shaping, twisting, squeezing, and stretching pizza dough, and the evening passed rapidly as we splashed flour around with reckless abandon and spread the floury dough onto large, rectangular pizza trays.

This morning, instead of the small group of girls Hermano Manuel had driven to the Rally for the past two days, his big yellow truck was full to almost overflowing with children, all brimming with excitement for their day at the Rally. Paired into groups of two and three, the kids spread out across the lot, grinning as they played under the blazing sun.

I watched Joselin and Joana scramble deftly up an inflatable for a little while, then joined seven of the girls at a main attraction; where I held seven little purses and took pictures as they played and laughed together.

Soon, enough, I left the young women in charge of one another and headed to the registration booth, my assigned spot for the early afternoon. The same buses that bring people to church every week from around and outside the city also brought people to the Rally, and I became part of the welcome team. We handed out tortas, took down their names and addresses and welcomed them to the Rally.

Once all the buses had arrived and disembarked, I headed back over to the main area. In the kitchen, I helped the team make extra tortas and sugar cookies (no reason, just because we had sugar and flour). Taking a break from the hot kitchen, I stood in the corner of the main tent, watching the wonderful drama I had already seen twice, and listening to the pastor’s Gospel message.

My time at the rally ended with sitting and talking with a great grandma and one of her many grandchildren; standing in a circle with other church members and listening to people share praises for the weekend; and singing “How Great is Our God” with the gathered people, thanking God for the people He brought to the Rally, the souls He saved, the workers He provided, and the way He blessed everyone involved.

It was a really great weekend.

~Natalia

Thank You

I wrote in my prayer journal last night. Keeping a prayer journal has been a huge blessing in my life, and I love the ability to look back and see what I said to God, what He said to me, and how my big problems became very small when He stepped in.

I wrote about a line and a half last night before I stopped and reread what I had written. The first word in my prayer was, “I” and the first line was a preface to a whine.

“This is ridiculous.” I thought, as I hurried to repent of my egoism. We were not given privilege of talking one on one with the Creator of Everything so that we could spend even more of our time whining and complaining about the ways that the world is not living up to the way we say it should be. That’s not edifying for anyone involved.

So after I asked His forgiveness for my selfishness, I did the only thing I really could do. I said thank you.

Thank you for being there and listening to me.
Thank you for loving me.
Thank you for my family in the United States.
Thank you for the family you have provided for me here in Mexico.
Thank you for the way friendships develop where I least expect them.
Thank you for using the people around me to be a blessing to me.
Thank you for providing what I need, when I need it, no matter how small of a thing it is.
Thank you for letting me come here to Mexico.
Thank you that you have a plan for my life, and a plan for each of the lives around me.
Thank you for the ability to laugh with friends.
Thank you for helping me speak spanish every day.
Thank you for your Son, Jesus.
Thank you.

~Natalia

In Which Enthusiasm Builds

In light of my desire to develop a deeper prayer life, and make prayer more a part of my everyday life, I have been striving to pray more often and for a more varied list of topics than those listed in my prayer calendar. But I was honestly surprised a couple days ago, as I folded and put away my clean clothes, to find myself praying for my future roommate at Moody.

I guess I’m getting rather excited after all.

~Natalia

Different

“… now I just wake up, and get ready and when I come downstairs I know Natalia will be in the office. It’s normal now, and it will be different when you’re gone.”

It’ll be different for me, too.

~Natalia

One Popular Little Guy

It took exactly eight and a half days for the amount of children at the Casa Hogar to increase by five. One of the recent arrivals is a little boy of five years. He’s a short, rather round little fellow who is still holding tight to his baby face. He has a buzz cut that Hermana Lulu somehow managed to gel up for church tonight, and he has a hard time keeping his too-big, borrowed jeans hiked up.

He’s the youngest boy here by more than a year, and it’s been fun to watch the older boys interact with such a little guy, whose quiet demeanor and big round eyes make him seem even younger than he really is.

Today while we scurried around the kitchen after church, refilling ketchup bottles, spreading mayonnaise on buns, and steaming hotdogs in preparation for lunch, the kids were in the TV room. Kids were spread across the four couches, standing in the doorway, and laying on the floor, all intent on Tarzan 2. The little guy was wedged into the corner of the big, brown couch with 11-year-old Victor next to him, one arm draped around the little one’s shoulders.

When Victor was called to the kitchen to help set the table, 8-year-old Chuy, who when I first visited Casa Hogar in 2009 was the “baby” of the boys, wasted no time in scooting over and putting his arm kindly around the new “baby”.

In the dining room, after everyone who wanted had had seconds, and even third or fourth hotdogs, the little guy continued to plod through his first helping of tuna salad and hotdog. He sat in his place at the end of the table, methodically chewing, as an increasingly larger crowd of boys gathered around him. They patted his round head, encouraged his methodical chewing, and asked him questions, which did not increase his rate of consumption. When he finally did finish, the troop of boys followed him out the kitchen door.

We don’t know how long the little guy will be here for, but we can rest assured that as long as he’s here, he’s well-loved, well-cared-for, well-fed, and definitely not lacking for attention.

~Natalia

Life is Like That

I know that it may not always seem like it, but I normally spend time before writing considering what I am going to blog about. Yesterday was no different; I went to my old school in the morning, and briefly considered blogging about how it still smells the same, and the secretary it still very kind, and they still put jokes and news up on the big boards in the hallway of every floor.

Shortly after going to the school, I set out with Hermana Tere to my old neighborhood. Drove past our Little Pink House, visited Beatrice in the tiendita across the street, and printed some pages at the papeleria around the corner. There’s some good potential for blog post there, as well.

Then the kids came home from school, and we all heard the news. The son of a woman in the church died yesterday, and we’re going to the funeral. A day that began with waving at children through the slightly opaque glass of their classrooms ended with standing graveside, clutching the sweaty hands of the two little girls I was in charge of, as the blazing sun set behind us.

I suppose most things are like that. Life is like that. As long as we’re not God, which we never will be, life will never turn out the way we think it is going to. The way the morning goes may not be the way the evening ends, and the way the year goes may not be what the decade looks like.

And I am okay with that. I trust God to have a plan that’s bigger and better than mine, even as I know that His plan is not all roses and rainbows. But as long as He’s God, which He always will be, I trust Him to turn my days, weeks, months, and years out the way they should be.

~Natalia

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