Category Archives: Photos

Behind the scenes in our town’s cathedral (photos)

Until this past summer, I had never been inside our local Catholic church. In the past, we stayed away because we didn’t want to upset local evangelicals. Now we’re not overly concerned with that, but I still didn’t want to go waltzing in there by myself, because that can be frowned upon by some of the local Catholics. Having a Catholic intern this summer, though, gave me the perfect opportunity to have him show me around.

I learned that our town’s church is more than just a big sanctuary. It has an inner courtyard and a number of other rooms I never knew were there. One section looks like it could have been a monastery or convent in the past, though I have never actually heard this about it. I’ll have to ask around. It would fit the pattern of other cathedrals in our area, though.

I am told by locals that our cathedral is one of the three oldest in our region of the state, dating to about 1520. It was apparently constructed in the years immediately following the Spanish invasion.

Here are a few photos:

A couple of different views of the inner couryard. In the second, you have a rear view of the bell tower at the front of the building.

A really old painting, though I’m not sure of what. It looks like it could be Jesus breaking bread.

Statue of a Catholic saint. I don’t know who, and my Catholic friend who was with me wasn’t exactly sure either.

A few more Independence Day photos

This is a large assembly in our town on Mexican independence day, September 16. It took place at the explanada, which is an open parade ground area next to our main government building. Many of the schools in town were there, uniformed and in formation, as were the town president and many other government officials:

The assembly at the explanada was followed by a parade through town. Here are a few photos from the parade:

Random photos from summer

We have taken a number of photos the past 2 or 3 months that haven’t made it onto the blog. They’re mostly of off day activities, because we don’t get to take a lot of photos of ministry activities for a variety of reasons. I’ll go ahead and share some of the photos, probably in several installments. These first ones are photos we took during summer short-term mission trips.

One day, while mission trip participants were at the tourist markets, Lauryn and I walked down to the main market of our state’s capital, where tons of locals do their shopping. We had lunch at a small torta (sandwich) stand that was tucked into a row of shops:

This is the central park and government building of the capital of our state. We were there during a large annual festival, making that particular week the busiest tourist week of the year:

On an off day, we took our summer interns to see our state’s professional baseball team play:

And here’s a bonus photo of Jenna:

Lauryn and Molly are both in school

In Mexico, kids enter kindergarten at age 3, and it lasts for 3 years. So Molly entered her first year of kindergarten this year, while Lauryn is in third year. We are blessed to have a school just a couple of blocks from our new house in town.

This being my day of rest, I just got back from seeing Lauryn and Molly during recess and buying them a snack. They each had a huevo con chorizo (scrambled egg with spicy sausage) taco and a cup of pineapple juice. Lots of parents come at recess to feed their kids and see them for a little bit, and the school sells food.

This is the covered school yard during recess:

Here are Lauryn in Molly in their school uniforms:

Mexican Independence Day

Last Tuesday, September 16, was Mexico’s independence day. The fun begins on September 15, when cities have a large nighttime celebration with fireworks. This is capped by the grito (which means the “yell”, basically), usually at midnight, where a leader yells things like, “Viva México!” and “Viva la independencia!”, and the crowd responds by yelling, “Viva!”

The entire month of September is a patriotic month in Mexico, filled with different activities. Here are a few photos from the past couple of months and the night of the grito:

(By the way, my camera phone isn’t so impressive at night…well, or anytime, for that matter.)

These are from the daily flag lowering ceremony that was taking place at our central town park, which is right in front of our main government building

And a few photos from the “clock square” the night of the grito…the whole place was done up in green, white, and red lights with flags, banners, and a 30-foot firework tower. It was pretty sweet; I wish more of it came through in the photos. Thousands of people were downtown for the event, which lasted past midnight.

This is the firework tower, which had parts that spun and colorful flames that spelled out things like, “Viva México!”

A meeting with the senator

Last week, we were privileged to have a visit from one of our state’s senators on the federal level. He was in the region for several days in order to visit his constituency in a couple of dozen villages. A professor friend of ours arranged for the senator to come visit us at our GFM base.

I expected the visit to only last about ten minutes if he came at all, but the senator graciously spent a full hour with us. We really enjoyed getting to know him a bit; he is a very humble and personable guy. He came to see the various projects we are doing, so we showed him our drip irrigation system, our well drilling and hand pump technology, and the water filtration we’re working on. He even came up to my and Erin’s apartment to see the biosand water filter we have in our kitchen. (We are hoping to start a business selling these filters in the fall.)

The senator was interested in what we are doing, commended us for our efforts to help the people of our region, and gave us his contact info in case we ever need assistance with anything. We all dressed up for the occasion, and the women served café con leche (coffee with milk). We spent a good 20-30 minutes over coffee discussing Mexico, its government, and the senator’s work. He narrowly missed being elected the governor of our state in 2004, but he is determined to win the election in 2010. We had the opportunity to explain that Jesus is the reason we do what we do, and we gathered around and prayed for him before he left.

The opportunity of the visit, from our perspective, just landed in our laps, but we are grateful to God for the opportunity to meet an influential person in government. I am encouraged these days by some positive things I see happening in the Mexican government on the local, state, and national levels. God wants those in government to rule in a way that honors Him, so we welcome any opportunity to pray for governors and to encourage them to act justly and in the interests of the needy.

Here are a couple of photos from the visit:

The senator meeting our staff and summer interns

The senator meets Lauryn

Me explaining our drip irrigation system and other projects to the senator

Recent family photos–birthday and graduation

Jenna’s birthday and the graduation at Lauryn’s kindergarten fell on the same day this past week. Below are a few photos.

In Mexico, kindergarten lasts for three years instead of just one. Lauryn just completed her second year, but all students participate in the graduation ceremony for the third year students. In the fall, Molly will begin her first year in kindergarten.

Lauryn in her school uniform.

The flag bearers. Lauryn was invited to be a flag bearer for the next school year, but she unfortunately won’t get to do it, because we’re moving to the center of town and she will have to change schools.

Lauryn is in the middle of the group of students standing to the right.

Lauryn and the others marching out after the presentation of the flag and singing of the national anthem.

The graduating third year students.

Lauryn and the rest of the second year students doing a dance in traditional Mexican dress.

And then a few photos from Jenna’s birthday:

About the president’s visit

The president of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, did indeed visit our little market town on Tuesday, as well as at least a couple of other towns and villages in our area. The site of his speech was actually not much more than a half mile from our house, so our whole neighborhood was crawling with security and overrun by the 10,000+ people who attended the speech.

One of several newspaper articles on the visit is here.

I attended the speech, along with four other GFM guys. It took us quite a while to get a hold of tickets (they were free, but everyone had to have one), but one of the guys finally found a man selling snowcones who had extra tickets. We got pretty close to the front and had a great view of the speech. Below are a few photos I took. They didn’t turn out great because they were just on my camera phone, but here they are anyway:

Hundreds of people lined up, waiting to get into the speech

One of five helicopters arriving carrying the president and a number of other government officials and security personnel

A large crowd and plenty of members of the media listen to the speeches

On the left is the governor of our state, and on the right is President Calderón

President Calderón at the podium speaking. Seated behind him are his wife, the governor of the state and the governor’s wife, and the president of our town, among others.

The crowd pouring out of the tent where the speech took place

What I liked about the event

  • It was the first time since 17 years ago that a president of Mexico has visited our town, and I think it was an encouragement to the indigenous people, who often feel like the government doesn’t care about them (though I would argue that this perception is not necessarily based in reality).
  • Calderón talked about all kinds of support, programs, and funding the federal government is giving our region, which is one of the poorer areas in Mexico. More importantly, though, he spoke out against the government corruption that has caused so many state and federal funds sent to the region over the years to disappear. In the first year and a half of his presidency, Calderón has taken a stand against government corruption, which has gained him plenty of enemies. Please pray for him and his efforts to combat corruption. Proverbs indicates that the entire country suffers when governors are corrupt.
  • Mexico has a long history of problems in its government, but I have been encouraged the past year and a half by what I’ve seen in President Calderón, the governor of our state, and the new president of our town. It was neat to see all three of them on the same platform, committing themselves to working for the improvement of our region. Concerning our town president, he came into office in January, and it is very evident (unlike with many past town presidents) that he is working hard to make improvements. These past few months are the first time in my four years in Mexico that I’ve ever heard anyone speak well about those in government. When Calderón and the governor come this week and talk about the tens of millions of new pesos they’re putting into highway expansion and improvement, new hospitals, reforestation, and a number of other projects, I am much more inclined to believe them than I might have been in the past. Since January, we already see these things being done.
  • I really like our new local president. One of the things I appreciate about him is his heart for the single women of Tlaxiaco, struggling to support families without the help of a husband. Both in his campaign platform and the two times I have heard him speak, he has had plenty to say about helping single women, which seems to me like one of the region’s greatest needs.

Clothes in northern India

I’ll keep this pretty basic, but since India has some fairly distinctive clothing styles, I wanted to share a bit about them.

The majority of the men we saw wore Western-style slacks and button-up shirts. A decent number, though, wear a more distinctively Indian outfit called a kurta pajama. The kurta pajama consists of a long top that reaches to about the knees and is often embroidered around the neck. The top is collarless. The bottom is a pair of baggy knit pants, often made of cotton. Sikh men wear a distinctive turban that is often black, but can be a number of different colors.

A few younger women in bigger cities are wearing more Western clothes, such as jeans, but the majority of women wear one or the other of two Indian outfits:

The sari is a long, fancy piece of cloth, wrapped around the legs like a skirt and then wrapped over one shoulder. The women have some kind of small top they wear underneath the sari, but I don’t know what it’s called. I understand that saris are especially common in southern India.

The most common outfit we saw women wearing in northern India was the salwar kameez. A salwar kameez, much like the kurta pajama the men wear, consists of (often) baggy, drawstring pants and a long top. The women’s tops are also collarless, and fancier ones are often embroidered. A scarf called a dupata completes the outfit. Women’s suits (as they call them) come in a vast array of vibrant colors and patterns. If variety is any indication, I would say that Indian women find a lot of pleasure in combining pieces of outfits to create looks they like. Hmm, I think the Western women I know could get into this…Indian women are also quite into adornment. Earrings, finger rings, toe rings, nose rings, bracelets, and nail polish are in abundant supply.

India, Days 13,14

Well, I’m home from India now. I’m trying to write a few posts to wrap up the India trip. Time and internet connections have still been hard to come by, which is the reason for the delay in reporting on the final part of the trip.

We spend the last two days of the trip, April 29 and 30, in Delhi. We got in three final meetings and did a little bit of shopping. Erin and the girls like colorful and sparkly things, which India is full of, so they really liked the clothes I brought them.

During the last two days, we got to visit one slum and sit in on a training meeting attended by about 10 pastors. They are learning simple Bible stories, such as the Prodigal Son, to share with others. It was neat hearing testimonies from them of ways God is using them to share the Word with others, people who are being miraculously healed, and people who are coming to Christ. Praise God!

The trip home was pretty uneventful. We left Delhi Wednesday night, April 30, and by Thursday afternoon I was back in Idaho with my family.

I’ll try to write a couple of final posts including some of the dress in India and a few parting thoughts on the trip.

I had wanted to do a post on food, but I just didn’t make that one happen. In the absence of an entire post with photos, here are a few comments:

  • The food was really good. Most of the northern Indian food we ate was reasonably spicy and had a curry flavor to it. There were all kinds of vegetable dishes and sauces.
  • Indians don’t eat much meat. As far as I can tell, you can’t find a bite of beef anywhere (owed to the fact that cows are sacred). Chicken, fish, and mutton are somewhat common, but plenty of Indians are vegetarians.
  • Given our Mexican roots, we were intrigued to find that a staple food is the chipati (sp?), which is a round, tortilla-like bready thing made from wheat. Indians eat them in much the same way that Mexicans eat tortillas.
  • Because I’m not as vegetarian as many Indians, some of my favorite foods we had were meat dishes. Tandoori chicken, which is skewered and then roasted in this pit-like oven thing (I don’t really know how to describe it), was excellent. A couple of Muslim dishes were also great: Kabobs in Lucknow (which is apparently well known for its kabobs) and shwarma in Delhi. I won’t try and describe them here, but if you’re interested, you can Google them.

I’ll wrap this up with a few more photos from India, in no particular order:

Having a broken car horn would be as serious a problem as having no brakes. Indians use their horns constantly! One of our travel books was giving advice for if you rent a car, and it said something to the effect of, “Use your horn when passing someone, when someone is passing you, when thinking about passing, or about the general concept of passing.” Boy, was that the truth! It was sort of humorous to us seeing many trucks that had painted instructions on the backs of them encouraging the use of horns:

The train station in Lucknow

A market area in Lucknow

Monkeys scavenging on the tracks at the train station in Lucknow

Roadside coconut stand in a village

The building of a traditional Christian church in the state of Uttar Pradesh. India has quite a few churches that have been around for decades or even centuries. Unfortunately, many of these are quite nominal.

What to do in a fancy restroom that has no toilet paper