I love going for a walk in our neighborhood park, just a couple blocks from our house (at least until August 1st) and looking up at the majestic La Silla mountain on the east side (the header picture on our blog) and the other set of “M” shaped mountains on the west side. Thankfully, things have been calm enough in our neighborhood to be out during daylight hours.
As I walked this afternoon, my thoughts wandered to my first visit to Monterrey back in 1999, when I was a short term missionary serving in Oaxaca. I loved everything about Oaxaca – the Mexican family I lived with, the team of young Mexicans I worked with, the missionaries I served with, the colonial feel, seeing people walk the streets in their traditional dress, the colorful, lively markets, the indigenous dialects, the interesting food (like grasshopper or mole), the perfect climate, being able to walk almost anywhere I needed to go, etc.
Back then I can remember thinking – God, please don’t ever send me to serve in Monterrey! Monterrey seemed like the complete opposite of Oaxaca. In my short visit I quickly judged Monterrey as being overly influenced by the U.S. culture; it didn’t seem very “Mexican” to me. Everyone seemed to have a car or take the bus rather than walk. People wore “American” style clothing and shopped at WalMart. The popular restaurants included Applebee’s and other U.S. chain restaurants. To me it seemed to lack culture and was just way too hot!
Well, all I can say is God sure has a sense of humor! After living six years in the city that I said I never wanted to live in, I realize there are so many things I will miss about Monterrey. I have come to love living here for so many reasons. Here are just a few.
Thank you, Lord, for Monterrey, where…
- both of our boys were born, and in such beautiful, state of the art hospitals, with a wonderful Christian doctor and nurses who cared so well for us
- our boys have grown up, speaking their first words in Spanish and then English, taking their first steps, growing and losing their first teeth, so many firsts…
- we have had the privilege of knowing and serving with wonderful missionary families: Restrepos, Kerls, Welds and Velascos
- we have served alongside and developed close friendships with Mexican members of the Family Foundation (FUNDEFAM) team, learning and growing together
- we have developed special relationship with many dear friends, who allowed me to be myself and helped me discover who I am in Christ, who I am as a mother; for the laughter and tears that we’ve shared, the late night conversations, our kids playing together. I will miss them all so much!
- we have been blessed by the ministry of FUNDEFAM – where I have grown in my faith and learned so much, the list is really to long to write out, but here are a few of them: facilitating many different groups, working as a team, leading a youth group, teaching English, coordinating a children’s program, training leaders, facilitating Bible Studies, individual and group discipleship, holistic evangelism, trusting God in difficult times, difficult lessons on church planting, resolving conflict, starting a community development ministry, offering hospitality even when the house isn’t very clean, etc.
- by God’s grace, I have established significant relationships with several teenagers from FUNDEFAM’s youth group, and have been blessed to see how they are growing in Christ and how they are working toward their hopes and dreams
- we participated in Comunidad Bautista Jireh; this Baptist church, that felt so much like a Covenant church, welcomed us in and loved us, served us in our time of need and allowed us to serve, became family to us
- the boys had the joy of attending Formus; they will miss their friends there greatly!
- we enjoyed many great day hikes and picnics, including our 11th wedding anniversary, at Chipinque — the mountain-top park with an amazing view of the whole city
- we often took the boys to Paseo Santa Lucia, the man-made river walk (think San Antonio) so they could run and play on playgrounds
- there are many city parks, museums and cultural activities to enjoy
- tacos de arrachera (steak) from Tio Tom are so yummy!!!
- I have to admit, I’ll miss HEB (the Texas chain supermarket) and being able to get food from the U.S., including organic peanut butter!
- the list could go on and on…
Monterrey may not have the colonial-type culture we tend to identify with Mexico, but it has it’s own rich culture that is unique and beautiful. And like anywhere I have been in Mexico, the people of Monterrey are warm and welcoming and it will be very difficult for me to say goodbye!
Even as I am grieving leaving a city I have grown to love, I am also excited about what God has in store for us in Oaxaca. And, yes, we will be able to walk most places there! We’ve found a home within a few blocks from the other missionaries’ homes and the boys’ school. We can even walk to the zocalo, the beautiful downtown square. We’re excited about the possibilities of ministry after talking with the missionaries and several of the Covenant pastors in Oaxaca a few weeks ago.
Thank you, Lord, for your word is true, when you say, “For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. This is a verse I have shared with so many friends here in Monterrey, and it is a verse that God is giving to me once again. Thank you, Lord, that I can trust in you and your plans for us. Amen.