When I first arrived in Oaxaca in August 1998, Isa Zarate and her family welcomed me into their home and their lives with joy! They were my go-to people for any question about Spanish or the Mexican culture that I had, and they never made me feel stupid for asking or for making mistakes. They went out of their way to make me feel welcome and part of the family. I remember Manuel, Isa’s adult single brother, gave up his room and moved into the study so that I could have the biggest room in the house! Isa has 4 brothers and sisters. When I arrived, her parents, three of her siblings and her niece were all living in that house, besides me. Then, in November Isa’s youngest brother Juan Carlos got married, and so his wife moved into the home as well! Sometimes I felt bad for having the largest room in the house all to myself, but I also really appreciated the privacy.
The Zarates taught me so much about the Kingdom of God – how to live in a large family together without fighting about who gets to take a shower first, how to share my most prized possessions – like the Reese’s Peanut Butter cups that a group from the U.S. brought for me (who says Mexicans don’t like peanut butter?) , how to pray hard and long together on your knees when times are tough, how to laugh at my mistakes, how to be grateful for each blessing that comes from above, and the list goes on…
One of the blessings of living in Oaxaca again, is being close to the Zarate family. This morning I talked with Isa and she is asking for prayers for her mother Matilda, who fell down the stairs and broke her nose and bruised her face pretty bad. I believe she is around 80 years old. Also, Isa’s father passed away just last year and they are still mourning his death, especially Matilda.
In January, we invited the family over to our house (which it just so happens that the owner of our house is a relative of Isa’s mother!) for a BBQ after church.
We had so much fun! One of the young ones was celebrating a birthday, so of course there was cake and a piñata as well.
Also, the newest member of the Zarate family had just arrived and his name is Matías!
And, here’s one from the past…
God taught me so much about Himself, about myself and about His Kingdom during that year in Oaxaca, and He used the Zarates to help me learn and grow. Now I have the blessing of living close to them once again, and I am grateful.