19 February 2015

Lent 2015

Lent has begun. Lent is the liturgical season of the 40 days leading up to the Resurrection of the Lord. It is a somber time of almsgiving, penance, and prayer. And, for the first time, we are experiencing Lent as a family.

It is traditional to 'give up' something for Lent as a sacrifice and penance. A lot of people give up Starbucks or soda or chocolate, stuff like that. Those things are hard, yes, but since moving to Mexico, we've already given those things up in our daily lives. This year, as a family, we're going to give up swearing. This is obviously something that is mostly a Hector and I thing, but the kids are going to be responsible for what comes out of their mouths, too. They need to not be screaming at each other, tattling, or calling each other names. Hector and I however, sound like sailors.

I've always had a bit of a rough mouth on me, and I know it's not dignified for a lady to use four-lettered words, but I picked up the habit of swearing everywhere, even at work, as a CNA. I think in healthcare jobs, you have to swear a lot because they are so emotional you'd have a break down eventually bottling it all up inside. But it has spilled over into my life and I've begun to realize what I sound like.

The Bible talks about using bad language in many places. In the wisdom books, the reason given is because when you swear, you sound like a fool. And it's very true. When you rely on short, four-letter words, you are limiting your vocabulary. There are many good words in English and Spanish to describe my frustrations.

"Do not accustom your mouth to coarse, foul language, for it involves sinful speech" Sirach 23:13

The New Testament also discusses this matter in terms of being Christ-like.

"It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.
But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this is what defiles.
For it of the heart comes evil intentions, murder, adultery, fornication, theft, false witness, slander.
These are what defile a person..." Matthew 15:11, 18-20a

Watching your tongue is being more Christ-like. I really doubt that Jesus yelled an F-bomb at the fig tree he cursed. He was able to get mad and still keep his mouth from sin. When I get frustrated, there are many other things I could say instead. I need to use the extensive vocabulary I have, rather than rely on only a few words of it.

Words have an effect on the people who hear them. Nobody really wants to listen to someone who's every other words is a swear word. They aren't going to take the speaker seriously. They get brought down when someone speaks like that; it's miserable to listen to.

"Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up as there is need, so that your words may give grace to those that hear." Ephesians 4:29

To combat our swearing problem, we're using a swear jar. The money collected in our swear jar will be donated to a Catholic charity here in Tijuana. I don't know how well this is going to work, but with God's grace we will succeed in being better Christians.

09 February 2015


They say that there are five stages to grief: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I think I am or may have moved into the 'acceptance' stage of my grief.
Acceptance is supposed to be the final stage of grief. I am here in Mexico for life, and I accept it. Does it make me angry? Sometimes. Does it make me sad? More often than sometimes. But it is what it is. Hector has no chance of a waiver. I am going to live all these miles away from my beloved Oregon, for the rest of my life.
I meet women in my situation occasionally. Sometimes they are miserable, sometimes they are looking for a way to fix this, to go home. Most of the time, I find that the prior who want to leave most are prior who's husband only have a 10-year ban, not a lifetime ban. I can't imagine knowing that there could be an end, and having to wait ten years for it. I am thankful that I know this is life; I can move on.
Very rarely do I meet anyone else who accepts that this is life. It's rather lonely to think that all of these women in the same situation are trying to get Mexico over with and get back to the US. I mean, I understand them. Sometimes I just wanna go to work and keep on driving till I hit Eugene. But it makes it hard for me to relate to other people. I don't understand all if the legalese on internet message boards where 'my husband has this ban' and 'can I apply for this rather than that?' I don't get it. It's one of those bars that separates me from people here. I'm not looking to spend several thousands of dollars to get denied. I wish then all the best and I hope they make it wherever they want to get.
We're home here in Mexico. This is the place my kids will say they've grown up. Their landmarks will be the Minaret or El Arco rather than the Hawthorne Bridge or the Portlandia statue. Their dreams week have Cerro Colorado in the background, rather than Mt. Hood. This is our life, we just have to get on with it.

Parque Morelos

When people tend to think of Tijuana, they think of a dirty place. They think of the red light district; they think of the canal where all of the homeless people live and where the sewage of the city drains to. It's true: those are some very public, ugly places here. But this city also has some very  beautiful, family places. One of them is Parque Morelos.
We were itching to get out of the house, and I suggested we go to the park. There is our local park, which is nice, but we had not been to Parque Morelos in a very long time. We used to go a lot when I would visit, but we had not been since moving here.
The park has a lot of attractions: a miniature train for my Thomas-obsessed boy, ceramic painting for my overly-artistic girl, the small city zoo (free of charge, I may add), fair rides, a lake with paddle boats, a swimming pool in the summer, and much more.

We parked on the street, so we avoided the 20 pesos parking charge, and with Emilia in the Ergo, we bought ice cream cones for $10 pesos each, or about $.60. Then we took a spin on the miniature train. The tickets were $6 pesos for adults, $3 for kids, so the train cost us $18 pesos, or about $1.25 total. The train takes you past the zoo's camel exhibit, so of course the kids wanted to head to the zoo after the train.

The zoo in Tijuana is rather small for someone used to the vastness and variety of the Oregon Zoo, but this zoo is free to get into. This zoo has a lot of exotic birds, and it is rather loud! They squawk at each other and they sound like they are arguing. The zoo also features two tigers, a jaguar, monkeys, and two black bears. They are expanding the zoo right now I believe and are remodeling the reptile house. We arrived just as they closed the reptile house, so we missed that part. My son went crazy for the bears and the monkeys- he didn't care that this zoo wasn't like the Oregon one.

After the zoo we went to paint ceramics. In all the times I visited when money was no object, we never did this. We picked out two figurines, which coated us a total of $50 pesos, or $3.50ish. The place gave us the paint and brushes. Cecilia picked a Precious Moments Virgin de Guadalupe and my son occurred his alter-ego, the mushroom guy from Super Mario Bros. I ended up doing most of the painting myself, but it felt so good to sit there in the warm evening breeze with my husband and kids, knowing that I was in no hurry to go do something else.

When we used to the park, we were constantly in a rush, needing to this and that. Now, I can sit there all afternoon because there is no time limit on my life here. I am always here. I need to go downtown? I can do that tomorrow. Today I am going to sit in the park and enjoy it. There is no more hurry. Slowly I am recognizing the benefits I am reaping from choosing to live here.