Sunday, March 29, 2009


The Tarahumara people live in and around Creel and Copper Canyon.  There are approximately 60,000 in northern Mexico.  They are typically a very shy people, and often live in caves, cliff dwellings, or small log or stone cabins.  
The background of this shot is where some of the cave dwellings are (including the little girls below.)  The tree at the left has corn hanging in it, because this is where they store it.  But my "missionary mind" questions: "What do they believe or think as the hang it in the tree?  Why do they pick this tree?  What happens (or what do they think happens) when they hang the corn?"  I've been taught not to take things at face value!
This little girl was coming out of a "room" to her family's house.  This room is outside the cave.  It appears that up and over is the only way in and out of the room.
The log in this photo is actually a ladder, and this nearly vertical climb is a trail!  
Opposite this cave dwelling and cross is a corn field.  There were three crosses around the field.  The crosses are used as talismans to protect the crops and bring a good harvest.  When the Jesuit priests came into the Tarahumara areas, the people accepted what the priests had to say.  But, they did not revoke their old beliefs.  They "syncretized" the Catholic belief system with their belief system of worshipping saints. 
 I found this quote from a Tarahumara at a Tarahumara museum: 
"The Catholic cross is not the cross of Christ, [it] is the cross of a severed man in space, the invisible man with his arms wide open, whose nails look at the four cardinal points."
These photos were taken around this family's home and land.  There is a log/stone cabin and some who live in the cave.  This family has lived here over 400 years.  My family has never lived anywhere longer than 10 years!  Can you imagine sleeping where your relatives from the 1600s slept?
These three Tarahumara kids do not know the true meaning of the cross they sit under.  They don't know Who was on a cross similar to this, nor do they know why He would do such a horrible thing for them--even as they sit under the shadow of the cross.

Would you remember to pray for the Tarahumara?  Because they live scattered across the land, it has been difficult to get the pure gospel of Jesus Christ to them.  There are NTM missionaries working with them in small groups, and often in the homes of the Tarahumara.  Pray for strength, health, and endurance for the missionaries, and for open hearts and eyes for the Tarahumara.  


Saturday we went to a waterfall.  Since rainy season is in the late summer, the falls were not as large as they usually are.
During rainy season the falls go from the edge of the cliff by the trees all the way to the right of the picture.
The neat part was that we were able to go to the bottom of the falls because they weren't full.  All the way down was easy!  We counted 250 steps on the way back up!
Here I am at the bottom of the falls.

Rock Formations

Saturday we got to see many interesting rocks.  Our group guide told us what each looked liked (if we couldn't figure it out!)  See how you do:
This is John writing the book of Revelation.  His head is the round rock on top, and the long rock is the paper/papyrus sitting on his lap as he writes.
The rock formation to the left is Moses with the 10 Commandments.  The one on the right is Miriam from The Planet of the Apes watching Moses.  Talk about a clash of cultures!
This is called the valley of the mushrooms because...
God stacked many of the rocks like these two!
The was in the Valley of the Frogs.  You can guess why I'm sure!  Of course, if you kiss a frog, your prince will come.  One of the guys let me stand on his back, but I still couldn't reach the frog's lips!  He's a lot bigger than he looks!  Someone has a video of the process...I'll try to get that up here.

Copper Canyon

Our first stop (after arranging for three rooms at the hostel) was at Copper Canyon.
The canyon is the home of the Tarahumara tribal group, and is greater in volume than the Grand Canyon.
My second swinging bridge in 6 months, but the first time to cross one!  All I could think about was a book I read in high school called "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" about a swinging bridge that broke!
Here I am (in yellow) out on the bridge with two of the guys from the work group I went with.
There is a Tarahumara house in a cave on the side of this mountain.  It is the beige spot just south west of the center of the photo.  They are building a stone wall on the outside.
At the top of a cliff in Copper Canyon!


Our trip to Creel, Mexico went well.  The next few posts will each have pictures of what we did on the trip.  Hope you enjoy the pictures!
This is the cathedral in Creel.
This is our "guest house" next to the cathedral.   We weren't able to get into the hotel, so we stayed at the hostel nearby.  The same family owns both, and the hostel was nicer than some hotels I've stayed in!
This was across the street from us.
I loved the contrast of the yellow against the bright blue sky!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Outings And Eatings

This week's outing was to go to a uniform shop.  The schools here require students to wear uniforms, so we went to go see where they are sold and how much they cost.  Afterwards, we went to eat at a "montado" restaurant.  A montado is a large tortilla with beans and grilled meat that is heated much like a quesadilla would be.  When you get the montado, you go to the stand and put whatever toppings you would like on it.  I chose cilantro, pico de gallo, and squeezed lime.   (These pictures may seem a little odd; the purpose it to get photos where we can point to nouns and verbs, not necessarily looking for quality!)  Here's our day in order:
Posing with socks at the uniform shop.  Yes, uniforms are expensive here, too!
Posing with "horchata", a rice-based traditional Mexican drink.   Behind me you can see in the kitchen where they make montados.  The restaurant is open-air, so the air on the street is the air in the kitchen!
Here Rachel and I are posing for the verb "beginning", as in we are "beginning" to drink  our horchata.
These are our options of toppings (well, technically innards) for our montados.  
We were also seranaded during lunch.  Check out the guy in the back.

El Rancho Siloe

This week some good friends came to El Rancho Siloe on a work trip with their church.  Ranch Siloe is the Mexican missionary training center, similar to my time in Missouri.  I worked with Parkers and the youth group at the Missionary Training Center in Missouri while I was in training there.  My current classmates, Chris and Rachel, were also youth leaders during the same time.  How funny that God has reunited us all for a few days in Mexico!  I am so thankful to be able to visit with good friends.  Tomorrow (Friday) I am joining them as they go on a side trip to Copper Canyon and the town of Creel.  Please pray for safe travels and a good, restful time.  
Me, Chris, Jonathan, Rachel, and Lisa
I snapped this while I was out at the ranch.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sunrise, Sunset

Not quite the song, but here are some pictures from the other day: First the sunrise, then the sunset.


Here's a picture of me making juice with my new Gill Juicer!
The juice has been great--thanks guys!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

A Crazy-full Day

I have some pictures to post for you, but don't really have the time today.  I did want to quickly tell you about my crazy-full day!  

After waking up this morning, I began load one of my laundry.  I got showered and ready for the day, and went outside to hang up Load 1 and start Load 2.  By the time I had Load 1 hung, half the clothes were nearly dry.  "I have stuff to do--I'll get them later."  I came back inside to eat breakfast and plan for two language sessions (one with Yoshi, and one with Luisa.)  I made three eggs, slapped a piece of Kraft American cheese on top, and ate it.  I tried planning, and couldn't focus on anything past the first 5 minutes: "Practice Pronunciation: read list of "b" and "v" words, then read "s" words."  I remembered Load 2.  While hanging up Load 2, a fellow missionary came by to visit with my downstairs neighbor for "Coffee Day."  I talked for a few minutes, before excusing myself to go try planning more.  Halfway through short conversation, I think: "You should plan better Mondays so you can actually GO to Coffee Day downstairs.  And you haven't brushed your teeth yet...'Well, ladies, I need to go finish planning!' "  I get upstairs and wash my dishes, brush my teeth, look at the clock and realize I should already have printed my plans.  I have 10 minutes to get the items and books I need (hm, what DO I need?--still haven't planned!) before heading out the door.  I get to class and read my lists for pronunciation.  I stretched those into 10 minutes.  Only 50 minutes left... "Hey have I told you about my family?  No?  Okay, here they are..."  I spent most of the next 50 minutes with Yoshi telling her about one side of my family, quizzing her (yes, she got the right answers) on types of weather, and asking her "Are you wearing a skirt today?  Are you wearing flip flops?" almost entirely in Spanish!  I was so excited!  I have 30 minutes now to prepare for my session with Luisa at 12:30, but then I walk into the main room and see a friend that I haven't been able to talk with one-on-one for a while.  So I decide, I'll just wing it with Luisa, too!  Had a nice chat with "mi amiga" until she realized it was time for her class and Luisa showed up.  Luisa arrived, and I did similar things with her. OH!  And for Luisa, I was able to quote Psalm 100 for her, because I had also done verse 5 with Yoshi.  It took me nearly 6 weeks, but I memorized a chapter of scripture in Spanish!  After my session with Luisa, I quickly went back to my dorm and went shopping with a friend for food.  First we went to "Super Amigo" for produce, because it is less expensive there.  Run into a lady while squeezing grapefruits who is also disgusted with their squishiness.  But she told me in Spanish.  I apologized for not being able to understand.  Turns out okay, she's learning English and wants to practice.  I get to practice my Spanish, she practices her English, and we find some not-quite-as-squishy grapefruits.  Next stop, a small convenient-type store for tortillas.  Next stop was Soriana, an almost Wal-Mart, for the rest of our food.  I went shopping while my friend tried to get money out of one of the three ATMs on that side of the store.  (This mission failed, the ATM would not produce money.)  We got all our stuff, and put our things on the conveyor belt at the front of the store.  I gave the cashier my Soriana card, and said I wanted to use my points (this means I get a discount on certain products.)  I paid for my food, tipped my bagger, and we headed out to the truck.  A man came to help the two of us (able-bodied 20-somethings) load the truck.  This man helps you leave your parking spot by "stopping traffic" for you and guiding you out.  Then you tip him for his help.  We got back to the dorm, and I frantically threw my cold items in the fridge and freezer.  My roommate made chicken chimichangas, and I ate two of those.  As I was finishing (forgetting why I had rushed to begin with) the downstairs neighborboy came to the door asking if I was going to the  monthly Ladies Meeting with his mom.  OH!  That's why I was in a hurry!  Washed my dishes, grabbed my Bible, ran out the door.  We got to the gate at the mission base and didn't know how to get in, because the mission is in the process of changing security gates.  We had a card to wave in front of the magic card reader, but the window doesn't roll down on that side.  Out of the van, get the card read, and hurry through the gate.  Get to the ladies meeting, and hear music, "Are we late? They always start so on time!"  Only 6 ladies are upstairs, and 2 are practicing for the singing.  Oh good, we're not late this time!  Stay after the meeting to chat with ladies, and walk out of the building to leave.  "Where's the van?!  My van is gone!"  So we walk home, and decide we need to stop at a tienda for milk, Diet Pepsi, and one more since forgotten item.  We pay our 18 pesos (approximately $1.25) and go on our way.  I see Load 1 and 2 still hanging on the line.  I run upstairs to grab my hamper, and see all the dry products I bought at Soriana patiently waiting on the kitchen floor.  I grab Loads 1 and 2, and go ahead and half-fold them outside because I don't expect to have time this evening.  While outside the van returns to the house driven by the husband of downstairs neighbor.  I come back to my room and see two boxes I got in the mail today that I'd forgotten about!  (Yea, crazy enough that I forgot I got MAIL!)  I opened one at the school, so I open the other.  A juicer (!) some green tea, a little honey, yogurt covered raisins, flavored coffee, a little Nutella, a monthly planner for 2009, and a notebook.  (Note to self, thank God for the Gills!  Then thank Gills!)  Sit and try to relax a few minutes.  Realize I've been on the go since I got up.  Make a mental list of musts: Blog still needs updated.  Can't get to computer for mess on desk--need to put craft supplies away.  Clean up packaging supplies from box 1.  Re-open and put away box 2: Magazine, very cute card from everyone in the family, 25 tiny Cetaphil lotion samples I can carry with me, Skittles, Cream of Wheat, and pretty laminated Bible verses.  (Note to self: Thank God for Langdons!  Thank Langdons!)  Hm, dry food products are still on the kitchen floor.  Wonder how many roommates care?  3 out of 3?  But I really want to try out this juicer!  It is now 7:30 PM, and I'm ready for bed.  Maybe the groceries will put themselves away, and when I wake up tomorrow Load 1 and 2 will be on hangars?  Guess I should get on that.  Hope you enjoyed my Crazy-full day!  

**Disclaimer: THIS IS NOT NORMAL!**

Monday, March 16, 2009

El Paso for the Weekend

This weekend I went with three friends up to El Paso.  Our goal was to return with a new stove, a used weight bench, clothes, and groceries.  Here are a few pictures of the trip:
On the way to El Paso
Here's the fog crossing the mountain in El Paso
The fog on the other side, crawling over the mountain
Here are Chris and I packing the truck on Sunday morning
"What size hole is it?" "A box of envelopes"
The full effect!
This is a horse on the side of the mountain

We had a great trip through Santo Teresa, NM, and made it back to Chihuahua safely.  Thank you for your prayers!

Monday, March 09, 2009

The Promised Bus Trip Downtown...

Here it is, in all it's glory:
Each week, on Wednesdays, our class goes on an "outing."  We have gone to: a large park, a look out area, an ice cream shop, the Pancho Villa house/museum, pay a bill, and a few trips downtown.  Usually we (meaning "they" as I don't drive here) take turns driving to the locations, but last Wednesday the "outing" included riding the city bus downtown.  We picked it up down the street from the school and rode about 20 minutes until we got downtown.  Here we are at the bus stop:
Remember Yoshi? This is where she really works--taking the four of us girls around town!  Here she's demonstrating the appropriate way to show the bus driver that she does not want his bus.

There are quite a few routes around town for the buses, so we wanted to make sure we got the right one.  Otherwise we would have a lot of walking to do!  We learn a lot of culture on our outings.  Can you tell we're at the bus stop?  There are some "official" bus stops with benches around town, but I noticed the bus driver would pull over for anyone who waved their arm at him.  (Note to self: this must be why many cars don't drive in the right lane...)  One time a lady got on the bus, and less than 40 feet later, the bus driver stopped to pick up a guy that wanted on.  Here Rebecca and I are riding the bus:
Can you tell what restaurant we are in?

My favorite part of going downtown is that I get to get a hamburger!  There are really nice bathrooms at this restaurant, so I "take one for the team" and buy a hamburger so the ladies can go to the bathroom.  It's in a busy part of downtown, so they only allow customers to use the bathroom.  I'll gladly eat beef for the team! :-)
This week the burger was to go!
The avenue we walk down is full of small and larger stores, and little stores where you can buy nachos, corndogs, chips, and drinks.  

This was towards the end of our trip downtown as we waited to catch the bus home.  
Yoshi gave us a list of four or five buses that would bring us back to our corner where we got on the bus.  We got on the first one that came through...
Here I am on the bus, as we passed a Pemex gas station.  My favorite directions here include, "Turn at the Pemex."  Think of your local gas station chain that is on practically every corner for a radius of 5 miles.  That's our Pemex.  "Turn at the Pemex" leaves a lot of ambiguity!

So that bus we got on for the trip home?  Well, it did get us home, and it was on the list of buses that would get us home.  But it took the longest route.  We got home about an hour or so after we got on the bus.  We got to see a lot of people get on the bus, watch the bus empty out completely, and get a few more customers.  The bus driver had a good laugh when he realized where we wanted to go!  He was very good natured, and wanted to know what we were doing in Chihuahua.  He stopped the practically empty bus to get himself a water, and one of our ladies yelled, "Por favor! Quiero un refresco!" (Please! I want a soda!)  She ran off the bus after him.  The four of us on the bus were laughing, as were the three Mexicans riding on the bus with us.  She later told us that he was confused about who was paying for her drink!  She just didn't want to get left behind when he was done buying his water.  

In all, we had a great cultural event and got to see a lot of people interacting.

I See The Moon

Saturday night we had a circle around the moon.  Have you ever seen it like this before?  I was told the reason why it does this a long time ago, but I can't remember.  Maybe it has something to do with pollution?  It was fun trying to get a good picture of it.  This is the best:

Saturday, March 07, 2009

My Language Teacher

 With my teacher Yoshi

Yoshi is a great language teacher!  She puts up with my Spanish Tuesdays through Thursdays.  We work one-on-one Tuesdays for an hour, drilling through nouns, verbs, and adjectives.  On Wednesdays we "go to town!"  Last week we rode the bus downtown, and took the long way back.  We got to see a LOT of Chihuahua!  On Thursdays we have a two-hour one-on-one session together.  Thursdays we work on nouns and verbs from our outing on Wednesdays.  Yoshi is very patient to listen to my broken Spanish, and to correct my pronunciation (this happens quite regularly!)  

Yoshi wants to be a missionary also.  She wants to start at a university this fall to get a bachelors degree and continue on into missionary training.  Would you pray for her as she makes these plans, and as she teaches me Spanish? 

Carrie and Yoshi

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

More Parties

My roommate turned 24 today, and we had a birthday party for her in her English class.
Nazareth's 24th birthday.  She's wearing the dorm "Birthday Necklace."  Rubber chickens!

We played a game where each team had to draw a picture.  This one was a "park."  In Spanish I heard "parque", so I drew a swingset.  Unfortunately, they wanted an amusement park!

I'll write soon about our trip downtown on the bus!