Living, Learning & Loving La Vida Nueva

Sunday, August 22, 2010

A Day in the Life

Sometimes in life you really have to laugh to keep from crying.  We have had our fair share of those experiences this year.  I figured I'd let ya'll in on a few of them from the last few weeks.

About a month ago, when Jonathan returned from the missions trip with Cristo Te Ama to Mazahua, the water heater wouldn't light.  Figuring that the gas was just out and having no way to fix it, he took cold showers.  When I arrived back from SC, I took cold showers. Well, I took 2.  Then the water went away completely.  After checking out the cistern in ground, J found that the water was below where the pump reaches.  We tried for 2 days to figure out how to get the city water to fill up our cistern by turning knobs and valves, but we had no luck.  In the meantime, Jonathan started bringing up 2 buckets of water (from the very bottom of the cistern) at a time.  We rationed the water, as we didn't know how long it'd be before the cistern filled back up. Plus we live on the third floor, and it gets really old climbing stairs with buckets of heavy water.  It is a good thing we used it sparingly, because the cistern didn't fill up for 6 days.  Bathing with buckets is an art.  If your head is shaved, like my husband's, well, it's not so difficult.  But, when you have a mop of hair like I do, it really is a tricky job.  We would dip the cup in the water to wash everything but my hair. Then, we had to tag team to finish.  I'd dunk my head in the bucket, upside down.  Then Jonathan would lather it all up.  I'd dunk my head back in while Jonathan tried to get all the shampoo out. Then I'd put in conditioner, since it was an upside-down tangled up mess, and dunk back into the water full of suds.  After we got the water dirty from bathing, we could flush the toilet.  I wonder how many people know that if you just poor water rapidly into a toilet, it flushes.  I didn't know that before we came here.  In fact, any time we used water - washing dishes, faces, hands, brushing teeth etc - we dumped it into the back of the toilet to create for ourselves "a flush."  We also took advantage of all the other toilets on the third floor.  Probably about day 2 Jonathan went around to all the bathrooms to count how many "flushes" we had left.  Each toilet still had one flush ready in the back of the toilet from before the water went out.  Needless to say, this went from funny to ridiculous pretty fast.  At least it didn't matter anymore that the hot water heater wouldn't turn on, cause we had no water to heat.

During the time the water was out, our overhead lights/fans went out.  This was undoubtedly the least of our worries.  We kept the bathroom and closet lights on and eventually pilfered a lamp from another room.

After a few days of living (and smelling) like cave men, I told my mom it could only get worse if our A/C broke.  The next day, the A/C unit (1) cut off.  When I cut it back on, it sounded like a jackhammer.  The noise was inescapable, especially since the unit is directly above our bed.  Jonathan assured me we would NOT move to another room just because the unit was making noise.  So, I put in my earplugs and fell asleep.  About 2.5 hours later I woke up because the noise had increased and my earplugs weren't cutting it any more, only to find J next to me lying on his back with his hands behind his head (that means he's mad).  Chuckling on the inside, I convinced him to move to another room.  He was delirious after laying there for hours trying to fall asleep with the jackhammer above his head.  None the less, we moved to another room, and found that that A/C unit (different type) was also making an obnoxious noise.  After waiting with (stubborn) Jonathan for about 20 minutes, I finally talked him into moving to yet another room.  At last, we found a room where the A/C worked and didn't sound like heavy machinery.  This is the room we are still in now.  The new problem is, we can hear all the music from the night club next door.  I simply cannot imagine how loud the music must be inside that place, if I can hear it loud and clear in my bed.  The bar is open every night except Sunday until any time between 3-6 AM.  I've lived long enough to know that almost nothing good happens at that time of night and you can only imagine the stories we've heard about what kind of things go on next door.  Absurdity.

A/C units are expensive down here and because our original unit was making that horrific noise, we were told to turn it off.  You can't imagine how hot it gets in that room with no A/C.  Our refrigerator barely works to begin with, but with it so incredibly hot and humid in the room, it had to work double time.  I threw so much food out those few days.  I tried to convince Jonathan to throw the meat out of the freezer which wasn't cold at all, but he cooked it instead.  It's really a miracle we never got sick off that meat.  Now that the A/C is kinda fixed in there, the fridge is working at its regular 1/2 speed.

Well, the water heaters still don't have it together yet.  We can't for the life of us keep the water heater on in the room where we are now sleeping.  So for showers, we go to the other room where the water heater works but the A/C sounds like a jackhammer.  Then last night, the water went out again.  It has been on and off since it got turned back "on", but it usually comes back on within a couple hours.  Well after Victoria, there's no waiting for a shower cause we never know if we've got ticks or who knows what else on us.  Even though there's "no" water, it really means there's no cold water coming from the roof, but there is still one hot water heater's worth of hot water.  Confused?  Oh well.  We tried to shower with the scorching water.  Ouch!  In an attempt to save what little water we had and not burn ourselves, we turned the water off.  So, Jonathan combined some cold, slightly dirty, old water from a bucket still in the shower and some hot water from the faucet, and poured it on my head to help me get the shampoo out of my hair.  Ridiculous.

Last but not least, the Tahoe we are borrowing doesn't have reverse.  "Doesn't have reverse?" you ask.  Nope, no reverse.  That creates a huge problem.  The reverse went out about 3 months ago.  Well, first the forward went out.  So we paid for a "new" gear box and unbeknownst to us, this one came equipped with no reverse.  So, every morning, J pushes and I steer out of the car lot place we keep the cars at night.  We've learned that if I hit the brakes as soon as the back wheels hit the curb, J can run and watch for a space in the traffic on our busy road and I am able to keep some momentum to continue out of the "drive way" (with an extra push or two from Jonathan or the nice guy who owns the business next door).  We have also learned that we must park where we can pull through or continue forwards.  Well, last night we found ourselves in a packed parking garage in a corner with no way out.  We usually have no trouble finding a place to pull through here, but last night was an exception.  So, Jonathan with a bum ankle has to push me out of this predicament and we end up making at least an 8 point turn around.  Although, I'd never have the strength to push that huge vehicle even if I wanted to, being pregnant means I have less to offer in the way of help.  I was laughing to keep from crying while Jonathan was telling me, "This is not funny!!"  Any pride we may have brought down here is gone now, because we get the most hilarious looks from people as I steer and Jonathan pushes me around in public places.  Finally, we got out of that sticky spot in the parking garage and decided to just pay the parking man to let us park in illegal spot.

Don't ever take for granted turning on your faucet and having warm water come out - or any water for that matter.  And please, never forget how important reverse is. Really, it makes life so much more enjoyable.  There are many, many things I will never think of the same way again, but these are some of the ones that make for hilarious stories.


Friday, August 20, 2010


Yesterday was all dreamy and wonderful.  Today reality hits.  I must go get this blood work done so the Doc can check it before we leave Mexico.  I am terrified.  I almost passed out in the middle of the night just thinking about it.

Last time I had blood drawn was not quite two months ago when we got the pregnancy blood test done.  Even thinking I had a sweet little baby inside didn't help.  I sat down in the chair and cried.  Looking at the counter next to me, I noticed two sizes of vials.  In the caddy there were three rows of "small" vials and one row of "big" ones.  I just knew she would grab the big one.  She did.  Then the darling lady wanted to show me she was using a brand new needle.  However, she didn't warn me she was about to stick a huge (everything seems bigger when you're scared) needle right in front of my face.  I cringed out loud.  J says I even shoved my hand in her face.  (Pure instinct, I promise.  I'm really not a terrible person and I know she's just trying to do her job.)  She then proceeded to tell me that if I didn't stop crying the blood wouldn't come out.  What a ridiculous story, but I fell for it and tried to slurp my sobs back up.  To "keep my mind off of it" I asked Jonathan to tell me a story.  Poor thing, he had to improv an interesting story to keep me from passing out.  So, he starts in about the bamboo trees outside.  It was a valiant effort, but to no avail.  I was going.  All of the sudden J sounded like he was across the building.  And those black eye shields starting coming up.....

Fortunately, I didn't knock all the way out.  I did, however, feel like a zombie the rest of the day.  Last time we only checked to see if I was pregnant.  This time, the Doc is checking for like five different things.  I actually haven't counted all the check marks on the referral slip.  I don't really want to know.  I just hope it doesn't mean we have to take a vial for every single thing he's checking for.  

Today I will not look at any vials or needles.  They can show Jonathan all they want, but my eyes will be closed.  If they'd let me lay on the floor, I would.  Anything to be more relaxed and less terrified.  

This is what you call procrastinating. 


Thursday, August 19, 2010

Baby Saint

In case you've been hiding out under a rock for the last month and a half....

We're gonna have a baby!

(For the purpose of not making our baby sound like an object, I will refer to "it" as "him" in this post.  However, we do not yet know the sex of the baby.)

J and I went to the Doc for the first time today to check out how Baby Saint is growing in there.  Looks like we are going to have our hands full.  This came as no surprise to me and really only confirmed what I've already been expecting.  He was swirling and twirling around so much the Dr. could barely catch his heart beat.  But, alas, we were able to hear a few little beats and it made my eyes sweat.  Actually, they started sweating when I first saw how active he is in there!  At 12.5 weeks I can't feel anything except nausea, and I had no idea he'd be bouncing around already.  It really seemed like we were looking in on a pre-birth aerobics class.  I'm just going to pretend he's getting all his energy out now and will be a precious, tranquil angel when he makes his appearance. 


The Doctor said everything looked perfect.  I thought, "Yay, I'm a good mom!"

Needless to say, Jono and I are excited, even more so now after seeing him.  The only screen I was really able to understand was when the Dr focused on the legs.  When he said, "This is the face." I thought, "That looks like a grainy alien."  And when he said, "Those are the feet." I thought, "I don't see anything except blur."  But, I caught the legs.  Little scrawny things they are. 

Although I'd like to say, "I can't wait to meet our baby," it wouldn't be a truthful statement.  The truth is, I'm glad we have to wait.  I feel like I have so much I need to learn.  I only know how to take care of 2 year-olds and kittens.  Bring on the books; I have so much to cover these next 6.5 months!  J assures me if I can just get the baby out, he'll take care of the rest.  But, I'm not so sure..... He appears to be lacking some of the necessary equipment.

For now, I think I'll just sit here and stare at the picture of our baby.  It makes my eyes sweat.  I might just sleep with it tonight.  

(You can click on the picture and make it larger if you're so inclined.)

"For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them."
Psalm 139:13-16 ESV


Monday, August 16, 2010


This is a post I have had nearly finished for months.  But, for various reasons I have put off posting it until now. I hope it gives you a glimpse into the lives of so many people in this country.

There are stray dogs everywhere down here.  They are in the roads, on the side of the roads, picking through trash, hobbling along with broken limbs, broken tails, manged, flea infested and starving. As a dog lover, and animal lover in general, it is hard for me to see these poor creatures day in and day out. Though some of them look healthier than others, for the most part they appear pitiful, miserable and sitting on deaths doorstep.  I almost feel relieved when I see one dead on the side of the road, because I know they aren't suffering anymore.
(This is a dog we see often which is covered with some sort of bug/disease and often bloody and twisted in the middle of the road gnawing at himself.)
So, after being here a little while, I dumped on my mom all the terrible things I've seen with these dogs.  And though sympathetic as she knows how much I love animals, she told me, "Just wait until you see children like that."  Thanks, Mom, for putting it into perspective for me, and preparing me for what I had not yet seen.
The last village we went to in Chiapas was called Maiz Blanco (White Corn).  We parked on the side of the road at the foot of a mountain, to walk across a bridge over a small stream.  Seeing a few buildings near by we figured one of those nice places was the church we were going to.

We walked right past all those buildings and continued on up, up, up.... 
As has happened many times before in my life, I was hilariously unprepared to climb a mountain wearing flip flips and lacking bug spray.  I ended up jogging up the path in an attempt to keep the mosquitoes from consuming every last drop of blood in my body.  I had one of those itchy bug bites on my arm for well over 2 weeks.  Fortunately, so far it seems that none of the many mosquitoes that managed to land on me while I ran had malaria.
When we reached the village the families came out to meet us.  They obviously don't have cars, as there was no road up to their village, and I wonder how often the women and children get down the mountain.  They told us the men work with crops.  Somehow I doubt that the children go to school.  Devora told me later on that the Mexican government has, "forgotten Maiz Blanco."  I guess they don't get any help from anyone, and obviously aren't making it very well on their own.
Again, we had packed a bag full of goodies for the sweet ones and hauled it up the mountain with is.  We also had heavy blankets in tow to give to the mothers for winter. We were shocked to see the way these people live.  Though we've seen some pretty rundown places, I don't know that I've ever see any like these.  The children were playing in the dirt.  They were filthy.  Their skin was dry from the sun and being unable to bathe.  They had snot encrusted on their faces.  Covered in bug bites and bugs (gnats, flies, etc), they looked so pitiful.  I was reminded then, of the pathetic dogs I see everyday, and how insignificant their suffering is to the way these poor children live.
(This little boy was covered in gnats. Here he is wiping them out of his eyes.)
After Jonathan shared a message with them, I got to hand out the gifts.  I can imagine it had been a while, if ever, since they received a gift.  I've said previously that the poorer the people were, the more excited and appreciative the children became.  Well, these children topped them all.  I wonder if they'd ever had Crayons, or a baby doll.  One of the little girls obviously had a mental disability.  When I handed her a few things, she became so incredibly excited - almost to the point of crying.  She just wiggled with joy as she sat in the dirt.  I was so taken aback and wanted to reach in the bag and grab her more, but in all honesty, I do not know that her precious heart could have taken it.  She was beside herself with excitement.
(The girl in the purple is the one who had the mental disability.  You can't see her joy in this picture, but the other little girl is expressing hers pretty well.)
Though I know what these people need is not a gift, nor running water, it does bring joy to my heart to think of brightening their gloomy lives with a small gift.  There is a local pastor who ventures up this mountain regularly and is ministering to these 'forgotten' people.
As we were about to leave, two men from the village came walking (stumbling) up the mountain.  It didn't take me 10 seconds to figure out that one was sickeningly drunk and the other had seemingly been drinking.  It infuriated me to think that these women and children live in this manor helpless, while the men drink their sorrows away with what little money the family has.

I don't believe I'll ever forget that day, that village and what I saw there.