Prayer has been on my mind a lot lately. Actually, it’s been much more intense in the last few weeks.
I participate online in a home group with Church of the Rock in Winnipeg, Canada. We watch a short video and then discuss it. One of the pastors serves as a host. The series we are currently studying deals with prayer. And it has me thinking about prayer a lot more than usual, especially the circumstances surrounding when, why and how I pray.
We tend to pray for ourselves when we are in need much more than when things in our lives are going smoothly. Somehow praise for God isn’t always included. But there is a reason why our church services begin with praise. This strengthens our communication and relationship with God.
I plead guilty to praying for others more often than praying for myself. But I am trying to change that. My prayers with God have become more like conversations with a friend. I take more time to pray each day, always including praise.
And now, what prompted me to write this post.
Last week, someone in my past contacted me, someone I haven’t heard from in years. We are blood relatives and although we lived in different cities in Canada, we were quite close. But it’s interesting how my divorce and my becoming a Christian has completely changed our relationship. While I have reached out to him when he has experienced crises in his life during the last decade, I have undergone four major surgeries without hearing a word from him. My daughter got married. My first granddaughter was born. Still no acknowledgment on his part. And yes, he was well aware of all of these events. Last week I received a text on Facebook Messenger from him. Not a text to sincerely inquire as to my well-being. Nope. He had an agenda. He had a new venture on his mind and he would have benefited financially had I gone along with this. Needless to say I have had no response to my text informing him that I was not interested in this venture. And I wonder if and when I will ever hear from him in the future.
When he needs me in his life and it’s convenient for him, then he reaches out. Otherwise I am ignored and forgotten, like a book that gets put up on a high shelf never to be dusted.
However God forgives my sins and I need to forgive others. There is no room in my heart for anger or bitterness. I want my heart to be filled with peace, love and tranquility. So I have chosen to pray for this cousin instead.
Prayer is powerful.
After that whirlwind weekend in Mazatlan, I arrived in Culiacan Monday afternoon. I always feel like I’m coming home when I arrive at the bus station. Culiacan was my first stint at teaching in Mexico. But I left here with much more than just a year of teaching experience and assimilating into Mexican culture. I have this amazing family here who adopted me. They are the reason why I keep coming back to Culiacan. This week is all about family.
Juan and I taught together at Instituto Senda del Rio. We hit it off right away. He was anxious to improve his English and yours truly did not know a word of Spanish. We would meet in the library and he introduced me to wonderful children’s books written in Spanish such as The Wax Man and Chicken Little.
Our friendship grew and I spent quite a bit of time with Juan, his wife Lucila and Juan Carlos, who had just turned a year old. The family has grown since then and I now have three grandsons and another one due in March.
Juan Carlos is nine now, and plays basketball at Senda. I had the opportunity to watch him play twice this week. I also helped him with his English homework last night. Jose Augustin is six now and likes to cuddle in bed with me in the morning before he leaves for school. To my delight he read me a story in English yesterday. Angel is four and a bundle of energy. He is always full of smiles and hugs for his abuelita.
Juan still teaches at Senda and all three boys go to school there. They leave the house at 6:20 am as classes begin at 7:00 am. Extra-curricular activities begin at 4:00 pm which makes it quite a long day. Then there is always homework in the evening. Sometimes I sit at the table with them and color while they do their homework.
Yesterday I met Marcela for coffee. We taught together at Senda but she no longer teaches there. We hadn’t seen each other in a couple of years and it was nice to catch up. My Spanish has come a long way so we were able to converse in both languages over cappuccinos.
The weekend is here and will be a busy one. The children have activities and I always enjoy hearing Lucila sing in church.
This will be my last post for a while. Next week the nomad is on the move again!
It’s that time again. It’s time to say goodbye to Leavenworth again. It’s time to say goodbye to all my friends here. The last bridge game. The last book club meeting. The last life group. The last SAIL class. The last music night. The last lunch at the senior center. The last trips on Link Transit to Cashmere and Wenatchee.
I feel like the last six months have been more like six days or hours, not months. Friendships have increased and grown stronger. My involvement in children’s ministry is more meaningful. Leavenworth is really starting to feel like “home” to me after years of traveling, never quite settling down in any one place.
People envy me. They marvel at the places I’ve been and the adventures I’ve had. However this type of life does carry a price tag, and it’s a hefty one. It means that I meet lots of new people, but then there are lots of goodbyes that go along with that.
Of course we always have the option of planning our future. But as Robbie Burn’s once said, “The best laid schemes o’ mice and men gang aft a-gley.” I remember planning a future years ago, when my children were young. But it never included traveling from country to country on a regular basis. In fact it never included living anywhere but in Winnipeg.
The times are different now. My children don’t live in the same province anymore although they are both still in Canada. The idea of Friday night family dinners as well as birthday and holiday celebrations together is not in the plans anymore.
It has been interesting and enjoyable spending special times with different people in different places, but I would give anything to relive just one more minute of family time spent together. That precious time is gone forever.
Alas I must return to the mundane art of packing, another pastime I do not find in the least enjoyable. It’s also a challenge to keep within the 50 pound limit. Gone are the days when the number of bags allowed and the weight carried no restrictions.
Goodbye for now and my next post will be once I’m settled in Guadalajara, where I am looking forward to Day of the Dead festivities.
Facebook has this remarkable feature entitled “On This Day” where I am reminded of what had gone on in my life by the posts I had made on that particular date. These memories are amazing. Some of them I can’t believe I had the audacity to share on Facebook while others are absolute treasures.
For example, this past week I saw photos of Mother’s Day celebrations with my kids in Winnipeg. This photo goes back to 2013 when I had returned to Winnipeg for knee surgery. Another photo dates back to 2015 when I had returned to Winnipeg for my book launch of Alive Again.
A post from 2009 has me teaching an aquafit class at the West Portage YMCA and then going to a church service followed by lunch with friends. In 2011 I was in Culiacan, enjoying my first year teaching in Mexico. Back in 2015 Donna and I had gone on a tour of the Legislative Building in Winnipeg.
In 2016 I was in Mazatlan and in 2017 I was here in Leavenworth. And I wonder where I will be next year at this time.
On This Day is much more than a conglomeration of posts and events. It is the story of my emotional and spiritual growth. It depicts the trials and tribulations of being single again after thirty-six years of marriage. It hits on some of the more sensitive experiences and awesome adventures I’ve had in the past ten years.
Of course there are numerous posts I could have written about my life, but the more personal issues are not things I care to share with the Facebook world. Much of my life will always remain private and will be known only by those closest to me. And that’s the way it should be.
The past ten years has seen me living in three different countries and in seven different cities. And yes, Kyle, your mother is still a nomad. Even U.S. Immigration has adopted that term in my conversation with them last month when I returned to Washington.
I think a lot about the meaning of life these days. I guess that comes with growing older. Time is precious and life is to be lived. The life I have chosen involves extensive exploration, exciting discoveries, constant change and adaptation. It is not the conservative, conventional life that I once so tightly embraced. It has drawn a magnitude of criticism from family and friends. Nonetheless it has become my mantra. And I’m sticking to it.
On This Day, I reflect on all the remarkable people who have shared in my life in the past and continue to do so today. I am truly blessed to have friends wherever I may go. And I always look forward to the new friends I will meet on my journey, wherever that may take me.
And now it’s time for a Facebook post……………
February has been more of a countdown for me. You see, I’d been expecting the birth of a new grandchild and it finally happened on Monday the 26th of February when Madeline Annette made her debut in this world. Exciting! Lots of international phone calls and what’s app messages. My daughter has requested that I post no photos on the internet but I will tell you that Madeline is absolutely adorable and I can hardly wait until next month to meet her when I return to Canada. How the times have changed. I completely understand my daughter’s reluctance to post photos. There was no cyberspace when my children were born, and the idea of complete strangers viewing photos of my granddaughter is quite daunting. However I have been able to show pics to people here in Mazatlan and when I return to Leavenworth in May I will be able to show everyone there numerous photos of Madeline.
The artesan fair is here in Mazatlan and the timing is perfect. Of course I was on the hunt for baby items and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s a pink world out there for babies, even here in Mexico. And my daughter’s favorite color was always pink. Whenever we traveled to the USA Oshkosh was where we’d find pink jeans and pink overalls.
Needless to say, I’ve been finding other things to distract me from the fact that I won’t be headed back to Canada for over a month yet. I went to my weekly Tuesday card games where it was nice to take a break from having my cell phone attached to my ear.
We went to Diego’s to hear some great music by Marco and The Truth. Another unexpected event captured our attention that afternoon. It has been cold and extremely windy here in Mazatlan. The view of the beach was distorted by the sight of a catamaran straggling toward the beach. Thankfully all the passengers had been rescued with only minor injuries reported. We were all quite surprised that the catamaran had even ventured out when all the red flags were clearly visible all up and down the beach. By the following morning, this vessel was in pieces on the beach. Here’s a shot I snagged as people crowded the beach watching this spectacle.
I also enjoy the weekly jazz jam sessions at El Recreo. While the regular musicians are primarily snowbirds, there are also locals who show up as well. These musical hours are most enjoyable.
My favorite theater is the Platino at Galarias. Comfortable reclining seats, as well as food and beverage service at your seat are great features. Operation Red Sparrow was a great movie, although a little high on the blood and gore for me.
I have attended several concerts this winter. I have described some of them in previous blog posts, but the month of March has so far been a whirlwind of amazing performances.
Last Friday we went to a percussion concert at Angela Peralta. In addition to the usual drums, these talented musicians used a variety of household items and textures to create some very interesting sounds.
On Saturday the venue was La Chupiteria to hear some big band music.
Last night, tonight and tomorrow night the concerts are for the Guitar Festival. The ensemble of eight play a variety of classical and contemporary music. The musicians are from Mexico, Cuba and Uruguay. And there is no admission charge for these performances!
This Friday we are attending a dance performance at Angela Peralta. This troupe aspires to tour internationally but the admission charge is a mere 120 pesos or $8 Canadian.
Next weekend the ballet of Romeo and Juliet is on the agenda, again at Angela Peralta. And I cannot even begin to list the other cultural events happening, although the jazz festival is just around the corner.
But I will publish this post before I get distracted once again.
“IF” is a small word but it has a huge meaning. The other day I was asked what I would miss the most if I were to move away from Mazatlan. That is an easy one. Definitely the ocean, the beach and the malecon would be what I would miss the most, especially the spectacular sunsets.
My friend then asked me a more difficult question. “If you could live anywhere in the world, where would that be?” This is a tough one as there are so many places in the world I have yet to discover, and indeed probably never will in my lifetime. I love the water. I find the lapping of the waves to be calming and peaceful. But the splendor of the mountains is incredible. Gazing down into a canyon is amazing. Then there is the crunching of leaves underfoot as the colorful display falls from the trees in the fall. That first sprinkling of snow in winter is magical. Watching nature come to life again in the spring as greenery and flowers appear.
Where in the world can you find all this in only one place? I am still searching. For the time being, I have transitioned back into a snowbird with winters in Mexico and summers up north, lately in Washington state.
Not a day passes by where the idea of family doesn’t cross my mind. When I grew up, everyone lived in the same city and usually in the same neighborhood. But now the trend is to scatter. While I hop from country to country, my daughter moves from province to province in Canada as her husband is in the military. Interestingly enough, my son has remained in Winnipeg with very strong roots and I highly doubt that he will ever leave.
Family dynamics today are certainly different than they were mere decades ago. While there is still a strong family-oriented presence here in Mexico, I see more of my former students heading to Canada or the USA. The grass is always greener, isn’t it? Many of these students become disillusioned quickly at the higher cost of living up north, and the harsh winters they must contend with. Life runs by the clock and is more stressful. More return to Mexico than actually remain up north on a more permanent basis. From what I see, much of this can be attributed to the strong family ties as well.
My students asked me constantly, “Teacher, aren’t you homesick?” The truth is that I am in a rather abstract way. While I miss people and places, I realize that the life I once led is entirely unattainable now. But I have chosen to leave this all behind in the form of memories. It’s healthier that way. I can fully enjoy the present and eagerly await all the new adventures that the future holds for me. I love the following quote:
Now, if only Immigration would stop asking me “Where’s home?” when I travel…….