Wednesday, November 28, 2012

House Guest

Here is a picture of the boy's room and the girl's room.  The nets over the bed are a must for dealing with the unwanted "house guest".  The fans are also a very nice luxury, even though it is the mildest season of the year, it is still quite warm!

The mosquitos are as thick as clouds some evenings.  I suspected the open water reservoir for a while, but didn't know what to do about it.  Our landlord's wife made this device out of a plastic water bottle to float on top the water.  It seems to disturb the mosquitos enough to keep them from laying eggs in the water.  Surprising it has cut down on the mosquitos a lot.

  I tried a homemade mosquito trap I saw on Pinterest.  I really like Pinterest, but this project was a disappointing failure.  I am going to try to redo the yeast/sugar mixture, but on the first try I caught a whopping one fly and one mosquito.  Not a huge help!

So how are we doing without internet?  I guess to say we have no internet is not completely accurate.  We can drive to a town about 10 minutes away and find an internet cafe, which is where I am sitting right now.  So, I just jot down things I want to look up and try to use the internet time wisely.  Generally, I type out any replies to emails or blog post ahead of time to cut down on time, since we pay for internet by the hour.  It's really a minor adjustment.

Our dining room

The outside of the house.

Monday, November 19, 2012


So here is my little kitchen.  As you can see I have the modern conviences of a refrigerator, stove and electricity.  Also I brought along my juicer and blender.  We are using tables provided by the school for both counter tops and storage cabinets.  What a blessing they are!  You’ll notice that the thing missing is the sink.  There is no indoor plumbing in any kitchens here in Cacalote.  Lena was discussing this with our landlord’s wife, they live quite close on the same property as you can see in the picture below.  She was surprised to hear we have a sink in our kitchen where we live in Oaxaca city!

So, I am standing on our landlord's house and the tile house is where we live. We also hang our laundry out to dry up here.

In order to wash your dishes you bring them out to the sink/washboard.  

There is not running water there either, but there is water!  A good sized reservoir that is filled by pumping water (electrical pump, praising God for that also) from the well.  Using a bowl to dip out water you wash and rinse your dishes, then place them in a very diluted bleach solution.  Bring them back inside and place them on your drying rack. 

Although, our landlord’s have a modern oven/stove, she will often use this more traditional outdoor, fire fueled kitchen to make traditional dishes such as tortillas or mole.  Mmmmm...mmmmmm.mmmm....I think I just made myself hungry!  And it just dawned on me I should probably get some lessons from her on how to cook without my modern oven.  More on that later, in the meantime, I’ll be showing you the rest of our little hacienda, school and pueblita.  

Lena learning to make tortillas.

Turing the tortillas by hand.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Luxuries vs Necessities

For the past 4 years since we started talking seriously about becoming missionaries, I have closed my eyes and relished the warm water that flows over me during my morning shower.  I have said, “Thank you God for warm showers, please help me be thankful when I have to give up this incredible luxury.  That day has come, at least for a while. 

We are in a different location for the next several weeks...what’s new!  This time we are in the same state, our home, Oaxaca.  However, we are about 7 hours from the city, down on the Pacific Coast.  We are taking a seven week language course, which for this school amounts to one level out of four.  We have started at level two.  A good bit of the vocabulary we already know or it is at least familiar.  Some of the grammer is review, but much needed.  Some of the grammer has been completely new and I am encouraged at the advance in my language abilities in just the week and a half we have been here.  Sam will be helping to start a Bible Institute at a church in the city and teaching Bible classes when we return, so this is really going to help.  There is homework, quizzes, test and drills, along with the lessons.  All are much needed.

So in the next few post I will try to show you what coastal living outside the shiny, air conditioned tourist spots is like.  A casual, friendly people, who work hard, are resourceful, but don’t take themselves too seriously.

Don’t miss out as I navigate life without internet, warm showers, a washing machine, or indoor plumbing in my kitchen.  That’s right!  No kitchen sink!  As I write this on Nov 7, 2012 at 8:30 pm, temps are in the high 80’s.  Next post I’ll give you a peek in my little kitchen and show you how we wash dishes with no running water.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Son Grandes

Slow blink...soft smile...deep breath...the smells, the sounds, the feel on the carpet under us.  

In the past six months we have had many moments, moments of joy, excitement, weariness, despair and encouragement; just to name a few.  We have clung tight to the calling, the calling of first glorifying God in all we do.  It has been a time of constant change (even in ministry direction), many miles, and many different beds and sometimes floors for our weary heads, but I think we have emerged clearer in our vision and closer in our relationship, both with each other and Jesus Christ.

In the midst of all the chaos, God graciously gave two moments when surrounded by my chattering children, time seemed to stand still, breath was breathed deep.  They are growing, they have interest, school work, friends, but in this moment they were fully engrossed in the togetherness of a family God had put together.  Relishing and enjoying the attentive ear of each other and their parents.  Thank you God for these moments among the chaos of serving on the mission field.

In this time of movement and transition, several have noted that my children "son grandes" - they are big!  And as I took a good look, they were right, these treasures God has entrusted into our hands have grown in stature and maturity.  Thus making those precious moments of togetherness all the more precious.  Recognize...breath deep...slow blink...soft smile...

Monday, October 1, 2012

How to Rent a House in Mexico

You could try the internet, you'll find a few there.  When you call about them, you'll find they are already rented.  However the realtor will be happy to show a bunch of houses she knows you will just love, that don't fit in the budget you have plainly stated or any of the other criteria you have talked about.

Then you will go off on a wild goose chase and consider renting an orphanage, however I think that experience is actually exclusive to the Means family.  Maybe I'll post more on that later.  At this point you'll find yourself and your five children homeless and crashing at a friends house.

And at this point, the word will get around that you are homeless and a lady from church, a client and one of the students at the birth center will come up with houses for you to check out.  Some fairly decent options actually.  In order to see these houses you must meet the student at the birth center, ride with her to go pick up the client's mother and then ride over to go talk to the Tia (aunt).  That house will already be rented, but she will have another idea, so you go see that one and one more.  When you take the mother back, the husband of the client will make some phone calls and you can go look at one more house that will be ready in two months.

Move in madness!  Sleeping on the floor!

Move in madness!  Must homeschool!

When you decide to settle on the one that was beside the one the church member found in the newspaper, the friends you are crashing with call to say the bakery lady pointed them in the direction of the perfect house, in a great location, at a great price!  And that is how you find a house to rent in Mexico.

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Few of My Favorite Things

We are now in a new area of Mexico and we have slowly been getting to know our new home.  There are still many, many more things to see and discover, but here are some things we love about our new home.

1. It's incredible rich and diverse culture.

The area is littered with ruins from Mexico's indigenous past.

Tejate is a yummy local chocolate drink.

2. Rainy season, which is accampanied by more greenery than we had seem in several years.  But seriously I love the sound of pitter-patter on the roof.

3. CafeCafe!  See the this post for more about CafeCafe!

4. Centro de Abastos, the large central market with all it's smells and colors and fresh fruits and vegetables.  It's so large that even though we've been there 3 times, we still haven't seen it all, not to mention you save a bundle of money shopping there.

This women was kind enough to show off her beautiful breads.

Can you guess this vegetable?

Sam carrying a whole crate of apples through the market for me. I made apple cider vinegar , which we can't get down here and yummy apples sautéed in butter, suger and cinnamon.

5. I'm loving attending pregnant moms and births again, with the added bonus of teaching.  No matter how much I try to suppress it or deny it, one of my purposes on this earth is to care for women during pregnancy and childbirth and I'm thankful for the opportunity to minister in this way.

6. This Tacos stand is owned by one of the brothers at the Baptist church.  They are incredible and trust me I've eaten enough tacos to know.  He has a beef taco, a pork taco and tacos de cabeza (meat from the head of the cow) all amazing!  Really it's his wife and daughters who prepare them, but I'm sure he helps.

Stay tuned for more mini tours of this amazing place we have the privilege of calling home.  I even considering changing the name of the blog since it feels like our "wandering" may have come to an end, such an unfamiliar concepts to this family.  However, even though we are making the city of Oaxaca our home, eventually we feel we will be ministering more and more in the vast unreached rural mountain areas that surround us.

Stay tuned, soon I will be posting about our new home we will be moving into this week.  It will titled "We Bought the Zoo: or in our case rented it".  Should be interesting!

UPDATE:  Before I could get this posted, because of our sporadic internet, the house we were supposed to move into fell through.  We are sad, because we were excited about all the ministry possibilities this building represented, but we are thankful for God's guidance and protection.  However, that leaves all 7 of us humbly accepting help from friends, as we "crash on their couch".  In reality, Sam and I have our own room with a private bathroom and our children are quite comfortable too.  Pray with us we find a house very soon, so we can be much more effective here in Oaxaca.

Saturday, August 11, 2012


My camera is back and even better!  YAY!

A little Spanish lesson today.  Novio means boyfriend, so novios is a couple.

Sam and I found this amazing coffee shop that sends Starbucks running off with it's tail between it's legs!  And at a better price to boot!  The coffee is grown and prepared here in the state of Oaxaca, and they know just how to grow it under the shade of the banana trees, not to mention the climate is perfect.  It's rich and flavorful, just like Oaxaca!  And as an added bonus, you can sit in comfy chairs and enjoy the view of the mountains out the open store front.

Sam and I are known to sneak over mid afternoon quite often, especially after a day at the birth center.  We sit and sip our amazing coffee, admire the view and enjoy the pleasant company (each other).  Usually we just order coffee, but occasionally dessert and maybe a sandwich if it has been an extra busy day.

One day after ordering our coffee and sandwich, Sam ran over to the cell phone store while we waited for our food.  The girl that had been our server several time before, came out to inform me that they didn't have all the ingredients for my "friend's" sandwich.  I chose another one, but I couldn't wait for Sam to get back to tell him she thinks he's my boyfriend!  Tehehe!  Mind you I was wearing my wedding band, which I have worn for the last 16 years, but wedding rings are not as big a tradition here as they are in US.  Later she got up enough nerve to ask Sam if I was his girlfriend and was surprised to find out, I was his wife and we have 5 children!
My honey and I in front of our favorite coffee shop, CafeCafe.

Recounting the story makes me smile inside.  Truly thankful I have a wonderful husband who treats me so well people thinks we are dating.  Just as it should be, right girls!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Final Trip Journal Entry: "And That Was Worth the TRIP!"

TUESDAY: June 26th

Excuse the blur.  I'm stuck with the point and shoot until my camera that was stolen during our trip to the US is replaced.  Insurance is covering the replacement cost, it's just a matter of getting it ordered.

And so we come to the final day of our trip....kind of...I'll explain this later.  Thank you for sharing in our adventure.  The Means family has many more adventures ahead.

So, we are full time missionaries, which means we live down here full time.  It's our home, so this little adventure is not typical of what we do.  In fact it is the first time we have done anything like this.  We have some unspoken philosophies about ministering.  We believe it is best to make sure what you do is Christ focused and is going to have lasting results, eternal results.  This usually involves a long term commitment to the people and the place.  However, this trip was all God's leading.  We knew for this one week, this is what God would have us do and God just went before us in amazing ways.  We still weren't sure exactly how everything was going to work out, even as we went to sleep Monday night with all the bags of food packaged and ready to hand out.

Tuesday morning Sam got up early to read his Bible and then cooked breakfast.  The kids got up and got  ready one at a time, waking to the patter of a lite rain.  As Haden and I got ready, one of the children came to tell me people were arriving!  The only mototaxi driver in town had worked with Lilian to identify families in need.  He made a round to tell the ones able and close enough there was some relief food available.  Then He, pastor Jevial and Sam package up some "despences" to take up to families that really, really needed them and had no means of coming to get them.  I am so very sorry we have no pictures.  This is the first time we have done anything like this and we didn't realize until later we should have designated someone to take pictures, but then again my children were enjoying the process so much, there is no way I could have ask one of them to do it and with Sam and I split up, I needed to take change.  So, while Sam went out with the mototaxi, the kids and I stayed right there at Lilian's and handed out the rest of the food and items.  We were able to hand out beans, rice, vegetables, chicken, sugar, animal cookies for the kids, toothpaste and tooth brushes (which were a big hit) all with gospel tracts.  We were able to briefly tell the people "Jesus loves you", "God bless you" and "we are praying for you and your town".  After everything was handed out and we sat down for a late breakfast together, Hannah excitedly exclaimed, "that was worth the trip!"  All the kids had a bit of a hard time knowing there was much more need and that the supplies had run out.  All in all we were able to help at least 75 families, some with only one member and some with 9!  After breakfast Sam went up with the mototaxi man to hand out some tarps to about 6 houses they had identified.  It's not a permanent solution, but they were good quality and will keep them dry as it is still raining daily there.  After spending the morning aiding our efforts the mototaxi would not take any money for his services, that was a huge donation on his part.  While Sam was gone one of the families came back with a gift!  A sea turtle hand carved from a coconut shell.  I told her it would be a reminder to pray for Pluma Hidalgo.  Below are the few pictures we took.  :)

Arms full!  We will remember bags if we do this again.

Lena giving small bags of cookies to the kids.

Please note the smiles.  :)

With Lilian and Pastor Javiel

So to sum things up:
What an amazing trip God allowed us to go on!  Thank you so much to everyone who gave towards beans and rice and the other things we were able to take along.  I wish you could have been there to see the faces of those you gave to help.  Besides providing a little help for Pluma Hidalgo, we were also able to encourage and help a local pastor and his church in Pochutla and strengthen a new believer in Pluma Hidalgo.
After dropping pastor Javiel back at his house we headed to Puerto Escondido to drop out some supplies to a doula friend there.  By the time we drove the hour over I was not feeling very good.  We began looking for a hotel room, by the time we found a room and were sitting on the beach letting the kids play, I realized I had a fever.  It only got very much worse from there.  Sam and I both spent a miserable night with high fever and intense stomach cramps.  Sam met an American chiropractor the next morning, who gave him the name of a doctor.  I was given three kinds of medication and 1/2 liter of IV fluid right there in his office!  By Thursday with the help of anti nausea medicine we were able to get home, rest and recover.  For those wondering that's what your garden variety food poisoning does and it's actually the first time we've had it in the two years we've been here.  Thankfully the kids were healthy as horses the whole time.

Linking up this Monday morning. A Mama's Story has a fabulous give away this week. Go check it out.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Trip Journal: June 25th


I know it seems to be a reoccuring theme for this trip, but Monday we didn't get going as soon as we had hoped. It had been several days of traveling and ministering and some of us had been sleeping on the floor and such. Plus, the pastor and his family wanted to send us off with a good pancake breakfast. When we finally got on the road there were a few stops we had to make. The main one was filling our propane tank so we could cook food up in Pluma if the need or opportunity arose. This stop helped us determine which route we would take up to Pluma.

As the morning turned to afternoon and we began climbing the winding, mountian road, it began to rain again. At first it was light, but very soon became quite heavy. There were a few small mud slides covering no more than one lane, but all seemed passable. Plus we met some other missionaries along the way and they had just been able to pass through. About ten minutes later traffic had come to a complete stand still. Pastor Javiel and Sam went to investigate and this is what they saw, which must have happened only moments before. What you can't see is the 150 foot drop off to the left!

We had a little adventure trying to get across. Once we got stuck and had to regroup and try again. Sam and the pastor helped a few vehicles across and then it was our turn again!

We had learned from other missionaries that if we arrived too late we should stay the night because the roads would be too dangerous at night. Now we had a really good reason to believe them, so when we arrived in Pluma the first thing we did was check out the two hotels in town. They were of course completely full due to many of the homes still not being livable. However one of the owners pointed us in the direction of a lady in town who houses students. (Side note: In some of the village towns even elementary and high school students have to leave their villages during the week and stay in a larger village in order to attend school.) We were warmly greeted by the owner after we explained why were there and she had room for us.

As it turns out God had lead us to the house of the sister of a Baptist pastor, who pastored a church several hours away in Salina Cruz. The last time pastor Javiel had spoken with him he had ask pray for his family in Pluma that were still unsaved. As I prepared food for everyone and fed the kids, Sam and the pastor where able to get their Bibles out and talk at length with Lilian. After some discussion it was discovered that because of her brother's testimony, Lilian had recently accepted Christ as her Savior. However, because there were no churches in town and no other Christians that she knew of, she was feeling quite discouraged. If our Savior would make a special trip to meet a woman by a well, of course he can direct our steps with divine appointments also!

Before bed we all spent some time dividing up the big bags of rice, beans, sugar, and vegetables we had brought to distribute the next day. Each bag has a gospel tract in the bottom. The government had come a few days before and distributed metal sheeting to begin repairs on many of the houses and had also distributed some food, but Lilian knew of some families that were not able to make it in where the help was being distributed. These are the families we would be able to minister to the following day. We talked about preparing a hot meal with the chicken and vegetables, but Lilian explianed it would be a blessing for the families to be able to prepare it in their houses the way they liked it. Again, I know it is hard to image, but chicken is not something a lot of these folks get very often, especially after a hurricane has disrupted things so much. She assured us they would have a means of cooking, even if it was an open camp fire.

 It was fun to listen to the concerns of my children, wondering how everything was going to work out the next day. What a great experience for them. I truely believe one of the keys to helping your missionary children is to help them feel involved, to help them make it their ministry too.

The road as we are just approaching Pluma.