Mazamitla: Colder Weather Calls for Cabins

Remember that trip to the mountains I was supposed to take the same weekend Hurricane Patricia struck the coast not too far from us? Well, this weekend we were able to reschedule! Mazamitla, Jalisco was not what I had expected it to be, but I still had a very fun weekend. I love hiking and following trails, but there was not much opportunity for this in Mazamitla that I could see. There were a lot of guided tours and you could choose if you wanted to go on horseback, on ATVs, or on a touring truck. The adventure companies also offered parks with zip lines, hanging bridges, paintball, and other activities. It was interesting to observe that we were the only obvious foreigners in town that weekend, though it was clearly a tourist town. Most of the tourists were Mexican and this might explain why there were not a lot of hiking opportunities as this does not seem to hold a lot of interest for Mexicans generally speaking. Our group of teachers was kind of low key and we had two children and a person on crutches with us so we opted to take the truck tour and see the views around the area. We had a great tour guide who did one of the most successful jobs I have seen of leading a group in both English and Spanish. There were some pretty views and it felt nice to be out in the woods on a mountainside, but…well, I think Virginia is prettier. Forever biased.


The town, one of the “Pueblos Magicos,” was very cute. It had a lot of typical Mexican architecture, but a lot more timber in their structures than I have seen in most other places in the state of Jalisco. In typical Mexican fashion, all of the main streets are centered around a town square with a gazebo and large church nearby. We had fun ducking into shops, taking pictures, and finding tasty things to eat. During our weekend, we enjoyed candied yams, macaroons, gorditas, chilaquiles, and stuffed churros. I loved the little garden shops and have resolved to get a couple plants for my room here in Guadalajara.


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Our cabin was a little… rustic. There was no hand soap because they claimed people kept throwing it away. The oven did not have a rack and only one burner worked, but Mike did a great job serving up some excellent breakfasts. There were also lots of ants, but we managed to hide most of the food from them successfully. It was nice to be able to have a log fire going in the cabin while we all sat around and talked, read, or rested. We even found room in our stomachs for a few s’mores. It was a great weekend away. It was also sweet because the cold weather, the mountains, and living in a cabin with friends all reminded me of how soon I will be coming home to Virginia for Christmas and New Years. It is going to be great!

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I’m thinking about this again today in light of the attacks on Paris. Empathy and Prayer.

As I Go, I Grow

It’s hard to forget some things. Others things are hard to remember. This Friday, the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, was a normal day in Mexico for me. However, yesterday, while online, I realized that I had never actually watched the original news coverage of the attacks. I was only 9 at the time and saw only parts of the coverage. That day seemed like a nightmare, because I didn’t really understand what was going on or why, but all of the adults around me were really upset. I watched the first two hours of footage from the attacks yesterday and today. This time it seemed like a nightmare because I did understand clearly what was happening and why. I cringed every time a new report came in of a new attack and every time a reporter’s voice quavered, fighting to remain calm and professional. It was…

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Life with Emma

Many of you have asked about my new housemate and how that transition has been. It has been such a refreshing blessing! Emma is from England and is the middle school art teacher at Lincoln. She has traveled quite a lot already and surrounds herself with all sorts of beautiful and interesting things. I’m secretly hoping that she won’t have room in her suitcase at the end of the year and I will benefit from just a little bit of it. 😉 We have been sharing grocery shopping and cooking responsibilities and that has been a lot of fun to share meals together. Emma also has been asking the landlady if we can make all sorts of little changes around the house, which I was too timid to ask about before. All those little changes have actually excited the landlady and made our space so much more homey and inviting. Here are some demonstrations of how our life looks now.

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Our fruit bowl now looks like a still life painting.

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We have a comfy place for working and relaxing together and Emma has lots of space to spread out her artwork (both completed and works in progress).


Our cupboard is full of teacups! Emma has a lovely collection and yes, they are for tea, not coffee. We also are using British tea towels in the kitchen now as they are apparently far superior to anything you can find here of the kind.

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I am also enjoying lots of little touches that Emma puts on everything which make the house so much more conducive to hosting. We have had people over for dinner a few times already and those times have definitely been a blessing. I could not be more thankful.

A Mi Patria

Hoy es el día que tuvimos que avisar a Lincoln School si vamos a regresar el próximo año o no. Muchos de ustedes ya saben que a mí me gusta pensar en un tiempo largo en cosas y así esperar el último momento para estar segura que tengo razón. Yo envié la carta de intención más temprano hoy.

Estoy muy agradecida por la oportunidad por vivir en Guadalajara. Tuve muchas metas personales cuando llegué y ahora puedo ver que muchas ya son cumplidas. Soy mejor maestra. He escrito un currículo para lectura y escritura, he aprendido como hacer planeaciones efectivas, he encontrado un sistema para mantener control en mi clase, y una manera que me sirve bien para enseñar la lectura y escritura, y he visto a mis alumnos que hicieron exámenes con buenas marcas.


He aprendido mucho de ministerios en una cultura diferente. Soy un miembro de dos iglesias cristianas que se reúnen en casas. Una ya tiene líderes mexicanos y la otra está en proceso para tener líderes mexicanos. He podido observar como ellos hacen decisiones, que tipos de problemas se encuentran, y como están bendecidos por sus trabajos. También, he visto un cambio drástico en la vida de la dueña de mi casa y esto me anima mucho.


He vivido sola con el dinero que he ganado. Yo hago compras y cocino por mí misma. Cocino mucho mejor ahora y no necesito usar una receta cada vez que hago algo. ¡Jaja!

He disfrutado una experiencia cultural increíble. Ahora puedo hablar español más fluido y me gusta comunicarme en este idioma. Me gusta bailar salsa y otros bailes con ritmos latinos y puedo salir algunas veces cada semana para disfrutarlas. Viajé a muchos lugares bonitos y participé en celebraciones y tradiciones mexicanas. He visto todas formas de arte tradicional, incluyendo baile folclórico y la arquitectura hermosa. Me faltó cantar Cielito Lindo con mariachi para Margarita antes de irme lo haré. (Margarita me ayudó corregir esto y insistió en que añado esta promesa)


Estoy agradecida por tener todas estas experiencias, y me pone triste que voy a irme. Sin embargo, también puedo ver atrás y me doy cuenta que cumplí muchas de mis metas y ya es tiempo de regresar a mi casa en los Estado Unidos. ¡Qué bueno que todavía faltan nueve meses para irme! Gracias a todos ustedes por su parte en mi experiencia. Todavía tengo mucho tiempo para disfrutar México con ustedes. Para concluir, aquí está mi traducción de una de mis poemas favoritas, “Home Again” por Henry Van Dyke.

Entonces, es para mi patria. Mi patria, ¡América para mí!

Mi corazón está volviendo a mi patria, y es por allá que quiero ir.

A la tierra de la juventud y la libertad, mas allá del océano,

Donde el aire está lleno de luz del sol y la bandera está lleno de estrellas.

Foto de bautismo por Carola Venegas. Foto de baile por Glenn Skala. Otras fotos son mías.

Home Again

Today is the day we had to send Lincoln School our official letter of intent for next year. As most of you know, I think about things a long time, but do not speak until I am absolutely sure or am required to speak so that new circumstances can be accounted for. I finally sent in my letter earlier today.

I have been so thankful for the opportunity to live in Guadalajara the last year and a half. I had lots of goals when I came and I see nearly all of them met. I have grown as a teacher. I have written curriculum, learned how to write effective lesson plans, figured out a classroom management system that works for me (Class Dojo is amazing by the way!), found a method that works for me (The Daily 5) and seen my students do really well on their fall standardized testing.


I have learned about cross cultural ministry. I am a part of two different Mexican house church networks. One is led by Mexican nationals and one is in the process of transitioning to Mexican leadership. I have been able to observe how they make decisions, what kinds of problems they run into, and what kind of blessings come from their efforts. I have also seen my landlady’s life completely change, which is an incredible source of encouragement to me.


I have lived on my own off of the money I have earned. I have figured out grocery shopping and am much better at cooking now. I can now make a good dinner without following a recipe each time! I am really looking forward to the next several months as my new housemate and I have decided to share cooking responsibilities and I will be learning more new recipes and how she likes to cook.

I have enjoyed an incredible cultural experience! I have become much more fluent in Spanish and enjoy communicating in another language. I have learned how to salsa dance (and some other Latin dances) and get to enjoy that usually at least once a week. I have traveled to some beautiful places, participated in Mexican holidays and traditions, and enjoyed all forms of traditional art, including folkloric dance and the beauty of the architecture.


I have really enjoyed all of this, and I will be sad to leave it. However, I can also look back on it and be contented that my goals have been met and it is time for me to move back home and begin preparing for whatever comes long term. I am very thankful that I will have another nine months here to continue to add to my experience. Thank you to each one of you who has been a part of it. We have another nine months to enjoy! I’ll conclude with a stanza from one of my favorite poems, Home Again by Henry Van Dyke, which has been running through my head recently.

So it’s home again, and home again, America for me!

My heart is turning home again, and there I long to be,

In the land of youth and freedom beyond the ocean bars,

Where the air is full of sunlight and the flag is full of stars!

Photo of the baptism belongs to Carola Venegas. Photo of dancing belongs to Glenn Skala. Other photos are my own.