Sunday, November 28, 2010

Herrins in Mexico -- Thanksgiving 2010

We hope YOU had a wonderful Thanksgiving...and I can promise you that ours was good. Of course, it's during the holidays that we most miss "home," and it was no different this year! To make matters even more difficult, our Megan was with our Jesse in we were down TWO children from usual. However, Jeanne Lee, Andrew and I had a wonderful time...!

Just so we wouldn't be sitting around moping, the Lord saw to it that we were well busy through Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday started off with Jeanne Lee making 12...that's TWELVE...pumpkin pies for the high school (Instituto Laurens) Thanksgiving dinner that she would be a part of on Thursday.

...and her "magic" was delicious!

Jeanne doing her "magic"...

But, of course, before Thursday, the teachers' college (the LEB of Instituto Laurens) had their dinner on Wednesday evening. My third semester students were asked to tell the story of Thanksgiving and talk about a traditional Thanksgiving we got in about three days of practice...and did our thing Thursday night. It was a lot of fun...and it was great to see student who had struggled with English at the beginning of the semester now reading fairly fluidly. The meal there? Chicken, rice, broccoli, and spaghetti with cilantro pesto sauce...and flan for dessert! Not too Thanksgiving-y for us! ha,ha... But, a good time with the students and teachers.
Introducing my 3rd Semester students at the Program

Some of my 3rd Semester students

Then, Thursday rolled around...and it was off to work again! It's not a national holiday here, Thanksgiving, so we just pressed on as always. I went off to the seminary, and Jeanne Lee and Andrew got things together for the high-school mid-day dinner. Jeanne Lee was to speak to the assembly (some 70+ students and teachers) to talk about Thanksgiving and the reason for the day. My wonderful, tender-hearted wife became rather emotional during her talk, and some of her teacher-friends came quickly to her and helped her finish. However, what happened later is the best part...! I came home from work early to share Thanksgiving with my family--just the three of us. However, just as I arrived, two of Jeanne's students--Samuel and Melvin--arrived at our door...with a huge cheese-cake pie!! They said, "We knew you had a hard day today, Miss, and we just wanted to do something for you...." WOW! Two seventeen-year-old boys thinking to do something like this for their teacher?? Well, that's the difference that Jeanne is making in the lives of these teenagers. Both of these boys are in Jeanne's book club...meeting every two weeks to discuss a novel they're reading together...and to talk about life in general.

Thanksgiving Dinner...friends in the background...!

A DELICIOUS feast for us!
We, we invited them in...and they jumped on the X-Box with Andrew. Sam also came over that day. Sam is from Ohio...and is here in Mexico alone, staying with a friend of the family. He is living about an hour-and-a-half from the school...and has really been missing home, so he stayed with us three days this week. Since Sam, Melvin and Samuel had all fairly gorged themselves at the school dinner, they declined our offer to eat, and just sat in the background playing X-Box while the three Herrins joyfully ate Thanksgiving together. As Andrew said, "This is one to remember!"  We love you all and hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 15, 2010

The J . A . M ....

And just so you don't forget about our amazing children, I better give you an update on their lives as well!

Jesse!  She's at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, working her way towards her bachelor's degree.  As she comes to the end of her first semester, we rejoice that she is doing well.  Oh, she has faced the difficulties of going to college in the US as a TCK (Third Culture Kid)...but she seems to be maneuvering the obstacles and frustrations with her usual determination and stick-to-it-iveness.  We are so proud of her...and can't wait to have her with us for Christmas--her first time to come home since she left--and to catch up with her on all the doin's of life!

The ever-lovely Jesse...
Riding in Style!
Oh yes...great hat.

And the Megan!  She is moving right along in life.  This year, she continues to home-school, yet stays as active as anyone I know!  First of all, she is tutoring at Instituto Laurens--right now a young lady in elementary school.  She meets with her two days a week.  Then, one evening a week, Megan teaches a history and culture class at the Teachers' College--yes, that's right--the Teachers' College.  She is teaching them basic American history and culture, and relating it to their future professions as kindergarten and elementary school teachers by teaching them crafts that go along with the celebration of all the main American holidays--this is important for those who hope to teach at bi-lingual schools.  They love her!  And, after the studies and work is all done, Megan goes out her friends from church and school for a good time.  She is active at the church as a greeter and as a child-care worker.  Just watching her leaves me exhausted!!

Megan tutoring...
At the teachers' college

At the "Noche Mexicana" festivities....

And, the Andrew!  He, too, is home-schooling this year by choice...and it seems to have been a good choice!  Otherwise, there's no way he'd get it all done....  He is off to basketball practice Mon-Fri. for three to four hours each day...and he is playing WELL!  We are really proud of him.  In addition to basketball, he has taken an affinity to the drums, and we get to enjoy his drumming daily.  He is taking lessons with one of the seminary students each week...and soon hopes to be playing in the praise band at church.  And, speaking of church, he is very involved with the youth program...going out with them several times a week, working as assistant leader of his discipleship group.  The boy is unending energy incarnate!

Boy can move the ball!
And it went right in!
Drumming with Juan Carlos
So, there you have it!  The J.A.M. is doing great!  We are so, so proud of our children...for the lives they live, for the examples they are to those around them, for the help they are at home.  And, we thank you all for praying for them as they discover God's dreams for their they travel--Jesse in the US, and Megan and Andrew around this huge they are an integral part of this ministry.

Moving into Winter!

Well, we are moving towards winter, even if many folks don't realize that in Monterrey, Mexico, we DO have winter.  Last year, we had almost a week that didn't see temps ABOVE freezing!!  But, with the cold weather comes some of the best times of the year--Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's!  But, before I touch on those, let me catch you all up on life since September!

Classes at the seminary go great!  Jeanne is beginning to wrap-up her Introduction to Public Speaking course--the students have had a great time, and Jeanne has seen the introverted and shy become more comfortable speakers and the extroverted and uncontrolled become calmer and more focused.  My classes have gone well, also.  I stepped out of my areas of expertise by teaching Introduction to Ethics this semester--I have learned as much or more than the students!  We have tackled some serious ethical issues...and I have seen my students really grow in areas of critical thinking.  My Comparative Theology course has been a joy.  My students are mainly third and fourth year students, so we've had wonderful, deep and sometimes heated discussions...but they've loved it, grown and are thinking in new directions.  Perhaps the course that has been the most fun is the Church Planting seminar series that I gave for 10 weeks.  This was attended primarily by laity...and they brought all their questions and experiences.  During this course, I was able to visit with Miguel and Pati at their new church plant, and with Abel at his young adult gathering.  These folks are energetic, visionary...and willing to try new approaches to church planting.

Jon with the Comparative Theology students...

At the Instituto Laurens, Jeanne continues to teach English--grammar, writing and reading.  One of her new projects this semester has been her "book club."  She has a small group of students that now come to the house every other week to discuss a novel they are reading in common.  Through this book-club, she is able to enter their lives in wonderful ways, and slowly but surely is communicating the Good News of God with these students.  I continue to teach in Laurens' Teachers' College in the afternoons, and I'm developing a good rapport with these future teachers.  They are finding in me someone with different values and a different worldview...and this is leading to questions and discussions that are opening the door to spiritual and faith issues.  It is so much fun!!

Jeanne with her Book Club...

You are probably quite aware of the situation in Monterrey--the violence continues and affects the world here.  We continue to rebuild after the amazing destruction from Hurricane Alex in July.  On top of that, the world economic crises affects companies and work situations.  The people have a growing sense of fear...and more than ever seek direction and hope and meaning.  Having a chance to be here at this time in history is a true gift...that we can have a part in bringing hope and healing to this world of hurt, fear and loss.

And, that brings us to Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.  Of course, Thanksgiving we love because it stops us from all the going and running and doing, and calls us to give thanks to God for His many blessings, to give thanks for the friends and family that we have around us praying for us and encouraging us.  Christmas...well, that's the reason for it all!  God became human and lived among us!!  (And, there are the gifts, songs and foods of the season as well...!)  And, New Year's--not the mid-night party, not watching the ball fall in New York.  No, I love New Year's because it's a reminder that we can always start over, start anew.  It's a time to do things differently, to make new plans, to dream new dreams.  It's an annual "do-over."  Of course, every morning we arise is a do-over as well...and I thank God each day that I have a chance to do differently, do better.

Well, this is a little long...but thank you for reading.  We'd love to hear from you!!  Leave a comment...drop an e-mail ( we'll stay in touch!  God bless you all!!!