Monday, April 25, 2011

insights from selling

I have to wonder sometimes. Does selling stuff sound like a fun hobby? Cuz, it's not.

It's actually pretty draining.

The great thing is, this Friday we will take our stuff downtown to sell for the last time (hopefully!). I took stuff out into our front yard to sell today... now I just need to load it all into the van so it is ready for our Friday sale (I know Friday sounds a ways off... but with Rey being gone the next couple of days, I won't be selling again--and he won't have much time between getting back and going to sell, so...).

It will feel good to get that huge pile of stuff out of my house forever!

The thing about selling, is it has a way of really revealing what people are like deep down inside. Often, I'd rather not know.

Like the young hip-looking lady who handed me a pile of clothing she wanted to purchase. Only problem is, she'd switched all the price tags. Shirts that had been marked as being $2-3, she had switched to $0.50--every single one of them. I just sighed and told her how sorry I was that someone had switched all the tags and proceeded to tell her the correct prices.

Or the lady that brought me up 2 pairs of shoes--each were marked around $3. "If I buy both of them, will you give them to me for $4?" she asked. "Sure," I said. I then saw her with one pair of shoes, telling Rey that I'd told her she could have it for $2. I told Rey the deal had been if she bought 2 pairs of shoes, and then the woman went into some rant trying to cover herself.

Or, the lady that was rapping on my gate this afternoon. I'd been out back hanging up laundry. Her daughters had been at the gate just a few moments before, wanting to see the puppies. I had showed them the puppies and chatted for about 15 minutes before saying farewell and trying to get the houeswork done. So, I'd heard noise at the gate, but thought it was still the girls looking at the puppies. When I came around front, the adult neighbor looked angrily at me. "With all this time you've left me here standing, I might as well just leave." Well, then.

There are tons of people who just plant themselves in front of me, huffing and puffing when I tell them we don't have the item/size they are looking for. As if staring angrily at me for a long enough period of time will change the facts.

Selling here in our neighborhood is worse, since here everyone knows each other and is trying to outdo the other.

There is one neighbor who had been rummaging through the things for about 30 minutes. Not buying. Just poking. I remembered that a friend of mine had asked me to look for some things in her size. Not having anything to do, I started looking through what we had. I pulled out a shirt and carried it into the house. "Oh!" shouted the neighbor, "I want that shirt!" I told her I was sorry, it wasn't for sale--but pointed out a very similar one still out. "No," she moaned, shaking her head, "The other one is much prettier." A few minutes later, I found a skirt in my friend's size, and carried it into the house. "Wait! I want that skirt!" she yelled. We repeated the above scenario, with her commenting, "You are taking away everything I want."

Seriously, lady? Seriously? There are still like over 1,000 pieces of clothing out there and your day is ruined because 2 items were subtracted? Sigh.

Same neighbor is still rummaging when her niece's mother-in-law & sister-in-law come walking by (yeah, try to picture the connection.). The MIL mentions that she likes the folding tables we were using for the clothing. Were they for sale? Rey said maybe. She pointed out a few other things she liked and walked on by.

I was trying to telepathy to Rey that we did NOT want to sell these table in this neighborhood, because I could just feel that they'd be the root of a lot of problems. Before Rey received the message, the first neighbor pounced on him. "Don't sell those tables to anyone but me. Here, here," she said, jamming $25 in his hand, "Now they are set aside for me!" Rey innocently said ok and kept smiling. I was not smiling.

Then, this lady's nephew's wife came by. She is very sweet, about my age, with an almost-2-year-old daughter. She almost always buys household stuff from me, which makes me think she is just trying to get her house set up.

She looked through our towels and blankets and then asked if we had any tableware. Rey said that later we would, right before we left. She said ok.

No sooner had she left than you-know-who sidled up and hissed in my ear, "You let me buy all the tableware stuff you have. Plates, cups, silverware. You tell me first."

My smile was more of a grimace, I'm sure, as I wordlessly moved away from her. (And don't worry--her niece is getting all the good stuff. That's just how I roll.)

What a woman.

Ok, to tell the next part of this drama, I have to back up a bit. Remember the MIL and her daughter that first mentioned the tables?? Ok, well the MIL is a bent over elderly woman that always is out and about with her daughter Elvira, who is probably around 30 and unmarried.

They are a pretty "special pair" themselves. When we sold off our furniture, we put a sign out on our fence saying what items were for sale and the prices. Elvira and her mama were about the first ones to come running.

They wanted to see everything that was for sale and would moan and rebuke me for whatever item was not for sale. "Why did you sell your bed to someone else?? You should have saved it for me. At least sell me your quilt!" They literally took themselves into every room and poked through everything--seeming only to want items that were already sold. In the end, they asked me to sell them 2 of our larger bookshelves, our microwave, our garden hose, our full-length mirror, and our quilt. I showed them 2 smaller bookshelves, but they said nothing. They left about $10 as a down payment and left.

The next day, some neighbors come and bought the small bookshelves, saying they would come back for them.

That night, Elvira and her mom came back, rapping on our gate.

When the conversation starts with, "We are about to have a fight with you," you know it's going to be good. They then commenced complaining, whining and accusing that they had wanted those smaller bookshelves and they had found out that someone else had bought them. Although I knew this to be untrue, I could not convince them--and they literally whined about it the next 3 times they came to make payments. "Ohhhh, I am still wishing for those small bookshelves.... Ohhhh, señora, how could you have done that to us???,.... Are they really gone??" My tongue was nearly bitten in half.

So, these special people are the ones who had asked about the tables. The night that the other neighbor had made her deal with Rey, Elvira and her mom come streaking back. "Hoooowwww could your husband do this to us?? We specifically said, 'Sell those to us. Those are ours. We want them' and he sold them to someone else." Since I'd been there, I knew that was a lie, but I just pointed out that they already had a pretty huge debt with us, and business-wise, it wouldn't work out to put more on their account. They calmed down pretty quick.

There you have it. Don't you just want to start selling stuff right now??

Speaking of selling stuff, we are pretty bare in these parts. Don't have a table to eat on, a couch to sit on, dressers to put our clothes in or chairs to sit down on. Our curtains are gone and we are down to about 3 cups and 5 plates. Our clothes are in boxes, and we are sitting on the floor or on buckets. Our computer is propped up on two boxes, books are in boxes. So, I feel like we are in a sort of limbo right now. Rey says he feels a lot more tired at night, because there is no where comfortable to sit! haha.

Yesterday, after church, we ended up having about 20 unexpected guests for lunch from one of the farming communities Rey goes to. So, they come to this uptown house--which I'm sure looked nice... and bare! We ate off of the folding tables and sat on plastic stools we use for ministry. Afterwards, I was chatting with one of the ladies--and tried not to laugh as she explained to me: "I am noticing you don't really have much furniture. And it's funny, because we rancheros are really into furniture, and I guess you all don't really like it that much..." It just cracked me up that she made it a "city"-"country" observation.

The most interesting thing to me though has been the item I have missed the most (and I'll bet the neighbors do too!): Mirrrors! We have one mirror that is about 6" wide in the bathroom. We used to have one of those rectangular mirrors next to our dresser which was a big help for getting dressed. I didn't realize how many times a day I'd unconsciously glance at it (and realize I had applesauce down my shirt or dirt smudged on my face). Now, when I get dressed, I then run out into the front yard to check the windows to see if the outfit matches. Haha. Poor neighbors.

Wow. That was a long ramble.

Now, I need to go load up the van with all this stuff. Yay for selling!! :)

Friday, April 22, 2011

to my dear, beloved & adored husband

Darling... I know that when we leave here, we'll be leaving a part of your heart.

I know that you have poured sweat, blood & tears into this place. I know that you have taken other's problems as your own. I know you have been Jesus to the people you meet.

Cariño, I know that you struggle with the thought of leaving all that you have invested behind. I know that you ask God each day that these people you hold close to your heart will not be forgotten.

Baby, I know that in many communities--you feel like you are just now getting through. You are just starting to see tender fruit. You are just beginning to advance. The idea of leaving must be overwhelming.

Precioso, I know you must wonder if it was wrong of us to come. If we shouldn't have started a work... if we can't stay around to see it blossom.

But, dear husband... Please think of if we had not come.

Think of the hearts that would still be in darkness. The lives still in bitter bondage. The sick still looking for remedy.

Think of the baby believers whose new birth you personally had a part in bringing about.

Think of the godly example you have left in every village you have visited.

My love, I think it was worth the cost. And I know that God can make what will be lacking when you leave and turn it into an abundant harvest.

Yours forever,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

finally... a bit

Perhaps 3 months ago, I was singing along to this song as I was washing the dishes (although, it was the Spanish verison--which I happen to prefer). It's a song I really like, so I was happy that it came on.

Mid-song, I stopped myself and asked what it would look like for me to surrender. What were the dreams and hopes I was holding higher than God? I guess--being a missionary--I was feeling pretty surrendered. "I've given You my life. I've given up family and friends. I've given up comfort and ease. I've got this song in the bag!"

But, then I examined the things I was holding dear. This life. This dream of living as a missionary in a foreign country that I've had ever since I was a little girl. This house that we have poured hours of sweat and muscle into to make it comfortable for our babies. These roots that we are just beginning to sink into this community. These few but dear friendships that are just deepening to a place of stability and confidence.

At that, my heart stopped. I remembered feeling like it froze in my chest, and I walked around our yard thinking about these things I was holding dear. I gazed out at the view of the mountains that I cherish. I looked at the yard we have worked long and hard to get to this place. I thought about the long-term plans we have in the communities we are working in. I thought about our supporters and our partners in ministry, the Glicks.

Tears stood in my eyes and my throat was swollen shut. Could I surrender even this? Would I? Is this dream I am living the dream God is dreaming for me?

When Noah was born, he kept his fists clenched tightly shut. It seems the outside world was too much coming in all at once, and keeping his hands curled up gave him a sense of control. You can't imagine the screams that would come whenever I wanted to open his hands to wash them or trim his fingernails.

Blisters formed on the palms of his hands; a combination of his nails cutting into his hands and whatever bits of things he had grabbed causing infection.

I thought about this in relation to our dreams.

How often do I hold on so tightly to my dream for me? My fists are balled up, and I scream at any sign that someone is going to try to open them. Dreams held too tightly tend to fester.

I thought about Abraham and Isaac. How tightly Abraham held his dream Isaac to his chest, until God called for him to open his fists and let God do what He wished with him.

These thoughts sat in my heart until about a month ago-- me thinking perhaps it was just something I needed to settle. God wouldn't want me to leave Mexico! This message is probably for someone else. Then, it just felt like God dropped into our hearts: Now is the time. You've been struggling long enough. At least consider that this struggling could be Me gently pointing you in a different direction.

Every fiber of my being cried out against this idea. I don't know if I can describe how bone-piercing the doubts and questions that arose in my mind were. I don't know if it can be understood how un-doable the idea seemed. There were big questions I had to ask God. There were big questions I had to ask me.

In the end, Rey and I came to a place of peace that this decision is for our good. It is for a reason. It is not us "giving up". It is not us "failing in faith". It is just another bend in the road. Another chapter of the book God is writing.

We are certain that the time is "now" that we are supposed to be "there". We just don't now for how long or for what.

But, our hands are open. And, we know we are being led by the One who gives every good and perfect gift.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Yeah, so here goes another post wherein I don't talk too much about the decision. Maybe because it's all I think about, talk about and breathe these days so I really don't want to write about it. Maybe next time.

Yesterday. Being our day off, we got our spectacular-and-soon-to-be-sorely-missed babysitter over first thing in the morning (before the bebés were awake) and we went downtown to sell again. We set up shop, and.... nothin'.

Last time we sold downtown, it was nonstop action. This time, it was nonstop yawns.

And, it was booooiiiillliiiinnnnggggg hot. We happened to be set up on the sunny side of the street (which sounds a lot nicer in song than in reality, we've found). No shade.

I told you I'd give you the down-low on the sun sometime and here it comes. You see, I know mid-westerners tend to scoff at those who slather on sunscreen and don wide-brimmed hats. "Sissies", we whisper to each other. "Wimps," we snort.

I worked at an outside job for 7 summers and used to snort and whisper with the rest of 'em. Now, I put on a hat, super high blocking sunscreen and long sleeves if I'm going to be in the sun all day.

Think about it. The midwest is humid, low altitude and a bit farther from the sun than Zacatecas. I know it seems weird to say at 7,000 feet you are closer to the sun, but you are. And the air is thin and dry-- meaning there's none of that UV protection that humidity provides. And, with the heat being dry, you don't sweat... so heat fatigue and sickness are a very real deal.

So, Rey and I tried to hunker down in whatever scraps of shade we could find (I tried to duck into the shade his body was making, but it didn't work too good). The sides of our faces and necks felt like they were on fire, so we put shirts over our heads. It's a cute look. Try it!

The good thing was, in between gasping like a fish out of water, Rey and I did get some time to just sit and talk without interruptions. If you have kids, I don't need to elaborate on this! :)

Finally, I said, "It's our day off. Why throw it away if no one is buying? Let's close up earlier."

Rey wasn't too sure.

Then, a truck drove by announcing last night as the last night of the circus.

"Let's go to the circus," I said, rather giddily (can't say if it was "yay, circus" giddiness, or "my brain is literally fried" giddiness).

Rey, as always, played along with my whim and we packed up shop.

Rey took our babysitter home and then went to get tickets for the circus.

Here's the fun "we live in Mexico" twist: We wanted to get the cheap tickets (about $2.50). To get those, you had to buy them from the guy driving the truck. How do you find this truck?

Well, Rey drove around the downtown area for about an hour and couldn't find them.

So, it looked like there would be no circus.

Then, around 5:40, I heard it! The truck! Really close to our house! I had been hanging up laundry out back and came shrieking into the house. Rey was already shoving his feet into some shoes and grabbing his keys.

15 minutes later, he came back and triumphantly slapped 3 tickets into my hand. We were on. The event started in ten minutes--yikes! I slid the supper I'd been making into the fridge, threw some stuff in a diaper bag and we were off.

On the way, we talked about how bad it could be. The kids could totally hate it. It could be boiling inside that tent. The show could be really cheap. We could have to leave within the first 20 minutes because one of the kids is overwhelmed...

We've gotten excited about a lot of things and then come away dissapointed, so we were just trying to let ourselves down easy.

But! We got there... after the door man rolled his eyes at our "cheap" tickets and huffed and puffed at us for not upgrading them, we clambered up the rickety steps to the top section. When the show started, pretty much everyone was in the top/"cheap" section and about 10 people were scattered around in the "good" seats.

We loved our seats. We could see everything really well, but it wasn't so close that it was overwhelming. The temperature was comfortable. The kids were enthralled in the circus from the time it started to the time it stopped.

The show was great. They had different animal shows mixed with people doing some pretty amazing stunts. Like superman strength kind of stunts. Or juggling a huge thing with their feet while juggling flaming batons in their hands. Or flying around the stage hanging on to a hoop hanging from the ceiling. Or making 4 Siberian tigers do different tricks--including jumping through a ring o' fire... I could go on. But, it was basically 2 hours of fun, and we all enjoyed ourselves a lot.

I liked yesterday.

Friday, April 1, 2011


So, this is what things are looking like around here.

I know, I know. Gasps of horror. I hope you aren't eating as you read this. I really do. I'm sorry. What can I say? I grew up with 7 brothers and am interested by grossness.

Wait... you're still reading. Oh, cool! Check out this angle:

Today, Rey and I stood out on a street in front of a downtown church and sold. All day. Here, with the altitude being over 6,000 feet--the sun don't mess. It don't play. It ain't no joke. It's for real. More on that in another post, perhaps.

With that being said, even though standing in the sun all day was sweltering, Rey and I both wore hats, long pants and long sleeved shirts. I've been burned enough times here to know I don't want it to happen again. I told myself I would funnel the heat out through my feet and decided to wear flip flops.

I think the flip flops did help the over-heating issue, but as you can see--they didn't do much for the "clean skin" department. And, by about mid-day, they were roasted into little crispies.

Yeah, so that's how things are looking, but let me tell ya...

We are feeling fine. As in really good. Sooo good, actually.

Why? Because, in the first time in whoknowshowlong we are completely and utterly out of debt. It has felt like we have owed something to someone every day for the longest time. It has been overwhelming, depressing and overshadowing.

Can someone get us on Dave Ramsey to do the shout? Yes? No? Ok.

And-and-and! The one last thing that was a worry to me as far as leaving here was that we will be leaving a few months before our one year contract us up at this house we are renting. We were hoping and praying the landlady would give us some grace--considering all the money and work we have put into making her house oh-so-lovely. Guess what? She just called and said it was fine!

Anyhoo. We are so blessed to be at this place. We feel like we could just float.... off to sleep. :)

But first--- was it you that was going to give me that pedicure?? ;)

PS--I know you all would like to hear more about "the decision"... and you will. Maybe. If I can keep my eyes open and get my brain to focus on one thing long enough. You will.