This past week I went with a group from Huntsville, AL to Merida, Yucatan, Mexico on a mission trip. It was very hard to have to leave Julie for a whole week, but God was very gracious to both of us. Julie's friend, Kim (pictured), came in to stay with her all week and they had a great time hanging out with with their friend Aimee. I am so glad that Julie has such wonderful friends to be there for her. God really does provide for us and meets our needs!
I had an amazing time in Merida. It was so great to be able to see the old city where I lived for so long and where Julie and I spent our first year of marriage. As I drove around the city on various errands, it was very emotional for me as so many great memories came rushing back. Merida was already quite large but is growing steadily and prospering which is nice to see, but all of the new buildings and construction had me confused at times.
The group that I went with is from First Presbyterian Church and they are an amazing bunch. They worked very hard and accomplished a lot in such a short time. I was impressed with how well they worked together and cared so much for the people of Merida. The VBS in the evenings was very powerful and so many kids heard the gospel and saw it lived out in front of them. The group is also actively involved in a ministry called Living Waters for the World which sets up high-tech water filtration systems in poor communities in several countries giving the people very clean and healthy water at a much lower cost than standard. It is also a way for a church or ministry to support itself by selling the ultra purified water at a small profit. Seeing this love in action was very encouraging to me.
I was also very thankful to be able to use a cell phone to call Julie every day. I hadn't expected to be able to call but perhaps email every now and then, but thanks to the generosity of Matt, who helped lead the group, I was able to call during free moments. It was such a blessing! Julie and I hadn't spent that much time apart since we got married and recently we have come to rely on each other in so many ways that I don't know how well we would have handled it all without being able to talk at least once a day. I missed her so much.
I had wanted to be able to bring some gifts back to Julie since Merida means so much to both of us. God allowed me just enough time to get around to a few shops and pick up exactly what I was looking for. I found the Belgian Chocolate makers only with the help of some of the wonderful school staff (thanks Ceci!), so I was able to bring Julie a box of assorted Belgian chocolates which were our favorites. I also got her a beautiful, small decorative wooden bowl thing (not sure how to describe it) which I thought would look nice somewhere in our house. It says Merida on the side and would cost three times as much in the States. The other things that I got were two items from a little place called Mayan Xic which is a store that we used to love. In the store, there is photo album with a great picture of Julie and her nieces all wearing shirts from this store. One of the shirts that I got is for Julie which says that she is 100% Yucatecan. The other shirt (maybe it is more of a jumper) is for little Walt and it says, "Can I give you a hug?" in a mix of Spanish and Maya. It is super cute.
I was informed that this article of clothing is officially called a onesie. Thanks, Lori. I should have known that.