The Engineers Update

It is certain that I am not nearly the writer that Darcy is.  She is terrific and it is a gift that all of you get to enjoy.  One of the gifts God has given me is project management.  For whatever reason, I love to analyze and evaluate things.

We are now almost 2 months into our family adventure and I am happy to report that we are tracking nicely.  In fact, we are in some ways ahead of schedule.  I’d like to share a few of our accomplishments with you:

We have a bank account – Yes it took a dozen trips to HSBC where we have met all of the service managers and know them by name.

We have internet, cell phones, and a home phone – Yes, this took a half dozen visits to Telmex and Telcel each as well as at least 10 trips to Home Depot for cables, adapters, returning the wrong equipment I  purchased on the last trip (yes they have Home Depot here in Merida….in fact is was one of my conditions for moving here).   The attached photo was our internet and phone installers work truck.

We have a great school for the kids….I am also happy to report, there is no more crying at drop off time.  The ninos are happy at school now.

We are finding time to exercise and swim.  Swimming is pretty much a necessity here to cool down from the hot sun.

We are taking Spanish lessons – Learning the language quickly is another gift Darcy has been given (I got passed over with that gift).

We participated in our first Mexican independence day celebration on Sept 15th in the main town square.  The square was full of people, and the fireworks show was quite amazing and definitely done in Latino style….Let’s just say the show didn’t have the same safety factors you might see in Canada or the US.  For a while we thought the oldest church in Central America was going to burn down and we regularly had to wipe our clothes of falling debris.  Viva Mexico!

We are making friends…..Kind of a no-brainer being married to Darcy.

The best thing is we are feeling settled now.  It is a great feeling, and I know that Darcy and I feel blessed that in only 2 months, we are now feeling like this is our Mexican home.

With our family settled, we can now turn our attention to others.  How can we help and what can we do.  I know it starts with just being ourselves.

The adventure continues.  Thank you for your comments and support.  We love hearing from our friends and family back home!.


Morning has broken

Good news from the southern front.

I just got an email from a woman whom I don’t know, from somewhere in the world, titled ‘Encouragement’:

“Dear Darcy, How can I encourage you? I was researching my husband’s and my upcoming trip that will have us stopping in Pregreso for a few hours and I came across C-Quest’s website. While looking at the website, I started praying for your mission there. Do you have any specific prayer requests?”

WOW! We got a message from a total stranger! She doesn’t even know us! She must know that the kids were going mental on us only recently and that we were thinking about shipping them back to Canada.

We have decided not to do that after all.

Yesterday, Kary and I had an opportunity to catch up with Gary and Joanne (our C-Quest director and his wife), at our mutual language school in Centro. We have all been consumed since the last team left in August, and this was our first chance to meet with them to hear how things are going with our partners, Pastors Gama, Ricardo, Miguel and David. The news from the field is encouraging. They need our help here. The work we did with the two teams in August was highly appreciated and they are looking forward to more short term teams to take into the pueblos, orphanages, hospitals and seniors’ homes. Critical to our work here is building local relationships by listening and learning with respect and humility. We are here to serve, not to lead. All is going very well.

On the Cuthill family front, we are happy to report that we officially THINK that the valley of pain is behind us. It could be too early to say, but we are quite sure that all psychological and physical damage is now complete and that the lobotomies are starting to show promise. The crying seems to have dissipated and the homework seems to be a little more interpretable. The timeouts are still conducted in English but we can at least have a reasonable conversation with the kids in Spanish about stains, homework, shoes and goggles (namely, where are your swim goggles? where are your shoes? where is your water bottle? where is your lunch? where is your sister? where are your swim goggles? – repeat).

As for Kary and me, our new rhythm of life seems to be taking shape. We are happy. We are renewed by the thrill of the daily adventure.

Here’s an idea of a typical (*) day :

Wake up (no more iPhone harp, now Latino pop radio music)
Rinse off sweat
Wake up kids in hammocks
Uniform up (note order)
Drive to school in Book Mobile (**)
Drop off
Dust off
High five
Work out
Shower in cold water
Go to bank
Spend hours learning how to set passwords and security questions in spanish
Buy coffee for patient bank people
Go to Home Depot to buy screws
Go back to bank to unlock website from forgotten password
Go to fake Apple store to unlock phone to unlock app for forgotten passwords
Remember what we didn’t get at Home Depot
Forget about it
Go to language school
Learn and unlearn stuff
Pick up kids
Interrogate en route to casa
Do homework for 18 hours
Put kids in hammocks
Review What’s App groups about velcro, spaghetti, various classroom scenarios
Phone a Friend (***) to figure out how to do homework correctly

As I said, morning has broken. It’s like a new morning. Thank you for your prayers.


** New pilot program
*** Nightly


Walmart, ribbon flowers and a psychologist

I have a very important mission this morning. I have been assigned to a special TAC team for an in-class birthday party for one VIP school psychologist.

Given that our little spitfire Jacqueline has spent the last 3 weeks in and out of rehab, requiring the counsel of said psychologist and copious amounts of therapy, I must perform well tomorrow in appreciation.

My team : 4 mamasitas de clase, nuevas amigas.

Laura : spaghetti. sandwiches.
Karina : decorations. pastel. various.
Graciela : forks. napkins. various.
Darcy : los inexpensive gifts por los niños. Muy importante.

I was instructed to go to a special part of Walmart, a unit whereby one procures vast amounts of cheap gear that no one will buy at full price, and no one actually needs. Alias – the Everything is 15 Pesos Store, which does not have the same ring as the Dollar Store but makes one feel that they are procuring product at extreme value when buying in bulk that is Hecho en Mexico. Which makes one feel very patriotic and supportive of one’s local plastico economy.

So. I bought 19 pink and blue flautas (recorders – yes, you can actually buy musical instruments at Walmart) with the hope of annoying and disturbing all of our new friends but also creating an inordinate amount of appreciation that their children did not receive one more Hello Kitty soap dish, Barbie nail polish kit, or Knock Off Small Lego Kit Which Is Not Actually Lego.

And then, the Adornment. I was required to find and procure decoration for the gifts.

Keeping with the theme of cheap, I bought these little pre-fab ribbon strip things, took them out of the bag, tried to do the ol’ take the cheap ribbon, curl it with a scissor thing that my mother taught me in Girl Scouts (badge, 1979). I proceeded to make a huge mess. My first attempt became a horribly stringy, broken ribbon shred. Clearly I was unable to create any form of ribbon masterpiece, yet in the process, managed to ionize the fibres of the ribbon making it look even more pathetic and able to cling like panty hose to a long-haired cat for several days.

To the rescue, Yesenia, our new Mayan housekeeper and tutor/teacher. Turns out that all one needs to do is to slide the little skinny ribbons inside of the big ribbons, and then, voila, make this beautiful floral ribbon thing in 2 seconds flat.

I bet I could have learned that from Pintrest but it sure feels good to know that when you quit your job for a life experience that you get to learn stuff like this the old fashioned way without the internet. I am sure all of my friends at home learned how to make these things years ago.

You look at the before and after picture, the ugly ribbon and the beautiful ribbon, and you will see a metaphor for life. That alone is worth the price of admission.

Work in progress we are indeed.

Lost in translation

Learning a new language has made for some great conversation.

(Google translation from something in Rachel’s homework)
“Something will Panda family having lunch?”

(To the young woman cutting my hair)
“Do you have brothers and sisters? Do you have a girlfriend?”

(From Kary, to the woman cutting Kary’s hair)
“Please cut my horse.”

(From the man representing the owner of our rental house)
“Here are the seven manuals for the chicken.”

(To a security guard)
“She is our new friend who helps us. She will live with you now.”

(From my friend, about drinking hibiscus iced tea)
“It makes you fresh.”

(Advice from another friend, about asking for help)
“If something does not feel well understand the confidence to ask again.”

“Put the keys in the chicken please.”

It goes both ways here. We are learning Spanish, they are practicing their English. Reciprocity is a great thing.

Paradise found

What do you get when you mix candy, sugar, pop, cake, tamales, tacos, a piñata, bouncy things and a live Spanish-speaking Cinderella performance at a place called Happy Place?

You get happy kids.

Ryan did try to attack the paper mâché Cinderella piñata when it was his turn. It was a fists only, no stick, one minute punching bag game with a song. Each kid got one chance to maul Cinderella which got pretty funny pretty fast. I’m not sure why but they lowered her all the way down to ground level and she was about the same height as Ryan. You can picture where he lined up. He grabbed and punched her a bit inappropriately but I don’t think he meant to. I tried hard to imagine him as a total gentleman in his Team Canada hockey jersey, drenched in sweat from trying to punch the lights out of Cinderella.

Everyone came home with a lot of candy (much of it laced with chili), dirty feet, sweaty heads, and big smiles.

Pretty good for week three.



transición s. f.
1 Situación o estado intermedio entre uno antiguo o pasado y otro nuevo, al que se llega tras un cambio.

2 Paso de un estado o modo de ser a otro distinto.

For those of you living in bilingual Canada, here is an English version:

1. the process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
“students in transition from one program to another”
synonyms: change, passage, move, transformation, conversion, metamorphosis, alteration, handover, changeover; a passage in a piece of writing that smoothly connects two topics or sections to each other.
a momentary modulation from one key to another.
a change of an atom, nucleus, electron, etc., from one quantum state to another, with emission or absorption of radiation.


Here’s mine.

1- A psychological state of moderate to intense insanity whereby one’s children daily and successively stage revolts against authority, particularly parental and scholastic. Combatants are known to try to find fault in simple processes and exercise lame excuses such as sock malfunctions and sand in underwear.

2- A physical state of not steady, without ability for ice, water and vapor to coexist in molecular kumbaya. In the pre-adolescent context, one where three children are able to switch mode from love, war and peace faster than a lizard can scale a wall or a teenager can text.

3- A mental state of uncertainty that spans bliss, harmony and contentment to a desire to strangle something or someone and then ask forgiveness once thrown in Mexican jail.

We are doing very well, thank you for asking.

No one has lost any body parts or been expelled, thank you for your prayers.

Will check again in once the fog lifts a little further and the mutiny attempts are less frequent than requests for play dates with new amigos with cool new things to do.

Ps – we are having fun.


Blog is dark

Hello friends, it has been a while. We are doing fine but a lot has been happening and we are back in a dark zone with no internet access at the new house and much less time to get to the ‘office’. Starbucks’ profits must be down this week.

Should be back to you later this weekend for a big ‘ol update on the adventure. Un poco locito.

We are not in jail, lest you fear the worst has happened.

A bientot.