Hearing from Private Ryan

The year is almost over and it strikes me that our time here in Mexico is passing quickly. Ryan was sucking on a mango pit this morning and we were enjoying a uncommonly quiet moment before the onslaught of feet and famine that emerges around 6:30 each morning.

Being a pensive little guy, Ryan struck up a conversation out of the blue, with yellow juice dribbling down his chin.

“It seems like this is our third year in Mexico, not counting the first year, neither the second year, but only the time in our third year, and it seems like we have lived here a very short time, but we haven’t.”

“That’s so true Ryan. What’s it been like living in Mexico for all this time?” I asked. I asked him to sit with me in front of my computer so that I could capture his thoughts, interview -style. He agreed. What follows are his words, unedited.

“Well, it is changing weather a lot where we live, very fast, we live in Yucatan Merida and I like living here and my favorite part about here is that soccer is very common. And I love to play soccer.”

“What else do you like to do?” I asked.

“Well, I like to spend some time with my family going to interesting places like the museum, sometimes an old movie theater, actually we haven’t been to an old movie theater yet, um, Paseo Montejo which is in Centro, and it’s very interesting,  there’s lots of natural trees here but they still build lots of houses and buildings. There’s also a very interesting type of Mexican music called la jarana. Speaking of music, I like the guitar. And I take lessons. With my dad. Here where I live it’s not 100% easy but it’s just easy to get new friends.”

“Why is it easy to get new friends?”

“Because they live close to you.”

“What what is it like to learn to Spanish?”
“Hard at the beginning but then I started understanding it. Well I’m still having some mistakes right now, but in the past I was a lot worse. So I got a lot better. By going to school and Spanish tutoring.”

“What were your favorite serving projects this year?”

“That we work in sort of like a group called C-Quest and it’s a Christian group and we go and make songs and we sometimes give out food.”

“Where are your favorite places in Mexico?”

“I think here where I live (Yucatan), Chiapas, Mexico City, Palenque, and I really liked Holbox.”

“What would you like to do next year?”

“Well I don’t see to the future but I would like to do lots of things. For example, get better with my Spanish, try new museums, if they’re open, um, try Mexican restaurants, try new sports, etc.”

“Anything else you want to say? What would you like to remember about your third year in Mexico?”

“Well we haven’t finished the third year yet but we have still been here about 4 or 5 months in this house. So that’s a long time. I want to remember my soccer team. My guitar.”

“What do you think God has taught you this year?”

“To serve others before you serve yourself.”


Bravo Ryan, carry on my son.


Ryan – 8 years old




Big Bang Theory

After a positive response from my last blog about big blue tangled messes, I thought I’d keep on with the theme.  I’ve witnessed more than my fair share of snares this year, and what I find nothing short of miraculous is that the worse the situation, the better the outcome appears to be, albeit after much consternation and despair.

It was a summer afternoon in August when Rachel came to me with her hand on her head, fear written across her face. As she came closer I began to see the source of the trouble. If you remember Peebles Flintstone’s hairdo, that is essentially the style that resulted from an argument between Rachel and a long, fine-toothed hair comb. She thought it would be a good idea to wrap the ends of a large chunk of hair around and around the comb, turning it until it was ratcheted tightly to the bitter end, or in this case, her scalp. Perhaps she was trying to achieve the frizzy perm look that was such a stylish fashion statement of the 80’s. Sadly, when she let go of the comb to enjoy the new do, it was so set in its twisted position that it remained horizontal, levitating just a millimeter above her head in bizarre Flintstone-esque form.

I tried to cough down my laugh when she approached me with the look of please-fix-this terror.  The comb was not budging.

I tried my best to set it free of its predicament, but it was stuck like glue to the many wraps of fine ten year old hair. The more I tried to wiggle it loose, the tighter the strands felt around the teeth of the comb. Like a Chinese finger trap, the more you struggle, the tighter it gets.

Rachel could see the concern in my eyes, and it dawned on her that this was not going to result in a mom-does-miracles maneuver. I broke the news to her gently. “Rachel, I don’t think I can undo this.”

For a girl who has grown her hair long for as many moons as there are torta stands in Centro, the prospect of losing a big chunk of hair did not go down well.

“I’m sorry but I think the only option is to cut it. I promise I’ll give you the best haircut I can.”

After a couple of tears shed I went for the scissors and got rid of the problem, leaving behind some short stubby bangs.

“Rachel, hey, check out those beautiful bangs!”

She took a few looks in the mirror, shrugged, and said, “okay.”

Three months later, her bangs have filled in and sit nicely around her face.  I asked her the other day what she will remember most about this year.

I was yearning for an inspired response such as learning the Mayan calendar, evaluating the tidal effects of the super moon, building a model airplane with liquid nitrogen power packs or studying the book of Mark.

She answered, “My bangs. I like my bangs. They turned out okay.”

Once again, I am reminded that no matter how things look when you face yourself in the mirror with a foreign object precipitously pegged to your noggin, that these life tangles have their way of sorting themselves out. It just takes scissors, time and perspective.