Monday, February 25, 2013



Such as an awesome city with such awesome friends!

We stayed in Merida for a few days after the assembly.  What was supposed to be a day and half turned into 4! But it was amazing.  I met my friend Linda in Nicaragua last year.  She had friends from Nicaragua visiting too this weekend.  So we all hang out together!

Monday we literally just chilled and recovered from a crazy spiritual weekend. We attended the meeting for Merida English.  I was surprised at the mix.  There were people from Belize, USA and Canada.  There even was a lovely older missionary couple who have been serving many years in English.  We clapped after every part- I loved it.  After we made mango margheritas and sang songs together. 

Tuesday we went to see 3 Cenotes.  These are underground sources of water that somehow connect to the ocean.  The first one was completely underground.  There was a huge tree that stuck up from under the ground.  You go down like 100 steps and then at the roots there’s dirt and water surrounding the dirt.  I can’t really describe it but it’s dark and the water is cool and very deep.  But it’s crystal clear and fish live in the water.  The next one was open on the top but EXTREMELY deep with a rope swing.  By extreme I am talking 80 feet.  It’s a little scary.  The last one was the most adventurous.  You hike through a cave and step over rocks and duck cave formations to get to the cenote.  It was beautiful.  There were so many bats in that cave through. 

After swimming in cenotes all day we ate a restaurant that specializes in pork.  Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm is all I can say.  It’s grilled and you add fresh squeezed orange juice and make it into tacos!  That’s some good eating.

The next day we went into Merida to see downtown and shop a little.  We then came home and make Jalepeno Chicken, Miguel the native Nicaraguan ‘s specialty.  He showed us his recipie.

1-Chop a ton of onions
2-Deseed and devein a ton of jalepenos.  I am talking like 2 pounds.
3- Clean and debone a few chicken breasts.
4-Chop like half a head of garlic.
5- Heat oil in big pot and add some finely chopped onion.
6-After 5 min add rice.  After 5 min add Water and cook rice as usual, don’t forget to salt.
7-In another pan warm oil and garlic.
8- After 5 min add chicken.
9-After 5 min add onions.
10- After onions go down in size add jalepenos.
11-Next add salt and pepper to taste and heavy whipping cream.
So simple yet so yummy!!!!
We brought the food to a friend’s house and then enjoyed it together.

Last day in Merida we go out on a yacht in Progresso, a beach town 40 min. away from Merida.  Awesome!  We tour the Marina and then eat beachside.  Get a load of this.  You order a drink, let’s say for 40 pesos.  They bring you free food!  Fish ceviche, octopus, tamales, tacos, taquitos, potatoes, the list goes on!  All you do is pay for your drinks.  Incredible!  Mexico is WHERE it is AT! Lol  We say goodbye to our new Merida family and head back to Playa- time for some service!  (To get an idea of distance, the bus took 4 hours to get to Cancun and from there it was 1 hour to Playa.  Wasn’t so cheap like 350 pesos in all, $30 USD)

No explanation needed.

Dinner after Mtg

Linda doing what she does best.

Entrance to Cenote with big tree.

View from bottom

Open topped Cenote

Gourmet tacos in downtown Merida

Inside open top Cenote. (the ropes are there since it's like 60 ft deep)

Miguel from Nicargua

Those are all Jalepenos

Most gigantic Al Pastor ever!

Service and Arancini

Today was our first day back from Merida!  We met the group and enjoyed service until about 12:30pm.  We did Census work in Ejido.  Found one good lead!  After we went to search out a cheap seafood place we heard about on the beach.  We found it! 25 peso for a hamburger or fishburger.  ($2 USD)  The beach view alone was worth the pesos.

Then we went to a couple's house that are from Sicily and we made ARANCINI!!! YUM!  This is what you do:

1- Cook rice with Zalfarana and let it cool
2-Cook your fillers .  (We used mushrooms and Ragu)
3- Grab from rice and spread on hand
4-Add the filler with some fresh mozzarella cheese
5-Add more rice and form into a ball
6- Use water to smooth over if needed
7- Make a paste of flour and water
8-Set out some breadcrumbs.
9- Dip ball into paste and then into breadcrumbs
10-Fry the balls


Those things were so yummy and the cheese was so gooey!  This couple actually supports themselves by selling these around Playa one day a week!  AWESOME!

Mexican Monopoly

Our Sicilian buddies!

So cheesy!

That mushroom is there to mark the type of filling

Fry em up!

We made watermelon mojitos

Our cheap lunch!

Special Day in Cancun!

Today we woke up at 5:30am!  We joined the rest of the Italian group from Playa and we head up to Cancun.  There is an Italian group in Cancun that REALLY needs help.  There's only 1 couple from Italy and a sister from Milan who lives there every 6 months.  There's also about 15 local brothers who also support the group.  This morning we combined forces and blitzed the territory.  We found some Italian leads in just the 2 hours we went out.  More than anything the local group was encouraged to receive some help and a speaker for their public talk which is held every 2 weeks.

After service we ate lunch with a local sister and guess who we got!? The sister from Milan!  She's so awesome!  We enjoyed a light lunch and had great conversation.  I also got to know a local couple better from Playa that joined us.

2:30pm was the meeting and WT.  Both were excellent.  The talk was about anxieties and we know the WT was about being Fratelli or brothers with no national distinctions.  There was so many hands to call on I only got in 1 comment, but that was great when usually they have about 30 in attendance.  We had to rush out of the hall after because Spanish was knocking down the doors.  I have never seen a hall so used on a Sat.!

The brothers arranged for a gathering after the meeting.  We went to the local Italian couple's home.  We enjoyed association, tacos, panini, guacamole, horchata, rice and helado!  Yum!  After a while they busted out my new favorite game, JENGA!  It had questions on it in Spanish so we had to translate them into Italian and then give an answer.

Today was awesome!

But it's not over yet!  We meet an awesome sister in the group who's Mexican and El Salavadorian who speaks awesome Italian and she's only been in it for a year.  We meet up with some local brothers from English and guess what we play?  JENGA lol.  It was surprisingly just as entertaining as earlier lol- or I am just easily amused.  We spent the night and Cancun and met our new friend's awesome family who serve in the Maya congregation.  (Only in Mexico.... :-) )
Gathering after meeting.



Emily and sister from Milan

Mtg for service

Demo during mtg for service

Our preaching group

Waiting for English group to finish so we can get in

Out new family in Cancun


10 days have gone by!

Oops!  We have been so busy I literally forgot to post!  So I will work backwards.

Yesterday we went to our first semi-Mexican gathering.  It was at an American sister's house who is in Mexican Sign Language.  It was really fun. Everyone was there from ages 2 to 62.  We danced to American , Mexican, Central American and Techno music.  I met many new local friends from the English and Spanish.    Even some friends from Cancun came down.  It was nice to see such a mix especially after today's WT.  After the gathering which ended respectfully at 11:47 on the dot (no warning of last song or anything lol) we went out for Al Pastor with some of the friends.  At dinner we met 2 of our "roommates" from Canada.  It was a nice end to a wonderful day.

Why was today so wonderful?  This morning we saw a brother from El Salvador who lived in Australia give the Public Talk in English.  It was amazing!  It was about who real is Jehovah to you.  We thought he just had good public speaking skills, at lunch after we realized he's just passionate about everything he says, including encouraging people to step over into Macedonia.  He seriously explained how leaving a developed country to come to a place like Mexico is the best thing ever you can do and wouldn't trade it for nothing.  He described how he works 4 hours in bed teaching English online and then the rest of his life in his ministry. In Australia this could never be possible because life is focused on work.  Here he has progressive bible studies, meets friends from around the world at every meeting and after a long day of service can actually afford to order that grilled fish at the beach and enjoy life.  While Mexico has it drawbacks like getting sick every now and then from food and he saw cops and robbers literally shooting at each other when he was in service, these are tiny in light of the blessings he receives.  I am convinced!  Sorry you guys in CT. I am out!

At lunch we met a very encouraging couple from Cali who are also considering moving.  Maybe we'll all end up serving together in Mexico!

Giant fish brother ordered at lunch.

View from where we sat for lunch. (We all agreed we couldn't afford to eat here somewhere at home.  My garlic fish meal with rice and salad cost 50 pesos or $4.20 USD)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Long Day of Service

So today we literally had the longest service day ever- after all that's what we're here for :-).  We met up with the English this morning again.  Today was a rather large group out- strano because the Circuit Assembly is this weekend but great indeed!  There were like 25 or 30 people.  We worked with Mitch Jorge and  Jase.  We did all return visits all around Playa.  Jase is an 11- year old Im assuming pioneer from the way he talks about his studies and return visits.  It was so encouraging to see a youngster who really appreciates his ministry.  He would plot out which scriptures to read to each person and give us background on the person's personal situation.  I was like taking notes lol.  We learned a little about Mitch.  He and his wife are leaving in a few weeks for Guatemala, for good!  Guatemala is the only Central American country that doesn't have establishes English groups.  So guess who's going to help start one? Mitch and his wife have been assigned to really help where there's a greater need.  They have sold everything and will go to an area of Guatemala where many English speaking people have bought up property and some tourists go.  I can't remember the name but I'll find out.  We saw pictures from the internet of volcanos and valleys and greenery, very different from Mexico.  We're excited for them!

We hit the pavement all afternoon as well with the English.  At 3:30pm we meet up with the Italians.  We had a modest sized group and we do census in the Galaxia neighborhood.  Emily's group finds the sole Italian in the area.  We go until dark and then walk to Walmart to scout for Italians there.  Guess what!? Just as we're leaving and paying for items, Davide finds one!  They chat for 10 minutes!  What a fantastic end to service.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fun in the Sun

We just got back from the craziest trip ever! We decide to go to Punta Allen since there are no service arrangements on Saturday.  This is approx. 3 hours South of Playa del Carmen.  It is a small town on a Natural Reserve where literally half the population are brothers!  Sounds like paradise right? It's gets better!  It surrounded by water since it's a pennisula so the brothers has fresh LOBSTER everyday!  (You'd think I wasn't a pioneer with my expensive tastes lol)

We leave at 5:30am and reach at 9:00am.  Our traveling buddies are Jorge, remember airport brother? And his roommate Arman.  The first thing we do is go by the Kingdom Hall.  They are just having with meeting for field service. Literally like 60 people stroll outta there! It was crazy!  We then go to a sister's restaurant and have sambutes. (think like tostada).  After we eat we go out on the boat.Now I would've been content with just a simple boat ride.  But no, we're looking at animals! 5 minutes into the ride we see dolphins!! Real ones, in their natural habitat!  I even saw a baby one!  There we see a manitee and a huge sea turtle.  Finally we go to this water surrounded tree area and see Great Frigatebirds!   

Next we go to a coral reef and swim around looking at real live coral and countless varieties of fish and squid and everything else!  I counted this as Family Worship because we definitely were observing Jehovah's Creation.  It was better than any zoo or aquarium you could imagine!  We finish up our tour at the natural swimming pools.  This is an area where you can walk for 200 meters and the water will only be 4 ft deep and the sand is sooo soft.  

After 5 hours water tour we eat LOBSTER!!! Yummy!  There we go back to the beach and try to find our way back to the natural swimming pools.  We can't find them but find a nice patch of beach instead.  After relaxing for a bit we change and get ready for the meeting.  The meeting in Spanish is packed! Somehow we still manage to give a number of comments.  We meet many wonderful brother ans sisters who rarely get to see outsiders because their area is so secluded and small.  The whole town in only 4 streets by 4 streets!What a wonderful experience! Today was the best!

Lobster Lunch

Kingdom Hall

Sunset at Beach

Spanish Meeting

Punta Allen (Very rustic, they turn off all power after 10pm and all dirt roads)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

2nd Day of Service

So Friday morning we meet at an older couple's house that's here serving in Mexico from Italy for 3 months. There are at least 10 people at the group!  I pair up with Ericka Pisu who lives in Mexico permanently.  She and her husband have also served in the D.R. but now call Mexico home instead of Italy.  We do some of her return visits.  Some of the highlights of the morning include a young Italian woman who is a wedding planner.  She's 29 years old and lives in a luxury apartment in Playa.  When Ericka asks her to pick a bible topic for us to discuss when we return guess what she picks?  Not death or Jesus or when will suffering end, but Richezze.  I'm really starting to get some insight into the mind of this new territory.  Another cool visit we had was with an older Italian woman who sells Italian pastries with another Italian who owns a restaurant in Playa.  She was not what I expected with her super-tanned skin and dirty blonde dread-like hair.  Ericka has some good visits, we do 4 in total and end around 12pm so I can meet back up with Emily.

After meeting with Emily we join a family serving here for 6 months with their 14 month-old baby Joana.  Her mom Ana is from Brazil and her dad Jonathan is from Italy.  We enjoy tortas at a restaurant owned by the unbelieving mate of a sister that they are trying to cultivate interest with.  The food was AMAZING!!  Afterwards we do 2 visits of theirs that don't pan out, but we get to walk 5th ave and we meet a Brazilian woman and her husband she talks to them in Portugese.  Playa has ALL languages!  This places keeps getting better by the moment!

We end service and say our good byes.  Service again was amazing!


Ericka in front of their humble abode.

Service group

On 5th Ave in Service with Anna

Emily can't fight the temptation to view the beach while in service on 5th ave.

1st Day of Service

So, we're all settled in Playa del Carmen.  The first thing we do is head off to field service with the Italians.  So I call the Kingdom Hall as listed on the website and lo and behold it's the wrong address!  So Andrea saves us and makes a few phone calls.  Turns out the Italians are going to Tulum to preach today and they are leaving at 1pm from downtown.  So Emily and I bought ourselves some extra time, since we were going to late as it was anyways.  So we walk from home to downtown, a wooping 40 blocks or so!  But we get to see all the "sights" and trips on the greasy sidewalks every 5-10 min.  I say "sights" because we live in Colossio, an area of Playa that's sorta ghetto.  Tomorrow I will take pics to show our neighborhood.  But it's just a local area that is NOT touristy and not safe after dark.  We eat at the local Walmart and reach the meeting spot at 12:30pm.  We wait and by 1:20pm chuckle, all the Italians have arrived.  We are 8 all together and we hop on a Convi, a van, and head down to Tulum, about 40min south (sounds just like service back in CT.)  We reach and meet another couple in the grocery store, and 2 sisters visiting from Italy outside who arrive on bikes.  Outside the store we make "walking" groups since there are no cars and say a prayer.  I end up with one of the sisters from Rome who leaves Saturday to go back to Italy.  A brother and his wife who are serving here for 6 months gives us a map and instructs us to do 5 blocks, all 4 sides each and sends us on our way while he walks with his wife to do some return visits.

The sister and I embark on the first block.  By the 2nd side we meet an Italian man selling Sugar Cane Juice from a cart he has assembled on his car.  He is agnostic and doesn't really want to discuss religion.  But then his buddy comes out from the kitchen next to the cart and he mentions that he is religious.  We end up talking for over 30 minutes with both guys and read 2 scriptures.  The Italian sister places 2 magazines, the January set.  The one about the end of the world with the religious one and the one about raising children with the initial man because he has a 14 year old son.  They both accept and say they'd talk again if we're in the area!  AWESOME!! We met straight up Italians! And they were YOUNG! Both were 42 and under I would say. We turn the corner and write down the experience so the brothers can follow up.

Next we cross to the other side of the street and ask for Italians at a restaurant.  There we meet a young Sicilian in his 20s.  He was nice and we place a truth tract with him.  He was very hippie and go with the flow but didn't think our actions could change anything about world conditions.   Yet he also agreed to speaking with the witnesses again.  After this experience we meet back up with the couple and I switch partners.  The next Italian speaking person we find is a Mexican who works in a restaurant.  We turn that corner and stand in front of a place called Trattoria Romana and me and the sister are saying to each there must be someone there who speaks Italian.  Immediately the server walks up to us and says BOUN GIORNO!  That was easy.  He was busy attending to customers but accepts a truth tract.  As we walk away we see him sharing the tract with a co-worker who probably also speaks Italian.

To sum up, there are Italians in Mexico and there is need.  How are 18 people supposed to cover territory in 3 cities without cars!  (We have visits in Playa del Carmen, Tulum and Cancun.)  We meet back with everyone else around 5:30 and hop back on the Convi to head back to Playa.  By the time we reach it is dark and we all go our separate ways.  What a day of service!  It was in a nutshell: AWESOME!

PS.  A funny experience was while preaching we run into some brothers from the Mayan and English congregations in Tulum.  While chatting with English friends the tables turn and I have to translate for the Italians because they don't speak any English, just thought that was funny.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Siamo arriviati a Messico!

So!  I am back!  This time around we are in Playa Del Carmen Mexico helping out the Italian Group for 1 month!  I am here with a fellow young pioneer from CT.  Her name is Emily O'Loughlin.  She is 20 years old and has been attending my congregation for the last year.  The group here is composed of 18 regular publishers, but tonight we had over 35 in attendance!  We even met a couple who is studying the bible.  They have been studying for 1 years and 1/2 and are from Verona, Italy.  They come here 5 months out of the year.

Anyways, we arrived in Cancun Wednesday Feb 6th in the afternoon.  After customs and the passport frenzy it was 6pm and I had to find Emily.  (She had arrived hours before me.)  I find her and guess who else I find!? Jorge!  A brother I met the last time I was in Playa!  He offers to bring us to Playa.  Shortly after dropping off our bags in his truck we encounter 3 Russians.  Guess who speaks Russian!?  Not I.  But Jorge does.  To their surprise, this Mexican brother gives them a meeting invitation to the Russian meeting in Mexico and speaks to them in Russian.  After this we meet another brother visiting from Canada who needed a ride to Playa as well.  We all hop in and drive the hour south to Playa del Carmen.

This night we just hang out with Jorge and his roommate Arman.  Arman lives in Playa full-time and is originally from Canada.  He is in his second year and helps out with the French group.  We eat Mexico-City style hamburger that feature hotdog meat and pineapple slices in addition to the normal hamburger ingredients.  We also get a look around a cenote that has been converted into a restaurant.  A cenote is a sink-hole that leads to the ocean and you can swim in it.  This one is like a cave.

We meet our home owners, non other than the famous Andrea and Mikayla from Bolonga, Italy!  We met them last time we stayed in Playa.  They live here full-time and help out in the Spanish.  In 2 years they've already helped 4 new ones come into the truth.  This is going to be a great trip!  I can already tell.