March 29

This week, our excursion was to the city of Tlaxcala. First, we tried the pulque we have been learning about. Pulque is an alcoholic drink made from the liquid honey-like substance in the maguey cactus. It is kind of thick and sour tasting. We decided that it tasted similar to sourdough bread. Many from the group liked it, which surprised our guide, but I couldn’t take more than a couple sips because of the awful texture. I guess it’s a good thing I was not around back then, because it was the favorite drink.

After that, we visited the oldest church in Meso-america. It was smaller than some of the churches we have visited, but had beautiful architecture, paintings and writings from Spanish leaders on the walls. Our next stop was a museum with beautiful, brilliant, brightly-colored murals containing history of Tlaxcala and all of Meso-america. It was really cool to see images of some of the history we have been learning come to life. Our last stop was a museum about the cultural of the area. It included traditional costumes for special occasions, pottery, tools and the famous masks that they use for dances. The masks and costumes were all each unique, hand-made and cost a fortune. I was intrigued by the giant pots about 3 feet deep and 3 feet wide to make beans for the whole community when there was a fiesta. They would need several pots that size and huge plates to hold about a million tortillas. One person would be chosen to cook for everyone and it was quite an honor. I don’t know if I could even imagine that much beans, let alone being in charge of cooking for the whole city!

In addition to our group excursions, we have been on many walks around the city with our conversation guides from the university. It’s a good thing they know where to go, because without them I would be lost for sure! One of my favorite places we visited was a house (now converted to be a museum) where four families that were heroes of the revolution lived and died. The bullet holes were still in the walls, and much of their clothing and furniture was preserved as if no time had passed.

Our group is starting to realize that we only have a few more weeks left here in Mexico, and are determined to make the most of the time we have here. We have gone dancing, out to movies, tried new foods and enjoyed laughing at each other’s mistakes in Spanish, because no matter how much we learn we still seem to say something wrong. It is an amazing blessing to be on a trip with such a special group. Each person has very unique talents and personalities that have helped to form such incredible friendships and memories that I’m sure will last a lifetime. Thank you all for your constant prayers and support as we continue to learn and experience all this culture has to offer.

-Jessica Goertzen


April 9

Hi there family and friends! I am sure you are counting down the days until we grace you with our presence in the United States J or maybe that is just me. But just in case you forgot, let me remind you that that day is in less than two weeks!

This past week we experienced a little bit of lifeThe group observes the re-enactment of Jesus' trial and crucifixion in Mexico City, and also got to be involved in La Semana Santa (Holy Week). There are so many things I could say about it all, but you will have to ask me more when we arrive home. However, I do want to share a few of our memories with you.

Last Monday in downtown Mexico City, we walked to a building known as La Torre (The Tower) and waited in line to take the elevator to the very top of this skyscraper. Because Mexico City is so high in altitude, and La Torre is extremely tall, we were about to be standing on one of the highest points in the world. While waiting in line, one of our brightest and best group members (Stephanie Rheinheimer) commented to us, “How crazy would it be if there was an earthquake while we were up there?!!” Little did she know how much weight her words would carry. We got onto the elevator shortly thereafter, and a couple of us were feeling quite dizzy as we got off on the 37th floor. As we stepped out to look down on the magnificent city, something felt strange. I had to sit down, thinking I was nauseous, when we realized that the entire building was swaying!! Someone else in our group (another wise one) tried to tell us it was probably just a strong gust of wind… YEAH RIGHT! What we soon realized was that we were stuck at the top of this skyscraper, experiencing earthquake tremors! Steph’s words had turned into reality. Some of us, I will not mention names, thought we were going to die. And yet here I am writing to you all, so obviously we made it! What an experience it was J and needless to say, we do not let Steph make any more ominous statements, just in case they would come true again.

On a more somber note, Friday we had the opportunity to experience the reenactment of the trial and crucifixion of Christ in the streets nearby where we stayed. This was one of the most powerful things for me during Holy Week, and I want to relay to you what I witnessed, but I know that I cannot give it full justice. This is what I wrote about it in my personal journal that Friday night…

“Today we witnessed the 4 hour reenactment of the trial and crucifixion of Christ. It was very powerful because it was not just any old play; it carried incredible weight and meaning. They actually placed a real crown of thorns on Jesus and REAL blood flowed from his brow. We watched as the soldiers whipped Christ and the other prisoners as they carried 80-pound crosses over two miles through the streets. It was gruesome to watch as they arrived at the top of the final hill and you could see the horrible bruises and lash marks on their backs. (Apparently the actors, who carried the crosses along with Christ through the streets, did this as an act of penance for sin.) Then Christ and the other two prisoners were tied to the cross and placed upright in the ground for all to see. It was so realistic! It was an incredible reminder of the sacrifice that Jesus made for us by laying down his life. As I walked through the streets beside the man carrying the tremendous weight of the cross, I kept thinking of Jesus’ words, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” How can we ever begin to thank Christ for the cross or even try to fathom his love?”

What an incredible week it was for our group. Every day was filled with blessings, and I know we will never forget what we experienced. Enjoy the rest of your week back home, and we look forward to seeing you all soon!

-Rachel Kennel