This weekend David and I went to a baby shower for my friend Mayra. She’s due to have a baby boy at the end of December.
This is the guest of honor opening gifts. It’s the only photo I could get of her because she was busy serving food, cleaning up plates, and getting chairs for guests the whole time. She never sat down. (I always sat down when I was pregnant.)
I met Mayra and her family through a Women’s ESL Bible Study I was a part of at WEPC. We did one hour of English lessons; one hour of Bible study in Spanish. After a few years the gals grew a little in their English skillz and a little in their knowledge of the Bible (some women thought I had written the Psalms after a few months of studying them. Whoops.) Along the way we forged some great friendships.
When I say I met Mayra’s family, I mean family. With a few exceptions the class was made up of one extended family — sisters, sisters-in-law, aunts, cousins.
In hindsight, it doesn’t surprise me that the class was a family affair. For them, everything is a family affair. When I pulled up to the shower, I knew I was at the right place because there were kids running around the yard and in the cul-de-sac. The idea of leaving your 14-year old son with at home while mommy goes to a baby shower is completely foreign. As a result, there were kids everywhere.
Playing in the yard…
Hanging in the trees…
Eating good food.
It was the first time most of the women got to meet David. He was a huge hit. They loved his eyes. Everyone said, “Oooh! Ojos hermosos!”
I didn’t know the shower was going to be outside, so neither of us was bundled up appropriately.
When my Mexican friends party, they cook for at least two days beforehand. They usually send me home with leftovers (once I had to leave the party before most people had even arrived. They still gave me food to take home.)
Here’s a fun fact: Mexican people LOVE Chinese food. Interesting, huh? When I visit my sister in Taiwan all they want to hear about is the food.
Instead of the typical Mexican spread, we had Chinese food at the shower.
They also love games and are very competitive. This is tough for me because they get really excited when they’re explaining the rules and there’s usually lots of discussion about rules and cheating and winning…and I just can’t keep up with all the Spanish. USUALLY, in an effort to include me, they want me to play. This is particularly awesome when I’m mostly confused about the rules and point of the game.
For the first game two women had to pop a balloon between them by body-checking each other. The group that popped the most balloons won.
Just look at this intensity.
I don’t have any photos of the second game we played because I was too busy DOMINATING. We had to hold a napkin over our heads and craft a baby item out of it. I made a shirt. I tied with another gal and the winner was determined with a hula hoop contest. A HULA HOOP CONTEST!
I hula hooped to victory and won a tupperware container for my efforts. Talk about practical.
At one point during the games everyone screamed at me to uncross my legs. I was so confused, one of the ladies came over and physically un-crossed my legs for me. I still don’t know why.
It’s always interesting being the only gringa at a party, but amazingly: it’s never uncomfortable. The way these women have welcomed me and my family into their lives is incredible. I’ve been invited to Quinceneras, Baptisms, birthday parties and baby showers. Every time I attend, they make sure I eat first, have a place to sit, and feel included. They overlook my cultural blunders (once, as I was leaving a birthday party, one of the women kindly pulled me aside and said I might want to dress up a little more next time. Noted.) I brought my mom to one of their parties once and they still ask about her all the time.
At the Quincenera they knew I was unsure about dancing, so they assigned this girl (in green) to dance with me all night. And she did.
Every now and then I see her at events and I always want to say, “HEY! Remember you couldn’t have fun at the Quince because you had to dance with me for like 4 hours?” But I don’t. I worry it might get lost in translation.)
When I was pregnant with David they threw me a surprise shower. There was FOOD and GAMES and GIFTS.
(They don’t smile in photos because they think smile lines make them look old.)
So basically what I want to say is: I feel so blessed to be part of this community. When I joined the ESL Bible Study, I did it because I felt like I had something to give them. I would teach them English and soon they’d integrate to American culture and we’d all kumbaya. Thankfully, that’s not what happened. Friendship dwarfed the lesson plans, and that’s ok. It’s better than ok.
Something I hear a lot around church is that we often get involved in ministry because we want to be a blessing to others, only to find that WE are the ones who end up being blessed. To that I say: amen.
P.S. Wanna know how to say “baby shower” in Spanish? It’s “baby shower.”