Saturday, January 27, 2007

Poultry, etc.

Another week has passed and we're spending a leisurely weekend under sunny skies (for the moment). We woke up Tuesday to about 8 inches of snow, and although it didn't hang around long, it was enough to make us wonder why we had driven all this distance for the privilege of sweeping snow off the car and scraping windows. Spring is coming, however. The locals assure us it's just around the corner.

The governor of New Mexico is Democrat Bill Richardson who just announced his intention to make a run for the Democratic nomination in the 2008 presidential election. The NM legislature is in session; the most controversial bill involves the banning of the cock fight, a hoary tradition here apparently. Lousianna also allows cock fighting and people here claim that it's simply gone underground in Texas and other states in the South. Men will be boys, I guess, and the cock fight is certainly no worse than Mexico's bull fights. There appears to be some need in some people that is satisfied by the sight of a bloody fight to the death. I was told that drug deals, gambling and other vices circulate around cock fighting, and that wouldn't be surprising.

We took a drive out to a place called Rattlesnake Springs the other day, tagging along with Rudy and Ruth Friesen and Rha Friesen. It's a place where clear water gushes from the earth - likely a sloping aquifer connected to the nearby Guadalupe Mountains - to form an oasis in the desert. Nearby, we encountered wild turkeys, the first time I've seen them even though they are apparently common in southern Alberta. What's more, we saw a flock with an albino member feeding near the road. A white turkey. We had chicken for supper last night with the Friesens, and so it appears poultry has been the theme of this week. Neighbours nearby have roosters (cock fighting roosters, I wonder?) that crow in the morning. . . and at noon and in the evening.

Volunteer work brings us into constant contact with people whose options are few and whose reasons to be hopeful are limited by poverty. What is a bit surprising is that because we are working in institutional settings, the opportunity to engage in conversation is limited. The people we serve have been attendees at these places for years - in most cases - and have seen so many different volunteers come and go that we are neither a familiar face nor a welcome diversion; we are more like furniture. A lady walks into the serving area of the Community Kitchen and I say "Good morning. How are you?" She smiles - just a little - and says, "just fine. No salad, please," and she moves on to pick up her drinks, sits down to eat at a long table with twenty or so others. Maybe she'll say, "Thanks, guys. That was good," as she leaves. Luckily, we've decided to spend more time here than most SOOPers so that has a chance of changing as we get to know some of the people in the programs by name. I hope so.

Tomorrow, I lead the singing in the Carlsbad Mennonite Church. I've decided to repeat something I did in Eigenheim some months ago, i.e. to focus on the life and hymns of one hymn writer, Robert Wadsworth Lowry in this case. He wrote one of my favourite hymns How can I keep from singing as well as some old standbys like Shall we gather at the river, a song he himself didn't like much. I'm a bit nervous about this; I'm not a song leader. The congregation, however, is so open and friendly I'm sure I won't be judged that harshly.


  1. I wish you well in your song leading. I'm not sure what the level of musical knowledge is there, but at any rate I'm sure you will do fine.
    If you can believe, I too had to be a song leader for a very full community hall for the Christmas eve service. The musicians all played in different keys; my ex-sask, Mennonite partner has lost her voice but waved her arms frantically. To the hand full of us who knew music it was entirely humiliating! However no one else seemed to notice and all the elders were very appreciative, so I guess it doesn't matter how bad it was as long as people enjoyed it!
    All the best...

  2. Marg;
    Thanks for your comments. The song leading went well, by all accounts. Tonight, the SOOP people all go out with a few church people for a Chinese Smorg. After, we meet at the church where Agnes and I lead the meditation (Our subject will be "clothes") I've been helping with repairs to old houses lately. Some people do with much less materially than we do, but I don't have to tell you that.