Wednesday, April 28, 2010

London...all sorts of goodness...

So Spain, is beautiful! Today I was listening to a sermon that Aaron Stern gave at theMill this last Friday and He talked about God being "I AM" and all that He has created. If you have an hour or so, I'd definitely recommend going to New Life Church's website, under theMill, and listening to this sermon! As I was listening to it, I was running on the treadmill, facing the Mediterranean Sea...and was just reminded once again of how big God is and how at times, I lack the fear of the Lord that I should have.

This last weekend I got to go to London! It was beautiful and didn't rain-yay...and it was amazing getting to explore the city. I must brag a bit, and say that I did NOT, in fact, get lost at all. Yay for maps and people that speak English. I have a YWAM friend who has been living there the last few years and I got to spend some time with her, which was wonderful as well. YWAM forever amazes me in the continued connection people seem to have. They're such a big part of who I call family.

This Sunday I also managed to make it to Barcelona and go to an international church there. It felt like it had been so long since I had been around others, worshiping in my own language. The service was beautiful and I spent the day up there hanging out with new friends from all over the world. God is faithful and so good, all of the time!

Homework seems to be sucking more time than I thought possible...I feel like I should have much more time to blog and relax, but between Spanish classes, and the other 18 credits this semester...I feel like my computer is with me most of the time. I feel like I'm finally retaining a bit of what I'm learning though, and that is a blessing in and of itself.

So much to say; I have too many thoughts. That's what I'll leave it at for now! :)

Friday, April 16, 2010

Life in Spain..

So it has been awhile since I've last written...the days have been busy and everyone in the house has managed to get sick for the last week except one. :(

Life here has started to settle down. I am starting to feel like I have a regular schedule and am enjoying the extra time I have for school and amazes me how long you can stretch without really having to evaluate your life and where you're at. The amount of knowledge I have gained about myself in the last few weeks is far more than I expected to gain my entire time away. God has really been opening doors!

I was laughing the other day, thinking about how much I love to be around people and have a million things going on and how this last year, by God's gentle nudging or removing for me, how life had begun to slow down a little. I hated every minute of it. Not being busy, allowed time for thinking and realizing things that I didn't want to realize. Not being busy meant that for the first time, in a long time, I could see that I wasn't being who I was, but rather was being who I thought everyone else wanted me to be. The anger and bitterness towards friends reaction to the slow transformation into who I feel I am, built up and damaged most of those already fragile relationships. I felt very torn between being who I feel I am..broken and imperfect as that may be, and being the 'I can conquer the world in a day without anyone's help!' person that I had been trying to be the last few years. In the end, pretending was exhausting, so I opted for the first. My last few months in Colorado felt lonely and I had hit a point where my attempts to push God out, weren't working. I'm so thankful for His persistence.

It's been almost 4 weeks since I left Colorado. Since arriving in Spain, I have been more alone than I have ever been, and more alive than I knew possible. It's like God has reawakened a part of me, that only He knew existed. My anger towards the past and frustration towards myself has slowly started to leave and my resistance to grace and forgiveness has turned into worship and praise for those gifts that I am starting to receive. I'm in the middle of a country, who's language I don't know, familiar faces are few and far between and have more peace and joy than I've ever had. The level of intimacy God gives us, is incomprehensible. Changing my way of thinking and finding the joy in life before seeing the failure is revitalizing.

All in all, life is good and God is even greater. The family here continues to be wonderful. I've got lots of exciting travel coming up and people to visit. School work is busy but easier to understand now that I have more time. I, for the first time, am starting to figure out myself..and am excited for the adventure to continue.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Adventure #1..

For those of you who know will know that although I am a huge fan of making plans. In preparation for moving to Spain however, I am starting to realize that I dropped the ball on a few of those things that should have been accounted for in my 'plan' for moving. For instance, who in the world knew that driving a stick shift two or three times on flat Iowan roads would be different than driving a manual car all of the time, up a great multitude of giant hills, in a foreign country? Apparantly, I overlooked that minor detail and did not put 'practicing how to drive a car like the one I will have to drive all of the time so that I do not look like an idiot when I get there' very high on the priority list. Therefore, I am learning now.

Tuesday night I arrived in Barcelona and was greeted by the family I'm staying with at the airport. They are very sweet and have made me feel right at home! David and Montse both have busy lives and Elaina (11), Olivia (7) and Oscar (almost 2) are all energetic children involved in all sorts of activities as well. I didn't have much jet lag (thanks to sleeping pills and coffee) and have already become fairly accustomed to what my life here will be like. Wednesday, day two, was my first attempt at driving. I drove around the house and only stalled when going up an extremely large hill; I must say I was quite impressed with myself! Thursday again proved to be an ok driving day and I made it out of town for the first time with the car and felt pretty confident in it all. Yesterday however, was a very different story.

The Easter celebration in Tarragona is a very important part of their culture. There is a huge march of the Roman soilders, presenting of the 'mysteries' (a dozen or so parade floats that are kept by each church in town during the year that depict different parts of the Easter story), and at night: a long procession of these floats, church choirs, bands and people marching with candles. I decided that this would be a wonderful time to drive to town myself, try and make friends and figure out my way around the city. After all, it was my third day here...I was sure I knew my way around! ;)

Driving into town...sucked. I stalled on every single hill I was on, provoked much honking and anger from other drivers, almost cried by the last hill and was reminded by the 7 year old in the car that all I had to do was 'push the gas pedal'. As I was sliding backwards down the hill towards the other cars...I was not a big fan of the 'help'. Finally, I made it to the parking garage where I again got stuck trying to put the car into reverse, was helped by a funny little old man who kept trying to explain to me how to do it (I just nodded my head, not understanding a thing he said) and finally reassured by David (the father of the family) that everything was ok and that I would get better with practice.

We walked around for a bit and saw part of the Good Friday celebration and then the family left me with a parking ticket (that I didn't know what to do with), the car keys (nevermind that I had no idea where I was parked), a map (not that I had any idea where I was) and my cell phone (thank you Jesus for cell phones). I walked around for a bit, prayed that I would meet someone that spoke English and strategically placed myself next to some people that looked close to my age.

How do you make friends in a foreign country when you don't speak the language? Well, let me tell you!
Step 1: place yourself near people that look like they may speak English and/or be close to your age that don't look too scary
Step 2: hope that they notice you and decide that they should be your friend
Step 3: when that doesn't actually work, pull out your very large map and look confused (inevitably, they will then feel obligated to say something)
Step 4: when spoken to in words you don't understand, keep a blank look on your face and say 'English'?
Step 5: thank God that they do understand English, maintain broken spanish/english conversation for four hours and exchange numbers


So now, I have friends! We can't understand each other much but they are going to help me learn Spanish and I am going to help them learn English. They also helped my find the parking lot that my car was in (which I would have never found) and figure out what to do with the parking ticket (which I also would have never figured out). To top off the night, I couldn't figure out how to release the parking break (again, you would think this would be common sense) so ended up calling David at 2 AM to come get me. He got in the car, released the break with no problem and I drove it home (no killing it that time!!). Perfect way to top off the night, haha.

All in all, I am learning and loving every bit of it so far. By the end of this, maual cars will be no problem at all and I will understand Spanish much better! I am loving the time that I have to do homework and spend good quiet times with God and adore being just a few steps away from the beach. I also am a big fan of the espresso machine in the kitchen that supplies my with the daily 3+ cups of coffee I require eah day. :) I'm looking forward to next week when my schedule becomes more consistant and I have had a little more practice with the car!

Hope you all enjoyed my first adventure...will write more soon!