Sunday, December 29, 2013

Blessings, Compassion, and Justice....and a little update too

I just feel really blessed, folks.  That is what I have been overwhelmed with for quite some time now…..blessing.  I am just surrounded by so many good people in my life…’s truly incredible.  I find it hard to keep up with everyone because I just have so much support.  So let me first start off by apologizing if you are reading this and I have either not gotten back to your email or have not reached out to you to email in the first place.  I am truly sorry.  Please be patient with me.  It is not because I am ignoring you….it is simply because I have very little time to sit down and type.  You are in my thoughts and prayers though.  So thanks for your patience and your love.  You have no idea what an impact it has made in my life and this journey. 

Speaking of good people in my life, have you all met the people I get to share this experience with?  I hope so.  They are awesome.  These girls are really some of the best out there.  I love them so much, and I don’t know what I would do without them.   They bless me so often with little things and just love me so well.  They have become so much more than teammates.  I count them as friends and sisters.  So thank you Bri, Nicky, and Latte.  I love you so much. 

Random things that I love about my team:

-          They all admit to saying “yo” and “also” and “dangit” because of me.  I am especially proud of the “yo” that I have incorporated into their language :] The dangit….not so much. 

-          I am also making them fat……:D (I eat chocolate a lot and then they follow in my wise footsteps.)

-          The truth is…….we are a bunch of goofs.  Some of us have taken longer to show the goofiness inside of us, but its there.  And I love it. 

-          Nicky is the master of terrible puns.  Actually, to be honest, she makes up some really good ones at times, but mostly, they are terrible. 

-          Briana is a crocheting wizard.  And she is going to teach me to become one as well…..I hope.  But seriously.  The girl is amazing with a hook and yarn.  And she reads while her hands are flying all around!  I don’t know how she does it.  Also, she randomly falls off the bed.  Haha too funny. 

-          Latte is always surprising me with her random bursts of spontaneity.  Yeah….random bursts of spontaneity.  Lol go figure.  But seriously.  She will random do the weirdest things… eat a whole clove of garlic because someone dared her to.  Lol Cracks me up. 

-          They push me to think and challenge me more than they realize.  Their hearts are so strong for the Lord.  I love hearing their different perspectives and what God is doing in their lives.  It is a good growing experience for myself. 

And there is another woman that I have just been blown away by with all the love I receive from her.  Although our taste in things doesn’t always agree, she knows me SO well.  Anytime I wear anything cute that gets me a compliment, my team knows that I am going to tell them that she has picked it out for me and bought it.  She is the woman that knows how I am going to react in practically every situation.  And she loves me even though we argue about little things.  She sacrifices so much time for me.  She really is just the best.  So Mom, I’m sorry that I say stupid things at times that hurt you.  You really do mean the world to me.  I don’t know what I would do without you.  Thanks for putting up with me and all my ridiculousness.  Your patience with me is incredible.  And just so the whole world knows, it is not my mother’s fault that I cooked my first egg at the age of 21.  That would be my stubborn hate of the kitchen that got me in that predicament.  I love you, Mom.  So much. 

Now, there are plenty more people that love me well, but these are the ones that just stick out to me right now.  And I just felt like these declarations of love needed to be shared :]

So this week was Christmas.  And you know… really didn’t feel much like it.  And you know what else?  I am glad that it didn’t.  For one, having it not really seem like Christmas made it easier to not be as homesick.  Christmas is a time spent with family.  It is a time of tradition, and if you know me, you know I am a big fan of traditions.  I love the fact that you can count on traditions and that they are loaded with memories.  So by not having this Christmasy feel all around, it was easier to not take part in those traditions and be around family.  Another reason that I am glad that it didn’t feel like Christmas is because it gave me an opportunity to step back and evaluate what I have made of Christmas in my life.  Actually, it was Tasha that brought this thought into my head.  She asked, “Does Christmas only feel like Christmas if we are surrounded by our traditions and family?  Have we made Christmas more about being together and having a good time than remembering that this is the day we celebrate the Savior of the world’s birth as a human?”  And it really made me think.  Do we really take in the significance of what Jesus did for us?  I don’t know.  It was just really good this Christmas to take a step back and really let that thought sink deep into me.  The humility of our Savior is beyond compare.  And His compassion for and us is ridiculous.  If we could all just embrace a sliver of His compassion, the world would be a completely different place.  In Matthew 14, it talks about how Jesus had just found out about his cousin John’s death.  I imagine from their relationship that Him and John were pretty good friends as well.  So He finds out that his good friend just got his head chopped off in a very unjust way, and He tries to go be by Himself, which makes perfect sense.  If I found out that my cousin’s head just got chopped off by a hateful woman, I would want to be alone for a very long time.  But then this crowd follows Him and gives Him no privacy.  And what does He do?  He has COMPASSION on them and starts healing their sick.  WHAT?!  I mean just put yourself in that situation for a second and ask yourself if that is how you would have reacted to a mob of people disturbing your mourning and alone time.  It just struck me very hard.  The Jman is ridiculously compassionate.   I want that for my own life. 

Also, another challenging thought that has been buzzing around in my head for the last couple of days.  Does my life lead justice to victory?  Is that what I am about?  In Matthew 12:20, it talks about Jesus leading justice to victory.  I love that!  That’s what I want to be about!  So does my life display that?  What are things that I can do to improve this?  Do I have compassion on the less fortunate?  Do I take time out of my day to listen to others and be there for the hurting?  Or do I spend my time thinking about things that I can do to be more comfortable?  What are the things that I spend money on?  Are they things for pleasure, or are they things to help better the lives of those around me?  Do I help break the chains of injustice for the poor and powerless?  Am I living as Isaiah 58 and 61 talk about, or do I live for the comforts of Kirsten?  Whew.  I feel like I could get up and preach a sermon right now.  I feel God tugging on my heart in this area especially, and it is making me very passionate about it.  I wanna live like He did.  I want to give of myself.  I don’t need as much as I think I do.  And I want to walk by faith on the path that leads justice to victory.  That has become my prayer….that I can lean on Him for my guidance as I seek to bring Hope and Justice in this world.  And I want to do it with uncontainable JOY!  Ok…..I’m stepping off of the soapbox for now. 

Wow.  I don’t really know how I got from the topic of Christmas to this rant on justice.  But I suppose that it is alright.  I will tell you guys a little bit about what our week looked like though.  It has been a pretty slow one since pretty much everything we have been doing up to this point has stopped due to the holidays.  But that is ok.  It has given us all time to get some things done and just enjoy each other’s company :]

On Monday the 23rd, we went to our friends Becca and Gaby’s house for breakfast.  They live in a little town outside of the city….very quaint.  It was delicious!  We had French toast and eggs and coffee.  YUM.  And, they had this cream cheese icing that I put on each of my pieces of French toast….oh my word.  Way too good.  And it was just really nice to talk to them and get to know them more.  Becca is from the states and Gaby is from Venezuela, and this was really the first time that we got to really interact with them.  Just very good.  Then later that night, we headed back up to the same area and helped our British friend Tonia play some games with her 3 students and then we went Christmas caroling to each of their families.  And we just had a really great night.  Because I am so good at winning at games, I ate a TON of chocolate (this was part of the game).  My team is a little bitter that I always seem to win at everything we play together, but they will get over it eventually.  (Just kidding.  But I really did win at this one.) And it was just a whole lot of fun.  I don’t know if I have talked about Tonia before, but she is the lady that puts on the intercambios that we go to.  So it was just a great day of seeing where she lives and hanging out with her for awhile. 

Christmas eve was a team day.  And it was wonderful.  Seriously, I love these girls so much, and together we had a fantastically chill day.  We slept in and then started the 2.5 hour process of making cinnamon rolls.  It took a little longer than we were anticipating.  Turns out that its really hard to make dough rise when it isn’t warm.  But it was all good.  They tasted really, really good with the icing especially.  They just weren’t as fluffy as normal.  And then we watched Elf, because it is the perfect movie to get you into the Christmas spirit :] and we made some homemade pizza for dinner.  Definitely my favorite thing that we have made so far.  We have decided that it will happen at least once a month.  MMMMMM.. And then we also watched The Rundown for some laughs and ended the night with exchanging gifts.  I got Oreos and milk, just like I did in Chile.  Pretty much the best gift ever.  And some more tokens of love from Nicky….she had my name.  It was just a lot of fun.  So thankful for them. 

And Christmas day was spent at Mr. P and Mrs. J’s house.  We were there for 13 hours, and it was just great.  Basically, we ate delicious food all day long……seriously.  We had little meat and cheese slices with olives and pomegranates for tapas.  Then Mrs. J had ham, cheesy scalloped potatoes, sweet potato casserole, salad, peas, and bread for us to dive into.  Then throughout the night there were cookies that we had made earlier to eat and chocolates.  Then at night we had grilled cheese and soup!  WAY too much food, but o so scrumptious.  We also had a time of worship……singing and prayer.  It was so good.  And we just talked and had a good time with them.  They got us each a scarf, and we gave them their gifts as well.  I just love them a whole lot.  Great people who have so much to teach each of us. 

That is the most interesting stuff.  As you can see, its been very laid back this last week.  On Thursday, we had nothing going on and I was in my zebra onesy (yup, you guessed it.  Its ONEderful :] (Nicky actually came up with that pun…)) until 3 in the afternoon, just reading Leviticus.  I can let you all know how to perform a burnt offering correctly.  And if you want to know if your weird skin rash is making you unclean, I can check that out too :]  Riveting stuff I tell you.  But actually a lot more interesting than I thought it would be.  And it showed me that I will NEVER be able to understand our God completely.  He is SO big and SO creative.  Blows my mind. 

Also, as some of you know, in Chile we had a stove named Ben.  Seriously, we never referred to him as a stove; He was Ben, and he was terrible but we loved him.  Well now, the Spain team has Ralph.  They have these handy dandy heaters that they put under their tables with a long, thick table cloth hanging down to the floor.  You then lift up the said table cloth and drape it over your legs.  Then, you just let Ralph the Roaster do his thang.  He is wonderful.  We love when we have the opportunity to turn him on…….teehee.  And we have this magnificent little toaster oven thing.  Its just a small little guy, but he can make quite the fire inside.  His name is Melvin the Machine, and he has blessed us with some delicious treats recently, such as the previously mentioned cinnamon rolls and homemade pizza.  Just a note though: Do NOT place a laptop with the recipe you are trying to make on top of a working Melvin.  This is a terrible idea….

Ok.  This is again getting long.  But I have more thoughts.  I will post them next week, and take more time to write them out, versus furiously flying through my brain, trying to spit out all the thoughts in my head.  I would encourage you all to read the book Speaking Of Jesus by Carl Medearis though.  I am going to be talking about it in my next post.  It is SUCH a challenging book and filled with so much truth.  Points out a lot of things that Christians need to hear and take to heart.  I just thoroughly enjoyed it.  And I’d also like to share about where I feel that God is leading my heart, and what He has spoken to me throughout DTS.  I realized I never told you all about the really cool Angel story that I have from DTS, and it has been pretty significant in my life.  So I will start on that for next week, and leave you all with one last challenge.  Take this week and intentionally focus on walking in His compassion.  Keep your eyes peeled for opportunities and really pray about it.  And see what He does.  And when He comes through and you follow, you can tell me all about it via email :]

Thanks for reading and caring about my life.  Means a lot.  And thanks for all the emails and prayers.  We appreciate it so much.  Actually, I would really love if you would take some time to pray for Nicky’s dad, Nathan.  He has been in the hospital for the past two weeks, and it has been very serious and scary.  He had an infection in his bloodstream and brain and now he has fluid in his chest that is making it hard to breathe.  And the doctors can’t do a whole lot for him because his liver is basically failing.  So it’s just been really hard on all of us, but especially Nicky.  Pray for her and her family and for wisdom on our part in what to do and how to love and comfort best.  And you can continue to pray for our small acquaintances to grow into stronger friendships.  Thanks again and God bless!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Language, Insanity, and Wheely Bags

Hola amigos! I’m back again to tell you all of some of the things that we have done in the past week or so and to reflect on the things that the Jman has been showing me.  (I really enjoy referring to Jesus as the Jman for some reason, and all credit to this name goes to my girl Jeano.  Miss you, chica!  Tanto….)

So this week has been very good for us.  We have gotten into a bit of a routine I guess you could say….well… much as we can.  And we have just had some really neat time with people. 

We have started language classes, which is awesome!  Our classes started last Wednesday and are going until this Friday (the 20th) and go from 9-1030.  I am in a class with a very sweet Japanese girl named Lisa and our teacher’s name is Adela.  Adela is fantastic.  Basically, she has perfected the art of story-telling and is so funny.  We spend most of our class time listening to her stories about WHATEVER and EVERYTHING, and then we chime in and tell things about our own lives.  Then usually towards the end of the class time we do a little activity or exercise together to practice a verb tense or something.  I enjoy it a lot.  It’s very laid back, but I feel like I really am learning a lot since we talk a lot, which is what I need to be able to do with other people.  The other 3 girls are in a class by themselves with their teacher Ines.  It seems to be going well, from what I hear.  After Friday, Christmas vacation begins and goes until the 7th.  So our schedule is going to change a bit I believe.  But so far, so good. 

Also, as a team we have started going through Matthew.  Each week day, we read a chapter and one of us kind of leads a little discussion it.  I love it!  It is something we did as a team in Chile, and I was so pumped to do it again.  I love the different perspectives and points that come from each person as they share what really stood out to them from the chapter.  We are going to continue to do it through all of the Gospels.  I look forward to it each morning. 

Intercambios have begun!  On Wednesday nights (for the time being that is) we go to a bar (which are everywhere and is really just a small restaurant with a bar in it), and we pick something to drink.  We all really enjoy Mostos, which is just a white wine without the alcohol.  Then, with your drink, you are able to pick a tapa, which is like a snackish thing.  There are lots of options.  This week, all of us got Pinchitas (mini meet kabobs with bread and chips as sides).  Yummy.  So we pay like 2 Euros to get a drink that comes with a snack.  Why the United States hasn’t caught on to this brilliant idea is beyond me.  So anywho, we go and do this and just sit and talk with whoever shows up for the language exchange that night.  We mix English and Spanish and just learn about the people around us and help each other out with language.  It’s great, and last night’s was really great for me.  I met a very sweet woman named Paloma that was SO helpful with my Spanish.  I like her a lot and really hope we can continue to get to know each other.  She is a teacher at the University here, and all I can say is that she is definitely in the right field of work. 

Also, last Friday we went to our first youth group meeting.  It was awesome to put it plainly.  The group consists of Catholic youth and young married couples who just very evidently love Jesus.  I wish you could all come to it with us.  The worship was so heartfelt, and the people are so friendly.  We felt so welcomed.  I am very amped for the friendships that we are going to form there.  Please continue to keep us in your prayers with forming relationships and language learning. 

Just so many good things have happened this week.  Some random things that are not necessarily a part of our schedule (or are just random facts) that we got to enjoy this week were:

-          On Friday, we went to see The Hobbit in ENGLISH with some friends of ours.  So great!  (Opening weekend at a certain theatre here, movies show in their original language and then after that, they are ALL dubbed into Spanish).  We also ate some expensive, but yet DELICIOUS Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter ice cream.  WORTH IT. 

-          Saturday night we went to a production of the Messiah.  I have never been to an orchestra performance, and definitely never actually heard opera singing live before, but I must say I was very impressed.  The orchestra blew me away.  And they had choirs from all over the city come together and sing as a part of it.  It was incredible really.  I was blown away by the talent that God has granted some people and the hard work that they have put in over the years that I could enjoy.  Between the second and third parts, there was a “technical pause”, and I really had to go to the bathroom, so I went.  Turns out that after the performance has begun, you are not allowed to reenter.  That was a bit of a bummer, but I could hear the rest of it and got to take a few minutes looking over the city at night and thanking God for where He has brought me.  I am truly blessed.  And then I got to go back inside for the 10 minutes of clapping and the finale which was of course the Hallelujah chorus which was my favorite anyway :]

-          Monday night we got invited over to have merienda (tea time from like 5-8ish….sometime in there) at a couple from church’s house.  Their names are Oman and Patry and they were so sweet, and since this was our first invitation as just a team, it was an exceptionally special time.  I had apple cinnamon tea which is probably my all-time favorite kind, and they had sweets for us.  Then they asked each of us to tell them about ourselves and our testimonies, and we in turn got to hear theirs.  They are just a very cool couple who work with Campus Crusade here in Granada and have a huge heart for what the Jman is doing in the lives of young people. 

-          The lights that the city puts up for Christmas are so beautiful!  We walked around a couple of nights this week, and it was just so pretty.  That is really the only time it has actually felt like Christmas since we have been here.  Without the snow and cold, it just hasn’t really felt much like Christmastime.

-          We have also got to hang out with our landlord’s 19-year-old daughter a couple of times, and it has been really good.  She wants to learn English better, and she also helps us with Spanish.  Her name is Cristina as well, and she is so nice.  Her friendship is such a blessing, and we are all so thankful for it. 

-          Also, something random that I noticed this week was that pretty much all the kids here have rolley backpacks.  None of them actually wear the backpack…..they roll it like a suitcase.  Seriously, in the mornings it is so comical to see a mob of kids with their parents running to catch the bus with their wheely bags in tow.  I giggle to myself. 

-          Today is also the first day that it has rained since we have been here.  The sky has been SO blue pretty much every other day, but today is a sheet of white and a drizzle has been consistently falling all day. 

-          Embarrassing but slightly funny story.  So Briana and I have decided to do the workout Insanity while we are here.  We have been very serious about it, and as much as it sucks, I have been looking forward to doing it and feeling accomplished.  So Monday we started and did the fit test.  Then Tuesday was the beginning of the workouts.  If you don’t know what Insanity is, then just trust me when I say that it is insane.  I hate it and love it at the same time.  So anywho, the first workout is the Plyometric one, and it is TERRIBLE.  My least favorite.  It involves a ton of jumping and dumb stuff like that.  But we are doing it, and I am very determined to just crush this exercise.  We were sweating up a storm and yelling at Shawn T (the sort of host of the video) and it was great.  Suddenly, our doorbell rang, and immediately Briana said, “Oh boy.  I bet we are being too loud.” And all of the sudden, my heart dropped.  I hadn’t thought about it that we are on the 3rd floor and how obnoxious we must be to the people below us.  Sure enough, it was our downstairs neighbor asking us to stop making so much noise.  He was very nice about it, but it was obvious that he was annoyed.  OOPS.  I am going to apologize to him again, and then see if there isn’t a time when they are both at work and we can do the workouts.  Sometimes I just can’t believe how idiotic I can be though.  lol

So yeah.  Just some random information for you all.  Looking ahead, we plan to make cookies for some of our friends here on Saturday with Mrs. J.  Monday the 23rd we are going to go caroling with our British friend Tonia who is in charge of the intercambio we go to on Wednesday night.  Christmas Eve will be our team Christmas day doing fun festive things.  And then Christmas is going to be spent with Mr. P and Mrs. J for a nice dinner.  I am very excited. 

One thing that the Father has been showing me just in the short time that we have been here is that this time in Spain is not for ME.  It’s not about me experiencing all sorts of things and having a great time here.  What this is about is Love.  Love came.  Love died.  Love rose.  And Love is coming back again.  And right now, Love needs to be spread to the people on this earth.  I am a tool that can make that happen.  I need to just stay connected to that Love, receive It, let It permeate throughout everything in me, and then erupt It from myself onto others.  It’s not about me being comfortable; it’s about me putting myself out there in relationships with people here, learning patience, seeking His leading, and pr-ying for Love to enter into each person’s life.  That is my mission.  That is why I am here.  And that is why you are here too.  Be Love. 

Now, I didn’t say all that to act like it is going to be easy.  Yes, it’s simple, but it is a very hard thing to actually do.  He is growing it in me slowly, but I have barely passed the starting line. 

Also, I am reading through the whole Bible while we are here, and it has been SO interesting to read through Genesis and some of Exodus in just a couple of days.  Before, when I have read through these books, it has taken me a lot longer than just 3 days, and I feel like I did not pick up on as much that went on back in those days.  It’s really neat because Latte and Nicky are doing the same thing basically, and while we are reading, we all share what interesting or weird things went on back in the day.  Our God is so creative.  Just think about a plague of flies for a minute.  What is there was a million flies swarming around you right now.  It would be torture!  Up your nose… your ears.  Gross.  It just hit me how horrible all those plagues would be.  How did God even come up with that?  He is just so huge.  Blows me away. 

I’m very sorry.  This is getting very long, and I feel like I still have so much more that I want to write.  Blogging is a way to help me process stuff, if you haven’t been able to tell.  It’s also a way for me to look back and remember the good, hard, and funny things that have happened here.  So bear with me as this is very jumbled and rambley.  I will continue with more stuff next week, and hopefully I will have less explanations of things that we are doing and be able to focus more on what God has been laying on my heart.  Until then, prayers for relationships with newfound friends here would be great.  And just a continued heart of servanthood and love.  Thank you all so much for your support.  Have a great Christmas and remember to thank Him for all the blessings in your life! Hasta luego!

Monday, December 9, 2013

And the adventure rolls on...

Hola a todos!  Hemos llegado!  Y estoy muy emocionada por que Dios va a hacer aqui con nosotros :]

If you are confused about why I am writing in Spanish, then you probably haven’t heard much about my life recently, which is actually probably my fault.  I have done a horrific job of keeping up this blog like I said I would, and now I am off on a new adventure and haven’t posted a single thing about it so far.  So now I will fill you in.  I’M IN SPAIN!! 

Yup.  Spain.  Turns out that God is a very creative guy and He worked out my life to bring me back to the REACH program to lead the Spain team.  Through many twists and turns, He has brought me here with three amazing young women alongside me.  These ladies go by the names of Briana, Latasha, and Nicole, who I like to affectionately call Bri, Latte, and Nicky, respectively. 

Obviously since we are in Spain already, we have completed DTS.  I really regret not blogging at all during that time because it was truly incredible.  If you are reading this, then you probably know about my previous round with REACH.  It was great, and I am SO glad I did it, and it’s crazy to see the ways that God has used that to bring me to where I am today, but I am amazed by just how different this time through has been for me.  I can’t say that either DTS was better; they were both so good for different reasons.  This time through has been such a blessing for me.  To look back and see where I have come from the last time I was living at the RIC is so encouraging…..and motivating.  I am just so thankful to have been able to go through this program again.  It really is such a blessing, and I highly recommend it.  The things learned and the relationships formed are invaluable; I wouldn’t trade them for anything. 

But now, we are in Spain.  As I type this I am sitting in our lovely flat.  Seriously, we have been so blessed with God’s provisions in just the short time we’ve been here.  Our first full day here, which would have been on the 5th, we had so many God encounters in meeting our coordinator’s friends randomly.  (Also, I will be referring to our coordinators as P and J.)  Not only that, but the story of how P and J got this flat for us also screams of God’s cool plan.  I am just in awe of His perfect timing and provision.  We have it very nice here.  Our flat is extremely well furnished and in a good spot in the city.  We’ve actually begun to get around fairly easy already, which is so good.  When we got here, we just drew names to see who would be in which room.  Nicky is in a cute little room to herself, just down the hall (5 steps) from the rest of us.  Bri and I share a room, which we quickly made our own by moving the furniture, and then Latte’s room connects to ours.  We have two bathrooms, a laundryish type room, a big living room which doubles as a dining room, and a well-stocked kitchen.  Heating homes is a bit different here in Spain (as in it doesn’t really happen :]), but God has blessed us with beautiful warm weather these first few days of being here.  So good! 

I love how everyone walks here.  It’s really hard to find a person who is overweight.  It’s such a healthy culture.  People go hiking and exercising together for fun.  And everyone walks everywhere; I LOVE IT.  Sure, I realize I am in the honeymoon stage of being here, and someday I will hate the fact that I need to walk to the grocery store in the cold rain, but right now I love it, so I am going to soak up the gushiness.  There are little shops and restaurants and bars all around.  Our flat is a 10 minute walk from P and J’s, and I just really enjoy our neighborhood so far.  It’s a nice place to go grocery shopping and isn’t very far from the church we will be attending while we are here. 

The first full day we were here, P and J showed us around the city to see the sights and told us a lot about Granada’s history.  We also got to eat our first churros con chocolate and shwarmas.  I decided then and there that I would be just fine living here for 6 months.  DELICIOUS.  The next day P took us on a 5 hour hike to a little quaint town and then to a little mountain which we climbed to view some of Granada.  I realized just how out of shape I really am from that experience.  It was ridiculously hard to breathe as I struggled to trudge up this mountain.  Talk about motivation to get in shape.  But we made it, and it was beautiful.  We will definitely be going back there.  And just today, P and J took us on another hike up behind the Ahlambra.  From there, we could see some familiar buildings as the whole city was spread out before our eyes.  It was truly awesome.  We took bocadillos (sandwiches) and some fruit up with us to eat and then had a time of prayer for the city and what we will be doing there.  Just a really great experience. 

One cool experience that I want to make sure to put in here is our first grocery buying experience.  Now, I hate grocery shopping anyways and being in a different country with a different language on a budget and not really knowing what a good price for things is just adds to all the stress of it, so I really wasn’t looking forward to it.  So we walk inside the one store that we had been told to shop at for probably the cheapest stuff, and there were people EVERYWHERE.  You see, it was a holiday weekend, as Friday and Monday are special days for something…..I kinda forget what.  But going shopping on this Saturday was a crazy idea on my part.  Just so many people and we had no idea what we were doing.  It started off that we left our house and when we got outside I remembered that I forgot the list upstairs.  Then when we made it to the store, which is really just 2 minutes down the street, we realized we had forgotten our big plastic bags to carry all the groceries back home in.  And we didn’t know where anything was in the store so we got in SO many people’s way as we tried to find what we had come for.  But FINALLY, we got most of what we needed there…..that is all but the fruits and vegetables.  Here, you take a number to be helped to get your produce from behind the counter.  It is that way for things like bread and meat too.  I was ABSOLUTELY DREADING this process of asking for what we needed and trying to figure out just how much we wanted of each thing, especially since the mass of people waiting was so long.  But it had to be done.  So Nicky and I walked up to the machine and took a number…..71.  They were serving number 51 at the moment.  I was like…..O great.  We stood there for maybe 15 seconds when an older gentleman out of the blue just came up and handed me his ticket.  He said he didn’t need it anymore.  It was number 53!! Talk about a radical God that we serve!  So about 15 more seconds went by after I thanked the man and our number was called.  I started off by apologizing for my bad Spanish, and the girl quickly realized that I didn’t really know how this all worked.  I figured she would be annoyed since there were so many people around me waiting and everyone else was yelling there orders very quickly to whoever was helping them, but she was so helpful!  She was very patient with me as I tried to figure out what I wanted and then how much, and she helped finish my sentences while I asked for something.  I was seriously just blown away by her kindness.  And pretty soon everything we needed was accounted for and we were out of there.  I made sure to thank her again right before we left and she just smiled.  I know that God placed her there to help me out, and I am so grateful.  When we got home, I looked at the receipt and I realized that her name was on the bottom as the attendant who had helped me.  It was Cristina, and that is the name that I am going by here, as my real name is too hard to pronounce for most Spanish speaking people.  Just another cool fact to add to all the others.  I really hope that Cristina works there often so that I can go back and maybe build a small relationship with her as I buy fruit and veggies for us :]

Yup. God is so good.  And I can’t wait to see what all He has in store for us here.  We will be starting language classes on Wednesday (2 days).  We are working out the details of what it is gonna look like and how long classes will be tomorrow, so I can fill you all in on that more later.  That is going to be a lot of what we do in December.  Most of the activities that we would like to try and get involved with will reconvene after the holidays (the second week in January).  As we begin getting involved with more things, I will explain them so that you guys kind of get a feel for what we are going to be doing. 

That is a big oversight of our week so far.  It has been so cool to see the ways that God is already orchestrating everything over here.  Continued prayers for wisdom would be greatly appreciated.  We desire to follow where the Spirit is leading.  Pray for open doors and a heart of love on our part.  And thank you so much for reading this and following along with my journey here.  It means a lot, and I hope you all have a blessed day.  Love Jesus.