Friday, June 20, 2014

The Gift of Travelling with Sisters

This picture is one of my favorites.  Thanks so much, Rachel, for capturing the moment as we were completely oblivious.  I saw it for the first time as I was going through all my pictures and picking out the hundreds (literally) that I want to print, and it immediately sparked a desire in me to blog.  I feel like it encapsulates the last 9 months in a snapshot. 

The hike that we were on when this was taken was an awesome one.  We took a lot of pictures, laughed a ton, saw some pretty incredible sights, and there was just a sense of adventure in the entire thing.  We even had a fatality on the way (RIP Briana’s drowned lens cap)!  On our way back to catch the bus, we decided to take a different route, which was actually blocked off at one point.  As we walked on the trail, we didn’t really know where it was going to take us.  It got very hot as we trudged on, but as you can see, we had quite a view to take in the entire time.  Finally, we did end up finding the main road and a familiar bus stop, and all was well. 

My God is a professional mind-blower.  The picture shows a great expanse and screams of His majesty and creativity.  And then, as you take in the whole picture, you see that off to the side are 4 average-looking girls walking an old dirt road.  They aren’t the center of the picture, but rather just a part of it.  And that’s how it is in the journey of life.  You walk a road with people, there are ups and downs, and if you keep your eyes on yourself, all you see is dirt below.  But when you stop making yourself the focus and look around at all He is offering you, the view is breathtaking.  The walk isn’t always easy or fun, and at times you have no idea where the road is leading, but He is faithful.  And when you understand that you are not the center of this life but rather just a part of it, it’s a lot less frustrating and much more beautiful.

I’d go anywhere with these girls.  It’s the truth.  These ladies are full of life, hope, love, and light.  It’s women such as these that make the best travelling companions, and even more than that, friends.  I love them…..not just the flippant sort of love that you say about pretty much anyone.  No, I really love these girls.  They have inspired, blessed, grown, and loved me.  They’ve brought me so much laughter, taught me so much about love and Jesus, seen me at my ugliest and shown me beauty through it, and strengthened me with their constant encouragement. Sure, they’ve also driven me crazy with their incessant “Mom” calling, made me mad, assisted me in annoying our neighbors, hurt my feelings, and pushed my buttons.  We were like sisters……are like sisters.  It’s a part of the journey, and our journey was phenomenal. 

When I think of my girls (a term I still use to refer to them), I see beauty.  Yes, they are gorgeous women, but it’s so much more than that.  There’s a strength and power behind each of them.  They are lovers of life, seekers of depth, spreaders of joy.  I am just so PROUD of each of them.  It was such a privilege to be able to appreciate and witness the growth that each one of them displayed. 

Well, team.  We finished.  We are now spread out in distance, and as we have already experienced, It is a lot harder to keep up with each other’s lives now.  But I just want to say that although far in reality you are very present in my thoughts and prayers.  I tried to express what an impact you all have made in my life above, but it didn’t work as well as I would have liked.  I don’t know if you will ever understand what a blessing you were in my life.  The truth you spoke when I was doubting, encouragement you gave when I was down, and love you showered me with throughout it all has shaped me.  You’ve pushed me to the Father; what could possibly be better than that??  NOTHING.  So…..thank you.  I can’t say more than that really.  I’m grateful not only to you all, but to God as well.  He blessed me with you all and has used your friendship to reveal more of Himself to me.  Os quiero MUCHISIMO……y para siempre. 

So while it’s sad to think that our trip together is over, I am beyond thankful to the Guide that He placed you all in my life and that our journey together on the winding road of life has only begun.  

Monday, June 9, 2014


So…..this is a weird night.  I got home from work (a very stress free night) and came home and had no idea what I wanted to do.  There are a lot of things that I SHOULD be doing right now, including packing for vacation, cleaning, organizing things from my life and putting them away, going through pictures, writing letters and emails, and probably even some more things, but the fact is that I just don’t feel like it at all.  I have tried calling a few friends, but no one is picking up.  I sat down to read, but my Kindle needs to be charged.  So now here I am sitting on my bed, bundled under the covers with piles of folders and books all around when I realized, “Kirsten.  You need to blog.”  And that is exactly what my heart wants to do. 

You see, I am home now.  Yes.  I have been home for a week and a half now, and it feels like 2 months or something.  I hit the ground running and started right up in going back to work.  I can’t believe that a month ago I was living in Spain.  It kind of feels like a dream to me right now.  This will probably sound weird and pretty harsh to most of you, but honestly, I haven’t thought about Spain too much since I have been back at home.  Yup.  And until you leave for a few months and come back, you probably won’t understand me.  Now don’t get me wrong….when people ask me about Spain, I think about it and miss it.  And in my heart, I know I miss that place dearly.  But my head just isn’t thinking about it right now.  I don’t really know what is going on in my brain.  All I know is that I kind of feel like I am in a bubble right now. 

Reentry has been going good so far… really good.  I have seen pretty much everyone and have been able to spend time with those that I am closest to.  I haven’t been too overwhelmed or discouraged yet… is just good. 

I haven’t really been asked about Spain too much since coming home actually.  There have been a few friends who have asked really good questions about my life in Spain and the people I grew to love there, and I have really appreciated it, but just a few.  And until now it hasn’t really bothered me.  I think that I am just finally slowing down enough to have time to start processing, and now I wanna talk.  Because now……now I miss it. 

I skyped one of my best friends from Spain today.  His name is Enrique, or Kike for short.  And after our almost 2 hour skype, it feels as though my heart has just been shocked back to life and I miss my friends there so much.  I’d give up a whole lot right now to be back there with them. 

Reading over some of what I just wrote makes me sad and confused.  And I know it will confuse you all even more.  So I apologize. It is quite depressing-sounding actually.  I am not depressed, and I hate that all of this sounds like one big grumble.  That is not what I want to do.  I guess this is just where I am at in life right now.  Life is good here.  I enjoy it.  I am happy to be reconnecting with family and friends again here….people that I really missed while I was gone.  But now I am also in the stage of just really missing Granada life.  And now that I think about it, I am happy that I feel this way.  It’s been weird not really thinking about Spain.  I’ve felt guilty, when really I have known that it would only be a matter of time before everything caught up to me and I would feel like I do now.  So I am glad that it is here.  Is it going to be easy to deal with and stay satisfied and content with where God has me right now?  NO.  Definitely not.  But I am going to continue to fight for joy.  I have so much to be thankful for, and I am beyond blessed with all the privileges and opportunities He has sent my way. 

I would ask for prayer.  As my thoughts have just started and my processing is just beginning, I ask that you pray for a lot of patience and grace in this reentry process.  I want to live in the here and now, but I also don’t want to let the friendships I have made over there just slip away.  And I really want to deal with all of my crazy emotions in a healthy way this time.  Basically, just please pray for Jesus to be my main focus and desire again. 

I plan to write more soon…..when I have more of an idea of what I am even thinking.  It was good for me to kind of sort out how I feel at the moment, even if it is a jumbled mess of feelings. 

Thanks for caring, because I know that if you read this post that is exactly what you are doing…..caring.  Love you guys.  

Monday, May 19, 2014

Endings Filled with Memories

Change.  It seems to be the only thing I can think about these days.  To be honest, change scares me.  I hate it.  I don’t deal with it well.  Change hurts.  It means something has come to an end.  And I hate it.  But life is always transforming.  People change and life goes on.  And it’s sad at times.  And when I know things are going to be different and difficult to adapt to, I pull away.  It really benefits no one.
 You see, I just said goodbye to two of my best friends in Spain, and it was terrible.  Near the end of the movie we were watching together, all I could think about was the fact that our time with them was almost over.  I just wanted them to leave right then because I knew that the actual goodbye process was going to hurt.
 Walls.  That is the method that I have taken to try and protect myself from pain.  I just build up walls.  It’s really dumb, and honestly, it benefits nothing.  I end up being more hurt in the end as my walls block me off from seeing and remembering the good.  They cage me in so that I stop allowing myself to love all the way. 
We have been saying goodbyes for almost a week now, and as the week has progressed, the goodbyes have gotten harder and harder.  I am so sick of goodbyes.  I find it very dumb that we say “good”bye and “hell”o.  It should be “good”o and “hell”bye, pero bueno.  Life goes on. 
The end of the ride is in sight.  Don’t you hate that…..when the close of something great comes.  But, as someone wise once said, all good things must come to an end.  And they really must; if they didn’t, we wouldn’t appreciate the good times when we were in them.  So, I am just going to take some time to write this post and tell you all about the joy that I have experienced from this journey.  Cuz let me tell you……it’s been quite an adventure……a really fantastic adventure. 
To start things off, let me tell you about the food that I have gotten to experience and quite enjoy.  Yes, yes.  Bring on the fat jokes…..I’ve heard plenty of them in my time spent here.  I think the thing I am going to miss the most is shwarmas, which is funny because they are not even Spanish…..they are a Middle Easternish food.  Basically it’s a little taste of heaven in a tortilla type shell.  So good.  And churros con chocolate… absolute must if you are ever in Spain.  Napolitanas, champinones en salsa, tortilla espanola, bunuelos, calamari, paella, fresh bread, tostadas con aguacate o tomate, fresh orange juice, Principe fudge filled cookies, mosto (wine without alcohol).  And I can’t forget to mention cafĂ© con leche.  I love it so so much. 
Now that we have all concluded that I am a fatty at heart, I’ll tell you that I’m really going to miss running into the people I love here on the street.  I love the walking we do here.  While I am super excited to drive when we get back home, I know that I am really going to miss walking down the street to the grocery store or marching downtown to do some shopping (and eating :]).  And the healthy aspect to all this walking is just an added bonus.  The fact that it was not at all uncommon for us to see someone we have grown to love on the street as well was always a highlight to my day.  And while Granadinians are not really known for their friendliness, I would debate on this issue.  I feel like in the states, it is not uncommon for me to see someone at Walmart and try to avoid them so that I don’t have to talk.  Let’s be honest…..we have all done it.  But here, no matter how little we know the person, we ALWAYS stop and talk or at the very least greet one another.  It’s so nice. 
Hiking.  While I am not overly in love with a lot of outdoorsy things, I have really grown to enjoy hiking a lot.  Don’t get me wrong, I still don’t have the urge to go trekking along the Appalachian Trail or anything, but it really is nice to have the ability to go into the mountains, experience the beauty of our Creator and get some exercise while browning (or redding) my skin a little. 
It’s no secret that Fe Y Vida has been my favorite activity that we have done here.  I feel like you can’t fully understand until you yourself have been to a service on Friday night.  It is just so good.  The Holy Spirit is so clearly there and moving.  The people love from their hearts and welcomed us in more than anywhere else while we have been here.  There is so much joy in that place.  And the community there just looks after and takes care of each other.  It’s like a family, and we have had the privilege of being adopted into it.  Words can’t really describe how grateful I am to have been given the honor of knowing them.  Great memories.  Intercambios, tapas, McDonalds, the beach, Easter, prayer.  So good. 
Grilled cheese nights at Mr. P and Mrs. J’s.  So good.  Sunday nights are my favorite in the States, and were definitely one of my favorite times in Spain as well. 
Nigel.  Sitting and talking to him on the sidewalk.  Laughing at the way he words things.  Breaking for the hurt that he has experienced and the hope he has lacked.  I’m gonna miss hearing him yell “YABADABADOOOOOOO!” and “I FEEL GOOOOOOOD.” He has no idea just how much he has taught me.  Our late goodbye with him was so hard.  He is fighting God so hard, but I will continue to pray for him all the time.  I got to say everything that I wanted to him as well, which was so good for my soul.  I told him that I understand that he doesn’t wanna hear about God.  His life has been a whole lot harder than mine is.  But I told him that I wouldn’t stop praying for him and that there are a whole lot of people back home that are praying for him too.  I told him that I wrote about him, and that when someone asked me to tell them about the person who has taught me something here in Spain, he was the first person who came to mind.  I told him that I loved him and that he has taught me more than he will ever know about love.  And the very best part?  He listened to me through it all.  He looked me right in the eyes for the whole thing……GAH.  I am going to miss those blue eyes so much.  Please continue to pray with me for that man. 
Our roof.  Although I didn’t go up as much as the other girls, especially when it got REALLY hot, I did enjoy it up there so much.  Great view.  Perfect place to kinda get away and just think.  The location that water balloons may or may not have been thrown from.  Just a really good place. 
Fontiveros park.  Just a small little area where I went to read my Bible, journal, listen to music, and even watch a movie once.  The place itself is not very spectacular, but I am going to miss hanging out there a lot.  Lots of good thinking was done there, and random friends were spotted as I just sat on a bench and enjoyed the sunshine. 
Our apartment.  So many memories there.  Perfect size for us.  I think of movie nights, Dutch Blitz, and all the good food made there.  Oh, and how could I forget to mention our wonderful neighbors?  It really does make me smile to think about all those mornings that the construction above us woke us up, and the two times that our downstairs neighbors came up to tell us to shut up.  :]  Good times. 
Cristina.  I mentioned Dutch Blitz, and that is because in the last month, every time she came over we played Dutch Blitz with her.  She learned so fast, and I hate to admit it, but she is definitely better at it than I am.  But she is so sweet.  She no longer even talks to us in English.  She just came over to hang out.  Before we left, she came over to give us keychains that she had made with pictures of us all together and they said her name and then “Nos volveremos a ver” which means, we will see each other again (translation in meaning, not literal).  It was so sweet!  I am going to miss her a lot.  And she put one of the sweetest posts on Facebook about us and how she is also going to miss us.  Please continue to pray with us that we could continue our relationship some more and that she would come to know Jesus too. 
Meal times with the team.  Just really good.  As of recently, we have not actually made a meal at home in over a week due to people inviting us over or eating at our places one last time, but I do miss sitting around our table on the couches, wolfing down some delicious grub and talking to each other when we come up for air. 
Singing with friends after intercambio.  A guitar would normally get pulled out and sometimes the piano hooked up, and we would just sing.  It was so good.  Ugh.  I already miss those friends, and we are just sitting in the airport waiting to leave. 
Crazy, ridiculous pictures with friends.  If there is one fun thing that my Spanish friends have taught me, it’s that you can NEVER have too many pictures to remember the little things in life. 
Picnic in the plaza.  Great friends.  Awesome memories.  Juice, mayonnaise, and sandwiches galore.  Lugging the food all the way up through town was worth it for the conversations and life that we got to share for a bit with some really great people. 
Talking Spanish.  It makes me sad that the improvement I have made will probably disappear in the next few months.  I am going to do my best to practice and try to keep most of what I have learned, but I know from experience that it is so hard to do. 
There are random other things that I am going to miss.  Friends pet phrases, such as, “ARE YOU KEEDING ME?!” “You need to learn manners” “Golden Girl” “YOOOOHOOOOOO” “Thee American people”  and “Hoooo (grunt like)”.  I’m going to miss Manu’s crazy dancing and ever present smile, David’s ridiculous English phrases accompanied by his giggle, Adri being mean to me, JP’s crunk dancing, Kike’s dramaticness followed by something clever, Marian’s carefree genuineness and fast driving, Samu’s helpfulness inserted with offensive joking, English speaking with Raul, Dani’s greetings, Antonio’s passion, Mr. P’s jokes, Mrs. J’s sensitive innocence and hilarious comments, Junior calling me “dear”, Moises being Moises, Cristina (teacher) scolding me for ketchup eating or chocolate consuming, and so much more.  Those were just the first things that popped into my mind. 
I was going to take some more time and tell you what I am going to miss about REACH and my team, but I just don’t feel up to it right now.  We are still together, so that might have to wait until we are forced our separate ways. 
As I think back on the past 9 months of my life, I am reminded of the perfect love of my Jesus.  I think I shared with you all a long time ago that when I started this chapter of my life, I really wanted to just fall completely and madly in love with Jesus.  I wanted to be romanced by Him and Him alone.  And as I look back, I realize that in one form or another, that is exactly what has happened.  Jesus has been by my side every single step of the way, and He has loved me perfectly.  Sure, there have been hard times.  I’ve grown a lot in the past 9 months, but I still have a lot of things to learn and a lot of gross left to weed out of my heart and life.  But Jesus is patient and faithful through it all.  He has never stopped loving me, even when I have been a selfish brat.  He has actually SPOILED me quite a bit. 
I look back and I just see the picture of Jesus smiling at me as He walked over and asked me to dance.  It was completely up to me whether I accepted His offer or not.  But why would I turn down an offer like this?  The Savior of the world, the Lover of my soul, asked ME to dance.  And so we did.  He’s twirled me.  I messed up some of the steps and He laughed with me as I stumbled around.  I tried taking the lead at times and the dance became a frustrated and jumbled mess.  But He never let go of my hand.  He has held me through it all.  The only time the dance has stopped is when I have made it stop….when I have pushed Him away. 
I’ll continue more on this later.  For now, I am going to try to enjoy the rest of the time I have with my girls and have fun during reentry with all the other teams.  Please continue standing with me in prayer for the city of Granada.  We want light to illuminate from that place.  One day I will be back…..I don’t know for how long, but at least for a visit.  I can’t wait to see the friends we have made again and to pop back in to see how Mr. P and Mrs. J are doing. 
This has been an amazing experience, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Thank you all for staying tuned and caring about what is going on in my life.  I love you guys. 

Ps- Sorry about the abrupt ending.  I am tired of dwelling on the things that are making me sad. :]

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Easter things

Again.  Long time since I have blogged.  I am just going to jump right into it then.  So here we go….

Easter in Spain is very interesting.  It is so different from anything I have ever experienced before, and it just makes me sad.  Here they have traditions that are more historical in background and yet still as empty as our Easter bunny and egg hunts.  While none of these things are necessarily bad or harmful, they are quite void of the real meaning of what we should be celebrating.  Basically what happens here is there are about 5 processions (parade things) each day starting on Palm Sunday.  These processions consist of a group of people who carry these GINORMOUS and HEAVY images of Christ and the Virgen throughout the city, accompanied by a band and a bunch of people walking that are wearing these huge cone things on their heads.  Think KKK costumes, only in different colors.  To be a part of a procession is considered by many to be a giant honor, and a lot of people do it to pay penitence.  It is quite…..interesting.  I was mostly pretty depressed by the whole thing for a number of reasons, but I really can’t be too harsh on how they celebrate.  My background is quite different from theirs and I don’t share their traditions.  It is quite a statement of dedication though when you think about how some of the guys carrying this huge platform with the statue thing do so for 11 hours for one of the parades in particular.  INSANE. 

So while I am glad that we were able to experience a different cultural celebration, I am also relieved that I will probably never be here again during this time of the year.  It just made me really sad that Jesus and the Hope we have in Him was not really what was being celebrated by the city.  A lot of time is spent focusing on His death.  Yes, Jesus died for us.  This Love is RIDICULOUS.  But He rose!  That is the reason we have Life!  He is alive.  He conquered death.  He crushed Satan.  We are more than conquerors through Him because of this.  It’s incredible!  THAT is what I celebrate. 

All in all, Easter week was just weird.  Most of our activities were cancelled due to Semana Santa, but at the same time, we still felt busy although not a whole lot was accomplished.  It was just a rough week.  There were some definite highlights tho.  On Good Friday, we watched The Passion of the Christ with Mrs. J (Mr. P was walking the Camino to Santiago with a friend the whole week).  It was so good to remember better visually all that Jesus did for us.  His love is out of this world.  In the beginning of the movie, Satan is talking to Jesus and he says something along the lines of, “You can’t do this, Jesus.  The sin in this world is too great.  No one man can take it all.  It’s too big.”  And really, it’s sorta true.  He took on Himself ALL the sin in the world that ever was, is and is to come.  And not only that, He took our hurts and sicknesses.  The Father couldn’t even look at Him.  So not only was His physical pain unbearable, but then He had separation from His Father and all sorts of emotional trauma on Him as well.  His sacrifice is beyond my comprehension.  And His Love and self-control were insane as well.  As people mocked Him, He could have struck them down with lightning or had the earth swallow them up.  But He didn’t.  Instead, He died for them.  I just can’t even imagine.  And after all this, He desires to be my friend.  WHAT?! 

Ok.  Enough of that rambling.  I just hope you too reflect on just how much Jesus loves you and what He went through to bring glory to His Father.  Another thing we got to do on the Saturday before Easter Sunday was hang out with our Fe Y Vida friends pretty much all day.  They had a retreat from Thursday night til Sunday afternoon, but we just went to hang out on Saturday.  It was a lot of fun!  During the day we just chilled and played with kids, and in the evening they had their big service.  It was like a 3.5 hour mass ish thing.  Wowzers.  Lots of Bible reading and singing, but then at the end they were just rejoicing like crazy.  Seriously, it was so awesome to see.  The service actually went longer than it was supposed to because everyone kept chanting for more songs.  They were dancing and shouting.  Passion.  They have passion, and it is contagious.  It was impossible to not smile during all of it.  So the service ended at like 1215 and then there were tapas to share afterward.  Pretty much the whole week leading up to Easter was one of late (or early, depending on how you look at it) bedtimes :]

The next morning we got up very early and met Mrs. J to go to the San Cristobal lookout where we met two other couples and had a little sunrise service.  It was so good!  We sang some songs and then just shraed about what God was putting on our hearts and what Easter means to us.  Then we had a brunch (for which we made “cinnamon rolls” only this time they were like swirly bricks of bread…..not our best work :[).  The rest of the day was then like normal Sundays with a picnic in the plaza and then church in the evening.  Just really good. 

This past week was mainly just a normal week for us.  A few things got cancelled due to random people’s schedules, but overall it was a good week.  The more we hang out with friends here, the more I realize how hard it is going to be to leave.  But, I am not going to talk about that yet.  We still have 3 weeks here.  I am going to soak up as much of that time without being sad for as long as possible. 

Sorry it has taken me so long to inform you all of what is going on.  The closer we get to leaving, the harder it seems to be for me to be motivated to sit down and write.  Just a mental thing really. 

As of recently, God has just been speaking to me a lot about how much I am willing to give up for Him.  Matthew 16:25 just took on a new meaning I guess.  As I was reflecting over Easter and all that He did for us, I realized that I spend an awful lot of time thinking about the future and worrying about dumb things.  And I think about how I am going to need to give up different things and how it is going to be hard.  And then it’s like…..”Kirsten.  Stop.  Think about what Jesus did for you.  Are you serious?  And you think that YOU are making a sacrifice?  SHUT UP.”  The crazy thing is, Jesus cares about these things.  He gets it.  Basically, I should count it a privilege to “sacrifice” things for Him.  And really, the more I depend on Him, the less I should depend on theses earthly things…..right?  If I’m going to talk the talk, I better get my walking on too.  I don’t know if you all could follow that rambling, but hopefully it spurs some of you on to think as well :] 

Sorry, friends.  3 weeks.  That is all I have left.  So, if you email me, know that I love it, but also know that you may not get a reply before I get home.  Sounds harsh, but please understand.  I love the encouragement and hearing about home, but time here is sparse.  I will try to do a better job of blogging though so that you all can stay informed still.  Thanks so much for reading this.  Please continue to pray for:
-          Nigel.  We are actually taking him out to lunch tomorrow, so pray for good conversations.  And that the Lord would continue softening his heart. 
-          Team unity.  We want to finish strong and teach love by living it out among ourselves daily. 
-          Cristina.  The she would come to intercambio with us tomorrow and get to know our Fe Y Vida friends and that we could continue growing in our friendship with her. 
-          Encouragement for the long time workers.  Life here without seeing much change can be very frustrating.  So please pray specifically for Mr. P and Mrs. J, that they would know that this is not for nothing and that we could just really encourage them.  And also for their friends that they are constantly loving and pouring into. 
-          The prayer conference next weekend.  We will be providing childcare for 4 days as many couples from our church are attending.  Pray for refreshment and understanding. 

Thanks so much!  Have a great rest of this month!  And see most of you in about one more!   

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

This is Home.....and Love is here.

Well, folks.  God continues to just blow my mind.  And I am going to tell you why. 

So, if you read my blog about 3 posts back, you learned about our friend Nigel.  Well, it had been quite a long time since we had last seen him…..over 3 weeks.  I had pretty much given up hope of seeing him again.  I figured he had gone north like he was planning to and just didn’t tell us.  But also, last week one of his friends here named Juan told Latte that Nigel had thrown up blood (at least that is what she thought he said……he is normally intoxicated and has a very heavy accent as it is), so I just did not have a good feeling about ever seeing him again.  I still prayed for it to happen and asked all of you to also pray with us, but it was more out of desperation than anything. 

Well, yesterday, Nicky and I were walking to intercambio and talking like always when all of the sudden I looked over to one spot where he used to sit a lot (a habit that I just couldn’t give up, even though I never expected to see him) and wouldn’t you know……he was there.  I just stopped and gasped.  Seriously.  My heart was SO happy!  Nicky then whipped her head over, and we immediately crossed over the street and went to talk to our good buddy.  As we were crossing the street, I told Nicky that we are most definitely taking a picture with him.  That is one of the things that I regretted the most when I thought that he was gone, because I would have no way of showing you all back home this man that has taught me so much without even realizing it.   

So we got over to him and quickly figured out just why he had disappeared.  Turns out the guy has tuberculosis.  Yeah!  Kinda a big deal.  He had been in the hospital 3 weeks, and they released him because he is no longer contagious….as long as he keeps taking his medicine…..for the next 6 months.  Yup.  6 months.  This means a couple of things.  Nigel MUST stay in Granada because he has to pick up his medicine daily at the hospital, and if he doesn’t, the police will be notified because he could cause an outbreak of TB.  It also means that Nigel MUST stop drinking for the next 6 months or else the medicine will not work and he will die.  …….let us just all take a moment to realize how AWESOME our God is.  I actually teared up when I put all of this together (and you know how big of a deal that is).  This whole time I was so confused with God for letting Nigel “leave”.  Turns out He was just making it a necessity for Nigel to stay with us the rest of our time here and do it sober. 

Now I know most of you are thinking that a drunk like him cannot just give up drinking like that and be fine; I thought the same thing.  But, he is doing it!  He says he has done it many times for months at a time, and now that his life depends on it he is for sure going to.  He’s quite stubborn and smart.  He drinks water, Cocacola, juiced mixed with water, or this “beer without alcohol stuff”.  But I have witnessed him every day for the past week almost……he is not drinking.  He has not had a drink since March 17th actually.  That is another thing about Nigel…..he has an amazing memory.  He remembers our names (or the nicknames he has given us) and even remembers my friend Rachel’s name from the one time he met her.  He is a very intelligent man. 

Basically, I just can’t get over how awesome God is.  I don’t know why I always forget to just trust that He is doing the absolute best thing.  He is SO much bigger than I can even fathom…..nothing is random.  Nothing.  He has it all planned out.  I love it.  So far I have talked to Nigel quite a lot since he has been back.  He actually played his guitar for me the other day… was awesome.  And he is a lot happier now that he is sober.  He doesn’t believe us when we tell him that, but he really is different.  Just please keep praying for him.  I think God is working on his heart, and he is just fighting back for obvious reasons.  The good thing is, God has made me LOVE loving Nigel.  So glad I have more time to do it. 

On a different note, life here has become home.  Now, Mom, please don’t freak out.  Listen to what I mean.  It’s just normal, you know?  Like, we walk down the street and see people we know and stop to talk to them.  That is COOL.  I love it here!  I love that we have to walk and then by walking we see friends.  It always goes in my book of happys whenever that happens.  And I mean, we got the opportunity to go to a birthday party for our friend Marta who turned 18.  What I want to know is why birthday parties in the states are not like the one we had a blast at.  They had youtube songs going pretty much the entire time, starting out with Disney songs, and mics to sing along with if you wanted.  And there were snacks, fun dancing (which I mainly just watched), lots of pictures being taken and many more laughs.  It was just so good!  And it just really made me realize……this is my home right now.  Now, home will always be Ohio in my life.  Always.  It’s where I’ve grown up.  A large majority of the people I love live there (although that majority is growing less major the more people I meet in other places around the world too).  And I mean, cmon…..I’ll be a buckeye until the day I die.  But, for now, I am very grateful for this home as well. 

Now, let me again just jump topics and tell you about last Tuesday.  Nicky and I had the opportunity to help out with the food distribution through our church again.  It was so good!  I enjoy it a lot.  Doing stuff like that reminds me why I am on this earth.  I love being able to bless people.  There was one family in particular that I really enjoyed helping.  While the mom was getting all the information squared away, I tried talking to her daughter who was quite shy.  Her name is Sabri, and she was just so cute.  I couldn’t get her to say much, but I tried, and she enjoyed it.  I found out that she was 12 years old, and guessed that her favorite color was pink (since her shirt, pants, AND shoes were that color).  And I just talked to her about bracelets and movies and things.  So we loaded up all of their food, which was QUITE the load, and it became very obvious that they were not going to be able to get it all in one trip.  I asked if they lived nearby and the mom (whose name starts with an N but is Moroccan, and I can’t remember how to pronounce it) said yes.  So I asked if I could help them transport it.  She was hesitant at first, but I insisted, and she agreed.  Wowzers.  It was a BEAUTIFUL day out, but also very hot.  So I walked for about 7 minutes or so with them to their house.  They were SO grateful.  She offered me up to their place to rest and have tea, but unfortunately I had to decline and get back to help the other families.  It was such a privilege though!  So I got back to the church and was waiting for the next family to come through, and all of the sudden I felt a tap on my shoulder.  I turned, and there was sweet Sabri, holding out two of her rubber band bracelets to me.  I told her that I would just take one, but she insisted that I take them both.  Seriously… heart just melted.  I gave her a hug and thanked her, and then, she was gone.  Just like that.  It still makes me smile just thinking about it.  I am so stinking blessed. 

Are you all confused yet on where I am going with this blog?  Because I sure am.  There are just things that keep popping into my head that I want to remember.  For instance, yesterday we had a silent retreat day that was just so good for me.  I finished the Old Testament!  And I slept, started the book called Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, and just had a really relaxing day with Jesus.  He showed me that I really do worry an awful lot about the future but also reassured me that I don’t need to….He’s got it!  Silly, Kirsten.  Always assuming the worst.  Anyway, the silence was supposed to go until 10 pm, so I started to make dinner.  I blockaded the kitchen with chairs and our super obnoxious tree plant thing.  Mom, you would be so proud.  I made our delicious meatballs and a small salad, and then whipped up some chocolate chip cookie dough to munch on while we watched Frozen after dinner.  I can only think of a handful of times that I have made any sort of food just because I wanted to bless people, and I have NEVER made a meal.  And while this meal wasn’t intense at all, I was still excited to do it for my girls.  I love them a whole lot.  And it was a great night indeed.  Watching Frozen in English made it 1234098 times funnier.  Olaf is my favorite obviously.  Great, great night.  And today has also been great.  I even gave in to the pleadings of some and allowed us to watch Frozen yet AGAIN while we ate lunch today :]

Basically, God has just been showing me how so often I ruin stuff by worrying and expecting the worst, when really He has it all worked out.  I just need to be patient.  Even my Spanish teacher has scolded me for being so impatient with my Spanish skills.  While they are not nearly as polished as I would like, I HAVE learned stuff and grown in my communicating.  I just need to do a better job of enjoying the journey that I am on instead of regretting things from the past or thinking over the future all the time.  I wanna live presently.  I wanna love always.  And I want to love better.  It needs to be my goal always.  It’s the only Thing that matters. 

A fun fact for you all before I sign off…….nuns can be angry.  Luckily it was not the Hermana Antonia that we have grown to love.  No….this was a different nun that was having QUITE a bad day.  Yes, folks.  I was scolded by a nun.  How many people can say that?  Heehee. 

So my challenge to you all is to go love.  Whether you are irritated with your kids’ whining, your friend obsessing over their boyfriend/girlfriend, a nun having quite the grumpy attitude, your neighbor asking to borrow yet another tool, the girl walking down the streets in shorts that could be substituted for underwear, your waiter that STILL hasn’t filled up your drink, or the cashier who is taking forever because she is flirting with the customer in front of you, remember……you have a choice.  You can show your irritation and most likely make the situation worse OR you can shower that person with the Love that you have been given and remind yourself that you may be the only person that day to do so.  Think about it.  We don’t deserve Love, but we were given It.  Do that for others. 

Love you guys!  Please continue to pray for:
-       Team unity…..we want to finish out strong and not let our own relationships slip by being “too busy” to be intentional
-       Nigel
-       A focus on the NOW and the love that we can give
-       Granada in general as the Easter festivities have begun and are quite……interesting (more on that in the next post)
-       Cristina, our friend that we help with English

Thanks!  Have a fantastic week!  Remember what Love did for us and why we celebrate Easter!  

Monday, April 7, 2014


Wowzers.  It has been a LONG time since I last blogged.  Actually, my last post was just an article that I had written for a newsletter, which means that it has been even longer than that since I have sat down and wrote a post.  You know when you do something you love a lot, and then all of the sudden, you get busy and then the thought of doing that thing you love is just overwhelming?  Well, if you followed that at all, that is where I have been with blogging.  I love to do it, but I just kinda got burnt out on it.  But now I really want to again, so here we go :]

Some exciting new developments have happened in the last few weeks.  So I am just going to jot down the things that come to my mind.  Some important and noteworthy, and others not so much :]
-          Picnic in the plaza- This was started by Kevin and his family along with the help of 2 other couples when they lived here.  Basically, there was a plaza the Kevin walked through every day, and a bunch of homeless people would congregate there.  So they began to bring sandwich material to the plaza and have a picnic with anyone who wanted to eat.  It grew each week and they made many good friends through it.  So we have begun to go to the same plaza with Margaret, a lady who helped with this 4 years ago with the old group.  It has gone really well so far!  We go every Sunday, and I enjoy it a lot.  It is kinda hard because I feel like I can’t communicate very well with them because since they are a little tipsy/have few teeth/use a lot of street slang, I can’t understand them very well or figure out what I want to say in Spanish.  But communication has gone better each week.  Please keep this in your prayers.  We are excited because this is an outreach opportunity that was very heavy on our heart, and God worked it out perfectly.  Just pray that he takes our brokenness and sandwiches and makes something out of them. 
-          Tea talk Tertulias- On Thursday nights we have started helping out with a new intercambio called Tertulias.  It takes place at a Moroccan tea shop and is directed towards young college aged kids mainly.  So we speak English and drink tea or milkshakes or whatever.  MMM.  If ya’ll are ever in Granada, I highly recommend Pakistani tea from any Moroccan tea shop.  It makes life happy.  :]
-          We went on vacation to Malaga a couple of weeks ago. Yes, folks, vacation.  And what a beautiful place we did see.  Because I am very blessed and loved, my parents gifted us a stay at a resort in Malaga, a city 2 hours ish from our area.   To be quite honest, it was blissful and filled with laziness.  Fortunately, this is exactly what we were interested in (mostly).  The first full day we were there was really nice, so we soaked up the sun and enjoyed all the beauty.  Unfortunately, the next two days proved to be rainy and cold, so much idleness ensued for most of us.  Turns out that coloring books with crayons are great entertainment, and Youtube can keep you distracted for hours.  These activities were joined by reading, movies, sleep, food, swimming in the indoor pool/hot tub, and for some of us (COUGH Latte COUGH) hours in the gym.  So although it was rather unproductive, I think we can all say we are refreshed and ready to make the most of the last 6 weeks we have in this wonderful place. 
-          Flamenco is AWESOME.  Wow.  My mind was blown a little bit by the talent that I got to witness on Thursday.  The show was up in the old part of the city called the Albaicin and it started at 11 pm.  We sat at a table and they gave us a drink while we watched skill do its thing all over the stage.  Now, I don’t really get the whole flamenco singing thing…….I know it takes a lot of talent and whatnot, but the yelling style of song is just not my thing.  But, WOW.  The guitar players……EEEEEK.  They are RIDICULOUS.  Flamenco guitar playing is a skill you practice and acquire over a lifetime.  It is incredible.  And the dancers.  MY WORD.  They fly.  We actually couldn’t even see their feet very well from our seat, but even if we did have a good look at them, I doubt we could see them much better.  They move so fast!  It’s like tap, stepping, salsa, and ballet had a baby and they called the dance flamenco.  Really cool.  So glad we got to see it!
-          Weekends are usually pretty open for us to do random things, since all of our week nights are full of activities.  This past Saturday two of my favorite amigos, Jose Pablo (who I am trying to call JP) and Enrique, planned to come play basketball with me.  What started out as the 3 of us balling turned into all of us plus another friend named Isaac.  So the 7 of us went to the “hood” of our neighborhood and played for 2 hours.  It was a BLAST.  It even got Nicky hooked on basketball, which I am very excited about.  And it was cool just to hang out with friends because they wanted to, not because something was planned and we just happened to be there.  The first “game” we played with JP, Enrique, me, and a random little kid named Ismael that wanted to play, against the rest of the girls and Isaac.  So, the dream team vs. the rest :]  EEEK.   I love them.  We have lots of fun together and laugh so much.  Look out, world.  These two are graduating this year and are going to do big things with their lives. 
-          We learned how to make roscos, which are little donutish things that really aren’t that sugary tasting.  The ones we made are lemon flavored and very delicious fresh.  Mrs. J’s friend Maria taught us on Saturday afternoon, so we had a good time having merienda with her. 
-          Finger painting and prayer go well together.  I bought some paints and a poster and we each had a section of it to paint.  As we painted different people’s names we prayed for them.  I don’t know…..I just had a lot of fun with it and it is really fun to look at.  I also love how it shows our different personalities (sorta) by the differences in painting styles and such.  Just very cool. 
-          Insanity is STUPID…..the workout that is.  If you don’t know what Insanity is, just look it up.  I hate it, but I also kinda love it.  So far I have completed 8 days of it.  I have learned with myself that if I set a big goal, like completing the 2 month program of Insanity, I will not do it.  But, if I set small goals that lead to a big goal, I am much more likely to stick with something.  So my goal is to get to day 10 of Insanity right now.  We will see if that happens :]  But, I do have a bit of a funny story.  On Saturday after basketball, we still needed to do our exercise for the day, but because of our previous mishap with our neighbors below us, we didn’t wanna disturb them by all of our jumping and things.  So, we decided to do Insanity on the roof.  Well, it just so happened to be Plyos day (which is my least favorite) and like 80 degrees outside.  It was SO HOT.  Seriously.  Never again.  Also, we had 2 old ladies on a neighboring roof just stare at us for like 3 minutes while we did our warmups.  Lol  That was a bit awkward.  By the time we were done, we were VERY thankful to get a cold shower. 
-          This week I am going to start helping out with a random lady’s daughter’s English.  Yeah…..weird connection.  Martina, the mother, helps out at the nun’s place sometimes with us on Tuesday.  She asked if we would be able to help her daughter who is failing English with her studies so that she can pass the class and ultimately her grade.  Last Friday I met with her daughter, Mariza, and we talked about life for a while to get to know each other.  She is 16 years old and a really sweet girl.  So that is another activity I can help out with while we are here on Friday afternoons before Fe Y Vida.  
-          Elevators here are TINY.  When we first got here we thought it was so funny that they were so little, but now we are used to them.  Last night I was reminded though of just how little they are by watching a video taken at the RIC.  The elevator door opened, and I was like, “Woah, guys!  Look at the elevator!  It’s ginormous!”  True story.  Briana says she is going to hang out in the elevator when we get back, just because there is so much space.  Lol

That is all of the random things I can think of from the past few weeks.  And I kinda at a loss for words on what else to say.  I want to talk more about what is going on inside of me, but at this point, I honestly don’t really even know what I am thinking.  I feel as though after vacation, we had quite a few things to do and stuff got busy, and I just haven’t really processed anything.  I don’t know.  I will try to explain myself and figure it out here soon, and then update you all a little better on that with my next post, which shouldn’t take as long to upload.  So yeah.  I will just post again soon (hopefully) and talk more about what I have been challenged/struggling with.  Until then, thanks so much for reading this and praying for us.  It really does make such a big difference in our lives.  Please pray for team unity.  I love these girls so much, and we just want to finish our time out here strong, which is done best by loving each other.  Also, please continue to pray for Nigel as we have not seen him for over 2 weeks.  I fear that he has gone north without telling us goodbye.  Our God is big and can do anything.  Pray that He continues to work in Nigel’s heart. 

Have a fantastic week and keep looking up!  

Friday, March 21, 2014

Number One Thing?

Life in Spain would probably seem pretty normal to all of you in the United States.  We don’t have very many hardships when it comes to everyday living.  Our city is very safe, and we have a comfortable apartment.  Grocery stores here are similar to those at home, and roadway laws are also comparable.   We help with English classes, provide some language exchange opportunities for our friends, and go to church twice a week.   Seems pretty nice, right? 

Well, it is.  I am not going to deny that fact at all.  I have absolutely loved being here, taking in the culture and making new friendships.  I love this country and especially the community that we have been given the privilege of joining.  I feel so blessed to have the honor of living here with my girls.  In all seriousness, this whole REACH experience has been the best time of my life so far, but that does not mean it has been easy and peachy to walk.  We have had our struggles and hard times, but thankfully, I am surrounded by three amazing girls who push me to love Jesus more and fight for joy. 

During this time, though, we have come to realize that underneath the surface of this wonderful culture there is a heaviness….a darkness….that we didn’t notice at first.  In Catholicism, Jesus is known and loved, but Mary gets the same amount of honor as Jesus does in saving us.  She is considered a “co-redeemer” with Christ.  This takes away the significance of Jesus as our Savior and our true dependence on Him.  And not only this, but works has a lot importance in their religion as well.  They don’t have an assurance in their faith.  For us, Jesus is our Hope.  His coming, life and resurrection are essential in our lives, and through these things, He has given us eternal life with Him if we just accept it.  Without Him, we have nothing.  So many people in this city are so close to the Truth, but they lack this true Hope.  And since it is so close and they are under the umbrella of “Christianity”, they don’t see a need to change anything.  It is so hard to go deep in conversations with people here because generally they don’t really care.  Catholicism may change some things they do, but it rarely has anything to do with the heart.   It can be very discouraging and frustrating at times because we haven’t really seen any fruitful results from being here even though we are with people all the time. 

Amidst these discouragements and differences, though, I have been learning a very important lesson.  Actually, Antonio, one of the leaders of a Catholic community group that we attend called Fe Y Vida (Faith and Life) shared this in his message on Friday night and it really got my attention.  He asked, "What is the number one thing in your life?"  Most of us would probably say God, although I don’t know how honest I would be in claiming that at times.  Then Antonio said, "But, really, God doesn’t want to be the number one thing in your life.  Nope.  That means that the number two thing is right behind Him.  What He really wants is for Him to be your ONLY thing."  Powerful stuff. Sharing His Love and Truth should be what I do each second of my existence in how I act, talk, and even think.   Family, friends, jobs, hobbies……all of these things are a part of life, but Jesus should be oozing out of me as I partake in all of them.  If any of the previously mentioned things were stripped away from me, it would be very difficult, but Christ is enough for me.  He is what matters in my life, and I want that to be evident in everything I do.  So while life here in Spain may not be the most hard core living I ever do, it certainly has taught me a lot about sharing Jesus in everyday life.  Sure, most of the time it feels like nothing is really changing, but it’s ok.  It’s not up to me.  I can’t force anything to happen.  I am powerless to change anyone’s heart.  All I need to do is be faithful in the small stuff and make Jesus my only thing.  It may mean drinking tea and speaking English with people, helping a nun wash spools of thread for 2 two hours, sitting on the sidewalk and eating a meatball sub with a homeless friend, or just laughing together as a team over the amount of salsas one can use to flavor stir-fry.  The action is irrelevant; the Love behind it is what makes all the difference. 

I ask you to please stand with us in prayer over the country of Spain.  Pray that the Holy Spirit would be working in the lives of the locals here and filling them with a desire and love for the true Savior.  Pray for the long-time workers here, that they would be faithful in sowing seeds of Love and not be discouraged by the darkness.  And pray for Light and Joy to overtake this place, and that He might be glorified here.  

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

It all started with some unwanted cookies.....

I want to tell you all about my friend Nigel. 

You see, it all started in December on the day we handed out Christmas cookies to homeless people in the area.  He was the second person we met, and it was neat because he speaks perfect English.  He is from England, is 52 years old and has been living on the street for quite some time now.  The funny thing is that he didn’t even want the cookies we tried to give him.  He may be homeless, but he cares a great deal for his teeth.  He even gave them a couple sturdy chomps to show us what great condition his pearly whites are in.  I gotta hand it to the guy…..he has nice teeth. 

So we talked to him a bit that day and quickly found out that he is a very strong atheist.  He is doing quite fine without any God that we have to talk about he said.  But even though he was very abrupt in telling us that he doesn’t believe, nor does he have any desire to believe, he was quite the jolly guy to talk to.  Granted, it probably didn’t hurt that he was drinking from a big old bottle of beer, but still.  Nice guy who was just enjoying life sitting on the sidewalk listening to his little radio with his friend Juan. 

As we have been living here, we’ve seen Nigel all lot.  He hangs out on the main stretch of street that we walk every time we go down into the center of town, and we always wave to him and call him out by name and ask how he is.  His initial response is always the same.  He smiles at us, puts his fist up by his mouth like a microphone, and then he sings, “I feel good!”  Makes me smile just picturing it. 

Conversations with Nigel are always entertaining and fun.  He makes me laugh all the time because he tells you how it is.  So, I did make it a point to always wave at him and talk about the weather or whatever for a minute or two each day.  But eventually, those minute chats led to longer conversations.  At first, this was very interesting.  He is a very free spirited guy…..and he is always drinking and smoking.  So, you talk to him and you get your ears full of opinionated and flavorful language.  I didn’t have a ton of sympathy for him since he’s just throwing his life down the tubes with booze and weed, and I ESPECIALLY didn’t feel any empathy when I found out that he is actually on the street by choice.  Yeah.  He ENJOYS life on the street.  My initial thoughts were, “Ok, Nigel.  Whatever.  Sure I’ll wave to you as we pass by, and I’ll stop by to talk some days even, but you are a very messed up man, and you are doing it to yourself.  Why would I ever help you out when you are choosing to beg money off of people?”

But, God is so cool.  He takes ignorant, judgmental people like me and starts working on our hearts when we don’t even know it.  I’ve had a handful of talks with Nigel that have lasted for quite a while.  I never plan to meet up with him and talk… just happens.  And in these talks, God has completely changed my heart for the guy.  He is slowly giving me His heart for Mr. Nigel from England. 

Yes, my friend Nigel drinks.  He smokes.  He chooses to live on the street.  He bums off of people. He uses “bad” words when describing things.  He calls Jimi Hendrix his god.  And he wears clothes that should have been washed months ago.  Nigel also thinks that love doesn’t exist.

Nigel didn’t grow up in a home like me.  From what it sounds like through different comments he has made, it sounds like Nigel’s parents didn’t really give a rip about him.  He said to me once, “You know, parents are all excited to hear their kids say their first word.  And then the kid starts talking and then all the parents do is yell at em to shut up.”  He tells me that there is a song that says “war is stupid, people are stupid, and love doesn’t exist” or something.  And he believes that.  He is a very peaceful guy.  I don’t think that Nigel would ever hurt anybody.  He just sits and thinks.  He says he thinks over his life and ponders things in this world.  Love isn’t here tho……not for Nigel.  He really believes that love doesn’t exist. 

As he was saying this, I corrected him.  I let him know that love definitely does exist in this world.  And as I looked him in his bright blue eyes, he said, “No it doesn’t.  What is love?  You know what…..I love beer.  I LOVE beer.  But beer don’t love me.  Is that love then?” 

I don’t know.  Right then and there my heart just started to crack for him.  This guy has never known real Love.  Everything he has ever pursued has let him down.  Nigel will tell you himself he has had the women, the house, the job, the life.  And he will also tell you that it’s all rubbish.  This is his retirement he says.  All those years of his life wasted for what?  Nothing.  In the end, all the stuff that he worked for left him with nothing but disappointment and loneliness. 

Nigel is lost and broken like countless others in this world.  He’s the guy that it seems we should have a right to look down on.  He doesn’t try to better himself or the world around him.  He is living for nothing more than his next booze, which doesn’t even do the trick anymore for him.  He drinks from 6 in the morning all the way into the night, and he can no longer get drunk.  Is that not crazy?!  He deserves to be smelly and lonely and gross, right?  Why would I waste my time in talking with him when he is so against God anyway.  He’s not gonna hear me.  So why bother?

Lemme ask you this.  If he were back on this earth, who would Jesus spend His time with…….Kirsten or Nigel? 

Yeah.  Read the question again, but this time, insert your name in place of mine. 

Jesus loves me.  He loves me endlessly.  But Jesus also loves Nigel.  And He loves him endlessly.  And if Jesus were on this earth right now, he would be on the streets with the drunks, prostitutes, beggars, outcasts, and societal screw-ups.  Don’t believe me?  Open up the Bible and read the Gospels.  It’s all in there.  Sure, I think Jesus would invite me to come with Him.  But He would hit the streets and love on the unlovables, of this I am certain.  And He calls me to do the same. 

There was a span of about 3 weeks that we didn’t see Nigel, and my heart was just restless inside of me.  I asked Jesus over and over why He is putting Nigel on my heart so hard if he was just going to disappear from our lives so soon.  But He is so faithful and Nigel is back until at least April.  Then he is going north to see more of Spain he says.  That is so soon!  How am I supposed to say everything I want to say to Nigel with so little time left??  But God is showing me that His plan is perfect and He knows best. 

It’s not my job to save Nigel.  I can’t do that.  I can’t make him understand.  I can’t make him desire more.  When it comes to Nigel, I am powerless to invoke change.  But God has been so cool in leading us to Nigel, and we want to be faithful in lifting him up in prayer.  So pray we do…….a lot. 

I find myself walking the street and eagerly looking to see if Nigel is around.  It’s kinda funny……he calls me the “boss” because I can be very direct with him.  There are times that I just get so frustrated as we chat because it seems so hopeless.  But I honestly LOVE talking to the guy, and I know that this is solely because I have a God Who is in the business of blowing minds.  And whether or not I get to see Nigel come to know my Best Friend, all of these discussions with him are worth it.  Sharing Love is ALWAYS worth it.  And if nothing else, I have learned a little more what it means to really, truly love someone.

So now that I have shared (rather scatteredly) about my friend, I ask that you stand with me and my team in prayer for Nigel.  We know that he is in our lives for a purpose, and we want to see him come to know our Savior and the Love that is waiting for him.  Pray that we would not try to do anything on our own strength.  Pray for patience.  Pray for wisdom and discernment.  And pray that we would take the Love that has been given to us and share it with him in a way that touches his calloused heart. 

Thanks for reading this.  Remember that your life may be the only one that ever shows another Love and go share Him with the people in your life as well!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Morocco and its Adventures

3 months.  3 months! That is crazy.  February FLEW (literally :]) and now the March madness is already here (both in basketball and normal life form).  So right off the bat, I am going to ask you all for prayers.  Time is going by very fast, and it is very easy to get distracted and out of focus on the things that really matter.  We want to soak up the remainder of our time here and live one day at a time, but this is a lot easier said than done.  Please pray that we continue to go to the Jman each morning before we begin our day and ask Him what He would have us do together.  We want to be intentional, but we can’t do it on our own strength. 

This past week was one that I will never have the opportunity to live again, and therefore is a very special memory for me.   To start off, on Sunday we were invited over to the house of some worker friends of ours.  We will call them C and N, and they and their family are very cool people.  So around 130 we arrived at their house to eat lunch that consisted of CHEESEBURGERS.  Yes, folks, I did say CHEESEBURGERS.  They were delightful.  Then we had a time of worship together and our friend Sarah shared some about her life and what Jesus has been speaking to her.  It was a great time of fellowship, and I really enjoyed getting to know them a lot better.  Also, my heart fell more in love with the chill sound of the ukulele.  If you are reading this and can play the uke, do you want to be my friend?  :]

Monday came and it started off pretty normal.  We cleaned the house, did some laundry, and had class in the morning.  Our normal routine had some flair added to it when we packed for our short trip to Morocco though.  There was a conference thingy there, and we were attending to help with childcare.  That night, we got home from our intercambio with Fe Y Vida around 1130 and then finished up a few things before heading off to the bus station at 115 am.  Luckily our land lady’s husband is a taxi driver and so we arranged for him to pick us up which was very convenient.  And then, by 2 o’clock, we were off to Madrid on our 5 hour bus ride.  I was fortunate enough to be able to doze off for a bit.  Everything after that went very smoothly, and by 1230 we were being greeted by D, one of our brothers living in North Africa. 

It was such a blessing to be able to meet up with them a day early and hang out.  The world is full of guys, but there is a shortage on men like them.  They showed us to the hotel that they found for us all to stay at and then we headed out to grab some lunch.  My first tagine experience was a good one.  I have decided that I would enjoy eating with my hands all the time.  Stupid forks.  Also, food in N Africa is CHEAP.  It was quite comical listening to the guys talk about the expensiveness of the food in that particular city compared to what they normally get at home, but for us, we were getting quite the deal on food. 

That evening we went to the square which completely transforms itself at that time.  Food vendors set up, and there is a sort of “cook off” that goes on.  Promoters from each restaurant yell at you in multiple languages to get you to eat at THEIR stand because it is the best.  This was a pretty entertaining process.  We ended up having delicious $0.65 fruit smoothies (TWICE), fresh squeezed cold orange juice, snails, and pastilla (a tasty Moroccan dish).  Also, in the square there is a lot of street performing that goes on.  We saw some really cool tumblers that did a bunch of flipping tricks and also some not so cool snake charmers that didn’t really do anything.  But it was all great fun.  Thanks to the bartering skills of Luca (another brother) I got a Ronaldo jersey for 7 euros!  YIPPEE.

The next morning we headed off to Essa, which was 3 hours away by bus.  It was a great time to just talk about life and how it has been for us living in our separate countries.  I love story times. Once we arrived, we headed to the beach. The day was perfect, and it had just begun. Camel rides on this beautiful beach came next. So cool! I named my camel Phil, and we had a great time together. One important thing to note tho.....DO NOT PUT YOUR PHONE IN YOUR BACK POCKET WHILE RIDING A CAMEL.  If you do this, it will fall out into the sand and your guide will have to go back a long way to try and find it while the entire camel train waits for his return. He wouldn't even let me get off to try and help locate it. Embarrassing experience, but all was found in the end.

After this,  we met up with C and T, workers in the area that were also going to be going to the conference thingy.  We dropped our baggage off at their house and went to find some lunch. And boy, did we find it. For $5 a person, we had an all you can eat amount of fresh seafood that was eaten beside the beach.  It was RIDICULOUS.

Soon after we made our way to the campsite that we would be staying at....about 40 minutes away. Well, some of us did. The other half of our group waited in town to find the missing Mr. P and Mrs. J that were supposed to arrive. Luckily they were located after awhile.  In the meantime,  I was lucky enough to be enjoying the absolutely GORGEOUS view of the Atlantic ocean.  It was incredible. And the campsite was great! Each group had a separate cabin and they were on the beach.   Talk about being blessed. From the terrace of each cabin you could enjoy the crash of the waves and see the sand sweeping across in the wind. Lovely. 

We had it very nice the rest of the week.  Worship in the mornings led by Luca and Nicky.  Meals were provided and we got to eat with our hands the whole time. We had HOT showers. Story time and singing with Mr. P and Mrs. J at night was always fun. And we basically got to play with kids the whole time.  And not just any kids.....really cool and cute kids :) The greatness of this was only heightened because  we had the beach as our front yard. We built sand castles, boats, mountains and dug some impressively deep holes. The water was freezing but it didn't stop us from splashing around in it and getting soaked. And we just laughed a lot. It was awesome. One of the ladies also provided snacks and crafts, so in the afternoon we entertained them in the guys' house with these things and the "Planet Earth" series. They mostly loved it, except for when baby animals died at the hands of the "bad animals". 

So in a nutshell that was our week. We ended with a campfire on the beach where we made popcorn and smores. It was there that I realized that I may never get to see these kiddos again, and it just made me really sad. But, I am so thankful for the moments I did get to share with them.

Saturday morning came very early. We woke at 415 am and cleaned up the house and set off at 5.  Thankfully we had gentlemen nice enough to escort us, even tho they wouldn't have had to leave that early. Can’t thank them enough for all the sacrifices they made on our behalf.  So we headed into town to catch the bus at 6.  Unfortunately there were only 6 spots on the bus and 8 of us, so Luca and Abe took 2 of the spots on the bus while the rest of us packed into a grand taxi.  It was a little over a 2 hour drive, a lot of which I spent sleeping on and off.  We did enjoy some funny English tunes along the way tho :]  We got to the airport about 4 hours before our flight left, so we had plenty of time to chill.  When it was time to board, I was pretty nervous about my bag not making it through again and having to pay to check it.  Luckily, the lady came around and told me I could check it for free due to there not being enough space up top for all the bags!  That was awesome.

 So we arrived in Madrid at 330 here time.  Great.  Everything was going to smoothly.  That is until we went to pick up our checked for free bags.  We ended up waiting for them for an hour, which then put us behind in making it to the bus station on time.  We got there at like 630, and I headed straight to the ticket counter.  The bus to Granada had left precisely at 630, leaving us and all our luggage behind by minutes.  Sad day.  I asked when the next bus to Granada would be leaving, and she informed me that 130 am was next.  That gave us a whopping 7 hours to kill.  We went out into the city for a little to find something to eat and explore, but quickly we realized that everything was pretty far from the bus station and no one besides me was really feeling up to par, and since it was raining we headed back after grabbing some lunch/dinner.  The rest of the time was spent trying to find internet to no avail and sleeping on the floor.  I feel like in the states its pretty normal to see people napping in airports and stations.  Apparently here it is just not something you do though because we got a LOT of stares.  The floor was freezing so we didn’t actually get very much sleep doing this.  It was at this point that a bad attitude really tried to creep in.  Nicky says that you should just never think while you are travelling because it can be quite destructive, and I concur.  Up until this point, I was really calm which surprised me.  When things started getting frustrating with the baggage, being hungry, my pants ripping and hair band popping, and wet shoes/socks due to the rain, we just started joking and mentioning all the happys we had enjoyed in the past couple of days.  Something that we have all started to do is write down our “happys” from each day.  The book 1000 gifts by Ann Voskamp is what gave us the idea, and it has been such a blessing in my life.  I am so proud of these girls.  They were real troopers and kept me positive the whole time.  I also know that there were people praying for peace for us because none of us were stressed at all.  It was quite refreshing.  So when it was about midnight and the floor was cold and we couldn’t sleep and were fighting bad attitudes, we played a fun game called “If you could have anything right now, what would it be”.  I informed Nicky that I would probably sell her foot right then for a down comforter.  We had a lot of laughs. 

Finally 130 came and we were on our way home.  Needless to say, when we arrived in Granada we were all pretty dead.  We grabbed a taxi and by 705, we were in our house, heading to bed until about 230 pm.  The shutters here pretty much cut out all light which was a huge blessing, especially for a time like this.  That night we went to ch-rch as normal.  We even enjoyed some smores over a candle from the supplies that were gifted to us for babysitting.  It is very good to be home. 

So that is the past week.  Thank you all for reading my extremely long posts filled with rambling and an excess of details.  I enjoy blogging to remind me of everything that we did, so thanks for bearing with me :]  We would appreciate continued prayers for our time here, that we would be intentional and finish out strong, as I mentioned before.  Also, if you could all pr-y specifically for our homeless friend Nigel, that would be awesome.  We are exploring creative ways of speaking of Jesus.  We don’t wanna talk about religion.  We wanna talk about the Jman and all He has done for us.  Thanks for all your support!  Remember to keep your eyes up this week!