Friday, January 31, 2014
Hey all. So last post was pretty intense and very deep, and while that is all well and good and I enjoy being open and honest, I think this post is going to be a lot more fun and light. I want to talk about a few of the things that we have gotten to do since the last time I posted and just inform you of life in Spain things. Here we go….
So, the last week has been so encouraging for us as a team! We have actually started really doing things and getting involved here more, and for the first time, it feels like our relationships with people have just really progressed. I am typing this and just thinking back over some fun memories from the past week and just smiling. Lots of good stuff going on. The only down side is that Nicky is not back yet to be enjoying these things with us. We miss you, girl. Can’t wait to get you back. Praying for great times with family and friends though and lots of healing and rest to happen.
Sidenote: I am not going to give you a whole rundown of the week. I am going to just write about stuff in no particular order. And I’ll throw in random memories and facts and its going to be a jumbled mess of goodness for me to remember. Sorry if you are a very particular person who likes things to be just right and very orderly. I prefer random, so random is what you will get :]
English classes through our church have started! YAY for more things to do! Jamie, who had us over for dinner the day before the chaos here happened, is in charge. She and her husband Eddie have been great to us, and we have loved getting to know them better. So on Tuesdays, Tasha and Briana are assistants to the beginner class, and I, while Nicky is gone, help the kids of one of the ladies in the class with their homework during that time. (I really love doing this, although I would MUCH rather just play with the boy rather than force him to sit and study…..he kind of hates it :]) Then on Wednesdays I help out with the bit more advanced English speakers. It’s nice to be able to feel like we are actually providing for a great need here. Everyone wants to learn English because of the crisis here and the inability to find jobs. So it’s been neat to get involved in this.
We also have been given the opportunity to help out with an intercambio in Ogijares, a small town just outside of Granada. That is on Wednesday nights, so I can’t make it in time from my English class. Bri and Latte have been going though, and they seem to really enjoy it. They drink tea and play games with people while speaking English. Just a fun way of interacting with people and getting to know them better. So while those two are there, I head over to our normal intercambio with Totes after my English class. I never minded going to intercambio before, but the past two weeks I have really enjoyed being there. And this week I am looking forward to going again! I have just been able to have some really good conversations with people. It’s nice to be able to practice my Spanish very intentionally and have natives help me with the structure and words, and then in turn I can help them with their English sentences. And lately, the conversations have become easier to keep going and just feel a lot more natural. It’s been a big blessing to make small acquaintances, and hopefully in the future, friends through this opportunity.
Cristina has also been over more to talk and hang out with us! That’s been really fun. She took us to a café last week, and this week we met her boyfriend, Edu. Continued prayers for that relationship would be great. We all feel very strongly that God has put us in this flat with the purpose of pursuing a deeper relationship with her. She is such a sweet girl, and we have a lot of fun with her. Last night we went over to their house for dinner at 930 and didn’t get back home until 1 because we stayed and talked to them so long. It was a very cultural, interesting, funny, and very filling night. (The potatoes here are HUGE. And when they say loaded…..they mean LOADED.) We are excited to be deepening relationships here and making great memories with them.
We had our first guests over this past week as well! Our friends Omar and Patry joined us for merienda on Monday for cinnamon rolls that we made. And the best part is that they didn’t burn or anything! They were the best we have made so far, so that was a huge happy in our lives :] Mom, Patry even said that she thinks you would be proud of me. You should have seen us tho. When they rang the doorbell we were all giddy, so excited to have our first guests over. And I was also kinda nervous. But it went so good! So glad that our relationships here are progressing and that we have met such nice people here.
Also, probably my favorite new installment into our schedule is the “intercambio ish” thing we are doing with some of the Fe y Vida kids. Ok, so they aren’t kids…..they are youth like our age and a little older. But we have started meeting with them on Monday nights at their locale, and it has helped our relationships with them TREMENDOUSLY. We finally feel like we are actually friends with them! It’s so great. The kids are very cool, and we laugh A LOT together. From talking with them more thru this intercambio, we have hung out with them some after on Friday nights, just talking and teaching each other more about our different cultures. It’s nice to feel like we have people our age that actually like hanging out with us now. This past Monday, I came up with a bunch of words to play Sherades with them. It was HILARIOUS, and they had fun too! The tricky part was we made them play in English, so if they didn’t know the English word, they had to run and look it up in the dictionary. Turns out that hedgehog is a much more popular animal here than porcupine, and watching people act out a wedding is a very humorous sight :] Lots of good times.
Another thing that happened last week was that……KEVIN AND BRIAN CAME TO VISIT US! Ok, so they didn’t come for us, but it was SO awesome to have them here. We actually ended up being able to see Kevin a lot more than I had originally thought since he has so many friends here that he really needed to connect with. I am blown away by God’s creativity and the fact that He knows and works out each situation so perfectly. Seriously, a visit from Kevin could not have come at a better time. With Nicky being gone and just so much to process and work through, it was such a blessing to be able to talk with him about that and just life here in general. He knows the small frustrations with the culture here…..he’s lived it for a lot longer than we will. And he showed us around some more of the city…..I feel like I can get around a whole lot better now. And, his help with restaurants was awesome. Also, our team had a little milestone event when Latte admitted to liking shwarmas! Thanks so much, Kevin! We owe you big time! :] And on Sunday we got to spend the whole morning and afternoon with him. We talked and then went on a little hike up behind the Alhambra to this gorgeous overlook of the city. Seriously, God is so awesome. We took a few pictures there and such before heading down to a Moroccan restaurant where I had pastela, a little puff of satisfaction. Who knew that meat and honey and cinnamon could take so good together?! And to top off that day, Bri, Latte and I went up onto our roof and had our own little church service together in the light and warmth of the setting sun. Yup. While all you folks back home had church cancelled and emergency warnings, my cheeks got a hint of red on them from being in the beautiful weather all day :D Ok, I’ll stop.
Also, I have a few shout outs to make to some very sweet people in my life. First, my family is the coolest and they spoil me to pieces. Thanks so much for what you did for us this weekend and for the ranch packets. We will definitely be putting those to use :] Mike, you are SO COOL. And your snickers and letter surprised me greatly. Loved them, and I love you :] And my dear Kristyn, AHHHHHH. Oreos?! You know me too well, chica. Thanks so much. I felt so loved this weekend….more than the normal amount. Basically, I was spoiled rotten this weekend. Thank you all so much. I also received some very refreshing emails from very special people in my life. So “PK n J” thanks so much for thinking of me. And Mags, I don’t know if you will ever read this, but your email blew me away. So proud of you, girl, and can’t wait to tackle you with a hug sometime soon :]
Some fun facts:
- Living in an apartment is interesting. Sometimes, meaning almost every morning, at 8 am, which here is pretty early since you stay up a lot later, your upstairs neighbor finds that it is a good time to be drilling and sawing and pounding in his house. It actually has brought lots of laughs to us as we jokingly grumble against him. Also, another neighbor directly above us has a very lively child who Nicky named Fernando, although recent information has led us to believe that “he” is actually a “she”. So we might have to switch it to Fernanda. Basically she runs all over the place and we hear pitter pattering and then some yelling follows, which spurs on more yelling from the mother and in turn crying from Fernanda. Such a nice little cycle that we hear almost daily. Let’s just say that I am glad that my family never lived in an apartment :]
- As this week has been colder than most, I have found that napping seems to be the cheapest and most enticing way to fight it. It’s a struggle. Fortunately I have only fallen into temptation a few times.
- And for those of you who don’t know, Miss Nicky returns to us on February 13th. I find this very ironic since we will be getting back our love the day before the day of love :] Although it seems like a very long ways away still, we know that God has a plan for it all and that He is going to make something beautiful out of it. He has proven Himself to be SO faithful. The way that He has worked in building our relationship with each other and bonding us together through this is just one way that I have seen Him use this situation for our good. There are many more. As we wait on His timing, we continue to have lots of “If Nicky were here….” moments and laughs from memories. Miss you, chica.
- The playgrounds are quite divertido. They have some swings and normal things, but there are also lots of fun exerciseyish contraptions to use as well. Tasha and I had a lot of laughing as we tried them out on our 1-on-1 yesterday, and from that, we also had our fair share of staring from others. Just getting fit and having fun while doing it! (I’m totally joking)
- When washing windows, be very careful to make sure that all the cleaning supplies are securely stationed INSIDE the window. If not, you may have to quickly descend from the apartment you live in and acquire the bottle of cleaning solution (and all of it’s pieces) from the ground, 4 stories below. Briana can tell you all about that if you are still curious :D
- Another thing that Bri would be happy to warn you of is that the space heaters here can be very hot. Let me rephrase. The space heaters here are EXTREMELY hot and have no problem with making your clothes actually smoke if you aren’t careful with how close you get to them. Thank goodness she didn’t actually catch on fire, because I wouldn’t have even been there to see it. But seriously. I am very glad that no spark actually started, although her skirt has a nice patch of brown spots from the near accident. Whew. Then we would be down to just the two of us. Team Spain is falling apart!
- Joy has increased on our team in the past few weeks. We have all seen it and feel it. There is a lot of laughter and silliness that goes on. And I know that people have been praying specifically for that for us. So we thank you so much and ask for more! People here have actually commented on a noticed change in us. That is AWESOME and that is God at work. Thank you so much!
Ok. So that is a very short and sweet rundown of our week in a nutshell. Next week we are going to begin meeting with a nun. Yup…..a nun. I am SO pumped for it. We talked with her for a little over an hour this week with Mrs. J about what exactly she wants our help with and how often etc. She is such a joyful, vibrant lady. I would NEVER guess she is 70! She actually reminds me a whole lot of my wonderful aunt Mildred :] Miss you lots, auntie. But anyway, we are going to help her out on Tuesday and Thursday mornings for like 3 hours. She wants to start a thrift store basically, but doesn’t have the locale to make that happen yet. So we are doing some behind the scenes work of fixing clothes, sorting them, ironing, making little hair clips and random other things. I am pretty excited to talk to her more. She just encapsulates the word joy! She promised us that if we come help she would tell us jokes, so needless to say, I’m pretty amped for interacting with her. Also, maybe I will learn some good Spanish jokes that I can share with you to add to your English ones, Miss Beth :]
Also, tomorrow we get the opportunity to provide child care for a marriage conference thing for some couples at the church which I am very excited about. I love kids, and I am excited to finally be able to be crazy and silly with a lot of little ones. If you know me, ya know I love me some kiddos. We get to do that two weeks in a row, so that will be a lot of fun.
I love life here, and I feel so blessed. I am just so satisfied in life right now. I might have shared this before, but I have been overwhelmed with His blessings in the past two weeks especially. I am honestly just so happy to be here with these girls and Jesus. He has my heart. That’s how I want it to be forever. I wanna go deeper. We had devotions over Luke 3 today and something John said just really hit me hard today……verses 10 and 11.
“What should we do then?” the crowd asked.
11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
I know that Jesus preached this, but for some reason just hearing it this morning from a little bit of a different perspective hit me harder. We talk to a lot of homeless people and beggars on the street in passing. Does my life share Life with them? How many shirts do I really need? When I stand in front of Jesus, the King of the universe, what is He going to say to me? Have I really done all that I can to love my neighbor like I love myself? Just very convicted with that thought and just want to do more. Here on a limited budget it’s a little harder, but I am pumped to get back home and make some changes in the way that I live. I wanna be intentional in all that I do. Culture can make it hard, but I’ve been called to be in this world, but not of it. I’ve been called to be different, and that’s what I intend to be.
My future plans are exciting. I love how God is just opening doors for me to follow and live my dreams. It makes me sad to hear that some people here have given up on their dreams because of the crisis. They can’t do what they really want to do and have succumbed to the fact that they just need to work to survive. I have been so blessed with the opportunity to be able to do what I love! And I pray that I continue to use this blessing to bless others as well. This life ain’t about me. It’s about Him. Til all the nations have heard. I have been really inspired and encouraged by some awesome family members that I have. God has called them to some very cool things, and while it is going to be hard and sacrificing along the way, I am excited to see them follow His leading wholeheartedly. Something my Uncle B said really struck me. He said he will finally be working from his heart and not just his head. Wow. I thank God for the desires He has placed on my heart and pray that I can have the courage to follow this Love wherever it leads me. And I pray that you too do the same.
Thanks so much for your support and prayers. True to form, this got very long. Thanks for reading. Hope this gave you a little bit of a jumbled insight into some of our life here. Can’t wait to share more about what the Jman is doing here with you all. Until next time, pursue your dreams. Let’s change this world. Keep your eyes up!
Posted by kirsten at 4:44 AM
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Well you guys…..this has been a rough past couple of days. It feels weird just not talking about it right now. But I’ll explain more later. Right now, I am going to tell you all the story of how I encountered an angel.
It all started with Ministry Week during DTS. Basically, at the start of the week, we were told to bring an object that represented what we wanted the week to be about. Or what we wanted to “receive” by the end of the week. I forget how it was worded. But that was the gist of it. So, the object I brought was a ring. It’s one a have never worn….it had a heart on it and was just kinda cheesy. I don’t really know where I got it, but this is besides the point like usual. So I brought the ring because what I wanted really this whole REACH experience to signify was me falling in love with Jesus. Not just loving Jesus, but really allowing Him to romance me. May sound a bit weird to some people, but I can assure you it is the best feeling that there is. And I feel like that I what I have been doing throughout this whole REACH journey. There have been ups and downs with it, but honestly, I don’t think I have ever been more content in the Jman than I feel now. Being a girl, and quite a sappy one at that, it has always been really easy to have wanted a boyfriend. And while that isn’t a sin, I know I have let it affect how much I really seek Him. And now, during the last month or so, I have felt completely and utterly content in Him. I know He has me exactly where He wants me right now. And I am just in awe of Him. The Creator of the universe loves me. That is a ridiculous fact! It makes no sense, but it’s true. And I have this mental picture of Him holding out His hand and asking me to come and dance with Him. He WANTS me. And I feel like as of recently, I have taken His hand and His offer, and He has been twirling me around. Seriously, I have never felt like this before….just completely at peace in Him. He is all I need.
So anywho. I brought a ring. I also just love rings. If you look at my hands, you would be able to tell. I am a very sentimental person, and I love wearing little reminders that make me think of the people that gave them to me, or jewelry that helps me remember a promise or something. You follow? Basically, I just really love having something tangible that reminds me of something I find really important. For instance, I have a ring that says “He died for me. I live for Him.” That kind of thing. Bracelets and rings make great reminders for stuff like that.
Ok. So, I love rings. And I picked one out as my item to symbolize what I want from this experience. There’s more to the puzzle. Just keep trackin with me. It’ll all make sense soon.
So then, during a different week some time later, we were learning about spiritual gifts and the Holy Spirit. We had the same speaker the entire week which was cool, because he got to know us a bit and vice versa. So he’s teaching us about spiritual gifts, and we evaluated ourselves and our teammates on what we think their spiritual gifts are. It was really cool and encouraging to see what other people saw in you as gifts that you didn’t even think you had. Then, he had all of us leaders come up to the front, and he asked us which gift we wanted more of. He asked us to choose a gift that we would want if we could have any of them. And I chose faith. Then the other REACHers gathered around us and prayed those gifts over us. It was so cool!
Let’s review. Ring as a symbol for what I wanted this journey to be about. I love rings. And I want to grow in faith. And the Lover of my soul took all of those things and gave me the coolest symbol of them all. Talk about romantic.
So. One day I was coming down the stairs at the RIC and at the bottom we have our mailboxes. It’s a habit for me to look in mine to see if I got anything. Getting mail while you are gone is HUGE. I looked and saw I had a letter. I was so excited! The envelope was made out to me, but there was no return address which I thought was strange. And the handwriting looked familiar to me, but at the same time I had no idea whose it was. And the postage on the envelope was very unhelpful. I went to open it up, and there was a rip in the bottom of the envelope. There was something sticking out of the hole as well. So I ripped it open and inside was a random ad from a magazine to act as the cushion for the item inside. There was no note…..just this ad that wrapped up…….Yup. A ring.
I was so confused. I searched through the ad for a note of some sort. I looked all around the envelope. Nothing. Not a single hint of who had sent me this thing in the mail. So I put the ring on, and it fit perfectly. I was shocked. You see, I have man hands. They are huge and my fingers are really big. Let’s just say that you would never call my hands dainty. At this point, I am just very perplexed as to what is going on. So, I inspected the ring more and what it says just blew me away. It reads, “FAITH SEES THE INVISIBLE, BELIEVES THE INCREDIBLE, AND RECEIVES THE IMPOSSIBLE.”
Seriously. I was just like….what is going on. Now, at the time, I did not put all these together. I just really loved the ring and I was so curious to find out who it was from. So, I talked to some of my friends at the RIC about it. I was like….do you know who gave me this? Do you know what this is about? That kind of thing. And a few people came and looked at the envelope. It was a mystery to us all. I seriously racked my brain about it for a few days straight. What would make a person send this to me all secretly. And how did they know that I loved rings? And why?
Also, random people would see the ring and be like…..”O hey. I like your ring.” And then I would pounce on them and be like “It was you wasn’t it!” And then they were really confused and I had to explain the whole story to them.
After about a week or two of being really curious, I started to realize how this ring really was a symbol of all the things I explained in the beginning. It connected it all.
Now, it sounds crazy sorta, but I really truly believe that it is from an angel. There is no other explanation that makes sense to me. If you think about it and go through the experiences that I did, I think you would come to the same conclusion as me.
BUT. If for some reason you are reading this and you sent me this ring…….WHO ARE YOU?! Make yourself known! I would like to thank you. God definitely used you to bless my life.
Ok. So there is my story. I am pretty proud of how short I was able to keep that. But we are not done yet. That was the story of the ring and the angel. Now, I need to share about this week, and how I have been so inspired and challenged by the faith of one of my best friends.
As most of you have probably heard, this week was a very rough one for us. Wednesday night, I was getting ready for bed and I had just started doing my homework for my Spanish class the next day and I was going to do my devotions. At this point it was like 1140. So I am literally JUST starting to wind down for the night, and my phone started buzzing on my shelf. So, I picked it up and didn’t really think anything of it. It was Mrs. J, so I said hey. She asked if we were still up. And then she said some words that made my heart drop. She told me that Nicky’s mom had just called and that her dad was not doing good at all. They didn’t know if he was going to make it through the night.
Have you ever had a moment when your world just kinda comes to a halt. Like, everything just freezes and you can’t really think. Well, that happened to me for a couple of seconds. My body kept doing things, but I wasn’t thinking about any of it. I gave the phone to Nicky and then quickly started getting dressed. The world began spinning again, but this time it was going at a much faster pace than it normally does. Nicky, true to form, handled it so well. We headed over Mr. P and Mrs. J’s. Luckily, Mr. P had started looking up flights as soon as he heard and had made a connection. As a consultant was looking up flights, Nicky called her mom and I called my directors. And I kinda just went into detail mode. I know it was G-d that got me through that without forgetting anything, because that is totally not the normal me. We knew we were going to need to go to Madrid, and the bus left at 2 that morning. At this point it was like 1230, so Nicky ran home to pack up some things, and I waited a little longer to finish up getting details settled. Then I flew home to get a backpack of things together for the day of travelling. The day was just a whirlwind. Poor Bri and Latte didn’t really know what was happening. We flew around and got everything ready and left our house again to catch a taxi at Mr. P’s house. When Nicky and I left at 130 for the bus station, my body was going on so much adrenaline that it didn’t feel like the middle of the night at all. We got on the bus, and we basically just didn’t talk about the situation at all. And we found things to laugh about which was good. Eventually we fell into an exhausted nap for like 2 hours each. Then we got to Madrid and waited at the airport for like 3.5 hours.
It got more real there. I was numb. We got the computer out and tried to get on the internet, but it was only available past the gates, where I couldn’t go with her. And we had to wait for the ticket booth to open up at 10. So instead, we just listened to One Direction and sang and laughed at dumb things. I don’t know how she did it. She is just so strong. Even though her world was caving in all around her, she had such faith and peace. She just blew me away. Sure, she cried on and off, but she was still the same Nicky, finding things to joke about. I am blown away by you, amiga. You have taught me so much.
When it was time to say goodbye to her, it was terrible. I watched her go through security the whole way until I couldn’t see her anymore. She is so strong. I knew she would be fine, but I just felt so bad for leaving her like that, and it just all became so real. This was really happening, and Nicky was flying home.
The trip back to Granada for me was……terrible. Seriously. I was in a really bad place and very dazed. And I was just thinking way too much. I played games to try and distract myself. I was just praying and praying that she would make it back in time. I didn’t feel like praying for anything else. That was the only thing I dared pray for I guess. Little did I know that he had already passed away about the time that we got to Madrid. It was probably a good thing that I didn’t know that at this point though….
When I finally got on the bus to come back, I wrote some emails to people. I rambled a whole bunch. And just thinking back through the day was hard. I was just so sad and confused and ticked off. Add to that the fact that I was running on two hours of crappy sleep and you have a very unpleasant Kirsten on your hands. I didn’t wanna talk to God really. I was afraid I knew the answer He was going to give us, and I didn’t like it.
When I got into Granada, I got a text from Judi asking where I was. And then she asked me if Nicky knew that her dad had passed early. And that was the low point. I had no idea. I got off the bus downtown and just walked the rest of the way home. I had to release some energy. I was a mess. And through all this, I still haven’t been able to cry, which just topped off my frustrations. (Crying is something that I haven’t done in over half a year. I don’t know why, and I have been praying for it for about 5 months now. Quite a journey, searching and yearning for tears.) I seriously contemplated buying one of the bottles of wine I was passing and just HURLING it against a wall. I wanted to just pound something and yell.
Sidenote: if you are reading this and very concerned for my sanity, I don’t blame you. I really have not had very many moments like this. I can only think of like 2 other times in life that I was like this, and I think this might have been the worst time. I can’t really explain it. I was just really really messed up inside. I knew this whole time that if this was God’s plan, then it would all work out. I knew that He was a lot smarter than me, but I wasn’t ready to not be mad at Him yet. I just really needed to vent and actually tell Him what I knew He already knew. But I hadn’t really talked to Him all day besides praying that she would make it back in time, which she didn’t. So I knew that He knew what He was doing, I was just being stubborn and didn’t want to admit it. I was blaming myself a lot for not getting her back in time. And I was mad at the doctors for making it seem like all of this was normal when they knew that his daughter was in Spain. I was breaking for Nicky and what she was going through, along with the rest of her family, but I couldn’t express it like I wanted to which just made me even more ticked off. And I was just all jumbled up.
So I got to Mr. P and Mrs. J’s and checked my email. I was not a pleasant person at all to poor Mrs. J. I feel terrible about that and apologized to her. When I left, she knew I was not ok and had Mr. P check on me via phone call when he got home from class. By this point I was home. And I just began to unload on Bri and Latte. It was kinda scary actually. I was very honest with them. My filter was down. I just let it all come out. It ended up being really good for us I think. They had never seen me like this, and I haven’t been like that very many times in my life. Ha. But me being so honest with how I really was I think helped them open up and also gave us a lot to laugh about in the end. (Jeano, it was like I was talking to you or something. You’ve seen me in a moment like this before. I bet this is all too clear of a picture for you :]) Anywho, it was just really good to talk to them. And we reminisced about funny things Nicky did or would be doing right now if she were here. And we also just ate like all the chocolate that we had in this house….literally. We felt disgusting, but it helped in a weird way. Then we prayed and it was awesome. And at about 1 I got some much needed sleep.
Talking to the girls made me so proud though. Bri asked to pray right away. And Latte gave me an insight that it might have been best that she didn’t make it back in time. He was in terrible condition after all, and the last time that she had talked to him, they had had the best conversation that she has had with him in a long time, I guess. So, her last memory this way may have been better than if she had made it back to see him in such a terrible condition. I may not never know exactly why this is the way God wanted it to be, but I am trusting that He has a perfect reason indeed. And Nicky….I mean, I don’t really have the words to express how much she challenged me in all of this. As I was checking my emails, I saw the status that she posted on Facebook. I was so convicted. Her was the girl whose whole world was flying out of control, and she was praising God for giving her the strength and peace to get through this. Her faith is ridiculous. It is out of this world, and I desire to have more like her! I am so blessed by my team.
The next morning was much better. The other girls were babysitting so I had about an hour of awake time to myself. I read some notes that they had written to me since the beginning of the year. And I wrote Nicky a really long email. It was good for my soul.
We miss her a lot already. Seriously, I didn’t think it was possible to be this close with your whole REACH team. But it is so hard having her gone. I don’t even think it has fully hit us yet. Yesterday night at Fe y Vida was the hardest yet for all of us. And I think this week it is going to hit us all at different times that she is really gone. We hope to call her today, and we are already so excited to skype with her a few times while she is gone.
Ok. There is a lot of my rambling for you. God knows what He is doing. We aren’t going to let this stop us from what we came here to do. We are believing that He is going to use this to even do big things here in Spain. Satan doesn’t win.
Thanks for reading this. Prayers would be great. We are still trying to figure out how life here without her is going to work. 3 is a hard number. We can’t wait to get her back. We need our lame joke telling, guitar practicing, ab workout motivating, outside voice using, churro eating, “SICK!” shouting, Noah mothering, short joke receiving, positive thinking, faith building, tasty food making, snorting, impulsive, and fourth puzzle piece and friend back. We are a quarter empty without her. Love you, Nicky. So much. But we pray that you have a great time at home with family and friends. It’s killing us that we can’t be there with you to hug and cry together. We would give anything to be there for you if we could, but just know that we are here thinking of you every moment. And like I told you before…..Keep shining over there. The light you have left here is still illuminating this place.
Blessings to you all. Use this time that you have on earth to impact the kingdom. In the end, that is all we have to live for, and what an honor that is. Jesus, thank you for using our ruins and turning them into beauty.
Posted by kirsten at 9:13 AM
Saturday, January 11, 2014
It has been a while since I last posted. I hate when I do this…..take so long to write a blog post. Then I get overwhelmed and just …..I don’t know. I don’t think it turns out a good.
It’s crazy to think that it has already been over a month, and at the same time, it’s crazy that it hasn’t been longer. Let me explain….Thinking back, it doesn’t feel like a twelfth of the year has already happened here in Spain. How could a month already be done? We have so much more to do! But on the other hand, life here feels so normal. Walking down the street to Mr. P and Mrs. J’s house feels SO normal. And now we have finally adjusted to normal Spaniard life in the way they eat and sleep I would say. We stay up later and get up later. And who eats lunch before 230 anyway? So, now you understand the battle going on in my head over it being January already.
Now, since I have quite a bit of ground to cover in what we have done here recently, I will TRY and be brief in describing it, but let’s be honest…...it’s me we are talking about….the rambler. And some of the things that will be significant for me won’t seem as necessary to include to some of you all, but that’s ok. You don’t have to read this :p
So back to the past two weeks or so…..
A couple of Sundays ago was SO good for me. You see, we attend church in the evening and the message was on Isaiah 61, which is very near to my heart. The whole service was just so Spirit led. And we also talked to more people than we ever have before there, so that was just really encouraging to me, since it has been sort of a slow start to relationships there. Also, my 8-year-old friend Favor, who has gotten a pretty tight grasp on my heart since we met a week ago, sat on my lap throughout the service until she went to her class. Needless to say, her grasp got tighter from that. Then, after church, we took grilled cheese materials over to Mr. P and Mrs. J’s house and had some dinner and then watched Pride and Prejudice and Becoming Jane with Mrs. J until 3 in the morning. And Mrs. J was totally cool with it and suggested it. I informed her that she was already cool, but that she went up like 3008 points on my cool meter for that.
I already told you about New Year’s Eve, so I won’t go into that…
New Year’s Day was a great day filled with LOTS of food. We went over to Mr. P and Mrs. J’s house for lunch. We used this little grill type thing that you set on the table. There are trays to melt cheese below, and space on the top to fry veggies and meat and things. It was SO good! And, since the machine itself is not super huge (made for 2 to 4 people), we ate slowly, just a few things at a time, so it was nice for conversation and for not eating too much :] Then afterwards we went with them to a friend’s house. Her name is Cristina and she is an AMAZING cook. She made us empanadas and 2 cakes….apple and lemon. They were ridiculous in deliciousness. MMMMM. And we just had a time of singing and worship together along with another family. It was so awesome to do that and just thank God for all He’s done and what more He is going to do in this next year.
Thursday the 2nd was a very special day for us as a team. You see, Latte’s birthday is July 2nd, which we won’t be together for. So, the rest of us girls decided to surprise her and celebrate her half birthday! The bummer part of the deal is that she remembered that it was her half birthday, and we had to pretend like we didn’t know it. Lol oh well. So, that afternoon, we headed over the Mr. P and Mrs. J’s house “on the way to lifegroup” and we surprised her by allowing her to help back her favorite kind of cookie….Peanut Butter Blossoms. Those are the ones that normally have Hershey Kisses in them, but they don’t have those here. So we had to upgrade to using Trufas, a delicious truffle that is dangerously cheap for how good they are. Best decision ever. They were SO good! We will definitely need to make more and share them with our friends here as a thing for merienda. But anyway, after surprising her with that, we went back home to play some games, and then at about 8 we headed back downtown to go out to eat. Mrs. J told us about this Italian place with good pizza, and lemme tell ya….she was right. I asked the waiter how big the pizzas were, and he showed us a picture and said that they were a little bit bigger than the picture. Well, I knew that Latte wanted pasta and I thought, ehhhh. We will just take some left overs if we need to. Yeah……we ended up looking like HUGE pigs. The pizzas that Briana and I got were big…..like 8 normal slices of pizza big. We had a good laugh about that. And Nicky got a HUGE calzone, which made us think of Tina and her Herman the worm story telling. So, we did bring home leftovers, and we left very happy. That place is definitely going to be returned to. So Thursday was just a great, and I’m glad we could add a little pizazz to Latte’s day.
Oh, but before I forget. That day was also really comical. Latte was juggling her tomato soup on top of the cracker container and somehow the crackers went all over the floor and the tomato soup on the table and my Bible. But its ok. The Bible was fine (note to self: tomato soup spilling is way better than water spilling when it comes to paper) and Nicky ate the crackers off the floor. Nothing was ruined, and nothing went to waste! :]
We had the opportunity to help with food distribution at our church one day, and that was great! Went really smoothly too which was a huge praise. We also like spring cleaned the house of some of our friends that were returning from the states after 6 months of being gone. I say our friends because we have met them now since we have been back, and I know that we are going to be friends :] But yeah it was really nice to be able to bless them like that. Then after that, Bri and I had enough energy left in us to take Favor to see the movie Frozen. It was in Spanish, and I realized just how good it was for me to watch a movie in Spanish! I didn’t get every sentence, but I can tell you one thing…..I loved the movie. Right up my alley in animated goodness. Bri says it’s not Tangled quality, but its close (and we couldn’t understand everything perfectly, so I would recommend it :])
And last Saturday was a fantastic day! We went to Fe Y Vida’s (our youth group that meets Friday nights and worships Jesus with so much passion and love) sports day. Seriously, it is such a cool group. I can’t wait to get to know them even better now. We played volleyball and this really fun dodgeball game, and then I attempted to play basketball with a bunch of the guys. We played olds vs. young and us youngsters got our butts kicked BAD. It was so much fun though. And then we played more basketball and volleyball and a game kinda like tether ball, but with a tennis ball on the string and paddles to hit it with. Latte and I tried playing that, and it was pretty much a complete fail. I realized that anytime I screw up I make really dumb noises, so pretty much the whole time I was squealing and grunting, and Latte was all normal and just laughing. We looked ridiculous, but it was fun. And we got to know people better. I love how they joke around with us, but then they also just really love each other. It’s a big group that meets, and not just youth but also young married couples with kids. And they are so friendly and just have a good time together. I feel like we are going to have a lot of fun with them over the next 4 months, and this really excites me.
Sunday we attended the 3 King’s Day parade. It’s a pretty big deal here for kids. We waited for the parade to come through at our spot for quite a long time before it did, but that was fun because we were with people from our church. Glad we got to go with them. When the parade did start coming through our area, I realized how intense this thing was. You know in the states, when you go to a parade the kids toss candy out at you and you run and pick it up from the ground and things? NO. Not the case in Spain. The kids on the floats enjoy CHUCKING the candy at you in the crowd. And the candy they throw out is small, hard candy. And then, after the candy bounces off your head and you yelp “ouch”, it hits the ground, and before you get a chance to pick up the piece that is in front of you, someone BEHIND you reaches through your legs and grabs that painful piece of artificially colored sugar. O man. It was a great time though. I just wanted to give you the dramatic version of the story :] And after that, we went and got Nutella ice cream. And they put hot caramel sauce on it for free. WHAT?! Catch up, America.
3 King’s Day was Monday. So good! We went to Mr. P and Mrs. J’s house with our friends Sarah, Becca and Gaby. They are super cool, and it was awesome to get to know them better. We ate and then went on a nice stroll around the city before delving into the Roscón, the 3 King’s Day cake. These things are sold everywhere, and EVERYONE eats them on 3 King’s Day. Inside there is a little king figurine and also a little bean. So the host cuts up the big donut shaped cake, and then if you get the piece with the king inside, you get to be the king for the day :] There is a little paper crown and everything. And then, if you get the bean, you have to buy the roscón the next year. And who do you think got those two things this year? Poor Nicky got the bean (HAHA), and obviously I was the king for the day :] Really, I got it. I said, figures. I would win at a food game :] Good stuff though.
I went to a café with Judi the next day. And I just really love that lady. Honestly probably the highlight of my week. She’s so great to talk to and then in turn listen to and learn from.
Spanish classes have started again! I am seriously so pumped for them! Normally we will have them twice a week, but this month we are doing three times a week. So on Mondays, I have class from 9-1040 with Adela, my previous teacher and Lisa and another lady named Samantha. This is more of a conversational class. Then on Wednesdays and Thursdays (for this month) from 1-2 I have a 1-on-1 class with Cristina to work on whatever I want to basically. I had my first class with her on Wednesday, and I am really excited for them. We are going over grammar things to start with, and right now I am trying to get my head around which past tense verb I should use in different situations. All I can say is BRING IT ON, SPANISH. I’m ready for ya…… Anywho. The other girls have class Monday, Tuesday (for this month) and Wednesday from 1-2.
We learned how to make Tortilla Espanola this week as well! Our good friends Omar and Patry invited us over for lunch to show us how to make it. And lemme just say….they were delicious! Mom, you would have been so proud of me the past couple of days. But don’t get too excited…..still not a fan of it. Lol I am trying though.
Churros…..so you know how we have limited ourselves to only getting churros once every other week here? Well, we got some on Thursday because it had been exactly two weeks since the last time we had them. SO GOOD. But then, last night when we were out for tapas with Mr. P, Mrs. J, Becca, and Gaby, we got more churros! EEEEK. I only had one though, so I am deciding that it was ok. Yeah.
Also, fun fact: there is a Chinese restaurant here that has really big tapas! YUM.
On a more serious note, I found this talk by Francis Chan on Youtube the other day. Many thanks to my aunt for helping me find it without even knowing it. Seriously, if I could meet anyone in the world, I would choose him. He is just so legit. Anywho. So I was intrigued by the title of this one video, and I watched the 51 minutes of it by myself. I was so inspired by it, that I had to tell people about it. And we watched it together as a team with Mrs. J. I just love it! The title of the video is called BIBLE STUDY: If Jesus were the pastor of your church, you probably wouldn’t go there. Here is the link. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PWSmcR4Dxdg I highly encourage you to watch it. It gets me SO pumped up about living life for Him, and it also pointed out a lot of things that I NEVER put together before. Crazy. Please watch it.
So I know I said I was going to talk about the book Speaking of Jesus in my next post. And I also wanted to recount the story of my Angel happenings with you all in this post. But it is already so long, and I feel that it would be best if my heart was into it more. This is what I get for trying to plan something. Story of my life…..Kirsten says she is going to do something and then it doesn’t end up happening. Sorry. But, I will indeed talk about these things. I want to read Speaking Of Jesus again before I write about it, so in the next month or two that will happen. And as I talk about my Faith and Angel encounter, I think that will be a post all to its own, having nothing to do with Spain really. And I want to do that soon. No promises of when though. So, its coming, just not this post yet again. Sorry!
I hope you enjoyed this account of the last little bit of our lives though. Kinda detail-oriented and not as much thought as I normally like. That’s what happens when I get overwhelmed. Next time I am going to write more throughout the week so I don’t have this really long post to whip up in one sitting. That will help. But thank you all for your support. Please keep us in your prayers. We love Jesus and just really want to share Him with our friends around here. When He returns and separates the sheep from the goats, I want to be a sheep! We just went over Matthew 25 in our devotions together and it brought back Kevin’s session where he read a paraphrase off of the last part of that passage by Richard Sterns. It goes like this: “For I was hungry, while you had all you need. I was thirsty, but you drank bottled water. I was a stranger, and you wanted me deported. I needed clothes, but you wanted more clothes. I was sick, and you pointed out the behaviors that led to my sickness. I was in prison, and you said I was getting what I deserved.” …..think about that. Really think about that. Is that Love? Not at all. But is that what your life speaks to those around you? Hard question? I don’t want Jesus to ever look at me and say that. I want to give it all for Him. This life isn’t about me. Read over that again. Pray about it. Watch that video I was talking about. And then answer honestly……am I really giving all I can to His kingdom causes? That’s what we want to be about as a team. So please keep us in your prayers. Pray that He strips us of ourselves more and more each day. And that we keep building each other up in love, but also challenging each other to go deeper.
Love you guys. Thanks for reading! Challenge yourself this week. And be blessed!
Oh, one more thing. Kind of a PS. It has been over a month since my parents sent me us a Christmas box. And it has almost been a month since it has been in Spain. Honestly, probably the most frustrating thing that has happened here so far is this package ordeal. I appreciate the kindness and thought so much, and I am very excited for the box to get here, but I beg you. If you really love us, please just send us your prayers. And if you want to do more, then hit me up with an email or letter or something. I beg you, please don’t send any more packages. It is quite a headache here. And, it is costing me almost as much to get it out of customs in Madrid as it did to send the box here. So, really. We appreciate the thought, and I am seriously so excited to get the box and eat the stale goodies inside of it, but it’s a huge ordeal to receive a package from the States here. Ok. I’m done ranting. Have a great week, everyone!
Posted by kirsten at 6:54 AM
Thursday, January 2, 2014
Wow. What a year. It’s hard to believe that it is already 2014. It sounds super cliché, but it really did fly by for me, especially the last half of the year. The beginning seemed to take longer, but it was also a more frustrating time of life. I am just sitting here, starting this post on the 1st of January 2014 and reflecting over what God has done in the last year of my life. With the things He has taught me and the blessings He has bestowed on me, I can say that last year was a very, VERY good year for me.
As I think back over the months of January-April of last year, the word “frustrating” and “discouraging” come to mind. Now, I realize that that sounds pretty dramatic, and it is. But I am just going to be honest with you all. They were hard months for me. I feel a bit like a pansy admitting it though because nothing seriously bad happened to me. It was just a rough time of life. I was not happy in school, and my grades were terrible. First off, this isn’t normal for me. School was always something I really enjoyed and it came naturally for me. I was going with the end goal of a physical therapy degree in mind (which is 7 years of school) and I barely made it through my first year! Sometimes I really think that God, in all His wisdom, took away my brain power and made me dumb so that my eyes would be ripped from my plans and onto His heart. And then other times, I realize that I was just probably spoiled in high school and when it comes down to it, I really didn’t learn as much as I thought I had. Haha. Either way, school was really hard, and with some other things that happened during that time, I realized just how much my self-worth was placed in what other people think of me and in my abilities. I thought I had grown in seeing my identity as in Christ alone, but I realized that I had never actually applied what I learned in REACH the first time. So, that was a very growing and hard time of my life. On top of this stuff, a bunch of my close friends were gone or, if they were close by in distance, they felt far away in their stage of life and mine. And so it is at this time that I will give a shout out to my sisters, Kaley, Kloe, Skylar, Malarie, and Jeano for their friendship to me. I can always count on them, and I really do view them as my sisters. Love you guys so much. Thanks for always being there for me and for spoiling the crap out of me. You love me SO well. (and you better believe I’m rocking my Beats all over this city :D)
It was also during these months that God started showing me that He had more for me to do than what I was pursuing on my own. I am truly amazed by His direction in my life. I started trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my summer (because I knew I had to leave the country again….I was getting claustrophobic in the US…). The opportunity to go to Costa Rica looked like it was closing, so then I decided that since going to Africa has been a dream of mine since I was like 11, I was going to find a way to do that. And through His divine leading, I found a way to get there almost as soon as I started looking for one. It was seriously all Him; He was so clear in His leading. I think that this is the most that I have experienced the hand of God directing my life. All the details that fell into place (that I will stop going in to…..don’t worry….) were just incredible and led me back to REACH actually. When I was sure that I was going to spend 3 weeks in Uganda, the opportunity for me to become a team leader came. And since my time in school was so crummy, the decision was made easier for me to make. And once I had agreed to be a leader, I had a great sense of peace.
So. January-April= frustrating. Then, I look back to May and June and I think….I don’t really know what to think, actually. Relief is one thing I guess. Yeah. I think relief is the best way I can describe it. School ended April 26th (a very memorable day in my life :]), so May just felt very free. Our family vacation happened, and that was just very good and relaxing. It was also the first time I actually started to distress from the year. If I could go back and change some things, I would have been more adventurous on that cruise. Sorry Sky and Mal. I’ll try and make up for it in our next adventure. But yes. Vacation was good. Then came getting ready for my sister’s graduation party. It was at this point in life that I wished I could be a boy for my dad’s sake. He worked SO hard in getting the yard and house fixed up. I just remember mulching with him for a lot of hours, and just thinking, “If only I were a guy, Daddio wouldn’t have to do so much of this physical labor stuff.” But it all worked out. And I realized just how much I prefer working outdoors to working in the kitchen. Sorry, Mom. It’s just the way I am wired though.
After Kaley’s graduation came a month of working and preparing to go to Uganda. That is basically all I did…..work and get things together to take there. And then, at the end of June, Kaley and I took a road trip to Virginia where we met up with Leroy and Kristyn, my very great friend from REACH and her uncle, and we ventured to Uganda on my sister’s 18th birthday. I feel a little bad though, because I think that going to Uganda with her was much more of a gift to me than it was to her. So thankful for that experience with her though. Ready for more adventures together, Kaley? Because they are coming. WOOHOO.
July is a blur of phenomenality. Uganda was everything and more. It’s a place that has stolen my heart. I’ve blogged about that though, so you guys know it. I’m praying that God leads me back there very seriously. I feel like He has placed that desire in me for a reason, but I also don’t wanna get too caught up in the whole thing and lose sight of actually following His voice. Trying to be patient with it, but I am VERY amped to see what God has in store for me, especially with that place.
Anywho. I got back from there and then pretty much jumped straight in to working a lot of hours at the fair. I love working fair, and it makes me sad that my stupidity has probably got me permanently removed from it. Lol As some of you know, I hydroplaned in a work car and totaled it. Yup. Totaled a car that was not even my own. Horrifying feeling. But also a time that I felt God’s protection so strongly. No one was hurt, not even me. I didn’t hit another car, just a guardrail and almost a wall. But seriously. He was looking out for me. And it makes me realize that He obviously has more for me to do here, so he spared me. I’m so thankful. Also, my awesome mother went in and worked my shift that night serving because she knew that emotionally I would be a wreck. That is something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Sounds weird, but its true. If I am ever a mother (which I honestly am not convinced about) I hope that I can be half as sacrificial as my mother has been for me. And my dad for that matter. He was the first person I called after my boss, and he just told me it would be alright. No one was hurt, so things are just temporary and it would all be ok. And that he loved me, even though at the time I felt like the biggest idiot in the world. Basically, my parents rock. Love you guys.
August came very quickly, and with it, lots of things to be done. Just trying to see everyone before REACH started again and packing up things……it was a whole lot of preparing. But it was so worth it. On August 18th I started Team Leader training, and my life hasn’t been the same since. As I wrote before, I wouldn’t trade this experience, the lessons learned and friendships made, for anything. Really. I may have friends that are in their Junior year of school now, and that’s awesome for them. I’m happy. But I know that this is where I am supposed to be right now. Sometimes the world makes me think that I am behind and losing when I think about the future. But recently, I have realized that I have gotten to experience things that many only dream of. So I am “behind” in college right now. That’s ok! I may not even go back…..we’ll see. But one thing is for sure. The people I have gotten to meet and then know and then become friends with and then learn from have blessed my life immensely. Ya’ll know who you are! And the way God has grown me in confidence and self-worth is awesome. I still have lots more to learn and apply, but He’s working, and that is encouraging.
Now I am in Spain and experiencing life here. We rang in the New Year downtown in a plaza with about 2309923847329847 other people. It was so much fun! They handed out party bags with red noses, hats, streamers, masks and necklace thingys, and also a can of 12 skinned, and deseeded grapes. For some reason, it is a tradition in Spain to eat 1 grape each second during the last 12 seconds of the year. I want to try it next year with actual grapes, not the prepackaged kind. Actually, we are probably going to try it sometime this week just for fun. But anyway, it was a lot of fun. Lots of pop songs and dancing and loudness all around. And so many people! For the short ones (*cough* Nicky *cough*) it wasn’t as enjoyable because people kept hitting them in the head as they danced, but I love crowds. Just really glad we got to experience it together. And afterward, we came back home and made some oatmeal and watched a movie together. I just really love my team a whole lot. And as I look back on this time over these past 4 months with them, I smile. Cheesy? Most definitely. True? Very.
Some highlights of the past year. I’m sure I’ll forget some important things, but that is ok. Just wanna jot down a few so I can refer back to them at different times.
- Passion 2013
- Friend Bible study
- Family cruise
- Concerts: Twentyonepilots, Tenth Avenue North, ANDY MINEO, Walk the Moon, Hillsong, Austin Mahone
- PLL nights
- “Spicy Gringos” ;]
- Cirque du Soleil
- The Hope Center
- The Resistance :]
- The Resistance :]
- Birthday Balooza surprise
I know I ended the last post saying some things I was going to talk about in the next, but those will come the next post. Sorry. That was confusing, but I hadn’t planned on writing this post. It just came to me, and I wanted to remember all this stuff. I will leave you all with one more thought though.
As I look back over the last year, I realize that I am not nor have I become the best at anything in this life. I’m not the best student, daughter, worker, team leader, friend……nothing. Well, with the exception being that I AM the best at being the worst at yellow lights. Lol Nicky reassured me that I do have that title as I was discussing this topic with her. (I have a tendency to do the opposite of what I should when it comes to yellow lights. Lots of screeching tires or gunning engines when you drive with me……OOPS.) Anywho. I am not the best at anything, and I never will be. There will always be someone better and more talented. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying. It doesn’t mean I sit back and just go through life half-hearted. My dad is someone who has always taught me that if I am going to do something, I better do it well. Another way I heard it from one of my favorite coaches is “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. And it’s so true! Just a really great reminder that when the going gets tough, be tougher. Push through, even if it doesn’t come naturally for you. Seek growth and improvement in your life. Be encouraged by the fact that no matter how pathetic your most valiant effort may be, the Creator of the universe is happy with your best attempt. He sees the depths of your heart and loves you the same. INCREDIBLE.
May this year be one of newness, challenges, and growth. And may you experience Love like you never have before. Be blessed.
Posted by kirsten at 3:24 AM