Friday, January 31, 2014

The Pursuit and the Journey of this Joy

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!  

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