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. :]