Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Bread and coffee.


4 exams down, one to go. And it is now in the next two days of studying that I must obtain all knowledge of the entire history of Spain (might I remind you..is a bit longer and more detailed than that of the United States) and every aspect of Spain's culture. (Fun fact: In the city, to add parking spaces, people park their cars perpendicularly behind the parked cars and leave them in neutral. Then, if someone's car is blocked, they just pushed it over to get out...not sure if i explained this correctly...but i thought it was interesting.) This is when I would assume that living immersed in a culture would assist in writing an essay on it. You would think I paid attention to what I eat everyday. We will see.

I spent my last Tuesday afternoon in Sevilla with good friends from my university and surrounding programs eating a loaf of bread and drinking coffee (improvised Lord's supper), just hanging out and talking about all God has done. Biggest thing overall, and I think we can all agree, is the reminder of community we have found through knowing Christ and how cool it was to talk to each person while realizing there was some crazy way that we all ended up together this semester. I spent alot of time this semester thinking about what it was like to be "alone" as a believer here, but the reality is, I cannot deny God's faithfulness in at least having a weekly time to sit and talk transparently with other believers.

Before I left, my mom had given me a number of letters written by various people as a means of encouragement throughout my adventure (and thanks so much to all of you who had the opportunity to send one)...yesterday I read one that had Colossians 2:6 noted: "So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness." I have learned alot. Really. Paul reminds us, keep living in the way you know. There is a reason we go through intense periods of growth. Even when I had times of not knowing what to do next this semester, I had friends and family who just kept saying, "Walk in what you know." So we learn. And we build on that. And we keep learning.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


It's Christmas time....

After what has already been a long weekend off of school, today was another day off celebrated as the "Day of Immaculate Conception". After being nestled cozily in our small barrio of Condequinto, I finally ventured into el centro only to realize it was there that the rest of the world was gathered. The streets were filled for hours with people buying flamenco figurines to add to their nativity sets which fill a table from wall to wall in many houses, the smells of incense burning, people eating roasted chesnuts sold by street vendors, and the dripping of your occasional ice cream cone since it is still about 60 degrees here during the day.

Yesterday, we started humming a few Christmas songs and ended up singing every one we could think of while getting a bit tickled when Pepe shamelessly sang "We wished you a very Chrissmas and a happy jew jeer." Gotta love those faulty translations! How in the world do I even begin to explain what "Don we now our gay apparel, troll the ancient yule tide carol" means. (P.S. I had to google that one because I really had no clue how to write it myself.)...much less teach them how to sing those words.

Hehe, goodness. Looking forward to celebrating the yule tides soon with my family and friends!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Oh, how He loves us so.

I have to stop for a minute, as I am really amazed at how God has been so faithful this past week. Discouragement has really come and gone here in Spain in a number of ways. I have been to the point of wishing I could just sing out loud through the house and then to the point of sitting with the Lord saying, "I don't want really feel like having You pry through all this stuff in my heart but it's the last thing I know to do at this point." The theme for this week seems to be "Oh how He loves us" as I recently got ahold of that song in Spanish and it has been running through my head constantly.

A few days ago, I had a friend say, "You probably aren't celebrating Thanksgiving this year, right?." But to be honest, not only did I celebrate, but apart from missing my family a ton, it turned out to be one of the best Thanksgivings ever. After celebrating the holiday with my host family (which was so cute as the Christmas decorations covering the house accounted for the lack of Thanksgiving decorations), I flew to Paris to meet up with friends from Snowbird who are currently living in various parts of Europe.

Of course, Paris is such a beautiful city and the thrill of being there seemed to be enough. However, I cannot express how encouraged I was to sit with the Body of Christ around a table in Paris, France (while eating a rotisserie chicken, stuffing, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, sweet tea, and a french baguette) and be reminded of how incredible the Lord has been in our lives this semester. I hope and pray that after many months of being thirsty for Christian community, I will not take for granted the campus ministry and believers I can spend time with at App.
Thanks for your prayers. Classes are wrapping up around here and the realization that this is it is here. But, I will be realistic and say three weeks is still a long time.

I praise Him because He loves me, no matter how wretched I am.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Futbol and fried fish that stares at you.

It's wierd to turn the pages on the calendar and see approaching the day circled that indicates my flight home. 28 days. My dad so kindly reminded me of this count down the other day as I talked through all that's coming up in these next few weeks. I definitely carry around mixed emotions about this, pulling out the "It's time to go home!" thought each time the due date of what seems to be my seventh final project is mentioned. But better yet, to remain positive, I pull out the "Change flight now" emotion each time I meet someone new or the realization of the life I am used to here in Sevilla sets in.

I was shocked this past weekend when my spanish friends allowed me, a girl (which is not extremely normal), to play in their pick-up futbol game. In something as grand as this, there is of course a pressure to do well which accompanies this permission as well as a special bit of grace considering I have never played the sport in my life. Nevertheless, it was fun and that's all I would have asked for.

To continue in a description of my new experiences, I went to my first salsa fiesta hosted by the dance academy where I have been taking classes. I learned one major thing. Level 1 really means level 1. "Lo siento. Estoy aprendiendo." became my key phrase amongst the rigid spins and slight trip ups. I really do love it though!

For the poor college student: To give a short culture lesson...I learned a bit more about tapeando this weekend.

Tapeando: (v) The art of going from tapa bar to tapa bar, sharing tapas ( a smaller portion of delicious food...usually fish, meat, or potatoes) with friends, and having the waiter split the bill evenly in the end.

Lets just say...if you eat and drink alot, this is the activity for you. If not, get ready to help out all your friends by contributing funds for their meal.
Yet, really though, I found alot of fun in eating from place to place, and I didnt even have to decide just one thing. Saammplles.

And to close out this evening, if you would like to know more about Gustavo Adolfo Becquer, a famous Spanish poet, please feel free to ask, even though it might resemble something more like a wikipedia answer. Two presentations and a paper on the subject should come in handy at some other point in my life.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

"I'd like that to go, please."

It has become a joke but everyday I tend to finish my lunch way before anyone else at the table. Of course I am convinced that everyone else eats incredibly slow, but they think otherwise...and then I get the lecture about how bad it is for you to eat too quickly.

If you know me at all, you know I am a goal oriented person. It comes sometimes in the form of skewed priorities or anti-procrastination which causes me to be unsettled until something is out of the way. I love the feeling of completion and live for moments when I have absolutely nothing that remains on my list. (No, this never really happens, but I can try to convince myself otherwise.)

Overall, I have been really challenged with the struggle that I face having a personality like this one. While in Spain, I have been learning to enjoy opportunities and realize everything can't just be "completed." (If this were so, I would have pathetically ordered five good Spanish friends online two months ago and avoided the patience required in building relationships in the midst of strong language and culture barriers.)

1. I am always on a mission. At first, I thought it was crazy that Spaniards could literally go from site to site, bar to bar, with no plan in mind other than hanging out and talking to each other (My usual question: "Where are we going?" Response: "Wherever.")
2. I don't slow down enough. I have yet to see a drive thru here. (As a Sevillano sees it, why would anyone skip their break to eat?...p.s. we did see a "walk-thru" at the McDonalds in Madrid)
3. I love to climb trees. (This has nothing to do with Spain, I just thought I needed a number 3. It's true though.)

So, maybe both of our cultures do have some areas that need work, but its obvious that I have to work on enjoying people and relationships around me when I have the opportunity. Yes, I still get my homework done, but maybe for me it means staying up a few minutes later at night in order to save time to sit and talk after lunch (and this includes eating it much more slowly)...or in general, remembering relationships are more important than marking something off a list.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Vamos a Italia!

First of all, a tribute to Snowbird across the world. Madrid, Spain
It would really requre the 321 pictures we took and a book of stories to even begin to sufficiently describe our trip to Pisa, Roma, and Madrid...a trip not recommended to be taken in just one weekend.

We arrived in Pisa, stayed in a quaint little guesthouse, saw the leaning tower, and even took a surprise bus ride to the coast near Livorno (due to the mistake of the guesthouse owner), but we enjoyed it. Our biggest smiles came from the moment we entered the pizza restaurant and the chef said, "Wait, you don't speak Italian." Then with a thick accent said, "I can'ta speaka English, but I can maka pizza."

(This is a picture right outside the Vatican City at sunset.)

A train ride with an incredible view of the countryside brought us to the beautful city of Roma. It was so strange to walk through a street of pizzerias and turn the corner to see one of the world's most well known monuments, the Colliseum. We just kept touching it realizing we were touching years and years of history. Avoiding the Italian bus system this time, we conquered the art of reading a map as we made our way to the Pantheon, La Fontana de Trevi, and eventually to St. Peter's Basilica...a wonder! Of course, we wished we had spent at least a day in the Vatican City itself.

As tired as we were, we spent our last day in Spain's capital, Madrid. We found a completely different image than Sevilla, the city in which we study. Although much more modern, the gardens and Palacio Real were beautiful as well as provided a nice spot to lounge. We also experienced the hustle and bustle of Plaza Mayor and the variety of activities continously taking place there.
Finally, we took a midnight bus from Madrid to Sevilla (the shortest 6 hours of our life). Worn out and exhausted, we couldn't believe we had experienced all of these things and more in one short weekend. To see Rome had been one of my dreams...
Since then, things have been going well despite the accumulating papers and work we are discovering spanish professors to be capable of demanding. But, above all, the Lord has been good and I have enjoyed these past few days of skype dates and emails with friends and family.
A few prayer requests...
*My faithfulness in spending time with the Lord and allowing Him to renew my perspective daily
*The ability to see His purpose in "little" things He is calling me to
*My host mom Matilde has a few months of chemo ahead. She is a strong woman but pray for her comfort and strength. We have enjoyed joking and laughing alot this week. I am thankful for the blessing of a happy household!
*Registration and specifics for the spring...I don't want to live thinking about a few months from now, but I have things that have to get done. God hasn't failed me yet in placing me exactly where I need to be.
I love you all! Thanks for your prayers! If you have skype, look me up at rlsteele330. I would love to see your face!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Hiking a stroll through the countryside

"Hiking? Here in Sevilla? But I don't see any mountains or deciduous trees? Where have my geography teachers failed me?"

My usual response when I was told I could go on a hiking trip with my university. Of course, we had to drive 2 hours outside the city.

After a long week of midterms and papers, the long awaited "senderismo" trip came this past Saturday. Carrying a backpack loaded with my camera, a bocadillo, and a sufficient supply of agua, I met my friends to join a group of university students and professors on a hiking trip in Grazalema, Espana. After an hour of winding through the narrow mountain roads, I realized I had underestimated the various types of terrain Andalucia offers.

After only a few minutes, I seriously felt like I was in Ireland (of course only comparing it to the movies I had seen.) The hills of green grass. The rocks. The random cattle. It was a pleasure!

What seemed to be a 10 km stroll with slight incline and decline became a hike unlike one I have ever done before. In Grazalema, the air was crisp and the rolling hills were open and clear, yet in the mountains of North Carolina through Wilson's Creek it is a luxury to have the chance to see an incredible view further than a few hundred feet as the towering trees often limit this. I cannot say that I would rather have the former, but it was wonderful to be able to see this amazing view, meet great people, and eat a bocadillo in the grassy patches of Andulucia's countryside.

Boone friends...please save up some hiking energy for me! It will be a necessary adventure when I return. (and of course my hammock is at home waiting for me as well.)

Thursday, October 15, 2009


A week at Bible Study...we have moved to a new location in a grassy area.
We didn't feel like taking over Starbucks would be the best thing to do every Tuesday.
Fiel es Dios, quien los ha llamado a tener comunion con su Hijo Jesucristo, nuestro Senor.
1 Cor. 1:9

(God, who has called you into fellowship with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, is faithful.)

My friends and I have come to the agreement that living outside the city produces a greater level of excitement for every opportunity we have to walk around downtown. Usually this happens once or twice a week.

After getting off the metro at el Prado de San Sebastian, we make our way towards the Torre de Oro, take in the river scene to our left, and eventually return past the grand Catedral illuminated by lights and the radiance of the moon. The reality is, every stroll...every glance...every night spent walking through the city serves as a way to depreciate the incredible fact that we are here, living in Spain. I remember my first metro ride as I sat wide-eyed, amazed by something as simple as a grocery store on the side of the highway. Now, I barely look out the window. Also, I used to take a picture of la Catedral every time I passed it. I now have 7 photos of it, but I have walked passed it many times more than this.

I am here, getting used to being here.

A friend reminded me this week that everything in life, everything of this world...even living in Spain, eventually fails us...our senses, our expectations, our needs. But, I don't serve a God created by human hands. As I learn more about what He is and the character which we know to define Him, that which is fleeting is incomparable to the growing desire found from knowing Him. He has called me into a relationship with his Son because He knows that the moment I taste and see that He is good, I will be starving for more. I see this happening when I watch people like my grandmother, who has been walking with Christ for many years, continues to have moments when she is overwhelmed to the point of tears by Truth and daily falls even more in love with who He is.

Yet, when everything else is fleeting, this concept is difficult to grasp...well maybe not to grasp, but to hold onto continously. This difficulty is manifested in the way I desire the world and put Him aside. But, how awesome it is to remember these Truths! "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart (and this world) may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever." Psalm 73: 25-26

Monday, October 12, 2009

End of the World: Tour guides know what they are talking about.

The first break finally came. Yes, equivalent to our fall break with a lack of color changing leaves and wind. This past weekend, we headed on a bus to Lagos, Portugal, home of American, British, and Austrailian tourism, but well worthit considering.

After a long night of galavanting through the small town, we decided we needed to explore a bit further away from the hostel the following morning. The receptionist had shown us a map of Portugal and pointed out a very exciting stroll to the tip, which would only take about 30 minutes. How exciting to reach the end of the world! (If you know your geography, I hope your mind is processing the lack of facts in this already...If you don't, you have more credibility in understanding our unexpected adventure.)

Entonces, after an amazing free breakfast of bread, yogurt, ham, egg and cheese, juice, cafe con leche...I could go on...we put on our beach clothes, flipflops and all, and headed to la punta (the tip). After a series of questioning our route, we asked a tour guide, "Is this the road to Sagres?" (Sagres is the name of the lighthouse, something obviously found at the point of land)He assured us it was so but we avoided our doubts even though he added the words "but you need to take a bus, it's really far from here."

Ignoring advice from a semi-local, we continued onward. We began to see signs for Sagres. We saw the coast on our right and the coast on our left. The tip must have been ahead. Yet, in the heat of the day, after walking for an hour, we came upon the end of the sidewalk. This did not deter us. It should have though. Of course there was plenty of room to walk safely on the side of the highway, so we continued to do so. Two hours later, we turned a corner to see nothing but land in front of us. With the little inteligence we could scrounge up at that point, due to dehydration and loopiness, we inferred that the tip of Portugal was not ahead.

Yes, we finally turned around. We walked a while until we absolutely had to refuel with water and a snack. To our amusement, the only option was to stop at a classy golf resort. (Remind yourself as to what we were wearing...) With our burnt skin and tired legs, we sat down to eat a quick wrap amongst the many British wearing collared shirts and slacks. I asked the waiter, "How far are we from Sagres?" His reply: "Ha. About 40 kilometers." This is when we read the map. The first map we had received was only a map of Lagos. And to avoid ambiguity, the tip of Lagos is not named Sagres. However, Sagres really is the tip of Portugal. A much further walk than 3 hours. Fail on the receptionist's part. Fail on our part. But a grand and unexpected adventure nontheless.

We did actually find the tip of Lagos...the next morning. It was a 30 minute walk. Word of advice, listen to tour guides as they generally know what they are talking about.

Indicator to turn around numero uno.

The beach was beautiful!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

I remember singing "I've got joy like a fountain.." on our way back from Caswell

Because I love trees. I love Spain. I love trees in Spain.

Outside the mezquita in Cordoba

Inside the mezquita...arch upon arch

Our poor attempt at timing the jump

Joys found in my life today...some hidden...some apparent...some longed for

the salvation I have been given through Jesus Christ. He is faithful when I am faithless. cool breezes through my open window. galletas de manzana con leche. the guy at the copisteria who greets me every morning with a kind smile when I have to print off my literature homework. the heladeria. seeing my family and friends faces through skype. hearing my host mom sing in the kitchen. watching her smile, close her eyes and hum while listening to a new cd. spanish conversations with my intercambio. mini dance parties while our host family is out of the house. walking. having an english teaching job. 40 cent espressos. facebook pictures. sitting amongst ten other believers in the grass near the prado. discussing 1 peter. cold water. having seen la mezquita y la synogoga en Cordoba this past weekend. the shelly moore band on myspace. giggling at the stories our host dad tells us. his attempt to speak with an american accent by deciding he would be from denver. my response as to why he had to choose denver of all places. el rio Guadalquivir at 2 am. podcasts from SWO about freedom in Christ. attempts at learning basic conversational words en frances y aleman. forgetting the words right away. wishing for peanut butter. knowing i could buy peanut butter but am too cheap to do so. being a tourist. learning words of "expression" in grammar class today. trying to be funny in spanish. prayer. abundant life.

my joy overflows....

Sunday, September 27, 2009

And I'm Sorry

Yes. My fault.

I never changed my setting from registered user to anyone on my comments. Now all readers should be able to post comments below. Exciting!

But you are always welcome to email me at steelerl@appstate.edu for a bit longer of note.

And because this was a boring post, please continue to read below about Rota.

Rota probably knew we were coming

The plan: Go to la playa Rota to enjoy the last bit of hot sun before the fall hits.

First of all, Jenny and I gave ourselves plenty of time to make it to the bus station. Of course, after taking the metro about 19 times already, we surprised ourselves at the confusion a broken screen could cause when we realized we had missed the Prado stop. After turning around and getting on the returning metro, we sprinted to the bus and pulled away 30 seconds later.

We went to a beautiful beachtown named Rota which is halfway surrounded by the Atlantic and serves as a Naval base as well. We probably saw more water than we had originially intended as the largest amount of rain I have seen yet decided to introduce itself the moment we stepped off the bus. However, the beauty of creation cannot be diminished by a bit of rain! It was still incredible.

We met up with a few other girls and strolled through the quaint little pueblo, stopped at a bar to drink the ever so strong cafe con leche served throughout Espana, and were grateful for the awnings of the little shops even though they were mostly closed due to "siesta" time ( Two hours of almost silence each day which we continue to forget about when we make plans.)

As we drove back, I listened to the tranquilo jazz of Ben Sollee, which put me in the mood to gaze at el campo outside my window. (Of course, I deviate with thoughts of the ten foot Michellin Man statue we passed in Jerez. I really had nothing to make of this one.) Then I realized, I had thoroughly enjoyed the trip.

The moral of the story: It's more of an adventure when things don't go as planned. Vale la pena.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009


"We have become jaded with the satiety of wonder." - A.W. Tozer's Knowledge of the Holy

I was reading today about our unfortunate ability to grow used to the idea of the incredible things that surround us. Instead, we are complacent with things such as feeling we have the power and ability to control the very power of energy with our fingertips, at the press of a button. No wonder we are bored with life.

My prayer...."God, give me a continuously renewed awe at the work of your hands in and through my life!"

Yesterday, I sat around a table at Starbucks (yes, again.) with a group of 8 American students studying in Sevilla and hungry for fellowship with other believers. We sat around and laughed about our first cultural experiences, and then my friend Jake talked about the significance of breathing- as even the breath which enters and exits our lungs is by the very grace of God. Even so, God has breathed a new sense of life in each of us through being here and we desire to be vessels to spread the abundant life Christ offers into the hearts of all we meet.

A few days before, Jake had been at a frozen yogurt shop and was introduced to a guy who teaches English here in Sevilla. He told us yesterday that he has too little understanding of Spanish to be able to comprehend anything at mass and has just been praying for other English believers lately.

I shouldn't be suprised, but it is incredible how God works! First of all, I realize I do not know anything about what it means to be starving for the Word of God. I have been spoon fed all my life by a never ending amount of resources offered to help me grow as a believer. But I have never really been alone in my walk. Yes, I am thankful for this, but there is a point in all of our lives where I think we have to learn to walk with Christ steadfastly through the Word. Second of all, I am amazed. I stand in wonder as to how God chooses to draw us unto Himself and to each other. I don't want to be jaded any longer. May I only become satisfied by the daily wonder of who He is.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pare la locura!

I learned a new phrase today..."Pare la locura!" My roommate Jenny and I have the intention of writing a great Spanish drama to act out for our host parents before we leave. I will have to add this. It means..."Stop the madness!" How often does one get to use this phrase? Much less in Spanish? Can you believe they laugh at us (but "with us" I assume) all the time?...

It didn't take me by surprise when mis amigos in the neighborhood wanted a complete photoshoot to end their last day at the pool for the summer. I continue to look forward to seeing their faces when I step out to go for a run or head to the store...they always find a way to distract me, ask me sacar el perro (to walk the dog) or do cartwheels in the cactus-like grass...an event I leave with memorial scars. After a while, I thank them for the two hours I was able to spend doing something other than literature homework and blush slightly when they encourage me by saying my Spanish tends to be getting better each day.
One mother is an English teacher at the instituto and has been asking that I come and teach English every once in a while. I assume this will be great ESL practice. However, the art of learning English here must be accompanied by desperation to learn...something I have rarely come across. I can relate it to the lack of will to learn Spanish throughout the states.
Of course, it took, at most, two days before we found the closest and cheapest heladeria. A good sized portion of ice cream for two euros is able to fill our stomachs with the amount of sugar required for remaining sane each week. Our host mom is fairly healthy, so it is probably a good thing we do not have deserts lying around the kitchen. Yet, I do believe our visits to the heladeria will continue and that I will have tried every flavor before I leave. The long incomprehensible spanish names always present us with the option for a "surprise." Of course, I am rarely disappointed.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Full Stomachs

Umm...it's slightly colder here now than I had planned. I have worn a sweater all day. A taste of nostalgia from Boone I guess.

This week, I had the opportunity to sit in a circle of followers of Jesus at the Starbucks near Plaza Nueva (Yes friends, I find shame in admiting that of all places in the city, we went to Starbucks..and there still seems to be one on every corner.) However, what a blessing to sit in a group of five or six students with different backgrounds and stories who all have a desire to know Christ more intimately while they are in Spain!

Also, I would like to make something more clear. I have mentioned my prayers for my host family and the questions they have been asking...

From my understanding of scripture, no man can be reconciled to God without accepting the salvacion offered to us through the blood of Jesus Christ (John 14:6). This is a free gift which is so often rejected and misunderstood by many people. However, here, the idea of "religion" is often confused with "relationship." Yes, the main religion is Catholicism. This is a very social thing and many from the younger generation do not practice it faithfully. Yet, from living in the "Bible belt" of the states, it is clear that we all often become confused with the act of following rules and forget about the grace of God that comes through salvation. For those who follow Catholicism in Spain, it is much like this. I have been told that Catholicism in Spain is much different than the kind we know in the states. In all, Europe is a very dark place. Many hearts have been hardened towards recognizing any sort of need for salvacion. The process of one coming to Jesus Christ is a very slow one and often requires a relationship to be built first.

I realize I have used words such as "Catholicism," "Evangelicos", and "Christianity" without explaining more. Forgive me. If you have questions, please feel free to ask.

In John 10:10, Jesus says, "I have come that you may have life and have it more abundantly." It burdens me that so many are missing out on abundant life. Yet, how often do we all continue to eat the mudpies off of the ground without the realizacion that a feast has been prepared in our honor? I'm hungry. Won't you come dine with us?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Why I should be sleeping instead of typing this right now.

After a great week (which became better and better as I grew used to the idea of some of my classes), the long awaited first weekend of hanging out in Sevilla arrived. I believe I was fairly warned about the late nights, but I had not prepared myself for the many nights in a row which last until 6 a.m. Yes, here this is normal and to our surprise, even the churro stand is open at 7. I had the opportunity of hanging out with spaniards which was a time that included activities such as practicing my spanish while conversing by the Rio Guadalquivir, growing in my knowledge of the likes and dislikes of the atmostphere of each discoteca, and even receiving a taste of the small town feria, which is a famous and very large "fair" that takes place in Sevilla every April.

And to add to the thrill of the weekend, God has been so faithful. First of all, I'm already getting connected with other believers on campus...students who desire to see Christ fill the campus. These have been really encouraging conversations! Also, my roommate and I were walking to the bank Saturday, and we were handed a brochure for a Christian church near our house. I spoke with the missionaries and they invited me to come. I felt very welcome when I entered this morning and see a passion these people have for this city. I can't wait to see what God does next!

Another thing...and I wished I could have called someone right after...I was sitting at breakfast and Pepe, my host dad, asked me what the differences were between Catholicism in Espana and Evangelicas Bautistas. This question is a big deal because in Spain, people really have no clue about a true relationship with Christ. I attempted to explain, by the grace of God, what walking with Christ has meant to me. It was very difficult in spanish. However, we agreed that we could sit down with the Bible later and walk through some things to make it more clear.

Continue to pray for my family. My host mom finds out Wednesday if she has to have surgery...from the halfway understood spanish, I think she found out she has cancer. The results of what the doctors say will really change alot of things, possibly even my stay at this house. However, because I really don't know, we are just praying for a miracle. Nothing surprises Him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Hemmed In

Feelings of success? confidence? certainty?

I struggled this morning while digging in my purse, wondering if I had accidentally left these three things back at the house. I had been warned of this day for a while...the first day of classes, when my conquering of Espana would quickly diminish to be only a figment of my imagination.

Normally, I will tell you I enjoy change. But most of the time I really don't. This morning I felt like a freshman all over again...looking for every class and trying to make sense of the claims of difficulty each professor put on their class, but of course they said it all in spanish this time.

I'm okay now. Really. I am so thankful for my laid back roommate who continued to remind me that though things like good grades and confidence in my studies seem to be such great things, being here right now is much greater and more rewarding. And of course what I needed most was to sit with the Lord and have him remind me through his Word of the fact he has already hemmed me in, before and behind. He knows my thoughts and feelings before I can even attempt to express them. A sweet friend of mine wrote me an email today about how she felt while studying abroad. She said it was one of the greatest times of dependancy when it came to her relationship with Christ.

This will probably be the same for me. He strengthens me, and I cannot begin to even think about trying to do this alone. Maybe it comes in the form of working really hard because he gives me the desire to learn, or for me, taking the focus off of myself and my uncertainties to realize there are almost 250 other extranjeros (foreigners) studying here and probably feeling the same way. He comforts me so I might comfort others. And for this I am so thankful!

My friend..I'm coming.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Will you be my friend?

It is an experience of humility to sit with 10 spanish children and receive giggles at every faulty word of spanish that exits my mouth.

Friday, I decided to go to the pool and rest a bit. After 20 minutes of feeling like an obvious American, I began to watch a group of kids from the neighborhood playing cards. Every memory of the moments of not getting picked for kickball came flooding back. And there I was, a college student, asking a group of 6-14 year old kids if I could play with them. At first, they were not sure how to react. But within minutes, they graciously began to teach me and ask me questions about myself. I returned to my house claiming that I had my first spanish friends! (Of course they reminded me that I seemed to be only 15 years old. Yes, I'm aware of this.) When we returned today, I couldn't believe how exciting is was for them to scream, "HOLA REBECCA!" It doesn't take much.

And it has been little things like these which God has continued to use to unfold purpose for me here. I get along very well with my host parents and they have been incredible towards me as well as very gracious! For you to remember...They are not believers. Anything that is not Catholicism is grouped with Protestantism. This creates a bit of confusion.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to visit with the missionaries who live in Sevilla. They have a wonderful family and I know I will enjoy spending time with them. I was able to attend a spanish church with them this morning. Also, they explained the English club with takes place at my university in order to set up opportunites for conversations later on. (It reminds me of young life style.) There is another "semester student" at UPO who is here with the same mindset. He too has been praying hard for other believers to be there. Ironic? No.

And the culture? Incredible. I have only seen pieces of downtown but the history of every brick has me almost standing in awe constantly. I met a few more Americans and an Australian from my program (one being my very sweet housemate) and we went into the city tonight. Night life really is important because during the day it is hot hot hot! Yet, I'm looking forward to even more of this exploring! It feels as if I am walking through a movie.

School starts tomorrow. I have a language exam so I pray the practice of these past few days will pay off a bit. I am learning that it is normal to get very little sleep as well as have alot of free time. Here, life is something to be taken in and enjoyed.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Bienvenidos a Sevilla!

It strange to realize that it is only lunch time at home, although my body feels every bit of it and my stomach is also reminding me of the meals I probably skipped in all the chaos of getting here. However, I guess that since most of my nerves were riding on whether or not I would actually get here, I can take a deep breath of the heated air of Sevilla. It is very hot and dry around 40 degrees Celsius which I will make a point to figure out in Farenheit soon.

The plane ride went well. Of course I ended up sitting by an American admist the array of Spaniards filling the seats around us. But although I didn´t sleep much, I think I was more awakened while staring at the red streaks across the sky at sunrise. When I arrived in Madrid, customs were almost too easy. After a long haul I found the metro. Of course they charge you for everything so I felt like I was buying tickets left and right..and asking the usual "This is the right bus, correct?" in my shaky Spanish. I made it fine to Atocha (the train station), but the first ticket I bought was mistakenly marked for the 13th of Sept. (Goodness, this would be a long wait.). After becoming good friends with the guy at the ticket counter (I saw him a third time bc he gave me 2 minutes to make the flight he fixed) I boarded the AVE. It was a very cool, comfortable means of travel but I felt like I was missing out on the sights everytime I drifted off. I woke up to hills and hills and hills...and hills of orange orchards outside sevilla. Incredible!

I was picked up by Pepe, the dad, and he explained the family and where he is from. He speaks some english but French is his second language ( a great asset to his many government jobs across Europe). Both He and Matilde have graciously welcomed me in and im excited about the living situation. I dont have wireless yet so skype might have to hold off a few days. Thanks for the prayers! Amidst all the craziness, it really went okay, and I am soo thankful for forcing myself to pack lightly. God is good. In my mind I just keep saying, "Tranquilo." There is undoubtedly a fun road ahead.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Road to Spanish Trend Setting

After what feels like two weeks of packing, coffee dates, and a continuous smiling reply of "Yes, I'm ready"...I truly am. I grew frustrated as all my friends fled back to Boone, thrilled about the weekends ahead of hiking and car tag. In a way, it has been hard to sit at home while knowing a semester at Appalachian is already beginning and moving fast.

With the frustration aside, I cannot express the sweet moments I have had with the Lord over the past few days. After many sleepless nights, I recognized there were anxieties which I needed to think through, pray through, and commit to leave at the throne. Really...why doubt Him now?

To back up a bit...

Months ago, I spent hours filling out an application to study in Argentina from July through November. I knew South America was where I wanted to go. I feel like there they would accept both me and my chacos. I was accepted to the school but still had to go through a phone interview (yes..in Spanish). This was not too easy. Yet, after all of this and a number of closed doors for summer camp jobs due to the schedule, everything fell through during my last day in Boone.

My dad and I committed to pray for two days and figure out my options. I had nothing set up at Appalachian for the fall. Therefore, when I considered taking a semester off to do missions, I found an internship in Seville, Spain. With Argentina out of the question, my Spanish professor mentioned a school I should look into attending in the spring. Minutes later, my study abroad advisor offered this same school as an option for late application. Knowing I had just discovered ministry opportunities there as well, I agreed to apply.

With absolutely no waitress position available in the city, God opened up a door at Rich Fork. And I loved the summer! Spending time with my family, learning about myself and working with children, and growing under the spiritual mentors there...He knew I couldn't have picked something better for this summer.

And today, here I am. I do not know how I would approach this had I originally applied for Spain. I know for a fact that God wants the glory for this. And I am at a place where I only want Him to receive it. Deep breath...

-And of course, I am just going to wear my chacos anyway. (If you aren't sure...these are my favorite shoes that probably won't be considered "fashionable" in Spain. But does Europe really have to set all the trends?)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

To sell or not to sell

Instead of writing a book about my thoughts toward Spain...I took the easy way out. I have 7th grade writing class to thank for this one.

Liberation (n): A feeling or experience coming from the art of packing everything you own (and actually feel a need for over a period of 3 1/2 months) in a 50 lb suitcase. Only, every item becomes increasingly more analyzed and defined a necessity or a want, the latter being discarded to your closet. Then you realize there is almost nothing in the suitcase anymore.

Anticipate (v): To grow in excitement towards an experience unlike anything you have encountered before while expecting to benefit from the knowledge which is gained. Although, in an array of uncertainty, it would be nice to be certain about how to get from the plane to the train.

Within (prep): ...My thoughts, my prayers, my mixed emotions, that which I have attempted to convey but feel with each sentence I have only given an even fainter picture of what is ahead.

Faithfully (adv): The way in which my family and friends have encouraged me and supported me. I value the prayers of the Body of Christ and cannot wait to share about what takes place this semester in Spain!

He (pron): He is. I was reading earlier this week in Matthew 13 about the merchant who found a pearl of great value. He sold everything he had to buy it. Everything. As any good merchant would, I am sure he compared the quality of each pearl he had ever seen. Of course, he quickly realized he had to have this one. With no money in pocket, it took selling all the other stuff in his life to even come close to paying for the pearl...but it was worth it.

I'm ready to go. Of course, I only am beginning to feel a piece of what it would mean to leave a lot behind for the sake of the gospel, but have I not come to learn the value of walking closely with the Lord?

Well, I am in the process of learning...and I need to put a few things up for sale