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 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 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'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 ( 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?)