a spring rush but still a cold chill…March Update!

Claudia, asking Álvaro, "How old are you?"

Lorena, asking Alejandro, "What's your name?"

Students from conversation classes. From L to R: Minerva, Maria Tiscar, Carmen, & Lorena

From L to R: Pedro, Álvaro, Mario, Pedro José, Francisco, Diego, Elena, & Sara

“I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord which cost me nothing…”

2 Samuel 2:24

To those who are sacrificing and on the front lines at home, greetings from Spain! Thank you for your support!

The road more travelled.

Three months, one Spanish driving manual, three theory tests, and two driving tests later…I HAVE MY LICENSE!!! Praise the Lord! On Wednesday, I had my driving test, and I passed with no errors! As the driving test winds down, you’re given verbal commands from the examiner to park when you see a suitable spot*. Once you park and finish the exam, you’re told to get out of the car and wait for your teacher. The examiner and the teacher discuss your errors and the examiner will either say that you passed or failed. Crossing the finish line of this process brought me to tears in the arms of my driving teacher as she told me, “Enhorabuena” (Congratulations) after my driving test on Wednesday. In January, when I signed up for this (sanctification) process, I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. For one, the language, and two, staying the course when it was difficult. Getting a license in Spain is renowned for being hard. The youth group really needs one more driver (now there’s two), and He knew it, and He provided. It’s been worth all the confusing traffic circles, navigating streets that were here long before there was a constitution in the States, slaps on my arm from my driving teacher, Maria, when I made mistakes, and the tears and discouragement when I failed my tests. Three months isn’t very long to work for something but this was very difficult at times. I recently heard this quote, “The greater the struggle, the more glorious the triumph.” After all, a sacrifice that costs nothing is no sacrifice at all. Thank you for helping make this possible! It couldn’t have been done without you. Thank you for your prayers, and your encouragement.

Maria & Me

Maria and I talked quite a bit as I drove in circles around Úbeda. In one of our first classes, she asked me what my religion is. I thought, “How funny! She beat me to it! I love it!” I told her that I was a Christian and explained what church I go to.

Immediately after failing my first driving exam last Wednesday (a week ago), I was quiet as Maria and I drove around and she explained my errors to me. She took the silence as quiet rage and asked me if I was really angry. I was more reflecting on the whole situation, definitely not mad, and realized that she sees many people fail this exam. She was ready to see the reaction that she was used to, someone upset, yelling at why they have a right to drive, how they had the right of way, etc. I was quiet and listened to her corrections. If I failed this first test, purely for her to see how my relationship with God plays out when it’s difficult, then it was completely worth it. This week, right before I took my driving test, another girl took her’s (for the seventh time). She was super nervous and had even take anti-anxiety medicine to help calm her nerves**. We had to wait a while for the examiner to come to our car, so I suggested to Noelia that we take a short walk and breath some fresh air. As we were walking, I tried encouraging her saying, “It’s just a test Noelia, there are more important tests in life. Peace doesn’t have to be dependent on your circumstances.” I shared some verses with her that my friend Felisa sent me in a text message that morning, Proverbs 3:5-6.

The "L" is given to new drivers. It's mandatory to drive with it posted in the rear window of the car for one year.

Residency

When I started working in November, it was under the pretense that the academy would fulfill it’s responsibility in helping me modify my residency. Under a missionary visa (like mine), you are not given permission to work. Meaning, in order for me to teach, the academy has the responsibility to file the correct paperwork, and pay the necessary fees to the department of immigration. I recently found out, that working without this process completely finished, puts my residency in jeopardy. Thankfully, all of the paperwork, fees, and trips to the immigration office have gone well, and as of last Friday, I have a new modified residency. All too often I take the blessings of God for granted. This for example, with one missing paper, a small fee not paid, a number not typed correctly, these small errors could change my residency but He has provided for all of the details and it’s gone well.

Semana Santa

It’s that time of year again…for the last several weekends, the peaceful Sunday afternoon silence has been filled with horns and drums piercing through the air as Cofradías (Brotherhoods) are making their final push to practice and rehearse before the week of Easter (Semana Santa) begins. Participating in processions is a way for many people in Spain to show their religiosity and have a relationship with God. Many people have made plans to get away, not having to look, hear, or deal with the Catholic rituals. I’m looking forward to it. However, the false promises, the millions of euros spent on carved images, and the importance of appearance, makes me sick to my stomach and brings tears to my eyes, but there is such opportunity to talk about the gift of grace, authentic belief in a God who loves us, and a relationship with Him through His Son, Jesus. Almost all 147 of my students will be walking in processions this year and I’m looking forward to the opportunities for conversation.

Last year was my first experience with Semana Santa, the rituals, the penitence robes that look like KKK members, the different traditions, etc. But more than anything, I remember that this was an especially challenging time. There was a burden of the visual spectacle I was seeing. Much prayer and daily time with the Lord was needed to be ready to give an answer when asked about my thoughts on salvation, and sharing about Christ’s finished work on the cross.

This Palm Sunday, begins the seven days of Semana Santa here in Spain, please be praying for: closeness with the Lord, quality time in prayer and reading, and balance in boldness and discernment in conversations. For the Spaniards, please be praying that they would hear and understand that the very load, the thrones under which they struggle to bear, (Christ on the cross) frees us from doing something to earn our way to Him.

A flight for two?

When I return to the States in August, hopefully, I won’t be coming alone 🙂 John, Jan, and I, are working to organize a mission trip for one of the youth from the church in Úbeda. Luisa! There is still much planning to do and details to sort out but step by step, dates and ministry opportunities are coming together. Please be praying for the Lord to provide support for her to purchase plane tickets and make preparations to serve three weeks in Texas.

Last things…

I made a small video to say thank you to my supporters, here it is! Also, please be praying for this upcoming year, I have a few decisions to make in the next few months and would really appreciate your prayers.

It’s a privilege to be sent by you!

Arista

*This is actually a trick, if you park/stop in a zone that prohibits a certain kind of parking/stopping, it’s an automatic failure.

**I later found out that it’s very normal for people to go to the doctor and ask for medicine a few days before taking their driving exam.

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