T + C + K = Third culture kid

I ran across this video as I was taking a moment to go through some news and updates.

A third culture kid, or TCK, is defined by authors Pollock and Van Reken as someone who was raised in a culture outside of their parents’ culture for a significant part of their developmental years. Most missionary kids are TCKs and this video piqued my interest for several reasons.

First, I enjoy stories and to see how these kids have grown up all over the globe is indeed their own unique story. Second, their lives and childhoods are so different than mine. Being married to someone from another culture is a constant reminder of this. Our paradigms for a happy childhood, a good education, justice, etc. are all marked by the different cultures we live in and have experienced. Thirdly, I will most likely raise TCKs. Which is a little unnerving to think about. But then I’m reminded of how the Lord has sovereignly woven my story and can trust that He will be faithful to do the same in the future, but in His own creative way.

I hope you enjoy the video and you get a glimpse into what it looks like to be a TCK.

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Together at last!

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Almost two months to the day after we said goodbye, Edu landed in the USA (Feb. 6). The Lord is good indeed! We could have continued had He showed us that was what He had for us…

“For the LORD God is a sun and shield; the LORD bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

However, we are so glad he brought us together again! We’re in full swing with ministry meetings, planning, finding ways to serve locally, and we would love to tell you about it! The majority of our time over the next several months will be invested in three areas…

Training
» Language » Edu is taking advantage of the Adult Ed. English classes made available through our city to help prepare him for the Intensive English Language Institute placement exam on March 10. The IELI program is one of the best in the nation and is available through the University of North Texas. Edu will begin the IELI course on March 23.

» Church resources » There is a wealth of information (books, bible studies, trainings, conferences, etc.) that we are looking to tap into and become better equipped to serve more effectively in Spain.

Serving
» Bible study for Spanish speakers » We recently had coffee with a young couple who have a desire to begin a bible study, through a local church, for Spanish speakers later this month. This has been a desire of theirs for a long time and we are excited about supporting them as they get underway. The cities around us report a Hispanic population between 20-30% which leads us to believe we can definitely put our Spanish to good use.

» Translating and serving with local ministries » In the past, we have volunteered to serve with local ministries that work with community resources and aid. We have offered ourselves as volunteers and translators to several ministries and are looking forward to meeting needs in this way.

Connecting
» Ministry partners » It has been refreshing and encouraging to start meeting with many of you. Some highlights from our recent weeks have been the conversations where we’ve gotten to hear how the Lord is working in your lives, your community of believers, and your church. We’ve found that many of you have a commute of up to two hours to get to/from work! We consider it no small thing that so many of you sacrifice a portion of what you receive to partner with us in sharing Christ with others. We remember you always and would love to know any specific requests that we can be praying for.

» New relationships » It is a joy for us to share about the ways the Lord is working in Spain and the whys/hows we get to be part of that. Many of you have invited us to visit your small group, bible study, and/or Sunday School class, or connect us with someone from the missions committee of your local church–thank you! In order to continue serving in Spain, we must be fully funded. However, our prayer is that the Lord, not us, would lead those that He desires into a relationship to partner with us in sharing the Good News in Spain. We’re looking forward to connecting more with our current partners, and would also love to connect with anyone you think might be interested in knowing more about partnerships and ministry in Spain. Please send us an E-mail, or give us a call.

Praises & Petitions:

  • Praise for the Lord bringing us together again and for all the details that the Lord worked out for Edu to receive his visa.
  • Thanks for the families and individuals that loved us, prayed for us, and encouraged us during our time apart.
  • Please ask the Lord to open doors for new relationships with churches and ministry partners.
  • Please ask that we would continue to grow in the image of Christ, not being conformed to this world, but being transformed by the renewing of our minds, that we may test and discern what is the will of God, what is good, acceptable, and perfect. (Romans 12:2-3)

One month in Texas

Originally written January 14, 2015. 

Greetings from Texas!

Reverse culture shock is quite a doozy and something I’m (Krista) getting used to. I had forgotten about the small details that characterize the Texas culture. Things like driving down a country road and losing count after seeing no less than four Bar-B-Q’s in one front yard, or a gas station with the name “Joe Bob’s” over it. Other things, like incredible water pressure (and large hot water heaters for that matter), sweet tea, and chips and salsa, come more easily to get used to again. candsalsa

New things to go with a New Year…
To help us manage our updates, we will be trying out a free E-mail service. If you would like to continue receiving our monthly news and prayer requests, please click here to sign-up. We are also starting a new Bible reading plan, called The Discipleship Journal Reading Plan, totally free, courtesy of the Navigators. If you haven’t chosen a plan already, or if you’re looking for something different, we wanted to share this with you

So when is Edu going to get here?
The short answer is…we still don’t know. What we do know is that God is working good things in us and we are finding joy in this opportunity to trust Him. We will hopefully hear something from the National Visa Center (NVC) in the next two weeks. We received an (unofficial) E-mail telling us that our case is being passed on to the embassy in Madrid. This is good news but we need to hear the official word from the NVC so that he can be given an appointment time. After his interview and medical review, Edu could be on a plane to the USA shortly after.

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Isaiah 25:1 serves as a great reminder of God’s faithfulness in the midst of difficult times, “I will extoll You, I will give thanks to Your name; For You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness.”

God has called us to be faithful where we’re at, not just wanting to get out of this situation, or wanting to get to the end of it. He means for us to be right where we are and has given us everything we need to glorify Him and have joy.

Praises & Petitions:

  • As we start a new season, pray that He would be the center of all our dreams, passions, and goals. Because if He isn’t, there really isn’t anything we do that will be of eternal impact.
  • Please pray for direction and encouragement from the Lord as we begin getting connected locally, specifically leading us in where to serve and be committed.
  • Please pray for relationships with people that are interested in knowing about Spain and how God is working there.
  • Praise Him for giving us daily encouragement in the forms of His word, people asking us how we are doing, and little provisions like a new car seat for Olivia or a good meal.

Thank you for your sacrifices. We are so grateful for your prayers and gifts that help sustain us. The glory is His, but the blessing is ours to be able to partner with you in ministry.

Ready for take off?

Originally written December 7, 2014. 

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Many of you have been praying for a resolution to our Green Card application for Edu. Wednesday was the last possible day for us to be notified from the embassy to be able to travel to the U.S. as a family tomorrow.

After processing what makes sense vs. our emotions, prayer, and counsel from others, we’ve decided that Olivia and I will travel to Texas tomorrow. Edu will stay in Spain and wait to be notified by the embassy in Madrid. We don’t know how long he will have to wait. It could be a few days, it could be a few weeks. A great group of brothers and sisters in Madrid have offered to take him in and their generosity and love have made this much easierfor us.article-2519774-19F213AB00000578-42_634x443

The last few days (weeks?) have been filled with so many unknowns. We’ve had moments where we believe, and moments where we doubt, tears and laughs, and moments where we can be honest and say it has just been hard. Up until Wednesday, we had Plan A and Plan B prepared, but this plan never even entered our minds. To explain a little more, we realized that if we changed or cancelled all three of our tickets, we would likely suffer substantial penalties per ticket, plus playing with the unknowns of flight availability and increase in fares as we got closer and closer to Christmas.

It makes the most sense for us to take advantage of two of the three tickets, and rebook Edu’s ticket when we know for sure that his visa is ready. This unexpected Plan C is off-set by the Lord providing us with an even more surprising peace. As the clock ticked by on Wednesday and we realized there wouldn’t be any visa, we prayed, asking God to show up. We asked Him to supply us with the necessary faith to meet this challenge with faith and believe. And you know what? He did it. As hard as it is to think of our family being split on two different continents, He has given us a peace that allows us to rest in Him. We had a sweet time of prayer with our local church and a send-off party this afternoon. It is hard to sum up our time in Vilassar in a few words. Edu has served with this church for four years and I’ve served here for three. We’ve received an immeasurable amount of love and hospitality while at the same time being challenged to grow in the grace and knowledge of God.flight connections

Praises & Petitions:

  • Praise God for giving us the faith to trust Him when we feel like we live with a steady stream of unknowns.
  • Praise God for giving us tangible examples of his love to us and taking care of us.
  • Please pray for travel mercies on Monday, Edu will go to Madrid by train and Olivia and I fly to London, then on to Dallas. We should land in Dallas around 3:00PM (local time).
  • Please pray that we would keep this momentary separation in perspective and be reminded of our eternal hope in Christ. Our desire is that this experience would serve for us to tell of the goodness and faithfulness of God to others in spite of momentary circumstances.

Thank you so much for your words of encouragement and for persevering with us in prayer.

6 Year Anniversary & Expat FAQ’s

A few days ago I celebrated my six-year anniversary in Spain and I’ve been reflecting on how I’ve adapted to living here. Third culture adaptation can be explained as the mindset and will to love, learn, and serve, even in the midst of pain and discomfort. There have been many uncomfortable moments but in all things, God is good. He’s also been teaching me things that I don’t think I could have learned without living cross-culturally. For instance, He has taught me more about my identity in Him, and not how well I speak a foreign language, or how well I blend in and don’t “look” American. Yes, even when people have poor customer service skills look at me like I’m crazy by how I pronounced something, I’ve learned to love. He has also helped me learn that it’s not about me : ) It is about Him; His glory, His fame, and His kingdom. Consequently, I don’t have to worry about my weaknesses and shortcomings since that gives me an opportunity to trust Him and grow in my identity in Christ.

To help people connect a little more with what life looks like in Spain, I thought I’d answer a few questions regarding ex-pat living and cross-cultural ministry. c5d3e0998b78123eea53bc11783af592

  1. How do you define “home”? Home is increasingly becoming the place where we have our things. While driving back to Catalunya on a recent trip, I commented to Edu that we were going back to the place where all our things are. But, in another sense, the place where we have our things is also the place where we do life and can just be ourselves. Its where I wake up and feel comfortable. It is where we can play with Olivia on the floor. It is where we crowd people around our table and enjoy laughing and good food. If I could recommend something to other people who are considering cross-cultural ministry, I would encourage them to find out what home is for them. For me, home is smells and food. With some essentials, I can re-create this feeling of home just about anywhere.
  2. Is punctuality important to people in Spain? It depends. I would say it depends on the place and the occasion. If it is a time to be at school to leave on a class field trip in Catalunya, you’d better be on time. If it is meeting up with friends in Andalucía, expect them to be an hour late.
  3. What is the most important meal of the day? Without a doubt the most important meal of the day is comida, or lunch. Usually around 2:00PM. This is the heaviest meal of the day usually with two courses, bread, and dessert.
  4. In your family, do you eat foods that are Spanish? Since we are a Spanish-American family, we do both. Not one or the other. Some days we have tortilla de patatas with pan con tomate, or other days we have pulled pork sandwiches with homemade coleslaw.
  5. What is the most important (or most celebrated) holiday in Spain? Again, it depends. If you’re in Catalunya, I would say September 11, also called the Diada. Also Sant Joan, or Sant Jordi, the celebration of the patron saint of Catalunya. In other places, maybe El Día de los Reyes, January 6, or nochevieja, New Year’s Eve.
  6. What language do you speak at home? At home we speak both English and Spanish.
  7. What is communication like in Spain? Again, this depends. But in general, people can be yelling at one another and it isn’t a fight. I would also say that people are very blunt and frank. Things that you wouldn’t normally say to a person in the English culture are often said here. I’ve learned that it isn’t personal and it is normally not an attack.
  8. What is considered most disrespectful in Spain? I had to think a while on this one. There is actually a word for people who do the most disrespectful things. They’re called “sinverguenzas“. It means a person who has no shame. Lately, the most disrespected people and acts are the corrupt authority figures and the injustice they have done without receiving punishment. You can read about that here, here, and here.
  9. What is considered most respectful in Spain? Because Spain is such a nation bound by tradition, not like other EU countries, I think the answer lies therein. Respecting tradition and the past. Giving proper authority to cultural rituals like baptism and first communion or homage paid to saints are considered highly respectful.
  10. What is one of the most commonly held misconceptions about people in Spain? That everyone eats spicy food and loves bullfighting and flamenco. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Spanish food is not a burrito, or chips and salsa. Spanish food is delicious rice dishes with lots of flavor, cured hams, manchego cheeses, fresh seafood, and seasonal fruits and veggies. Regarding the people, where do I even begin? To give you an idea, Spain is a little smaller than Texas, BUT with vastly different people groups in many areas. I guess that is what you get after so much history (former inhabitants included Iberians, Celts, Greeks, Phoenicians, Romans, Visigoths, and Arabs). The variety in languages spoken here alone testifies to this (Castilian Spanish, Valenciano, Catalan, Mallorquín, Basque, and Gallego).
  11. What is the best thing about living in Spain? I love the history. I love seeing buildings and structures that were made in the first few centuries and still standing today. I love seeing how this history has shaped the people and their worldview to who and where they are today. I also consider it a privilege to be among a relatively small group of people here who have a personal relationship with God through his Son Jesus and get to share that with others.
  12. What is the worst thing about living in Spain? Apart from poor customer service, a 33-35% higher cost of living, and the $ to € exchange rate taking up so much of our support, I hate the goodbyes with my parents in the U.S. It was hard when it was just me, but getting married and having a daughter have upped the ante.

Gran Can

We’ve just arrived from visiting family in Gran Canaria.

islascanWhen we visit, it feels almost as if we’ve turned back time a little bit to a different generation. People still make cheese, milk their animals, bake homemade bread, and trade eggs and other garden vegetables with their neighbors. Tastes, sounds and expressions are just a few of the distinctive things I note upon arriving.

Some things I recently heard while on the trip were just too good not to share.

In the context of a family member transitioning from breastfeeding to formula: “The goat dried up.”

“We have food for tomorrow.”: Brother-in-law #2 placing three freshly killed rabbits on the counter next to the microwave.

“Do you want milk?”: You always have to follow-up this question with a question. Is it goat’s milk? Is it raw cow’s milk? Is it from a bottle and been pasteurized? The last option is the only option for me. I call all the other milks “leche salvaje” or “wild or savage milk”.

“If we can do without it, we don’t buy it.”: This is the generational mentality of my in-laws that I was talking about earlier, like fifty or sixty years ago. My jaw just about dropped when I heard this statement. That means you wash clothes by hand –by choice. Or you only eat it if it comes out of the garden, off the farm, or out of the sea. I do understand that they think this way for a reason. Most elderly people in Spain today grew up hungry during a civil war and endured shortages of food.

Brother-in-law #1: “Baifilllllla!!!” Means little goat, referring to my daughter.

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“ChaCha!!” or “ChaCho!!”: They usually say it really loud and it is short for “muchacha” or “muchacho“. An endearing term used for everyone from toddlers to adults.

Brother-in-law #3: “Hola María!”

Krista: “My name isn’t María.”

Brother-in-law #3: “I know.” 

Krista: [Puzzled look] “Then why…”

Brother-in-law #3: “Because I call all women María.”

Krista: “Makes perfect sense.”

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On the move!

We were able to return to our (old) apartment at the end of April. We waited a week to hear back from another apartment we made an offer on to find out they wouldn’t rent to us because the main source of our income is from the U.S. The owners and the real estate company saw us as too great a risk, assuming we probably wouldn’t be able to pay our rent, and didn’t want to have a hard time later trying to evict us. Low and behold, all things work together for our good and He knew what was better for us. We signed a lease on May 8, and had two days to scramble to pack everything. A group from church came with two cars to help us move on May 10. It was an all day adventure. Can you imagine us putting out Ikea bed together at 11:30p.m.?

Through relationships with the local church, partnerships with other mission organizations we’re encouraged to use those connections for missions in Spain. We are currently pursuing several options for future ministry and would be grateful for your prayers over the next couple of months as we prepare for a transition. Our time here has been of great challenge and blessing. We’re investigating ministry opportunities in Catalunya and elsewhere in Spain. The leadership of our local church here is helping connect us with churches and church planters who are looking to partner with others for the Gospel. We’re looking forward to confirming our future ministry before we return to the U.S, this December.

After submitting the paperwork last December, we are still in the first stage of acquiring residency for Edu in the U.S.. Because of this, our move to the U.S. is closer to December than what we had originally thought. We really haven’t had time to think about that much lately though because we’ve got a big project on the horizon…

Our first English Camp, June 23-27. Our local church has gotten behind this project and we’re hoping for 40 campers for our maiden voyage. Planning for this camp has been nothing short of miraculous. Time and again the leadership team has prayed, “Lord, we need you to show up. We need your help.” At one point, we had no camp director, no funds, no legal coverage, no insurance, and no camp curriculum. It has been an exercise in faith and prayer to ask for one step, see the Lord provide, and then ask for another. Today, almost all of those requests have been answered.

Due to the economic situation of many families in our area, we would like to let you know there is an opportunity to help sponsor a child for the English Camp. If you would be interested in helping send a student to English Camp for 60€/$80, please let us know. I spoke with the mother of two girls recently about signing up. She said that unfortunately, their car broke down this month and it cost €500 to have it repaired. She told me she has a part-time job but it ends at the end of June. After that they’ll only have one income. Her girls love English and all I could say was, “I understand”, when she told me they couldn’t afford it. I would love to be able to call her back and tell her there might be a way for her daughters to come if she’s still interested. We are hoping to help sponsor 10 campers for this year’s English Camp.

Please pray for the campers, their families, the volunteers, the safety of the children throughout the week, and that hearts would be softened to understand the Gospel. We hope to serve our city and be living testimonies to the children and families that will take part.

Thank you for your commitment to see the Gospel proclaimed in Spain. We are continually amazed to see the Lord provide for us through our ministry partners. We consider it a privilege to pray for you and serve together!