Excursions in Spain

Greetings from Spain

Mini-Trip to Spain (Partially written while traveling)
I’m (Krista) waiting for some new acquaintances (cross-cultural workers) to arrive at the restaurant and am enjoying a moment to sit and watch the lull of the city go by in front of me through large metal-framed windows.
The only thing atypical about this is that I’m sitting here off of the Plaza Universitat in downtown Barcelona.

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I flew into Madrid about a week ago, and I’ve got just under 24 hours until I return to the U.S. You might be thinking, “I didn’t know you were going to Spain…” Let me explain. The reason for the trip is threefold:

1) Edu and I have been appointed “Intern Coordinators” by our team in Spain and we love getting to serve in this area. I met our Summer intern at the airport in Madrid, traveled with her to her ministry location (Jaén), and helped her get off on the right foot with a few days of orientation. We’ve had a great time together to say the least. We spent a relatively short amount of time together but had some belly-cramping laughs, honest conversations, and got to enjoy the Lord’s goodness together. She recently told me that she will find it hard to say goodbye. I also got to enjoy my teammate’s hospitality and loved getting to stay with them. Thanks Joel and Vivian!

2) Enter Spain for residency purposes. I have permanent residency in the E.U. but I’m not really supposed to be out of Spain for longer than six months max. So, this was a good chance to come in and comply with that requirement.

3) Ministry visits… I was able to take advantage of my proximity to Granada and had a great ministry meeting regarding a discipleship program. It was one of those meetings that gets you so excited your heart beats faster and you leave knowing you’re on the right ministry path. Rest assured, you’ll hear us talk more about this discipleship program in the future.

The day after visiting Granada, I picked up a rental car and drove three hours south to the coastal city of Málaga. I met an amazing family from a local church (Iglesia Cristiana Evangélica Añoreta) to hear about ministry and church planting in the area.

As I was leaving our meeting, I asked for directions to the mall to get something to eat for lunch. They told me how to get there and then asked why I was going. I explained that I had a few hours to kill before I needed to be at the airport (see next story) and they invited me to eat with them. Considering I had only met them a few hours before, I thought this was incredibly generous. We picked up their kiddos from school and instead of going to their house, they invited me to eat fresh fish at a small well-known local seafood place on the beach. It was an unexpected blessing to get to sit next to the ocean and enjoy a meal together.

I flew to Barcelona from Málaga (1.5 hours) that evening and cried when I came through the arrival doors at the airport and saw friends from our church in Vilassar de Mar. It has been six months since we left, and it felt like I was immediately surrounded by family when I saw them. The Catalan came back surprisingly well but I wouldn’t say I’m a pro. People appreciate the effort, so I am glad to try and make one ; ) I attended a small group/prayer meeting on the Wednesday evening I was there and was able to visit with many brothers and sisters from the church.
In nine days I have stayed in four different homes, saw three airports, and travelled by bus, train, plane, and rental car. It has been an intense trip that has served to connect with missionaries, teammates, and other ministry leaders in Spain.

As I traveled about the country, seeing different ministries and connecting with people along the way, it was very reassuring to see that Spain is where we need to be. We hope to return around the beginning of 2016.

Praises & Petitions:

  • Please be praying for our finances here in the U.S. Pray that we would be wise and good stewards of what the Lord has given us. While living in Spain, certain expenses were quite small compared to the U.S. (insurance and car costs for example).
  • Along with this, please praise the Lord for small jobs here and there where we can work in our spare time to make ends meet.
  • Please continue to pray about our decision as to where we will be serving in Spain when we return. We have had many encouraging conversations recently and hope we are close to a decision.
  • Please pray for opportunities to share about why we’re compelled to serve in Spain and invite others to be a part of what the Lord is doing there.
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Summer Interns

I wanted to share a little about summer internships and why we love hosting interns for two months. This year, our interns arrived on June 6 and departed on July 31. Some of the focal points of their time were: orientation week, English Camp, hiking trip on the Camino de Santiago, Sunday School re-design project, and debrief week.

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What is an internship? An internship is a two month experience to get a bigger picture of what God is doing around the globe under the guidance of a missionary team. Interns have the opportunity to get their feet wet in cross-cultural ministry and to have a discipleship relationship characteristic of our ministry, vision, and heart for Gospel-centered, grace-filled living.

What does an intern do? 

  • Apply the gospel cross-culturally
  • Live in community with other interns and missionaries
  • Interact with and engage different cultures
  • Explore your gifts and the way God has gifted you to serve others
  • Builds financial partnerships and creates a network of prayer support before going
  • Improves language skills by taking classes or participating in weekly conversation classes
  • Helps the missionary team in projects, support, and encouragement

What do former interns say about it? 

Two Things I Learned in Spain:

1. How to kiss strangers…or how to start a conversation with them about Jesus (take your pick)

Typically, both Spaniards and Catalan people greet and say goodbye to friends and strangers by giving them two kisses, one on each cheek. Every Sunday, I got (and gave) a lot of kisses before and after the service! It took a while to get used to it. (How are you supposed to time the words “How are you?” in between puckering your lips without spitting on the other person’s face??) But by the time the short-term team came, I had to remind myself a few times not to scare the other Americans by giving them all goodbye kisses.

For me, it was much harder to strike up spiritual conversations with strangers than to kiss them. Ironic for a missionary intern, I know, but the embarrassing truth is that it makes me uncomfortable to bring Jesus into casual conversation. (What if I say something stupid, or offensive?) On the Camino, I was able to take some of my first baby steps in sharing my faith—with complete strangers. During each conversation, my heart beat faster than it did walking uphill wearing my backpack. But each time, I had a supernatural sense that Jesus was there, too, helping me with my wobbly attempts. I realized that if the Gospel is true—that if the God of the ENTIRE UNIVERSE actually did come to earth in REAL HISTORY to save us from death and evil—and if it is part of my identity, then it makes no sense to never mention it in conversation. The question in my mind has started to change from, “Why mention Jesus?” to “Why not mention him?”

2. God’s grace is everywhere (or, SLOW DOWN and enjoy!)

I am not a patient person.

This lesson was a good one to learn in Spain, where mealtimes with friends are leisurely, and where I usually had no idea what I would be doing the next week, day, or afternoon. I was constantly reminded to slow down, to focus on loving people in the present moment and to enjoy the experience I was having rather than worry about what I was going to do next. Sometimes, the reminder to slow down came in the delicious form of a chocolate croissant and a cup of coffee. Other times, the reminder of my impatience and my inability to slow down was more literal. Once, while we were making a peach cobbler for dessert, Hannah watched me pace around the kitchen while the cobbler was in the oven. She asked, “You don’t like to wait for things, do you?”

It must have been pretty obvious. Hannah was right: I hate to wait. I hate to slow down. I need to learn patience.

“Yes, yes, God, I knew that already. Now can we please hurry up and move on to something more interesting?”

The answer, thankfully, is always “No.” Because I had to slow down, I built better relationships with my brothers and sisters in Christ during this summer. Because I had to slow down, I noticed more of God’s small, everyday gifts to me and I’m learning to trust him more with bigger things, like the GRE I’m taking in two weeks and my future after college. I can’t wait to see what he has for me next!

-Audrey, Vilassar de Mar Intern