Winter Update

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices, For yonder breaks a new and
glorious morn. Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices! O night divine, the night when Christ was born!”

Saludos from Denton, Texas! Today marks a little over two weeks that I have been waking up in the US of A. ¡Que alegría! As you might know, I had been planning to return for Christmas and spend the holidays with my family. As it turns out, I also have the privilege of being a bridesmaid in the wedding of one of my best friends. The Lord has blessed me with three weeks to be with my family, spend time with supporters, and serve one of my best friends in her wedding. I return to Barcelona Saturday, January 8th, the day after the wedding.

My first semester flew by at IBSTE! I live in a community of people that sharpen and challenge me. The Lord has truly blessed my relationships among the students and staff. By no means, is it always easy but it is my joy to love Him, learn of Him, and point others to Him, His cross, His grace, His mercy, and His forgiveness. These are the things that I need daily!

So many things went on this semester, and being without a camera definitely made it difficult to document everything. Thanks to the gracious people that have shared their cameras with me! Here are a few things that might be interesting to see, enjoy!

Sometimes I think of the challenges that I face living outside my first culture and language. Misunderstandings with the language, simple things being complicated, driving with so many roundabouts, etc. Last Wednesday, I flew for over ten hours and covered several thousand miles in one day to come home to the people I love. The cross cultural divide that I slip in an out of between Spain and the USA, the cultural differences of crossing imaginary borders, these things do not begin to describe the love that the Lord has demonstrated to us in His attempt to bring us home. Bringing us into an abiding relationship with Him. This semester, I have learned more of what it means to humble myself and depend on Him when I am simply not capable, trusting Him for discernment and wisdom. I have seen the hearts of people change before my eyes and it encourages me to know and believe, “It’s not about me.” We get to be instruments that He uses. In almost every way, my daily life looks completely different than it did at this time last year. Praise Him that He has clearly led, provided, and confirmed my presence in Spain and in this specific ministry. One word comes to me over and over again, hope. For me, hope is reading His word, being encouraged by the people, the stories, and the impossible things that became possible through faith. Hope is confidence about the future. I hope that this season you dwell richly on the promise that He is, God with us.

Arista

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{A little late} October Update

“Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on Earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever…But as for me, the nearness of God is my good. I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” Psalm 73:25-26 & 28

¡Saludos! To begin with, sorry for the delayed update! I think about you, your family, your needs, and am praying for you always! I am able to serve here because of my senders, and it means the world to me that you’re on my team.

Since my very first day here, I knew that I needed to remember the story of the Gospel on a daily basis. The sacrifice that Christ made for me, the life that I now live, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the hope of eternity with Him, these are the things that I want to communicate in my words, thoughts, and actions. I feel like I fail more than I succeed in this, but that’s the amazing thing about grace, right?

In general, we live in community. And in community, we have the opportunity to edify one another and come alongside each other in our different strengths and weaknesses. I love that. I love that my weaknesses are countered by someone else’s strengths. We also have the opportunity to let go of selfish ways and adopt a self-less attitude. In other words, being living examples of Him becoming greater and us becoming less (John 3:30). One of my favorite quotes comes from a family I’m close with, “I am third.” I like the meaning that that conveys.

Student life…There is such a richness of diversity here. Just like you and me, all the people here have their own story and their own testimony of how the Lord is working in their lives. Often times, I stand back, looking at all the languages, countries, cultures, and two things take my breath away.

  1. The sweet sovereignty of the Lord and His specific plan for us all to live in community, and learn of Him–us, here, now, together.
  2. I am constantly aware of what a small/big part I play in all this.

A small part…I am just one tiny thread in an intricate story of the seminary, its presence in Spain, and the influences it makes with it’s students going out to serve in churches here in Spain, and throughout Europe. I am so small! Our God is so big and to hear about churches, pastors, ministries, etc. from Norway to North Africa, is such a blessing. It feels like a little piece of heaven.

A big part...I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but it seems like I do play an important part in the feeling, and general flow of student life. I’m an administrator, leader, friend, shoulder to cry on, or someone to cry with is more like it, prayer warrior, mom, maid, sister, etc. In many ways, I’m the person that connects the practical with the academic side of life, and vice-versa. One of my greatest delights is talking with the students. Seeing how they are, making sure they are physically/emotionally well and struggling well. Sometimes it’s hard to keep a good balance between studying/life/work/relationships.

Outside view of IBSTE...

in the reception area...

Rachel & Ruth in the CBSIE office

On Thursdays, we all play soccer together...

A few numbers, just for fun!

  • 5, the number of languages I hear on an hourly basis (German, English, Catalan, Chinese, Spanish). I’m learning basic German.
  • 42, the average number of people that eat lunch and dinner here (per day) at the seminary.
  • 9, the number of times I’ve stalled driving a manual (as in not automatic) car. Actually, it’s probably more than that.
  • 14 residents under my care and supervision. (11 IBSTE students + 3 German volunteers)
  • 24 the total number of countries that are represented in the student body of IBSTE (Spanish seminary) and CBSIE (Chinese seminary).

Living…I have my own little house on the seminary grounds and its pretty perfect for me. It has two bedrooms, one is mine and the other is used as a guest-room for friends, or girls who want to come spend the night from the main building. There is also a small kitchen with a sitting area. Just like in any living situation, there are ups/downs to living alone. The good thing is that it’s a place where I can rest and I can make it my own and use to welcome others in. I enjoy it most when friends come over to eat, talk, or watch movies.

Life outside these walls…I’ve been looking for a church and I think I’ve found one. It’s called the Evangelical Church of Castelldefels (La Iglesia Evangelica de Castelldefels). If you would like to see the church website, click here. I have also made a new close Spanish friend, Sarai. She’s about my age, goes to the church in Castelldefels, and is also helping plan Misión Posible.

Praises & Petitions:

  • Please pray just as the psalmist wrote, “…that the nearness of God, would be my good” (Psalm 73:28).
  • Praise Him for our new leadership team (administrators, teachers, volunteers).
  • Praise Him for the ease of settling into life here and for His clear confirmation that this is where He has led me. It’s a joy to be in the center of His will!

Thank you for your continued support, sacrifices, and prayers! I would love to hear about you and how I can be praying for you!

Representing you in the Spanish church,

Arista

A change of seasons…

Boarding call…
So much was accomplished in my short six weeks in Texas, not a minute was wasted! Here’s a few of the things I enjoyed most…
  • Being SO encouraged by the churches, my brothers and sisters in the faith, the ministries, the joy, and the perseverance of the saints at home.
  • Co-leading the Gospel Station with Luisa at the Hidalgo Kid’s Ministry.

  • Laughing so hard I could cry with friends!

  • Free wifi, and delicious coffee, in our wonderful, big, cozy cafe’s.
  • Going to The Cheesecake Factory for the 1st time ever!
  • Conversations with my supporters, getting to share what you’ve helped make possible.
  • Playing volleyball.
  • Buying (good) deli meet in the grocery stores.
  • Going to the Denton Public Library.
  • Getting to drive and not grip the wheel so much from feeling so stressed, wondering if the other car is going to yield/stop like it should at the intersection, roundabout, or red light.
  • Listening to worship songs in English!
  • Listening to sermons in English!
As I was going through security at the airport, I thought, “This is it. It’s time to go.” My last few days were a flurry of good friends, sweet conversations, encouraging words, and feeling full of hope about the new season of life before me. I left D/FW Wednesday the 16th, and arrived in Barcelona Thursday night.
Transitioning…living.
I adjusted to the time change and have had two full weeks (I am thinking about writing another update on these first two weeks alone. But I don’t want to overload you with e-mails!) I’m settling into my casita (little house) well and working on organizing my workspace and living area. The school year begins here at IBSTE, this coming Monday. Living in a foreign city is very different from living in a foreign town. There is a centro comercial (mall) within a few minutes, big grocery stores, and even an IKEA! These stores have already come in handy for seminary errands, decorating ideas, organization, hospitality etc. I also immediately feel that life is a little more efficient here (not too efficient, because it’s still Spain), but for some reason, it feels like more can be accomplished in a day.

IBSTE Seminary

Transitioning…culture.
I’m in Spain, but definitely feel a little like a fish out of water…I walk around hearing people jabber away in Catalan (The most used language in Cataluña), I don’t see vacant streets and sidewalks during the siesta, and the slow paced lifestlye of Andalucía is nowhere to be seen. Welcome to life in an urban area! The seminary has been very welcoming and I’m excited to hit the ground running. More than anything, I’m filled with hope about what He is doing in this place, and am excited to worship Him here.
Lord of Lords by Hillsong United
Beholding your beauty is all I long for
To worship You Jesus with my soul’s desire
For this very heart you’ve shaped for your pleasure
The purpose to lift your name high
Hear and surrender in pure adoration
I enter your courts with an offering of praise
I am Your servant come to bring you glory
As is fit for the work of your handsNow unto the lamb who sits on the throne
Be glory and honor and praise
All of creation resounds with the song
Worship and praise him the Lord of Lords

Hope

Hope for me is looking back at the cross. Seeing what was accomplished on behalf of Christ, for us. Hope is being confident about the future. Lately, I have been growing in my view of hope through what the Lord is doing in the lives of the students, administrators, and volunteers of Ibste. I’m in the middle of all of it and have the opportunity to serve others and love others well. Paul writes to the church in Philippians saying, “…if there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation of love, any fellowship of the Spirit, any affection and compassion, that we would be one, united for one purpose (2:1-2). Any encouragement, love, fellowship, etc.? There is an abundance! He is using the encouragement, love, fellowship of the Spirit, affection, and compassion of His people here to glorify Himself.

My heartfelt prayer is that your heart would be directed to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ (2 Thessalonians 3:5).  Thank you for all your encouragement, support, and participation in what the Lord is doing in Spain!
Until He comes,
Arista

luisa + texas = viaje misionero

Well, Luisa has come and gone, three weeks has flown by! I got back to Dallas, Sunday, August 1st, and Luisa arrived (flying by herself on a plane for the second time in her life, with a layover in London Heathrow (one of the biggest airports in the world and under construction) and navigated through terminals, security checks, baggage claims, and customs officials, to have me waiting for her to come through the International Arrival Doors of DFW airport!) on Wednesday, August 3rd. She left for Madrid on Wednesday, August 25th.

To make it simple, I’ll break up what we did, where we went, and how we served into a more organized fashion…

At the rodeo...

Dinner for supporters...

España + USA

Week 1: After adjusting to the 7-hour time change, we visited some churches in Denton and got to know some ministries here in the city. One evening, my dad took us to the Mesquite Championship Rodeo and she loved it! On Saturday, August 7th, we helped host a dinner to thank my team of supporters for their prayers and support. Luisa shared a brief powerpoint about the “state of Spain” and also shared her testimony. The next day, we visited Trinity UMC, went to Sunday School, and had a really encouraging time worshipping.

Week 2: We headed to San Antonio area (New Braunsfels/Canyon Lake) and spent some time with the Linskey family who hosted us and introduced us to churches and youth groups in the area. Becky Linskey met Luisa five years ago when she was serving in Úbeda as a missionary and now lives in the Canyon Lake area with her husband and baby. After leaving Canyon Lake, we went to Austin area and visited the Church of Horseshoe Bay where we attended two services and had the opportunity to talk with many members about Spain and what He is doing there.

Us with the Linskey Fam

Talking with members at the Church in Horseshoe Bay

Kids meeting

Week 3: We served with Hidalgo (a ministry that reaches out to Spanish speakers in inner city Dallas) and it was our joy and privilege to share the Gospel, with 60-75 kids daily, talking about the life of Jesus, our need, his death, his resurrection, and the free gift of salvation offered to us. We used some neat illustrations to meet the kids on their level. An interesting thing was that our time with the children was entirely in Spanish, this is significant due to the fact that many children in the apartment complexes speak Spanish as their first language.

The theme of the Backyard Bible Club

Worship time with the kids

Director of Hidalgo, Stephen, & Luisa

Some hard things for a Spaniard in the US (Tx) were…

  • seeing guns for sale in Wal-Mart.
  • not having a siesta every day.
  • getting used to new eating times, 8AM, 12PM, and 6PM versus, 10AM, 2PM, and 9PM.
  • seeing that men had to ask a woman to dance when we went country dancing.
  • riding in the car a lot and driving for long periods of time.
  • spicy (mexican) food.
  • understanding why we say “Please” and “Thank you” so much.

Some funny things for a Spaniard in the US (Tx) were…

  • how much she got into the Rangers game we went to, yelling “Corre! Corrrrrreee!” (Run! Ruuunnn!)
  • her laughing every time she saw somebody wearing a cowboy hat.
  • her thinking that we don’t throw toilet paper into the toilet.
  • her constant commenting on how hot it is in Texas.
  • her loving the word, “Yeeee–Hawwww!” I think she just loved yelling it more than the word.
  • her seeing the prices of clothes, groceries, books, and CD’s, and saying “Everything is so cheap!”
  • her going to Wal-Mart and Super Target and marveling at how you can buy everything under the sun in one store.
  • her turning the radio to a Mexican station and seeing it wasn’t the same AT ALL as music in Spain.
  • her laughing over the Mexican accent being so different from a Spanish accent.
  • her saying “FROSTY!” every time we drove by a Wendy’s.

All in all, it was a very fulfilling three weeks. Without a doubt, her faith has increased and she trusts Him more. The Lord did some miraculous things to bring her here, keep her safe, use her, show her more of Himself, and send her back safely. As we were driving to the airport, she said that she would miss the hospitality of the people, the one-stop shopping at Wal-Mart and Super Target, and the country music : )

Pilgrims on the Camino…

A Journey…I feel the words that best sum up the past month and a half, are “bible” and “backpack”. For the past month and a half, I’ve covered Spain from north to south, and east to west (literally). I’ve been to planning meetings for Misión Posible, encouraging fellow youth leaders, walking the Camino de Santiago (What’s that?), visiting possible future ministry locations, planning our end of year party at the language academy, working individually with my students helping them prepare for their English exam and turning in my final grades for all 147 of my students. And now we are two days into (the first ever) Vacation Bible School in Úbeda!

Amidst all of the going and doing, so many things change. My mode of travel, destination, even my roles tend to change (sometimes I’m a teacher, encourager, leader, friend, guest, etc.) but what doesn’t change is my identity in Christ. This is a huge encouragement to come back to amidst all of the other things. This is a little piece from Colossians chapter 2 that I’ve been reading and praying through recently.

“…In Him you have been made complete; and in Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, in the removal of the body of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ; having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised up with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us…”

Colossians 2:9-14

Last days of school…The ending of the school year at the language academy was good but challenging. In all honesty, along the way, there were some hard moments with the director, my boss. At a few points, there were some requests to which  I had to say a respectful but firm, “No”. These happenings were extremely difficult but it provided a way for me to share why I believe in truth and absolutes. In one particularly difficult situation, the Lord orchestrated the perfect timing for me to read Psalm 16 that day

“I will bless the Lord who has counseled me; You will make known to me the path of life; In your presence is fullness of joy; In your right hand there are pleasures forever.”

Where it all began, El Camino de Santiago…Literally, it’s called the “Way of James”. El camino, in Spanish, means  “the way”, in English. Five years ago, I came to Spain on a summer mission trip to work in an albergue (hostel) for the pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. This was my first time to serve outside the US and the Lord opened my eyes to His heart for the nations; that all people would hear of His grace, mercy, and justice, and believe in Him. I was deeply impacted by the people I met and spoke with who didn’t have a personal relationship with the Lord. Five years later, almost to the day, I found myself back on the Camino; however, this time, not just serving the pilgrims, but being one of them, walking alongside them, hearing their stories, and sharing mine.

Gringos to Ligonde 2005

Walking on the Camino de Santiago 2010

Myself and four others completed the Camino last Friday. We walked about 25KM (15 1/2 miles) a day through the Galician countryside. I organized and planned the trip for the five of us and breathed a huge sigh of relief when all of us stepped off the train in Linares-Baeza (local train station), safely back in Andalucía. Our experience gives testimony of El Shaddai – the God who provides for His people. Major blisters, one emergency room visit (one of the girls slipped and fell, but is doing much better), one subway strike in Madrid, two planes, two trains, many kilometers behind us, and many new friends, we completed the journey for He has been our help and refuge. For pictures from the Camino de Santiago, click here.

I’m We’re excited to see you…I’m wrapping up this year of service and looking forward to what lies ahead. Especially, seeing you!  I leave Spain, Sunday, August 1st and arrive in Dallas the same day. The month of August I will be in Texas serving alongside Luisa (one of the youth from our church in Úbeda) in Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin.*

Cesia, Loida, & Luisa

Similar to last year, I would love to see you in person and thank you for your support and prayers over these past months. You are cordially invited to a Spanish merienda in Denton, Texas, on Saturday, August 7th (e-mail invite to follow). Please come have a bite to eat, and hear of His faithfulness and provision over the last year.

I will need your continued support to serve in Spain. But for now, I would just like the opportunity to see you, say thank you, and share firsthand what you’ve helped make possible.

Representing you in the Spanish church,

Arista


*Luisa is raising support to come on a three week mission trip that we’ve been planning over the last few months. She arrives on Wednesday the 4th of August, and leaves Wednesday the 25th. If you would be interested in supporting her, please let me know.

folletos/tracks

When you hear the words, “Evangelistic campaign” do you think of Billy Graham preaching in a football stadium or convention center? I do.  What about, “tracks”…do you think of someone trying to get you to talk about something when you’re in a hurry?

Here in España, these are two very important ways of evangelism that Christians use. Last summer, our church gathered funds, prayed big, and planned an evangelistic campaign in the nearby town of Baeza. About 100 people (mas o menos) collaborated in this two week event that used music, activities, and visual displays to lead to conversations with passerby’s in the city center. And every few months, members of our church in Úbeda go out to surrounding towns to hand out information about the Gospel and our church.

This past Saturday, five of the youth and and seven adults went out to three towns to hand out tracks and information. We went to the liiiitle towns of Ibros, Begijar, and Lupión.

Carpooling to the towns...

Walking around Lupión, handing out tracks, and a quick photo-op

...on our way back to Úbeda

In all, a little over 780 tracks were handed out in three towns.

For me, this is a very different type of evangelism from what I’m used to. I really enjoy having relationships with people, developing trust over time and giving them the opportunity to see who God is as I live out my faith (so humbling!) and talking about how God reveals Himself to us in the Bible. However, my preference isn’t really important, it’s my willingness to obey.

the {party} bus

So, I ride the bus. Every day, twice a day as a matter fact. Thursday night, was the best bus ride of my life. Let me tell you what happened.

The bus pulls into the station and as it drives into it’s little via (lane), I can hear the techno club music blaring from inside. It comes to a stop, and the door opens in front of me and a man gets off (maybe he had had enough of the club on wheels?) and the driver gives me a wink and tells me to come on in. (I had a short conversation with this driver last week, I had been trying to figure out the obscure, hidden life an Andalucían bus driver leads (mainly just their schedule), so I decided to quit guessing and just ask. It was much simpler than what I had imagined.) Anyway, back to the club on wheels…

I climb aboard and all two people already on board looked like they had had their fill of the mobile discoteca… Another girl got on with me,returning to the unversity in Jaén I suppose (the university students have had finals the past few weeks and have been on break).

As we made our way back onto the main road to Úbeda, an older man behind me got a phone call. He answers and is speaking to what sounds like his mother (I can’t be sure, it was all in Arabic) at about the same time, the driver, cranks up the music. The man on the phone yells, “Eh?!” as if he couldn’t hear what his mother was saying, and the driver misinterprets this as him complaining about the music. The driver yells to him, “This is the dance zone, if you don’t like it, go to the back!!!”. Literally, the driver shouted, “Este es la zona de baile, si no te gusta, vente pa tra!!!”

It’s a well known fact, and a topic of much joking, of all the things that happen to me. My Spanish friends and I have a lot of laughs over things like this. Although I’m sure they happen, I just don’t hear about things like this that happen to Spaniards. Just a 25 year old, not-so-undercover missionary, english teachers from Texas, learning to swim (before she sinks 🙂 ) in another culture.