Thursday, February 26, 2009

don't know why

I have given up meat for Lent. I have never done Lent before, so this could be an interesting month. I thought about giving up coffee, but I realized that people still have to live with me.... so that was not the best plan. Anyway- no meat. And anytime I have a craving for it or have to go without, I am going to be praying for a different person/cause/event that will change every week.

This first "week" (until sunday) is going to be for someone in my life who has helped me become the person I am now and will continue to support and encourage me as I grow. Kris- I know that things have been hard lately and I am sorry that I am not there with you in person, but you are always on my mind and this week especially is for you. Happy Birthday lil sis. I miss you more than I can possibly say. I hope your day is amazing and restful. <3

Next week: East Asia Team '09- this one is for you! I will be lifting you up as you get ready to leave, travel and see the people of Asia. (Beth or Mich- if you have an itinerary, could you send it to me so I can pray for those things specifically?) Don't forget... Spain is technically on the way back to AZ, so if you feel like making a side trip....

week of 3/9: We will be going to Campamento the 13-15, so it seems only appropriate that I would spend that week praying for the people in En Vivo who need to be on that retreat and for the event itself.

week of 3/16: God's direction for my life once I return home (specifically involving friendships/relationships)

Ok.. so I need 3 more things to fill the other weeks. Any ideas/suggestions? (Tara or Romi, I know you will have thoughts...)

Semana Santa or Holy Week, basically like Spring Break for Spanish Students, is April 2-12. The other exchange students are all going to be traveling during this time, but because of my current financial situation, I will be staying in Salamanca. I may take a day trip or two to nearby cities if I can gather some extra cash for bus tickets. I am actually a little excited about staying here. It will give me some quiet time- always good for me- and I will get to see all of the processions and events here. Its a little weird because Good Friday is a bigger deal here than Easter. The whole thing is supposed to be very sad and mournful. I think sometimes the Catholics here (or those who are "Catholic" but not practicing) forget to take Jesus off of the cross. Its like they forget that yes, He died, but He also rose from the dead and that is what makes us different from other religions. That is where we find our Hope. We have a God who loves us enough to send His son to take our pain and pay our debts, and is powerful enough to raise Jesus from the dead. I have been reading a lot in Hebrews lately, and in the gospels, specifically around the death and resurrection. I love that every day when I read, God is showing me something new. He is just so cool sometimes.

To finish- thank you to everyone who sent me encouragement regarding my last couple of posts. It was really helpful and so appreciated. I know that I have been kinda down lately, but things seem to be on the up!

Monday, February 23, 2009

There's always something in the way

all of the girls, Krin and his friend Dave went to Ciudad Rodrigo on Sunday for Carnaval. I stayed home by myself. It was actually well deserved quiet time and really restful, but they just got home and are talking about their trip and I am feeling left out. Hopefully this will stop soon. In general it is getting better, I promise. They are better about including me and remembering to tell me that I matter (oh that "encouraging words" love language). I just need to find the words to tell them that they make me feel this way sometimes.

Anyway. I spent the day with just me and God. I slept in a little and did some housework while listening to worship music. Man I miss 3F music. Then I left and went to the Plaza Colon (Columbus) which is right by our house. I sat there for a bit and read my bible and journaled. Then I set off to explore the city of Salamanca by myself. I was only "lost" once for about 30 minutes. It is hard to be truly lost in this city- you can almost always see the cathedrals and if you just start heading towards them, you find your way back. After four hours of wandering, I ended up back at home. So I listened to Jeremy's sermon from last weekend (thank you again God for 3F podcasts), ate lunch and took a shower. Right as I was finished and getting ready to lay down and listen to music, everyone came home. I was glad to see them, because I missed having them around, but I sorta wish I had been able to have a few more hours to myself.

I think this is weird, but I feel like my soul is more restful and that I learned more from NOT going to church this weekend than if I had gone. I know this is probably horrible of me, but I really hate going to church here. I would choose not to if I could. We are pretty much required to go, this weekend was an exception. I think its because I don't understand most of what is going on and no one outside of the En Vivo group ever talks to us... well except for the ladies at the door who ask us EVERY WEEK if we are new. Same ladies every week. Not that big of a church. Kinda frustrating. I wonder if I am just spoiled from so many years at Central. I am so used to feeling welcome and like church is my second home... to go from Central to this is rough. Can't you just bring 3F to Spain for a couple weeks?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

dime si siento lo mismo

The past few days have been really hard. I went to bed crying every night this weekend. I don't know if it is "culture shock" really, or just me being emotional and sick or what. I have just been feeling like I don't fit in, I don't know what my purpose is on this team, and I don't have any friends in Spain. My journal is getting full of me just crying out to God "Why do I feel like this? Why did you bring me here if it is going to be this bad? God- what am I supposed to do?"

BUT yesterday was an amazing day! I started the day by sleeping in (just a little) and when I got up, reading 1st and 2nd Timothy. Journaled for a little while and then went to the campus house. We went out to do "cold outreach" at the comedors (like university cafeterias). Whitney, Meredith and I went to one called Panuelas. We sat with and talked to Mari and Roberto. Just about life, who they are, why they are in Salamanca. We invited them to En Vivo, so we will see if anything comes of that. (please keep all of the people we met in your prayers. We would really like them to become part of our ministry!) After lunch we went for ice cream in the plaza and sat to enjoy the beautiful sun the God has provided this week. Then class :( and Cafe Ingles! I got to meet David, who is going to be my intercambio. (which ps, is NOT an original name here.... when in doubt, his name is probably david) I am really excited about my next meeting with him tonight. Then we had band practice for bible study and it was just so much fun, and yet so calming and normal for me. I think it is probably weird that rehearsal is a de-stresser in my life.

It was just the first day in awhile that I have felt like myself. I almost was starting to think I had lost touch with who I am. I also have been pondering the difference between knowing who you are and whose you are. I think I may have put too many goals for myself up front, and then was disappointed when I was not reaching them immediately. My current plan of action is to knock it off :) I am learning to accept God's direction for my life here and how that looks different from His directions for me at home. My time here is a precious gift and I need to treat it like the blessing it is, but also to make sure that I don't get too wrapped up in not "wasting" time.

On one last note, and I really hate writing about it, please once again keep praying for the finances. I just found out I will not be going to Portugal for Semana Santa (only 2 spots for XC students and they are already taken), so my funding just dropped about $200, but I still have about $1200 more to go to be fully funded. I am trying not to be preoccupied with worrying about money, but its difficult sometimes. I know that God didn't bring me all the way to Spain to let me down, but please just keep my financial situation in your prayers.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I just want to be OK

Yay for beautiful weather! Thank you God for some sunlight (and no rain to destroy the house). Rebecca and Meredith left for Andalucia for the weekend Friday morning, so it is a little quieter around the apartment. I got some much needed housework done and working on getting the laundry done too! Koral, Kelly and I took a walk to enjoy the sunshine. We walked through town, down by the river and to the Salas Bajas (lower courts... sports fields and stuff). Then we went back into town in time to see the lights in the plaza come on for the night- My favorite! A nice, relaxing day that was really needed to improve my mood and spirit.

Thursday night was one of the "hang out" nights, but it also fell on University Carnival. (real Carnival is in like 2 weeks.... this one is basically made up for the bars and clubs to make more money.) We had 11 or 12 people come to meet us and we just went to a couple different places for drinks and tapas. It was a lot of fun to hang out with our new friends (and some of them brought friends with them!) But it was kinda sad and scary to see the other people that were out later, after they had been drinking... a lot. It made me realize even more how much we are really needed here. It also made me sad because most of the crazy drunk party people were americans. It is hard sometimes to overcome the stereotype of American exchange students here. The drinking age in Spain is 18, so many of the kids go crazy, with it being their first time away from home, in Europe and legal for them to buy alcohol.

We are having "cene & cine" tonight for Dia de San Valentin (dinner and a movie). We are all going to get dressed up and meet for a fancy dinner at Telepizza and then go to the house for movie night. :) Hope everyone has a great Valentine's Day! And Happy Birthday Mom! I love you and miss you so much every day.

Please just continue to pray for us and the ministry here. We are all working really hard, but sometimes it is mentally and physically tiring. After 6 weeks together, I am starting to feel the strain on our relationships. The past couple of days have been especially hard for me with exams and feeling frustrated on "Spanish Day". Please also continue to pray for my finances here in Spain and that God will provide so that I may be fully funded for the next couple of months!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

I can unscrew the stars

to those of you who received my email update/newsletter a few weeks back- I apologize if you could not get the newsletter to open correctly. After having some issues, I have instead decided to start a secondary blog for our team updates. I have posted the info/pictures that were in the original newsletter and will be updating it at least every 2 weeks.

you can visit it at to read the team news, but I will continue to post my random thoughts and personal musings here. There is now a link to the new blog on my blogroll (En Vivo Intercambios) as well as on my facebook page. So there is no reason to be uninformed! :)

I am feeling a little bit better about our team dynamic this week. I still struggle with knowing where I belong with everyone, but Meredith and I have been talking. She is such a blessing to me here. She always knows when I need a hug or a little encouragement. Yesterday I was feeling down because I did not do well on my Grammar midterm and she just gave me some encouraging words and promised to help me learn the things that I missed. Its weird to me to think that I have only known Mer for 6 weeks and I already can't imagine life without her. I am continuing to pray about my relationships with everyone else here and I'm interested to see what will happen.

Today is "Spanish Day" at En Vivo. We are only allowed to speak in Spanish all day. So far it has not been too frustrating, but we will see if it continues to be ok as the day progresses. We are hanging out with some students tonight and exams are over, so hopefully it is time for some fun and some rest!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be

I want to be better than what I am. I don't claim to ever have it all figured out. In fact I will be the first to tell you that I don't- I try to be as authentic as I can with people. I don't think I have totally figured out the person of Jesus and I don't think I ever will. I might even go as far as to say that when you think you have Jesus figured out, that is when your heart has stopped striving after Him.

I don't really care about looking holy. (take a moment here if you need to) I'm ok if people know that I cry and that I have problems and that sometimes I am just not the woman that I want to be. I am not perfect. Most days I am just doing the best I can. I don't want to appear to be perfect.

This week I am really struggling emotionally. It's hard because I know that I am supposed to be here. I know that I am serving a purpose and that God is going to do amazing things through me and the team here. My Spanish is improving a lot and it gets a little less scary every day to speak to people.
... but... I am really having a hard time building relationships with some of the members of my team. I feel like I am not even sure if they like me, much less love me and care about me. I don't know if this is just me being weird, or if this is another trial like my visa problems and financial struggles. I don't know how to deal with it. I suppose for now I will just keep praying and just do the best I can.

No news on the house yet. We have had an architect out to look at the problem... that was not a good day. There is talk that we may have to petition the city to get it fixed. Please just keep the problem in your prayers and pray for some sunshine in Salamanca so we don't have any more flooding! (not to mention, some sun might be good for my mood)

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

you have to follow through

Just a Reminder: If you have pledged to sponsor me monthly (or if you would like to give a one-time gift), please don't forget to get your checks to my family so they can deposit them! I am still only at about 80% of my total budget for the semester and most of what is still missing is for my rent and food to keep me alive :). If you have any questions, please email me at

Well- quick update on the apartment. I now officially have a bedframe and we have a new fridge! Of course, the day after the fridge came... the light in my & meredith's room went out. Our landlord is going to know us well before we leave!

AND.... Spring cleaning/touch up at the campus house turned out to be a bit of a waste of time. It has been an unusually rainy winter here in Salamanca and apparently there is a problem with drainage pipes on our street that drain INTO our walls of our basement. Normally when the weather is dry, this isn't too bad of a problem... just mop up the water and go on your way. However because it has been so wet, it has not had a chance to dry out and the water is now slowly destroying the house. I spent, no joke, the ENTIRE day yesterday mopping the house (while everyone else was setting up for Tertulia) and we have now implemented a "flood control" schedule which involves someone coming every 2 hours to mop up water/wring out towels and check for damage to the house. There are places where the plaster is coming off the wall or water is pouring through cracks. I also just checked the weather for this week- rain or snow everyday. Lovely. Our landlord and some people from the city are coming to the house today to assess the damage and see what can be done. Please just pray that they can find a way to fix this problem with drainage so that we can set about the task of fixing the house and getting back to our focus here!

In good news, we still had a pretty good turnout for Tertulia yesterday (even with the rain). A few new people, but mostly returning regulars. We have cafe ingles tonight that I am looking forward to and bible study on thursday! Lauren is singing/guitaring, I am singing, Meredith is playing the violin and Krin is playing guitar/bass. I think Koral is going to video so I can put it on facebook. It has been kinda interesting singing with another girl. I didn't realize until this week that I never have before (unless I was leading and another girl was singing harmony). I guess we will just see how it goes.

Well... off to wring out some more towels and then get ready for the day!