My first week in Spain has been so full of new people and new experiences that I feel like it has been a whole month.
They say that immersion in a new language is the best way to learn, and now I can say from experience that this is very true. Even as I am typing this blog post, quiero escribir en español. My brain is beginning to think in Spanish.
Week One Recap
One Body, Many Members
As I explained in my previous post, most of last week was spent helping serve the men from Alabama & Michigan who came to volunteer as a work team. There were all sorts of generations represented in that group. Some were over 70 years old, others around 40 or 50, and others were in their 20s or 30s.
One day as I was reading in Proverbs, I stumbled upon this verse:
“The glory of young men is their strength, but the splendor of old men is their gray hair.”
I laughed when I read it because it reminded me so much of this group! The younger guys could work hard and use their physical strength to serve. And (while they also worked crazy hard) the older men had incredible stories and wisdom to offer. Altogether, they made up a team of people that was vibrant and dynamic. Many of them have been walking with Jesus for decades, and I personally benefitted so much from the conversations I was able to have with them throughout the week.
It was beautiful how God brought together so many people from different places, with different personalities, talents, backgrounds, & stories, and allowed us to accomplish something together in just one week. Many of them quickly became dear friends & brothers – I sure will miss them!
Here’s a picture that was posted on L’Arcada’s Instagram that includes the work team, some L’Arcada staff members, and myself:
On Wednesday we got to visit Besalú, a town built in the eleventh century!
Afterwards, we ate dinner at a restaurant in Banyoles and this was our view:
The Alabama/Michigan team left on Saturday (except for one of the guys who decided to stay and help for an extra 3 weeks!).
One of the Spanish families that serves as missionaries for the camp has graciously invited us to stay with them for the next week or so. Once camp starts I will be working with their daughter, Sara, who does videography for the camp! She speaks very good English, is happy to tell us all about Spanish & Catalonian culture, and is super fun to be around.
Dos Besos and Sobremesa
Two of my favorite parts of Spanish culture so far are the way people greet each other and the way they approach their midday meal.
When you meet someone new, you give them dos besos (two kisses), one on each cheek. (They’re not really kisses; it’s more like just brushing cheeks.) Though it really caught me off guard the first few days, I’ve come to appreciate it as a really warm and welcoming greeting!
Additionally, lunch is the biggest meal of the day. Usually 2 hours are carved out of the afternoon to sit down and enjoy a multi-course meal with your family and/or friends, with postre (dessert) and seriously, the most delicious café (coffee) afterwards. The time after the meal when everyone sits around and talks is called sobremesa.
People over Productivity
There is very much an emphasis placed on people over productivity here. This is a welcome and refreshing change from the go-go-go culture I’m used to. In the States, some days I barely have time to scarf down some trail mix for lunch, and it can be so easy to become so blinded by the things to get done that I miss the people!
Everyone here is super busy as they prepare for the first camp of the summer to start in 2 weeks. But even so, they take the days slowly and invest in relationships first. Taking time in the afternoon to eat and talk with people has been really sweet, as have been the friendships I am making!
This week I have been working in the L’Arcada office, helping with some graphic design projects. I’m so excited about getting to use the design skills I am developing in school to help serve this camp! (Also, working indoors in the air conditioning is a blessing because it is in the upper 90s this week and I have already counted over 40 bug bites all over my body.)
If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading!
And to those of you supporting this trip in prayer, thank you so much. I am learning from several really wonderful, faithful, prayerful followers of Christ here just how powerful persistent prayer can be. Please continue to pray:
- for the hearts of the kids who are coming to camp this summer, that they would be ready to hear about a relationship with Jesus
- that God would provide all the necessary people (i.e. staff members and volunteers) to successfully run each camp this summer
- for myself: continued reminders of the presence & power of God; for confidence and boldness in who He has created me to be
- that Christ’s name would continue to be glorified in the midst of it all
If you want to hear about anything else, or just want to chat, I have wifi so you can reach me with iMessage, Facebook Messenger, or WhatsApp!