Thursday, December 25, 2008

Now just in case you're thinking we're watching TV-- no, we're not-- we're having Christmas dinner, and playing holiday music on that digital radio TV thing. Lillian and Dot are super friends and it was great having them over!

More Christmas celebrations...

I got to celebrate in 2 different churches for Christmas Eve-- both having different styles but of course the same message-- Jesus, God, came to us... to me! 
It was awesome having special friends share a delicious meal and sitting by our REAL Christmas tree (VERY rare for us-- thanks, Dad and Home Depot!).

Gwen is our new little Santa baby (grandkid, niece, etc.) -- born in late summer to my brother and sister in law. What a fun Christmas "present" from the Father to us all! Mom gave her an orange, as a reminder to be thankful for the little things-- an orange used to be in our stockings every year, and was super special when my parents were being raised and it was hard to import fruit during the winter.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Connexxion Staff are SUPER!

Life is never boring with Connexxion. We have tons of fun with our ministry full-time staff and they are a constant JOY! For instance, when Anja & Vera collaborated in teaching us all a country- western style dance at the fall retreat! yee- haw! 

But here's proof that we also WORK: plan, pray and strategize together, too! (notice all the laptops!)

It's cool to have "history" together-- I've known several of them a number of years, such as Thomas K. and Anja G., who were students in our group years ago and then "graduated" to serve on staff later. 
Above are our Jena, Germany staff: Anja & Thomas K., who married less than a year after he came on staff. Anja (pronounced "an-ya") has done associational youth work and he works half-time as a computer programmer and analyst. Vera is super intellegent & graduated this year with a degree in bio-chemistry. She was greatly influenced by Thomas (& others) when she committed her life to Christ. Vera came on staff in April, & will be doing a 3-month campus ministry internship starting in January in Georgia, USA.

Above are our wonderful present staff in Braunschweig - Vincent from Georgia who studied public administration and has never met a stranger! Birthe, who studied social work, and is now at a seminary extension center located in our church facilities in Braunschweig. We got to be roommates for 2 months this year, when she had a soccer injury. And Anja, who graduated from Southwestern Seminary in the summer, and is leading the ministry there. She and I served together in Jena for 3 years already. Then we overlapped just a short, crazy (but blessed!) month before I moved to Spain, and were roommates while she helped me pack up my apartment there. What a help!

In November I traveled "home" to Germany for 2 retreats (Freizeiten). Our fall campus retreat, as well as a staff retreat, where I got to re-connect with friends. 

Sunday, December 14, 2008

creating... chances to build friendships

I feel like a major hobby (and part of my life's goal and work) is to create. to see new things come from nix (nothing, but the heart of God). or to see fresh forms dug out of the clay of the past structures. it is exciting... so here is some of the vitally fresh stuff i was about during this past week... we had an amazingly fun Christmas party this week in our Apartment.

David, here on an internship from Oklahoma, has totally enjoyed getting to know Antonio and Juan. They come to our English Club on Wednesdays. They picked out and bought our little Christmas tree here!

Elena and Elena are also regulars at this English Club, at the really "pretty" campus building (former tobacco factory). But during the winter we've met at a cafe across the street. My roomie Inga introduced the group to a crazy white elephant gift exchange game she plays in Germany with friends. Thus, Carlos was trying on funny sunglasses he received.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

a night in the sierras

"Sierra" is the Spanish word for mountain range. Our new Connexxion group did a new thing (go figure!) and spent a night last weekend at a camp up in the mountains about an hour from our city. 

We cooked our own meals, including 
Dani (Daniel) making spanish tortilla (different from mexican tortilla--(Ashleigh from Hawaii is helping, too!). Tortilla is a mixture of eggs, potatoes and onions, similar to a quiche). 
We played crazy games such as "Mafia" (to add atmosphere, we did it by candlelight), and
 "spoons" (played with playing cards-- you have to grab a spoon on the table, once someone gets a certain hand).

english clubs

English Club -- meets every Monday at the Reina Mercedes campus right across the street from my apartment, in a room of the computer science building (this section of the university is where there is mostly architecture, hard sciences like physics & chemistry, and pharmacy).

We are honored to have several professors of computer science in our English Club Mondays. Sitting next to Inga & me is one, Isabel, who is in charge of opening the room each week and has been so gracious and flexible.
Also we have another group that meets every Wednesday at the Rectorado campus outside on the lawn (this is the main university building-- gorgeous! -- a former tobacco processing building from eons ago! ) Here is where those studying the liberal arts and languages study. ... but now with colder temps we are across the street in a cafe. Antonio is pictured here with David, from Oklahoma, doing an internship with us for 2 more weeks. Antonio is studying to become an English teacher.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Tapas International was the theme of this first big social event in our apartment. Above are Alicia and Daniel, me bearing my Germany shirt proudly because it was an international evening, David who is doing an internship with our group, Salva who showed us around the city a lot, and José María who is a business major.

Since parties & fun events are a big part of Connexxion, we have done a lot of just that in starting a new group here in this cool city. Drinking coffee and hanging out, watching movies, and theme events (by the way, tapas are what we would call appetizer portions).

Left are Marcel (from Germany), Javier, who comes to our English Club, Abby, who is studying spanish and doing an internship here, and Salva studying computer science.

Here are Antonio and José Maria in my apartment with Erica (from the US) and Anja (who brought a group from Connexxion Germany) the end of September.

We have gotten creative in our worship, finding some evangelical churches to visit while trying to improve our Spanish (most I am told are small with about 30-40 or so, but we visited ones with about 100). Above is a warm-hearted Pentecostal church in the suburbs we visited. Also I have worshipped in 2 other churches, at the home of some friends, at a tapas bar in an upstairs room, and in a park.

The weddings here must be fabulously elegant, judging from the myriad of wedding party guests dressed up which one sees near the city hall or wandering through 
the old Jewish quarter called Santa Cruz and close to the walls of the Alcazar, where they have professional photos taken.
Being a beach fan, we had to go to the beach about an hour away at Matalascañas twice before it got cold!

scenes of sevilla

The Alcazar in our city is an amazing moor and spanish castle complex with lots of tile rooms and gorgeous gardens.

It was a joy to be able to sit on our balcony with my roommate Inga during our first warm spanish days... and have breakfast. We seem to eat a lot of starches here (potatoes and bread are in abundance).

This Andalucia region is known for having invented the flamenco dance, and there was a photography series in town for a month celebrating it.

The Alameda de Hercules is a section of town (all the city is easily identifiable by names of main sections and neighborhoods) 
known for lots of dreadlocks and a more creative feel. The statues are from the Roman period.

sevilla... switching cultures

Sevilla ... southern Spain! My first days and incomplete impressions of what life looks like on the inside, to Spaniards. 
I spent my first days and weeks in language study and getting to know the city and campuses. Over 1 million people. 70,000 university students in 2 main universities.

Evening in a cafe with Inga, who arrived with me from Braunschweig.

Our balcony was a great place for enjoying the Sevilla sun-- we arrived in September & were astounded by the amount of warmth, after living in Germany. They love smoked ham here. My Kentucky grandad would have been proud to see all this ham!

The building with the fountain is part of the 1920's Expo site, called Plaza de España, shaped like a horseshoe.