Saturday, July 25, 2009


A friend of mine, Darby, is going to go hiking on the Camino de Santiago (English: "St. James' way" or deutsch - "Jakobsweg") in August. One student in Jena I talked to just got back. Some do about 200 kilometers and others do more like 700-800 km., backpacking the whole way. Some explore faith, as a pilgrimage. Others are just interested in encountering all kinds of people from different countries, staying in youth hostels, over various weeks and the feeling of accomplishment-- "I did it" --to this huge hiking exploration. 

I'm not sure if I'll ever do something this physically demanding, carrying that kind of weight around on my back. But maybe could imagine doing a part of it, and then driving or taking the train to different parts, to encourage our student group on a pilgrimage...

Anyway, I was fascinated today with some words in the Bible translated (from Greek) as "aliens," "strangers," "sojourners" and "pilgrims." 

"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise.... All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth... Instead, they were longing for a better country-a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them."
-- Hebrews, chapter 11, verses 9, 10, 13, & 16
What amazes me are the ideas of:

1) starting a journey, with no assurance of where it will lead you. Scary. If I may use a personal comparison (at least to some extent), I never figured when moving to Germany that I would later move to Spain! So, what guarantees do YOU have that next year you will live in the same place? Have the same friends near you? Be able to work with the same co-workers?

2) faith-- it's all about the "dive" into God's arms and ocean of love-- but without seeing it all layed out and planned and on the calendar, tickets purchased, no changes, etc. formula.

3) living long-term in a tent (no real complaints here, if you've seen my lovely apartment). It reminded me of the fact that I have an apartments-worth of furniture stored in Germany at the moment.

4) getting very comfortable or maybe just attached to the idea of being a stranger, a foreigner-- long -term! The longer I live in Europe, for example, the less I feel like an "alien" here and actually feel more like one in the USA. (I believe this is no UN-usual occurrence, for many who live overseas and move around. And if you've never tried it, I mean, moving because the Lord has something in another location for you-- you might be surprised and discover that it's wonderful!!) And since moving to Spain, I have had to re-visit some of those "old" patterns-- how much do I  simply RELISH life-- and "settle in" to culture & language here? --  versus falling into a pattern of contrasting the differences, or verbalizing what I left behind. 

5) I also love the word "admitted" -- like "hey, guys, could we all just face the facts and grab hold of the reality-- this is NOT home! No matter how much you buy it, own it, paint it, cut the lawn, plant, decorate, fix it up, re-furbish, color- coordinate, light the candles-- you are STILL living in a tent. A temporary state of being, on the earth. 

One day, though, it will feel "right." It will truly be...

zu Hause.
mi hogar.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

nuevos amigos

I just made some new friends this week, who study biology and bio-chemistry. Laura was nice enough to invite Yasmin and I for a swim (standing beside me). Her good friends Daniela and Abraham are pictured here. The pool really helps when you have temps in the 90's & 100's (without an air conditioner in the apartment!).

Team in Thüringen

Despite the rain (sigh!), our Connexxion staff team enjoyed a fun weekend away at a rented apartment in the Thüringen Forest -- to learn, plan, fellowship and prepare for the coming year. 
I had just visited Jena, my first Connexxion group, so it was great to see the team "in action" and catch up with old friends-- (watch for a new post to come).
Our team is mostly German: Thomas and Anja K., and Vera -- in Jena; Birthe, Anja G. and Vincent (from Georgia, USA) -- in Braunschweig; and me in Sevilla. And let's not forget baby Immanuel, who makes sure we relax & don't take ourselves too seriously!!
We also had fun comparing each others strengths and giftings, based on an on-line test. If you're interested, it's really excellent and part of a book called "Now, Find Your Strengths" or the new version "Strengths Finder 2.0." There are 7 of us on staff (well, Yasmin in Sevilla makes it 8 but sadly she finishes her internship this coming week). I am SO blessed to call them "friends" and get to exchange amazing, creative ideas with like-hearted people reaching out to the campuses of Western Europe! 

family festival fotos, part 2

Here is David, one of my colleagues who did lots of coordination for the Family Festivals, as well as 2 friends who study computer science, Arias & Roberto.
Yasmin is wearing the green shirt here, explaining the bracelets to kids. It was a wild ride for one week of full-blast activities, 
and probably the most fun was had by us during 4 nights of a family festival in the town of Bormujos (a suburb of Sevilla). Enjoy the views...

family festivals & fun

Above I am at a literature table with 2 friends who helped. And here is a family I met (he's a pilot) while handing out flyers that day advertising a special week of events! We had a recent, fun-filled, crazy week with 17 youth & sponsors here from the USA who were helping out with various activities of lacomunidadaljarafe

some friends of mine starting a new church community in the suburbs, Bormujos. 
4 of the evenings we all participated in a family festival in a city park, complete with jumping castle, face painting, colored bead bracelets with a story, painting toe nails, handing out literature, a skit & live music (from my friends Inga-- a former intern here-- Esther and Tommy from Germany), and country line dancing thrown in there!
The first night was a July 4th theme (on the 5th!) with over 200 attending. Here I am talking with some college students (they're twins) we'd just met.

Monday, July 06, 2009

pooper scooper day

My friends asked the local government of the town where they live, how a group of visiting Americans could help out. The answer: pooper scoopers & instructions on the environmental dangers of letting your dog "do his thing" just anywhere. So, with a group of several Americans doing a cultural exchange. We even got an official T-shirt! :-)

Thankfully my friend Jose was also there to help us explain things better in Spanish to the citizens we approached along the road and near the park. A side benefit of getting to know the locals-- Christy got to try out a jack hammer!

Friday, July 03, 2009

granada & belgian friends

What happens when, as you're checking out an overlook for the Alhambra at night, you stumble upon 3 guys taking a last "fling" trip after high school graduation? A serendipitous chance to make new friends from Belgium! These guys are from Flanders, so speak Dutch, English, German & French... and were totally informative and kind. I got some hints about night photography from Vincent, & we invited them to come along with us, to see a "free" flamenco show (they asked for donations afterwards) at a restaurant.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009


So... I was hanging out in the city one evening with my friend Jose Maria (on left) when we ran into Carlos hanging out in Starbucks (actually, believe it or not he was studying!). And then about 90 minutes later, we ran into him again on the pedestrian zone!! So we all went together to try out the food at the Latin American festival!


I recently got to become a "fan" of some music from the state of Andalucia which is marvelous. And these lovely fans are not just for show-- it is really HOT here. And women still do use them. You could see such movement in the stands as Yasmin, Rosa & I watched an awesome concert (modern flamenco, by 3 bands including Pitingo and Chambao). Yes, people were dancing some, but I mean the movement of the FANS-- women fanning themselves in the extreme 90- 100- degree heat!