race and grace
This Sunday was the best yet here in Spain! I’m sure it was partly due to the weather actually feeling like spring is supposed to feel like here, but partly just because of the people I got to spend time with.
I woke up long before everyone else in my house and ate the breakfast that had been set out the night before. Met Libby at the bus stop and rode a couple (not-so-direct) busses up to Parque Miraflores. We met our friend Brynn (another Christian “norteamericana” who is studying with another program in Sevilla for a semester) there. As we stood around waiting, talking to a few random people we realized there were a few differences between races here and races in the States. This race was free, all the runners were even more decked-out in running gear, no one seemed to be focused on the race before the race, they didn’t have water for the runners after the race but there was a beer stand that got inundated by runners, and barely anyone stretched afterwards. One thing that was the same as in the States is that they ran out of size small shirts first, and then mediums, and then larges... we ended up getting kids sizes and XL shirts.
After the race we went to Iglesia Prosperidad in Triana (the church on Calle Prosperidad where we meet for Encuentro every Wednesday). By the time we got there we had missed the church service but we were just in time for the fiesta!
The fiesta was a celebration of cultures, but in celebrating cultures it was a celebration of God’s love to His people all over the world and a way to share some of the different ways different peoples praise Him. We stood around in the packed sanctuary and got to see three distinct dances from different places in South America represented by members of the church. We heard what was one of the most heartfelt and soulful songs I’ve ever heard, sung by an older lady of the church accompanied by the pastor on guitar. Flamenco singing is full of emotion to begin with, but to hear her sing out to our great God with such feeling in her voice was inspiring. They also had a time for the Americans to share. All 15 or so of us stood up front and went around sharing our names, where we were from, and how our churches in America are different from Iglesia Prosperidad. We joined together from so many different states, colleges, and churches to sing Amazing Grace as if we were a choir that had practiced together many times before, when in reality most of us barely even knew each other.
From what I have gathered, there is a pretty constant stream of students that attend Prosperidad during their stay here and it doesn’t surprise me. It is so wonderful to be able to sing songs (and clap on the off-beat), share scriptures and prays, and hear God’s word preached in such a welcoming spanish community. It is also a place to connect with other Christian students here as we all learn together that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever as well as the same here, there, and everywhere. Meeting students in other programs here in Sevilla makes me all the more thankful to be in Christ-cented program. At Acento not only do we have the opportunity to be in prayer groups and worship together during Encuentro every week, but we can encourage each other in Christ every day. I’m happy to be in a program that isn’t known as the typical “study in Spain because Spain has a good nightlife” programs. Most of us are here very purposefully and want to use this time to grow and learn.
As part of the celebration the church had made a bunch of bocadillos (sandwich picnic lunches) for everyone to take to the park and enjoy together. We all sat on the bleachers and talked. I was able to sit by some pretty great people from South America and we shared our different opinions on the climate here in Sevilla (“hace mucho mas frio aquí que mi país” “no, hace más calor aquí, aquí nunca hay nieve...”). The husband is a care provider for two elderly people and one person with disabilities here. He came here 10 years ago and worked for 8 years before his wife and family could join him. They have big hearts for the spaniards. I can’t say how huge the need for God is in the lives of the people here.
Later in the afternoon I got to spend time with my wonderful señora and roommate sitting outside at my señora’s cafe sipping café con leche, chatting with friends of hers, and trying a bit of delicious ice cream. Nicole and I are so blessed to get to live with Blanca and to get to go out to meet people with her! After café Nicole and I walked all around Triana and across the river. There were so many people out enjoying the sun. Also, we got to stop talk to a random elderly man on the street. Things like that are some of the best times here, when you find that you can actually have a conversation in Spanish, no matter how superficial it is or how many times I do mess up, communication is possible!
’Twas a day full of enjoyable things: running, praising, talking, talking in Spanish, eating, walking, sitting, new friends and “old” friends, and sunshine. The only thing about it is that I never had my camera with me the whole day, with so many great photo opportunities. It gave me a great excuse to have “no time for cameras, we’ll use our eyes instead” stuck in my head though, which reminded me that I'm here for the experience, not just the pictures!
(And in case you were wondering, yes, "the best Sunday yet" was almost two weeks ago and I really haven't blogged since Valentine's day, last Sunday was good too, so were a bunch of other days that I've had I just simply got a bit overwhelmed by all the day trips and things I did and could blog about so just didn't write anything, 'twould be nice to catch up sometime, and it might happen, maybe. Thanks for reading if you are reading this. I won't say it's pointless to write a blog without readers but it does feel more like it's worth the time when it does get read. For now I'm off to bed because early tomorrow morning we're going to TOLEDO and I'm super excited!)