Leaving is bitter-sweet. Tears were definitely shed as we said good-bye... Besides Charis' family, we were leaving behind other family members and friends with whom we have shared many memories.
The flight over went as well as could be expected with the usual resulting zombie-like feel by the end of it.
Friends of ours, the Mussers and Dycks, were at the airport to welcome us! Amazingly, only one of our 15 checked bags was delayed in coming!
God provided above and beyond what we could have imagined! On only our second day in the country, we had signed the rental agreement on a lovely, FULLY FURNISHED home complete with a "communidad" out back which includes a swimming pool and small soccer court that we share with our block of neighbors! This means we'll have plenty of opportunity to meet neighbors and practice Spanish, and plenty of space in our home for hospitality.
God allowed Scot Musser to be a huge help to us in finding this home. It turns out that the owners knew him and were happy to rent to friends of his. Scot was pretty sure we'd broken a record in how quickly we had found a place to live. We really feel this was God's kind provision in response to the prayers of many.
The daughter of the owners, Yolanda, has a daughter who is in the same grade as Miles at the local public school.
Miles Visits Two Special Friends
Miles started school a week later than Caleb. We took advantage of his free time to make a visit to a very special teacher from his past. Ángela was Miles' very first teacher. She taught him for the five months that he was in "Infantil 3" (3 year old kindergarten) back in 2010-2011. We had kept in touch with her while back in the States.
One day I took Miles in to Alcalá to surprise Ángela with a bouquet of flowers. I wish you could have seen the look on Angela's face when she saw Miles! She told us to come back two days later to visit his old class. We did, and this time Charis and Ati came along too. It was precious to watch as Miles' old classmates (and some new ones) all lined up and each gave him a kiss on the cheek in true Spanish fashion.
Miles will not be attending this school again since we now live in a different town, but it's wonderful to be able to reconnect with his former teacher and classmates.
Another very important visit Miles made was to the "Peluquería" in our old neighborhood to get a haircut from his favorite hairdresser, Lili.
Lili was happy to hear that we plan to be around for awhile. She had a picture (below) of her and Miles displayed on a shelf near the door. After the haircut, I asked Lili how much it cost.
"Es gratis," she replied.
Surprised, I explained to Miles that she had cut his hair as a gift... for free! He was beaming as we walked out the door (and smelling strongly of perfume!).
We plan to welcome another teacher into our home this January and then a third in March. That will make three teachers, three crazy kids, and us!
We took Hannah to our town's Churrería where Ati got to enjoy her first experience of "churros con chocolate."
A Visit from "Un Peregrino"
Those steps eventually led him to a train which then brought him to Madrid and finally into our home in Camarma! It was an incredible joy to get to see Trevor here in Spain for a few days before he left to return to America. As we walked with Trevor up a hill behind town one day, Caleb exclaimed, "Trevor, I feel like you've always been here because you're such a good friend!"
We all went in to Madrid on Sunday to explore the city as well as the park.
It would seem that with "La Crisis," odds are these days that you'll run into a demonstration or two while visiting Madrid. A march for what appeared to be healthcare added some excitement to our day.
La Plaza de Cibeles is sometimes thronged with Real Madrid fútbol fans after their team's victory. This time, however, the streets were filled with demonstrators.
Thanksgiving in Spain
We shared Thanksgiving dinner with the Dirks family. Jerry and Elizabeth worked in Venezuela before coming to serve in Spain.
We've enjoyed getting to know Micah and Heather Powers and their kids. They joined us over the long weekend for a meal.
I took this next picture for Oupa. I know it's about a hundredth the size of your wood pile, Dad, but hope you enjoy the sight! We have a small fireplace in the basement and have enjoyed using it for everything from roasting marshmallows to drying clothes! (Still working on getting our dryer up and running!)
During another long weekend in December (Spain's Constitution Day) we had the privilege of taking the guys dorm. There are four guys in the dorm, and Miles came to call them affectionately, "The Dorms." Charis did plenty of cooking those four days, and I spent nights with the guys over at the dorm house.
Charis got to host a girls' night that weekend where she enjoyed the company of some ECA parents and students.
More friends! Kurt and his wife Kim (Kim wasn't in the picture) just moved to Spain with their three children. Kurt is an MK from Colombia. He and Kim had served in places such as Mexico before coming here. Caleb became fast friends with their son who is in the same class.
A Morning in Paradise
One Sunday morning before church, I decided to take the three kiddos on a hike through the hills behind our home. Those hills had been calling ever since we arrived. I wanted to see what was on the other side.
The morning was crisp and clear, and as we rounded the top of the final hill, we were met with a sight far more glorious than I could have expected...
The rolling hills met by the rugged, snow-capped mountains echoed the beauty and majesty of their Creator. I stood there amazed that such a place was just over the hills behind our house. After weeks of culture stress and the exhaustion of setting up home in a foreign country with three active children, the morning was like sweet medicine to my soul. Sweet medicine, because it tasted good while going down.
But not all medicine tastes good at the time...
The three year adoption process was long and frustrating and exhausting. But by God's grace we persevered. We swallowed the confusing concoction of waiting and paperwork and delays. Now look at what God brought out of it:
Our "addis ababa" - our "new flower" - planted in Ethiopia, nurtured in America, now blossoming in Spain.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Many times over the course of our journey to overseas ministry I asked myself "Why?" Why is it taking so long? Why are there so many obstacles? Why aren't things working out according to plan?
I don't have all the answers, but I do believe that all along God has been molding us and teaching us. And one of the lessons I've been learning is that it's not about the destination. It's not about "arriving." It's not about getting to Spain. It's about The Way. It's about learning to follow the one who said "I am the way and the truth and the life." (John 14:6)
Thank you, Jesus, for bringing us to Spain.
And thank you for showing me that we're not there yet...