Thursday, April 16, 2009

A different kind of Easter

It’s hard to believe that it’s half way through April already. There are things that we are used to, familiar with, that help us judge the passing of time. While we are here, we are missing some of those things that are happening back in the States without us. At the same time, we are getting to experience a different culture’s passing of time, and learning to understand how time goes for them. This said, we found it hard to believe that this past Sunday was Easter. There were a few signs, such as the coming of spring, and a few chocolate bunnies in the store, but other than that, there wasn’t much.

Church on Easter was only slightly different than a “normal” Sunday here (but then again, there really never truly is a “normal” Sunday). We sang a few Easter songs, had communion, and the message was about Easter. It was a good service, just different than what we’re used to on a “normal” Easter Sunday. All four of us wore skirts, but most other people didn’t dress up more than usual.

There was one very special thing about the service, though. Easter Sunday was the debut of the worship team. We were all very, very excited! The Amor Viviente Church here in Barcelona is fairly new, so until now, they haven’t had a live worship team. Worship would always be one or two people singing along to songs played from a CD. So, it was a real treat to have all the music be live, and we were glad we were able to be here for the debut.

The woman in charge of the worship team, Karla, played the piano. Another guy played the guitar. Then there were about 10 people singing, passing 2 microphones around so everyone got a chance to be heard. Karla is an amazing piano player, and somehow added a touch of gospel to a bunch of songs in which we didn’t even know that was possible. At the end of the service, all the chairs were pushed toward the back of the church, and everyone was invited to stand together at the front of the church, and Karla led us in some songs.

Easter to me has always seemed like a bit of a somber holiday. After all, this was the date that Jesus’ life was ended in an unjust, horrific crucifixion, despite his perfect and innocent character. However, through these people, I was able to truly see the joy in the holiday. At the end of the service when we were all standing together at the front of the church, not only was everyone singing, but most people were also clapping, and some were even dancing. The atmosphere in the church was like that of a party, or a concert. Looking around, I noticed that everyone just couldn’t help but smile and laugh. The joy in that room was contagious.

So what if it didn’t “feel” like church? It was – there was a group of us there singing, praising, worshiping, and thanking Jesus for what He did on the cross. They didn’t ignore the sadness of the holiday, but instead chose to embrace the joy in it. It was different, yes, but I loved it, and I know it will be an Easter that I will never forget!


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

We´ve offically moved

We are now in the new apartment. The move went very well, and everything is now in its place – although sometimes we can’t remember where that place is. We had packed a few things prior to moving day, which was March 31st, but most of it was actually packed on that day. Bringing the clothing over was probably the most interesting thing for me – we put it in suitcases, and then walked the 5 or 10 minutes from the old apartment to the new one. We would open the suitcase to see whose stuff it was, and then dump it on the appropriate person’s bed. Then we would take the suitcases back to be filled again, and we repeated this process numerous times. Besides walking things over, which we did a lot, there were also a few men that came to help. One of them had a big van, and another, Alex, had a car.

Audrey and I made many trips with Alex. It was really cool – he had picked us up at the airport when we first arrived back in December, and we couldn’t talk with him at all. It was really neat to see how much we’ve learned during the past four months – the three of us were able to have entire conversations in Spanish.

Antonio was telling us recently how much of a miracle it really is that we have this apartment. First of all, they had to make a very large down payment on the apartment. They prayed for the amount, and they got it. Then, when Antonio was talking with the landlord, he told Antonio that he needed to bring a document proving that he earned a certain amount each month. Antonio said okay, but he knew he couldn’t bring that document because he didn’t earn that much. But he trusted God, and knew that God would provide if they really were supposed to have this apartment. The day came when Antonio was making the final negotiations with the landlord, and Antonio was just waiting for when he would ask for that document. But they went through the negotiations, and he didn’t ask. The time came for Antonio to sign, and as he told us, he did it quickly. Irma signed too, and then the landlord did as well. Everything was fine, and he showed them the apartment. He never did ask for that document. Had the landlord asked for it, we wouldn’t be here today. He has told us stories of how well God provides for him and his family, and it's amazing - all because he has faith that things will work out.

Moving day was Tuesday, and Sarah’s family and Jan arrived on Thursday, so the past little while has been quite busy. It was good to see people we know (and they’re native, fluent English speakers!) and we had a great time with them all. They got the chance to see a bit of what we do here, and we were also able to show them around the city a little bit.

The past little while has been quite busy, and the coming weeks will also be busy, but we’re looking forward to see what God is going to do through us in the time that we have left here!

Melanie for the team