Let me just preface this post by saying I'm sorry that it is so long, but there was a lot to tell.
Ok, so now that things have slowed down a little bit for me I can give a real update. It is currently Sunday afternoon around 5:15 pm and a lot has happened since I flew out on Thursday. I'm not going to bore everyone with intense details but I'll give some highlights.
While waiting for my flight from Amsterdam to Madrid, a kid sat down next to me and pulled out Blue Like Jazz, which is a great book and I told him I had read it and we became friends. Turns out he's on his way to Salamanca to study abroad and also do campus ministries there. So that was pretty cool.
Through a series of contacts I was put in touch with a family living here in Madrid. Larry is an American who married a British woman named Maryan and they now live in Spain with their 5 kids. They picked me up from the airport, brought me to their home, fed me, gave me some advice about living in Spain, gave me a place to sleep off my jet-lag and helped me get in touch with my landlord and brought me to my apartment the next day. I mean, I'm not sure there is a better way to transition into living in a new country.
Through ANOTHER series of contacts I found my new landlord, name Hugo, who is a Colombian artist living here in the city. He had a room in his apartment that he was renting for a great price, so that's where I am now. I think if it had not been for Larry and Maryan, I would have been very intimidated about coming to the new apartment because Hugo doesn't really speak English. However, since I was able to have that day to recover I was feeling ready to jump into things and it has been awesome! Hugo is SUPER nice and my Spanish is holding up way better than I thought it would.
So last night was something called La noche en blanco. This is basically an annual festival that they hold in September during the full moon. I haven't been able to figure out exactly what is behind the celebration, but essentially there are lots of art exhibits and people play music and dance everywhere downtown. So, Hugo has some Colombian friends staying in our apartment because they are all preparing for a big test tomorrow for their PhD's. Hugo left for a bible study last night and they came into my room and asked if I would like to go with them to see some of the festivities. In my head I was like "that will be kinda awkward since you guys don't speak English and I barely speak Spanish." Out loud I was like "...SURE!" As it turns out, my Spanish was good enough to have a great time with them and they took turns trying to introduce themselves in English which was hilarious.
Here's the part where some of you are going to make fun of me. The first thing they wanted to do was eat because they were hungry. I was kinda starving so this was fine with me. However... the place they wanted to eat, ironically, was Burger King... As some of you know, I gave up fast food last September and just celebrated a year without it. I tried to explain that to them, but I don't think I made it clear enough that I seriously NEVER eat it anymore. Soo.... they bought me a whopper meal... and I ate it. hahaha I don't even feel bad about it though because I was having so much fun and they were taking such good care of me while taking me around the city so I gladly ate my first fast food burger in over a year. I don't plan on making a habit of it.
While I was at the Piano's house (Larry and Maryan), I met a friend of theirs named Anna who is from Atlanta and just did 2 years of Young Life here in Madrid. She is leaving to go back to the states tomorrow so before she left she offered to bring me to the church she has gone to. I met up with her this morning and we walked to her church which was incredible. It's a Spanish church, but it was very much like church in the United States. They played a few of the worship songs that we sing, only in Spanish. I almost teared up a few times because there's something very powerful about singing those same songs in a different language. It definitely gives you more of an understanding about how the church is a family. It's also a reminder that God lives in Madrid too and I don't ever have to feel like I'm apart from Him here. Does that make any sense?
Here's a funny story from church that illustrates the constant awkwardness of living in a country with a different language: After the service a guy walked up to me and said something to me, while shaking my hand. Now, I thought he said 'Dios te bendiga' (God bless you) which is a common thing people say to each other, but I still have no clue if that's actually what he said. I said 'y tu tambien' and then he said something else I didn't understand and walked away. I just have this feeling that in his mind that conversation was very different than what it was in my mind. You never go very long without feeling like a moron in these situations, but that's just a part of the experience and I've decided to embrace it and share it with all of you to have a laugh over.
Ok, I realize this is super long but I think this whole process of getting settled is one of the most important parts of the whole thing so I wanted you all to get a sense of how my last few days have been. Thanks for reading!
*Pictures: My room, The obligatory picture of my plane over the Atlantic, The city during La noche en blanco, My Colombian friends working to get ready for their exams. More Pictures