Saturday, December 26, 2009

Holiday Happiness

I generally like to consider myself an optimist when it comes to the world we live in. I often feel really blessed by my family and friends. Then, every once in a while I become really conflicted about that. See, I just had yet another wonderful Christmas with my wonderful family. Forget the presents, we all know that those are temporary things. When I say I had a wonderful Christmas it means I felt like I was right where I belonged with the people I belong with. Having an entire day to just hang out with my family is a really great thing. The conflict that I face is that I feel spoiled. Sometimes I feel out of touch with reality. Today there were 278 people who spent Christmas having to subdue some idiot that was (unsuccessfully) trying to blow their plane up. Fortunately, the fool just ended up burning himself in the crotch and everyone is fine, but today 278 people wondered if they were going to see their families again. Also today, thousands of volunteers on the Eastern Shore of Maryland went out searching for an 11-year-old girl who disappeared earlier this week. Around 4 PM, they found her body and her family had to spend their Christmas mourning the loss of their little girl.

I know the sad thing is that we hear this kind of news often and I think, for me anyway, that makes me a bit desensitized to it. But for some reason this evening when I read about the little girl I was hit pretty hard. It just seems pretty unfair. I apologize for being such a downer on Christmas. I know this is a time when we are supposed to be nothing but cheery, and the truth is I am cheery. That's my whole point. I was able to come home from Spain and spend Christmas with my awesome family. I couldn't have asked for a better Christmas. I guess the only reason I'm writing this is because I want to remind myself to take a minute and pray for anyone who has had to go through a difficult Christmas. My prayer is that God would let those people know they aren't alone and that He would help lead them through that darkness. I think that's the only thing I can offer really. That, and to make sure I'm always thankful for the blessings I've received. I pray anyone who reads this had a great Christmas and I'd also encourage you to just remember where all your blessings come from. Love you all.


Friday, December 18, 2009

Oh! The Weather Outside is Frightfully Stupid

So, I just got off of my 9 hour flight from Madrid which felt as long as it sounds. I'm in Atlanta waiting for my flight to DC and we have major issues. First of all, the weather here is a mess. It's raining a ton and you can't see anything. My flight has already been delayed from 5:30pm to 6:45pm. To complicate things, The Weather Channel is expecting, and I quote: "a major, perhaps HISTORIC snowstorm" back home. How unbelievable is that?? I just looked and the snow is supposed to start between 10pm and 12am so as long as my flight isn't delayed anymore, I should be ok. This is major drama here people. I don't want to spend a week in Atlanta.

So after thinking a lot about how weird it is to be coming home in the middle of my time abroad, I've realized how exciting it is. I think this time at home will be so good for me. I get to have Christmas with the fam, I get to watch the last 3 weeks of Redskins games from home, I get to see lots of friends, I get to spend Euros as dollars and I get to have as many free refills as I want on drinks. And then I get to go back to Madrid and continue all those experiences over there. Life really couldn't be sweeter.

I am kind of curious to see the ways that I've already changed. I don't necessarily feel like I've changed, but God has done so much in my life in the last 3 months so I feel like there will probably be evidence.

Anyway, apparently my flight is delayed because our plane is going to arrive late, which means that once it's here we can leave and I should make it home in time. This is good news because being snowed into Atlanta while not being able to see my family = major suckage. However, making it to DC before the storm and being snowed in WITH the family = major fun.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

SeVILLA, wouldn't wanna BE YA!

HELLO! I'm alive! To my thousands of fans who check my blog 5 times a day for updates, I'm really sorry I've been quiet for like 3 weeks. To the 4 people who exist in reality and actually read my blog, the truth is I had a friend (Eddie) come visit me for 2 weeks so I just didn't bother posting anything.

EDIT: I just added new music to the blog after making this post. I found Family Force 5's new Christmas album and it is absolutely ridiculous. However, I kinda like it. Enjoy.

Let's see... what to talk about...

Well, Eddie's visit was really fun. He enjoyed seeing Spain and I enjoyed showing him around. It really meant a lot to me for someone from home to come and see what my life is like over here. It was especially cool that it was Eddie that came since he's a teacher and I was able to bring him to school for a day. My coordinator swooped him up, took him to her class and while I did my normal work he was teaching 5th graders. They loved having him and I think he really enjoyed the experience. You should ask him about it. (if you're prepared to listen to him go on about how cool he is)

I had a 5 day weekend this past week because of a holiday here in Spain (they have tons of holidays), so some friends and I decided to go to Seville (Sevilla in Spanish; pronounced seh-vee-ya) for a few days. It is in the southern part of Spain and it is one of the places you find a lot of classic Spanish traditions like Flamenco. In fact, one of the nights we were there, we stumbled upon a real local bar and around 1:30am one of the workers turned off the music, brought out a guitar and everyone gathered around and sang. Apparently everyone was expecting this except us and there were two or three people performing the singing and it was incredible. The songs were mostly very slow and powerfully sad. One woman next to me was balling while the guy was singing to her. hahaha

Sevilla has a lot of really awesome buildings and architecture. My favorite building was the Plaza de España:

It was too big to capture in pictures but maybe you can get a sense of how pretty it was. We also went to the Alcázar which is the palace. It was built by the Muslims that inhabited Spain at the time which is reflected in the architecture.

My favorite part of the palace was the gardens.

Alright, in the interest of this not turning into a huge presentation on Sevilla, I'll just show one more picture:

That picture is from the inside of the cathedral in Sevilla which I believe is the 3rd biggest in the world. Inside the box there are the remains of Christopher Columbus. Pretty cool, huh?

So just to give you some more personal updates, I am getting very excited for Christmas. A week from tomorrow I will be home!! That is a really crazy thought. There are a lot of emotions tied into that which I want to elaborate on in another post at some point.

I was able to share with a friend of mine the other day that I have been feeling a little bit like I've lost focus since I got here. I know that I'm here for a reason but I was struggling, feeling like I had not been able to figure out what that might be. So I prayed about that a little bit and then the very next day I started reading a book that a friend here gave me called "Don't Stop Believing" by Michael E Wittmer. This book is one of the best I've ever read about Christianity so far. I'm 3 chapters in and already it is helping me to define questions and ideas that I've had for years. I highly recommend. Anyway, that was a huge blessing. Later on that evening I was at my coordinator (Natalia)'s house because I have begun tutoring her daughter and her brother-in-law. In between tutoring the two of them, Natalia helps me practice my Spanish by having conversations with me. Out of nowhere she asked me, "Josh, tienes una religión?" (Josh, do you have a religion?) So... I was kinda surprised by the question and didn't exactly know how to react because I am barely comfortable explaining to people that I'm not religious, I just love Jesus in ENGLISH, let alone Spanish. But I tried and I think by the end of it she understood what I was trying to say. I'm not sure what was accomplished by that conversation if anything, but it seemed too big a coincidence to be nothing. Then later while I was tutoring her brother-in-law, he asked me "So, in the United States is Christmas more of a religious thing?" Luckily we were speaking English so it was a little easier this time, but I ended up explaining to him a lot of the same things I was explaining to Natalia. It was so bizarre. I have no idea what it all meant, but I think it was somehow God's way of answering my prayer. We'll have to see what happens in the future I guess.

Alright, that's enough for now. Sorry it has been so long since I've updated. I'm going to probably try and update more frequently for a while since a lot is going to happen with my trip home in a week. I think it is going to have some serious effects on me since I've become comfortable here and now I'm going to go home and remember what I'm missing.