Saturday, July 31, 2010

Buying to Dress Spanish

Today is sale day at JC Penny's and we happen to have a beloved cousin who works there with extra fun discounts.  Today we also researched typical wear for life in Spain.  One thing that is astronomical is the clothing cost in Spain, sometimes up to three times as much!  So we decided to aprovechar (take advantage of) the local, cheaper consumerism.

In Spain, unless we're on the beach...
...Kevin trades flip-flops for leather shoes with rubber bottoms (so every site advises).  Check (already owned).
...Kevin trades t-shirts for collared shirts - polos, short-sleeve and long-sleeve button downs.  Check.
...we trade shorts for slacks (Kevin) or skirts (Leah)...not the other way around.  Check.
...we keep jeans on more relaxed days.  CHECK (phew).
...we trade in windbreaker jackets for something nicer...fur coat (Leah) and leather (Kevin).  Sucks to the animals.  No Check.
...we trade cute baby clothes for the very same cute baby clothes (sometimes 3-4 times more).  Check.

Our work in Spain will put us in the position of meeting a diverse mix of people... students - (probably) nerds, budding anarchists, entrepreneurs, and the who knows what I want to do folk.  For this group:  younger wear, but not too young.
...older folk (as in older than university students) - ministry professionals, business professionals, professors, shop owners, immigration and other government officials.  For this group:  nice shirt, slacks and possibly a tie (Kevin), elegant and "autumn colors" dress or skirt and top (Leah).
...multi-cultural - North African Muslims, Latin Americans, West Africans, Romanians, Russians, Western Europeans, USAmericans, and probably many others.  For this group:  nicer clothes rather than casuals.

And those vacations to the mountains, something active.  To the beach - FLIP-FLOPS & SHORTS!!!  (Boy will we miss those!)

So after today, we didn't get everything, but hopefully enough to begin fitting in.  We won't have the hottest Spanish brand names, but as long as they fit well, then we should be just fine.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Water Skiing, Driving a Stick, & Getting Started in Ministry

Sometimes it is hard to think that we're just getting started in our missions career.  Our feet have yet to plant down in Spain as a place we are going to live and minister, yet while we have barely just begun, we are also well within our missions career.

Preparation for new ventures, practice and good training are all necessary.  Currently we are with Leah's grandmother on the Sacramento Delta.  At grandma's we go water skiing.  Leah grew up skiing, and so it is not too difficult for her to pop up and begin skiing away.  (It is a bit difficult for her to want to get in the cold water though.)  Kevin, however has been water skiing one time before this.  Last time he got up two times out of many, many attempts.  He's no expert, though he's had good training, learned how to persevere through frustrations and keep going.  If he had all summer to water ski, he'd be up in a flash.

It is kind of like driving a stick for the first time.  The fluidity of the car is jerky at best and stalled out many times at worst.  Kevin remembers when he saw smoke billowing from the first truck he ever attempted to learn a manual on.  The most frustrating thing is from idle to movement.  Lurching and lurching, a new driver looks like their listening to a bad heavy metal song in the car.  And the person along side him or her has one hand on the dash and the other holding their eyes from popping out of their head.  Kevin has little problem driving a manual now.  The investment of learning paid off.

Such is the life of starting with missions.  It is bumpy and rocky at first, especially for one's faith and motivation.  But as we have learned, going through it is a normal process.  Instead of being career missionaries in a year, we're approaching year two.  We are encouraged by the fact, like when recounting stories of "when I first drove a stick...," missionaries tell us that their missions career was not some fluid thing right off the bat.  Few people begin water skiing by popping up out of the water in the first crack, and few missionaries get to the field that way.  Those however, that continue through the bumps trials and practice well tend to have a skill for life that accomplishes future bumps down the road.

Monday, July 12, 2010

World Cup Champions

We are very excited and proud of the Spanish soccer team.  It was very exciting to see our future homeland win the world cup, the first time they'd ever done so.  They are a patient team, passing (almost incessantly) around their obstacles, setting up some good shots.  When they miss a shot, they continue their game, trying not to be phased.  The Netherlands phased them a few times, and for short periods Spain's game was off, but eventually they went back to the fundamentals and continued forward.

It was a blast to see the Spanish royalty standing and celebrating.

(Before proceeding, we are very sorry to have seen the US team come home early.  They played hard, and they will - for Kevin at least - be the World Cup choice.  In four years, let's move to the quarters boys!)

As I write this I see our Lord and King standing and celebrating. 

Patience in getting to Spain, in getting into the ministry there can be quite draining.  The process has been two years since we came home from our year in Mexico.  Small obstacles have slowed us, sometimes ourselves being the very obstacles we have had to overcome.  We've learned how to work together more, work with our organization better and work with those in our lives who care for us and want to see our cleats in Spanish soil.  This is very encouraging and little by little, we move on towards the goal, confident.

Spain had to go into overtime to beat the Netherlands.  We ourselves are approaching overtime minutes, but we have not let it get to us, but rather are allowing what we've learned before assist us in what we do now.  Unlike the World Cup Final game, overtime is for as long as God decides.  No shoot-out and no loss.  We win as we are patient.  The Lord is more than our monarchy cheering us on from the stands.  He is our coach, directing us.  He is our captain who muddies his cleats alongside of us.

We are pressing ever-forward and are looking at about being 60% of the way there.  That is a big increase for us in the past months and the horizon looks bright.  Where the sun dropped in South Africa for our Spanish team, the sun is rising all the more on us, and the future looks brighter in regards to our departure.  We don't know yet how far off the light at the end of the tunnel is, but we're running and it is in sight.

The Spanish team returned home to a fanfare and incredibly warm welcome.  We know we are being sent off in the same fashion.  40% to go, and it is getting closer to 100% every day.  Then, we as a family, will arrive on Spanish soil, just a few months after the Spanish soccer team brought home with them the golden World Cup.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Summer Food

My nephew Jack enjoying some delicious strawberries!

For those of you who received our latest newsletter, you might have noticed that one of my updates was about the delicious summer garden that we are privileged to partake of living here at the farm.  Although my dad is a farmer, his green thumb does not seem to have been handed down to me.  I have not had nearly as much luck in my attempts to grow things (though I admit those attempts are few) as I would have liked.  However, one of the many things that we are blessed by living here on the farm is fresh produce provided by two amazing gardners, my aunt and my father.  I am in charge of cooking meals on the week days, and during the summer my menu is mainly decided by whatever we have the most of in the garden.  One of my most difficult tasks, however, is deciding what to make.  I look at all the good ingredients and have a hard time deciding how they should all go together.  So...if anyone has ideas about yummy summer meals that include things like eggplant, summer squash, tomatoes, potatoes, green beans, cucumber, corn or lettuce pass them my way! 

And on the eating track...Eliana is really not very interested in food, she's all about the nursing.  Thus far the only two things she really enjoys are bananas and yogurt.  I have been trying to introduce her to different foods, but she almost always rejects them by her overactive gag reflex -- should some of that food actually make its way into her mouth (I make and test the foods before I give them to her, they taste good to me) -- or by simply turning her head away.  I really don't want mealtime to be a battle.  If anyone has any ideas about enticing a 9 month old to eat I am also open to those ideas!