Monday, May 31, 2010

Tourists For A Day

As I write this evening, I have a bit more color in my face, several more pictures in my camera, and enough new memories to last a lifetime! I must admit; however, as perfect a day as this was, it did not come without a few fears. Let me start at the beginning though… In order to accomplish a few things before orientation this morning, the girls and I hesitantly skipped Café & Te for a quick American treat, Dunkin Donuts. In my defense, I ordered Italian coffee and a croissant to remind myself that I was in fact, in Spain!

Day 2 of orientation was just as wonderful as the first. We learned about maintaining realistic expectations, an excellent lesson for a struggling perfectionist, and tips for maintaining devotion in commotion. We also spent a little time team building as well! Every story told by the different missionaries was incredibly honest and so valuable to my preparation for this trip. I am learning more and more about life as a missionary. It has its rewards, but its surely not all flowers and butterflies. The honesty and insight was much appreciated! My eyes have been opened and I am now so much more thankful for our missionaries in the field and their willingness to press forward in God’s calling even in the face of hardship.

After our first three sessions, we grabbed a quick lunch, a ham sandwich and a cold vegetable soup called gazpacho, then it was time for the highly anticipated walking tour of Madrid. To be honest, it even exceeded my expectations. We visited the Plaza Mayor, the Plaza de España, the Opera House, the Mercado in San Miguel, the Madrid Cathedral, and the Royal Palace of Madrid which is the largest in Europe. We all enjoyed one another’s’ company as we walked around the city, with permission to be tourists for a few hours. The sights were absolutely beautiful! I am already excited about our return to Madrid when we can explore these sights further.

This evening, we finally got to meet our missionaries and get acquainted over dinner at Museo de Jamon, where I enjoyed a traditional Spanish dish, Paella. Paella consists of chicken, shrimp, mussels, clams, and squid in a bed of rice and veggies, covered in some type of sauce. Basically, the dish tasted like the ocean… it was interesting, but not bad. Rick was not available to meet with us, so the four of us girls met with Jan and her son Jonathan. I can already tell I will enjoy working with Jan! She is so sweet and personable. We all spent time talking about Romania and Jan’s ministry during dinner, and although I was excited, I started to get a little nervous. I learned that we would be traveling frequently, many times to places with nothing but an outhouse with a hole in the ground for restroom facilities. Jan also told us that the Romanian language is quite hard to learn, so our work will probably involve much more serving behind the scenes, because it will be very difficult for us to communicate. To put it simply, this internship will be challenging and require me to stretch myself beyond what I currently believe myself capable.

Though I am nervous, I reminded myself on the walk back to the hostel that I did not sign on for this experience because it was glamorous, I applied because I wanted to serve God and share His love with those in need. In all reality, I need to be stretched beyond my comfort zone, to broaden my worldview, to learn how to fully depend on God. I am no more entitled to the luxuries of this world than any person I will come in contact with over the next several weeks, and this experience will be a great reminder.

To end the evening on a light note, the girls and I shared some gelato, watched a chick flick, and just laughed over silly conversation to lighten the mood. I know that everything will be ok, or better than ok, everything will be great! Looking forward to one more day in this beautiful city!

The famous statue of the bear and the tree in Puerta Del Sol

Don Quixote Statue in the Plaza de Espana

That's me in front of the Royal Palace: You can't even see 1/3 of it in this picture

The Royal Cathedral

With Sarah in Plaza Mayor

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