Monday, August 30, 2010

I have a friend that speaks several languages, one heavily accented by the other so that you are sure he's not an American, and I've known him forever.

He used to come back to the US armed with a massive map of the tiny town where they live, and would show it to all of us and say, "Please pray for my city." And when Andrew and I wandered to see his part of the world, he took us to the top of the hill overlooking his town and said, "Let's pray".

I secretly thought he was nuts.

But there's something about what he does, that sticks in your mind and as we crested the hill today, and suddenly Granada was spread out underneath us like a large blanket covering the valley, I thought, "Let's pray."

All through our few days away, I unplugged from life as best as possible. I read books watching movies read blogs and all like a drowning woman gasping for her last breath. We had some friends come visit and we watched movies, and swam together and ate fish and shrimp and tiny octopuses by the seaside.

And then, as I drove him, my heart beat faster till the moment we crested the hill, and it stopped as I saw it all over again. At the very place where the Moorish King Boabdil wept in 1492 over the loss of the city and its renowned palace, the Alhambra, my breath was again taken away.

And before I even enter my tiny flat that Andrew and I call home sweet home, we are informed that the power was cut due to the fact that I didn't pay an electricity bill. Welcome home to a place so beautiful it takes your brother a way, to a place in the world so overwhelmed by the kingdom of darkness your light and life get snuffed out if you don't take care of it, and a place where we long to see God's Kingdom established.

So, find a map, spread it out, pray for this city. Pray for us to be salt and light. Pray for peace. Pray for patience, as the kingdom of God grows like a tree and expands like yeast in bread. Pray for His light to be turned on and be shone brightly in this town. May He become God of this city...

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

This continues in the theme of important events throughout the last four years. This is in no way in chronological order, but this is just another event that God used in both Andrew and my lives.

Two and a half years ago, Andrew and I had been officially voted in by the church to work with the youth, alongside the pastor's wife Esther. One of the young ladies, a doctorate student in the university of Granada, suggested that we attend a youth conference called ContraCorriente, which means, Against the flow.

Founded by Pastor Mark Jobe, an American who grew us as a Spanish MK, this youth conference is a sort of mini Urbana or Passion conference, directed at Spanish youth. 2 years ago it was held in a town called Priego de Cordoba, about 2 hours away from Granada in the middle of rolling hills covered in millions of olive trees.

We had speakers, music, concerts, workshops and more. We camped that weekend, and our tent and cooking spot because the hang out spot for not only the 5 youth we brought to the conference, but to other people that became new friends. Andrew seems to always attract missionary kids, they love to find him and pour out their hearts. He did a lot of informal counseling that weekend.

But, I get ahead of myself. There were a number of speakers, and Mark Jobe spoke on healing and letting Jesus heal you. I had been dealing with a lot of grief and pain from my grandmothers death and the stamp she had had on my life. As he spoke and then prayed, I felt the Lord working in my heart. I ended sitting on the floor for a long time (no chairs in the venue) and just praying for healing. I believe a lot happened there for me.

And for Andrew, there was a speaker that was an American, raised in the UK, that now has his own band. The band was incredible, and even though they didn't speak or sing any Spanish, the power of God was evident in the band, and also in his sermon.

He spoke simply on being salt and light, and told us how he had been able to be salt and light. He and his band are willing to go into bars and pubs into the darkest corners of the UK, and sing about Jesus in striking and honest way. His sermon was powerful and Andrew said, "I want to be the salt and light as I share the gospel. I want to be the salt, that disappears and brings out the God flavor in others." These statements from Trey's sermon both struck us, and as the last two years have unfolded, we've endeavored to do so in every aspect of live that has been thrown at us.

And the five youth, what happened to them? They were so encouraged by the fact that over 500 youth from around Spain had gathered together. To you, that sounds like a small number, but to us here in Spain, this is huge. Guille, the pastors son, got so excited seeing the different creative events, that he started a step group. This is a specific type of dance that uses body percussion, stamping, clapping and other elements. This group is called Paso a Paso, and they have now perfomed numerous times in Granada and other places, all to bring glory to God. The reactions they receive when they street perform are amazing, they always have a crowd, and afterwards they pause and give glory to God.

This is just the beginning of the results we've seen from one little conference.We were greatly encouraged as were the youth, and our faith grew so much, that we lost our shame in the Gospel. Pray for us as now, we share the gospel wherever we go, that we will be like Light, shining through the darkness and like Salt, disappearing and bringing out the God flavor in others.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In a day and era when fundamentalism is wrong and tolerance is good, Its strange to be who I am.

I live in a different country because of who I am and what I believe. I believe God is love and showed us His love in wrapping His Son in space and time. He came, He saw and He sacrificed, so that we could be united together. I live where I live so I can be evidence of God's love, by loving others as much as He loved me. Its a tough act to follow...this taking up the cross of love and walking through the streets every day.

Its tough because I have to adapt as fully as I can to a culture that's alien to my own. So, how do I be "100 percent" or as close to it as I can in this culture, but still not be "100 percent" because if I was, that would mean adapting to the sins of this place too.

In this place, you use shame and embarrassment as tools to manipulate other people. How do I show Christ's love without falling into their traps?

In this place, family is so important that nothing else matters when the family needs you. How do I show God's love when I live 6000 miles away from my family?

In this place, tolerance and godlessness are the religion. Everything goes, nothing really matters as long as you fit into society. How do I fit into society, loving as Christ loved? He loved the woman at the well, the gentile women with the ill daughter, the centurion with great faith, the woman with the issue of blood? He loved Saul so much to see him become Paul, he loved Cornelius so much to send dreams from heaven, He loved the Enunch on the road so much to transport Phillip to share the gospel....how do I follow Him and love them?

Finally, in this place, the Christians have bunkered down for a long time...they are afraid to share their victorious faith that they know. They desperately long for their family and friends to understand the victory and freedom they have experienced in their hearts, but they often lack the courage to live it openly, for fear of shame and embarrassment. The only places they feel "free" to be 100 percent themselves is on Sunday morning in church and Wednesday night in prayer meeting. The other however many hours of the week, its easier for them to live with the light under the bushel because when they let it shine, the rhinos try to come and stamp it out. How do I shine my light and encourage the believers to do the same?

After seven years, I have more questions than answers. This summer, I seek answers. May I come to know Him more deeply, and see Him more clearly, so that He is the Answer. I've seen methods fail, missionaries get discouraged and go home, the darkness is thick here. I watched others wash out, others get physically ill, others crumble and move away to lighter places. My cry this summer is, show us the Answer. Give us the faith to stay on, and the courage to say no to all the temptations to leave.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

I called my dad tonight, just to hear his voice for a minute. He was at work, curing cancer. It helps me know that he's still there, even though the phone call got dropped as I heard him talking geeky cancer zapping talk with a co worker.

He's a mad scientist, a geek, someone who wears pocket protectors and a lab jacket to work with his name embroidered into the lapel, but he's a wonderful geek, my Dad.

He's got a ton of sayings, very quotable, not all of the appropiate, but the longer I live I know the days are longer in the summer cuz its hotter, and I've applied that logic to say, that's why the gas goes up in price, the euro/dollar exchange gets worse, and the food prices go up, cause things expand when they get hot, and since its summer, of course all those things would happen.

Somehow Dad and Mom managed to raise us all with massive love and compassion, no matter how much we got spanked, we knew it hurt Dad so much more than it hurt us.

I was with my friend April tonight, wishing she could have seen us as we crammed into the bathroom on a hot night cuz the tile and bathtub was cooler than the house, and it was a private place for us to chill out and talk. Her boyfriend came in and was like, "what are you two doing in here?" and it was nice to lay in the tub and talk to April while she trimmed her toenails. Somehow it brought back some memories I'd forgotten about.

I miss my fam here. I miss the fact that we can't all cram into the smallest room on the smallest bed and drink coffee late and talk about life, love, and happiness. I miss them so much I even did the "mom" voice to April so she could hear what we sound like when we imitate mom.

I miss you guys. I have missed you for some time. I'm here, sitting in the tub, wishing we could talk. Send me some emails, texts, or whatever. My email goes to my phone now, yah, I've got a Blackberry, so I can keep up better. Write on my wall on Facebook, send me a smoke signal, post some pics, so at least we can know where we are at. Love you and btw, the bathroom is a cool place to hang out.
Oye, hijo mío, el silencio.
Es un silencio ondulado,
un silencio,
donde resbalan valles y ecos
y que inclinan las frentes
hacia el suelo.

Listen, my son, the silence.
Is a silence that comes in waves,
a silence,
where it slips across the valleys, and echoes,
and makes all fall fall facedown to the floor.

F. Garcia Lorca,
My Translation
La elipse de un grito,
va de monte
a monte.

Desde los olivos,
será un arco iris negro
sobre la noche azul.

¡Ay!

Como un arco de viola,
el grito ha hecho vibrar
largas cuerdas del viento.

¡Ay!

(Las gentes de las cuevas
asoman sus velones)

¡Ay!

The Ellipse of Scream goes from mountain to mountain.

From the olive trees, its like a black rainbow against the blue night.

AHHHHHHHHH!

Like a viola bow, the scream vibrates the long strings of the wind.

AHHHHHHHHH

The cave people look out their windows...AHHHHHHHHHHH