Phew, what a week. Let’s just say we have been super busy yet God has been so at work! We woke up this morning with refreshed spirits because all of the sleep we finally got. We slowly woke up and meandered around and ate breakfast. Then we separated and did personal devotions. We learned how easy it is to get so involved with ministry that we forget our most important relationship: with God. Personal time with the Lord was refreshing as well. I especially got to have meaningful conversation with Lorena. She is an incredible woman with whom I have personally identified. She is a truth-speaker and an intelligent woman of faith who is trusting God during this stage. (Can’t we all learn a lesson from her?) Anyway, we had a really good talk that challenged me in so many ways. I am excited to see how this mentorship will continue.
We then headed into town and attended mass. We met up with Seth and Crystal in the square and they joined us for the remainder of the morning. (Fun Fact: the morning in Spain ends after you eat lunch around two.) Attending mass truly was a neat experience because it gives a view into the religious climate Templetons are living in. There is nothing like stepping out of what you define as church to grow in appreciation for what you know. I wrote these next words in response to my time in the service…
The clock chimes yet nobody winces.
The word echoes but the sound disappears into the heights of the Cathedral.
The beauty of this place becomes a façade for the underbelly of ritualism.
The standing and sitting, reciting and raising hands.
The lack of diverse generations.
The coins clink to send good tidings to those in middle earth.
The candles flicker for the peace of the living,
Because of the faithlessness of the dead.
How starving for the hope of the Gospel;
How deeply they yearn for a relationship;
How intimately the Savior loves each of them!
We left the Cathedral and ate the famous “Chocolate con churros” and discussed what we observed and felt about what we just experienced. The Chocolate was much like a runny pudding and the churros were fried deliciousness!
We then did what tourists do and went and bought things from the local stores for family, friends, and supporters. The Bierza valley has a vast amount of history and scenery that we cannot wait to share about. One friend started asking really great questions about what we believe as evangelicals and challenged me to be able to put into words what I have always assumed to be ingrained. We then rode back to the Templeton hogar (house) and ate DeLiCioUs and authentic paella made by the lovely Abby (the wife of Israel the pastor who taught us about the history of Protestantism in Spain). Another dish I am excited to make when I have my own kitchen :).
Getting back on track, we all then relaxed and hung around (I did homework for my summer class) until Jon called us together for a discussion. It was awesome to see the passion coming from Jon about Evangelism and Contextualization. Those are two pretty big words that basically mean sharing the Gospel in a way that culturally makes sense without compromising Truth. You may look at that and think, “WAH?” so let me share a smidge about what we learned.
There is huge importance to making sure that the Gospel is able to be comprehended by the people that we are trying to reach. If we use our “christianese” and assume the universality of certain words, we are at a deep loss when sharing the Gospel. You see, every culture has their issues with the Truth and therefore we need to approach it differently. And in approaching the people differently we need to individually understand the implications of sharing the Gospel in a culture. We need to be servants, adapt our lifestyles, suppress our rights and at the same time never budging on the Truth.
After the workshop we all cleaned up and prepared for the crux of our short time here. All along the way we have been making friends and inviting them to Jon and Lorena’s for pizza and a movie. Lo and behold, the time came and SO MANY of our friends came over to hangout. 😀 The living room and kitchen were packed. The movie aired was about El Camino; the famous Walk through Spain. We ate pizza. We laughed hysterically. We talked in English. Our hearts connected… all in time for the departure.
The apartment lost a lot of life and the stock of chips and soda sure took a hit. But we made so many friends and so many memories. We kissed and hugged and tickled Jeremy until the kids were dragged out the door. We shared sentiments (in whatever language we chose) and Facebook friendships were made to keep in contact. A special woman who we have all grown to cherish even went out of her way to purchase magnets of Ponferrada.
She said she bought them that we would not forget them…
But I do not think that would have happened, even without the magnets.
These friendships have challenged and changed me in so many ways. I have been pushed beyond my boundaries more times in this last week than the sum of my life (probably an exaggeration…but you get the point.) These people have a place in my heart and I am so excited to one-day return and see face-to-face my dear amigos.
In Spanish when you meet someone, you say “encantada” (for a female). That phrase means literally, “enchanted.” And as I am sitting on the couch after cleaning up the now empty house there is no better word to describe my sentiments.
Encantada Ponferrada, por siempre.
Kiersten, for the LBC Journey Team to Spain