A Final Update from Spain

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I asked our missionary/host/friend, Jon Tempelton, to write a final word on our trip. This is what he had to say 🙂

“Today we reach the final day of the trip and the nostalgia is already creeping in. In only a few hours the team boards their plane headed home. As I reflect back on the last ten days I feel we has fulfilled our threefold purpose of our missions trip.

We were all encouraged spiritually. The funny thing is I anticipated this being in one direction. Meaning our missions team would point the Journey Team towards our Savior and encourage them to be more like him in the power of the Gospel. But I found myself being encouraged and refreshed by their walk with Christ and growth in him.

We also anticipated them being pushed out of their comfort zone. We had lots of fun with this. They had to purchase a drink at a coffee shop, gather groceries at the market, sit through a catholic mas, and more. Of course this all had to be done in a different language. This enabled us to talk about what missionaries experience going into a new culture, while at the same time comprehend how our wonderful community functions.

And finally we wanted them to gain a greater perspective of the need of the Gospel in our community. They did this by serving our community, serving us, and so serve our Savior.

I was thrilled to watch as friendships were quickly forged. I pray and ask that you, reader, will join me in praying that the Gospel will traverse this relational bridge.”

Thank you readers, prayer warriors, caring friends, family, and strangers-for your encouragement, support, and love that we experienced during our adventure to Spain. We were so greatly blessed by our time with the Tempeltons, and hope that you were encouraged by all you read and saw.

For His Name’s Sake,

Betty & the Team

Update from Spain: Day Eight

Today our team said our final goodbye to Ponferrada and started the first leg of our journey back to the states. It was sad to leave friends that we’ve come to love so dearly, but we leave with a lot of gratefulness in our hearts to have spent time with them (and with the hope that we’ll return again soon:)).

In reflecting about the week of ministry, our team shared how grateful we were to have so many wonderful experiences that help shape our view of missions, evangelism, legalism, and more. What a blessing it was to both learn from and aid Jon and his team!

On our way to our hotel near the airport today, we stopped at a charming little restaurant and had a classic Spanish delicacie, a Roasted Suckling Pig. It was quite an experience to have it divided in front of us via our own plates, and to pick through ear and hooves and ribs for our [oh my goodness, oh so tender] meat. Though it was only roasted with water and salt, it tasted INCREDIBLE!

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After lunch, we stuck around the city of Segovia, and checked out the cathedral, castle, and the aqueducts built by the Romans! It was pretty neat to see. While sight seeing, we continued having interesting dialogue and building our friendships with each other.

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After a few more hours in the van, and dinner in Madrid, we’re now settled into our hotels and ready for a good night’s rest. We’ll attend church tomorrow and check out Madrid more thoroughly, and then Monday we come home! Trips go by so quickly!

Thank you so much for your prayers. We still need prayers for our team’s well-being in spirit and in health. Also pray for Jon and Lorena! If you’d like to continue praying for them and getting updates about their lives in Spain-sign up here! 

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Soli Deo Gloria

For the Team,

Betty

Update from Spain: Day Seven

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…

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Cold.

Lethargic.

Lifeless.

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!

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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 :).

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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.

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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.

Hasta luego.

Kiersten, for the LBC Journey Team to Spain

 

 

 

 

Update from Spain: Day Six

When we woke up this morning, we didn’t know if we would have any energy left. I know for me, when my alarm went off, I wanted to break my iPhone. Ha.

After a shorter breakfast time, we had our morning devotion and orientation. Jeremy started us off with a devotion from John 18. He touched on two points: Christ’ humanity and God’s forgiveness. Christ, the God-man, empathized with our humanity. Peter betrayed him, yet he pursued Peter and forgave him.

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Next, we (and our new good friend Tere) went to the rehab center to spend the day with Jon’s friends there. In the morning, we were split up in small groups. Each group was assigned to one of the guys. Our goal was to serve them. We cleaned windows, floors, rooms, and flower beds. We also fed the animals. Well, that was just Nate. Lucky.

Around 2pm, we had lunch as one big group. This time, the guys put on a traditional Spanish cookout! The food was delicious. We sat around a table and had a great time of fun and relaxation. In fact, Kiersten and I harmonized to a Maroon 5 song. Fun fact: Spaniards play American popular music on their radio stations. We went on a 2-hour hike. It was hot and challenging, but it gave an opportunity to connect with the guys on a personal level.

Later on in the afternoon (because 7pm is still afternoon in Spain), we had back-to-back English hours with two different groups. First, we reunited with Rachel and her academy students near a local park. Instead of playing soccer, we played an information game. Topics such as stereotypes and embarrassing moments brought smiles to our faces. Second, we met up with Seth at a local bar to help some Spaniards practice speaking English. They did a wonderful job. It’s been great to continue developing and deepening our friendships with the Spaniards we’ve met!

We ate dinner at Seth & Crystal’s apartment and finished the day with a testimony, and our reflections on chapter 5 of the book we are reading together as a team. This was our longest day on the trip. Yet, we are already seeing the fruits of our labor. Jon and Lorena have been encouraged by our team. They even affirmed us by letting us know that we have done exactly was he was hoping for us to do. That is SUCH a blessing for us! Thank YOU for your support in making this happen, in aiding these missionaries in the work God has called them too.

Here are prayer requests from our team:

  • Physical and mental strength
    • Hydration (AQUA!)
    • ALLERGIES!
  • Connect more with the teens/students
  • Lorena’s health and baby (Praise, she’s fine)
  • Jon, Lorena, Seth, and Crystal’s need for friends’ and supporters’ encouragement and care

For the Team,

Chris

Update from Spain: Day Five

This morning started early. Very early. Those of us crazy enough to wake, met up with 5 Spaniards for a 2 mile hike up a mountain. One of Jon’s main mantras is “relationships are best built over doing“-and that certainly was the case this morning! There were great conversations had the entire way. Some of the young people we hung out with last night, invited a new friend, and he was especially open and talkative to Jon-which was super fun :). It was a very steep hill, and my legs are feeling it, but it was a great way to start the day. We rewarded ourselves by stopping in town for a cup of coffee and some complimentary treats. A beautiful, exhausting, and delicious way to start the day.

We went with some of our new Spanish friends and toured the city’s castle turned museum, and then we went to market and practiced using our Spanish by buying ingredients for our upcoming meal. We had lunch at Jon and Lorena’s teammates’ home and enjoyed some fellowship and rest.

IMG_0600The The last part of the day was my FAVORITE part of the day. There is a spunky woman from London who moved to Spain about 10 years ago, who runs an English Academy in Ponferrada. She organized a time for a handful of her students to meet with our team to practice English. She decided on a conversation topic for us to have together. And guess what it was? Religion. A topic that we just so happen to be very passionate about :). It was a trying and insightful experience to try and explain our thoughts in Spanish, and very interesting to hear their thoughts in English. The atheist and agnostic 17/18 year olds did a great job of explaining what they believe about the universe, about science, about religion, and about the Bible. Both sides asked great questions and were mutually respectful. We LOVE these kind of conversations-seeds planted. We look forward to spending more time with these Spaniards and getting to know them more the next few days! We hope too, that Jon can continue getting to know them and both ask and answer hard questions.

Oh did I mention we all tried octopus today? Well, we did! The texture was kind of unpleasant, but the taste was not bad!

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Oh-one more awesome thing! Remember how we had another leader of the trip, but because of unforeseen circumstances, he wasn’t able to come? Well, today he became a grandfather for the first time, and because he wasn’t on the trip-he was able to be with his family-which was a huge blessing. God works in mysterious ways 🙂

Please pray for each of our team members. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally, physically. There are various burdens and levels of tiredness within each of us, and to best continue loving people like Jesus loved them-prayer would be very helpful. I encourage you to send a prayer, a verse, or an encouraging message to the team member you are supporting to continue investing in them. I think they would really appreciate that!

Gracias! 🙂

For the Team,

Betty