Worshiping God in Spain

Christians are not plentiful in Spain.  When you think of countries where people need to hear about Jesus perhaps countries with widespread poverty or persecution come to your mind first.  Yet people in every country in the world, people that speak every language in the world, and people that are similar to me and people that are different from me are in need of a Savior.  The Great Commission commands believers to go and make disciples of all nations.

The worship service in Spain began at 11:30 a.m. which meant that Sunday mornings could be spent with family.  Also, you did not feel rushed to get to church.  Perhaps some American churches could learn something from this concept.  Yet, I gained much deeper and spiritual insights.

I struggle to find the right words to describe how I felt worshiping alongside my Spanish brothers and sisters in Christ in their new building.  The new facility was part a vision that they have prayed about and sought after for years.  They have poured their money and their labor into making their dream of moving to their new location a reality.  They genuinely desire to reach out to the local community and build relationships.  In a country where you cannot throw a rock from one Christian church to the next Christian church being the presence of Christ is crucial and of extreme eternal significance.

People in Spain go to church go because they want to be there.  Many of the folks at the church have known each other for years, and they have a strong sense of community.  They care for one another, and quickly they helped me and the others to feel a part of their community.  I quickly found a sense of belonging and warmth, and I felt at peace basking in the blessings of God.  My cup runneth over from all the positive ways the Christians in Spain took care of me, ministered to me, encouraged to me, prayed with me, listened to me, and challenged me.

If you ever visit Spain, feel free to worship with my friends at Iglesia Cristiana de Garraf.  I know they would welcome you with open arms and air kisses!

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“Time” in Spain

Quickly I fell in love with the people at the Christian Church in Garraf.  In Spain you do air kisses on both checks as both a greeting and when saying good-bye , and soon I found myself doing this almost naturally.  The relationships that you have with other people matter within the Spanish culture.  I grew accustomed to sharing hours, sometimes three or four hours, with others as we broke bread together and shared our lives with one another.  When you have a meal with others you have the potential to make a true investment in their lives.  In Spain, often you have the luxury of spending quality time with someone in a significant block of time.

So now that I am back home in America, will I take time to invest in others or will I hurry to cross off my list of things to do?  I pray that I realize quality time with someone can matter more than the quantity of time you get to spend with that person.

Also, while in Spain, I recognized that presently I have only a few friends that I spend time with regularly who are not believers in Jesus.  I feel challenged now to build deeper relationships with others, both believers who need encouragement and those who are not believers.  Will I take actions to follow my conviction?  Or will I allow this to become less of a priority as I jump back into my life here in  America?  I pray that the lessons that God has been teaching me recently will not quickly fade away.

Right now I am making plans for my upcoming week.  Some of my goals for the next week include: spending time daily with God (Beth Moore’s Bible study “James: Mercy Triumphs” has been a great resource) and to make a connection with one person who does not know Jesus personally and begin to spend quality time with that person.  My challenge goal, beginning Sunday, will be to chart how I spend my time.  I hope this will help me make some changes.  Please pray for me as I strive to meet these goals.  Feel free to send me a message of accountability next week.  We need each other for encouragement and accountability as we walk this Christian road together.

“Blessed Be Your Name”

At the risk of not writing the longest blog in the history of the world, which no one would finish, I have realized that I will have several blog posts in the next few weeks about my time in Spain and my reflections on these experiences.  Feel free to let me know if you have any specific questions about my time in Spain or if you have a particular topic you would like me to blog about.  I am open to suggestions!

While in Spain, I had three Sunday’s where I was able to worship at the Christian Church of Garraf.  As we sang worship songs in Spanish I found myself singing familiar songs, but I had to really think about the words.  I could not just sing a song because the words had become a part of rote memory.  My habit of often going thru the motions of singing worship songs was brought to a screeching halt.  I was in awe of how God was using this experience in my life.

I pondered the meanings of the songs as I translated the words into English so I could know what I was singing.  Several times I wondered: How many times have I sang this song in English without meaning what was coming out of my mouth?  How many times do I worship God on Sunday with my mouth and then the rest of the week forget about worshiping God?  I saw phrases differently.  I experienced worshiping God differently.  Once again I processed the words of “Blessed Be Your Name.”

I first started singing “Blessed Be Your Name” in high school at summer youth camps.  The lyrics talk about how God is still God in every season of your life.  The lines of the song that pierce my heart the most tell how God gives and takes away.  As a freshman at Campbell, I had days where I would refuse to sing this song.  I would just sit down in worship and cry as others sang about God being God in the desert as well as when things are good.  Some how though, and I cannot pin point an exact moment in time, “Blessed Be Your Name” became the honest cry of my heart.  I still rarely hear this song without tears, but now this song brings tears of healing and tears of remembrance of how God has been with me in all things, even times of brokenness and grief.

So singing this song in Spanish alongside my brothers and sisters in Christ will forever be a memory that I cherish.  And God continues in all things to shape the cry of my heart to be “Blessed Be Your Name!”

Check out this youtube video of “Blessed Be Your Name” in Spanish.  This is not the exact translation we used at the church, but this version has the lyrics.  I encourage you to take time to watch this video and thank God that God understands all languages and has a heart for all people.  And if you know a little Spanish perhaps process the words of this song in a new way.  Friends, I pray God speaks to your hearts today!

Home

Late Monday evening, I arrived “home” from a two and a half week mission trip in Spain.  I was glad to see Adam again for the first time in 6 1/2 weeks, but I am still adjusting to being back home.

Here is some of the history behind the homes that I have had in my life:

When I was about 3, we moved into the house in Boiling Springs where my parents still live.  Even though the walls are different colors, the appliances have been switched out, and none of my stuff is there any more it still feels like home because my family lives there.

Then in the next season of my life, Campbell and Camp Mundo Vista felt like home.  These are places where God brought into my life forever friends who walked beside me in both times of grieving and times of celebration.

Next I lived in China for six months.  An entire blog could be devoted to this experience.  I felt most at home there when I was surrounded with good friends in a hot pot restaurant.

After China, I lived in a house in Buies Creek for two years.  Now I live in an apartment Cary.  This small town girl is grateful to live in close proximity to Target.  I enjoy the brief commute to work, and I love that I have more than four options of where to eat out with friends.

And so since Cary does not yet have that hometown feel that I enjoy, Adam and I spent the afternoon yesterday in Harnett County.  We enjoyed Sunni Skies ice cream.  We visited with a couple that has meant a lot to me over my time at Campbell.  And then we enjoyed spaghetti with a friend before heading back.

This morning I woke up at 6:00 a.m. still trying to adjust to jet lag.  I woke up with memories of the people and experiences that I treasure from Spain.  I woke up wondering what today would hold.  But still I woke up incredibly early for someone who has never been a morning person.

Then on Facebook, I got a comment from my host in Spain that said, “You now have your home in Spain.”  I miss my “home” in Spain and the friends that I made there.  I felt such peace knowing that one day I can return to my “home” in Spain.

I am realizing that believers in Christ are not going to feel completely home on earth.  We are going to have questions, doubts, frustrations, and trials here on earth.  So until I am home with Jesus, I have a new desire to be hospitable toward others.  Hospitality does not come naturally to me, but I know that God is calling me to invite others into my home, my car, and my life.  I am so thankful for those who have done the same for me.