Friday, November 11, 2011

Looking back

Spain hasn't only been about learning the language and culture. I have been learning so much more in the past month and a half, living abroad.

First, I have learned how hard-working teachers are. At first glance, teaching doesn't seem like it is that big of a deal. But looking deeper, that is completely wrong. I've agreed that teachers are underpaid-- without them no other profession would be around. I work with 60 students in the bilingual program. In addition to teaching English, I also have to evaluate them. That means learning names and learning to remember certain aspects to write down later. Both of these are weakneses for me. I am horrible at names and I am horrible at memorizing things.

Something else I have been forced into is not being such a picky eater. There are still things I do not like and will not eat. But other things, the ones where I didn't like them and didn't eat unless I had no choice, I am eating. I don't know how many salads I have endured in Europe. At the store today I bought a different kind of ham. It was unsliced, and honestly, i think it was ground and then packaged in a box to make the mold. It is kind of a square but it cost the same as lunchmeat and there is a lot more meat. So I bought it instead. It doesn't taste quite as good but it will make do for sandwhiches and will be easier to cook with if I decide to do so. Maybe that is why my parents liked to get whole hams-- they're less expensive.

One of the biggest things and probably most important things I have been learning and continue to learn is to be content. I have to remind myself each day (which I often fail to do) not to worry about the next day.

When I first came to Spain, I wasn't sure if I was really supposed to be here or not. I lost almost 15 pounds in my first four days here. I barely ate. I barely spoke the language, much less understand it. I failed at first, getting a phone. I went back to my room. I failed at finding the store I was looking for, walked a huge circle, and went back to my room. My first Monday in Huelva, I went to apply for my residence card and thought I had failed at that. So I went home, packed up my suitcase and bought a plane ticket home.

But that isn't what God had in store. My bus wouldn't leave for another five hours. That was time enough for my debit card to be rejected twice because of the ticket price. It was also time for my roomate to be back for lunch and convince me to stay. I called the company I was using to book the flight and they told me the reason my card was rejected and told me I needed to call my bank. I didn't call the bank. So basically God kept me in Spain. I finally knew he wanted me here, but still wasn't sure why.

The following Sunday I found the only protestant, evangelical church I know of anywhere near here. I had searched several times before for a church in the area and had no luck. But this time the website came right up in the search. I wrote an email and the pastor quickly responded. Later in the week, after attending the service Sunday evening, a pastor from Sevilla called me. (Our church is funded by a church in Sevilla.) He was an English teacher from the United States and he told me they had been praying for someone who might be able to help with English.

About a week later I had lunch with the pastor and his wife. Later he showed me the new church building (a 15 minute walk instead of 50 minutes) and we talked about the possibility of either an English class or a small group in English. He told me we would talk more when I came back from England.

While in England I lost my passport. I didn't know if I would be able to come back to Spain. I am still working to figure out what I have to do about residence, as my visa was in the old passport. Luckily I have a photocopy of my old passport, the visa, and I have already applied for residence. The pastor and I talked more after lunch this past Thursday. I will be teaching an English class and small group on Thursday evening from about 6-9 p.m. I am both nervous and excited as I wait to see what God will do. When I know more I will write more about that.

Another important lesson has been simply in global citizenship. As Americans we get really wrapped up in our own culture and society. We think we are the only people out there. I have discovered an entire new world. The church I am attending has a very large population from Brasil; in fact the pastor is a missionary from Brasil. I have heard many languages while traveling in Spain.

Finally, as a reflect on the past month and a half, I really see some change. I feel like my Spanish has improved a lot. I am able to communicate much better. I am picking up a little vocabulary here and there. Most of it I do not retain, but some of the repeated words I eventually pick up. I remember being so lost in my first week in Huelva. Admittedly, I still occasionally get lost if I am walking by an unfamiliar route. But because the city is a big circle, I can generally find my way to someplace familiar and from there navigate to where I want to go.

1 comment:

  1. Love the post, Todd! It is so cool how God intervenes right on time. I know God has wonderful plans for you!

    God bless!
    <3 Laura


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