¡OLÉ!

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I can officially say that I never want to be a bullfighter. After going to a corrida del toros, I can fully appreciate the art of bullfighting. What a thrill.
Let me paint you a picture of the building because that was half the experience. This building is from the
18th century, and was one of the first plazas built in Spain. The architecture is so cool and definitely unique. The building is a large donut shape with a big arena in the middle where all the good stuff happens.

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La Plaza de Toros de Sevilla

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The view from my seat in the sombra

There are 2 different types of seats you can purchase. There are the cheap seats, called the sol, ad there are the more expensive seats called the sombra. what’s the difference? Well, sol in Spanish means sun and sombra means shade. I think you can make the connection. Being the cheap college student that I am, I definitely purchased the sol seat :) the only thing about those seats is that most of them are out in the open, not under the balcony and it was supposed to rain that night. I lucked out because my seat happened to be under the balcony for some reason, but I didn’t complain.
Finding me seat was a task. My seat wasn’t by all of my friends, so I journeyed off on my own to find my seat. After getting lost in the giant building, I asked a man where gate 11 was because it was not next to gate 12. Turns out I had to walk outside of the fenced area and half way around the building to get to my gate. On the plus side, I got to see the toreros enter the building. They are like rockstars here. There were girls with flowers, tv camera men, and police men. They must be some pretty important guys.

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toreros entering the plaza

Now some more about the toreros. These men start bullfighting as young as 18 years old, and they actually go to school to be a bullfighter! I couldn’t imagine. Some do it because it is what their dad and grandpa did or because the love it, and some do it solely for the money. I hear they make bank, so if anyone is looking to switch careers, you should look into bullfighting :) That could be fun.

The torero’s traje de luces (suit) is a work of art in itself. It is brightly colored and has more sparkles than Ke$ha’s music videos. But seriously, they look like disco balls with legs running around in the arena. It is pretty cool when the sun reflects off of the suits. They also have a capote (cape) to get the bull’s attention to make it charge. They use it just as anyone would picture. Flapping their capes off to the side of their bodies, the toreros wait for the bull to charge. Once the bull is close, they swoop the cape past their bodies along with the bull.  This is called “passing.” I never knew how close the bull actually is to the torero when he is charging by. The better the torero, the closer they let the bull get. When some of the better toreros were “passing, the bull looked like it was only a foot away! That must be scary!
Something else that I didn’t know is that there are roughly 8 different toreros per bullfight with an emphasis in 2 in specific. They all take turns “passingto read the bull’s movements and “get to know the bull better,” as if they were taking it out on a date or something. They don’t do this the whole time; there are actually 3 different stages of the fight.

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too close for comfort

Before the bull comes out into the arena, the main torero gets down onto his knees and positions himself for the bull’s entrance. He remains on his knees as the bull runs out into the arena and charges at him. Crazy stuff.

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No thanks. Ill take a pass.

WARNING I WILL BE TALKING ABOUT BLOOD AND THE ACTUAL KILLING OF THE BULL NOW, SO IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW ABOUT IT, STOP READING NOW.

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I wish I could read the thoughts of both the bull and the torero right now

The first stage is the “passings. After a while a torero on horseback comes out with a long spear to take his stab at the bull. Literally. The bull charges the horse (it has some sort if armor protecting it from the bull’s horns) and the torero on the horse spears the bull right in the weak part of its neck. The bull starts to bleed, but is still pretty strong. Each step is designed to weaken the bull a little more. After the torero on horseback leaves, they do more “passing. At this point the bull is still going strong, or as strong as he can be going I guess. We actually saw one torero get caught by the bull’s horns and get thrown to the ground. Nothing really bad happened, and let’s be honest, I’ve seen better hockey fights.

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The horse really looks like he is enjoying himself

For the second stage, the toreros have the bull charge them, but instead of a cape, they have 2 giant darts that they stick into the same part of the bull’s neck. This weakens the bull more and decorates him with some pretty darts. One of the times when I was watching this happen, the bull turned on the torero and started chasing him down. The torero ran and quickly jumped over the side of the arena. I don’t blame him!

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that looks nerve racking

For the third and final stage, the main torero comes back onto the arena, but this time with a red cape and a sword. He does some fancy “passes” with the bull to tire him out even more. To show his dominion over the bull, the torero will stand face to face with the bull, KIDS, DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME!! Once he believes that the bull is weak enough, the torero lines up with his sword, charges the bull, and thrusts the sword into the sick muscle of the bull and through his heart. When the bull falls to the ground, the whole arena cheers and shouts ¡OLÉ! What a thrill!

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what’s up bull

After the bull is dead, horses decked out in bells dragging a harness of some sorts run into the ring and drag the bull out of the ring.

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pretty horses, dead bull

For those of you who think bullfighting is just a bunch of bull, think what you want. I see it as a cultural aspect of Spain that people are still celebrating to this day. This is such an old tradition, and I think it is cool that young people are still taking an interest in this tradition and art. And also, they sell and eat each toro after a bullfight, so its not like the meat is going to waste. This is just my personal opinion about bullfighting; you can think whatever you want, but I do not want to fight anyone over an opinion about bullfights.

Overall, this was a really sweet opportunity, and I am really glad that I went to see a bullfight while I was in Spain!

un abrazo,

Melissa

La Ruleta de la Suerte

Can I just say how much I love my señora?

Blanca is so wonderful. Each day when I get home from school, I have roughly an hour alone with her until Kayla gets home from her class. Most days Blanca is making lunch or reading out in the terrace, but today she was watching tv in the spare room, so I sat down with her. The show that she was watching looked familiar, La Ruleta de la Suerte, ahhh yes, good old Wheel of Fortune :)

Grandpa Kuiper, I know that you are a pro at Wheel of Fortune and would be able to win all of the cars if you went on the show, but let me be the first to tell you that I don’t think you would be able to make it on La Ruleta de la Suerte, sorry to break it to you. Everything is in Spanish, obviously, making it a lot harder to guess the phrases. I was able to make out words here and there, but I never actually got the whole phrase.

There are a couple of differences between The Wheel of Fortune and La Rouleta de la Suerte, and sorry to say Pat Sajak and Vanna White, but I like the Spanish version better. Everyone seems more excited when they are playing, even the audience was really getting into it. Each time a contestant would spin the wheel, the audience would clap and chant. There is live music, and the host is a lot more attractive :)

So anyways, I just wanted to let you all know that Blanca has been a wonderful señora, and she is a lot of fun! I’ve been working on a running blog about her, so at the end of the semester, you will get to know all about her :) Check out this video of La Ruleta de la Suerte!!

un abrazo,

Melissa

Cada día es un …

“Cada día es un regalo. Nuca se sabe cuándo pasa el tiempo. Por eso, se necesita disfrutar cada segunda. Aprovechar cada día. Hacer algo memorable cada día para establecerlo aparte de la siguiente.”

“Each day is a gift. You never know when your time is up, so you need to enjoy each second. Seize the day. Do something memorable each day to set it apart from the rest!”

Córdoba

Well, this trip happened a while ago, like almost a month ago, and I am just getting around to writing about it now. I hope I can remember everything that happened…

All of the students and a couple of our profesores boarded the bus Friday morning and were off for a beautiful afternoon in the city of Córdoba. After arriving to the city, we donned our wonderful guiri (touristy) head set machines (that I really wish I had a picture of so I could show all of you how silly we look), and headed across the bridge into the town with our professors as our tour guides.

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This is the best picture I could find…take note of the blue lanyards around our necks. Connected to those is something that looks like a walkie talkie that you plug your headphones into so you can hear your tour guide. Practical, but you definitely look like a tourist.

Our first stop was at La Catedral de Córdoba (The Cathedral of Córdoba), which was built inside an ancient mosque. There was a ton of sweet architecture on every inch of this building! Even the bathrooms were pretty cool.

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El Catedral/Mesquita

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sweet arches

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Now those are some pipes on that organ!

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amazing ceiling work!

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 We walked around the Cathedral for a long while and then made our way over to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (The castle of the Christian kings). This was also a pretty sweet building with cool old architecture inside, but most of out time here was spent outside walking around the gardens and looking at los baños Arabes (Arabic baths).

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my lovely, photogenic friend, Rebecca posing for a picture :)

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lovely, photogenic me

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Lovely ladies in front of the fountain

After our whole group got to the gardens, we were told that we had roughly 2 hours of free time before we needed to find our way back to the bus. Rebecca and I found a peaceful seat next to the fountains to eat our bocadillos (sack lunches, or “picnics” as they call them here). After the much needed nourishment, we decided that we didn’t really feel like getting lost in the city (we seem to be pretty good at that without even trying), so instead we stayed in the garden area and took a bunch of fun pictures!! Here’s just a few with some fun stories to go with them…

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Just chilling by the beautiful fountains

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after almost falling in

so this picture needs a little explaining…this pose that I am modeling here is the I-almost-just-fell-into-the-bath pose. You see, I was super excited to take a picture standing in the bath because it was shallow and off to the side, so I wouldn’t get yelled at for going in it. I don’t really think we were supposed to go into them, and I have a good idea why now. You see those darker lines on the bottom of the bath? Yea, those aren’t decorations on the bottom of the bath as I thought they were; as a matter of fact, they are 5 foot drop-offs! Yea. That was a surprise to me. Luckily I had glanced over my shoulder as I was walking backwards to the middle of the bath just in time to notice that it was in fact not a solid surface throughout. I guess I wouldn’t have minded taking a little dip because it was super hot, but then again, I would have probably hit my head on the sharp looking corners, and that would have just been bad news. So maybe, just maybe, there is a reason that people don’t go in these baths :)

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my brilliant idea of a tripod for the tripod :)

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Rebecca: “Let’s make these plants look like our hair!”
Yea, we’re a little crazy

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As if Rebecca isn’t tall enough

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Our attempt to imitate the statues

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the wonderful lady from America took a picture too…

Another fun story! So Rebecca wanted to imitate these statues, so of course, I said we could use my totally awesome tripod, so I set it up to get everything in the shot and set the timer. My attempt is the one on the left. Not too bad, just a little lopsided. As I was running back and forth from my position to the camera to look at the pictures, some very nice tourists asked us if we wanted them to take the picture for us. My first response was, “No thanks, we got it.” But the lady insisted, so I gave her my camera to take a picture. I forgot to take the timer off of the camera, so she had some troubles using it, but the funniest thing was what she was calling us. She addressed Rebecca (on the right) as “cape girl”  and me (on the left) as “striped shirt girl.” And then she told us to stop laughing for the picture. I don’t know how we were not supposed to laugh. That lady was hilarious. Her picture is the one on the right. I think she missed the memo that we wanted the statues in the picture too. Oh well, this one was better than the ones that she took of the ground or the bushes. Moral of the story: just use the tripod, it seems to work better than older ladies from Canada :)

Overall the trip was good, but pretty quick. I’m just glad Rebecca and I found out way back to the bus, and I didn’t have to ride back soaking wet.

un abrazo,

Melissa

Bucket List

As the weeks go on here in Sevilla, my bucket list continues to diminish day by day. I thought I would have a lot of cool chances to experience the world, but I didn’t realize that I would have THIS many chances. This past weekend was a weekend of unforgettable chances to experience the world, more specifically Portugal. Yes, that’s right folks. Friday I packed up my backpack and hit the road to Portugal with a bunch of fun people. A good number of the people were from my program, but this excursion was being led by a handful of guys from a program called Outdoor Sevilla [check out their website here-->http://www.outdoorsevilla.com/ and if you are ever in Sevilla, check them out].

So Friday afternoon we boarded our coach bus and headed off to a different country! After about four hours, we got off the bus and hiked an amazing, very off the beaten path, incredible trail with breathtaking views.

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Kayla, Me, and Rebecca

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This was also my first time experiencing the OCEAN!!! When we got off the bus, I kept asking if we were really looking at the ocean. Check that off the bucket list!!

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Very excited about the ocean!

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Sadly, my first experience with the ocean was cut short because we needed to continue our hike, but I got to feel the full effects later on in the trip. Friday night we checked into our hotel where there were 6 people girls assigned to a room. Thankfully the rooms were apartment style, and we wouldn’t be spending much time in them anyways seeing as we had a weekend packed full of activities ahead of us. About an hour after we checked in, some people went out for dinner, and thanks to Blanca, la mejor Señora del mundo, Kayla and I had some sandwiches and fruit that we ate. 

Saturday morning we were up bright and early for breakfast and then wandered around the town for a while. When we got back, we “studied” for our exams the following Monday, which turned into going down to the pool for a cookout. Around 3:00 we left the hotel and headed out for our activities.

First on the list, rock climbing. This was no wimpy, easy course with all of the rocks nicely laid out for a leisurely climb; this was straight up hard work because we were literally climbing a wall of rocks. Check number 2 off the bucket list. This was so much harder than any rock wall that I have ever climbed, but it was a great experience!

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Check out those calf muscles!

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Just hanging around

And as if that wasn’t enough excitement, after rock climbing we went cliff jumping!! My main reason for going on this trip. The views were spectacular and once again, we were hiking off the beaten path. It was here when I got to experience the ocean up close and personal. And oh boy! What an experience it was! There are no words to describe the thrill of that first jump. Once i hit the water, there it was, the salt. By far, my least favorite aspect of the ocean :) After spending the day in the ocean, my mouth felt like I had eaten 13 bags of very salty potato chips. Not fun, but totally worth it. After my first jump, I was so pumped up that I decided I was going to jump again. To do this, I had to climb out on the rocks, which proved to be a harder task for some. The girl in front of me decided to leisurely make her way out of the water, leaving me waiting in the water while a large wave rolled in. This didn’t feel so good on my legs when I hit the rocks. Luckily I only got a couple of scrapes and bruises, and I was able to jump again, this time from a higher point. If I had to guess, I would guess the point that I jumped off the second time was roughly 40 feet tall, but I’m really no good at guessing distances. All I know is that it was AWESOME and I would do it again in a heartbeat!!! The most difficult part was swimming to the beach after jumping. It was a good distance to swim which equaled a lot of salt water in my mouth.

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CLIFF JUMPING INTO THE OCEAN!!!

After cliff jumping, we met up with the rest of our group at a beach and spent a couple of hours there, where I was able to take my I-just-experienced-the-ocean-for-the-first-time pictures :) So awesome. And after our day on the beach, we went to the “End of the World” to watch the sunset. That was just so beautiful, and I have never seen so many people gather in one place to see a sunset before. I still get goosebumps when I just think about the sights that I got to experience.

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Marvelous sun set at “The End of the World”

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No words..

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So that was a lot that happened Saturday, and Sunday we had one final activity planned.

SURFING! 

We checked out of the hotel Sunday morning and headed off to Praia de Amado to catch some waves. Check that off my bucket list! Okay, so surfing was never really on my bucket list because I never actually expected I would get the chance to do it, but I added it to my bucket list now, so check that one off! Surfing was beyond my wildest dreams! After arrive to the beach, we donned our oh so flattering wet suits, grabbed a surf board, and headed out to the ocean. Our surf instructor, Tito, was your typical long-haired beach blonde man with sunscreen not rubbed in on his face. He was a riot, and he made surfing sound so easy. Okay, actually it was a little confusing to understand him because our lessons were in Spanish!! That took a little while to get used to. Luckily for us, he demonstrated each step in the water after explaining it. We finally got into the water and did all of the steps he told us to, and to my surprise, I STOOD UP! I WAS SURFING!! I kind of expected to not be able to because a lot of people were telling me how hard it was and I was a little sore from the previous day, but I did it. I felt so accomplished and happy. So if you ever need surfing lessons in Spanish, I’m your girl :)

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Surfing lessons with Rebecca

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Surf’s Up!

For me, the most amazing part of this trip was not the new friendships that were created (although those people were really fun and awesome), it wasn’t the activities that we did (although they were thrilling and I would love to experience them all again), it wasn’t the food (although I did get to try some crazy things), but it was experiencing God’s creation. As I posted on my Facebook wall when we got home that night…”After being on the beach today, my mind is blown trying to grasp the concept that God knows how many grains of sand there are on that beach (and now in my backpack) and seeing all the cliffs and the waves and the sunset…what a wonderful Creator we serve!! God is so good!” THAT right there was the highlight of my trip.

When you end a night with this…

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or experience this…

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and when you are right next to this…

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I don’t know how one could not feel God’s presence and admire all of His work. It is purely amazing, and that is just the beginning of trying to explain the views that I got to experience. These pictures do not even do justice. Thank you God for all that you have created!

“For this is what the Lord says— he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
-Isaiah 45:18
¡Un fuerte abrazo!
Melissa

 

There’s something in the food…

I’m pretty sure that the people here put some kind of sleeping drug in the food that we eat for lunch. No matter how hard I try to actually read my Spanish history homework after lunch, my eyes always start to droop.

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I think this is the real reason for the siesta, but it’s just a theory ;)
Speaking of siestas, they are my absolute most favorite part of the day. What other culture has a chunk of the day set aside to relax? It is so wonderful and shows a different side if the Spanish culture.
Siesta time is roughly from 2 until 6 in the afternoon. During this time, most of the stores and cafés close up shop and the workers all head home to relax. Some outsiders might see siesta time as laziness, but this is not the case. During the summer months especially, it is hot here. We’re talking upper 90′s in August and September, and even hotter May-July. This is the main reason for shutting down the city. Everyone goes to their homes (that don’t have air conditioning because electricity costs a boat load here) to escape the heat of the day.
For me, siesta time has been a perfect time to unwind and rest up from the lack of sleep from the night before :) This is also a time to work on building and maintaining relationships. That is so sweet. Lunch time is not cut short to get back to work like it is in America, but instead, hours are spent around the table enjoying one another’s company and laughing hysterically. So America, you can learn something from the Spanish culture. :)
Another reason for taking a siesta is so you have enough energy to go out later that night. It is not uncommon to hear children playing in the streets at midnight or one o’clock. As a matter of fact, the restaurants don’t usually close until that time anyways. If this culture were an animal, it would be a night owl. People stay up soooo late here.
The younger crowd of Spain should definitely get a medal for staying out late. I have heard (and haven’t gotten to experience it yet) that they stay out until 6 or 7 AM!! Yea. That’s straight up craziness. They must sleep the entire siesta time to accomplish that. And that folks is one of my goals for this semester. Become like a Spaniard and stay out till I see the sun rise. Mom, it’s part of the culture, I have to do it :)
But anyways it is just about siesta time over here, so that means I get to go sleep!

¡Un fuerte abrazo!
Melissa

Un Cambio

“Un cambio de tus pensamientos es un cambio de tu camina de tu vida.”

A good quote from our church service last week, but what does it mean? Literally in English it means “A change in your thoughts is a change in your walk of life.”

But what does that REALLY mean? Well that’s a great question that I don’t have all of the answers for, but I am going to share my thoughts thus far…

For me, if I am thinking about a certain task, and really focusing on it, I can complete that task well. For example, I have never really been an avid reader, but when I put my mind to it and focus on the task at hand, I gain more knowledge that I would have ever expected. And then comes multitasking…at times the killer of all progress. Try reading a story in Spanish while thinking of a million different other things and listening to music [in English] at the same time. Yea, no progress there. Whereas if I am solely focusing on reading in Spanish…..I can do a pretty good job :)

“Un cambio de tus pensamientos es un cambio de tu camina de tu vida.”

I truly believe that if you can focus on changing your thought from sinful to pure, you will see a change in your life. While the pastor of my church here in Spain didn’t preach on multitasking, I believe it is a huge piece to the puzzling statement above. If we are so focused on everything around us, how are we supposed to focus on changing our thoughts so that our lives will be changed? How do we put aside all of what society says to genuinely change our thoughts? If someone has the answer to that, please let me know, because I am still searching for that answer myself. How do we cope with the circumstances that we are in or the pain that we are going through in our lives? How do we put aside everything to change our thoughts in order to change our lives?

The twofold answer:
1) we can’t
2) but Jesus can!

It’s tough, I know that much. But what I also know is that it it worth it. To live with a changed life because of what Jesus has done is the best feeling in the world. Sure we still get sidetracked trying to keep up with the latest trends or fitting in to society, but the thing is, God is always right there waiting.

“Un cambio de tus pensamientos es un cambio de tu camina de tu vida.”

So when we do fix our eyes on Jesus and think on everything that he wants for our lives, that is when we start to see our lives change. It is fascinating how much less I have personally cared about what the word thinks of me and more of how God views me. Knowing that Jesus is going to love me no mater what, what is greater than that? The fact that he gave his life for me, what fashion trend is better than that? So I am going to remind myself daily,

“Un cambio de tus pensamientos es un cambio de tu camina de tu vida.”

Really, it’s a great phrase to live by. One of the best that I have heard thus far.
And the sermon today just added to the hope and promise, as if it was a continuation of last week’s message. The topic today was make your dreams and desires for your life the same as God’s dreams and desires for you. Live the life that he wants for you, because he wants the best. This doesn’t mean you will become rich and famous, and it doesn’t mean that you are going to live a pain free life. It means God is going to bless you in the ways that you need to be blessed according to His dream for you.  And we can find that same promise in the Bible too:

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” Romans 12:2

Ay! What a great promise we have in Jesus Christ!

Okay, now I want to tell you more about the church I am attending here in Spain because I am so excited about it!!! It is in all Spanish (obviously), and it is considered to be non-denominational. And a little background on religion in general in Spain…0.01% of the population of Spain consider themselves Evangelical Christians. There are many Catholic Christians here, both by association and by practice, but it is very rare to find an Evangelical Christian. Therefore, I am very happy to be attending this church! Anyways, so the congregation is made up of roughly 35 people, and there are not many young people. When the pastor preaches, a lot of the time he is yelling because he is so pumped up for Jesus. It’s sweet! The people there are very welcoming and remembered us from last weeks attendance (perks to the small churches!).

AND i made 2 Spanish friends today!! Victoria and Esther. They are the PKs of the church (Pastor’s Kids) and they weren’t in church last week because they were on a youth retreat, so I just got to meet them today. After the service I went up to Victoria and she introduced herself to me, and we talked for a while. She then introduced me to her sister. They are both younger than me, and were very willing to get to know me (a little bit rare for Spaniards). We ended up talking for roughly a half an hour after the service, and through small talk found out that my friend Sarah and I played the piano back in the day. They asked us to play a song on the keyboard, so we played the song that everyone knows but no one actually knows the name….yea great description. They loved it so much that they recorded it on their phone so they could learn it!! I am very excited to become better friends with these girls! And maybe some day I can lead songs with them at church!

Also towards the end of each church service everyone goes up to the front of church for the congregational prayer. Let me tell you, this prayer is NOTHING like the congregational prayer at my church back home. I was in for a treat! Everyone here prays at the same time, so there is a lot of talking and some yelling and singing going on. It’s a little bit chaotic, but the awesome thing is that God can hear what each individual person is saying! It’s so cool, my words can’t even describe it! So as we are all standing there praying, the pastor walks around and prays for some people, I don’t know how he chooses who he is going to pray for, but all of a sudden as I am standing there with my eyes closed, speaking my prayer in Spanish out loud, I felt a hand on my forehead. I was a little bit startled. The pastor had come over to pray for me. What. An. Experience. Obviously it was all in Spanish, but it was so cool that I could understand all of it! He thanked God that I had come to this church, and also prayed that when I return to the US, that I will be able to make a difference. WOW! Now that was so awesome. So many emotions too. With a big smile on my face and some tears running down my cheeks, I just thanked God for all that he has been doing in my life and for what he still has left to do!

Needless to say, I love my church here in Spain, and am blessed to call this my church home :) We were even invited to the dinner that the church is having on Saturday night and will be experiencing a baptism next Sunday! But more on that later, now I am going to sleep in the peace of God.

And I pray that this phrase will always be on your heart and mind, no matter where in the world or where in your Christian walk you are.

“Un cambio de tus pensamientos es un cambio de tu camina de tu vida.”

¡Con mucho emoción!

Melissa

Una Semana en Sevilla

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My beautiful neighborhood of Triana in the city Sevilla, yea you can go ahead and be jealous now :)

wow! I cannot even believe that I have been in España for a whole week already! So much has been happening that I haven’t had the time to update you all. If I had to summarize my experience so far in one word, it would be OVERWHELMED!!

When I first met my Señora, I was so jet lagged that it wasn’t even funny, I was hungry, and to add to that, I hadn’t turned on my Spanish switch yet and my Señora speaks only Spanish. I was in for a rude awakening.

Let me tell you a little bit about my Señora. Her name is Blanca, and I am convinced that she is the sweetest lady in Spain. Every place that we go with her someone knows her. She’s in her 60′s and lives alone with her perrita, Bita. Her niñas (that’s me!) are her pride and joy, along with her dog. I’ll have to put up a picture of her in a later post because right now she doesn’t want to take pictures because her hair is “too ugly.” Appearance is everything here, so I won’t have a picture of her until she gets her hair done in a couple of weeks. Too funny.

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I live on the street Concha Espina, which you can see in this very well lit picture

So pretty much I am in love with this city, and I don’t know if I will make the group flight back to the States in 14 weeks. En serio, this city is so beautiful and I haven’t even walked more that 30 minutes in each direction to see all of the city. But it’s not only the landscape and architecture that is beautiful; it is also the people and their culture.

To be surrounded in a Spanish speaking country has been a dream come true (and a nightmare come true at the same time). Most of the time I end up speaking in Spanglish because my brain is so confused and doesn’t even know what to do! There are times when my Señora talks where I just nod and smile because I have no clue what is going on. For the most part I can understand everyone here, but they all speak with a lisp, which sounds really funny in Spanish because I am not used to it at all!

One of my favorite things that I have done so far is just walking around the city. I have pictures beyond pictures of the amazing architecture and landscapes! ill just share a couple with you now!

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The Plaza de Toros where I will hopefully be watching a bullfight when they start back up in September or October.

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El Catedral de Sevilla which is over 500 years old!  

 

These are just some of the amazing architecture in this city! More to come at a later date.

Now for a brief overview of my week:

Wednesday I met my Señora and unpacked my suitcase. I’m pretty sure that before I even walked through the door, Blanca had given me the WiFi (or as they pronounce it here wee-fee) password and told me to let my family know that I arrived safely. I arrived during siesta time, in other words nap time, in other words my favorite time of each day. From about 2-6pm the sun is so hot here that all of the shops close and everyone goes home for La Siesta. Although inside it is not much cooler, I took a nap before unpacking the rest of my suitcase.

Thursday we had an orientation, which was thankfully in English. My brain was definitely not working in Spanish the day after we arrived. Here we met all of our Profesores and took placement test. That was really fun to do after not sleeping well…Thursday my roommate Kayla also arrived! She was planning on taking the group flight with us, but had problems with her plane in Minnesota, so she had to arrive a day later. We clicked right away and have gotten very close! Here’s a little sneak peak to what our friendship has become…

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Some fun hats we found in our room!

I am sure more about Kayla will come up in later posts too. She is just so much fun, and we are having a great time together!! There is a lot of laughing when we eat meals with Blanca!

Friday we had more orientation at the school and learned more about safety and the culture that we will be living in (and sticking out in) for the next 3 months. We also officially registered for our classes. More on that later too…

Saturday we went on a Ginkana, or in English, a scavenger hunt around the city. We split into groups and with clues, a camera and a map, we navigated out way around the city to find hidden treasures of Sevilla.

Sunday Kayla and I found a church to attend, and although it is only 5 minutes away from our house, it took us about 30 minutes to get there….we might have gotten a little turned around. This was one of the best church services that I have attended in my life. I am planning on making it my church home for the time that I am here. The congregation was very welcoming, and it was just an amazing experience overall!

Monday was our first day of classes. We didn’t do too much in each class because it was more of a get-to-know-you kind of class time. Classes for me start at 9am and go until about 12:30pm, so not bad at all. The only thing is that I don’t have a descanso (or a break) between any of my 4 classes. I start off my day with lovely history, which I am actually enjoying because it is the history of Spain, so that’s pretty fun (never thought I would use history and fun in the same sentence). Next I have Cuentos Españoles (Spanish short stories) which is another one that I am enjoying. After that, I have Las tres Culturas de España (the three cultures of Spain…Christianity, Judiasim, and Islam). This is my hardest class. It is not only hard contextually, but it is also a little hard for me to understand the professor. I end my day with lovely Gramática Avanzada y Composición (advanced grammar and composition) which is…..a challenge to say the least, but the professor is super funny and makes grammar…..fun?

Tuesday we had a “Noche de Chicas” where all of the mujeres met at school and drank home made iced coffee (which I didn’t really care for, sorry Katie! But I don’t like coffee) along with triangulos, only the most delicious pastry in the world! It’s pretty much just a pastry with chocolate on chocolate :) We then talked about our experiences in the new country and shared some funny stories. After story time, we split up into groups of 4 people that we didn’t know very well and went for a paddle boat ride on the river. It was so beautiful!!

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my new friends (from L to R) Ali, Andrea, Ashley and Me!

Wednesday we had classes again and in the afternoon at 7pm (yes, that is considered to be the afternoon) we had our first Encuentro as a school. Encuentro is like chapel, but only once a week and it’s not required. Be jealous Cornerstone people ;) But really, it was sweet. We sang a couple of songs and then prayed and Katie told us about her life. It was just such a great night, and we are going to have it every Wednesday! Also I will be leading songs with a small group every other week, so that will be fun too!

and Thursday…is happening right now…its 1:35 in the morning and I said to myself that I was going to go to bed at 1:30, so here I go…maybe I’ll be able to sleep well tonight; we will see! I miss everyone in the states, but not too much ;)

¡Con dos besitos y buenos nachos!

Melissa

This is the flight that never ends…

Well the flight was very very long, although I do have to say that it wasn’t as bad as an 8 hour car ride out to northwest Iowa…I still don’t know how people do that more than one time in their lives…anyways getting to the correct place at the airport was the hardest step of the process. From terminal 3 parking lot to terminal 5 and back to terminal 3 my family rolled my suitcases rather quickly so we wouldn’t be too late. Taking the airport tram wasn’t in our plans, but a fun added adventure. After FINALLY meeting up with the rest of the Semester In Spain group, I checked my luggage (which was in fact less that 50 lbs) and obtained my boarding pass.
From there the goodbyes started. Not long after we found the group I was already saying goodbye to my family. A couple of tears were shed, but as my mom said, “it’s not goodbye, it’s see ya later.” Good words mom :)
We are now about 3 hours into our 8 hour flight to Madrid… That’s it?! This is going to take forever. And then after a couple hour layover in Madrid, we fly on to Sevilla, my home for the next 3.5 months. There are so many different noises on this plane. In front of me and to the sides of me sit many SIS (Semester In Spain) students chatting away in English while behind me sits a group of people speaking Spanish. My brain doesn’t know what language it wants to work in. Another shout out to mi madre for my reading selection for the flight and my trip. Today she stuck a copy of “The Shack” into my backpack, so I have been reading that. I’m not too far into it, but what I have read so far I have liked.
Although I am very tired, I think the young boy behind me is determined that I don’t sleep. Every 7 minutes and 39 seconds I get a slight nudge on my chair reminding me that I probably won’t get to sleep any time soon. I guess while I’m not sleeping ill watch “42.”
I have been able to get to know some of the students that I will be spending the next semester with. Everyone seems to be slightly nervous about speaking Spanish 24/7. I’m glad to see others are in that boat with me.
Well it’s been a few more hours and I was finally able to catch some z’s. Although I must say, sleeping on a plane takes things to a whole new level. And I thought sleeping in the car was a difficult task to accomplish. Try adding 60 extra people in the mix and then trying to sleep. Now that is impressive if you can actually get some sleep.

¡Buenos días de España!

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Breakfast and a beautiful sunrise to start off the day…or continue it in my case. While my body thinks it it midnight, local time is 7:00 am. I would really love to sleep in a bed, but I don’t see that happening any time soon because we still have a layover and another flight. The plus side, these flight attendants are still smiling and joking with the passengers :) and there was a Kit Kat in my breakfast box.
¡Un fuerte abrazó!
Melissa