It feels like two lifetimes ago that we were in Spain for our survey trip. Since then, we’ve done cross-country trips, vacations, and had two babies. But the memories are imprinted on my mind, and today I was inspired to capture one in writing by my blogging friend, Deidra Riggs.
After our week of serving at the church plant in Madrid, Chris and I spent four days of vacation in the south of Spain – Sevilla and Granada. We tried to pack light for our short stint and left everything in Madrid for our return home except a few outfits and one pair of shoes. For me, a pair of high quality flip flops (ok and a pair of dressy shoes just in case). Our plan included train rides: high-speed to Sevilla and… not-so-high-speed to Granada and back to Madrid. The high-speed to Sevilla was distinctly European: on-time, air-conditioned, and fast. The train to Granada was none of those things. So it was with sore feet from trekking Sevilla in sandals and now sore bums from our Greyhound of a train-ride, we arrived in Granada for the last leg of our amazing trip. And we began to explore, on foot of course. Although we were enjoying Granada’s gelato, its Spanish food with Middle East flair, and the unmatched Alhambra, we were dreading our last, long day that was to end on another “train” ride north. We knew we’d be dead on our feet and our wallets, already checked out of our hotel with nowhere to be.
So we had a brilliant idea. We would take a trip back to the train station to book an earlier train. Eager to save money we didn’t plan to spend on a taxi, we decided to take a bus. Everyone in Granada was taking buses. We could too.
So we grabbed our city map and asked our hotelier to help us get to the train station by bus. We should have known a taxi would be easier by the look on his face, but he outlined the route with a red pen and wrote the bus number down.
We waited at the wrong stop, took the wrong bus which turned out to be the right bus, lost our confidence and got off way too early and walked the long way through the business district to get to the train station, where, in broken Spanish we exchanged our late night tickets – fingers crossed – for ones that left mid-morning the next day. And then we made our way back for a snack and a siesta.
In spite of weariness that set in somewhere between the wrong stop and the long walk, along the way I had looked in Chris’s face and seen our future and I liked what I saw.
Not two days earlier we’d been laying in the world’s squeakiest bed, debriefing after a whirlwind week in Madrid doing missionary work. Now we were making the transition from mission trip to vacation and so we had one thing to discuss: did we want to come back to do this work forever? And if our answers were different, what would the next four days look like? What would the next 40 years look like?
We did, unanimously, passionately, unequivocally. God had spoken to us in Madrid and He used the same words: “come back here. Do my work, build my church. It will be hard (he used a 16 year old mk who told us her parents worked so hard for so little return to remind us of this). It will be so hard; but I will be with you.”
So, standing in an unfamiliar bus in a strange country with a task to accomplish in an unfamiliar tongue, I looked at my husband and I saw many similar events in our future and I was ok with that. Weariness and confusion mix with excitement and passion and God is in it all.