Saturday, September 12, 2009

A New Car!

No, we didn't win it on the The Price is Right, and it actually isn't brand new, but a couple weeks ago we bought a car. It's a 2004 Toyota Corolla hatchback with only 42,000 km on it. We are grateful how God has provided for us through all of our supporters this reliable car at a good price, which we hope will be a valuable tool for ministry and travel in the months and years to come. Here are a few photos of it:

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Few Things We Miss About the States

Now that we've lived here in Spain for four months, we've realized that there are certain things we miss about living in the States. Don't get us wrong, we are enjoying learning how to live here (most of the time), but there is still a very real grief process that we're going through as we acclimate to our new country and culture. So here's our top 7 list of things we miss about our old life:
  1. The Quiet: At times we might have complained that Myerstown, PA lacked life or that it was too quiet, but now we miss the tranquility of living in Amish country. Our apartment is located on a busy corner in our barrio, so we can hear most everything going on around us. This includes cars, motorcycles, the neighbors upstairs, the teenager down the street yelling, '¡Mamá!' and the mother's response, '¿Qué pasa, niña?!' and pretty much everything else that makes noise until at least midnight. Here's a view of our corner from our balcony.
  2. Family & Friends: This probably is obvious, but it's a very noticeable absence we feel in our life. Yes, Rachel's parents and brother are only 4 hours away, but everyone else is very far. We miss our seminary townhouse community, our family spread throughout the States, and the general feeling of knowing that we belong with a group of people.
  3. Green Grass & Trees: Just a few short years ago, Rachel would make fun of her mother for continually saying, 'Oh, I miss the trees and the freshly cut grass of the States.' As it turns out, Rachel really misses that now, since we have to go to a public park to find halfway decent grass. We will especially miss the beautiful bouquet of autumn colors found at Evangelical Seminary in Myerstown.
  4. American Customer Service & Efficiency: Sure, Spaniards can be nice, but it tends to be a surprise for us. Well-known adages like 'The customer is always right' are thrown out the window here. In addition to this, efficiency isn't exactly a core value for Spaniards, especially judging by our 6 month wait for our visas. No, the U.S. may not always be the most efficiently run place in the world, but we do miss the general efficiency we took for granted there.
  5. The Ease of Driving: At the moment, Rachel is studying for her driver's license and perfecting her skill of driving a manual transmission car. In the States, this simply wasn't an issue with the ease of automatics (not many of those here) and the generally straightforward nature of roadsigns and traffic lights. Here there are roundabouts, a myriad of new signs to learn, and a very defensive aggressive attitude when it comes to driving, not to mention the abundance of parking spots.
  6. Language: I'm doing all right learning the language, and though I'm getting more functional every day, I'm still so far from fluent and comfortable. This means that the majority of phone calls, business matters and general communication issues land on Rachel's shoulders, which is a complete reversal of our roles in the States. We're navigating this issue OK, and it's beginning to get better, but it has been a cause of great general and marital stress for us. God's been gracious to us, but we do miss the comfort of how our life functioned back in the States as a result of me knowing the language.
  7. Baseball: It turns out that Spaniards don't care about all. As a Midwestern boy, baseball, especially St. Louis Cardinals baseball, is simply in my blood, and it's probably a part of my cultural upbringing that will never die. While I can check the scores and highlights online, it simply isn't the same. Not to mention that I miss being able to play wiffle ball with my buddies on the lush green lawn of the seminary.
Well, thanks for letting us vent a little's been therapeutic. And, if you've made it this far reading the post, thank you and congratulations, because you now have a little more insight on what this cross-cultural adaptation is like for us. Without doubt, God has been faithful, but at the same time He's stretching us and allowing us to grieve our losses as we learn to call Spain 'home.'