Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Learning how to help people like me (by Rachel)

Last weekend we were able to attend a two day conference near the Costa del Sol (although it rained all weekend) on how to better understand and help TCKs.  You know, those unique people referred to as Third Culture Kids who grow up in a culture different from that of their parents and who tend to have specific common traits and struggles, as well as benefits and strengths, of course!  In fact, I am a TCK!  I love being one, especially since I was able to experience so many different cultures as a child.  But I also know that it can be difficult not really feeling like you fit in anywhere and being a "global nomad" who can be anywhere from blending in to rebelling against everything your parents or your "host" culture stand for.  I know many TCKs who have had wonderful experiences and love who they are, but there are many who struggle with feeling different or odd and who don't have anyone to talk to. 

So I would like to be someone who's there to help out.  I can relate to these kids (and adults) in many ways and I hope to just come along and help them try to figure out who they are (and maybe do the same for myself while we're at it!).  It was great connecting with others who have this same passion and hanging out with the leader of the conference who happens to be a TCK and a long time family friend.  I also was glad B.J. was able to come along to better understand this topic because he's going to have double trouble-- he's married to a TCK and will also soon be raising one!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Castellón Trip

We've been back from Castellón for a week now, and we figured it might be good to follow up on how the trip went.  The week was filled with taking part in prayer meetings, Bible studies, and worship services, as well as breaking bread together with the believers in their homes to get to know each other.  The photo here is of a small Bible study group in the town of Alcora where the church of Onda is hoping to plant a new congregation.  We spent a good deal of time with our hosts, Francisco and Shirley Gross, asking a lot of questions about the needs of the area and the team's vision for reaching Castellón with the Gospel.  Here's a run down of what we found out:
  1. The NeedsUnemployment abounds, as just two years ago Castellón was booming with the ceramic tile industry, but due to the economic crisis most of those plants have all but shut down.  Drugs and alcohol are a huge problem throughout the province, especially the closer to the coast you get (Castellón is a port city).  Witchcraft is also rampant in the area, and, in fact, one of the leaders in one of our churches there used to be a warlock.  Traditional Catholicism remains strong in some places, particularly in the smaller towns.
  2. The People:  There are lots of immigrants in Castellón, especially along the coast:  Romanians, Latin Americans, Germans, Arabs, as well as a lot of Spaniards who have moved there from other parts of the country.  The native folks from the province speak Valenciano in addition to Spanish (it's kind of a mix between Spanish and French) and are typically more closed and to themselves (as opposed to Cordobeses), making it a bit more difficult to get to know them.
  3. The Vision:  The northern half of the province is largely unevangelized, and since there are churches in and around Castellón city and a new church plant up north in Benicarló, the team goal is to gradually plant churches in each city in between.  The church in Onda, where the Grosses have been working, is looking to plant a church in the neighboring town of Alcora (as we mentioned above), which would likely be a work we'd be involved in, should we move there.  There is also a large university in Castellón city where the churches are looking to start some form of an outreach.  Please pray as we, along with the ECM Spain field council, seek God's guidance in discerning whether or not we fit in Castellón.
  4. The Geography:  Here are a few photos which show the extremes of Castellón:
 Here we are on the Mediterranean shore.

 And just an hour or so later we were up in the mountains near the town of Morella (an altitude of about 1000 meters or 3250 feet).  They say that Castellón is the most mountainous province in Spain.