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After 24 hours spent in airports or airplanes, we have made it back to America. 

The three weeks we spent in Spain were nothing short of an adventure. Our time was filled with conversation, culture, prayer, growth and mostly- trusting and experiencing God’s faithfulness. 

In no way will I say that these three weeks were easy. They were filled with moments of confusion and disappointment. There were times when it seemed God’s plans were no where to be found. BUT- I will say that in these three weeks God spoke to us. He reminded us to fully surrender our plans to Him. He told us to TRUST that His plans are exponentially greater than our will ever be. And He exposed us to the heart of our purpose and what serving Him really looks like. And those are things that we could have only learned and experienced in Osuna. 

During our going away party (where we wore the Sevillana dresses) we got to spend precious time with the sweet friends that we made during our time in Spain. The night was filled with laughter and joy and dancing and Tapas (of course!). After hours and hours of fellowshipping with our friends, we loaded up into the cars and headed home. On the way home our Host told us something incredible…

One of the women who came to our party brought her resume to be translated into English by Lara, the host. As she looked over her resume she saw that the woman had worked for an evangelical organization so she approached her and asked if she was a Christian- and she was! The woman said that she didn’t know there were any other Christians in Osuna. So, now instead of being three other Christians in all of Osuna- there are four! The most amazing part of this story is how we met this woman. For our first English event that we had scheduled no one showed up. We were extremely bummed because we were looking forward to do what (we thought) God called us to Spain to do. Since it was canceled our Host’s took us to the museum of Osuna where we met David, the man who gave us a tour. Well, our hosts ended up exchanging information with him and a few days later he called to ask if we could teach English at a class he was helping in. So, we went and this is where we met the woman who was a Christian! WHAT AMAZING WAYS THE LORD WORKS IN! 

Also, the night before we left we cooked a meal for the host families. It was such a wonderful time to get to serve them as they had been serving us for the last three weeks. After the meal we read John 13, where Jesus washes the desciples feet. Following that, we washed their feet and prayed for them individually as a tangible symbol of our gratitude for their servanthood. Then, we read another passage and did what followers of Jesus have been doing since right before His death- we took communion with them. Although we couldn’t find grape juice and ended up using an orange colored fruit punch, it was such a beautiful thing. And it was an incredible reminder of the bond that Christ brings among all people.

We are so thankful and have been so blessed by the last three weeks we spent with the people of Osuna. We know that the Lord has some incredible plans in store for that city and for His children all around the world. Continue to keep the city of Osuna, Spain in your prayers. They have left a permanent mark on our hearts and we thank Jesus for them and this opportunity every day!

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The pictures above are from our despedida (goodbye) party last night! People that we’ve grown to know and love these past 3 weeks all came together to share tapas with us one last time, laugh at us as the America girls try to dance Sevillana (the typical Andalucía dance), and say their final farewells. -Bri Lawrence

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This is our team picking up trash around the city of Osuna. We have noticed the need to clean up various areas and people have noticed our service. Two people came up to us asking why we were picking up trash thinking we were an environmental group. They were very pleased that a group of Americans came to pick up trash around their city. Since Osuna is a small town, people have recognized the strange Americans who have been here for the past 3 weeks. We are hoping that they do not simply see us for what we do but rather whom we are doing it for. –Laura Rogers

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Octopus, shark fin, pig cheek, squid, fish with eyes- these are just a few of the things that we have eaten over the last few days! Some of our friends that we met at the University took us to the most famous restaurant in Osuna called Curro where we tried all of these foods! And the craziest thing of all- we actually loved them! We spent the afternoon eating these Tapas and then some of us met up with them downtown in the evening to watch the big football (soccer) game! The game was between Madrid and Barcelona, two of the biggest rivals in Spain, and much to our dismay Madrid lost. But, it was a great day to fellowship with our new friends and be completely engulfed in Spanish culture! 

We have had a ton of students coming to our conversation classes where we have talked about things ranging from food to politics to injuries to movies. We have found that most Spanish people think that all Americans eat hamburgers every day, drink a lot of Coca Cola and see movie stars all the time. The media influence on the perception of Americans and American culture is so interesting and very evident. A student asked us if you got sent to Guantanamo Bay for not paying for your meal. And they think that every new years eve is celebrated as it is in New York City. They have been very surprised to see that we are not like the people in the movies, we are actually a lot like them. Along with them learning about our culture, we have learned so much about theirs- and absolutely fallen in love with it! The kisses on both cheeks (we have named it the “kiss kiss”), the liveliness of the city into the night, the welcoming nature of everyone we have met, spending hours at the dinner table, in no rush, laughing and fellowshipping with one another, and so much more. It has been so beautiful to see God in the people here! Something that we all feel so blessed to have encountered and experienced. And most definitely, something that has changed our perspective. 

Last night we went to one of our friend’s homes to watch the Adele concert on DVD. She was so excited when she was telling us about it in the conversation classes that she had to invite us over to “experience it for ourselves.” The entire night her mother cooked different traditional spanish foods and brought them out for us to eat. Spanish families, especially Spanish women, know what it meant to be a true servant. I have never met people more hospitable and welcoming from the moment you meet them! It has been an honor to be invited to their homes and to be loved as one of their own children- even when we do not speak the same language! We have learned what servanthood really looks like. 

The times that we have had together as a team have been wonderful! Usually, at least one person is talking about The Hunger Games, someone is crocheting (or trying to), and everyone is laughing! We have done daily “challenges” that have consisted of eating a spoonful of cola coa (hot chocolate powder), Saccharin tablets, and combining Nutella with practically everything (cheese, barbeque sauce, chicken, ect.)! We have also had some beautiful times of worship at our house and daily devotions where we have grown as sisters in Christ. It has been amazing and encouraging to see how God is working through each of us.

Tonight our host’s have put together a goodbye party where we will eat Tapas (our favorite food EVER), spend time with our friends, and learn to dance Sevillana (the typical dance of this region of Spain). Then, tomorrow night we are preparing a meal for our hosts to thank them for all that they have done. 

We are so excited to spend time with our new Spanish friends during our last couple of days here. And we are still praying that we are shining the light of Christ to everyone we meet. The Lord is so good! 

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Wow! The Lord is so faithful!

Yesterday we spent the entire day doing conversation classes. We started out the morning with a conversation class at the University where we met with about four students and talked with them for an hour and a half. Then, we loaded into our Host’s car and met up with David to help him with conversation in his class. So, we spent about an hour with twelve students and slowly tried to communicate with each other. God was definitely using that time to teach us patience, because it was not our easiest class. But we realized how rewarding understanding just one sentence can be! After that we headed back to the University where we had another conversation class. We met with eight people and had some great conversations with them. We are even going to get tapas with them tomorrow to get to know them better. We are very excited for that time with them!

Today went well, also! We spent some time at the University talking to four students about what they are studying and about what life in Spain is like. We met with an American couple who are living here in Osuna teaching English with an exchange program. It was so nice to get to talk with them about their time in Spain, not to mention it was nice to meet people who spoke our language! We are hoping to have dinner with them another night and get to know them better!

It is hard to believe that our time here is almost over! But, we will not limit the power of the Lord to the days we have left. We are fully confident that He has great things ahead in these next couple of weeks.

Today our devotion was about when the Lord called out to Samuel three times and he thought it was Eli but the fourth time he realized it was God. The fourth time, Samuel answered the call by saying “Speak, for your servant hears.” As we hear the Lord calling out to us and calling our names, our prayer is that our immediate response is as Samuel’s was- offering ourselves as a servant to God.

1 Samuel 3

Keep praying for us! J

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Though pictures are worth a thousand words, I could write much more than a thousand words on this photoset.  And yet…there’s no actual way to express the beauty in God’s creation we witnessed here.  Despite that, I’ll do my best to recap the aspects that widened both our eyes and mouths. 

King Theoden of Rohan (Lord of the Rings) would have approved of this castle. Perched on a great hill overlooking the Guadalquivir Valley in Cordoba, the Castillo de Almodóvar was striking.  It struck us, alright - struck us speechless.  Our hosts here in Spain took us on a self-guided excursion around the castle, during which Laura R. and Laura D. and Katie M. wielded the Canon T3i like a .50 caliber M2 machine gun and we all strolled around like knights and ladies in Medieval Times. 

The highlight of this castle for me?  Not the stunning stone architecture, the curling greenery of vines that crept up the bricks, or the magnificent archways and classic crenels, or even the collection of intricate swords displayed along one of the castle walls, though they all came close.  

The highlight was the view.  We climbed up one of the elevated turrets using the circular stairwells, and when we got to the top, I couldn’t find anything to say.  Not even a gasp.  Castillo de Almodóvar is fairly high up on the hill, so the land around it seems distant and hazy, including the town of Almodóvar, which slopes down the hill and toward the flatter ground.  Vibrant grass surrounds the castle in emeralds and jades and olive green.  Far down below, grazing sheep (I’m not kidding) sprinkle the pasture like creamy ants.  A shimmering lake reflects the setting sun like gold glitter, and a train track dividing the grass points toward the horizon.  Can we attribute this to a master Creator, a powerful Almighty God whose majesty surpasses any possibilities of doubt?  I can. 

321 words.  Okay, not close to a thousand, but I did my best. :)  Mostly, it was an attempt to call attention to our great God and his generosity to give us things like castles and views and moments to be speechless and reflect on his glory.

- BC

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Today we had the honor of worshipping with our brothers and sisters in Christ at the church in Utrera again. Once again, it was a wonderful service filled with vivacious, celebratory worship and a message about the holiness of the Lord. Katie shared with the church about our experience in Spain thus far. She reminded us that worshiping with the church in Spain is just a glimpse of what it is going to be like to worship the Lord in heaven. Surrounded by people of every race, culture, language- all singing praises to the Lord. The very thought of that excites me beyond belief and I can only image the beauty that will radiate throughout the heavens when we all unite with the sacrifice of Christ breaking down all boundaries. 

On Friday we spent the day with the host family by going on an excursion. We packed a picnic and drove for about an hour until we arrived at a castle in Almódover! Yes, a castle! A real mid-evil castle! The castle has been restored but was constructed in the 1400’s and had the most beautiful of the country. We spent the day exploring the castle, learning about the history, laughing with one another, and gazing out at the most incredible view of God’s creation. It was a wonderful time of fellowship with the family, who have treated us as their own. They have given us an incredible example of what it means to love your neighbor as yourself! We are so blessed!

On Saturday we had a Super Saturday English class with two high school girls. We spent time painting boxes with them and talking to them about their culture and what life is like as a teenager in Spain. We found common ground as one of them burst into song, singing a High School Musical song! We also spent time playing charades and catch phrase and laughing hysterically! We have plans to spend more time with them later this week and we are so excited to get to know them more. 

We also got Tapas with another woman and talked with her about the Spanish culture and what that means to her. And we spent an evening drinking coffee and having dessert with some of the family’s close friends, while doing our best to understand their Spanish. It was so fun to be in a room with so much energy and excitement as everyone greeted each other with kisses on the cheeks! 

God’s faithfulness continues to prove itself time and time again. I mentioned previously that when our first Super Saturday did not work out, we went to a museum and met a man named David. Well, this weekend he contacted us and asked if we could help out with some English classes he is doing all this week! If our Super Saturday had not been canceled, we would not have met David, and we would not have this great opportunity. It is amazing to see how faithful the Lord is and it makes me wonder why we spend so much time worrying when God has these incredible plans we can not see or understand. But we are so thankful for opportunities like this, when we get these little glimpses of His grand plan! 

We have been learning to surrender our plans to God, daily. We know that although we have our own ideas, they can not even compare to the plans that God has for us. Trusting the Lord’s plan for us is something that has continually come up and that is something that we are striving to do in every part of out lives. We ask that you would pray for us, that we would trust the Lord’s plan and that He would continually open up opportunities for us to love the people of Spain! 

We can’t wait to see what God has in store for us and for the people of Spain in the coming week! :)

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Hello everyone! This is a picture of the team with Miguel, a wonderful man that we met our second day here. Our first exposure to the city of Osuna was a tour with Miguel, a personal friend of our contacts here. He took us up to the top of the city (see above) and told us about some of the important landmarks in the city. We have since gone to visit him a couple of times in the shop that he owns downtown. He is a very funny man and we have enjoyed trying to communicate with him, which is sometimes difficult because he talks very quickly. While we are talking with him he will give us pop quizzes to see if we are understanding what he is saying – sometimes we pass, most of the time we don’t :) Our contacts have known him for a very long time and we have enjoyed his company as well. We look forward to more encounters with him during our remaining time here. –Laura Dumas

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We have begun our work at the University doing conversation classes for the students taking English. We have been going into different classes and introducing ourselves and encouraging students to come to the conversation times that are offered. During one particular session of the conversation classes we met with a girl named Emma. We spent close to three hours talking to her, in both Spanish and English, about her life as a university student in Spain and about life in America. We immediately connected with her and we are planning on spending more time with her in the following days. We will be continuing to do conversation classes at the University so please pray that we have good turn outs and that God leads us to people He wants us to come in contact with.

In our free time, we have been going down to the main Plaza to walk around in the shops in hopes of meeting different people who we can talk to and encourage. Yesterday we spent over an hour talking to Miguel, the man who gave us the tour of Osuna, in his shop. While there, we were able to meet five other people and share laughter as we talked about life in Osuna in our broken Spanish.

God also placed another woman in our path later that night. As we were standing in a group on the sidewalk we noticed a woman crouching down behind us and we heard her saying “Nino! Nino!” We quickly realized that she was hiding from her young son because he kept running from her, so she was playing a trick on him. We helped her hide until she decided that it was time to scoop him up into her arms once again. She introduced us to her precious four year old son and then began to tell us of the hardship that she has been facing in her life because of the economic downfall. It was very evident that it was no accident that we met her and that God had our paths cross for a reason. We are praying that we run into her another time and that we are able to encourage her in her time of need.

We fully believe that God has us encounter certain people for a reason. Not just during our time in Spain, but in every day life. We are praying for wisdom as we meet different people in this city. Our goal is to shine the light of Christ to everyone we come in contact with.

Even though all of us do not know Spanish, we have been realizing how trivial that is. The truth that the Lord is alive within us overcomes all language barriers.

Keep praying for us! :)

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The Mediterranean Sea in Malaga! :)