Spain Trip Recap

Like my Fiji Trip Recap, the Spain Trip Recap may be a bit wordy.  It will not approach the 6000+ words that Fiji was, mainly because I was in Spain for a much shorter time, and I didn’t have students with me.  So, without further ado, here is the October 6th-11th Speed the Light Leadership Excursion Spain Trip Recap.

(EDIT: Oops!  I lied already in that first paragraph because I am yet to finish as of 3/1/2012 and we are already at about 5800 words.  So make sure you have some time to sit and read, because I wrote a lot.  Enjoy reading, or just skip down and look at the pretty pictures)

(Final edit: I’ll add more media later on, and will probably rewrite the ending with my takeaway from the trip, and the impact it had on me.  For now though, the trip recap is finished 3/1/2012)

Day 1: The 44 hour Day that Wouldn’t End

I think I woke up around 4:15am to shower.  44 hours from this moment I would get to sleep again.  I was picked up by the famous Scott Tuttle, who would not be koining us on the trip; as well as media director Sean Marshall.  We headed off to the Sac Int Airport, and arrived at the same time as Pastor Pat McConville (Youth Pastor in Yuba City) and the District Student Ministry Director Abe Daniel.  That morning was the Grand Opening of terminal B, we waited in lines in the old crusty terminal A.

Once everything was checked, we watched a good portion of the speech Steve Jobs gave from the 2006 Stanford graduation.  He had just died the day before.  I’d watch 2 more documentaries on the planes, and read his biography when I got home.  However, that wasn’t really relevant to the trip.

We boarded the plane, and headed off to Washington DC.  The flight was a little under 5 hours, we landed, ate some lunch, and boarded the plane from DC to Madrid.  This flight was around 8 hours.  Probably the most important thing that happened on the first flights was my domination of our group at the airplane games.  The 4 of us were all in the center row, playing the same golf, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and other games.  I crushed everyone relentlessly.  It was the right way to start a trip.

Landing in Madrid

We landed in Madrid, and it was Friday morning.  Our host missionary, Scott Smith picked us up, and we headed out to the Speed the Light vehicle that our district provided.  On the way to the car, we were told Scott’s wife Marisa wouldn’t be joining us as there was a matter in a church she needed to attend to.  It would be just the men on this trip!

We finally loaded into the Speed the Light car, a really nice, new Honda CRV.  Many of the cars in Spain are small compact cars, it would have been a brutal week traveling being squished in the back of a smaller car.  But the spacious Honda CRV was nice.

It was a great feeling to ride in an actual vehicle that came from our district, that students had raised the money for.  It really put into perspective why we raise money for missionaries to get vehicles.

Scott and Marisa travel all over Spain, and their vehicle is what makes the ministry they do possible.  Months earlier, while at the Assembly of God General Council in Spain, their original vehicle got stolen.  They came out from a session, and it was just gone.  The police had been no help, and the car was never heard from or seen again.  Speed the Light was able to replace that vehicle for them quickly, so that they could continue their ministry of church planting, and leadership development.

We hit the road from Madrid, and headed South to the city of Cordoba (pronounced Core-doh-bah!)

Madrid to Cordoba

Amazing Freeway Graffiti in Madrid

As we left the airport and hit the freeway, I was shocked and amazed at the amount of artwork along the road.  It was so bright and colorful.  Our missionary guide explained that none of it was gang related; it was just the artistic expression of the wonderful people of Madrid.  Either way, I thought it looked pretty cool.

We drove a few hours, stopping several times along the way to Cordoba.  The landscape was pretty similar to driving down I-5.  Lots of plain fields of mostly dirt.  We did hit a couple of scenic areas, and there were times when we hit patches of olive tree fields that went on forever.  I was surprised to hear about Spain being the largest exporter in the world of olive oil… not Italy.  I would hear a lot of factoids through this trip that espoused the greatness of Spain.

We did drive by some of the famous Don Quixote style windmills, and even drove through (or near, or past) La Mancha.  Kind of a cool thing as I remember watching the movie in school.  Every city we drove through also had a large cathedral, usually with a statue at the top, which was often the highest point in the city.  For a country with so much religious symbolism, and rich religious history, the people there are in dire need of Jesus.

Cordoba

As the day that never ended continued, we eventually arrived at the Bible College in Cordoba.  We met the Bible College president, who gave us a tour of the facility.  The best connection I could make with most passing students a smile and an “Hola”.  I should have paid more attention when I took Spanish all those years.

The college was amazing, 3 stories of classes, dorms, a full kitchen/cafe, and more.  All the people we encountered were extremely friendly even though we couldn’t communicate.  This would be a theme throughout the trip: the people in Southern Spain were so hospitable.

They served us lunch, a chicken and vegetable soup, with bread, and melon.  The soup tasted like Spain.  That description doesn’t really help, and later I was told it was probably the saffron in the soup, but it tasted exactly what I would expect food in Spain to taste like.  I wasn’t really hungry, but it was good, and I ate all the soup.  I passed on the tuna fish covered salad.

After lunch, the Bible college president gave us a few t-shirts, and we headed off to the Jewish Quarter of Cordoba to do a little shopping before we had to head off to a youth service.

The shopping trip was our first taste of tourism in Spain.  We didn’t have long, but we parked and walked through a bunch of streets.  All the buildings were so old.  I kept thinking, (and saying out loud) that all the buildings we were walking past are older than the country I live in… It was mind blowing.  I would just touch walls so I could say I touched something 400, 500, 700 years old.  This happened all throughout our time in Spain.

I was in search of a few gifts for the kids and wifey, but didn’t find much in Cordoba.  I bought a little purse for Chloe, and could not find the “Present cup” that Hannah requested.  Spain would not yield that cup, ever.

By this time of day, I was pretty tired, and we still had to go and meet with a youth pastor, spend time with him, and then attend his youth service.  The details about the rest of this day may not be totally accurate, but they’re the best recollection my mind has.

We left the Jewish Quarter, where all the Jews were forced to live together hundreds of years earlier, and headed off to meet Samuel.  The church was in a really hidden spot that our missionary tour guide couldn’t find, so we met Samuel at a grocery store where we would follow him to the church.  At the church, we spent some time interviewing Samuel.  Samuel was the only full time paid youth pastor in all of Spain that our missionary knew of, and later when we would talk to the youth guy for the AG in Spain we would hear that there may be 5ish full time paid youth pastors in the country…  It was humbling, knowing that the job I get paid to do that I love, really doesn’t exist in Spain.

Cordoba Youth Service

Samuel had a lot of great information to share about the youth ministry church culture of Spain.  There is a huge need for training for youth ministry in churches.  Samuel had made a connection with someone from the States, and had what we heard was maybe the most dynamic youth ministry in Spain.  I think the biggest takeaway I took from our time with Samuel was that youth ministry is youth ministry no matter where in the world you are.  The same struggles and frustration that Samuel shared, were a lot of the same things that I struggle with here in Sacramento.  So while we are separated by geography, the same needs exist all over the world.  Teenagers need Jesus, and they need to have people who will invest in them.

We joined Samuel for a tour of the church, met some students who were there early, and then went in and prayed with his pre-service prayer team of students.  At the end, I think they all laid hands on and prayed for us (I was really tired, but I think that happened).  We went out to the worship center to hear Skillet, Switchfoot, and other bands from the US blaring over the sound system.  The service started, and their student band was awesome.  I didn’t know what I was singing for most of the songs, but they were good.  One of them was awesome, and God’s presence just hit that place.  The students really engaged in worship, and it was a great experience.

I got to go up and introduce myself, which our missionary translated, then Pastor Abe preached.  At the end, we were able to go through the crowd and pray for people during the altar time.  How awesome is God?  I was praying for people in a language they couldn’t understand, but God knows.  It was cool to invest prayer into students halfway across the world, whom one day I’ll see in heaven, knowing I got to take part in something, even as small as one prayer.

After 44 hours, I’m ready for bed

 

Once the service ended, we hopped into the car, stopped by the Bible College to grab our luggage, got some gas and dinner from a gas station, and drove to our first hotel in Sevilla.  I don’t remember the hotel name, I’ll edit this once I get that info.  It was a nice hotel; the pool was empty, and I shared a suite with Pat.  The thing that struck me, was this giant wall, with a tiny TV hanging there.

Day 2

We woke up the next morning, Saturday, with a full ministry schedule in front of us.  Fortunately, nothing starts in Spain until like 11am, so we didn’t really have to wake up early or rush.  Our day would include 3 sessions of leadership training with our missionary Scott Smith.

The event was a gathering of pastors, church workers seeking credentials, and volunteer church workers.  As we headed off to the church, we got lost… several times.  We spent many a time in Spain going in circles in roundabouts.  The event had been moved from the Bible college we’d been at the day before to a newer church that wanted to show off their new facility (Not in a bad way).  It was really nice, and attached to a cafe.

We arrived a little late, but still got to enjoy most of the worship set.  A few of the songs they did were familiar songs from church at home, just in Spanish.  I would go from singing the worlds in English, to singing in Spanish.  It was unique.

The first session was preached by our missionary, with all the workers together.  A pastor from a church somewhere in Spain came back and translated his message for us.  It was interesting, especially for the parts that were funny.  The crowd would laugh, we would get the translation, and laugh right around the time the crowd quieted.  We didn’t disturb the service, but it seemed like a recipe for that to happen.

After the session ended, we split up.  I was scheduled to speak to the youth workers, Pat to the adult workers, the missionary to senior pastors, and Pastor Abe and media director Sean had free time.  Needless to say, I was pretty dang nervous.  First off, it was going to be the first time ever that I spoke and it would be translated.  Second, I had prepared about a 50 minute lesson on basic leadership principles for ministry, and I found out right before the session I would need to go about 90 minutes.  Also, my translator would be translating for her first time.  After trying to come up with ways to get out of it, I forged ahead and headed over to the room I would be speaking in.  Just like in the United States, the youth workers slowly came in a little after the scheduled start time.  The only thing that separates us in ministry is geography.  It’s the same everywhere you go.

I think I fumbled through introducing myself and doing the intro and all I really remember was my mouth going completely dry, and the immense pressure I felt as Pastor Abe watched from the doorway.  When the leader of the free world (within my youth ministry community) is watching, it can create a little stress.  It didn’t help there was no AC, it was a warm 85+ degrees, and I was wearing a long sleeve shirt.  I know my undershirt was soaked with sweat.  Anyways, I got over the nerves, and started my session.  After the first few of my 11 or so points, I was able to calculate the time with translation when I would be done.  It was unique in that I had all this free down time between everything I said.  At some points it was hard to focus.  I tried making more eye contact during the times when my translator was speaking.  I also used that time for the simple math it took to figure out when I would be done.  I finished right around 70 minutes, which gave us about 20 minutes for a youth ministry Q&A.

The time at the bible college, meeting with the youth pastor Samuel, and hanging out with the missionary was all very enlightening.  I like to learn things just by watching dynamics between people, and seeing how thins are operating.  But I really started to see the bigger issues facing youth ministry in Spain during my short Q&A session.  The questions coming from people who were youth pastors were so basic and common for a youth pastor in the United States.  Questions about finding sermon topics, and making things relevant while keeping the core of the Bible.  What to do when your pastor forces you to do ministry a certain way.  There was also a small schism between some old school traditional and some cutting edge post modern thinking.  It was maybe the biggest window into the youth pastor in Spain I got to see, and the biggest learning experience I had; and I was supposed to be doing the teaching!

The session ended well, and I was pretty excited.  Usually I’m more prone to getting down on myself for mistakes made, or things I should have done better.  I tend to focus on what didn’t happen that should have, as opposed to what did happen that went well.  But God worked through that session and I came away feeling a little inspired, and hugely blessed to have been given the opportunity to invest in leaders who would go back to their churches with some fresh excitement or practical wisdom.  After a few encouraging words from Pastor Abe, we headed over to the cafe adjacent to the church for some lunch.

Every meal in Spain was amazing.  I could move there and gain 100 pounds and not care.  This lunch was no different.  We had the choice between some soup, like a cold gazpacho, or paella.  I chose paella.  It was seafood paella.  I hate seafood.  When it arrived there were prawns or crayfish or something that had claws and faces.  I pushed that junk off to the side, along with the rest of the seafood, then I dug in.  It was amazing.  So fresh, and so flavorful; but not a hint of sea life in the food.  I think they brought out meat afterwards, but my mind really only remembers the paella… it was that good.

Probably the best moment up to this point of the trip happened for me at lunch.  I cannot confirm the truthiness  of this, but the following is what we were told.  A pastor came over and was talking to our missionary while we were eating.  The missionary relayed to us that the youth leaders had not planned on coming back after lunch for the second session, but because the first one had been so valuable, they changed their plans and were going to return.  It was a moment of conflict for me.  I was really blessed by the fact that our time together was that valuable to them, but also a little pride crept in that I had to stifle.  I also held back a few tears of joy, as God was just wrecking my heart for pretty much the entire trip.  And knowing that my investment before I came in prayer, and study time had paid off and God did a work was just a great feeling.  That stuff gets me excited about God, and about people.

We finished lunch, went to our second sessions which I was on the sideline for, and wrapped up our time with the leaders.  The rest of the day was ours for fun and exploring.  We headed back to the hotel to change, and then we drove to the metro to take into downtown Sevilla (pronounced Se-bi-ya, definitely not pronounced Saah-vill-uh).  We met up with one of the pastors and his wife, and boarded the metro.  They would be giving us a tour.

SEVILLE, NIGHT 1

We left the metro (pictures unavailable due to armed guards), and immediately I was blown away.  My favorite class outside of the Bible classes I took in college was art history.  The moment I stepped into Seville, I was in heaven. 

The architecture, the history, the atmosphere was just amazing.  My recollection of the night may be a bit off because I was just amazed by it all.  We toured all around, saw the enormous cathedral, lots of old historic places, walked through small corridors between housing (like in the movies!) and just took in Seville.  There were statues everywhere, restaurants everywhere, people walking everywhere, it was breathtaking.  As it got later, we stopped to eat dinner.  The culture in Spain is so different than the US.  We ate our big meal of the day at 2pmish, and then dinner was usually after 10pm.  People were walking the streets with small kids at like 11.  When we were headed back to the hotel after midnight, people were flooding the metro heading into town to go and start the night.  Very different.  Anyways, we stopped at a fish and chips place to eat.  Not liking fish, I just snacked on the order of friend chicken  which was, again, delicious.  We drank some lemon lime like soda water which was good, and just hung out.  I could have done without all the smoking around us, but other than that it was a gorgeous night.  Perfect temperatures, clear skies, and fun company.  It was a really enjoyable night.  As we made our way back to the metro, we stopped for some gelato.  The gelato in Spain was the best I have ever had.  I had mint chip without all the nasty chips in it and it was so good.  That was basically it for the night.  We went back to the hotel, and went to bed.  The next day would be church Sunday, and I would have the best day yet while in Spain.

Day 3: SUNDAY MORNING

Church didn’t start until like 11:30 (An amazing concept!) and so I had quite a few hours to sit around and be nervous.  I think I retied my tie like 4 times, and I don’t really even know how to tie a tie other than a simple basic knot.  I was just fidgety.  I had brought two sermons with me, but I knew which one I would be preaching.  The day before, we had discussed who would be going to speak at what church, and I was excited to choose the homeless outreach church with the former biker pastor.  My message was centered on hope, and that type of crowd is really who I like to speak to.  It finally came time for us to leave the hotel, so I loaded up with our missionary, Pastor Abe, and media Sean.  We drove to the church where Abe would be preaching, and I don’t think we even got lost!

 

I was pretty nervous, since I would be going off to another church, and apparently all alone.  As we got out of the car, our missionary ushered me into another car with some guy.  He would take me where I needed to go.  The feeling I had, being driven around in a foreign country, without knowing anyone, not knowing where I was headed, or how I was supposed to get back to the group was a bit unsettling.  Also, my driver spoke no English.  I was already pretty stressed about preaching, this really didn’t help much.

We finally pulled up to the church, my driver stopped, pointed, and as soon as I got out and closed the door he was gone.  There was nobody outside, so I slowly walked in to this unknown place,where I knew nobody.

(Just a little side commentary: I feel pretty terrible for people here in the United States who go to a new church for the first time.  After this experience, I really used the feelings I went through to try and examine how people here in the States feel when going to a new church for the first time.  It’s a pretty scary thing, and I know there are likely many churches who really plan for that, but just as many who don’t.  For someone who isn’t overtly outgoing, what an intimidating situation to be in walking up to a building and being greeted, or not, by people you’ve never met.)

Anyways, it got worse when I walked inside.  Nobody spoke any English, and apparently, 10:45ish is really early to arrive for church in Spain because there were only a few people setting up.  Even the pastor wasn’t there yet.  The people were great, like everyone I met in Spain.  I stood sort of in the back, quite awkwardly, for what seemed like an eternity but was probably like 15 minutes.  During that time every single person who walked into the church came over to me, greeted me, realized I spoke no Spanish, shook my hand or kissed my cheek, then headed off.  It was like a dream, it doesn’t even seem real.

Finally, after forever had passed, a few of the youth leaders from the day before showed up.  They recognized me, and chatted as much as we could in broken Spanish and English, but at least I knew someone.  Then, my translators from the day before arrived and I felt better.  We went off to the side where I gave them a transcript of my notes; we clarified anything that might not translate the same, and I was set.  As he read the notes, he got a little emotional.  The people who attended that church were facing some real difficulties that I would be speaking to.  They also had just done an outreach to the homeless two days before and some of them would be at church that morning too.  It confirmed that I had the right message, and I was at the right place.  I love it when God does that.  I met the pastor when he arrived, was told I had free reign to do whatever I wanted, that time wasn’t an issue, and to go for it. Some of the youth leaders I’d met asked if they could bring students in for the church service (I guess they’re normally separate) and I didn’t know whether I had that decision making authority but I gave my excited approval.

I moved over into the second row in the very middle, the pastor greeted everyone, and worship started.  I loved worship in Spain, this church was no different.  They had a good team, made up of mostly young people, and I only recognized one song that we had done so far in Spain.  It was powerful, and that church was filled with people who really worshiped.  It also had a lady who played the flamencos and in person those things sound amazing ; especially during worship.  The pastor did a smart thing as worship was ending, he had an altar call.

I say it was smart (and maybe it just was prompted by God) because he didn’t know me.  I could have been awful, I could have gotten nervous and only spoke for like 7 minutes and then church was over, I could have forgotten to do an altar time like I did in Fiji (oops).  So he held one, and 4 people raised their hands for salvation, and several others came up for prayer.  At first I was a little bummed because I figured I wasn’t going to be able to have altar time at the end; but my translator instantly leaned over and said to still do whatever I felt at the end.  It was win win win.

Finally, after announcements, offering, and other stuff I couldn’t understand, the pastor introduced me (as best he could from meeting me for 8 seconds), and I was up.  I can still see the crowd vividly in my mind; even with recognizable faces.  I’ve preached hundreds of times to students; tens of times in church, and one other time in a foreign country; but I never have felt as excited, motivated, energetic, and dependent on God as I did in that church, that morning.  The message went as best as it could have but it didn’t really matter (What matters was how it was translated) and it was translated well.  After I would say my part, I would grab a sip of water and make eye contact with the crowd.  I could literally see people being affected as they heard what was said.  Such a unique experience having down time every 10 seconds mid sermon.  There was really only one Bible verse that obviously didn’t translate the same, and one phrasing I used which didn’t mean “excited” it meant “excited” 😉 and otherwise it was great.  By the end, people were crying, God was moving, and another 4 people raised their hands for salvation.  That made 8 total that morning and I know one of them had been from the homeless outreach!

Many others came forward for prayer, which they left for me to pray for everyone.  It seemed like I was praying forever for people, and people got touched by God.  That was all I was hoping for, and God never fails.  One girl was laid out, weeping, another man had terminal cancer and their family was really struggling with that.  A few of the people from the outreach came up for prayer as well.  I even got to pray with the pastors… son!  Although, when he came up, his long hair covered his bowed head and I wasn’t sure if it was a young boy or girl.  It was the most gender generic, slightly awkward prayer I remember praying for someone… but nobody spoke much English so it was all good.

Altar time wrapped, I was on a Jesus high, and so many people came up to me after and thanked me, kissed my checks, and shared the struggles they’d been going through.  As their stories were translated, I was just in awe of God.  Again, language and culture differences and an Atlantic ocean between us really didn’t change the struggles that people have.  Everyone has trials, and everyone needs God to help them through.  It was the most humbling experience having all these people come and share after the message.  I didn’t do anything, but God showed up and touched people’s lives.

Shortly after that, our group showed up at my church and I wasn’t lost in Spain anymore.  We went out for some Chinese food (See, it’s just like in the United States) with our group and the pastors and wives from the three churches we’d all been at that morning.  It was an all you can eat place, and I ate a ton of meat and ice cream.  It was a nice cool down from the church adrenaline rush I had been on.  This was also the first time I had seen a man Pastor Abe aptly named “Spanish Santa”.  I believe he was the pastor at the church Pat spoke at, and he looked like Spanish Santa (INSERT PIC HERE).  After lunch, I think we went back to the hotel, napped, then headed back out to Sevilla for another evening on the town.  We were scheduled to meet with Hector, a former youth pastor who was now an Assembly of God official for the country.

Sevilla was just as awesome on day two walking around.  The cathedral, the lights, the atmosphere, the buzz of the people was just great.  The sun was actually still up when we went out, and as we walked around we bumped into someone who had been at the church Abe spoke in that morning.  She was headed to check out an international festival that was going on, so we went too.  It was crowded.  They had vendors and food booths from countries all over the world.  We checked out all the stuff, walked around for a bit, then headed out.

The Spanish Plaza

We walked over to the Spanish Plaza, where the world fair was held in the late 1800s.  It was another amazing piece of architecture.  People were paddle-boating in the canal, riding horse carriages around, and we saw another wedding.  The horse carriages came close to running numerous people over, and you had to watch where you were going.  The Plaza was enormous, and as the sun set the lights came on and it was another beautiful part of Spain to have been privileged to take in.  We headed off from the Spanish Plaza to go and connect with Hector at a sandwich shop.  We talked with him for about half an hour, did some interviews, and got some great information about the state of youth ministry in Spain.  He had a different perspective than the other youth pastor we had met, and it really showed some of the things youth ministry in Spain faces.  Both meetings were informative, and enlightening.

After that, we walked around a little more, then headed back to the hotel.  This would be our last night in Seville.  Seville was where we spent most of our time, but the two nights we took to walk through the city and see everything was amazing.  The churches were great, the people friendly, and I don’t have a negative memory about the place.  Life changing for sure!

Day 4: Travel and Madrid

We woke up Monday morning and got an early start… like 11:30 am.  If I remember correctly, we were supposed to meet down stairs to leave at 11:00, and when the phone in our room rang at about 11:10 it seemed as though Pat and I may have overslept.  Those blinds that block out all light are nice :)  We rushed to pack, run down  to the lobby, load the car and leave.

We had a long day of travel ahead of us, driving back to the hotel we would stay at before our flight left the next day.  But without any real plans until 8:30 that night, we were able to cruise, take our time, and enjoy driving through the Spanish countryside.  We took a slightly different route and saw some different sights.

Alcazar de Los Duques de Feria

Amazing art in the ceiling wood

On the way back, we stopped at a castle.  Yeah, a freaking real life castle.  If my translation is correct, which it may not be, it was the Palace for the Dukes of Feria.  The castle was built from 1437-1443.  Like every building I touched, it was older than our country!

I guess once castles became obsolete, they would turn them into palaces and this was a palace.  It has since been converted into a high end hotel.  We had a drink and snack in the restaurant, took some pictures, and headed back onto the road.

Madrid

We finally got into Madrid in the late afternoon.  We checked into what I can only describe as the most post-modern designed hotel I’ve been in.  It was nice, and each floor had a different connection center (ie: business lounge, Wii game area, computer lab).  We checked into our new rooms, I had the privilege on staying with our DYD Pastor Abe, and headed out into the Madrid center.

busy downtown Madrid

At the risk of sounding a bit repetitive, Madrid was amazing.  The buildings were a different style, but still put me in awe.  It was also the busiest place we’ve been.  Madrid is the center city in Spain, and we stood in the very center of the city.  It was an amazing thing to stand in the very center of the country.  Our plans were to eat at the oldest operating restaurant in the entire world.  Dinner in Spain was traditionally late, and we were the early birds with our 8:30 reservation.  I found it hilarious that all the people waiting in line for the early bird dinner were old.

Notice the sea of grey

Suckling Piggies

The special was suckling pig, but with a long flight home the next day most of us played it safe and kept our stomachs out of risk.  I ordered the Filet Mignon, and they brought me two.  It was awesome, and I ate both.  I tried a bite of the suckling pig and it was good too.

We left the restaurant stuffed, and walked around looking in shops.  I was determined before I left to get each of my kids a gift of their choosing.  Hannah requested a “present cup” and at this point all of Spain only had ceramic mugs that would not do.  Madrid was no different and I felt like my quest would end in failure.

After eating we headed back to the center of the city to meet some other missionaries who do street preaching in the square, then operate and invite people back to a coffee shop they have.  The place was immaculate.  We were given the tour, saw the red boxes they do preaching from, and heard some of their vision and what they do.  It was an encouraging report.  After that, we headed back to the hotel, where we said goodbye to our amazing host, missionary Scott Smith.

Our group hung out for a bit, the hotel had a Wii station area and we played Wii while texting/calling our families.  I was determined to beat jet lag when we got home, so I stayed up the entire night.

TUESDAY: HEADING HOME

We woke (the group, not me) up early and headed off to the airport.  While there, I looked everywhere for a “present cup” for Hannah.  Nothing really met the criteria of what I was looking for, so I had to settle for a soccer style metallic water bottle, and I also bought a glass cup that she will get when she’s older.

We filmed some clips for the documentary that was being made about our trip, and got on the plane. Below is that short documentary, I’ll link the others as they are made.

Speed The Light SPAIN Doc #1 from Nuthouse Media on Vimeo.

We were spread out on this flight, and had few people around us.  I had an entire row of 4 seats to myself.  It was a nice time to reflect on the trip, and prepare for Washington D.C

Washington D.C

I’d never been to D.C before, so when the plan to sight see during our layover came up I was all for it.  Unfortunately, said layover was only about 4 hours.  From the airport, it was about an hour each way to get to our destination point: The White House.  The moment they let us off the plane, we ran (literally) out of the airport and hailed a cab.  Someone really held us up at customs trying to bring snow globes in their carry on and we had lost some very valuable time.  Hopefully we would make it back for our last flight home…

There was no traffic heading into the White House area which was good.  As we drove past all the historic monuments, we all tagged ourselves on facebook.  We never really got out, or experienced any of it, but we were there, and I saw the majesty with my eyes.  We parked what seemed like forever away from the white house (apparently you can’t just drive right up) and had about 7 minutes to enjoy the sights.  We took a few pictures from really far away, then ran towards the white house.

I can only try and paint the picture that was us running towards the white, probably the most secure place in the country?  Pastor Abe, who has darker skin and Sean Marshall were running side by side.  Sean had a hard case metallic backpack on, one that looked like it contained a bomb.  And they were sprinting towards the white house.  One of the scariest funny things I’ve seen, maybe you had to be there seeing it from my perspective.

Anyways, we arrive close to the white house, and the stupid streets are closed.  They wouldn’t let us get all the way up.  There was some event on the lawn and pedestrians couldn’t get through.  As we ran back to the cab, a few minutes later we looked back and saw that all the people who had been waiting were being let through.  Very disappointing.

Where we let people think we took pictures

Where we actually took pictures

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We jumped back into the cab, smelly and sweaty, and drove the hour back to the airport.  It was crowded, but we still had time to shop.  At the DC airport, I found the exact type of “present cup” I’d searched all of Spain for, and bought it.  Hannah wound up with three cups…

We flew home, and lived happily ever after.  The End.

Update: This was an amazing trip for me.  To get to travel around through the bible college, the pastor’s conference, and the church I preached at was life changing.  Seeing the need that is met by Speed the Light made me want to raise that much more money for our missionaries.  Without their vehicles, ministry wouldn’t happen, or it would be much tougher.  Seeing all the historic places in Spain was great, but the time spent with our missionaries was really the greatest impact on me.  I came home with a greater appreciation for a few things.

1.  Getting away from the US and into a foreign country is a must do for every christian.  God just does something when we leave our comfortable country and do something for Him.

2.  Speed the Light is essential.  It’s been great to raise money for missionaries, but to ride a STL vehicle and do the work alongside our missionaries was amazing.  Missions has been and will continue to be a focal point in any ministry I am part of.

3.  Missionaries are the greatest people on the planet.  They leave everything they know, pack up a few things, and start a new life in a new land.  What an exciting adventure.  Seeing the true sacrifice of missionaries was life changing for me.