Friday, March 27, 2009

Fine Wine

(The title of this post is ironic since I have recently discovered that my migraines are caused by red wine, so I can't enjoy it anymore. Still, I think it's a good analogy)

I have a theory about good wine. The first good wine is always the best. Once you've had a really good wine, a good, aged, full-bodied (I call it round) wine, every other wine, even good ones, will not quite reach the quality of that first great glass. For me, that good wine was a red zinfandel from California that I had last May at Paul's parents' house. I can still close my eyes and feel the smoothness of it. It was one of those wines that you don't just taste--you experience it. Since then (until I was no longer able to drink it), every sip of wine I've had has been compared to that one. It's the standard.

Today we had our last "team day," a day together before the Crulls go on furlough, and then Amy, and then Paul and I move to the States. Our last time all together as a team. We reminisced about the last several years, about our relationships with each other and the amazing things God has done in our lives and in Madrid. I love these people so much, and have learned so much.

For me, the experience of working on the Oasis Madrid team has been my fine wine, my red zinfandel. It has been more than a job, it has been a life-changing experience. It has affected the way I view church, God, the world around me, family, myself, work, everything.

I'm lucky to have had such an experience. Just like most people in the world don't have the luxury of even clean water (much less good wine), I think many people don't get to experience community in this way, for this long. I have been irreversibly changed.

I'm not saying I won't have good work or church experiences again. I'm just realizing that this is my "first good wine." It's the standard that new good experiences will bring to mind.

I'm so thankful for this team and this experience. If I leave here with one emotion, it will be greatfulness.

Thank you, Oasis Madrid and Christian Associates, for five years of fine wine.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pleasant Surprise

Up until a couple days ago we thought we knew no one in Memphis. We had no leads on a church or ways to get into the community. We were just ...well...going.

And then I sent out my newsletter telling everyone the news. Here's what happened since:

•Matt, a friend from Christian Associates in Montevideo emailed immediately to say that he's from Memphis! He gave us a lead to a church that's doing good stuff, and to an Indian restaurant (per my request--I'm going to miss all the multi-ethnic food here in Madrid)

•Toni (married to Matt) introduced me to some friends by email.

•Those friends have already gone way beyond the normal level of helpful. They even made us a little video with google maps, explaining what different neighborhoods were like!

•Roy (a friend from Harlan now in Alabama) emailed to introduce me to a friend in Memphis who is from Harlan.

•The friend from Harlan emailed, and I found out he went to high school with my oldest sister!

•Also, he works for the same church that was recommended to me by Matt and Toni.

•A friend from college emailed to let me know another friend was living only an hour or so away.

Everyone, many of them people we have never met in person, has been so great about offering to help in any way they can. I told Paul last night, "I feel so...taken care of!"

I think Heather summed it up best. When I told her all the crazy connections and about all of the input and help in getting to know Memphis before we even get there, she just said "God sees you."

Yeah, He does.

Why does this continue to surprise me?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Up at 7 on a Sunday

I'm awake at 7 a.m. on a Sunday. That's momentous enough in and of itself! I'm an off-and-on insomniac, so I'm kind of used to it. I'd love to be asleep, but at least it's daylight and quiet enough to think and pray and write.

I woke up about an hour ago thinking. Not about packing, about handing off ministry, about making sure we spend quality time with everybody, about finding a place to live, about health insurance, or my upcoming training and tests for interpretation. That stuff popped into my head, sure, but since I can't do anything about most of that from Spain, and I can't do anything about any of that at 7 on a Sunday, I'm learning to calm down my racing mind before it gets to panic by going ahead and praying (I guess I can do something, then). "God, I put our time in your hands. I put finding a place to live in your hands. I put health insurance (and our health!) in your hands..." I seriously go down the list of all the racing thoughts.

But what has stuck in my head this morning is a silly question. Or maybe it's not silly, I don't know.

When people in Memphis ask where I'm from, what do I say?

--True, but not the whole story. I haven't lived there for almost a decade, and while part of my heart will always be there, I can't honestly say I'm from KY and allow that to sum things up.

--Less true. I lived there almost 5 years and loved it, but I never even got a Tennessee driver's license.

--This one feels the most right to me at the moment. Spain is the one place I've ever chosen as my home. I had to work hard at first at choosing to love Spain, but now it comes naturally. This is where I feel like I am most myself--at the moment I'm more MadrileƱa than anything else. There's only one problem. I'm not Spanish. I can't even fake the accent like Paul. Plus, five and a half out of 27 years can't tell the whole story either.

So where am I from?

One thing I've joked about here is that our international church community is unique in that "where are you from" is a ten minute conversation with everyone in the church. Everyone has moved around, and no one feels like they can be defined by one place.

Is that ok in the U.S.? I don't know. Will I sound like an idiot when I can't answer a simple question with a simple answer? Do people even ask where you're from in the States, or is that something unique to a community full of immigrants?

I am from KentuckyTennesseeSpain. Does that work?

Post Number One

So this is our new blog. If you're here that means you've heard the news--we're moving! If it comes as a surprise to you, rest assured that we're as shell shocked as you are! Paul and I keep looking at each other and just laughing--it seems the only appropriate response to the roller coaster we're on.

So what am I feeling right now?


All week this week we've been in conversation with individuals that needed to be told before the big announcement. I feel like I've said the same story, grieved the same impending goodbye, explained the situation, and fluctuated between excitement, fear, and sadness a million times over all week. I've said yes to every invitation, wanting to take advantage of all the time I have here.

And I get home, finally, and I stare at the STUFF that's everywhere. Old stuff, new stuff, wearable stuff, functional stuff, pretty stuff, stuff I don't know why we have it, etc. And I start analyzing what stuff to give and what stuff to pack. My brain races.

And then we research. We tour neighborhoods on Google maps. We look at apartments online. We research cars. We research churches. I research translation and interpretation jobs in Memphis, content for the oral proficiency test I'll take this fall, etc. I always feel like there's some question that I need to look up.

And then we "process." Paul and I talk about the results of telling the news, thoughts about stuff, new things we've researched, etc. Everything seems to have some core value behind it that needs to be discussed. We're learning so much about each other through this move! On Thursday we had a 2 hour lunch on a terrace (Paul had the day off work) and then walked home the long way. We walked for almost an hour, almost in complete silence. It's the most relaxing time either of us have had in about a month. It was glorious.

Right now, the first thing I want to do when we get to Memphis is sleep for 30 hours!

I'm tired, and it's just starting. Pray for my rest and my perspective. I want to be grateful for every second we have here.

Sorry if this is not the most chipper of blog posts to start off a blog. Don't worry, in 30 minutes I'll probably have another emotion and blog about it :).