After 22 years of living life, I think I’m just starting to realize how important it is to enjoy life and spend time with the people you love rather than working on homework. Seriously, in five years, will I remember the people I spent time with or that paper that I spent hours laboring over? I’m thinking it will be the people. And that works great for me. I get homework done faster and enjoy life more.
Saturday, I got to celebrate my birthday…in SPAIN. I kept smiling all day at the littlest things, like the fact that the sun was shining and it felt like summer. My host sister, Helena and I walked all the way to Alcalá Magna, the local mall complete with H&M and a grocery store, to look for some comfy walking shoes and ended up finding a pair of boots for only nine euros. My host sister said, “Most times, you end up leaving with something completely different than you had in mind.” True, and after two more months of all this walking, I will never need to drive again!
First surprise: My host mom made a cake for me to share with the fellowship in Madrid later that day. It was beautiful. I can’t believe she put so much thought and heart into this cake that she wasn’t even going to get to eat! There was a slight miscommunication about what time we were supposed to meet our ride to go to fellowship..so picture this: I had a cake balanced in one hand, a bag with a Bible, a notebook and pretzels in the other hand, speed-walking down the street in heels to make it to the gas station on time. We proceeded to belt Celion Dion on our way to Madrid. And I won’t lie. That was one of my favorite moments of the day.
Second surprise: After our teaching and songs, the fellowship had a few presents for me, pair of pants, a red shirt that says “dream” on the front, a small pair of sparkly blue earrings and a birthday card that plays “happy birthday,” in high-pitched, piercing notes every time you open it. That birthday card was my favorite. The two little ones, Obed and Esperanza, could not get enough of it. Finally Cerafin, one of the believers, asked me to please hide the card somewhere they couldn’t find it. The fellowship sang about five variations of Happy Birthday before I opened my presents and again before I blew out the candles on my cake. I’m pretty sure these people like singing.
A birthday feast: Emerance, the fellowship coordinator’s wife, is so sweet. Every week, she prepares a huge meal for everyone to share, complete with Fufu, rice, fish, buñuelos (beneights) and platanos. Can you say abundance? This weekend was their last fellowship in Madrid because they are moving to the United States to live and work in Iowa. Let’s just say there were smiles, a few tears, and a lot of giving thanks as we sent them on their way. We stayed until 11 p.m. hanging out with the kids while the adults watched a soccer game in the living room. And when I say “hanging out with the kids,” I actually mean “acting like kids.” I used the pretzel sticks I brought to pretend like I was a walrus. My mom would be so proud.
I got home around midnight and got to skype with my family! I am so thankful for my friends and family all over the world. It was a wonderful day filled with abundance and blessings, and I couldn’t have asked for a better way to spend it than with such awesome people.
And that’s not all. Sunday, my friend Alesia and I decided to head to Madrid again (about a half hour train ride from Alcalá) to hang out in the Parque of Buen Retiro because it was such a beautiful day. You can’t get much better than 70 degrees and sunny! We went to a grocery store in Madrid and bought juice and sparkling water, olives, crackers, cheese, apricot jam, guacamole, chips, chocolate. Can you say best picnic ever? We even bought a whole pack of spoons, plastic cups and lime green napkins. We used so many napkins. Apparently, people in Spain have something against wasting paper, so we all use fancy cloth napkins. I can’t even explain how or why it brought so much joy to my soul to use as many napkins as I wanted and then to throw every single one of them in the garbage. Wasteful? Maybe. Satisfying? Absolutely.
After finding the right train (trusting in God really helps wonders) I got back to Alcalá with plenty of time to finish a ten page paper for my Spanish movie class. Hey, like I said, there are some things that we just have to get done, but will I really remember how late I stayed up to work on that essay about Almodóvar’s film? Nope. I’m going to remember laughing with Alesia in the park that one day with the random picnic and the lime green napkins.