It is hard to believe that my first year in Spain has already come and gone. What an amazing year it has been! Learning to live in another country, learning to work with another team, and learning what it means to work in ministry. However, one year surely makes me no expert, and I look forward to what year two will teach.
The Spanish journey started February 2013. My team leaders graciously housed me for the next 3 weeks until my apartment became vacant for my occupation.
In true “Anne” form, after a few days of rest, I was ready to hit the ground running. I was not disappointed as the ensuing weeks were spent going to the Extranjería to obtain Spanish residency, meet the team, attend team meetings, open a Spanish bank account, sign the least to my new apartment, connect to the world via mobile and internet, start language school, and become accustomed to the fact that I was living in another country.
I experience my first “Semana Santa” and made some friends at the language school. Although short lived (they were only in Santiago de Compostela for a limited period of time), it was great to have met them.
From May 24 until June 7, I walked the Camino de Santiago. Beginning in León and ending (of course) in Santiago de Compostela. It was a wonderful experience that (unfortunately) I am still chronicling in this blog. At some point I hope to get back out there, walk the parts yet unseen for me, and meet new pilgrims.
The summer was a bit of a blur settling back in to life after Camino and meeting lots of pilgrims that had reached out to my team leaders. It was super fun getting to know these people and hearing their stories. It made me yearn to open the Pilgrim House even more. It was also during this time that we signed the contract to Rúa Nova 19, the sight of the future Pilgrim House!
My mom came to visit in September. We toured Madrid and then she came to Santiago to meet the team and see this new place I now call home. We even spent a day walking the Camino from Arca do Pino (Pedrouzo) to Santiago. Even though it was just for one day, I loved being back out on the Camino. There is something about being out there. Any of you who are reading this, and who has walked, will surely understand.
The fall meant getting back in to the groove of language school, which I was looking forward to, as it brought a little more structure to the week. It was also my first time away from home for a full holiday season (Thanksgiving and Christmas). As a team, we celebrated Thanksgiving, and stuffed ourselves silly. I am grateful for gracious and hospitable teammates who especially made me feel welcome in their home during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
Our team has also been exploring the two Evangelical churches here in SdC. Pictured is the “Baptist Church”. Started by a family of Argentinian´s. The people who attend are incredibly friendly (“dos besos” from everyone. It´s like the “greeting” portion of the service back at home, except you are giving everyone kisses.)
I also found two consistent intercambio (language exchange) partners during this time. I meet with one or both at least once a week. This has truly helped with my speaking skill. Maria is a first year medical studies student at the University of Santiago de Compostela. She is sweet and young and very helpful and patient with my Spanish. She isn´t afraid to correct me or make me figure a conjugation out or give me an odd look when I have said something that makes no sense. Mila has worked in the tourism business but is currently unemployed. English is necessary to know, and even though she isn´t working, she wants to keep up on her English skills. She is a wife and mother, and is also super sweet and patient. She too is very helpful and isn´t afraid to correct me or teach me about the confusing Spanish grammar. I love them both! For all of you who prayed for me to find good partners, THANK YOU!! The prayers were wonderfully answered.
This year has been wonderful! As things with the Pilgrim House begin to ramp up, I can´t wait to experience what the second year has in store!