After many weeks of strict lock down and confinement, we have finally passed to a new freedom! On March 13th (Friday the 13th, of course!), our La Mesa Turquesa team was putting the final touches on another big cultural food event. We were planning a Brazilian Culture Night, and many Brazilian immigrants had big plans to attend and share food, music, and culture with their new neighbors in Spain. Combine Brazilians with music and food and you have a serious party brewing!!! However, coronavirus was rapidly taking hold of our country and precautions were getting more and more serious. Our team made the difficult decision to cancel the event, fearing the numbers of people who would attend and the possible implications of having that many people crowded in to our tiny community center. It proved to be the right decision - two days later, the government effectively shut down the entire country and plunged Spain in to the strictest lock down and quarantine measures in all of Europe.
We spent many weeks in our homes, cut off from our work and the community that we had worked so hard to foster among immigrants and asylum seekers and their Spanish neighbors. Many of the people we work with do not have access to internet in their homes. Many do not have cell phones with data plans. Many live in one-room apartments and are dependent upon social services for food or other needs. How would they make it through the long weeks of confinement? What would happen to our communication and connections without internet and cell phones and texting? How would we keep in touch? Would we lose everyone and start again from ground zero? What about our people who are learning language and depend upon our classes and conversation groups for support? We have spent many days and weeks worrying about our friends and what life after quarantine might be like.
At the end of May, we had a small break in our restrictions and began to be allowed to leave our homes for one hour each day for a 1 kilometer exercise walk. During that time, we saw one of our La Mesa friends walking in the street in front of our home. It was so exciting! I'm sure our neighbors thought we were nuts as we hung over our balcony waving and yelling to our friend in both Spanish and English (she speaks a Slavic language and mixes English and Spanish together to get her point across... it's a hoot!).
Just this week, we have been able to reopen the community center. We are still under specific restrictions and safety protocols, but we were able to reopen for two hours each day. Masks are mandatory - a government rule. And our maximum number of people who can be in the building at one time is twenty.
Yesterday, we began with Spanish language classes and we had a full house! We were super excited to see our friends return!!! Friends from Nigeria, Ghana, Brazil, Slovenia, England, and other countries came for their Spanish support classes. You may remember the twin babies that were born here last year as their mother sought asylum... they came to class with Mom and they have grown like crazy! They learned to walk during quarantine and they are now in to EVERYTHING! Say a little prayer for their mom! Can you imagine being a single mother of twin babies, locked down in quarantine in a one-room apartment with only a mattress for furniture? No internet. No TV. No one to give you a break or babysit or help with two one-year-olds learning to walk? Yet this woman NEVER loses her smile and she is always laughing and bubbly and loving those babies.
Continue to pray for the work of La Mesa Turquesa and our team as we reconnect to friends and neighbors and rebuild what was closed down for so long. Three full months of locked doors and no communication with the people we minister to has been so hard on all of us. Pray that we find everyone again, that we find new ways to navigate restrictions and safety protocols, and that we continue to foster connection and love our neighbors well.
If you would like to partner with La Mesa Turquesa and be a part of this work for neighbors and community...
La Mesa Turquesa runs on a shoestring budget. Currently, it costs us $675 monthly to keep the doors open (rent and utilities). Add another $75 for supplies per month (coffee, cookies, water, etc.) We have partners who are covering $450/month. The rest comes out of our pockets.
We need some partners to make up the $300 difference each month. Can you help? Could you or your small group partner with us for some of that amount each month? Your provision makes it possible for people to learn language and culture and build relationships with neighbors as they learn to make a new life in Spain.
To help us:
TMS Global link (online giving) - be sure to check the box to make your gift recurring each month. Go to https://www.tms-global.org/partners-and-projects/details/refugee-community-center
In my USA life, I was a teacher in Texas for 15 years. I was also a professional photographer, a soccer mom, a horsewoman, and the neighborhood hospitality queen. I did "Joanna Gaines farmhouse style" before Chip and JoJo were even a thing - we restored an 1884 Victorian farmhouse in small town Texas and did shiplap walls until I thought I'd go crazy. I taught at NASA, scuba dived with astronauts in training, and studied animals at Sea World for educational purposes. I've tried just about everything, because I have an insatiable need to know if I can do it! Never underestimate a Texas girl in cowboy boots!
In 2006, my husband Billy and I became cross-cultural workers (CCWs) with TMS Global. For five years, we served in three rural Quechua Wanca villages in the Andes of Peru. And when I say rural, I mean RURAL - like no potty! I spent my days in Peru learning to live a Quechua lifestyle in a rustic adobe house - cooking Peruvian foods, sewing with Quechua women, raising my chickens and goats and pigs, and planting my gardens. Now I live my life in small town Spain, serving other cross-cultural workers via teaching and training and care, and helping displaced people to navigate their new reality in Europe.
I'm passionate about fostering personal growth, growth in community, and growth in The Kingdom. Walking alongside others and helping them to use their unique design, their gifts and strengths and maximize their abilities to fulfill their God-given purpose - that's what makes my heart sing!