Our teammate, Kat Marcum, has some great skills! She made this new promo video for La Mesa Turquesa yesterday and we are smitten! So in love with what she did!
To be a part of the work that we do in Spain at La Mesa Turquesa community center, click here:
How about a one-week trip to Spain to visit us?! No one can travel right now, but we still want to host you!
It's "Church Has Left The Building" International Style!
Coming in November, we will be hosting the Spain Virtual Experience! A chance for your small group or Sunday School class to visit Spain and our work. The Virtual Experience is a series of short (5-10 minute) daily videos that we are producing specifically for you. Each video shares a different aspect of life and culture and work in Spain. Here's the plan:
Once your group/class decides to take this journey with us, just let us know so I can schedule the final meeting day and get it on our calendar. The last day of the Experience will be a live Zoom call between us and the members of your group. We can do that any time on a Saturday or Sunday before 1pm Texas time. You may wish to do it during your normally scheduled Sunday School or small group time on Sunday. Or, if you are meeting in-person, you could choose to do it as a special breakfast, brunch, or lunchtime gathering on Saturday. The call will be a time to meet the group, discuss what you learned during the week and how it impacted you, and a time of Questions and Answers. It's a great time for your group to get together and celebrate your virtual mission trip.
This is going to be a great time to focus on international issues and missions - and you can't beat the month of November for learning about other cultures, prayer for the nations, and a focus on thankfulness and gratitude!
This is a great one-week study for your group—a break from the normal and a way to be people who engage with God’s mission in the world, even during Covid.
Send us an email for more information or to sign up your class / group!!! Don’t wait! Others are already signing up!
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
The Fall semester began last week for Spain. Elementary children started back on Sept. 10, while Secondary school kids began Sept. 15th. School is 100% in-person (for now). Do we still have Covid? Yes... Spain is still registering hundreds of new cases every day. Are there precautions in place for in-person school? Probably as much as they are anywhere. Honestly, there is only so much you can do with 28 students in one room and hundreds in one building. Everyone is wearing masks. Everyone is washing hands and disinfecting desks and classrooms. Administrators are attempting to keep distancing rules and lower hallway traffic.
In this situation, we are all the same. It doesn't matter if you are in Texas or Spain or wherever in the world... this is hard. No one knows the right answers. Everyone is doing the best they know how to do under these circumstances. But it's hard. And it's stressful. Teachers are stressed and bearing the weight of education AND public health and safety. Parents are stressed and worried whether or not their children are safe, but they also need to go back to work. The local government is stressed and stretched beyond their limits... no one signed up to lead during a pandemic and no one in city hall can predict what will happen next. There is no good answer. Everyone is just doing their best.
We feel it, too. Trust me. As a former teacher, I feel it as I think about my teacher friends. As a mom, I feel it - I have a son who is a teacher and a daughter taking classes. In fact, my family is full of teachers... my son, my brother, my cousins, my aunt. Many of our best friends back in Texas are the people we taught with. And if you aren't a teacher, you are a mom or a dad who is concerned about your child or grandchildren this school year.
At La Mesa Turquesa, we are also "back to school". On September 7th, we started back with our full schedule of morning and afternoon offerings. We have Spanish classes for non-Spanish speakers every morning, as well as English Conversation groups and language support. Our mornings are full of energy as people from many different countries and cultures come together at our table to learn language and build community.
We have several new volunteers! This is very exciting for us!!! Our volunteers came in for special training on how to be language guides and they are really stepping up to the plate. It is so nice for us to have help, and for the people who use La Mesa to have several local faces to help them learn and grow and assimilate in to the community.
In the afternoons, we offer English homework help for 5th-12th grade students (all students are required to take English every year). We also have a variety of relationship building activities... story time, game nights, afternoon coffee and conversation times, special workshops, and field trips to cultural sights in town.
All of this comes with it's own stressors for our team. Just like teachers and administrators and local officials, we are constantly concerned with public safety and keeping the Friends of La Mesa Turquesa healthy. We are always watching our cleaning protocols, always monitoring masks, always counting bodies and making sure that we are keeping our capacity in check with distancing regulations. We worry when someone coughs. We notice when someone isn't there for a class and we wonder if they are healthy.
Just last month, we were forced to close for 2 weeks because 50% of our team was exposed to a positive case of Covid - not in our center, but at another event in town. We had to wait while our teammates quarantined and awaited negative testing results. Because of our close contact as a team and the work that we do with others, we must be careful. Our team is not big enough to be able to handle a 50% shortage of workers. Any hit to our workforce is detrimental to our work. Another reason we are REALLY happy to have new volunteers now!
Pray for us as we navigate this Fall schedule and how to stay safe while ministering to others.
We are definitely praying for YOU as you also navigate a very different "back to school" season.
If you would like to partner with La Mesa Turquesa and be a part of this work for neighbors and community...
La Mesa Turquesa exists because of partners like you. 100% of our funding comes from donations from people who believe in the work we do. Would your like to help? Could you or your small group partner with us 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
UPDATE: Sarah moved to Sant Marti Vell in Girona, Spain at the end of June to begin her new realm of studies at one of the most well-known and highly recognized schools in Spain in the field that she will be studying. She's going to spend two years working on her certification and qualifications for TÉCNICO DEPORTIVO EN HÍPICA. In English, she will be a Professional Sports Technician dedicated to Equine Sports. She's be studying at CAVA (Centro de Adiestramiento Victor Alvarez) about 30 minutes from the border between Spain and France.
It was really good for all of us to be able to go help her move and stay in the area for the first 5 days. We were able to take her and help her learn to navigate learning a new town and new grocery store, and to see what she was missing in her tiny house living. She shares a teeny tiny house with another rider in her class. Neither one has a car (you can't drive in Spain until after your 18th birthday), so they catch a ride with another student once a week to go to town for groceries. Otherwise, they stay on-property at the riding center all week.
(By the way... this kid is SUPER frugal! Her first week, she spent 19 euros on groceries - that's $22. How is that even possible?! And she says she had plenty of food. Now, that backfired the second week, when she and her roommate only bought groceries for one week and then couldn't find a ride to the store to replenish at the end of the week! So, they went two weeks on one-week's groceries and left-overs. They got smarter this week and bought two week's worth of meals. She's so super careful about her spending and accounts for every euro. She's amazing!)
So far, so good. She is happy. She's enjoying classes. She begins classes at 7am each day and ends at 7 or 8pm, depending on the day. She has two riding/training classes every day, and 4 theory classes, plus responsibilities with the horses and the stables. When we video call every couple of days, she is happy (and exhausted). She has made friends with other riders/students. The Jenga game that she took with her has quickly become a campus favorite and they sit on the porch in the evenings and play games. PS... no one has a television.
Please continue to pray for Sarah and for her transition. And for her parents, who might go bankrupt trying to go visit her in this ridiculous Covid economy. Train tickets and plane tickets are more than triple what they usually are! And pray for Spain and Covid. With new outbreaks, we all feel that another quarantine will occur eventually. That will mean that Sarah will quarantine at her school, far from home. We've already discussed it and run through the scenarios and all feel that it is safest for her to quarantine there, in the country, away from population sources, and surrounded by horses and the life she loves. Certainly better than being locked in our home in the city and not being allowed to go out at all (minors were not allowed outside during quarantine).
Stop for a second and think about going to the grocery store or a market. Think about a visit to the doctor or to your child's school. Now think about how those everyday errands would be impacted if you did not speak the language of the place where you were living.
I remember once, when my mom (Patricia) came to Spain to stay with Sarah while Billy and I were away for 5 weeks. My mom does not speak any Spanish. I think her entire vocabulary exists of 2 or 3 greeting words and that's it. I remember getting a text from her as she was trying to buy groceries. "I have no idea what this meat is that I'm buying. I know that it is meat. I can't read the label and I can't ask anyone because I can't speak Spanish. So, I'm just trying to look for any pictures or clues. One has a pig on it... we'll assume that it is pork. Whatever. We're going to eat it." They survived their inventive meals and Mom learned to take Sarah with her as a translator (Sarah was 10 or 11 then).
Language learning is vital to learning how to live and build relationships when you are new to a community. It's a crucial first step in learning how to handle daily life and all of the everyday things that happen. The majority of the people who come to La Mesa Turquesa are not native Spanish speakers. They come to us with Arabic, Twi, Farsi, Urdu, Polish, French, and many other native languages. So one of the biggest needs that our new neighbors need is language help.
We have Spanish language help every day. Small groups come for language support, encouragement, and new lessons. Learning looks different on every day, because our people come with many different levels and many different needs. Some come with very little knowledge at all, and they need to start at the very beginning with learning nouns and verbs and vocabulary. Others have been coming for awhile and they are honing skills and learning to put together more complex sentences and conversations. And still others come with very specific needs... how to fill out an application or how to register their kids for school.
Language learning is very hard work and exhausting! Your brain is doing new things and it takes a lot of mental energy to fine tune your ears and listen to accents and letter sounds, to hear the subtle differences in how verbs change as you build a sentence, and to remember all of the new vocabulary and teaching. An hour or two of that and you are toast!
Now try all of that while wearing the government-mandated masks for Covid! No lip reading now!
We make it fun! We play language games. We cheer each other on. We play with babies while mothers take classes. The fun makes it a lot less difficult!
We also have conversation groups at La Mesa. Every day, we have a time for people to come in and practice English and have conversation time. Lots of Spaniards have learned some English, but they aren't confident or practiced in speaking it. Again, games and fun conversation makes the learning go so much faster and easier. Many of our asylum seekers also come from countries where English was taught or where English was a second-language, so it is a great time to sit with those friends and relax and speak in a language that is less "foreign" for them.
Continue to pray for the work of La Mesa Turquesa and our team as we connect to friends and neighbors and help people build language skills that will help them foster new relationships. Pray that we find creative ways to navigate restrictions and safety protocols, and that we continue to foster connection and love our neighbors well.
We cannot even believe it, but Sarah is headed for greener pastures - literally! She leaves at the end of this month to begin her new realm of studies at one of the most well-known and highly recognized schools in Spain in the field that she will be studying. She's going to spend two years working on her certification and qualifications for TÉCNICO DEPORTIVO EN HÍPICA. In English, she will be a Professional Sports Technician dedicated to Equine Sports. In Spain, this is an official professional certification that anyone working in the world of horses and training and equine sports must have. It involves books and books and books of theory and anatomy and equine science, loads of classwork and lecture, and daily practicum in the arena and stables with horses.
Are we ready? Absolutely not! Is Sarah ready? Most definitely yes! This is her heart and she is following her love. She would eventually like to go in to the field of Equine Assisted Learning or Therapy. This is an essential step toward that goal.
So, she's headed out in two weeks. She'll be studying at CAVA (Centro de Adiestramiento Victor Alvarez) in the North of Spain, near Girona. She'll be about 30 minutes from the border between Spain and France. For our USA friends, the distance that she will be from home will the the equivalent of the distance between Amarillo and Corpus Christi, Texas - 660 miles. Literally the same as being on complete opposite sides of TEXAS! So, yeah... she's going to be far from home. Billy keeps saying that he'll just rent an apartment and stay up there near her. She just rolls her eyes - she's not having it. Like I said, she's ready to follow her dreams. We're just not ready to be apart from her.
Pray for Sarah, for her transition, for her good-byes and all that will be changing in her life very soon. She admits to being a little nervous about feeling lonely and being on her own, having to cook for herself, and having to make new friends. And, she is leaving a boyfriend behind. Please lift her up and think of her in the coming weeks.
If you want to help Sarah with her new venture...
Sarah has new education needs. If you would like to help her with the costs of her studies or with the things that she will need to relocate both herself and her horse and set up her little studio room at school, you can help in these ways:
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
All of us all around the world are experiencing some form of “different” right now, some sort of space between the life that was normal and a life that is something new. We are all is some form of lockdown or quarantine or social distancing. For our family and our team in Spain, we are in to week 5 of very strict lockdown protocols. Only the lucky few who have a patio or a rooftop terrace have the luxury of fresh air and stepping outside. Police and military are on the streets enforcing the laws that are now in play regarding the national State of Alarm.
It has been a big change for us! The La Mesa Turquesa community center, a place meant to be a refuge and welcoming home to those who need community, has been closed for 5 weeks. We are missing our people, missing visiting around our big table with friends from so many countries, missing the ministry that we had been working so hard to build and the people we had come to love in the process. Not only has our daily ministry “normal” changed and been in lockdown, but our goals and projects have all suddenly taken drastic twists and turns. We have no idea when things will loosen up, when our current lockdown will end, or when we will be able to return to our work with La Mesa Turquesa and other ministries. Some goals and dreams seem to have gone dark and left us wondering if we will be able to postpone them for later, or ever. We’ve had to cancel events from March through May, and we are now facing the very real possibility of cancelling several summer events and ministries, as well.
I won’t sugar coat it… we are feeling a fair amount of grief and loss. We have our days. We have days when we feel lost. We are so accustomed to going, going, going and having full calendars and being surrounded by a team and a community, working hard and always planning for the next thing, the next leadership development, the next outreach. We have days when we feel unfocused and scattered and unsure of what’s next.
A friend shared this with me yesterday:
"Everyone who saw the risen Jesus saw him after. Whatever happened in the cave happened in the dark. As many years as I have been listening to Easter sermons, I have never heard anyone talk about that part. Resurrection is always announced with Easter lilies, the sound of trumpets, bright streaming light. But it did not happen that way. If it happened in a cave, it happened in complete silence, in absolute darkness, with the smell of damp stone and dug earth in the air. Sitting deep in the heart of Organ Cave, I let this sink in: new life starts in the dark. Whether it is a seed in the ground, a baby in the womb, or Jesus in the tomb, it starts in the dark." ~Barbara Brown Taylor
That really hit me. There will be good things at the end of this! New life will come from this. It’s not easy now, in the dark moments of being isolated, of not knowing what’s next, of not feeling connected to our goals and dreams, to our communities and team. But there will be an end! There will be something new. It won’t look like our “normal” looked before, but it will be new and God will do something wonderful with it.
Even now, new things are happening. In the midst of a worldwide crisis, TMS Global has 180 adult cross-cultural workers and over 100 children who are facing this around the world. Some of those families are serving in places where life is really, really hard on a perfect day. Some of those families are directly responsible for running businesses and employing dozens of local people who rely on those jobs to feed their families. Some of our workers are medical personnel in other countries. Some of our workers care directly for orphans or vulnerable peoples. In the midst of all of this chaos, Billy is leading a Crisis Care Team who is connecting with each and every one of our workers continually to check on their well-being and ensure that they are not losing connection, community, and hope. TMS Global has put out emergency pleas for funds to help our workers who are directly responsible for feeding communities and vulnerable families. Our staff has been working around the clock to ensure that CCWs have what they need and are cared for. In some cases, we have helped to repatriate workers who had to evacuate for special reasons. The vast majority of our workers elected to stay in their countries-of-service and continue to live among and love their neighbors and weather this crisis together with their communities.
Billy and I have had sweet times of connection with neighbors as we meet at our windows and balconies each evening at 8pm for the applause and nightly “pep-rally” that continues. I really cannot believe that we are five weeks in to this and not a single night goes by that the neighborhood does not explode with applause and music and cheers as neighbors gather to wave to each other, check in, and encourage one another.
I really do believe that new things are going to happen when we all come out from this time of uncertainty. Yes, there is grief and loss and ‘darkness’ right now, but there is also hope and light and a new thing coming.
Thank you for being a part of all of this! Thank you for standing with us.
We know that perhaps we all have more in common today than ever… we are all in this Coronavirus Crisis in some form or fashion. Know that we are thinking of you and we pray for the United States and all of our friends and family who are facing this back home. If it is any encouragement at all, Spain has been the worst hit country in the world for per capita contagion and per capita deaths, and we are seeing light at the end of the tunnel. We are facing each day with our chin up. It will be over one day. And so far we have a 100% success rate at making it through our hard days, right!? If you’re reading this, you have that same success rate, too! Congratulations!
Stay connected! The world is having to use their technology like never before. And they are using it to connect with the whole world! Call each other. Have a video chat. Can’t get them online? Send a video text or a voice clip and tell someone how much you love them and how much they mean to you. Check in. Be encouraging. Love your neighbor well!
We love you!!!! Hang in there! God is doing a new thing!
Isaiah 43:19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
~Laurie & Billy
One of the things that TMS Global is doing to help our cross-cultural workers around the world is to reach out to their children. We have approximately 100 children of CCWs in the field who are currently in quarantine and struggling with the effects of this pandemic. TMS has a dedicated TCK Department (Third Culture Kids) who's specific role is the care and formation of our children in the field. One of their current initiatives is to record storytime and make fun stories available to our kids. Here is the book that Billy and I recorded for TMS TCKs last week. Feel free to share with any little people in your life who might like to listen along.
The current situation has had huge impacts on cross-cultural workers around the globe. Not one of our TMS Global colleagues is untouched by this virus. All of our peers are in various states of quarantine or lock down. Some of our peers serve in areas where there is little or no access to adequate health care or provisions. CCWs and their families are now facing food rationing and government curfews alongside those whom they seek to serve. Some of our peers were caught outside of their communities and countries when borders began to close and they were stranded away from home. Some were forced to leave their country of service due to situations beyond their control, only to find themselves back in The States with no home and no place to self-isolate and scrambling to find somewhere to stay for the foreseeable future. All of us are now isolated and trying to figure out how to do life and ministry in various states of confinement.
Billy is now coordinating the Crisis Care Team for TMS Global. Alongside the Coronavirus Response Management team, we are reaching out to meet the needs of our 180 CCWs and their families around the world. Billy’s team has been in continual contact with every one of our workers to provide connection, communication, and care during this time. While we are all physically isolated by this current reality, no one should feel emotionally or relationally isolated and all should be cared for! Please keep Billy and his team in your prayers as they care for others.
The best things you can do right now for your CCWs in the world:
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!