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:
I write this from my fourth week of shelter in place in Spain, the current European epicenter of the pandemic. Life and circumstances change by the hour nowadays. Such a paradox, to be sitting still and locked in our homes, yet circumstances outside are changing so rapidly. By the time this goes to print, I have no idea how things will have evolved and what life will look like. The only certainty is that it will have changed.
There are so many questions on the minds of those who have moved overseas to be cross-cultural witnesses. Never did I consider a pandemic when we were answering the call to go and serve and love our neighbors in another land. What does Love your Neighbor look like when you are forced inside? What effect does lock down and social isolation have on sharing the gospel? What effects will the traumas of forced isolation, illness, and death have in the long term in our communities?
For us in southern Spain, the government decreed state of alarm has been a harsh blow to life as we know it. We cannot leave our homes, not even to go for a walk. Most homes have no yard or garden. The only way to leave home is to go to buy food, and you must go alone. Police and military are on the streets enforcing the lock down. In a culture that prides itself on close-knit extended families, social connection, community bonds, and a pedestrian lifestyle, this has been almost unbearable. The impact and loss that is being felt by all is possibly as devastating emotionally as the physical devastation of the virus itself. We are, after all, created to be in relationship. We are created for connection. The grief of forced disconnection has been brutal.
Neighbors gather at their windows and on their balconies each evening to applaud those who continue to be on the front lines of this battle every day, and to encourage each other as we wait out our confinement and fight our own struggles of isolation and the inevitable fears that creep in. Neighbors who were casual nod-and-wave folks are now jumping up and down when we see each other and waving wildly from our living room windows. Neighbors who casually chit chat as we stand in line at the bakery are now singing and dancing on their balconies and cheering each other on as we rejoice in another day of health. My daughter make a heart sign with her arms to a friend in the next block. We worry about the neighbor on the corner who hasn’t opened their blinds for two days. We call out to the neighbor who has an 85-year-old mother and check to see that Miss Ana, the matriarch of the neighborhood, is well. Even “the cranky neighbors” have changed their tune and have been showing up each night on their balcony to clap and wave and ask how we are doing. When this is all over, we’re going to have one heck of a neighborhood cookout! In fact, we’re going to have one every month. We’re going to find excuses to gather often and love each other well. Because this is a new beginning. This is a new start for “love your neighbor” in Spain!
Doors are being opened to spiritual conversations. Now, during times of forced isolation when we are only connected to our friends and neighbors via text messages and social media groups, more and more spiritual comments and ideas are popping up in the conversations and we are able to join together in those and connect in ways that show our commonalities and diminish our differences. We are able to enter in to spiritual conversations that have been quite taboo in a country that has been steadily distancing itself from anything having to do with religion. It has been eye-opening for some, the realization that we are more alike than different, the idea that we all have something deep within us that asks spiritual questions and seeks answers. If this is a product of this pandemic, it would be a huge step forward and a step toward reconciliation and peace among people seeking God in Europe. ~Laurie
(This article has been solicited to appear in the May/June edition of Good News Magazine.)
Sometimes things don’t work out like you expect.
Like the fact that we’re currently living in a guest room and cooking in our garage. Like the fact that we’re washing dishes in an ice chest. Like the fact that the contractor who started the demolition on our kitchen and bathroom didn’t pull the right permits and the police came and shut down the construction. Like the fact that the city says it will be at least two months until the paperwork clears. Ugh.
Nope… we didn’t expect any of that.
I know that all sounds like it stinks. And frankly, it really does. It’s no fun. We’re having a lot of days that are not at all like we wish they would be. But, life is like that sometimes.
There are other things that don’t go quite like we expected, either. When we opened La Mesa Turquesa, we had visions of refugees and immigrants filling our center and sharing tough stories with us on a daily basis. We were prepared for emotional days and how to work through trauma. There has been some of that, for sure. We have had our share of tough stories and tears. But there has also been a lot of good in the unexpected.
We never expected to make a new Syrian friend who also happened to be a champion horse trainer in the Middle East! He and Sarah have shared lots of stories. He has even been to see her compete and help at the riding club.
We never expected to fall in love with the twin babies that were born after their mother fled her country, pregnant and afraid. We never expected to become aunties and uncles and cousins to these precious little ones. We never expected to cuddle them every Sunday while their mom attends our church. We never knew that one day we would witness their first laughs, their learning to crawl, and the joy when they reach out for us to hold them.
We never expected to witness the first black man to ever pray from the pulpit in our church. A refugee from Nigeria stood up and asked to pray and he rocked the world that day. We never expected to see history made and a church forever changed by a humble man seeking a new life in a new country and new culture.
We never expected to meet Peruvians in our center! It’s like old home week when they come in! We never expected to be helping them settle in to our town, to be helping their children learn English, or to be reminiscing about everything we love and have in common about Peru.
We never expected to become “mentors in everything”, but we find ourselves negotiating rental agreements for immigrants, helping people find food, tutoring and helping with homework, teaching English and Spanish, and trying to help people navigate the rocky waters when cultures clash. We find ourselves in tough conversations about racism and world politics and global economies, all from varying cultural perspectives.
In some ways, we expected to have to fight for our place in the community and to stand our ground for helping refugees and immigrants. What we didn’t expect is the amount of love and support that we have received. We didn't expect locals to hang out here as much as refugees and immigrants do.
What we didn’t expect was the questions about, “Why do you do this? Why do you help people with out charging them anything? Why is the coffee free? Why do you accept everyone – blacks, whites, immigrants, refugees, Spaniards, Muslims, Christians, tattooed teens… why are you so open to everyone?”
What they don’t expect is our answer. “Jesus said to ‘Love your Neighbor’. He didn’t say to love the people who look like you. He didn’t say to love the people who are perfect or popular or accepted by society. He said, ‘Love your Neighbor’. All these people are our neighbors. So, they are welcome at our table.”
When we moved in to our house, we “inherited” a bunch of extra stuff that the previous owner left behind. He was a ninety-three year old widower, and he left us with loads of abandoned ceramic figurines that I’m sure had once been special for whatever reason. A ceramic clown riding a donkey, various little vases of plastic flowers, an entire heavenly army of ceramic cherubs and angels, a few random stuffed animals, some odd pieces of glassware and some mismatched dishes, and an entire forest of dusty silk greenery, just to name a select few. We boxed them all up and took them to the local second-hand store, along with some old furniture, cardboard posters, and velvet drapery. After all of the purging, one large silk plant remained. It stood in the corner of our bathroom, measuring in at almost 5 feet tall, and was “planted” in a triangular glass vase filled with blue and orange crepe paper confetti. I thought to myself, “How did this ‘beauty’ make the cut and manage to stay in my bathroom? Billy must like it for some reason.”
That lovely, silk monstrosity has lived in the corner of my bathroom for the past 2.5 years.
A couple of weeks ago, we began to do some much-needed repairs and renovation work in the bathroom and kitchen. As we packed up everything in the cabinets and moved things to the garage for a while, I casually asked Billy, “Since we are re-doing things and starting fresh, do you think maybe we could get rid of the plant?”
“Oh my gosh, YES! Finally!”, he said, relief spreading across his face.
A little confused, I asked, “Why do you say it like that? I thought you liked the plant?”
“WHAT? I HATE that plant! I thought you liked it.”
“NO!!! I can’t stand it!”, I replied.
“Then why didn’t we get rid of it when we moved in?”
“Because I thought you liked it. I wasn’t going to make you get rid of something you liked.”
“Seriously?!” He started laughing hysterically. “I thought you liked it, so I never said anything about it.”
Then I was laughing, too. “I hate that plant! Every time I get out of the shower, I think about how ugly it is and I wonder what it is that you like about it. Every time I open the window and have to reach over it, I secretly say bad things about it. I hate that it’s always catching dust and how it’s faded and sad looking. And I really hate the blue and orange junk in the vase! It fell over a while back and I prayed that it would break, but of course it didn’t. And then I cursed it even more for being resilient!”
Now we’re both dying laughing. “Why didn’t you say something and get rid of it?”
“I didn’t want to hurt your feelings. And I didn’t think it was worth having an argument about it. So I just let it be and figured that one day, when the time was right, we would replace it or throw it out.”
So, today’s the day. The plant is leaving. We felt that a photo was in order – you know, it has been a part of my family for two and a half years now. We laughed all the way to the dumpster.
In a nutshell, that has been our approach to conflict for most of our 34 years together. We’re pretty bad at it. We would rather live with something we hate, even something that is a part of our lives every single day, than have an uncomfortable conversation that would possibly lead to conflict. Even over something as stupid as a hideous plant in the bathroom.
We’re hopeless. How on earth have we stayed married for 34 years? I wonder what else is in this house that we both hate?
How are you with conflict? Share your story and teach us how to do it!
PS... I decided to share this story with you because Billy is currently in a course of study on Conflict Resolution, and the irony of this plant story coming to light during his work with conflict and preparing to lead cross-cultural workers through conflict management and resolution was just too perfect. The first step is self-awareness and admitting that you have a problem... hahahaha!!!! Well, here we are!
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!