Just a little taste of what we've been up to this summer and how we're working to reach far and wide...
All travel plans are tough right now. Spain (Europe as a whole) is slow on the vaccine rollout, travel restrictions are still in play, but we are moving forward with our plans with hope and faith to come see friends and family this summer!
· First stop, June 25-July 17: we will be in North Carolina leading a three-week training program (see page 1-2).
· Upon completion of the training program, we will hop on a plane and head to Colorado to spend a week seeing Laurie's mom, Pat Goins - Colorado Springs, and Ryan and Sara - now living in Denver.
· Stop #3 is Dallas to catch up with Billy's mom (Sherilyn), grandmother, and his sisters and families, and a visit to Laurie's siblings.
· Stop #4 is down to Bryan/College Station for a week to see Miles (son) and Lily (grandbaby) and our friends, partners, and churches in the Brazos Valley.
It's a crazy travel schedule! As our families spread out across the map, our visits also spread out. Looking forward to seeing everyone and having a meal and some good conversations and laughs!!! More details as we get closer to arrival... we'll let you know when and where we will be for meet-ups.
PRAISE! Spain has been speeding up the vaccine rollout this month and we were able to get our vaccines before we travel!
Pray for us to stay healthy until our travel, and to test negative for our PCR tests pre-flight.
For those who can be in the Bryan/College Station area on August 1st, SAVE THE DATE! We will be hosting an Ice Cream Social on that day (see below) and we want to see YOU! Our support team in Texas is currently working out the location details, but the date and time are set. We want to see you, hug you (hopefully!), tell stories, and enjoy some good ol' Texas Blue Bell! Save the date!!!
What do you think of when you think of the work that we do? When you think about Laurie and Billy Drum, do you think of the work we do in Spain? Do you think of La Mesa Turquesa and the work we do with immigrant populations, with refugees, with teaching Spanish and English, etc? While all of that is true, it is just a piece of the larger picture.
At the end of June, we will be leading TMS Global’s yearly flagship training event. Laurie is the Director of Training and Formation for TMS Global and this has been her major focus of work for the past few months. For three weeks (June 25-July 17th), we will be working with a group of expert facilitators to train our newest group of cross-cultural workers. This training is 90+ hours of curriculum designed to prepare global workers for their fields.
This training event is intense! Laurie has put together a facilitator team of 11 experts. The entirety of our training team is composed of facilitators who have lived overseas and have served as cross-cultural witnesses themselves. We have a combined experience of more than 175 years of cross-cultural service and ministry. Our most ’rookie’ facilitator has 7 years of cross-cultural experience, while our most experienced have 25+ years. Our trainers have lived and served in Latin America, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
Billy joins the facilitator team to teach sessions on valuable member care topics. “Community, Connection, and Care”, “Theology of Risk”, “Theology of Suffering”, and “Conflict Management and Resolution” are some of the sessions he leads. He also comes alongside the TMS Global Member Care department as a counselor and coach during this intensive training event, to help our newest workers as they plan and work through their transitions to their respective fields.
This training event is designed to train not only TMS Global cross-cultural workers (CCWs), but also other local believers who seek to be more fruitful in cross-cultural ministry among their own people. This is an intense, multi-week training event that bring together missiology, skills training, and experiential learning - all while learning with and from our multicultural peers. Training topics include Bible storying, bonding and becoming bicultural, discipleship, Inductive Bible Study, prayer, the lifestyle of a CCW, and much more.
Our curriculum scope and sequence includes four main training threads:
Spiritual Formation (24 training hours)
Joining Jesus Cross-Culturally / Cross-cultural ministry skills (27 training hours)
Member Care (12 training hours)
Language Acquisition Skills (18 training hours)
All of our training sessions are highly interactive and put and emphasis on active engagement, lively discussion and debate, and real-life situations and case studies.
Outside of our four core threads, we include several hours of experiential training activities designed to help cross-cultural workers learn through activity and through specific assignments that push students to work through issues and problems that they will encounter in their fields of work.
We also run a special training program concurrently for the children of our cross-cultural workers. Our TCK program (third-culture kids) is designed to help our youngest family members be well prepared for life in another culture. We have dedicated trainers and caregivers who specialize in the unique issues that effect cross-cultural worker families who are raising children outside of their passport country. The TCK curriculum mirrors many of the same topics that are being taught for the adults, but in age-appropriate ways. Additionally, children of cross-cultural workers have very unique needs and, therefore, have a very unique curriculum tailored to their well-being, growth, and development.
In 2021, we have 23 cross-cultural workers preparing for launch. They have been working through the initial phases of their training and preparation and are ready for this last step in preparation before launching in the Fall/Winter. These workers will be serving in a total of 13 different countries. In addition, some of these trainees have influence and reach to more than one country due to strategic partnerships. Via this training program, we will be equipping workers to go and have influence and outreach in India, Albania, Spain, Colombia, Peru, Jordan, USA, Kenya, Ghana, Egypt, Thailand, Kosovo, Germany, and more! These cross-cultural workers will be serving in a variety of roles and ministries as they join teams and local workers in their fields of service: outdoor education, leadership training, outreach to teens and young adults, university ministry, teaching in local schools, training local teachers, refugee ministry, English teaching, discipleship, prison ministry, diaspora outreach, racial reconciliation, church planting, and ethnomusicology, to name a few.
YOU are a part of this amazing training event! Thank you for your constant support of us and our work as we not only reach the people of Spain and our neighbors, but as we work to prepare the newest generation of cross-cultural workers to go forth and reach the nations!
She did it! Sarah finished her coursework! She is a certified Equine Sports Technician in Spain! She can now train both horses and riders in Equine Olympic Disciplines. We are so proud of her for this epic achievement! Normally, this would have been a full two year program to reach this level, but Sarah chose to enroll in the intensive program, which means that she did it in one year by taking double the hours and double class time.
What’s next… Now she returns to our hometown and her home equestrian center to complete 210 hours of practicum (think ‘internship’ or ‘student teaching’). During that time, she will be helping the center to host an Andalucia Territorial Show Jumping competition, a Classic Dressage Territorial competition, and a Spanish National Classic Dressage Competition. It will be valuable experience.
In the coming two years, she will work toward the highest certification - Superior Grade Equine Sports Technician. She will be able to complete that while staying closer to home and remaining at her home equine center.
She is also coming back to the competition ring herself! After a year away from competition to concentrate on her studies, she is super excited to get back in the ring (and on the podium!). She comes home to a thriving equestrian team that is excited to welcome her back.
Join us in congratulating Sarah on a job well-done and wishing her well in her return to competition and her future as a Equine Sport Technician! We are so proud of her and all that she has accomplished to graduate from the prestigious CAVA center with this certification.
Pepi is one of our La Mesa Turquesa volunteers. One day, while walking her grandson to school, she walked past our front window and looked in. She saw people inside and got curious. So, after dropping off her grandson, she came back and asked what we were doing. We explained that La Mesa Turquesa is a community center and that we help people connect to their community, especially people who are new to Antequera (immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers) – people who need friends and need to learn about the language and culture so they can find a way to fit in. She began to get teary-eyed and told us her story:
Pepi has Spanish grandparents and parents, but she lived in Germany for many years as a child. Those years in Spain were hard due to Franco’s government, so many people fled to other European countries. She remembers how difficult it was to be an immigrant in Germany, how alone she felt. Then her family moved back to Spain and she experienced the struggle all over again. Struggling with language, trying to fit in, trying to make friends. She said, “I wish there had been a place like this when I was trying to find my way in a new community.”
She signed up to be a volunteer right away.
Pepi is our energizer bunny volunteer! She is at La Mesa Turquesa every day. She shows up before the door is even open. She comes to all of our workshops and volunteer training opportunities. She is now a trained language helper and she helps teach Spanish to new arrivals. Her current class has people from Russia, Hungary, Pakistan, Georgia, Morocco, to name a few. She also participates as a student in our English Conversation Groups, and she occasionally throws in a free German class here and there. She has a good heart and is eager to serve others. And she is the class clown! Pepi is our constant source of jokes and laughter… she is sunshine at our table.
Pepi found a purpose in La Mesa Turquesa. Before volunteering with us, she would drop her grandson off at school and then go home and sit alone and wait out the hours until she went to pick him up again. She openly admits to struggling with loneliness and depression, and she suffered with anxiety when she sat around and let her mind dwell on all the difficult things in life. Now, she has friends from different nations who surround her in love and empathy. She has a reason to get out of the house. She has people to share her life with. It is good to see how the love of God is there to comfort her through the love of those around her. The very community that Pepi was seeking to reach out and help has, in turn, become her help and her community. Together, they find healing and acceptance and the true meaning of "love your neighbor".
You may recall that for the past few years, we have participated in an international group of global workers called The Refugee Highway Partnership.
The Refugee Highway Partnership is a network of Christ-followers who share a common passion to see the Church minister amongst those who have been forcibly displaced – including the refugees and asylum seekers who arrive in Europe.
As a Christian network, The Refugee Highway Partnership seeks to connect and mobilize leaders, churches and organizations to effectively engage with refugees.
The Refugee Highway name comes from the well-worn paths around the world that refugees travel upon; water and land routes leading to safety and the simple hope for a normal life. These paths make up the refugee highway. Like any highway, there are entry ramps, crossroads, roundabouts and exits.
Every continent on the globe finds itself connected to this winding network of roads. For many refugees and asylum seekers, the final destination will be Europe.
The people who work to serve in this way need special training and benefit from special outreach and conferences aimed at equipping them for the specific tasks involved in caring for refugees and asylum seekers, people who have lived through (and are still living in) various forms of trauma and crisis. It is emotionally taxing work.
In January, the Refugee Highway Partnership - Europe leaders reached out to Billy and requested that he lead a seminar on self-care that is specifically aimed at global workers who deal with these situations on a daily basis. The issue is compounded by the fact that workers now find themselves not only dealing with the stresses and strains of refugee work, but also with the ever-present issues of Covid restrictions and constant exposure to a very transient population that is under-protected and has very few resources for health care.
(*side note* The idea of self-care that Billy is teaching is NOT about bubble baths and spa days and flavored coffees. Those things are all nice, and the word 'self-care' has evolved in some sectors to be defined as that, but that form of care will not lead to resilience and keeping global workers holistically healthy for their work. Billy's teaching touches on a four -fold method of caring for ourselves physically, mentally, relationally, and spiritually.)
Billy put together a seminar for the RHP and had 46 global workers from all over Europe. It was very well received! In fact, he has received numerous emails and contacts afterwards thanking him and asking for more resources regarding care for global workers and people who work with refugees. One group in Norway even asked if they could use his seminar information and translate it to Norwegian for their organization because they had never heard of the concepts that he taught and they thought it was very important information. So awesome!
In March, he will be leading a 5-Day virtual workshop on Self-Care for global workers and ministry workers. He has many people already signed up from various countries and organizations. To learn more about the work that Billy does with La Posada Training and Care, check out the website at laposadaspain.com
It's always good to revisit your values and your "why", and we did just that this week with our team and our volunteers that serve at La Mesa Turquesa. As a group, we talked through what each statement meant to us and how we see that being lived out at La Mesa. Here's a quick look at what we value (a translation of the poster):
All of the La Mesa Turquesa statements for why we run the center the way we do has it's roots in the statutes of our non-profit and in the distinctives, values, and mission of TMS Global.
I was particularly happy that one of our volunteers raised his hand after about 45 minutes of discussion and said, "I think these values are all great, but I think we need to talk about WHY we value these things. Why do we think these things are important?"
This was the perfect segue to the WHY... because all people are created in the image of God. All people are His creation and He cares about all of them. It doesn't matter what color, what race, what country or culture or religion. It doesn't matter why they fled their country of origin. It doesn't matter is they have a job or if they are living on free meals and clothing from the church clothes closet. We don't judge if they are Catholic or Muslim or Russian Orthodox or atheist. They are children of God, created in the image of the Creator. And so, they have immense value - to our God, and to us.
We want to celebrate with you!!!
Because we are an official non-profit organization in Spain and because we receive a small grant from the city to help with our work, we must turn in specific reports regarding our work and accountability. Well, our final report for 2020 was recently due and the final numbers are in. La Mesa Turquesa had a record-breaking year! Even amidst a pandemic, even amidst being in full lockdown in Spain from March through May with no ability to open our doors, and even with over half of the year having restrictions on our hours and the numbers of people who could be in the center at any one time, WE SERVED 3,417 people!
Y'all - that's a God-thing!!!!
Our team worked hard to stay connected to people in our community and to continue to reach out and serve. We continued to offer language classes and conversation groups. We held online workshops and Facebook Live events. We did everything we knew how to do - and we invented new things - and somehow, we managed to still reach out and serve 3,417 people! That's a miracle.
It’s all because of YOU!!!!! Thank you! Thank your for sticking with us. Thank you for praying for Spain when things have been ridiculously difficult. Thank you for continuing to send funds and support and for never backing down. Thank you for being on our team and for serving alongside us as we reach marginalized and vulnerable people and work to make the world a better place. Thank you!!!
This month, we turn the page and begin a new year. In some ways, it feels like a continuation of the old year, with Covid still spreading and restrictions still in place for our travel and movements. We continue to have restrictions on what businesses can operate and what hours we are permitted to be outside of our homes or at work. Spain continues to struggle greatly, as does the USA.
Billy and I were so distressed and dismayed as we watched the news about the Capitol, as well the constant news of the continuing unrest around the elections and race relations and inequality in our home country. As the news cycle runs rampant and the international community watches, heads turn to us, and our neighbors and friends in other countries ask questions about democracy and what is occurring in the United States.
Sadly, we have no answers.
The past few years and the situations that continue to keep the USA in the news are complicated and difficult. Do we have opinions? Of course. But it’s not as easy as just stating your opinion. Every one of these issues is intricately tied to another. Every one of them has a long and deep history. This is not just a case of the past year or two (or four or ten) as some believe. Some of these issues are decades and centuries old and have taken many turns and twists in the journey that brings us to present day.
As we have wrestled with these issues and the news stories and reading the daily inflammatory Facebook posts, it has become more and more disturbing for us. Watching our dear friends and family, church members and neighbors back home have heated arguments and write fierce responses to each other and others, we have struggled with what to say or how to engage.
The statistics prove that 50% of our homeland community will be unhappy with whatever we say or believe or do. No matter what we do or say, we will be “on the other side” of half of our friends and family. That is where we are as a country right now – divided. On any given day and on any given issue, half of the people whom we love will have an opposing viewpoint. It feels like a no-win situation. In fact, it feels like a lose-lose, no matter what you chose to say or do.
This has made daily interaction and conversation quite strained, and every word and topic and Facebook post and newsletter article has pained us as we weigh out what to say and how to say it, or if we should say anything at all. On many occasions, we have chosen to say nothing for fear of alienating half of our community. Living overseas, our relationships with our homeland community feel so very precious and fragile due to distance, and the thought of losing anyone or placing even more distance in the relationship due to possibly saying the wrong thing is overwhelming. So, we have stayed silent and stuffed our voices on much of what we have seen and heard and felt coming from our home country.
The voice of my grandmother is in my head. “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.” Not that what I have to say is ‘not nice’, but someone will take my opinion as fightin’ words and come out guns a-blazin’ (figuratively speaking, I hope)! Silence has seemed a good choice, at least for Billy and I and our very conflict-avoidant personalities.
Until last week.
After the Capitol incident, we were shaken. We were left unsure and off balance. When ‘home’ no longer looked like home and no longer felt secure and safe, we were confused. As global workers who always have contingency plans in place in case of government unrest or disaster or whatever might come our way, once again, we were left reeling. We were again left with the realization that our contingency plans didn’t take in to account this particular situation. Last year, every global worker realized that their emergency plans were not equipped for a pandemic. This week, we realized that we were not prepared for a possible collapse of our own passport country.
During the days that followed, we have listened as countless global workers have processed their feelings. During one of those video calls, a friend and colleague was processing with me about the current situation, specifically as it relates to race relations and privilege and how she was feeling it. My friend is a person of color, and she has felt the strains and stresses of this past year more profoundly than I ever could. For her, this is not a 2020 thing, but a lifetime of hard conversations and situations. I shared my feelings and how difficult it was for us to share those feelings with others, and how I have chosen silence most of the time in order to keep the peace. Her response has haunted me for a week now…
“When you chose silence, you are choosing your comfort and your security over me and the issues of people who look like me.”
I haven’t come to grips with that yet. I do not know how to walk through these times. I am often paralyzed by the fear of how others will respond to my words or opinions. Another friend said, “we need to fall back on the ‘what would Jesus do’ idea”. But even that causes me to pause. What WOULD Jesus do? Which part of his emotions and actions should I model in these situations? Should I be the Jesus that stormed the temple and tossed tables? Some have said that that was exactly what they were doing at the Capitol last week. Should I be the Jesus that quietly knelt in the dirt and drew circles in the sand and asked questions? Or should I be the Jesus that went to sleep while the storm raged? Every single day of my life, I work hard to live out his words and to love my neighbor and be at peace with others. Every day I teach others about his life and his stories and character. Yet in this particular moment, I am at a loss for how to live in to those footsteps.
I am very greatly conflicted and confused by the events around the world. I do not have any answers. I only know that I can lean on him and bring all of my confusion and worry and doubts and fears to him without having to judge my own words or fear that he will be offended and abandon me. I know that he is the one relationship that will stand rock solid through all of this, and that he can handle it. He can handle my tears and my confusion and my opinions. He can even handle it if some of my thoughts and opinions aren’t quite “right” in his eyes… he’ll work on that and we’ll get through that eventually. I can trust in his transformative power in my life.
As to the rest of our friends and family and community – be patient with us. Know that our silence is not intended to harm. Know that our opinions never weigh more than our love for our neighbors. Know that politics or race or gender issues or immigration or even religious differences will never mean more to us than you and your heart. You are precious in the eyes of God, and you are precious to us. No matter what! If our silence has felt like a choice against you in any way, please let us know and let’s open the conversation. We welcome the vulnerability and transparency. We cannot love our neighbors and build healthy community without honest conversation and sharing our struggles. Know that you are loved.
Let’s do this! Let’s make 2021 the year that we sit at the table together and talk without fear.
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!