We ended our first week in Spain by spending Saturday night with the youth group of a nearby church, the same church we had worked with in the food giveaway ministry on the previous Wednesday and Thursday. The night was ours to run, so Nelita and Makaela led worship, the whole team performed our Drama "Thief," Paola and Makaela shared testimonies, and Nixaliz spoke on fear. It was cool seeing how God worked through even those simple things: Makaela tied the Drama and her testimony together using the concept of fear as a way the devil controls us. Nix wasn't planning on talking about fear at all, but felt God had led her to that topic. Likewise, we also weren't initially planning on using that Drama, but switched last-minute. It was exciting to see God coordinate what we had to offer, even unbeknownst to us. After Nix spoke, we got to pray over each person at the youth group individually, which was a good time of us participating in God speaking to people's hearts.
Then we were in for a surprise! The youth invited us to the pastor's house to watch the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona game. Blessed! We got to spend more time with the youth and get to know them as Makaela and Kenzie watched their first "real" partido de futbol.
On Sunday we returned to the church at which we'd attended a prayer meeting earlier in the week, and again played a few songs, performed a Drime, and shared testimonies. Later that day, we went with a ministry that is part of that church, Remar, to Valdemingomez. That was a new experience for us. Valdemingomez is a drug-based community on the outskirts of Madrid. We drove to the centre of the shanty town to talk with and hand out bread and yogurt to the community's inhabitants.
Culture shock. We were bombarded by the smell and feel and sounds and sights of a day-to-day existence. Spiritually, the atmosphere was thick and dark. Visually, we were surrounded by glassy-eyed, vacant stares and over-punctured, throbbing veins. Half the battle was remaining present - no, we are not in a movie; focus. A few of us spoke with Alexander, who used to live there, for the majority of the night, and others spoke with the ministry's volunteers; guys who themselves had once been addicts, some specifically there in Valdemingomez. It was an eye-opening night! God had given us a word while still in Chico that we would be going to some of the darkest places to love "the unlovables" - we hadn't anticipated how dark some of those places would be. We now have a place in our hearts for this place of addicts, prostitutes, families, dealers, pimps, and teenagers, and a conviction to pray for the darkness to be overcome and for God's favour to fall on that ministry, Los Angeles de la Noche. Appropriately named.
Monday morning was the base meeting, and Nix shared our base's heart as well as her own for the vision God has given her for Spain as she spoke with the staff of YWAM Madrid. We prayed over them, and the latter part of our day was spent finishing the painting and organizing of the other half of the apartments' top floor, readying it for this fall's coming DTS.
Paola led the Wednesday morning base intercession, and we had a guitar-and-jambe group, a prayer group, and an artistic-expression group going as we prayed over the base and various requests. It was fun to see people's natural gifts come out, especially with Goyo on the jambe and Nestor creating intercessory art. Nestor brought out his art portfolio after the meeting and showed us both other works of intercessory art as well as a number of incredible paintings that he does on his weekends in Madrid's Plaza Mayor.
That evening we went back to the Remar and ironed clothing for their second-hand store for a couple of hours. When we returned home, we had a bit of a debriefing and regrouping as a team as we refocused - what has God been doing? what is He showing us? God reminded us that it's both His outreach and each of ours, individually.
On Friday, after a morning run in the park, we joined the base for a huge paella lunch in the newly renovated flat. That night, we went to la iglesia El Calvario, and joined with their youth group in evangelizing at Torrejon's Plaza Mayor as well as at the plaza by the train station. They sang "Lead Me to the Cross" (en espanol, of course), we performed a Drime, and they also did a drama. Paola and Makaela met about ten girls in the plaza mayor, all of whom were very excited to talk with them, and we all talked with various couples and singles around both plazas. All those we spoke with were invited to watch "The Passion" the following night, which we watched in El Calvario. In the afternoon, before going back to El Calvario, we walked around praying and looking to talk with anyone we saw. Pao and Makaela got to speak with a Nigerian immigrant whom we'd talked with briefly in the past on our way into the grocery store. He shared some of his story and his hopes, and we got to pray for a breakthrough of a solid job for him, as well as give him the address of El Calvario, which has some Nigerian members. He promised to visit, and we're praying that God will bless him with some substantial work.
Easter Sunday was celebrated with a huge potluck brunch with the base. Oh, the food! It was a great way to spend our last full day with YWAM Madrid's staff and families, and we worshipped, prayed, took communion, and talked. We finished the day with packing, cleaning, and real, Domino's pizza with Emmy and AJ. We're already excited to return "home" to YWAM Madrid at the end of May before heading back to the States. The people and the purpose God has there is exciting and a blessing to be around.
MONDAY MORNING: it was go-time. We attended our last YWAM Madrid base meeting, were prayed over, sent off, and promptly left for the train station. Despite our unfamiliarity with the Spanish transportation systems, we made it safely to Jaen right on time. We were in awe of the Spanish countryside - at least to this Canadian, the word "Spain" meant "land parched by sizzling heat... with beaches." Sitting next to a man born and raised in Jaen on the train, we were on a guided tour as we sped past castles and pueblos, rivers and mountains, and innumerable olive groves. Jaen, we now know, is the olive oil capital of the world!
We were picked up by Pastor Saul and a couple of guys from the youth and taken to the church, our new home for the next two weeks. It's a converted warehouse, and we're living in the office loft (and washing our dishes in the shower). Outreach adventures have begun! That night, Saul, his wife Noemi, their friends Diego and Mari, and 19 year old Patricia showed us an evening of true Jaen culture. From 9pm until after midnight, they took us from place to place, sampling tapas and drinking mosto and eating Argentinian paninis. We were led through street after street of ancient architecture juxtaposed together with modern apartments, walking cobblestone streets that led us to cafes and cathedrals. We have arrived in "real" Spain!
Tuesday we settled in and bought our groceries, had lunch with Saul, Noemi, and their baby Ruth, and attended their evening service. There's so much to say, but most striking was the worship - this small church is anointed. Drums, bass, flamenco-style guitar, piano, and violin flowed together incredibly, with Pastor Saul leading. Nix spoke on identity (with Nelita translating) and we met part of the congregation. Now, on Wednesday, we will be going to Mari's house to be a part of her cell group and get to know more of the women in the church as we talk and ask questions and spend time together.