Apologies for the crazy delay in posting another blog post! I've been insanely busy this last while and so I haven't even thought about writing another post. My time here in Spain has literally FLOWN. I have now officially been here for a month, and I can safely say that even despite the crazy number of unfortunate events that I have faced here since my arrival, I am loving life.
Another misfortune to add the list was that I received an email from Ryanair last week to tell me that my flight had been cancelled to bring me home for Christmas - so I guess I'm spending Christmas here in Madrid🙃 joking, THANKFULLY I managed to get transferred onto another Ryanair flight...but knowing my luck, that will probably get cancelled as well!
These last couple of weeks have been a struggle in many ways for us. Working in the school is extremely tiring and we are trying to actually figure out our role and purpose. A lot of the time, I find myself more as an extra pair of hands in the classroom and I feel like I spend more time telling kids to be quiet, to sit properly and stop fighting, than actually "teaching". I am still loving the school, the teachers and the kids (even when they use me as human punching bags!)
Two weeks ago, Suzanne Potter (my short-term coordinator from Guatemala) stayed over at our flat for the evening before she headed back to the country we both know and love. It was great to reminisce about Guatemala and find out about her plans for the next few months. I also discovered there is a Latin Link family based in Madrid only about 20 minutes from me on the metro so I'll hopefully get to meet up with them at some point before I go!
Last weekend, Molly, Anna and I went to Segovia and I had the BEST time. Segovia is such a special place. And no, it isn't the made up country from the Princess Diaries!! The weekend before, I went to Toledo, and whilst I admire its architectural and vast artistic riches, its spectacular setting and its fascinating history of three cultures/religions living together for centuries in relative harmony, I absolutely adored Segovia.
It is also situated in the autonomous region of Castile y León - a new region to tick off my list!✅ The absolute highlights were without a doubt the incredible Roman Aqueduct, the Segovia Cathedral and the Alcázar of Segovia (which is the Royal Palace) oh also not forgetting the incredible Paella I had for lunch...yummmm!
Last Sunday I managed to gatecrash ANOTHER birthday party...this is clearly what I do best here in Spain! We went to a little food place called 100 Montaditos where everything on the menu is only €1! After that we went to plaza mayor, which is a big square in the centre of Madrid. That particular weekend was the 400th anniversary of the square and so they had grass rolled out for the occasion. The atmosphere was simply incredible and it was a really lovely day.
After plaza mayor, I went to Retiro with my two of my friends from church called Oriana and Matthew who are from Venezuela and Peru, and we spent all evening trying to find a swing... Retiro is 1.4km2 and I'm pretty sure that we walked the entire park and I'm convinced that said swing does not exist. It was a great night nonetheless and I got to see the most beautiful sunset!
Last week, I started tutoring three siblings that go to SEK. I have to tutor the youngest child in English and Maths (!!!) explaining maths in English is hard enough, but I have to teach her in Spanish so that complicates things massively. With the older two children, all I have to do is chat to them in English so that is good fun because they know a lot of English so we can just talk about anything and everything.
This is such a long post oh my goodness, congratulations if you have made it this far. I'm just going to skip to this weekend because I've been writing this for a long time and I'm tired of typing😂
At the weekend, I went to a place called El Escorial on a church weekend and it was an incredible experience. It was quite possibly the biggest challenge I have had so far in terms of my Spanish, because I'd say about 90% of the nearly 300 people on the weekend didn't speak any English whatsoever. However, I did meet a lady from Belfast who goes to my church - what are the chances! I also met a man from São Paulo so that was a good opportunity for me to practice my Portuguese (which is quickly fading so I should really do something about that!!)
The talks were all very long...like one hour plus...which is longer than my entire church service at home! The speaker spoke incredibly quickly and therefore I genuinely struggled to follow the talks from start to finish. I was able to take things from each of the talks, but I wasn't able to see the "full picture". On the Sunday morning I understood every single word (except for the jokes...I don't think I will ever understand Spanish humour) and the talk blessed me massively. It was exactly what I needed to hear at that moment.
These last few weeks I have been thanking God for friendship, fellowship and an abundance of opportunities. I am being challenged more than ever before and pushed harder than I thought I would be able to cope with. Despite all the craziness and the horrendous stoke of luck we have had here in Madrid, I wouldn't change a single thing. My life is incredible right now.
I keep thinking to myself "am I homesick?" And if I am being totally honest, I don't think I am. OF COURSE I miss my family and friends but those feelings aren't as prominent because of the incredible network of support that I have been provided with during my time here. I've been receiving random texts and messages from people back home just checking in on me and it is these little messages that remind me how much I am loved and cared for.
I want to finish this blog with the lyrics of one of the last songs we sang at the church weekend. The entire church sang the incredible lyrics of an old Spanish hymn and the words seemed so relevant, especially for the second half of my year abroad.
"Heme aqui yo iré señor
Heme aqui yo iré señor
Envíame a mí, que dispuesto estoy
Llevaré tu gloria a las naciones"
(I am here, I will go Lord. I am here, I will go Lord. Send me, how willing I am. I will bring your glory to the nations)