It’s been 5 months since I arrived in Spain for my last semester of college and last posted, and 2 months since I came home.
Many people have asked me how my time abroad played out, and I start by simply letting them know that “it was hard, good, fun, and beautiful.” And yes oh yes, that’s the truth.
Madre mía. I’m still wrapping my mind around it and journaling my thoughts and feelings out… It’s nearly impossible to describe how thankful I am for this time and all the hard, good, fun, and beautiful.
Kinda like this picture I took in Cádiz: both stormy and sunny!
I explored rich culture as I lived in Salamanca, visited 4 other cities in Spain, traveled to 2 cities in France, and even spent time in northern Africa. I lived a short walk from Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor with my precious “familia española.” I learned “un montón” (a mountain / heck of a lot) of Spanish as I worked and talked in class with my professors and classmates, ordered food and drinks, chatted about all sorts of topics with my host fam at the dinner table, and even made a clinic visit. I met and became friends with so many precious people from all over the world!
I also became friends with the 10 who came with me from MC; this was perhaps my favorite part of the semester. A few were acquaintances to me beforehand, and I was only close friends with one of them!
Out of everyone I spent time with abroad, they played the largest role in teaching me the most profound, lifelong lesson I took on learning, which is well summarized by C.S. Lewis in his well-known quote from The Four Loves:
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket–safe, dark, motionless, airless–it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”
This is heart-wrenching.
Like the process of refining gold… slow, filled with fire, and priceless.
My last post, my first journal entry, revealed my fears and anxieties concerning the transitions that were to come during this time. True vulnerability involves trust with these, each of which run with great depth. God has been faithful in addressing each of them, especially through my MC crew as they welcomed me and let me in their lives too.
This, friends, is authentic community.
To wrap up, I want to again share with you these truths that I shared in my last post, this time coming from a gal who, by God’s amazing grace, has taken these much closer to heart through this experience… because they apply to you, too!
— I’ve been made brave.
— I am known.
— I am loved.
— I am redeemed.
— God is greater than my pride and every defensive wall I build.
— Community, especially within the Church, reaches far beyond location and familiarity.
— Everlasting love even reaches far beyond varying stages of life, varying languages, and various cultural norms.