Last night we were sitting in our living room eating pizza with Kelly and April and Alleke when I realized that exactly a year before we had been doing the same thing, having finally finished moving our family from the burbs into the city that day.
It was probably our worst move ever, and if Kelly and pregnant April had not come up from Castellon that Thursday, we would have never been ready to move that Friday at all. We all worked until at least 1 am on Friday morning, taking apart the rest of the furniture, packing up the food in the kitchen etc.
For the first half of the day we had a few people helping, but by 4:30 that afternoon it was Troy and I, Kelly, and Kelly Wills (who had returned from the US earlier in the day, come straight from the airport and started carrying boxes, jet-lag and all.) I had to drive the truck with the second load into the city, it was raining, and the way our apartment building is set-up, we had to first unload everything off the truck into the courtyard of our building, and then haul it over and back to our entryway and up one floor. When the second load was off the truck, I drove it back out to the burbs to return it and the "dolly" we had rented.
By around 7 that evening everything was finally in the apartment, and we all sat around with glazed expressions.
Saturday, we (again with the wonderful, amazing Crulls) headed back out to the burbs to clean the house and take care of the stuff in the garage we were donating to Mountainview's garage sale.
We had done it; moved into the city, in the final and also the beginning step of the dream that was Oasis Madrid. Those first days, it felt like we had risked it all and to be honest, like it was maybe a mistake. Our little congregation had already begun to scatter for the summer, we had uprooted our family, completely changed our lifestyle and it felt a little like nobody cared.
We lived in our new apartment for 14 days before we boarded a plane for furlough. After a whirlwind summer, we returned in early September, still with a deficit in our ministry account and very little new support raised. We unpacked our suitcases and the rest of the boxes, but I think we did it with quite a few doubts in our hearts.
In late October, serious crisis came. Our account was seriously in the red, and we found out that we had to be completely out of debt by the end of the year. The school also told us they felt Nic had learning problems. One black Friday while it poured, we basically gave up. We started at "if we are not out of the red by the end of the year, we'll go back to the US in June" and ended at "we'll go back in June." There were many reasons, and I think we just ran out of hope. On Saturday, we sent an email out asking people to pray with us that Sunday.
Then the miracles started. Email after email poured in with words of encouragement, and support. Everyone but us seemed to believe that God was not done with us in Spain, not yet. And then the money came. Money beyond what we could hope for or believe, money from people who love us, and some from people we had and still have not met!
So, one year later, we are still here. It's been a roller-coaster of a year. It has been amazing and frightening and lonely and blessed and fruitful and dry all at the same time. We've made a lot of willing sacrifices. We are definitely home. We love living in the city and we are slowly becoming part of our neighborhood. The kids made the transition beautifully, and Nic is well on his way to overcoming his struggles with processing oral and written language. We love our building and our apartment. We don't have any friends our own age, which is lonely at times. Our kids are the only regulars at church. Some services I feel like I might as well just stay home with them. Yet they are happy with their "older" friends at church. They are surrounded with big brothers and sisters who will make paper airplanes with them, who carry their picture in their wallets and who volunteer to babysit them so Troy and I can go out.
And our church, our little church, well, we're still here too. We're becoming more and more community every day. We are learning more and more to be open and honest with each other, to let our real selves show. We have relationships with homeless people in our city. We're a community where not-yet believers can be loved and accepted even before they can believe. We love them even if it seems they may never believe.
One year. It's hard to take in all that has happened. Sometimes it's hard to believe that some of the things we hope for and pray for will happen. But if there is one thing I've learned is that God is here, He is not done with us or Oasis Madrid.
Wonder what I'll write next year!