The rain is steadily coming down outside and there is a beautiful covering of clouds over the rolling hills. We have arrived in England and have gotten settled in a home in the English countryside where we are staying for the next couple days. This is the beginning of a two week adventure here in the UK and we are excited for our time ahead, not knowing exactly what is ahead, but expectant for whatever God has in mind.
As we begin our two weeks, I’m looking back at the past month in wonder of all that have I seen and experienced, much of which was unexpected. My second day in Spain I sprained my ankle, causing me to be fairly immobile during my time in Altea. Even now, almost 6 weeks later, my ankle still has not fully recovered. Thankfully I am now walking around without crutches, but I’m not yet back to complete motion and stability. Even with this setback I was able to see God move in me and through me in beautiful ways.
Due to my injury I was mostly limited to traveling within a two block radius of our apartment. But that’s all I needed. Students would stop by our home to meet with me and I was able to help mentor students from my own sofa. Students would bring their guitars and we would play music and talk about songwriting and worship leading. I would sometimes walk downstairs for dinner at to the little Italian restaurant beneath our apartment. It was there that I became friends with several of the wait staff and a Norwegian family on holiday for the entire month of July. The family would dine there each night so we would often stop to chat as we passed by and one evening I played a song for them at their request. I was delighted when they came to a little concert of wine at the AlteArte, the mojito bar/art gallery down the street. I shared music there with various locals and a number of people visiting from other countries. It was a blast getting to share myself and my music that evening.
There in my neighborhood I also became friends with Allan and Greggo, owners of a funky little restaurant specializing in gourmet burgers. We all had a beautiful and unique bond almost instantly and I always looked forward to running into them on the sidewalk or visiting them in their restaurant. Sarah and the rest of the staff at AlteArte also became friends of ours, as I would often sit at one of their patio tables to make phone calls and access their internet. During my time limited to my neighborhood I was able to see that I didn’t need to be in all of Altea. In fact, it felt like God had strategically placed me in Old Town to get to love and bless those who were my neighbors. In many ways my relationships with those individuals would have been diluted if I would have been spending time throughout the entire town. Instead I was able to have almost daily interactions with many of my friends there. It was fun to watch the students join in and also become friends with these restaurant staff, frequently dining at these places that had become favorites of ours.
I also found a higher concentration of care when it came to the students. My usual M.O. is to get to know everyone and become friends with everyone around. However, my injury caused me to get to know a smaller number of students, allowing me to spend more time with these few individuals and pour into them at a greater level. Many students arrived with pain and brokenness in their lives, and over the course of our time there we were able to begin to see breakthroughs and steps in the right direction. We experienced students stepping out of their comfort zone and seeing God show up in beautiful ways as they extended love to Alteans. Students created beautiful pieces of art, served the community, built relationships with locals, and loved each other well. It was really a beautiful thing to see.
Towards the end of my time in Spain I was able to get around a bit more and see some different areas of the town. I also got the chance to swim in the sea on a few occasions, which were beautiful and special memories! We ate delicious food and on our last evening in town we went on a sunset cruise off the coast of Altea. We celebrated together all that God did—much more than we could have asked or imagined.
Now two friends and I are spending two weeks adventuring in the UK. We have a few stops planned along the way where we are staying with friends or friends of friends, but the rest of our time is uncharted. We feel like we are on a treasure hunt, excited to see all the surprises that God has long the way. Our first big treasure has been Jay and Teri, friends of friends who have taken us in for 2 nights. They are warm, beautiful, hospitable people who have a lovely peaceful home. It feels like an enormous gift to be under their home receiving rest, nourishment, and refreshment after a month of pouring ourselves out. I am struck by the beauty of hospitality and generosity in watching people we only met today open up their home and lives to 3 strangers. i hope to be someone who lives with my life that open and free.
Here in the English countryside I feel a bit like I’m living in a storybook. I can’t wait to see the story that is being written all around me. May my eyes, heart, mind, and soul be open. May I be ready to receive and ready to give. May I love freely and step into all that awaits me.