I’ve been in Altea, Spain for one week now and it hasn’t been anything like I imagined it would be. Since injuring my ankle 11 days ago, my world has been turned upside down. The trip I had been looking forward to for months has looked very different than I planned. I guess in some ways it’s a microcosm of life in general. You envision life going one way and oftentimes you get sideswiped by something you didn’t see coming. It’s not necessarily bad, and oftentimes you can see the positive in it, but it still is unexpected.
I made it safely to Altea last night. It was quite the adventurous journey with some close calls, but I am really thankful to be here. This place is beautiful–really beautiful. The sea is a beautiful blue and the temporary apartment we are in today is overlooking the water with a beautiful terrace.
Last night I got to meet our staff team over dinner. They are all incredible and I am looking forward to the couple days we have together before the students come on Saturday. Part of me is really excited to see what is ahead, but if I’m honest I’m not in the best of spirits today. I am generally an extremely positive person and I am notorious for finding the good in any situation. But today I’m feeling frustrated, sad, disappointed, and worried. I’m at the point where my body is starting to hurt in new ways from the stress of my injury. My right ankle, which I injured, has always been my good ankle, so now my left ankle is starting to hurt from all the strain on it. On top of that my hands and arms are aching from my forearm crutches. As we talk about our schedule in the days ahead, it’s sinking in how much I really won’t be able to do. I love to walk and explore and for these first couple weeks I’m going to be restricted mostly to the house that I will be staying in, which is in the upper part of the city, away from the water.
I know that everything will be fine and I will make it through. In time my ankle will heal and I will be able to join in with everything here in Altea. It just sucks right now. And in the midst of it all I’m realizing that it’s not very often that I’m in a state of helplessness or despair. I don’t often stop to mourn and admit sadness, but I’m facing it head on right now. As I read this post back I immediately start judging myself and think “come on, get it together. Trust God.” I also get worried of what others might think about my outlook and assume “Gosh, she doesn’t have much faith. Doesn’t she know God works everything together for good? She’s such a downer.” But I know that if I am to share my joy and triumphs, then I also must share the discouragement along the way.
Thank you for your prayers and encouraging words. I mean it when I say that they are both welcome and needed right now. Love to you all!
When I mentioned that I thought I was entering a season of receiving, I didn’t think that it would look like this.
Yesterday morning, my friend Emily and I headed out for churros con chocolate and then on to a Sunday open air market filled with handmade goods, Spanish traditional items, and plenty of tourist items. The market was set up in the middle of a street that was blocked off for the occasion and it was buzzing with energy, packed with people. I picked out a lovely leather purse at a steal of a deal and we continued on. I remember looking down for a moment to adjust the items in my purse and secure it to avoid pick-pocketers, when I suddenly found myself on the ground. On the stone street there was a step down that I hadn’t seen and I fell, hearing a loud crack as my ankle gave way. I knew that what happened wasn’t good, but given my history of many ankle injuries I was hoping that maybe if I sat there for a few moments I would be able to just walk it off and be fine. Not the case. We hobbled out of the market and hailed a taxi to take us back to Emily’s apartment. I limped up the 4 flights of stairs and we immediately iced and elevated my ankle. We let a couple hours go by and my ankle appeared to only be getting worse. We scoured the internet looking for home ankle remedies, and how to recognize a sprain vs. a break. Just when I’d be convinced that I had a sprain, there would be a line that said “many breaks are mistaken as sprains.” Not helpful. After a couple hours my friends Emily and Katya decided that we really should go to the ER. So down the steps we went and into another taxi.
They rolled me into the ER in a wheelchair and I was immediately extremely thankful to have 2 Spanish speakers with me as they talked with the receptionist and got me checked in. We waited and all had a great laugh as we heard them call my name over the intercom “ehlihzabehth Hooneecoot.” After a consultation, they decided to X-Ray my ankle. We all let out a sigh of relief as they relayed the news that my ankle was not broken and was just a bad sprain. The doctor told me to mostly stay off of my ankle for the next 2 weeks, continue to elevate it, compress it, ice it, and take ibuprofen. We headed back to the apartment, hobbled up the 4 flights of stairs again, and the girls went out to the Farmacia to fetch me crutches and a compression wrap. When they got back to the apartment it was a constant stream of getting me pillows, blankets, snacks, drinks, books, my laptop, etc. We had been planning to go to a bar to watch a Spain futbol match, but I knew that I couldn’t do those stairs again today. I encouraged them to continue on with their plans while I stayed behind but instead they decided to stream the game and have friends over to the apartment. So thoughtful. We ordered pizza and had a relaxing evening huddled around a laptop. This morning I woke up and was met with coffee and breakfast prepared for me and brought to my bedside. Such a blessing and so…difficult.
There is nothing more humbling than having to rely on others. I pride myself on being an independent woman who can take care of herself. This past week has been full of things that I couldn’t do myself. A week ago today I packed up all my stuff and headed north to Redding. I needed help packing and moving furniture, and I needed my friend Alison to make the trek with me so that I wouldn’t be alone. When we arrived in Redding we needed help unloading the van and 2 guys we didn’t even know showed up to help. As I have prepared for this summer and the coming school year I have needed financial help, and my friends have showed up, with one of them setting up a ministry fund for me and others contributing to it. When I landed here in Spain I didn’t know where I was going and Emily met me at the airport to escort me back to her place where she would be hosting me for 5 days. And now with my injury I have needed constant help with food, ice, pillows, books, and getting around. In 2 days I will need to travel from Madrid to Altea, where I will spend the next 5 weeks. I have no idea how this is going to work. I am on crutches and I will be traveling with a suitcase, handbag, and guitar. I will need help. And once I get to Altea I will be homebound for awhile since walking is our only mode of transportation there. I will need help.
When Emily or Katya ask “do you need anything?” or “can I help?” I want so badly to say “no thanks” or “I got it.” But the truth is that I actually do need help. And getting help takes both someone offering it and someone receiving it. So I’m learning how to say “yes, can you get me some water?” or “would you mind grabbing my laptop and bringing it in here?” or “yes, I’m hungry, thanks for offering to make me dinner.” I know that Jesus is caring for me through these people who are serving me and through others who are praying for me back home and being an emotional support. I’m slowly learning to say “I need help” and “thank you,” knowing that I won’t be able to repay people for their kindness. I am very aware of my need and as I receive help I’m becoming more and more acquainted with the beautiful undeserving nature of grace.
Lord, help me to receive. Help me know that it’s okay to not have it all together and not be strong all the time. Help me receive love and care, and help me rely on others. Open my heart to what You want to do in this season and what you want to teach me and grow in me.