Monday, December 14, 2009
The holidays are upon us! I feel like Madrid kind of cheats. It gets you all caught up in the nice warm weather so much that you forget just how awesome the cool breeze of fall is; how nice it is to have a steaming cup of hot apple cider while you sit on a porch swing watching the auburn and hazel leaves fall slowly to the ground. We’ve gotten a bit of that, but as soon as we start to enjoy it “winter” is here and the little bit of fall that we had is jumping out of the way. So, Christmas in Madrid has begun. Millions of lights are scattered all over the city and despite the warmer weather and lack of snow you are reminded that the time for Christmas songs and candy canes is here.
The little bit of working that I have been doing has been postponed several times already for one holiday after the other (and we haven’t even got to Christmas or New Years yet). Normally I’d be doin a fist pump in the air but after looking at the empty bank account and the coinciding empty refrigerator I (gulp) want to work. Oy, what is this city doing to me? I’ve even started reading books again to pass the time along. Goodness gracious.
In January I’ll be starting some new work which will be nice. Like I said, I need the money and it’ll keep me busy. So far I have another adult and two kids but this time the kids are a little older (9 and 12 I think). I decided that teaching young kids in this profession, at least with my cash flow, should be avoided. Please believe I LOVE little kids, it’s just that it’s so difficult to find resources, then finding the money and place to pay for or print these resources, then lugging these resources around the city to each individual home. I’ve had such a time thinking of stuff to do with my 3 year old. The past two weeks we’ve just been playing with crayons (no not coloring, literally playing with them) practicing counting and of course our colors. It’s so tough though when you don’t have a bunch of things to do that are hands on with children that age when writing, conversation, and reading are all off the table. So, it’s much easier to have an adult that you can practice grammar or pronunciation with or just have a conversation with. Some of my colleagues disagree but for me adults are where it’s at in this game. Sorry kiddos.
So the plan for the holidays is to hang out with my sis and mom for about a week (Poppa Gillens was a little bit too nervous to fly over the great pond and hang out with his son. You should scold him if you get a chance.) and then skeedadle up to Paris to celebrate the New Years. I’m pretty stoked for both. I’ve already got a list of stuff that me and my two ladies are going to do here. It’ll be great to see them and will be fun to show em around my city. Can’t wait. New Years has been a task. Finding an affordable way to travel is very complicated last minute, especially if you’re rookies like us. We’ve finally (maybe) found a cheap way to get there (bus) but it’s a 17 hour trip and the website so far refuses to take any of our credit cards. We’ll see what happens. I’d really like to see that big tower lit up with fire works behind it at the stroke of midnight.
So, I was told by several friends that I sounded very somber in my last post. I need to clarify that I’m not at all depressed or sad. I promise. That said, these past two months haven’t been the easiest two months to get through. I could write you a lengthy list of the issues that I’ve been dealing with since I’ve been here or the things that have been weighing on my heart but I think I’ll spare you. The list is pretty extensive, but through these things I have learned quite a bit about myself as a man, as a Christian and as a friend. We’ve been going through 1 Peter with my Bible study group which talks about rejoicing in our tough times and being “refined” through hardships. This has become evident here. I feel stronger and more independent every day and I am learning more and more all the time. Last year I was so blessed. I was surrounded by friends and family, was involved with a great Bible study, I had a perfect job that I loved, I lived in the city I grew up in and I went to a phenomenal church. Here, things aren’t so easy or comfortable. Oftentimes familiarity and accessibility are replaced with confusion and inconvenience. Friendships aren’t absent but they are in the beginning stages verses the solid old friendships that I had back home. My identity is thrown out into the open here and I am forced to analyze what it really is…who I really am. Despite this being a challenge though I believe I am here for a reason. I know that if I return home to Cincinnati or if I move to another place that is again unknown and unfamiliar to me, I will be stronger and will be at peace. I will know that no matter what happens I am in God’s hands. I am not lost. I am not loneliness. I am not uncertainty. I am not doubt. I am not frustration. I am Benjamin Adam Scott Gillens. I am here. And I’m gonna be just fine. I guarantee it.