August 21st, 2012

Ecclesiastes 5:2 says

“Do not be quick with your mouth,
do not be hasty in your heart
to utter anything before God.
God is in heaven
and you are on earth,
so let your words be few.”

There is so much that I could say about these last months. But instead, I’ll let you watch our year-in-review video.

 

 

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Posted in Ministry Updates |
April 20th, 2012

It's hard work supervising!

As promised in my last post, here’s more information about Proyecto Portugal!

During Semana Santa (similar to Spring Break in Spain), April 9-14, we went to Braga, Portugal. We worked with Habitat for Humanity and helped build a house for a widow, Maria, with 5 children. This trip was a great opportunity for students to learn about serving and extending compassion to their neighbors in need. Also, it was wonderful bonding with each other outside the normal activities of the ministry.

We set a goal of raising 1500€ to help pay for building materials. The last couple months, we used a variety of incentives for people to make donations so that we had fun through the process. For instance, on Thursday nights we had a special dessert for sale during our English coffee night. I especially enjoyed trying out new dessert recipes!

On March 28, we hosted a Benefit Concert, where our student band led songs and we held a live auction. This event was a great

Jesse Gaga

chance to hang out with current students and invite people who may have never had contact with our ministry before. I won a massage, which I thought would be a nice treat after working hard in Portugal! We also auctioned off a home-cooked meal for 4, house cleaning, and a personally composed song by our awesome student band leader.

Even before the concert, we had already reached our first goal of raising 300€, so Jesse got dressed up as Lady Gaga for our Thursday night English coffee.

In the end, it was fun finding creative ways to fundraise for a good cause. We had a spectacular experience learning Portugues phrases such as “mais cemento” and “sempre ben,” which mean “more cement” and “always good.”

In other news, we have a new team member, Cody, who arrived today! He will bring great experience to the ministry as he was in Salamanca as an exchange student a few years ago and also served at Globalscope-Mexico!

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Posted in Ministry Updates |
March 3rd, 2012

First & foremost, I have to let you all know that my new apartment has been awesome. Since my last post, Jordan has arrived and we’ve settled in well to our new home. I appreciate now the 10-minute walk from En Vivo, because it ensures a better separation between work and home than living 4-doors down did. I love to cook in the bigger, oven-equipped kitchen and can actually host guests for a meal and not be embarrased or lacking space. I even have the possibility to host small groups at home since I have a living room. Therefore thank you for the prayers & for God working out this new living situation.

Stacie, Shannon, Jordan & Simone (in the new apt!)

How had God been working at En Vivo? Well, we’ve seen a great influx of new faces and especially people bringing friends! We just finished our first series at Conexíon that challenged students to think about where they are headed, what steps they are taking to get there, and who is supporting them along the way. I heard a few comments of people who were particularly touched by one talk or another and knew these principles taken from Proverbs truly can be helpful in today’s world.  Way to go, Jesse & Sophie!

While Jesse & Sophie have been providing the messages, Stacie and I trade off with cooking pinchos (appetizers) and setting-up and hosting at Conexíon. We also started a new weekly activity where we make homemade cookies and teach anyone who is interested in learning how to bake.  I love this aspect of my work here – I get to cook, try new recipes, and do all that to share with other people and connect with them.

Why is this post entitled March Madness? Firstly, we have a bunch of visitors coming! From former staff members to exchange students to girlfriends and finally James! We’ve been praying for March because we know it will be even busier running the normal schedule but also hosting guests. Secondly, we have CAMPAMENTO DE PRIMAVERA (aka Spring Retreat) on March 16-18! Planning a retreat always adds more excitement and madness. Thirdly, we are attempting to raise 1500€ for Proyecto Portugal through bake sales, making Jesse dress up as Lady Gaga, a benefit concert with auction, etc.

Shannon with students at Conexión

What is Proyecto Portugal? It’s a week-long mission trip to Portugal where we will work with Habitat for Humanity in helping build a house for a family in need. So we’re trying to raise money so that the costs of materials and travel will be covered and the trip will be affordable for the students coming. Stay tuned for fun photos of what we will be doing to encourage donations.

I also recently danced in a skit with one of our students, Alan, to Michael Jackson’s Beat It. Check it out on our FB page if you’re interested!

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January 23rd, 2012

When learning a foreign language, there is certain vocabulary that you’re taught in textbooks such as colors, animals, foods, etc. Many other words you learn as a result of circumstances – and that’s how I learned the word “fontanero” in Spanish.

A week before leaving for Christmas, former roommate Kara and I discovered a lovely piece of evidence indicating we had sewage/drainage problem. Whenever the toilet was flushed, well let’s just say the contents weren’t out of sight out of mind. So the next day, the plumber came by to check out the crappy situation shall we say. You know it’s a big deal when the plumber comes in and is grossed out and says “this is a gran problema.” A few days later, we were left with brown-splattered patio walls, three kitchen tiles removed and covered only by a thin sheet of metal, and a plumber still saying we have a gran problema.

In addition to fontanero, I also learned the different between “raton” and “rata.” On the night of our Cena de Navidad, fellow team member Stacie stayed the night at my house. The next morning, I saw what I thought might be rodent droppings, but I tricked myself into believing it was only little round pieces of dirt left over from the plumber extravaganza. I believed that lie until Stacie discovered her contact case had been gnawed open and most of the solution gone. I was definitely guessing the “evidence” was rat-sized.

Of course, I didn’t know if rat in Spanish was “rata” or “ratón” until I asked. Well, it’s rata if you’re wondering. When I began recounting this story, I’m pretty sure that people thought I was using the wrong word due to my relative inexperience with rodent names in Spanish. I reassured them that I was saying “rata” on purpose. I couldn’t be 100% sure obviously, but I was quite certain.

During Christmas, the landlord/plumber team were given the opportunity to rectify the situation. I was fine with staying in the apartment, because I wanted to give them a fair chance to fix the issues. Well, surely enough I found more “evidence” on my first day back from Christmas and after a week of using the bathroom, the sewage backup obviously remained. At that point, I decided it was time to move on. I began casually searching for apartments that I’d share with the soon-to-arrive new female exchange student.

Casually turned to frantically two days later when I encountered my “visitor.” Photo evidence proved that I sure enough was living with a rata and not a little ratón. I have learned so many new words about moving, finding a new apartment, landlords, etc. I have a great appreciation for learning vocabulary in real-life situations, but I was not expecting to learn these words!

I had approximately one week to find a new place and move before Jordan arrived and if you know me at all you won’t be surprised to find that was a stressful week. I kept getting responses of “no” or “sure, it’s 1000 euro per month” or “it’s not an apartment for rent, it’s a storefront.” After hitting so many dead ends and getting forever frustrated, I just had to go visit our Sala de Oración (prayer room) at En Vivo to give it up to God. I knew if He brought me here to Spain and wants me to serve Him here, surely he can help me find a half-decent place to live. Needless to say, the next day I found a superguay awesome newer, nicer, larger, cleaner, rat-less, sewage-problem-free new apartment. On top of that, my landlord is uber-organized, detail-oriented, and awesome.

So for your enjoyment, I want to share a few photos that depict my experiences. When I have time, I want to post a video tour of the old and new apartments to give you a real feel!

Grossness warning: The photos below depict the actual scenes I experienced, but are likely to gross you out! So don’t scroll down if you’re eating lunch while reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Stuff about Shannon |
January 11th, 2012
Happy 2012 everyone! It’s going to be a long one. Year, that is, because we’ve got an extra day in February! Well, good thing, because there is much to be done here in Salamanca!

Christmas Decorating

December was a great month here at En Vivo. I thoroughly enjoyed decorating the campus house with some sweet girls who are super creative. We pumped up the Christmas songs and sampled delicious Spanish Christmas candy! Before students left

Cena de Navidad

for Christmas holidays, we hosted a great Cena de Navidad where we shared a meal, exchanged Secret Santa gifts (aka Amigo Invisible in Spanish), and a talk heard from one of our student leaders.

I feel like I have actually gotten to the point where I am connecting with students beyond a surface level. It’s a challenge to focus on making all the details of an activity run smoothly and at the same time, dedicate time to talking with the people for whom you’ve organized the night. I am definitely going to focus on that aspect more this year.
Most students will be studying and taking exams during January, so it will be a great month to regroup, plan for the semester & focus on improving my Spanish. I don’t have the “I just moved here” excuse anymore, so people will want to hear some good speaking! I’m taking 4 hours of Spanish class for 4 more weeks, so it’s time to hunker down and take advantage of this time as much as I can.
Also exciting around these parts is the arrival of our three new exchange students who came last Saturday and another who comes at the end of the month. I’m excited about fresh faces and two extra sets of hands on the team compared to last semester!
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Posted in Ministry Updates |
November 25th, 2011

My first few weeks in Salamanca has been an adventure from jumping into ministry with both feet while learning about the city and trying to remember the language to meeting new people and enjoying a change in pace.

Retreat Group on the Beach

With such a small staff, it’s only by the grace of God and help from veteran students that we were able to pull off such a successful fall retreat to Portugal! Jesse and Sophie led the talks and devotions while we had student leaders coordinating the music and I, with the help of two awesome veteran students, organized the food for the weekend.

Travel highlights of the weekend include: driving over the mountains through Spain & Portugal in stick shift (thanks to my awesome teacher, James!), every single car getting lost only about 10km from the final destination, and one car getting stuck in the sand and then removed the next day with the help of the neighbor and his tractor.

Our rental cars were red, white, blue & silver. So patriotic!

More importantly, though, we had a great time connecting with students from being incredibly silly during our Olympic Games on the beach from late night UNO games (or should I say ONE) to casual conversations about faith over lunch and during small group devotion time.

Monday after we returned from the retreat, I started taking Spanish classes. It’s been 3 ½ years since I took a class of any sort and since my 5-day visit to Salamanca last year that I legitimately spoke Spanish. Needless to say, 3 hours of grammar and 1 hour of conversation class daily somehow was not as much of a rude awakening as I expected. Hooray!

I also met a girl who I am going to start meeting with to do an “intercambio.” Essentially we can talk about life – I practice Spanish and she practices English – and we help each other improve our language skills. I’m excited to have a more personal, one-on-one opportunity to work on Spanish. The best way to learn is to get a Spanish boyfriend, but don’t worry, James, I’m not doing that this time!

Beautiful Portugal Beach!

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November 9th, 2011

My bed & some photos! Plus my new purple house shoes!

I’m going on my third day here in Spain and have worked a little on this blog post for the past few days. I have questioned myself, “What would I want to know if I were in my readers’ shoes?” and have gone in circles with my answer. So I’ll give you a little of everything: a short review of my travel here, what my apartment is like & first impressions.

Recently I mentioned to someone that my first time flying to Spain was a terrible travel nightmare, so really nothing could be comparable. I could handle little mishaps in travel.  Maybe I jinxed myself!

Sunday evening, I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to check bags & converse before saying my goodbyes and heading to security. I had about 20 minutes until boarding time. After boarding about 1/3 of the plane & about when I was going to have my ticket scanned, the line backed up and they stopped boarding. We waited to hear there was a clogged toilet aboard causing a slight flood in the cabin. We waited for them to clean up when they announced they were looking for another plane & we were free to leave the gate, but to return in 30 minutes for an update. Starving, I high-tailed it back down the concourse for some dinner. I headed back down the concourse to find out we’d been moved to E27 and an estimated departure of 8:40. Well, surely we started boarding around 7:50 and I believe made it out to the runway around 9:15. By that point I was settled in with my eye mask & falling asleep!

After the delay, my trip was great! I had to buy a new bus ticket, but only had to wait about 30 minutes before it left. The bus had free wifi (en español sounds like weefee), so I caught up on e-mail and such. My team lead, Jesse, picked me up from the bus station & showed me to my apartment. I’m sharing a place with Kara, an exchange student from West Georgia University who is here until mid-December. We live about 4 doors down from the En Vivo campus house, which is great! Mondo, the other fall semester exchange student, took me to lunch (5pm) and then I spent a couple hours getting settled. I had dinner with Kara and then settled in for my first night’s 11-hour sleep.

Other bedroom wall with map of Europe & fun purple and teal tissues!

Refreshed & rejuvenated, yesterday I hung out and then went grocery shopping with Kara. My first night as a fully-functioning teammate here consisted of cooking pinchos (tapas/appetizers) & setting up for our Tuesday night event, Conexión. Students started flooding in & we had a great night with a guest speaker, Juan Carlos, who shared a moving testimony. After the event ended, we hung out and chatted with some attendees while eating delicious dessert!

Today Jesse has been showing me the ropes and tomorrow morning I head to the Policia to apply for my residence card! Tonight we’re hosting Cafe Ingles Fuera, where we visit students in a residence hall and help them practice English. Afterwards, we’re attending a concert by Mondo, our own exchange student!

Stay tuned for more on my first days in Spain!

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Posted in Stuff about Shannon |
November 3rd, 2011

 

In case you haven’t yet heard the news, I received my visa & am headed to Spain on Sunday!  I am overdue on a full update, but let’s wait until next week when I can share stories of travel, moving in & hitting the ground running in campus ministry! Thanks for all the prayers during this extended time of waiting! A few of you were waiting to start monthly support until I actually get started, so this is your green light go!

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September 26th, 2011

Have you heard of Operation World? I came across this project after reading Radical by David Platt with my small group. One of the challenges Platt gives readers is to pray for each nation of the world. Operation World helps facilitate the prayer by giving you a nation to pray for each day.

I have been going through the project this year and have enjoyed learning about countries I knew little about or had never heard of before. Admittedly, I’m not a perfect participant in praying steadily and fervently each day. One of my favorite parts is the videos done by Prayercast that accompany some of the country’s fact pages. Often these are recorded in the nation’s native tongue with English subtitles.

On the day I was to pray for Spain, I loved watching the Prayercast video. Since you are following and supporting me as I live in Spain for a while, I want you to experience familiarity with the country in any way you can. Please take 2 minutes to watch the Spain prayer video. It will give you a sense of Spain through visual imagery, hearing a native Spaniard speak, and learning the country’s greatest prayer needs. Plus, it’s a great inspiration while you are praying for Globalscope’s ministry and my time in Spain.

YouTube Preview Image
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Posted in Prayer Requests |
September 22nd, 2011

I have time these days. Time to think, spend time with friends & family, bake, clean, organize, and reflect among many other time-filling options. Yesterday, I read through the journal I kept while studying abroad in Spain during college. This afternoon, I read through prayers and logs of this whole process from July 2010 through this past January. The process up until that point included a lot of pondering,waiting, seeking God’s guidance, self-doubt, waiting, praying, surrendering, waiting… on and on.

At the risk of getting super personal, I thought I’d include a couple snippets from my journal. I know God has been right by my side through this whole thing, but I love being able to look back in black & white to what He was doing back even a year ago. I also threw in a couple recent pictures of what I’ve been doing.

Does it get old if I thank you all every time I post? To me, I could never fully express my gratitude for the incredible group of supporters/friends & family/prayer team. I have, as of last Tuesday, applied for my visa and currently I am continuing to wait expectantly for its delivery to my door. Whether I am in Spain in two weeks or two months, I know that God is in control. He is the author & creator of this whole concept anyways!

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