I spent 7 days in Madrid with my team of Athletes in Action missionaries, and I gotta say it was amazing. The suburbs of Overland Park, Kansas surprisingly just do not compare.
While I am back in America physically, my heart is still in Spain. Here are 9 reasons why!
1. The Food
Fact: you can't go to Spain without eating churros. At least that's what I told myself. We stopped at the Chocolateria San Gines which is apparently famous for having the best churros in Madrid. I was told that you're supposed to drink the cup of chocolate when you're done. So I did. And it was fantastic.
2. The History
3. The Culture
The life schedule took some getting used to but after experiencing it I have to say I'm a pretty big fan. Maybe that's just because I'm used to working at 6am here in America, but either way I enjoyed it. We were too busy to take any siestas so I'm thinking if I would have had the opportunity to partake in the siesta aspect I would have enjoyed the schedule even more.
The whole culture itself is more laid back that it is in America and I really like that. Overall the people in Spain seemed a lot less stressed out. It was hard coming back to the states where I'm immersed in an environment that is so much more high strung and pressure filled.
4. The Soccer
Austin, I thought that you hate soccer??
I mean yeeeeeah it's pretty awful to watch and it's filled with flopping and there's way too much running and the games are so uneventful and there's just too much running buuuut I'll have to admit, after touring the Santaigo Bernabeu (Real Madrid's stadium) I think I might have converted into a Real Madrid fan. I would definitely want to watch a game there.
5. The Metro
I've never ridden on a subway before this trip so this was a new experience for me; and it was pretty sweet. Trying to figure out how to get to where we wanted to go was interesting at first but after a few days we basically became pros at taking the Metro. It was also perfect for people watching! Haha
6. The Attitudes
One morning we were on the Metro and when we came to a stop an elderly lady got on. Immediately a woman in probably her late 20's stood up and offered her seat to the old lady. It was really cool to see.
Also, we got lost a few different times, but every time we asked for directions we were graciously helped. There was one moment where Luis and I asked directions to the nearest train station. The man gave us directions but as we started walking Luis realized he was still unsure of where we were supposed to go. The man saw that we were confused and, while he was getting into his car, offered to drive us to the train station. So he did and he saved us probably 15-20 minutes of walking. Even though I was a foreigner I felt very welcomed to be in Madrid.
7. The Coffee
8. The People
It's such a testimony to how great our God is when you can spend 1 week with a ton of people you've never met before and walk away with them all being lifelong friends.
9. The Way God Is Working In Madrid
I love the way our trip director Lisa put it when she said, "God's not dead. He is alive in Madrid!"
Before this trip Athletes in Action did not have much of a ministry presence in Madrid at all. The city has a ton of Christian history, which was evident when we visited the Museo de Prada and got to witness the numerous depictions of Christ and other biblical paintings that were hundreds of years old, all from Spanish artists. The city has a rich Catholic tradition and from what I've gathered the people of Madrid have associated Christianity with a set of rules and regulations, rather than an intimate relationship with God. Many people know what Christianity is, but few actually strive to know Jesus on a personal level.
The goal of our trip to Madrid was to get to know Luis, Kenny, Joyce, and Brianna and gain a better understanding of what their vision for an Athletes in Action ministry in Madrid would look like. We also successfully reached out to other coaches and leaders to tell them about our ministry and increase involvement. The enthusiastic responses we received when we told people the reason we were visiting the country was to build and grow a sports ministry was exciting and humbling. It is evident that God is moving in Madrid and it's pretty amazing to witness.
Also, what's amazing is that in like every single picture from above I'm wearing my American flag tank top. Just realized that haha. Not ashamed at all.
Hopefully by reading this post you were able to get a little taste of my experiences in Madrid. I have a feeling that God is not done with me there.
Man, I'm excited to see where God takes me on this adventurous life. All I know that if He is guiding it it's going to be pretty darn great!
"And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose" Romans 8:28