On Mission for God, Part 4 ~ The Birth of the Call

At a recent Mission presentation at a local recovery meeting, I spoke about how my call was birthed while praying in Spain last summer.  But the seeds for Celebrate Recovery (CR) in Spain were planted two years prior.  I was flooded with emotions as I prepared for the presentation and pieced together all of the events and circumstances that led me to this time in my life.

Starbucks SignThe First Meeting

Friday, October 7, 2011—I sat in a Starbucks coffee shop meeting Marvin and Lisa Klein.*  They were missionaries from my church who were serving in France.  We had never met before, although my children had donated to their mission years ago when they were in Sunday school.  The Klein’s were on sabbatical for one year in the States.  They were forming a leadership team to launch Celebrate Recovery at my church, heard about me and my experience with CR, and asked to meet.

I knew going into this meeting that the ultimate intent for the Klein’s was to get experience so they could launch CR in Grenoble, France, their new home.  I told the Klein’s about my Spanish connection with Pedro, the exchange student who stayed with us the previous two summers.  I told them about my desire to visit Spain one day to meet Pedro’s mother Rosa, and their family.  I told him a bit about our family’s story, which at that time in my life God was calling me to write and have published.

Marvin told me that I would one day share my testimony in France.  I was flattered, and excited about the prospect, but only took him half seriously.  I was more interested in sharing the story in Spain.  However, with a Protestant population of only 1%, it seemed that would never happen..

An Education in Religious History

It was after that meeting that I started to get an understanding of the spiritual climate in Spain.  I didn’t realize that the Protestant Reformation had never made it to Spain.  I heard from some that any church outside of the Roman Catholic Church was considered a cult.  Those were shocking words to me.  I had a wonderful relationship with my Spanish family.  We had a mutual acceptance of each other’s faith—Catholic and Protestant.  And in fact, it was our faith that bonded our families with the painful passing of Rosa’s and my mothers, who were both practicing Catholics.

After those conversations I never really considered that CR would ever launch in Spain.  I just knew that I would someday visit Spain and meet Rosa.  Marvin and I went on to serve together on the team that launched CR the following year.  The Kleins’ returned to France in preparation to launch CR at their home church in Grenoble.

Reformation Map

Since that time I’ve studied more about the Protestant Reformation and the history of the Church in Spain.  I also experienced the difference in the spiritual environment firsthand while traveling there for six weeks last summer.  All of this eventually (and quite unexpectedly) led to the mission in the fall and the partnership with Marvin to teach CR in Rivas, a suburb of Madrid.

Expanding the Call to France

I had originally hoped to visit France last summer and give my testimony in Grenoble.  When that didn’t work out, I gave up the thought of ever going to France.  One year later, the Lord has made provision for me to speak in Grenoble.  And I don’t know any French—now that is scary!

As further confirmation of my call, Marvin is working on the French translation of my published story, “Walking my Mother Home.”  I will be providing complimentary copies of the novella to members of the Kleins’ church when I speak there later this month.  That is very exciting news indeed!

The view from the Klein's home in Grenoble, France.

The view from the Klein’s home in Grenoble, France.

The seed for planting CR in Spain (and my speaking in France) was planted when I met the Kleins’ at that Starbucks in Redmond, WA, three years ago.  It had to lie dormant before it could germinate and see the light of day.  On October 7, 2014, exactly three years later, Marvin, Lisa, and me will all be in Madrid, and have plans to celebrate at a Starbucks there.

It just goes to show that you never know what door God is going to open next or how He will use you or your story.  I’m learning to never say never, and to dream BIG, because God is always bigger than my never.

Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. (Matthew 17:20, NIV)

Only 3 more weeks until I leave on my mission!

Only 3 more weeks until I leave on my mission!

Mission Update

I’m so grateful for the continued receipt of donations for this mission, including an offering when I spoke at the local CR meeting.  I’m sharing the call again later today at the PLCC Mission Board meeting.

I’ll be stepping on Spanish soil with my French missionary partners one month from today, so it’s not too late to support this mission.  In fact, now IS the time to help put me over the top in my fund raising goal of $3,000.

To donate to the Celebrate Recovery mission and plant new seeds of hope into France and Spain, click here.  To be added to the list for prayer updates, fill out the contact form on my site.  Thank you so much!  Every little bit helps.

*For more information about the Klein’s and their ministry in France, check out their latest missionary newsletter.

Fairy Tales do Come True

I’m going to the ball!!! I’ve dreamed of this day for a long time. It’s not the fairy tale type of ball or romantic fairy tale type of dream. It’s the dream of seeing Pedro’s music come to life on the big screen. More than that, it is the night of his first movie premiere in America. I’ve been there in my mind many times since I first took Pedro González Arbona into the recording studio three years ago.

cinderella ball gownA Cinderella Moment?

None of this has been easy for me—my role in Pedro’s life—from 5,300 miles across the globe. It started as friendship with an exchange student in my home, moved to a deep bond with his mother, and eventually led to producing his first CD and putting it for sale online. From that point on he has considered me his manager.

I’m not going to spend time rehashing the details of the history between us or Pedro’s musical career to this point. You can find that elsewhere on my site. What I will share is that today, July 4th, 2014, Pedro’s first full-feature film, Tempting Fate, with his accompanying soundtrack will be viewed at a private VIP screening in Houston, TX. There is no place I’d rather be tonight, alongside Pedro. It doesn’t even matter if I was his manager or not. I would still be there.

To me, that’s my Cinderella moment. No, I’m not meeting my Prince Charming (but beware young women, he is a Spanish charmer). And there won’t be dancing, although there is an after-party planned at a Houston nightclub.

Tempting Fate VIP Screening

For one night I will walk down the red carpet. I will wear something glitzy. I will meet the actors, the producers, and the press. (I’ll be sure to write about it and take lots of photos like the press too.) I will take it all in and show up in whatever capacity Pedro needs.

Believing in our Dreams

I can’t read music and have never played an instrument. However, I know how Pedro’s music captures and enhances the movie experience. I experienced it even before he started synchronizing his music to movies. I’ve also gotten glimpses from afar as his music has grown over the last few years.

One day last summer while in Madrid, he walked me through the composing and orchestration process. I was intrigued and blown away by his talent. I’ve gathered a plethora of information to write about his music, his life, and his journey to this major milestone in his life. Yet only a fraction of that has been published online. In time, God will reveal to me how, when, and where I’m to use it.

dreams_come_true_by_ebiisan-d4lwws3_largeSo today, while I had hoped to write a piece to promote his movie, I’m left with a post that expresses my desire for Pedro’s dreams to become a reality. As his benefactor, I’ve supported it, prayed for it, and believed in it from the start. Tonight I’ll get a front row seat to watching it unfold.

Fairy Tales do Come True

Where would we be if we didn’t dream? Where would we be if others didn’t foster or believe in our dreams and our potential? Where would the producer/director, cast members and behind the scenes crew of Tempting Fate be if they didn’t follow their dreams and share the vision to create this film? For me personally, I know I wouldn’t be in Houston today awaiting Pedro’s arrival from Madrid.

If I didn’t have others who believed in my dreams and encouraged me these past few years, I wouldn’t be a published author or have followed my mid-life writing dreams. Now I have paid forward that investment into Pedro and his dreams. It has given me new dreams as well, and opened my eyes to new possibilities.

thULDRAC39As a middle-aged woman who had her fairy tale wedding over thirty years ago, today will be the closest thing I’ll probably get to a fairy tale event again this side of heaven. I’ve got my fingers and toes crossed. I’m sending prayers upward that this faith-based movie, the message, and the music will be positively received and reviewed by the media, and distribution secured for viewing across America.

Oh, gotta run.  I’m also Pedro’s chauffeur.  I have to get his carriage to the airport on time.  I’m delivering one very special package to the theater tonight.

Because sometimes fairy tales do come true…it can happen to you.

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Update 7/7/2014: The premiere was a wonderful success.  Pedro’s music received much praise.  He has a bright future in the film industry.  Time to get back to reality and support him from 5,300 miles across the world.

On the red carpet with Pedro at the premiere of "Tempting Fate".

On the red carpet with Pedro at the premiere of “Tempting Fate”.

Lights, Camera, Action, Part 3 ~ Creating a Movie Soundtrack

Here I sit late night typing away on my laptop rushing to write a post of great significance with the current goings-on in my life.  I am listening to some beautiful music to help put me in the mood to write.  I know it will because in one month, this music will be larger than life on the big screen.  And that is what this post is about…

I’ve dreamed of that day for the last several years, ever since I took my Spanish son into a recording studio and produced his first CD.  July 4, 2014 is the day when the music of Pedro González Arbona, the musical protégé whose career I help manage, will fill the theater as it accompanies his first full-feature American film, Tempting Fate.   I feel blessed beyond words to join Pedro in Houston, Texas for the private VIP screening of the movie.

Tempting Fate VIP Screening FB Cover

The Early Stages

Pedro signed the contract with KevStel Group, an Atlanta-based production company, for Tempting Fate while I was staying with his family last summer in Spain.  Within days we were on holiday on Mallorca, an island off the southern coast of Spain, without access to a piano.

We both read the script while on holiday.  I sat poolside one day and read the page-turning script in one sitting.  Tears welled up at the corner of my eyes as I read through the last scene.  I could already see the music that Pedro would create for the poignant movie finale.  It was perfect for him and his music.

That script was all Pedro needed to start composing in his head and making notes in the margins on what kind of music to add to a scene.  And he was on his way to scoring the soundtrack.

Pedro at work in his studio.

Pedro at work in his studio.

The Music Comes to Life

Over the next several months, Pedro worked remotely composing and orchestrating the soundtrack from his studio while the filming was done in Hollywood.  After the film was done, he worked his magic to synchronize the music to the scenes—editing, revising, and composing on the fly to make the music work in tandem with the movie.

One of the most exciting parts of the process for Pedro was to be in the studio with the musicians who were hired to record the music—a pianist, violinist, percussionist, and guitarist.  An American soprano was hired to sing as well.

Throughout the filming and post-production stages, Pedro’s music started to trickle out onto the internet.  KevStel used his music for various promotional videos, as background music on their website (with the soprano), and finally, on the Tempting Fate movie trailer, released March 28, 2014.  I waited and watched in eager anticipation all along the way.

 

Post-Production Plans

When the conversations turned to the release of the movie a few months ago, we both had much anticipation for how or if we would be able to attend the pre-release screenings.  He was of course invited, but travel from Madrid would be costly.  After much back and forth planning and juggling, we both committed, and a few days ago finally secured our travel to Houston.

Tempting Fate Movie PosterAs the countdown calendar on the right sidebar of my site turns from months to days, we have turned our attention to rolling out a new website, registering a new domain name, and creating other promotional materials to coincide with the release of the film.  The Tempting Fate soundtrack CD will be available in the coming months—and you’ll be able to enjoy it like I have as I wrote this piece.

Finally, the main purpose of the screening is for media exposure and to line up distributors for the film.  You can help with that by creating a positive buzz about the movie and the music through your regular social media channels.  So please ‘like’ the Tempting Fate Facebook page (over 10,000 likes already) and share the movie trailer (almost 20,000 views so far) with your friends (or share this post).

Let the Fireworks Begin

Over the course of this movie project, my role was very minimal.  Pedro would occasionally send me a song and gave me updates on the film’s progress.  I learned a great deal from him about the process.  I basically served as an encourager and #1 American fan of his music—as I have from the start.  I think my biggest contribution was to pray for him, his music, and the success of the movie.

It is definitely an exciting time for Pedro and his music career.  I’m incredibly grateful that I get a front row seat (maybe literally) to watch all of this unfold.  I know there is no place else I’d rather be on July 4, 2014, than alongside Pedro as his music hits the big American screen.

IMG_8399

While everyone else in America is outside watching the fireworks, we’ll be inside this Houston theater experiencing our own private fireworks display across the screen.  I think this day will be an Independence Day celebration we will never forget!

This post is listed on Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays and Missional Women/Faith Filled Friday.

It’s a Small, Small World

The first time I went to Disneyland was as an adult with my husband. Even though we didn’t have kids at the time, we did venture into Fantasy Land and ride one ride:  It’s a Small World.

At 'It's a Small World', April 2003.

At ‘It’s a Small World’, April 2003.

It’s a Small World, the Ride

I know that people love that song and that ride, but after listening to that song repeat over and over again throughout the ride, I couldn’t get the music out of my head—even though I wanted too.  (It’s no wonder; the ride was over ten minutes long.). Despite that I did make a sacrifice to my mental health and take my kids on the ride on a future trip to Disneyland.

The 50th anniversary of the opening of that ride was earlier this year.  Not that I follow those sorts of things, but I ran into someone who actually worked behind the scenes on that ride at Disneyland.  She was so excited about the anniversary.  I didn’t have the heart to tell her it didn’t conjure up pleasant memories for me.  Below is a short video marking the 50th anniversary.

 

Spanish Connections Abound

All of this is just fodder for what I really wanted to write about.  In all seriousness, it really is a small, small world.  It has become that way for me anyway over the last few years.  Of course, I am referring to my Spanish connection.

It seems that after Pedro entered our lives in 2010, references to Spain kept crossing my path.  Suddenly I would notice people speaking Spanish around me or run into someone who just returned from Spain.

Starbucks encounter

Hanging out at a local Starbucks

Case in point, just a few months ago while sitting in a Starbucks and reading an email from Rosa, Pedro’s mother, I noticed two women sitting next to me who were speaking Spanish.

I was having a hard time deciphering some words in Rosa’s letter.  She sends them to me in English (via an online translator), but sometimes the Spanish words don’t translate.  So I decided to introduce myself to these ladies and ask for help.  I’m so glad I did.

One woman obliged to explain the translation to me.  In turn I proceeded to get a better understanding of the language and why that particular word couldn’t be translated by the app—even when I tried.  She was from Southern Spain, where I traveled last summer, so we talked about that a bit.  It was wonderful to have this small connection over the country that I now hold so dear to me.

Evan to Spain 03

Evan heads to Spain!

Valencia Bound

The world got even smaller for me recently though when my Spanish connections proceeded to intersect with my oldest son, Evan.  He won a trip to Valencia, Spain on the ‘Magic The Gathering’ Pro Tour, where he would be participating in their next international tournament.  That was when my real Spanish connections came in handy.

Last summer while living and traveling with Pedro’s family, I met some of their family and friends who live in Valencia.  I didn’t travel there myself, but we all met on the island of Mallorca where the family goes on holiday.  These Valencian friends and family spoke very little English or none at all.  Unfortunately that limited my direct conversations with them, but we did spend time together on daily outings to the beach or at parties.

Our daily beach hang-out with my Spanish friends on Mallorca.

Our daily beach hang-out with my Spanish friends on Mallorca.

Language barrier aside, I proceeded to communicate with my Spanish friends with the use of an online translator, like I do with Rosa, and told them of my son’s upcoming travels to Valencia.  These people graciously showed my son around Valencia, took him out to eat, and even invited him to a family birthday celebration at a farm home outside of town.

I was tickled pink to receive photos via Whatsapp (free international texting app) of my son’s time with them.  The only disappointment I had with all of this is that Evan and Pedro couldn’t connect.  Evan traveled through Madrid and had a long layover, but their schedules just didn’t coincide.

A Taste of Valencia, Spain

Since my travels to Spain last summer (and those numerous posts), I’ve now learned how to showcase my photos more in my posts.  One of these days I hope to go back and insert more photos on those posts or write about those places specifically.  (It is quite an archive of over 5,000 photos.)

I’m pleased that I can now share some of my son’s photos from his adventure in Spain.  Special thanks go to my Spanish family for immersing my son in their culture and for their generous hospitality.

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Is it really a small, small world?  Or is it because we have such a big, big God?  I’ll let you decide for yourself.  I’m just pleased that my world keeps getting smaller and the possibilities greater.

Lights, Camera, Action, Part 2 ~ Always Together Film Premiere

It’s been a few months since I last wrote about the budding music career of my protégé, Pedro González Arbona.  That last post, Lights, Camera, Action,  Part 1 ~ Making Music in Spain, was about my music collaboration with Pedro while in Spain last summer.  Part 2 of this series highlights Pedro’s experience at his first short film premiere, for Always Together, last December.

Pedro's first short film collaboration with Chani.

Pedro’s first short film collaboration
with Chani Bas.

Pedro’s First Film Contacts

It was in February 2013 when I got the fortuitous email from Pedro announcing that a famous Spanish film producer was interested in hiring him to compose for a movie.  Although Pedro was not hired for that particular project, the producer was interested in his work.  That first interview aligned Pedro with other contacts in the Spanish film industry and launched his film composing career.

Pedro’s first short film, A Thirst for Love, premiered in Madrid while I was in Spain last summer.  Unfortunately we were on holiday in Southern Spain at the time and couldn’t attend.

Pedro's second short film collation with Chani Bas.

Pedro’s second short film collaboration
with Chani Bas.

Pre-Premiere Planning

So last December there was much anticipation and excitement for attending Pedro’s first movie premiere.  Of course, I could not attend as I was back home in the States.  That didn’t stop me from spreading the word though.

While I was living in Spain last summer, I met Pedro’s director and friend, Chani Bas.  I continued my contact with Chani after leaving Spain, and in lieu of my own attendance at the premiere, asked him for invitations for some of my personal Spanish contacts.  But there was one catch—it was to be a surprise for Pedro.

I invited friends that I met at the Protestant church I attended one day in Madrid.  I also invited a few Spanish bloggers I met online since my return to the States.  The bloggers couldn’t make it, but thankfully my Spanish friends could.

Pedro and his family at the Always Together premiere.

Pedro and his family at the Always Together premiere.

The Premiere

Although I wasn’t at the premiere, I had a virtual front row seat as I heard about it firsthand from Pedro, through Whatsapp (international messaging) on the day of the event, Skype calls afterward with Chani and Pedro, and emails from my other friends.  I so appreciate their including me in the event from 5,300 miles away.  This allows me to share it with my friends, family, and readers as well.

When I awoke on the morning of the premiere that Saturday in December, Pedro was just getting ready for the evening event at the Artistic Metropol Theater in Madrid.  (Madrid is nine hours ahead of PST.)  When Pedro and his family arrived, there was a long line of guests outside waiting to get in.  Inside the excitement was building with a standing room only crowd of several hundred people.

Chani Bas, director of Always Together, who is also a talented magician, performed a short magic act, with two other magicians to commence the event.  Chani made some initial comments about the film and then invited Pedro to speak about the soundtrack composing process.  The theater burst into applause for almost two minutes, in appreciation and validation of Pedro’s previous collaboration with Chani on Thirst for Love.  Pedro was naturally nervous, so much so that he forgot his speech at home.  Luckily he was able to quickly gather his thoughts while waiting to speak.

Minutes after this photo was taken, Pedro takes the stage to address the audience.

Minutes after this photo was taken, Pedro takes the stage to address the audience.

Pedro Addresses the Audience

“I would like to thank Chani Bas for giving me the opportunity to work in this area that I love. He asked me to make this speech about how I make the music for his short films.  We have a good relationship.  After the end of Thirst for Love, Chani asked me to create the soundtrack for Always Together.

I was inspired to write the music by reading the screenplay.  I read the screenplay, figuring out where the music should go and what kind of music was needed.  I tried new sounds because I like to create new music.  The soundtrack was completed in July, and the shooting was in August.  So Chani knew the themes as he shot the film.  He planned the scenes with the music in mind.  It was a great collaboration.”

Pedro with his director, Chani Bas.

Pedro with his director, Chani Bas.

The Short Film—Always Together

Chani returned to the stage and introduced the film.  Always Together tells the story of a family separated by divorce, where Andres, a selfish teenager, doesn´t care about his young brother, Felipe. When Felipe disappears, Andres has to face the pain and uncertainty of his brother’s fate.  After the film was over guests had an opportunity to meet and have photos taken with Chani, Pedro and the movie’s actors.

Please take a few minutes to watch the short film, Always Together, below.

Even though there are no English subtitles, the acting (and music) are so good that the language does not cause a barrier to understanding the message and meaning of the film.  The film is now circulating through international film festivals.  It has been nominated for Best Foreign Short Film in several countries.

Best Foreign Short Film nomination in Mexico.

Best Foreign Short Film nomination in Mexico.

With More to Come

In the months since the premiere of Always Together, Pedro has continued to expand his musical influence in the film industry.  He will join Chani on his next short film project, I Dedicate my Dream.  Pedro is hard at work on his first professional full-feature American film, Tempting Fate, the contract he signed last summer during my visit to Spain.  It is an amazing soundtrack.  The CD and movie will be released this summer.

There is much more in the works and some surprises in store as well, but I’ll keep you in suspense until my next post in this series on Pedro’s musical pursuits. In the meantime, check out the Tempting Fate site for more information.  Below is a video teaser for the  movie with some of Pedro’s music.  (See the right sidebar on my site for a countdown to the VIP private screening of the movie in Houston, TX on July 4th.)

If this is your first time hearing about the music of Pedro González Arbona, check out his website at pgarbona.com or “The Music” page on my site for more information about how his music was discovered.  You can support his music career by liking his Facebook page, Pedro Gonzalez Arbona, Composer.

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Updated 5/26/2014:  The Tempting Fate movie trailer was released on 3/28/2014.  It already has nearly 18,000 views.  There is also a Tempting Fate Facebook page you can like for updates.  Below is the trailer with Pedro’s soundtrack music. 38 days until it hits the big screen!

 

This post is listed on Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays.

A 6-Week Tour of Spain

I can sum up 2013 in one little word, S-P-A-I-N!  It changed me.  It’s a part of me—past, present and future.  So with that in mind, I end my year of blogging, with one final Spanish post.  It is sort of a trip in review, with videos and photos that I haven’t previously shared on my blog. So I’m inviting you to join me, and a few of my friends, on a private tour of Spain.

Tourists (guests) on a private tour of Spain.

Tourists (guests) on a private tour of Spain.

¡Bienvenido a España!  (Welcome to Spain!)

Five months to the day I left America headed for Spain, I embarked on another Spanish adventure.  This time I was joined by a small group of friends who were eager to experience Spain for themselves.  We didn’t physically travel to Spain, but we did all have a Spanish adventure.

Last summer I spent 42 days in Spain living with Pedro’s family—a reverse exchange program, so to speak.  It was a journey three years in the making, after first hosting Pedro in our home in Seattle.  Since my published story in Journeys to Mother Love included this family, my trip to Spain was avidly supported by my friends and family.  So naturally I wanted to personally share my experience with them.

A table full of Spanish souvenirs.

A table full of Spanish souvenirs.

I called this four-hour extravaganza “My Spanish Fiesta.” It was partially in celebration of my birthday, but mostly it was geared at immersing my friends and family in Spain.  Together we explored the sights, sounds, and tastes of Spain.

The Sights of Spain

After the traditional European cheek kiss at the front door, and Spanish greetings, my guests turned their attention to the big screen TV.  Thankfully I didn’t subject them to all 5,000 photos of Spain.  I consolidated it down to a mere 1,000 photos, made into seven videos that related to the various segments of my trip. (Video of the main country of Spain is below.)

We traveled to Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Granada, Cordoba, Seville and several locations on the island of Mallorca.  It was a whirlwind of cathedrals, palaces, historic monuments, and tourist attractions.  They also got to meet some of my Spanish family, see where I lived, and get a feel for what it was like to live in Spain and vacation on the Mediterranean.  (Video of the island of Mallorca is below.)

Other notable Spanish sights for the evening were the Spanish flag hanging on the wall and a table full of souvenirs from my trip.  I collected books, jewelry, clothing, hand-painted fans, ceramic pottery, religious statues and mementos, a leather purse, and much, much more.

I was good for the economy of Spain.  “The economic crisis is over,” Pedro declared after seeing everything I bought.

Demonstrating the use of castanets, a familiar sound with traditional Flamenco dancing.

Demonstrating the use of castanets, a familiar sound with traditional Flamenco dancing.

The Sounds of Spain

Most of the videos included Spanish guitar music by Narciso Yepes and Paco De Lucia, from CDs that were gifts given to me by my Spanish family a few years earlier.  Two of the videos were accompanied by Pedro’s original compositions, one of which was composed while I was in Spain.  When the videos weren’t playing, Spanish music was still filling our senses.

And what kind of music manager would I be if I didn’t also treat my guests to an exclusive video clip from Pedro’s first movie soundtrack, Sed de Amor (Thirst for Love).  When the song “The Last Tear” played, it brought a tear to my eye, just like it did the first time I saw it at my private viewing with Pedro’s family.

The Tastes of Spain

Shopping for culinary treats at The Spanish Table in Seattle.

Shopping for culinary treats at The Spanish Table in Seattle.

The biggest hit of the evening, and hardest part to pull off, was the food.  Since I’m a novice in the kitchen, I usually defer to my good friend Stacie to make the culinary delights for my events.  Using a Spanish cookbook I purchased in Madrid, we carefully chose a varied menu of tapas (small plates) to tantalize my guest’s taste buds.

We shopped at The Spanish Table and the Paris Grocery in Seattle’s Pikes Place Market area for the specialty fare the recipes required.  At the top of my list was Iberian ham—the same kind that U.S. Customs confiscated from my luggage at JFK Airport in New York.  I savored the sight and smell of each freshly cut delicate slice of paper thin Iberian ham.*

A successful shopping trip at The Spanish Table.

My friend Stacie joined me for a successful shopping trip at The Spanish Table.

Since my husband truly is ‘el rey de la cocina’ (the king of the kitchen), especially after the recent remodel, he had a major role in the cooking as well.  He made spicy gazpacho and paella to eat, and Sangria, to whet our appetites.  Other tapas included Pan Amb Oli (ham, tomato, olive oil and bread), Mediterranean grilled vegetables, eggs stuffed with tuna, goat’s cheese and onion, and skewers of olives, sundried tomatoes and Spanish cheese.

Goat Cheese Tapa

Goat’s cheese with onion served on bread.

Paella

Seafood paella

Dessert ended with an assortment of Spanish cheeses, quince spread (similar to jelly), fruit and nut breads, grapes, and chocolate turrón.  It was just the light touch we needed to cleanse our palettes for the evening.  Magnifico!

Turron & breads

Fruit & nut breads with chocolate turrón.

Cheese & grapes

Spanish cheeses, grapes & quince spread.

A Final Note

That was my fiesta in a nutshell.  Imagine how it was to savor each morsel and be immersed in the sights and sounds of Spain—without the language barrier, of course.  It was a lot to take in, as was my 6-week journey.  There are many times that I still can’t believe I was in Spain this past summer, or that I was there for so long.  It is like a dream.

Dedicating the evening with an opening prayer.

Dedicating the evening with an opening prayer.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my husband for manning the fort while I was gone, and also to him and my sons who suffered through the remodel of our kitchen and two bathrooms at the same time.  Of course, I am deeply indebted to my Spanish family, to whom my fiesta was dedicated.

What happened in Spain in 2013 is behind me, but that trip laid the groundwork for what lies ahead.  God is aligning me with new Spanish connections and planting new visions and dreams for future trips.  In the meantime, I am preparing myself internally for what God wants to do through me here or abroad, and taking one day at a time.

Thanks for joining my little tour of Spain.  I hope you get the opportunity to travel there yourself someday.  If you do, by all means, let me know.  I’d love to compare notes.

Adiós, mi amigos.  See you in 2014!

Pan Amb Oli, served with Iberian ham, a Spanish delicacy.

Pan Amb Oli, served with Iberian ham, a Spanish delicacy.

*Jamón Ibérico is made with an ancient breed of pig found on the Iberian Peninsula.  These pigs, known as “Pata Negra,” are believed to descend from the prehistoric Mediterranean wild boar.  These unique pigs are capable of storing more fat, which enables Jamón Ibérico to be cured much longer than traditional ham, resulting in an intense and complex flavor with an unparalleled note of sweetness.  The nuttiness of this ‘meat butter’ comes from the pigs’ exclusive diet of acorns.

Lights, Camera, Action, Part 1 ~ Making Music in Spain

Those three simple words, “lights, camera, action” are universally associated with filmmaking. Until last summer, my only role remotely associated with the theater was a bit part I was required to play in the annual musical back in junior high school.

For Pedro, the young Spanish man whose music career I help manage, those words have been part of his vocabulary and part of his dreams since he was very young.  Now, at 20 years of age, he is living his dreams.

Pedro González Arbona, professional musician and composer (Madrid, July 2013)

Pedro González Arbona, professional musician and composer (Madrid, July 2013)

Pedro’s First Short Film

When I headed to Madrid nearly six months ago, Pedro was up to his ears putting the finishing touches on the soundtrack for his first professional short film, Sed de Amor (Thirst for Love).  The premiere was held two weeks after my arrival.  Unfortunately, Pedro’s family and I were vacationing in southern Spain and couldn’t attend.  (The soundtrack is at the bottom of this post.)

Sandwiched in between sightseeing excursions and writing, my time in Madrid was spent collaborating with Pedro on his music and promotional projects to prepare for the premiere and beyond.  Together we launched his website (pgarbona.com), developed a site for his music sales, had publicity photo shoots, and worked on a Facebook marketing campaign to build interest in the film and his music.

Launching Pedro's new website.

Launching Pedro’s new website.

The Premiere

Since Pedro couldn’t attend the Thirst for Love premiere, the director, Chani Bas, asked him to create a video to introduce himself and explain his composing and music synchronization process for the film.  “Take 1.  Take 2.  Take 3,” I said as we made light of the multiple takes he had to do to get a flawless video.

Then since I couldn’t attend the premiere, Pedro gave me my own private showing of Thirst for Love.  Knowing the story, but not understanding the actors’ Spanish dialogue made it difficult to get the full movie viewer’s experience.  That didn’t stop the tears from flowing at the end of the movie though.  My tears were perfectly timed with the closing song “The Last Tear.”   Pedro’s parents joined us for the final minutes of the film, making my joy, and my tears complete.

Celebrating the Thirst for Love premiere while on vacation in Seville.

Celebrating the Thirst for Love premiere while on vacation in Seville.

More Music Collaboration

After our return from vacation, there was still much more music work to do.  Chani had enlisted Pedro to score the soundtrack for his next short film, Always Together.  Those songs filled the family home throughout my remaining days in Madrid as Pedro composed every free moment he got.  We also worked on reviewing and cataloguing Pedro’s ever growing list of compositions—about 120 at the time.

On one of our last days in Madrid, I met Chani, Pedro’s director, face to face at a local Starbucks.  It was a great opportunity to learn a bit more about the film industry, hear firsthand about the Thirst for Love premiere, and get to know each other.  Chani was already preparing for the next film project as well.  (Always Together premiered a few days ago.)

Chani Bas, Ardis A. Nelson and Pedro Gonzalez Arbona

Chani Bas, Ardis A. Nelson and Pedro Gonzalez Arbona

First American Film Project

The biggest music news of the summer though was the contract Pedro negotiated with the KevStel Group, an American production company, for his first full-feature film, Tempting Fate.  Days before we headed off to the island of Mallorca, international calls and email negotiations were flying through cyberspace.  We were rushed to complete it because once we arrived on Mallorca, internet access was extremely limited.

On Mallorca we settled into vacation mode for the remaining 2 ½ weeks of my trip surrounded by Pedro’s family and friends.  But one day while in siesta mode, I sat poolside and read the script of Tempting Fate.  I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read through lines that had a spiritual message of unconditional love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption.

I believe it was not a coincidence that this production company or this script landed in Pedro’s lap.  Like the prayer that moved mountains and connected Rosa and I, my prayers for Pedro’s music were again answered in heavenly ways.

Projected release date, July 2014

Projected release date, July 2014

Two Years in the Making

At this season of my life, I am often in awe of all the perfectly timed coincidences that have fallen into place between my Spanish family and me: the timing of the passing of Rosa’s and my mothers, how my trip to Spain came to fruition and its timing, and now, most assuredly, the recognition of Pedro’s musical talent beyond our friends and families.

It was two years ago this week that Pedro’s CD of original compositions, Introducing Pedro González Arbona, first went online at CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.  What started on a whim and a nudge from God launched Pedro into a professional music and film career, and stepped him into his dreams.  It’s hard to watch these music milestones from 5,300 miles across the globe, but I am very blessed to know that God has done more than I could ever have imagined (Ephesians 3:20).

~ To read about the exciting premiere of ‘Always Together’ recently held in Madrid, check out Part 2 of this series..  To experience his music for yourself, click any of the links below to hear an original composition from the ‘Thirst for Love’ soundtrack, ©2013 Pedro González Arbona, or check out Pedro’s video page of this site.

If this is your first time hearing about the music of Pedro González Arbona, check out his website at pgarbona.com, or “The Music” page on my site for more information about how his music was discovered.  You can support his music career by liking his Facebook page, Pedro Gonzalez Arbona, Composer.

Updated 2/12/2015: The Tempting Fate soundtrack with Pedro’s music released today and is available on Amazon and iTunes. The movie will be released across Nigeria on July 17, 2015.

The Reality of Culture Shock

I’ve heard it said that ignorance is bliss.  After my summer in Spain, I’d have to say that ignorance is definitely not bliss.

With all the physical, mental, and spiritual preparation I did for my trip, I never once thought to research what it was like to live in a foreign country.  I heard of culture shock, didn’t really know anything about it except for the general term, and didn’t think for a moment that it was something I needed to be aware of.

Beautiful monuments, statues, cathedrals, and architecture--constant visual reminders that I wasn't in America. (Plaza Mayor, Madrid)

Beautiful monuments, statues, cathedrals, and architecture–constant visual reminders that I wasn’t in America. (Plaza Mayor, Madrid)

What is Culture Shock?

Merriam-Webster.com defines culture shock as “a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.”

All the while I was in Spain; there were no outward signs of culture shock.  I thought I was adjusting well to all of the changes in environment (except the heat).  My host family repeatedly told me how well I fit in with the Spanish lifestyle.  But inside there was something much deeper going on.  I pushed the anxiety and the doubts about what I was going through aside.  I took each day as a new day to experience Spain, and document everything I could in any free moment I could steal away to myself.

Acting like a stereo-typical tourist, while also fitting in with the Spanish lifestyle, Madrid

Acting like a stereo-typical tourist, while also fitting in with the Spanish lifestyle, Madrid

My Quest for Answers

After I returned home, I did some research on what it is like to physically live in a foreign country.  I found out that culture shock is a real psychological phenomenon.  I stumbled upon it while doing research for some of my earlier posts about Spain.

There is a lot on the internet about culture shock, and this is not intended to a be a lesson about it.  I did find out though that there are four phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment and mastery.  Clearly I never made it to a point of mastery, but was definitely trying to quickly adapt through the other three phases.  Another source listed them as stages: wonder, frustration, depression and acceptance.  Just as surprising to me was finding out about reverse culture shock.  All of this explains why I had a hard time re-entering my life in the U.S. and also explains the bouts of depression I experienced.

The psychological effects of culture shock.

The psychological effects of culture shock.

In my quest for answers to what I had gone through, I started to follow blogs of other non-natives living in Spain.  I found sites from ex-pats living in Spain, ESL teachers, pilgrims journeying on the Way of St. James, and the like.  It was a relief to be able to observe their experiences, communicate with them, and most importantly to know that I was not alone in what I was going through.

I’ve also spoken with some missionary friends.  One pointed me to an article on “trailing spouse syndrome”.  I had never heard of that either, but reading that served as another relief for my emotionally weary soul.

Brave or Naïve?

Many people have told me that I was brave to go to Spain alone like that.  Every time someone said that I thought, “but I won’t be alone.”  I was going to live with people I already knew.  Little did I know how this would affect me.

I think that since Pedro, our Spanish host son, so easily adapted to family life in America, and never said anything or showed any evidence of his own culture shock, I just took it for granted that my transition would be smooth as well.  He fit in with us so easily; I think I forgot he was Spanish.

Being brave? No, it's just a unique way of mailing a letter. (Toledo, Spain)

Being brave? No, it’s just a unique way of mailing a letter. (Toledo, Spain)

I am so grateful to my Spanish family for hosting me and opening up my eyes to life in their country.  I miss Spain.  I miss my Spanish family—all 26 of them.  I know I’ll return someday and am already planting those seeds for a trip with my husband.

So was I brave or naïve in journeying to Spain for six weeks last summer?  It was definitely brave!  I have no regrets—only gratitude to my heavenly Father for the experience, the lessons, the love, and the hope He has given me for how He wants to use it for His glory.

Showing off my bravery by eating new foods--pulpo de gallego, a Spanish favorite (Octopus Galician style)

Showing off my bravery by eating new foods–pulpo de gallego, a Spanish favorite (Octopus Galician style)

The Little Girl Inside

When I was a little girl, I was captivated by the movie, “The Sound of Music” with Julie Andrews.  Although I was only six years old at the time, I loved the music and knew all of the songs by heart.  It was one of the few movies I actually got to see in the theater.  Soon after its release, my mother had her nervous breakdown and we stopped going to the theater.

1965 movie soundtrack for "The Sound of Music"

1965 movie soundtrack for “The Sound of Music”

Our Home was Alive…with “The Sound of Music”

Pedro, our Spanish host son, played “The Sound of Music” on the piano in our home the first summer we met.  His interest in that music along with my love for the movie landed my family at an outdoor theater in the mountainous setting near Leavenworth, WA—a Bavarian themed village.  It was a gift for his 17th birthday and it was a bucket list item for me.

When Pedro played that music in our home, it awakened in me deep feelings from my childhood.  My father was a strict disciplinarian.  I grew up in fear of his anger and his belt.  He didn’t show his love or give us words of encouragement.

Watching “The Sound of Music” as an adult I can almost relate to how the Von Trapp family children were treated—standing at attention at the sound of a whistle, etc.  Captain Von Trapp, their father, treated them like they were soldiers in the military, not like his children.  When Maria, played by Julie Andrews, entered their lives, play became a normal part of their day.

Ever since my mother died almost three years ago, I have gotten in touch with the part of me that wants to come out and play—the part of me that says it’s ok to laugh, it’s ok to dance, and it’s ok to sing.  It’s a part of who I am, but for years thought it meant I was doomed to end up crazy like my mother.

The hills really were alive with the sound of music, Leavenworth, WA

The hills really were alive with the sound of music, Leavenworth, WA

Playtime in Spain

That playful and unabashed side of me turned up in Spain this past summer.  I lived it up, maybe more than I should’ve at times, but I didn’t want to have any regrets about this trip of a lifetime.

One of my most precious memories in Spain involved “The Sound of Music”.  I lived with my Spanish family in their vacation home on Mallorca, an island off the coast of Spain, for ten days at the end of my trip.  I had already broken the ice and felt more comfortable with Pedro’s younger cousins by this time.  (See Mothering Inadequacies.)

Sitting on the edge of the pool one afternoon, I watched some of the children swimming and diving.  All of a sudden, a few of the girls started to sing “Do Re Mi” in English.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  These children barely knew any English yet they were singing this wonderful song from the musical.

I took that as my cue to join with the sing-a-long.  They did a double take on my cue and delighted in my participation.  Unfortunately it was the only song that we both knew in English.  Nonetheless, it turned into a fun-filled adventure with them creating a theater (teatro) production with me as their poolside audience.

The stage is set for the children's poolside theater performance.

The stage is set for the children’s poolside theater performance.

Getting in Touch with my Inner Child

In years past, I might not have even noticed the urge to sing with the children.  If I did, I would’ve definitely fought it.  I felt free in a lot of ways while I was in Spain.  Was it because of the love and generosity of this family?  Or maybe it was just out of gratitude to my heavenly Father for giving me something so special in this moment of time.

My little girl is slowly being integrated into this adult body that I have.  She is learning that it is ok to take risks, to use her voice, to love more fully, and to sing without abandon (in worship or in the privacy of my home or car).

My inner child, circa 1966

My inner child, circa 1966

I’m giving her lots of room to experience the emotions of a turbulent childhood and to grieve the loss of a mother that she never really knew.  My tears and my laughter are a beautiful gift that I am giving myself as I embrace this new season of self-discovery.

What about you?  Have you gotten in touch with your inner child lately?  Are you experiencing all that God intends for your life?  Healing is just around the corner when you invite God into the process.

Though good advice lies deep within the heart, a person with understanding will draw it out. (Proverbs 20:5, NLT)

This post was shared on Create with Joy/Friendship Fridays.

Breaking the Silence & Letting Go

Two months after my return from Spain I still haven’t been able to piece together what to write about how my trip relates to the continuation of my story in “Journeys to Mother Love”.  Over the last few years I’ve openly blogged about it and told my friends how significant this trip was for me.

I was meeting Rosa after three years of waiting, praying, emailing, Skyping and planning.  She learned English to facilitate our face to face communications.  Except for the post I wrote about my first day in Spain, I have been silent about that part of my trip, and the writing in general.

At the Alcala Gate with Rosa, Madrid.

At the Alcala Gate with Rosa, Madrid.

As a writer, that silence on my blog feels deafening.  I had so much expectancy for this trip and so much riding on the outcome.  I even wrote a post on journeystomotherlove.com, A Match Made in Heaven, on my anticipation for this journey.  But now I am struggling with what and how to write about it.  Writer’s block?  Maybe, but I’m inclined to think there is more to it.

Letting go of Expectations

Early on in my trip, I realized I had to let go of the expectation that I would write about Rosa’s side of the story—what happened in Spain when prayers were sent from America in the midst of her sorrow.  While Rosa showed me places that were significant with her side of the story, like her parents’ home (which was also her childhood home) and the church where her mother’s funeral was held, God revealed to me that the story I am to tell is more about my journey.  Rosa was a conduit for my healing.  We were both blessed by our mutual encouragement and prayers. 

Taking the tram with Rosa from Soller to Palma, Mallorca, for a day of sightseeing.

Taking the tram with Rosa from Soller to Palma, Mallorca, for a day of sightseeing.

When I stepped on Spanish soil I was ready to experience the trip of a lifetime.  I was open to experiencing God in a new way.  I had already let go of so many expectations—like not professionally speaking while there and not having the Spanish translation of my story published in advance.  I decided to trust God for His purposes for this trip.

While I was in Spain, the Lord slowly stripped me of much more.  The biggest thing for me to surrender was how much my identity has been wrapped up in my writing and the publishing of my story.  I went with the expectation that people in Spain could relate to my story, like they have in America.  I was grateful for the few opportunities to give away copies of Journeys to Mother Love.  Outside of those times, I felt very invisible as a writer and in my faith.  A lot of that was also because I didn’t know the language well enough either.

One copy of my book graces the book shelves at my apartment in the Port of Soller, with the best reading view of the Mediterranean, August 2013.

One copy of my book graces the book shelves at my apartment in the Port of Soller, with the best reading view of the Mediterranean, August 2013.

Before I was a published author, I knew God wanted to use my story.  I knew He was making me bold (witness my blog name).  But being in Spain led me to question much of that and my writing.

In hindsight, I think a lot of it had to do with the cultural and spiritual differences between our countries.  They became more real and visible to me.  I know now that the only way I could see that and understand it was to be stripped of that part of me and my voice.  It was a painful process—one I’m still trying to integrate.  I know He is transforming me again.

Moving Forward

42 days is a long time to explore a country.  I had the most amazing escapades while in Spain with my host family.  I had wonderful adventures in Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Granada, Cordoba, Seville and on the island of Mallorca.  I have 5,000 photos that bring my trip and so many special memories back to life for me.

In time some of that will show up on my blog.  I don’t doubt that God wants to use my story or this trip in some way.  He has given me new insights into my journey.  He has given me new insights into the writing process.  Meanwhile, I am clinging to my identity as a child of God and learning to let go (again).  I am grateful for the journey—the good and the bad—and what lies ahead.

Do I want to know what that is?  Am I nervous about it?  Do I want to control it?  Absolutely!  I can only take one day at a time and trust that He’ll use the story He is crafting in me to inspire others to turn healing into hope.  As He does, I know He’ll release me to break more of the silence along the way.

Farewell dinner at my apartment in the Port of Soller, Mallorca, Spain.

Farewell dinner at my apartment in the Port of Soller, Mallorca, Spain.

  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

    I am thankful to God for Making Me Bold in the process. Now I use my writing and speaking voice to help others on their journey to turn healing into hope.

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