On Mission for God, Part 3 ~ Not Standing Alone

I just returned from the 3-day Celebrate Recovery (CR) Summit at Saddleback Church in Southern California.  The worship songs are still running through my brain.  I am totally fired up and excited to move forward in serving in this ministry.  I venture to guess that there isn’t a single person out of the 3,400 attendees who doesn’t feel similarly.  The Summit is like CR on steroids with thousands of people who all want to bring or advance this ministry of hope and healing at their churches.

CR Summit 138

On the Saddleback campus

International Mission Focus

This was my third trip to the Summit in my ten years of recovery.  My previous two trips were with leader teams from two different churches.  This time I traveled alone, representing Pine Lake Covenant Church (PLCC), where I now serve as a CR leader.  I was sent as an envoy for the international mission I am leading to Spain in the fall.

My focus for this Summit was to meet other CR leaders who run this program in foreign countries and learn as much as possible about their unique obstacles and cultural differences.  Although I’m an introvert by nature, for this 3-day Summit, I was a woman on a mission with a razor sharp focus–meet international leaders.

I attended the session on International Mission Strategy and a late night connection event with international leaders or others going on short-term CR missions abroad.  I hung out daily at the international tent meeting representatives from other countries.  On my last day at the Summit, I had a one-on-one meeting with the new director of International CR, Jana O’Guin.

Other Summit Activities

I am grateful that this wasn’t my first time to the Summit.  I knew the lay of the land:  my way around the Saddleback campus, my way around Orange County, the 3-day schedule of events, and the line-up of speakers.  Even with all of that though, the information never felt stale or boring.  It was all inspiring and encouraging with multiple sessions of daily worship, powerful testimonies of redemption, and a chance to laugh at ourselves through the biblical wisdom and wit of The Skit Guys, like “God’s Chisel.”  All of this time and money was a great investment in advancing God’s Kingdom abroad.

My favorite times were the few times I got to unwind a bit with some CR leaders over dinner.  One night it was with a group from a local CR that I met on my flight to California.  One of those leaders is also going on a mission next month to China.  My last night in California, I had a relaxing dinner with a friend who moved to California shortly after we met in CR at PLCC last year.  These recovery-related conversations served up good food for thought and were a welcome time of fellowship.

While at the Summit I also took time to meet with my favorite authors:  Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend.  I have been a big fan of their work since I first read “Boundaries” and “How People Grow” early on in my recovery journey.  We’ve met several times over the years.  (They’ve spoken at every Summit for the last 18 years.)  I could easily write a post just about each of their presentations.

I Don’t Stand Alone

My biggest takeaway from the Summit was that I am not alone in my Call to bring CR into another country.  Jana has been on over 25 mission trips into places like South Africa and Rwanda.  CR materials have been translated into 28 languages.

When I first started to tell other international CR leaders about my short-term mission to Spain, they eagerly suggested connecting my missionary partners in France and Spain with them.  These international CR leaders are pioneers in Christian recovery across the globe.  They have persevered over the years to break ground in their native country.  Often times they had to fund the translation and publishing of the CR materials in their native language as well.  Now it is Spain’s turn.

This is not an easy task.  It is not a ‘parachute’ ministry.  It will take follow-up trips to Spain by me, my missionary partner from France, or others who are experienced in CR and called to share this Good News abroad.  I’m grateful that I’m not alone; and I’m grateful that the path has been blazoned before us.  We’ll do our part; the rest is up to God.

CR International Map

Countries where Celebrate Recovery is established, developing, and has been introduced.

Mission update

This week I got approval from Timberlake Church, Redmond, WA to fully fund the start-up materials for several Spanish churches and for the seminar this fall.  That was welcome news on this joint church partnership with PLCC.

Only 6 more weeks!

Only 6 more weeks!

I’ll be leaving in six weeks, and the mission is not fully funded yet.  Won’t you please consider giving to this mission of hope and healing—not just for Spain, but to share the message in France as well?  Click here to donate online or fill out my contact form to support the cause through prayer.

If you live locally, I’m inviting you to hear me speak on Monday, August 18, 7 PM at Pine Lake Covenant Church in Sammamish, WA.  I’ll be casting the vision for the mission and sharing more about CR International endeavors and my Call to Spain.  Hope to see you there.

On Mission for God, Part 2 ~ Surprise Me, God

In Part 1 of this series on my mission trip to Spain in the fall, I wrote how I was taking a leap of faith with my public announcement and asking for donations.  I’m happy to report that my prayers were answered; I am walking on solid ground.

Actually I will be flying through the air nine weeks from today, on Wednesday, September 24, 2014.  (I’m starting my countdown calendar on the right sidebar of my site.)  However, I won’t be flying to Spain, not directly anyway…

number 9

Counting down–9 weeks until I leave on mission.

Praying for the Mission

My prayer all along has been to align my will with God’s will for this mission, for spiritual revival in Spain, and for the timing of the mission to align with His timing.  As a person who used to earn my pay as a project manager, it is often hard for me to let go of control when working in ministry settings.

In early June, I sent out an appeal letter to friends and family to support my mission, as well as emails, and the public announcement on my blog.  Then I was inundated with family commitments and travel that pushed all of my preparations for Spain on the backburner.

I know that was God’s way of building my trust muscle.  Not only that, I chose to take myself out of the reporting of any updates on who was contributing to the mission and how much.  I didn’t want my attention on any mission planning or obligations.  I released it all to Him and began to pray a new prayer:  “Surprise me, God!”

I wanted and NEEDED God to surprise me.  Surprise me He did…in multiple ways.

Surprise me GodGod’s Amazing Surprises

My first surprise was how God has already provided a large portion of the financial provision needed for the mission.   So far, donations are $2,125 including the $1,000 match by Celebrate Recovery at Pine Lake Covenant Church, who is sponsoring the mission.  That was truly welcome news—allowing me to purchase my airfare last week!

I also received word that the 10-day organized prayer journey segment of my mission was postponed until 2015.  As a prayer warrior for Spain, that came as a bit of a disappointment to me. However, when God closed that door, He opened another—a really BIG surprise.

I was able to accept a long-standing invitation to speak at a church in Grenoble, France, where my mission partner (and American missionary), Marvin Klein, lives.  I will arrive in France one week before the CR conference in Spain, giving us time to prepare for the conference and to travel together with him and his wife to Madrid.

CR internationalRevised Mission

While the second surprise dramatically changed the physical itinerary of the mission, it did not change the timing or focus for the CR conference in Spain.  In fact, it supplements it and builds on that in new ways.  Not only am I and PLCC CR investing in a partnership with Spain, we are also building on our relationship with Marvin, in France, and possibly other areas where he has global connections.

The revised itinerary also provides more dedicated time at the church in Rivas, with leaders and at prayer meetings.  While I prayed globally for unity in God’s Church in Spain last summer, and for spiritual revival in their country, I didn’t have opportunities to pray one on one with people.  I know the Lord is answering that desire of my heart through this new avenue—His surprise for my time in Spain.

Next Mission Steps

In preparation for the mission I am attending the annual Celebrate Recovery Summit at Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California.  I will also be speaking at the CR meeting at Pine Lake Covenant Church on Monday, August 18 at 7 PM.  I will share more information about my Call to Spain, provide a mission update, and share new training information from the Summit.

Click on above image to donate to the mission.

Click on above image to donate to the mission.

This mission is still not fully funded.  With the revised itinerary, the new donation goal now stands at $3,000 (a reduction of 25% of the original estimates) to cover travel, meals, and materials to hold the conference.  Won’t you please consider giving to this mission of hope and healing—not just for Spain, but to share the message in France as well?

Please Join God’s Work Abroad

The easiest way to donate is to use the secured giving link that directs all monies to the church for the mission.  All donations through this link or mailed directly to the church (information here) are tax deductible.

This mission is also in need of prayer support.  To pray for the mission now and while we are traveling and teaching, fill out my contact form on this site.   My on-going prayer request is for the remaining financial provision to be secured in advance of the trip, for protection and safety for our travels, and for receptivity to the CR materials and spiritual revival in Spain and France.

Surprise me, God!  Surprise us all!

I invite you join God in what He is doing in Spain and France by supporting and praying for this mission, and you too can plant seeds of change across the world.

 

Now the Lord had said to Abram, “Get out of your country, from your family and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you.” (Genesis 12:1, NIV)

On Mission for God, Part 1 ~ The Leap of Faith

I’ve got a big announcement to make!  And since today marks the 10-year anniversary of my first Celebrate Recovery meeting, the timing seems very anointed to me.  Drum roll please…

…I’m returning to Spain!  However, this trip is not for personal or business purposes like last summer.  This trip is at the invitation of a Spanish missionary whose Protestant church I attended last year.

Send.meOn Mission for God

My return trip to Spain is a charitable mission sponsored in part by Celebrate Recovery (CR) at Pine Lake Covenant Church in Sammamish, WA, where I serve.  A small team of CR leaders and I will hold a recovery conference in Rivas, a suburb of Madrid, in October.

There is a long story behind how all of this came to be—one I’ll be sure to share in time.  Today’s post is Part 1 of a series of updates I plan to do about this mission of healing.  I have briefly blogged about it here and on the Celebrate Recovery ministry site.  With today’s announcement, I’m directing my readers’ attention to the pages on my site with more background, how to support the mission, and with detailed mission information.

Hebrews 11.1A Leap of Faith

Today’s announcement marks another BIG leap of faith for me.  Although I’ve seen the Lord’s hand all over this mission, and I’ve had some time to accept this new Call on my life, I am still hesitant and a bit nervous.

This all comes at a time when my life is incredibly full.  My son is graduating from college and moving out of state this month.  Next month Pedro is launching his American movie composing careerMy mind, my time, and my heart are all divided.

A few days ago I heard the CR testimony of a French missionary who will meet me in Spain this fall for the mission.  Part of his testimony described the early stages of his call to France many years ago.  It so resonated with where I am at today, and my greatest fears.  (I am learning a lot from him.)

Spanish flag face paintingIt is asking for donations to support this cause—risking the rejection, being at the mercy of others’ generosity, and trusting God to provide the funds.  ($3,000 is a lot of money by my standards, but not God’s.)  I’m incredibly grateful that the CR ministry is matching up to $1,000, making donations go twice as far.

I know people serve abroad and go on short term mission trips all the time.  I’ve always admired them—their passion and their faith.  I never thought I would be called on mission.  However, I cannot deny what I experienced last summer in Spain.  And even more, I cannot deny that the Voice of the Lord has been speaking to me and preparing me for this Call.  I’m learning more and more how to listen and how to respond in faith.

Facing my Fears

That means I have to face my fears, commit to this mission, and walk in blind faith.  It reminds me of a famous scene in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.”  Indiana, played by Harrison Ford, takes a step off a cavern ledge into the air.  Death surely awaits him.  But instead a narrow bridge mysteriously appears preventing his fall and allowing him to cross to the other side (video below).

 

I am stepping off that ledge today by publically seeking financial and prayer support for this charitable mission.

  • To subscribe to prayer and mission updates, fill out my contact form on this site.
  • If you decide to donate, please know that every gift to this mission, large or small, is helping to bring healing and revival in a country that is one of the least evangelized in the world.
pray-give-go

Click above image to donate online.

So I invite you to partner with me to plant seeds of change across the world.  Will you help bring that bridge across the cavern into view so my steps are on solid ground?  Here I go…

Click the links below for information about the mission, to pray for the team, or to donate:

Celebrate Recovery Mission to Spain

How to Donate & Pray for the Mission

Detailed Mission Information

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.

What if His People Prayed, Part 2 ~ Global Prayers

Before my mother passed away three years ago, my regular prayer life was mostly made up of prayers before family meals and some daily devotional or quiet time in the morning.  I also prayed short prayers intermittently throughout the day. During one period of spiritual seeking I went so far as to venture into an overnight prayer vigil at my church.   I liked that experience, but my church stopped the practice soon after.

Inside my first church in Spain, San Jerónimo el Real, in Madrid.

On sacred ground, inside my first church in Spain, San Jerónimo el Real, Madrid.

Becoming a Prayer Intercessor

I had never considered myself a prayer warrior or a particularly articulate prayer person.   As I mentioned in Part 1 of this 2-part series, that radically changed in recent years. About a year after my mother passed away I took a spiritual gift assessment and sure enough, one of my gifts was intercessory prayer—not something that had scored high in the past.

Embracing this gift has helped me to continue on my spiritual walk across denominations and into the Catholic Church for my weekly appointment with God. This prayer practice has awakened my faith in new ways and eventually led me to Spain last summer where I finally met Rosa, Pedro’s mother. That trip was the trip of a lifetime for me—6-weeks in Spain, immersed in the culture, the food, the language and the faith. My visits to the Catholic Church here gave me a longing to worship in the grand Cathedrals and churches of Spain.

Praying in Spain

While I was in Spain, I attended mass and toured several Catholic cathedrals—13 in all, from central to southern Spain and to the island of Mallorca.  It was like being on sacred ground to visit these massive, centuries-old buildings with intricate stone carved exterior figures and laden with golden altars and statues inside.

My prayers in Spain were much different than in America. Back home, I had lots of private time to thoughtfully pray for people by name. While I was in Spain, God led me to meditate on a passage of scripture in Ezekiel. This resulted in my  praying for unity between Catholics and Protestants, and for revival in the Church of Spain. I had no preconceived notions how God was going to do that. I just knew that He was calling me to pray into this country for a spiritual awakening.

Praying Globally

People pray for global causes all the time. This takes me back (as referenced in my last post) to the words of the Casting Crowns song, “What if His People Prayed”:

“And what would happen if we prayed
For those raised up to lead the way
Then maybe kids in school could pray
And unborn children see light of day”

We pray for government officials and against laws that we believe are unjust. We pray for victims of crime and victims of natural disasters. We pray for the poor and for the hungry.

So why not pray for the people of Spain? They live in a time of economic distress and dramatically high unemployment. According to the Evangelical Covenant Church, although historically considered a Catholic country, church attendance has declined dramatically over the years and a very small percentage have a relationship with Christ.

After six weeks in Spain, I truly have a heart for the people. It started with a heart for Pedro, then his mother Rosa, and on to the remaining 24 members of his family that I met. But more than that, God got a hold of me there and showed me how different the spiritual climate was and the need for people to return to Him. They need His Hope—the kind of hope that does not disappoint. (Isaiah 49:23)

Prayer Works

Earlier this week, and nine months to the day I started my prayers on Spanish soil, I got physical confirmation of what I knew to be true in the spiritual realm. That was when a Spanish pastor and missionary visited the Celebrate Recovery meeting where I gave my testimony. It was his first time at this kind of meeting. We are now exploring ways to bring this healing ministry to Spain.

Is this the start of a spiritual revival in Spain? Is this what God was planning when he directed me to pray? It would probably sound pretty presumptuous for me to declare that (although I am pretty bold with my faith). All I know is that I did my part—and I continue to do so.  All it takes is one person, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed. (Matthew 17:20)

Do you have a desire to go to Spain and pray for the nation and its people?  I invite you to come on a 10-day prayer journey this fall and explore Spain for yourself. And maybe I’ll be there too, if those prayers are answered.  Click on this link, Prayer journey 2014, for more information.

Update 7/23/2014: The Prayer Journey was cancelled for 2014, but tickets are purchased for a Celebrate Recovery mission to France and Spain in the fall of 2014. Prayer appreciated for this mission of hope.

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

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.

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

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.

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    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.

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