We are safely back home and want to thank you for all of your prayers for us while at the All Western European ABWE Conference in Almunecar, Spain. We are still trying to digest everything from the week, so sorry in advance if my thoughts are not so cohesive. We had an overwhelming sense of God's people praying for us. The buffet food didn't seem to affect Jonathan in any way in regards to his gallstones and he was feeling the best physically that he has in a few weeks. We all managed to escape the 24-hour flu bug being passed around the hotel. I would say 2/3rds of our group got sick. I think Jonathan may be coming down with something as I write but we'll see (hopefully not!)
We were spiritually refreshed and encouraged. The first couple of days were extremely hard for me to vocally participate in the worship time as tears choked me with every song. For the first time in 2 1/2 years we were singing in English with a large group of fellow brothers and sisters. I can't even begin to explain how much that meant to us nor would you ever be able to understand unless having walked in the shoes of cross cultural living. It was an enormous blessing!
All the speakers were wonderful in giving valuable information on church planting tactics, a study from the book of Daniel and also 2 Corinthians. Again for me to be able to sit in on each session and to hear God's word in my mother tongue was such a huge blessing. The ministry team from PA did a fantastic job with the kids despite the flu sweeping through their ranks. Samuel was able for the first time to participate in a VBS type of program each morning and evening--he has never had a Sunday School experience with other kids so this was a wonderful thing for him. Emma and Luca flip-flopped from the infant/toddlers to the older kids for story time and puppets. Emma finally made some girl-friends and really bonded and played well with them. Several times she had to be yanked from my neck but adjusted as soon as I left the room and had a wonderful experience each time. At the end of the conference all the kids were each given a big bag of gifts--the time, thought, preparation, money and love they invested in our kids was amazing!
Jonathan and I were able to get away on a couple of sightseeing dates withOUT the kids. Again, people went above and beyond to make our time special and meaningful, especially for those of us with small children who rarely see a date. We went to Granada and visited the Ahlambra and then to the Nerja Caves (Samuel joined us & did fantastic on this short visit). It was so wonderful to connect with other young couples from various fields. It's just nice to know you are not alone in the discouragements and struggles of missionary life--and yes, of course to be of mutual encouragement as well. Too much to write about but I must stop for now.
I will post some pics from our week and hope you enjoy them!