Seven days ago I arrived in this beautiful crowning city on the Spanish Mediterranean coastline. In this short time, God has already shown up in so many ways and taught me many new things.
First off, I know a lot of prayer went into my journey across the pond. Huge blessings there alone; a friend of mine from Biola heard about my plans to go to Barcelona and decided to help out. His mother works for Delta Airlines and she gave me a very discounted buddy pass ticket to get here and back again. So thankful! I got on the plane with no trouble and safely made it to my little apartment for the summer.
I live with a sweet Catalonian woman named Cristina and two other temporary boarders from the States. My room exceeded my expectations by a long shot — comfortable, cozy, very close to the metro and I even do devotions on a little private balcony every morning. Cristina cooks authentic Catalan food for cena every night. It’s pretty blissful.
Orientation (and feeling lost a few times) behind me, I’m starting to get into a rhythm here. The first couple of days honestly struck me a bit roughly. The only people I really knew at that point were Americans who came to party…hard. This city caters to night owls. I do enjoy going out, but our evening preferences tend to quickly diverge. Drugs and heavy drinking aren’t my style at all. Having just turned 21 this year, hanging out at a chic bar definitely had its charm initially but escorting drunk girls home and dodging creepy men got old fast.
Despite all the incredible new things to do and see in Barcelona, I felt spiritually isolated and starved for real connection. The stats don’t lie; running randomly into Christians on the street just doesn’t happen here. I found myself praying and asking, “Where are you, God?” The stark contrast of going from a deeply religious setting to a totally secular environment in an unfamiliar place felt unsettling.
Then yesterday I finally got to meet up with El Lokal, the small church I’m serving with this summer. What an amazing day! The people I met there gave me hope for a totally revitalized experience. Worshipping and getting into the Word with them reminded me how anywhere in the world you can find brothers and sisters in Christ and they just feel like family. There is a light in their smiles I had found lacking elsewhere.
Even more incredible, I ran into a girl I had met at a plaza in Madrid a year ago. I never heard her name or got any contact information from her then, but we both realized our faces seemed familiar to each other this morning and made the baffling association. God works in mysterious ways. Most of the congregation, so around 50 of us, went out to eat lunch and fellowship for a few hours after the service. Later last night, I gratefully accepted an invitation to celebrate the festival of Sant Joan with a group of fascinating 20-somethings from all over the world at the home of a couple from Southern California doing mission work here in Catalonia. Small world, small world. I enjoyed myself more than I had all week prior in their company.
Now, I feel fully encouraged. Already I’ve had the opportunity to share Christ with a good handful of people here and invite them to the new church I just joined. Please pray the Spirit continues to soften hearts and open ears. There is so much work to be done in this city.