Monday, December 5, 2011

My Sixth Day

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Today was election day in Spain. The conservative party won.

We don’t have breakfast together on Sundays, it’s just everyone for herself, just like at home. I asked what time we get up and Anita said, “At 9:30 the van leaves, and you can figure out when you need to get up to make it.”

But at 8:15, R woke me up and said that I was going in the van with her and we were leaving at 9. “Okay,” I said, and hopped out of bed.

I had gotten up at 6:45 to do my devotions and had gone back to sleep.

One aspect I haven’t mentioned much about is shadowing. No one shadowed me when I arrived, but Q has to be shadowed all the time. Since she is my roommate, I end up shadowing her sometimes, although I think U and R have taken the greater part of the job. Even still, it can be difficult to plan for the interruption to whatever I was doing. For example, I have 5 minutes to make it to breakfast and I think I can just make it, when Q comes up to me and needs to go to the bathroom to wash her face or blow-dry her hair or whatever. Oh! Sure! We can go, and I will just skip whatever I was doing. Q is very ADD and can’t sit still for two minutes, so I have felt very dragged around. Now to the kitchen! Now to the bedroom! Now to the salon! Now to the bathroom! Back to the bedroom! And so forth.

Anyway, what with getting up late, having to leave earlier than I expected, and shadowing Q, I left a little late, but fortunately I wasn’t the last one in the van.

The punctuality here is tremendous, especially for Spanish culture. If you’re not 5 minutes early, you will be the last one to walk in the room. (This is very good for Rebekah, but it does not come naturally to her.)

When we got to church, R and U went to a class they attend called Adullam, and the rest of us girls went to the cafeteria and sat down to talk. Lucy bought me an orange juice, which was delicious because it was REAL, and we talked and waited.

E asked me if I would explain something from the Bible to her, and I said, “Sure.” So she turned to 1 Corinthians 13 (the love chapter) and asked me to explain it. “Okay,” I said. I read each verse, one at a time, and talked a little bit about what it meant.

Somehow, before I got to the end of the chapter, the conversation turned to my testimony of how the Lord worked in my life to conquer bitterness, and that opened her up to share with me some of her story.

She is from El Salvador, I think, and has a sister and mother and other relatives there. Her father left the family to work in the United States and later moved to Spain. At some point (perhaps upon moving to Spain?), E asked to go with him. At first, everything was great, but her father started treating her worse and worse and would go days without speaking to her. He was living with an Argentinian woman and had two children by her, and most of the time E was left in the house with her stepmother, who did nothing but yell. Finally, she decided things didn't have to go on like this and she came to Betel, where she has been much happier.

When it was time for the church service to start, I found out that there was a list posted in the house that I was supposed to have looked at, showing who went to church in what van, and who was shadowing whom. Apparently, I was shadowing A2 and Elizabeth. Okay---another instance of "oops"--I guess now I know for next time.

Church was good. I only knew one of the songs and I was more deeply touched Friday night by the service. Elliott Tepper (founder of Betel) preached, and it was interesting to hear his style of message and what he had to say. I do miss Pastor Joyce's preaching, though. It's more intellectually stimulating than the messages I have heard here so far, which are necessarily simple and basic for the people who are coming out of totally lost backgrounds. 

One thing that was notable was how many men there were in the church. It was probably 5% children, 20% women, and 75% men. The auditorium was full and people seemed to be really entering in to a spirit of worship and praise to God. 

We got back from church about 2:30, and everyone helped to pull out leftovers and heat them up for lunch. We ate, and then Q and I went to our room for a nap. We slept from about 3 to about 7, and when we got up, we went to the kitchen for some tea. 

We were drinking our tea when C came up to us. "Q," she said, "You are going to move into my bedroom, and Y [a different Y than my former roommate] is going to move into yours. Come and move your stuff so that Y can put her things into your wardrobe." 

C left the room and I put my hand on Q's. "Awwww...I'll miss you," I said.

Q didn't say anything and I asked, "What are you thinking?"

"Nothing," she said. “My mind is empty.”

Then she continued. “I’m thinking about my daughter. I’m always thinking about her. And I’m thinking about my beloved.”

“Your beloved?” I asked. “Who is that?”

“I can’t tell you,” she said. “It’s a secret.”

“How did you meet?” I asked.

“The first time I came to Betel, we met,” she answered.

“Oh. Is he handsome?”

“He’s— ” (and here she made some answer that I didn’t understand).

“Is he young?” I inquired.

“A little older than me,” she said.

“Oh. What’s his name? I asked.

Q looked around furtively and put her finger to her lips. “Don’t tell this to anyone,” she said.

“Well, you know I can’t keep a secret here,” I said.

“If you tell, they’ll give me platos” (dishwashing chores as a punishment), she said.

“Really? Why?” I asked.

“If you tell, they’ll give me platos,” she repeated.

“So what’s his name?” I asked again.

“E,” she said. And she wrote it down on a scrap of something so I could see.

Just then someone came in the kitchen and the conversation was over.

Q and I went to our bedroom and she started pulling things out of her wardrobe. I helped her carry it over to C’s room, where she stayed putting her stuff away.

I went back to my room and started talking to Y, who was putting her stuff in Q’s old wardrobe. Y has been here only about a month, and she has been having a hard time. Lucy said when she first got her, she was always bursting into tears. She is about 40 and married and her husband is also in Betel, in one of the men’s houses. I guess he is doing great and loving it, while she is struggling.

I asked her how she came to know Christ, and she said that 20 years ago, her cousin dove into a pool and got paralyzed. His parents, in the effort to make him get better, took him to witches and all sorts of sorcerers. When that didn’t work and they saw that those people merely took your money and didn’t do anything except leave you with more turmoil in your heart, they turned to some Christians. The Christians introduced the family to Christ, and although the cousin remained paralyzed, the rest of the family was healed (in their hearts) when they accepted Christ. The cousin became a prayer warrior and memorized a vast amount of Scripture. Y’s father and the paralyzed boy’s father were brothers, and her father was the first to hear the gospel from his brother. Then, little by little, the family converted to Christ.

So I don’t know how they went from there to needing Betel, but maybe later I’ll hear the story.

We ate dinner at 9, and then several of the girls went into the salon to watch a movie. I went and brought my knitting. It’s a scarf I’ve been working on since 2009, and I finally figured I could finish it if I cut it in half, made a section of plain, easy knitting for the middle, and then attached the fancy part to both ends.

I was cutting it in half (carefully, by snipping only one stitch and then unraveling it bit by bit while I recovered the loops of the stitches on some spare needles), sitting in front of the television, and even though I was barely looking up at the movie, it was so horrible I had to move to another seat with my back to the TV.

When I got the pieces apart, I went into the smaller salon, where A was practicing the guitar, and asked if I could practice with her. It had been at least a year since I had picked up a guitar, and I had never learned to actually play because I had to look at my fingers and place them one by one on the right places on the strings in order to get any given chord, but I thought, “Hey, if I practice starting now, maybe I’ll have a chance to pick it up.”

A had to remind me how to do the chords (I only know A, C, D, E, Em, and G, and that’s about all she knows, too), and at first it was laughable how bad I was. But as we practiced, I got a little better—not good enough to play for our devotions yet, but a little more fluent.

It was 11:55 when we finished practicing, and we went to bed.

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