December 8, 2011

Christmas in Barcelona

As you know, my mom and I didn't always see eye to eye. I'm afraid I've maybe mislead you into thinking that the uglies in our relationship were all her fault. (typical child)

This morning I need to admit that maybe, possibly, I was the cause of some of the squabbles we had. I am sometimes very stubborn about things and now, looking back at my younger self, I'm not sure I was always that teachable. I had life figured out and I knew almost everything. Didn't you?

OK, so now I have a question for you. When you were 3 did you know what you wanted to be when you grew up? I did. I wanted to be a wife and mother. I knew that when I was 10 and I knew that when I was 17. My greatest fear at that point in my life was, what if that dream never comes true? What if Prince Charming takes one look at me at thinks, whoa, my horse is better looking than this girl. I think I'll ride around a few more years....and then he rides off into the sunset, leaving me behind....

My mother knew I wanted to be a wife and mother, but she was also practical. She often warned me, "Judy, marriage is for a very long time. It will come, and you'll be tied down to a house, bills, and responsibilities for the rest of your life. Once you take that step your life will never be the same again. Right now you are free. Take advantage of it. Travel, have adventures, see the world, try new things, meet people and make friends with all of them! Have fun! For now, just enjoy being single."

For some strange reason I actually listened to my mother. A year after I graduated from high school I found myself on a mission trip with Youth With A Mission. There I was, 19 years old, traveling, having the adventure of a lifetime, living in a campground on the Mediterranean Sea. We were just outside Barcelona Spain, but, oh, did I mention it was December? And our temporary home was an unheated trailer? And it was cold? I bet when you think of the Mediterranean you think of balmy beaches, hot sand between your toes, and warm spicy winds gently whispering through your hair.

Well, the only wind we had was an icy one; and, if it happened to be a west wind it was also smelly. The Barcelona sewage system sat right outside the campground. Need I say more?

We spent an entire month living in that campground. I have so, so many memories from that trip... I think I'll save those for another day. This was supposed to be a little Christmas story.

The missionary team I was with was from England, but there were missionary teams from all over Europe staying in the campground-Dutch, German, Sweden.... we would smile at each other in passing, and I saw people I instantly liked, but the language barrier prevented our making friends with each other.

The language barrier didn't stop the Swedes from being friendly though. They managed to give everyone in the entire campground a Christmas gift; for me it was one of the sweetest gifts I've ever been given and one I will never forget.

One morning, while it was still too early to even think about getting up, we were all suddenly awakened by the sound of singing; lovely singing...sweet voices singing beautiful Swedish Christmas carols. We stumbled out of our sleeping bags and opened the trailer door. The whole campground was surrounded in darkness but there, winding their way through the campground, were the girls from the Swedish YWAM team. They were dressed for St. Lucia Day. (come to think of it, maybe it was?) Each girl had a long white dress on, and a bright red sash tied around her waist. And, each one of those girls had an evergreen wreath circling her lovely blond hair. The most stunning part of the whole scene were the lit candles in those wreaths. We stood there, in the darkness, watching those beautiful girls wander through the campground, giving us a gift that required no common language.

It was a moment like no other in my life and one I would've missed if I hadn't listened to my mother.

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