So here I was, back at what felt like square one all over again. I was back at my old job, back to my pioneering, back to the same hall. And I liked it. There is no denying that. But never did a lengthy period of time pass where I didn’t think back on my time in Zaragoza, Spain.
There aren’t enough good things that I could say about it. It’s an amazing feeling looking back and knowing that I have an entire life, and really, an entire family, on the other side of the globe. The bonds I were able to forge over there in such a short amount of time really had an impact on me. Being able to get to know such awesome people, coupled with being involved in the most important work taking place in the world today, made it an irreplaceable experience. Call me greedy, but I wanted more.
In general, I work at being really good at keeping in touch with people. Social media makes that even easier than ever. But whether it was through a WhatsApp message, or a simple “like” on someone’s Instagram upload, I felt an ability to keep at least some sense of connection with many of the people I was able to befriend in Spain. But that wasn’t enough.
The wheels began turning yet again. “I really want to get back out there!” I told myself. What was cool was that I knew that I could do it. That was a big part of the last journey for me—seeing what I was capable of. Sure, I know it sounds corny, but I learned a lot about myself. I learned that I could leave everything behind for some time and still be just fine. I had to separate from my family, my friends, my job, my routine, my surroundings. It was huge for me, and despite how nervous I was about doing it, once I got into the groove, I realized, Hey! This is definitely something I can handle.
Not only could I handle it, but I loved it. By the time my three months in Zaragoza ended in May 2015, I wasn’t ready to come home at all! I began to really feel at home during the time that I lived there. So, I reasoned, why limit that to just one stay.
Fast forward two years. And there I was. I was totally comfortable with what I was doing and knew that I needed a jolt. Getting back to Spain was exactly what I needed to do. And so began the process to relive one of the greatest experiences of my life.
I wrote a letter to the Spanish Bethel, making them aware of my desires to serve in Spain again and after about 6 weeks, they got back to me with an encouraging e-mail notifying me of the need for help in four different areas of Spain: Guardamar, Sabadell, Tarragona and Bilbao. I’d only heard of the latter but made sure to take the time to research all four options.
Each had its pros and cons. For example some had higher costs of living, but more productive territories. Some had incredible weather but fewer people to preach to in the ministry. There were so many things to weigh out. But I had an eye opening conversation with my friend Dave, whom I’d struck up a conversation at my friends’ wedding.
“Go where the Africans are!” he commented, as I explained my state of indecision to him. “If you’re only going to be there for 3 months, go where you’ll really have an impact. And the African community really loves the Bible.”
That was no news to me. I sensed that endlessly during my time in Zaragoza nearly two years prior. I’d been a bit reluctant to commit to Bilbao, as I’d heard it was a rainy, more expensive area. But the other locations would involve mainly preaching to Europeans, whose interest in spiritual things was nowhere near as passionate. However that conversation helped me to turn the corner. Rain worried me as a hindrance to service, and the higher cost of living didn’t seem so ideal. But I was there to help a congregation with its ministry, and I wouldn’t let some non-OC weather affect that. That conversation helped me to turn a corner. Dave was right—Bilbao was where I needed to end up.
I got in touch with the COBE of the congregation in Bilbao English, who helped to set me up with a roommate and gave me some more key information about the congregation and its overall dynamic. I quickly gathered that this would be a good fit for me.
So I got a ticket.
The month was November, and in February I’d be taking off. The ensuing weeks saw the development of further European travel plans as well. It took a while to really “hit me” that I’d be leaving. It didn’t seem so real, but I knew it was coming.
The day to depart was fast approaching. I made sure to get some quality time with friends and family. I genuinely appreciated everyone who took the time to reach out to me, call me on the phone and otherwise spend time with me (as you see pictured) before the big day came, as I knew it would be a little while before that would happen again. I made sure my students and return visits back home were all put into capable hands so they’d be taken care of.
And before you knew it, it was time to quit my job and leave for Spain.
So begins part two of The Bud Moves to Spain. I look forward to the opportunities to craft some exciting experiences and explore brand new places, all while doing the best work out there. If you’re down to take this journey with me, then let’s do it.