Travelogue | Nerja, Spain

We chose to sleep later than normal, opting for a 10am breakfast that included the sweetest watermelon slices and an oddly delicious fruit salad flavored yogurt. My sister-in-law, having spent months in Spain showed us the ingredients of a more traditional Spanish breakfast; fried egg, baked beans, sliced red tomatoes, thin strips of ham, and her favorite, banana yogurt with cocoa puffs poured over the top. And of course espresso in slender white cups and freshly squeezed orange juice accompanied each of our plates.

Well fed and awake we changed into our swimming attire and packed for an early afternoon at the beach...along the Mediterranean of all places?! The wind was strong along the beach that directly bordered our hotel, but my sister-in-law knew the perfect spot to tuck in, away from the whipping winds. A short 15-minute walk through the vibrant streets of Nerja, down a few rows of stairs, and across a crowded beach, we found ourselves tucked between two rather large rocks. The spot was the ideal amount of sun and shade.

My husband and I opted for the half shade, half sun, saving our skin from the perils of burning. He, along with each of his sisters and dad immediately took to the water and remained there for well over a half hour. When they were thoroughly pruned and chilled they came ashore and spent the next many hours soaking in the warm mediterranean sunshine.

When I found it unbearable to lay in the heat any longer I threw on my cover-up, moved my towel under the shade bearing rocks and took the opportunity to write. It's not often you have the opportunity to write viewing the expanse of the mediterranean. While everyone else around me slept under the mesmerizing rays of heat; I knew this would be a moment to record, likely never to be repeated in the same manner as that day.  

If you ever have the pleasure of visiting Nerja (which I certainly recommend), be sure to stay near the beach where you'll remain within walking distance to all the lovely shops and restaurants. This is truly a special spot, definitely more touristy than some, but simply charming with lovely weather (cool in the evenings and warm during the day), beautiful shops, and exceptional beaches. 

We Enter Humbly

I penned these words in a coffee shop last Friday afternoon. A letter to be sent to our dear partners in ministry who faithfully support us both in prayer and financially. They were difficult words to write in that they made every part of my being ache for the gospel to be known and proclaimed, not just in my city, but everywhere. So I've brought them over here for you too. It's a special glimpse I don't often share in this space; a glimpse into our ministry and our heart for reaching others with the love of Christ. 

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
— Revelation 7:9 (ESV)

Like a fish swimming in water, many Americans tend to take their own culture for granted. But for many international students on campuses across the U.S., life in the states is very different from their previous experiences. Everyday tasks like grocery shopping, transportation, and english, that come second nature to you and I, can be monumental hurdles for international students. Taking it one step deeper, many of these students represent countries that are relatively difficult to reach with the gospel—Saudi Arabia, India, Pakistan, Iran, and China. And in some circumstances, these students represent some of the earth’s 250 Least-Reached with the message of Christ people groups. As the Joshua Project estimates, nearly one third (2.2 billion individuals) of the earth’s population reside in only 250 Least-Reached people groups.

Guy and I have felt led to welcome, love, and reach international students on campuses in the Milwaukee Metro. We enter into this ministry humbly, aware that we carry a majority culture perspective, but nonetheless enter with a desire to grow in our love for people, for cultures, and for God Himself. 

Beginning to minister to international students will look significantly different than our past ministry experiences. Our ministry to international students is referred to as “Bridges”; a ministry seeking to help international students through service activities, social networking, and spiritual resources. So, as nations send us their best and brightest students, their potential leaders, we have the opportunity to love them with the love of Christ.

We read Revelation 7:9 and see God pointing us to a gathering of people from all cultures; “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples, and languages.” The whole body of Christ is represented in Revelation 7:9. And we need the whole body of Christ to fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), every church or ministry, every ethnic group, and every people group of the world to be involved in the mission. As our ministry leader has shepherded us, "We want to reach people from every culture, to reach the world through people of every culture."

These words have been edited in some places for privacy, but speak deeply to my heart not just in ministry but in every aspect of my life. I've found some resources especially impactful in my ministry and personal life that I've shared below:

  • Joshua Project - A research initiative seeking to highlight the ethnic people groups of the world with the fewest followers of Christ. 
  • The Go Times - Musings about culture, ethnicity, and the gospel.
  • Operation World - A definitive prayer guide to every nation.
  • The Influence Network - A community of women asking "Which parts of the internet can I use to give you more glory, God?"
  • SheReadsTruth - Women in the Word being changed by the Word.
  • And first and foremost, daily being in the Word 

Ladies Weekend

The alarm sounded at 5:45am. I was met with a rush of cold air as I peeled back the covers. My brain urged me to return to the safety and warmth of my bed. But I heard my roommates rustling outside the door; we did this for each other. We awoke, in the dead of winter, when the air was frigid, and the sky still dark, because our friendship, our walks with the Lord, our struggles and blessings meant more than an extra few hours of sleep. 

Showers weren't required, nor was make-up or anything fancier than a pair of sweats and the warmest sweaters we owned. We piled into one car, probably not legally, but this was Minnesota, in the dead of winter, and even a few blocks took your breath away in the dark of morning. 

The coffee shop was the only opened early enough for our time frame. Everyone peeled their layers and quickly placed their order for coffee, cafe au laits, or hot teas. The shop was always empty and our table, the only large enough to seat us all, was always free. 

Over the course of the next two hours we prayed, we went deep into each others lives, and we truly laughed hard, low, belly retching laughs, and cried slow, emotionally draining tears. 

These are my women and I'd give anything to awake at 5:45am to sit over coffee and go deep into one anothers lives again. But these are my women still. Our growing distance hasn't stopped us from getting into one anothers business. Flash forward seven years later and these are still my women. Only now we hold close the weekend adventures that happen a mere one or two times a year. 

This year we moved in on Milwaukee, packing seven into a hotel room, once again drinking endless drips of coffee together, praying over one another, laughing hard, low belly retching laughs and crying slow, emotionally draining tears. Until next time ladies.