God has blessed me with amazing relationships, beyond all I asked or imagined, during my time here in Spain.
Going into this month, I had met Hannah Wineland in choir, but we were more aquaintances than friends. Spain changed all of that.
Hannah and I became inseparable during our first few days in Alcoy. She was a lifesaver for me. I needed a friend that I could confide in, complain to, and a sister with whom I could laugh. She gave me all of these things and more. She didn't have to, but she came to my adult class every night and was my assistant. She also led one of my conversation groups every night. We ate together, walked together, shopped, climbed mountains, and took lots and lots and lots of pictures. In general, we were simply partners in crime. Hannah was only in Spain for the first two weeks of the month and I miss her dearly, but I am so very thankful that she has become a part of my life. Without Spain, I wouldn't have Hannah, and without Hannah, my time in Spain would not have been nearly as bright and fun.
[Quick Katie and Lisa story: The Oglesbees had a large group of us over to their apartment for tacos on tuesday night. After supper, a small group decided to hike up the nearby mountain to visit the ruins of a castle. The base of the mountain is about twenty minutes away walking, and the hike up is probably an hour. The Oglesbees live in Cocentina and this group (and I) were going to need to be taken back to Alcoy after their hike. We waited for them back at the apartment, but it was getting late and we were tired so Lisa and I took the car to the base of the mountain to wait for them in order to save time. We waited and waited at the base of the mountain and they didn't come and they didn't come. It was very dark and we were starting to get nervous that they had not yet arrived. The high beams on the car weren't working so Lisa didn't feel comfortable driving up the mountain, but we felt like we needed to start up and see if we could find them. So, we walked. It was pitch black and we were winding up this mountain path and I, nervously giggling, said: "Don't be surprised if I suddenly grab your hand, I'm kind of freaking out here." She too, nervously giggled and grabbed my hand saying: "Let's just start out this way, I'll feel better too." So Professor Oglesbee and I trekked up the mountain side hand in hand. At one point I asked what we would do if a car came (the path is very narrow) and before she could answer, headlights appeared behind us and she yanked me to the side of the path. It's a good thing we were holding hands. Calves were burning and breathing was ragged when we reached a small plateau and suddenly heard a man shout. "We are going to be ax murdered," I thought. We gripped hands tighter and Lisa began praying out loud for protection. A light appeared up ahead and she shouted, "Whitney?!" There were screams from them and from us as the group materialized in front of us. We had mutually scared the stuff right out of each other. From there we continued down the mountain together, and stilled the rampant beating of our hearts...]
Chrystal Joy Beard! This friendship was an unexpected explosion of blessing to me. She came to Spain with World Partners and I did not get to know her until this past week. This friendship came at just the right time. I was feeling low, and she encouraged me. Then she offered me her friendship and opened her heart to me. I am so humbled by her openness, trust, and her maturity and wisdom. She speaks truth to me and is always ready to encourage.
I cannot thank God enough for the blessings he has given me in the way of relationships here in Alcoy. I cannot wait to return and see my Alcoyano friends, and I am excited to continue to walk in these new friendships back home.