Packing to Study Abroad in Sevilla

kappers_packingI thought I’d take a post to talk about the things I’m glad I packed, things I regret packing, and things I wish I had packed/known when deciding how best to spend my 100 pounds. So, here it goes:

Things I’m so glad I brought: these are the things that I never thought I would need, but ended up being glad I did!

  1. My winter hat. I seriously grabbed this on my way out of the basement the day before I left. I LIVED in this hat for the first month I was here.
  2. An extension cord. Again, something I grabbed at the last minute. Makes life sooo much easier! Especially when hotels never seem to put outlets in good places.
  3. A Loofah! Ya know, the cheap kind you can get for like $0.80 at target the day before you leave because you think, “why not?”. Why is this so great? Because when you use a loofah, you get lots and lots of suds with very little soap. I’ve gone three months on a travel sized container of body soap, and I promise I’m not gross (you can ask my roommate if you want!)
  4. Beach towels. Fairly self-explanatory, but oh so useful for laying on the roof, the beach, or picnicking in the park!
  5. Personally I’m glad that I brought my own full bottles of shampoo and conditioner, but that’s only because I have a sulfate allergy and have to buy special stuff. But, for anyone else I would recommend you only bring travel sizes because things like that and toothpaste are super easy to find here. Except sunscreen actually. Sunscreen is expensive here.

Things I wish I hadn’t brought: things I thought I would need and never did.

  1. Shoes. I have at least 3 pairs of shoes that I have worn once at most the whole time I’ve been here. A lot of this is due to the fact that I walk everywhere, and a lot of shoes aren’t comfortable for walking in. Also, the streets in Seville tend to do a number on the toes of my shoes, so I avoid wearing my nice suede boots around.
  2. My Spanish dictionary/verb book/books in general. They take up tons of space, and I never touched them because nowadays we have these really cool things called Apps which do everything you could ever ask of those books and more, all on your phone. Not worth it. I’m actually leaving my dictionary here because I don’t want to take up that weight.
  3. So many sweatshirts! Seriously. I don’t have any need for FOUR sweatshirts here. Two would have sufficed. Especially because if you wear a hoodie with a big logo or writing on it here you feel like you look really American and somewhat trashy.
  4. Any clothes that I rarely wear at home but thought “oh, but I might want that at some point!” LIES. I never wanted them.
  5. Along with sweatshirts, coats. I somehow ended up with three coats of approximately the same functionality and warmth. These are really bulky, so right now they’re taking up a lot of space and weight in my suitcase that could have been used for other things.

A few other things:

  • You run out of weight long before room.
  • If you put something bright on your suitcase (like pink argyle duct-tape) your luggage is really easy to spot as soon as it comes out. If you put your name on it someone might even see it and call your name out!
  • If you ever need to buy a suitcase in Spain, go to a Chino. Actually, if you ever need to buy anything in  Spain, go to a Chino. (Chinos are stores run by Chinese immigrants, and they have everything you could ever imagine needing for very cheap)
  •  If you want a seat to yourself on the plane, spend a considerable amount of time deciding which row people are least likely to choose to sit in when choosing seats online. For me this always means towards the back, and a window seat in the middle of a large group of empty seats. I think it’s because people follow patterns, so if there are seats filling in row by row on the plane, they’re more likely to just pick the next row, which might just be yours.

Written by: Rebecca Kappers from Trinity International University, Veritas Christian Study Abroad in Sevilla, Spain, Spring 2014

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A New View of Missions!

Fincher_groupwith oceanDuring my study abroad experience with Veritas Christian Study Abroad in Sevilla Spain, I have learned a lot about long-term missions. I had never met a missionary before coming to Spain, especially not one from Europe. I also had a very inaccurate view of full-time missionaries. After meeting Lara, Jon and Sandy, and Carey and Sharon, my whole view of long term missions has been changed. In the cases of both AMAD,  TEAM, and the school with Carey and Sharon, they are working through long term goals and projects.

When I would go on my week to two week long mission trips, going door to door, painting churches, running a kid’s camp, and passing out water bottles on the streets is a good ministry. I never thought to assign other tasks to mission workers. The work of the missionaries that I have met is slow, and it requires much patience. When I came to Spain, knowing that we would be doing ministry with these missionaries, I thought that I would be doing all the things I would do on my week long mission trips with my church, just for three months. What, in fact, I did was assist them with their ministry for three months. I had to be the one to work slowly, and I was the one who required patience. When our outreach in Osuna did not work out as planned, Lara and Sandy did not blink an eye. We just ended up having a normal Saturday in Osuna. That is because their ministry is not focused and did not rely on that one park outreach that we had planned. The fact that 10 college students were walking around town passing out flyers was ministry enough. All we did that weekend as far as “service” goes was walk around town and bring attention to Lara, Sandy and Eva, who the town knows is associated with a Christian ministry. So even though our attempt at a park outreach failed, we still did what we came to do, which was to assist AMAD and bring exposure to that ministry. Another valuable thing I learned is what it really looks like to be an overseas missionary and be involved in cross cultural missions.

Paige Fincher, University of Arkansas, Spring 2014

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Finding Purpose in Paris

Some Famous Tower

Paris is the dream, so they say.  It’s a magical place of endless croissants, crêpes, and baguettes.  It’s a place where getting lost means finding my new favorite pâtisserie.  It’s a place filled with history, architecture, and museums.  It’s a place where I can now call home.

It’s also a place that, within the first week of moving here, made me feel empty.  It’s easy to fall in love with this place.  I mean, the people, food, and culture are nothing short of extraordinary.  But why am I here? Better yet, who am I here for? Every time I asked myself these questions, my answers left me dissatisfied.

I want something more than the smell of coffee and bread to wake me up in the morning.

I want purpose.  

I want to know that when I leave this place, I’m not just leaving with crêpes in my belly and artsy photos on my instagram.  I want to leave with more than what money can buy.

ESL ministry in Paris

Eight days after moving here I found my answer.  An answer that left me awed and amazed at the love and care God has for me.  An answer that gives me the privilege of teaching ESL (English as a second language) to men, women, and children from all over the world.

Community. Learning. Growth. Purpose. Jesus.

My internship with this organization gives me everything I need and want and have been lacking.  It mixes my life and my story with people with different stories and backgrounds. It gives us the opportunity to journey through our new lives in Paris together.

This is better than baguettes and coffee in the morning. This is relationships and learning and growing with the children of God.  This is purpose.

by Student at Wheaton College.

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It is Not Too Late for a Great Summer Abroad!

w.veritas-deadlines-ext-no-dateThe following Veritas Summer application deadlines have been extended to May 5, 2014:

Buenos Aires, Argentina–Summer 2
Cusco, Peru–Summer 2
Paris, France–Summer 2
Rome, Italy–Summer 2
Seoul, South Korea–Summer
Sevilla, Spain–Summer 2
Valparaiso, Chile–Summer 2

You could end up having one of the best summers of your college career!  Get some college credit, see some amazing sites, serve others in ministry, grow in your faith!

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How to Be an American Tourist

By Veritas Student Nikki M., University of Maryland, Baltimore County

empanada…in ten easy steps (Chilean edition)

  1. Always stick together. Make sure to walk in large groups. Talk, yell, joke, and laugh as loudly as you can.
  2. Take your time in hot showers every morning, and leave the lights on whenever you leave a room.
  3. Whatever you do, do not look up directions before you go out. Familiarize yourself with your flashy new iPhone 5´s map as you are walking around, and pay no attention to the surrounding crowd of people.
  4. When you finish a meal at a restaurant, take out all of your money, count it for everyone to see, motion the waiter away for twenty minutes as you calculate tips with your friends, and pay in the largest bills you have.
  5. Take pictures, SO many pictures – of the bus, of the walls, of yourself, and especially of food. You must have a photo of every meal.
  6. Forget that foreign elevators are smaller than any in the States. You can totally fit fourteen young people in a space meant for six. Just pretend not to understand when the hotel manager complains that his elevator no longer stops level to each floor.
  7. Natives have no appreciation for animals. You must show love to every stray dog you see. Scratch their flea-infested necks.
  8. Take one sip of your water and then spit it out, realizing you’ve forgotten to order water “sin gas” (it is carbonated).
  9. The exotic tan you hope to have is so worth your itching bright red, peeling skin for weeks. Ignore the advisories about the overhead hole in the ozone layer.
  10. Assume everyone knows or at least is learning English. When someone addresses you in Spanish, simply respond in English.
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Embracing Insignificance

Insignificance. It has never been my most sought after goal in life; in fact, it has never really been a goal of mine at all. Is there anything even in our human DNA that desires to spend our lives without impacting another or without being remembered for a single thing? It just never even crossed my mind that there is time to be spent even pondering such a thing as insignificance. Being in leadership last year, I almost took it for granted that people looked to me for guidance and if I didn’t do my job people would be affected by it. But where is the motivation when you could completely drop everything you are doing, never to pick it up again, and not a single soul would notice? It is rather hard to find.

Coming into this semester, I was enrolled in a mission’s program that would give me a glimpse at what a lifestyle of ministry looks like. I suppose I assumed (unconsciously) that this would involve me making a personal impact on people’s lives. Ironically, this notion of mine is usually why missionaries are unsuccessful, because it becomes too much about them and not about God’s people. However, I wasn’t at all aware of this mentality or expectation of mine until it wasn’t fulfilled.

MaddieRylieValeria_RShore

With our mission mentor Valeria!

Doing ministry with near-impossible language barrier and a predominantly male group of refugees from places where women are not equal to men made ministry rather challenging to say the least. There were weeks I would sit silently at a table of people, smiling when appropriate, but otherwise doing little. Other weeks I would spend the time cleaning or organizing with Maddi, not interacting with the refugees at all and realizing that truly anyone on earth could be washing those cups or stacking those books. My time there seemed to require no talent of mine, and quite frankly the minimal I did feel I could do would not be missed if I were gone. Just talk about feeling insignificant.

But then, as the weeks pressed on and those weeks turned into months, God revealed something precious and humbling to me. He had never sent me there to have all those lives remember who “Rylie Shore” is. He sent me there with an honor and privilege of stepping into the work he had already begun in healing and meeting the needs of His people, as he had and has continued to do in my own life. Then the little stab came as I realized I had come in thinking I had something to offer these people, completely overlooking the fact that we were all seeking the same exact things from God, whether or not they have come to know Him yet.

Embracing my insignificance in this situation, I realized my only job was to love them humbly the way Christ has revealed his love to me. As I showed them I have the same needs they have come to Soggiorno (the ministry center) for (the need to belong, the need for friendship, the need for laughter, encouragement, and joy) and live in a way that reveals to them I have had these needs met in God and His kingdom, I have found my significance in the sight of God. And interestingly enough, God has blessed me with gaining some irreplaceable friendships out of this work that is entirely His and not at all due to my own efforts. Though leaving this semester I realize some will easily come next semester to fill my shoes, this is a beautiful thing. This only means that the work we have been doing really does make people dependent on God and not at all on us, which also means He shall receive all the glory due His name in the work that is completed. Hallelujah!

Rylie Shore, Rome 2013

VforVeritas_MaddiMitchell

V is for Veritas!

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Too Kind to be a Christian…

When joining the Veritas program, I assumed that all my mission work would be clear-cut. I would go to class, I would socialize with my flatmates, and at every opportunity, I would go to my shelter and volunteer in order to spread the word of God.

Once again, I have been surprised to discover that my purpose here in England was entirely different. God, in his infinite wisdom, also has a sense of humor.

I truly believe God sent me here with a purpose so different than what I had anticipated.

The United Kingdom has a Muslim population of 1.6 million, roughly 3% of the population. In London, that number is substantially greater. During my six weeks here, I made an Egyptian friend, Mohamed, who is Muslim. After meeting Mohamed, he asked me about my tattoo. On my right wrist is the Hebrew word for biblical truth (Emet-beginning, middle and end), and behind it is a Trinity symbol (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost). When I told Moe what it was, he said, “Oh, so you’re a Christian.” I responded, “Yes! I am!” Then he shocked me by saying, “I never pictured you for a Christian. You’re too kind and loving.”

in the city

I have never led a sheltered life. Although raised in the church, I attended public school and am no stranger to non-Christians. Now that I am in college, as a Women’s and Ethnic Studies major I am often exposed to modern society’s negative views on Christians.

However, this interaction with Mohamed was the first time anyone had ever thought I was too good to be a Christian! I was shocked and hurt.

Christ called us to be more like him and to “love thy neighbor.” How evident it is that we have failed our community when people associate “Christian” with “hate.”

classic

Since our original interaction, Mohamed and I grew very close, and he has become a very dear friend to me. We would often sit in our flat over a cup of tea and Chinese takeout and discuss differences in our religions. Little did I know that his curiosity would bud into a hunger for Christ.

As our friendship grew, our discussions turned into a daily evening activity. I would boil the water, he would get the tea ready, and then we would sit down with notebooks and pick up where we left off the previous evening.

Something I was ignorant of before is that  Muslims believe in Jesus Christ as a prophet, but not as the Son of God. Mohamed slowly began to question why Christ would claim he was the way truth and the life, only to have the prophet Mohammed follow. One day, after many patient debates, Mohamed told me, “I’m so glad you just talk and listen to me. You’re the first Christian I’ve met who hasn’t tried to force your religion down my throat.”

Sometimes, I feel despair at our fellow believers in Christ. We are imperfect and sinners, and often forget to reflect God’s love.  Although I know I am often guilty of doing the same, I am relieved God protected my tongue and heart, and utilized me to reach out to Mohamed. “Thy word is a lamp into my feet and a light into my path.” Psalm 119:105.

Mohamed’s story has what I believe to be a happy ending. By the fourth week together, I was pulling out my bible, and he his own, and we compared scriptures. The week before we left, he asked if he could borrow my bible overnight. I obliged, and saw him reading it the next morning at breakfast. Finally, he asked me where he could purchase his own. I responded he could keep mine. After all, he needs it more than I do.

very london

So, needless to say, my mission trip was a success-but not at all what I pictured! I learned to be patient. I learned how to speak openly about my Savior. And, beautifully, as I spoke about my Savior, my love for him only grew. The seed has been planted in Mohamed’s heart, and I know that God will be with him every step of the way.

Kaeli K., University of Colorado, Veritas in London Summer 2013

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