Hope in the midst of it all

Since returning from Basque Country I’ve had many people ask me what I thought of it, how the trip was, my favorite things… all kinds of questions!

Here are some thoughts from the trip.
Our God is bigger than any strongholds that we may see or face. I know that there are some serious strongholds on the Basque people. The only that keep coming back to is pride. The interesting thing is that they have a lot to be proud of. They are very affluent. They have relationships that go deeper than most Christians that I know. They have held onto their land even though they aren’t their own nation. That being said, they are a proud people that don’t see their need for God at all. Often scoffing when God is mentioned.

The land is gorgeous and believe me, we saw tons of it! Looking at a map now, we covered the region pretty well, I know that there is a lot to still see, but we got a very thorough taste of Basque culture and the land. We saw some of the places that will hopefully be the home of future outposts for Summer in the USA.

Relationships are important on a peer level. They each join a “quadria” when they are young child (8-10 yrs) and stay with their quadria into their adult years. This a tightly knit group of friends that spend most evenings together. They go to dinner, hang out at the beach, go to festivals and even on vacation together. You’ll see a group of 10, 12 year olds walking around the city together to get dinner and just spend time together. These are their closest friends that they tell everything to. They are all female or all male, no co-ed groups. These were very interesting and I see how they are a support system for each other. With this, they also don’t show the importance of family relationships. The families aren’t as strong and many would think. Yes, many generations are living near by, but that’s not who they spend their time with.
Also, you rarely see someone in a coffee shop alone, everyone seems to be in conversation. You also don’t see people sitting together doing their own thing. They communicate with each other lots!

These are some of the main things that I have taken away after being in Basque country. Most of all, I want to communicate that there is so much hope for these people. We serve a big God that knows them each by name and loves each of them dearly. Please be praying for the families that are over there full-time. They need our support to know that they aren’t alone.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this trip even attainable by your prayers and support. You now have an inheritance in the Basque people. Feel free to ask any questions and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Much love,
Natalie

It’s all a process

Over the last week I’ve done a lot of thinking…

I’ve found that it was such a great privilege to go on this trip to Basque Country, to experience what God’s heart feels like for those that are so lost. It was also such an amazing reminder of that spark that has been lit in my heart for missions. This was the first time I’ve left the country since coming home from my YWAM experience 3 years ago. It’s hard to believe that it has been that long! I’m one of those people that leaves a little bit of my heart wherever I go. I haven’t decided yet if that’s a good thing or not… I’m pretty sure it is, but it hurts just a little each time.

So, I come home a little heart broken… but with a new flame in my heart.

I find it really curious how God has me here. I think I could pack up and leave at a moments notice (don’t tell my mom). I always feel so at home everywhere I go, I doesn’t matter what the conditions are, God has given me this gift of being able to be comfortable wherever He sends me. I’m pretty sure this trip came at just the right time, it was a fresh wind on that spark that hit my heart 3 years ago, but it also reminds me of the mission that I have here at home. God knows that I’m willing to go anywhere, but I also have to be obedient to stay right where he has me. I have my moments of frustration of still living in Poulsbo, being at my parent’s house, working a desk job. Then, I’m reminded of the hurt and pain that is all around me. The pleasure of being able to have my parents as friends and the impact that my job makes for the Kingdom. I know that by the standards of the world, I’m nowhere. That doesn’t really matter to me though; I’m right where God wants me to be. That’s the best place for anyone.

So, I come to these questions of wondering what else I can do right here? How can I be fully engaged right where He has me?

I’ll admit it, it has been a rough week for me, just ask my parents. Feelings of wanting to be somewhere else, but knowing this is where I should be. This also reminds me of some of the action steps that I can keep taking while God has me here. I must keep going to school, I want to be prepared for whatever He has for me in the future. I constantly have to stay humble, but I know it’s good for me. I need to find a balance of humility and confidence in what God is doing in my life. This is just a chapter and I’ll keep trusting my maker to move me in the right direction that glorifies Him.

I’ll post more on the observations that I have from the trip in the coming days, this was just a little bit that I needed to get out there.

Maybe now Mom will know that I’ll be okay!

Basque country Sunday – Thursday

Sunday: another early morning starting with our team meeting. I don’t think it would be too bad except for the fact that we stay out so late at night. We have American morning getting up and being ready to go by 8am then European evening where we don’t eat dinner until about 9 or 10 pm and often that’s when we start eating. It is also very European to stay at a meal for a couple of hours! We usually make it to bed between midnight and 2am…

Anyways… ON Sunday we went to church at a Spanish church, it was pretty cool that I was able to follow along some and understand what was being talked about. Alt ought the service was 2.5 hours long in a very sweaty room. After church we went out and grabbed Chinese for lunch, kinda odd, but I guess it works! We also heard from some other field workers that have partnered with Summer in the USA (SUSA). They shared about how they are working to reach out around here in different ways.Then Sunday evening Tom, Dave and I went over to the Baker’s apartment and had dinner with the family, we played games and watched some YouTube videos… Real spiritual, right? Haha, it was such a great time to hear about their experiences so far. And now that we’ve seen the culture we were able to ask questions about how things will work with their family and being in this culture. It was such a blessing to spend some one on one time with them!

Monday: we had a pretty laid back day on Monday. We were given the task to. Go out in the city and observe the people. It was a great time to spend praying for the. And watching them. I felt that the best place to do all of this watching would naturally be the beach 🙂 the weather had cleared up for the afternoon and it was great to be at the beach when it wasn’t too full.
That evening we headed to a house of one of Bill’s former basque students and he prepared a great dinner for us in Orio. We ate BBQ chicken, chorrizo, salad, pork ribs, and lots more. We all sat around and ate lots of food and laughed a lot together.

Tuesday: We headed up to the mountains again on Tuesday, and we saw and old monastery up there in Arantzazu. It was build into the mountain side so there is a ton of chiseled rock all over the place, it was quite beautiful up there and the drive going up was amazing! I’ve been taking tons of photos of the trip to share with everyone. The few I’ve posted here are just teasers. Every time I turn a corner, there is something beautiful to get a shot of.
We then headed down to a town called Elorrio and met some more believers, they showed us around the town. This is a day where pictures really have to explain it all!

Wednesday: We were able to go to the Baker’s new house that they just rented, we helped them get most of the bedrooms painted for a couple hours in the morning. We also helped put together some of their new furniture, they really do a lot of ikea shopping here. That’s where all of their stuff came from! We then went and met with the pastor of the Spanish church that we attended, he shared his story with us and his heart for the Basque people. His church right now is mainly full of Latin American immigrants, but he is basque and would like to reach them. We then went back over to the Baker’s house and helped them some more. Then that evening we had a reunion with some of the students that came to the US this summer. I handed out raffle tickets for everyone to win a basket full of American goodies.
Afterward we went to Gateria and we were served dinner by a Chilean couple. It was totally seafood… Squid in it’s ink, crab dip, hake fish, tuna fish, peppers stuffed with a cod paste type thing, salad and bread. It was a full meal with lots of new tastes, I was good and tried it all!

Thursday: I finally got to accomplish one of my life goals! I got to go surfing! I went to Zarautz where Johnny taught myself, Daniel, Chase and Andrew how to surf. It was such hard work, but so much fun! I didn’t quite make it to my feet, but I did make it to my knees, which was pretty exciting for me!

Then we rode the bus back to Donostia (San Sebastian) and finally got into my apartment and showered. We then had another reunion in a city about an hour away in Bergata. It was pretty uneventful, but that might have to do with how tired I am after using all of my energy at the beach.

Tomorrow morning I’m hopping on a plane and headed home, I’m sure I’ll have more to say after the tiredness wears off, see you soon!

20110908-021552.jpgsome time at the beach

20110908-021708.jpgmonastery built into the mountain

20110908-021752.jpgmonastery from the other side

20110908-021849.jpgeating grapes from the vine in Elorrio

20110908-021959.jpg Painting and building a the Baker’s

20110908-022115.jpgGateria at night

20110908-022236.jpg Ocean at Gateria

Basque Country and France too!

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The view of the downtown area of San Sebastian, Beautiful!

I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing this trip has been so far. I love the team relationships that i’ve been building. It has been great getting to know some of the other people that have been doing ministry with us while we are here. Right now I’m in a house with 4 guys and myself. Tom and Dave then also Daniel and Curtis who work with coffee oasis in Bremerton. Amazing ministry, I’m excited to see what they end up doing over here to further the kingdom.

I’m sure your curious as to what we have been up to… So far,we have really been trying to understand the culture to gain insight as to how we might better reach this people group. Slot of that probably looks different than most trips that people have been on. Defy morning we start out with a time of devotions, worship and prayer. Spending time as a team and hear how God is speaking to each of us has been key and has also opened up into some great discussions of strategy and insight.

On Friday we spent some time with Jeff S who lives here full time with his family. He has been working with the Basque for many years and has done a lot of research into the people and where they have come from. He also shared with us about some ways that it may be possible to break down the walls that are currently shielding the Basque from the truth. When it really ones down to it, it’s going to require the penetration of the holy spirit for break through to happen. We also did a tour of the coffee shops around town, this was helpful for the team from coffee oasis in order to let them get a feel for how coffee is currently being done and how they might be effective here, the rest of us just enjoyed the coffee!

Later in the afternoon we also spent some time with a former student who is Basque and got to ask him questions that have been on our minds about how the Basque think and work and try to understand them more from an insiders perspective. Jon was very gracious in answering our questions. Then he took us out that evening for Pinchos (Basque appetizers) at all of the local hangouts. They do thing totally different. We ended up just hanging outside each joint talking and getting to know each other. This was also a great time to catch up with Nancy and and hear about their first month here and how it is going for them. Most of the full time missionaries were able to come along with us. We would stand outside and Jon and one other person would go inside and get us food and drink and then we would just hangout in the street outside and eat and drink. Then you just throw your trash on the floor and they sweep it all up later… So weird! It was a great night and so fun, we ended the evening at about midnight with gelato!

Then on Saturday we had another great adventure. Most of us piled into the van that we have rented and headed toward France. Bill, Tom ,Dave, Dave, Cindy, Jeff (not the missionary), Daniel, Curtis and I headed out for the day.
We drove to Biarritz, met up with some of my YWAM friends there, we had coffee and crepes. Tom got to help make a crepe on a sidewalk stand. It was a beautiful in france, even though the rain was falling at monsoon rate! It was great to see a couple of friends that i haven’t seen in about 3 years and catch up with them to hear about the new base they are starting there.
After Biarritz we saw that the traffic on the highway was totally really backed up so we decided to take the back roads toward St Jean pied de por, talk about some beautiful country side with some old houses and farms. Also, lots of roads that make you carsick! We went and saw the city and did a little bit of shopping. This is one of the cities that SUSA hopes to open an outpost in to help bring more students to the US. We then continued up into the great Pyrenees mountains. We, of course, had to stop and buy a baguette while we were in France, Curtis was able to make friends with the shop owner and have his picture taken with her. As we made our way over the mountains we saw lots of beautiful scenery, sheep just roaming the hillsides. We then made it back into Spain, where we went to Elizondo to see one of Bill’s students that he has had in the US multiple times. She showed us around her village of about 4000 people. We had pinchos and drinks in the center of town then made it to their famous chocolate shop, and everyone picked up some. We were all teasing Curtis because he always seemed to be picking up girls. We finally started headed home and arrived around 9:30, when we finally sat down for some dinner. What a fantastic day to see where this ministry may grow to reach more basque people.

That has been the last couple of jam packed days that we have had. I’ve had no trouble sleeping at night with all the walking and busy schedule that we’e been keeping. Thanks for your onto Jed prayers. Each of you have sown into this people group and now have played a part in seeing them come to know the truth of the gospel. Thank You! Now for some pictures…

20110904-074919.jpg checking out one of the cool coffee shops. This is Sauna, Chase, Jeff and a few others.

20110904-075040.jpg St Jean Pied de Port

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<a St Jean Pied de Port

20110904-075423.jpgCurtis, Bill and Daniel

20110904-075511.jpgmore of the same city, it was beautiful!

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20110904-075649.jpg At the border of France and Spain, at the top of the great Pyrenees

20110904-075758.jpgElizondo, I just love the buildings!

20110904-075846.jpgElizondo

20110904-075915.jpgElizondo

20110904-075954.jpgmy first real crepe

20110904-080028.jpgour baguette stop in France

20110904-080128.jpg some of the French country side

20110904-080205.jpg cafe con leche

20110904-080852.jpgcoming down the mountain in Spain

Wednesday/Thursday August 31-Sept 1

What a long day it has been so far! We left Seattle at about 2pm PDT and arrived in Paris at 8am Paris time, then we caught our connection to Bilbao, Spain. So we arrived on Thursday around noon here. We took a title bit of time to get to our flat where we’re staying and then took showers and what not. We then headed out to see the city for the afternoon/evening while waiting for our trip leader to arrive. He was supposed to get here a couple of days ago but was delayed because of hurricane Irene.
We Grabbed lunch at an outdoor cafe, then went and walked around the old part of San Sebastian near where we are staying. After lunch we got some amazing iced coffee, then roamed the streets with our tour guide Chris P. Who lives here and works with the Summer in the USA program full time. He and his wife are from the West coast and come to Poulsbo as home usually. an amazing family that has been living here for about 2 1/2 years.
We got to see a catholic church and also dropped in on one of the traditional basque games that is played, pelota, pretty cool stuff. After that we headed toward the beach to see the regatta time trials, there wasn’t mug to see today, but we’ll catch the finals on Sunday.
It has been quite the full couple of days without any rest. I think i’ve been awake for about 30 hours straight, so I should sleep well tonight! That’s about all for now, I’ll update more soon!


this is from off our balcony, the water just out there where it is over-exposed
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cafe!
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Old catholic church20110901-112514.jpg


Pelota20110901-112524.jpg


Old bull fighting ring20110901-112533.jpg


The beach!20110901-112541.jpg


Regatta races20110901-112548.jpg