Thursday, January 31, 2008

We talked to someone recently who had visited Spain in the past. Their impression of Spanish food was summed up in four things: bread, tomatoes, ham and olive oil. Although that’s not all they eat, it was certainly an interesting observation. There’s always a big rack of hams at the grocery store. There are also shelves and shelves of olive oil. One of the favorite ways to use tomatoes is to peel them, grate them, and spread the “sauce” on toasted “French” bread covered in oil. And bread – well, when we walk into the bakery, the girl there almost automatically reaches for a “bar” of bread. And everyone heads for the bakery right before lunch every day. There are, of course, all kinds of other foods, but if you don’t like one of the above-mentioned ones, you might have a hard time when you visit.

Olive harvest is almost over. John went out one Saturday to help a friend “harvest” black – ripe - olives. (And did you know that green olives are really black olives that haven’t ripened yet? And that the little red thing inside isn’t really part of the olive? You can buy olives with anchovies, pimento, cheese or even jalapeño in them – yum!) anyway, big canvas-like nets are spread under the trees, and then the workers either beat the tree with light rods, or use some kind of vibrator to shake the olives loose. After about 15 trees, the olives are all scooped into a light utility trailer (if you aren’t a big-time producer) and taken off to the “Co-op” where they are cleaned, washed, weighed, analyzed for oil content, and processed right then. The farmer then gets credit for so many pounds (kilos) of oil. After a whole day of beating olives, the neck and shoulders can sure hurt!

Over Thanksgiving we went to an “English camp,” put on by a different mission. The greatest part was the one-on-one conversation time. John learned all about the political structure of Spain (not ALL ABOUT, just enough to understand the elections coming up this March, 2008)

Jan had a chance to learn about all the great vacation spots in and around Spain. (not ALL, just enough to wish we were going somewhere!) We hope to offer some kind of English camp like this in Baeza in the future.

Over Christmas we had a visitor – a future colleague! Krista spent about two weeks with us, got to know the church folks, and got a better idea what to expect. She’ll be back in the summer for a one-year internship. As it turns out, she’s also going to have a companion here for the whole year! We’re also expecting a short-term intern this summer. Jan and Krista posed in front of our favorite sidewalk café where we’ve spent many a summer evening watching the town go by. We see the hosting of interns as a key ministry – whether from North America, or Central America. Christmas dinner lasted two days (we prepared two different dinners for two consecutive days), and had people from Venezuela, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Spain, and the USA, of course. Good thing we found two small turkeys!

We’re also beginning to branch out a bit, as time permits. We visited Tomelloso one Sunday to help in a church, with Angel and
Raquel, missionaries from Mexico and Spain who met at the Rio Grande Bible Institute. Issac and Lidia are also missionaries who will be moving to a town about 10 miles from Ubeda (Sabiote). We hope to be an encouragement for them, too. Our friends who commented on the dietary practices also commented on the spiritual conditions they found. Their observation? This is a very Godless country. By the way, who has a higher per cent of believers – Japan, Thailand or Spain?

Thank you, Krista, for the photos!