Happy Valentine’s Day!

My heart is so full today and I just have to take a moment to write and share with each of you some of the small things that have made this week a lot of fun!

Last night Charo (my Senora) invited us to join her for the Ash Wednesday mass at her church. Courtney and I went with her in the evening and it was so neat to experience the beginnings of the Easter celebration here in Sevilla. I am happy to share that Courtney and I both understood a lot more of the service than the last one that we were at! After mass (and having a smudge of ash on my forehead… also a new experience!) Charo introduced us to some of her friends that live in the same apartment complex as us. They asked us what our names were, and after many tries they finally came close to saying “Gretchen.” While this was happening, Charo mentioned that she has no idea how to say our names. No wonder she has been calling us chicas for the last month! Courtney and I happily told her that she can call us by different names that are much easier for her to pronounce. It took me all of about two seconds to tell her that she is more than welcome to call me Marcela. For the last 24 hours I have been happily responding to “Marcela” when we are home 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Marcela is the name of my friend, mentor and “second Mom.” In fact, she is one of the biggest reasons that I am here! Over the last ten years Marcela and her husband Duane have played a huge role in helping me become the person that I am today. Their friendship has been such a blessing for my entire family and it is truly an honor to be able to use her name for the next few months during my time here. In April I get to meet her family for the very first time and spend a week with them in the Galicia region of Spain. I can’t wait!!!

Today Courtney and I decided to surprise Charo for Valentine’s Day by buying her a small cake for dinner. Charo is a widow of three years and constantly talks about how in love she was with her husband. I hope that I can have the kind of love that Charo had with her husband someday in my own marriage. While we were buying the cake, we ran in to one of Charo’s close friends and we told her about the small surprise we were planning. She told us how Charo talks about us as though we were her own daughters and how happy she is to have us in her home. What a blessing!! Charo was so surprised and gave us each a big hug. We enjoyed the cake with dinner and we laughed so hard that my stomach hurt afterwards. It is so rewarding to be able to communicate with Charo in Spanish and be at a place where we can all understand each other and laugh until we cry. I love it here!

I am off to have un cafe con leche (coffee with milk) with my wonderful friend Meryl. Tonight we are working on plans for our first Bible Study and hoping to start next week! Please pray that God can work in amazing ways through this group. I am excited to see what He has in store!

Love to you all!! 🙂


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