Si, today is Sunday, and all that really means in Spain is that everyone is either at mass, or sleeping the day away because they were out partying the night before. My dad was nervous that I wouldn’t find an evangelical church in Malaga – but I was able to track down a few different churches to visit. My friend from college, who is also studying abroad here, Gray, went with me to experience this new church. We took the bus to a deserted area of Malaga off the highway and found the church tucked away among several auto shops. It was a cute little place, just a “store front” but it had nice sound equipment and musical instruments.
We arrived too early. It was about 11:40 and the servicio was scheduled at 12pm. We nervously walked in and stood their awkwardly unsure of what to do. A few women came up and greeted us, and I tried to understand their fast Spanish and answer their questions early. My new thing is to tell people “somos estudiantes de los estados unidos” immediately so they talk a little slower.
We met a bunch of people and I remember zero names – mostly because they said them so fast I couldn’t understand. One introduced himself, and I repeated his name back to him “Gonthaleth” (Gonzalez) I said. And then he said I was the first American who’d ever pronounced his name right. Well, thanks to Senorita Forrester’s Andalusian accent for my spanish classes – the accent was easy to pick up here since I already was used to using it! Oh, and also in Spain everyone greets each other with “dos besos” – two kisses on the cheeks. I sort of forgot about it, and then one of them asked me if I preferred not doing it – to which I replied – “ohhh… I forgot, I’m just not accustomed to it.” But it is soo foreign to me to greet someone new by KISSING THEM.
Then we sat down in the sanctuary, but only two minutes later a man came up to us and introduced himself (DOS BESOS) to us and said “no es normal.. vamos y conocer mas personas!” (This isn’t normal, come and meet more people) So we awkwardly met some more people until we finally saw other people sitting down and we picked our seats.
And then in typical spanish fashion – the service started at 12:15. It was wonderful – the singing was great – spanish choruses are my favorite. However, during the introduction to the service, they decided to introduce the new students studying abroad – there were 4 of us – but I didn’t realize it because they speak so fast – until i was being nudged to stand up! Oops.
The sermon was on some of my favorite verses – Colossians 3:1-4 – so that was helpful considering I barely caught anything the pastor said. Gray got a lot more than me, and he didn’t mention any demon worship, so I’m pretty sure we’re good. ;) And then we had communion – which I think they were rationing the grape juice because so many people were there – so they asked that married couples to share one. And then they handed only one to me and Gray. I mean, I’m fine with sharing, and I don’t have germs, but I was so confused. But then they had extra and gave me my own, which was nice.
So after the service ended, we left to try at catch the bus. However, this is a rather remote area, so the bus doesn’t come quite as often as in town. Soooo we were stuck there for about 15 minutes waiting. However, this was clearly an act of God since two other students needed to take the same bus back into town. One was a girl from Brazil who had been studying here for the past few months, and the boy – well, I missed what he said about himself. But then we talked to them a little on the bus, and she and I got off at the same stop. And we exchanged numbers and both found that we were looking for the same thing – Christian friends in Malaga. I’m so excited to see God’s constant provision for me.
To end, Ryan and I went out exploring in Malaga around us a bit after lunch – here are a few snapshots of how absolutely gorgeous Malaga is, and how much I love southern Spain. Now if only it would be above 60 degrees…