Call Centres (part 1)

29 06 2010

When the phone rings and you hear a sales person on the other end, your immediate reaction? Mine is to hang up. Only I can only actually do that if there is an automated voice on the other side. Othrwise I have to make polite apolgies to release myself from their grip.

That was until  came to Spain. Now those irritation and invasive calls have become an opportunity to speak Spanish. I have to ty not to feel ashamed or guilty about the number of times I have to ask people to repeat things but sometimes an unexpected side benefit s that you get offered a better deal…


26 06 2010

I’m seriously  Daddy’s girl. I was walking home from college the other day and realised that I was giggling outloud because I had wandered in my mid to the 18th of August and the arrivals lounge at Barajas, Madrid – where my Dad will arrive (carrying 7kilos of his belongings and a good 23 of mine).

My Dad is as fit as an ox – and he’s not afraid of letting me know that on occasion. He runs almost an hour daily, rides his bike and eats splendidly healthily. And if you get him started on the topic, he’ll give you the details and a quick tour through his book of stretches. So being hospitalised for chest pain was totally unexpected.

As it turned out – it is probably more to do with the fact that he likes to stress himself silly and work himself to the bone. I‘ll be a lot happy when we have some weeks in August to travel together and see some more of Spain – and mostly, to relax.

Living away from family is so much easier with the advantages of technology, Skype, email and even Facebook where I regularly find new photos of my gorgeous nephews. But there are always those things that remind me how far away I am, and how long it would take to be by their side if something happened.

Kids Camp at the Buen Samaritano

25 06 2010

“The Good Samaritan” was legally established in 1993, to, to assist those affected by drug dependencies, and educate around prevention. The centre itself is n Pozoblanco and is run by a German couple with ECM. As people are involved with the centre, relationships develop with their families, providing great opportunities to speak into their lives. For more info you can check out One of the ways that occurs is through the camps.

The centre is on an olive farm and there are some great open spaces. The kids sleep in tents (although I pulled the lucky straw and spent the weekend in one of the rooms with Nomes. The theme of the camp was the Lord’s Prayer with our own version of the song. 25 kids came along from years old up to 12 and the 7 of us as leaders, with the current residents as the friendly hosts.

Initially I’d been quite reluctant to lead because of the level of language necessary to understand a bunch of little, high-pitched pueblo Spanish accents. When you’re in the middle of a wide game and holding down your teams base and the other team comes screaming across the field yelling at your team – it’s pretty hard to find the vocabulary to defuse the situation before it becomes a full-blown fight. Not to mention trying to tell a 7-year-old boy after he’s tried to say something five times to you that you have no confidence you’ll ever understand no matter how patient he is so it’s better that he just goes and talk to someone else 😛

The theme was the Lord’s prayer and with almost no preparation, no idea even of the words of the prayer in Spanish and 3 x1 hour blocks to fill without any prepared material, it was really sink or swim. God is really gracious and I managed to stumble my way through sharing a fair bit – and what the kids don’t get God will fill in later 🙂

Sunday morning all the parents and the local church came to share the meeting at the camp. So each small group prepared a station for the different parts of the Lord’s prayer. We scored ‘Give us today our daily bread’ so w decided to give each person some biscuits (in lieu of bread) and some of the word of God (since we don’t live by bread alone) and each person contributed to our poster of the things God provides for us. So I brought a whole bunch of scriptures from my word-a-day rip off calendar, and we got the kids to read through a whole bunch of verses and pick out the ones they liked to give to the people who came to the station. I didn’t look over the before we put them in the box and so we ended up giving away some random verses – but I caught this one before it got through… “En mi cama, por las noches, busqué al amor de mi vida. Lo busqué y no lo encontré.” From song of Songs 3:1

At the end – I’m convinced that there is nothing like pegging a ball at kids flying down a water slide or singing along to a guitar, ‘My God is so Big’, and just hanging out with Kids while getting the chance to share a bit of who God is…

Photos by Naomi Brown

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El Mundial begins

15 06 2010

World Cup is a great time to be in Spain (and not such a great time to convert everyone into making Australia their second team given our appalling 4-0 loss.

I thought I’d end up watching the game alone because I don’t know any other Aussies in the province and even my German friends live over an hour away (menos mal because it would have been a shocker watching it with them). My only hope was a German Shepherd that lives down the road…

But my faithful friends changed their movie plans, pasted Aussie flag stickers on their faces and shared my Fantales to celebrate the Aussies. Despite being a shameful display – I had fun and was really chuffed that they were all up for watching my game with me, feeling totally loved even as we got thrashed…

The next game is when I’m at a wedding – I’m trying to work out how you can do elegant evening in Green and Gold…

Clash of the Glasses

10 06 2010

When you meet someone here you give them ‘besos’ two check to cheek kisses, left then right. That’s everyone for me, (but don’t worry guys you can shake hands with other blokes or give a hug) That can be fuzzy, and you get lip action on your cheek. The more clumsy of us come sometimes manage to clip a nose on the cross over. But my struggle with besos has been my glasses. Normally, this is a side clipping problem, but today I got caught out with a full frontal clip.

I’m all but about to get contacts just to avoid these problems!


2 06 2010

Feria is the biggest thing that happens in Córdoba. Over the week, a temporary city appears by the river of hundreds casetas (decorated marquee tents). Next to the casetas is a village of rides on the Calle del Inferno. Inside the casetas, people dance Sevillas, drink wine eat tapas and have fun till the next morning everyday!

The feria takes place in a temporary village purpose-built with wide dusty streets for people to wander and those in carriages. Some casetas are even built with concrete and at the end of Feria people have removed them to construct houses with parts of the caseta forming walls! Above the people strings of Faroles span the streets and light up at night. If it rains during Feria, all the Faroles are replaced – no Feria without Faroles!

The women dress in their traditional dress, girls in identical to their Mums and boys in their little overalls and suspenders. There are frills an flowers everywhere. I hit the Feria twice. The first time we went with all the crew. We met for lunch, putting in for a huge spread which we shared and spending the afternoon watching and attempting to dance Sevillanas. We hit the Cuban tent for a change of pace – where our Latin crew went of like a frog in a sock – and snaps to the Córdobese, Marcos, who has rhythm in todas partes!

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Wandering from caseta to caseta we found all kinds of music and dancing. The Casetas are like little temporary bars – each with their own ambiance. In some we found traditional flamenco, in others, Abba – something for everyone. For a perfect end to the night, we stopped for waffles and syrup to close the 9-hour marathon – only we didn’t stop there. We ended up heading to a local bar for a hamburger, which I swear, was a foot in diameter.

Sitting eating our hamburger we some saw a bit of the darker side of the Feria, drunk families staggering home, fighting in the street, broken bottles and kids crying while they watched their mum pummel an aunt or sister-in-law, the blokes thrashing it out on the street stopping traffic. Not the best end to the night – but you get to see all sides 😛

The next day we returned with the language school – last year they had a group of about 20 who went along, however this year we re light on students so it was just the four of us – two students and two teachers, and another couple later in the day. When the casetas want to attract people, they give you a free drink. I guess the idea is that you then stay on for a second or third, but we managed to hop our way around the Feria getting free drinks and discounts. Meaning you, that meant we ended up in some pretty random casetas – like that of the chaos/antiauthoritarian casetta…

Then the guys from Peñarroya arrived and we hit the rides. I looked for the biggest, ugliest ride and we fixed on the ‘’ – which was worth the pain! Spinning jerking and flying through the air I found Minnie Mouse – I think she was two streets away but it could have been on a cloud and it was all I could do to catch her every time we spun around. I had my hands on my glasses the whole time guarding them. Unfortunately I didn’t have quite enough hands to catch my earrings and when we got off I was minus one – half of which I found two streets away…

Collecting and losing friends along the way,  I found myself in a group of Uni students in a tent way too loud and too much like lost nights of my teens. So I went for a wonder and found more friends who I joined on the Kangaroo – another whirling twirling jerking piece of fun – and this time I ditched anything that flies and falls. After a concert and a bunch of comedians I joined the young ones for some churros before we headed to the car to end the night. I was so ready after 12 hours to go home (around 2) but our driver was metres from the house when a friend buzzed and he went back for another 3 hours…

To Feria or Not to Feria

1 06 2010

I’ve been told on several occasions that people from my church don’t go to Feria. On occasion that’s been from people outside, and sometimes from with. Since it’s one of the biggest events of the year and also a window into culture here – I was keen to go and experience it. But I wanted to now what would be read into that, how to talk about it with people at church…

I assumed the reason for not being involved was because people drink a lot, dance the night away and come home only fit to rise late and do it all again.  But that’s not it. The fiesta is in honour of the virgin…  So rather than be involved in something that is in honour of the virgin – they abstain. Missing Feria is a really big deal. It’s the highlight of the year, it’s a party that closes the city. To be Córdobese is to go to Feria (and to have a fairly average local futbol team, and a small case of little brother defiance towards Sevilla).

So whether or not I follow that logic – and I think there are some good questions to be asked about how the people of Córdoba today understand the purpose.

While I have friends in oriental cultures dealing with animistic rituals or in Muslim cultures working out respectful bridges for the people – the questions I face are usually: to party or not to party…

Imagine if you were holding front row seats at the final of the rugby world cup or the soccer in South Africa this year; and someone told you that the match would begin with worshipping the God of football (although some would say that’s pretty much exactly what’s happening:). Would you be willing to forgo the tickets?

My question isn’t whether you agree it’s necessary, but would you be willing to not do it.

If your favourite band was playing but the concert was in honour of Mother Earth, to show appreciation for her provision, would you be willing to miss it? I think my lack of willingness would probably send me looking for a different course of action… I wonder how often I start with what I want to do, and skim for logic to allow it.

That’s the kind of fervour the church in Spain has here for holiness.

For sure, I keep coming back to a recurring issue, which is that questions need to be asked about what ‘holiness’ looks like… but that aside, you gotta love their passion, and commitment to throwing off everything that entangles.

I’ve been reading Leviticus and clean and unclean lately an it seems a whole lot of palaver to me but maybe in part that is because I’m so used to seeing the distance between me and that way of life, the incredible chasm between the Old and New Covenant. But the bridge is the incredible Holiness of God – and for that reason the gap between our lives and the lives of those of the world ought to be so much more striking!