Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thankful Part 2

Once again, I forgot to end my last post with something I'm thankful for. It seems this is becoming a habit. Anyway, today I'm thankful for...well, honestly, it's a bit hard to think of something, so I'll have to get back to you. I guess I could say something like, I'm thankful for my iPod because it facilitates one of my favorite activites, listening to music. Or something about getting better at Spanish, which I am thankful for, but that string has already been plucked. Maybe I should just be thankful that this blog has forced me to evaluate my life and work hard to think of all the meaningful ways that God has blessed me. I'll think about it before going to bed early tonight.

Reefer Madness!

So, here are the plain facts. A good percentage of Holland is currently studying Spanish at my language school. In Fact, half of my class are Dutch girls. And they speak English very well. But what if I didn't speak English? What would it feel like if this common language were taken away? Such is the position of the Italian guy in class. He is there to learn Spanish and doesn't speak English, so not many people talk with him during the breaks. So I took it upon myself to speak with him, and apparently he has taken a liking to me.

Yesterday, when I left my keys, wallet, mobile phone, and money locked in my apartment, he offered to buy me a pastry at a bakery down the street. I enjoyed speaking with him about music, Italy, the mafia, and food, even though it was all in broken Spanish. Today, I returned the favor, and after finishing my Berliner, he asked me an interesting question. "Do you enjoy smoking?" You have to be careful answering questions like this in Spain, because you may end up communicating something false. I quickly assessed the situation. I never see him smoking with the other students during breaks, but he mentioned in class that he doesn't ever get drunk. So, I offered a safe reply, "sometimes, I like to smoke a pipe with my friends." His response, "I like to smoke marijuana."

Add it to the lists of firsts here in Spain. First place I've visited outside of Texas where a mullet was socially acceptable, first time eating churros con chocolate, first Dutch friend, and first implicit invite to take part in illegal activities. What's next, driving a scooter? Hopefully not. I hate scooters.

By the way, I turned down the invitiation and now have one more reason to learn this language--to turn down drugs.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


So, I just realized that my last two posts were lacking in the thankfulness department. Remember when I promised to end every post with some form of thanksgiving? No? Oh, that's right, you don't care. Just kidding, I know you do. Right?

Anyway, today I'm thankful for my new cajón. For those of you who don't know what that is, it's basically a wooden box that you sit on and play like a djembe. For those of you who don't know what a djembe is, it's a drum you play with your hands. So, a cajón is a wooden box that you play with your hands. It's one of the coolest percussion instruments I've ever heard, and I pretty much suck at it right now, but hopefully I'll improve to "kind of doesn't suck."

Also, I'm thankful for the care package I received in the mail yesterday. Not only did I learn how to pick up a package from the Post Office, but the package I picked up contained Easter candy! For those of you who have never eaten Cadbury Mini-Eggs, you don't know what you're missing. Although, if you haven't tried them, I'm assuming that it is because you are dead, probably the result of a very good personal choice (read my Fashion Faux Pas post about choosing death over a Mullet).

My thanks for this post would have to be the time I've spent hanging out with people from school these past few days, and the fact that my singing voice, not that it was ever anything spectacular, is coming back. Oh yeah, and I found out that a café here has an Open Mic night every Tuesday. We'll see how that goes.

Monday, April 16, 2007


Six weeks down. It's amazing how the time flies. It's also amazing how tired you can get from doing nothing. For example, today, I woke up tired, went to class and then came home for lunch. After lunch, I started to do my homework and study...and fell asleep. Right now, I just returned from a meeting and I'm getting ready to study some more...and probably fall asleep.

Why am I so tired? I haven't been running, playing volleyball, or any of the other things I used to do to stay active. Personally, I think it is just from living in a strange place and constantly listening to a strange language. Strange, huh? Well, unfortunately I'm not a master at Spanish yet, but I've had some great conversations with some of my classmates in English. They are very European in their views of religion and Christianity, and find it a bit odd that I am so young and still go to church, read the Bible, and pray. No young people do that here, so I feel like a hamster in one of those clear exercise balls--everybody's watching to see what I'll do and where I'll go. Anyway, it has made for some very thought provoking discussions.

Also, the weather has warmed up a bit, which has made playing the guitar a bit easier, and thus restored one of my favorite relaxation tools. And, I bought a cajon this week. It has to be one of the coolest things ever. Now, I just need to learn how to play it. It is becoming increasingly hard to concentrate, so I'm ending abruptly.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Ben Brown went to the aquarium...

Last night I had a great conversation with some friends back home, and it was just what I needed. There is something comforting about talking to the people who are closest to you. I can't explain it, there just is. They speak to your heart without saying a word. Just knowing that they are on the other end allows you to picture yourself sitting at the table with them again. It also helps when one of those people has been through the same feelings and trials that you are currently facing. I've been a bit homesick this past few days, and frustrated with my Spanish, mostly because my roommates are gone and I didn't have school, so I called Jeff and Sheila.

Naturally, I had grand plans of studying my brains out this weekend, going back to school on Monday with everything nailed down, and being able to converse with people all of a sudden. With season one of Alias and House behind me, not to mention a few trips to eat shawarma, here I sit, with almost no studying done, lonely, and still a little homesick. But while I'm lonely, I don't want to be around the people here in Granada, I want to be with all my friends back in Wyoming, Louisville, and North Carolina. This morning after church, when everyone stood up and started talking, I just had to go outside. I was overwhelmed by all the voices, and not being able to communicate, so I stood outside. I stood there with all these people readily accessible, but I felt lonely. I walked part of the way home with a friend, but just wanted to be alone, because I'm the only person I really know here. I'm longing for the familiar. When I brush my teeth I picture my bathroom at home, where everything is, what the faucet and water felt like, the lighting, the floor. I miss it all.

But God hasn't called us to the familiar. He has called us to acknowledge that we are strangers and exiles on the earth (Heb 11:13). "For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city." (Hebrews 11:14-16)

God has been teaching me this for a long time, but I'm stubborn. And I expect He will continue to teach it to me the rest of my life, because I'm stubborn. His call for us to be sojourners isn't an external one. It's internal, and that is difficult. Moving across the world is easy, but letting God be your all in all--not your family, friends, stuff, and location--that is hard. Especially when all of those things are at your disposal. I pray that God would peel my clenched fingers away from all these things so that I can see them the way they deserve to be seen, through the lens of God's love, not my comfort. So I can touch them with God's hands, not selfishly with my own. In the end, it will bring God, others, and me, so much more joy.

Yes, I'm stubborn. But thank God that I'm loved.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Fashion Faux Pas

I haven't posted for awhile, so here is a list of some things I have learned here in Granada. The subject--fashion.

First, I have never seen so many mullets before in my life. Everyday, I step out of my apartment and into a Billy Ray Cyrus video. Lesson #1: NEVER HAVE A MULLET FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER. This rules out the mini-mullet, the dreadlock mullet, the mullet hawk (mohawk mullet combo), the she-mullet, all of them. Given the choice between death and getting a mullet, always choose death.

Second, girls care not for comfort. They walk on cobblestone streets wearing heels, all the time. Do yourself a favor and put on some tennis shoes for an afternoon. It's OK.

Third, girls tend to be really skinny here. So, if you are a Spanish girl, EAT SOMETHING.

Fourth, everybody smokes everywhere. I might as well just take up smoking. Who cares if the package says something like, SMOKING KILLS YOU?

There you go, short list of things not to do. I guess I could throw a quick shout out to piercing your face too. Don't do it.

Today, I'm thankful that I learned something very useful in class.