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Location: Los Hueros, Spain

"Ye have been bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men."--I COR. vii. 23.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Alfa Romero II

Someone took the wheels off and left the jack. My account has been blocked and I cannot access my money on any ATM. The nave storage was broken into again over the weekend. This time they came in through the roof. There are still soldiers on the hill outside our house watching three high-speed rail line bridges. Send lawyers, guns, and money or tell the Agency I'm coming in from the cold.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Alfa Romeo

It showed up last winter outside the door of our storage facility on the old chicken farm. The passenger side window was shattered and the bumper on the same side was scraped. I thought it was stolen and someone had ditched it. Next to our wall the car is hidden from the main street across the field. I didn't want to touch it.
Next time I was out at the facility a month later I reached in and opened the driver's door and started looking around the inside.

I found a champagne bucket, some thermos containers and some cups and napkins when I folded the backseat down to access the trunk. It looked like stuff you would carry with you to cater a party. Someone has since taken the champagne bucket and thermos containers - just cups left. Also the battery is now missing and the radio has been gone since spring.
Yesterday I combed through the front seat and got the glovebox open. I found a piece of paper with a Spanish literature course description, a tube of broken lipgloss (plum), and a business card for a small business with the name "Laura Oliva" hand-written on it.
A couple of months ago when the storage facility was burglarized, the Spanish cops were out here and we asked them what to do with this car. They ran the plates and said that "nobody has reported it missing" and left it at that.
Now its almost autumn. Who cares?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

I forget

Sometimes I forget that I’m not in Kansas anymore.

I try to normalize my life here in Spain, but an unusual event or overlooked occurrence startles me awake. I then see my grave mistake. The issue is safety – physical, emotional and spiritual. These states of being cannot be “normalized” in the world I am living in.

Here are some things that have awakened me from my slumber:

Monday I was hauling heavy cabinets up slippery marble stairs in the new building. The stairs are slick as hell; I am wearing flip-flops and a new shirt I bought with some Christmas money. Since there is no railing yet in the stairwell, the illegal Romanian workers are smarter than me and stick to the wall as I pass on the outside. One slip and I break myself. I’m wearing nice clothes because I just came from the police station to help fill-out a robbery report for a young Maps worker who had her house broken into. She has trouble leaving the house now because she wants to protect it.

Monday night there was an attempted break-in at our office. The garage alarm went off and the garage door was jammed closed with the light on inside. Young Maps couple that lived on the top floor watched a Spanish cop chamber a round in his pistol before going in. No one was in there.

Next day we went to the Tomatina, the world’s biggest tomato fight in the small town of Bunol. 40,000 young people were drinking at 9:30 in the morning to get fuelled up for the event. The streets were narrow. Five huge dump trucks drove in. I got caught in the crowd. We were being pressed forward by hordes of people. We had to push out with our arms in order to get a breath. The crowd became more and more rowdy. Friends of ours got pushed into a warehouse as the door buckled and broke under the pressure. A mother with a young boy started trying to get past me. Nowhere to go. Nowhere to breathe. Denise’s sunglasses were cracking because of the pressure on her head. I got dizzy and began to panic, fighting and swimming my way out with Denise behind me trying to keep me calm and the mother and her kid clutching onto Denise as we emerged. I shook for about 4 hours after that and watched from a distance.

Came home after a three-hour drive on the Spanish Autopista and watched the news in an “I am alive” stupor. Saw a story about a young lady named Monica who had been murdered while walking her two dogs in a barrio near here. She was killed by a member of another family that had been feuding with her family. The police had to beat the families off of each other with billy-clubs. Women on both sides were hysterical. Men were pounding the windows of the police vans.

Another story involved a kidnapped 13-year-old girl from a squalid gypsy camp near here. She had been taken to another gypsy shantytown and was to be married to a 15-year-old boy. The gypsies from all areas kept the news crews out but admitted that they had all gotten married when they were 14 and 15 – so "what is the big deal?" One of them had a little girl about 10 or 11 who was only wearing underpants. She started dancing a flamenco for the camera and the older ladies started clapping a beat while shouting “olay!” Great fun! The news crews are here!

Two more illegal workers were electrocuted on the hi-speed railway. There have been over 600 work-related deaths so far this year. I do not want to be one of them.

Forest fire season has begun in the Castilla region. Smoke in the air.

Last Friday night it was hard to sleep as little kids were playing at 1 a.m. in the street.

I’m holding my breath at police check-points because I’m no longer a legal driver. We spent $1,200 and six weeks trying to set-up a “required” class and exam in English. The school kept changing the dates and the price and then finally cancelled because the English-speaking instructor was in the hospital. This school has a good reputation. Tell this to a cop at a road-block who can impound your car and take you to jail if he wants to.

Our young Romanian friend Kristina is staying with us until Master’s Commission starts in a month. She is being hounded by a lawyer who wants his 500 euros for starting the process to get her some papers that will allow her to work legally.

I woke up this morning to a convoy of dump trucks driving over speed bumps on there way to the massive 3,000 unit housing development near us. (Actually it was the shotguns of the rabbit hunters outside our window – BAM…voices… BAM BAM squeeaaallll!)

Spain is on a land-development high. Many new houses are put up so fast that they are unsafe. Old apartment blocks are crumbling. Construction is unsafe. Repairs are left in dangerous states for months as residents learn to avoid the dangerous zones inside and outside their units. Some new houses are built illegally on park-land and sold to unsuspecting buyers. Then the authorities come in and tear the new houses down to the foundations. The corrupt deal then goes to the courts and the “house-owner” gets caught in the legal swamp of trying to get their money back from the long-departed developers while still being liable for the fines of living illegally on city property.

The prostitutes at the bottom of the hill are enjoying a surge in business as well. At least they seem to be smiling when they lick their lips and waggle their tongues at me when I drive back up the hill.

There are doctrinal opinions and theological ideas being preached as gospel truth – many times contradicting each other during the same church service, mainly by missionaries. I’ve been told that if I have a book with a naughty word written in it somewhere in my house then I am a hypocrite if I take communion because I grieved the heart of God. These are Americans.

I heard that Mother Theresa had a long “crisis of faith.” Spain is Disneyland compared to India. Many people have begun to ask questions about her. One missionary I greatly respect opined that she "was never a Christian because she could not feel the presence of God."

I remember a story recently about a young marine who won the Congressional Medal of Honor (if you win this even Generals are required to salute YOU! cool!) But he won it posthumously by doing-the-dive on a grenade and saving his buddies. I think Mother Theresa dived on a spiritual grenade from hell and the explosive burst lasted 50 years. Eventually the emotional shrapnel ripped into her spirit and she suffered a mortal wound in her soul. She took one for the team. Who can follow the call without cost?

Maybe this is a secret, but we have an Iranian connection in England that is waiting to translate the videos we produced of the Path of Jesus into Farsi – to be broadcast into Iranian living-rooms. This is not the dross. This is the gold.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Sayin' Hey!

Hey everyone! (if there is anyone left!) I'm sitting here on a Friday afternoon, waiting for the day to end. We're taking a three-day weekend to drive some some friends to the coast with us for the 4th of July. The funny thing is on the 4th we'll be in Spain and so our boss won't give a hoot while we work because we voted to take this Monday the 2nd off.
Wow. What I am learning... I'm tired. It's like putting up with 97 percent hell for 3 percent of pure gold that will go beyond anything I could create without God's help. It's funny. I remember alot about the Army. Drill sergeants who were younger than I am now used to say things like "if you want to protect your buddy - sometimes you're gonna' pay." Wisdom. I think in this world that we have raised the bar for normal life. If it doesn't work we start looking for the coping skills to make it work... coping skills....
Let's see: I've been dropped into a hot LZ with my friends. Half of them are dead. It is pure chance that I am not taking a bullet. Where did my normal expectations go? (Whoops - my roomie's head is a watermelon!) uh.... COPING SKILLZ! Maybe I can change the circumstances, but probably not... just do your best and survive. Your mission depends upon your survival.
Why do we think that Spiritual Warfare is any different? Sure, we can point at some teenager wearing a pentegram necklace and think that somehow reflects the world of spiritual warfare. I don't think so. That teenager may be hovering around our base camp but he's far away from No Man's Land. We should be faulted for our simplicity. Many times a spiritual attack may feel like a sledgehammer blow from a comrade on our right. Whoa - that's not fair! Ha.
I also think it is dangerous to think that warfare does not involve sacrifice. What do you say to a missionary who retires with nothing but a bloodclot on their brain? Not much. You just look to the fight and keep going. Run the Race! Wow, I'm borrowing Paul's words so I think I'm done for today.
Miss all of you guys. Real life is hard for all of us, and I think of you when you are down and I am up. Pray for me when I am down and you think of it!

Friday, June 08, 2007

system collapse

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Certificate of Window Tinting

I have been in charge of six vehicles this year. These are all Speed-The-Light vehicles that are of varying ages and abilities. They are my sheep and I am their shepherd. Many days I would rather wear a duct-tape thong than attend to my flock. Part of my portfolio is to keep them running and legal. Despite my many preparations for harrowing vehicle inspections by uniformed civil servants, not all make the grade on the first try. The Chrysler van I circled below did not pass because some of the windows were tinted.

During this most recent inspection, I yearned for duct-tape undergarments as two young men with alot of state authority demanded to see my certificate for the tinted windows after peering at them and through them and discussing them quite fervently between themselves. I fumbled through the folder of documents I had, none of which satisfied them. They assumed I couldn't understand and yelled a little louder. Eventually I had to leave the inspection station without the Chrysler passing the new EU legal requirements. When I leave the local "ITV" inspection station I am usually very relieved or very frustrated. But I always smile at the rough looking prostitute at the entrance to the industrial park. She has been sitting out in the rain quite a bit lately. In Spain, prostitution is legal - soliciting one is not.

Yesterday I went with the IMM lawyer to a Madrid Chrysler dealer to see if they could provide us with a document stating that although the vehicle was purchased in Belgium ten years ago, the tinted windows were part of the Chrysler package at that time. The man behind the counter did not want to help but offered to remove the "irregulated lamination" for 300 Euros. We argued that the windows did not have lamination on them. The tint was actually the color of the glass itself. He offered to replace the offending windows for more money. We have now decided to drive to another inspection site in Castilla La-Mancha in the hopes that our IMM lawyer can sweet talk the fellows in uniform a bit. This will cost more time. However, I have prepared a certificate just in case these inspectors demand one:

In other news of the week, well... we knew it wouldn't be long. Some "unemployed" types showed up at the new IMM building site and offered their "protection services." The welders there at the time yelled explitives at them and chased them off the property. The welders warned us that this is a common scam and that the protection fellows would be back some night soon to show that "we needed protection" by damaging the property. Indeed, the next morning the gate was ripped off the wall. The men came back yesterday to offer their now much-needed "services" again, and were chased off. To make matters worse, they have now learned that we rent the building next door. We are quickly trying to set-up a lighting system now. We are too cheap to hire a security guard for a week. The story is not over as of yet...

These men say perhaps my sheep need protection. I'm not worried. I hope they steal the Chrysler. I have left it unlocked... I wouldn't want to waste more precious time driving it into their little camp while they are out visiting ours.

Monday, November 27, 2006


I remember the dark clouds raining dust for days on end
Blew all the Earth out to California
Just left us here with the wind
Desperate times, you know everbody's part
It's your own lines you'd like to forget
Till what you were meets what you've now become
And grins and says Hey, haven't we met

Lost my first born that Winter
My wife on the first day of Spring
So I poured my sweat to the Earth
to see what that harvest would bring
And I remember how the fury
just like a plague of locusts
Egypt's punishment for sins of pride
Is that now what has come over us

How much of this was meant to be
How much the work of the Devil
How far can one man's eyes really see
In these days of toil and trouble

Honey, we're all resplendent,
Yeah honey, we are all thrift store
Like a wine-o with a $20 bill
Yeah, forever and eternally yours
And I can make you promises
If you don't expect too much,
You and I will run the distance
If you'll please, please excuse my crutch

How much of this was meant to be
How much the work of the Devil
How far can one man's eyes really see
In these days of toil and trouble
How much of this is failing flesh
How much a course of retribution
My, my, how loudly we plead our innocence
Long after we made our contribution

Resplendent written by Bill Mallonee