Welcome to our first blog post since arriving in Barcelona. Since there is so much to tell you, here is an outline from the day we left North Carolina through today. Do you have your cup of coffee, and a comfortable seat?
November 17, 2011: We said good-bye to family and friends, packed the church van and headed off to the Charlotte airport with Dave Snider as our driver and Dillon Salladin as co-captain. Stopped in Hickory for a quick early lunch at Chick-fil-a, where we were blessed with a complimentary lunch. (thanks, Annette!) We arrived at the airport with our 25 bags; including carry-on luggage and two guitars. Our flights were long, but everything went good.
November 18, 2011: We landed in Barcelona in the morning; where we were greeted by Julio (pastor, director of OndaPaz radio), Nora and Esteban and Mari Carmen. We put all our luggage and family into 3 European sized cars and off we went. We went to our temporary apartment, checked out the radio station, met some great folks, looked at an apartment, learned to use the Metro, went to dinner and back to the place we were staying, all after not sleeping for 30 something hours. Wow…talk about hitting the ground running! We were able to move into our permanent apartment on Thanksgiving night…and had pizza for Thanksgiving dinner.
We were so Thankful for the way God had provided…and that we were in our own home, with real beds for the first time since May…we didn’t even care that there was no turkey on the table. Blessed beyond belief!
Matt got started right away with work at the station. In addition to making improvements to the radio station, one of Matt’s main objectives is to help the current staff at the station understand the reason behind the changes, and how these changes will help grow the station to better reach Barcelona with the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to disciple believers. Over the Christmas holiday the music library was restructured , and a new automation system installed. Since then, the staff and volunteers have been working to launch a prayer team, as a way to consistently pray for our listeners and connect with them regularly… This is growing quickly! Plus, Matt is working with the staff and station director on numerous different projects, like station production, donor relations, and planning of our upcoming fundraiser, Radiotón, at the end of May. The response of the listeners to Onda Paz has really increased over the last couple of months. On Tuesday mornings, our director Julio Perez and his wife Emi host a time of prayer requests and praise reports on the air called “Establiendo Del Reino” (Establishing The Kingdom), and over the last several weeks, the number of incoming prayer requests and praise reports has grown to well over 60 each program! Plus, a few weeks ago, a new listener to the radio station named Rut, called in and Julio was able to lead her to Christ, right there on the air! There was much rejoicing in the office as she said, “…Amen.” Please pray that Rut’s step of faith and willingness to share the beginning of her relationship with Christ will give others the boldness to do the same.
Matt also had the opportunity to travel to Sweden in January to work with our friends, Roger Arnfjell and Jonatan Svanstrom at Hope FM, a new, growing Christian radio ministry that is reaching Sweden. He continues to assist them via Skype and email every week on ways to improve their programming, and grow their listening audience and support base. We also hope to make visits this spring to El Vendrell, Girona, and southern Spain to assist radio ministries there however we can.
After the Christmas holiday, God really began to open new doors of opportunity to serve in ways that we didn’t first expect. The youth pastor of the Iglesia Betania asked us to help lead the student worship team-
giving us the privilege of teaching principles of Biblical worship to some young musicians, and now Channing is playing guitar and leading worship regularly with both the student worship team, and the team that leads worship for the church on Sunday mornings.
Mattie and Channing are serving with the sports ministy team from Betania. They head out each week to share Christ with the people in the parks by building relationships through playing soccer (a common bond). This has been a good experience for our family. We have met some awesome people…however, some hurting people. Please pray for hearts to be softened as this team continues to minister in this practical way.
In February, we were able to open our home to some other missionaries that needed a place to stay… Athletes in Action is a worldwide ministry that uses sports to share Christ with people. A team of 5 football players with Athletes in Action from Holland came to share the Gospel through football in Barcelona for a week, and for most of the week, all 5 were staying in our apartment!
What a great experience this was- God certainly used this team in an important way, and to be able to play a small role in His plan for them by providing beds and some meals was a huge blessing for our family… and we now have some new lifelong friends! (We will be sharing a blog post in the near future that will feature more detail on how we met the Holland team and our good friend Jessie Starrenburg…)
One last thing to share with you ….Matt will have the opportunity in June to travel to Nigeria, Africa to work with a Christian Radio Station that has the potential to reach 20 million people. More to come later….
Our whole family would like to say “Thank You!” from the bottom of our hearts. Your willingness to give of yourself in prayer and your finances is such tremendous blessing to us, and we Thank God for you everyday. We would also love to know how we can pray specifically for you… drop us an email, email@example.com.
It has been great to finally sit down and have a cup of coffee with friends..both old and new. We apologize for taking so long to write, but we are very thankful that God has opened the floodgates and our time and talents are being used here…
Blessings to you from Barcelona,
Matt, Juanita, Channing, Mattie, Cole and Macie