Sunday, May 5, 2013

We Made It!

We Made IT!!

Four months have already gone by. I can't believe it. The last few days have been an emotional roller-coaster. I was so ready to be done with class then I finished and I went into this crazy weird state. I didn't know how to feel. I just can't believe it's over. Is it real? We said bye to all our Japanese friends-tomorrow morning I say bye to Brenna, one of my really good friends. I hiked the castle for the last time, I went to the beach for the last time, I ran in Alicante for the last time (Praise the Lord it was the last run in my old beat up shoes too), I took down all my pictures-if you saw my room you understand the significance of that statement. We went to il duomo for the last time. I took my last shower in that nasty shower, packed my bags, cleaned my room (well somewhat), saw the last killer view on the pier. It's a weird feeling. I remember preparing to come here-I remember how stressed I was and how unreal it felt to be going and now it feels so unreal to be going home.

This was one of the most challenging semesters I've ever had, but one of the best and definitely the most growing. God taught me so much about Him. About my faith. About me. About friends. About communication. About other cultures. About awesome people. About His creation. About patience. About grace and love. About cleanliness or lack there of. About my peanut butter addiction. About my where my heart and focus should be. About relationships-with all people. About courage and independence. About prayer. About spending time in the Word. About so much. I really can't even put it all down on paper. Honestly, at this moment I'm so overwhelmed with the fact I'm leaving and saying bye to so many people I can't even process all I learned. I learned so much spanish. Who knew? haha better yet though I learned the importance of my faith and sharing it with others. I have never in my life been surrounded by so many who don't share my faith in Christ. I have learned the value of being intentional, even when I'm tired or just don't feel like socializing. I have learned the importance of being in the Word when I'm sharing. Being fueled by the Holy Spirit is the only way. I've learned more of what it is to love like Christ. I've seen my friends share with others who are Japanese and communicate with each other through Spanish, now that is COOL and so the Holy Spirit! I've experienced sooo much and feel like I have grown and changed. Hopefully for the better!

I can't wait to see everyone back home. I have missed everyone greatly! And I CANNOT wait to MEET baby JASE!!! AHH!! I love my family! :) But I'm going to miss Spain and all my friends here! It was one INCREDIBLE semester!

Thanks for all the prayers! See you in America! Now to finish packing!!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Where to start? Ah, the End is in sight.

Well, it's been a while. Over 2.5 weeks. That was because I literally had the craziest break ever. Ever. I don't know where to even start. I backpacked through Europe! WHAT?! I did it already and it still doesn't feel real. So I'm going to try to condense this-so some things may be left out and some things may be all over the place. So be prepared. Sorry if it's too long.

I started off Thursday, el 28 de marzo en el autobus al aeropuerto. Ay. My sweet friends, Hayley and Ellen, saw me off. It was strange to say bye to them for almost 3 weeks. I missed them a lot over break. But my first stop-Luzern, Switzerland. However, I made some short terms delays along the way. My first flight from Alicante to Barcelona got delayed for 3 was fine by me, less time in the middle of the night in Barcelona. Plus I got an 18 euro voucher for food and drinks, first starbucks all semester. Not gonna lie, I can live without it. It was good though. But Spain has got the coffee down. Then I finally made it to Barcelona, I slept in an airport for the first time. #booya. It was luckily 8 hours instead of 11 from the delay in Alicante. Made it on my next plane to Zurich, hopped off the plane in Zurich and grabbed a train ticket to Luzern and an hour later I was greeted at perfect timing with my friends at the train station. God is so good, who needs technology? O wait, I do...well most of the time. I was greeted by Rusty, Emily, Jacob and Ellen. It was so great to see all of their faces.
We set off for our adventure-I was struggling after only 2 hours of sleep, but I was so happy to be with everyone and see MOUNTAINS it didn't matter. We didn't have the best weather, but it was a cool place. We saw the old wooden bridge, the stone lion, and stayed in a great little hotel with...wait for it....HOT SHOWERS!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHHHHHHH! I could take more than a 7 minute hot shower and it was CLEAN! Praise Jesus. SOOOO GOOD. You don't even know. But seriously. We had such fun just hanging out in the hotel too. We facedtimed so many friends, played the longest game of Phase 10, laughed together, watched random youtube videos, ate packed sandwiches, Em and I wrestled in bed (yeah, I'm a girl, no shame). I've really learned a lot about how much a difference it makes to travel with the people you love and care about. As the famous Ms. Jeanne says, "It's not where you go, but who you're
with." I didn't really understand that till I came abroad. The places are amazing. God shines through them all. It humbles you. But I enjoyed being with my friends and enjoying it with them so much more. They made the trip. I honestly believe I could have been anywhere in the world and been happy. Just being surrounded by people who all love each other was so good. It made my heart so warm and fuzzy. O I have to add my first accident proneness-I feel off this awesome rope swingset and gave my knee a wicked bruise. It was so funny.

We then hopped on a train to Salzburg! FINALLY! Okay, now I saw some amazing places this break, but I really think my favorite scenery (well the Cliffs in Ireland are about equal) was the view on this train. We went right through the Swiss Alps and HECK. They. Were. BEAUTIFUL. For one I love the mountains. I don't know if there's anything that can sweep my heart up like they can. But o my goodness, they were soooo gorgeous. Those 6 hours were a piece of cake, but yeah they were sweeter.

My name! But not really.
We got to Salzburg and dropped the Liverpoolians off at their hostel and then went for a good Italian dinner. Yeah, really, life is great. We went back to hostel and watched Monster's Inc. in the room. We had too seem like some crazy kids who took over, but it was perfect. Then Em and I went back to her cute place and I met her sweet host mom and got some good pillow talk with her. I've missed that sweet friend. It's just so good to have such good friends who I can have deep life conversations with that are centered around Christ. We woke up and I got to see beautiful Austria. We made not have had the best weather, but dang, it's so beautiful and heck, I love the snow. We took an awesome hike up towards the fortress and walked all around. I ate some good food, had some black coffee, and best yet had great company. My heart was so happy. My friends are sooo cool. BAH! It was fun to have time with all of them. We had a movie night at Em's-I don't know what we watched. It was weird and I about feel asleep, but I loved being there with everyone. It was great seeing Ellen too! She's precious and her legs were SOOOOO hairy. She had man hair legs. Props. No shave semester. That takes guts-more power to her! Poor Em and Rusty had midterms and class that week. We probably could have had some better timing. But Em and I got some good one-on-one time at their school my last day. We went up to the library, spending time in the word and prayer. Jesus is so good. It was great to humble ourselves before him and open our hearts to Him and each other. Being vulnerable is such a relief at times. That night I got to spend some good time with Rusty too. It's crazy how one semester being totally uprooted can cause you to break down walls. I've learned so much about my role as a woman of Christ. It's been good to feel weak, but also good to see others around me weak as well. It makes me realize how much we all need Christ and how are strength really does come from Him. It's humbling.

Then Thursday came again. I said bye to Em at the bus and this time Rusty dropped me off at the airport. My peanut butter got taken through security, but I got a stamp! I jumped on the plane and off to London! I took a bus into town, jumped on the tube, and walked to my hostel to meet up with Brenna! Heck yes. I feel so grown up doing all this travel by myself-especially having to figure it all out for myself. Haha But the Lord let everything go smoothly. Thanks for all the prayers. It was soo good to see Brenna though! Ah we all had so much fun! Beth came the next day (in which she witnessed an armed-robbery on her walk to the hostel), and then Karissa the next night. We saw so much, but didn't see it all. Beth and I went to the Tower of London (while poor Brenna was sick), it was awesome, sooo much history. We saw the crowned jewels and all these crazy execution tools. So much history. We also got to go up on the Tower Bridge. We saw Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, West Minster Abbey, all the cool buses, the national portrait gallery, the art museum, saw VanGogh! AH! O second accident. In our hostel-we had these drawers that pulled out from under our beds and they are heavy and yes it managed to fall on my face, so that little cut across my nose you see in pictures is from that. And we finished up by going to King's Cross Station and saw PLATFORM 9 3/4! Heck yes.

Then we bought tickets and headed to Edinburgh. What an adventure. Hopped on the train, then another, and then found out we couldn't get to Edinburgh by train because of technical problems, waited for 2 hours and took like a 2 or 3 hour bus ride to Edinburgh. It was beautiful though. Who knew Scotland would be so great. We had the BEST hostel location. Literally right at the bottom of the castle. Ugh. it was soooo beautiful and green and uh great. I loved it. I really loved it. I want to go back. We saw Arthur's Seat-amazing. Amazing. It was a gorgeous hike. We saw the cafe where J.K Rowling wrote Harry Potter, The Elephant House!! AH! Nerd moment. The grave she got a lot of the names, like Tom Riddle, were right outside. It was such a cool place. We met a girl named Alison and had dinner with her and listened to some good music with. She was from Canada. How cool. It was such a beautiful place. I wasn't expecting to love it that much.

Last stop. Galway. Heck YES! I want to live there. I am going back. The nature. I miss nature. I love green grass and animals and fresh air and trees and rolling hills and NICE people. Probably one of my favorite parts of Ireland was the people. They were soooo nice and so funny! I felt so loved. I even got hugs. Our B&B mom, Mary, was amazing. We had a great breakfast every morning, she drove us into town once, booked our tours, called our taxi, gave us those warm bottles to warm your bed, talked with us and loved on us. It was fantastic. Our first full day we took a tour to the Cliffs of Moher! One of the 7 natural wonders of the world. Yeah, you know the Cliffs of Insanity (if you've seen the movie you know this reference), the cliffs that Dumbledore was on by the cave in the water when looking for the horcrux. The tour was incredible. Our driver was great. Funny, super nice and taught us so much. We saw the beautiful country side of Ireland and then these SPECTACULAR cliffs. They literally made me speechless. It was so humbling and totally awe-inspiring. It reminded me of how beautiful my God is. Amazing. I felt sick, dumbfounded, amazed, speechless, humbled, thrilled, so happy, and shocked and so many other emotions all in one. It was so much to take in. We did not have enough time, but I am going back. Ahhh. Just incredible. Really the most incredible thing I've ever seen. God is good. His creation really does proclaim His glory. And sorry, the pictures don't do it justice. We also went on a tour to Conemara Park. Ah it's just all soooooo beautiful. So beautiful. I wish I could explain it and do it justice, but you have to see it to understand. We had such good girl time too. It was so fun getting to know Brenna better and come back knowing we are all going to make sure we have a good time. We got the awesome Irish rings called, Claddagh rings, so Irish-there's too much to explain it all. We enjoyed the sweet, quaint coastal town, even though it was rainy. I got lots of Casey souvenirs. Again the company made the trip. It was Emily (Spain), Karissa, Beth, Brenna and I and we all had so much fun.
Yeah this one is for my a picture of a lamb...yes
cheesy moment but my name means precious lamb.

Then Sunday evening we came back to Alicante, our other home. It's so familiar now. We all struggled coming back. But surprisingly now that I'm here, it's good to be back. I missed the sunshine. And it's good to be back with everyone. We have all gotten really close and it's good to be reunited. Besides only 12 days of actual class left! AH! That is crazy. 3 weeks from today I will be home. Ah. That's crazy!!! I'm so excited and pretty ready. I'm ready to see everyone, but it's strange to be leaving so soon. I want to embrace it all as much as possible. The Lord has taught us all so much. I can't comprehend how it will be when we go home and process everything.

Now I would keep going but this is SOOO long as it is, so I'm going to stop. So I hope this gives you a brief overview of Spring Break. There's so much more.

The Lord is so faithful. I'm praising Him for how He worked this last week. Pray He continues to do so and that He will change lives-Pray we all rely on Him as well and make the most of these last few weeks. Thanks for all of them this far! :)

With lots of love and a ginormous hug,

Jo :D

The Bros with the lion

Yeah, they're goofs. But they were so happy together. 

Jacob had a tear coming down.
This was an adjustment...
I dont know what he was doing...
        Big Ben!                    
This was a tomb.
Ninja Backpack. 
Britt made it to Ireland
These were gorgeous.
Beth at the Tower Bridge!
Part of the Cliffs
Galway Girls!
Brenna! #besties
We made some old lady friends who took our picture! 
The Irish Horses!

It was soooo pretty!!!!

Kylemore Abbey
This was creepy...they were in this old cottage. 

Monday, March 25, 2013


Yeah that's all I could say Thursday afternoon when I looked up expecting to see Asaf and saw Rusty standing outside the apartment door where the Hills were staying. I still can't believe he came without me knowing.

I should be going to bed right now, but I thought I would fill everyone in on my wonderful weekend.

So if you didn't pick up on it or you haven't already heard-either from me or all my crazy friends who can't help but tell all our friends back home and that have to take creeper pics of us all the time, Rusty surprised me by showing up in Spain. Yes, Alicante, Spain. I didn't know. Beth captured it on video, don't worry. "But for real"(yes I used that intentionally), I was in shock. I had no idea. We were all sitting and talking at the Hills waiting on Asaf-someone is always late. Always. I mean we are in Spain. So of course I didn't think anything of it. And I was sooooo excited to see the Hills I really wasn't paying attention to anything going on. Even Beth slipped on the bus that morning "Asaf, you excited to see your bro today?" I heard it and didn't even think anything of it. Haha they had to tell me to get up before I could move. It's hard to process something like that in a short time. You think you would stand up and run, but you have to convence yourself it's real first. Haha. It was probably the best surprise of my life. It's going to be pretty hard to top that.

I can't believe the time has already come and gone. Time is going by soooo quickly now. But recap of the weekend. Rusty got there and we all hung out with the Hills for a while. It was great. We talked ate reese's, took pictures, laughed-then we broke off little by little. The Hills had dinner with Hayley's host mom (they said it went great!), we broke off and went to my apartment and made food and talked with Su (my Korean roomate) for several hours. It was awesome. We learned all about her culture and got to explain differences. She is HILARIOUS. I love her. That was so fun. The next day we all went to cine, even Rusty, which he kept up so well. I have been here almost 3 months and I'm still trying to understand it all. But then after that, yeah of course I skipped my other class, there was really no stopping that, so did Asaf, we took Rusty to el Mercado Central. Our huge farmer's market. We got papaya and some other great fruits and just walked around. We then went back and ate lunch and hung out at my apartment till everyone got done with class. We then proceeded to go to the beach and walk around. We all then met up with some of our Japanese friends (very important to understanding our experience here) and got Pakistani food and gelato. It was a good night. We then went back to Brynn and I's apartment to watch "Nacho Libre" of course. Asaf could literally quote the whole thing. Saturday the bros got a haircut (well Asaf) Rusty had apparently inspired him...I don't know why. ;) While the girls had spent the night with us-in which Beth and Karissa ended up in bed with me before they went home. I love bedroom time. I do miss that from OBU. Waking up in the morning and going into one of your best friends bed after they wake up and talking is just great. I then got to rest and try to get rid of this cold thing I contracted. Then we met up again and went to "il duomo" our cafe and saw Ji!!!! It was crazy, Josh ran out and got him and he and Rusty got to talk. So cool. Ji met up to come to church with us too! :) Rusty seriously got a true Spanish experience (well our Spanish experience). Rusty and I then took off to the castle to watch the sunset and grabbed dinner at an italian place called "Sale and Pepe". Let's be real, I was happy. Any time you stick pasta and bread in front of me, my life is made. After that we met back up to go to Valor with Josh, Asaf, Beth and Karissa. It was so fun hanging out with everyone and talking and laughing. Josh never fails to tell us about his cousin, Jake, it's great! Haha he loves his family. I understand. We finished the day with "Feris Buler's Day Off".  Sunday we all went to church, Rusty even got to play on the piano some after-that's the first time in a long time I've got to hear him play. We then all ate lunch and met up at the beach again. It was a beautiful day, but windy. I'm still getting the sand out of my hair. Haha. We went out for tapas and then came back and facetimed with my Dad and then Karis. Then Brynn came home and her and Su came and talked with us. Monday came and I saw Rusty off at the bus stop.

It went so fast. But it was SO good. I feel so blessed. Not only did he take all the time and money and planning to come here and surprise me, but all my friends kept their mouths shut and worked with him to make it super special for me. Thanks friends! It means a lot.

This weekend really brought this semester into perspective. I am SOO glad I did this. I am sooo glad the Lord gave me the strength, time and provided everything for me to do this. It has probably been one of the most life-changing things I have ever done. I have been stretched. I have cried. I have laughed hard at times. I have grown close with some people from OBU I never would have probably talked with. I have prayed. I have spent so much time in the Word. I have memorized scripture. I have been frustrated. I have been sick. I have been showering a lot less. I have become domestic. I have grown closer with some of my best friends. I have missed some of my best friends. I missed the birth of my nephew. I have seen my family grow. I have seen my friends grow. I have understood that God is the only true faithful and constant, never-failing person in my life. I have met people from all around the world. I have made two great friendships with Americans I never would have met had I not come here. But I think above all, I have understood my purpose more clearly than ever. I am here on this earth for Christ. I am here to glorify Him and share His love with everyone around me. I want to make His name known. My actions speak a lot of my faith, but I have learned the importance of my words. Prayer is powerful and necessary. I have 3.5 weeks left in Alicante. (I am about to head to spring break for 2.5) and the time is rapidly decreasing. It scares me. I know I will be excited to go home, but it breaks my heart to know I may never see most of these people again. I don't want to waste the time I have left. God is SO good and so faithful and so loving. He has blessed me beyond belief. Right now, I am in a place where I can't comprehend how much I've been blessed. I don't deserve it. However, I am grateful for it. Obviously not enough, but I am grateful. I have a wonderful family and friends and I'm experiencing one of the coolest things ever. The Lord has opened my eyes to sooo much.

Well this may be the last one for a while. Spring break starts Thursday. I will go to Switzerland, Austria, London, Edinburgh, and Galway. I'm so pumped. It's crazy! So thanks for all the prayers and for reading this long thing (if you made it this far).

Pakistani with the Japanese, someone has a picture of us all at gelato.  
Asaf's new haircut. They had such good bro time. 

Rusty playing piano for Wilmer. Yeah I think the little girls were impressed. 

Yeah our friends are creepers, but it is pretty cool, I mean we were in Spain. #nbd

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Piano, Piano

Welp. I'm back from Belgium and back to class. It was an amazing break from class and seriously probably one of the best weekends of my life. Definitely the best weekend here abroad. We were beyond spoiled. My parents don't even feed that much and give me that many kisses when I'm home. Though I have a feeling when I get back from Spain they might.

The theme of the weekend was "piano, piano" which means slowly, slowly. It was wonderful. We were never in a rush to get some where. We just took our time and enjoyed the company around us. We were with an Arabic family from Turkey who all moved to Brussels as the Lord called them. It's amazing. We went to all of Leyla's sisters' houses and her parents. We had tea and/or coffee every place and something to eat. They never failed to make us feel welcomed. We got to wear slippers every place went or fancy little shoes they just wore in the house. It was cute. Every time we met someone we got about  3 or 4 kisses and a huge hug. This family loved on us. You could tell how happy they were to see Bethany too-you could see the love for her and her family. It was nice to be around such strong Christian fellowship. It's amazing how God loves through people. He provides such a deep love, o and it is soo good.

So one of the first things we did after Leyla picked us up from the airport was go have Belgian waffels. So good. Didn't see that one coming. They don't taste like American ones. They are 100x better. We went around and saw the Grand Plaza and Manekin Pis. Haha so funny and then met up with her sweet niece, Deborah. Goodness, they all just welcomed us with open arms. I feel like I gained another family.

We had Turkish tea and coffee. They even read my coffee grounds. haha They just do it for fun, but it was funny and a little scary. I will never forget Leyla's "reading" o you will be married soon and have twins. AHHHH! Not a funny joke haha. My Grandma was a twin and my sister had two kids unexpectedly. I'm young, I'm going to take it slow, I have time. haha. I turned around and told her the same thing, she understood my fear at that point. May be in 10 years. haha

We met her fiance, Bernard. He was great. He is a 60 year old Belgium man. Kind of big and hilarious. He fed us soooo well. We had what was kind of like cheese fondue with real Swiss cheese and potatoes, a wonderful salad and tomatoes and chocolate mousse for dessert. O it was good. We definitely did not go hungry. It's back to reality is Spain. But it is good to be home.

We saw some beautiful churches and amazing architecture  It was gothic style, so different from Spain, but so cool. I loved it. It even snowed on us. That was cool to see even though it was cold; however, I was at least dressed appropriately this time.

We went to their church Sunday morning. It was their last service in that building. It was so special. It's a Turkish church and literally everyone who goes is related some how, they are at least all connected in some way by family. It was great. We went to the service, sang two in Turkish that Beth and I recognized, listened to a French man preach and the pastor translate, then of course went down after for tea and coffee and talking. I loved it. Such a neat experience.

It was one of the coolest experiences of my life. I experienced a completely different culture within a different culture and it was with believers. It's amazing to see God work all around the world and to see such faithfulness in other believers. O such faith they have. It was so encouraging and challenging. I pray for the willingness they have to follow Christ where ever He leads. I'm realizing how valuable this time I have here is. I will never experience anything quite like this again in my life. I'm trying to soak it up as much as possible. It's quickly coming to an end and it makes me sad. I have met some amazing people here and I don't want to miss out on time with them. I have a new home away from home and although there are things I miss from home, I love this place. It's beautiful and I love the people I've met. I've made friendships I will never forget and have experienced cultures I never would have before. I have class with Japanese, Russians, Americans, Chinese, Germans, Koreans, French and have met people from so many places around the world. Ugh, I can't comprehend this is my life at times. It's a big blessing.

Beautiful Beth in the city.

First cathedral we saw. It was SOO tall.

Yeah this picture does not do this justice. It was ginormous. 

Mankein Pis. Haha Apparently this little boy went "tinkle", as my dad would say, on a bomb and ended the war. It's a huge deal in Brussels. They even dress him up at times.

Beth enjoying her first Belgian waffel before she got sick. 

I love the buildings and then green grass, the snow and the tree in this picture. 

This was the second cathedral we saw. I think I liked t more. The detail was insane. They love to have small statues of all the apostels everywhere through out this church. It's crazy.

Grand Plaza. Again this does not capture the true essence. 

The small building on the left I think was one of my favorite buildings I saw there. It was so cute and quaint. 

A different section of the Grand Plaza.

The Royal palace.

Beautiful street leading to the Grand Plaza.

This was a huge museum there. So cool. So much stuff from the war. It was crazy seeing a different perspective.

Our Japanese friends enjoying their first pie at Brynn and I's apartment. Brynn did amazing!!! Love those girls. 

Welp. I'm tired. So that's all for now.

Thursday, March 7, 2013


Love my family! They made my week! 

The Valentine's flowers. I felt special. :)

Il Duomo-my cafe. I love it such good coffee.

Beth we enjoying her GINORMOUS strawberry, she had to take a break with other strawberries before she finished it. haha 

BRITT! She made it! Bedroom!!!!!!

Okay this is just the story of our lives.

He had his first date! Yes. Well, apparently he didn't like it, but whatever.

FaceTiming with the rents! Love them.

Love this girl! We've had some great coffee dates!

Oh, I love this boy.

Yeah! My nephews!!!!! :) Miss them.

Yeah this was when I stabbed myself. It was soooo cool to see how deep it was. I liked seeing all the layers of skin.