Europe 2017: Where the Sun Shines

(Written 5/3/2017)

I write once again from an airport. This time, I am standing in line at my gate in the Madrid airport waiting to board a plane destined for Brussels. Final destination: Kiev. I won’t soon miss one or two 14-hour transit days every week during whatever stage of life is next, but I’m soaking up every minute of it.

Theresa flew back to the States on Tuesday to get ready for her next adventure after spending a couple solid days in Madrid with our new friends Sheri and Terri Lynn, missionaries working in education and sports ministry in Madrid. Our two gracious hosts welcomed us to Spain and were extremely hospitable – it was such a pleasure to experience their corner of the world for a few relaxing days.

Theresa, our friend Sheri and I in front of Madrid's royal palace

We arrived on Saturday evening and were picked up at the airport. Our lodgings were an adorable, charming house in a small town right outside Madrid complete with two labs and a cat, wind chimes on the back patio with a table overlooking the garden, a piano in the living room, a fireplace, and a beautiful guest room. Theresa and I had a wonderful time getting to taste a few Spanish dishes (plus one or two throwbacks from Sheri and Terri Lynn’s former mission field, Venezuela) while eating together like a family at home.

We also had the opportunity to experience the arts and beauty of Madrid. On Sunday, after attending their home church for worship, Sheri and Terri Lynn took us to see Madrid’s symphonic orchestra and national choir perform in their state-of-the-art performance hall. Afterward, we grabbed a quick pair of pizzas at their local favorite Italian place (arguably more enjoyable than the pizza I ate in Italy) with Terri Lynn’s niece, a writer and musician living downtown, before continuing on. We visited the Reina Sophia (one of Madrid’s premier museums) and thoughtfully digested as many works as we could fit in before closing time, the pinnacle being a large Picasso exhibit.

Theresa in fine form reacting to our beautiful room

On Monday, we spent a leisurely morning at home before venturing again into the city, enjoying near-perfect weather and walking through the downtown area to enjoy Madrid’s atmosphere. We found a specialty coffee shop for Theresa, enjoyed churros y chocolate (a decorative cup of melted chocolate into which you dip fried churros), found Kilometer 0, saw a number of beautiful sites including the royal palace and its Cathedral, and enjoyed the bustle of a beautiful day. The sun was still high in the sky as we headed back out of the city around 7:30pm and met Terri Lynn (she had stayed back to get some work done) in nearby suburb Alcalá for a beautiful walk through busy evening cafe’s and ate tapas at their favorite joint.

On Tuesday morning, we drove Theresa to the airport in the morning to catch her homebound flight. Then I got to spend most of the rest of the day building a website for our fantastic hosts’ ministry. We hung out at the office, brainstormed, ate croissants, envisioned, wrote, brainstormed some more… It was fabulous. We ventured home sometime in the evening, whipped together some dinner, and made some finishing touches to the website while watching a significant Madrid football (soccer) game on tv. I got to Skype with Mom for a little bit in there. Then we went to bed, ready to wake around 3:45 the next morning to get me to the airport.

The national symphony orchestra and choir concert we attended

Now, on to Ukraine. What a fabulous opportunity I had to befriend some fantastic missionaries, learn about missions and basketball in Spain, and get to experience a new city and culture. What I know of my inpending trip to Ukraine will look pretty different than our peaceful few days in Madrid – however, I look forward to getting back into the gym for some concerted basketball work this coming week. More soon!


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