Well, things at present are certainly a little different than they were in my last post! For one thing, I am no longer in Germany, instead currently residing in Madrid, Spain. Secondly, I am no longer teaching English to German schoolchildren, but volunteering in a centre for drug addicts and alcoholics, living with them and generally spending all my time in or about the centre and its various other working locations.
To explain, I feel I should give a little bit of background information on the centre and what it does. It's run by Betel, a Christian charity set up by Elliott Tepper, an American missionary, in the mid 80s. The principle aim was to give a recovering drug addict a place to live, food, clothing and spiritual support as he went through court proceedings. To pay for his keep (and keep him occupied), this man worked at the flat where he was staying, painting walls, mending appliances and such like. As he was doing so well, his friends started asking if they could come and stay too. Soon there were too many of them to live and work in one small flat, and they had to move out to a bigger house, and they started finding work outside the home, but always working together for the benefit of the whole house. Thus Betel was born. Now there are hundreds of centres all around the world, all giving practical aid and support to thousands of recovering addicts and alcoholics, and run by missionaries and ex-addicts (named Betelitos, people who have been previously taken in by the centres), and helped out by a fair few volunteers along the way. Here's where I come in. I decided to spend my time on Spain helping out at a centre like this, living with the girls at their house in Madrid, and working with them at their charity shops, giving out leaflets, doing collections for donations and generally making myself useful.
I've been here just over a week now, and the time's been interesting to say the least! I stared off on the first day helping out with cleaning at the church, and I haven't really stopped since then. It's been tough at times, particularly with the language, which I can mostly understand (thank God), but I find quite hard to speak. I've had to adjust to a lot of things in the Spanish Betel life, not least the eating times, which tend to be about 7 in the morning, 3 in the afternoon and 10 at night. I've also had to get to know the 20 other girls that I'm living with, no mean feat when half of them are Spanish, and the other half from various places around the world, including Russia, Poland, Brazil and Portugal, to name a few. Oh, and the pack of Internet access (only a couple of times a week, at the church), and my iPod, is killing me!
But I'm pleased to say that I'm feeling more and more secure every day, and I feel like I'm getting to know the girls and the organisation much better with each new experience I have. I definitely like the attitude towards coffee (always, and has priority over work), and the idea of a siesta is quite appealing too. I've heard some amazing stories already, and I'm sure that time will only reveal more. Life can be dealt with without constant Facebook access and music in your ears, however hard that might be. Only time will tell.
I would be grateful for any prayer people could send my way - that I can settle in well and start to make a difference, and also for the girls and their problems. Until next time - adios!
Much love, Nat xxx
P.s. If you want to read more about Betel and their amazing work, please check out their website: www.betel.org