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I have a beautiful wife, an infant son & a schnauzer. viva la tex-mex. Words that describe or excite: Missional, Glocal, Lead, Innovate, Initiate, Create, Risk, Community

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Madrid: Volume 3: Part 2: The Muslim Incident

Madrid: Volume 3: Part 2: The Muslim Incident
Current mood: Squirrelly & Headachey & Whiney yet Bragadocious
Category: Sports

Once back in Lava Pies lugging our backpacks filled with digital video good news. We bought out the cases of water at the local Champion grocery ajacent to the triangular plaza where we were stationed. Thus began our M work. We would approach complete strangers with the majority of our group knowing 'pequino espanol.' Roughly meaning we knew how to order off the Taco Bell menu and use words not meant to be used in polite conversation. Other than that the M couple and one or two of the rest of the group could hold a conversation with anyone.

We would say 'regalo' which meant gift and attempt to hand the passer-by's a Day-Uhvay-Day and agua. On this particular day people seemed less receptive than they did the rest of the week. One factor could have been our pronunciation got better with repition, another could have been our confindence and comfort levels increased. Another factor may have been that word got around that some loco gringos were passing our free water and movies.

This first day say not only lower receptivity but our only day of true confrontation. Almost immediately upon our arrival we encounter a man ranting and raving in German, saluting Hitler and Franco (the Spanish dictator who firebombed his own people during WWII), and spitting in our general direction. Some believed him to be demon possessed, some believed him to be schizophrenic, some believed him to be drunk, others chose a combination. He wore an army surplus jacket, natty dreads, and a cologne named after a King James passage in the Bible, "pisseth against the wall."

G works in mysterious ways and so we had to do little to engage him in his odd attempt at polite conversation. One of his drinking buddies whom he shared a park bench with took it upon himself to gently ask him to leave. His friend pushed him nearly a block down the street until he finally turned and walked to the next block before I lost sight of him.

The next way G worked was just as odd. After about an hour of passing out the films and water bottles. I had a muslim man decide I was not being forceful enough with my delivery of the word 'regalo' and thus he grabbed me, grabbed the DVD in my hand, and proceeded to show me how it was done. He would step right in front of the person walking by minding their own business and say 'regalo' much in the same way your mother would demand "Eat your vegetables." Without concerning himself with their desire to accept or reject said gift he would thrust it into their chest forcing them to up their hands to take it. While unothodox in his approach and some what in mockery of my politeness he did have a better rate of success. He gave away about 10-12 videos in about a third of the time it took me to give out that many.

And the last way I saw G work mysteriously was when he used my sense of humor to captivate an audience of about 8 young arabic speaking men into a serious discussion about the nature of religion, grace, forgiveness, heaven, JC, his dad, and our differences of opinion. A palestinian man who need a tooth brush almost as much as he needed JC told me he didn't need a DVD but what he could use was some money for cigarettes. I in turn told him he could take the free gift I was offering him and turn around and sale it to his muslim buddies hanging out with him right there on the corner. Sarcasms doesn't seem to translate across religious and linguistic lines as much as I would have hoped. As you can see it was a truly funny, if not ridiculous and flawed, plan. If only they had really gotten the joke.

The one guy who did spoke the best english and thus began the dialogue. First we talked of Bush and the war, and his peoples hatred for all things American and all things JC related. In there mind all Americans represent JC. From their perspective Tom Cruise and Gwen Stefani are just as much followers of JC as Billy Graham.
We discussed the fact that we can talk to G any time we want and in fact that we do all day. We communicate without ceasing as Paul described it to a group from Thessalonica. They think that you can only do that at 5 specific times throughout the day. They simply had no idea that you could have constant and total access, regardless of time or place.

They could not understand that we have assurance of our final destination. There is no security in their system. There is no grace, nor forgiveness, and for that matter no way to resist tempation. That is why they believe and adhere so stringently to a suffocating moral code. The only way to avoid temptation is to remove it completely from society. Thus you don't have to resist it because it is not present. It was just cool to see how G used an odd array of methods to get the message out that day. And coolest of all was that I got to see it and be apart of it first hand.

Currently listening:
B Collision By David Crowder Band
Release date: By 27 June, 2006

Madrid: Volume 3: Part 1: The Moroccan Tea Incident

Madrid: Volume 3: The Moroccan Tea Incident
Current mood: Oldish and Sore-like
Category: Food and Restaurants

Saturday was our first full day in Madrid. We got up walked to the neighborhood dog park a few blocks from Hotel Gran Legazpi and has a time of singing and talking (about spiritual things). See the things we take forgranted over here like attending a house of worth ship (the original meaning of the word) can literally put peoples lives in danger even in a western civilized 'so-called' nation.
There is a large Muslim population and even Al Queda cells active within Lava Pies. That being said I never felt scared or in danger the entire trip; I have feared for my life on the downtown streets of Dallas, the rougher neighborshoods of Fort Worth, and even the late-night-redneck-infested parking lot of a Grand Prairie Whataburger. I was never nervous or concerned in Madrid.
However, to live there and work there and be a Christ follower there can be dangerous over time, if you are not wise with your safety and aware of your surroundings. That is quite a sobering thought to realize what we went and did for a week has to take into account protecting the safety of those who remain.
Madrid is a city of roughly 6 million people. It is the metropolis of Spain. The area where we did 'M' work is known as Lava Pies (meaning Washed Feet). It is the cheapest place to find housing in Madrid thus the first place immigrants move to when they come to start a new life.
Each morning after breakfast at the hotel, in the smoke filled cafe, we would head to the dog park. Speaking of breakfast Spanish coffee was excellent, just rich, strong espresso with about 3 times as much milk. It wakes me up just thinking about it.
Then we headed to Lava Pies via the 148 bus. We walked up and down this incredibly steep street visiting a store operated by the friend of one of our guides. Our guides were a husband and wife M team who had formerly live in Madrid. After getting a feel for the area we headed to a Moroccan resturaunt, called Al Alahambra, filled with Muslim men watching soccer. Curiously enough I forget what I ate but I do remember I liked it.
After lunch I was instructed to order some Moroccan tea which I assured I would love. I was skeptical but the tea proved to be worthy of its recommendation. It was a small (maybe 6oz.) glass of hot tea. It was the bomb! I have been craving some ever since. If I can find where to score some back here in the states I may just become a Moroccan tea junkie. In which case I will end up in the gutter on some back alley sleeping on cardboard and harassing people on street corners as I try to wash their windshields with spit and some old wadded up news print. Just hoping to get enough money to get one more sip. Yes, it was that good. I don't even know what made it so, but believe me it was so. Just a small glass, hot tea, a few perfect mint leaves and what I suspect was heap of suger.
This was a great start to the day. Even though we had been up for hours, at the dog park, riding the bus, and walking around Lava Pies it seems lunch was when the day began. Everytime we ate at a resturaunt we tended to stay for about 2 hours. This is the Spanish way. We were never rushed to leave, or empty our table so the resteraunt could rush customers in and out as quickly as possible. Lunch and dinner is a social occasion, time for talking, relaxing, truly enjoying your food and your company.
We returned via a walk and a bus ride back to the hotel. Here we grabbed our backpacks and loaded them up with DVD's. I don't advise you wearing backpacks around over seas as it is the number one sure sign to everyone else that you are a tourist and a dork. This makes you are target for pick pockets. The only real danger in Madrid is pick pockets and crossing the street. Pedestrians do not have the right of way and if you cross on red, you better be prayed up and have all your funeral arrangements prepared. On several occassions I witnessed drivers speeding up just to remind a straggler of their place on the food chain.

Currently listening:
Midi 20
By Grand Corps Malade

Madrid: Volume 2: The Steak Incident

Madrid: Volume 2: The Steak Incident
Current mood: Foppish
Category: Pets and Animals

In Madrid we walked a lot. Everyday we walked a lot. All this walking took place after riding the 148 bus to whatever stop we wanted and then walking the rest of the way. Somehow no matter where we were going it seems that the bus only went half way and then we had to walk the other half of the distance. I could never understand why the bus did not let us off right where we wanted to end up. This caused me great consternation and after a couple of counseling sessions, I have determined between me and God not to hold this against the Spainards.

The first evening after arriving in Spain, taking the metro train and subway to our hotel, riding up the tiny elevator to our tiny room, showering and changing, we then went to Plaza Mayor. Of course we rode the 148 to Plaza Mayor for what seemed to be about 8-10 miles, which is probably 3 meters or something. I don't have my ruler with the inches on one side and centimeters on the other so I can't do the exact conversion right now. Then we walked another trillion centimeters or so to the Plaza for dinner.

We ate a resturant that shall remain nameless. This is not for security purposes or to protect the anoniminity of the restaurant because of a scathing food review. It is simply because I don't remember the name and if I did I am pretty sure it was in Spanish anyway. And I am fairly certian that I do not speak Spanish so what good is a name anyway if I can't communicate its full meaning and cultural nuances. It is like telling someone here in the states that we ate at El Chico, which--I have been told by well intentioned yet boring people--means The Boy. Swell we ate at The Boy. Am I the only one that finds this odd?

The restaurant was pricey - I paid about 22.50 Euro for a steak. 22.50 Euro is about 31.50 US Dollars. The steak was delicious but I can buy a steak here at Texas RoadHouse for about 1/3 the price, not to mention the $1100 I would save on airfare. The thing with Texas Road House is that I can park my car about 10 feet from the entrance and walk right in. I can completely avoid the whole bus ride and urban hiking experience and just go right in a eat peanuts and throw the shells on the floor while I wait to eat my steak.

The steak was great. I asked for medium and I got medium. Great flavor, a nice sear on the outside, and blood and juices squirting out with every poke of the knife. I know for some of you pasty skinned vegans and sappy animal lovers out there that is totally mortifing imagery but get over it. I was describing a cow not your favorite childhood puppy.

Then after we ate the steak my good friend Carl (who's name has been changed not so much for security reasons as for the fact that I can't remember his name) took us out into the beautiful Plaza Mayor and proceeded to tell us the history. The Plaza Mayor is this enchantingly beautiful inner courtyard surrounded by gorgeous ancient architecure where the Catholic church used to torture and kill protestants.

The bricks where we stood used to be soaked in the warm, red blood of the forefathers of my faith. These "protestors" stood against the indulgences and the hypocrisies of the church that had taken the vibrant first century Christian faith and turned into a wooden religious institution. Somehow I found myself wondering whether we have almost come full circle since that time. Would the church today kill these men and women all over again? Would I be one of the murders or one of the martyrs? What have I institutionalized and what should I be protesting or revising in my faith journey that needs to die on the bricks in order for my faith to be true to one who called me to the Truth?

Currently listening:
Define the Great Line (CD & DVD) By Underoath
Release date: By 20 June, 2006

Madrid: Volume 1: The Arrival Incident

Madrid: Volume 1: The Arrival Incident
Current mood: In Need of a Siesta
Category: Snails and Puppy Dog Tails

OK - for security reasons I can only tell you that I went to Madrid. However, I can not tell you what country this was. If you want a hint I can do that though. It begins with an S and ends with pain.

We arrived all the way from Dallas after flying out of DFW to George Bush International Airport in Houston where we flew to Charles de Gaulle in gay Paris and onto Madrid. They were actually fabulous at Charles de Gaulle with Air France; they met our group at the arrival gate and had escorts and shuttles to take us to our departure terminal for Madrid because our plane was behind schedule. Just a note from those who seem to know, try to avoid flying Iberia for international flights. They seem to have not gotten the memo on customer service, and on top of that are notorious for losing luggage.

On the flight from Houston to Paris I watched a quaint little french flick called La Doublure or 'The Valet'. Where Fran├žois Pignon is played by, Gad Elmaleh, a Moroccon born actor. In the movie a valet (Elmaleh) and a top-model have to pretend to be a couple in order to salvage a CEO's marriage. But enough about French cinema.

The food on Air France was distincly French as well, good but French. I had smoked Salmon salad and Veal cutlets with an odd mixture of beans and veggies. Then I got to wash it all down with mineral water and the tiniest, most slender little can of Coca-Cola.

Once we arrived in the Madrid airport in an unnamed country we took an hour long Metro ride to Legazpi where we got checked into Hotel Gran Legazpi. Gran Legazpi had the tiniest of rooms and the world's smallest elevator (until we got to Paris) and was a pleasant place to stay, extremely nice for European standards. There was a continential breakfast that cost 5E a day, a tad much for coffee (cafe), oj and various pastries and breads. Mostly I could have done with out having to endure the all the smokers at breakfast. We have gotten used to non-smoking facilities here in the states.

Roughly 50% of Mardridians smoke and I think they were all on holiday at Gran Legazpi. At one point I met the matriach of tabacco in all of Madrid when I went to a cigarette stand to try and purchase an international calling card. The clerk at this cigarette stand was probably in her 50's but looked as though she were in her 80's and she could easily serve as a Spanish voice over artist for James Earl Jones. She was not just the president of the cigarette stand, she was definetly a client. When she dies they can use her skin to make leather wallets and book covers to sell at the Rostro. (I never did find a calling card or a pay as you go phone the whole time I was there.) I will tell more about the Rostro when I get to Sunday.

Currently listening:
Wolfmother By Wolfmother
Release date: By 14 February, 2006