Day in the Life // Kristen in Spain
This month's Day in the Life features a friend that I have had for years but only see for short periods of time every few years.
Kristen, her husband Ethan and their three young daughters, moved in 2017 to Andalusia, Spain, in order to run G42 - a global community of men and women rediscovering that the core of Christianity is to live and love like Christ.
G42 trains and empowers leaders who are passionate about changing their neighborhoods, cities, and nations through radical love.
While Kristen spends the majority of her time being a full-time mom, she also loves to grow intentional community with the people around her and has experienced that the most natural way to cultivate sustainable and deep community is through loving and feeding her neighbors and friends.
We love featuring a woman from a different place in the world each month, celebrating the things that make each place unique and highlighting what bonds us together.
What was one challenge that you didn't anticipate when moving abroad?
The challenge that I didn’t expect, was having to be with myself.
In the States, I had enough scaffolding around my life that kept that kept my weakness and fears at bay. Here in Spain that scaffolding has been taken down. I wasn’t expecting that I would need to do so much self-work. When I lived in the States, I had more answers to life than I have now. Now I have more questions and less answers. The one answer that never changes though, is Jesus. He and His Love are the two things that I can consistently hold onto. He looks at me in my struggle and process and says “You, right now, in your brokenness, are enough for Me.” So when I have to go and rip out the house of myself down to the beams and begin again, He is the bedrock that I can rebuild upon.
What is your grocery shopping routine like where you live?
I walk to either the village market, which is about a kilometer from my apartment, along the way I’ll stop at the panederia (bakery) where I’ll buy fresh croissants or sit down and have a cafe con leche with the typical Spanish breakfast, which is pan con tomate y aceite (toasted bread with grated tomato and olive oil). I’m usually wearing my one-year-old, in the front-facing ergo, while I do this, which puts her at the perfect location to cajole free cookies and pieces of bread from the bakery clerk. After we leave the panederia, we walk past restaurants and shops to the mercado where we buy two bagfuls of fresh produce for about twelve euros (about sixteen USD). I also often buy beans and almonds there.
We do have a closer small chain grocery store (by the name of ‘Dia’) but it doesn’t carry as many healthy options or as much variety as the market. We’re fortunate, because there is also a tiny health food store in the market, run by a British ex-pat. There I can purchase many different kinds of organic or plant-based food options (such as coconut oil and almond milk).
Lastly, I buy our meat at the local butcher (a family business that dates back to the 1800s), where I can order a whole organic chicken to be delivered within a few days, for only four euros.
If I have the time and energy, I can take the local bus down to the city that’s on the shores of the Mediterranean, Fuengirola. In Fuengirola, I can buy anything and everything that I want and need. But because I have to take a bus, carry my babe, and additionally cart around either a stroller or small roller shopping cart, those shopping trips only happen about every two weeks.
What is your morning commute like?
At a quarter till 9 AM, I strap the baby on and we walk about ten minutes up the mountain to the girls’ schools. Anthem, my 5-year-old, goes to the younger primary school and Everley, my 7-year-old, goes to the upper primary. Both schools are on top of a steep hill, overlooking the village, although Everley’s school is halfway up the mountain and has the most amazing view of the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a steep walk, but it’s helped me to be in the best shape of my life, so I’m grateful for it.
After I drop the kids off, I either go run errands on foot, head to the building, where my husband works, or go home and do house work.
What is your favorite place to go as a family?
Is the beach! It’s only about thirty minutes from our house, it’s free, everyone mellows out because it’s peaceful, the kids hunt for rocks and shells, and we can order food from just across the street.
What is a local dish that you like to enjoy?
The local dish that I love to eat is an amazing bocadillo (a sandwich made on a hard small baguette) that came from our favorite cafe that just closed. We’re all in mourning over this.
The owner, Christobel, ran the place with his daughter and he would make every bocadillo to order, by hand. If he ran out of ingredients on any given day, he would close up and go home.
His bocadillo had a secret tomato/garlic/ginger sauce recipe that he would layer on the bread, around the Serrano ham and cheese.
What do you do to rest and recharge?
I run. I began running after we moved here, to burn off the stress build-up. It’s ironic, because I previously hated running, but now I love it. The combination of the beautiful mountain views and the struggle to run up the hills, both relieves stress, burns off the frustrations that have built up over the day and energizes my spirit.
Additionally, I use the quiet in the midmorning, when the kids are off in school and the baby is napping, to plan for the week, to journal and to process my thoughts without someone needing me.
I’ve learned also to have spirit rest in the midst in the daily chaos, when I can’t just take time off of life, to breathe deep and set my heart and mind on the truth, that I am loved by my Creator.