Christmas, New Years, and Three King’s Day is a rich time of celebration and tradition in Spain.  Enjoy our photos of the holidays to learn more about our Navidad in Espana!

First of all, there are many activities for the children at school.  There was a day for Ava and Molly to dress up as a nativity character, and they chose to be pastoras, or female shepherds. (By the way, ALL the girls dress up as shepherdesses, and we usually do our best to fit in…not be more different!)  So with help from a friend, we pulled together a couple outfits, and they had a great day at school with all the other pastoras!

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Another common activity at school is to have a Christmas program and desayuna (breakfast) for all the families.  Because of the crisis and budget cuts, there was no program, but there was a breakfast for the parent to attend, and we all brought something to share.

Ava’s Desayuna

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Molly’s Desayuna – you can see her smiling on the right side of the table.

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We also had a Christmas program at our church.  The children learned songs, there was a small adult choir, some dances, puppets, and a live nativity scene at the end.  The girls did a great job learning their songs in Spanish, and were the cutest angels you’ve ever seen!

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And of course, we had a great time as a family making Christmas cookies for our neighbors, eating yummy food together, decorating, and opening presents! We are starting to form our own family traditions here, some from our own families of origin, and others from Spain.

It was a great Holiday Season!!

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More of an update coming… but here are some pictures from Ava’s striped theme birthday party… 7 years old!! David playing around and a few below from Thanksgiving.

Family Striped Party photo

Family Striped Party photo

The Master Mind at work!

The Master Mind at work!

The striped crew!

The striped crew! minus Matai

I't getting a bit crazy. . do you think they will see me under Christmas tree cover?

I’t getting a bit crazy. . do you think they will see me under Christmas tree cover?

Thanksgiving. . .

Kids table is always the best!!

Kids table is always the best!!

mommy knows how to do it!

mommy knows how to do it!

Seats please

Seats please.

Ava and Molly helped with pre-Thanksgiving decor

Ava and Molly helped with pre-Thanksgiving decor

Craft time!!

Craft time!!

Just recently we had to write one of our favorite stories of transformation in our year end report for CRM. I thought I would share with you…

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It was a very surreal feeling as I approached my landing in Prague, Czech Republic. I never would have imagined I would be getting on a plane to fly to Eastern Europe to encourage my new friend, Andres, who had been our next door neighbor in Spain. Andres, 24, had recently moved from Spain to be the primary caregiver for his four younger siblings, Sasha (17), Michael (16), and twins Filip and Sebastian (14), after recently losing both parents to different forms of cancer. I really sensed my purpose for visiting the family was to help bring a new spirit of hope, love, and light into Andres’ home. I was also praying God would help me connect Andres to the right believers in Czech that could help him continue on the faith journey he had begun only 6 months earlier…

Andres was one of the first neighbors we met when we moved to Spain. He became one of my first friends, and a great Spanish teacher. I soon learned that he had lost his mother to cancer in the previous 8 months, and that his stepfather was also battling cancer. I also learned quickly that Andres knew nothing about God’s love for him and the promises of new life he could have through Jesus. We began having long conversations about the Lord.  Andres started going to church with us, and began hanging out with some of our Christian friends. After a few months, Andres told me he wanted to believe, but he felt he was unable. Over time, through the love and friendship of Christian community, and the work of the Holy Spirit, the strongholds of unbelief began to break.

I will never forget the day Andres sat on our terrace and said, “This is who I want to be.” He was referring to being part of the family of God; a follower of Jesus. It was an awesome moment!  But though he had newfound hope in Jesus, his life circumstances were becoming more difficult. His stepfather passed away, and he learned he needed to return to Czech to be the caretaker for his siblings. This was a huge blow for a guy who felt he was just gaining some altitude and vision for his life. Though he was frustrated and discouraged, I knew God had a greater plan…

Back to the continuation of the story…It was great to be greeted by Andres with open arms and a huge smile when I landed in Prague. I knew there hadn’t been a lot of smiling in Andres’ home or life in recent days. During my visit I was able to introduce Andres to an amazing young lady who loves the Lord, named Barbara. She is very connected to the small Christian community in Prague, which gave Andres new possibilities for friendship and continued spiritual growth. And, what better way to bring the love of Jesus into a home than by sharing meals, card games, playing basketball, and going on a family road trip together. Andres said it was the first time he had seen Sasha smile and laugh in a long time.

I must admit, behind the scenes of all the fun family time, there was a serious battle being waged for the life of my friend and his family. I was led by the Spirit at several points to pray specific blessings over their home, and remove and rebuke demonic influence. It was very evident God wanted so much more for this family.

Since my visit one year ago, God has continued to bring more hope, more light, and more love in all aspects of Andres’ life and family. Last February, Andres was given tickets to visit the West Coast in the States. He ended up staying with several of our friends, experienced God specifically answering his prayers, and found the courage to pursue his dreams of doing flight school – which he is now excelling in. Barbara has continued to be a faithful friend, and connected Andres’ family with a missions team from the States who just happened to be working with a church in his small town of Teplice, Czech Republic. Amazing things have come from this connection. Not only is his family regularly attending a local church, Andres’ youngest brother Felip has found the Lord, and is reading his bible daily and attending youth group. Also, Michael and Sasha had the opportunity to spend the summer in the state of Washington with one of the Christian families who were on the mission team in Teplice.

For me this has been a story of the amazing and unlimited ways our Father God pursues those He loves, and how He wants us to partner with Him in his redemptive work. Salvation is now spilling over into Andres’ family, and I feel so honored to play a part in it. Thankfully, this story continues for all of us…

Since being back in Spain, we’ve been on quite an emotional roller coaster as a family. But the best part is, the Lord has been enjoying the ride with us! Enrolling both of our girls in the Spanish public school system has been one of the hardest things we’ve ever done (especially since they don’t have the language). We’ve never prayed more, and we’ve never seen so many specific answers to prayer, either! Taking this step of faith has resulted in amazing spiritual growth and fruit, especially in Ava’s life. She has seen God answer her prayers, comfort her when she’s been sad or afraid, and she’s experienced His help when she’s needed courage. Her own faith has been sprouting like a little seedling breaking through tough ground, and it’s been beautiful to experience. Our faith and dependence on the Lord has been growing as well, and we’ve been learning to pray more intensely and specifically for and with our children. We’re still in the midst of this transition, but we’re thankful that with Lord’s help, it’s been good and hard all at the same time. (Amber)

One of my (Deric) favorite stories  happened when praying with Ava one night. It was one of those nights that Ava wasn’t exactly motivated to ‘present her request to God’. So I simply said, “Is there anything you would like, need, or want to talk to God about?” She jokingly said, “I want more candy at school.” So I went with it. “Well, don’t just ask God for candy, but tell him exactly what kind you want. Do you think God can’t handle candy?” She liked the idea and proceeded to ask God for gummy-bears at school. A few days later, Ava came home with a big smile on her face. She told Amber that God had answered her prayer for gummy-bears! For one of the girl’s birthdays in class she got a little bag of candy with gummy bears inside. (I guess Ava hooked up her classmates with some prayer as well!)  🙂  I reminded her that was the forth time in a month God had answered very specific prayers of hers: a good teacher who can speak English, a friend for the first day of school, for Molly to be placed in her school, and for gummy bears. She’s joining my personal prayer team for sure! God can definitely handle candy and sooooooo much more!

Ava waiting at the corner for Natalia with Molly before school

Molly skipping to school.

Molly, David, Ava

 

DAVID continues to be a happy baby, and is growing like crazy.  He’s doing a ton of new tricks lately – scooting, babbling, clapping, sitting up, and making “Ma Ma” and “Da Da” sounds.  We thought you would enjoy the latest video of our little worm!

 

After hauling around 13 pieces of luggage over 16,500 miles it is good be back home. Our journey brought us to Connecticut, Ohio, Michigan, California, Mexico and many different cities within those States. During our travels we only had to stay in 3 hotel type locations and most our housing was covered through family and friends. Thanks for those of you who loaned us cars and fed us food. Most our basic needs of food, shelter, and love were covered and we are soo thankful!! We couldn’t do this without those of you who have been faithful partners and friends of our ministry.

Now that we are getting our feet back underneath us here in Spain – kids school, daddy’s school, new rhythms, etc.. we will get back to better updates with you all.

For now I will put a few pictures on here starting with our luggage cart (13 items) + 3 children. . . really 16 items.

I find the kids like the to ride vs. carry 🙂

Well, just a reminder to you all, definitely check the plane departure time one last time the night before. Here we are across from our free hotel in San Diego as we wait for our next plane 7 hours later since our first plane decided to leave over an hour earlier then scheduled time (American). It all worked out and we got a direct flight and few naps taken in the hotel before landing in Boston later that night.

Just chillin-out having fun in San Diego

Just one of the few things (many) we will miss about the land of the plenty. We got in one more Jamba Juice blast.

MMMMMM MMMMM Jamba Juice

There is so much to share about Ava’s first week of school. I know many of you out there were praying for her. Absolutely amazing!!! God has been so good to Ava and given her so much courage, along with an amazing teacher who speaks English, and even a friend to hold hands with on the way to school first day (Natalia)!

She is ready to strut her stuff

 

Ava and Natalia – They even had 2 play dates before school started.

 

End of first day of school . . with a Smile on her Face!!

Well there is much to tell… about our time in the US and much to tell as we get rolling here. More updates to come. I hope you enjoyed these pictures.

 

This last weekend I headed to Granada to get some face to face time with a good friend and gifted Christian worker, Charlie, serving in Granada. Granada is about an 1 1/2 hours away from us and is a very famous city here in Spain. I had the opportunity to join Charlie in a few of his normal ministry activities and spend some time with the friends he has been reaching out to. Charlie and I met last year when he was working on the University campus of Malaga for Agape. We have mostly continued our coaching/mentoring relationship through WhatsAp, Skype, and weekly calls.

Granada is full of young university students and the spiritual climate is very much alive and well. Unfortunately, not in favor of Jesus. I felt the second I hit the ground it was like, “Gloves were on!” Because of some confidentiality reasons I can’t share all the details. I can say the enemy is a deceiver, he hates Christians, and was working overtime to try and thwart God’s plans for our time. He would rather we just really didn’t believe he existed. I feel lately God has been leading me into these ministry situations and giving me what I need just in the nick of time :).

We were able to gain some good ground in areas of personal ministry, future leadings, and areas of spiritual development for Charlie. Also in the time we experienced one particular person Charlie had been ministering with move from not believing in Jesus to believing He does exist, He did come to earth, and He did rise again. Now this person feels Christians only transfer this Jesus from one Christian to another, and believes that Jesus never went back to heaven (maybe I should make it lower case J).  Where this belief was coming from made sense when Charlie learned this person had their own personal jesus ‘spirit’ that guides them each day. Wow! The battle we are fighting once again is not of flesh and blood, but against rulers, authorities, and powers of this dark world.  The amazing thing is that the majority of this ministry took place through some serious prayer and interceding we felt the Lord lead us in without the person present. Please pray for my friend Charlie and for Granada.

Here in Spain I have met Christian workers working to reach Muslims, supporting other missionaries around the world, trying to breathe life into local Spanish church structures, or plant more churches. I actually heard of one church planter asking another church if it could have some of its members to help get it off the ground. I never found out all the details, but something seemed really off for me in this??  We definitely need Christian workers planting new churches (I would lean towards very new expressions), people working to support missionaries, and of course people working to reach Muslims. All are needed! But what is sad in relation to the people and places God has called me to here in Spain…the workers seem sooo few!! The people really reaching the lost and trying to find ways to transform neighborhoods, befriend unbelievers, create new forms of church to reach a new culture of young people feel very little. When I meet young leaders like Charlie or Abraham really trying to do this, it just seems they have so little support.   Please pray that God would continue to send more ‘workers’ to join us and people like Charlie!!!

Here are a couple pictures I snapped in Granada. I love the picture of the cross in the Muslim quarter of the city. Jesus is there calling, and waiting. This week of Semana Santa many will look at crosses and idols/pictures of Jesus, and sadly, most still don’t believe He can really make a difference!

Below is another interesting picture I took in the local super-market. This manikin greeted me as I entered :). I know what you are thinking if you are from North America. He’s not with the KKK.  This is actually a person who would have the privilege of participating in processional during Holy Week (Semana Santa).  “The exact colors and forms of these robes depend on the particular procession. The robes were widely used in the medieval period for penitents, who could demonstrate their penance while still masking their identity.” (Wikipedia: Holy Week in Spain) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holy_Week_in_Spain

Does this help some get nearer to God, or discover the good news of Jesus? From what I have experienced and seen so far, this  doesn’t seem to be making a big difference. I will say, I have recently met a young man (in a Bible Study with Charlie) who is Catholic that takes this whole thing extremely serious – and is a true follower of Jesus, extremely devoted to God, and seeks obedience to Him in all things. Taking part in the processional and wearing this type of thing is in the category of spiritual discipline to him. I still have a lot to learn, but I’m going to keep working hard to suspend my judgements, and keep praying Come, Lord Jesus, Come.. however You want to do it.. Come!

Well this is what I saw on the way to the Taller (Mechanic) a few days ago. As many of you know, the mechanic, or might I say mechanics, have become good friends of mine. I figure I’m doing my part to help the Spanish economy. But…this was really refreshing. I love that I live in a place that still has shepherds and sheep cruising around the country side (campo) and streets.

Over the weekend I took Ava to her Olympic training. This has been a time for Ava to learn how to push herself, integrate with other Spanish kids, and have fun with Daddy. I’m praying that is how she sees it! In May we will go to an Olympic track and field event in Madrid, along with another family from our church who have two girls in the track meet as well. The main goal is to work on Spanish with daddy, have fun, make some new friends, be a light for Jesus, and improve. Here is a little clip I took of Ava practicing the long jump (first attempt ever). I thought it was alright even though she definitely isn’t the quickest kid on the planet.  By the way, “vamo” is Andulucia Spanish for ‘let’s go’ (vamos). They don’t always say the last sound, especially the ‘s’. For example: they say ‘gracia’ not ‘gracias’.  This makes language learning very interesting ;).

Also, this last weekend we attended an exciting birthday party for the Galloway twins (Lexy & Bella). The theme was “Cup Cake Wars”. Our teammates Alex and Amy have quite the exciting birthday parties. Always full of games and creativity. They are really raising the bar on birthday celebrations. Here are some fun pictures of the party, and some recent family pics as well…

Our little man!

Ava's first tooth loss!

You know it!

David Joel Moen was born Sunday, December 11th, 2011 at 4:20am. He weighed about 7 pounds and was 19.5 inches long.

It was a typical birth for Amber, and I was very worried when I woke up about 3am to Amber breathing heavy next to me in bed!!! After stumbling around a bit I convinced Amber that we needed to get going. Big sisters, daddy & mommy are very happy!! David has been doing great!

Here are some pics..

Fresh off the boat!

Ready for Christmas!!

First outing after finishing Spanish documents... muy contento!

Ava's first hold!!

I think this is it!!

He's soooo fun to touch and look at!!

The boy's.

There is definitely something very special about having a little baby boy around Christmas. I pray and hope that we all can take some significant time to reflect on and celebrate the birth of Jesus during this special time of year.

Merry Christmas…

The Moens

p.s. we love hearing updates and as far as I know mail still works here in Spain as well. 🙂

Deric & Amber Moen

Calle Lagrima, 33

Urb. El Lagar, 29130

Alhaurin de la Torre, Malaga

Spain

skype: dericjmoen

Last week our team put on a VBS Campout for our 7 girls, (2-13 yrs. old).  Our desire was to help our kids grow spiritually, while giving them a good time.  Both goals were definitely accomplished – and it was awesome!  Carissa, our new teammate and home-school teacher, designed most of the theme which was G.L.O.W. – Go Light Our World.  The theme verse was Matt. 5:16.  “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”  Deric, Carissa and I did some teaching, led worship, had games and crafts, and Bible memorization.  And of course, having smores over a fire pit and camping in tents out in the back yard with their daddys was a hit too!  It was a great time, and we were all challenged to think about being a light to our own families, and to the world around us.  Enjoy the pictures!!

Setting up Tent

Carissa teaching about being light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

            

Smore Mom

Memory verse Activity

Amber teaching

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrating Being Light to the World!

 

Making candles

I’m not sure how many of you remember the movie, Karate Kid, but recently I have felt like I have been doing a lot of waxing on and waxing off. Do you remember that part? Daniel is a kid who is sort of getting beat up by life and some mean kids. He wants to learn karate and he wants to get out there and kick butt.  Mr. Miyagi is this veteran karate expert that has agreed to train Daniel but has him waxing his cars in a very particular way for about 2 weeks for his training time. Wax on, wax off. Daniel feels like he is wasting time, and has a hard time trusting that Mr. Miyagi knows what he is doing.

Quite honestly, as of lately, I feel a lot like Danielson (What Mr. Myagi calls him). I want to get out there and kick butt for Jesus but I feel like all I’m doing sometimes is waxing on and waxing off. I’ve spent about 8 months now and 6 mechanics later trying to get my car fixed. I feel like more than 50% of the time I’m still just trying to figure out the system here from how to navigate bank stuff, to cell phones, to putting gutters on a house, fixing toilets, leaks, insurance, cars, etc. Some of these things we all experience, and in a context we are familiar with, we can whip it out in no time. But here, Spaniards definitely don’t have an expression for ‘whip it out’.  Sometimes I feel like all God has me doing is just waxing on and waxing off.

During one of our many car break down periods in the last 8 months I was forced to take public transit into the city from our home in Alhaurin for several days. This usually involved an extra 3 hours of travel added to my day. Wax on, wax off. On one of these trips I met a guy named Dani (not to be confused with Daniel – from Karate Kid). Usually, if I see a dude that is anywhere close to my age or age range (actually probably much younger since I would like to think I’m still in my 20’s) I would like to connect with, I just go for it. Lucky for me, Dani was a Spanish guy studying English. I learned Dani lived in my town and organized volleyball with his friends every week of the summer.

Right about the time I was going to join Dani and his friends for volleyball his grandfather got sick so Dani has been gone a lot of the summer visiting him. Well, last Saturday night I finally had my first chance to join Dani and his friends. Wow!! What an amazing time. There were about 17 young adults there between the ages of about 18 to 28. At least 12 of them live right in our town of Alhaurin de la Torre, and about 4 of them are attending the University of Malaga. We played volleyball until it got dark. Then I spent the next hour swimming with Dani and his friends in the warm Mediterranean water trying to use Spanish while Dani practiced his English.

I think I felt a lot like Danielson when he got his first glimpse of hope with Mr. Miyagi as he started figuring out what all this wax on, wax off stuff was doing for him. These young adults are some of the very people I feel God has called us here to be good news to. Only God could arrange such an amazing invitation into a completely Spanish context. I’ve come to realize, just like Daniel had to discover, that my (our) waxing on and off is about a much deeper change that God is doing in me as well. I’ll be honest – it has not been easy, and I’ve had to face some of my ugliness surfacing in past months.

Just recently I met a young lady here that had a tattoo on her foot that said Esperanza. It means ‘hope’ in Spanish. She told me her inspiration came also from seeing the words hoping and waiting being used interchangeably in the Psalms. I really connected with these words. I feel our journey right now involves a lot of hard ground-work while we wait and continue to hope for God to do great things here in Spain. This journey so far has required more faith and patience then I originally expected. It has required me trusting my Master, Teacher, my loving Father more fully. . . even when I feel like sometimes He is just saying, “Dericson . . .Wax on, wax off.”

Girls watching sunset from balcony.

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