LIFE UPDATE…*a lot has happened*

I know it’s been quite awhile since the last time I wrote here but dang life has been crazy! A few very major things have happened in my life recently, and although they’re exciting, I’m kinda freaking out !!! So here’s a short synopsis of the past several months in my life:

1. I graduated high school !!!

A new stage of life, how fun !!!! Don’t get me wrong though, I enjoyed high school a lot and I’m definitely going to miss spending 5 days of the week with my friends and teachers. I attended the same small private school for my entire life, which made saying goodbye a lot harder. Most of my 38 classmates I’ve known for many, many years and although I’ve known some for only a few years, they all are like family.

2. I have decided to take a gap year and earn my TESOL certification

I know that going to school and earning a degree is important, but taking some time off to make money, travel, get a new perspective on life, or whatever you need to do to pursue your life calling – that is okay too (and I hope other high school or college grads understand that too). I have decided that it is best for me to take a year off of school to work, get my TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification, and get ready for the next life-changing stage of my life.

3.  I have decided to attend university in MADRID !! (and my family is going with me :D)

Around 2015, I decided that I wanted to study at a university somewhere abroad, and most likely in Europe. While on a trip with my dad to Germany, we visited a few universities that actually offered FREE tuition to foreigners !! I was super stoked to check them out and actually liked one of the universities a lot. However, the more I thought about that particular city and the criteria to be a student there, it didn’t seem like a great fit for me.

As I processed many opportunities and locations, I thought about my love for the Spanish language and European cultures, which led me to look further into universities in Spain! Eventually, I landed on St. Louis University.

St. Louis University’s Madrid Campus (SLU-Madrid) is an American-accredited school. The classes are taught in English, it’s located in Madrid, and students come in from around 60 other countries to study there !!! Honestly, the thing that really sold me on this particular place is their love and opportunities for traveling around Europe and building community between many cultures. After sending in my application, I got an acceptance email and letter, which immediately brought me to tears. After reading lots of articles written by SLU-Madrid alumni and current students about the campus and community, I was confident in my answer and decision to move to Spain.

THE REALLY COOL PART is that my parents were offered missionary positions in Europe !! With the position they were offered, they have the opportunity to also move to Madrid and work with many of our missionary friends located in other European countries !!! OBVIOUSLY this was a huge decision to make, but also a dream come true for our family.

As a whole, our family is pretty adventurous and struggles to say no to the Lord. That being said, when my family noticed the many, many details that God aligned for us to move to Spain together, we knew it was all in His hands.

I’m SO excited for the new journey but also so stinkin nervous to leave everyone and everything behind.

Since my younger sisters are originally from Costa Rica, my family knows a fair amount of Spanish. However, the dialect is different in Spain and we haven’t practiced our Spanish a whole lot in the past 4 years since they’ve been here.

Adjusting to a new culture and somewhat of a new language is going to be a rollercoaster, but I’m pretty excited and ready for it !!

4. Future blog posts

Since I’m only working 3 days a week right now, I am planning on creating blog posts on Wednesdays. I know that there will definitely be weeks I miss, so sorry in advance bout that. But I will try my best !!!

If ya wanna be notified when I put up a new blog, you can follow me here, or follow me on Instagram @aubrygrace_  where I’ll let you guys know when a new blog is up !!!  

A CHANGE OF HEART

This past summer, I had the opportunity to go on a trip to Guatemala. This wasn’t the first time, since my family had gone with me a couple times before, but it was the first time I was genuinely passionate about going. I had first heard about this trip being an opportunity for students and their parents from my church about a year ago. I knew that no matter what, I had to go.

Since it was a student/parent trip, my mom and I began raising funds for it. The closer we got to the trip, the more nervous I became due to the amount of money I still had to raise in the little amount of time until the trip. It honestly wasn’t until a few weeks before the trip that God provided us with all of the funds. It was amazing, actually. He put a desire in the hearts of family friends to donate just the right amount of money to cover our trips completely.

That’s the moment I knew amazing things were about to happen.

I can confidently say that our trip to Guatemala changed the rest of my life. Not only did I build relationships with some of the coolest, most genuine people I have ever met, but I got to experience God’s love and joy more than I have ever experienced it before.

Every night we would get together with the group that we served with to reflect on our day. Each night left me in tears, amazed at the love of God. I have never felt joy like I did that week.

One of the coolest things was the fact that my mom and I were at the same children’s home, Village of Hope, five and six years prior, before they even had children living there. The impact that they have had on the community and how much they have physically grown as a ministry since our first trip is amazing. There was never a doubt in my mind that God is present at Village of Hope, working through the hearts of each staff member, child, family, and friend involved.

This was also the week I felt God lay a passion on my heart for the first time. I always struggled finding my passions and knowing what to do with my life. I now know that I want to work in the missions field someday, helping His children who may not have a family. I want to live in other countries with foreign languages, and I want to share kindness and His faithfulness through my blog. A couple months ago I was still clueless and discouraged because I had no idea what I wanted in life. I asked him many, many times before to show me my passions and dreams, and I would get discouraged when he didn’t.

I guess through all of this I learned that sometimes God isn’t ready to reveal his plans just yet. I am human and I was impatient, wanting to know all the answers from the beginning. But it all comes down to putting faith in God. Having faith that he will lead you when HE’S ready, not you.

Our trip to Guatemala will always be special to me, being a reminder of joy and faithfulness. If you are ever given the opportunity to travel with a group of people (some of which you may not know) and share kindness and truth, I could NOT recommend it enough. Even if you’re terrified out of your mind, I promise you will not regret it.

If you’re interested in learning more about Village of Hope or potential missions trips to this beautiful place, please visit here.

MY LOVE FOR TRAVELING

Many people who know me know about my desire to travel the world. I am so blessed that I have been able to travel to multiple countries already, and there are so many more that I would love to experience! My love for traveling began when I was a kid and I heard about people taking missions trips to Africa to help care for those in need. The little 7 year old me was so amazed that there are people who travel to countries across the world to spread the love of God. I thought, “How amazing would that be?!” But I didn’t think that I would be one of those people who got an amazing opportunity like that. I thought that only certain people, who were specially chosen, could go on those trips. Luckily, I was wrong! When my dad became a Missions Pastor in 2011, my love for traveling grew. We have been able to make so many friends around the world and I have even been able to travel to their countries to see them! After traveling to Guatemala a few times with my family, and to Germany and Italy with my dad, I knew that I want to live in another country after high school. However, God has a plan for my life, so we will see what happens!