Piso Hunting

Piso: literally means ‘floor’ in spanish...but in practical use, it means apartment.

I have been living in Santiago de Compostela, Spain for a little over a month now. During that time I have done a lot: applied for residency, set up a Spanish bank account, explored the city, got a bus card, got a “joven” (youth) discount card for the grocery store, gone to the beach twice, celebrated Easter with my team, attended team meetings, hung out at our ministry site and to get acquainted there, met several pilgrims and ‘regulars’ in our ministry, and so much more… But, the main thing I have been working on is piso hunting.

Real Estate is quite limited in Spain. Due to a high volume of expats and a rough economy, it's hard to find something decent that isn’t too expensive. Thankfully, we have a couple on the team from Argentina who volunteered to help me with the apartment search, so I had some wonderful native Spanish speakers on my side to setup viewings and negotiate deals...and give me an honest opinion on what was a good deal or not.

After searching for a couple of weeks I was ready to give in and just get an apartment that was ‘okay’ so I could just move on from the search. I was willing to sacrifice my desire for good natural lighting (something that can be really hard to find here), or to sacrifice my desire for a good central location in the area of town I loved. My team encouraged me to keep looking though, and they emphasized the importance of getting a place that would be a sanctuary for me to come home to at the end of long and hard days of ministry.

So, we kept looking and I found 2 places that I did like quite a bit- they didn’t have great natural lighting, but were in great locations with okay lighting, and after everything else I had seen, I was ready to commit while these were available. They were a little more expensive than I had wanted to pay, but I thought they were worth it and so I ended up pursuing both of them-- neither of which worked out due to one reason or another.

During this time my team leaders kept reminding me that they were praying for the perfect place and that they trusted God to provide it just as He had for the rest of the team (all my teammates have lovely places that they really do see as their homes and sanctuaries).

Now let me describe to you a little bit of the person I am by-way-of describing my ideal piso:

  • I wanted to find a place in this very specific  part of town that is super close to the center of town where all the hustle and bustle is, but that is by a river and feels like you are actually in a village and not a city.

  • I wanted a porch where I could grow things and read outside in the sun.

  • I wanted good natural lighting to have lots of plants inside and be able to not go stir crazy from being inside in the rainy season (which is pretty much any time of year here)

  • I wanted a place with some basic furniture so I did not have to buy too much, but also that had a place to store some of the furniture i didn’t want (they fill every square foot of space with furniture here...and I am of the mindset that you should always have ample open space)

  • I wanted a place that was pretty neutral colored (lots of places here have walls of lime green, traffic cone orange, and with a pink couch….I just couldn’t do it---well I could, but I would never feel at peace)

  • AND THE ULTIMATE DREAM: to have Spanish neighbors who have farm animals and who would grow vegetables that they would share with me and who all knew each other. That is like my fairy tale version of “I AM MOVING TO SPAIN”

Well, I don’t really know how to elegantly end this post...but I guess the best way would be by telling you that two days ago  I SIGNED ON A PLACE THAT HAS *ALL* OF THOSE THINGS!!! And this place is even 20 euros less than what I had budgeted for housing!

This whole experience has been a good reminder for me that God provides not only for our basic needs, but also for our emotional needs (mine being the need for sunlight in a place where it rains A LOT *remember i am from the desert and this is soooo new to me) and even our delights (my desire for the city/country feel and a neighbor with a pig). Sometimes we reduce God to a position of someone who just cares about rescuing our souls from damnation...and while I do of course believe that Christ desires to save us-- I know He also desires for our lives to be abundant as we live on and among his GOOD creations. His incarnation and life on Earth teaches us that.

Please pray for:

-Language acquisition: I start an intensive few weeks of language classes in 1 week! I am eager to learn the language  and to be able to communicate with locals here (especially my neighbors who I am already getting to know and adore).

-My Camino: I am planning my own pilgrimage that I will begin in about a month. Prayers for preparations as i plan, and that when I go it will be a beautiful and soul enriching experience that prepares me to love other pilgrims well. Prayers also for all those I meet on this journey- that I would be able to listen and love well, and share Christ in all I do and say with these people.

-A pilgrim who has been coming into Pilgrim House for years and who the team knows very well...we’ll call him D. He struggles with PTSD and does not feel like he can return to his own country for fear of being arrested. Prayers for his healing and for the ability to return home to his parents and girlfriend.