May 5th has always been a big day for me. My life always gets turned upside down on Cinco de Mayo, and it’s not from getting hit with a Piñata Bat either. Part of it was that as a college student at California Baptist University, we would get out of school on the first days of May, and have Graduation around May 5th. Like in 2002 I finished Finals and jumped on an airplane to go help my sister in Spain for the first time. It was a huge jump with no down time: May 5th’s Agenda read: “Finish Finals, Fly to Europe by Myself” Then, the next year, on May 5th 2003, I had just graduated from CBU, had my graduation party, then jumped a plane to Denver to go to Missionary Candidate School at Tentmakers Bible Mission. From that I came back to Redlands California to start a church-planting internship to learn the skills of starting a church in a Spanish speaking setting. Thus began my career as a church-planter, right after Cinco de Mayo, 2003. Well yet another major life change is hitting me next week. I have to say good-bye to the love of my life, my girlfriend Sara, and board a plane back to Spain on May 5th. Those of you who know me know I have been very particular about what kind of girls I would consider dating. For one thing, I’m an Evangelical Minister in a Foreign Country. That always narrows dating prospects. And I wasn’t anxious about dating any girl who I couldn’t see being compatible to that calling as a Missionary to a Spanish-speaking country. So finally, after years of searching and complaining to God that want to get married soon, I have found her. Sara is everything I ever wanted. It’s unbelievable that I found her, AND she Loves Me! It’s spectacular to have found each other. But that is where the life-change comes in: we’ve spent the last 2 months spending every moment that we can with each other, enjoying Spring romance to its fullest, but on May 5th I have the looming goodbye kiss, where we have to part for 90 days as I go back to work for 3 months. It’s so painful I realize, to have to part even a few weeks, from someone who you love so much.
This Cinco de Mayo life-change is much more emotional this time. It’s not because either of us graduated, it just happened to be the week that I could finally get back to my job as a church-planter in Spain. Yesterday, after 16 months of collecting forms and notarizations and doctor’s letters and FBI No Arrest Records, and proofs of Foreign Health Insurance, notarized and stapled to an authorized bank statement showing I’m paying, I finally had all my documents for my visa accepted wholly at the Spanish Embassy. That’s all I have been waiting for all these months. Just to get my paperwork stamped and approved and finally that day came, thanks to my boss over-nighting via Courier Service, my last document to be re-issued by the Spanish Ministry of Justice in Madrid. That was the last key to moving on, on Cinco de Mayo.
Now, when it turns May 6th, as I fly through Volcanic Ash, I will have once again started a life-turn. Instead of my familiar stomping grounds of Southern California’s Orange, Riverside, and San Diego Counties, highlighted by dates with my outstanding girlfriend at all the best beaches and attractions of The OC & San Diego, I’ll be looking for parking in the narrow streets of Puebla, Spain. When I arrive I’ll have a big wake-up call, being picked up at Sevilla Airport in my own 2007 Chevrolet, which is in the shop right now. Then I’ll be driving my mother the length of Spain, to Pamplona, to see my poor 36-year-old sister, my only sibling, who is battling colon cancer. Then I’ll be looking for a small house to rent in Puebla, if I have any money left after airfare & car-repair. I waited a long time for this visa, and as usual it will change my life dramatically, on Cinco de Mayo.