Tuesday, May 12, 2009


This time tomorrow, I will be about a third of the way through my plane ride back to the US! I always knew this day would come, and yet it still seems so surreal. Maybe it will finally hit me tomorrow when I'm in the airport for the last time, or when I land in Chicago...I'm not sure.

Today I woke up (early, my roommate left to hang out with her parents and Paloma was up early yelling at somebody on the phone), ate breakfast, and ventured out to Sol for the last time. I still hadn't seen the Royal Palace, and I figured today was as good a day as ever to see it. While it wasn't as impressive as Versailles, it was still beautiful. Unfortunately they really crack down on picture taking, so I don't have any pictures to show you all. I spent the afternoon walking the streets of Sol, enjoying my last time in the middle of the city for a long time.

I was walking to school on Sunday to study for my final on Monday, and was so completely content with my life. I was so thankful for the last four months and still so excited about what lies ahead of me. A lot of my friends have a huge mix of emotions right now: some are doing whatever they can to try to stay longer, but most I feel are ready to come home. Some aren't even leaving tomorrow: I know of 2 groups of people who are traveling until the end of May or early June. And it's also hard because some of my friends that I made here don't go to SLU. My friend Andy who I ate lunch with almost every day of the semester goes to Catholic University in DC...I don't know when I'll be able to see him again.

But the bottom line for me is this: I've seen what I wanted to see (with very few exceptions...but that leaves me with a reason to return in the future), I've done what I wanted to do, and I know that I've learned what I needed to learn....which is why I am so content to leave Madrid. God brought me here for a reason, but it's time for me to close this chapter of my life and let Him start writing a new one.

But please keep me in your prayers...especially when it comes to traveling! I will leave Madrid at 11:55am (5:55am eastern time, 4:55 central) and arrive in Chicago at 2:15pm. From there, I've booked a flight from Chicago to Columbus that leaves at 3:25pm and arrives at 5:30. I realize that this puts me in a slight time crunch...but there are also 5 more flights that leave after mine that fly from Chicago to Columbus. BUTTTTT I am praying (and hoping that you will too!) :) that there are NO complications or delays, that lines are short, and I can quickly move throughout the Chicago O'Hare airport and make it to my flight on time.

OK! This will be my last update from Madrid! I'll post one more after I get over my jetlag and get back to the states...

tomorrow <3

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

7 days?

One week?

It's so weird to me...I've lived in Madrid for almost 4 months, 16.5 weeks, 1 semester. It's so weird that it's all coming to an end. I've thought about May 13th for so long, and now it is only a week away!

I had lunch today with one of my good friends Gina, who is a grad student here at SLU Madrid and works in the campus ministry department. While most of the people I've traveled with and hung out with here are from SLU's Missouri campus, I have made a few wonderful friends that I will dearly miss when I leave for home (Gina being one of them). Anyways, it got me thinking about what I am excited to do when I go home, so I decided to make an official "Top 7 things Liza will miss about Madrid" and a "Top 7 things Liza is looking forward to doing when she goes home" in honor of the 7 days I have left here in Spain.

So...the top 7 things Liza will miss about Madrid

7. Being able to use the metro every day and utilizing public transportation
I can get anywhere in the city, and really anywhere in the greater Madrid area because of public transportation here, without asking anyone for a ride of having to inconvenience any of my friends. It's kind of liberating, having freedom to go wherever you want for only 30 euro a month. That is way cheaper than what I pay for gas every month at home.

6. Hearing, Thinking in, and Speaking Spanish every day
One of my life goals is to someday be completely fluent in another language. Living here has definitely improved my Spanish skills, but I definitely wouldn't consider myself fluent-- I understand a lot, but not everything all the time. I'm still trying to figure out how to remedy this when I go home, as none of my close friends or family really speak Spanish either.

5. The fact that I feel like I'm on vacation while I actually go to school
Being abroad gives you this weird sense of, well, being on vacation while still going to class. And I don't think I ever really got over it...academics were never quite the top priority for me while in Spain (don't worry, mom...my grades are still OK!) :) Not having class on Fridays didn't help this situation. But honestly, when you are so close to so much of the world, you have to take advantage of it.

4. Hanging out with the Young Life staff in Madrid
It has been so much fun to hang out with Jim and Barbara since I arrived here in January. They so graciously opened their home to me and going to Thursday night Bible study with other YL leaders was so fun. Plus, it was interesting for me to see what Young Life looks like on an international scale. It's definitely different from the states. Having Jim and Barbara here has allowed me to stay connected with a ministry and savior that I love.

3. Paloma's cooking
OK, so this might seem kind of strange, but it is SO true. I seriously never went out to dinner EVER in Madrid because I always wanted to eat what she cooked. There was only one thing that she made this semester that I didn't like and didn't eat...and if you know me you know that's definitely saying something. I'm trying to get her to teach me how to cook her paella, spaghetti, and croquetas, my 3 favorite recipes.

2. Paloma, my host mom
I was so lucky to get placed with such a great host mom. She did my laundry, cooked my meals, and basically accomodated me in any way that I asked her. I have no complaints about living with Paloma and really, really hope I can see her again after I leave.

1. Easy and cheap traveling

Traveling is SO easy here...I can get a round trip ticket to almost any major city in Europe easily for 30 euro. When was the last time you heard of a $40 round trip ticket to anywhere in the United States? There are thousands of hostels all over Europe that are comfortable to stay in and cost anywhere between 11-25 euro a night. I've never stayed in hotel in the states for that cheap, ever. Why doesn't America have airlines like EasyJet and RyanAir?

And all good things must come to an end. But, with every ending comes a new beginnig, and I am looking forward to beginnig my summer back in my beloved home state of Ohio...so...

Top 7 things Liza is looking forward to doing when she goes home

7. Novelties of American restaurants...aka seperate checks and free refills
Again, this might sound kind of ridiculous, but it is so true. You would not believe how annoying it is to walk into a restaurant, order your food, get the check, and then have to figured out who ordered which drink and how much it cost and how much the tax per person AND THEN realize that everyone only has a 50 euro bill and nobody can make change. So frustrating.

6. Having my own room.
This really doesn't have anything to do with my roommate, but more of not having almost any time to myself. Ever. I've loved living with Paloma and appreciate everything she's done for me, but I share a very small room with someone in a very small apartment. It will be nice to have my own room and have more access to time by myself.

5. Being able to use all of my electronics with out a converter
Currently, I can only charge one thing at a time because I only have one converter to use. This isn't so much a problem now, but when I was traveling and had to charge my iPod and my camera and use my computer to finish up some last minute things...you get the drift. Plus my converter is really heavy and clunky and weighs a lot, and is really annoying to take wherever I go.

4. Not having to pay for any kind of phone call to talk or text my friends
Skype has been awesome to be able to video chat with my family and friends, and granted it costs something like 2 cents a minute, but it is still money. Plus I miss getting random text messages from my friends about funny things that have happened to them, and having a phone that is easy to text on. I will happily and dutifully return to my Verizon Wireless contract when I return.

3. Having at most a 1-hour time difference between myself and the people I love the most
This has perhaps been the hardest part about living in Spain, especially during my first few weeks here. By the time my friends get out of class or family gets home from work or school, it is close to midnight or later here. It is difficult to have a meaningful conversation when you are practically falling asleep while talking to them.

2. Hanging out with my friends again, in Ohio and back at SLU
You have NO idea how excited I am to go back to SLU in the fall...especially because I get to start my year off with Welcome Week in Oriflamme and then immediately move into recruitment with my sorority! So much is waiting for me back in St. Louis, and I cannot cannot CANNOT wait to go back. Plus, a lot of my good friends are going to be home in Dayton this summer, which will give us ample time to hang out and get caught up on the last year of our lives. I am ecstatic about the next 4 months of my life...I can barely stand it :)

1. Seeing my mom (and whoever else may accompany her...hint hint) at the airport in one week
Everytime I think about this, I inevitably start to cry, so I will just say this...it's been four months since I've seen my Mom and hugged her, which is the longest I've gone without seeing her my entire life. And now I only have one more week to wait until I can hold her in my arms again.

So there you have it...the thoughts and feelings as I enter my final week here in Europe. As of right now, I've finished one final and have a speech to critique tomorrow, a history final on Friday, and then my last Spanish final on Monday. Tuesday will be used to pack everything up, and then Wednesday I start the long journey back to the USA.

If you haven't figured it out...I can't wait to see you all again :)

all my love--

Monday, May 4, 2009

Single digits, baby!

Oh man!

9 days? Is it really true? How can I only have 9 days left in a city that I've lived in for nearly 4 months? It is so strange for me to think about all that I've done and seen since I arrived on January 11th. And as sad as I will be to leave this beautiful city, I am SO SO SO excited to see my family and friends back in the states...I'll write more about my feelings of leaving as I get closer to May 13th.

As promised, here are my pictures from Portugal and my dance recital, PLUS an added bonus: Granada! I spent a day down in Southern Spain (really only 12 hours) with my friend Lauren who is studying abroad there now.

This is one of the main streets in Lisbon. Note that all of the streets are like this one: they are paved with coble stones and have mostly pedestrian traffic on them.
On our second day in Lisbon, we decided to tour St. John's castle. While there we encountered a peacock. I was a little terrified but managed to get a few pictures before he went away.
The city of Lisbon!
These were all the girls that were on my trip...Me, Mary, Laura, Lisa, and Ally.
The beach that we layed on for several hours on Friday. It was beautiful.
So like I said, I came back from Lisbon and had a CRAZY week at school, with a million tests, papers, and projects due. In the middle of my crazy week I had my dance recital from my Latin Rythms and Dance class...here are a few pictures that I took before we performed. You can see our BEAUTIFUL (note sarcasm...) costumes here.

These were the "chicas solas" in the cha cha...meaning they didnt have partners.
My group, chicas con parejas! We closed the section of the Cha-cha by dancing with our male partners. From L to R, Monica, Ali, Amanda, me, Theresa, Maria.

After last week was over, I knew I wanted to get down to Granada to visit and see Southern Spain. My friend Lauren was studying there this semester and my friend and co-leader Allison studied there last semester. To be honest...I feel like I need a re-do trip to Granada. I arrived at 12:30pm and we made our way up to the Alhambra, only to find out that they were sold out of tickets for the day. So we sat down and had lunch, then walked around the town (Granada has a lot of Moroccan flair) and then found a bar to watch the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona game (Barcelona danced circles around Real, it was SO frustrating. ugh. The final score was like 6-2 Barca). Then we went and got dinner, found a cafe and sat there for awhile, ad then we took a taxi back to the bus station so I could get back to Madrid. I jsut felt like the city was so small, and I didn't really experience the true feeling of Granada. So it's on my list of places to go next time I come back to Europe :)

Anyways I did take a few pictures while I was there.

While we couldn't get into the Alhambra, we did walk around the grounds for awhile, and they were really pretty.
The city of Granada.
The view of the Alhambra from the bottom of the mountain.

So yes...I have 9 days left, 4 finals to take, 2 suitcases to pack, and one very long flight back to the US until May 13th. My travels are officially over, and I need to use these last few days in Spain to concentrate on school (ugh) and enjoy the gift that I've been given this semester.

See you all in 9 days!

Friday, May 1, 2009

The beginning of the end.

Wow! A lot has happened since the last time I updated this...almost 2 weeks ago?! My life has been filled with trips, projects, test, and dance recitals! Continue reading for more...

So last weekend (April 24th-26th) I took a trip to Lisbon, Portugal. Honestly, I wasn't that excited to go. The night before I left I was COMPLETELY exhausted, from school that week and all the traveling I had done already that month! But my friend wanted to go there for his birthday, and there was a group of 9 of us going, and I ended up really really enjoying it.

We flew in on Friday morning (my flight left Madrid at 7am) which meant that I spent the night at the airport with my friend Ally. Once our whole group was finally together, we were all exhausted too...none of us had gotten more than 3 or 4 hours of sleep. We decided that we were going to spend the whole day Friday at the beach, which is exactly what we did! It was so beautiful. We went to this small town called Casi Casi (pronouced "cash-cash") and laid in the sun all day. My arms and legs got pretty sun burn and I have some interesting tan lines where you can see exactly where I stopped putting sun screen on! After we were done at the beach, we walked around the town and headed back to our hostel. We made dinner and went to bed- we were exhausted.

Saturday we woke up and toured a castle in Lisbon which I thought was really neat (but I'm not sure what everyone else thought!) :) We ate lunch, walked around some more, and headed down to the city square. April 25th happened to be some kind of independence day in Lisbon, so we saw a lot of parades and bands and booths up that were selling random things. My friends Laura and Lisa (yes, that means that there was a Laura, Lisa, and Liza on a trip to Lisbon...try saying that 5 times fast) found a jewelry store and made some bracelets and necklaces together. We went back to our hostel afterwards, made dinner again and hung out for the rest of the night. We met some fun people at our hostel and hit it off really well.

The next morning I had to get up and take a bus back to Madrid, which left at 10am, but I almost didn't get home- I bought my ticket for the wrong day! Thankfully the lady who was working at the desk just changed the date on my ticket so I didn't have to make any major travel changes. The funniest part of the whole situation was the fact that we had to use Google translator to talk- she didn't speak any English and I didn't speak any Portugese! It was crazy. But I made it back to Madrid Sunday night, unpacked, and went to bed.

This past week was crazy crazy for me...I had a poster project due Monday for my oceanography class, a quiz on Tuesday for Spanish, a dance recital on Wednesday for dance class and two birthday parties to attend on Thursday night! It was quite a week and I am quite tired, except next week is not going to be any easier-- we have finals. So be thinking good thoughts for me!! :) I will post pictures from Lisbon and my dance recital later, I haven't uploaded them off of my camera yet. In the mean time, I will try to study and enjoy my final 12 days here in Madrid.

all my love--

Saturday, April 25, 2009

I´m in Lisbon!

I´m in Lisbon!
And it´s great!
I´ll update some more when I get back in Madrid :)

all my love--

Monday, April 20, 2009

I'm a little behind...

Hello friends. I am back again in Madrid from my weekend in Southeastern Spain, a fun few days with half of my introduction to oceanography class. However, this post will not be dedicated to the details of that trip, but of pictures from my trip two weekends ago to Rome. Like I said...I'm a little behind :) And as always, the pictures are in reverse order as how I actually toured Rome on my trip.

This picture is from the inside of St. Peter's Bascilica...I took the picture because those letters are actually 6 feet tall when you are standing next to them. But they are normally so far away from everyone that they seem a lot smaller.

I don't know what this is called, but it is very famous. And its in St. Peters.

La Pietra...meaning pity. It's encased behind a huge case of bullet proof glass because someone tried to cut off Jesus' foot and Mary's nose.

Swiss guards! These men are part of the official army of the Vatican City. These uniforms are their formal wear.

THE POPE! This was after mass when he said "Happy Easter and peace be with you" in about 20 different languages.

This I thought was really funny. Because there were so many people at mass, preists who were distributing communion were followed around with these big yellow and white umbrellas so everyone could see them. They stationed themselves and then it was kind of a free-for-all to try to get to one.

At the beginning of mass, the Pope going to sit down at his chair.

Walking up the steps before mass began.

We found a ferrari in Rome. We had to take a picture.

The Pantheon

Note that this is an actual hole in the ceiling...not a circular window.

Roman ruins.

This is one of my 3 highly illegal pictures of the ceiling of the Sistene Chapel. It is also my favorite part, with Adam almost (but not quite) touching God.

Entrance to the Vatican Museum...note the HUGE wall behind it. The Vatican city is the smallest country in the world (it has its own currency and its own military) but uses these walls as a primary defense mechanism.

Trevi Fountain! Very pretty.

Spanish steps, named so because of their proximity to the Spanish embassy, although they were originally financed by the French.

Documented: I ate gellato in Italy. and it was good.

Me, in St. Peter's Square. The Bascilica is directly behind me.

More of St. Peter's
Beginning pictures of the Colosseum! This is inside, and the stage has been reconstructed to show what it would have originally looked like back in the day. Fun fact: they covered the stage with sand so everyone in the audience could see the drops of blood spilled as whoever was fighting died. The Latin word for sand is "arena" (ah-ray-na) which is the reason that they call places like this arenas! (ah-ree-nahs).

Typical Roman uniforms for fighting.

Outside of the Coloseeum! This is what you first see as you get off the metro.

So that (along with my previous post) summarizes my trip to Rome! I'll try to post in the next couple of days about my trip to Alicante, Murica, and Valencia (although I kept forgetting to bring my camera with me everywhere, so I sadly have no pictures to share). I am heading off to Lisbon on Friday for my last trip somewhere for the semester! Time just keeps flying by!

all my love--

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

...Matthew 28:20

Ciao ciao, friends! This is my new favorite way to greet people since I've returned from Rome. I left for Italy on Thursday morning and returned veryyyyyyy early Monday morning. In many, many, MANY ways Rome is an experience I will never forget. Warning: this post will get lengthy (but it's a great story- I promise!) :)

So, I need to start with some background on how I decided to go to Rome in the first place. When I was accepted to the Madrid campus back in September, I knew that Rome would definitely be a city I would want to visit. And, because I knew I was coming during the Spring semester, I wanted to try as hard as I could to go over my Easter break, so I could spend the holiest weekend of the year in a city that embraces my faith in God. I found out that my friend Andy wanted to go to Rome, and our mutual friend Michelle was going with her family. We all booked flights for the same weekend and had kind of (but not really) decided that we would hang out together and Michelle's family would show us around (she has family that lives in Italy). Andy and I knew we couldn't stay with the family, so we made plans to book our own hostel seperately.

Andy gave me the names of a few places that were close to the Vatican and gave me a form to fill out and fax in. He faxed his in over Spring break (back in March) and told me to gt mine in quickly because space was filling up. By the time I got back from traveling and faxed my reservation form, I received an email saying that there were no more rooms available for that weekend. I then had to quickly find other alternatives for housing, since I had already booked my flight. I chose a hostel that had rooms available all four nights that I needed them.

Time passed and Easter break was soon approaching. Andy changed his flight so that he could be in Rome for all of Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I still had plans to travel with Michelle's family. However, this proved a slight problem as to how Andy and I were going to meet up once we both were in Rome. He gave me the number of his friend that was studying there for the semester and told me to call him once my flight arrived, because they had lunch plans. His cell phone doesn't work outside of Spain.

Easter break finally arrives. On Wednesday night (the 8th) I was a complete nervous wreck: so many things might work but they might not. I could get ahold of Andy once I get to Italy, but he could have left Beatrice by the time I call. I could hang out with Michelle and her family, but they might be alone. I could be stranded in a country where I don't speak the language by myself but I'm not sure. All of these questions plus more swirled around in my head as I tried to go to sleep on Wednesday night. I finally fell asleep at around 2am, but was woken up when my roommate came in from a night out with her friends. Normally I'm able to ignore this and turn over and go back to bed, but she had partied a little too hard and, according to her boyfriend, was possibly showing signs of alcohol poisoning. So I woke up, made sure she was settled, let Greg out of our apartment, and tried to go back to sleep. By this time it was about 5am, and I had to get up at 6:30. I woke up again later, grabbed a banana for breakfast and headed to the airport.

I had another decision to make once I got to the airport: two of my friends and sorority sisters from school had spent the past week in Barcelona and were flying into Madrid that day at around 8am. If their flight was ontime, I could meet them and then go and check in for my flight which left at 10:10. RyanAir lines are horrendously long, and I knew that I would be cutting it close but I REALLY wanted to see Megan and Lauren. So I waited for them, and we did go and hang out while I waited to check in. And there of course was a ridiculously long line to check in. I eventually got my boarding pass, quickly said good bye to Megan and Lauren, ran through the airport, ran through security and made it to my gate. My flight was delayed awhile because so many people faced the same problem as me.

I finally arrived in Rome, and Michelle and her family decide to take a taxi from the Ciampino airport to wherever they were staying. I have directions to my hostel that was sent with my reservation, and the first thing I need to do is take a bus to Termini, the point where the two metro lines meet in Rome. While I'm waiting for my bus to come, I try calling Andy's friend Beatrice: she doesn't answer. My heart sinks. The message said my phone was unable to make the call, and I have no idea what I'm going to do. I have no way of getting in contact with Andy unless he decides to visit an internet cafe somewhere close to him.

My bus finally shows up, and by this time it is about 1pm. I am running on very little sleep and have had only a banana to eat since 6:30 that morning. All of this added together on top of the fact that I can't get ahold of Andy led to a complete breakdown on the bus to Termini. It was so frustrating, because everyone was staring at me but there was no way I could communicate with anyone- I don't speak Italian! Anyways, I finally reach the Termini station about 45 minutes later. Once I get there, I need to take the B metro line 8 stops, and then get on a second train for 7 stops. I follow these instructions (thankfully with no complications) and get to the town that my hostel's in. I then have to take a bus 5 stops and walk 1 block to my hostel.

I get to the bus station and it is literally 4pm- it had taken me 3 hours to get there from the airport. I ask my bus driver if this is the right bus, he says yes and I get on. I am so exhausted by this point I don't really know what to do, and start fervrently praying for God to give me some kind of sign that I made the right choice to be here. I see two people on the bus who I think are Americans, and we eventually start talking. As I'm looking at them, they are wearing black dress pants, a white dress shirt, a tie, and a name tag- and my first thought is "oh my gosh, these guys are Mormon missionaries." Turns out my instincts were correct...and I wasn't exactly thrilled about being there with them. For the next 20 minutes we talked (one of them was from Cincinatti and knows a lot of my friends from SLU) and I was avoiding the question "what are you doing here" at all possible costs. Well, as hard as I tried, they still managed to ask me if I knew the Gospel. When I said yes, they then followed that with a 10 minute speech about the book of Mormon. I tried to stay nuetral (don't worry, I wasn't converted) :) They also happened to be getting off at my same stop, so they helped me find my hostel, which I was very grateful for. I considered it a half sign from God that I was where I was suppossed to be :)

I check into my hostel, and start talking with my roommate Kristin who is really sweet and very, very nice. We are both completely famished by now (its closer to 5pm, I hadn't eaten since 6:30) and we go to this little pizza place by our hostel. Kristin is leaving to go see the Spanish steps and Trevi Fountain, but I decide to stay back and try to rest. I get back to my room, but can't fall asleep. After about an hour, I decide to try to use that bathroom and see if that will help.

I get to the bathroom and start vomitting profusely. The pizza I ate gave me (at least for Thursday) severe food poisoning. I crawl back up to my bed and manage to finally fall asleep for a few hours. When I wake up, I call Michelle and tell her the situation and find out that she has plans to meet up with her cousins tomorrow and try to take a bus tour of Rome. They also had tickets for the Vatican on Saturday, but she wasn't sure what time they were going to get started. I asked her to call me when they were about an hour and a half away from going anywhere because that's how long it took me to get into the city from my hostel.

I woke up the next morning (feeling much better) and didn't really connect with Michelle, so I decided to go to the Coloseeum, thinking that every major tour bus has to go there. Once I arrive, I call Michelle and she tells me that they toured the Coloseeum last night. Frustrated, I decided to stay there and see it, with a tour because I wasn't sure if i would be able to come back. After the tour I headed up to the Vatican to try to buy tickets for Saturday with Michelle's family. It turns out that you cannot buy advance tickets, the tickets you buy must be used that same day. So I was stuck: should I stay and tour the Vatican now, or try to come back and get in on Saturday (note: the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is the Vatican's busiest day of the year. Michelle's family had tickets for 2pm, meaning I would probably have to get there around noon to ensure that I would make it in ontime). I decided to wait and see it tomorrow: I thought that if I did the Vatican on Friday I wouldn't have much to look forward to on Saturday.

Utterlly frustrated with my current life situation, I left the Vatican museum to get something to eat. There was a stand selling pizza and various drink right outside, so I bought some lunch and sat down. I didn't know what to do: I was alone in a city where I didn't speak the language and had no idea what I should do travel wise. Finally, I prayed "Lord, I'll go where you want me to go- just show me where you want me to be!" Not 10 minutes later I look up and see two of my very good friends from SLU, Mike and Josh, standing in front of me! I find out that they are planning on going to St. Peter's Bascilica next and I go with them. But the best part of finding them was what Mike said to me on the way over to St. Peter's: "We had been staring at you for like 10 minutes wondering if you were going to notice us."

It was the first of many, many times that weekend where God showed me that he was totally in control. Throughout the next two days, we hung out together and saw everything that Rome had to offer. One of Mike's friends Amelia was studying at the Loyola Chicago Rome center for the semester, so we got a personalized tour about this history of everything we saw. It was incredible.

Saturday we had the chance to go back to the Rome center and visit with the Priest who had picked up Mike and Josh from the airport. He was also able to get me tickets to Easter mass on Sunday! All of us (me, Josh, Mike, Amelia, and Fr. Al) ended up going out to dinner on Saturday night. Once we arrived at the restaurant, Fr Al said "order whatever you want: you are in Rome and I need to make sure that you have at least one decent meal before you leave!" Mind you, we ordered two bottles of wine, two appitizers, and all 5 of us got a huge entreƩ. It was such a generous and thoughtful act of Fr. Al, and once again showed me how God can use a seemingly dismal situation and turn it into something beautiful.

Sunday was Easter, and one of the coolest experiences of my life. Being able to celebrate Easter mass in Rome with the Pope is an experience I will never forget. For the rest of my life I'll be able to say that when I was 20 years old I celebrated Easter with the Pope. It was so incredible to see how many people where there and to hear and celebrate a mass together. After the mass, the Pope does somethign (although I forget what it's called) but he basically says "Happy Easter and peace be with you" in about 20 different languages. It was so cool...when he spoke in German, all the Germans cheered, when he spoke in Chinese, all the Chinese cheered, and when he spoke in English, everyone who spoke English cheered. It was an amazing experience.

We left mass, grabbed some lunch, and the boys headed out to the airport. My flight didn't leave until the next day, so I went back to my hostel, changed, checked out, and then headed to the airport to spend the night there. I hung out for awhile, read some books, and played Sudoku. I woke up around 4:30 to check in again for my flight that left at 6:30, eventually came back to Madrid and promptly fell asleep as soon as I got back.

So, that was my trip to Rome. Crazy, exciting, eventful, and faith-affirming, in more ways than one. It's funny, because I spent the first 24 hours of my time in Rome figuring out how I could leave sooner than Monday morning and the last few figuring out if there was any way I could stay longer! It's so funny how God works. I'll forever remember this weekend as one where God stood by me the entire step of the way, even when I wasn't sure of it.

Finally, some of you might be wondering what the Bible verser refers to in the title of this post. It is one of my absolute favorites, that I memorized early in my Christian walk...

"...for I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Kind of the theme of my life last weekend :) Don't worry, I'll be sure to post pictures soon (and I promise the captions won't be as detailed as this post was) :)

all my love--