A Good Overwhelmed

I flew home from the most memorable trip of my life seven days ago.
People keep asking "How was Spain?", and that is honestly the hardest question anyone could ask, because simply saying that it was incredible doesn't scratch the surface.

My go to answer for that question has become something along the lines of "That is a really overwhelming question unless you want to listen to me talk for the next hour. But it was incredible, and I was overwhelmed the entire time with the beauty of everything that I saw and did."

That is the truest answer I can find, and if I had to sum my experience up in one word, that word would be overwhelmed.
The sense of being overwhelmed that I had the entire trip was due partly to the fact that this wasn't a leisurely trip to Spain, where I could spend hours grazing at tapas bars or wandering the sidewalks of Barcelona to admire the pretty apartment buildings.
No, it was nothing like that. We had seventy people with us. Five concerts. Five hotels. Ten days to travel halfway across the country and see and experience every single thing that we possibly could.

Tour is not vacation. In short, tour is site seeing, concerts, friends, food, and sleep.

Naturally, I was overwhelmed. Who wouldn't be in that setting?

Truly, most of the being overwhelmed came from the shock of Spain itself. I just laugh when I think about the first day. Our tour of Barcelona began the minute we got from the airport to the bus. It was lunch time, so they took us to a food court in the square and set us loose. This was all fine and well except that our poor American bodies were sure that the time was most definitely six in the morning, not twelve in the afternoon. We wandered around the food court and stumbled through broken Spanish to order our strange food. Obviously, most of that day was pitiful because we were so disoriented. The next day was nearly that bad, but we slowly improved, and were pretty much our normal selves by the third day.

Both the hardest and most wonderful aspect of the trip was how difficult it was to take in everything we saw.

The countryside was almost all farmland, cut into boxy shapes of green, brown, and golden crops. The mountains laid back on the sky and framed the land perfectly.  Each town, even the huge city of Madrid, was covered with flowers on every apartment balcony, and every sidewalk was shaded by trees. The small beauty of everyday life was breathtaking in it's simplicity.

Add in the way centuries old cathedrals, churches, and castles casually graced every town we entered, and we're in another layer of beauty entirely.
That's what was mostly so overwhelming. The people of Spain live their normal lives with things at their fingertips that were built before America was even a twinkle in the medieval world's eye.

If you want a slap in the face from humility, go to where these age old structures are, walk around in them, soak in the reality of their history, how much time and care was dedicated to their construction, and then tell me how big and proud you feel.
Cathedrals did that for me before I could stop them and before I realized I needed them to. There is something about standing in a place like the Burgos cathedral that brings you to a state of such deep reverence and awe and humility that all you can do is stand with your jaw dropped and try to keep your tears off of the people around you who are probably concerned for your sanity.
Then, find the people in your group who get what you're feeling. Look them in the eye, hold their hand, hug them, do something to convey that you understand how they feel. I found that nothing was more satisfying when I was overwhelmed, than to behold that beauty with the people who understand your loss for words and the swelling you feel inside.

Performing for the people there and experiencing their culture is a treasure that I will always hold on to. We only performed a handful of songs in Spanish, but they were the most gracious people to sing for, despite them not understanding most of what we sang.
I won't forget the little girls who danced in the back of the church during our last concert, and when it was over nervously approached us like we were celebrities, which we absolutely are not. I treasure the conversations we had with those girls, the ways we were able to connect our lives and cultures through the music we shared with them. I won't forget when I had to sit down halfway through one concert (probably because of dehydration and exhaustion) and how the the man sitting behind me was so concerned with my well being that he used what English he knew to make sure I was okay, and offered to find me water or anything else that I needed.

Those things are so small, but to someone who had never experienced visiting a country with a language barrier like that, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of how we were still able to connect through kind looks and small words.

God's hand was glaringly obvious to me on this trip. I remember one day, riding somewhere on the bus, just looking out the window as I reflected on whatever had happened so far, and crying when I realized how heavily God was using the trip to glorify himself. He grew relationships within the choir, he opened doors to share the gospel, he taught me so many lessons through the songs we sang and the things we experienced. I am so comforted to know that God does not use any part of my life in vain. I am thankful that God broke my selfish intentions on that trip and directed everything I wanted to be about me, straight back to him.

Some of the fears from my last post did come true. I missed home, I wasn't comfortable or sure of what to do in a lot of situations, but I also experienced beauty, gratitude, and God's sovereignty in ways I never had before. I was and still am overwhelmed, in the best way possible.


  1. Absolutely beautiful. This post brought a smile to my face. I'm so glad the trip was a wholesome one. Love you Claire!


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