I needed money..and I needed it bad.
I was studying abroad in the south of Spain and had been there for a few months. Traveling to different cities & countries gave me a wealth of new perspective, but it drained my bank account in a hurry.
Interestingly enough, I had this strange bit of peace settled in my heart during this time..I was certain that an opportunity to make some extra cash would arise, and if it didn’t, then I was willing to learn a decent lesson living & traveling frugally in a different country.
I resolved, as usual, to make the most out of any circumstance that was dealt to me.
Then one morning I checked my email, & within it lie an opportunity that is still exceeding my expectations to this day.
A professor at CMesaU contacted me asking if I’d be willing to conduct some on-site research in a city called Málaga, for a Grand Junction local interested in starting a coffee shop there. It was a job that included desk research, interviews, data collection, and an all expense paid trip to Málaga in order to collect as much information as possible.
I completed my tasks to the best of my abilities; I tried to be thorough, concise, and only provide the most important and prominent information possible. I received a generous stipend for my work and couldn’t complain a bit for a “free of cost” visit to the beautiful city of Málaga
The money I earned helped to keep my floating along nicely for the rest of my time in Spain.
I needed money….and I needed it bad.
I got accepted to adventure on the Alternative Spring Break trip to El Salvador in March 2015
and I am ecstatic.
I am going with the Foundation for Cultural Exchange, who partners with Mesa Catholic ministries to organize and lead our trip down south. Here’s the way it works: I am responsible for paying a certain amount of money out of pocket, the church subsidizes (covers) part of the cost, and then additionally we are responsible for fundraising a large dollar amount. Determined to go on this adventure I started my fundraising immediately, which included writing letters asking for donations & applying for local scholarships.
The weeks passed, and some of my family and friends were willing to help contribute to my fundraising efforts..but as Christmas crept up on me, so did worries about money.
After the first of the year, for whatever reason, I checked the junk box folder in my email. And there it was, a message similar to this one:
“Leah, we would be more than happy to grant you the scholarship for your trip to El Salvador after all the hard work you did for us in Spain.”
I applied to a scholarship hoping for the best but expecting little. As the story goes, the scholarship I applied for was in relation to the gentleman I worked for in Spain. But I had no idea! I had never met him and didn’t know exactly who/what he was affiliated with.
The way our lives are intertwined with all things & especially people never ceases to amaze & humble me.
So now what?
- My fundraising for El Salvador is completed and I look forward to that trip in March.
- I am required to volunteer 40 hours working with Four Winds Coffee & Tea in order to receive the scholarship. Which is the really interesting part, because it ties me all the way back to the first story I told in this post.
Four Winds Coffee & Tea is going to be the sister coffee shop for the coffee shop in Málaga, Los Cuatro Vientos.
Asi, we have a circle; both starting and ending with opportunities, good people, travel, and my beloved Spanish language.
I am so thankful & excited for the things to come. Being able to help start a coffee shop in Spain, being able to travel to El Salvador without worrying about money, working with the Christ Center & Four Winds….all of these things are so exciting, and all thanks to amazing individuals and some hard work.
- The lessons I will remember from this are clear:
- Cultivate and care for the relationships you make, both professional and personal.
- Always do your best work, you never know when it will come back up in the future.
- When you love something, like traveling or Spanish in my case, chase it..and never stop chasing.