The story behind the Christmas card

We wanted to share this story that recently happened to us because, first it taught us a lesson, and second, it might help someone as well. We live in a studio on the third floor of a big Victorian house, that basically means we are in a big room, share the bathroom with the guy who lives on the same floor and we have flat mates that live on the second and first floor. We never had any problems with any of them, always trying to be nice and friendly with everyone and in return they were the same way with us. Until one day, I was alone at home, just Julia and I, because, as usual, Samuel was at work. So, suddenly someone knocks at the door, not the door of our room but the door that separates the two floors, I open it, and it’s our neighbour from the second floor who starts yelling at me, and saying things that I just understood half of it! Mainly because the other half was swearing…:S, so I’m trying to understand what it’s going on, Julia standing right next to me, and then the other guy who lives in the same floor as us comes out and start telling the guy to calm down, and that that’s not the way to talk to a woman with a child in front and blabla… Anyway…we close the door, I’m still wondering what exactly the problem was and apparently he was complaining about the noise we make (noise that comes from a 2 year old girl who just likes to …simply be herself!) so I stay at the corridor talking to the guy and then go back to my place. Ten minutes later, someone knocks at the door, this time the door of our room, I open it, and I see our neighbour, holding the neighbour who was complaining, around his neck with his mouth bleeding, tearing up, and apologising to me because of the way he talked…OK… By then I was completely in SHOCK, I told both of them that it was fine, that we were going to try to be less noisy…anyway they both left and a few minutes later I get to talk to the guy who punched the other one that even though I appreciated the help we didn’t believe in violence to solve things…he felt bad as well, of course. After that, the other one came again to apologise, I told him we were sorry, and apparently he had been complaining to the landlord for a couple of months about that and we were never told anything. I have to admit I was shocked, a bit scared and worried about the whole situation so I called Samuel and asked him to come home as soon as he could.

After a while the landlord came and explained to me that the neighbour from the second floor had some problems in the past with drugs, that now he was over that but that his mind was more like a child’s mind even tho he is 28… By the way, I came to know that almost everyone in the house had been drug addicts in the past! What a wonderful place to raise our family I thought! So Samuel and I talked about the whole thing, and we felt there were two ways we could take: one was trying to leave the place as soon as possible and run away from all these people.. that would be the most sensitive one, …but then we thought,..ok, they made mistakes in the past, we never had problems with them till now, it is not that we can float in the air to stop making noise but we can try to be less noisy, and not judge them because of their past addictions and the risks of them but try to still be friendly and see them, see him, our second floor neighbour, as he really is, a child of God. So we made up our minds that it was not time to move out yet and we would try to be more friendly and specially less noisy. We noticed that this neighbour is most of the time alone in his house, just watching tv,..so we shared a few meals with him, he was very surprised and truly appreciated it. His behaviour towards us started changing, he was more opened to us, explained to us how he needs to be on medication to overcome his addiction and other things. He really seemed to be like a little boy. The second time we shared our meal with him he asked our names again, because he didn’t remember them,hehe…

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It’s been over a month since that incident…no more fighting, complaints, or “bleeding”! And the other day coming back from the store with Samuel and Julia he jumped into us and gave us this Christmas card, we told him we were very grateful and that it was the second card we received here in the UK. Inside the card you could read ” to eleana, samuel and little girl, with best wishes from M*****”
It touched our hearts! We knew we had chosen the right way, the path to love everyone no matter what, to not judge others and to solve problems with understanding leaving fear and pride behind. And that’s … The story behind the Christmas card.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
(1 John 4:18
)

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Pros and Cons of living abroad

Well, we finally got to our 6 months mark! Yep, we made it! We arrived to Manchester in June and we are still around here with no intentions, for the moment, to go back to Barcelona. We thought now it could be a good time to reflect upon the pros and cons of this British adventure, maybe it will be useful for those ones thinking “I might give it a try and move to another country!” So here we go:

1st of Pros: economical improvement.
One of the main reasons to leave Barcelona was to look for better job opportunities, and well, we haven’t achieved all our financial goals yet but we can say there’s been a noticeable improvement since we moved to the UK. Samuel found a job on the third week we got here, and we can see God’s hand in that miracle, because we know of many other people that are still looking and have been here almost the same amount of time than us. He is learning new skills, building good relationships with his workmates and looking after our family’s needs and self-reliance. About myself, I changed my mind about the initial idea of me getting a full time job, I decided to start my own business as TuBa Advertising and I got to realise that I feel much more fulfilled being able to look after my little troublemaker than missing her stories, new words, amazing little adventures because of working for a company more than 40 hour per week. Of course I still want to get more experience and feel that I am a successful professional in my field but I can still do that being self employed, it might take me longer…but it is worth trying it.

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1st of Cons: loneliness.
Oh yeah, it is good Samuel found a job! Of course, but that also means that we don’t have normal weekends anymore, just one day off, that we always wait for him until he gets back from work around midnight and if we get lucky and there’s a nice day out there we might go out and do something fun. So basically I don’t have much time left to talk to another adult, and plus, because of my “social skills” I don’t get to do friends as quickly as I would like to, and sometimes, even when I try really hard, I might not catch some of their sense of humour or bits of a conversation…so yes, we miss our families, we miss our friends, I miss not having to make an effort to feel that I fit in in whatever sort of activity we attend… But I guess this is something that we will be able to overcome as time goes by.
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2nd of Pros: learning a new language
How good is that?! Isn’t it! So apart from Spanish and Portuguese now we get to become more fluent in English. But let us tell you that it is not an easy task, specially if we just speak more often one another than actually with the locals. That means you really have to try hard to take advantage of opportunities to talk to other people at church, at activities, wherever you are and not just to the bus driver asking for a “day rider”! We feel we have improved, Samuel specially is doing really good since we got here and Julia, she is soooo adorable saying some words in English, such as “bye bye, yeshh (yes), go! and many others.. 🙂
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2nd of Cons: the darkness
Don’t worry, it is not a spiritual darkness! But a physical one! Seriously! Here in Manchester gets dark at 4 in the afternoon! How strange is that? And can you believe that at midnight gets lighter than in the evening! Amazing! We even took pictures to prove it, to ourselves of course, I don’t think anyone else is too bothered about it, hehe…but anyway, I get a bit scared every time I have to go out at 6pm or later than that…cuz it truly gets really dark out there,..we’ve been told it’s because of the season… Oh well, we will just have to wait until summer!
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3rd of Pros: spiritual growth and uplifting experiences
The scriptures tell us that we need an opposition in all things, words of truth indeed. Since we got here we’ve seen how important we are to our Heavenly Father, how closer we can get to each other as we trust in His words and try to apply them in our lives. We have been trying to get more involved in missionary work as a family and we have had the opportunity to share the gospel with some spanish speaking friends, one of them is listening to the missionaries and is working hard to prepare himself for baptism. Our testimonies have been strengthened because of that and even tho we might not understand everything that is said at church when you become part of the Lord’s work you feel blessed.

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3rd of Cons: Public Transport
Ok, I really didn’t want to end this post with something negative…seriously, Manchester has many assets, that for sure, but public transport is not one of them! It is expensive, the journeys are too long and the fares are not unified, so if you buy a travel card with one Company you might not be able to use it with another. On Sundays it is not-existent! And they don’t keep it too clean…I feel bad saying this… But just consider these as suggestions from a regular user 😉

This is it by now! Who knows what our thoughts will be after our 1 year mark! Maybe we love the darkness, we own a car already and we have become the souls of every party-activity and have loads of friends! OR maybe we are back in Barcelona!!…only God knows.