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Praise the Lord for movies, Benadryl and neck pillows.

An array of movies (thanks, American Airlines) helped the nine-hour flight go by a little quicker. As did a bit of sleep thanks in part to some Benadryl and my trusty neck pillow that turned out to be the real MVP of the flight.

When we landed in Spain, it was 9:30 a.m. local time. Internally, it was 2:30 a.m. Texas time. So this first day has been all about battling the jet lag.

The siestas were calling our names in the afternoon, but we knew we couldn’t close our eyes or else our sleep patterns would still be jacked up, maybe even worse, tomorrow. So we kept busy our first day in Torrejón.

Our host, Lucas, and his wife invited us to a picnic to meet some people. The park was called Parque de Europa and had different replicas of different landmarks across the world.

Cool from the morning showers, it would have been a lovely day to spend most of the afternoon in the park for a picnic. But as Rebecca, Chase and I made our way from the Trevi Fountain to the Eiffel Tower, the rain began to fall again.

After taking some shelter under some trees, we split up into two cars – Chase and Amanda with one of the women we had just met and the rest of us followed Lucas. We thought we were heading back to the van. And we were. We just took the longer route as our host was excited to show us all of the monuments in the park.

We got caught in another rain shower – did I mention Kendall is in a boot and he can’t get it wet? – and finally found an archway we could wait under until the rain died down. It was about 20 minutes that we stood there, which allowed us to get to know each other a little bit better. That helped since we took two separate cars to the airport and then didn’t have any seats next to each other on the plane.

After we finally made it back to the van, we were approaching the hotel when Lucas received a call from a number he didn’t recognize on his cell phone. After exchanging glances of – should I answer this? – with his wife, he picked up the phone. It was Amanda, asking if we were OK. She and Chase had made it back to the hotel 30 minutes prior and ended up getting some good naps in.

Knowing that if we went back up to our rooms when we returned to the hotel, we each went our separate ways to try to fight off the jet lag. Except Matt who went to sleep. Caleb and Cody aired up basketballs for the morning camp that will start on Monday. Kendall saw a barber shop in the neighborhood when we drove by earlier in the day and wanted to get his hair cut. He made the wise decision to ask Chase to come with him. Chase, praise the Lord, is fluent in Spanish.

That left Rebecca, Amanda and myself. We were each desperate for some coffee. Amanda found the name of one in her phone. It was about half a mile down the street, so off we went. We made the turn toward where her phone said the shop was, but there was an open gate and a sign.

Amanda probably speaks the best Spanish of the three of us, and she recognized the word “Prohibo,” so we figured we should try to find another shop. And we did. They got cafe con leche. I got a cappuccino. It was straight espresso. And so, so good. There’s a 90 percent chance we go back to that cafe at least once a day the rest of the time we are here.

It wasn’t much longer and we were all back together in Cody and Caleb’s room watching the World Cup. People over here are crazy about it. Which makes sense, because Spain still playing. The U.S. (*cough cough*) didn’t even qualify.

A grandad and his grandson watched the Argentina v. France game emphatically in the coffee shop we found. Games were on every TV we saw in the neighborhood. Outside our hotel was a group of kids kicking a soccer ball around. These people definitely have World Cup fever, as they should. But more on that later.

Thankfully, we are eating all of our meals at the hotel. It’s just easier, in my opinion, to have everything right here. And they had a huge platter of French fries for us at lunch so, they won me over easily.

Because our second camp of the day during the week ends around 9:30 p.m., we aren’t scheduled to eat dinner until 10:30 p.m. The only problem with that today was that none of us thought we could stay up that long.

Rebecca definitely got the giggles this afternoon. You know, the ones where you start laughing at something so hard and so uncontrollably that you start crying and can’t stop. Poor Lucas thought she was sad crying. We all tried to explain that she was delusional crying, but none of us knew how to explain that in Spanish. And Chase was already back in the hotel.

So, in search of something for dinner, we found a Pizza Hut across the street from our hotel. Something easy that would feed all of us, we decided on some pizza, and took it back to the hotel for a pizza party in Amanda and Chase’s room.

This hotel is really nice. Mentally, I was prepared for sleeping on a gym floor with only cold water showers. But man, we’ve got nice rooms with hot water. The only weird thing is the beds. There are two twin beds with like a half-inch crack between the two beds. It’s provided many jokes for us.

So today after lots of travel, we got to get the feel of the neighborhood we’ll be staying in. And then tomorrow is going to be awesome.

We’ve got church in the morning in the basement of the hotel before we need to go set up for camps. We will be doing two camps each day, one in the morning and one in the evening. They are at two different sites.

But determining when we set up the sites is Spain’s knockout round game at 4 p.m. against Russia in the World Cup. There’s a 99 percent chance we all go back to the coffee shop to watch the big game tomorrow. I can’t wait for that.

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