The Story of Terra Nova, by Nate

The Spanish Ministry of Justice has finally approved our application to be a non-profit organization! This has been a long process, and is a milestone worth celebrating.  We started working on legal statutes for the association more than a year and a half ago.  We received help from three different professional groups, as well as lots of welcome help from those here we know and trust.

In June of 2010 we submitted the documents to the Ministry of Justice, and were told that it would be at least 6 months before we received a reply.  On January 31 of 2011 we received notice that our association, named Terra Nova, had been approved.

You may have a few questions. Allow me to answer them.

Why did we choose the name Terra Nova?

In 2005 when Faith and I began our journey that brought us to Spain, we made a vision trip to Santiago de Compostela to meet a team of four families from International Teams who had moved here with a vision of sharing Christ’s love among the people.  The purpose of our trip was to see if we would fit well with the team and if the city fit well with us.  The team had been in Santiago for about four years by that time, and one year prior had opened up a café, named Café Terra Nova.

Spain Trip 158

This café was created as a means to connect with the culture here, where life is truly lived out in the cafés and bars.  They had created an inviting and unique space that impacted the lives of many people.  The café did just what they intended, and they became a part of the community.

Spain Trip 022

Tania, Lori & Troy

Terra Nova Interior

In 2006 while we were back home in the States fine-tuning our vision for a hostel and building up our support team, things turned difficult for the Café Terra Nova team.  For complex reasons too detailed to cover here, they went through a very challenging time with trouble on multiple fronts, resulting in an unsustainable financial situation.  Through what I can only imagine was back-breaking work and the heartache that accompanies the end of a dream, the two remaining couples sold the café.  That was in the spring of 2007, and by summer they had decided that their next steps were to move back to the States – less than 2 months before our planned arrival.

We grieved with them for the loss, but through some prayer and soul-searching decided to press on with the hostel vision.  We have remained in close contact with one couple from the café team, and have learned a LOT from them as we’ve moved forward.

So more than anything, we chose the name Terra Nova for our non-profit organization in order to recognize and honor the work of those that came before us.  I consider it a blessing that we were able to visit the café and see what a neat place it was.  I mentioned it impacted many people.  Our closest friend down in Santiago is a woman who was very close with the team and she has “adopted” us – in essence, any friend of the café team is her friend (hola, Betty!).  She’s given us great moral support as we’ve adjusted to life here.


And just this week we received an e-mail from a woman who used to work in the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago, and in the counsel that she was passing on to us from her experience, she used an example about, “this one café run by some American families” and went on to talk about how there isn’t much like that café in Santiago even now.  It’s encouraging that even amidst the unanswered questions that remain after the café ministry “ended” that their impact remains.  And as we dream, plan, and envision our future, we can only hope that our plans can mimic that kind of effect even after we’re gone.

What does it mean?

Quite literally, it’s Latin for “New Earth.”

But what does that mean?

When we were thinking about using the Terra Nova name for our association, we wanted to get a blessing of sorts, so we e-mailed our friend Matt to get it, and to ask about Café Terra Nova’s logo.  He had this to say, and he said it so well I just wanted to quote it directly:  “To me the name was even more important than the logo. It came from 1st Peter where Peter says and there will be a new heavens and a new earth and it shall be the home of righteousness. For us it captured the idea of Shalom or a world where things are what they are ‘supposed to be’. This opened up a lot of doors for conversations, because most people (unless they are crazy) don’t think that this world functions the way it is supposed to and yet there is an innate understanding in everyone of what that ideal world might look like. Some call this Utopia, but I call it the Kingdom of Heaven which is already revealed and not yet fully realized…”

So there’s that, and it also works “as-is” in Gallego, the local language.

Why did we create a non-profit organization?  And what does it do?

Essentially, we decided to pursue setting up the hostel as a non-profit based on the experiences of the café team (the café had been set up as a for-profit business).  Being non-profit will allow us to use volunteers (a big part of our vision), as well as ideally be able to charge lower rates to guests, since we’re not trying to live off of the earnings.  In order to set up the hostel as a non-profit it was necessary to have a non-profit association registered with the government that would operate it.  So, for now, the primary initiative of our association will be to start this hostel ministry.

Our Terra Nova vision statement:
Al servicio de los peregrinos del Camino.
Serving pilgrims on the Camino.

So rather than viewing this Terra Nova being the start of something, it’s kind of nice to see it as the continuation of work that started ten or eleven years ago.  I am honored we get to walk in the footsteps of the Café Terra Nova team and look forward to seeing the story unfold from here.

This entry was posted in Amigos, Keeping Faith, Milestones, On the Camino, Santiago de Compostela, This Immigrant Life. Bookmark the permalink.
  • ¡Gracias por abrir mi saquito de Terra Nova, gracias!Al abrir el saquito de los recuerdos de Terra, lo primero que me han salido son muuuuchas lágrimas de lo mucho que me duele que ya no estén aquí… pero luego vienen las risas de los buenos recuerdos y la ilusión de poder seguir llenándolo de vivencias junto a vosotros.
    Sabéis que estamos deseándo teneros cerca y ya pronto daréis ese paso ¡¡Os esperamos con los brazos y el corazón abiertos!! BIIIIICOS

  • Faith

    Betty, no quería hacerte llorar :(. Me alegro muchísimo tenerte como amiga, y nosotros también estamos muy emocionados empezar compartir la vida juntos con vosotros! GRACIAS por tu amistad, sugerencias, y ayuda – tienes un corazón bonito. Besos!!

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