News for prayer for Week of September 19, 2022

Headline News:

Non-government organizations are seeing a decline in volunteers, especially in young people. Most of the new volunteers are those over 30. The last study of people that volunteered or helped socially was from 2017, with 14% of the general population participating. That was ~6% higher than when the study was done in 2012. The smaller organizations are really feeling the effects, while the larger organizations (Red Cross & Cáritas) seem to be stable.

Last time I talked about people feeling a pinch while in group settings, like a shot being injected into the body. The government reported that ~120 cases were reported. A majority of those occurred with women, though a small number was seen against men. Thankfully the blood analysis did not show any form of toxic substances. The government is still investigating several reports of assault from the summer.

The sexual abuse that happened in the Spanish Catholic church is getting some coverage. One case was escalated to the Vatican and the Pope pressed for reopening the case. The request was approved and the judicial system is once again going to look at the case. They are also continuing the investigation of the 201 cases that were reported. A committee of 17 members met with them and those results are being reviewed for next steps.

Economy:

The cost of living continued to be highlighted on the front page. Over the last year across energy cost, food, transportation, the return to school and a few other areas, costs have increased 400€ over last year. Another article talked about how food costs, across different products, have gone up 20% from September 2021 to September 2022. The grocery stores are seeing more and more people look at the generic brands to save costs. The 2.6% wage increases Spanish workers have seen between April and June of this year are the lowest in the EU.

The IBEX35 ended last week on a downward trend closing at 7984.70, a 0.60% decrease over the previous week.

Political:

The Spanish government made a request to the European parliament to include Euskera, Catalan and Galician as additional official languages for its sessions. Currently 24 languages are in the list. The Spanish government is willing to absorb the costs for the request.

The polling data for the month of September was released. The PSOE party had a small increase while the PP party saw a small decrease. The PP decrease is due to decreasing confidence in the leader Feijóo. Also, in the polls for leadership Pedro Sánchez, current president, was in third place behind Yolanda Díaz and Alberto Feijóo.

On Thursday September 22, the Basque legislature returned to session. For the first time in two years there are no restrictions for masks, social distancing, etc. Urkullu is looking to address the energy crisis and rising cost of living in addition to the regular items that will need to be addressed.

International:

Coverage was across these topics: Several articles about Queen Elizabeth II’s passing and crowning of King Charles, Russian Invasion of Ukraine, and Italy addressing challenges after recent elections.

Sports:

Real Sociedad has had 4 matches since the last edition. The result of those matches was 3 wins and 1 loss. This has them currently in 8th place overall in LaLiga. Last season they qualified for the Europa League competition, where they have won both matches played thus far. The next match is Oct 6 against Sheriff Tiraspol.

Gipuzkoa Basket has been playing a couple of pre-season games. One was against Basket Navarra which resulted in a 82-86 win. In addition, they are playing in the Basque LEB cup. The first game was last night against Zornotza and won 74-56. They will play tonight in the championship game against Juaristi Iraurgi.  The regular season starts on October 7 against Ourense.

The Spanish national teams have also been very active lately. The national basketball team won the Eurobasket tournament this year. A key player on the national team was Dario Brizuela, a native of Gipuzkoa. Additionally, the national soccer team is playing in the UEFA Nations League against Switzerland Saturday September 24.

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • Decline in volunteers for non-government organization
  • Basque legislature
  • Economic impacts

The verse for the week:

Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray. Are any of you happy? You should sing praises.

James 5:13 NLT

News for prayer for Week of August 15, 2022

Headline News:

The local director for Cáritas, an International organization belonging to the Catholic Church which is a service organization dedicated to combating poverty and other areas, was interviewed recently. He was sharing concerns given the high cost of living and amount of help families are needing. They are seeing that the numbers since the pandemic return back down as people begin to return to work. However, they are concerned with the cost of gas for people as they look to warm their homes in the winter. The people groups needing the most help currently are immigrants, women and young people.

With all the festivals happening in the different cities of Gipuzkoa, the police are having reports of at least 11 women being drugged by injections. They feel a pinch and when a blood test is run, they find that a chemical has been injected. Only 1 arrest has been made about the injections. They are also having reports of sexual assaults during the festivals.

Economy:

Several articles talked about the economic situation in Basque country. The expectation was that this summer everything would return to normal, however that is not the expectation now. With the energy concerns and rise in inflation several experts are expecting a complicated fall. One item that has seen a decrease of ~2.5% in the past several weeks is the cost of gas. A positive sign for the economy is the number of people that are working. Unemployment numbers are currently holding steady over the past couple of months even with the pending uncertainty. Spain ended the month of July with inflation being reported at 10.8%, the highest it’s been in over 20 years.

The IBEX35 ended last week on an upward trend closing at 8,400.40, a 2.85% increase over the previous week.

Political:

In 1968, during the Franco era, a law was put in place to protect the secrets of the state. However, that law is now undergoing some change. A new law has been written where a committee will review the secrets of the state and put it into 4 different categories. Additionally, it will carry another label for the potential severity of damage, which also has 4 categories. Depending on those labels, information will be able to be released after 20 years versus the previous law under Franco that was forever.

Recently Sánchez put an executive order for energy savings that went into effect on Aug 8 and will remain in effect until November of 2023. The order stated that in summer the AC for business and public places could be set at a minimum of 77ºF. For winter the heaters could be set at 66ºF max. Initially Urkullu was not planning to conform to the request, however by the end of the week they were willing to follow the request from the new orders. The fines for not complying could be as high as 60,000€ and will be enforced by the autonomous regions. Similar restrictions are now being done in Germany, France, Italy and Hungary.

International:

A sampling of the international headlines included the following: Russian invasion of Ukraine, rise in tensions in Gaza, FBI removing documents from Trump’s Mar-a-Lago residence and Afghanistan 1 year after US’ departure.

Sports:

Real Sociedad finished preseason play and began La Liga play on Aug 14 against Cadiz CF with a 1-0 win. That had them in 3rd place at the end of the first week. Their next game has them playing Barcelona on Sunday Aug 21.

Gipuzkoa Basket starts official play on October 8.

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • Aggressions against women in festivals
  • Economic Situation

The verse for the week:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? … But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. (Psalm 13:1-2a, 5)

News for prayer for Week of July 25, 2022

Headline News:

Last week this area experienced a heat wave for several days. It resulted in a red alert given the high temperature. The temperatures were in the upper 90s to low 100s for those days. Many in this region do not have air conditioning so cooling off can be a bit of a challenge especially in the small towns. The heat wave saw an increase in forest fires for Spain that have affected hundreds of acres of land thus far. Thankfully the heat wave broke and temperatures have returned to be more pleasant.

The results of the selectivity exam have been sent to students and the application process for university has opened. The number of applications is over 19000 to attend the Basque University system. The score of the selectivity exam is competitive as it determines which field they can study. When applying the students have to rank the areas they’d like to study. Most will likely get to the second or third choice depending on which one’s they chose.

Economy:

Inflation over the last week was a headline item and also discussed in the political and economy sections of the paper. The political conversation was what the government can do to help the current situation as inflation is over 10%. In the economy section the Central Bank of Europe raised rates 0.5% the most it has done in 22 years in an attempt to limit the future impacts. This is after a 0.25% raise in June. The article shared how the Eurozone was in alignment with the policy moving forward to address the issue. It was also a headline article on Sunday sharing how people in Gipuzkoa have reduced spending by 7.5%. Additionally, stores are seeing consumers move to general brands versus name brands as they look for ways to save in stores.

The IBEX35 ended last week on a small upward trend closing at 8,051.60, a 1.33% increase for last week.

Political:

Urkullu, the president of the Basque Country, is looking for ways to build pacts with other parties as the region exits the COVID-19 situation and moves forward. Parties are looking to address areas that have not been addressed recently. They have seen success with political cooperation in the past with updates made to the education system. A couple of the concerning areas highlighted in the article were the public hospital system, increase in social program spending, birth rate (which was reported as one of the lowest in Europe) and minimum income. The problems with public health care were front page news, as people are needing to wait longer for emergency care and to visit the doctor.

The PP party continues to gain momentum in Spain. Last week the latest poll figures were released. It showed that for the first time with the new PP leadership of Tezanos, now having 1.9% advantage over PSOE. PSOE is the party currently in power of the Spanish government. The PP party gained 3.1% in the poll, while PSOE lost 1%. PSOE leadership under Sánchez is trying to recover before the next election cycle. The current trajectory for the next elections would be a year and a half, though that could change.

International:

Here were some key headlines: The heat wave that affected the United Kingdom, Italy and France where temperatures were over 100º F, Russian invasion of Ukraine with the EU taking additional sanctions, Political situation in Italy as it will be the 68th new government since WWII.  

Sports:

Real Sociedad has started its preseason play. Over the off season they had several new players added and are looking forward to the return of Oyarzabal after his knee injury last year. They have played two games with one being a loss and the other a draw. Two more preseason games exist before the start of the season on August 14.

The Tour De France ended on Sunday. The winner was Jonas Vingegaard, a 25-year-old who suffered from anxiety at the start of every stage. It was reported that his favorite race in his career was the Itzulia, which happens here in Basque Country, he specifically talked about the 2021 race where he had a mental change. He will also be racing in the San Sebastián Classic that happens this Saturday.

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • Economic impacts from inflation
  • Political unity
  • Heat wave impacts

The verse for the week:

The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.

2 Peter 3:9 NLT

News for prayer for Week of May 16, 2022

Headline News:

Addictions are seeing a rise here in Gipuzkoa. One organization that helps people with addictions saw a ~18% increase in people seeking them for assistance. While alcohol is the largest substance abuse, they say it has stabilized. Cocaine saw the greatest increase for substances people needed help with.

The celebration of first communion is quite large here. For the first time in 2 years they are being celebrated without restrictions. Some 2000 young boys and girls will take part in the ceremonies. Restaurants, dress and suit stores, photographers and hairstylists are reporting a significant increase in use of services for this celebration. The paper reported that families usually spend ~2600€ for the event.

COVID cases were not mentioned in the papers I bought. It seems to be focused currently on the impacts and not so much on the number of cases. I’ll include updates as appropriate moving forward.

Economy:

Amazon has decided not to open a second facility here in Basque Country. This had been in the planning stages for over a year and several businesses were not excited about the facility opening due to the impacts to businesses that could happen. The owner of the facility believes others will be interested in using the space for transportation.

Inflation in the Basque country was reported at 8.4% in April, slightly down from the 9.5% in March. During this time salaries have only increased 1.5%. Questions are being asked on what to do in order to help with the situation. 

The IBEX35 ended last week on a small upward trend closing at 8,338.10,  a 0.19% increase last week.

Political:

The number of ETA prisoners in jails that are in Basque Country or Navarra is currently at 104. While the remaining prisoners are in other parts of Spain (65) and France (29). Most of the moves to bring the ETA prisoners closer to Basque Country have occurred while Sánchez has been the leader of the Government.

The national security agency in Spain continues to make headlines for the installation of spy software on cell phones. New leadership has been installed and they realize the difficult road ahead of them as they try to re-establish confidence in the job needed to be done to protect Spain after the incident. This is also affecting Pedro Sánchez as he looks for how to manage the crisis that happened during his leadership. The judicial system is also reviewing what role it played in the approval given to the agency and sees some faults.

International:

The Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to carry a significant portion of international coverage. A few other headlines were: COVID cases starting in North Korea, elections in the United Kingdom and Finland and Sweden requesting to join NATO.

Sports:

Real has won the last two games they played and secured a spot in the Europa League for next year. The team has one game left in the season on Sunday against Atletico Madrid.

GBC is currently in 11th place and in order to qualify for the end of the season playoffs they will need to move up 2 places. They play the 9th place team this weekend, so a chance does exist that they qualify though it requires help to do so.

The women’s handball team Bera Bera won another league title over the weekend. This team has had quite the history over the past 15 years. They have won the league title 8 times and 13 other titles from tournaments. Quite the accomplishment for this club!

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • Addiction Recovery
  • Inflation Impacts
  • Russian Invasion of Ukraine and the wide reaching impacts

The verse for this week was focused on lament, this one seemed to fit well.

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord; Lord, hear my voice!

Psalm 130:1

News for prayer for Week of February 21, 2022

Headline News:

The big headline as of late last week is the schism that happened in the PP party. I’ll discuss it in the political section below.

Over the last week COVID cases have continued the downward trend. This is good news considering that our restrictions have been greatly reduced. Night clubs are open and the first large community gatherings are starting to happen. One happened this past Saturday night, called Caldereros here in Donostia. Then tomorrow (Thursday, February 24) Fat Thursday starts the kick off of carnaval in a nearby town of Tolosa.  With the number of cases down significantly normal surgeries have restarted at the hospital.

The trial of a serial sexual predator who assultated women for 7 years in Lasarte-Oria (small town just outside of Donostia) has started. They believe he assaulted at least 10 women. During the trial it was reported that he used chloroform to subdue the women in the attacks. They were able to confirm his identity thanks to DNA.

The sexual abuse that happened in the catholic church continues to be reported on. An independent council of 18 people has been established to review all the cases. The two focuses of the council are to review the previous work done by the dioceses and to establish contact with the victims. The Basque Government made a statement that it condemns what happened and will make available all protocols to hold those responsible for what happened.

Economy:

The cost of inflation for January reported at 6.1% which is down 0.4% compared to December. This was the second straight month that it was above 6%. These levels have not been seen in almost 30 years. Salaries are not expected to match this pace. The expectation for February is to be 7.1%, while the whole year is expected to be 4.6%.

The IBEX35 ended last week on a small upward trend closing at 8,590.00, a 0.01% increase for the week.

Political:

As stated above, the headlines have been focused on the schism that is happening in the PP party, who are considered conservative. The news broke last week after Ayuso (a member of the PP who leads the city of Madrid and has been rising in popularity) made accusations against Casado, the current leader. The accusations are that the leaders in the by PP party were attempting to discredit Ayuso and were investigating irregularities with a purchase made in April of 2020. The purchase in question was done by Ayuso’s brother for 250K FFP2 and FFP3 masks for ~1.5 million euro. One leader has already stepped down and there is a call for Casado to step down as well.

International:

The focus of a majority of the international headlines has been the conflict between Russia – Ukraine and the response of the rest of the world. Easing of some EU border control regarding COVID restrictions starting March 1 was also reported on.

Sports:

Real Sociedad played two games last week. The first was for the Europa League, in which they are in the playoffs of one home game and one away game. The first game was played in Leipzig (Italy) and the result was a 2-2 tie. The next game is at home tomorrow (Thursday, Feb 24). On Sunday it was back to La Liga play in which they played their Basque rival Athletic Bilbao to the result of a 0 – 4 loss. This moves the team to 7th place overall. The next La Liga game is Sunday against Osasuna. 

GBC has played two games since my last update. The first was against Estudiantes which was a 54 – 72 loss. Next they played against in-province rival Juaristi Iraurgi. The result was a 80 – 70 victory. The team is currently in 9th place, last spot for the end of the season playoff. The next game is March 6 against Leyma Coruna.

Prayer Points and verse for the week:

Prayers points:

  • COVID-19 continue downward trend
  • Impacts of inflation
  • Political stability in Spain & the world

The verse for this week focused on peace given all that is going on. I thought this verse fit well:

And the Peace of God, Which Transcends All Understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Jesus Christ.

Philippians 4:7