So, the Café Takeover has commenced.
Within a radius of about 1 1/2 to 2 km around my house is where I am 'strategically' visiting certain cafes. That’s right people, I used kilometers, welcome to European distances. I have rapidly expanded the area in which I visit. I am making it a mission to go to cafés so I can improve my Portuguese, but more importantly, I want to sow the gospel throughout the community.
Here is how the process works. I sit down at a cafe, hoping I have followed the guiding of the Holy Spirit. First, I usually read my Bible in English then Portuguese. At this time I either have worked up the courage to talk to a complete stranger or not. I then ask a stranger to help me practice my Portuguese. Some say no, making no eye contact (brings up ol' memories of me asking girls on a date and then promptly being turned down ) However, many have helped, and a few of my conversations have turned into multiple conversations with people.
This attempt to get into the community has helped tremendously. My Portuguese has improved. I now have the capability to communicate like a 4 year old with bad grammar. Lol, but it has helped. Here are a couple of things I have learned through this process:
1) Going to a café is the best place for me to have a quiet time, reading the Bible. I cannot focus well at the house, but put me in an environment where I cannot understand a single word unless I focus, and it is surprisingly peaceful.
2) I am growing more spiritually from reading the Bible in another language than English. When I read in English, I can gloss over areas because I have read the passages already and it easy easy to read in my heart language. When I read the Bible in Portuguese, I have to slow down to make sure I am interpreting the words and meaning correctly. I marvel at the Lord’s ability to communicate through different languages. I find it extremely interesting how my Portuguese translation might convey an idea differently than my English translation ( the thought never fails to cross my mind, I can solve this conundrum, I will just read the original Greek or Hebrew; that is my inner nerd thinking). I love the way some ideas are communicated by the Portuguese language. I found it hilarious that the word Pregar can mean ‘to preach’ or ‘to hammer.’ Lol, I believe to some people those thoughts in English are synonymous.
3) Having random conversations at cafés has really allowed me to work on evangelizing methods. Not being able to speak Portuguese well has actually been a blessing in a certain way. I have an excuse to talk to anybody I see. I see an elderly lady, I have a way to start a conversation. I see a teenager with a weird haircut and baggy pants, I have a way to start a conversation. I see a guy who looks like he is part of the mafia, I keep sipping my coffee… I have found that needing to practice my Portuguese is my way into random peoples’ lives. The hardest part of a spiritual conversation is starting the conversation. Sometimes it may take me an hour to gather the courage to speak, while other times I walk into a café with boldness radiating from me. The Lord has given me a simple way to transition a conversation from normal to spiritual. All a person has to ask me is what I do for work. It is that simple. The conversation immediately turns spiritual. I tell them what I do for work, and I usually know immediately by the person’s reply if he or she wants to progress with the spiritual conversation.
4) I actually am able to like coffee, just not he American style. I abhorred coffee in the States. The Portuguese café is more my style. It is an espresso. It has a bitter taste, not a burnt taste. It is small, so I don’t feel like I have to endure a bucket of bitterness to get my caffeine jolt.
5) Sometimes I feel complacent with accomplishing the good, instead of the Great. A lesson I learned from Lonnie Reynolds is to move beyond the good and not settle. The good in this case can be ‘just’ having a spiritual conversation. Praise the Lord for a spiritual conversation, but I believe Jesus sent me over here for more. Sometimes, I feel good about the conversation flowing to a point where I share the whole Gospel with a stranger (believe me, this is no trivial thing considering I normally have to communicate the gospel in Portuguese). But, great at this point in Portugal would be for a person to want to learn more about Jesus. So I want to move from the good to the great. I know it is in the Lord’s time, but Jesus said there is a harvest ready to be reaped, and I believe Him.
- While these words were given to Jeremiah, the Lord has given us all a mandate to share His Word. I feel like Jeremias’ plight with words, not being the ideal person, and lack of courage is what many of us have to struggle with overcoming: O livro do Jeremias, capítulo 1, vesículo 6-8 = Eu respondei: << Ah! SENHOR, meu Deus, eu não sei falar: sou ainda muito novo! >> Porém o SENHOR replicou: <<Não digas que ainda és muito novo, mas vai aonde eu te enviar, e fala como eu te mandar. Não tenhas medo de ninguém; eu estarei ao teu lado para te proteger. Sou eu, que to digno!>>