Wow! It has already been a year since we arrived in Portugal! It really does not seem that long, yet, when I look at all we have done and all we have missed, it seems longer than a year!
We have said goodbye to family and friends. We have missed the births of a niece and a nephew, but facebooked stalked them both! We missed all the holidays this year with family, but were able to skype with everyone during them. Thankfully, there have not been any major illnesses in either of our families this year. We have really been blessed by that fact! But through all of this, as much as I’ve missed family and hated missing the major events, God has given me a peace that only He can give, and it has not been as difficult to be away as I thought it would be.
We would appreciate your prayers as we continue serving Him in Portugal.
- For our relationships with local churches and local believers. Pray that they will see the vision to reach the lost in their communities and start new churches and Bible studies.
- For the football team and our relationship with them.
- For our friendships with non-believers. Pray that God will use us as instruments in His salvific work in their lives.
- For our relationship with each other. Pray that God unites us as a family and brings us closer together as a unit.
- And most importantly, for our relationship with the Father. Pray that we keep seeking His after Him and draw closer to Him in everything we do.
God has taught us so much this first year. Not only have we learned (or attempted to learn) another language, we have learned another culture and way of life that has opened our eyes to our own ethnocentrisms and total American way of thinking. We all like to think that we are open minded and can adjust easily to other cultures, after all, America is the melting pot of cultures, right? That is really not the case. We are learning to view the world through the eyes of the Creator and His Word, and not through our own cultural ideals and norms.
We have also learned to rely on each other and draw closer to one another through all the frustrations and joys we experience. Quite often David and I experience culture shock – not being able to communicate effectively, not being able to quite fit in, just not enjoying being in an unfamiliar place… – and our first reaction is to lash out at each other. We find ourselves angry at each other for the silliest of reasons. I also feel myself growing angry and frustrated and totally lacking patience with my toddler (especially during this pregnancy). But, as we’ve been here longer and we’ve gotten more reliant on Jesus and more in depth in the Bible, we have learned that instead of lashing out at one another, we should be leaning on one another. So often overseas, the husband and wife team only has each other and their children. There are no other teammates near on whom they can rely. We are not in that situation, as we have teammates in the same city, and others who are not far away. But at the same time, even with others so close, sometimes you feel so alone. And your spouse is the only one who is there with you, experiencing the same situations at the same time as you. God has given us partners (those of us who are married) for life; I am David’s help-mate and he is my leader and often times my strength, reminding me that we rely on God when we are down and we praise Him through everything. That dynamic will never change, no matter what country we are in. But it has gotten stronger this past year as we’ve been through some pretty difficult times…in another country…away from family and friends.
The most important thing God has been teaching us through this year is to be totally reliant on Him. Let me be totally honest, this year has been the toughest year of my life. When God wants to mold you and shape you to be more like Him and to be totally reliant on Him, it hurts! I have never been as depressed as I have been this year. There were days, and even weeks, when I did not want to get out of bed each day. And only by His grace (and a very needy toddler) that I was able to get up. Some days (especially in the early stages of pregnancy when I was so very sick), I went from bed to couch. But, it was movement. There were other days when I needed someone to help me out of the funk, and nobody, not even David, was there to do that. I learned that I had to totally rely on Jesus, and not my husband or anyone else, for comfort. I was so lonely throughout this year. And in that, He taught me reliance on Him.
God is definitely teaching us and molding us to be more like Him in all facets of our lives. And it’s not just frustrations or sadness over here. We have celebrated many firsts – a birthday, steps, words – and are now expecting a baby girl! (Only 16 weeks! And, yes, we are planning on giving birth in Portugal.) God has brought so many people in our lives that encourage and challenge us and who have befriended us through this process. We are very grateful for all God has done in our lives during this journey.