Greetings dear family and friends! As some of you know in the last month we were able to spend several weeks traveling. On our trip we were able to visit many interesting places and spend some time with good friends. We have truly been encouraged by our trip and as a result of it we have some exciting things planned for this year! So let us tell you all about it! 🙂
Our first stop was New York City. There we stayed with our old friends Daniel and Aqueelah from our previous French congregation. They had actually been assigned to the Brooklyn French congregation after graduating SKE. It was great to be able to talk to them about their experience and see how they are adapting. Of course no trip to New York is complete without visiting Bethel. Thankfully an old friend of mine who is serving in the computer department was able to get us a couple of nights stay at Bethel as well as many special tours. We were so happy to finally see the Divine Name and a People for your Name exhibits in person! It was also a nice privilege to be able to attend morning worship as well as the Bethel family Watchtower study. Since we were visiting NY we had also made arrangements to do The Woman and the Seed tour at the MET Museum. All we can say is that if you have not had the chance to do this tour try to find a way to take it. It was so eye-opening to learn about how Jehovah always ensures that his will is done despite serious opposition. We will never forget it and we hope that we can take some of the other tours someday.
Our next stop was Northern California. We were very excited to come back “home” since it had been over two years since we had last visited. Since that time our former congregation had grown into two congregations and we were very excited to see the friends and visit our old stomping grounds. After landing at the San Francisco airport we headed to Yuba City with my dad. It was wonderful to spend some time with my family and to see how they were adapting to their new home and surroundings. My dad had arranged for the brothers in his hall to interview us and have us talk about our experience serving where the need is great. The interview took place on a Friday afternoon at the Yuba City Assembly Hall when all of the construction volunteers were having lunch. They usually come to the hall once a week to do maintenance and upkeep. We didn’t realize that there would be so many people but thankfully it was informal in the dining room. The brother asked us about our experience and why we decided to move to Spain. He also asked us about the blessings that we’ve received as a result of making the move. We were very touched to have been able to share some of our expressions. After the interview several ones expressed their appreciation for our comments and example. It’s at moments like these that you are able to see that your actions can truly have a positive impact on others even though it may be unknown to you at the time.
Afterwards we were given a tour of the assembly hall. This was actually the assembly hall where I was baptized so it was really cool being able to come back full circle. Included in the tour was the library and the binding department. This is basically a small group of brothers and sisters that are involved in the restoration of many old books and Bibles. As we listened to how these humble brothers work hard in support of Kingdom interests sometimes doing tedious and challenging work our faith was greatly strengthened. We met a former missionary who shared with us her story serving in a Spanish speaking country with her husband. As we leafed through her story in the publications and saw how Jehovah is taking care of this dear sister despite having lost her husband our hearts couldn’t help but swell with gratitude. As she told us about her studies and some of the more exciting experiences in her missionary experience we could see that her love for the ministry was as strong as ever. She seemed encouraged by our example but we were immeasurably encouraged by hers. We thanked Jehovah that we could be with his people and that he let’s us experience so much. That weekend we were able to attend the assembly with my dad and meet many of those that serve in his congregation. We were up-built by the program and even made a few new friends!
The following week we headed back to the Bay Area where we spent time with friends. We stayed with our good friends Charles and Erica and their dog Evans. We were happy to be able to see them continue to reach their goals as they are both pioneering and seem to be enjoying their congregation and ministry. As we were staying in the Oakland area this kind of served as a central point for us to meet with various friends from all over. One of these friends was Yvette who drove all the way up from Madera to spend some time with us. We couldn’t have asked for better weather as we all walked around Lake Merritt in Oakland after a delicious lunch of chicken and waffles. We are grateful for good friends like her.
That following weekend we headed up north to Rohnert Park where I grew up. My friends and I enjoyed a tennis match which has now become our five year tradition. I was very happy to spend some time with Neal and Danielle and Tony and Jessica as well as Ryan and Gabby. After the match we went over to one of our friend’s house for a nice meal. It was great to see how much our friends have grown but in some ways are still the same.
The next day we were able to spend some time with our friends Yasmeen and Andre and Kim and Jesus. Yasmeen and Andre were the ones who originally got us thinking about moving to Spain to serve. They were previously serving in Portugal but have since moved back and are supporting the Portuguese field in northern California. It was great to catch up and see how everyone was doing.
Later on the next week we flew out to Denver, Colorado to spend some time with Kanicia’s dad Terry. This was my first time visiting Denver so I was excited. In our short trip to Denver we were able to see many of Kanicia’s family. Her dad also took us up to see the Rocky Mountains which was really cool. Denver is a beautiful city and someday it would be nice to return. I was able to see Kanicia’s old Kingdom Hall that she attended when she was young. We also went hiking in the beautiful Red Rocks park.
After our stay in Denver we returned to San Francisco and the next day I had the privilege of giving the public talk in French at the Oakland French hall. This was something that I had been looking forward to for months since many of the brothers in this hall had come from our previous hall in Mill Valley before they split. Before the talk though we were able to preach with the French in San Francisco. We got to spend the morning with Aaron and Lyn who are a great couple serving in Oakland French. I was able to spend the morning doing public witnessing with the cart and two brothers in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood. Later at the French meeting we could see that the congregation definitely had a different makeup but many of the longtime faithful friends were still there working hard. It felt really good to give the talk and afterwards we enjoyed hospitality at a local restaurant with many of the friends. Even though distance and time may have separated us only in Jehovah’s organization can you pick up where you left off without missing a beat with good friends.
After spending several weeks in the states it was time to head back to Europe. Our first stop back was Copenhagen, Denmark. We had read a lot about this city’s food scene and architecture and we were excited to see it for ourselves. While in Copenhagen we were able to stay in the city center and explore some local attractions such as Tivoli Gardens and Nyhaven (New Harbor). We even had the chance to rent a few bikes and pedal around the city like the locals. This is definitely by far the best way to get around! The food in Copenhagen was also great! It is very tasty and carefully prepared and presented. We could see why they have one of the worlds best restaurants (Noma).
After spending a few days in Copenhagen we then flew to Seville in Andalusia in the south of Spain. Our destination here was the province of Huelva which is about an hour away from Seville. We had decided to come here to spy out the land in order to consider whether or not we would want to move to support an English congregation located there. Those of you that follow us on Instagram (@frenchtwan @kcog09) already know what we have decided. 🙂 Needless to say we enjoyed our time spent in the south of Spain very much. We were able to stay with a special pioneer couple and a need greater couple from Australia who had just moved there a couple of weeks before we arrived. It was the perfect way for us to get a feel for the territory, the congregation and the area. It is very different from Bilbao, in a good way. That weekend on Saturday I was able to give the talk in English at the hall in Huelva. It was nice to meet the different ones in the congregation who were from places as diverse as the UK, Germany, Holland, Canada, US and of course Spain. The hall has a different feel since it has a heavy need greater presence.
Throughout the weekend we were able to preach in both main areas of the territory. One area comprises Huelva city and the other stretches across into Portugal in order contact many of the retired English speakers. We were excited to preach in Portugal which is where the service meeting was held because we had been wanting to visit that country for some time now. It is a very beautiful, relaxed country. In a way it felt as if we had been transported to another time. After spending almost a week in the Huelva province and with the congregation we can honestly say that we enjoyed it and can see great potential for growth.
So as of this writing we have decided to serve where the need is even greater in another part of Spain. By the time you read this we will probably already be in Huelva since we will be leaving in mid January. By moving to Huelva we will be able to be of help to the English congregation which is in need. We will also be able to simplify since the cost of living is lower. This will allow both of us to cut back working to only three days a week as well as enjoy the same service schedule. The weather in Huelva is also very moderate and sunny pretty much year round which will be better for us health wise. We have clearly seen Jehovah’s direction in this move thus far and we hope to continue to observe it. Please keep us in your prayers as we make the transition and get busy with finding an apartment and doing our best for the congregation. We are sad to leave our friends in Bilbao but Jehovah has blessed the congregation tremendously and we know that he will continue to take care of them! As always, we hope that wherever you are serving you are busy in support of Kingdom interests and happy in your service! Until next time!