Reasons to be Grateful

Greetings friends and family and all of you new readers! Another week has gone by so that means that its time for another blog post. We really enjoyed ourselves last week because we were able to preach in different areas and meet new friends. Thankfully the weather has continued to be nice and sunny which has made preaching much more enjoyable. We’re starting to see many tourists return to this area from Holland, Germany, France and the UK. No doubt the good weather has a lot to do with this. Before we know it summer will be upon us. But let me us not get ahead of ourselves. We want to share with you some experiences from last week in the ministry and just in general.

Ayamonte

On Friday my wife and I preached with a very nice family from the UK that recently moved their cards into our hall. They have been visiting this area for years but finally decided to leave their life in the UK and settle here. We preached in an area near Ayamonte which is close to the border. At first we were working territory in large complexes that turned out to be gated. Since we couldn’t access the people we decided to work the other side of the territory since we would be able to find individual houses where people could be reached more easily. This proved to be a good idea. We were able to have a nice brief conversation with a woman from Holland. After finding out that we were Jehovah’s Witnesses her demeanor changed to be cheerful and pleasant. She explained that someone calls on her and that she regularly receives the magazines. She thanked us for our visit and told us that we are welcome anytime. That conversation encouraged us and helped us to realize that even though we may not always be aware of it there are people out there who truly do appreciate the work that we do! Another lesson that we learned is that even though some people may typically not respond positively to our message when they are in their home countries when they are in a different environment such as a new country they may respond completely differently. This could be due to the fact that they are now retired and more relaxed. They may also be away from their friends and neighbors so they don’t have to face any negative peer pressure. We try to keep these ideas in mind when we talk to expats from countries in the north of Europe. You just never know what the response will be.

As we worked the territory my service partner and I discussed many different things about our home countries. My partner came from a very affluent and stressful part of the UK outside of London. The people there can be very materialistic and the ministry can be very challenging at times. I shared with him some of the challenges that I faced back in the US. As we reflected on some of the difficulties that we had in our former areas we were grateful to be serving in the south of Spain. One of the main reason is that the territory is very enjoyable. We are able to preach to all sorts of people such as Africans, Northern Europeans and tourists. Many of these ones will listen to what we have to say or at least be respectful. We couldn’t help but be grateful to Jehovah for the beautiful weather as we worked the territory. The much more relaxed pace of life did much to add to the pleasant atmosphere of the morning and our time in general serving in Spain. It’s good every once in a while to take a moment and count the things that we are grateful for. We stopped for a break to have a coffee and tapas and enjoyed fine association and encouragement as we saw the clear difference between this fragmented world and the joy and unity that we experience as Jehovah’s servants. Needless to say we had a very enjoyable morning in the ministry to start the weekend. 

 

El Rocio

The next day Kanicia and I prepared ourselves for a long day preaching in Almonte and El Rocio. This territory is located over an hour from where we live in a famous national park. Apparently the territory hadn’t been worked in quite some time so we were excited to see what we would find. After arriving in Almonte we found a central location and started to explore the territory. As we walked around the town we could see that it had its own personality and style. We always enjoy exploring new areas because it lets us discover new parts of the country that maybe we wouldn’t have found on our own. The town of Almonte is unique and it reminded us a little bit of Murcia where we used to live. It is a small town of around 23,000 but there seems to be quite a lot to see. We stumbled across a wine museum which we noted to come back for in the future. While looking for some addresses we bumped into some brothers and sisters from the Romanian congregation preaching. We talked with them and they explained to us that they were having their special week of activity with their Circuit Overseer. We learned that they have a productive territory with many Bible studies. There is a heavy concentration of Romanians in Almonte as we began to notice more and more the longer we were there. The last time I heard Romanian was the biggest foreign language field in Spain and they are experiencing much growth. It’s great to run into other brothers while preaching in a new town. Even though we may sometimes feel alone we never are. This encouraged us to always say hello and stop to talk to the brothers if we see them in the ministry. The Romanian brothers were very kind and warm. They showed the kind of warmth that makes you instantly feel comfortable and as if you have been good friends for years even without saying a word. As I reflected on these feelings standing on the sidewalk with these brothers it again made me feel so happy for having made the effort to come preach in this far away town.  Jehovah always knows what we need and if we make the effort to do what he asks of us he will always reward us.

After finishing up with some of the addresses in the city area of Almonte we ventured out to some of the rural homes. We had an address on the territory that simply said three km from a particular road and that the householder was German. This could be a challenge to find the home but we pressed on. We found the road so we mapped out three km of driving and once we reached it we tried to discern which house the territory was referring to since it was not very obvious. We were getting a good feeling about a particular house so we parked on the side of the road and approached. At this point we are out of the city and in the rural country. So after walking up the long driveway and reaching the gate we ask the householder if they know where any German people live since they were Spanish. In a very heavy Andalucian Spanish he tells us some directions to several German homes. We weren’t sure what reaction we would receive but the man was very nice and pleasant almost as if he was waiting all day for us to ask him directions. As we walked away from the house we couldn’t help but thank Jehovah that we were moved to stop at that house in the middle of nowhere and talk to someone who was able to provide us with just the directions that we needed. This is even more the case because once we started following the directions we quickly realized that we would have never found these houses without any outside help. We drove along a dusty dirt road with bumps and huge puddles until we saw the yellow house that the man spoke of. The only problem is that the road that we needed to cross was full of water since it had rained recently. It was also super bumpy and not suited for a sedan to cross over. Undeterred we parked the car off to the side and walked the rest of the way. As we walked up the hill we came upon a young Spanish boy with two dogs. Thankfully the dogs were friendly and so was the boy. We asked him about his neighbors but he didn’t really know them. So we went to the first house and knocked on the door. It was apparent that it was not being occupied for the moment so we moved on since the Spanish man told us that there were several Germans on this road. We soon came up to a house with German license plates and several people outside that didn’t look Spanish. We greeted them and told them the purpose of our visit as we offered them a tract in German. They seemed to be impressed that we had made the effort to come all that way to speak to them and we can be sure that they were likely talking about our visit amongst themselves after we left. We continued on to the next house where we encountered five big dogs behind a gate that were barking loudly. The homeowners in these rural areas don’t need doorbells since they have multiple dogs. A man saw us standing by the gate but indicated to us that he wasn’t interested. As we continued walking to the next home we were chased by the dogs for at least 50 feet from the other side of the fence as they barked the entire way. As we reflected on Jehovah’s compassion to send his servants to those that don’t want to be found to deliver a warning message of things to come we felt great pride in our God. When this system ends those who did not heed the message or take note will not be able to say that they were never warned. What a loving and kind God we serve!

After finishing these rural homes we made our way to El Rocio. This town is an old-fashioned western cowboy town. The streets are dirt roads and there are horses everywhere. It is a big tourist attraction and they have filmed western movies here before. We had heard about it and we were looking forward to seeing it with our own eyes. All of the buildings have their own unique style and it is all very beautiful. We walked around the town a little bit taking in the vibe. It truly feels like you’ve stepped back in time. If you are in Andalucia we recommend stopping in El Rocio and taking it all in. After a long day in service we headed back to Huelva’s old quarter for lunch. We found a nice place in the center of town which had excellent tapas for a reasonable price. All of the tapas were only two euros and drinks were one euro. In total we were both able to eat and be full for $10. One of the things that we love about Spain and Portugal is that you can eat well for not very much. The quality of the food was homemade and very high but affordable. We’ll definitely be going back to this hidden gem.

On Sunday we changed the pace and went preaching in Portugal. We made arrangements with some brothers to share in the cart witnessing in Monte Gordo. We had been here a few days prior but we were doing informal street witnessing. Apparently this is one of the most successful spots for cart witnessing especially in the summer for our congregation. Along the beach in Monte Gordo it is common for the vast majority of people to be from other countries such as Holland, France, Germany and the UK. It feels great to be able to provide a witness to these ones while they are on holiday or staying for some time in the area. Many stop and look at the cart and even take literature. It was really nice to enjoy a more relaxed form of the ministry to finish off our weekend. Anytime we are in Portugal we feel like going back in time so we enjoy it a lot. After preaching we went to visit our new favorite market where they have delicious homemade food for reasonable prices. Just to give you an example Kanicia and I can have a meal for 6 or 7 euros for both of us total. The food in Portugal is even less expensive than in Spain and it has a different flavor profile as well. With a full belly and an enjoyable morning preaching we prepared to head back to Spain to prepare for the weekend meeting. We really enjoyed our weekend and the share we were able to have in the ministry as well as the new experiences we were able to have. One great thing about serving in another country is that you get to experience the unexpected. We hope to have many more experiences like this as we continue exerting ourselves in our auxiliary pioneer service over the next several months.

 

 

This weekend we will be visiting Granada. We love Granada and can’t wait to get back. On Friday Kanicia will be taking her French proficiency test in Granada as she works her way towards French citizenship. She’s excited but also a little nervous. So we hope everything goes well. On Saturday we will be preaching in a little village outside of Granada with the congregation there and then sharing in some association. On Sunday I have the privilege of giving the public talk which will be fun. We’re looking forward to meeting and spending time with the brothers there as we make friends in new places. We hope that you’ve enjoyed reading this post. If you liked what you read let us know in the comments below! We hope you have a great week wherever you are and that you keep busy in your service to our great God Jehovah! 🙂 

6 Replies to “Reasons to be Grateful”

  1. Cary Toussaint says:

    Antoine,
    We are so happy to see you both enjoying your life serving Jehovah! There is no doubt that he is blessing your efforts in so many ways. While we miss you both we are hopeful that soon we will have plenty of time to reminisce. Be confident Kanicia, you will pass and if not try again!! Think of how we struggled as old folks to learn a little french.
    Thinking of you both with thoughts of love,
    Cary&Betty

    1. Hi Cary and Betty!
      It’s great to hear from you. You are right we’re very happy in our assignment here even though it’s not without its challenges. But we are enjoying the ministry and the friends a great deal. We do miss everyone from back home and we do think of you all often. We hope that your doing well and we send our warm greetings and love! 🙂

  2. I enjoyed reading about your experiences! It reminds me of what Kanicia was telling me–that the English congregations there can be responsible for other foreign languages as well.

    1. Thanks Shalina! Yeah it’s true we basically preach to all those who aren’t specifically covered by other groups or congregations. So that includes Germans and Dutch people. We hope your doing well!

  3. Ericka D Moss says:

    I really enjoyed reading about your experiences this past weekend. I think it is awesome that you are able to visit different places and preach to different ones. You guys really making me want to go to Spain for preaching. I can see how much you guys are enjoying the ministry. I look forward to next week blog. Thank you!

    1. Hi Ericka, thanks for comment. We’re happy that you enjoyed reading about our experiences during the last weekend. We love sharing our experiences and helping people see what it’s like so that maybe they can do it themselves if they have the desire. 🙂

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