Hello friends, visitors and those whose first time it is visiting this blog! Well, as you may have noticed we didn’t post anything on the blog last week. There’s a good reason for this I promise! Well, at least I hope so anyways. In order to make up for not posting last week this weeks post will be full of plenty of extra pictures and experiences. 🙂
Now that the Memorial and Special Talk are behind us it seems like we are getting a minute to catch our breaths from the busy activity of the last several weeks. The reason that we didn’t write anything last week is because we were entertaining guests from back home. We’ll talk more about that later. Lately we’ve been receiving a lot of new visitors to the blog. About half of all visits are ones who are coming for the first time. If that is you then feel free to check out our About Us page to learn about our story as well as the purpose of this blog. Basically, my wife Kanicia and I have been writing this blog since we moved to Spain in 2013 to serve where the need is great. We usually write about service experiences, interesting places to visit and lessons that we’ve learned through our experiences here. We hope you enjoy the content as much as we enjoy writing it. If you want to receive updates when we post new articles and other tips and special email only content feel free to enter your email below. Don’t worry, we won’t send you anything that isn’t awesome.
OK, now that that’s out of the way let’s get to it. In this post we’ll be sharing experiences during our Memorial and talking about how things went with our visitors from the states. We’ll also write about preaching in new areas in Portugal and the cart work. Lastly we’ll share how things are going with our summer plans as well as our upcoming trip this week. Are you ready? Me too. Let’s do this.
So to start off with we had a great Memorial. Our attendance was seventy six in total. It seemed as if the visitors outnumbered the publishers in the congregation when you looked out into the audience. A lot of the visitors came from the Huelva area and work in the fields picking fruit. For many of these ones it takes a great deal of effort to come to the meetings since the kingdom hall is about forty five minutes to an hour away from where they live. On top of that pretty much all of them don’t have their own transportation so they rely on the brothers to help them. Usually they may finish work in the evening and then there is barely enough time for them to get home, wash up and be ready for the meeting not to mention the fact that they would be tired from a long days work. Thankfully however, our Memorial was at 8:45pm which made it somewhat easier for some to attend. The brothers who are part of the service group in Huelva are really to be commended because they work hard in caring for that side of the territory by driving great distances and expending resources to maintain an active ministry. From what I hear many of the migrant workers have traveled back to the camps since it is the fruit season. So now the camps are full which makes it a prime time for preaching while there are people. We haven’t been out to the camps in a few weeks because we’ve been busy with our ministry in Portugal but we will be returning soon.
It seems like almost every publisher at the Memorial had a study or interested person there. I had just received a new study from another brother the weekend before the Memorial. The man, whose name is Robert, is from Ghana and is a fisherman in a nearby fishing town called Isla Cristina. The man is humble and he attended the Memorial even though he had to work late. We were able to pick him up and he really enjoyed the program. In many ways he reminds me of my study Peter from Bilbao. I hope that Jehovah continues to bless his efforts to learn about him and serve him. Since we both have the goal to return to full time service this September it’s so nice to be able to have Bible studies since it adds so much joy to our ministry.
Our speaker for the Memorial was a brother from Germany Bethel. Him and his wife visited our congregation before in the past. They fell in love with our hall and if they ever left Bethel they would keep it in mind as a place to move to. The brother is in charge of training translators in branch offices around the world so he has a lot of experience and is a joy to be around. So needless to say it was a real treat to have them as our guests here to give the Memorial talk. Since most of the audience was full of Africans from the territory the speaker using foresight opened his talk with a captivating story about the leper in Jesus day who was healed. The introduction grabbed everyone’s attention and the theme “I want to” tied the talk together in various ways. The points were easy to remember and we all appreciated the experienced delivery of the information. Even though the brother’s native language is German he speaks English extremely well. Kanicia said it was probably one of the best Memorial talks that she’s ever heard. After the meeting ended, everyone was busy greeting the many, many new ones and making them feel welcomed. Even though the hour was late it was as if no one wanted to leave. One of the reasons that we love this congregation so much is because of its warmth. Many visitors have commented that they feel that the congregation is very hospitable and it seems like a big family. For me it feels like my old Mill Valley, CA congregation before the split. Being a part of such a loving family is truly special and we hope to enjoy it for a long time to come. Why don’t you come visit us sometime? 🙂
After people started leaving the hall we were invited to a gathering at the home of the new American family. Even though it was likely after 11pm everyone was still so pumped up because of such a fine Memorial and they wanted to continue enjoying fine association together. We had a nice time with our brothers and sisters at the gathering even though we got home past our bedtime haha. The festive times have evidently started in the hall. One of the young ones came up to me at the weekend meeting and said that we’ve already had five parties in only two to three weeks as a congregation. I guess the south of Spain and Andalusia in particular like to enjoy themselves. 🙂
A few days after the Memorial ended we went to pick up our visitors Paulette and Jerry from California. We were all in the French Mill Valley congregation several years ago so we were really looking forward to their visit to catch up on old times. Our guests were already visiting Europe as they were spending one month of holiday in various countries. They flew from Paris to Seville Spain where we went to pick them up. After getting them at the airport we settled in a nearby restaurant that we found on Tripadvisor for some typical Spanish food. Before you knew it the table was full of eight or nine plates of tapas that we all shared together in typical Spanish fashion. This seemed to be our guests first time having dishes like pork cheeks and oxtail but we’re proud of them for being courageous and trying new things. 🙂 After the meal we headed back to where we live in La Redondela where we showed our guests our place. It was so neat to actually have them both here in person since we remember talking to them about our plans before we left and they were so excited for us. After relaxing a bit at home we headed out for dinner and a stroll around 9pm. We went to our favorite burger place, (yeah I know burgers in Spain…) called The Good Burger where we enjoyed some nice burgers and drinks among a lively crowd of other Spanish families late into the night. Our guests couldn’t believe that people actually eat as late as they do here. They went along with the flow and we had a great time.
The next day we were able to take Paulette and Jerry to the meeting so that they could meet our congregation. It was nice to introduce them to others in the hall and they found the congregation very warm and loving. They mentioned that they think almost everyone came up to greet them! The next day was our service and fun day. We attended the Monday morning service meeting in Ayamonte and then we paired up with another group who had territory in Alcoutim, Portugal. This would be great for our guests because they would be able to see how we work our territory as well as enjoy the beautiful town of Alcoutim nestled along the Guardiana River. After arriving in the territory we started by preaching to some of the RVs parked in the area. We usually only approach them if we can see that they are awake already or if they are outside. I had a good discussion with a woman in French and another couple had a nice discussion with a man in German. Overall the afternoon was off to a good start. After the RVs we headed into the town to do some addresses. This was my first time in Alcoutim but I hope it will not be my last. It is a very pretty town as well as very relaxing. After some ministry we took a coffee break in a nearby cafe overlooking the river. A perfect day with gorgeous weather and friends from home is all we could’ve asked for. We soon finished up the territory and said goodbye to the other group in order to head to Villa Reale de Santo Antonio for lunch and shopping. We enjoyed a nice meal outside with classic Portuguese dishes included fried cuttlefish and local sardines. After lunch we visited the different shops so that our guests could get some gifts for friends and family back home. After a nice walk and meal we headed west along the coast to Tavira. After arriving we walked the cobblestone streets in the old town darting in and out of shops as we soaked in the vibe and relaxed Portuguese culture. We finished off the evening at our favorite restaurant in Tavira as we prepared for the drive back to Spain. The next day our visitors flew to the south of France to finish up their trip in Europe. We were so happy to have visitors that made a special effort to come to Spain to see us. We hope to have more visitors soon!
We’re excited with some new arrangements being made in our congregation regarding the cart witnessing. If all goes according to plan on the first of May we will begin our new schedule which should allow the friends who have been invited to participate a nice opportunity to share in the cart work in an organized way. This will surely help those in the territory to become better acquainted with our message and the work that we do. In other news, I’ve had my second study with Robert and I’m already learning a lot about his background. He has been studying for a long time so I’m going to focus mainly on helping him to attend the meetings since that seems to be keeping him from progressing. We’ve started the God’s Love book since he’s already finished the Teach book. He reads the paragraphs in Twi and I ask the questions in English. Today I just saw that programs on JW Broadcasting are available in Twi. Hopefully I will be able to take the opportunity to share some of them with Robert for his encouragement.
Things have been busy for us as well due to the fact of preparing for our summer plans. We’re happy to see that things have been falling into place thus far. We are excited about the Special Convention that we will attend in Milan Italy in July. With each passing week we seem to be seeing Jehovah’s blessing on our plans. In a few days we will be traveling to the UK to pick up a new car that we plan to use over the summer. We’re excited about our trip as we will be driving back through the south of England and all of France and Spain. As usual we’ll look forward to sharing our adventure with you as it takes shape. If you aren’t already following me and my wife on instagram you can do so at the following links. @jwabroad & @kcog09. We usually post pretty regularly on there with encouraging pictures and experiences as well as adventures from serving abroad.
We’re also continuing to work on the updated version of our teaching guide which should be released during the beginning of May. The guide will help you to get started teaching English online which is a very common way for needgreaters to support themselves. If you are interested in it you can learn more by clicking here. In addition to that, last week we opened up our first store for JW’s! In the store you’ll be able to get gifts for brothers and sisters if you will be attending a Special Convention this summer. The gifts are postcards with our own designs on the front and the back can be customized with your own text. These are perfect gifts for the brothers because they are small and you can easily carry them with you to pass around as you meet new ones over the course of a week. This is what we will be using when we go to Milan. You can check out our new store by visiting www.jwconventiongifts.com and you can follow our store account on instagram @jwconventiongifts.
Well friends, as you can see we have a lot going on to keep us busy! We love sharing our experiences with you and we love hearing from you as well. Feel free to comment below if you enjoyed this post or send us a message on our Contact Page. That should do it for now, take care and until next time!
Your friends Antoine & Kanicia