Hello friends and new readers to our blog! This week has been quite interesting and full of activity. The past couple of weeks we have been feeling a little homesick. It’s strange really if you think about it since we’ve been living in Spain for three years now. But it actually makes perfect sense. This is probably because around this time last year we were in the United States visiting friends and family. So perhaps reflecting on this fact caused us to miss home. Whenever you move abroad your bound to sooner or later have a discussion revolving around how often you should visit home. We’ve had this discussion a few times over the years and it seems like each time there is a different answer. At the moment we feel that visiting home every two years is a pretty good rule. This factors in the fact that for us home is not just a one or two hour plane ride away like those with family in the UK or Germany. But rather its a transatlantic journey of over 10 hours not to mention the considerable cost. Oh if only Ryan Air flew to San Francisco from Seville! 🙂 That being said it doesn’t mean that just because we don’t visit every year that we don’t think about our family and friends on a daily basis. While it’s true that we have our life here now, home will always be home.
Even though we’ve been settled in Spain for some time now we will always feel like an outsider to some degree. Whether this is due to the language barrier at times or some strange custom or tradition that we will never understand. Or it could even be the mind-boggling amount of holidays that exist in this country that we never seem to know when will pop-up. This doesn’t mean that we don’t enjoy our life here in Spain but it does mean that it’s not home. As is often the case Jehovah knows when we may be feeling a little homesick and he also knows just what we need to lift our spirits. A few weeks back we received an email from a couple that we’d never met from San Jose, CA. They found us through our blog and mentioned that they were going to be in Portugal for vacation and they wanted to see if we would be available to meet up. They had served in Ecuador for some time in the past and we’re looking at the idea of serving again overseas. Well, needless to say we accepted their invitation to meet and so the plans began.
One thing that we really appreciated is that the couple asked if there was anything from the States that we wanted them to bring with them for us. What a cool offer! So as we racked our brains trying to think of something that is difficult to find here and that doesn’t take up too much luggage space we finally figured out what we wanted! What did we decide on? Don’t laugh. Kanicia asked for chocolate covered coconut macaroons from Whole Foods as well as a specific hand sanitizer from there as well. I asked for organic gummy bears. Haha, yeah pretty random, I know. But these things are very difficult to find in Spain so we jumped at the opportunity. So last Thursday was the day we met up with the couple. We took the afternoon off work and drove to Tavira in Portugal which was a good midway point for all of us. Prior to that the couple had been in Lisbon and along the coast visiting the beautiful Portuguese beaches. We had looked up a restaurant in Tavira to meet up at called Casa Simao. The restaurant serves traditional Portuguese food in a nice setting for a reasonable price. We were looking forward to trying the food based on the reviews and needless to say we weren’t disappointed. My wife and I both had the wild boar stew and the visiting couple had fish. All of the food was great and the atmosphere was like being in a Portuguese home. We would recommend the restaurant to you if you are hungry in Tavira.
As we sat down and got to know the couple we instantly felt at ease. Aside from the fact that they were Witnesses they also had served where the need is great abroad before so they get what it’s all about. It was so refreshing to chat about their challenges and joys in Ecuador and how life has been for them since they returned to the US. We always love getting together with others from the States because we can speak at our normal speed instead of worrying about whether we will be understood or not because of our accents or because someone may be learning the language. It was also cool because they live in the Bay Area so they know where we lived in Oakland and we were able to talk about all of the crazy Bay Area stuff like the astronomical rent, etc. Since the couple had mentioned that they would like to one day possibly serve in Portugal it was cool to share with them that we had originally written to both the Portugal and Spain branches. We tried to tell them about our territory as well as practical things that we’ve learned along the way. We feel that Jehovah allowed us to meet up with them for mutual encouragement but also because he knew that we were feeling somewhat homesick. So if your reading this now guys, know that we really appreciated our time together and have been up built as a result of it!
Faro English Group
Another highlight of our week was having the privilege of giving a public talk in Faro, Portugal. On Saturday my wife and I prepared ourselves to visit a little English pre-group located in Faro, Portugal which is the second biggest city in the Algarve. The group only has about five publishers but they regularly get around eleven to twelve in attendance. They meet for the public talk and Watchtower twice a month in the back school. They have the school every week however. We really love groups and pre-groups because they feel like a small family. They remind us of our days in Murcia when we first moved to Spain in the French group. Here’s some more information about the Faro group. They are attached to a Portuguese congregation. Their territory covers Faro, Olhão and continues up to the border with Tavira. The next closest English congregations are in Albufeira and Portimao which are also in the Algarve. I was doing a little bit of research this morning and I saw that there are also three English Congregations in Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais Portugal which are more or less close to one another. After that in the north of Portugal there are two congregations located in Porto and Coimbra. The pre-group in Faro currently has one study that attends regularly. She is an elderly widow who lives 30 minutes from the hall so she is picked up and dropped off by the friends. There is one elder in the group and one servant as far as I could see. They basically do everything when it comes to meeting parts and talks if needed.
If you are looking for a place to serve in Portugal in the English field this pre-group could use your help tremendously! The pre-group was formed around the beginning of 2016. Let me qualify what kind of help they could use specifically. What would be ideal is if you are a pioneer couple where the husband is in an appointed position. In order to be of the most use to the group you would ideally be in a position to arrive and just get to work in the territory. You would need your own car and be able to support yourself financially as well as sort out all of your visa and living arrangements. The reason for this is that the territory consists of many English speakers that live in remote areas in big homes as well as those that come on vacation to the Algarve. While the Algarve is an amazing area for its food and natural beauty as well as weather it can be very difficult to find a job and the territory is quite rural. So these are some things to keep in mind when counting the cost. Imagine a large rural territory with only five publishers. Now you can see the need. If you would like to help there is also the possibility of staying for a few months if staying long-term is not an option for you. Feel free to contact us if you want more details and you are in a position to serve.
After the talk we enjoyed dinner with the brother and his family who are taking the lead in the group along with another young Portuguese couple. It was great to get to know the brothers better as well as their territory and life in Portugal. We have to be honest and say that helping the group crossed our mind. If it weren’t for all of the work that we have in our current congregation we would pursue it more. For the moment we will definitely be back for more talks and to support the ministry every now and then. The faro group is an hour and a half from where we live each way. The great thing about making sacrifices to support theocratic interests is that you meet others who are doing the same thing and it serves to encourage you even more. We will be doing a lot more traveling in the coming months both for Kingdom interests and also for other reasons. We look forward to sharing with you our experiences. That’s all for this week! Thanks for reading and we hope that perhaps something that we said gets you thinking about ways that you can reach out and do more if it’s within your circumstances.
Antoine & Kanicia