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Hello friends family and dear blog readers! We hope that you’ve enjoyed your weekend and that the week has gotten off to a good start for you. It’s exciting to be entering the memorial season as soon all of us will start our memorial campaigns. We’re happy to be able to be busy in Jehovah’s service in these last days. Over the weekend we were able to enjoy our Circuit Assembly which helped us to maintain our love for Jehovah in Granada. We’d like to share with you how our weekend went and some lessons that we learned. We’ll also talk about some transitions that the site is experiencing as well as other miscellaneous things. So let us share with you our weekend in Granada (again)!
As we prepared for Granada we couldn’t help but be excited for the assembly program as well as the opportunity to visit with our friends from other congregations. In the past when attending the assembly we were new to the circuit so we didn’t really know anyone except those in our hall. While its always wonderful to be among Jehovah’s people it does add to the enjoyment when you know people and are able to cultivate friendships. After having visited a few halls in the circuit we have gotten to know different ones whom we now view as friends. We also were looking forward to our stay in a rural hotel with only eleven rooms about fifteen minutes outside of Granada. This would be a chance for us to unwind and discover a new area which is something that we always enjoy. We had some other plans for the weekend but let me share with you how things went and what we learned.
Sometimes when we look back at the ways that Jehovah helps us and others we can’t help but be amazed. Many times he knows what we need and has things worked out better than we ever could do ourselves. This seems to especially apply to missionaries, pioneers, needgreaters and others in full-time service. It seems like whenever spiritual occasions like assemblies come around something always seems to come up to try to interfere. No doubt many of you reading this have experienced this before. The obstacles that arise could be related to discouragement, secular work, finances or even health. Time and again we have seen that for us the usual suspects are either finances or health. It seems that without fail one of these two situations will present themselves negatively in order to get in the the way of us attending or enjoying the program. This has been especially true while here in Spain. While generally life here is calm and relatively stress free we know that when it comes to sacred service there will always be challenges due to the fact that we are living in Satan’s system of things. In planning for the assembly program we reached out to a brother in our hall who rents out cars to the friends. Nothing is wrong with our car but we wanted to try one of his small compact cars which is supposed to get better gas mileage. This makes a difference since Granada is an eight hour round-trip. As the assembly weekend approached we started to see that our finances were running low due to some unexpected expenses. Slightly concerned we continued with our plans for the assembly and left the matter with Jehovah. We weren’t sure if we would be in a position to book a hotel and also make the journey to Granada and back with our current situation. After all we wouldn’t receive our earnings from our job until a few days after the assembly. Well, its amazing that when you make things a matter of prayer and try to deal with them in a calm way how Jehovah often surprises you. During the week of the convention we were able to book the nice hotel that I mentioned earlier with credit that I received a few months ago. After that we heard back from the brother who said that we could use his car for the weekend free of charge and it would come with a full tank of gas! As we learned this news we felt that it was Jehovah answering our prayers to allow us to attend the program. We couldn’t help but think back to other times while here in Spain where Jehovah has come through for us in ways we continue to marvel at such as the time when he provided work for us when we were close to returning home because of nearly exhausting all our options. The wonderful thing about reflecting and experiencing Jehovah’s help in this way is that it strengthens our resolve to trust in him when faced with challenging situations. So let’s get back to our story…
Now we have a car with fuel to attend the program and a place to stay that is paid for. We felt like all of our problems were behind us. Well, I’m sure you can guess that there’s more to this story than that. As we left packed and excited for a lovely weekend on Friday morning we had a specific budget that we needed to stay under for the weekend in order for everything to work out. After about a half hour or so of leaving our house we had an unexpected expense that basically cut our budget in half. Now we were already committed to attending the program and we had seen Jehovah’s hand in providing lodging and transportation. Would we still continue to make the trip to Granada despite things not being as comfortable as we were hoping. If this was a few years ago and we had not gone through all of the things that we’ve experienced here in Spain we may well have turned around or tried to think the situation through relying on our own solutions. But the great thing was that we didn’t even give it a second thought. We knew that everything would be alright. It’s a difficult thing to express into words the feeling that you have when you know your doing something for Kingdom interests and even though things don’t look ideal or even likely to work out from a human perspective you just know that they will because Jehovah has your back. So we continued on our trip through the winding roads in the mountains towards Granada. I have to be honest and say that I was checking the gas gauge more than a few times to see how the car was doing as the GPS eta time seemed to move at a snails pace. But I tried to focus on the fact that we were going to enjoy a nice weekend and spiritual refreshment even though it wasn’t always the easiest thing to do since we’re only human. As I noticed that the car was consuming more fuel than we felt it should we started to realize that we would not get the gas mileage that we had anticipated which meant additional fuel costs. In time we arrived at our destination a little stressed but happy to just be able to plop down on the bed after a long trip. We stayed at a place called Hotel La Garapa in Cajar about 15 minutes from Granada. After spending time in the Alpujarras area a few weeks back we knew that we wanted to stay in a rural setting and enjoy nature. The hotel is in a quiet area and since it is away from the city all you hear are birds chirping and the relaxing sounds of nature. The hotel has a nice rustic feel and is actually family owned. They have olive trees planted in the front which they use to make their own olive oil which we had during the breakfast that they provide. We even had our own private outside patio with orange trees and a few chairs. We were very pleased with the hotel and would definitely return. Another huge bonus for Granada is that parking is free on the premises. As we contemplated what to do that evening with our dwindling funds and hungry bellies we started looking up some local restaurants on Trip Advisor. We also talked about our situation and reflected on how Jehovah will always give us what we truly need. After some discussion and exploring a few options Kanicia was able to find some funds from a very unlikely source. The amount was just what we needed to be able to enjoy the weekend and have enough to get back home without stressing or worrying. After experiencing a large relief we thanked Jehovah and headed out to explore the town.
The weather in Granada was uncharacteristically warm being in the mid 20 degrees. We walked about ten minutes to a neighboring town called Huetor Vega and explored the area. We got some snacks from a local merchant who spent about ten minutes giving us restaurant recommendations after we asked him for some. He must of repeated the same thing two or three times but using different gestures and facial expressions for each time. We didn’t mind as we enjoyed the typical friendliness of the Andalusian people. After getting some good recommendations we went to the local park to take a seat and enjoy our snacks and just take in the sun. As we watched the local children play it reminded us of our old neighborhood in Murcia. We miss our friends and time there but we are so grateful to be experiencing new things each and every day. We decided to head home and make our way back out once the restaurants start serving food which would be around 8pm. Soon enough we had arrived at the main recommendation from our new friend. It was a restaurant called La Corrala Real. This place was exactly what we were looking for. It was an obvious locals place with great authentic decor and tons of personality. The food was tasty and homemade and the tapas that came with the drinks were a good size. The set up is different since the center of the restaurant is open and has an open roof. Their is also a large outdoor terrace both upstairs and downstairs which must get packed in the summer. If we lived near here we would probably be at this restaurant all the time. If you are in the area for the assembly or visiting Granada we recommend a stop here. Needless to say we were pleased to be able to enjoy a good meal in a nice place even though just a few hours earlier we were wondering how things were going to turn out for us as the weekend progressed.
As we returned home we were grateful for a nice relaxing evening after a long drive and somewhat stressful day. We knew that we would enjoy the assembly program the next day which was the most important thing for the weekend. We also knew that there would likely be more challenges ahead but we would be able to face them successfully. As we woke up Saturday morning I looked over at my wife and I recognized something immediately. Over the years I’ve learned how to tell that she’s not feeling well especially when its due to a migraine headache. As I looked at her I knew that this was one of those times. It seems like she often has migraines around assembly time. I don’t know if its the added load on the schedule or the excitement but it seems fairly consistent. The thing that is not fun about migraines is that it can cause her to not be able to do anything or for a day or two if its a particularly bad one. As we had breakfast in the dining area we decided that we would head to the pharmacy and get some medicine. We arrived at 9:20 and they didn’t open for another ten minutes. We also knew that the assembly program started at 10:00. We really wanted to be able to find parking on the street (which is very difficult in Granada) and be in our seats in time for the program after all we had gone through to get here. Once the pharmacy opened we got some medicine for pain and nausea and then made our way to the assembly. We circled for some time trying to find parking until we finally found a spot about ten minutes away from the assembly. We were grateful and started walking to the program. How happy we were to arrive just in time to be seated by the attendants in a great spot and to be able to enjoy the opening song. We were happy to put behind all of the worries of the day and just enjoy the time spent with our brothers. I won’t get into the program because I know that some reading this may not have attended yet. I will mention that we enjoyed a great guest speaker from Spain bethel who gave two talks. We had around 850 in attendance between the morning and afternoon sessions. It was so great to associate with new and old friends during the mid day pause and after the program as well as enjoy fine spiritual food. It’s at moments like that these that you realize that whatever sacrifices had to be made to enjoy our gatherings were worth it! At the close of the program we sadly said our goodbyes and made our way back to Huelva. We were able to make it back home safely and without any problems. As we contemplated how the weekend turned out we basically just couldn’t help but be thankful. It’s funny when you go to serve somewhere like Spain or another country and you give up a lot of things that you had back home. Many times you experience situations that you wouldn’t experience back home when it comes to material things. But many times you also see Jehovah’s hand in ways that maybe leading a more comfortable life back home wouldn’t allow you to see. When we lived in the US we usually had what we needed and even a little extra. The way we viewed material things was different as well. Being here has caused our view of money and material things to shift in a way that is hard to put into words. Even though we often don’t have a lot we are happier than before. It is as if we are ready to let Jehovah surprise us with what he has in mind for a given situation where we may need his help after we have done all that we could. That is a great feeling and it takes so much of the load off of you. We know that many needgreaters around the world experience this everyday as well. So what have we learned from our trip to Granada. We have learned that we can lean on Jehovah and he won’t let us down. Oftentimes he will surprise us in ways we never thought possible. We’ve also learned to enjoy the little things as we go through our day and life in general. These things are often simple but they are so easy to miss. We have learned to slow down and to laugh and just enjoy whatever good things come our way for that day. We look forward to seeing how Jehovah continues to step in and help us when we need it and we want to show our gratitude to him by doing the most we can in his service.
On Sunday we had originally planned to visit Seville but instead we decided to stay closer to home and we headed to Portugal. We picked up a picnic lunch and headed out to find a lake near one of the local beaches from a picture that we saw online. After exploring for some time we weren’t able to find it so we decided to go explore another area where there is a locals beach as well as a forest nearby that is perfect for picnicking. After driving out to the beach area we found that you could drive all the way out to the tip of the beach and see Spain on the other side. This point is the most southeastern point of Portugal. The beach was pretty windy so we just walked around for a little while before heading back into the forest area. We found a nice secluded spot and set up our picnic blanket and supplies. As we basked in the warm sun and dozed off after a nice meal we thanked Jehovah for the creation and for allowing us to enjoy beautiful things in this wonderful assignment that we cherish. These are the kinds of days and moments that we wish could last forever and we know that soon they will. Relaxed and ready for the week we headed back to Spain and settled in.
Before I close this post I wanted to mention some transitions with the site. As some of you may have noticed the Moving Abroad Guide is no longer available. This is only temporary and should be back to normal in a few days. I know that there are some who have signed up for it but have not yet started receiving it. This is because we’re changing our email provider and while things get switched over the guide will be unavailable. We’ll be adding in a way to get the guide on the site soon as well as maybe a way to subscribe for blog post updates. The Moving Abroad Guide has been getting great feedback and if you haven’t checked it out we encourage you to do so once it becomes available. Also if you haven’t been getting email updates on new posts it’s also due to the transition. Soon everything will be back to normal. We’re also working on something that we’re really excited about revealing to you soon, hopefully within the next few weeks. Well, that brings this post to a close. We hope you’ve enjoyed it and that our experiences here can help you on your own journey to serving where the need is greater. Bye for now.
Your friends Antoine & Kanicia