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Well, hello again friends, family and anyone else who enjoys reading this blog. As I sit in my apartment here in Spain reflecting on where I am and where I’ve been I feel grateful. Since today is a holiday in most parts of the world, for Spain that means that nothing will be getting done. The shops will be closed and the streets will be silent. This is fine with me since it gives me time to think and take a step back to appreciate what I have. So, as I was saying I am feeling particularly grateful this morning for various reasons. One of those reasons is the fact that I serve a wonderful God and am part of an amazing organization. There truly is no other like it on earth. Lately we have been reflecting on reasons to be thankful for being here. They are not hard to find, but they may not be the ones that might come to mind right away. Yes, while its true that were surrounded by beautiful new sights, smells, tastes and sounds as well as a new and exciting culture. It’s also true that there is much to be said about not having the pressures and stresses that come with living in a place that is fast paced and always busy like back home. Its amazingly nice to actually be able to enjoy the time in a day in a relaxed non-rushed fashion and to be able to actually take time to talk. But that’s still not what we are most grateful for. It’s funny when we were planning to come to Spain at the start of of this year we had no idea what we would experience. Well, let me take that back, we had an idea but it was just scratching the surface.
You see what I am really thankful for here are the things that you can’t see and the moments that you can’t plan for. Let me try to explain. You see preparing to serve where the need is great in another country is not easy. It takes a lot of work, planning, and effort and trust in Jehovah. Sometimes we look at each other and we still can’t believe we’re here. During that process of preparing you draw very close to your mate because you are working toward reaching a common goal. As you know, things don’t always go smoothly and it wasn’t a walk in the park for us either. But that’s OK because going through difficult experiences helps us to draw closer and to rely on Jehovah even more. As we reflect on our time here we can’t believe all that we’ve had the privilege to do and experience. It truly is humbling. But we have also seem our share of challenges and obstacles. In dealing with these we’ve learned to develop qualities that we didn’t even know existed. We’ve also learned to refine areas of our personality that could use adjustment. These experiences draw a couple extremely close and helps us to continue serving faithfully. Each and every day is basically spent with my mate from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. We are grateful to have this time together to grow in our marriage and to become more spiritual people. When I was younger I spent three months serving in Fiji with several friends. During that time I became extremely homesick despite all of the blessings that we were receiving and all of the wonderful things that we were able to do. This time around is different. There is something quite special about serving with your mate in another country. I have not been homesick even for a day here. That doesn’t mean that we don’t miss home. We miss certain people but here we have each other and it is quite remarkable to go through an experience like this together.
The other thing that I said I am grateful for are the moments that you can’t plan for. Being here with the sole purpose being to further kingdom interests makes us glad. We have more time for every day things and to really enjoy our lives. When after a long day in service or a good call we can share the joy together and be glad that we made the decision to come here. Whether its a leisurely breakfast and Bible reading and seeing how to apply a particular verse to something that we are dealing with unique to Spain. Whether its laughing at each other because we order the same sandwich every time we go out to eat because we don’t know what the other ones mean. Whether its still being awestruck by some local architecture even though we may have seen it a 1000 times. Whether its laughing at something new or something (or someone) completely crazy! All these moments will stay with us for the rest of our lives. So however long we’re allowed to stay here in Spain and wherever we may end up next we are incredibly happy for the experience and feel like its allowed us to grow so much in so many unexpected ways.
If your thinking about serving in another country, while its true that it does have its challenges and they may be many the joys and blessings, especially if you can share them with your mate, will more than make up for it! To our friends who have served or are currently serving in Nicaragua, Thailand, Portugal, France, Dominican Republic, USA, Haiti, and many other places we thank you for the encouragement and we hope that Jehovah continues blessing the spirit that you show!
This post is for you Kanicia (I love you!)