Well friends, family and new visitors to this blog it looks like this summer is shaping up to be a busy and joyful season for Jehovah’s people. For us here in Spain it has been no exception. In our last post we were returning from our wonderful Regional Convention in Madrid as well as visiting various cities throughout central and Northern Spain. We were all no doubt very encouraged by the instruction we received and we were eager to put it into application. As the month of July started we found ourselves being able to take more time for spiritual things as well as to relax.
People here in Spain take the summer very seriously. This is more the case in the south but where we live in the north there is also plenty to see and do. The weather here changes drastically in the summer and it becomes very hot and even humid. Kanicia says it reminds her of living in Georgia at times. We took advantage of the weather and the free time to visit one of our favorite beaches called Sopela. The beach is about 35 minutes by metro and lies along the beautiful Basque coastline. The last time we visited this beach was in the winter and it is much different during summer in many ways.
First of all there were a lot more people at the beach complete with their umbrellas and in some cases even small tents to protect themselves from the sun. It wasn’t unbearably crowded like I imagine some of the beaches in the south of Spain might be. Another difference is that since it was so hot we actually wanted to get in the water. Being used to beaches in San Francisco we weren’t expecting to be able to swim in the water comfortably. To our pleasant surprise the water was actually a nice temperature and was enjoyable to swim in. Another difference with the beaches here and those back home are that people here are much more ‘free’ when it comes to their clothing or sometimes lack thereof. Most of the small children can be seen running around naked and many of the women don’t wear bikini tops while sunbathing or just in general. Even some of the men don’t mind completely changing within plain view. Suffice it to say, there was never a dull moment.
Another thing that we’ve really enjoyed so far this summer is having more opportunities to associate with the brothers and sisters in a relaxed setting. On one occasion we were able to share a meal along with some other friends at the house of a family from Ghana who are in our hall. Its always enjoyable to learn more about the culture and to get to know different ones in our hall better. We even were able to play the “What is your desire?” game that we saw modeled for us at our Regional Convention. On another occasion a group of us were able to have a simple picnic in a beautiful area surrounded by mountains not far from the city. We were also able to play a few friendly soccer matches with the adults and kids together. When we get to spend time with our brothers and learn about their struggles and joys it truly draws us closer to them. When we get to experience times like these we are thankful to Jehovah for being able to belong to such a worldwide loving brotherhood.
As you may have noticed, we are not posting as often on the blog. We’ve decided to post only once a month and this will generally be within the first week of each month. This will allow us to better manage our time and be able to write about what we did during the past month on a more regular basis. When Kanicia first created this blog and wrote our first post back in July of 2013 I wasn’t too excited about it. I thought that it would be a waste of time and that no one would read it. But since then we have both come to enjoy writing about our experience serving here with all of its ups and downs. Before we left the United States we read some needgreater blogs that encouraged us and showed us what life may actually be like in another country. We never thought that one day we would be one of those people writing their own blog detailing our various experiences. Here are a few needgreater blogs that we enjoy reading on a somewhat regular basis:
Over the last year that this blog has been in existence one thing that we have really enjoyed and that has surprised us are the wonderful comments and the countries that visit this blog. The reason that we created this blog was to encourage others who may be thinking about doing the same thing. We also see that it has become a sort of diary of our experiences so that one day we can look back and remember all of the things that we did. From time to time we reread certain posts and we can’t believe that we actually went through those things, whether they were good or bad. Mainly its encouraging to see how Jehovah has allowed us to continue to serve him in this foreign country. It’s shocking to us that this blog has received nearly 20,000 views from 53 different countries. Some of our most popular and favorite posts are the following:
In the area of secular work for us here in Spain there have also been some changes. As you may know Kanicia has been teaching English online part-time at home since March with a company here in Europe. She really likes what she is doing and the company is really good to work for. She has a lot of flexibility with her schedule and can thus focus more on the more important things. I had been working for an English academy here in Bilbao since January. The company was well run and very professional. I enjoyed teaching there however it had its drawbacks. For one thing, class preparation and travel time to work could be time consuming. Many times during the week I would arrive home late and would be tired from a day of work. The academy is very reputable and is located in a wealthy area which in some ways can make the job quite demanding for the teachers because there is a lot expected. These are all things that we have been thinking about throughout the year. Now that we are in summer I am on a break from work and I have been considering other options. After much prayer and discussion I decided to apply for a position with the company that Kanicia is currently working for. After an exhaustive interview process I was offered a position. How happy we are that Jehovah is blessing our efforts in this regard. I should begin work near the end of the month or at the start of September. Kanicia and I will now both be working from home part time teaching English for the same company. This job is not as fancy as the academy nor is it as well paid however it will allow us to focus much more on kingdom interests which is what is important. In retrospect, I can see how the academy job was necessary at the time because it allowed us to stay in Spain and serve and without it we would have never joined the Bilbao English congregation. It served its purpose and we are now looking forward to the start of the new service year as we will be able to devote less of our attention and energy to secular work and more to spiritual pursuits.
On another note we have been using our time to pursue some hobbies and learn. I’ve created a new webpage with some photography edited with the VSCO platform. Lately, my photos are focusing more on locations and everyday life here in Spain as you may have noticed on Instagram. We will be writing and posting pictures more about our theocratic activities and the congregation here on our blog. If you would like to visit my VSCO Grid you can go to the following link:
Recently we’ve gotten cable TV in order to better adapt our ear to learning Spanish. We also wanted to receive the international news channels such as CNN, BBC and Al Jazeera. We enjoy having cable but sometimes we want a break from all of the bad news that is so prevalent in this system. Lately we’ve been greatly enjoying the new video clips that the organization produces ranging from Gilead graduations to serving in isolated territories. So I started thinking about a way to have the videos play as if you were watching a TV channel. If you visit jw.org and go to the video section you can view all the videos, currently 109. I download all of the shorter clips (non-full length feature films) into a folder on our laptop, totaling 92 videos. Then I created a playlist set to random including all of the videos. I then plugged the laptop into the TV so that the computer screen shows up on the TV and I did the same for the sound. In this way whenever we feel like watching some short videos from jw.org we can watch them in high-quality definition on the TV and be encouraged or reminded of some videos that we forgot about. This can also be done with a smart tv that plays back SD card storage, but we find the laptop method to be the most practical. What’s nice about this is that you can customize the videos you watch to be about court developments, serving where the need is great or even the Caleb & Sophia videos and the songs for kids. We jokingly refer to it as JW TV.
We’ve also been renewing our enthusiasm for learning Spanish. Since we are in an English congregation we are not learning Spanish as fast as if we were in a Spanish congregation. With our schedule we don’t have time to take classes either. So in addition to preaching with the brothers in the Spanish hall on occasion and watching some TV in Spanish we are focusing heavily on mobile apps. These are some of the ones that we have been using lately on Android that we feel are worth downloading.
Our ministry here has become incredibly more fruitful within the past few months. We are not sure why exactly but it may be due to trying to adapt to the territory and focusing more on individuals as we we have been encouraged to do. We have been focusing on being diligent in following up with interest and also being friendly and getting to know those that show interest in the Bibles message personally. Another way that we had to adjust is by adapting how we communicate with those in the territory. Let me explain. Many people in our territory are immigrants from Africa and virtually all of them use a mobile phone provider called Lyca Mobile which allows them to basically talk as much as they want every month for only a few euros. We have a company called Orange for our mobile phones and this actually can create some problems in the ministry. If you call someone who has a Lyca phone with a non-Lyca phone it is very expensive for them to answer the phone and talk with you. So many times it would be difficult to reach interested ones in the territory who gave us their contact numbers just because of our phone not being Lyca. So to overcome this problem we got a Lyca phone in addition to our Orange phone and we have seen a marked improvement. Interested ones have been answering the phone and calling us and it has been great for our ministry. Kanicia and I are both conducting studies with some others possibly starting in the very near future. We are very happy that Jehovah is blessing the work here and that we are able to be used by him to accomplish it.
During the special campaign work we had the pleasure of preaching in rural territory in Durango, a small village in the Basque country. The ones that we preach to hear the good news only about once a year. We preached with our friends Miguel and Bath-sheba and afterwards enjoyed some refreshments. It was really nice preaching in the rural area because it is so peaceful and it felt like stepping back in time. The Basque country is so green and we were able to see that while preaching. Many of the people were friendly and it was a different experience preaching to the more traditional Basque people.
Our campaign work in the English field is going very well. It appears that we are covering our territory at a nice pace and it is evident that many are getting a witness. What a joy it is to be united with our brothers in this work in what may prove to be the greatest witnessing month ever. We hope that you are enjoying your campaign wherever you may be in the world and we hope that as many people as possible will visit jw.org to learn about the Bibles message of a future paradise and the end of suffering. Love and greetings from two people in Spain.