Hi friends and family and those that we’ve never met before but enjoy reading our blog! We’re sure that you’ve been keeping busy with everything that life throws at us on a regular basis. We have as well. It’s been nice to be able to be out in the ministry more often since we have a less demanding schedule at the moment. Since we’ve been able to have a larger share in the preaching work we’ve enjoyed a few nice experiences along the way. We’ve learned a few lessons from these experiences which we hope to be able to keep in mind for the future. It’s been nice to be able to spend time with the brothers and go on Bible studies and return visits.
One nice experience we had this past week was in the city of Cartaya. We went there to call on a return visit that we had met some time ago. The call lives at a house that acts as a transition center for people coming from difficult conditions such as those who have left their country for a better life. Several months ago we met a few men at that house who were from French speaking African countries. They were receptive to our message and we were able to sit down and study with them a few times. The difficulty with this center is that the people that live there aren’t allowed to stay indefinitely. So after a few months of arriving they have to basically get their affairs in order or be moved to another house possibly in Spain or in a neighboring country like France. It makes it a challenge to maintain the interest but we know that it’s possible. We knew that our studies had moved on but we wanted to see if there was anyone new in the house that would be interested in the message. After knocking a few times we realized that no one was home. Earlier in the week we had driven through downtown Cartaya to see if it would be a good place to find English speakers.
It was really the first time that we had driven through Cartaya on our own. Typically we just go to the huge Carrefour store and then we return home. On our drive through town we discovered a working class population with a lot of immigrants ranging from Arabs to Africans. As we scanned the area through the car windows we knew that this would be a good place for us to do street witnessing. Another good sign that there were many foreigners is that there were several locutorios within close range of one another. If your not familiar with what a locutorio is let me explain. It”s a business that charges people to use their phones or their computers so that they can communicate with family abroad. When we lived in Bilbao there were many of these near our house. It made the ministry nice because we were able to step outside of our home and start witnessing right away. I don’t know what these places would be called in English but I’m sure that you can imagine what they are like. Usually when there are locutorios in the area that is a good sign that you are in a neighborhood or area with many people that speak other languages. So we made a mental note that we would return and see who we could speak to. This is exactly what we did after trying to find the call mentioned earlier.
One thing that we try to prepare for when searching for English speaking people especially Africans is that we will undoubtedly run into French speakers as well. This usually turns out to be a good thing because the French group is located in the city of Huelva and they are small so they aren’t able to cover all of their territory. When we find interest we try to cultivate it and then we can pass it on to the French group. Many that we speak to are from Senegal or Mali. It’s always nice preaching to French speaking Africans because they are generally kind and they will take the time to listen to you even if they don’t have a Christian background. After getting out of the car we spotted a man that looked like he could speak English. When we approached him he actually spoke French. We gave him a brief witness and gave him the jw.org card. It’s so handy to have the cards to direct people to the organization regardless of the language that they speak. Many in our territory even though they may be of modest means have a smart phone so they are able to access Bible truths in their language. After leaving this man we walked around the block to see if we could find any others. As we came back to where we were parked we saw that the main road that we were on led to the center of the town. This is usually a good place to find people gathering and to speak to them.
As we were walking toward the town center we saw a group of three men standing in front of a locutorio that was closed. Sometimes when we see groups of people it is easy to be intimidated or to think that they may not want to listen because of the peer pressure from the others. We almost decided not to approach them but we reasoned that it was best since that is why we were here. So Kanicia and I walked up to them and greeted them in a friendly manner. The thing that we really love about many of the Africans here is that when you greet them it is like you are meeting with an old friend even though we’ve never met. Maybe it’s because they identify with us more but regardless of the reason it is a great way to open the conversation. After greeting the men we asked them how they were doing. They explained to us that they were waiting for the locutorio to open to call their families back in Africa. We joked a little bit about how business here seem to open whenever they feel like it. We asked them a little more about where they were from and the languages that they spoke. They spoke and understood French but they were more comfortable with Bambara and Spanish. I spoke to one of the men about the world conditions that we see and was able to get his contact information in order to follow up with him. Kanicia spoke to the other two men and was able to try to show one of the videos in Bambara. There was a small problem since we were all talking outside on the street, the video playing from the tablet was not loud enough to be heard. So now we are going to bring our portable bluetooth speaker from home so that people will be able to hear the videos better. Even though the men weren’t able to hear the video that well they were very friendly and open to talking about the Bible. It is clear that even though sometimes someone may look like they may not be interested it’s good to give them the benefit of the doubt. We may end up being surprised!
Over the weekend we were able to preach in the migrant worker camps in Huelva. It had been some time since we’d preached there because many of the ones who live there have been living in other parts of Spain because that’s where the fruit is being harvested. Many are starting to return now that the strawberries and other fruit are being planted again. We had made arrangements to preach with a nice family who have many studies at the camps. It was made known to us that there was a big football (soccer) match being played between Ghana and Mali for the Africa cup of nations. Since many of the ones who live in the camp are from these countries they would definitely be watching the game. We imagined ourselves in a similar situation to the ones living in the camps and it wasn’t hard to understand that we would to would relish any chance we would get to have a taste of home even if it was only through football. With this in mind we saw that many of the tents were empty because everyone was watching the game at the entertainment center that is set up in the camp. We did however find a few that still hadn’t left to watch the match. One of the men that the brother studies with spoke with us for a little while. I had spoken to him last year. He really appreciates the visits and he always has a smile on his face. As we ventured deeper into the camp we could hear the cheers coming from the location where the match was playing. As we passed a house thinking that they would not be too interested because they would be going to the match we were mistaken. The woman called out to us and told us to ‘stop and speak to them because they wanted to hear the word of God.’ We asked if they were going to watch the match and they said that they weren’t interested in football. Instead they wanted to here the word of God. So a little dumbfounded we attempted to give a witness to the group of three woman and one man. They invited us inside to take a seat and tell them something from the Bible. It was a challenge however because the woman was from Equatorial Guinea so she spoke Spanish. I didn’t really have anything in Spanish to show her and I wasn’t able to get cell phone coverage in order to download publications on the JW app. So I left her with a few tracts and translated some questions from the Good News brochure into Spanish while my preaching partner patiently witnessed to a man across from us who seemed sincere but was not the easiest to deal with. As we left the house we debated whether or not we should approach the center where the match was playing since it was half time. As we walked towards the place we started to get a feeling that it wasn’t the best idea. We were able to tell right away that Mali was losing and Ghana was winning. All of the Malians looked angry and frustrated while the Ghanians were practically dancing out of joy. Since we saw that many had been drinking and that emotions were running high we decided to choose another moment to speak to them even though not all in the group agreed initially. To be honest it would have been a great opportunity to speak to many since they were all in one place but we decided that it would not be wise especially since we had two sisters and a baby with us. So something that we took away from that experience is that it may be beneficial to approach small groups at times while other times it’s better to use good judgment.
We really enjoyed our weekend as Sunday we got to preach to a completely different type of territory. After meeting the group in Portugal we returned to Spain to work territory in a beautiful area overlooking nature where many expats live and spend the winter or summer. We were able to speak to a Danish woman and a German man. That is one thing that is interesting about this territory is that you meet a variety of people that are all in different situations. Regardless of that fact, it shows that the Kingdom message is relevant for everyone despite their situation. As we prepare for this week we are looking forward to warmer weather soon. Even though it doesn’t get very cold here the homes are not built for cooler weather so you really notice when the temperature drops. We can’t wait for March when the weather should start to be warm again. This week we are looking forward to a visitor from Florence, Italy who will be spending a few days with us to spy out the land. We look forward to learning about the preaching work with the refugees in Italy.
On another note, if you haven’t checked it out yet, we’ve created a free moving abroad quick start guide that we just put on the site over the weekend. We’ve compiled our experiences here in Spain over the last three years and boiled it down to the most valuable lessons broken down over seven days. Enter your information below and you will receive the guide in the form of one email a day for seven days which will include an action step that you can start immediately. This guide is great for those that are considering serving where the need is great in the future or at present. If we had known the things that are in the guide when we first moved things would have been a lot easier! Well, that’s all for this week. Stay warm and we hope that you enjoy your week!
Your friends Antoine & Kanicia