Our Return to Portugal
Summer is usually our busiest season of ministry. Beside all the regular church ministries, we host mission teams, teach kids’ Bible club, and work at camp. This year there was an exception: it was our first summer back in the States for furlough. We prayed for God to raise up people to fill in and lead the various ministries. Here is who God used:
Pastor Eder has been filling in all the preaching services for the hearing church. He has also helped shepherd the congregation with their needs and encourage the new visitors. Though Eder is a native Portuguese speaker, he does not know sign language, and we needed someone to preach at deaf church. God provided John Olson, an American deaf pastor, and his family! They gave two months to live in Portugal, learn as much Portuguese Sign Language (LGP) as possible, and spend their days focusing on just the deaf church. They presented at a deaf association, went on trips with the deaf, and helped our coworker, Amanda. This past Sunday, John had learned enough to preach his message in LGP! We are thrilled that God provided someone so capable and who loves reaching the deaf for Christ!
Ricardo and Ana Paula are a couple who joined our church last year. Ricardo helps with the maintenance at church, and this summer he stepped up in another role: camp van driver. Over three weeks of camp, we had 22 kids and teenagers who needed to be transported. It can be hard to find people who have a vehicle or the time available, so we are grateful for Ricardo and others who volunteered to help in this way.
Ricardo, Ana Paula, their son, and the five teenagers that served as camp counselors
Speaking of camp, we are thankful that our church took another step forward in camp ministry. In our first years, we had no children to send at all. Then, we grew to have several campers. This year, we saw some of those campers transition into junior counselors! Five of the teenagers gave almost a month of their summer to wash dishes, clean, take care of kids, and dozens of other things required of camp counselors. We love seeing people in whom we have invested now investing in others for the sake of the kingdom!
As for us, we are deeply grateful for our time in the United States. We arrived in March worn out physically, mentally, etc. Our wells were dry. Many of you have taken time to pray with us, talk with us, love our kids, and show us friendship or support in myriad ways. You know who you are and what you’ve done. You’ve poured into our wells. May God bless you and strengthen you as you keep fighting the battle for His glory here.
We’re back off to Portugal on the 30th of this month. Please pray that in our first two weeks, we can adjust back to the languages and time change, move back into our home, figure out schooling for our kids, and use our time wisely. There are more people and ministries than we can possibly do; we need God’s wisdom to discern which are the people and avenues that God has for us in this next year.