Hard times in Portugal

Today while Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, many thousands of Portuguese will take to the streets and protest the economic hard times the country is experiencing. Today is a national strike, which means that most public services are completely shut down.

Living here for more than a year now, it is easy to see the effects of the crisis on the lives of families here. Unemployment is high (over 13%), taxes are up (dramatically), sales tax has been raised yet again (most items are now taxed at 23%), and public services have been slashed. While much of the measures the Portuguese government is taking are long overdue and desperately needed, it still does not make it any easier for people here to survive.

Despite the hardship, people here are mostly resigned to the fact and have taken these measures peacefully unlike Greece. Below is an interesting video that describes what is going on here:

Portugal – Bosnia soccer game

Since my parents and brother are visiting us for a week, we guys decided to go to the Portugal – Bosnia soccer match. This was an important game as it would determine whether or not Portugal would play in the EURO 2012 tournament.

The game turned out to be a spectacular evening for the home team as Portugal romped to a 6-2 win. The crowd was enthused, and we all had a great time.

As you watch a couple of the videos below, you will see the passion people here have for their country and for their team.

Andrew watching the teams warm upRonaldo lining up for a free kick

A good night at Bible study

Since we asked you to pray for our Bible study last night, we want to give you an update about what happened.

As you know from our recent prayer letters, we are now having a bi-weekly Bible study in our home with several families that live here in Montijo. All of these families are saved and have a desire to see a Baptist church planted in our town. With this goal in mind, our plan is to meet in our home for six months, and then, God willing, move forward with beginning weekly meetings that would be the beginning of a church plant.

Last night, we pretty much had the normal group of people that have come in the past. There was one lady in particular that we had invited that we were hoping would show up. Unfortunately, she didn’t. However, we will keep praying and persevering with hopes that she will come next time.

Despite not having any visitors, the Bible study itself went very well. There’s a sweet spirit and everybody seems to genuinely enjoy our time together. Just having people in our home to study the Bible is an amazing blessing and answer to prayer. As I was setting up chairs, I couldn’t help but thank God for where He has brought us so far.

Of the many contacts we have in our town, there are five or six people that we are especially hoping will come to the Bible studies over the next month or so. Join us in praying that God would bring more people.

Thankful for your prayer

A couple of days ago we asked for prayer for our visit to the immigration office. We are thankful that all went very well. Our documents were accepted, and we are now free to live in Portugal for another two years.

We also learned that it is a big advantage to have a baby along for things like this. Even though there were many people there, we were always seen to the front of the line and given VIP status (Very Important Parent). It’s very nice that so many places in Portugal offer priority to parents with babies and pregnant women. Last year when we went, our visit lasted five hours. This time we were out in under 1.5 hours. Who says having a baby slows you down? Another big blessing was that we were able to get Laura legalized for two years as well. We didn’t expect to be able to do that seeing as we are still waiting for her U.S. passport, but in the end we did.

We postponed our first lesson with our Portuguese Sign Language tutor, so we don’t have much to add in regard to that prayer request. Here are some recent pictures of Laura:

Feeling a little grumpy

Who did my hair like this?

How can you pray for us?

It’s humbling to know that there are many people praying for us. That being said, here are some ways we need your prayer.

1. On Wednesday we go to the immigration office to renew our residency visas. While we think we have everything in order,  we never know until we actually leave there. Please pray that God would give us the patience we need and that we would be prepared for our big day.

2. Also on Wednesday we start having a tutor come to our house to teach us Portuguese Sign Language. In addition to the class we are taking on Saturday, we will now also have lessons for two hours every Monday and Wednesday. We feel that learning Portuguese Sign Language is one area that has gone much slower than we anticipated. Because of that, we are hoping that this extra effort will pay off.

3. On Friday we have our bi-weekly Bible study in our home. We have invited a couple of new people to come. Please pray that they would show up. Please pray for me as I give the Bible study that God would give me the words to say.

Thanks for your prayers! Take a moment and send us a note to let us know how we can be praying for you.

Teaching a Bible institute class

During the month of October, I had the privilege of teaching a Bible institute class each

The class

Tuesday night. I was assigned to teach on the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. At first I was worried about preparing 10 hours of material on this matter, but in the end there was far more than I was able to cover. It was great to interact with the students, most of whom came after a long day of work. There are few things more exciting than getting to teach the Bible to people who are hungry for it.