I’m sitting at our dining room table taking everything in: the colorful Portuguese plates hanging on our dining room wall; our porch soaked in rain; the school bell ringing two blocks away; the sound of our son playing with his toys in his room; the basket of school books, airplane snacks, and important documents waiting to go in a suitcase. Then, I stare at the picture on my computer screen. It’s of our church people, and tears come to my eyes. In two weeks, we will begin our 6-month furlough, and we will be an ocean apart from all these things and people. These people are where the past 8 years of our lives have gone, and, honestly, it’s hard to leave. At the same time, if I’m honest, some of the tears in my eyes are from exhaustion. We have been “on call” to witness to, pray with, encourage, confront, comfort, celebrate with, teach, and work alongside the sheep God has entrusted to us here in Portugal. We love them, we worry about them, we pray for them, and we rejoice over them. We know they are God’s sheep. He is their Good Shepherd. We ask you to pray with us that God will continue to protect, grow, and use each of them for His glory. We also pray the next 6 months will let us rest, refill, and come back recharged for our next term.
Practically speaking, we are working furiously to pack our house for the people who will live in it while we are gone, to cover all of our responsibilities here, and to prepare for our time in the States. While it is never easy to leave the work or our home for such a long time, we are eager to see family and friends and to return to our supporting churches. You have prayed, given, and encouraged us so faithfully over the years. Now, we will get to see many of you again and share stories of God’s grace and mighty work here in Portugal. Since we need to get back to packing, we will get right down to business.
1. We praise God for providing people to cover the church. Rather than calling in different pastors to preach each week of our absence, we were thrilled to see God provide a pastor and his family who can stay the entire 6 months. Please pray for Pastor Eder to have wisdom for the preaching as well as weekly care for the church.
2. Speaking of church, our town is growing, and so is our church, mostly from newly-arrived families from Brazil. With the influx of more help, the church has been able to create more departments, such as the Events Committee and the Building and Grounds Committee. As each person takes ownership and responsibility for a part of the church, the church becomes a little more “weaned off” of us and a little more ready for national leadership someday.
3. This past month, between the two locations, we had 12 deaf attend church services. That is a good number for our group. In our absence, Amanda, our coworker, will open her home to a Bible study for her deaf friends who want to learn more. God has also provided a deaf pastor from America to lead the Sunday services and various activities for a few months. Please pray that Pastor John will quickly pick up Portuguese Sign Language and that God will use him to reach and care for the deaf of Portugal.
Our schedule is quickly filling up, but we want to visit as many of our supporting churches as possible. If you are a pastor and would like us to come and visit your church, please let us know by giving us a call or sending an e-mail. As we say in Portuguese, “Até breve!” (“See you soon!”)