Thursday, May 1, 2014

Day 89:
We never really slept. Days 87 through 89 seemed all too fugacious- here one moment and gone the next. This whole trip, really. Three whole months. As we sit on the plane, I don’t know whether I should reflect on the past 89 days or to anticipate my next adventure. Our minds are on complete overload as we try to process the reality of the fact that we aren’t in Lisbon anymore.
No more cobblestone streets to pave our paths. No more buses and metros to carry us through the city. No more statues and hidden places around every corner. No more living with some of my favorite people… but I am going to focus on the positive.
Somewhere between February and now, I gained a heart-full of new friends to love. I gained the experience of a lifetime- I lived in Europe for a while. In the past 89 days, I have learned more about myself than I ever thought I could- some great things, some things I see I need to work on but that’s where I get to grow. Living in Lisbon, I learned to be more bold and zealous. I faced my fears and conquered them. I saw how the bible is truly a book for all people and experienced firsthand God’s impartiality when it comes to the extent of his love. I got to be strong for people around me. I was pushed to the limits and tested in many ways but I grew so much stronger in faith and in reliance on Jehovah for that. I come out of this 89 days with experiences and friends to last me a lifetime.
Sometimes it feels as though I took more from serving where the need is greater than I actually gave. If Lisbon taught me anything it is this: life, as the Portuguese would say, is not always ‘pink’ but when you learn to put Jehovah and others first and to trust in Jehovah with everything you have- nothing can bring you down. I learned patience. I learned that sometimes the most difficult of tasks are the most rewarding. I saw how the spirit can overcome the body and mind when you really need it to. Most of all- I saw prayers answered and I saw Jehovah’s hand in more ways than I could ever hope to describe.
Right now, it hasn’t hit me yet. In my mind I am still in Europe… I don’t know what life will bring now but I do know that no matter where I am in the world, I will continue to grow and to put Jehovah first. I will lean upon him, and let him guide me to my next adventure. As far as this one goes- my 89 days in Europe might be over but the experiences, lessons, and friends that I gained will forever live in my heart.
Positives of the Past 89 Days
Every day was a fun adventure with these girls

Experienced flavors and foods that were new and exciting

We went places most people dream of going

We got to support the congregation in a foreign field, seeing firsthand Jehovah's role on drawing honest hearted ones from every corner of the globe to him. It was the biggest blessing and joy.

We met so many amazing people from around the world

We were all brought together for a reason. I couldn't have done it without these girls. They were such a blessing- all such beautiful and spiritual people. They will forever be in my heart- even if they are across the globe.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dinner at Tia and Antonio's

Last coffee morning in Europe

My last favorite pastry in Europe
Days 87 and 88:
The anticipation is killing us!!! Literally. I don't remember the last time we were all so tired and slightly nauseous, the stress is hitting us hard. It's really interesting to realize what an out of body experience these last few days are... one moment we are laughing and the next we cry, we can't sleep, we are so busy. Packing, cleaning, saying goodbye. All the while our heads are bobbing up and down, fighting off exhaustion and our minds are somewhere in the clouds. Everyone can see it. Everyone here is well traveled and knows what we are going through. It's the pre jet lagged, saying goodbye is too hard to handle, I can't believe it is over, state of being.
We have been stuck in this state all week. Most of our time has been devoted to the many errands we have to complete. Taxis, packing,  last minute souvenirs, etc. After our work is complete, we hit the town and relive some of our favorite Lisbon moments, visiting our favorite spots with our favorite people. Then we end the days with our goodbye dinners and friends. There are so many people here that we will miss so much! Saying goodbye is never easy- but at least we know that in Jehovah's Organization it is only a see you later. We will forever be connected with our new friends, no matter where in the world we are.
Today and Yesterday's Positives:
We enjoyed reliving our favorite memories while making new ones
We spent our last few days with our great new friends
The sun is out, we are all happy, we are all packed and ready for safe travels
so we are all tired and sad... but we had a great last night in Lisbon together

Monday, April 28, 2014

breakfast at the French bakery

walking through the gardens was exhausting

Gloria and Claudia

Days 85 and 86:
Sorry for the conjoined post but the days are literally stringing together as we try to prepare for our departure. Feeling slightly overwhelmed by our 'to-do' list, our thoughts on going back home, and our leaving, we all are beyond worn out. Although we are enjoying our last few adventures in Europe for this trip, we are all ready to be home and sleeping in our own beds.
Yesterday we spent the day in service and in meeting. With it being the special talk, we prepared all day- studying, sending out more invitations, and getting ourselves ready. The talk finally arrived and all I really remember was that our whole row had teary eyes. With the theme, "Why Does a Loving God Permit Wickedness", we all knew this would happen.
Staying at the kingdom hall an hour and a half after the meeting, we all said our goodbyes seeing as it was our last meeting in Portugal for who knows how long. Home late and exhausted, we fell asleep and rested for our adventurous day 86. Museums and 'barbecues' awaited us.
Early in the morning, we met Claudia and Gloria for coffee and a trip to the Museum of Natural Sciences. With weather as beautiful as it was, we all agreed to venture through the botanical gardens and butterfly garden. It was so much fun to be with these two lovely sisters. One of the best parts is- in six months they will be back in Oregon so we never really have to say goodbye.
In the afternoon, we all piled into cars of friends from the hall and headed on our merry way to the beach. Stopping for a Portuguese barbecue (pork and rice) along the way, we had the opportunity to meet some friends from the Portuguese hall. Even though the language barrier proved to be a challenge, we all had a lot of fun and laughed as we spent the evening in the sand, brought together by our mutual faith. Just goes to show that Jehovah's Organization is truly a worldwide brotherhood.
The special talk was so heart warming and touching- and the hall was packed
Spent the evening after meeting making memories with my campolide roommates in the mall, having fun
Walked through the beautiful gardens with five amazingly beautiful and spiritual women
Spent the afternoon on an amazing beach, making new friends
Yara and Neomi- going to miss them

our group on the beach


Saturday, April 26, 2014

Getting Ready for our Guests
Day 84:
As we near the end of our trip, all of us try to fit in the little things that we always meant to do while here. For example, we started the day out by inviting Tia and Antonio and Tia's mother over for a crêpe party. I think crêpes are definitely one tradition we adopted here that we will be taking home with us. I will say that, if we could, friends like Tia and Antonio and Tia's mother that we adopted while here would also be brought home with us. After the morning of breakfast and friends, the girls and I got to cleaning and studying. This past week has been like some sort of limbo for us. Stuck between being here and going home, our cleanliness around the apartment has suffered a bit.
In the evening, we all decided that we would try our hand at going to see a movie in the theatre while in Europe. It's amazing how TV series and movies all release weeks earlier here than they do in the states. We also learned that movies, Portuguese subtitles included, take intermissions exactly half way through the film. That was a surprise to us as we all had a little panic attack when the movie just shut off in the middle of our watching it. As the night ended, we all headed back home ready for bed and the remainder of our trip. Tomorrow is the special talk and a going away barbecue.
Today's Positives:
Got some cleaning done around the apartment
Had a wonderful time with our friends and our breakfast party
We spent the evening out together and, as always, had fun exploring new things and places
Hanging out at the theatre

NIght out on the town

Friday, April 25, 2014

Day 83:
Service day with my friends :) today, my
Post will be short and sweet. We did service all day with the exception of a run to the American embassy that almost ended in a trip to Morocco to avoid deportation. Afterward, we crashed!!!! Immigration laws are exhausting
Today's Positives:
Nobody got kicked out of the country
It was a beautiful day

Thursday, April 24, 2014


Lunch Break

Makenzie giving her first (and last) assignment in Lisbon English Congregation

My friends Susan and Beatriz giving the #3 part

Day 82:
As our last weeknight meeting approached, we all left the apartment prepared to be a big part of it. Going out in service from ten to five thirty was only the beginning of our spiritual day. Looking back, this trip has taught me so much about the field and the work we do- what it means to truly sacrifice self to serve Jehovah. Yes, everyone is tired. Yes, everyone is sick. Yes, everyone gets scared or nervous. Even the special pioneer missionaries.  But, yes, we have Jehovah backing us up.
After service, we met at the hall for meeting at seven thirty. Makenzie and my good friend Susan Decker had the number two and three parts in the school this evening and they did a wonderful job. I think between seeing them on stage and getting all pumped up for the upcoming campaign and convention, tonight was one of my favorite meetings yet.
Today's Positives:
Had a good day out in service
The sun was out and it was warm
Had a nice picnic at the view point with some of the brothers and sisters

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


Going for a walk in the cool night's refreshing breeze

Typical for here- outside kiosk, projector with the 'soccer' game, and an espresso at nine thirty 
Day 81:
This morning we were invited to Ruben and Merieke's place for breakfast. After having them over for dinner not too long ago, I feel as though being around the sub CO/Coordinating Elder in the hall and his wife didn't seem so overwhelming. We laughed and joked and talked about our time here and our futures while we ate muffins and fruit and sipped on champagne and tea on the patio. It was a wonderful morning.
By the end of our visit with the lovely couple, our hearts and stomachs were full and we were ready to face the day. Service in the afternoon followed by an evening stroll through town filled the rest of day 81. Overall, we crawl into our beds feeling loved and supported by each other, by our spiritual family, and (most important) by Jehovah.
Today's Positives:
Had one more gathering with the Romero couple before our departure home
Had a spiritually up building day with wonderful friends
Went for a walk and felt refreshed afterward, saying goodbye to some of our favorite places