27 June 2013
We have had more blessings today than I ever thought was imaginable. It is incredible how kind people are and how willing they are to help. This entire week in Portugal, as well as my entire time in Europe, I have been blessed with both big and small tender mercies that have made my experience in Europe one I will never forget. Ana picked us up in Seville with an entire group of YSA members and took us around the entire city. Antonio and Imaria were so kind to let us stay in their home and feed us a wonderful meal on Sunday. The Grave family took care of us for three days in Lagos and fed us incredible Portuguese food. There were so many other small miracles that happened in the past few days, but unfortunately I slipped on writing them down and cannot remember. Here in Lisbon the miracles have just been poured down like a hailstorm… Yesterday a young girl named Telma walked us all the way to the train station. Today two missionaries we ran into at the train station helped us find the bus to Belem. Because of the strike, you never know when or where buses are traveling. We were looking for wifi and there was a McDonalds right across from the train station and then right across from that was the famous Pasteria is Belem we were looking for. It took a long time to catch a bus from Belem to Downtown Lisbon because of the strike but the downtime was well spent learning new Portuguese words from Kailey. After probably an hour, the bus came and we were able to travel into downtown Lisbon. The city was beautiful and we had a grand time walking around and seeing all the sights.
When we wanted to leave Lisbon a nice man pointed us in the right direction to the bus and we were able to get most of the way to Almadora. On that bus a very nice (but crazy) man talked to us the entire time and explained to us how we were to get to Almador. When we got to the station he kindly took us to the right bus stop in which we were to catch our next bus. We waited for a while and then decided we were going to walk the rest of the way until we caught a taxi. We asked directions and a kind lady offered to walk us to the Almadora train station where we were to catch our taxi. When she left us at the train station we realized that she had just walked way out of her way to take us there. She was incredible and very kind in doing that for us. It is amazing to experience all these tiny miracles that have made our travels in Portugal one to remember. It is humbling to meet people who are so willing to help despite their poor circumstances. I was discussing with Kailey and Stephanie how it is usually the people who have nothing that are the most willing to help. I think it is because they understand what it is like to not have something that they realize how nice it is to have someone help you. Being a stubborn American, I often feel too independent to ask for help and often assume others are the same way. Being in a different country and having people help me makes me aware that I need to be better at helping people back home. This is a goal that I am going to set and start right now. I am going to look for people to help and extend a willing hand to them in any way they need help.
It is interesting to see how much a city’s culture is made by the people that inhabit it. I was surprised when I arrived in Lisbon because much of city is African. I guess many Africans immigrate to Lisbon in search of a better life and job. It is incredible to experience the humility and kindness of these people. Even though I cannot speak the language, when I hear see them talk to Kailey I can feel their love and humility. I would guess that large cities in Africa feel a lot like it does here in Lisbon.
Train strikes are ridiculous. As soon as we get to Lisbon, they decide they should have a train strike. We got to see a bit of Sintra yesterday, but we have not been able to go to many other places. Our time has been spent chatting with Ana and eating the amazing meals that she prepares for us. We are staying in a suburb of Lisbon called Amadora in Ana’s flat where she has so graciously hosted us for the past couple of days. She is quite the healthy cook and her meals are made up of mostly vegetables and protein with fruit and cheese for desert. Portuguese food is very healthy, and for that reason I love it!
Portugal has given me the opportunity to experience a lot of firsts here in Europe…I took my first long haul bus between cities (usually I take the trains), I experienced my first transportation strike, and I took my first international taxi-twice. Portugal has been an incredible experience…maybe one day I will come back for a longer period of time so I can really come to understand the culture and language of Portugal.
Yesterday I was informed by one of my AVID BLOG READERS (named Kailey) that I always say I will explain things and then fail to do so. I never realized this was happening probably for the same reason I failed to explain in the first place…and the reason being that I FORGET THINGS really quickly. That is why this blog is so important because if I did not blog about everything I was doing I would only remember the slightest bit of details. From hence forth do not expect to read any more posts explaining how I will explain things later….and if by chance you do just be prepared to never hear the explanation promised because chances are I will forget. Sorry!