There are so many good memories from our trip to Portugal,
with a wonderful team and great missionary co-workers. But
a couple of my greatest memories are of God’s direct intervention
for our safety.
We were driving two rental cars, and on our day off were following
the missionary’s car through crazy Lisbon traffic. Tony, driving the
third car, was doing very well until he lost his concentration for 3
seconds (noticing an aqueduct), then caught sight of Ron’s vehicle
and ours taking an off-ramp, which he had just missed! He was on
his way over a very long bridge, with no obvious turn-offs. Ron noticed
immediately that Tony had missed the turn, so he quickly found a
stopping place at the end of the off ramp, and came to consult with
the second car. The one with a phone in our car called the one with
a phone in the lost car – it was turned off! Ron didn’t have a clue how
we would ever find Tony in this huge city with no normal street plan.
As we prayed and fussed, suddenly a car pulled up behind us – Tony!!
How he got there we don’t know. He says there was an off-ramp, and
as he drove around it, he could see us sitting down in the valley. I say
some angels picked up his car and plopped it down behind us. Whichever
way it was, we feel it was God’s miracle.
The other time was again in Lisbon, where our third car ended up
driving on fumes (because the gauge was deceiving). We were right
downtown, with nowhere to buy gas until we got out into the outskirts.
Driving on empty on very busy streets is a tense activity, and there
was a lot of praying going on. When we pulled into the service center,
we all shouted “Hallelujah, Praise you, Jesus!” The bill was high –
it was a VERY thirsty car!!
As I reflect on the TEFL trip to Lisbon, I think it was more of a blessing
to me than it was for those I went to minister to, which is probably typical
of how most people feel after going on such trips. That is the way the Lord
I heard of the opportunity through my daughter, Kate, who is on staff with
GEM in the mobilization department. She knew I'd never been on a mission
trip, though I've been supportive of others, prayed for many, and been
willing. Since there were openings that needed to be filled, she asked.
After prayer and the encouragement of family members, I completed
the application and background check. Other than having to remember
all of the places we've lived since I was 18 years old, the process wasn't
The next step was participating in the online cultural training course.
I found that to be quite helpful. It got me to really grasp that I was going
to be traveling abroad and dealing with things that were definitely
different from the normal routine for this stay-at-home mom. It introduced
scriptures that were helpful, as well as concepts that we needed to be
prepared for. Another benefit was it helped us get to know our teammates
since we were all from different areas of the US and Canada.
While in Portugal, a member of out team actually said, "do you remember
that part of the online training that dealt with car sickness? Well, it's
It brought humor to a somewhat awkward situation and the teammates
stepped up and did what was needed to get us home safely.
The overall experience was a really positive one for me. I recognize that
it may have been a bit disappointing to the field missionaries, Ron and
Idalia Fairbanks. They had done a lot of prep work, had been told there
would be a certain number of students, had been told there would be
classrooms available, but.... Again, the online training had covered this
type of situation as well. We need to remember it's God's plan, His Way, in
His time. We adjusted. Some of us taught twice each day and some only got
to teach once. Some of us had a decent size class. Some taught only a few
students. But all of us did what we were asked to do and with His joy. We
all seemed to have connected with our students well. It was really amazing
how much we were able to instruct them on in a mere 5 days. It was even
more astounding how much we grew to love them in such a short period
One day one of our students came in a bit late and a bit flustered. She
was able to communicate to us, with the help of a bit more advanced student
that she was late because she had been at the house of one of the other
students. That woman's husband had collapsed and he was on his way
to the hospital. We asked the other students to join us in praying right then.
With tears in all of our eyes, we led them in prayer. It just so happened
that the vocabulary words for that day included occupations so we then were
able to explain more clearly how we had asked the Lord to be guiding and
helping the doctors and nurses, as well as to comfort our student as she
stood by her ill husband. It was a very good illustration of how many of
our testimonies had explained that our God is more than just a Sunday
God. He is the God who we could be in a personal relationship with.
The Fairbanks family was such a delight and treated us with such warm
hospitality. They introduced us to many family members, as well as other
missionaries, serving in Lisbon. They showed us many beautiful sights and
tried to please us in many ways. It was a blessing to worship with them,
fellowship with them, and laugh together! We had a wonderful time with
them and left them with sadness but with the privilege of calling them
As I've tried to process my first mission trip, I realize it was a pretty
cushy one...the accommodations were very nice, the expectations on our time
and energy were not tremendous, and I met and served with a terrific group
of people who I am still in contact with and who have become my friends.
Thus the reason I feel more blessed than those I served! God is so Good!
God had great things in mind when he sent our team to Lisbon,
Portugal to teach English recently. I felt the nudge to go without
knowing why. I am glad I listened and followed.
We arrived to 85 degrees and sunny, beautiful ocean views,
a dynamic city, and we joked that it’s not always hard to work
for Jesus. But we quickly remembered that over 99% of the
people we have seen are not believers, many of whom have
never heard that Jesus died for our sins and was resurrected
as our Savior.
God was truly the great designer when he handpicked the
wonderful women that I taught. There were eight in my class.
All of whom in their fifties and worked as the support staff
for the school that I taught in. They were all wives and mothers,
some were grandmothers too. Their children were right around
my age. I think God planned it this way so that relationships
would be built quickly. It was not long before the class and
I were laughing throughout the entire lesson. When I shared
my testimony, they looked at me in a motherly way and afterwards
told me they loved me. I know I felt their love, hopefully they
felt the love of Jesus Christ through me.
The first step in helping someone to accept Jesus Christ as their
Lord and Savior is to plant seeds in their heart. Not only did each
one of my students hear the Gospel, but they heard it from someone
that loved them more than they had known. I cannot help but be
reminded of 1st Corinthians 13:13; “And now these three remain:
faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.” It is very
evident that God was working in this way when he sent our team
to teach English in Portugal.
Portugal is 98% Catholic and the people have heard the name
of Jesus many times, yet still don't follow Him as Lord and Savior.
For me, this trip was such an eye opener to how much we, as the
human race, struggle with accepting the free gift of salvation from
Christ. We don't think it can be that easy. We think we need to earn
our way to heaven. We want to do it ourselves!
Through our work in Portugal, we tried to share the importance
of a personal relationship with Christ, above all else. The way to
the Father is through the Son. We devoted our time, energy and
finances to showing Christ's love to our students and other people
we came in contact with. I saw the most significant reactions during
our time of sharing, when each of us on the team would share our
testimony with our students, who were the staff at the schools where
we were teaching. Hearts were softened and tears were shed. I think,
if nothing else, a seed of truth was planted. I pray for those who heard
the message, that they would have the courage to break free of the grasp
that 'religion' has on their lives, intensified by tradition, culture, and
We have the names of those who heard the message, and continue to
pray for them and the growth of the seed that was planted. Praise God
for local missionaries, like the Fairbanks, who will continue to embrace
these new relationship and further the development of the message!
This is why I am so supportive of short term missions, as they give
a boost to the already blooming ministry performed by our local
missionaries. Praise God for allowing me to be a small part of His
work in Portugal.
The past 10 days spent in Portugal have truly been rewarding. There is not
one moment that I have ever felt that this was not what God wanted me to do.
During our time in Portugal we had the opportunity to minister to the
Portuguese people by teaching them English and sharing God's love.
We( Lesley, Kate and I) only ended up having a group of seven women ranging
in ages from about 25-50 years of age, but each one was special in their own
way. One women that I would say touched my heart was Maria, she did not know
any English and presented us with some challenges but all in all was very
rewarding and I feel that we had made progress with her over the short 5
days of teaching. Maria tried especially hard to understand and master the
English words and always had a smile even though she was finding things
A typical day consisted of teaching new words - names of people, parts of
the body, clothing, days and months of the year, numbers and the alphabet
along with teaching bible verses, bible stories, skits, singing and sharing
our testimonies. I felt the the testimonies by each one of the teachers was
a time when we really had the attention of our students and believe that
their lives were touched by these.
God has really worked in my life through this and I pray that we were a real
blessing to those we ministered too also.
TEFL trips are the most exciting, fun way to share Christ that I know!
Nothing ever goes as expected, I was tired the entire time and I came
home almost unable to move. BUT it is so obvious that God has moved.
We left students that had sooo improved their English, we made
new friends with our students, the missionaries there in Portugal
and the team made of four US and five Canadian citizens.
Our days were busy. We taught from 9-11:30 AM and 2-5:30 each
afternoon. We had hand work to do and lesson plans along with
devotions each night. We each wrote "our story" to share with our
students in group time at the end of each school day. In group time
there was a skit that told a Bible Story and then a testimony to explain
salvation and how God has worked in each of us. All of this was translated
by "our" missionary Ron Fairbanks who is with Greater Europe Mission.
I am so excited to have left all of these sweet people with Ron who
is very conscience of the work God has started in their lives. Pray
for the Portuguese and for Ron to have wisdom and sensitivity to
Thank-you so much,