I originally wrote this post in August but could not decide if I wanted to publish it anywhere. I finally decided that God’s provision was too good in the middle of an extremely difficult season not to share. This was far from a “dream” summer when you look at all that has happened. Yet even still, God is good and His timing is perfect. He didn’t take the pain away from me, but proved that He was right there with me every step of the way.
At the beginning of this year I learned that my friends Claudio’s mom São had cancer. I’ve always gotten along well with the family but throughout her sickness we grew even closer. São began introducing me to the nurses as her daughter. It wasn’t long until the rest of the family got used to it and began referring to me as their sister, granddaughter, cousin, niece.
São passed away July 7, leaving behind her husband, Manuel and two sons (Claudio, 21 and Tomas, 16).
I was on the way home from my last required work function of the school year when I received the call. I was able to go directly to their house. Through extended family, coworkers, the Odisseia family and many other people I don’t know we were showered with love and support during this extremely difficult time. Sometimes it came in the form of food and other moments it was a much needed hug.
Fast forward – I arrived home on July 18. I spent most of the first ten days with my mom, Grandma and nephew – 3 of my favorite people in the whole world!
On August 3rd, we learned my Grandma had cancer. She spent a week in the hospital and a week in the hospice house. She passed away the morning of August 17, exactly 35 years after her husband.
I was able to spend several nights with her, including the night before she passed away. Our memories were not tarnished by her sickness, but rather brightened because of all the stories, smiles and laughs shared over those two weeks.
God graciously met every single one of my needs this summer. Thank you to every single one of you who prayed, gave, called, texted, sent flowers, brought food, or showed up in support of me and my family over the past few months. You have been the hands and feet of Jesus in my life and the lives of so many around me.
I would be lying if I said I have not questioned what in the world God is doing this summer and whether or not I was supposed to return to Portugal for another year. But when I look back at it all, I can see His goodness weaved into every single detail.
In August, as I was writing this in Starbucks, a couple started speaking Portuguese right in front of me. Yet another “God wink” that Portugal is exactly where I’m supposed to be for the next year. While it was sad to leave the U.S., I am so excited to be back in a place that I love so much. There is no one else I would rather have by my side than YOU – those of you who God has chosen to help share His love with the 500,000 college students and 10.5 million other people in Portugal. I learn more of who He is and who I am through my relationships with you!
We love because he first loved us – 1 John 4:19