After almost a month and a half in Santa Maria da Feira, we are on the road again heading south to Lisbon. After spending almost 5 months here, I am reflecting on all of the things I've learned. Whilst it was my preference to be in the Algarve, I am grateful for being in the north, away from the summer crowds. I learned to appreciate the slightly cooler temperatures here. I am very grateful for the beauty of the north and not just driving through it, but spending time in it. It is a divine gift to stop and put my feet down on the soil of a natural landscape that astonishes me. Imagine, I got to walk through vineyards, I saw and picked off trees different types of nuts. I never had the opportunity to see the nut trees in their natural landscape before.
Santa Maria da Feira is really small and there was not too much to see as it is not a tourist town. I found myself a little challenged here because of that. I kept wondering why I am here and stayed indoors more often. God always has a plan when He sets us in a place. I found time to slow down, think, be creative and accomplish more meaningful things without running myself ragged. I took a rest from social media and Facebook lives. I finally caught up on some movies, reading, exercise and asking God more questions. I connected more with people virtually, connected with myself and for the first time in the 11 months of being in Portugal, I had time to reflect on my trip. This has helped me to see my life and purpose differently.
I rarely speak about this, but this has not been easy being physically away from everyone I know, especially my family. I am on this journey where I have no close friend or family member (other than Ernest) whom I can physically walk up to, drive to, visit and have a long face to face conversation in English. When I meet people who can speak English, I either don't know them well enough to have a meaningful conversation that's not about business or their English and my Portuguese are not sufficient to communicate the things I take to heart. I am not going victim to this, but it is something I want to acknowledge as a part of this journey.
I am looking forward to moving on and very excited to visit the Canadian Embassy in Lisbon this week. That's about as close to Canada as I can get for now and I am grateful. I look at my VPN and it always says "Connected to Canada", which is a heartful reminder to me of always being connected to home no matter how far away I am.