2 June 2021
I knew exactly where I was and where I wanted to go!
I went out one night to buy a television, but I had trouble with the Portuguese road system. I couldn’t get myself onto the road I wanted to go to; the roads wouldn’t let me get there. I could see the shopping centre from my front window but seeing it was not going to get me there. It was a ten-minute walk from my home.
For 39 years I had driven on the left-hand side of the road, and now I was confronted with driving on the right-hand side.
I have to admit that early on in my life in Portugal, there was one time when I turned into a freeway on the left-hand side of the road. My secretary was sitting in the passenger seat and he not only screamed, but I thought he was going to have a heart attack. Fortunately, this was not near a built-up area and there were no other cars about, so I just did a U turn and got back on track. I soon got used to driving on the right-hand side of the road.
The book of Proverbs has signposts to help us beware of wrong turns on the road of life.
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Do not turn to the right nor to the left; turn your foot from evil.
11 November 2020
I was in a bit of a pickle. I couldn’t go to the doctor without proof of my citizenship.
To get my visa I needed to get a doctor’s certificate to say I did not have an infectious disease. I didn’t have any infectious diseases, but I needed my visa to get a driver’s licence. I also needed a certificate from the local council to say that the house I was living in was suitable. It sounded like some sort of mystery tour. My secretary tried everything to get this done.
I had to go to Seville in Spain to get my visa, and I made three visits over several months. The day arrived to pick up my visa, but that day in Seville my passport was stolen.
All’s well that ends well, and when I arrived back in Portugal, I went to the Australian Embassy and told them the sorry story. They contacted the office in Seville, and the next day I got a phone call to say the passport had been found.
Was I pleased? You bet.
Back to Seville for the fourth and, fortunately, last time in the visa saga to pick it up.
Thank goodness it does not need all this effort to be a citizen of heaven.
John 3:16 says:
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.
9 December 2020
The Franciscan Convent of the Capuchos in Sintra is fondly called the Cork Convent, and it was established in 1560. The structure is cut out of the rocks surrounding it, and inside they used cork from the surrounding cork trees to line the rooms and seats etc. as that gives them warmth. It is in a beautiful, rugged setting in the mountains and often, even in the summer, this mountain is covered by mist. The monks had tiny cells and only eight monks lived there. They grew herbs and plants around the grounds and these were famous for miles around. Some of the plants have survived.
There was a little dispensary and a two-room sick bay. They also had a library with books that contained the recipes for the medicines they made. In the early 1800s the convent was abandoned, and this enforced closure meant that it was empty for many years. A wealthy family bought it, but after a while they gave it to the State and it was left to fall into ruin. Unfortunately, vandals got in and graffitied some of the walls. Later, the State made an effort at restoring it as much as possible and researching exactly what would have happened there, and since 2001 there have been tours of the site. I went there many times with my visitors.
It reminds me that if something is left and not looked after, it will eventually lose its lustre or purpose. Our Christian life has to be stimulated, nourished and tended to be kept active, relevant and useful, not only to ourselves but also to others.
[Incidentally, Capuchos means hooded and is where the word capuchino comes from i.e. hooded coffee.]
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you[f] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.