Every year, hundreds of thousands of catholics make their way to Fatima to honor the virgin Mary. Fatima is one of the holiest sites for the catholic church, since in 1917 three young shepherd children reported that they were visited by Mary. Many of the pilgrims who come to Fatima are in spiritual darkness because they do not understand that they are already free through Jesus. The 13th of May is an important anniversary for the catholics, as it marks the day of the first apparition of the virgin Mary in Fatima. Through the week, over six-hundred-thousand faithful catholics from around the world arrive to honor and thank Mary.
For Junia and I, the difference between catholics and evangelical christians was not entirely clear, and that's why we decided to do the week long outreach in Fatima. We were warmly welcomed in Leira where we stayed with a wonderful Portuguese family. Our team consisted of another couple from Finland and two people from Portugal; with whom we did our daily outreaches.
On the first day we distributed water, biblical literature, snacks and much more to the pilgrims who were on their way to Fatima. Many of the pilgrims walk more than three-hundred kilometers to Fatima, hoping that their requests and thankfulness will be heard by God, through Mary. They are sometimes on the road for weeks and have a lot of pain from walking. It was also raining and that made their journey even more difficult.
We spent the rest of the week in Fatima, where we distributed biblical literature and sought conversations with the pilgrims. It was interesting to hear their different views and to see how the different catholics live out their faith in their own way. Some pilgrims walk the last part of their journey on their knees, or even crawl, hoping that their prayers and supplications will be answered. Further, they burn candles in the form of various things, according to their wish or request for their prayer to be answered.
Every day our team started with prayer, worship and an encouraging word to prepare us for the day. Together with volunteers from the local churches we were sometimes up to thirty people who took to the streets and looked for a conversation with the pilgrims. Junia and I were able to have some good conversations with pilgrims who came from as far as Senegal, Papua New Guinea and America especially for this event. We also got to meet many great people from the local churches who came to volunteer and were inspired by their stories. It was a privilege for us to learn so much and to be surrounded by so many admirable people in our team.
It was an exciting and eye opening time that taught us a lot and strengthened our faith. Our challenge was definitely the language, as we do not speak Portuguese and were therefore limited in who we could talk to. We now better understand the difference between catholics and evangelical christians and are more aware of our freedom in Jesus Christ. We highly recommend this outreach to anyone who wants to know more about catholicism and may not be fully aware of the difference. If you are interested, you can read more about Fatima here.
Our next outreach is in Brazil (we already arrived here on the 17th of May), where we are helping out in an orphanage for a month. We are looking forward to what God wants to teach us during this time and trust in him, knowing that his ways are best. We are stoked to inform you that Isak has been accepted at the Bern University of Applied Sciences and will start with a degree in Information Technology in September. Thank God!
We are thankful for:
20th of May 2019