Summers here in Portugal give us a break from the regular school routine. Instead of teaching, Cal spends his time taking care of the grounds, painting and preparing teacher apartments and caring for teacher vehicles. He enjoys the change but is always ready to return to the classroom. He still loves teaching and daily contact with students.
August is vacation month in Portugal. By law, all full-time, contracted workers must be paid 14 months salary each year. Yes, you read that correctly. It was not a typo. Twice a year, in November and in August Portuguese workers receive a subsidy check = to one months salary. They often use the November check for Christmas and the August check for vacation. Four weeks vacation per year is also the norm. It is difficult to plan ministry activities during this month because so many people are vacationing. This significantly affects church attendance and means it is sometimes difficult to find enough teachers, preachers and personnel for other church responsibilities. Along with his usual responsibilities as grass cutter, sound technician and worship team member, Cal has been standing in the gap during the last three Sundays by teaching adult Sunday School. During our eight years ministering in Portugal this is the first time that he has taught in Portuguese. He taught an overview of Paul’s 13 epistles. It was quite a challenge to prepare and present his lessons, however, with some help and patience on the part of the students, he did a good job. God was honored and those who were not on vacation, walked away with a booklet to which they can refer in the future as they study these books on their own. His love of teaching and sharing God’s Truth helped him through the language challenges.
Some time this week, Phil Schlener along with his youngest three children, Austin, Louisa and Matthew will arrive. Because of his retired military status, they are flying into Spain “Space A”(space available) and will arrive whenever their is a flight that has room for all of them. Please pray for them as they return to ministry here without Elena who went home to be with the Lord last December. Phil will teach secondary English and Spanish. Next Sunday Mike and Nancy Dubois will arrive with their two daughters, Nina and Katiana. They will move into an apartment right next door to us. Nancy will teach First and Second grades and Mike will teach secondary Social Studies and Physical Education classes. On Tuesday of that same week, Meredith Peters, our only single teacher this year, will arrive. Meredith will be teaching Third and Fourth grades. On September 1st Eldon and Margie Hereld and their daughter, Sari Anne, will arrive. Margie will be teaching kindergarten 3 days a week and Elden will teach Fifth and Sixth grades. In addition to these families, Nick Rachevsky, who moved to Portugal with his wife and baby last August, will teach secondary Math, Computers, and French. Jeff Thomas, one of our church planting missionaries, will teach secondary Bible again for us this year. Cal will complete the teaching staff by covering the secondary Science classes. Once again we are amazed at God’s goodness in burdening these teachers with the needs here in Portugal and providing the support for them to come minister with us.
The theme we have chosen for the upcoming school year, “In Christ we can” is taken from Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Will you pray with us that our staff and students will learn to focus (corporately and individually) on the cross and the strength that Christ gives us to do His will and walk in His ways. Pray too for our incoming students. We will have at least 7 new students this year and approximately 30 other returning students.
Thanks once again for your faithful gifts and prayers that enable us to serve the Lord here in Portugal.
By His Grace,
Cal and Joyce Voleker