We worked every day in Porto, but most of our times in the churches were in the afternoons and evenings.
So a few of the mornings we went sightseeing and of course had to buy a souvenir to remind us of our trip - and thus begins the story of "The Pot."
Missions in Portugal (and most of Europe) is different from what you may expect. You can't just invite someone to church and figure they'll show up. Missions in Portugal - and for that matter, sharing our faith in the States - has to be different. Missions is building relationships.
The Milams are building relationships all across the city of Porto. The Milams' Blog One of the people they have been building a relationship with is a lady who owns a pottery shop on the riverfront of the Douro River. She travels across Portugal and buys pottery from the different regions. She had a lot of beautiful plates, pitchers, tiles (which Portugal is famous for) and pots.
The Portuguese people love soup with their meals - or for that matter make a whole meal of a good soup with some pastries.
Well, Cheryl found a pot that she just loves (I think it's beautiful too). But I didn't want to buy it. It cost more than I wanted to spend and I couldn't figure out how we would could put it in a suitcase where it wouldn't be crumbs by the time we got home or carry it on the plane. So we said, "No. It's beautiful, but we just can't take it with us." The shop owner - of course - just left it out on the counter while we looked at plates with beautiful, traditional blue and white artwork.
Cheryl went outside to wait. (The shops are a bit small and there were a lot of us in there.) and one by one the ladies came over to me and said, "You know... Cheryl really likes that pot. You should get it for her." Michelle said, "She'll probably give you a deal on the pot."
So I told the lady we wanted "the Pot."
They wrapped it in paper and more paper and bubble wrap and then pretty we-bought-a-nice-pot-at-a-nice-pottery-store paper. What was once a big pot was now a HUGE pot. The rest of the day we lugged "the Pot" around from the store to the bus to the church to the metro to the hotel and all day long different ones of us would say, "Have we got 'the Pot?'" "Yep, we got 'the Pot'." (We were working on building our own relationships with each other.
Then we had to buy a bag we could carry on the plane that would hold "the Pot."
When we got to the airport there we all were with our luggage, my violin, our carry on bags and Cheryl's new "purse" that held "the Pot." The pot purse was on my carry on luggage and fell over and hit the ground. Of course we all panicked. "How's the Pot?"
Long story, so here's the end of the story. We had fun joking about the pot and the Milams were able to spend some time talking to a lady who knows that they care about her and bring shoppers from the USA to her store.
Here's a picture of the wrapping and Cheryl's new Pot Purse.
The pot is more than just a souvenir. Yes, it will remind us of Portugal, but it reminds us of the Milams, the Portuguese people and the fun we had with friends.When we see it in our dining room it will remind us to pray for all of them - the Milams, the Portuguese and our friends. When we serve soup we will use this pot and again will be reminded to pray that God will continue to bring people into His Kingdom through His people building relationships with others and then sharing the Good News of Jesus.
What do you have at your house to remind you to pray and to go and to serve?