Our Survey Trip

            Hey everyone! So, the last time I was on here I shared about some of the difficulties I was going through. But I really wanted to update y’all on our survey trip we took back in early October of 2021. This survey trip was such an answer to prayer and helped bring me out of the state I was in which I talked about in the previous blog.

            So let me start at the very beginning so you can get the full picture. On October 2, 2021, me and my family geared up as we dragged three huge suitcases, five carryon bags, and not to mention all the emotional baggage of trying to get a family of five across the ocean without a mental breakdown. As I sat there at the gate waiting to board the plane that would take us to Munich, Germany, I was nervous to say the least. I sat, and squirmed, and fidgeted my feet. But finally, the time came to board the plane, and all was well. We flew from Charlotte, to Munich, to ultimately arrive in Lisbon.  Thankful that the traveling was finally over, I eagerly grabbed my bags and was relieved that we were finally on Portuguese soil. My family was welcomed by some of our team members that we would be working with, and they grabbed our stuff and loaded us in the car to take us to where we would be staying for the next week and a half. As we pulled out of the airport a strange feeling came over me. The Portugal that I had heard of was beautiful and historic, but everything around me was tall mountainous concrete buildings and graffiti. This was not what I was expecting. Once we arrived at the apartment, we were staying at, the same feeling hit me again. I thought the apartments were supposed to be colorful and beautiful, but to my surprise it wasn’t. After all our friends had left, I got on my bed, wrapped up in a blanket, and cried.  My mom soon came in and talked to me. I can’t remember what she said, but all I know was that after she left, I decided that I was going to look at things differently by walking towards the cross and not away from it. From then on, I can just remember looking at everything not from the view of my expectation, but as a new lifestyle to embrace.

            The following days we traveled around and got to see all the gorgeous places that Portugal has to offer. From the fantastic view of the western most point in all of Europe, to the amazing historic beauty of the castle and monastery. I got to try so many amazing foods and walked off every pound I gained from them too! We really got to know our team, which I enjoyed so much because they felt like family. We ate, laughed, talked, and enjoyed fellowship with the people we would be doing life with.

Before y’all start to think that this was just a vacation, we did actually visit churches and got to meet with some of the Portuguese pastors! It was awesome to see what these churches looked like. It wasn’t some fancy buildings; it was sometimes two rooms at the bottom of an apartment. This just goes to show you that when two or more are gathered He will be there also. I also really enjoyed the worship service while we visited a church there. It was so beautiful to hear this different language being sung that was glorifying Jesus. The only thing that was difficult was the language. We sat through a two-hour service having no clue what was being said. But let me just tell you it gets really awkward when everybody in the room starts laughing and for all you know they could be laughing at you! But even through the language barrier, I still enjoyed it when we visited the Portuguese churches. One other thing I was really looking forward to, was being able to visit the school I would be attending! I met some great people and I can’t wait to start my tenth-grade year there! (Lord willing)

            Thank you all so much for praying for me and my family! God has changed my heart. He is the One who changed my heart to love Portugal. He has been so good to me. I can’t even put it in words of the grace and mercy He has given me. He remains faithful once again.

            I thought that I should probably add a little section and tell y’all about all the culture shocks I encountered! I hope that some of these awkward and stressful moments will make you laugh as I now do, looking back on them!


  1. In the bathrooms instead of having paper towels, they had communal “self- sanitizing” towels. (Note to self: stop trying to pull it out of the wall, it’s meant to stay there so EVERYONE can use it.)


  1. There are two toilets in the bathroom..yay…
  2. I have no idea what I’m putting in my hair while I’m in the shower because I can’t read the label on the bottle (I really hope this isn’t body wash!)
  3.  Let me be completely honest here… It is soooo incredibly stressful trying to figure out how to flush the toilet because it seems as if each one flushes differently
  4. Trying to order McDonalds is way more difficult to order over in Portugal than back in the States
  5. Pea and cabbage soup are some sides at McDonalds (why can’t I just have extra fries?!?!)
  6. The elevators are extremely tiny
  7. The driving is INSANE
  8. It’s not odd to find people walking their dogs without leashes  
  9. There are no stop signs or red lights, it’s all just go, go, go  and round-abouts
  10. Illegally parking is common. If there are no parking spots, then just pull up behind somebody
  11. All the desserts were great, but I mean really guys, who puts jellybeans in a chocolate bar  

Ava J

2 thoughts on “Our Survey Trip

  1. I love reading your blogs. Don’t ever stop writing. I can’t wait to hear all the Jesus news when yall get there. It’s really now sooner than later. God is at work! I want to come hear Hays preach one day in the future. Do yall have a time span to be there? I have really been so excited for yall, Can’t wait to read your next blog. Love you all.


  2. Hi Ava! I graduated with your dad from high school and I keep up with your parents’ newsletter. Today I stumbled upon your blog! I love it! Seeing this from your perspective is wonderful. I have three children of my own, and I will definitely share this all with them. Praying for y’all, and I hope you love your new school and make SO MANY wonderful friends.


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