The Portugal Years: Acampamento Palavra de Vida (Camp Word of Life) I

When Word of Life USA began to work in Portugal, one of the long-term goals was to build a camp that would double in winter as a Bible Institute. Finding the right property took patience and time. In 1981, we bought a  property from which we could see the Atlantic Ocean and the village of Ericeira. It was a place of possibilities, pine trees, fresh air and little else. And the work began.

camp work 1

Little by little the property began to take shape. Trees fell; walkways were constructed. In the distance is the village of Ericeira.

bunks for campers

Buildings started to sprout in the sandy soil. This is one of the dormitories.

dining hall

The dining area has a fireplace and a full-sized kitchen where the cooks and helpers prepared some wonderful meals. Below the dining room is a room for singing and teaching.

apartments, soccer field

In the background you can see the apartments where staff lived in the summer. They also served as a place for visitors to stay. If you look carefully, you will see the soccer field. You really can’t have a camp without a soccer field in Portugal! Eventually, a grounds man would work on making the place beautiful He planted fruit trees and made repairs.

camp pv

A few years ago a plane flew over the campground. Can you recognize some of the buildings that you saw being build in the above pictures?

The Portugal Years: Year five – Our First Family Vacation(s)


Susie trying to open the door to the varanda so she could go out and read.
Susie trying to open the door to the varanda so she could go out and read.

Susie early established herself as Mommy’s girl. She was always content and happy as long as Mommy was in sight. If Mama was not in sight, oh my did she ever let her displeasure ring loudly and long. And, if Susie was not happy, no one was happy.

One evening we were in the living room and while Susie was busy, I tried to sneak out of the living room down the hall to the bathroom just to have five minutes for myself. Well, I got out of the living room, and went into the bathroom, leaving the door open and the lights off. I scarcely made it in the door when I heard her. She was creeping down the hall looking for me and every time her hand hit the floor she complained, “ma-MA….”

She also loved books from an early age. Do you see that twinkle of mischief in her eyes? Stay tuned for other photos that clarify that.

Bethy eventually decided that Susie could stay.
Bethy eventually decided that Susie could stay.

Bethy soon got over her fear of being overtaken by the new sister and began to practice the prerogative of the elder sister: she started to try to boss Susie. Fortunately or unfortunately, Susie had a mind of her own, and only minded Bethy’s admonitions when it suited her.

Susie in one of the colorful fishing boats in Nazaré.
Susie in one of the colorful fishing boats in Nazaré.


Most of the traveling we had done up until this time was work related. Now, with a car and some vacation time, we packed up our little family and headed for Nazaré, Portugal. Nazaré is quite possible the most famous beach in Portugal. Not for great treasures, but for the feeling of having walked into the past. We stayed in a Pensaõ, (kind of like a bread and breakfast) and spent a few days there.

Nazaré is famous not only for the fishermen mending their nets on the beach, but also for the women whose fancy skirts covered seven petticoats of various colors. Fishermen’s widows sit on their stoops dressed all in black. They weave a warm a wool that they make into shirts or double-sided cape with a hood by request. You can see some photos of Nazaré here.

On the beach in Nazaré.
On the beach in Nazaré.

Another favorite vacation that year was Curia. Curia means “healing” for the hot springs where people still go for “the cure.” The Romans discovered it when they were in the Iberian Peninsula  We stayed in The Grand Hotel for a few days. It was like a trip back to the 1920s in style. The service was superb as were the meals. Our suite was quite spacious enough for all four of us. Elisabeth discovered a table by her bed that, when she took the drawer out, she could hide inside –  one of her favorite things to do.


Curia - Mom and Susie
Curia – Mom and Susie
Daddy with girls.
Daddy with girls.
view from window
view from window

garden at curia

What is your favorite place to vacation?

Portuguese Cuisine: Grilled Sardines (Sardinhas Assadas)

Preparing fish is one of the Portuguese fine arts. With approximately half of the Portuguese border lying next to the Atlantic Ocean, this should not come as a surprise. Sardines are plentiful along the coast, and fortunately they do not put them in tins; they grill them.

Every summer pretty well every region of Portugal has its own sardine festival. Vendors set up their grills along the streets and cook the freshly caught fish. People buy and enjoy them.

It’s an easy recipe:

Season freshly caught sardines with salt, lemon juice and cilantro on the outside and the inside. Carefully place the fish on a very hot grill. Turn when the first side is a golden brown. When well cooked, place the grilled sardines on a platter and cover it with a “sauce.” Take two peeled and chopped tomatoes, three tablespoons of olive oil, crushed raw cloves of garlic to taste, thin slices of onion to taste, salt and pepper and the juice of a half of lemon. Sauté the onion and garlic then add to the other ingredients and mix lightly. Serve with grilled potatoes sprinkled with olive oil.

Grilled Sardines
Grilled Sardines

Do you like sardines or other fish?

The Portugal Adventure – The Long Year – The Jitters – 10


Around 2 a.m. on June 27, 1979 I woke up from a sound sleep and sat straight up in my bed. My eyes were wide open and my heart was pounding. In approximately 84 hours I would be standing in church in front of God and everybody to plight my troth. How well did I really know this man with whom I was  promising to spend the rest of my days? I was planning to move just HOW many miles across the Atlantic Ocean away from my family and friends? What was I thinking? WAS IT TOO  LATE TO CANCEL?????!!!

I sat there for about half an hour or so mulling over  my predicament. I remembered my friend who had asked me if I was SURE I wanted to marry Harry. Did she know something I didn’t know? I dismissed her concern since I knew she was not happy in her marriage. My mom always called me Miss Independent. Could Miss Independent become Mrs. Interdependent and handle the marriage yoke made for two? My grandfather told me he never expected me to get married; he thought I was cold and distant. I dismissed that because I had good reason to so be around him.

Then I thought about Harry, and how our friendship had evolved over decades. We’d already gone toe to toe on issues,  worked  through them, and moved forward. Eventually.  He was thoughtful, steady, dependable and kind. Harry liked me as well as loved me. He was a can do kind of guy, and he had a sense of humor. I realized then that if all else failed, our God-given gift of  humor would eventually pull us back to sanity. I decided it was a go.

I was, however, still wide awake, and it was heading for 3:30 a.m. So, I gathered up the clothes I would be taking on our honeymoon and  went downstairs quietly. I got out the ironing board and iron and pressed everything, then packed my suitcases. I made a to do list, and around 4:30 a.m. I crawled back under the covers and quickly fell asleep.

"What was I thinking?"
“What was I thinking?”

The other day I told Harry about writing this post. Then, almost 34 years later, he ‘fessed up, too. He said that when he woke up on our wedding day he stood in his bedroom and asked himself, “What was I thinking?” But, he showed up anyway. Because he’s like that.