by Allison Rodriguez
In 2018, I was able to serve in the Spain/Portugal Command for six weeks on a Summer Mission Team. That summer was life-changing and set into motion the unveiling of God’s plan for my life.
When our team left our first location of service in Portugal, our host, Major Pedro Das Neves, jokingly shared he had a vision of us returning to serve as officers. A few weeks later, our team was at a music camp in Spain where I accepted God’s calling on my life to serve as a Salvation Army officer.
Though Major Pedro’s remark was more humorous than prophetic, God used that moment to open my heart to a unique ministry opportunity. Almost a year ago, Major Pedro requested an intern from the Central Territory to serve in the children’s home, nursing home and corps in Colares, Portugal.
After months of waiting for approvals, visa drama, a wedding, and a summer of service at Wonderland Camp in Wisconsin, my husband and I arrived in Colares just in time for a congress celebrating 50 years of The Salvation Army in Spain and Portugal.
The next three months were spent seeing the Army in a new context, learning a new language and making new friends. Our weekly schedule included home league at Marinel (the Army’s nursing home), games and dinner at Novo Mundo (the children’s home), cleaning the thrift store, and special projects like Angel Tree preparation or practical labor like organizing a shed or weeding a garden. We were also a part of the corps band and praise team while teaching beginner’s brass throughout the week. Some activities were less frequent such as youth club, women’s club, and timbrels.
In all of the life changes that took place between 2018 and 2022, I was constantly reminded of God’s faithfulness to me. While serving in Portugal, the Lord reminded me that we also are called to be faithful to Him.
Sometimes God asks us to do hard things, things that make us uncomfortable. Our major spoke about this struggle to be faithful in his sermon on Romans 8:5-17. Often our walk of faith is a battle between the Spirit and the flesh. In my life, inclinations from the Spirit are almost always more uncomfortable than what my human nature desires. However, verse 6 reminds us “the mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.” Between those two paths, I choose life and peace.
While our plan was to stay in Portugal for just under a year, God had other plans. We did not receive our visas to stay past 90 days, so we returned to Chicago for the Christmas season where we supported various corps throughout the demanding holiday season of kettles, Angel Tree, and all things Christmas.
In January, we embarked on a new journey to continue our internship in San Isidro, Costa Rica, where The Salvation Army has a corps and home for men.
While there has been so much change in this season, these transitions are not news to God. We know that every person we meet, every corps we attend, every ministry opportunity brings with it wisdom that will equip us for the work God has prepared in advance for us to do.