Counter Culture Mom Logo

REFLECTION: Lessons learned from my Portugal missions trip

Opinion/Resources/Teen Perspective 
By Teen Opinion Contributor Maggie Verdught

Photo: Deposit

As I begin to write this article, I am sitting in my living room reflecting on the past few weeks. And it has been wild, to say the least! 

My family and I recently journeyed back from family camp, which ended earlier than expected because of sickness. I did not experience the sickness, which I am grateful for, but some of my family did. Ironically, the situation feels eerily familiar as I remember the lessons I learned in Portugal (what this article is about!) and how this week went. 

This week, I had to be flexible. I had to make the most of each opportunity that God gave me (or at least try to). I had to understand that even when I didn’t understand, God works in many ways to accomplish His purposes. 

Another similarity between this week and the week before (the mission trip in Portugal was from June 16-25) was having all the emotions that went with the difficulties I experienced. I cried a lot at the end of my Portugal trip. It was really hard to leave! And leaving family camp early for such a sad reason– a stomach bug– was disappointing, also. 

Summary of the trip

I apologize. You didn’t read this article to hear about the similarities between last week and my time in Portugal– you came to read about what I learned from my mission trip in Portugal! Let me pause and give some background information on the trip. 

While in Miratejo (near Lisbon), we stayed with host families from the church. We got to know and interact with these families, as well as others from their church, many times throughout our trip.

The first three days in Portugal, my team and I organized and held a VBS. It went very well! After that, we left for the Miratejo church’s family camp/retreat, which was an hour away from Lisbon, in the countryside. We worked and served with the church family all week.

During the week, when we weren’t serving at the VBS or preparing for something else, our team went on some excursions– we saw tourist attractions such as Cristo Rei and downtown Lisbon. It was awesome. 

That is my brief summary. There are so many things I could add and expand upon, but what I would really like to do is explain what I learned. You see, this trip was life changing for me in a lot of different ways. I want to share it with you so that you may apply these little lessons to your own life. I believe it is valuable to share these things, that we may all grow continually in the Lord, glorifying Him in all aspects of our lives. So, without further ado, here is what I learned! 🙂

Be flexible and have few expectations

Leading up to our trip, our team held mandatory training sessions each month. One of the earlier training session’s covered flexibility. And I’m so glad that we went over it, because it is very important! When I got to Portugal, I was NOT in control. I needed to go with the flow, be prepared for changes and “pivots” along the way, and be okay with that. That is difficult for me. I love to run the show and be in control. However, when I held up my hands and just decided to be okay with whatever happened, having few to no expectations for anything, I found myself enjoying the trip a whole lot more. That goes for regular life, too! When you are ready for changes and are prepared to be flexible no matter what, it makes life more joy-filled and less stressful.

Be present, and make the most of each opportunity that God gives you

It is easy to get focused on worrying and planning for the future without realizing you have done so. While I was in Portugal, I learned to be in the moment and soak it all in. From the gorgeous landscapes to the special times I got to interact with kids– I took it all in and made the most of it. That is applicable here at home, too. When we are present in what God has called us to, living without fear or anxiety, we will be more fulfilled and happy. Life gives you so many moments you can’t get back. Be a part of it, fully; even the hard moments! God does great things when we make the most of the opportunities He gives us.

Hospitality is important; cultivate it in your life and DO it!

Hospitality should be an outpouring of our love for Christ and for others. I was really amazed by the hospitality the Portuguese people– specifically the Miratejo church community– showed us. My host home was a tiny, cozy apartment. The family that shared their living quarters with us had five people in it! It was so generous of them and I learned so much from their kindness. This really taught me that hospitality is a beautiful way we can show our love to others and honor God. That was a great conviction and reminder. 

Set aside preferences 

Portugal is by no means a third world country or anything. However, there were accommodations and sacrifices my team and I made while we were there. We had to get used to the way the Portuguese people did things. If we hadn’t, it would have been miserable for us, trying to make everything familiar! It is okay to be uncomfortable sometimes. God grows us in that discomfort we feel, and we learn from it. 

Delight in the experience in every way – enjoy it

I learned this well, as our team was only in Portugal for a week. Many of the people we interacted with we will never see again. I understood that and took full advantage of the time I got to spend with the church community, the kids, all of it. I loved it. Make sure that you are taking delight in the special experiences of your life. And even the not-so-special ones– they matter, too!

In His own way – which we may not always understand– God uses our experiences for His glory and our good. 

This is also self-explanatory, and similar to some of the other things I learned. However, I included it as a beautiful reminder that God works in many ways to accomplish His purposes. 

Fall in love with Jesus, over and over and over again!

This was a special revelation I had throughout the week in Portugal: that God really loves me. That I am His child, and He cares for me. All my experiences during the week reminded me that Jesus is worthy of my love and devotion, and He wants a relationship with me. How incredible is that? I’m so grateful for that reminder. I hope you will remember that, too. 

Thank you so much for reading about my trip! It feels as though we have finished having coffee together. 🙂 May you be blessed by this article and learn from it in some way! 






The opinions in this article are specific to its author, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Counter Culture Mom team. 



Maggie VerDught is a high school student who enjoys learning about culture, news, and politics.

She is passionate about sharing the truth, especially with her generation. Maggie loves to run, read, and write poetry in her spare time.

Download Our New Counter Culture Mom App to get our trending news and pop culture alert notifications. Connect with other parents in the Parent Chat section to gain helpful ideas on how to counteract the Pop Culture Cult!

Be sure to contact us if there is an issue you would like to have us write about! Our mission is to help parents deal with today’s lifestyle trends and how to biblically navigate them.

No Comments

Post A Comment