We are the Monteiro family, and we started our cross-cultural missionary journey five years ago as student missionaries in Guinea Conacry, together with the Susu project in West Africa. The experience was only supposed to last one year, but after seeing God work so many miracles in the mission field, the invitation to be career missionaries in Croatia was irresistible.
We have been in Croatia since autumn 2019. We spent a year in the capital focused on learning as much of the language and culture as possible while we were also lovingly preparing to welcome our first child. Elis arrived in March 2020 and in September we left for Dubrovnik, our mission field. Despite being one of the main cities in a country where the Adventist church has been organized since 1925, there has never been an Adventist presence there.
One of our first contacts in Dubrovnik was with Damir. He met an Adventist church pastor in the capital, but ingrained guilt over beliefs learned from an early age never allowed him to believe that God loves him and is ready to forgive him. Like many Croatians, Damir believes that it is necessary to pay for salvation through rituals. As he watched his Belgian partner, who only speaks French, develop symptoms of depression and with no friends for support, Damir remembered the pastor he had met a long time ago. He called the church conference in the capital for some help and comfort, and they put him in contact with us, informing him that we were in Dubrovnik.
We arranged a meeting, and to everyone’s surprise, we still remembered the French learned from the Susu people. She was overjoyed to be able to communicate in her mother language. Since then, we have studied the Bible and developed a very sincere and deep friendship that is bringing these people closer to God. Damir calls us frequently to tell us about his victories in his relationships, managing with the help of the Holy Spirit to avoid and solve problems. He looks to us for help in planning Sabbath services because he says this day has become a special and very happy day for him.
The services we hold in our house on Sabbaths are always challenging, as we have to use three languages for everyone to communicate. While we were learning French in Guinea, we would never have imagined how useful it would be for the future that the Lord was planning, this future that we are living now. When Damir met the pastor in the capital, he would never have imagined how the Lord would respond to his anguish. When you pray and donate to AFM, you would never have imagined being involved in this particular story. It is very powerful to see the way the Lord works to reach his children over time. And it shall come to pass, that Before they call I will answer; while they are yet speaking I will hear. (Isa. 65:24)