Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kaylie/Devan/Denise Birthdays & Valentines Day

So, I think our birthdays in Portugal will be ones that we will always remember.  Not because they were great, not because they were terrible.  But, just because they were simple.  No big present, no awesomely decorated birthday cake, no big party.  Just home together as a family.  Kaylie turned 14 on January 16th; Devan turned 16 on January 21st; and me? well, I turned 41 (ouch) on February 13th.  So, I thought I'd post just a couple of pictures of our birthdays and Valentines Day.

The day before Kaylie's birthday she and I went shopping to our nearest mall.  We had a great time, bought a few new things, and spent almost all my cash (since the store only accepted cash or debit card).  We had a few Euros in coins left so we hit McDonald's on the way home.  We colored her hair red (which is what she wanted to do for her birthday - shop & dye her hair), then we went to dinner as a family.  The next day (Sunday) was her actual birthday so we had the missionaries over for dinner to help us celebrate.  Yummy cookie pie for dessert!!

This is the only proof that I have that Devan had a birthday while in Portugal.  He was content with staying home and hanging out.  We ate extremely fattening foods all day (by Devan's request):  Pancakes for breakfast;  fried & breaded shrimp & other seafood, & corn for dinner; and Oreo cookie pie for dessert.  Watched Harry Potter 6 for his birthday "party".

My B-Day!!  All the "goods" I got from home!! 
Aren't I lucky?  Such pretty things.

Thought I'd throw a couple of pictures of myself in since it was my birthday.

My YUMMY birthday cake.  Mmmm...  might have to buy me another one before we head back to the states.  Cake, cream puffs, whip cream, and chocolate.  Now that I've seen a picture of it I WANT ANOTHER ONE, NOW!!!

Sweet Kaylie made a Valentines day brownie!! 

My birthday present from Rick and the kids.  A nice, cuddly soft, WARM robe.  Oh my goodness - Rick picked just the perfect thing for a cold blooded woman with circulation problems in her hands and feet.  It's been heavenly.

Because it takes sooooo long to put pictures up on my blog, I've run out of time to tell you my awesome Valentines day story.  So, I'll save that for tomorrow.  Just know that this past Valentines Day was the most romantic one ever!!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

You Just Gotta Love The Portuguese People - March 20, 2011

Ok – I am DETERMINED to get this one done and posted!!!  (maybe I’ll actually do it, since I just committed)
So, I want to preface this “post” by saying that I really do love the people here.  I just want to get that out of the way, so no one takes this too seriously by what I’m going to write.
I looked up the word “culture” on line.  Here is the definition:
“The sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. Culture is transmitted, through language, material objects, ritual, institutions, and art, from one generation to the next.”
There are so many great things about all the different cultures in our world.  We wanted our family to “be a part of the Portuguese” culture.  We’ve enjoyed trying new foods, trying to learn the language, people watching, participating at church, visiting castles & monuments, and listening to people talk about their country.
But, there’s a funny side to the Portuguese culture.  And then you add the “Mormon” culture on top of it, and…
Let me share a few stories:
About a month or so ago we had a man show up at our Branch Family Home Evening.  This is just a fun get together we do every Friday night to help the members of the church get to be more “friendly” with each other.  We were in the chapel having our “message” from one of the missionaries when in walks an older gentleman (probably in his mid 70’s) whom we’d never seen before.  He spouted off some rantings and then walked out.  I asked Rick what was going on and what that guy had said.  He said the guy went off about how he’d studied the Bible and the Book of Mormon and that they were the same.  He seemed pretty angry about the whole thing.  Funny.  Then, the next Sunday he shows up at church – and stayed for a little while and then left (didn’t talk to anyone).  He has continually done this.  Over time, he has become very friendly with us.  He knows Kaylie by name (which is hard for the Portuguese to pronounce).  But, the funniest thing about this guy (oh, by the way, his name is Jose Alfonso) – a few Sundays ago Rick spoke in Sacrament meeting, and at the end of his talk, Jose Alfonso starts clapping.  Very funny.  Then, a couple of Fridays ago, he shows up again at Family Night.  We’re all sitting around waiting for more people to show up.  Then, Jose Alfonso, tells Rick to get up and give a “discourse”.  Rick tells him that the missionaries already had the “message” prepared.  He says “no, you do it”.  The missionaries tell Rick to go ahead.  So, Rick asks Jose Alfonso what he’d like him to speak on.  He said it didn’t matter, but that he knew it would come from his heart.  So, Rick goes up and gives a short “discourse”, which brings tears to Jose Alfonso’s eyes.  Pretty cool.  He’s been coming to church and Family Night very regularly – sometimes drunk – but, at least he comes.
The Portuguese are very giving people.  Most do not have much, but would give you the shirt off their back.  Literally.  That’s my next story.  One of our missionaries, Elder Walter, was walking home with his companion one evening.  It was dark and cold.  As they passed a man on the street, the man asked him if he was cold.  Now, Elder Walter is always cold here because he’s from Arizona.  His blood has not adjusted to the colder temp.  So, he says yes, that he’s a little cold.  The man takes off his coat and gives it to him.  No joke – pretty cool, huh?
Then there’s Tina.  She is the lady from the pound that we “adopted” our dogs from.  She no longer works for the pound, but she is a member of our church.  So, we’ve become pretty good friends with her and her family.  One day at church I told her that I thought her purse was cute.  The next time I saw her she brought me her purse.  She wouldn’t take no for an answer.  This is VERY typical of the Portuguese.  I, seriously, have to remember NOT to compliment people – every time I do, I end up with something new.  I told Kaylie it would be a great way to go home with a new wardrobe or something.
I like to call this “The Sunday School Tantrum”.  Julia.  She’s an older woman in our branch.  One day at church we were having this great lesson in Sunday school.  Our SS teacher is this very funny guy named Luis.  Luis makes me laugh.  He jokes around a lot and always speaks to me in Portuguese knowing I don’t understand a thing.  He does it just to be funny.  Anyways, he was teaching about repentance and making things right and clearing things up with those that you’ve offended.  All of a sudden Julia says “descuple” (which means, sorry or excuse me).  Then she goes off on Luis.  Although I don’t speak the language I have learned enough to know that she was mad at Luis and that she was going to leave.  I could tell that she didn’t want him to look at her, so I said “Luis, just look at me when you’re teaching”.  After the situation calmed down Luis continued with his lesson.  Rick explained later that Julia felt like Luis kept looking at her during his lesson, basically directing his words at her – because she needed to repent.  Which was so NOT the case.  Hmm… maybe she was feeling guilty?  I’m just saying.  Anyways, pretty funny that she’d do that right in the middle of the class in front of everyone.
Ana Christina (Julia’s adult daughter).  About a month before the “Julia Tantrum”, Ana Christina was in Luis’ class.  I was not at church because this happened during one of my “sick” times.  Anyways, Ana Christina, right in the middle of class says something like “I don’t know – something’s wrong – I am not feeling right – I am not feeling the spirit here today in Sunday School – I think we need to pray”.  This is right in the middle of the lesson – she just all of a sudden stops the lesson and says this.  Hilarious.  So, Luis says “ok” and they have a prayer.  I think all was well after that.  Except that Luis was considering not coming back and teaching anymore since he scares away the spirit.  I’m telling you – I decided I shouldn’t skip church anymore – there’s just way too much excitement there.
Julio (Tina’s husband).  One Friday night, at Family Home Evening, we were playing a game.  This is, typically, how FHE goes:  we have a song, prayer, message from the missionaries, game, and then food.  So, during the game I thought I was being funny by saying something to the effect that I couldn’t understand someone’s name (basically, making fun of myself for not understanding them).  The game was a name game and you had a partner.  Anyways, a couple minutes later into the game Julio gets really mad at one of the ladies playing the game.  I guess it had something to do with not hearing someone’s name (which I had just made a joke about).  He kinda flips out at her – that was the end of that game.  She had decided never to come to Family Night again.  Luckily we changed her mind on that.  Portuguese mormons and games don’t mix sometimes.  They’re very passionate people.
President Souza.  This man is the 1st Counselor in our District Presidency.  He’s a very unique individual.  He’d be a great cartoon character (although with a major amount of intensity).  Rick has to go to a district training meeting every month.  President Souza had taken part of the larger group into another room to have a small group discussion.  The “training” turned into President Souza and the Relief Society President arguing the whole time.  Like really arguing.  He was convinced she hadn’t turn in some form and she was convinced that she had.  So, they argued about it, in front of the whole group, for most of the “discussion” time.  Needless to say, Rick has a very hard time attending this monthly meeting.  And since I finally got a calling (Young Women’s Pres), I now have to attend this meeting also.  Last Sunday was the first time I went.  And, once again, President Souza took a small group into another room.  He was supposed to be “training” us on how to do our callings.  But, the whole time was spent discussing the duties of the “ushers” and how important it is to have the baby changing table in the bathroom and not in a classroom.  Also, that the Primary children need to have a classroom with a window (even if the branch president has to give up his office), because “it’s very important that the children have natural light”.  Amazing!!  That will be a meeting I won’t be attending anymore.
So, no more church stories.  This next one is kind of disgusting, though.  So, if you have a weak stomach, just skip to #9.  One day Rick, Devan, and I went to a mall in Coimbra to grab some lunch.  We were in their “food court” Italian restaurant.  While enjoying our nice meal, a man at the next table over caught our attention.  Something was wrong with his food and he had sent it back with the waiter.  While they were “fixing” his meal the manager came over to talk to him.  Since all this was going on, we of course had to keep eavesdropping.  Bad idea.  When he got his food back, I kept glancing over at him to get his reaction to his new food.  All seemed to be well.  But, this man had a very bad habit at the dinner table.  He brought his napkin up in front of his face and hocked a loogey (sorry, I know that’s a totally high school thing to say, but it’s the only way to describe it) into it.  NO JOKE!!  And the napkin was like 4 inches away from his face, so guess what I got to see.  I seriously almost lost my lunch.  He did it 2 more times.  I had to have Rick distract me and give me something else to think about so that I didn’t puke.  Honestly, sometimes I wish I was a little more bold – I would’ve given him an etiquette lesson.  One thing about the older generation Portuguese is that they often lack manners.  Serious problem!!
The Stealing of The Oranges.  We took the kids out to a city called Castelo Branco.  It was a very quaint little town.  We had enjoyed walking it and seeing some of the local culture.  We had run in to a group of women who were doing embroidery on a patio area.  This town is known for its hand sewn/embroidered items.  After we had left this group of women (I’ll post picts soon) we walked through the town looking for the museum that had embroidered bedspreads and such that were hundreds of years old on display.  On the way there Rick and Devan decided to pick a couple of oranges off of someone’s tree.  Now, I must tell you – Portugal has MANY Clementine, tangelo (well, not exactly tangelos – but similar), and orange trees everywhere.  We see fruit on the ground all the time.  People have the trees in the front yard, back yard, open fields, even cities have them in their parks and parkways.  So, to pick a piece of fruit doesn’t seem to be a big deal (even to me, who is always careful about that kind of thing – don’t take something that doesn’t belong to you).  Anyhow, Rick jumps up on this short little wall to grab an orange and this man starts freaking out on him.  Just some random guy that was walking down the street.  Rick has this little conversation with him about whose fruit tree it is.  Turns out the guy just didn’t want Rick picking someone else’s fruit.  He was so mad – he got his cell phone out and started calling the police.  Rick took his fruit and went on his way (after exchanging a few words with the guy – probably a good thing me and the kids don’t speak Portuguese).

Well, I have one more story – but I think I’ll save that for the next post because it’s an ongoing saga with the “ciganos” (gypsies).  So, tune in again for more exciting stories from the Portuguese culture.  Hopefully, I’ll get to it in the next day or two along with posting more pictures.  I have plenty to post – I’ve just been enjoying the sun a little too much and ignoring my blog a little too much.  Oh, by the way, all you Utahns – I plan on coming home with a great tan.  The weather has already started to turn.  Kaylie and I have enjoyed laying out in our 80 degree weather on our boat dock this passed week  – don’t hate us too much!!
Love you and miss you (and seriously miss my American culture sometimes!!)

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Favorite Quote

This has to be the best thing I've heard so far on this adventure:

“You know – I’d never be talking to you guys like this if we were back home – I’d be talking to my friends”
That makes this whole experience worth while!!!!