28 June 2007

My ability to spell in English gets worse every day. I´m learning the language better, I guess. Some days are good and some days are less good, but I´m really enjoying my time here. The family I live with is really great. I love my dona. She makes the BEST food! (and it´s all Portuguese food.) I´m definately not going hungry here. She is so cute too, she lights up every time we come home and talk with her. I´m starting to get used to her dialect, and I hope that I can understand her better soon. She´s so sweet and totally a grandma, there´s even a corner full of goodies that I like to pick at sometimes.
So some funny things have happened in the past two days. First, Tuesday night Rebecca called me up from the living room to come talk to her. She was SO excited because she discovered the hot water in the shower. Before this, we were all (except Ryan, her husband) taking cold showers, which did not make me happy at 6:30am. Oy. She figured out that you had to turn the nobbie from Verão (Summer) to Inverno (Winter) to get hot water. This was the happiest news of my life. Really. We told Irmã Maria this, and she gave us this look, as she was trying so hard not to laugh, that said ´´oh you silly girls´´.
Then the next day when we were eating lunch at a Brasilian buffet place, Ryan and Rebecca got these little cups of Brasilian lemonade. Then Ryan took a swig and then he kind of pursed his lips and we soon discovered that it was not, in fact, Brasilian lemonade, but an alcoholic beverage. It was so funny. It´s so weird that they have alcohol out for the public. We told Maria this and she laughed SOOO hard.
Things are going well here. Classes are hard, but I´m learning a lot. Everyone in the group is so great. Today we played basketball and soccer at the institute building. I´m really tired now. Okay, that´s it!

26 June 2007

Covered Feet and Crazy Weather

This keyboard is still weird for me. Well the past couple of days have been really busy for all of us here. Yesterday we started with classes and let me tell you, my comprehension is not as good as I thought it was. Wow. We meet at the institute building every morning at 8:30am and begin with a devotional, complete with hymn. There are a couple of people in the group who play piano, so it works out well. (The Brazilians don´t sing to well here...) Then I have my Phonetics class, which is a subject that I enjoy, but the concepts are so abstract and the language as well, that it´s a bit challenging, but I learn better that way. Then we have our culture class. I´m already behind on the 6 chapters I´ve had to read in the past two days, all in Portuguese, by the way. Tomorrow I´m going to try and dedicate myself to studying, because I have a phonetics test this weekend. Dr. Fails is a great teacher, with the ability to speak very clearly and slowly. I think I´m really going to learn a lot.
After class, we ended up going to the Shopping Butana, which is the local shopping mall, complete with Wal-Mart type store inside. We met Lauren and Ashley´s ´´little brother´´ Guitano, who is really nice as well. Seriously, the kids here are amazing, they have so much patience with our horrible pronunciation and grammar. Then we had FHE at Brady, AJ and José´s apartment. It was AJ´s birthday as well, so we all celebrated. In all we walked over 6 miles yesterday.
Yesterday it was a bit chilly and overcast, today I wore a skirt and flip-flops because it was so hot. We have class until 11:00 and then the rest of the day is free. So today we went to the center of São Paulo and went up this huge building where you can see a view of the whole city. This city is HUGE. For the entire 360º there are skyscrapers and buildings as far as the eye can see. Then we made our way back by bus. The ride up wasn´t a big deal, there weren´t too many people, but on the way back, during rush hour, it is SOOO crowded. You need to be careful of pick-pockets, but the people are really nice. They will tell the driver to hold the bus because people need to get off and will help you in any way. Latin american public transportation is really different from European and American transportation.
We´ve learned some cultural things here, such as you need to always keep your feet covered by something, because the ground could hypothetically hurt your feet, but this is just an old wive´s tale. I´m still having a great time and I can´t wait to go to Campus do Jordão this weekend.

24 June 2007

the church is the same everywhere...

Today has been a great day. Church was good, but I found it REALLY tiring to try and understand what everyone was saying. There´s even a YSA sunday school class here. I was really surprised about that. The building here is really really nice. It reminds me of the building in Seixal that my family and I went to in Portugal. It has two floors and NO air conditioning. Celia was telling me and Farina that the building gets unbearably hot during the Summer. I´m so glad that I came during the Winter. Seriously, it is so nice outside. We walked to church and it was perfect outside. Right now it´s a bit chilly, but the sun´s set so it´s totally fine with me.
My house sits on a piece of land that has three houses on it. Irma Maria´s is in the middle, and her son´s is in the front and her daughter´s (Celia) is in the back. There is no grass anywhere, and the trees come out of the crazy sidewalks and break up the cement. The sidewalks are all slanty, which made it very difficult to walk to church today. I´m just grateful that I was able to walk to church and that there are sidewalks. Everything here is gated. Every house, business, everything. The Augusto families that we live by have to unlock the gate manually before they can drive in or out. I´m sure that it must be very frustrating to do that by yourself all of the time.
The family here is SO nice. Irma Maria takes care of us and makes all of our meals, which are excellent. It´s hard to live in a culture where the amount you eat is indicative of how much you like the food. I´ve never eaten so much in my life, but all of it is SOOO good. Irma Maria is from Portugal and is so hard to understand. She speaks really fast and doesn´t know English, so I´m going to improve a lot when I´m home with her. The whole family is wonderful. I´m very blessed. The son Deigo was playing Guitar Hero last night. It was so hard to concentrate on what Celia was saying with Queen in the background.
Earlier today when I was in my room reading, Celia´s niece, Irma Maria´s granddaughter, Nicolle, came into my room because no one was at her house. She is HILARIOUS. Seriously. She´s the only girl in her family, even on her mom´s whole side. She is like a little princess. She wrote me a note with hearts on it and then we proceeded to play MASH. According to that game, my life is going to be...interesting. I did her life and she´s going to be rich and a personal trainer. She stayed in my room for about two hours. I feel like a have a little sister. It´s fun for me to pretend that I´m 11 again.
I´m understanding a lot more now and I´m excited to feel more comfortable with the language. Tomorrow we begin our classes and hopefully I´ll be able to see more of the city. Oh I crossed over the Tropic of Capricorn yesterday! Yay!

23 June 2007

First Day!

Well, the past couple of days have been a whirlwind. I still can´t believe that I´m here. This country is beautiful and the people are just as wonderful. However, the traveling part is not so wonderful. 12 hours on a plane and about 20 hours total in airports is not my favorite way to spend time. My host family here is so great. They are the kindest people in the world and are so welcoming to all of us. I live one mile from temple! It´s amazing. I went to a ward party today and the people kept trying to feed me the whole time. I think that this is a glimpse of things to come. The people in the ward are so great, and the Bishop knows where Allen is! The sister missionaries are so nice and Sister Paulo even told me that I speak like a Brazilian. That was a great compliment. The party was like a hillbilly type theme. the people dressed like they were from the Northeast. it was great. Well, time´s up. More to come later!


16 June 2007

Going to Brasil

Hey all-

I leave for Brasil in less than one week. I can't even believe it. My flight leaves on 22 June 2007 at 2:59pm. This whole trip has sort of crept up on me in the past month. I have already done so much this summer. I started out by going to London and Portugal. Portugal was absolutely beautiful, and the history and architecture in London was incredible. I hope that Brasil will be a similarly wonderful experience. I also got to see the *ahem* beauties of West Texas when I helped my sister's family move from San Antonio to Lubbock. I was very impressed with the hospitality of the people in Lubbock. I also got a lot of time with my nephews, Ben and Adam. Last week was Girls' Camp here in my home ward. Those girls were great and though the bugs were swarming, I made out alright with only about thirty bug bites...

My friends here in Allen have kept me quite busy when I haven't been out of town. Already I've been to the Dallas Zoo, the Norah Jones concert (which was amazing), the Mesquite rodeo and Romeo and Juliet in an outdoor amphitheater. I will be sad to leave these great friends, but Brasil awaits!