Do I have a TON to tell you!
So I live in Portugal now. WIERD. But Lagos is really cool! Really hard, but really cool! Where should I start?
Ah, yes. President Fluckiger picked us up from the airport with all of his assistants On wednesday night and we all drove to the mission home. I was the first one to be interviewed, so that´s how I got to tell you my first area. We all had lasagna and then we slept at the mission home. The mission home has an AMAZING VIEW of the 4 most important monuments in Lisbon ALL AT THE SAME TIME. The torre de Belem, the 25 de Abril (the big bridge in the picture that looks like the san francisco bridge), the Rei Jesus, and the monument of all the portuguese explorers.
It´s the coolest.
In the morning, I met my new companion and trainer, Sister Echeverria. She´s really cool and a very good misisonary, and this is her last transfer, so i´m "killing her". We then had some training and the whole zone parted ways, since we´re all going to different parts of the country. Luckily, I had the longest to travel (by bus): 5 HOURS. But... I did see sooooo much beautiful countryside!
5 hours (and half an hour of lugging suitcases up STEEP hills) later, we got to our apartment. It´s small, but it has a really beautiful view of the street. We live really close to this catholic church that rings a bell every half hour. We also live RIGHT next to the tourist district (we´re literally in the center of it), which vaguely reminds me of Key West (but not as crowded, trashy, or creepy).
Oh, did I mention? Lagos is HUGE. It used to be split up into two areas: us and the elders, But then they closed the Elders´ area and now it´s all ours. There are so many hills, apartment buildings (everyone lives in apartment buildings. I haven´t seen 1 house since I´ve been here), cafes, and the like. It´s right next to the sea, so you always hear seagulls and there´s almost always a breeze, which is good. It´s in the southwestern tip of Portugal, and our area actually includes a couple of outlying villages. One of them is really cute, it´s called Odiaxere. It´s the kind of place where all the old men gather in one place a wear those newsboy caps and play chess, and there´s a bunch of small shops and cafes on the mainstreet, and the streets are all cobblestone. Oh and EVERYONE is either catholic (most of them) or evangelic.
Oh, we do have a senior couple in Lagos, too. They are the Jeffers, and they´re super nice. Elder Jeffers is actually our branch president, and sister jeffers is really nice. They´ve been in this area for 7 months already. Poor sister Jeffers still can´t understand anything, so I think she was glad I was there so we both don´t understand anything together.
Did I mention they sent me to the only district (instead of a stake, a collection of branches is a district) in Portugal? Oh and my branch is Miniscule. There were only about 10-15 people in our sacrament meeting. Me and sister echeverria are the primary teachers, but I´ve already met some of the members, and they´re all nice.
The first couple of days being here was MAJOR culture shock. Like MAJOR. I´m living in a foreign country where I understand NO ONE. It was weird. I´m getting more and more used to it now, but I still can´t understand anyone.
I haven´t tried any bolos yet. Or bread from a padaria. Maybe this week, maybe next.
Cobblestones. Cobblestones everywhere. Enough said.
But! There are also tiles everywhere! and I LOVE the tiles! They cover entire houses, sometimes just stairs, or walls. They are so pretty.
A lot of people walk here too.
We have a bunch of investigators, but only one is kind of progressing. But the problem is he can´t quit smoking... EVERYONE smokes here. It´s terrible!
Oh, and apparently in Portugal, redheads are really rare! I´ve only seen one other one. But the name for redhead is Ruiva (HOO-ee-va), so that´s cool. Also, one of the members in the ward said I look like a "boneca" (doll), so that´s also cool. Oh, did I mention that everyone says my name as pronounced man-coo-zoo? It´s kinda funny.
Oh yeah, the beaches ARE beautiful!!!!!! They remind me of abuelita because she would love it here. We took a jog in the morning and there was a really low tide, so we just went on the sand and took pictures on the rocks!
I met a gypsy lady on the street! And on the weekends, there are gypsy street fairs where they sell clothes and a ton of knockoff stuff.
I´m getting used to contacting. It´s so strange stopping people on the street and talking to them. Sister E. is really good at it, but me... Not so much yet.
Nevertheless, this past week has definitely tried my faith. It´s hard to stay positive when you get a bunch of rejections and no one wants to listen to your message, and EVERYONE is staring at you because you nametag and modest clothing (especially since it´s a beach town, so lots of people just wear swimsuits and cover-ups. BUT I need to stay positive. It´ll be hard, but I think this past week was just really hard because of the culture shock.
Despite everything, I know the Church is true!
I love you SOOOOOOO much!