The weather is getting to be beautiful here, and that always makes me feel really happy. Spring flowers are blooming, and the fields are so green.
I cleaned the church building with some ladies on last Saturday. It was a good bonding time, and I enjoyed realizing that I could follow a lot of their conversation (if I heard the beginning and listened closely). Right now it can be mentally exhausting to listen for long periods of time, so sometimes my brain hits the point where it can’t take in any more, and it takes a break without asking me. Then it takes me a little longer to catch up once I can listen again. It is exciting, but I am surprised how draining it can be to communicate. As an introvert, lots of talking is always tiring, but after a period of time trying to communicate in a new language, that is a new level of mental tiredness.
After cleaning, as it was a beautiful day, I went exploring. I went to several areas of downtown Lisbon that I hadn’t been before and revisited some markets that I enjoy. It was a great day to just enjoy being outside. I really love wandering around by myself. But don’t worry! I am always very cautious and don’t go to unpopulated areas by myself, and I don’t wander by myself at night, mom!
On Sunday, a sweet lady at church invited me to do something with her and her boyfriend that day. We decided to meet later in the afternoon and go walk through a local botanical garden. It was beautiful and full of people relaxing and enjoying the nice weather. Maria loves the outdoors too, and so we showed each other which plants we had at our houses back home (her home in Brazil, and my home in Arkansas). I explained what honeysuckle was (on a very elementary level) and showed her how to get the nectar out. That was fun. We talked quite a bit that afternoon and I learned more about her.
Most of my conversations at this point consist of listening a lot, asking for clarification or help when I am totally lost, answering a few questions when I can, and asking questions that produce really long answers. My chances at doing well in charades should be getting better.
Speaking of charades… There is a group of Russian prison ministers (several of them convicts in Russian prisons themselves before they accepted Jesus) staying at my school right now. They are really friendly. Most of what I know about their ministry I know because they gave me a DVD about it that was dubbed in English. One of the men in the group is a man who met Jesus through this ministry. He was an IV drug user for 15 years (since he was 15 years old). But thanks to “The Grace of God” – several of them know this phrase in English – he is a new man.
They got here last week and have 9 more days (I think). One of them knows a few words in English, and then they speak Russian or German to me. They don’t seem to understand much of my Portuguese. Occasionally, I recognize some German words, but I only know 4 words in Russian. I have been wishing my sister Sharon was here even more than usual. 🙂 Our “conversations” get stuck all the time. They routinely practically force-feed me when I see them in the kitchen and then pelt me with questions. They manage to communicate their questions most of the time, but communicating the answer is often more difficult. When it involves numbers we have gotten pretty good with counting – they can all count in English. But when they want to know what I am going to be doing in Angola … you have to get pretty creative. Today the preacher from the church they are visiting here in Lisbon came to have lunch with them. They were very excited because he speaks Portuguese and a little English. They asked him all kinds of questions about what we are going to be doing in Angola. They also wanted to know if there was a Russian presence in Angola, and if there were Russians in the prisons. They sure have a heart for Christians all around the world.
I started learning past tense in class last week. I am really excited, because sometimes it is REALLY hard communicating everything in present tense. I mean, it takes a lot of work to say things in present. I think this is a big step. My teacher must think I am starting to get the hang of something. 🙂 I have to start memorizing more conjugations though. I made flash cards tonight.