So I have no good reason as to why I haven't posted. I'm a little upset with myself cause this is supposed to be kind of a journal for me. I write for myself just as much as for my family and friends.
Anyway, I am writing from my sickbed. I'm not dying but I have an annoying ear ache. I haven't had one of these since I was a kid and I forgot how irritating and painful they can be. I woke up in the middle of the night, took some IB prophen and Ulises said he would take me to the doctor in the morning. I will let you know how socialized health care is--ok? And yeah-- I am one of those 'illegal immigrants' getting something out of the system when I haven't done anything to work to contribute to it. Please don't hate me.
So what have I been doing? Well let me first tell you what I haven't been doing. I haven't been playing the hymns in church like I said I would. Both Niza and I forget to get the song assignment to me in time to practice so it hasn't really come together.But it's still something I would like to do. I also haven't been progressing with Spanish as fast as I should. I communicate well but I am not using my free time as I should. I have made a goal to study 2 hours of Spanish daily for the month of August. You are now saying to yourself "you should have been doing that all along!" or "only 2 hours!?" And yes, you are right. But 2 hours is something I can demand of myself and be consistent with every day even when unexpected activities pop up that take me away from my evening hours of study while Ulises works.
What are these activities that could come up? Here is what has happened recently:
I've been to birthday parties, baptisms, fundraisers for EFY, the missionaries have come over, I've gone to bridal showers and baby showers and other random activities with Ulises family.
Birthdays here have been fun.
The WHOLE family gets together. Ulises cousin's child Sabrina had a birthday the other weekend and we all went as well as all her cousins and second cousins on the other side of her family. She was turning 2 and boy did she have a party. ( she had diarrhea the whole time, poor thing). At family functions I try and sit there and put a smile on my face even though I can't participate in much of the conversation. By doing this I am preventing everyone from coming up to me and saying " you boring? you no understand? you boring?" and me responding " no, I am not bored..."
But the parties are really great overall. I enjoy seeing the family interact and love each other. At Sabrina's party we made the cake out of fondant. ( I designed a little dog that sat on top) and we sang, ate cake and pizza and had a good time. I made myself into a subject of conversation by not eating the pizza and cake and soda. But I guess this is attention that I will have to live with for a while. Soon it will be old news to them that Mary has a weird diet. Uncle Juan also had a birthday the other day where Pizza and cake were served.
Did you know that here in Spain, it is the responsibility of the person with a birthday to provide food and drinks for those who come to his house to with him a happy birthday. I like it in the rest of the world where your friends bring take you out or bring you the treats. Oh well :)
This is a picture of Ulises cousin at her quincenera. I liked her party--it was a BBQ!
I've been to 2 baptisms so far and there have been probably 6 individuals baptised in the two month's that I've been here. It's really exciting to see it! Ulises ward has a lot of new converts and they still are so shiny when they talk about their testimonies. I think we could all do better to remember what a blessing it is to be a member of the church and to be excited about this work. At one of the baptisms the mission president came. He is Gordon B Hinckley's son and Lucia (Ulises mom) encouraged me to go up to him and relate my family tree and talk about how we are cousins (very distant cousins). And... I did it. It seemed slightly interesting to Pres. Hinckley. "oh so you come from Alonzo's line.. how interesting...." but it made Lucia's day. "you talked with your cousin?!?!?!?" She is sweet.
Fundraisers and Missionaries.
In addition to the baptisms, we have had fundraisers for the EFY activity for the youth. They need to raise a lot of money for the youth to go and they have worked really hard to make that happen. I feel like I spend a lot of my time at the church for all of these activities ( another location where I must slap on a smile to avoid being questioned if I am boring). We also spend a lot of time at church in general because we have to wait for Daniel (Ulises' dad) to finish with his bishopric meetings before we go home. Last fast Sunday we spent 6 hours in church. and church is from 3:00-6:00. That means we didn't get home till 9:00!! I almost died that day. But yeah-- I spend a lot of time at the church building. The missionaries are there often and it's good to talk to them in English a bit. Lucia noticed that I chat up a storm when the missionaries are there, so she has made it her goal to put me in contact with any English speaker she comes across. She is sweet and think's I suffer so much being unable to talk and communicate naturally. The other day at church there was an American tourist in church and Lucia rushed me over to meet her and talk to her. It was kind of awkward to be honest. Yeah we both speak english but that was all we really had in common. The conversation went like this:
"So, um, how are you?"
"I'm doing well. I'm here vacationing around Spain"
"that's great do you speak Spanish"
"yeah, do you?"
"No, I'm trying to learn. That lady who brought me over to talk to you--I'm dating her son"
"oh that's cool"
"so where are you from..."
it was a nice but forced conversation. It ended with me wishing her the best on the rest of her trip and me going back to reading my Ensign magazine. Lucia mentioned it to everyone though. "Mary spoke English with the American Chica!!" hehe
I tried to make it sound like it was the most exciting part of my day... ;)
Bridal Showers and Baby Showers.
I've been to a couple of these! The bridal shower was really fun. Aranxta is a friend of Ulises who recently went to America to marry her Fiance from Arizona. They will come back here to live. Before she left some of the girls from the church threw her a bridal shower. It's a lot different than what we have in the states. Here, they take the bride and dress her up in a crazy outfit--usually consisting of a toilet-paper dress and bows-- and drag her around the city making her do crazy games and talk to strangers and take pictures with certain people; kind of like those scavenger hunts. It was a lot of fun. People kept stopping us and saying congrats to the bride. Aranxta was so embarrassed.
The baby shower was equally entertaining. It seems to me that Spaniards (but a lot of the members of the church who do these parties are immigrants from South America. So maybe it's more widespread than I thought) like to make each other do ridiculous things and look silly. One of the games was popping a balloon and doing whatever the piece of paper in the balloon said. one woman's paper said to make a face that a baby make when taking a poo. seriously! and she did it! can you picture your relief society president doing that? haha. It was funny. Other tasks were dancing like a monkey or feeding each other baby food blind folded etc. I was lucky and my piece of paper was "give a piece of advise to the mother-to-be" and I wished her that the baby would learn to sleep through the night quickly ( I am so sweet and thoughtful, no?).
Did I also mention that these parties and church functions last like 5 hours!? It's beatiful though becasue they all work together and sincerely enjoy being in company with each other as members of the church. relief society meetings (enrichment night/home making night) are not obligations but opportunities to get to know the sisters in your ward and do something nice for those who are in need. That is why the baby shower lasted 5 hours! It's something I admire and when I speak Spanish I am sure I will be able to participate and enjoy it even more.
So that should do it for now. I could tell you about the Uruguayan football victory too, but I will just let the pictures/video explain it
Things are good here. I love Ulises and I love his family. I get homesick sometimes but that is normal and expected. It's a different kind of homesick than my mission was. I can't explain it really. Maybe it's because I have the realization that this new culture will be becoming a part of my life and I'm not just in it for 18 months. I miss my family, the A/C in the house and Mexican (perhaps Americanized Mexican) food. But I love how I can walk everywhere here, the beach is so close, the city is beautiful. I love the way Spaniards are so friendly express their love to their friends and loved ones so easily. I could go on. Life is good. Really good.