Friday, February 27, 2009

Questions Answered - Part 4


Now say it all together really fast.

See, that wasn't so hard, now was it?!

I know all of you have been wondering how to say my last name. You've spent many sleepless nights considering this.

A few of you have asked about "Our" story. Our romance story. When my husband read that question he laughed and said...."tell 'um"!

But see, what you don't know is that my mom and mother-in-law read my blog. And my husband and I have a history together of about 8 years before we were married. And it started when we were I may have to be brief with this one.

Here goes:

We met at 14.
I loved him immediately.
Told my Mom I'd marry him.
8 years later we were married.
The End.

Ahh Ha! You're not getting anything else out of me! Nice try.

But just look and see what beautiful blessings the Lord has given us! Static and all.

God's like that you know. He forgives and blesses despite all our 'static'. And for this, I am truly thankful.

What are you thankful for?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Questions Answered - Part 3

More on the Portuguese culture:

"Art" is everywhere...the kind that you and I would probably call pornography. (I'll skip the pictures on this topic) My kids still point out all the "art-sy" pictures in every single store we go into. Always in English and always at a very high pitched voice.....As if the lady with all the blond headed kids wasn't distracting enough, now they're speaking English very loudly and pointing at nude pictures....imagine?

I fear for my children's life every time we visit the beach. There is this huge wall that fisherman stand on and fish.

One could walk right off THE WALL if they wanted too, and even if they didn't want to, It would be very easy to do.

If there happens to be a guard rail, the space between each rail is large enough for me to crawl through, so imagine my adventuresome 2 year old son.

THE WALL is the one on the left. Notice Michael guarding that wall. Allowing the kids to walk on the safer one instead.

Here I am trying to conquer my fear. Sitting next to the area my clumsy kids could stumble right off of! I'm afraid of heights. Notice I was NOT standing in this picture. I probably crawled away after it was taken.

All the billboards here have American looking models with blond hair and blue eyes. I guess sort of like the ones in the States have European looking models. Anyway, we've been stopped on several occasions by people who just want to gaze into our children's eyes or stroke their hair. One lady at the market just wouldn't stop saying how beautiful Trinity was. With a look of astonishment she'd rub Trinity's skin and kiss her cheeks.

Speaking of cheeks, you always greet folks with two kisses. One on each cheek and you always start with the right side. Some folks merely touch cheeks while making the "kissy" sound. These are usually ladies that don't want to mess up their their makeup or people wearing glasses. I'm still not sure which I do...maybe a mixture of both.

Other Questions Answered:

We're baptist missionaries and plan to stay here as long as God allows us. We'll be here for 4-5 years before we return Stateside for a furlough of approximately 6-8 months.

My first pet that I remember having was a black cat named Pretzel. She disappeared on Halloween night. Tragic news to a 5 year old.

I learned how to spell Andrzejewski after my first conversation with Michael at the age of 14. I was thrilled to be able to spell it unassisted. I would doodle my name on paper while talking to him on the phone. I'd write Nina know, practice my future signature....

Now for a few recent pictures:

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Questions Answered - Part 2

More about the Portuguese culture:

Teenagers can buy alcohol and consume it at 16 years of age. But they can't get a drivers licenses until they're 18. We've been told that the parents of these teens have to pay for a driving course that costs as much as 2,000 euros ($2,500) before they are allowed a license.

Portuguese Teenagers

However, the streets of Portugal are the most dangerous places to be, in my humble opinion. There you'll find very old people walking with canes, cyclists, ladies driving home from work on mopeds in heels with a plastic tarp across the front of themselves to shield the rain and wind. You'll find tractors where the old men proudly perch their wives on the wheel well. At times you can find herds of cattle, parked cars, loading vehicles, old ladies pulling carts of produce and stray dogs. All of these things take priority over the "car". A car is the last thing you'll find on a street, but it's by far the fast moving object to be found. I've been told that Portuguese drivers are considered the worst in Europe. I fit right in.

In the malls you'll find, well...everyone. Malls are THE place to go. However, the average person cannot afford to buy anything their except for a cup of coffee. Espresso (which is all they drink) costs .70 cents. They'll walk around and window shop but very few have bags in their hands from where they've purchased anything. Besides a great cup (shot glass) of coffee, you find lots of PDA. (public displays of affection) I've tried to convince my husband that we can't truly try to be Portuguese until we've 'made out' while going up the escalator.

For some reason, he doesn't buy my argument.

Cool play place

We've just recently discovered this really neat children's play area right on the coast. (notice the marina in the background)

With the rain holding off and sunshine upon us, we've frequented this area with our kids and dog. Here we've met a few folks, thrown a frisbee for Major, pushed the kids on skates and even taught a teenage boy (imagine Napoleon Dynamite) how to play basketball.

With the 5 kids, we get a lot of stares. Sometimes these folks will let us talk to them. Yesterday, while I was talking to "Napoleon's" mom, all she wanted to do was tell me how much work I had to do with 5 kids. The dishes, the clothes....she would roll her eyes. She couldn't believe I was still standing!

Michael using the dog to meet some teenagers

After playing we went to a cafe

where we were met, yet again with stares. While Michael was ordering our food, two ladies at a table next to us were staring. One of the ladies shushed her friend, inclined her head and even stopped chewing her food to listen to Michael while we was talking.

Talk about being obvious! The Portuguese aren't subtle.

More to come......

Saturday, February 21, 2009

6 Down - 58 To Go

Boy, did you guys give me some questions or what?! I thought I may get one or two. Figured you guys were tired of pictures of cobble stone streets and hundred year old buildings, but apparently not! I'm going to go on a photo safari soon and take pictures of the mundane thing in life that you guys might think interesting. For example, did you know we have to put money in the buggies at the grocery store? When you return the buggy you get your money back. Most grocery stores sell grocery bags at 3 cents a piece. Or you can buy reusable bags that they encourage you to use.

The most asked question was... Why Portugal? I did a post a week before we left the States answering this. Here is a link explaining how God worked in our lives. Why Portugal?

Some of you want to know if 5 kids are enough? Well.....I'll just say this.....probably.

Now....moving right along.

Steph at Red Clay Diaries wanted to know where my header pictures was taken? Although this same scene could be found in any major city across Portugal, this one was taken in our city, Barcelos....several hours away from Lisbon. Sorry Steph.

Many wanted to know about shopping. We have malls just like in the States although not many of the same stores and everything here is more expensive. We have stores that have cheaper items similar to dollar stores and we have open area markets where we can buy just about anything one would need for their home.

Jungle Mom wanted to know how Michael got to writing for The La Grange Daily News. Well Rita, La Grange is where we lived when he pastored prior to deputation. He contacted the editor and asked if she'd like to have some articles written by a former La Grange resident with a view of life living in Western Europe. To make a long story short, he now has an article published every Monday. As you can tell most seem to be political in nature, but at times he writes about family life. They don't like when he gets 'preachy'.

Fringegirl wants to know the best advice I've ever received. That's a hard one but I guess I'd have to say this: It was our last service at our home church before we left Birmingham headed for La Grange, GA. Our Pastor (my uncle) was talking to us in his office. He looked me right in the eye after giving my husband some advice about becoming a Pastor for the first time and he said to me, "And you, young lady, keep your mouth shut! Your my family...I know you!!"

This says a lot about me doesn't it?! My mouth always gets me in trouble. James is one of my favorite books in the Bible. Says a lot about the tongue.

More answers to come......

Friday, February 20, 2009

Just A Bunch of Cowards - Guest Blogger

Coward. That's what the Attorney General of the United States just
called you. A coward. No, you're not the only one who lacks the
courage to do something unpleasant. Apparently the entire nation is,
and just to make sure that he topped the icing with a nice red
cherry, he also denigrated over 200 years worth of our majestic
heritage. His words are forthcoming, but I want to make sure that you
understand that in the mind of Mr. Eric Holder, the greatest nation
on the planet is made up of a bunch of milquetoasts.
He must have gone to the same history class as our finally-proud-of-
my-country First Lady. His exact words, according to an AP story
were, “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic
melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be,
in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.” He said, “we have
always been” cowards.
Besides being both childish and elitist, I think it was a good
strategy. I mean, didn't schoolyard insults always promote tolerance
in your neighborhood?
Consider it on this level: I think Chavez and Ahmadinejad alone
fulfill the slander quotient for our nation. Apparently some people
are just not content to leave well enough alone.
Do they teach all law students to call everyone sissies while
sounding extremely pious? Don't answer that. Instead, let's take a
quick roll call.
The most racially integrated nation in the world, made up of people
from every nook and cranny on the globe, that since its inception has
championed freedom of speech and religion around the world? Check.
Plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty that reads, “Give me your
tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The
wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless,
tempest-tossed, to me...?” Check.
Thirteenth Amendment? Check.
Interracial president? Check.
AG using his pulpit for race-baiting during Black History Month? Check.
Don't believe me about the race-baiting? Disagree with Mr. Holder and
see what you get called – a racist. State publicly that the
government can only force segregation so far and you instantly become
a bigot.
What Holder doesn't get is that you can't socialize or regulate
friendships. Most often people choose their friends based on
something much deeper than skin color. I learned from organized
sports that there's only one color – the one on the jersey. From the
military I learned that the only colors that really matter are the
ones on the flag, and from the Bible I learned that God concerns
himself with only a few colors – the crimson stain of our sins and
white purity which comes with forgiveness in Christ.
I'm Caucasian, meaning my skin is a lighter tone than others, but
that has nothing to do with the color or size of my heart.
No, I don't have a problem talking about race and I doubt you do
either. Yet, I do have a big problem with a high ranking government
official perpetuating a culture of guilt and divisiveness.
He would have done better to call me a honky or a cracker. He could
have called me white bread. I would have been less offended. That
doesn't really bother me. Call me a racist if you want. My friends
know better.
Just don't call me a coward. Those are fighting words.

Written by Michael Andrzejewski for The LaGrange Daily News

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Batter Up


It's your turn to speak....or at least ask the questions.

I guess this is what us bloggers do when we run out of topics to write about, I don't know.

Is there something you'd like to know more about? Been itching to ask a question?

Leave a comment with your thoughts.

Want to know more about.....

My family?
Our ministry here?
More pictures?
Less pictures?
Delete my blog?
Ingrown toenails?
Weight loss journey?
What I miss most?
Miss less?
Stop talking?
Is anyone still reading this?

Go ahead....hit me with your best shot.

"...hey batter, batter, batter, batter, swinnnnng batter."

(I love Ferris Bueller's Day Off)

Sunday, February 15, 2009

One Year Ago....

....we were saying goodbye to family and friends at the airport in Nashville. It was hard to be sad. In my mind, I knew I should be sad...but I just couldn't do it.

Finally, 16 months after telling Living Waters Baptist Church that we had to leave La Grange to shine our lights in a country full of darkness, we were about to board the plane!

Those 16 months were hard on me and I was glad to see the preparation time come to and end and the next phase of our ministry begin....even if it did include learning a new language.

We're about to go to the gate with Ms. Lora our helper for 2 weeks. She was (is) such a blessing!

All 16 of our trunks going through security.

Saying goodbye

To precious friends....

and family.

They had the heat on high this morning! (Notice Trinity's dress!)

Walking to the gate....

This picture was taken at about 4:00 am. Our plan was for all the kids to be asleep on the 7 hour flight. But as you can tell, our plan didn't work!

Just arrived at our new home....finally!

Waiting on daddy to find the right key.

"Hey Mom...look what God left for you!! Your favorite flower!"

Isn't HE amazing!?

"Mom..we have a million oranges on the trees!"

And 16 trunks to unload.

Our first trip to the market.

Those were fun days.

Thanks for taking a stroll down memory lane with me.

Happy One Year Anniversary to us.

Valentine's Day Dinner

We had about 15 people for supper last night. Some that came were spouses of those that attend the church. We were thankful for an opportunity to get to know those folks a little better. I stumbled through the night with my awful Portuguese, but survived. We had Italian for dinner with a variety of desserts brought by our guests.

And the "cutest couple" award goes to......

drum roll please....

(I was the only voter....but that's ok)

Friday, February 13, 2009

20 Years Later....

We were 14.

We were 22.

We are 34.

Happy Valentine's Day