Our first weekend together after the arrival in Brazil was lovely. Saturday morning we went to the feira (street market with fruits, veggies, meat and fish I don't trust, and a few other vendors) down the street. Jake introduced us to pastel, a pastry filled with various substances like cheese or chocolate or meat or bananas or guava paste, and deep-fried. Joseph is still talking about it, and rightly so. We got a four-cheese pastel and a chocolate pastel, and both were amazing. Because our internet hadn't been connected yet, Jake and I listened to the first session of General Conference via the unsecured wireless network some kind neighbor unwittingly provided while Joseph napped. We listened to less of the next session because Joseph was awake, ate dinner, and Jake went to the Priesthood session, which started at 9 pm because of the time difference.
Sunday morning was lovely. Our friends from New Jersey, the Wallentines, moved to São Paulo shortly before we did, and our apartments are only a few blocks from each other. They invited us to their place for cinnamon rolls, and we had a great time catching up. Our kids took naps during the morning session, and then we met up again for dinner and the afternoon session later that day. They introduced me to some delicious new foods, and our kids had a good time playing together.
The next week was a little rough. The bulk of our furniture won't arrive until probably January (pleaseopleaseoplease get here before this baby comes!), so Joseph and I have had to find things to do in a mostly empty apartment. I've never looked forward to Jake's homecoming each evening as I have since we moved here. Our complex has a great children's play area, and Joseph and I are down there most days. I also was brave enough to venture to the grocery store down the street and start purchasing some of the many, many items we need to stock our kitchen. There was also some cleaning to do, and I'm learning how to clean like a Brazilian (squeegee water all over the tile, and then your water goes down a drain on the floor).
Joseph developed a hacking cough during that first week, so we thought it wise to avoid getting the other kids sick during Nursery that first Sunday back to church, so we only went to Sacrament meeting, which is the last meeting of the block here. Guess how much fun that is with a hungry, tired child. Jake is the Executive Secretary/Ward Clerk (again), and before the meeting a member of the bishopric noticed that the regular pianist wasn't there. He asked Jake if I would play. It is nice to know that music reads the same in any language, and I played in Sacrament my first week in Brazil. Somehow, this did not surprise me in the least. It was Fast Sunday, and as I listened to the testimonies as we attempted to wrangle our boy who hadn't been to a Sacrament meeting in weeks, I realized that as little as I thought I was getting out of church in the US, I was going to get even less...for a very long time. This thought, naturally, put my emotions right over the edge. Tears. Everywhere. I was overwhelmed with all the new faces and all the people trying to be friendly, but mostly with my complete inability to communicate.
The next evening, we were invited to a ward member's home for Family Home Evening, along with a number of the other American families. Joseph was kind of awful, but we were introduced to a delicious new food, pão de queijo, which means cheese bread. They are these delightful little rolls with slightly gooey cheese inside, and they are amazing and apparently gluten-free. Each one has about as many calories as a cookie. So. Good. I was also invited to a playgroup at the American consulate, as all of the Americans in our ward except us work there.
Playgroups aren't really my thing, but I'm glad I went last week. One of the women gave me a reference for an OB/GYN that has only a 20% C-section rate, compared to the 80-90% average in Brazil. That made three convincing recommendations for her that I'd either read or heard in the previous week, and Jake called today to get me an appointment, hopefully before we head back to the US at the end of the month to take care of our visas and spend Thanksgiving with our families.
The next week at church was worse than the first. We were late, for starters. Then, I don't read Portuguese well, and I barely understand a word here and there, and I definitely don't speak. Ward members are trying so hard to be nice to me and include me and make me feel welcome, and all I want to do is say, "Leave me alone! I can't talk to you and you can't talk to me, so why are we trying!?" which is possibly the least Christ-like thing on the planet. Relief Society was humiliating. At least in Sunday School, Jake could sort of translate for me. But once we got Joseph back from Nursery for Sacrament meeting, all hopes of a peaceful Sunday vanished. I had forgotten snacks, he didn't want any of his toys, he wouldn't stay by us, he couldn't manage a voice quieter than a shout, and I had to take him out, which I haven't had to do in a long time. After the meeting, I rushed out and got the boy home before he could be more destructive. I'm worried I was thought rude for not lingering or chatting with anyone, but I just can't do it right now. Can't. And I had a complete breakdown while washing the dishes that afternoon before Jake got home. I can't say I didn't know my freak-out Friday (or Sunday, in this case) would happen eventually. I was sure it would, but I didn't realize how hard church would be. Because I know I don't make friends easily, I've always been able to count on church for necessary social interaction. I feel far more isolated right now than I ever have in my life, and that's coming from the girl who happily lived alone for two years in college.
This is not to say that my life is awful. Joseph and I have fun playing in the play area, reading books, and singing songs. I'm learning how to cook (Brazilian stroganoff, which is nothing like regular stroganoff, went pretty well, and so did beans and rice). And about once a week, Jake orders this amazing pizza with chopped ham and cheese and a crust stuffed with chocolate. It's dinner and dessert without putting your slice down! I'm writing this post while making pavê, a Brazilian dessert involving ladyfingers and sweetened condensed milk and cocoa. There are lots of good things about living here, but it's going to take a lot of work for me to feel at home. Furniture might help a little. :)
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