The Work has just gotten sweeter!

The Work has just gotten sweeter!
Espirito Santo, Brasil

Sunday, February 26, 2017

All About Benny

I want to talk about Benny. Benny is a very big blessing in my life, but he is also a very BIG challenge haha. Benny is a Shih Tzu/ Lhasa Apso mix. He just turned three months old :)

Benny was kind of a "spur of the moment" dog. We had been planning on getting a dog ever since I got a job at Open English. Since I would be working from home, I wanted some more interaction with people! Lucas was always gone at work, so we thought a dog would be the best thing for me. We started looking for a dog, but we weren't having much luck with the right size or right type. We live in a small apartment and needed a dog that wouldn't go NUTS being in such a small space. Also, our apartment complex doesn't allow us to walk our dogs in the actual complex. We have to carry our dog out of the complex before we can actually let them walk and do their business. With all of these restrictions, our choices were pretty slim, and pretty expensive! It seems that the smaller the dog, the higher the price! We were seeing dogs for R$400 or $500! That was a little too much for us.

One day, Lucas was just browsing on the internet and came across Benny. For R$200! We saw his cute pictures and price and we just went for it! We had 3 hours before the owner would bring him over! We ran (literally, because we don't have a car) to the store to buy some food and things for Benny. I was kind of freaking out because I had NO IDEA how to take care of a PUPPY! The only dogs that we've had in my family were older and pretty chill. If you know Pongo, you know what I  mean by "chill" haha.

So this was a new adventure for us and I was really excited and nervous. Finally, they came with Benny. I walked outside and saw a man holding the cutest little puppy! I grabbed the little furball and held him and I just felt so good :) I took him back to our apartment and showed him around, he was a little scared. After a little while, he felt comfortable and started to explore.

We hadn't picked a name for him yet, but somehow we decided on Benny. Then we made his middle names the names of all the other dogs that we almost adopted. His name is:
Benny Carlinhos Jose Doby de França.

Here is his model photo:

Benny loves to bite! Just like any puppy, he is always trying to chew on our fingers and toes. He goes CRAZY sometimes, running around the house and trying to bite us.

When we first got Benny, he loved to sleep :) Like a baby, Benny slept ALL the time and in the most random places. Here are a few examples of where Benny would sleep:

Benny also loves to get into random places! He loves the cool air and playing in our things!

Benny isn't a big fan of baths, even though he loves being all wet and cool after the bath.

He kind of looks like a little rat haha. His hair is SO FLUFFY that you forget how tiny his little body is!

Anyway, Benny is just the cutest little guy. He is also crazy and loves to play and eat and sleep, but he keeps me company during the day when I am by myself. It is so comforting to know that there is someone who will greet me when I walk through the door. 
Lucas and I sure love taking care of him. He has taught us so many things, such as patience, controlling our temper, selflessness, and joy that comes from caring for one of God's creations. Benny is the best :)

Sunday, December 4, 2016

To My Friends and Family!

Life continues to quickly pass by. I've been married for 5 months now and I couldn't be happier.
I recently turned 22! It was a great experience spending my birthday in Brazil. Lucas's family has a fun tradition of making a special breakfast for the "birthday" person.
I woke up to a great surprise!

The fruit loops were the greatest part :) You know you aren't in America when you ask for cereal for your birthday!

Lucas's family also made me a special cake. It was a chocolate cake topped with brigadeiro and beijinho. It was SO GOOD!!!! 

It was a great birthday!

God continues to change our plans, though. That is something that I have really come to understand. We can't get angry when things don't go the way we want them to. We need to understand that God might have a different plan than the one we have for ourselves and for our family.

There have been many difficult times recently where I have a hard time remembering this truth.
Though it may look like fun to live in a new country and meet new people and learn new things, there are some challenges that aren't as fun.

Recently, I missed major events in the lives of my greatest friends. I missed the wedding of my best friend, Alyssa Powell, along with other friends and mission companions. I missed Thanksgiving with my family and will miss my third Christmas with them as well.

There are many other events that I'm sure I will miss in the next year or so. It is very hard for me to be so far away when these wonderful events are happening. These are the days that I cry myself to sleep and miss my friends and family. These are the days where I constantly get on Facebook to see if someone posted anything about my friend's wedding or my family. These days are the hardest ones for me.

I haven't always been the most outgoing person, but I learned how to step out of my comfort zone when I was on the mission and I feel a lot different now. Being here in Brazil has been a very different experience from the mission though. Even though I have been able to meet so many people in my ward, it has been extremely hard for me to make a "best" friend here. Of course, my husband is my bestest friend :), but I haven't been able to find someone else who I can really relate to and talk to. Portuguese has been one of the biggest barriers. I've been in Brazil for 8 months or so but my Portuguese is still not where I want it to be.

Sometimes my heart hurts to be so far away from all of my friends and family in the US, but  I LOVE being with my husband. I waited a long time to finally be with him. My heart hurt during the 9 months of waiting and skyping. I know that my heart will hurt a lot when Lucas and I return to the US and leave behind friends and family here. It seems that my heart will always be hurting and missing something. I know that God knows this as well. I try so hard to remember this when I am missing something back home, but it is really hard to do. Satan always sneaks in and makes me begin to doubt everything that I have felt and understood from God.

I received answers from God that I was supposed to marry Lucas. When Lucas' visa was denied, I felt comfort in the idea that I would be moving to Brazil. In the hard moments, Satan tries to make you forget all of these things. He tries to make you doubt the spiritual promptings you have received.
I have felt this time and time again, but Heavenly Father always reminds me of one thing: That He knows. He knows what I am going through and how sad I am. He knows why I am where I am at this time. He knows what I am missing in the US and what I am challenged with here in Brazil. He knows what lessons I need to learn right now. He knows what will happen in the future, as long as I am obedient and submissive to His will.

This is the lesson I am learning now. I hope I am able to really learn and apply what God is trying to teach me. I know that I will look back at this time and think to myself, "I am so glad I went through that and learned what I learned."

To all of my friends, I just want to tell you that I love you, miss you, and wanted to be with you during those special events that took place.

To my family, I love you all so much. It is hard to be away from you during holidays and other times, but it makes me appreciate the fact that we have eternity.

Heavenly Father has blessed me with a wonderful husband who takes care of me and loves me. He is the biggest blessing I have received and I look forward to all of the things we will learn together.

Now, Lucas and I will be moving to a new city. The Lord blessed Lucas with a great job with great benefits. We weren't planning on him getting the job at a school farther away, but the Lord must need us to be somewhere else now. God continues to show us that He is in control and will guide us to where we need to be. I look forward to the new friends I will make and the new lessons I will learn.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

What Are We Doing Now?

Living in another country always brings amazing opportunities. You get to experience things that you would NEVER get to experience in your own country. You get to see a new culture and interact with people that you would've never had the chance to meet. I am grateful for this chance that I have been given to expand my circle of friends. This circle has now expanded to another continent!

Lucas and I have the wonderful opportunity to feel like missionaries again, but this time we are teaching English! We go to our students' homes and talk with them and teach them grammar and vocabulary. Usually, all of our students have a special reason to learn English, whether it is because they are going to the US soon or they need to use English at work.

I have met so many amazing people through our job. Our students have become our friends! And that has led us to being invited to eat some pretty good Brazilian barbecue ;) or to go paragliding! And some of our students have some super cute pets.

This is Malú. She just turned one years-old and she welcomes us every time we teach her owner. One time, she was so excited to see us that she peed on the floor! She has even started to learn a little bit of English too. 

Teaching private English lessons has been a major blessing from Heavenly Father. Before we started this though, things were kind of tough for us. Lucas was working in two English schools that didn't pay very well. One of them didn't even pay him! We are still working on getting a lawyer to get his money. But we were worried about being able to pay for all of the things we need for our new home.  For all of you married people, you know how tough it is to buy ALL the things that go into a new marriage. We had received so much help from friends and family, but we were still worried. Other job opportunities came to Lucas and they seemed better, but we felt that those jobs weren't the jobs for us. It was hard to let those go and trust in God, but now we see what God had planned for us. Once we started the private lessons, things just exploded! We got more and more students and got busier and busier. Just from our lessons, we have been able to pay for all of the things we need. Lucas is able to work and study without feeling overworked. Lucas and I spend so much time together, which I am very happy about. We are just making up for the time that we lost when we were dating. 

I have been able to share my knowledge with other people. I have learned more about the English language over the past 5 months than I ever have in my years at school. I had no idea what a "phrasal verb" was until I started teaching English. (If you don't know what a phrasal verb is, it's a verb that uses a preposition and this will change the whole meaning of the verb. For example: pick up, take out, get in, hang up.) English is a tough language! I had no idea how lucky I was to be able to speak English until I started helping others learn it. 
Who knew that the "th" sound would be so hard for non-native speakers haha. But I have been learning some sounds in Portuguese that sound just as weird and that I never knew were humanly possible, so I guess each language is just as hard. 

Now, God has blessed us even more. I am now working for the online school Open English. They are a US-based school so I will be paid in dollars. I work from home and pick my own schedule. As we are planning to return to the US in about a year, this job is great because we can have american money already saved up for us to use when we go back. And I can continue to do this job while I am in the US. I am very excited to continue to teach English. Teaching is such a blessing. 

I am very happy to be here and to be with my husband. We were finally together for Lucas' birthday a few weeks ago.

And the stake had a cultural night where each ward represented a country. We were able to bring out our "frança" side last night as we experienced the country of France.

As my dad told me on my mission, I am trying to "breathe in" everything during my time in Brazil. Sometimes I can't believe that I am actually here! I have been able to God's hand in everything, and my testimony has truly deepened. God loves His children and will guide them every step of the way. We just need to let Him.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Blessed in Brazil

I've been in Brazil for a little more than 5 months so I want to catch everyone up on what's happened so far.

My adventure started the day I set foot in the Rio de Janeiro airport. I finally hugged Lucas after 4 long months of waiting and it was the most wonderful feeling. Being so far away from someone truly makes you appreciate them. And when you are finally with them, you never take a day for granted.
We had the opportunity to spend the day in Rio! After getting some paperwork that was needed for our "international" wedding, we went to the famous Cristus statue that Rio is famous for. Man, what a sight! It was amazing to see such a huge statue on top of such a small mountain. It truly is a wonder of the world!

After our trip to Rio, we went home to Vila Velha, Brazil, about 8 hours north of Rio by car. I stayed with Lucas' amazing family. Lucas has two wonderful parents, an older brother (who recently got married as well) and a younger sister, who is the sweetest person I have ever met. They have been my very best friends while I have adjusted to this big change in my life.

While I waited to marry my best friend, my life consisted of eating, learning Portuguese, figuring out marriage paperwork, and planning for our wedding. Those first few months were hard though. I felt like I was in the mission again. I couldn't understand that much Portuguese and I struggled trying to communicate with people around me. I wanted to be more outgoing and friendly like I was on my mission, but it was extremely hard for me. I didn't want to attempt to speak Portuguese and sound silly. I wanted the language to come faster, but it wasn't happening. These first two months were very humbling for me and made me rely on God and my family and fiance a lot. But through these months, I have met so many wonderful people and learned so much about this wonderful country.

I had the opportunity to have another bridal shower....but Brazilian style! It consisted of lots of food, games, and kitchen items ;) Lucas got to participate too, and I'm sure he enjoyed it. Even though I was knew to the ward and couldn't speak much Portuguese, the sisters were so supportive and kind.

Finally, Lucas and I got married. And finally, my parents and sister met Lucas! It was kind of weird that they met him a day before he became part of our family, but they already knew how amazing he is from Skype.
That weekend was a very crazy one! We decorated and prepared everything, while at the same time trying to show my family around Vila Velha and Vitoria, My parents and Jenna were so fun to be with. They loved the beach and food and people. I didn't realize how much I missed laughing with them and joking with them until they got here. I am so grateful for their sacrifice to come all the way down here to support me in my marriage to Lucas.....and buy us some groceries.  And God was kind enough to give them First Class seats for the 10 hour flight down here and back.

The wedding was great! The receptions are not like your usual American receptions. In Brazil, you have a big party with food and cake, and usually everyone stays through the whole thing. We introduced the American tradition of a First Dance and a Father Daughter dance. We took lots of pictures and ate lots of cake and brigadeiro (I'll explain what this is later)....and by the end of the night, we were worn out. 
The best part of the weekend was being sealed to Lucas. We got married on a Thursday night, spend Friday showing my parents and sister around the city, and then woke up SUPER early on Saturday to catch a plane to Sao Paulo. Since the temple isn't close by and Brazil doesn't recognize sealings as official marriages, the wedding and sealing are two separate events. We spent to whole day at the temple! I was so happy to finally be sealed to Lucas. There is a difference between getting married and getting sealed. I could feel that difference. I know that God wants us to have eternal families. Our families are what bring us with joy. 

Saying goodbye to my family was very hard. I still don't know exactly when I will see them again, but I know that God has a plan for me and Lucas. I am trying to learn all I can from this unique experience of living in Brazil. 
Lucas and I spent our honeymoon in a resort in the beautiful mountains. I almost forgot that I was in Brazil because the weather was so cool and fresh. We stayed in a cabin by a beautiful lake. We relaxed and went on hikes, went fishing, went swimming, and just enjoyed being together. My fishing skills prevailed in our fishing competition!

After all the fun, we moved into our apartment, moved into a new ward and started our lives together as a family. I received a calling to be a Sunbeams teacher. The kids are so sweet but have so much energy. It was hard at first to accept this calling. I still felt nervous about my portuguese and I still do, but I stuck with it and now I feel a little bit better. At least the kids are pronouncing my name better. 

Lucas and I are busy with English lessons. I will talk more about those next time. But we have been truly blessed to meet so many great people and help them with their English. I am so grateful to be here and to share my talents with others. It's an opportunity that I wouldn't have anywhere else!