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!