Wednesday, September 30, 2009

"...and it's happy to see ya!"

I'm a firm believer in celebrating the little things in life. Sometimes I have to make an effort, and sometimes there is no way I could possibly overlook it; this is one of those times. There I was, about to take a bit out of an apple, when something caught my eye. Take a look at this picture and tell if you can see it...

Ja, for serious, this apple has a natural smiley face. So cool! Move over Goldfish, you're not the only snack that smiles right back before I bite your head off.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Dos Meses Dia

Well here I am, dos meses en Chile. Wow. Let me highlight a few events and milestones from Month Two (in no particular order).
  1. I felt a couple minor earthquakes. I used to think it would be fun to have everything shake a little bit, but it's actually a really uncomfortable feeling.
  2. I taught the lesson for Noche de Hogar (FHE) last week about Sabbath Observance.
  3. I said a comment in Relief Society. Ja. I knew we were talking about Baptisms for the Dead, and I really wanted to share a thought...and I did. I even think they understood me.
  4. I was asked to give the closing prayer for a Church activity on the spot. I nervously took the mic, and as I was speaking I made sure I said oportunidad with a round "o." I've never received hugs and high-fives after a prayer before, I felt like a million bucks.
  5. I REALLY learned that encouragement is oxygen to the soul, but in the end it's up to me to determine how much I like Spanish and learning. Quite the battle, but I'm learning how this attitude relates to every aspect of my life.

Two down, two and a half to go. I am excited for the lessons I will learn and for my Spanish to improve even more. Here I am doing one of my favorite things, practicing hymns at church keyboard.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Like Unto Nursury

Today I became an aunt! For my Cultures in Contact class I get to volunteer at a the "Hogar de Ninos." It's like a Day Care meets an Orphanage, so some of the kids live there, and some are dropped off for chunks of the day. The ages range from about 3-7 years old, and today I took them on a walk around the neighborhood with three other Tias (aunts). As cute as the little Chileans children are, they certainly can be a handful, and a sticky one at that. On our walk a lady gave each child a sucker, and I was thinking about the sticky mess before one wrapper was even opened. Oh dear.
But it was a good first day and I'm excited to know that my Spanish commands will improve drastically with my time spent with the children. And Mom, for the record, the two Spanish words I remember you saying to us growing up actually have a purpose now. I used lots of "muevete" and "sientate" today.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Dia de Independencia

I got to celebrate two Independence Days this year; the 4th of July, and September 18th. This morning mi familia sang Chile's National Anthem followed by Feliz Cumpleanos and cake. It was thrilling to see the red, white and blue Chilean flags all over the town and houses (it's a law that you must have a flag on your house on Sep 18). We celebrated with about five other families at the house of a family friend. There were lots of little kids running around and some kind adults that were willing to humor me and listen to my feeble Spanish. I learned that the occupation of the man of the house we went to is President of the Family History work for the Church in Chile. Whoa. Sounds like the real McCoy to me. He travels to Salt Lake City about every year for conferences and training and he thinks the "This Is the Place" Monument is really neat.

Chileans eat SO much. They kept handing me all kinds of sausages, hot dogs, and chicken, which I learned the hard way were only appetizers. My favorite quote of the day is when a man offered me more meat and I said "no tengo hambre," to which he replied "ah, no importa." It made me laugh because that's such a Chilean attitude regarding food; just keep going.

Here is Alina with all things Chilean: torta (cake), festive napkins, flag, and of course, empanadas.
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Thursday, September 17, 2009

El Campo

I had this entire week of of school off in celebration of Chile's Independence Day this Friday. I made plans to travel up North to San Pedro with my friends, but what I'm assuming was food poisoning made me miss that bus. Fortunatly my incredible family took me to the beautiful campo (countryside) with them to Abuela's (Grandma's) house for four days. It was wonderful. We didn't do anything spectacular, it was one of those things that was great for no particular reason. We played UNO, watched "Platera Tierra," hiked up the green hills, and made tons of empanadas for the 18th. I loved my time in el campo.

Sights en el camplo.

My special drink en el campo. Since I don't particuarly like Ecco, pop, or juice this became my "healing" drink. Abuela would go outside and clip some "menta" (mint) to put in my mug. It was kinda fun drinking something with leaves in it...kinda.

Taking empanadas out of the huge oven with Abuela. We made more than 50 Pino Empanadas.


Reason to Dance

Last Friday I went to mi hermanitas' school program which celebrated September 18th (Chile's Independence Day) and the Jewish New Year (they attend a private Hebrew school). It was just about the cutest thing I've ever seen. It made me wish the 4th of July took place during the school year. Every grade represented a different part of Chile's culture or history and did a dance routine complete with costumes. It was so much fun to watch, and I left feeling all the more cultured. (Did you know that Jews eat apples with honey for New Year's? I didn't either until I ate a slice.)



Dania and classmates.



A cute boy wondering how he found himself in this situation.



Alina singing with the guitar class.
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video
I loved all the dances, but here is just a clip my favorite. It had everything I can relate to feeling in Chile: utter confusion which is turned into enjoying it for all it's worth. Amen!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Milko


Meet Milko: the family cat. I would never say that I hate cats, but Milko is not helping the species' case for making me like them more. My relationship with Milko includes shooing him out of the bathroom, shooing him away from his cat food bag (which unfortunately means picking him up most the time), and listening to him meow outside my window. Milko loves, loves to meow outside my window when he wants let into the house. He used to do it in the morning to wake me up, but now he's move on to about 4:25 in the afternoon. Sometimes when I'm feeling very Christian I open the window to let him in, but he still likes to play games with me. He'll just stand there like opening the window was my idea and that the three-foot drop is too much after all. I keep reminding him that cats always land on their feet, but he still takes his sweet time to make the jump. Silly cat.

But yesterday we actually had a bonding moment. I was reading out on the patio enjoying the sun and Milko rubbed up against me purring. This really took me back. I thought he hated me because he's a cat, but I went with mood and actually petted him. It was certainly a precious moment in our relationship.
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Sunday, September 6, 2009

The Real Deal

Chileans are incredible nice people. Emily, Holli and I are always saying how lucky we are to have our Chilean friends from church. Think about it. None of us can speak fluent Spanish, but people want to do stuff with us and show us around regardless of this fact. Bacan! Yesterday las tres gringas got to play with a couple Chilean friends, Hector y David. We went to El Mall (yeah, we have those in the States. I know, I know...) and got a mini tour of Valpariso from the local's perspective. David showed us and ex-prison and amazing cemetery just like the one in the Phantom of the Opera movie (which unfortunately prohibited photography).



The gang (menos Hector) in Valpo. *Just as a side note, David received his mission call to the Buenos Aires West Mission yesterday. He's really excited to serve.*



Oh the graffiti saturated sights of Valpo...

Yesterday was also fun because I was introduced to Chilean soccer. When I went to the countryside with mi familia and would say it was the best day ever, mi padre kept correcting me saying, "just wait, soccer day will be the best day ever." So last night the fam had about six people over to watch the World Cup game of Chile vs. Venezuela projected on the wall of the Living. They cooked a ton of meat (steak and spicy hot dogs) for all, and I was excited to experience the real futbol spirit. It was kinda fun to watch, but once the score reach 2-2, I was down and out...I feel asleep during the big game. I woke up only to find out that in soccer there is no overtime, so the final score was a tie, how strange. I feel like a competitive American, I want a clear winner!
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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Mejor Dia!

This weekend mi familia took me to the beautiful campo (countryside) with them and I had so much fun to get away from the city for a day. I loved the drive out where we could see the mountains, green hills and trees, and even sand dunes. And our motto of the day? "Mejor dia!" (That is mi familia's condensed way of saying, "this is the best day ever!" *Yea for Badger!*) I met members of mi padre's extended family, toured a "green house," skipped shells at the beach, tried new seafood, and even ate some famous Chilean dulces (sweets). Even the language barrier couldn't put a damper on my time en el campo! The day ended with a Church dance in Valpo--which is another story in and of itself--undoubtedly it was a day full of sights and adventure.



Lemon trees and "beehive" at mi tia abuela's (great aunt) house where mi familia gets their honey.




Inside the "Green House" at tia abuela's.



Country Roads, take me home...



La playa.



Viva Chile!



Alina y Dania making some tough choices...they were only allowed to pick out five shells each from their beach collection.



Trying a new kind of seafood (alas, the name has entirely slipped my mind) con mi padre. Despite my disgusted look, it really wasn't that bad.





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