Archive for July, 2010

Recent Reading: A Concise History of Portugal

A few days ago I finished reading A Concise History of Portugal by David Birmingham. I’m going to try to get in the habit of writing a bit about each book I read, so here it goes…

I’m a history geek, I’m living in Portugal, and I knew nothing about Portuguese history, so the stage was set for me to devour this little book.  And yes, I thoroughly enjoyed gaining a glimpse into the long and twisting story of the Portuguese people and nation.  The monuments and street names that I encounter on a daily basis make much more sense to me now, and I’m continuing to make connections.  In short, I love learning.

A Concise History of Portugal, by David Birmingham

The book, however, I would give 3 out of 5. I’ve read several of Birmingham’s books (on Angola), and all of them were more helpful than this one.  The reader has to wade a bit more slowly than one might expect from a book with “concise” in the title.  He lacks chronological organization, to some extent, so it’s hard to put all the pieces together in order.  And he focused heavily on the interactions between various power-bases in government in each phase to the extent that other facets of life, while mentioned, seem to recede into obscurity.  Still, I can’t complain too much.  I had no idea that British ties were so influential until I read this book.  And the same could be said of dozens of other aspects of Portuguese history – the Brazilian gold, the revolution of the 1800s, the conquest by Spain in the 1600s, and others that I’ve already forgotten.  Okay, at this point I can’t  remember the names of any of the major kings of Portugal, but… I still love learning!

Enough about the book.  A quick thought about Portuguese history: I really appreciate that Portugal has maintained its national personality and pride, rather than being subsumed under the larger influences of Spain, Britain, or Europe in general.  Okay, the Portuguese pride can go a bit overboard sometimes, and perhaps lean toward revisionist history.  But in the end, I appreciate that Portuguese history is so… Portuguese, so idiosyncratic, so unique.  And I really enjoy the Portuguese people who have been shaped by that history.  They are one more facet in God’s diamond of creation, and as such, they honor Him just by their very existence.  God is an amazing creator!

Sophia Joy Reese – Our newest blessing

Sophia Joy Reese is here! She arrived Sunday morning at 8:40 am. She was born at the Maternidade Dr. Alfredo da Costa hospital here in Lisbon. Sophia weighed 8 lbs (3.63 kg) and measured 20.5 in. (51.5 cm). She has a good head of black hair and her eyes are already dark as well. She looks so much like her sister Eliana. Our teammates all welcomed her into the world, as well as the church here.

We are all home from the hospital now and doing great. Sophia has a good appetite. Eliana loves to watch everything we do with baby Sophia. Danny’s mom Beth is here to help cook and hold the baby, and generally take care of us. Praise God for all of His wonderful blessings.

Waiting to check in
Waiting to check in
Our precious bundle
Our precious bundle
"Sophia!"
"Sophia!"
Daddy and his new little girl.
Daddy and his new little girl.
Here's my little sister!
Here's my little sister!
Danny's mom, Beth, is here to take care of us all. Katie's mom will come next month.
Danny's mom, Beth, is here to take care of us all. Katie's mom will come next month.

Caracois (Snail) Festival

One of the favorite foods here in Portugal, and especially in the city where we live, is snails. They boil them in a salty, garlicy broth and serve them up in steaming heaps of shells. The Portuguese can eat them like popcorn, polishing off massive amounts (of course, there’s not much meat on a snail). There was a festival here in Loures with some local restaurants showing off their own special recipe for caracois. Danny and I have tried them before, but we still felt that we should get some again at the festival. Danny managed to get a free, small sample plate for the “Americans who weren’t sure they could eat a whole Portuguese portion.” (We didn’t even finish the tiny plate we had.) Eliana tried them for the first time and really enjoyed them. Beth, Danny’s mom, who is here to take care of us when Sophia is born, tried a couple and I ate one too. A little salty for our tastes, but they really taste a lot like mushrooms. You just have to not look at them while you are eating them.

And, without further ado, here are the picture you’re all dying to see.

Eliana kept asking for more.
Eliana kept asking for more.
Even the pregnant lady ate one.
Even the pregnant lady ate one.
Hooray for Mommom!
Hooray for Mommom!
Daddy teaches Eliana the fine art of spearing snails.
Daddy teaches Eliana the fine art of spearing snails.
Our tiny "American" portion. Normally, this plate would be full to overflowing.

Date Night and Big Sister

Our team has a date night rotation where we take care of each other’s kids so that the parents can have a break. The Meyers babysat Eliana last weekend and Danny and I took the opportunity to go the Vasco da Gama mall where the World Expo was held in 1998. We went to an aquarium and also rode some cable cars that give you a good view of the area. It was a very fun and needed time.

I was also very happy recently to find a cheap kids table and chairs for Eliana. She was very excited and we told her she was getting a ‘big sister’ present since she would be a big sister soon. Luckily, she’ll have lots of Grandma time around the birth to spoil her!

Katie (and Sophia) at the aquarium
Katie (and Sophia) at the aquarium
In the cable car
In the cable car
Eliana with her new 'big sister' table and chairs
Eliana with her new 'big sister' table and chairs

Tweets Sweet Tweets

Say that 3 times fast.

I (Danny) have officially started tweeting on Twitter.  For all of you who enjoy short, frequent glimpses into our lives, you can follow @dannyreese.  Also, our Angola Mission Team has started tweeting, albeit less frequently, at @HarvestAngola.

So far, I’m really enjoying tweeting.  It’s quick and painless.  Just takes a few seconds, and I’m done.  We’ll see if I keep up with it.

And Jesus Grew in Wisdom and Stature

One of the things I’ve really enjoyed about our team is how much our kids love each other and getting to see my teammates interact with, love,  teach, and discipline Eliana (and soon to be Sophia). It’s wonderful to have  someone to share the joys of parenthood with in such a deep way.

Eliana has been going through a ‘testing’ phase, seeing if we will stick with our words. It’s been great to be able to talk through it and have some extra moral support!

Tonight the kids enjoyed a special Bible class time in English together. Teague taught the story from Luke 2 of Jesus in the temple and growing up. Then we measured all of the children to see how much they have grown. It is always a pretty indescribable feeling to see children learning about and loving God and Jesus. How beautiful is the faith of a child!

Coloring a picture of me growing up
Coloring a picture of 'me' growing up
Biruk has grown more than an inch since his birthday in May!
Biruk has grown more than an inch since his birthday in May!

Nós falamos Português muito bem.

Life has been pretty stable and relaxing the last few weeks. We’re settling in to wait for Sophia to arrive.

Our language skills are slowly improving. Danny can understand most of what people say to him and can carry on a 10 minute conversation, especially if it’s about a topic he knows about, like the World Cup, Angola, or the role of the Holy Spirit in Acts. I (Katie) am a little farther behind.  I can pick out lots of words but have a hard time stringing them all together unless I really know what the speaker is talking about already. I do a great job of carrying on conversations about Sophia. I say things like, “Yes, Sophia is good. She’s growing. She kicks a lot. I have a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday. I have one month left.” Throw in a few grammatical errors where I know better but they come out wrong anyway, and a few errors where I don’t know any better anyway, and you get the idea.

Here are a few of the more funny mistakes we or our teammates have made (some in class, some out):
The baby won’t stop raining until I feed her.
I nurse (breastfeed) all of my patients.
I started high school when I was 40. (I got 40 and 14 mixed up.)
My brother got a new job as an umbrella.

Eliana is doing well. Even though she doesn’t get as much time around Portuguese as we would like, she already understands that it is a different language and that things have 2 names. She’s picked up about a dozen or so Portuguese words and enjoys showing them off.

Language class
The girls in language class

An International Fourth of July

Having grown up as a missionary kid, lots of things that we’re doing now bring back good memories. We received our first care package and I must admit I was quite excited. We also celebrated our first 4th of July as a team living overseas. I remember many 4th of July picnics, parades, and fireworks that my parents and their team did. We didn’t have a huge production this year, but we did take the opportunity to spoil ourselves a little with a picnic of grilled hamburgers (with real ketchup), watermelon, fresh lemonade, and chocolate chip cookies and brownies. It was a beautiful day with good food and great fellowship. We invited another American couple that had recently arrived in Portugal to celebrate with us and it was great to be able to encourage one another.

We didn’t have any fireworks, but Teague had some glow-in-the-dark bracelets for the kiddos. We went inside and turned off the lights for them to swing them around. Then the kids went off to bed and the adults were able to spend some wonderful time in worship. What an uplifting time it was.

The kids all got glow-in-the-dark bracelets from Teague.
The kids all got glow-in-the-dark bracelets from Teague.
Our 'fireworks'
Our 'fireworks'

Trying to get back into several things…

…like blogging every once in a while, running more consistently, etc.  Life seems like it goes in spurts.  I’ll have a week or two of being motivated, on top of things, developing a good schedule.  Then I’ll get behind on everything all of a sudden.  And try to get back into things, like I am now.

twitter logoMeanwhile, I’m throwing in Twitter to see how I like it.  You can follow @dannyreese.  It’s a bit of a pain trying to figure out the best way to do twitter via cell phone here in Portugal, where the regular SMS feature doesn’t work.  Sad sad.  If you have any answers, let me know.

And when I get around to it, I’ll try to keep upgrading the functionality of our website.  I recently added an archive of our newsletters, but there are still several bits of the website that don’t work at all, like the links page.  That’s the downside of creating your own wordpress theme when you only dabble in PHP.

Thanks for listening to my latest ramble!