Friday, July 22, 2011

What Portugal has taught me

After my initial infatuation with Portugal, I started missing the States like crazy. And, like many people who live abroad do, I started "idealizing" life there: for some reason I could only remember the good things in America and not the bad things. I've realized for a while that God has me in Portugal for a reason (or many), but I used to think it was to bring all that is good in America over to Portugal. Somehow be Portugal's savior.

Well, whenever you think you are going to save someone/the world, it seems like God manages to give you a dose of humility and you find out you are the one that most needs to be saved. At least that's how it works with me. I went back to the States last summer, after not having gone for five years, and had the chance to go back this summer too (even though I didn't quite make it home :/), and both times were a culture shock. My idealized view of "everything is better in the States" came crashing down when I saw the bad parts of American culture, contrasting with the good parts of Portuguese culture. Which always lead me to conclude that there is good and bad everywhere, no country is better than another, we can be happy anywhere, it's completely not related to our circumstances and has only to do with our relationship with God and others. As they say in Portuguese, "ponto final, paragrafo" (period, paragraph = end of story). So here is a little list I made from my last trip in the States:

1. What I thought I'd teach Portugal: optimism, smiling, openness
    What Portugal taught me: realness, genuineness, authenticity

2. What I thought I'd teach Portugal: Christ's power, enthusiasm and passion for God
    What Portugal taught me: my sin, the importance of vulnerability and honesty

3. What I thought I'd teach Portugal: ranch dressing, Starbucks, Chili's
    What Portugal taught me: meias de leite and torradas (few ingredients and simplicity)

4. What I thought I'd teach Portugal: get married quickly (commitment), make friends quickly and have fun right away
    What Portugal taught me: the value of TIME, God's time, the value of conversations and developing relationships

5. What I thought I'd teach Portugal: ambition, hard work
    What Portugal taught me: receptivity, acceptance

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