I am 50% Portuguese, the child of a Portugal born truck driver. My dad came to America when he was a teenager, old enough to retain an accent and thoroughly confuse American sayings. On occasion he’d slip from English into Portuguese all in the same sentence, Ricky Riccardo style.
He drove a milk truck and a limousine. I truly am the milkman’s daughter. This had serious benefits for me as a child. Not only did I get plenty of calcium, but he often traded goods with the chip and bread men. You’d be amazed by the exchange rate of a gallon of milk in New York City. Getting picked-up in a limo wasn’t such a bad perk either.
Unfortunately after several robberies at gunpoint, my father decided he was lactose intolerant. FringeDad now resides in the country of Portugal. Funny thing is, he brought his Bronx accent overseas and everyone knows he’s from New York.
For me, Portugal is a special place.
It’s also special to Micheal and Nina Andrzejewski, missionaries to Portugal.
We met in blogland a long time ago. I introduced you to them when their youngest was still in a stroller. I’ve very much enjoyed getting to know them through the years, and one day when I go visit my father, I’m absolutely, definitely, going to visit them too.
As funny as it seems, I think we bonded over a word that’s not used nearly enough – facade, or fak-aid…whatever!
Now this sweet family is trying to get back home (Nina – pronounced N*ee*na – yup, I screwed that one up, but she forgave me) will explain their trip in today’s interview.
How long have you and your family been in Portugal?
We are nearing the six year mark. Some days it feels like it’s been forever since the seven of us landed on Portuguese soil. It’s these sort of days when everything seems to go wrong and when I may or may not have said the word for ‘condom’ instead of ‘food preservatives’ over lunch with some friends. :/
But other days it seems like only yesterday. When all our Portuguese comes out correctly for the most part and the culture is less frustrating.
What is one thing you love about the country and/or the people of Portugal?
They are family strong. They stick together. Help one another. Raise each others kids. Protect each other at all costs. Now this also makes our jobs more difficult as we are seen as the ‘outsiders’. Not family, and worse even, American with a strange religion.
What do you miss most about the States?
In this order exactly:
3. Krispy Kreme
4. Church choirs
5. Wide open highways and large gas guzzling vehicles
Please tell us about your kids, how they picked up the language, where they go to school, etc.
Justice , 7
They all attend local schools. Two are in the elementary in our village. The three oldest are in the Jr/Sr high in a neighboring village.
We are the first Americans these schools have ever had as we are in a very rural area. It was quite a challenge the first few years. But now, they blend in well with no noticeable accents when they speak.
They don’t have any difficulties with the language and are often my ‘go to’ people for help with translating or when I’m stuck in a conversation. All of their work is done in Portuguese and we frequently hear glowing comments about our children’s behavior and work ethic. *proud mom*
You have a fundraiser going on to get you and your family back to America, can you tell us about that? Also, please explain why you are coming home and what “furlough” is for people who may not be familiar with the term.
After nearly 6 years on the field we are looking at a short time of ‘furlough’. For missionaries, this term means a time to pull away and rest. But it also means time to visit supporters in America to give a progress report of the work here in Portugal. We are held accountable to the supporting churches and individuals who have partnered with us.
It’s also a time to eat a doughnut, visit grandma and celebrate 4th of July on American soil. It’s a time to feel completely and unashamedly American. It’s a time to remind our children who they are and where they’re from. – All these things may sound strange to someone who’s never spent an extended period of time outside of American borders. But there are probably a few of you who understand exactly what I’m talking about.
The fundraiser is to help purchase round trip plane tickets for our family.
We don’t have the funds necessary at this time as our financial support has suffered over the last several years. Missionaries everywhere have suffered.
Please visit the following website to see their financial goal
and how you can give.
What are you and your family looking forward to when you all come back “home”?
Each one of us have something different we are looking forward to. You already know mine….I want to hug my family and friends and then eat a doughnut! But after all that, I’m really looking forward to attending church and listening to preaching in English, hearing choirs sing, getting a coffee at a drive thru, dollar stores, dress shopping and just absorbing the American culture. But I’m sure it won’t take long before I’m longing for Portugal again.
I hope you will help this sweet family (with the last name I will never be able to spell) get back to America.
It’s not easy being a missionary. They leave their country, their people, their customs and go to a place where people don’t even necessarily want them. They learn a new language, cook new foods, immerse themselves in another culture all for the sake of someone other than themselves.
They go because they love. They go because someone must go. They go because God asked them to go.
Now, let’s help them come home, for a time, so they can go back again.
Connect with the Andrzejewski family
Blog: CBC Portugal Missions
Twitter: Michael Andrzejewski
Facebook: Michael – Nina Andrzejewski