I’m not a perfect speaker; but I think I can articulate my thoughts pretty well. I read somewhere, that apparently women speak an average of 20,000 words a day compared to a man’s 7,000! I do love to talk though. You know… and share my “feelings” but that’s a lot of words. I tend to go a little too deep sometimes, probably to the boredom of my friends. I’m female and can’t help myself.
I’m also a pretty good conversationalist. I can usually keep a conversation going and my distain for uncomfortable silences is probably what motivates me.
I love to encourage as well. If someone trusts me enough with their feelings, I love to offer them words of encouragement, share my own mishaps or just listen.
Oh and I enjoy a good debate.. I adapt to the philosophy “agree to disagree” which if adhered to, can make debates more pleasant. Of course some things are undebatable… Jesus IS the only way to heaven. Sorry to those who believe otherwise.
Something that I still have to work through is feeling misunderstood. I hate wondering, did that come across wrong? Or the infamous, I should’ve said this or that. I try not to obsess… but I do a little. I’ll probably be this way till I die but it kinda motivates me to be more careful and thoughtful about what comes out of my mouth.
I’ve discovered that being misunderstood is inevitable when you live in another country with 1.) a different culture 2.) a culture you’re not familiar with and 3.) when you DON’T speak the language. It’s interesting because I can kinda “get a feel for a person” fairly easily when I can’t understand what they’re saying faster than someone who speaks English. Maybe it’s because they can’t fool me with their cunning use of words. Seriously though, sometimes someone just doesn’t seem right. How could I pick up on that without “really knowing them“. Maybe it’s a vibe or spiritual issue that’s more noticeable when you have to judge someone by something other than their words? Who knows? I’m no expert.
I’m still working hard on my Portuguese, BUT I’m happy to report that every time we fellowship our friends say that I’m getting better. Brazilians are so encouraging! I only hope it’s true, Ha!
Sometimes people will be talking and I’m thinking, ” Oh! Oh! Good! I know something in Portuguese I can add to this conversation! ” But then by the time my brain translates it all, the conversation has moved to the next topic of discussion and it would just be downright awk-ward to add my point now. So I guess you could say I participate mentally but not so much verbally. At least I’m understanding more! That’s a good place to start.
My husband’s been trying to get together for lunch with a young man we met while getting our phones. He spoke some English and was interested in getting together for coffee. However, every time my husband will extend the invitation he’ll say, “I can’t today. I job.” We laugh but that’s probably exactly how I sound!!
When we first got to our hotel and tried to figure out where to eat, the misunderstandings with the hotel staff were RIDICULOUS! So we just grabbed a menu and figured pizza would be the safest and most familiar thing to order. LOL!!! I’m laughing so hard as I write that now! (If you keep up with us anywhere else you’ll know why) So, we found pepperoni on the list and just ordered that. What came was so strange we didn’t eat it; no tomato sauce,  palm hearts (UGH), corn, green olives, cheese that smelled weird, etc and no pepperoni….still don’t know what happened there. We were silly to assume all pizzas came with tomato sauce. Finally my husband figured it out and learned to specifically request 3 items only: tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and pepperoni. Yay! We didn’t starve after all.
Last month I went to get my first haircut since I’ve been here and ended up leaving with a horrible cut because I was misunderstood. It’s not the stylist’s fault her customer couldn’t explain herself. I’m sure she did the best she could. Even Google translate failed me on that one. Oh well, good thing my hair grows fast.
Then there’s the time we were on foot and we’re given directions and left walking and walking and walking…and walking because there was a misunderstanding somewhere. Note to anyone traveling to Brazil: if a Brazilian tells you something is within “walking distance” be afraid, be very afraid. And ready to walk faaaaar… Jason is still traumatized by that.
I remember once we asked a lady on the street for directions and she thought we were trying to get her in our car! That was a hilarious, but not funny misunderstanding! Poor lady was terrified. Probably because we look so scary. That was a joke… only my husband looks scary.
Ordering food is a pain if there’s misunderstandings involved. One wrong word can get you something strange or your order canceled and your left waiting for something that’s not coming! Yes, it’s all true. That’s why, note to future self, you don’t nod your head yes when you don’t actually know what your saying yes too. It might sound like common sense but sometimes you’d just rather agree than ask, “Que” ONE more time.
There’s probably been many more incidents that we don’t even know about and people are laughing and telling their stories of the funny gringos they encountered.
I noticed that the people here try to read my body language and even then I’m misunderstood. Someone cooked a delicious meal, that I enjoyed, but they thought I didn’t like it because I didn’t get seconds. I was just full, especially considering how much I put on my plate to begin with and I ate that all. Now I serve myself a little so I can get seconds and now everyone’s happy. See, I’m learning!
Another time I was telling my husband that the food was so good but it was interesting to me that we’ve never seen anything like it. They saw us talking and immediately asked him if I didn’t like the food. Ugh… another misunderstanding.
The last fellowship we attended someone told my husband that I don’t talk a lot (nevermind that I don’t speak Portuguese) and I spoke up for myself that time. I said, “Eu falo muito, mas eu não falo portugués.” Like a boss…Lol! The oooohs and ahhhhs went around the room. Ha! By the way, that meant “I speak a lot, but I don’t speak Portuguese”; in case you were wondering.
I honestly don’t stress out that much about misunderstood here (I expected it) but I like to make people feel good about themselves or let them know I appreciate them. It can be a challenge to display an accurate representation of my feelings with the language barrier; and we all desire to connect with people on a deeper level.
We’re currently just taking things as they come and enjoying the humor in it all. I’m definitely putting myself out there more. Example: I was trying to order lunch by myself once and asked a couple of times, “Which is woman?” I honestly got frustrated, like, why doesn’t this chic understand me??? Then my hubby graciously stepped in and I heard my error! Oops! I meant, “Which is better!” Hey, you live you learn!
One day I’ll get it right. One day I’ll be fluent and the people will really get to know me; in all my realness, humor and flaws. One day I won’t seem like a fixture but I can be a real part of these peoples lives. One day I can share my experiences, stories and testimony.
Until then they seem to appreciate my excitement to embrace their culture; and willingness to look like a fool trying to speak their language. Tonight a friend said she was so impressed with my determination to learn and speak correctly. I was so happy someone noticed! Then again, maybe I’m not so misunderstood after all…




Happily married Christian mother of two. Gave my life to Jesus at 17 in 1997. He saved me, cleansed me, turned my life and set my feet upon His solid ground. Love Brazil & the US, love to read, love technology and love to homeschool my children and date my husband.

10 thoughts on “Misunderstood

  1. It’s definitely an adventure, but God is really helping you my love. By the way you’re my diamond studded fixture. 😉

  2. Thats great.. pretty soon you will be the one who makes us feel awkward when you speak another language and we don’t understand. Praying for you guys.

  3. Oh! And I forgot to mention!! They had us for dinner a few months ago and the food was delicious! Served with white rice and black beans and some kind of potato salad with corn and chicken in it. And for Easter the last two years, she has given our children one huge chocolate egg from Brazil!! I love the milk chocolate from there! 🙂
    Rachel Saenz

  4. Hello melody how are things going jist wantes to let you know you are deeply missed and we are continuing to pray for you and your family. Love you and miss you

  5. Pingback: Misunderstood

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