Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sisterhood of the Traveling Skirt

Ok, I confess: I am not the brightest bulb in the box right now. There I said it. And it was hard! But harder still is typing with this broken finger. Yes, it's the same exact finger that I broke exactly a year and a half ago, right before leaving for D.C. for my internship. You know what they say... break me once, shame on you. Break me twice, well, hence the light being not-so-bright. I was playing volleyball, which I am quite fond of and it was my turn to serve, which I am fonder of still. But all fond feelings found their end when one of the elders from District B (the rivals of my then-district, District H), threw me the ball, and when I caught it, the ball slammed into my pinky finger at an awkward angle. I said a few choice words in my head, made a few faces, and kept on playing. When the doctor initially reviewed the x-rays before the specialist, he said, "your finger looks terribly... normal." I felt relief. But the next day, 12 hours spent on three planes later, the first thing Sister Glazier, the Mission President's wife, said to me was, "Hermana Sweeney, your finger is broken. I said, "oh no, I was told it was just sprained." I was told wrong. Apparently, there are specialists for a reason. So I get to be in a finger splint for a couple weeks. But as my cutsey companion, Sister Schillemat (it's a German name) and I like to sing, "todo esta bien," or "it's all good!"
And it is good. We have rice and beans for lunch almost everyday. After a week here, my stomach is trained to be the most hungry at lunch time. I love when the smaller Dominican men, who are so nice and friendly, take one look at me and give me twice the amount of rice as my companion. Oh yeah, bring it on! I'm not trying to waste away to nothing while I'm serving God and all, after all!
The CCM (MTC) is smaller here, and there are only about 7 Hermanas and 40 Elders. It's been interesting getting used to my new district. We are district 1, and we are very different in our levels of Spanish and personalities. Me and my companion are pretty chill, so the intensity level of some Elders brings my feminism out in interesting ways. But they are but 19 years of age and they are really good young men. We may learn something from each other yet. The hardest thing is being back in beginning level Spanish when I've been doing it for 8 years. But it reminds me of how much I forgot and how much I need to practice. And as the Mission President, President Glazier said, it can feel like a prison at times because there's really not anywhere to go like at the Provo MTC. We go back and forth between two floors all day for classes and food. And our gym is more like a rec room. But once again... esta bien.
But now, for the main course. So, an event took place that has restored my faith in, well, everything. There is a book that was made into a movie called "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants." Well, I can do them one better. My dear mother sent me a couple of packages while I was at the Provo MTC. The first one contained a cute turquoise blouse and a floral print pencil skirt.

Well, when it came time to leave for the D.R., my bags were overweight, so something had to go. The skirt, which was a little short on me, went the way of the giveaway box. That was the end of that.
Or was it?
The second day I was here, my Comp and I were unpacking, and what should she pull out but... the very skirt I left behind. I almost died of excessive laughter. It's only about 10 sizes too big for her. She brought it in case some Dominican woman could use it. But instantly, we agreed she HAD to wear it. And so she did. And with a belt to hold it in place, it actually looked super cute.

Today, my roommate, Sister Domgarrd, is wearing it. She's 6'2". Just like the story of the traveling pants, this skirt seems to look good on everyone! Next in line to try its magic is sister Breitweiser.

Anyway, I am loving my missionary experience. Only five more weeks here! Lord give me strength! It's gonna be good good times...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Days Like Weeks, the Weeks Like Days....


 Ok, so here is my first post to my blog from the mission. And by mission, I mean the computer I am sitting at, across from a vending machine, in front of a dryer. I'm a-writing while I launder.
I think it's important to realize my blog won't be as honest as I'm used to being for two reasons: One, I am sitting next to my companion, and two, I'm supposed to be positive. Hence, I may just use more metaphors. But really, it is a completely different lifestyle. I am never alone, and not in the sense of Jesus is always with me, though that's of course there too. No, it's because unless you're in the shower or on the John, someone is beside you or slightly behind or in front of you wherever you go. It's nice because you never have to feel like a loser. It's not so nice when you want a moment to make an annoyed face.
 I have to give myself credit though; I've actually been ridiculously cheerful and upbeat. I'm usually only thinking about church stuff or studying. This isn't because I have magic powers; it's thanks to a little something I call "the Church as a well-oiled machine." There really is not any time to breathe; we jump from one activity to the next. I wake at 6:00 a.m. and go to bed at 10:30 p.m. And I still feel like I'm getting nothing done. And on top of that, I feel like an oversized oompa loompa from all the cafeteria food I'm eating. My companion, Hermana C., has a lot more restraint. But when you can eat a cookie, an ice cream bar, and a plate of enchiladas, well... why not?
 
I do feel lucky with my language, because I already have had more or less eight years of Spanish study. But speaking it has been interesting. There's so much que no entiendo. Look, I'm speaking (typing) Spanglish already. I better not even know English when I get home or I'm not doing my job right. But being one of two sisters in my particular class, I feel like I have to be that much better; up my game, so to speak. I am a shining star in a sea of teenage testosterone. I knew Sister missionaries would be outnumbered, but jeez... Luckily, they're forced to be nice to us. Some even take our food trays to the wash room for us. What service! But really, most are pretty good. Although some guys would rather sing Antoine Dodson rap than do their computer language study. Oh well. I can't pretend I wasn't amused.
 
Well, that's all the time we have for today, folks! I have about 3 minutes left of computer time. If you want to see something on my blog, write me with questions. Especially when I get out of Provo and my life is that much more interesting. My email is brittany.sweeney@myldsmail.net. Oh, and I will have pictures on here again someday. When I actually take some.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Just Call Me "Sista-Gurl"

                                                       (Brittany outside the MTC July 27, 2011)
Whew, ok, so, its really been two weeks already?! Where have I been?! But time has passed so fast/slow, I don't even know if I'm facing backwards or forwards at this point. I just gotta keeping movin' along, singin' a song, playing ping pong, (no, I don't think we're allowed to do that. When in doubt... don't do it!)
Yes, that was me implying there are a freakish amount of rules. And this is me saying it: THERE ARE A FREAKISH AMOUNT OF RULES! But the weird thing is, I feel like I was made for this life. I have a good background in Spanish, I don't get homesick as easily (yes family, I still miss you), as I did when I first came to college because I now have the emotional experience and maturity to cope with my feelings. I know what to expect. I have become a cyborg. My dad will have to help me out and correct me if my nerd references are off. I think he owns stock in the Sci-Fi channel. But really, I feel like I was preparing to be a missionary and I didn't even know it. And that will help me through those times of having to hand wash underwear, or dealing with my face (which sweats like Seattle rains). So yeah, there are rules.
*Be up at 6:30 a.m., be in bed by 10:30.
*Study. Eat.
*Study more. Eat (less).
*Be with your companion always, always, and did I mention always?
*Be dressed modestly (well, yeah) and look sharp 
                                                                 (At the Provo Temple)
These are a few of many. There are 82 pages dedicated to this lifestyle and we have to read at least 3 of them a day. But I have few troubles with the rules, except for one, and it's surprising: We're not supposed to call Elders "guys, dudes, bros," or basically anything except for Elder (inset last name here). Same for Sisters. No "girl, gal, lady," etc.
Why is this so hard? Beats me. I guess because I don't think of as missionaries all the time. Which we are. My district (48H, best in the world!) was playing sand volleyball the other day, and when one of the Elders who is super short and ridiculously loveable made a terrific save, I just want to go slap him on the back and yell, Oh, yeah, that's how it's done, Zackerson!" (Oh, that's another rule. NO TOUCHING of the opposite sex. The reasons should be more or less obvious). So I have to make do with a high five and slip in an Elder. Not too hard in theory, but in practice...
Which is why I think of myself as Sista, or Girl. or better yet, the two together. I also like Hermana cuz it sounds less lame than Sister for some reason. I really liked it the other day when I was playing four square in the gym, and I was the only girl. I was making some pretty naughty plays and schooling many of those 19-year old guys. Elders. You know what I mean. And every time I did a particularly good play, they'd clap and yell "oooooooooh, Hermana!" Now that, I can handle.
Anyways, all-in-all, I am really enjoying myself. And in just one short week, I will be on my 17-hour flight, Dominican Republic-bound. Scary. Awesome. I'm gonna be so covered in Spanish, it's not even funny. And I will speak so well, no one will know I'm not native. Except for everyone with eyes. And ears, probably. Well, till next time, this is me, from the Provo MTC (for now), and I am still, for a year-and-a -half, Sista Gurl.