Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bienvenidos a la Real World

Ok boys and girls. This is taking longer to write than normal because I am in some sort of internet café and the keyboard is in Spanish. Welcome to my whole new world. Seriously, though. It´s new, compleley different, and a little crazy. Let me elaborate with the few minutes I have to spare.

So, when I left the MTC, I was driven via truck to some church building where I met my new companion and trainer, Hermana Brown. She is as white as me, but actually knows Spanish. The people in the ward love her and give her all sorts of crazy gifts. She wore one to General Conference this past Sunday (yesterday). It looked like a giant pink butterfly but I wasn´t fooled. It was really a crazy hair clip from the 80s. During the Saturday session of Conference, one of the good sister of the ward, Hermana Rosa (one of about a billion Rosas here) also gave my dear comp some silver hoop earrings. She apologized for not having any for me. I told her not to even worry about it. Seriously, I don´t think I´m ready for any "gifts." I have other things to adjust to first. Like eating mashed roots for lunch or finding HUGE wriggling cockroaches under the sink and then having to stomp on them with my flip flop or teaching lessons in shacks that double as houses for some people while a thunderstorm rages outside and water starts pouring into the house. When we left, we were trudging through huge puddles and I literally saw lightening flash in front of my face. "Bienvenidos a su segundo día en el campo," my companion replied cheerfully. (Ok, brief confession. While I´m writing this, American top hits are playing on the radio around me. I´m trying my hardest not to enjoy myself, but I´m not making any promises).

One thing I´m really not used to is the houses here. Some are pretty nice but other look like a kid was experimenting with leggo architecture. There exist rambshackle dwellings where there ought not to be and sometimes I find myself winding up and down crazy, unending hills and inbetween cement passageways that were not meant for people of Hermana Sweeney size. It´s rather incredible, actually, to think that people live this way, but that´s only because I´ve lived so very differently my whole life. I´m not used to showering out of a bucket of chilly water. I´m not used to being wet more often than being dry (one of the older lady church members, Maria Soledad, helpfully informed me that I sweat like a man). As Hermana Brown would say, "why does life have to be so fantastic ALL the time? Come to think of it, it kind of is, for the most part. Sure, there is the general crappiness we all deal with, but we deal with it so we can move on and enjoy the sweet parts. It´s like how I suffer through soggy veggies that I know are good for me so I can get to the dessert. Yes, that´s a terrible analogy, so don´t overthink it.

OK, so lastly, I have to talk about the portions of food here. They´re absurd, at least at lunch time. We eat at the house of members during almuerzo (lunch) instead of at cena (dinner) like in America because that is the meal of choice here. The first house I ate at was on Wednesday at the home of the Matos family. My portion was so huge, I couldn´t believe it. And those who know me well know I can eat. Well, this meal got the best of me. I couldn´t conquer the mountain. And by the way, in said mountain of rice and beans were hidden surprised of chicken parts (yes, such parts and the liver, heart, etc. And yes, I did eat them). I better learn how to eat like a Dominican if I want to survive around here. But if I sound a bit complainy, it ain´t so. It´s really difficult to be a missionary, yes. But it´s also somwhat rewarding. And the people hear keep asking my companion if I understand what is being said, to which she and I both respond "si.¨" And they are all impressed because they say I speak so well for someone who is in their first transfer and in their first week. Am I bragging? A bit, yeah, but that´s only because I know that I don´t understand a lot of what is being said, and my gringa accent is embarrassing so I´m gonna take the compliments where I can get them, dang it!

Well, that´s about it for now. I really appreciate those of you I hear from. It´s nice to know there´s still a fairly normal world out there. I wonder if I´m gonna come back to America all weird and judgemental of American habits? One thing I´ll have to readjust to is flushing toliet paper in the toliet and flushing after each use. You just don´t do that here. It´s wasteful. And on that pleasant thought, enjoy your showers, enjoy your flushing. You just can´t put a price on the simple things

Chao for now,

Hermana Sweeney

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