Thursday, December 22, 2011

Ya, Ya, Ya, Hermana Sweeney Ya Se Va… But Llego’ Papa’!

Hola, adoring public. Ok, sorry, I’m letting my fame go to my head. Well, that’s what my companion (soon-to-be previous companion, that is), compared it to. Everyone staring all the time and people sometimes giving you preferential treatment because of your race. It’s definitely awkward sometimes, but it’s only problematic when you have an investigator who is only interested in the church because they hope it will somehow fulfill their dream of being an American. We have recently discovered this problem in our 60 something investigator named Manuel. He’s a security guard and usually we just bring a member with us and teach him outside in the open air because he doesn’t live in our area, but yet, he’s never home and he’s been going to church in our area. He just called us over one day as we were walking down the street and inquired into what exactly it means to be Mormon. So we invited him to come and see for himself (that is our job). But the one time we taught him without a member, he was trying to get us to go with him and get ice cream and other weirdness. We politely declined. And apparently he’s been sharing the good word with his work buddies… that he has some ladies around these parts. Hmmmm… yeah, he’s going to the Elders. They can teach him, and if he still has interest, bully for him. If not, well… that blows. But that’s something I’m coming to terms with. I can’t make people not do stupid things. All my life I’ve wanted to do just that but It didn’t work then, and it won’t work now. I can only do my part and hope it’s enough.

Another idea I’m getting used to is the fact that I’m getting transferred. Yeah, I’m officially done with the training phase and moving on to another area, Azua, to be exact. This area is know for being inhumanely hot and for having people throw rocks at the missionaries. I signed up voluntarily for all this, right?

I’m really just very surprised and super bummed. I was really starting to love The Yuca, and the People here are just fantastic. Everyone in my district had just assumed I’d be the one staying because my trainer, Hermana Brown, has been here seven months, which is a good long amount of time. I’d already been planning in my head how I was going to utilize my knowledge of the area and my new relationship with the people. Then when we got the call last night, I realized how presumptuous I’d been. I’d only been thinking about what I wanted and not necessarily what was best for the ward. Hermana Brown is in the middle of teaching a lot of the kids piano, which would be a great skill for them, as no one in the church really knows how to play the hymns for church. But I won’t deny, I’d rather be the one staying. And being as it’s right before Christmas, I am less than thrilled to leave behind my makeshift Christmas tree and countdown paper chain. The sacrifices of being a missionary. Oh, well. We’ll have to see where life with Hermana Lund takes me. She is also white and blond. I just can’t catch a Latin American break around here. I need someone to force me to speak this language 24/7 so I can learn it! I feel like a poser right not, and by Pedro if I don’t obviously look like one.

Well, as usual, there’s not time for nada. So I will leave you all with these tidbits of holiday job. Yes, Llego’ Papa. He’s one of the Presidential candidates for this country and no, I don’t know his real name because he only refers to himself as Papa’. But it sure is fun to say “Llego’ Papa’! every now and again, just for grins.

And here is a poem one of our recent converts, Rosa, showed to us. I feel like it would be criminal not to pass it on

“Pan es pan, queso es queso,

No hay amor sin un beso.”

Agreed. And with that, I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and all that good holiday jazz.

Love and then some,

Hma. Sweeney

OH, and p.s. This is my family photo. Hermana Brown is my trainer, and hence, my “mom.” My “dad” is Elder Ferraras, and he earned the title because he is the elder with the most amount of time on the mission. In fact, he just left this last Sunday. He was released from the mission and is now being unleashed on the world. And thus I became and Orphan…

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Just Because I’m Dumb doesn’t Mean I’m Stupid!

Whew, another week, another chance to freak… as in out, about how the time passes. I am well into my fifth month of the mission. To all my friends who thought the time would drag, I say ha ha! Here it is, and there it goes, quick as a flash. I’m gonna be back harassing the crap out of everyone again before they know it. But for now I’m enjoying the new insanity that is my life. And even when I’m not, I’m enjoying the fact that I’m having a bad day. Because when I die, will I even get to have a bad day again? If “it’s all good” like we believe, then I better remember what if feels like to have a bad day. Or two.

But as it turns out, my days have not been bad. One reason (big reason) is that we finally set a baptism date with Mudo. That is not his real name; his real name is Jose Alberto, but calling people by their deficiencies or physical characteristics is part of the culture here. So Mudo is Mudo, which means mute. He has no teeth and can only grunt to talk. It used to severely freak me out, especially since everyone (mostly his family and my companion) think he might have a crush on me.  Aside from the whole language barrier thing and the fact that he’s in his forties, I dunno… I may have something to come back to here. But he has to get in line behind the peso millionaire who is convinced I would be happy as his “house mate.” He is also old. Maybe the universe is trying to tell me something. But what I want to try to tell all of you is that I’m happy about Mudo because we were teaching him, he had all the lessons, he would always ask us (well, sign to us) that he couldn’t wait to be baptized like his brother-in-law, Franqueli (yes, that Franqueli. EVERYONE is related here).  And then he disappeared out into the campo, or non-city parts of the country for two weeks. And apparently, he hadn’t stopped drinking coffee as completely as we thought he had. But he’s returned from the campo, he’s off the dirty bean (the sweetest smelling dirty bean of them all), and the bishop said we could set his date for anytime. So it shall be… the 16th  of this month. I have a lot of animo for this one. Sometimes I think people are surprised when people like Mudo actually realize what a prophet is or the role Jesus plays in our lives. It reminds me of my little sister, Delaney. People with handicaps may not be able to communicate on the same level as “normal” people, but they have other sensitivities that we will probably never understand in this life. Mudo may be dumb in the sense of his tongue being bound, but his mind is still perfectly functional. I hope we all remember to treat everyone like children of God because, well, WE ARE.

Another fun tidbit: We ran into Davy again! He pretty much admitted he’s been avoiding my companion and me because he’s been embarrassed. We told him we’re not here to judge him, just to help him. He explained to him that his life is “the chaos.” The first chaos was 1973 when he was born. The second was when he had four kids… with four separate women. The third was, of course, the unforgettable date of his deportment to the D.R. And the final stage is “me, myself and I,” as he put it. Oh Davy. Never a dull moment.  It would be super chulo if he’d come to church but I don’t think he’s ready. I’m gonna keep hoping though.  Just because. It is the Christmas season and all.

And some final fun facts I keep forgetting but want to squeeze in: There are huge hoyos in the sidewalk everywhere because people steal the manhole covers to sell them or whatnot for the metal. So don’t get distracted by the sights cuz you need your attention on the ground so you don’t fall down the hole and break a foot (been there, done that, want no more).  And the world here is owned by the companies Claro and Orange. They are the phone companies here and every time Hermana Brown and I want to call someone, we have to remember that we’re using our precious orange minutes. When we run out, we have to go buy more from the farmacias here, or the Colmados (sorta like 7-11s minus the gas, and they’re on about every corner). It makes for the world’s shortest phone conversations ever. And speaking of a short conversation, I, as usual, have to cut my time here short. Be good. Or try, at least, and I might do the same.

Abrazos and whatnot,

Hermana Sweeney (suini)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

I don´t See Either London, and I definitely Don´t See France… Just Naked

Yes, I did shamelessly use the word naked in my blog title to pique interest. I am both sneaky and horrible. And still ok with it. But yes, I don´t know how I´ve managed to get this far into my mission blogging without bringing up this tasty tidbit. Which must mean I´m getting used to it, and that´s almost worse than seeing the nudity itself.

Ok, so essentially, people are sin verguenza here (without shame). I have seen more male child parts and even some teenagers than there is trash in the street or rats in my house. And if you´ve been reading this blog at all, you know that´s really saying, well, something. But I feel a bit like Mulan when she said “I never want to see another naked man again.” But don´t think the women are exempt in the slightest. I think my personal favorite is when I´m in the middle of teaching one of the discussions and one of our nursing investigators just whips one of her breasts right out of the shirt and starts doing her thing. I just want to be like, “uh, do you need a moment?” Don´t worry, they don´t. I feel like an unintentional perve because it´s hard to look away. It´s just so real and in-my-face, sometimes literally. But being as I know that the body isn´t a bad or evil thing, I guess I just don´t feel that awkward about it. But during lessons, we do ask the men to put on shirts “just for grins,” as my Papa Bird would say.

But speaking of nudity, I can´t believe I´ve also forgotten to talk about one of my new favorite people in the world. Get ready, get set, introducing Hermana ROSA BLANCA! She is the very model of propriety and dignity and favors wearing long skirts and shirts (let´s just say skin is not in with her). She is one of those people you have to meet to believe. Until recently, she wore white constantly, from head to toe. She is twice widowed, and used to wear all black, until she had some dream (everyone has dreams that means something here). Well, before she converted, her female preacher told her this dream meant she needed to change to wearing all white. So she did, even after she converted to the LDS church. She just "didn´t feel the time was right." I´ll never forget when I first saw her wear a blue blouse for the first time, I thought I would have a heart attack. But even more than her choice of wardrobe, I love her world view. Everything is literally as black and white as her wardrobe used to be. I remember her going on an appointment with us and telling the lady we were teaching (another Rosa, there are rather a lot of them), that her daughter was probably in a coma because she was in the wrong religion. Uh... how do you come back from that one? But according to my companion, Hermana Brown, they love hearing stuff like that here. The people, some of them at least, are a tad on the superstitious side. If you need further proof, I will direct you to the lunch appointment my companion and I had with her where she showed us on her wall the water mark image of her late husband. I was trying not to laugh and I think at one point, I may have even seen him. Hermana Rosa- a truly delightful human being.

And to all those who were wondering, yes, we had Thanksgiving at the house of Hermano Matos, our Ward Mission leader. Hermana Brown and I made homemade rolls, gravy, and a pumpkin cheesecake. We´re pretty awesome. Though I´m so used to eating like a pig during the lunch hour that I just felt like I wasn´t able to do the meal justice (we ate about 6:30 at night.) But it was still great to have a traditional, dry turkey and be around people I like so much. In addition to Hermano Matos, his daughters and wife we´re their, as well as Elder MacMahn and Fererras, who are the other two members of our district, (my comp and I compose the rest of the district). The other thing that was strange and funny was that Hermano Matos didn´t understand the customs of the meal, such as stating something you´re grateful for or waiting to eat dessert until a reasonable amount of time has passed. Minutes after the meal had ended, he came outside on the patio where the rest of us were, munching a piece of the pumpkin cheesecake. Oh, well. Thus commenced my second major holiday in a foreign country.

And I feel like as usual, I´m running way out of time so I will just say, I failed to mention the baptisms of Priscilla and Isabela also. They were the week before Rosa. Priscilla is a middle aged woman who is very calm and simple and easy to please. Isabella is a shy yet hyper 10 year old who is clever and freaked out a little when she was dunked in the water at her baptism. Well, that is the pastiche of a blog I have for you this week. Stay tuned.

Abrazos and such,

Hma. Sweeney