Saturday, February 4, 2012

It’s All ??????!*%$?????? From Here

Hmmmm… sometimes the hardest part of starting is knowing what to start with.  My self-congratulatory segment, where I talk about how I’ve completed six months on the mission? The continuous ridiculousness of transfers? The equally ridiculous task of teaching old dogs new tricks? Or never learning my lesson the first time? Too much for one blog entry? Of course! Let’s get started.

  Well, yes, don’t mind if I do break my arm patting myself on the back. I’ve made it through a third of my freaking mission. That’s big, people! So to celebrate, we went to the closest thing to fast food here, called Pollo Rey (Chicken King. They’re not real subtle with their rip-offs here). It was funny to see a basic American staple, fast food, but all in Spanish, with such side dishes as tres leches and platanos fritos. I think the unexpected grease really through Hma. Lund and I for a loop.  But it certainly didn’t make me as loopy as when it hit me that in another six months, I’ll only have six months left. I have to be careful how I break up the time in my head though. If you play your mental cards right, it seems like no time at all. And if you don’t well, you might se pone triste. Not that I’m not enjoying the mish (the lady doth protest too much, methinks?) but at some point, the time will be for me to be getting back to some form of my previous reality. No wonder people come back from the mission socially screwed up. We’re all so news and touch deprived out here. But if I have to say the thing I’m really learning to cope with, it’s the ever-present ch ch ch ch changes! Those, however, are always only a mere six weeks away. And what a difference they make. Which brings me to my next tantalizing topic: transfers.

 Yup, it's that time again. That glorious Sunday night where we all get to stay up and wait for the call from the District Leaders about what will become of us for the next six weeks of our lives, as well as those of the Hermanas and Elders in our District. And we just have to tell them, "you've got to let us know- should we stay or should we go?" Yeah, I couldn't resist that classic. Anyway, I get to do a little of both. Hermana Lund and I get to stay together... as housemates. We were so sure that I was gonna get to kill her here in Azua. But no enchilada. Well, as I said, we're both staying in Azua, but I will be taking over the area that Hermana Silverio and her mini missionary are vacating. Which is so awesome. NOT! That area needs a serious rest. Hermana Silverio was almost done contacting up there, past our division, for the second time. She's only been there 3 transfers. Which I'm pretty sure is the legal limit for remaining in Azua with any sanity intact. Will I lose my sense of sanity or reality first? I'll let you be the judge of that. Anyway, I'm ending up with one of Hermana Lund's previous companions, who is from El Salvador. Which means I'm also getting my previous dream of getting a Latin companion. Yes, previous. Now I am all sorts of concerned of how the culture/communication clash is gonna go. Living with Latins is one thing. Spending your entire day with them is quite another. They are so very forward and honest about everything and we Americans are so much more stand-offish when it comes to emotional crud. Oh, and I'm getting whitewashed. Again. I haven't been working in the area I will now be contacting in, so it will be like starting over all over again. I'm gonna try to think of it as an adventure. And I'm gonna go way out into the boonies of the area to find it, because supposedly, part of our area is an hour away by foot, called Las Yayitas. And if it gets us some fresh faces and keeps us from recontacting this already too tiny area endlessly, I'm all sorts of ready. We'll see how it goes.

And now, the funnies section. The timeless answer to the age-old question of whether an old dog can be taught new tricks is- maybe. Just not with me, at least not here, and not in Spanish. On one occasion, I gave a great first lesson to this small, grey haired old lady. At the end, she just yelled at me that she is "sordo," or deaf, and couldn't understand a darn word that was leaking out of my lips. How rewarding. So I just busted out laughing because it was all so absurd, not to mention the fact that everyone and their dog was coming in during the middle of the lesson to talk to her (ironic, no?) and I didn't get to get many words in edgewise. Oh, well. At least she was better than the old lady we had later on that week, who, after an especially heartfelt attempt on my part to candidly talk about the power of prayer, told me she doesn't understand English. We attempted to explain to her that yes, we are American, but thankfully had the foresight to come to her country prepared to speak her native language. She wasn't having it, though, so she asked the member we had brought with us to rally with her and talk about why it is important to pray with a rosary. Sigh. Sometimes you've just got to let the elderly dogs be happy with the tricks they've already got. Or wait for one to come up to you with tail wagging.

Anyway, after reading this all, you may wonder what I could possible have left to impart. Well, it has to do with a little something called stupidity. Experience here has taught me that you're just safer if you don't ask questions. But I never heed my own advice, and so I asked one of the less actives we've been teaching were I can buy and Aloe Vera plant. I'm quite fond of them. He saddened me by saying they don't sell any in Azua. Of course not. But he said he could probably get me one. I said I would pay him for it. He said no. I assumed he would forget. But after the next lesson we had with him ended he said, "you're plant is here." It took a minute for that to sink in, but he went to a back room and came back with an aloe vera plant, which my companion named Vera. I got to lug it around for a bit until we could drop it off at the apartment. When am I gonna learn not to ask a simple question? I feel guilty that people here are so willing to just jump to it to help me out. Maybe I'm not so hot at handling new tricks myself. But at least I have a new aloe vera plant to salve the wounds inflicted to my pride by this realization. I can live with that.

Oh, and as promised, here is my new segment, "How to Do in the D.R." This week: How to hold a Successful Companionship study."

Enjoy! I know I will. Everyday for the next year.

Hermana Sweeney

This week, on "How to Do in the D.R."

How to Have Companionship Study

First: Sing your little heart out. SING!
Second: Pray. Make it original. Ask to survive Azua
Third: Read 3 pages from the White Bible. I mean... Missionary Manuel

Fourth: Politely stare into space while your companion is reading from Preach my Gospel

Fifth: Get caught up in a delightful tangent. We're spiritually well-blended.
Sixth: And if you give a moose a muffin... she's gonna go off on a tangent too
Seventh: Finally deciding to write down all of our random, non study related thoughts for later. Dang it.

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