Ok, so, I feel like because my name has been so used and abused by so many, and because it essentially doubles as both my first and last name, I feel like I have earned the right to put it in the title of my blog. And whether the right was given to me or not, I’m taking it, because, well, it’s my blog, and though I’m a temporary Dominican, I’m really still an American, which means I still have freedom of speech. I hope. Who knows what will have changed when I get back?
But as everyone knows, some things never change, one of those things being sayings and expressions. If you’ve heard of Jesus, you may have heard of the accompanying idiom: W.W.J.D. or “What would Jesus do?” You can find this pithy turn of phrase on shirts, bumper stickers, and most popularly, bracelets. But I have to wonder if anyone ever actually answers this question after asking it. And if the answer is really even within our ability to grasp or figure out.
Example? Ok, but only because you asked so nicely. So, we, as in, my companion and our other housemates and the elders who our in our district, met at the yogurt/ice cream shop called Bon. I guess in French, that stands for ‘good.’ And it is good, so I’ll cut them a little slack for the lack of originality in the name. Anyway, so as we were waiting to order, a lady and what I assume was her little son, came in asking for money for food. I hate situations like this, and especially as a missionary, it is difficult because we’re technically not allowed to give money to people. 1. Because we don’t have any extra and 2. Because then people will just assume that the missionaries are rich and will look to us to solve all their monetary problems. Which we can’t do. So after we told her no, sorry, and then stood their awkwardly waiting for her to leave, I had to wonder about that whole W.W.J.D thing. What the heck would he do? Would he turn one of the tables into bread and give her some food? Would he have talked to her about how he is the real bread of life, and if we eat of him (as in, his gospel), we will never die? Or would he have known she was lying (if she was) and given her some parable about the importance of being honest and upright with your fellow humans? But that’s the thing. I can ask myself or you or anyone what Jesus would do and it’s impossible to say because I’m not him. I can only judge from his past examples and hope I can do the best I can with the information that I have. But maybe what’s really important isn’t what Jesus would have done but what Sweeney WILL do (or insert your name in the appropriate space). I have to be kind and I have to serve those who surround me. And I guess as long as I do it to the best of my ability then I am somehow making progress. As my dear friend Sheryl Crow says, “Every day is a winding road.” And yes, I do believe I’m getting a little bit closer.
But part of walking down the winding road is not knowing what exactly lies ahead. And I literally never do, because every street here seems to come with a different crazy that frequents it. One such man was following my companion Hma. Amaya and me last week. Way too closely. So I turn around and offer him my hand to shake to ward off any potential awkwardness and he takes this to mean that he should try to kiss me. I was not really into this idea so I shoved him off. Which lead him into an uproar of fast and slurred Spanish obscenities. Well, I guess this week wouldn’t have been complete without meeting up with him again. This time, we were coming from opposite sides of the road. But before I saw him, I saw a cement brick sliding over to my feet and stopping short of where I was. And then I look up to see that it was my crazy kissy friend, and he was looking even more disturbed than the last time. He tried to throw a bottle of chlorine at us, but his aim was just a tad off. As in, I’m not sure he’s ever thrown anything before in his life. Not that I’m complaining. But it’s not like I’ve really even ever thought of myself as being in danger. I just have tried to have confidence that as long as I’m doing my part, it’s all going come up even in the end. But most of the time, I have to stop and look up and (in English) say, “really? REALLY!?” Some things you just can’t prepare yourself for. And as another dear, animated friend of mine once said, “Uh, I don’t think we covered this in basic training.”
But now for the really important things, like who we’re teaching. Well, we finally have a baptism date for a girl named Madeline. She’s 15 and pretty shy but you can tell she really enjoys the church meetings and the friendships she is forming with girls in the branch. Her date is set for the 10th of March. Normally, when it’s a date for younger teens, they have to wait 3 months to be baptized to make sure they’re doing it for the right reasons and are going stick with it. It doesn’t do anyone a bit of good to get baptized and then just go inactive. But since she’s a reference, and has her mom as a support system, we can do it within a month if she’s ready. We’ll hope for the best. And I’ve realized one thing I have not been very good about is giving consistent, consecutive reports on people we’re teaching. There’s a reason for that. Several, actually. One of them is called transfers. When I leave an area, I have no idea how the other people are progressing. Well, in this case it’s different because I still live with Hma. Lund and she keeps me a bit informed. But it’s not the same as working with the people themselves. Also, sometimes people will start out with promise, like Cecilio, and then the missionary has to realize that it’s just not that person’s time yet. Some people have real interest but aren’t ready to do all of what is necessary to be an active member. So I’ve come to realize that my job as a seed planter is just as important as is being the one who reaps. And that being said, sadly, I may have to give up Pavel. I have to think of what’s best for him, and if he feel more comfortable attending the branch where his girlfriend goes, at least, for now, I may just need to give him to the elders that work in that area. It will kill my soul a little, cuz I like him a lot, but, yeah… What SHOULD Sweeney do? And I think I already know. Not that it makes it any easier.
Well, we’re outta time kids. But before I leave you, this week on “How to Do in the D.R…”
How to open a can (without a can opener)
Now go, feel free to experiment for yourselves. Carefully, of course.
With all the amor I can muster,