Thursday, May 24, 2012

Black and White with a Little Grey in the Way

So, now that I´m almost 10 months into the mission (may have mentioned
that before), I am getting Alzheimer´s de Hermana, o sea, I may have
touched on this subject before (definitely don´t remember), but
because I like it oh so well, I am only too happy to repeat it if such
is the case.

Once upon a time, in the 6th grade, I coveted a backpack in the form
of the yin yang symbol that was being auctioned off in our classroom.
And wouldn´t you know it, I seemed to be the only one who felt that
way, because I managed to obtain it with relative ease. And since that
moment, the Yin Yang has become my very favorite symbol. I´ve always
liked the idea that there must be an opposite against which we can
gauge the validity or value of an idea, experience, desire, etc. Cold
exists, so I know what it means to be hot (especially nowadays).
Darkness falls, and so I can enjoy anticipating the arrival of light.
Everything has its perfect and equal opposite. But not all opposites
are equally enjoyable. I may love the Yin Yang and most everything it
stands for, but there are some things I like better in theory than in
practice, most notably that in order to enjoy and even know what good
means, you must experience the ba ba bah bah bad. But I´ve come to
find that if Yin and Yang exist anywhere, it is most certainly in the

And when it´s yin, it´s so totally yin (yin is in? Maybe that could
become the next totally hot saying?) My yins of the week would have to
be Cinthia and general cleanliness. Cinthia is what we call in Spanish
and on the mission an "escogido," or chosen one. Some people don´t
wait for us to come to them, they come to us. And every time I meet
with Cinthia, I remember why I´m excited to be a member of my own
church. She´s one of those people that just connects the dots for
themselves, o sea, answers their own questions. She came at us
recently with "is it true you guys pay tithes and offerings in your
church?" We said, "why yes, yes we do," and showed her scriptures in
the Book of Mormon AND the Bible where it says that tithing has been
an eternal principle since the beginning (3 Nephi 24 and Malachi 3).
And she just lit up and said, "well yeah, of course, I mean, the
church has to pay to print all those pamphlets and Book of Mormons,
and to maintain the church grounds, not to mention all the
humanitarian work that comes from the offerings." And I just wanted to
slap her and say "what is wrong with you? No one´s allowed to be this
easily teachable! I won´t stand for it! Add to that that she wants to
get married to her perfect, help-in-the-home boyfriend, and you´ve got
a romance. She´s what you´d call a triple threat, though I don´t
exactly know why. Just imagine a perfectly humble, earnest,
truth-seeking person, and you have a Cinthia. Not that I don´t love
working with all the other types of people out there, because I do.
But it´s like the golden child in the kindergarten class. What
elementary school teacher doesn´t pray for one of those? Someone who
actually does their homework and comes to class, and asks thoughtful,
thought-provoking questions? I´ll take duh for 500, Alex.

And then, to top it all off, we received a new washing machine this
week. I actually have a centrifuge that spins my cloths completely
dry. I would type it again for effect and emphasis, but I´m afraid if
I talk about it too much, I´ll wake up and realize it was all a dream.
So just read the same sentence twice and repeat the words cha ching! I
have been on a washing spree for the last three days since we got it.
Maybe God sent me on a mission so I can realize that laundry in the
States really isn´t so bad. Unlikely, but I´m not ruling it out. But
seriously, dirty laundry is gross. It is so not yin. Just trust me.

But speaking of dirty laundry, I´ll move right along on to the Yang of
the week, which would be me introducing you all to "my little friend."
I´ve been having, er, stomach issues for the last month (give or
take), and I was really hoping I could just wish them away. Finally,
Hermana Bryant talked some sense into me and was like, "you really
need to get tested. This can´t be good." She was right. I went into
the little laboratory near our house, and as they handed me a cup and
directed me to the tiny bathroom, all I could think was, "well, if I
don´t have a parasite now, I definitely will by the end of my stay in
this restroom." But we came back an hour later for the results, and at
first, it seemed like they said that all was well. I was feeling
pretty invincible until I saw that at the bottom where it says
"quistes" (cysts), it said "Entamoeba Histolytica." Which essentially
means I have an amoeba. A historical one. Gross. So after not getting
a lot of straight answers out of anyone, I took matter into my own
manos and bought some medication that the mission doctor said seems to
be the best option. Something called Neoparax that turns your urine an
interesting shade of highlighter yellow. For all those foolish enough
to think that a parasite/amoeba, whatever, is the answer to your
weight loss solutions, I will just say, NO it is not. Do not try this
at home, because much like Kelly from The Office, I can officially say
"I hate this worm inside of me!" I am eating for two for all the wrong
reasons. But I only have another day left of the meds, and then I will
be back to my normal, visitor-free self. But if I say anything
stranger-than-normal, realize that my amoeba made me do it.

And then, there´s always the times when Yin and Yang combine to form
one, glorious mixed bag of emotions. Like, for example, when your
mission goes on lock down because the country in which you are serving
goes crazy during the elections. At first, I consigned myself to the
boredom of staying inside all day long without much enthusiasm. But
then, my eyes were opened to the possibilities. Extra time to do some
real language study, laundry, and paint my toes with Yin Yang symbols?
(no, I´m not kidding). And now, today, with only two hours left of P
day, we received the call that we were free. And instead of feeling
elated, I felt... deflated. We´d been planning on being in the house
till Wednesday, so we didn´t plan any appointments or anything for the
next couple of days. So now we have to be out of the house with
nowhere to go. The next two days will certainly be creative. I wonder
if this is how the Israelites felt when Moses freed them from slavery.
You´d think they´d have been happy to be released from centuries of
servitude, and instead, they immediately started making decisions that
essentially put them right back where they started from. I guess it´s
true, freedom does come with a price. What do you do with it all?

Well, I´ll leave those of you in the land of the free and the home of
the brave to ponder that question. Because as usual, time is short in
all the wrong places. And I need to go get ice cream (my special
friend demands it). So enjoy mixing your yin in the yang and drinking
them both together. And remember, although the Ying Yang is black and
white, in life, some things aren´t. So prepare for wiggle room (the
healthy, non-parasitic kind.)

Your Ying with a hing of Yang,

Hermana Sweney

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