Sunday, July 8, 2012

I was Proud to be an American Once...

Is it really barbecue and fireworks time already? Didn´t I just get to this country a year ago? (almost). Why yes, yes I did. It´s sorta an out-of-body, o sea, an out-of-country experience not to be in my native land during this great time of partying, er, I mean, patriotism. But this is the last 4th of July I will spend in the D.R. so I might as well live it up. And to do so, I bought the ingredients for smores. True, they will be D.R. smores, but hey, what do you want from me?

Complaint of the week: Might as well get it out of the way upfront. Don´t you love how no one has time to write? I do. I love it. I understand too. I mean, I have one hour a week to pump out various emails and a BLOG from the comfort of an Internet café. That is the epitome of no time. Exhibit B. would be that America is now full of phones that come fully equipped with email. Uhhhhhh... you can check facebook and write emails from the bathroom. I am still recovering from my mind being blown. So when people want to impress to me how greatly they are lacking time to write, well, I´m just gonna give you the "that´s stupid, try again," look. If I have learned anything about being on a ridiculously rigid schedule it´s that usually there is an extra minute or two somewhere. Use it wisely.

Ah, that´s better. Let´s see... oh yes, my astute observations of the difference between my native culture, and the culture of the natives here. O sea, many of these things seem to apply to Latins as a whole. You may, being American, feel the urge to puff up and say, "you´re stereotyping," to which I will respond, "why yes, yes I am." Anyway, Americans: We enjoy going out (often) for fast food, and when we do, how do we eat it? Well, I do believe I will take a bite of my burger and a sip of my Sprite, and then toss in a couple of fries. Sometimes I might put the fries in the burger or dip them in my ice cream dessert because frankly, I can. Latins: Eating out, in whatever form, is a special experience. You don´t just eat all the items willy nilly. There´s a greater order to these things. Start with the smallest item, usually the fries, and work your way up to the burger. Finish with drink. A lot of Latins won´t drink anything before or during the meal cuz they don´t want it to screw up their digestion or make them too full to eat the food in front of them.

Cosa dos: We, the American people, have our day of independence in the summer. I am specially convinced that our Founding Fathers waited until this special time to do so, knowing it would be prime time for barbecues, vacations, and NO SCHOOL! On the other hand, most Latin countries decided to make themselves free in September, or in the fall. I´m not quite sure why, but that´s just when they decided to do it. If anyone has any idea, I am open to suggestions.

But with all the things that are different, I think Goethe summed it up well with his quote that "he/she who doesn´t not know a foreign language knows nothing of his/her own." Touche. I think it has to do with the principal I discussed a few blogs ago of why we need opposition. The ying yang stuff again. If I don´t know another language or culture, what do I really know about my own? I have to be able to have other customs and traditions and lifestyles to compare against my own. There´s also some things that are expressed in English that can´t be said in Spanish and vice versa. That being said, I feel like I´ve learned A LOT about my culture. And yes, I really am proud to be am American. There ain´t no doubt I love that land, and heck, I´ll be seeing it sooner than I dare to imagine.

But while I´m here, I´m playing it all by ear and drinking it all in. And I´m not the only one. Last week, I discussed one of our investigators, Robbinson. This week´s star is Charlin. She´s 15 years old and can pretty much recite anything we give her to read verbatim. She´s one smart cookie, that´s for sure. She can even explain to us why the commandments God gives us are perfectly logical and help us live vidas más sanas. O sea, better lives. She has a sister with Down Syndrome, which immediately won me over. It was nice to be able to explain to her that people with disabilities will one day have bodies in their perfect form (Alma 11) and that her sister is one of those really special spirits that was sent here the way they were because they are practically perfect already and don´t need to face the same challenges the rest of us do. It´s nice to know that, being as I have a sister with a handicap, I can relate to one of our investigators in that way. Looks like God knows what he´s doing when he sends us missionaries hellter skellter after all.

And to sum it all up, I will end with one more Latin experience and one more American one. Last week, I was cleaning the kitchen. My Latin roommate, Hma. Oroxom, saw my efforts, and laughingly said I could get married, I clean so well. I laughingly told her that I fully expect whoever I marry to do as much housework as me. The laughter stopped on her end and she looked at me like I´d lost my mind. "What?" I asked her. "No, no," she said, shaking her head, and for all the world, looking like a priest coming out of a confession booth. Oh, well. I guess not everyone has perfectly logical expectations like I do.

And finally this week, while my companion was sick and I was indoors, I decided to make the cookie mix my dear mother sent me. Our oven doesn´t work (oh cruel fate), but let´s remember that I´M AN AMERICAN and I certainly wasn´t going to let something like a broken appliance keep me from putting an end to my craving. I made the mix and then made created something that was a mix between a cookie and a burned blob of dough. And yes, I ate it and even shared. That´s how I roll. Was it good? Más o menos. We´ll go with better than nothing. But it was ingenious, yes, I daresay the same ingenuity that built that fine country somewhere out there.... Well, until next time, wave your flags high in the sky and enjoy your colorful sky light explosions.

Red, White, and Blue (and somewhat tan),

Hermana Sweeney

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