Monday, August 27, 2012

Can´t I Hate You, Just This Once?

Tee hee. One of the few phrases my companion, Hermana Rodriguez, loves to say in English is "I hate you." And we use this phrase a lot because, for some reason, in ridiculous, unexpected moments (someone drank the last of the boxed milk, for example), it´s just funny and amusing. However, if the sentiment borders on accuracy, then there is little to no mirth involved. As someone representing the Big Boss, I really shouldn´t harbor feelings of strong dislike, let alone, hate. But some people just really put themselves in a separate category marked "special exceptions." And that´s when I have to do the whole "deep breathes, count to ten, eat something chocolaty," dance.

Once such person we will call Justin because he looks suspiciously like Justin Timberlake. Well, a skinnier version of J.T. And more or less around my age. But anyway, my companion and I were out contacting in a neighborhood a good distance from where we live, and when we met Justin, we did our usual spiel of "we´re missionaries, we´d like to share an awesome message, can we come back another time, tomorrow, perhaps?" This young gent informed us that he is a professor here and already has a religion, but he appreciates the effort that we make. Ok, well that´s congenial. And normally, we´d leave an invitation to visit the church (in la calle Defillo con antiguadoce, los domingos a las 8 de la mañana) and be on our merry way. But Justin just couldn´t let us go without a few "curiosities." Like why Jesus never mentions the Book of Mormon in the New Testament. And why it would even be necessary to have an extra book of scripture. Which are valid questions if you actually want answers. But he did not. We gave him some scriptures directly from the good ol´ Bible itself, because in spite of what some people think, we DO read the Bible. But I straight up asked him "how do you know the Bible isn´t just a bunch of fairy tales? How do you KNOW it´s true?" And he didn´t really have a good answer. Many people assume on merit that the Bible is true. But until you study something, how can you know? And that´s exactly how I responded when he said he´d read "parts" of the Book of Mormon. "Ok, so if I read parts of Harry Potter, am I going to understand the plot?" I asked. You have to read it and then follow the promise in Moroni 10: 3-5, which tells you if you want wisdom about anything, you can find it through study, faith, and prayer, and then by the power of the Holy Ghost, "you can know the truth of all things." So, we had him read the scripture, and he wouldn´t even finish it. Now normally when there is someone who is a little combative, we just close off the meeting with an invitation. Having a blow-out over religion does absolutely nothing and is a waste of time. And this guy was getting really befuddled and upset, so we were trying to gracefully bow out, so my companion just said "Sir, I know it´s true because God has revealed it to me. You may not believe it, but I know what I know." Then we shook his hand and started to move away. As a parting shot, he yelled "read the Bible, will you, and actually study it!" Considering we had spent a good 20 minutes quoting many a scripture to him, I just couldn´t decide whether to yell or laugh. It was so absurd. I had to come to another country to argue with someone about religion against my will? I thought about returning to give him a good punch in the face, but realized, "that´s not very reasonable. We were talking to him through iron bars, and there´s no way I´d get a good shot in." But furthermore, I told my companion that we should just walk away. It wasn´t easy, but what else is new? I´m sure he´s a pretty decent human being, but like my good friend Will Ferrell, "I feel like I´m taking crazy pills!" If you ask (really wanting to know), by George, you´ll receive. Otherwise, don´t ask, because then I´m gonna expend much needed emotional energy. I´m not a Pokemon; entering a red and white sphere does not recharge my powers. I´ve tried.

Why can't we be friends?
However, there are plenty of people who DO want to learn more, and for them, we will always pull up a chair and chat. One such is a man named George (name changed). First off, remember Alexander, the New York deportee? Well, not this last Sunday, but the one before, we were trying to find him to give him the English church reading material he requested. He gave us an address, but we weren´t having much luck finding it. As we were heading up the street, (hopefully) getting closer to where we thought he might live, a tall salt and pepper haired man stopped us and asked who we were. We told him, and stopped to talk about about the church outside of his house. Not 10 minutes later, who should yell out at us, "hey, what are you doing talking to that guy for?" but Alex, dressed in nothing but a towel and his very prominent chest tattoos. "We´re here to give you your stuff," I called out, later realizing that just because this guy was somewhat of a gangster didn´t mean I was also. But the lingo does rather speak to me. Anyway, turns out the man, George, who stopped us on the street, is also a deportee, and he and Alexander are roomies. They have a very odd couple-like relationship that amuses me greatly. But George seems to legitimately be looking to change his life and believes that miracles still exist. His job involves him making survey calls to Miami. In one such call, he started talking and his brother-in-law turned out to be the one on the other end. Mind you, the system used in this research place is automatic; the callers don´t choose whom they call. And George had lost the number of his bro-in-law awhile back and had no way to reach him. So it was really neat to hear about how there exists something greater than coincidence in the world. Also interesting to learn was that this brother-in-law of George´s is the brother of Danny and Mark Whalberg. Yes, Danny of New Kids on the Block, and yes THE Marky Mark (start the commotion) Whalberg. Ha! You just never know who you´re gonna meet on this little pineapple of an island.
And fun moment of the week? Ok, sure, why not? This last Saturday was a slow day for us, and many of the appointments we had set didn´t pan out. However, on one of the street that we pass by on a daily basis was a huge commotion, complete with brightly colored clown and dancing children. It was the  one-year birthday of the granddaughter of one of the women in our church ward. Well, what did we have going on that could compete with a high-pitched voiced clown and a giant birthday cake? Nothing! So, we went from servants of the Lord to servers of birthday guests. O sea, we handed out many a snack. Were these children patiently waiting to be served? Not even close. I was being screamed at from all sides that I lower my sandwich tray and hand out the goodies faster, FASTER. Dance monkey, dance!

I almost resolved to eat all the sandwiches myself in front of everyone, and then reminded myself that I´m in the D.R. I should know different rules apply. In Spanish, there is something called the command form, so if someone tells you ¡Hágalo! They mean ¡Do it! I´m still trying to not get annoyed when people use this form on me. If there´s one thing I don´t enjoy, it´s being bossed around, and that´s how I feel when people talk to me in that form. But considering my commanders were children, and they had worked up a severe hunger from all the clown dances, I tried to toss them their sandwiches with efficiency and cheer. Thank you, previous years of customer service training. But it was fun to be involved in a normal activity. And, on the same street, another little girl is also turning the big . And we agreed to help with her party too. We have a regular business going on here!

Well, that´s just about as exciting as it gets. As I enter the last week of this transfer, I will have to remind myself not to freak out. I´ve already seen and experienced all the craziness possible. Right? RIGHT? And here´s to hoping all you people of the world make time for a little crazy in your own lives. What have you to lose beside your sanity?

 Crazily yours,

Hermana Sweeney

P.S. It's not letting me add a caption for the second monkey, but lest someone should peg me for an image thief, here are the credits:

My only regret is that there is so much dancing monkey art, and so little space.

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