Sunday, August 19, 2012

I Would Walk 500 Miles, and I Would Walk 500 More... to Knock Your Door

The Olympics apparently have come to an end. Well, for some that is. I still have my own personal jungle gym of athleticism called the Great Quisqueyan Olympics. I remember back when I was in training mode and my child Hermana Bryant had the curiosity of how much walking we do on the mission. She promptly asked her parents to send her and odometer for her birthday package. I wasn´t there with her when said package arrived, but when she started to use it, apparently she learned that, more or less, in a six-hour period the sister missionaries of the Dominican Republic West Mission can walk up to 13 miles daily. 13 miles! O sea, in a year-and-a-half, we walk close to 6,000 miles (I did the math and no longer remember the real number, and 6,000 sounds pretty impressive). I feel confident saying 6,000 because with the way we are walking in Quisqueya, we are definitely using our feet more then we did in Azua (my current comp. Hna. Rodriguez also served in Azua, and in fact, served with Hna. Bryant right after I did, which is how I have all this information about odometers and miles walked in the first place). I don´t know if I have been blessed to have deadened nerves in my feet, because somehow, I´m surviving. But 6,000 miles is the distance walking from California to New York and back. I  know Forest Gump more or less did the same thing but I´m not sure he had the same emotional drain the mission provides. Oh, well. When I get back, Tom Hanks and I will go on a Cross-Country adventure together. I knew my missionary preparation would pay off in the long run.

It would be easy to complain about walking all over Hells and half of Georgia, but I´ve come to realize something: The mission has made me a lot more grateful. I´ve always been intrigued by the two classes of sins a person can commit: Sins of commission, when a person willfully disobeys a commandment, knowing that what they´re doing is wrong (see the 10 Commandments for 10 such examples), but there are also sins of Omission- sins we commit by neglecting to act. I feel like as a more or less decent human being, I often fall into category numero 2. But now when I pray for something small (please bless the light will come back, please bless me not to fall off this unbelievably rickety stairway), I actually FEEL the pleasure of seeing them answered. Often times, we might pray and then later forget we asked for help when the blessing "magically" comes our way. In my case, the light doesn´t come back immediately just because I ask for it. But it does come back. And really, isn´t that what I asked for? In a world where the bigger and better thing is always around the corner, it seems we fail to delight in the weird and wonderful pleasures that are close at hand. I realized I´ve overcome a few bad habits on the mission, and one of them has plagued me for most of my life. It finally hit me the other day that I haven´t had this problem in over a year now. A year! Now that´s what I call a celebration, people. So, I feel like I´ve discovered that even though I will definitely still complain on and off again for the rest of my life, I need to spend more time being grateful. Because when we only focus on what we don´t have, we forget that there are 4 or 5 other things we do have that matter more. I may not have Tina burritos right now, but I do have Más Más bars. And Dulce de Coco. And pan de mantiquilla. And batidas de lechosa. Tina, please hold.

And one thing that will make me extremely grateful: When this transfer is over. I can´t say this with 100 % certainty, but this is probably the craziest transfer I´ve ever had. Hermana Arias, the only American in my house, is going home to California to eat big fat burritos and see her family. Her migraines have become too much, and it just isn´t doing her any good to be here anymore, staying inside all day like a vampire with the blinds closed. I´m glad she can go home to feel better. I´m bummed she is leaving because she be super cool and I´m starting to feel abandoned by all the people who have left me. It´s is the circle of the mission, and it moves us all. Through despair and hope, through faith and growth. I hope those are the right lyrics. But not only is she leaving, but so is my mission step-sister as well, Hermana López. She is going to the Yuca, and my apartment, which has been a house of four Hermanas forever, will now only house my companion and me. Tristeza. 4 person houses are just usually more fun, since, well, there are more people to interact with. But whatcha gonna do? I shall answer my own question. Nothing. Just take it like a grown up and try not to be surprised when transfers come in two weeks and all the guesses I made as to my future turn out to be wrong.

Fare thee well, Hna. Arias. A partial transfer in the same house just wasn't enough.
But, as the bishop in our ward here is always saying, we gotta be "positivo." O sea, in good news, Euody was baptized this week! He is such a stud. Only 13 years old and he towers over me and sports a rather impressive mustache. To date, he is the only "normal" baptism I have had. Nothing went wrong, nothing was amiss, no one almost drowned, nothing. And his mother being there was a real cherry on topper. She also is taking the missionary lessons, and we have an appointment with her tonight. Much like her son, she seems to really understand what we teach her and remembers it well. She is also a policewoman, so she works a lot, but I see a lot of "positivos" in her future.
Being spiritual never looked so good
Well, that´s about all the sage wisdom I feel generous to share with you this week. Hey, I said I was becoming grateful, not more generous. I´m still only human. Until next time, I will be working on my next bad habit: chewing my lips off. This must end. I need them for my current occupation. And with that, I hope you all can also pick a personal plague and work on it. Nothing says "I deserve a treat,"
like mastering a bad habit or weakness. So treat yourselves well.

Gratefully yours,

Hermana Sweeney "The Fearless" (except on Sundays)

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