Audible sigh. I just love a good song. And the title of this week´s blog comes straight from the mouth of a future star... o sea, my very own companion Hermana Rodriguez. She just loves to sing. And one day, while we were walking home at night, she busts out with most of the English she knows to form the above lyrics. She would like to title it "My Freakin´ Mind." At least, I believe that´s what she wants to say. Her other hit that is in the works is "My Freakin´ Love." Needless to say, when she randomly busts out with these insta-classics, I almost wet myself. But at this moment in time, I can relate very much to her songs. Because every time I go to open my mouth as of late, or even when I am in the middle of a sentence, people seem to decide "I can´t wait another second to butt in with a completely unrelated topic. I must act now!" And whatever I WAS saying becomes lost in a sea of static cling and forgotten phrases. It´s super annoying. I actually did have to tell someone to wait their turn. Why is this so hard? When we are hearing, what percentage of that is listening? I ask this of myself too, because listening is not my greatest talent. But at least I know and am trying to improve (I hope). But how can you NOT know that to completely interrupt someone is rude? These are the mysteries that elude me. But it teaches me dos cosas: 1). Sometimes you gotta stand up for your "freakin´ mouth," as my companion might say, and let people know, "hey, I´m talking here." And sometimes, you gotta let it go. 2). flying ants are disgusting. During the storm we had Saturday night, they were entering our house by the dozens. Dozens! Now how´s that for a completely unrelated topic?
But times when I don´t mind being interrupted? Well, when the person do it speaks English, for instance. I´ve met quite a few people here in the capital that speak it, and it instantly puts me in a good mood. This last week, we went back to a house we had contacted to see if the girl was still available for us to teach her. Instead, we met her brother, who said she wasn´t available. He let me go on for awhile in Spanish before he let me know I could talk in English, if I so desired. I did! He said he and his family already went to a church nearby, actually, really close to where "your Mormon church is," as he put it. "So we´re frenemies?" I asked, good-naturedly. He was highly tickled by this idea, and so we exchanged numbers so that if he and his family had interest, they could set up an appointment. Well, calls like that are usually more formalities, but this guy, Eduardo, actually called us back. He wanted us to come today, but we already have appointments planned, so he said he would call at another time. I hope I can see some sort of meeting come to fruition because both he and his sister seem like cool people. And might I reiterate that they speak English.
But I do have to be careful. Unsurprisingly, the Latins I live with don´t love it so much when I speak English in front of them because, well, they can´t understand it. Which has been hard because right now, we are teaching a girl from New York, and she actually understands English more than Spanish. If I had and English companion, I wouldn´t have to have a guilty conscience. But I don´t, so I´ve had fun the last couple of lessons playing translator and speaking Spanglish (which, I might add, is a legitimate language). But Marlea, the 16 year old we´re teaching, is heading back to New York soon. She´s just out here to celebrate her birthday and visit her grandma. But we´ll make some New York Elders or Sisters very happy, because Marlea has a lot of really deep, thoughtful questions and a lot of interest in learning more about the church. So she will be a reference for other missionaries. Which sucks a bit, cuz I do enjoy teaching her. But at least I can say I was technically part of the first pair of missionaries that taught her. That´s gotta count for something.
But my favorite encounter of the English kind this week had to be with Alexander, the deported New Yorker with the Italian accent. He stopped us on the street to see if we remembered him. I didn´t, cuz he was confusing me with another Hermana that was here before me. So we chatted briefly, long enough for him to command a young Dominican child to bring him cigarettes and to tell me he was deported for narcotics. "Look, I´m looking you in the face, do you think I´d lie to you?" he asked me, seriously. His Marlon Brando manner assured me that he was not. But instead of finding myself intimidated, I found myself highly amused instead, and he said even informed me that he needs to visit our church. I said he sure did, so he could leave behind his cigarettes and other less pleasant habits. He agreed, and petitioned me for a Bible in English. "I hate reading in Spanish,"he confessed (among other things). I said I don´t have a Bible in English (only in Spanish), but I do believe I can get my hands on a Book of Mormon in English. "It too will change your life," I informed him. I have to admit, I have a soft spot in my heart for interesting people. Technically, most people are pretty interesting by default. But there´s interesting and then there´s, well, IN-teresting. And like most people, he seems to have great potential... if he would actually do something about it.
Two people who are doing something, o sea, acting on what they have learned for themselves is the truth are Robbinson and Euody! We have a double baptism this Saturday with the both of them. I´m pretty stoked. Two more strong, energetic youth that will really bring a special light to the Quisqueya ward. The only thing that bums me out is that I won´t be seeing either of them quite as much because I won´t be teaching them every other day. Such is part of the missionary process: meet, teach, release, repeat. But luckily, that´s where the ward members come in, to be there for new converts and to help them. And of course, I still plan on visiting them, but you know you´ve done your job as a missionary if the people you teach aren´t relying on you to keep them active, keep them going to church. They know what they know and they want to act on it because they know that´s what will keep them strong. Like exercise. You don´t do it sometimes and expect to have the body of Billy Burke. Like everything in life, it´s a process. And as far as the discovery part for Eoudy and Robbinson goes, I was happy to be part of there´s.
Well, that´s just about enough of a mouthful for one week. Except to cheerfully report that my God shield is just as sturdy as ever. Apparently, it even works on dogs, because here in Quisqueya, there is a really ugly, large dog that we have to pass on a daily basis, and sometimes, he straight up confronts us with attitude. I´ve seen him bite a cat in the neck, so I know what he can do. But every time I think "shield," he doesn´t seem to bother us. So that´s something. But not quite as something as this last Wednesday, when the shield was put to the test once more. A crazy man who traverses the same street that our church building is on loves to call at me and pester me. This last week, though, we past right by him, and he drunkenly demanded a fist bump. I conceded. He then proceeded to follow us for a couple blocks, yelling weird think about me being blond and white. I was able to ignore it until I heard loud footsteps behind me, indicating someone was breaking into a run. I turned just as he was grabbing my backpack, trying to take it from me, and then, when he didn´t succeed, he yelled quite loudly, "thief." I was finally like, "sir, I am here to serve a mission, not to be harrassed. Leave me the heck alone." According to Hma. Rodriguez, he then started annoucning to everyone that I´m a terrorist. Apparently, the shield isn´t soundproof. But I´ll take what I can get.
Til next time, enjoy your English, hold tight to your knapsacks, and DESTROY ALL FLYING ANTS! You´ll thank me later.
Hermana Sweeeney "The Fearless" (except on Sundays).