And how! Remember this, never forget this: A mission is never JUST a mission. It is also a grand opportunity to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life. And after listening to many an investigator "confess" their life story to us, I realized that quite frankly, I could never be a psychologist. It´s just too much of a drain on my energy resources. As I´ve mentioned before, I don´t know what it is about being a missionary, but everyone seems to think we´re walking confession booths. It´s like George (who I refer to as our gangster investigator) pleaded with us to consider: "I hope you guys don´t judge me now cuz of some bad choices I´ve made. Not all deportees are the same."
I suppose they´re not. No one is quite like anyone else, but after listening to enough stories of defeat, disillusion, drugs, delinquency, doubt, and doom, I feel like the common thread is that it all started with small decisions. No one grows up dreaming to be a drug dealer, or a spouse abuser, or a deportee even. But when we put our priorities in a certain order, it skews our bigger life vision. How many people have lost family and health over the pursuit of money and a good time? People say such catchy turn-of-phrases as "without your health, you haven´t got anything," and "My family is my world." But no matter how quaint the saying, people are going to focus more on our unspoken priority list, which of course, we make known through our actions. I really like a quote I read recently in a talk by current apostle Jeffry R. Holland. He talks about people who lament bad decisions, such as cheating on a spouse or becoming prey to an incapacitating addiction. He says that people often bemoan after the fact "what was I thinking!?"
"Well," says Elder Holland, "whatever it is they were thinking, they weren´t thinking of Christ." Yup, that pretty much sums it up. If people live Christ-centered lives, their priorities pretty much automatically are going to be in-line with the things in life that make us happy. And we won´t have the "I can´t believe I was such an idiot," hangover after the fact. There are just some prescriptions a Wal-Mart Pharmacy doesn´t have.
But a confession I have to make is that I love and hate having house guests on the mission. As I lamented in earlier entries, our house is now a house of two, but this last week, you´d never guess it. We had no fewer then six people in our house Monday, 1 guest on Tuesday, and last night, 2 more. The thing is, the Quisqueya house is the overnight house because it´s in the Capital and closest to the mission office. So when people need to visit the mission doctor or when it´s the night before transfers, our house is usually a full house (minus the Tanner family). I love it because if there´s an American in the bunch, I can work on practicing my English. And it´s a nice opportunity to hear the mission gossip and who is going where and how everyone is doing. But then, all too soon everyone leaves in a whirlwind and I am left feeling a little odd. When you´re used to a rhythm with only one person, day in and day out, any change in the routine leaves you a little out-of-sorts. But with a little Más Más bar and a lot of walking, the old rhythm comes back sooner than an ingrown toenail (if I forgot to mention it, I´ve had two toe surgeries on the mission. Yum.)
Also, due to Hurricane Issac and all his glory, the birthday party of Ashlin, one of the daughters of a woman we´re sorta teaching, was postponed. But Saturday, if finally came to pass, and it was more or less a lot like the last party we "catered," clown and all. Sadly, I couldn´t partake of any of the bocadillos (snacks) myself because we were fasting (abstain from food with prayer and a purpose), but on the happy side, I think I´m making friends with the clown that always seems to be at these parties. Now if I could only get the crazy birthday soundtrack out of my head...
Oh, and I almost forgot, but I know that what with the Book of Mormon musical and Mitt Romney and all that Utah Jazz, that Mormons are kinda a big deal right now. People know us. O sea, they want to, but there´s a lot of weird and false information out there. But there are those cool souls who like to look past the stereotypes and ask us real, intense and interesting questions. For example, this Saturday was also when my companion turned nine months on the mission, so we decided to go to Krispy Kreme (it´s an addiction) to celebrate with their new "Choco Mania" donuts. On our way there, we get straight up stopped by a shorter kid with a beard who had heard of the church and wanted to know why it was so different. In the middle of the sidewalk, we answered questions from everything from the Salamander letters (proven false) to how someone can get a real answer and if it would be possible to be in two religions at once. I love questions of a thoughtful and creative mind. The kid had done his homework for sure. We answered the best we could, and told him the not-so-secret recipe for getting an answer. As he asked with a little bit of anxiety, "but how can you KNOW?" We gave him a pamphlet, directions to church, and told him that though his questions were good and we could talk with him about the church all day long, his own testimony would come from his diligence in truly seeking to find. He REALLY want to know. That counts for something. After we parted ways and entered Krispy Kreme, we paid for our purchases and were about to leave when one of the workers asked about the church. All because we decided to get a donut! One of the other female employees seemed a little uncomfortable, but hey, we didn´t bring it up. But we weren´t gonna be rude and ignore the man who helped make our Choco Mania experience possible. Once again, ask, and you will receive.
And FINALLY, I will end with the satisfaction that after hearing nearly everyone we invite to church say "me voy" (I´ll go), someone actually did voy. O sea, se fue. Let´s be grammatically correct here. This brilliant boy named Jaimi has been going to church with his grandmother in another area. His mom wanted to know what all the fuss was about, so she arranged to have the missionaries in her area (us) meet with her. She reads the whole pamphlet we leave with her before every new visit, and she came to church this last Sunday, where she and Jaimi and the two nieces she brought with her were heartily welcomed. Gotta love the members of the Quisqueya ward. And people who actually "va." You get so much more out of it when you are there in body and in spirit.
Well, this weary traveler is off to brave another week with conviction and sassy-nes. I wish a happy labor day to all as we enter this, the BEST month of the year. Keep it chevre.
With good intentions,