Monday, October 29, 2012

The Rocky Horror Más Más Show (Down)

Well, the holiday of genius has finally arrived, one of my very favorites. It´s time to whip out the overpriced candy bars and dress like something you´re not. Halloween combines my two favorite things: Junk food and pretend (I didn´t minor in theater for nothing). But even though this special day is not really celebrated in the D.R. (hey, people already have their Christmas lights up), I have still found many ways to celebrate, because, well, I´m surrounded by the horror, THE HORROR!

Scary Scenario 1 - The timeless debate of Rocky vs. Más Más. I had no idea that said debate even existed until one day I told someone how much I like Más Más candy bars. This person then told me that they prefer Rocky's. Now, being a fairly intelligent individual, I assumed all people knew that Más Más bars are superior. What is the difference between the two? Well, a Más Más bar contains a delicious combination of salty peanuts and sweetened raisins. It´s like 2 candy bars for the price of one (which is still more than I like to pay). Rocky is just chocolate and almonds. As is obvious, this is a very fair and unbiased description with all the information needed to make the RIGHT decision. And it´s always Más Más. In a world where Snickers and Twix cost enough to make a ghost blush, these are the options we are left with. And when it´s one-on-one, the heat is also on, and the sides are chosen, and the opinions are fierce. But even though Rocky may love Emily, and some people may love Rocky, Sweeney loves Más Más. And that´s just all there is to it.

Scary Scenario 2- And who doesn´t love a good horror story around this time of year? I always have. And luckily, I´m reading the best one yet. And it´s a tale as old as time (o sea, THE beginning of time). Want to give it a read? Just crack open your nearest Old Testament. I really enjoy the New Testament, but the first part of the Bible is the very definition of sick and twisted. Ever heard of original sin? I think I found it. Holy nasty if the people back in the day didn´t know how to do each other wrong. I´ve read about so many crazy rules, customs, carnage, and perversions that I almost have to remind myself I´m allowed to read what I´m reading. Fortunately, there´s some good stuff too, (well, it is God´s word), but the part that reads like a history is beyond odd and cringe-worthy. I´m just glad that the Law of Moses (the lesser law given to Israel cuz they couldn´t handle the higher one) is ca put. I don´t think I could handle it. I just hope I CAN handle reading the rest of the good word. I have a lot of horror, I mean, books, left to go.

Scary Scenario 3 - Sadly, I can´t really participate in one of my favorite traditions, that is, dress up and impersonate some sort of person, place, or thing. For the first time in a long time, I´ll be doing a costume repeat, o sea, I´ll be going as a sister missionary. Although last year, I went as Hermana Brown, so if I went as Hermana Sweeney this year, I guess that would be somewhat of a change. I will be wearing orange and black, at least. But speaking of costumes, for the kids that go to school here, a costume (or uniform), is an everyday occurrence. It´s actually mandatory. You can´t show up to school without your blue dress shirt, khaki pants, and black dress shoes. Normally for me, there´s nothing more horrific than having to be or look like everyone else. Where´s the originality? But here, I actually think it´s a great idea. With so many people in poverty, few parents here would have money to help their children look trendy. Uniforms really are a pretty good equalizer, and the lesson the distractions of people who live by the tag line "skin is in." As I may have mentioned, it gets pretty hot here, and a lot of people dress accordingly. I could see how that would provide, er, problems, for people who don´t go to school to study anatomy. I´ve seen the things that girls who aren´t even preteens are wearing, and it´s scarier than a lack of originality. So I guess I´m double-minded concerning this scenario. I´m sure as heck glad I didn´t have to wear a uniform. But I am more than happy to see an unbiased wave of blue and khaki descending from various parts of the city around the hours of noon, 5:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. OK technically, I´m in the house by 9:00 p.m. But if I could see them, I´d feel comforted. Oh, and in case you´re wondering, the different hours have to do with different school schedules. Some kids go in the morning, others in the afternoon, and others in the evening. It´s due to a lack of funds, teachers, etc. So the kids here actually do go to school for less time than in the states. But they seem to still have just as homework, so I guess the horror evens out.

Scary Scenario 4- And finally, I have to admit that there´s not a whole lot scarier than admitting that I´m still not perfect... at Spanish. Muhahahahahahahaha. But seriously, I wonder if the day will come when I won´t say something that makes people chuckle like when a 5 year old says something mistakenly adorable. I was in the bread store the other day (yes, that´s a direct translation), and I asked the guy to give me "4 pedazos de pan." That would be four pieces of bread. But here, if you say you want a piece of bread, they would just rip one in half, give it to you, and wonder why you´re a weirdo. You just say "I want four breads." But this morning, I made the same mistake inside a colmado, asking for a "piece" of bread. The old lady in front of me started to chuckle, as did the owner of the colmado. My companion was like, "oh, man, I´m gonna have to write that in my journal, so I don´t forget it. When you say that, it just seems like you´re going around, begging for bread." Perfect. I wasn´t intending to trick or treat for bread, but if it would actually work, I think I would do it. I´m really losing a lot of my shame. It´s sorta horrifying.

And that´s a mission-tastic Halloween for you. It´s weird to think this time next year, I´ll be carving pumpkins, eating bite-sized candy bars, and well, that´s about all I can say for certain, because I have no idea where I´ll be in a year from now. And that´s the really scary thing- the uncertainty that is the future. But I guess it´s also the adventure. And it hasn´t failed me so far. And I hope it never does. And thus, I make an end. HAPPY HALLOWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Scared Sweenless,

Hermana Sweeney "The Fearless" (except on Sundays)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Can´t Sleep? DON´T Count Sheep

So don´t get me wrong, I like a good literary device just as much as the next sister missionary. But biblical parables have never been a one of the few of my favorite things. Well, some yes some no. One that I´ve never been fond of was the parable of the Shepard and the lost sheep. It´s nice in theory- a Shepard has 100 sheep, one gets lost, and he goes to find it. And has success. Simple. Sensical. Not too much suspense. But the part that rubbed my fleece wrong was how at the end of the parable, it says that this Shepard has more joy in that one sheep than in the other ninety-nine. To me, that makes oh-so-little sense. Talk about giving someone jealous sibling syndrome. I can just imagine those other sheep conversing amongst themselves saying, "wait, so if we get lost too, will we suddenly become more noticed, more loved, will our sales value increase? It almost seems like an incentive for being bad to the bone. But if we remember that the Shepard is Jesus and that we are the sheep, well... that still doesn´t help much. What does help is putting yourself in the shoes of Jesus and not in the hoofs of his sheep.

For example, yesterday, Sunday, we´ve had the most investigators (people we´re teaching), in the church than ever before. It was great. It was marvellous. It was so... why I´m here. And yet, all I could think about was the one young gentleman that should have been there and wasn´t. It didn´t make me any less happy that I had the other "sheep" right there with me in the fold, but it made me sad to have someone I cared about missing. And it bugged. And that´s when I thought of the parable, and better understood it. But yeah, anyway, counting sheep may be a peaceable sleep exercise for some. But for a missionary, it makes us lose any hope of achieving even a wink of it.

And some sheep are, well, insane. I´ve met some real wackos here on the mission, but in this area, I feel like I´ve reached my max. Guru Max, that is. Like all our shining stars, his intentions are good. But the follow through has yet to be seen. In the spirit of Halloween this year, I´ve decided to go as a ghost because a lot of people only have to see us coming and they start running. We are sooooo scary. It shouldn´t make me laugh, but it does. Now I know how Shepherds AND GHOSTS feel. Frustrated and powerful. Anyway, our ghostlike charms don´t work with the likes of our locos. They must be immune. But Max doesn´t run- he FINDS us. In his new truck, he proceeded to stop us on the side of the road and then made us wait 15 minutes because, as usual, he was engaged in a lengthy business call. But he swore this last Sunday would be his lucky number (to go the church, that is.) Well, it wasn´t. And who knows if it will be. But I have the feeling we haven´t seen the last of the Guru.

We also met a lady in a hardware store who I invited to church, because she struck up a convo. with us. I then found out she is a chef, is a good friend of Gloria Estefan, already has a church, and loves hugs. She sometimes cooks for Gloria Estefan too. I don´t remember if I learned this after the third or fourth hug and kiss. She is short and petite, but she gives a wicked strong hug. She also insisted on us coming over sometime. She´d make us tea and some sort of fancy crumpet. And because we were looking for a spring in our microwave, she told us she personally would take us out looking for it (the hardware place we were in didn´t have it.) Upon telling her that the place she was suggesting was out of our mission boundaries and we can´t leave our assigned area, she looked at us like we were crazy and said, "am I not Dominican? Of course I can take you there!" Aim, shoot, miss, point. Ah, well. She essentially hugged us both out to the street corner where we parted ways. The best part? She lives super close to us, so on various occasions, I´ll have just turned my head for a tiny second and when I turn it back... there she is! In her very nice car, might I add. And she offers to give us rides. And then when we´ve said no, and turn the corner, there she is again... making sure. She has some great, cat-like reflexes. But I think the craziest part of all of this is that she´s not a crazy liar. She really IS a chef and lives in a crazy nice-huge house, and her husband owns a whole ton of gasoline stations. And she really does have religion. She´s willing to let us pray with her... but nothing else. Oh, and she probably DOES knows Gloria Estefan, because well, who else but this lady could have inspired the lyrics "the rhythm is gonna get you?" I think this lady is gonna get US! But I think I´d be OK with that at this point.

And our final loco is one who let us into her house immediately while doing street contacting. She wanted to hear the word that instant! She´s one of those people who believes in all religions and loves all religions. She had some good questions though, and already knew a little bit about Joseph Smith. We had to postpone our next appointment until the end of next week. She´s getting a... present (plastic surgery) that will take a few days to recover from. Well, whatever makes her happy. I just hope I recognize her the next time we teach her. She´s not only found every religion, but also the fountain of youth. She´s in her thirties, but looks younger than me. Craziness.

And the last couple bits of craziness: We´re teaching a lady how to read and write Spanish. It´s amazing the power that the written and spoken word have. To possess them is to have an entire world available at your whim. To not have them is to be, well, without a whole lot of options. So hopefully, this lady can learn to read, and we have the patience to teach her. In our defense, though, we have to try to teach and keep her naked grand kids at bay all at the same time. Gives a whole new meaning to the word ´mulit-tasking.´

Oh, and I kinda helped build a house. O sea, during a lesson we were having, Hna. Rodriguez turns to me and whispers, "Do you want to help that guys move those bricks?" Well, we had some time before we had to go home, and no one else to teach. Why not? As usual, this guy, being, well, a guy, didn´t seem thrilled to have to females helping him do a man´s job. How do I know it´s a man´s job? Because that´s what all the men an women kept telling us. "No, señoras, don´t do that... think of your hands!" (that was my favorite). Actually, I was thinking more about the fact that I was walking up 5 flights of poorly constructed stairs with crumbly, large cement bricks that weighed more than a Peeping Tom´s conscience. But even though my legs and arms were jelly afterwards, and I was sweating like a goat, as my companion later described us, it was a worthwhile experience. And completely crazy, of course. But after we started helping, some other neighbors got involved too. Yea, neighborhood unity! But really, if I came to the D.R. and didn´t build SOMETHING, could I really say I did my job?

OK, well, I´m calling it quits (for now, don´t get too excited). If I don´t get off my butt and off this computer, well, I might just miss my next crazy train. And we all know that´s not a very good idea. Well, full steam ahead, and wink wink until next week.

Thinking of my hands,

Hermana Sweeney "La Sin Miedo" (Menos los domingos)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

If Only, If Only...

Possibility: "If only I hadn´t" as one of the most used phrases known to humankind.
Fact: Said by everyone who has ever lived more than once in their lifetime.

I (like everyone else in the world) have had many of these experiences. It ain´t called hindsight for nothing. It´s because, like Pumba used to tell me, "you gotta put your past in your behind." But you can´t do that until you´ve moved on and have somewhere behind you to put the past. Anyway, the only good thing about this experience is that I can relate it to a gospel principle. Score! Topic:repentance
Emotion: annoyance

So, in the apartment I now live in, I find myself without a blender and without a working oven. Pain in the butt, I tell you what. But in my first transfer here, I thought, "eh, well, I´ll get it fixed soon enough." And then I just worked around not having an oven. Pretty ingenious. And I guess I didn´t figure on spending much time in this area (joke on me) for some reason, so I thought someone else could take care of it if they wanted to. And every time I got a package from my mom containing a brownie or cookie mix, my heart would twinge with regret over not getting to eat them. When I got Hermana Rodriguez as a companion, we talked about fixing the oven. We even tried to tinker with it a little bit. But not much. And we discussed co-purchasing a blender, but we really didn´t want to spend the money. What if one of us left and didn´t get to enjoy it for more than a few measly weeks?

Well, 1 transfer became 2, and 2 became 4, and I realized how dumb I´ve been. If i´d just taken care of these issues from the start, I would have been enjoying delicious brownies and papaya smoothies for the last 5 or so months. And then it hit me: This is soooooooo a parallel to repentance! As a Latter-Day Saint, Mormon, you know the drill, we live certain standards that many people think are weird and/or hard. And sometimes, many times, they are. I think it would be rare to find faithful member among us who hasn´t at least WONDERED what a sip of sherry would be like, or to let go of what you believe in and join the fun "just this once..." And then some people get frustrated when they see people "breaking the rules" and it seems like they get to have their fun, but then, when they see that they´re not as happy as they maybe thought they´d be, they begin the often steep climb of repentance to turn their life around.
"Well, that´s not fair," we might say. "So they get to experience the world AND have the blessings of coming back into the fold? Why can´t I just do the same?" Well, comparing it with my The Allegory of the Abandoned Appliances, we can choose to put off repentance and making our lives at one with God´s will- But just how I have gone months and months without very enjoyable edibles, so those who procrastinate repentance are actually procrastinating blessings that they can have RIGHT NOW! We humans are a little peculiar sometimes. But we figure it out, one ridiculous mistake at a time. And hopefully someone can learn from mine. Fix your ovens! By your Blenders! Oh, yeah, and repent.

Anyway, one thing we got rid of this week that we didn´t need in our house: All the other Hermanas that were being trained, transferred, etc. Hey, that sounds mean. But it be true. It´s not their fault they have to be there, nor is it mine. And I´m actually friends with a lot of these girls, but it´s just stressful having 8 people in a house meant for 2 or 4. But interestingly enough, the trainees of two of the Hermanas (Clark and Bullock) didn´t show up when they were assigned to (they had to go back to the Provo MTC and wait and extra day). Which meant that Hermana Clark went to work with me on Tuesday, and Hna. Bullock went out with my companion. It was really strange. Hermana Clark was technically my first companion in the Provo MTC and back then, we struggled to know what to say to our fake investigators, (in Spanish, no less), how to adjust to the mission schedule, and to always, constantly having another person at your side. Now, we got to do the real thing together, and it was pretty cool. And I got to speak English in the streets, which I haven´t gotten to do in about 6 months. Although the first appointment we had was super difficult. We had the lesson outside on the lady´s patio, and her neighbor was blasting my favorite Romeo Santos/Usher song ("Forever") and inside the house of the lady we were trying to teach, what should be playing but the beloved classic "Cuidado con el Ánglel." I don´t know how I cut through all of these distractions, especially when the baby of the main character was being kidnapped by another character with a duel personality, but so help me, I did it. And we have another visit scheduled with this lady for tomorrow, so I guess Team Gringa did ok. I forgot walking around with another American usually means more craziness and catcalls. But to have a chance to really teach and preach with the Hermana I only got to pretend to do these things with since the beginning of this crazy journey, well, I´d say it was worth it.

But now, it´s just my beloved Dominican Companion and I again, all alone once more. With another 5 weeks ahead of us. 5 weeks that hopefully include a blender, because, as of a couple days ago, we finally overcome our debilitating stupidity and fixed the oven. And celebrated with a homemade pizza. Forgiveness tastes GOOD! When you spend every moment with the same person, sometimes spending extended time with them seems daunting, especially if you don´t get along. Fortunately, my companion and I get along. But we´re still human. And you wonder, "what more am I gonna learn about this person that I don´t yet know? What other lessons need I learn?" I have never spent 3 transfers with one companion until now, so I´m intrigued to view the outcome. The best part is not having to learn all the quirks and weirdnesses of another person, nor having to explain mine. And Rodriguez and I are planning a pretty sweet Halloween celebration. If we´re together more than this transfer... we might just become the same person. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! Not even married people spend this much time together.

Well, I hope everyone in the states is enjoying fall and the cooler weather and the delicious pumpkin-flavored delicacies. I will enjoy not really knowing which season it is. Such is the tropics.

Humbly yours,

Hermana Sweeney "The Fearless" (except on Sundays)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Sometimes a Hut is Better than a House.

And how. Now, I know this goes against all reason, but hear me out. Let´s imagine there´s a place called Pizza Hut. It´s pretty good pizza, but I´m easy to please. Anyway, Pizza Hut exists here, and it´s still tasty. But if you want to sit and eat in the dining room with the air conditioning, you have to pay extra. The wonders never cease. Anyway, for those of us not rich enough to pay for pizza AND A.C. (a.k.a. EVERY missionary out here), sometimes you have to look for... alternatives. One such available to us here in the D.R. is an establishment called Pizza House. "Well, that sounds o.k.," you might reason with yourself. Sometimes intuition is stronger than reason. Just looking at the place, I couldn´t help but think "I think gross and cheap have to be at least two of the ingredients in this pizza." This place had no shame. They keep their already made crusts in the fridge with the drinks. With the drinks! Pizza House has no shame, and you can taste it. When it came to our table, one of the other missionaries said, "this doesn´t look so bad." And it didn´t. It´s not till you pick up a piece and bite into it that there are any obvious problems. The sauce is far too sweet. I don´t remember ordering a dessert pizza. It would be better if it were glue, because then at least the cheese would stay on it. Sick. Gross. Get it? I did, and now I regret it. At least we didn´t pay for the A.C., which was probably for the best, considering the light went out half way through the meal. Next time... Pizza Hut to go, please.

And there will surely be a next time, cuz... I am still here in the Capital. With the same companion. 3 transfers. What? But yeah, even though I was sorta hoping for a new adventure, there is something comforting in already knowing my companion and area pretty well. And yet, there will still be surprises. Did I mention wonders never cease?

One of said wonders, I will mention here and now. O sea, this is more of a test. A personal test. A reciprocal question (the only kind I can form using a blog I don´t personally maintain). Anyway, I´m sure we´ve all heard the popular assurance that "there´s no such thing as a stupid question." This is a stupid comment. I have encountered many a stupid question, more than I think should be my fair share. "How," you might wonder, "does one know if they are asking (or about to ask), a stupid question?" Well, let´s start with the personal test: 1). Are you asking the question more or less already knowing the answer? 2). Have you already posed the same or similar question to the same person without positive results? 3). Is it a comment disguised as a question? 4). Are you asking with the intent of causing offense?
If the answer to any of these is yes, you are probably wandering through the midst of the fog that emanates from stupid questions. The following are some questions that, are without doubt, STUPID:
*"Why don´t you like long hair?" (somehow, because I cut my hair short, this indicates I have a general disdain for long hair.)
*Why did you do it like THAT? (implying that the way of the questioner is far superior to the way of the doer.)
*So why did you decide to go on a mission? (only a dumb question when asked after people find out I´m 25).
*Why can´t you be more like your... mother, brother, sister, cousin, friend, Britney Spears (uhhhhhh? Cuz I´m not?)
* "Why aren´t you more physically developed? (ok, to be fair, this one was asked by a boy in my 7th grade science class. But it´s still a stupid question).
And yes, to those who would say, "well, I´m sure you´ve asked a stupid question before, so what´s your point?" I would say, "that´s true... but bringing the subject to light might help us all think twice before asking one of our burning questions, that might burn more if asked then in kept deep deep inside....

Whew. Well, that was therapeutic. Anywho, I feel like I owe an ending to the story of the incident with Arnold and Millie. So, we DID go back to visit them, in spite of our rather cool reception the last time. We learned some interesting things. First, the reason Millie was arguing with the police officer was because someone was stealing bananas from her banana plant in her back yard. Secondly, it was the POLICE themselves that were stealing the fruit. Ha! But I fear Millie will get the last laugh, cuz she be armed and dangerous. Apparently, until 5 years ago, she was a member of the militia here. She has a gun and she knows how to use it. She said as much to the police man and told them to keep their fat mitts off her property. I think my favorite part is the officers tried justifying their actions by saying they were cutting down the plant because it was attracting mosquitoes and was a hazard. Uh... no. Go take your 5 pesos like the rest of us do and BUY YOUR BANANAS LEGALLY! Should we really need to tell this to men and women of the law? Oh, well. I´ve seen enough actions flicks to know you can´t automatically trust people in power. But it is still frustrating. And in this case, somewhat amusing.

Oh, and we had General Conference this week. I believe I´ve explained it before, but once more won´t kill anyone. I think. It´s when God´s prophet and apostles speak to us about the thinks the Lord himself wants us to hear and apply in our lives. One of my favorites was given by Elder Neil A. Anderson, an apostle. He mentioned how some people leave the church when confronted with a hardship or trial in their lives. He then said doing that is like leaving the refuge in the middle of the tornado. Life will be hard with or without the church. But knowing we have an eternal destiny and purpose and that we can be with those we love forever makes the crappy times easier to deal with. Although this is of course easier said than done when passing through the actual challenge. But staying true to the end means just that: to the end. You don´t get awarded the "I tried" ribbon unless you pass the finish line. And luckily in the race of life, we are only competing against ourselves (and the forces of evil, I suppose) to gain salvation.

Well, that´s about it. I have to go home to a house jam packed full of girls (I live in the transfer house) who are all waiting to either go home, go to a new area, or be trained. Mad house doesn´t even begin to describe it. To the hut! 8 girls minus water is an equation that equals S.O.S! Wish me water.

Questionably sane,

Hna. Sweeney "The Fearless" (except on Sundays)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Uh.... I´m Pretty Sure Beyonce Doesn´t Cut her Hair Here

Well, because Taco Bell has a half off deal on all their burritos, Chalupas, and tacos, my companion and I have taken advantage of this special offer for the last two weeks. When your 50 peso taco becomes a 25 peso taco, there is cause for much rejoicing. But Hna. Rodriguez wasn´t completely content. "What is this?" she asked, pointing to the paper that covers the brown food trays used for those who want to stay and eat inside (with air conditioning and the occasional 80´s tune). She pointed specifically to a rather beautiful picture of a crunchy taco. I know what a taco is, and I know she does, so using my college degree to look below the surface of her question, I knew she was referring to the presentation of said taco. "Well," I told her, "there´s a saying in English- 'you get what you pay for.'"
"Uh, this IS what I paid for," she insisted, pointing again to the falsely advertised taco. I wasn´t so disturbed, perhaps because to me, it´s really what´s on the inside that counts. I didn´t even really take the time to look at my food. It went from wrapper to mouth in one fluid motion. But what did surprise me is that my companion was so distressed about the false advertising. I feel like Taco Bell is the least of the offenders in this case. Allow me to explain. In this country, there are an unnatural amount of salons. What may look like a normal one-story dwelling may very well contain a salon inside. Women here go to the salon, dare I say it, even more frequently than women in the states. And then, to keep their ´Do looking fresh ´n fab, they tuvi it (see former blog entry for Tuvi instructions). But there are salons that are a little more upper crust as well, ones that have signs and everything declaring that, in fact, they know how to cut your hair and are happy to do so. And many of these signs have images of some well known clients. I have passed by one salon that cuts Taylor Lautner´s hair. A few around here have done wonders with Rachel Bilson. And the crowd favorites seem to be Beyonce and Hillary Duff. I have seen the same images of these stars in various salons in various areas where I have served. First of all, I find it difficult to believe that Beyonce flies to the D.R. to cut her hair. I find it less likely that she picks salons at random to do so. So, forgive me dear companion, but I find THAT type of false advertising way more disheartening than my misshapen taco. There goes my dream of looking over from my comfy salon seat to find my good friend Beyonce getting her hairs did as well. But considering that this country is borderline third world, I feel like the Beyonces and the Hillarys can cut these salons a break and loan them there images. If I ever get famous by some freak accident, I would happily do the same.

Well, on to things that really matter. Like why I haven´t posted pics on here in a month of Sundays. If I haven´t made it perfectly clear that this Internet cafe blows, I will reiterate: It is shoddy. It is at the bottom of the cow patty pile. It has no shame. And it definitely doesn´t have any CD or DVD playing units, so I have no where to insert my CDs full of images of my D.R. life. So, for the present, you will just have to use your wonderful, God-given imaginations. If you can imagine a small yellow stall with a 1990s IBM computer WITHOUT a CD or DVD drive, you´re doing remarkably well. So to make a short story long, the "How to do in the D.R." and other photo-based adventures are temporarily on hold. Lo siento for the inconvenience.

As for close encounters of the human kind, I have more information to share about our reference who is a contractor for painters. Or sea, he sells art for the artist. I´m sure that has a title, but my English words are leaving me like Ben Affleck left on a jet plane. And I don´t know if they´ll be back again. But anyway, I am going to call this guy Guru Max because, even though he claims he wants to hear more about the church, I have a sneaking suspicion he just wants to give us advice. When we passed by on Friday, I apologized that we hadn´t passed by the day before as planned, but I´d had some upset stomach issues. After his look of concern, he then told me in my face he could read pain and longing. My face is my soul´s window. I´m far from home and miss friends and family. This is causing my stomach to toss and turn. I have to tell myself I´m well, and so I will be. That´s how Guru Max rolls, at least. He hasn´t visited the doctor in years. After this insightful discourse, my companion and I went into his office to hopefully start teaching him about the Restoration of the church. We were promptly joined by his female lawyer friend, and both he and she took turns receiving calls from everyone and their dog during the duration of the lesson. After one call in particular, the Good Guru told me he´d just been invited by a friend to go swimming and to work out with him at the gym. But he assured us that he informed said friend that he was busy learning of God with a friend, and he feels that he would more happily pass the time with us. O sea, he feels that in whatever you´re doing, therein lies your happiness. Some people would find talking about God less interesting than buffing your muscles, but to him, your current state is your happiness. I have to admit, this guy would write a heck of a book. I coldn´t agree with everything he said, but I couldn´t disagree with a lot of it either. I often here people from back home tell me their life is boring. But to me, what I hear always sounds interesting and something I wish I could be doing. Just your typical case of "it surely must be more interesting on the other side of the island" (since I´m actually living on one, that could be true, for all I know). But I highly suspect we sometimes live more interesting lives than we give ourselves credit for. If you don´t believe me, take it from the Guru.

And, the lesson attempt gone awry for the week: our dearly beloved Millie and Arnold. We passed by Saturday night as we´d promised, only to find Millie and a police officer shouting heartily at each other. Um, awkward. What to do in such a situation? Well, if you´re Hna. Rodriguez and I, apparently, since you´ve already been seen, you give a tentative wave and an Hola, to which you receive the response, "can´t you see I´m busy." Yes, yes we can. I guess we´ll come back... later? Never? Needless to say, we didn´t stick around to find out who or what had caused the commotion. I was, however, intrigued to note that Arnold was nowhere to be found, and considering he´s always in the house, I couldn´t help but be curious (ok, considering the situation in general, I couldn´t help but be curious).

I also can´t help the fact that my time is up, the gig is up, I´m signing off... but not without wishing you all a Happy Fall. My favorite season has only just begun! Ok, I´ll quit quoting songs, and let you all go your own way... MUHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh, and a hundred points to Griffyndor for those who can actually recognize said quotes.

Never can say goodbye,

Hermana Sweeney "The Fearless" (Except on Sunays)