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)