Muhahahahahahahha! They come at me with swords, with spears, and with onions, and yet... I live. As long as it´s not Britney Spears, that is.
Anyway, I feel like a good many people are familiar with the movie Monty Python and The Holy Grail. One of those movies that´s too stupid and good to be true. But one of the parts that really tickles my fancy is when there is a guy passing by with a giant wagon, calling for the people of olden times to "bring out your dead." The film treats the theme of the Dark Ages, so of course, there would have to be a shout-out to the black plague in there. The area the wagon is passing through is filled with dead bodies, ravaged by the plague. But one overanxious survivor is bringing to the wagon a body to dispose of, a body that, well, isn´t yet dead. The person being dragged tries to protest his state of existence, insisting "I´m not yet dead!" But his companion proclaims just as vehemently that he is, indeed dead. Considering the Black Death and the Dark Ages is past (well, considering that Obama is still President, that may or may not be true,) I never anticipated being a part of such a conversation. But I apparently overestimated the ridiculousness of mission customs. And one of these is that you are born into the mission... into an area, and you have your mission "mom," or trainer. But if you are born into a mission, well, how do you think you leave it? That´s right- you suffer the pains of death. As with the real thing, some people don´t want anything to do with it, they want to live on, never leaving. And some people receive the ceremonial passing with great gladness of heart. I don´t know how I feel. A little bit of both, I suppose. But the thing of it is, in a week, I will be entering into the last two transfers of my mission. 3 months. So weird, especially considering how the last two transfers are purported to be cursed, and full of mischief. But considering all I´ve seen, experienced, and so forth, I just don´t even want to think about how that can be true. But now I can properly prophesy that the end is near. And know one wants to let me forget it. Every time I see a group of other missionaries (during conferences, companion exchanges, etc.) everyone says to me, "Hermana Sweeney, you´re so dead!" After a long, sweaty day, sometimes that feels true. But I still have some life in me, so like a soap opera past its prime, I will continue on.
Although honestly, it´s not hearing that I´m dead so much that bothers me- it´s the general greed that accompanies it. Just like when a person passes on in real life, normally there´s a swarm of people with no shame, ready to pounce on the possessions of the deceased. In my case it´s, "Hey Hermana Sweeney, when you leave, you should leave me your..." Really!? First of all, I´m still here. Second of all, is that all I mean to you? Am I only as good as my possessions? (Dramatic and exaggerated storming off into another room). But I have the feeling that along with the sign "dead man walking" hanging from my forehead, I also must have one on my back that says "Garage Sale." De verdad, I do plan on leaving a lot of junk here- there´s people who could use it more than me. But come on. I find my generosity will most likely extend to those who refrain from circling over me like a vulture. I guess I should start planning the will...
Another thing that bothers me? (while we´re at it). I still can´t make rice to save my life. O sea, Dominican rice. I like how they make it here- firm, with every grain separated, and yet still chewable. Every time I try to make it, it comes out a mush. Where´s the rice cooker when you need it? I´m determined to get it right before I kick the bucket.
But the good news of the week: The baptism of Charlin is this Thursday at 7:00 p.m. in the chapel on the c/Defillo. All are invited. Seriously, after all the crap we´ve gone through and she´s gone through to get to this point, the whole world is invited.
Oh, and FINALLY, we had our exchanges with the MTC here in the D.R. It´s so weird to think that about 14 months ago, I came out of the MTC, all innocent and green as a fresh sprig, to have my first exchange with the "big girls." And ironically enough, when I went out to do my exchange, it was here in Quisqueya, where I´m now working. Essentially, an exchange is when the MTC lends us missionaries with experience some of the missionaries who will be coming out into the field in a couple of weeks. It´s so that these greenies can get some true blue experience. We were entrusted with Hermana Dalia, who will be heading off the Puerto Rico in a week. She was really great and fun and took everything in stride. When the van she was riding in from the MTC showed up to the chapel we were waiting at (she was in the front seat), I´m pretty sure the Elders who were with us waiting for their MTC compaions all about swallowed their tonsils upon spotting her (yes, this girl is very pretty). And it probably also has something to do with the fact that they´ve been bereft of the female gender for, well, longer than they´d like. But considering Hna. Dalia lived in Guatemala for 3 years, she at least has the advantage of knowing a bit about Latin culture. Although she never learned the language (for those that think just being around Spanish long enough will make you fluent, let me assure you, this is not the case). But now she gets to make up for lost time. And she got to spend the day with Hna. Rodriguez and I, eating butter bread from the Panadería, getting failed by a bunch of people we´d put appointments with, teaching a great lesson to one of our investigators, and learning how to do house contacting. All in a day´s work. I´m excited for her to get to go out with us again. Three´s company, after all.
And my cultural observation of the week: about the second or third day after being born, all female babies have their ears pierced. ALL of them. My companion says this is because when they´re small, they can´t remember it, and thus don´t have to worry about it later on in life. I personally think it´s a pretty cool idea. And it looks super cute. One of the pregnant ladies we are teaching is no longer pregnant cuz she just recently dio a luz her baby, o sea, gave birth. We went and visited her her in the hospital, and my companion made the baby a "Welcome home Emely" sign, and I brought some celebration blowers for the other kids. Babies may freak me out a bit, but Emely is pretty cute and stuck her tongue out at my companion several times, so I think I might like her.
Well, a busy week awaits me. And answers to questions, questions that need answers. Like what the heck will become of me for the rest of my (mission) life? All to be revealed in the next episode of the (dun dun dun) Unsavory Sweeney Saga. Until then...
Pins and needles,
Hna. Sweeney "The Fearless" (except on Sundays)