This may be the best advice I´ve ever given myself on the mission. It´s a great big part of being fearless. I´ve seen a lot, I´ve tried a lot, and I´ve tasted a lot. And it´s not always pleasant, as I may have expressed in the past. Well, whether the challenge be great or small, sometimes you just gotta toughen up, try not to look, and shove it on down. This was my case this last week. We visited a member and we went into her kitchen to shoot the breeze and help her straighten up. On the table was a big, transparent jug, through which I could see a brown liquid, atop which was floating something (a lot of somethings), that looked suspiciously like yellow spongy foam. I thought, "man, what the crap is that!?" I guess I thought somehow I would get away without having to know anything more about it. Not so. We were cordially invited by the Hermana to partake. It´s a juice called Jagua (ha-gwa), and I may or may not have been forced to re-taste it on and off for the rest of the day. Nothing I ate could get rid of the aftershocks. And somehow, my Dominican comp. escaped with only a couple sips. I chugged my cup. Just part of the California courtesy I was raised with, I guess. I´m just the missionary who can´t say no.
But many times, there are things I would like to say. But as a missionary, I´m not sure I should, so I usually ere on the side of caution. But it reminds me mucho of the situation presented in a surprisingly humorous movie called Max Keebler´s Big Move. It´s one of those movies that in previews looks it should be the epitome of lame, and yet, somehow when you later watch it on the Disney channel, you find yourself highly amused. And my brother and I used to quote it all the time. But in a nutshell, what happens is that a middle school kid is told he and his family will be moving within a week. So he does all the shenanigans that he´s always wanted to do (flirts with the school hottie, tells of his annoying teachers, messes with the school bully), because he won´t have to deal with the consequences. But then, horror of horrors, he finds out he WON¨T be moving. Which means he has to deal with all the disturbances he´s created. Well, like Max, I also have the potential of moving... I just don´t know. Ever. So to our crazy neighbor who lives below us and lets her dog pee in the stairwell and to the nasty street men with no shame, I would LOVE to share a thought or two with them (and not necessarily about their salvation), but do I really want to have to deal with the consequences if I don´t leave this area in a couple weeks? I guess I´ll just have to see if I reach my limit, my max, if you will, or if I can continue to turn my irritation into invitations ("hey, would you like to learn more about how your body is essential to your earth experience? Just like mine is to me, so quit harassing it.) Now that´s what I call finding the middle ground.
But there are, as usual, some things that just shouldn´t be said. This week, we´ve been contacting in an area that is decently ritzy. But all of the house on one particular street have giant black signs on then that say "we reject the food and massage business in house number 8." House number 8 is the only non-ritzy house on the block, and it seems that this business is how they make their living. Now remember, the rules for having a business aren´t the same here as in the states. You can pretty much run a boutique from your house, or other types of business, without really answering to anyone (FDA who?) But the poor lady in this house has to deal with the knowledge that all her snobby neighbors are publicly harassing her, more or less to get her to stop her business? I just don´t know why they care. And really, they´re just giving her free advertising because now I know that this lady´s main offense is massaging and serving food from her house. So now, I´m just kind of all jazzed to go get a massage... and maybe eat a sandwich at the same time. Why limit myself?
And it´s true, there is danger in following the crowd mindlessly, doing something just because everyone tries to pressure you to. But I rather detest the question "if your friend jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?" Honestly? Probably. Because if a whole pile of my friends jumped off a bridge, they´d probably land happily in the water, and beckon me to do likewise. Because it´s fun. And then I´d jump, and with my luck, I´d hit a rock and break my leg. But something I´ve realized on the mission, where we live by a lot of rules, is that someone else´s disobedience doesn´t justify me doing the same. Because a lot of times, I catch myself thinking, "well, so-and-so did this, and what I´m doing isn´t NEARLY as bad as that, so..." And I know I´m not alone in this thought pattern, but all it really does for us it makes it easier for us to be mediocre. So someone got away with murder. I know I never could. And I guess I don´t really want to. It´s not always easy to watch people do bad and get good out of it, but really, most of the time we don´t know the whole story, and we certainly don´t know the end of it. So as long as I do what I feel is good and don´t try to justify myself by what Billy, Paul, and Nancy are doing, well, I think I´ll end up exactly where I need to be.
Oh, and people of the week: Charlin is finally, FINALLY getting baptized in the week after this one. Cue Hallelujah chorus. And we finally got to have another lesson with the girl who got facial surgery. Apparently, the doctors didn´t do her chin just right, so she has to go in again. I guess we´ll have to try to fit ourselves in between surgeries. They say finding God changes you. We´ll just have to see how much, I guess. But she shows potential (and some bruises under her eyes still). I hope she keep showing interest, even if she has to hide her face from the world for awhile.
Speaking of which, I have to unglue mine from this computer screen and continue on with my life. But I will say that Hermana Rodriguez and I did have a Happy HalloSween. Imagine carving apples as though they were pumpkins. And then dumping melted Carmel over the top. From decoration the dessert in less than 5 seconds. And that´s how we roll. And will continue to roll, at least, for as long as we´re still together. However long that is.
Keeping it creepy,
Hermana Sweeney "The Fearless" (except on Sundays)