Sunday, December 9, 2012

Out with the Old, in with the Not-As-Old

Remember that time when everything is different than how it used to be? Yeah.... But sometimes that´s good and sometimes that´s bad. How profound. But, as Jesus was know to do now and then, he gave some good insight into the human condition when he observed that no one who has old wine will automatically want new wine because they will claim the old is better. He was referring to the new, higher, better law he had brought to the people to replace the Law of Moses. But it can be applied to any other life change as well. We seem to either want to cling to past traditions/habits, even if there is obviously a better way presented to us, or sometimes we take the opposite stratagem and try to abandon everything, hoping that going to a new place, starting over, whatever, will make everything from a shattered past become a forgotten memory. However, I think the real trick is, unshockingly, finding a happy balance between the two. Forgiving, forgetting, and moving forward, but remembering that the past is a shaping factor for future experiences. I still get embarrassed when I think of some of the stupid crap I´ve done (both during and before the mission). Sometimes you find yourself doing the same stupid stuff and you can´t help but think "man, I thought I shook this already." But just like how learning a language is an incessant process of repetitions, so it is with learning in life. Sometimes, we overcome certain weakness quickly, and others are life-long struggles. And as annoying as that is, as long as we´re trying, and repeating with greater frequency the good and with less frequency the bad, we learn how to be happy, better functioning human beings. And we find that taking the Lord´s advice and trying a new beverage maybe isn´t such a bad idea after all.

In my current case, I am still in an old area (well, for me, anyway. The 7.5 months I will have by the end of this transfer is an eternity in the mission field), but I am surrounded by new and it´s really amazing how it´s helped me regain my focus. It´s just too easy to put yourself lazy being with the same person for a long time, and Rodriguez and I were together A LONG time. But now, I´ve got the experience with the area, with the people, and time on the mission in general, and Paus has all the luck. In all my time here, we´ve had several part-families we´ve taught, but either one or both of the parents is never home when we try to visit, especially the men, and in spite of our best efforts, they always seem to escape us. But as soon as Paus gets here (after I´ve already been here half a year), all of a sudden, ALL the husbands our home. And I mean ALL of them. And we´ve gotten to talk to them and help a couple of families get set up to set wedding dates. I´m excited, especially because one of the ladies especially has been waiting for months and months and MONTHS (I´m not even quite sure how long) to be baptized, but she just became a dry member (someone who comes to activities and church but who isn´t a member), because she dragged her feet with the whole marriage thing. We helped her get the documents she needs for marriage, but it still just wasn´t coming together for her. Now we have a date more or less set for the middle of February. It´s gonna be good. Now if we can do likewise with a couple other families we´re teaching... but I shouldn´t get ahead of myself. The D.R. wasn´t built in a day. Especially the building close to our house that´s been in construction since before I started the mission. One cement block at a time.

Another positive change I´ve seen thing transfer: my clothes! I finally caved and took a couple blouses and skirts to a male seamstress (weirdly, I know the word for that in Spanish and not in English), and he fixed them right up. A combination of me losing (a very little) weight on the mission and the ridiculous washing machines that stretch out your clothes like a four year old with Silly Putty is equal to one frumpy looking Fraulein of an Hermana (bonus points for using two languages there). And as I´ve mentioned before, people here don´t just buy things new if they can fix it, and then fix it again, and maybe fix it some more. So while yes, I still do Sharpie in the bleach stains on my dark blouses, and bleach the colorful stains out of my white clothing, at least the clothes fit, and I´m somewhat fabulous, if only in a second-hand store sort of way.

Oh, and I feel I must confess, in the mission, I had a couple dreams: one was to be the step-mom to one of the other Hermanas (be the companion of someone right after they´re done being trained), or kill someone (be their last companion). As of yet, neither of these things have happened, and I only have one transfer left. And I think we all know what they means- Yup, I have to pretend I really did fulfill my dreams! Or just look at my situation differently (oh the power of unintentional positive thinking). With Hna. Lund, I wasn´t her companion when she left the mission, but I lived in the same house with her til the bitter end and got to see her off. And I inherited a ridiculous amount of mission treasures from her. If that isn´t killing someone, I don´t know what is. And with Hna. Dawe, as she puts it, I´m her American madrastra (technically, Hna. Rodriguez is her companion). But I guess I´m the wicked step-mother. I teach her the things that maybe Rodriguez won´t think of. Or at the very least, I´m her English-speaking outlet. It´s very mutually beneficial. So even if I didn´t ever get to see my dreams come to pass in the way I had hoped, I am getting to do them vicariously. And that will just have to do.

The only other good changes in my immediate past have been finally, FINALLY having Hna. Paus tuvi up my hair. Yes, it took me this long. And I´ve seriously doubted it, but if you could see my face, well, you´d know I´m a believer. Not a trace- of doubt in my mind. Off came the tuvi, shake of the head, and I had the best hair day I´ve had in awhile. I don´t know how or why the tuvi works so well, but like many good things in my life, it just seems wiser not to question it.

And guess what´s back? Back again? English classes! Tell a friend. Yup, back to my Azuazian roots, teaching the Dominicans how to speak like a Gringo. But the experience here in the Capital teaching is, well, a whole other experience. In our Azua sessions, we were lucky when 4 or 5 people showed up, and that included when they´d bring their havoc-wreaking off-spring along. Here, we easily have classes of 15-20 people, anxious and ready to learn. Hey, I´m not complaining. And as of this week, our students can now introduce themselves and tell you the days of the week. True story. I just hope the enthusiasm keeps. That´s the thing with learning something new (o sea, changing your routine). It can be a lot of work, and it´s not always fun and games. But we´ll see. If they can at least ask someone where the nearest bathroom is and how the order a hamburger, we´ll call this a success story.

And this week´s story is now successfully coming to a close. Till next week´s tales of triumph and terror, just remember: don´t underestimate change. Especially anything greater than a nickel. It might come in handy when you´re in a pickle.

Unchangingly yours,

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

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