Sunday, December 2, 2012

The American Dream, I Know What that Means!

Howdy Partners. This is your capitán speaking. Well, capitána. But the feminist in me refuses to acknowledge the genderizing of nouns and verbs. Which means I may be doomed to have terrible grammar, but at least I´ll be getting my point across, even if I´m the only one who knows it.

Anyway, as some of you may already know/taken for granted, this week was the great big day of thanks. And I feel quite ashamed of how I have been mistreating my American roots this week. I just realized that for 6 months, o sea, half a year, I have been living with pure Latins. What? How? So this week has been quite an adjustment for me, because I now have another American in the house, Hermana Dawe. Which means i´ve been speaking a whole pile of English. I can´t even stop it. It is English-rrhea, which is a lot better than the real thing. And because she only has a couple transfers in the field, she´s been able to catch me up on some of the stuff I´ve been missing over the last, oh you know, 16 MONTHS! Anyway, I´m used to being here in an ever-constant climate, void of many holidays that are sacred to me (Halloween, Ground Hog Day, etc.), but Hna. Dawe is not. She also experienced the exact same punch in the face of being born into La Yuca, being trained there, expecting to stay, but being forced to leave after only two transfers. I think I can relate... and it was exactly a year ago for me too, when that transfer from Hades happened. So big holiday plus hideous transfer usually equals a little bit of trunkee, o sea, a whole mess of messy emotions. So we decided to do our best with a makeshift Thanksgiving dinner. We succeeded? Depends on what you call success. Here on the mission, we just don´t eat as much as we do in normal life. So I´m appalled to so that after only one plate of chicken (like the little roasted kind you can buy at Costco), some stuffing, a bit of cranberry sauce, some mashed potatoes and a couple of rolls, I was done in. We all had to go pass out on the bed, clutching our stomachs afterwards. I think one of us kept going to the bathroom to throw up, but it´s all kind of a blur. Well, it didn´t take much to get us turkey drunk (sans turkey), and the hangover was quite unpleasant. I hope I can be in better form for the next Thanksgiving. Go big or go home. I think I´ll do both.

But I didn´t just have a food failure, but a history hiccup as well. My new companion, Hermana Paus, was asking why we even celebrate Thanksgiving. SIDENOTE: I now know why everyone loves having Paus as a companion. She is BOSS. We already get along like we´ve know each other for a couple transfers. She´s just so relaxed and tranquilo, and in a mission like the one I´m in, that´s a HUGE asset. I´m really gonna enjoy our time together. Anyway, I started telling her our grand history: "So, a religious sect in England, the Puritans, were being persecuted for their religious beliefs. So they decided to go somewhere where they could enjoy religious liberty. Anyway, they all built 3 ships, the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria..." wait, that´s not right. Hnas. Dawe, Rodriguez, Paus and I were like, "uhhhhhhhhhh.... no." Well, that´s what happens when you live in a foreign country all day. After day. Apparently, you forget your real heritage and adopt another.

And I know Thanksgiving is technically supposed to be a time of, well, thanks, but I´m having a little trouble on that front. Hna. Dawe wasn´t content to leave the Yuca without bringing along a friend: The light demon. When I came here to Quisqueya from Azua, I brought the water demon. But the light demon is worse, because if there isn´t light in our apartment (the light powers our water pump), then yup, you guessed it- there´s no water either. Hna. Dawe was used to not having much light, except early in the morning and late at night. But none of the rest of us were. And so we are cursing demons and gnashing our teeth. There are some thing I just will straight up not miss about living in a third world country. I´m sorry, a developing country. they have Doritos and Oreos here now. But I´ve come to accept that it´s part of the adventure, good or bad, happy or sad.

As for the whole dividing the area thing, it seems to be working out alright. Magically, there´s an area I haven´t already contacted yet. It was definitely a pain in the rear to have to divide up all the investigators, and sometimes running into the other Hermanas in the street because we had the same idea of a member we could visit, or a place we should go (Quisqueya is only so big, you know), but we´re making it work. And I´m enjoying living in a house of four once more. More excitement, less cleaning.

Oh, and I feel I wouldn´t be doing my blog history (which I don´t remember any better than American history) justice if I didn´t recount the following blurb from my Dominican life: Anyway, so sometimes being white and blond here is associated with being clueless (well, that´s something that seems to cross the cultural divide). Anyway, for some reason, no one here thinks I understand how to cross the street. Granted, trying to reach the other side of the road here in the D.R. is a lot more death-defying than doing it, oh, I don´t know, ANYWHERE ELSE, but, hey, I´ve got it. I´ve been doing it for almost a year and a half, and for almost 7 months in this area alone. But during my time with Rodriguez, she would always grab my arm and frantically say, "cuidado," to which I would give her my famous "I´m 25 years old and know how to cross the street by myself, thank you very much" look. But it wasn´t even just her. Many of the men who make their living giving motorcycle taxi rides will sometimes yell to me or grab my arm to "pull me out of danger." It can be pretty annoying. But I guess I should just be grateful they´re not willing to let me become a street pizza.

And finally, the cool-spiritual story of the week: Paus and I were making our way through the many winding and tiny streets (think of a rat in a maze), when we passed by a man I´ve seen before a few times, who sits on his work all day, on the ground, because he has a huge gash in his stomach and two legs in casts. But this time, we stopped to talk to him. And he said, "I used to go to your church. Yeah, yeah, with a guy named Fausto." I racked my brains for someone with that name in our ward, but came up empty. This man described the kind of truck this member has, and where he lives, but I could only think of one person, and his name isn´t Fausto. But the man in the casts turned out to be the ex-spouse of another lady that we visit and teach. It´s a small small world. But I had the feeling that we should stop by and visit a member named Hermano Ledesma. And while we were there, I who should walk in from another room but Hno. Lara, his neighbor. We asked them if they knew a Fausto, and Hno. Lara raised his hand. It was him, I just never knew his first name. We told him about his friend, and he asked to be shown where he was. So we took him there. It was a neat moment. God just puts us where we need to be when we need to be there. And most of the time, we just don´t even know it.

Well, folks, that´s about it. I hope there was a little something for everyone. I know I enjoyed myself. But until next time, keep it real, keep it fun, and keep it real fun. Or else.

Gratefully yours,

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

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