Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sunday in the Park with Sween

Well, normally I´d say that the mission isn´t a lovely stroll through the park- but sometimes it is. At least, it was yesterday. Sometimes on the mission, you just find yourself with a lot of time on your hands and few people to teach, so Hna. Bryant and I decided to go to a park situated close to a grandiose, honey mustard Catholic church. We gave out pass-along cards and just told everyone we could find about the church. We met groups of people from Santiago (the more northern part of this country) that were touring San Cristobal, and another man who spoke French and English but no Spanish, and yet, somehow, was hanging out with all Dominicans who don´t speak English. Wonders never cease. The encounter that wins for most amusing and flustering was a lady who was like, "I´ve always wondered about the part of your name that says "of latter-day saints. Do you believe that we can know exactly when Jesus will come again?" She was Catholic, so I think she was both curious and antagonistic. I´ve never received this question before, and even though it´s fairly easy to answer, it also takes time and she seemed in a hurry to continue with her tour, so we just told her, "that´s right-no one knows when exactly he´s coming. But we know it´s soon and that these are the last days and that we should obey the commandments, repent, and live good lives. Talking about the Apostasy, dispensation of the fullness of times, and the restoration of all things was a bit of a mouthful for the moment. But she now too is the proud owner of a pass along card with the power to get better, fuller answers if she chooses. Even after almost a year and a half, I ain´t a perfect proselytizer. But I hope the detour she had with us was at least somewhat edifying.

I also should probably talk about my moment of pride for the week: as long as I have been in this country, doing my thing, I have had to put up with crazy, inappropriate, and always unoriginal comments from passerby with loose tongues. So instead of getting annoyed or creeped-out, I´m getting creative. When men ask for their visas, I tell them I´m from Canada, but never plan on going back. Or when one guy with his group of friends called us over (whether this is productive or not for us is always a bargain), and said he wanted his visa. I informed him to fill out the proper papers, and get going. He said he wanted to be married first. I told him we´d keep our eye out for worthy candidates. Ha! Winning. (I would love to know if that Charlie Sheen slogan is still as beloved now as it was before I forsook a life of normalcy and star-spangled banners).

But even better than Hna. Bryant´s and my sauciness was the real showstopper- the anticipated moment of my whole mission. Even worse than hearing obnoxious comments is seeing obnoxious porn- on calenders posted EVERYWHERE, on the backs of motorcycles, and any other available surface. As one Elder once said, "these girls´ parents must be so proud to have their daughters´ faces sat on by thousands of Dominican butts." But seriously, there are children who are exposed to this crap, and I get more than furious. And we happen to live fairly close to a little shack that repairs upholstery and the like. They also happen to have every dirty calender ever printed, and then some. Once in a while we get hissed at by them, but we generally ignore it. However, I decided, one time on the way home, to take out my pent-up peevishness on these fools. You picked a bad time to hiss, my friend. "Come on," Hna. Bryant said, "it´s lunch time. Right now?" But my time was running out. So I marched over and told them all exactly what I thought. At first they tried blaming the man who owns the place- "he´s a sick guy," they informed me. Somehow, my anger was turning into amusement, even though I was still disgusted. But they also tried the whole "it´s so beautiful and natural" crap. Right. Cuz it´s not like one of the first thing God did for Adam and Eve after they gained knowledge and realized they were nude was to make clothes for them or anything. Oh wait- yes he did! I asked them how they would feel if it was there moms and sisters up on these posters. Not a whole lot to say there. But they did do the polite thing and invite us in to teach the word. We invited them to church instead. For some reason, the porn shack didn´t seem like the best place to teach about God. But at least I can check that off the list. It never fails to amaze me how the world dresses up the dirtiest and foulest garbage as though it were a pearl.

But this country is full of them, at least- good pearls, that is. And we are teaching 2 of them. One is named Sheila and the other is Quelito. I don´t know if I already bragged about how smart and great they are, but it would bear repeating. Sheila is 15 and Quelito is about 9. I´m not really into teaching young kids, but Quelito´s mom is a member, and if he understands what he´s doing and why he´s doing it, I can´t, and shouldn´t, deny him the blessings that come with baptism. As usual, they both face the challenges of coming to church, and especially with Sheila, a family that is from another religion. But even though it´s looking like I won´t see another baptism before the end of my mission, I´m just enjoying ending with my dignity intact (más o menos), and helping people learn about truths that can help them live better lives. Just a day in the life of.

For P-day today, I also managed to cross off another goal- playing a Dominican game called Bitia, which is played normally using a broom handle and caps from the large, water cooler-sized water bottles. There´s a batter, pitchers, and catchers (everyone who is on the team opposite of the batter is technically a catcher- if it comes near you, you catch it), but there´s no running for batters. Once the bitia cap is hit, any of the catchers has to collect it before it stops moving, and that counts as an out. It´s definitely different, but I enjoyed myself just fine.

Oh, and I have to say, I´m happy that as Bryant and I are together again, we have gotten the chance to teach English class again. Our students actually know a fair bit of English, and the best lessons for me involve the ones where we teach cultural difference and have class participation. This last week, we taught all about communication, and how this involves our words and our bodies. I practiced being a variety of different people (a mom, a boss, a best friend), and my group had to communicate with me using body language and the English they have in their arsenal. One of the students said, when I played a grandmother, "I actually don´t really greet her, because whenever she sees me, she just asks me for money, which I don´t have." I guess you´d have to be there, cuz typing it sounds sad, but it was actually the epitome of amusing.

And to wrap up the week, we had Stake Conference, which was supposed to start at 10:00 a.m., but the transmission was off (it was being broadcasted from the capital), so it started an hour later than it was supposed to, and even though the natives were restless, considering there were hundreds of them, they waited patiently, and we watched a movie about a man who was a stone cutter for the Salt Lake Temple, and continued faithfully in his task, even after losing a leg. Intense.

Well, me and both my legs are gonna complain a little less now. Perhaps. But more importantly, I´m gonna keep on keepin´ on. Cuz it ain´t over ´til it´s over. And as for this blog- I´m over and out.

Without Shame,

Hermana Sweeney "the fearless" (except on Sundays)

Sunday, January 20, 2013

All I need is a Miracle

Over the course of having a mission blog, I´ve come to realize that most of my titles are pretty dramatic and attention-grabbing. I guess if it was false advertising, I´d have to feel guilty about that. Fortunately, the causes behind said catchy titles are usually well-found and deserved. This week is no exception. I should have remembered from the last time Hna. Bryant and I were together, but somehow, I let myself forget- we have an unhealthy amount of adventures when placed together. And also an unprecedented amount of Deja vú. If you think or read back into the past, you may remember me mentioning such things as ridiculous quantities of mangoes being gifted to us, or crazy, broken down washing machines... things of that nature. Well... it´s happening again. It´s not even mango season, and everyone we visit who happens to have a mango tree in their backyard is handing them to us. I don´t even know what to think, but I don´t have too long to dwell on it, because there´s also the fact that, just like back in Azua times, the centrifuge that spins our clothes dry really doesn´t seem too interested in doing it´s job. Which is bad news for those of us who don´t feel like hand-wringing a boat load of clothes late in the evening. Oh well. Bryant is now a capable, willing assistant. I don´t have to squeeze and stress alone. And to top it off, the Bruno Mars song that we used to hear always and often in our old haunt called "Mirror on the Wall," starting blasting out of nowhere while we were out walking on the street a couple days ago. I feel like life can be both poetic and ironic... when it wants to be.

But anyway, on to what everyone really wants to hear about- the miracles. Right, right? Ok, so get this- imagine two hermanas who have to keep going into the capital for medical tests. They´ve gone Monday to talk to the doctor and she in turn tells them both to go get further testing done. Without going into too much detail, this involves a sonogram for one of the two parties involved. Tuesday and Wednesday are both spent in the capital to get the tests out of the way... just a capital good time. I just can´t seem to shake Quisqueya, because almost every time we went to the capital, we passed through my old area. One of the hospitals we went to was even located in an area where I had done a whole bunch of contacting. The Deja vú be making me dizzy. I feel like I´m spending more time in my old area than in my new one. But I digress, and after you all ingest, I will continue to profess.

But rewinding to Tuesday, we can more fully comprehend why Wednesday was even necessary. "Why not just knock all the tests out of the way at once," you might think, "so that these handy hermanas can put their yokes back on and get back to the ol´ grind?" Well, there may or may not have been a little, er, detour, on the way to the hospital. O sea, the destination was reached, just not with the intended participants. So get this: The mission truck is filled with the President´s assistants, 2 other elders (one sick, the other, the lucky companion), and a couple of travel-weary hermanas. We were all anticipating finally getting some grub and finalizing an already overly-long day, but the stop light just didn´t seem to want to change. And for us, it never really did, because in the middle of some smart-alec remark made by someone in the back seat, the whole truck starting vibrating pretty roughly. A couple seconds later, I look out the side window and see a truck passing too close to our own- so close that it is essentially crashing or scraping into us. I think "what kind of an idiot is in such a hurry that they are now causing tons of damage to our truck?" I had no sooner had such thoughts when Hna. Bryant exclaims, "hey-the driver is passed out!" Well, "luckily," the truck that had slid by us had gracefully come to a stop on the side of the road, right against the curb. It would appear that the hubcap or whatever part covers the front tire, had become bent in and had stopped the car from moving forward. Which is great, considering the fact that the man behind the wheel was seizuring and if the air bags had gone off... anyway, no one was really sure what to do with the guy, but everyone finally decided to put him in our truck. For some reason, Hna. B and I got out, and the other Elders drove away to take the man to the hospital. How lucky to have four  Elders who happen to hold God´s priesthood right there, at the right moment. Coincidence? I´ll let you all arrive to the obvious answer of no on your own. But apparently, the Elders drove fast, and those not driving gave the man a blessing. Hna. Bryant and I also threw in our own prayers curbside. After calling the men the driver worked with so they could take care of the vehicle, the Elders arrived to worry about insurance information. And they said the seizuring man was recovering nicely. So all in all, just another miracle. Although, because of all the fuss and flurry, the Elders couldn´t really take us to where we needed to be. Fortunately, we were in the city I had been working for, oh, I don´t know, ALMOST 8 MONTHS, so I managed to get us back home, in spite of the distance. I may have patted myself on the back just a tad.

So needless to say, it´s been a rather trying week. And everything seems to be the last. This last Thursday, I had my LAST interview with the mission president, for example. It seemed a little surreal. We talked about my progress on the mission, how I´m doing keeping the rules, that sorta thing. My favorite advice he gave me was for what I can do for sleepless nights, which is, read the scriptures lying down on my back. A guaranteed snoozer. Ha! But the best part was when he gave me the go-ahead to visit a couple of my old areas, so La Yuca and Quisqueya... here I come, in a couple of weeks, anyway. I probably won´t get to visit Azua because it´s further away, which really sucks, but hey, I´ll take what I can get. And it´s always a good excuse to come back to the country, ¿no?

I also gave what was also probably my last talk in church (she said hopefully). Hna. Bryant gave hers on seeing people as they could be and not only as they are, based on the General Conference talk given in November by President Monson. I gave mine on how the Christ-like attributes of patience and knowledge contribute to missionary work. Patience is a virtue because it is rare to find in most human beings. We all expect it from others but don´t love to exercise it, especially when it´s something we really want. And on the mission, we don´t have the same advantage as people who live here in San Cristobal on a more permanent basis. If they are continuously setting a good example and doing their best to share the gospel with their friends and family, the likelihood of future interest is great. But you don´t plant a seed expecting to see fruit the following morning, and you certainly don´t plant gospel seeds in others believing they will instantly want to be baptized. And besides the fact that these things take time, they also take place in the Lord´s time-not ours. Which isn´t always fun or easy to accept, especially when our wants/desires seem so worthy of fulfillment. But it´s like when you reach the end of a really good book, and even if you didn´t love all the ways in which the author fulfills the plot, by the time it´s all said and done, you know it couldn´t have turned out any other way. And so it is with our life story. As President Dieter F. Uchtdorf sums up so nicely (yes, he is one of my favorites), it is hard to see or learn from the valleys of our trials until we´ve reached the peak of the mountain and can look back on the experiences.

I also mentioned how, if and when the great day comes and someone we know and love would like to learn more about the gospel, well, it helps if we ourselves know something about it. I´ve taken out one too many members who, when asked to bear their testimony about a certain principle, say something witty like, "oh, I actually haven´t read the Book of Mormon all the way through," or "Oh, I confuse that commandment with another one." It´s really hard to teach a principle of truth to someone if we ourselves don´t know and practice it. Knowledge is power for a reason. It´s not the same thing as personal testimony, but it can really help us declare with more certainty what we already feel to be true.

And now for one of my favorite quotes of the week. Hna. Bryant and I were waiting for a member to show up with the church so we could go and teach some of our investigators. While waiting, a couple members were already there who offered us cookies. One packet contained cookies with the word "energy" on them. The other packet´s cookies said "glucose." Well, the little son of the woman who gave us the cookies was climbing the fence of the church and running around like a madman. The mom was yelling for him to calm the heck down. Ironically, he was wearing a shirt that in English said, "My parents taught me how to walk and talk and now, all they want is for me to sit down and be quiet." Essentially. But as Hna. Bryant put it, "well, what do you expect when you give him cookies that say energy on them?" Right after she made this statement, this same child attempted to lift a rather enormous rock off of the ground, Hulk-style. I would NOT recommend these cookies to anyone with high stress levels and/or cholesterol.

Well, I must fight or take flight, and though I would prefer to do both, I´m too tired. Maybe next week, when cars aren´t running into me and I don´t have to deal with the fact that P-day is swiftly coming to the end. And that I only have about 3 of them left. Alright, no more thoughts. When in doubt- keep it simple.

Energetically (not) yours,

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

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

So... You Think Those Trees are Stupid, Huh?

Oh, what a world, what a world. There is a popular candy here that, like the Laffy Taffies, gives you double your money: a joke AND treat. What more could you ask for? (warning: if you do want something more, I just don´t care to hear it). But one of the most common thread of jokes found in these candies talks about someone being at their wit´s end. Well, I can relate in a very personal way to these jokes now, because I´m nearing the end, and that´s apparently the cue for life to get harder, sometimes in a way that´s so horrible, it´s, well, funny.

First of all, let´s start out with how one day this past week, I made the very foolish decision to get an early morning drink of water without shoes on. I enter the kitchen, turn on the light, and my foot comes in contact with something that proceeds to fly across the room. And what should it be but one of my least favorite creature of all time, the cockroach. it was all curled up into itself, almost dead, and hideous to behold. I don´t freak out often, but I feel like the screaming and dancing of horror that accompanied my encounter would qualify. And if that wasn´t enough, a couple of little ones managed to enter my bed. I don´t know how I´m supposed to sleep for the next six weeks- apparently with one eye open, shoes at the ready, and Raid in hand.

Another thing you would think, in theory, should be horrible/embarrassing/unspeakable would be going to see a psychologist- especially on the mission. Who wants to admit that every now and then we need HELP from somebody, HELP (not just anybody). So, once again, with Hna. Bryant´s permission, I relate our adventure to the capital last Monday to talk it out, figure it out. Actually, she was flabbergasted that I didn´t write about all this earlier. After all, it´s SO juicy, you could make a smoothie, don´t you know. So, Hna. Bryant had had a tricky last transfer. It´s surprising how many difficult people you have to deal with on the mission, and sometimes, it´s just nice to have the chance to discuss solutions with someone who a). Isn´t constantly at your side and already knows most of the details and b). who has a degree and might know a thing or two, or even a few. So this is the advice that was given to her that I found most useful for all of us:

 Many times, difficult people just say really obnoxious, rude things. The psychologist´s example was that you could be walking down the street with such a person, and they might point to some trees up ahead and inform you that, "those trees, they´re really stupid." How do you respond to such a profound observation? Well, often times, all you have to do is repeat back to the person what they said. "So... you think those trees are stupid, huh?" Followed by "I guess I´ve never thought about it like that before." And with this brilliant explanation, I officially found the quote for this transfer, and quite possibly for my life. I might not even repeat back what someone actually says; even if it´s "I don´t like those brownies you baked," I feel like my only response from here on out will be, "so... you think those trees are stupid, eh?" Such is the wisdom the mission has taught me. And I intend to use it fully and wisely upon my return.

But besides dealing with the dregs of everyday life, well, there´s always plenty of spice to flavor it up. Such is the case in Lava Pie. Having a change of scenery has really helped me to keep up my enthusiasm for getting up, getting out, and getting it done. And as usual, I never lack for colorful characters. One such person is Cacucha. She designs dolls, magnets, etc. that she makes from some sort of flour dough mixture. As service, Hna. Bryant and I help her to make them. It´s pretty fascinating, because this lady was a real life apprentice. She started off helping a lady who made these dolls, just by cleaning up the messes and such. Then, step by step, she was slowly taught all about the process that goes into making these things. And they´re pretty cool. And there are so many styles. I´m no expert and there´s certain parts she won´t let us do, (making the arms, for example), but I get to feel artsy and she gets the work done faster, so it´s just all good all around. And Cacucha herself is a real trip; for Día de los Reyes (Jan. 6), the day the Maggi come and bring the children here toys and games, she said she wanted a big stuffed animal. When we inquired as to why, she informed us that if she couldn´t have a man to snuggle with, well, she should at least have something. Touche, Cacucha, Touche.

As for members, the one we take out the most to help us is named Alexander. He´s a 16-year old smart alec with a big heart and an equally big mouth. He can talk circles around me that leave me spinning. We´ve talked about everything from cars to waffles on the way to visit the investigators he helps us teach, but I´m pretty sure he passed himself with this winner of a conversation stopper:

"So you know how some white people are racist?" he asks.
"Well, yeah," we respond, "most races are racist against someone."
"Well, when white people who are racist go to a country with all black people... they don´t come back."
I´m not quite sure how I held in the torrent of laughter threatening to come out. Instead, I managed to say, "Oh really? Wow, Alexander, that sounds like a threat."
"No," he assured us, "it´s just true."
Well, perhaps, perhaps. I just always thought it was once you GO black, you don´t come back. But you know, it´s pretty popular to put spins on beloved classics now-adays. The witch from The Wizard of Oz is really a good guy, the Joker is just a misunderstood anarchist... you get the drift. I just have to not be racist for five more weeks and I´m good. 

And now, as time ticks on, I will quickly manage to insert two other enjoyable encounters:

1). The first was with a man named William, who we encountered on our way up a beautiful, rocky, and steep hill. He lives at the bottom, and was very curious as to why we hadn´t visited him in awhile. Hna. Bryant told him that the deal was he needed to go to church. His comment- priceless. "I´m pretty sure Jesus didn´t say go to church or I won´t visit you." Yeah, that quote didn´t make it´s way into either the Bible or Book of Mormon. "Yeah, but he also said "go to church," countered Hna. Bryant. Yup, it was going down. A lot of people think we´re miracle workers without realizing God gave us the gift to use our brains and make decisions for ourselves. William wants us to convince his wife to come to church with him, without realizing that if he sets the example, it would be much easier for her to want to follow him there. So we once again invited him to church (well, me for the first time. I´d never met him before this). He said, "uh, I don´t know about this Sunday..." When probed further, he admitted, "I think I´ll be fishing." While trying to not let my "are you serious?" face ruin the moment, I said, "you can´t do that another time?" And then, before I could even stop it, the words exploded out of my mouth, "well, you´re not going to catch anything." He looked at me for a moment, and then said, "I think I´m gonna go to church." Now, before you think I´m crazy, I don´t go around prophesying crap. I´ve heard of it being done and I´ve seen it done once, but it´s not like it should be done (nor can it be done) just to do it. It´s called being moved upon by the spirit, o sea, he directs, you just act as he dictates. And that´s what I felt to say. But you have to be careful; you don´t want people running around thinking you´re a witch or something. I can´t heal your warty toe. However, William failed to show up at church. I´m intrigued to see what happened. But we did manage to visit with his wife, who seemed really interested. And oddly enough, the Jonas Brothers were at her house, so we taught them too. They may or may not sorta look like them, at least, according to Hna. Bryant. I think they were just friends/neighbors visiting for the holidays. They also listened attentively and asked good, thoughtful questions. That´s what it´s all about. That´s why I´m here. Besides the fact that the oldest one, who looks a little like Kevin Jonas (not that I noticed) tried to give me a big bear hug and a kiss. Wait your turn, pal. I haven´t taken off the badge yet.
 
2). We also got to visit with a recent convert man named Danilo, who was baptized by an Hermana who went home due to bad migraines a few months ago. But she was obviously an excellent missionary (I lived with her up until she left, so I already knew), because this Danilo character is fantastic. Besides the fact that he´s always giving us bags of mangos and free avocados, he´s just so sweet, and his little grandson, who also was recently baptized, enjoys spending our visits staring up at us in awe and asking shy, timid questions. I love this place. But sadly, Danilo had a badly broken leg, so he hasn´t been able to come to church for a few weeks. But his cast was way too white for it´s own good, so we decorated it all up with stickers and drawings, and now it´s fierce and fabulous (I may have written those exact words next to the tiger sticker we placed at the top of the cast). So there you have it: the life of putting a little wonder into the lives of wonderful people. And I do love a good cast party.
Almost makes you jealous your leg isn't broken, doesn't it?
 

Well, those are all the quotes and gloats I have for the moment. Try not to think too hard about the fact that this blog is nearing the end of it´s Dominican chapter. I know I´m not... Never give up, never say die! And with that being said, I head for the exit.

Onward, ever onward,

Hna. Sweeney "The Fearless" (for a limited time only)

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Hanging by a Moment, Holding out for Higher

Let´s just be honest- it´s been a jolly while since I´ve last written.
I have so much to catch up on, but no hot dog to put it on. Anyway,
first and most importantly, I will speak in metaphors. "I got my baby
back, baby back, baby back..."
"Reunited, and it feels so good..."
"Guess who´s back? Back again. Bryant´s back. Tell a friend."
Ok, well, all dramatics aside, the gist of it is, I got transferred,
and I got transferred good. I don´t know why I thought I learned the
lesson of how I´m always wrong on the mission, but I didn´t. Hna.
Bryant, during our intermittent correspondence during the 7+ months we
were away from each other told me, "man, I wish I could kill you (be
your last comp.) You could see how chill I am now." And I was like,
"hey, that´s not funny. You almost killed me the first time! And p.s.-
never gonna happen."
Oh, but it has. I am finishing the mission in San Cristobol, which is
more or less the campo again. The part I am specifically in is called
Lava Pies, which means "wash feet." I feel like that can only be a
good thing. I always felt like I was gonna come here, kinda like I
knew I would eventually go to Quisqueya. But whereas Quisqueya and my
love thereunto was more like that found in an arranged marriage, me
and Lava Pies have been a love at first sight. I am severely enjoying
myself here, and it´s only been about 4 days. Normally, the transfer
should have been tomorrow, but because of the fact that it would have
fallen on New Year´s Day and we don´t even want to think about how
impossible that would be (in any country) to transfer large groups of
people hither and thither, the transfers fell a good 5 days early. I
guess I had to have a weird end to a weird adventure. But Hna. Bryant
and I are really living it up. I feel like it has essentially been
non-stop chatting and laughter since we´ve been together. She´s
changed so much. Of course, she hasn´t noticed it in herself, but I
sure have. It makes me wonder the changes other have/will see in me.
But for those that wonder, she looks smoking hot, has dropped a
boatload of weight, and is a really good missionary. I told her
beforehand I would write these things. She approves this message.
Especially the boatload of weight.

Well, as I think of how long this entry will probably end up being, a
couple of thing came to mind. And by a couple, I mean another
boatload, probably the one that was lost by Bryant. But I´ve recently
been Reading the General Conference talks from November, and as usual,
President Uchdorf, who is indeed a boss, was talking about how too
often, we are always looking forward with much anticipation to the
next phase of our lives, especially in a world where everything from
cars to information moves so rapidly. We can´t seem to enjoy where we
are in the moment. I could be eating lunch with a friend, but if I
spend that whole lunch texting everyone else I know, how do I really
ever learn to savor? How do I learn to enjoy what I have if I´m always
holding out for Higher? As Pres. Uchdorf himself says, "I don´t go
riding my bike with my wife anticipating the end of the ride, nor do I
listen to a song, waiting anxiously for the last note. I do these
things because I enjoy them, and the joy they bring me in the moment."
I feel like as my mission draws to a close, that it would have been
nice to have this talk earlier. But I also feel that the end of my
mission isn´t the end of my problems. I have more or less come to an
understanding of how to enjoy myself in spite of the suckiness of my
circumstances. No, my new house doesn´t have a microwave or doorknobs.
Yes, it only has one bathroom, an no, there are still no Tina
burritos. But as more than one philosophical voice has insisted, the
things that make us happiest are simplest. For some reason, we just
like to complicate and outdo ourselves. But since tomorrow is a new
year, which will inevitably bring new crap to deal with, it just seems
like a good time to enjoy ourselves- o sea, resolve to be enjoyable
and to enjoy. Uh-huh.

I was also brought to the realization that part of this happiness is
found in individual moments. I´ve left a lot hanging, not having
written and all, but here are some highlights from the past couple of
weeks that simply need to be shared:

* Funny moment- Here, here for Chistmas cheer. Well, I was here,
anyway, my last mission Christmas. Although difficult to be away from
loved ones during such times, I gotta say... I´ll never have a
Christmas quite like this one ever again. Besides getting cutesy
aprons from Hna. Dawe and eating delcious Argentine empanadas with the
elders from our district and their American neighbors, I received the
best gift anyone can ask for-the gift of laughter. Once upon a time, I
was companions with Hna. Paus. A couple days before Christmas, I
decided to turn on some Christmas tunes and hit the shower. Just as I
was about to close the bathroom door, I hear a most pitiful
"Sweeeeeeneeeeeeey...." in Paus´s typical fashion. "What?" I asked, a
tad exasperated. "Don´t leave me alone with this song. It scares me!"
It was that song "Carol of the Bells," that I believe can be found on
the Home Alone movie soundtrack. Anyway, it was a good thing I was
already in the bathroom, cuz I just about wet myself. I may have found
ways to play that song from that time foreward way more often than I
would have otherwise..

Happy moment- There is a show, I believe, called House Hunters. I´ve
never watched it, but I could have been on it. Maybe. I don´t really
know. Hence never having watched it. But I bet they hunt for houses.
And for the last couple weeks of the past transfer, so did we.
Supposedly, the Hermanas of Quisqueya will be getting a new house.
About bloody time. Considering it is the house where Hermanas from all
over come and go unexpectantly with lots of luggage, having a house on
the fourth floor is just not the best idea. Especially when said
Hermanas leave at 5:00 a.m. every 6 weeks...
Ironically, the Hermanas of Lava Pies just moved at the end of last
transfer, so I´m in a new house down here. Considering the abscense of
features I used to consider necessary, I´m wondering if this house is
the Office Elders´ idea of a joke. Or revenge for making them move
heavy fridges and stoves all day. But yeah, new transfer, new house,
new year... what else is new? We I suppose we shall see.

*Anticlimatic moment- End of the world. That is almost so last year.
We are all survivors of a hideous overestimate. Well, I don´t think
the Mayans ever said the world would end that day, but admit it... you
kinda thought it might. Whatever their deceased spirits are doing
right now, it´s probably closely related to mocking us for believing
mere mortals could ever know when the Apocolypse will be.

*Sexy moment- There are but a small handful of these on the mission,
so you have to enjoy them when they come. Hna. Dawe and I both got
rockin´ haircuts from Hna. Consuelo, the hand magician. Enough said. I
don´t want to blow anyone´s mind.

*Surprise momet- We had a Christmas potluck with our apartment
complex. I think the people who live their only invited us so we could
bring way more than our share of food and to potentially use our
church´s collapsable chairs, which didn´t even end up happening.
During the sorta party, some man who was on the phone asked for my
name. I gave it to him, and he said, "he´s not gonna know how to say
that..." A good twenty minutes later, over the sound system, we all
hear, "and a big Merry Christmas shoutout to Hermana Sweeney..." Uh,
what? I guess the guy on the phone had called in to a Domincan radio
station and given him the name of the first person he saw. I have all
the luck. And my 15 seconds of fame.

Indecisive moment- Uh... leaving. I was really expecting to stay in
Quisqueya and had hoped to be there for the baptism of Perla the
Prodigy. She is the 13 year old who at first, seemed not too
interested- her uncle is a member but her mother is a less active
member, o sea, she never goes to church. But I got to see one of those
awesome, miraculous missionary moments of change with her and she
started to go to church regularly and started asking us really sincere
questions. And now, I won´t get to see her baptized, nor will I see
the marriage of a woman who has been going to church for 18 years and
will now be able to be baptized. I was part of the process of helping
her get the papers she needed so she could get married. But there we
are will that phrase again- part of the process. I´ll have to be glad
and accept someone else watching a couple of great
happily-ever-afters. I was the Queen of Quisqueya. But I have now
passed the crown. Which is a shame, because, The King, o sea, Romeo
Santos, was in town for a couple weeks, during concerts. Don´t worry,
Romeo- next time. Every Queen needs a King, especially if he can sing
like Romeo. I think I need my crown back.

And finally... Movie Moment- "How old are you?"
"Seventeen" (months)
"How long have you (waited to be) seventeen (months)?"
"Awhile."

And yes, I´ll say it. Out loud. And even proud. I have 17 months on
the mission. Let´s be serious, that´s crazy. But cool. So many
adventures, so little time. Or so much time, depending on how you look
at it. Anyway, I have to put an end to this novel before it becomes a
best seller and I´m not even around to reap the benefits. Until the
next mental vomit, please enjoy staying up way too late and
celebrating a year that´s worth the wait. So you drink your
Martinelli´s and I´ll drink mine. And by Martinelli´s, I mean Green
Apple-flavored soda. Cheers.

Resolved to renew,

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