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)

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