Sunday, February 3, 2013

D.R. It Stands for "Diligence Rewarded"

Hey, for anyone listening out there, there,´s your good points that define you and your flaws that refine you. But is it not true? I´m not sure I made up this little piece of inspiration; I´m sure there has been something similar or the same already said. But the idea remains. How much easier is it to notice the insultable details, or at least to focus on them? Who cares if her butt looks twice it´s size in those horizontally-striped pants or if his Cologne smells more like sewage than sexy? A+ for effort, people. The best type of compliment is the sincere one said so others can hear. The best sort of helpful, corrective advice is given respectfully, so only the person for whom it is intended can hear. But here´s to enjoying both fabulous feature and faux paus flaws.

And speaking of giving compliments, should I just go ahead and gift one to myself? Why, don´t mind if I do! I´ve made it, people. I´ve reached the top. Or as my good friends Queen would say, "I´ve taken my bows- time after time. I´ve done my sentence (but committed no crime). And bad mistakes- I´ve made a few... I consider it a challenge before the human race, and I´VE COME THROUGH!" That´s right- I am the champion, my friend. Because, I have now come to the end. Bum bum bum. Yesterday was my 18 month mark. I officially made it my year-an-a-half. No matter what anyone wants to say about me, I kicked my butts, took my names, did my work, I don´t play games. I won´t lie, I do feel the weight of the accomplishment. If any missionary says there was never a time that they thought about quitting, throwing in the towel, and turning tail towards home, guess what? They´d be LYING. But it´s always so much easier to look back and think, "hey, yeah, that was good, that sucked, that was good, a few more sucky parts, but a little more good..." and thus it is with life in general. But I feel like I can´t get nostalgic just yet. It´s still too soon.

And it seems as though, obviously, the question that is most on peoples´minds is what are the future plans I have for myself, and am I nervous to come home, etc. etc. Well, the only answer is- of course. Just as all missionaries have thought about going home before their time, all of them also worry about what to do when the actual time comes. I´ve just comforted myself with a little ditty that I actually CAN take complete credit for inventing. The Dominican Republic, o sea, the D.R., has come to mean a lot of things to me- for good or for crazy. But now as I´m leaving it, the thing I hope it stands for the most is "diligence rewarded." Most of us like to believe that since we put in our time, did a good deed, that life should all be sunshine and roses from henceforth. Well, that would be the beautiful dream, but real life seems to based in, well, reality, which always comes with a check. But from what I´ve heard from many other missionaries who served, suffered, and smiled here, life seems to be pretty good. So I´m hoping for some of that same karma to be coming my way. Only time will tell.

As for a week in the life of me, well, you know, more of this, more of that. I´m vitamin D deficient, we found out, from various tests I´ve taken. How someone who spends the day after day after day in the hot, humid, horrific sun can end up with a vitamin D deficiency is way more than beyond me. We´ll chalk it up to one of life´s little mysteries. But what I lack in D, I make up for in B- if B stands for bold, that is. I´ve come to appreciate that what happened to Hna. Lund is now happening to me. I don´t know if it´s a sense of urgency or just a knowledge that I don´t have to be here to deal with the results, but I´m being a lot more forward with my invitations. As missionaries, we invite, the investigators (hopefully) do, and we follow up. Well, I´ve gone from, "if you do this, you´ll receive such and such blessing, answer, etc. Will you...?" to "So... come to church. It´s good for you. And if you want God´s blessings, you should keep his commandments. So let´s get this party started." Ok, a little less informal, and definitely in Spanish, but you get the idea. I´m tired of half commitments and feigned interest. Either do it or don´t seems to be my new philosophy. I´ll like you either way, but I can´t act for you. Only you can do the things required to gain YOUR testimony. And fin. I ramble no more.

I am still loving English class. Our students are fabulous. This week, we taught high school culture and the cliques that make it oh-so-segregated and fabulous. Then we divided up the students and let them choose which group they wanted to be from. I choose to be a preppy valley girl, and one of the guys in my group decided to be a skater, the other, a loser. As the preppy, I asked them if they were like, so stoked to go to Prom (which doesn´t exist here, btw). The skater said he´d probably be at the skate park, rippin´some made shreds with his bros (I taught him that one, and it may or may not make sense). The "loser" informed me that no, he´d probably be in his house with the shades down and the lights off, chatting online. And he came up with that one on his own. A hundred points to the loser. And this coming week, we´re gonna have our end-of-transfer party, Hollywood-themed, and we´re gonna teach call center terminology. The two best English speakers in the class either work at a call center or are trying to get a job at one, so they need the practice. I get to yell at two Dominicans as though they were personally responsible for my non-existent malfunctioning cell phone woes. Can´t wait.

So yeah... a pretty weird week, but a good one nonetheless. There are a couple people we are teaching that are keeping me from dying, and surprisingly, they´ve changed. There´s a young girl named Samantha. We were originally teaching her mother, but since she´s promised us every week she´ll go to church and never does, our interest in teaching her also waned. However, Samantha is a star. We walk by and pick her up, and she comes, every week this month, so far. She is usually the one who reminds US to pick her up at 8:30 a.m. sharp. And she is the one who told us she wants to be baptized. We want to take it slow and make sure she´s learning all she needs to learn and is in it for the right reasons. But her enthusiasm is inspiring.

Also, this last Thursday, Hna. Bryant and I were about to enter our house when a man approaches us, head down, hat covering face, hand extended. We were trying to explain how we just didn´t have money and we were sorry, but he just kept his hand in our face. When we apologized, he then came even closer, and was sorta putting his arm around my wait and trying to pat Hna. Bryant on the arm, and I was feeling bad and creeped out all at once... and then the guy raises his head and has a good chuckle. "Ha, you guys don´t even remember me, do you?" he asked. I didn´t, but it turns out it was Ramon from the mountain, some guy we had taught a few weeks back but hadn´t seen since. He wanted to know when we´d be back. We set the date for Saturday. His family is pretty nice, and they own like, three brightly colored shacks, so it´s good times for all. However, when we did visit, his family was pretty quiet and Ramon mostly wanted to make sure that we knew that Americans are super good looking, and that all of them are white. We tried explaining otherwise, but he just wasn´t having it. He also wanted to be sure that we didn´t think we were better than they were because of our looks. Upon assuring him that we do not, he contently sat back in the baby car seat he was sitting in and said no more. It´s moments like these that even sandpaper won´t remove from my brain, long after I´ve left this place.

And just so you all know, the experiment of the week was a complete success. It turns out grape soda with cake-flavored ice cream is all the rage. Well, at least with Hna. Bryant and me. Hna. Bryant and Nieve, the mother of Samantha, invented it, I just happily participated. And may all your experiments this week be so inspirational.

Triumphantly yours,

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

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