Friday, February 14, 2014

Mission Misssin' Reminiscin'

There's a guy I work with at Vivint named Brandt. I think he's great; he's one of those nice Mormon guys who seems like the type who lives what he believes without imposing his views on anyone. One time, he and another "colleague" of ours were talking about their significant others. Instead of barging in on my love life or lack thereof, they very kindly and timidly asked me if I had a "bu, bu, bu, boyfriend!" I said I didn't, to which they both immediately urged me to take my time, no rush. I don't know why that was nice to hear, but it was. Even though I'm pretty independent, there's just something nice about knowing that SOMEONE out there shares a similar view to my own. Then he came up to me at my desk today to inform me and another friend sitting nearby that he'd had a dream about me- and that I'd ended up with a great guy. There's just something about him that makes his comments and actions seem genuine and consequently, it makes me happy. He's like a fortune cookie, and while I don't put too much stock in the fortune, I feel fortunate that there are people out there who want the best for me. We all deserve to feel like that. I hope I've helped some feel that way at some point.

And now, on to the point of this post- for me to talk about how freaking insane it is that today marks a year since Hermana Clark and I flew on an airplane to Miami from the D.R., then went our separate ways on separate flights, each arriving back to our respective homes (California for me, Arizona for her). As I recall, I went and immediately got released from being a missionary, and then went and ate a huge burrito at my very favorite restaurant, Las Consuelas. I then went home and watches several episodes of Season 3 of "The Vampire Diaries." I remember it like it was a year ago...

Anyway, I realized today that during this year, not a day has passed where I've not thought about the mission, the people, my companions, the language, any of it. I wonder if that is a symptom that will ever fade away. I doubt it. Something as simple as hearing a Spanish word or phrase sets me off. Not to mention that the only friends I really talk to on Facebook are my Dominican ones. Face it- I've been scarred for life. And I may never recover. Anyway, I don't really feel like using a bunch of gushy words. I'm just gonna post a couple pics from each phase of my mission and call it good. Bien? Bueno.
THE MTC DAYS- BOTH PROVO AND DOMINICAN
Stopping to smell the flowers. No roses were sniffed in the taking of this picture.

My District (the guys I ate and studied with all day) at the Provo Temple. Loved these guys.

For the first few weeks at the MTC, my life was turned COMPLETELY upside- down. Going to bed at 10:30p.m.? In what world?!

Everyone and I mean EVERYONE, is required by an unspoken mission law to take a picture with this map, located in the mess hall-ish area. Bonus points for the indicate-with-finger-where-you're-gonna-serve pose.

Yes, I was on a mission. But I was still the creepy girl who liked to take weird photos. Unfortunately, the really good ones can't be posted here. I made a promise, after all...

Me with Sister Robinson and Sister Kelly. We all met during our Washington D.C. internship program, and we were all in the MTC at the same time. Legit.

Did I mention I loved these guys?

Hna. Lauriano and I. She was a teacher at the Dominican MTC. Plot twist- I would later serve a good chunk of my mission in the ward/area where she went to church.

This was back in the day before the sister's mission age was lowered to eighteen. We were a small bunch; only four of us in this photo actually were serving in the D.R. The others went to Puerto Rico and Fiji.

I was sick that day. My teacher, Hno. Rubio, always thought I was nuts. The two girls were my companions Hna. Eteaki and Hna. Schillemat. We had some interesting late night convos for sure.





THE REAL DEAL- AREA #1 LA YUCA

Ok, I'm adding an absurd amount of pictures. And now I'm just craving fried bananas.

Our humble home, complete with our "air conditioning" and mosquito nets.

Our bathroom. I was always amazed at how slanted an uneven the floor was. We had a pet spider named Henry that hung out on the ceiling.

The Franqueli baptism and the familia Soledad. They are seriously special people.

Halloween. My trainer, Hna. Brown and I, traded clothes and identities. I practiced her creepy smile, and she tried out my award-winning one.

Isabela, with her brother Angel and her mom.

Man down, man down! Down the man hole...  I guess people would always steal the pot hole covers for the metal.

There aren't words. We also caught plenty of mice, which we would put in bags after we caught them and beat them to death with brooms.

Leading the Christmas choir

Choco lacio! We made our hairs smooth and shiny, the chocolate way. Great product.

My nickname on the mission was "La Bestia, " or "The Beast." I wasn't a very docile competitor...


When a missionary was within a transfer or two of ending the mission, we'd say they had died because they were thinking of home a lot and life on the other side. This was the tombstone we made for our district leader, Elder Ferreras. So dead!

Our makeshift Christmas tree, complete with popcorn chain.

One of my favorite people ever, Rosa. We were teaching her our tradition of Pizza Thursday, which I did throughout the mission, on and off, by the way.

Our Dominican family photo. I have my mouth open like so many of the Dominican kids always did in their photos.



AZUA- AREA #2

These photos are all sorts of out of order. Hna. Bryant was the girl I trained and my last companion in Azua. This was during her first week on the job, and this was us at a big parade celebrating Azua's liberation from Haiti, or something.
Some more of my favorite people; the ever-faithful Eladio and his very awesome, very Catholic wife.


Being without water is HARD

Celebrating my 10 months on the mission with smurf-like ice cream that your buy out of peoples' houses.

That tool on the far left was the elder that was in 2 of my same areas. We were together for half my mission. Pretty cool.

One of the sisters who left Azua  after only one transfer left this on the door when I returned with Hna. Bryant. Uh-oh...

Mission impossible? You have no idea.

Our two-tiered wonder of a chapel

Mom sent me water balloons. Fun was had, windows were broken.

Fun at choir practice.

Those fine folk on the left- the Browns, our mission grandparents. They made life for us pure paradise. At the end of every transfer, we ate at their house.

Hna. Lund, my step-mom, o sea, my second companion. In spite of an odd first couple of days, we became great buddies.



Hna. Lund was sick one night. The elders brought us street chimis ( a burger-like item with cabbage, tomatoes, and shredded meat). I'm pretty sure this was the cause of my amoeba.

Celebrating the New Year

Don't forget: Sin condemns, but Christ gives life.

Me: excited as hell to be on a guauga bus ride to a location 45 minutes away. Lund: been there, done that, almost done with her mission at this point.

Tiny Bibles! Good-bye huge pain in my backpack.

I told Lund about Hna. Brown and I switching identities for a day. She liked it so much, that we did it too!

My first night ever in Azua was at a ward activity. Which was good; took my mind off how sad I was to be leaving La Yuca.


AREA #3- QUISQUEYA

Hna. Dawe and I. This was my last Quisqueya transfer, and we'd both just gotten haircuts.

I was so glad to get Paus as a companion, even if it was only for one transfer. She's great. And we both loved Romeo Santos. The King stays king!

We went to this park on the P-day (free day, sorta) before Christmas. Apparently inadvisable, since lots of thieves hang out there. Oh well. It was fun.


Both of my Dominica Christmases were superb.

I taught both these guys, loved them both. And after I left, Carlos (left), even got baptized!

I started teaching Perla in my second-to-last transfer in Quisqueya. Love her. She was super smart. I made her this scripture case out of a cereal box. I made an awful lot of them, actually, for lots of people.

My favorite peso design

My first day in Quisqeya in my all-Latin house. Ai, carramba!

When I first moved to Quisqueya, somehow, half my luggage ended up in Azua. I had to make my bed with a combination of blankets and clothes.

Hna. Alfaro and I, climbing endless cases of rickety stairs.

Elder Pickett! Love him! We both got hurt playing volleyball. I am now regretting that there are not more photos of other elders I thought were awesome, but this post is already hideously long.

I sucked at two things: making tortillas and cooking rice. But when a Latin helped me, we managed well enough.

This guys did not want to lay down and die. It took several legs whacked off before we could get him still enough to kill.

Me, trying to retain my artistic creativity.

It was very popular to dye baby chickens every color imaginable.

Hna. Consuela, my personal hairstylist for my 7.5 month stay in Quisqueya.

The Chinola, my very favorite tropical fruit.

You may be noticing several themes in some of these photos... this one was our bishop's idea. He wanted to have a missionary wall in our church building. Which lasted about a week.

My first day of my second transfer in Quisqueya with Hna. Rodriguez. I lived with her the longest amount of time on the mission; four straight transfers, and for three of those, we were companions.


Euody, our super stud baptism.

2nd transfter in Quisqueya. Weird transfer. Very weird. But at least Hna. Arias (bottom right) spoke fluent English AND Spanish.

This is Elder Carlson again. We visited him in the world's grossest hospital when he had Dengue.

Once again...

Besides making scripture covers, my other unofficial job was decorating missionary agendas (the booklets we used to write down appointments, track our goals, etc).



Paus and I took out a Greenie from the MTC to experience mission life.

I did her hair, and it looked fab.

Rodriguez loved to get fancy-looking. The vanity. I only really bothered when we had special events, like mission conferences when a whole bunch of us missionaries got together. I knew I'd just sweat off all the make-up and hairspray anyway.



Elder Bryner, our District Leader, made clay figurines of our district. They were awesome.

Hna. Rodriguez loved to pretend she hated American holidays. I forced her to carve apples (in lieu of the expensive pumpkins) and fill them with caramel afterwards. Pretend all you want Rodriguez... you loved it!

She and I continued the tradition of Pizza Thursday. My favorite by far was this one with popcorn chicken, corn, and peppers.

I never went to the beach. Except once. Like the rebels we were, Rodriguez and I ran off one day before a meeting to take pics here. She was such a bad influence on me.

Money doesn't grow on trees. But huge avocados do!

Like I said, bad influence. Somehow she convinced me to let her carry this cat in her bag all day and bring it home, where it meowed all night and threw up worms on the floor. Needless to say, I made her find a new home for it the next day.

When it rained, it poured. And if you can't go around it, you go through it.

LAST BUT NOT LEAST- AREA #4 SAN CRISTOBAL

Never let it be said that I don't finish what I start. Or rather, I started training Bryant, and she finished the mission with me. It was even better the second time around. Except for all the doctor trips and car accidents and  stuff...
Ah, the Bryant face. It can mean "I'm annoyed," or "I'm pissed," or "this is amazing." Sometimes even all three. In this case, she really liked the chicken and yucca we were eating.

Hna. Sandra, our good buddy. She, Bryant and I would go to Cacucha's house all the time to help her with her doll business.

This special guy broke his foot and let us decorate his cast with stickers.

Animals like learning about Jesus too.

I did her hair almost everyday. This day was extra special; we were celebrating her year mark on the mission.

Sometimes, we did fun things as a district. Even though I was only in San Cristobal for one transfer, it managed to be a very unique, frustrating, and great one.

Our end-of-transfer Spanish class party. Hollywood-themed.

At the evil Dictator Trujillo's boat-shaped home. This picture wouldn't have been allowed in the states; we were sitting high up on a ledge with no guardrail. It was very windy .

It was VERY windy that day. Our skirts kept blowing up. But it was educational, we enjoyed the tour, and, like everything, it was an experience.



Quelito's baptism

A really great family we were teaching. They made us dinner and got all excited when we came over.

The colmado next to our house, where we bought overpriced food on occasion. The owner always promised he'd play George Michael for us- but he never did. Before I left the mission, he sold the colmado, and it was repainted to look as it does in the picture above.

Hna. Clark and I on our last night on the mission, outside the mission house. Tell the world that we're coming home!




Wow. Even though I told my mission story all in pictures, it still felt long-winded. In some ways, I regret the pictures I didn't take. And none of the pictures posted, save the ones in the La Yuca section, are even in order. But that's ok because a). I'm now too tired to worry about the extra work of rearranging them and b). it feels more like my memories that way. I don't really remember things chronologically; it's usually a memory here,a memory there. Anyway, to keep a long story long, I'll just end by saying that the mission was a year-and-a-half of the weirdest, hardest, strangest, most powerful experiences of my life. And I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat. But instead, I go into the future, and a part of me will now and forever more be the type of girl that can shower out of a bucket, kill a mouse with a broom, and talk with a diverse group of people about things that are important to me, when the situation so demands. So, to Hna. Sweeney, the fearless (except on Sundays), I say thanks. Thanks for not quitting when it got hard. And thanks for giving me the experiences I'll hold dear for a lifetime. And thanks to all the people who didn't give up on her, even when she was being a pain in the buttock. And on the word 'buttock,' I make an end.

Officially annual,

Sweeney