Monday, April 20, 2015

Bumble Bees and Tumble Weeds April 20, 2015

Happy P-Day, people! My goodness. There I was, busily being a senseless green buffoon when I came to a horrifying realization; as of today, I've been out of my training for more time than I was in it. Holy guacamole, I feel so old! And then I remember I still have seventeen months and come crashing back down to Earth, but hey- life's good :) Y'all, it's transfer six.

First things first. This email is forever long. Also. Second things second. I gotta use the mission slang. Therefore, to aid in the translation, a short lesson in Dominican Spanish:

Repelengue- Mosquito Repellent 
Tigre- Disobedient Elder 
Lambón- Brown-noser
Hermana- Sister   
Apoyo- Mission funds    
Intercambio- Companion exchange
Flechón- Super obedient missionary     
Campo-  Countryside
Boche- Tongue-lashing
Freca- A flirt
Studmuffin- Me

Also, in the mish,  if someone is young or old, they're referring to their time in a mission. So, if a 24-year-old missionary has three months in the mission, he's much younger than a 19-year-old with twenty months.

On to the week!

We've had a bee problem in the house. Every time we leave fruit on the kitchen counter, a metric boatload of bees fly in and just sort of buzz around. As far as we can tell, they actually aren't particularly bloodthirsty or vicious. They strike us more as lost souls trying to find their place in the world. Unfortunately for them, this neck of the world has Elder Willie, who's allergic to bees. While I personally think it would be funny to see Willie with a raging case of watermelon face, he wasn't quite so enthusiastic about the whole idea. So, we decided that decisive counter measures were in order.

First, we had to find the source. We hunted, followed tracks, and stalked them home at night until there, beneath the rain gutter, we found it. The Nest. We knew we had to destroy it. But how? I myself am always a fan of casting things into the fires of Mt. Doom or using the American Solution for Everything Ever- drone strikes- but my house companions shot it down on the basis that those were far too obvious. It also became quickly apparent that our usual method of pest control (repelengue and matches) wouldn't work, on account of that we've been a bit liberal with the cockroaches these past couple of weeks and we aren't overly burdened with said repelengue. We determined that a manual job was in order. Now, this obviously needed to be a precision operation. Clean. No traces. But an operation like this would clearly involve a considerable quantity of risk, and we were not prepared to sacrifice an entire quartet of missionaries for such an endeavor. We realized that for the good of the many, it would have to be a solo mission.

Now, we knew the risks. If whoever took upon himself this task succeeded, he'd be a hero. A legend. But if he were killed, his companions would deny any and all knowledge connecting the incident to them. Now, the only question was who would this dastardly handsome paragon of masculinity be? Well. The other three said it should be the youngest missionary. Them whippersnappers gotta learn sometime. But. Um. Zetina is the second youngest missionary. And he has almost seventeen months. Well. Awkward. I, being the brilliant protester that I am, protested that it was only fair to do it democratically. They agreed. Two seconds and three votes later, my fate was sealed. I call racism but it's all good. Everything turned out alright. I done took care of it. Or at least I thought I did. Elder Garcia is telling me right now that I only got about half of it. Well shoot. I guess a few choice strikes with a loaned machete wasn't enough. But no worries. We'll try again later with the neighbor's 9-iron.

Anyway, it's transfer time! Lots of changes. Leaders and areas changing left and right. Me? I'm gonna make like a fence post and stay right where I'm at. Although I know that sounds about as exciting as a cow standing in a carrot field, don't you worry- President Corbitt knows how to make things interesting. It's true that I'm staying in Los Solares, but they made some changes. Firstly, they combined Los Solares A and B and pulled out the B elders. This means that I now get to cover twice as much ground while getting to know an entire new area. Also, they're taking Elder Zetina and sending me Elder Ventura. I've never met the lad and I don't know much about him, but. I have less than seven months. He has well over a year. And I'm the senior companion. I don't know what that means completely. But. To sum up this last paragraph in three words, PRAY FOR ME.

Naw, I'm pumped! But I will miss Zetina! I'll be honest. He sometimes drove me up the wall, and I still dream of doing a missionary episode of "Will It Blend?" with his recorder flute, but we done had us some good old times this transfer. There was one day when we made a contact in the street. It was actually a good contact until the end. We asked for his name and he was like, "Jesus Christ."   .......Um. Come again? "Jesus Christ." Your name is Jesus Christ? "Well no. It's Luis. But my nickname is Jesus Christ." Well alright. That's. Er. Different. Ahem. We have to go now! Haha so yeah. That was a thing.

And then there was another time when Zetina accepted an invitation for us to go to an Evangelical service. Electricity was down and they were on generator power. The preacher lady was up front eating the mike. I reckon she was bearing her testimony. The lights were literally dimming and brightening in time with her screams because the speakers were sucking so much power. Elder Zetina and I just sorta sat there bemusedly, like. Hey. Is it appropriate to pull out D&C right now?

Then, just last week, a recent convert, Hector, couldn't get his car to start, and was like, "Hey, can you guys help push my car?" I was down to the ground, but Zetina was like, "Listen. Hector. Move ya booty and let daddy show you how it's done." He jumped under the hood and started messing with something. Two minutes flat and the car coughed to life. Hector was aghast, "That car hasn't started like that in almost three years! How did you do that?" Zetina just cracked a grin and said, "Papá, I just owned your car. Never doubt a Mexican."

Yep. I'll miss the fool. But I'm excited for the new adventures to come!
-Hey, 9 out of 10 ain't bad... Wait, you missed 9? Haha loco.

Anyway, in the wake of General Conference, I was doing some thinking. Now, you've all gotta know that here in the DR, there is a solid base of pretty much every Christian religion and practically nothing else. In almost seven months, I have met exactly one Muslim and one Atheist. This is the Bible Belt of the Caribbean. Now, in such a heavily Christian country (and in my line of work), the subject of religious differences has come up once or twice.  On such occasions, people inevitably find out that I am a Mormon, and before long, I have learned something which thing I had never before supposed- We are different. We are  very  different. We do not fit into the mainstream Christian world. Stuffy, starchy old Mormons? My beloved sistren please. Mormons are stinkin' hipsters. We kicked conventional religion in the shins before it was cool.

But it's interesting for me to note that of all of the un-ordinary beliefs of the Church, the one that is perhaps the most offensive to mainstream Christianity (other than not drinking coffee) is our concept of a living prophet. People don't like to hear it. It actually makes them uncomfortable to think that scripture isn't confined to the Bible and that unlike Billy Ray Cyrus, God still wants to talk to His children. They say that revelation ceased when John the Revelator closed his epistle and there is not and  should not be any more.

Well, they can stick that idea in a bun and fry it for all I care. They marvel at the audacity we have for claiming a prophetic connection between humanity and God, but I marvel at the audacity that mainstream Christianity had when they decided as a body of men to tell  God that they'd heard enough and He could be quiet now. God loves us and because of that love, He will continue to give us the word as long as there are people worthy and willing to receive it. This is an eternal principle that did not cease when the ancient churches declared the heavens closed and will not cease by any mandate of man.

I stand as a witness that a prophet of the same order as Isaiah and John the Baptist walks the Earth today. He is a special witness of Jesus Christ and together with his counselors and the Quorum of the Twelve, he directs and guides the Church under inspiration and revelation received from God himself. That prophet is Thomas S. Monson, and his words are in reality  His words.

Now, there will come moments in which those words conflict with modern science or, as perhaps more often is the case, the popular social and moral viewpoints of the day. In such moments, there are really only two choices, and we are all compelled in one way or another to choose. Agency is given to all men, and I can't speak for anyone else. But for this snot-nosed 19-year-old kid, I choose to follow the prophet. Even if it isn't politically correct. Even if it defies conventional logic. The world may call it and its followers things like bigoted, foolish, deluded, outdated, or blindly obedient. But to tell you the truth, I don't give a flying fiddlestick what the world calls it. I call it faith. I choose faith.

What will  you choose?

Your friend,
-Familia Anziani! My peeps!!!!!! 

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