Monday, August 24, 2015

Fall of the Walking Dead -- August 24, 2015

Hello, everyone! It's a good day to be in God's service. Missionaries are dropping like flies and leaving me behind to pack and unpack like a Mormon in a charity peach cannery, but to quote the soon-to-die Elder Brockbank's translation of the Book of Mormon when in the Book of Ether, Coriantumr strikes down the leader of the rebel Jaredite army, "And it came to pass that Shiz went down." And so it has.

In business news, I'm no longer in La Isabelita! One whole week after getting transferred out of Los Mameyes, I've been transferred to- get this- Los Mameyes! Yup. I'm back. It's odd. I usually feel like I learned a lot in every area, and even with just one week, La Isabelita was no exception. I learned important lessons such as the fact that ironing your clothes while you're wearing them is a horrible idea. Also, sunblock makes a really lousy burn salve. And when you want to make sure that having your toes snapped in a mousetrap doesn't hurt too much to use as a friendly prank, you should probably design an experiment that doesn't involve actually snapping your own toes in a mousetrap. Let that be a warning to you. If something looks stupid, it probably is.

So this week, as I was walking through the street with Elder Martinez, some dipnickel threw an avocado at me. I turned around, ready to punch me some face, when I realized that it was a four year old and goshdangit, it's still not appropriate for a twenty-year-old missionary to punch a child in the face. Welp. Joke's on him. I love avocados.

In career news, I got to be a military translator for a day! Twice! Exciting stuff. A gigantic American hospital ship loaded with Navy doctors/personnel and some civvie volunteers came to town and all week, they gave free medical care to anyone who needed it. If this sounds like an unimaginably expensive government photo op, don't worry- it is. But we did some good! I started out on the deworming station. This would probably have been much more painful work had I not just spent the last year dealing with small children doing things like, you know, throwing avocados at me. As it was, it was an extremely fulfilling job that involved lying to children in order to convince them to take grotesquely bitter pills that are going to destroy them with diarrhea for the next few days. I can't tell you how much satisfaction it brought me to know that my efforts are going to help the future generation of this country rest easy. In five to seven days. Nyahaha. Also, after I got over the vaguely uncomfortable sensation of my eternal soul being cast down to Tartarus, talking with the American girl nurse who-was-definitely-not-a-missionary was actually quite pleasant. After deworming, I was sent over to pediatrics, which was less fun, since we actually helped children, and from thence to physical therapy, where I translated for a beet-red sociopath who got angry at me for not knowing how to say "jacked-up rotator cuff." They tried to give us MREs for lunch, but having lived here for a year, I decided it was probably better to just have Pica Pollo since my intestines were going to get wrecked either way. All in all, it was an awesome experience, and who knows? Maybe I'll volunteer for Project Hope when I go home. 

Fun times as a military translator
So anyway, after all the hullaballoo with the military settled down, I had some time to reflect on my experience. For all the jokes, I don't mind having avocados thrown at me and I really do like kids. Even after a year living among my brothers and sisters here and seeing so much suffering, it was very sobering work. A lot of the people who came through were people who had been dealing with horrifying debilities and injuries for years, just waiting for something like this to pass through. If they hadn't come, no one would have. I helped one girl who had her entire heel burned off in a motorcycle accident. Four years ago. This was the first medical treatment she'd been able to seek, but after so long, the doctors told her the foot couldn't be saved. I had to tell another child's mother that her son, who had a developmental deficiency that could have been solved but went untreated for ten years, would never be able to walk as long as he lived. Still others I had to turn away because the line was simply too long. It was heartbreaking on a level I can't begin to describe. 

This experience brought me to two things. First, that I still, after a year, do not and can not fully appreciate the blessings we enjoy in the United States. When I broke my arm, I got treated the same day. I got a cut that only required three stitches taken care of within hours. On both occasions, it was expensive, but we never had to wonder where our next meal would come from while we paid for it. I sat and debated with people for hours about healthcare and the politics of it and all that, but I never once comprehended just how lucky we all are to be able to receive treatment when we need it. It is a blessing that many people do not and will not ever know, which brings me to the second thing.

When we see someone suffering, we must help them. We must. For all the political and societal and other demographical lines we draw, we are not in this life to contend against one another. We have exactly one enemy, and that is Satan. As humans and as God's children, we have to take the initiative and help one another. It is not something that would be nice to do or even something that we simply ought to do. It is something we MUST do. No, we can't all travel to foreign countries and perform surgery on random strangers for free. But in the world we live in, there is always suffering in one form or another around us all the time, and there is always something we can do. I believe it. I know it. And I go out and work every single day because of it. We have one enemy. Just one. Even in the midst of all his angels, Satan is alone. And so there is only one way we can fight him- together.

Good weeks and happy memories all around,
Dallin Johnson

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