Monday, October 19, 2015

The Cows of Consuelo - October 19, 2015

¡Buenas! Un amigo me comentó que no he escrito casi nada en español en mis cartas. Bueno. Es cierto. Así que, para que sepan, SI. Soy capáz de escribir en español. Tal vez mi ortografía no sea perfecta, pero ¡sean tranquilos todos! Mi español se entiende y más que nada, ha sido una buena semana :) Lo siento a todos que no entiendan el español. Les prometo que no lo haré así otra vez. Props to whoever doesn't need google translate for that.

Greetings! A friend told me that I have written almost nothing in Spanish in my letters. Okay. It is true. Just, so you know, yes. I can write in Spanish . Maybe my spelling is not perfect, but no complaints! My Spanish is understood and above all, it has been a good week :) Sorry to all who do not understand Spanish . I promise I will not do so again. Props to whoever does not need google translate for that.

So Monday night (two weeks ago) I was busily packing my bags to transfer out when all of a sudden, my eye started to hurt. So I figured, well, what the heck. I'll just go to bed now and finish packing tomorrow. So I did. Now. There's a very important thing you need to know. My eyes are brown. Both of them. And when I went to bed, they were definitely both brown. This is a detail that will become very important in about fifteen seconds. Fast forward to the next morning. I woke up, and I made the startling discovery that I couldn't open my right eye. This caused me to worry some, but it's well-known that I'm no doctor. So I solicited the help of Elder Vasquez. Who also is no doctor, but whatever. It went more or less like this (by the by, the word "que" means "what"):

"Elder Vasquez!!!!!!"
"I can't open my eye!!!!"
"Come here! I'll open it!!" *peels it open*
"Your eye!!!!"
"It's green!!!!!!"

And so it was. Let me tell you something about me. I usually don't mind when like spiders or colds or other things get involved in my life because, well, all things gotta live, you know what I'm saying?

But the second you get my eyes involved, shiz gets real. By the time the clock struck noon, I had the biggest, baddest eye infection killing meds I could find going ham like SEAL Team 6 on that garbage. Not to mention I was rockin' the ruggedest patch that was missionary permissible. I actually requested a full on black strap Nick Fury-style eye patch but got denied. Alas. I made it look rugged anyway.

Anyway, after that whole fracas, I finally arrived in Consuelo, and I absolutely LOVE the campo. Gone are the huelgas and incessant noise of the big city. Gone are the giant guaguas that weave through traffic like motorcycles. Gone are silly luxuries like "electricity" and "running water" and toilets that flush both types of regular waste that exit all humans and it's perfectly normal so much so in fact if it doesn't happen you should probably see a doctor and MOM YOU CAN'T EDIT THIS SENTENCE. 

See? Even the strays are cows
I will grant that there is also no glass bottle Coke, the Christian raves are without equal, and the majority of the area smells of cow dung. But then, I'm from Cache Valley, the Land of 72,000 Cows. I'm right at home :)

Also, my new companion, Elder Polanco, is very fresh, with only three months in the field. He's Dominican, from the northern part of the country, and he's a little firecracker. Love him to death. 

So I'm a district leader now. Every Thursday, we have district meeting, and this was gonna be my first full district meeting. With six sisters. So I figured I'd be the coolest district leader ever and make homemade cookies from a prepackaged mix for my district, right? Right. So the problems started about the second I tried to do anything. Missionary ovens as a rule go largely unused (not in Espaillat- we used it to store our garbage bags) and as such are occasionally missiong some relatively important parts, such as the burners, the floor, or the dial thingie that turns it on. Ours is actually pretty nice in that it's only missing the top burners and unlike some ovens *coughLosSolarescough* it doesn't blow up and burn half your arm hair off when you light it (all mission ovens are gas and have to be lit by hand. With a match. It can get. Exhilarating.) but it was missing the rack. Now, I'm no baker, but I reckoned that roasting cookie dough over an open flame, while perhaps cool at campouts and Occupy Wall Street, probably wasn't very conducive to, you know, making cookies. With no rack available, I clearly had to make one. 

This. Is not as simple as it sounds. I'd heard that Elder Thacker once made an oven rack with a fan guard, but both of our fans were made of plastic. I hunted through the house for perhaps fifteen minutes when finally, my eyes settled upon a slat of ceramic tile. Bingo! However, I quickly discovered that it was too wide. It didn't fit in the oven. I was just about to give up all hope when suddenly, I had one of those capital-A-Awesome Dallin Ideas. All I'd have to do was take it out back and punch it in half! Brilliantbrilliantbrilliant!! So I did. And. Well. Yeah. I sliced my right hand wide open. Blood was pouring down my hand. I was dumbfounded. Where had my brilliant plan gone wrong?? Well, I figured I had better put a bandaid on it or something, but then I recalled that fortunately, I didn't have any bandaids. In fact, I had zero bandage-like things. But I had to do something!

I was just about to rip up a shirt when Phase Two of my capital-A-Awesome Dallin Idea took shape. I didn't have any bandages, but I did have a tube of super glue! I grabbed it and shakily tried to screw the cap on, but, well, I didn't do it so well (I'm not at my best in the presence of things like blood or needles or knives or other things that. Uh. Uh. Uhhhh. Can't even write about it....) and I didn't open the neck of the tube properly. I pulled it away from my bleeding right hand and examined the tube. A little off-center but it didn't look too bad. I gave it one more experimental squeeze, at which point it exploded, sending a flood of Industrial Strength All-Purpose Super Glue streaming down my left hand. Sealing it shut.

And then the phone rang. It was two of the sisters in my district. I had to answer it. But with what?? I had zero hands!!! I sat there, quietly thrashing around and muttering curses as I tried to figure out what to do. Finally, I hit the answer button with my elbow, sending it spinning to the edge and just slammed my head down on the counter, pinning it there. "Hermana Pichardo!" I said, projecting as much of a smile into my voice as I could. "Hello! It's so wonderful to hear your voice!" She talked for about five seconds when mercifully, the phone fell to the ground and exploded. I looked at it. Looked at my hands. And decided that the sisters could survive one night just fine. 
I staunched the bleeding, unstuck my left index finger and thumb, fixed together two of the broken pieces of tile with a coat hanger, and although I didn't finish baking until almost midnight and took nearly an hour more to get the glue off of my consarn hand, my district had a flippin' plate of peanut butter chocolate cookies. And they ate every. Single. One.

In other news, our hero of the week is a member named Ana. First, you need to understand a cultural aspect of Consuelo. There's a definite culture difference between the capital, which has about four million citizens, and Consuelo, which has less than forty thousand. That's about the difference in size between Logan proper and Dallas. The biggest difference religiously is that here, it's much more likely that people will let you in to listen to you BUT it's much less likely that they'll actually listen to you. See, one of the ingrained philosophies of Dominican culture in general but the campos in particular is that when someone who talks about God comes around, you should listen to what they have to say, regardless of what church they're from. However, whereas in the city people are more willing to change different in their perspectives, in the campo, a person's religious background is usually very deeply ingrained in them. This is perhaps the biggest challenge that faces the mission work.

Enter Ana. She is perhaps the best member missionary I've ever met. We went out and visited with her and her brother, and she was absolutely fearless. She would march right up to the house of any neighbor or friend and she would tell it to them straight. In two weeks of our efforts, we had found maybe six new investigators. In just one day with this courageous sister, we found nearly a dozen new investigators who not only listened with their ears, but listened with the hearts. This is not a person who has ever been a full-time missionary. She never learned how to speak eloquently and she never had the kind of education that many of us were privileged to receive. But she spoke with the strength and power of the Holy Ghost, and she was able to touch the hearts of many. May we all follow her example.

That's it for now! Have a grand week, and keep being awesome.

Paz y buena voluntad, "Peace and goodwill"
Dallin Johnson

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