Real-life Missionary Work!

7 Feb
Melissa's Baptism

Melissa’s Baptism

Dear family and friends,

How is everyone? We had a pretty successful weekend, made complete with the baptism of MELISSA! It was a super special experience. We had it right after church, so there were a lot of people there. Her non-member dad and brother both came and it was great. She’s such an awesome girl! The Young Women in the ward put together a musical number and a couple of her friends said prayers/gave talks. It was so sweet.

In CRAZY news, I hit my 1ONE YEAR MARK this Friday!! How ridiculous is that? I cannot believe that 1 year ago I was just starting my mission. It’s gone by so fast and slow at the same time. It’s hard to describe.

Okay, so this is the part where I give you the CRAZY story of what was my day yesterday. I’d like to make a little disclaimer, though, before I start. Usually, I try to put a positive spin on all of the experiences I share, but this one– it’s just crazy. It’s one of those days that is miserable but makes for great stories later. So I’d like to give you a look at real-life missionary work, that isn’t all sunshine and daisies, in the hopes that it will give you comfort knowing that we all have those days….(PS this is pretty much a short story, so be prepared for length and details :)

This is directly from my journal entry last night:

“Oh, heavens, as Sister Lancaster would say. What. A. Day! We were so, so busy. It’s a long story… SO there’s this lady who we helped take her groceries home a few weeks back named Dulce. We had set up an appointment with her last week for today, so I called a few days back just to confirm the appointment. I called the Dulce that was saved in the phone, confirmed the appointment, and thought nothing of it. Then at church on Sunday, this lady comes up to me and says, “You’re coming to my house on Tuesday at 1:30, right?” I have this confused look on my face, and she says, “I’m Dulce!” Oh crap, I think. I called the wrong Dulce! Apparently the Dulce saved in the phone was a member. So, I get it figured out and call the other Dulce and set up an appointment with her for a little bit later in the day.

Fast forward to today. Sister Lancaster and I decide to get bodega (deli) sandwiches from our favorite shop owner, Xavier. I got him to make me a Monte Cristo sandwich, (my favorite!) and he ends up giving us both our sandwiches for almost nothing. He is seriously soo generous. We’re buddies. Anyways, I get a hero (aka a footlong) and love every second of it.

At this point, I am full. Stuffed. Satisfecha, as we say in Spanish. So we leave, and go to the appointment. We get there and I feel the first pang of fear as Dulce opens the door and I smell food. We walk in and see the table packed full of food, and– wait for it– set for 6! “Shoot!” I say to Sister Lancaster, “She thinks all of us are coming!” So I call the elders frantically, begging them to come over quick. Long story short, neither of the companionships are able to come and rescue us, so I bite the bullet and break the news to Dulce that they aren’t coming. She doesn’t seem too upset, so that’s a good thing.
So then we start eating. Ay. I serve myself as little as I can get away with. There’s this weird chicken dish that’s slippery, and I’m pretty sure it was solid fat. I can’t get it on my fork, and after a minute of trying, I give up. The conversation’s good, but I’m feeling fatter and fuller with each passing second. But then it keeps getting worse and worse.

First, it’s “Oh! Behind you on that table there, there’s some bread! Have some.” So we take the bread. Then 20 minutes later, “Ah! We forgot the avocado. Let’s have some now.” Insert HUGE slice of avocado plopped on my plate. I try to eat it plain, but it’s a no-go for me, my taste-buds and I. Salt, I figure, salt will help, right? Now insert Mission Lesson #342: Always check the size of the holes before pouring the salt…. yeah. Oh, but don’t worry. There was more avocado, so it didn’t matter that mine was now inedible. “Take more, take it all!”

Yikes. This whole time, all I have to drink is lemon water, which I personally struggle with. It’s just not my favorite. Anyways, washing all of this down with the lemon water wasn’t really working out, so I asked for juice. Luckily, that helped me get the avocado down. But, oh, wait! There’s more.

Dulce walks in with a huge pitcher of something liquid that looks sweet. Finally! I think, Morir Sonando (my favorite Dominican drink)– something I can handle. Oh, contraire. It was a nice pineapple/coconut mix, my two least favorite fruits. (Yes, I do know that I sound like a Negative Nancy– I’m just trying to paint a clear picture of how it felt like my world was crumbling). Somehow I force it down, and I think, Yes! I did it, it is done… and then she walks in with the flan. If I wasn’t so full and in so much pain, I probably would have started laughing out loud.

Let me just say something real quick about flan– this is a dessert that I was never really familiar with before the mission. It sounded fancy, like creme broulee and tiramisu. I was actually excited the first time I tried it… but then I learned better. For those of you who don’t know, flan is this dessert that has a weird, almost spongy texture with this runny, mysterious liquid on top and all around it and it’s just… (shudder). However, Latins LOVE flan. They order it special for parties. You find me a Latin person who doesn’t like flan. Go ahead, I dare you!
When the flan came out, it was the end of the line. I could only do so much! So I smiled and sweetly asked her if we could take it to go. “Of course,” she says, “No problem.” By this time (we’d had to stall at the beginning of the appointment when we were trying to figure out if the elders were coming or not), we really needed to go because we were late for our appointment with the other Dulce.

Oh yeah! I forgot to mention, the whole time we were there, people kept showing up! First it was someone’s sister, then another lady, then another. I started saying a silent prayer of thanks that the elders hadn’t come, because it had turned into some kind of an unofficial mini Relief Society activity, and the elders would have been really out of place. So we decide to share a short message, in the which we end up finding out that the whole lunch, all of the women that came, everything was done especially for us. They all came because they wanted to be there when the missionaries came by! I felt very honored, and very guilty, because this whole thing had happened by an accidental phone call and now it was this big ordeal.

So we share the message and get out in under ten minutes– considering we had to put on 10 bajillion layers, that’s not bad! So, we got to our appointment with the other Dulce, the one we meant to call in the first place. Straight off the bat, she tells us that she’s got her church and she’s not going to change, but that we can still talk about religion and stuff. We talk a little about marriage and family. The old Catholic granny in the corner tells us we should hurry up and get married quick before we get too old. We pawn off the flan to Dulce #2, who LOVES it (See? What’d I tell ya?) and get out of there.

Oh yeah, and did I mention? It’s snowing outside! Ha. We call up Juana, a lady who the sisters found a while ago but who hasn’t been able to meet with us until today. So we go over and almost immediately, I get the sense that something is off. There’s a strange smell I can’t place, there’s a weird feeling in the air (like the one you get at old people homes) and when she brings out the Seventh-Day Adventist hymnbook, I brace myself for an interesting lesson.

We start with her singing one of her hymns for us, then we sing one of ours for her. Nice, right? We say the prayer, and she whispers along and I feel like some kind of weird spell is being cast (I’ve found a lot of people whisper along when we pray– I guess prayer is different in different religions). I really don’t know what to teach, but I land on Alma 40, and we start reading a bit. But Juana is breathing heavily and whenever she talks, I hear the faintest hint of a slur. She’s also being WAY hospitable, which isn’t uncommon, but hers was over the top. Oh my goodness, I realize, I think she’s tipsy! I’ve taught people under the influence before, and it isn’t fun. You get nowhere, which coincidentally, is exactly where we got. She wasn’t comprehending much, so we ended the lesson quickly and tactfully.

Then comes the– you guessed it– food. Luckily, it’s just some fruit. Cantaloupe, to be exact. Or in other words, Sister Lancaster’s least favorite fruit, as she quickly tells me. She takes a deep breath, spears an orange cube and starts to lift the fork to her mouth, but stops. She can’t do it. So, I do the only thing I can think of. (No judgment, please.)

“Hermana,” I say to Juana, “My companion is allergic to this fruit. I’m sorry!” “Oh, no!” she says. “Si, Sister Lancaster says, “it gets my throat.” She picks up quick :) So Juana brings her juice instead, served in a plastic disposable  cup.  When she walks into the kitchen for a second, Lancaster looks at me, points to her cup and I see a few tiny brown spots on this inside. “This cup has been used,” she says, then closes her eyes and just keeps sipping. I remind her of missionaries win third-world countries that have to deal with much worse. (That’s what I tell myself when things like this happen to me, at least) I eat half the plate of cantaloupe and we get away with taking the rest to go. We waddle along our way (yes, waddle. So. Full) and go to English class a little later.
Cool note, the head of the entire missionary department of the church was at the chapel with the APS! Anyways, it’s the end of the day, and I’m still in pain.”

So, that’s your real-life glance at a day in the life of this sister missionary. :) I love you all, and I’ve included a picture of me and Sister Lancaster with the ladies at the lunch they prepared for us.
Luncheon with Dulce #1 and friends!

Luncheon with Dulce #1 and friends!

Sister Rogers


2 Responses to “Real-life Missionary Work!”

  1. veronica bailey February 8, 2013 at 2:43 PM #

    WOW, Kelly….what an adventure you’re experiencing…I hope you’re saving all your posts for a possible memoir or book for other missionaries going on a mission..what to expect, etc.
    I know of several missionaires who only baptized one convert…you’re doing great.
    Great Aunt veronica Rogers Bailey…Grampa Don’s baby sister.

  2. FCF FamilyCare foundation February 18, 2013 at 2:19 AM #

    I love reading you post was so touching and I enjoy reading it.

    Keep it up I know God is always be with you.

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