In Which I Go To Texas: Monday

The issue of morning exercise had not been discussed, and I was relieved when nobody woke up until 8am Michigan time. I was stubbornly refusing to switch over, because I know I have a hard time with time changes. Hot showers on our mission trip last year had been rare, and the “shower” had been less than 2 feet wide each way. It was pleasant to be able to shower in somebody’s home. The homes we were staying in were really nice. The people we stayed with were LOADED. Our hosts even had a robot vacuum cleaner to clean the floor for them! We stayed in three houses: 2 for girls, one for guys. There were very few guys on this trip. The house the guys were staying in was in a gated community complete with security guards. Our house had a big game room with pool table, fooseball table, and other games. In spare moments, Marina was almost always playing pool with someone. I have no idea about the third house. It was apparently too far away to go to, and their team had to get up earlier in order to be on time. I guess that’s part of the reason I wasn’t staying there! There were 3 house leaders: Miriam, Heaven, and… I’m not sure who was the guys’ leader, and I don’t really care. Heaven was my house leader. Everyone else called her “Mamma Heaven” except for me. I only have 2 people in the world I call “mother” and I have no desire to start adding more. (That and I just didn’t want to obey her the way I had to my own.) At the end of the trip, Heaven was like, “for those of you who call me mamma Heaven, mothers’ day is coming up!” It made me laugh.

Breakfast was hardly anything. Cereal, toast, peanut butter, fruit. An anorexic’s breakfast buffet. I had as much cereal as I could, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough, and it wasn’t.

After breakfast I transferred my stuff from backpack to purse, and figured out what I’d take with me. Then I took a nap while everyone else… you know what, I’m not sure what everyone else did, and I don’t really care. Then someone would wake me up, and we would drive to the guys’ house for morning devotions. The first day after worship, Jinsil handed out slips of paper asking us what we were most looking forward to on the trip. I took mine, didn’t put my name, and wrote THE DOLL STORE in big bold letters. Jinsil later came up to me and asked if I wanted to remain anonymous. I told her I didn’t mind have a preference, I just wanted to see if she’d know. She laughed at me.

Miriam and I went outside to go work on our seminar. It was so sunny and warm I literally begged her to “please please please please pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease can we work outsiiiiiiiiiiiide?” I should’ve saved my begging for when I would’ve needed it, because Miriam didn’t require any convincing at all. About halfway through work, I discovered my hands were shaking. Crap! I balled my hands into fists and tried to focus my mind. I eventually gave up and got out the almonds. At that point, my brain also wasn’t focusing. Miriam and I went inside, and I showed Heaven my shaking hands and said, “this whole breakfast thing we have going on isn’t working out.” After that, I never lacked for a good, hot, substantial meal for breakfast, especially after what happened next. So, my blood sugar’s in the toilet, right. It’s clear I need to eat. I’m supposed to be helping prepare lunch, which doesn’t bother me, except I told everyone straight up that I was in trouble, and, while I was still willing to help, I probably shouldn’t be allowed to work with sharp objects, and if I needed to snack, they needed to let me. They were cool with this, so I set to work opening cans and picking at the vegetables. We were supposed to be making haystacks. Abby sliced up what she told me were green peppers. I like green peppers, and my sugar was low, so I bit into one. I don’t even think I swallowed, I just screamed and begged for soymilk. What Abby had thought were green peppers were really jalapeƱos. Oops.

The soymilk didn’t really help. I would stick my tongue in the glass and it would feel better, but as soon as I pulled it out, the pain would start again. It literally felt as if someone had taken a hot stone from the middle of a campfire, or one of my mom’s baking stones straight out of the oven, and was holding it up to my tongue and wouldn’t let go. Normally when one is burned, the pain is sharp for a bit and then dulls. It’ll still hurt like hell, but it’ll be duller than it was at first. For me, the pain wasn’t dulling. Marina, after watching me for a few seconds, saw that clearly the soymilk wasn’t working. Being sensitive so spicy food herself (her throat literally closes up when she eats jalapeƱos) she was empathetic. She said ketchup might help, so that’s how I ended up in the kitchen watching her hand me a spoonful of ketchup.

Little known secret: I don’t actually like ketchup. Oh I’ll eat it, if the food needs extra flavor. I might even mix it with vegenaise to enhance the vegenaise flavor. But I don’t particularly like it, and if I can, I don’t use it. In other words, I find it semi enjoyable in very small doses. I shuddered at the idea, but I swallowed the ketchup. This still didn’t help. After eating a few spoonfulls, I would stick my tongue in a spoonfull of ketchup, and it would help temporarily, until the saliva mixed in with the ketchup and I’d have to swallow it and pour on some more.

Marina then tried a bannana, but it was the same thing. A half hour later, we were still trying. I gave up trying to be normal, burst into tears, and screamed, “make it stop!”

Trying to talk while sticking my tongue in glasses of soymilk/spoonfuls of ketchup/a bannana (incidentally, ketchup and bannanas are NOT a good food combination. In case anybody cared.) made trying to talk HILARIOUS. Miriam and Heaven said they felt like they were talking to a 4 year old. This after Heaven walked in and wanted to know why I didn’t just take the bannana out of my mouth.

So, my blood sugar is already in the toilet, getting more in the toilet by the minute, and my tongue hurts so bad I can’t eat. Meaning that my sugar is going to get even worse. Eventually I got to the point where I felt less pain, and could eat, but didn’t dare drink water (I drank a while carton of soymilk, Bamji did NOT seem happy.) I was the only person in the group who was allowed to drink something besides water with my meal. I didn’t appreciate this, as water is actually my favorite drink ever. And I never got to taste my food. I’m sure the beans tasted good, but I have no idea if that’s true or not.

After lunch, which was an hour late, we went to Rice University for the first time. We were too late for a campus tour, so we split up right away into outreach vs doctrinal. I have no idea what I was supposed to be doing, because Marina needed me to help type something for her. But then she ended up needing to prepare for a seminar she was helping with, so really, I sat there and bonded with my kindle.

Outside our building was a small slice of the Berlin wall. I stood there for a while, reading the plaque, the graffiti. I understood all I read, despite some of it being in French. I stood there for a while, meditating on Freedom, and the people who’d fought and died for it. Once, this slab of concrete had fenced people in and been a symbol of oppression. Now it was nothing but a slab of concrete. A memorial.

Anthony met up with us. He was with me on satellites this summer, and I thought I’d never have to see him again. I met a few other people, tried to eat potato chips, failed, and gave them to Marina. Those were my favorite potato chips, too! I was all kinds of unhappy, but didn’t feel I could show it because Abby already felt bad.

We had the seminar, which was given by Heaven. Marina and Shoma then told their testimonies. Marina’s was more interesting, because she kept it short and to the point, whereas Shoma’s was more long and drawn out. I’ll keep that in mind, in case I ever give my testimony. Which won’t happen, btw, in case anyone was wondering.

After the seminar, we had to socialize for what felt like decades because I was exhausted. And then we STILL couldn’t go home; we had to have an end of day meeting to discuss questions and concerns that came up. All I wanted to do was sleep.

While waiting for the guys to bring the vans around, we all waited by the fountain. It was so warm out, and I’d been cooped up for so long that I took off my shoes, socks, removed all technology from my pockets, and went wading in the fountain. This was rather dumb, as the fountain was a small hill of slippery rock, but I managed not to kill myself.

It took about an hour to drive back home, and all I wanted to do was sleep. It was then that I found out that I’d be forced to go to evening devotions at stupid o’clock at night when I was already an hour behind and really wanted to sleep.

I was belligerent as possible and refused to pay attention to anything Heaven said. Instead I sat there and did my nightly routine as much as possible: writing in my notebooks, playing last minute games on my iPod, etc. I did this throughout all evening worships. I figured hey, if they’re going to keep me up late, I might as well be doing things I need to so I can get to bed faster when we’re done.

And that was Monday. Tune in next time to read about my exciting evangelistic endeavors, plus, um, being able to taste my food. Well, one of those is something you’ll actually care to read about, anyway.

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In Which I Go To Texas

I haven’t updated in a long time, largely because not enough people read this, and those who do wouldn’t be pleased by most things I’d have to say as of late. They still wouldn’t, but, life goes on. Maybe I’ll make new friends, maybe I won’t.

I’m not quite ready to post the more controversial stuff, so for now, we’ll just go over the acceptable (to my audience) stuff that happened in Texas.

I was torn over whether I really wanted to go to Texas. Could I really survive a whole week with the missionaries without some sort of drugs? Was it really going to be that warm? (I’ve heard Texas gets cold and icy, even though there’s no snow.) Would I have enough of my own space?

These were just some of the things weighing on my mind. However, it was too late to sign up for the NL (let the reader understand) trip to Florida, and if I didn’t go to Texas, I was scared that I would literally be alone with nothing to do over break. The thought terrified me; I wanted to spend spring break in a warm location surrounded by friends.

Ultimately what tipped the scales was finding out where the missionaries were going: Rice University, Houston, TX. Hey, I thought, there’s a doll store in Texas… is it in Houston, or Dalls? A quick check of the website told me that both answers were correct. When I saw that AG Houston was only 15 minutes from Rice University, I thought, that’s it. I’m going.

Even if the missionaries didn’t take me, I was going. Last year that was actually my biggest regret: not going to see the dolphins on my own. I could have, too. Last year I didn’t really do much. The very last day, I did nothing. It would’ve been very easy to slip away for the 4 hours required and not have even been noticed. Certainly I wouldn’t have been needed.

Unfortunately for me, this mission trip was a bit more structured. I say unfortunately because that didn’t really give me much time to actually have a relaxing break. We were staying in the homes of church members, and I knew then that any sort of privacy I’d need would likely be out. Last year I’d managed to have my own room complete with private bathroom. (I camped out in the baptistry while the rest of the girls camped out in one big room.)

When we arrived, I discovered there was one big room in which we’d be staying, but also a smaller guest room with a double bed. I immediately claimed it and decided that anyone staying in there with me would need to be someone who wouldn’t get up stupidly early (or at least not bother me if they did) or go to bed stupidly late. I then crawled into my sleeping bag (it was late) and decided that the missionary who wanted me to stay up later could shove it; I was going to bed. Whoever would join me, could, if they had to.

Marina ended up joining me. Well, I guess it’s better than sharing a room with one of these strangers we picked up on our way out of Michigan.

I didn’t actually mind having Marina as a room mate. It wouldn’t work out long term, but she’s stayed the night/shared a bed with me before, so it wasn’t one more new experience to get through. The only thing I truly minded about it was that it meant I couldn’t cry into my pillow if needed.

I wanted to do a lot of crying on that trip. It was necessary to hold off, though, and in doing so, I found I was unable to get it out. Even now I wish I could cry. I think if I could, I would feel a zillion times better.

So I ended up having a place to go when I needed space… sort of and sometimes, if Marina wasn’t there. We did a fair bit of arguing on that trip, so I needed space more often than not. The first few days were so filled with fear and anxiety it was ridiculous. I felt I had no one to listen to me, because when I started opening up, they would start arguing with me. “Oh, things aren’t REALLY like that” or “you don’t REALLY feel that way.” Eventually I gave up trying. It just ended up deteriorating into an argument anyway. I think Miriam is the only person where it didn’t turn into a full blown argument that made me raging mad. Miriam’s pretty chill. I like that about her.

Last year’s mission trip was more loosely structured. We still had a schedule we tried to stick to, but it was more flexible. There was time to sit down and do homework, or relax. This trip everything was packed in so tightly I could hardly breathe, and I wasn’t even following the official schedule. They wanted everyone to have their personal devotions at 6, exercise at 7, and be ready for the day by 8. They also wanted to have evening devotions even though most of us were getting back at 11pm. This, coupled with the time change (we moved an hour behind, time changes are never kind to my body) was torture. I was allowed to skip exercise, but not evening devotions. So, when I was tired and all I wanted to do was sleep, I had to sit through worship. It made me extra tired and cranky. How can these people do it? How can they go to sleep late and get up early and not morph into Bitchy McBitcherson? It wasn’t until the last few nights that I developed the trick of slipping away to sleep after evening worship started. Hey, they want me to be good, they can’t have it both ways.

In the morning, we had one hour of free time after morning worship. At first the missionaries just strongly emphasized that we should use that time to be productive. Then they insisted on filling the time with group bible studies. These were optional, but highly encouraged. I never went. Usually at that point all I wanted was a nap, but I had to start out by reading. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep.

Also, those first two days, Miriam said that if we got all our work done in advance, we could go to the doll store on Wed. This was run past Prince first, who said it was ok. The getting our work done in advance didn’t actually happen, because the missionaries kept on having missionary meetings. However, since Miriam and I would be excused from outreach on Wed, we decided to work on it then, and go to the doll store in the morning. We would’ve switched things around, but Miriam didn’t want to deal with rush hour traffic, which I can’t blame her for. Anyway, she would’ve just ended up being called to a meeting anyway. As it was, the missionaries called her in on our way to the doll store. Miriam was in traffic and didn’t want to talk and drive at the same time, so she hung up on them at one point.

After going to the doll store, I felt a lot of relief. Now, whatever happened, happened. Now that I had gotten what I’d came for, I was just a piece of luggage along for the ride, as far as I was concerned.

Except for the fact that I had to help Miriam give a seminar, not just once, like most everyone else, but twice. I was super chill about it though, because of my “along for the ride” attitude. Normally I’d be nervous as heck. I still sweated through 4 layers of washcloths on each arm, but it went well.

I will write more about these things in detail in future posts, I promise, as well as my one outreach experience. Right now I’m just giving the overview of what was going on at the time so you have a better background.

I only went on outreach once, actually. I was supposed to go more often, but the first day Marina wanted my help with a project, so I stayed to help her. Bamji didn’t seem too happy about it, but I told him I was at least being productive. I should’ve also told him I was “helping my neighbor.”

Originally the missionaries wanted to split us up into two teams: one team would do outreach, and the other team would be doing the doctrinal class with Bamji, and then the next day they’d switch, lather, rinse, repeat. However, after Monday, this plan was scrapped. I’m still a bit fuzzy on the why, but it didn’t really matter.

I had to look in my diary to find out that the one day I went on outreach was Tuesday. That will be next week’s post. Wed Miriam and I were excused from everything but working on our seminar, but I wouldn’t have had to do outreach then, because it was doctrinal class that day. Thursday I was supposed to do outreach, but we didn’t factor in the extra bad traffic, so our timing was off. More about that in a later post.

Actually, I should just like, do one post per day. Wish I’d done it on the mission trip. Oh well.

Friday was our fun day, the day we didn’t do outreach at all. I thought we’d be doing some on sabbath, but was grateful for the chance to find a private room with a nice comfy couch, curl up with my kindle, and read and doze all day.

Then we spent the rest of saturday and all of sunday driving. We didn’t get back until very late on sunday, and then I was supposed to start school on Monday, the key word being, “supposed” to…

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