La Semana Santa written April 21, 2014
Anyways. This was less a holy week and more a week of weddings and concerts. So there were some definite adventures this week. The craziness started with the transfer meeting on Tuesday. There were lots of changes made to our mission's organization this week. We got a new stake out here, the Lynbrook Stake. It used to be the Lynbrook District, and from what I understand, it was the last district in the continental United States. And it was finally made into a stake last Sunday. There were some other wards moved around to make it work. So now our mission consists of the Brooklyn Stake, the Woodside Stake, the Lynbrook Stake, and the Plainview Stake. This meant that they had to reorganize some of the zones in our mission too. When I first started my mission, we had 9 zones total. Then, a year ago, there was some reorganizing and we ended up with 10 zones. That was a big deal. As of Tuesday, we now have 12 zones. The lower number zones are furthest west, with zone 1 being Staten Island and the west of Brooklyn. Zone 12 being the tip of Long Island in Riverhead and Hampton Bays. In Patchogue, we're zone 11. So we're pretty far out, but not the farthest. We also got a new sister in our district. She is brand new from the MTC. Her name is Sister Vasquez. She was born in Peru, but moved to the United States when she was 10. She is a nice addition to our district.
Wednesday was mostly uneventful except for we had dinner at the church before teaching English classes. We had a special Dominican dish called Nino Envuelto. I guess it's mostly reserved for big events like weddings and such. It's just stuffed cabbage. It was pretty good. I don't know that I would call it my idea wedding dish, but it was pretty tasty.
We had another interesting dinner experience on Friday. We went over to the Ventura's house again. We were unannounced, as usual. Because if I ever call to set something up, he just tells me "Mucho much busy hermano." So now we just show up on Friday evenings and they're never doing anything. His wife was cooking something and we were chatting with brother Ventura when another couple walked in the door. Apparently they were expecting guests. They were both very nice people and the woman went in to help cook dinner. We figured we were crashing some kind of get together, but they had already set a plate for us, so we decided to stay. They were all very excited about the meal. The two men told us that this was a special meal in El Salvador that you only eat on el viernes santo. Which is Spanish for Good Friday. They said it was called torta. But not like the regular kind of torta, which is like a sandwich. This was a special torta. But they wouldn't tell us anything else about it. So we go sit down at the table and there is a bowl of soup for each of us. And inside the soup is what looks like a piece of cornbread. It looked like chicken soup. It seemed a bit odd to me, but whatever. Chicken soup with cornbread in it. I took a taste and noted that the broth certainly did not taste chickeny. That's when I realized that there was an entire piece of fish baked into the corn bread. This torta revolves heavily around fish. Darn you El Salvador for loving fish. That was the grossest soup ever. All you could taste was fish. It was soaked in the bread, it flavored the broth, it was terrible. Luckily they had a bunch of watermelon and they had tacos available too. I managed to eat all of the bread and the fish, but I just couldn't bring myself to finish all the broth. I couldn't hang. Elder Mendez pounded it all. He was a champ. He didn't like it either. I fail to understand how this meal is a treat for people in El Salvador.
Saturday morning we got recruited to do some service at somebody's house. It was a member in our branch, but he was helping out some friends of his. Elder Ozuna told me that it was going to be like Hurricane Sandy cleanup, but I didn't believe him. We got there and they led us down into the basement where we found a large pile of crumbled drywall. I would recognize the scent of asbestos and mold anywhere. It was just like old times. We threw on some masks and gloves and got right to work. Elder Ozuna and I are the only ones in our district who were around for Hurricane Sandy. So we were loving the whole time. They were expecting it to take upwards of three hours to clear out all the debris. We had it done in a half hour. We don't mess around when it comes to hauling drywall. It was great.
Back in Elder Mendez's last area, there was a part member couple that he worked with. The man was a member, but the woman was not and they weren't married either. He worked with them for a while, then he got moved out here to Patchogue. His old companion kept working with them and finally got them to set a date for the wedding. So on Saturday we got to head back into the city to celebrate a boda. Which is Spanish for a wedding. I checked out some wedding piano music from the library and I got to play some nice prelude for the event. And then I played the wedding march from A Midsummer Night's Dream as the bride walked down the aisle. It was pretty cool. After the ceremony, the DJ took over and played all the Latin hits. There was a ton of food. Three large trays of chicken, four trays of rice, each with a different style of rice, and three trays of salad. It was epic. That was quite the party they threw. Elder Mendez was really excited to see all the members from his last area, so we had a good time.
Easter Sunday was the big day of the concert. Church was largely uneventful. One of the members, Sister Cruz, was very kind and made all of the missionaries an epic taco bar so we could have a nice Easter dinner after church. It was delicious. There was all sorts of set up to be done for the concert, so we worked on that. When the time came, we actually had a really good turnout. Almost all of the branch was there. We even had some non members come too. All of the musical numbers turned out well and all of the speakers did a great job. There wasn't much to it, only six songs and four speakers. But it turned out really well and people seemed to enjoy themselves. So I would say mission accomplished.
And to finish it off, we got up early and drove out to Montauk to see the sunrise again. We got an invite from another district of missionaries, so everyone decided to go. It was a good time. Except for the whole getting up at three thing. It was much warmer this time, though, so I would say that the whole event was much more pleasant. And now we're back to normal life. The next big event is a branch talent show in the beginning of May. That will be interesting. Missionaries keep getting volunteered for things, so it may turn into the missionary talent show. Which will still be a good time.
Love you guys!