Friday, November 7, 2014

Lost and Found- continued

In this revision and continuation of my personal essay, I tried to expand on the view of missionary experience and self-discovery through various different scenes.  I used the metropolitan wilderness description as a kind of opening into the essay and continued from there.  For future revisions I am hoping to develop more concrete themes, making the simple beauty of missionary life more evident.  One thing that I think would add to the essay a lot that I am struggling with at the moment is meaningful dialogue.

Following the path and pace set by Elder Rodriguez, I find myself looking often to the right and to the left, distracted by the sprawling downtown scenery of what will be my new life.  Still wide-eyed I redirect my gaze ahead trying to focus my all on keeping up with my speedy companion who seems to be in perfect harmony with the hustle and bustle of the street cars and high speed shift and flow of people and vehicles alike intertwining with each other under the dimly lit avenues.  Just this morning I had been on a plane.  Already I was flying through the streets, my gears jamming and struggling to lift me over rolling hills, my companion far out of earshot to hear me if I were to suddenly tumble off my borrowed and battered bicycle.  My voice would never reach him I thought as the LA soundscape smothered even the gong-blast beating of my heart in its urban orchestra.  I pray and I pedal harder than I ever have in my life, as I breathe in the exhilarating, new air of my new home.  Somehow I feel someone with me, listening to my unheard pleadings.  I am happy. And so is He.

Gazing down the sunlit and beautifully dirty walkway I breathe deeply and lift my scuffed-up leather shoe into my first step of the day.  The young 18 year-old assigned as both my bodyguard and daily working partner matches my stride and follows beside me, creating a kind of symmetry from the hem of our sun-bleached slacks to the glistening paperback clasped in our hands.  “Hey elders!", the kids who live below us call out from their play on the lawn. We continue on expectant in our occasional glances and of someone to talk to and share our message with.  “Have you ever talked with missionaries before?” I say to one man, waiting at a stoplight.  “Do you have a belief in Jesus Christ?” Elder Cox asks a Hispanic woman, holding her daughter’s hand.  With each hurried excuse or reluctant acceptance of a card handout, my breathing slows to take in the day.  My brow relaxes and I take each step loosely, allowing my feet to fully interact with the firm pavement before lifting them up again.  These days the crowds and clutter of urban living refresh my being, enveloping me into a rich and human world.  "Can we help you with those?" The woman moves on without stopping.  "Have a great day!"     This is their home and my home, my kingdom.  “Buenas!” The door clangs dull and empty and we hear no response to our greeting; I pull out my planner from my front pocket, once bulging but now ripped with the corner folded forward, and examine it quickly.  "Time to go see Manuel" 

The old man swings the tall door wide, welcoming us in with the flies.  “Can we sit here?” my companion asks as we sink into the couch.  Manuel, walks across the room and offers us lime and cucumber water which we sip while we listen and occasionally speak, more to guide than to actually control the conversation.  We marvel at the insights of this man, who orders books in the mail, who sells vitamins door to door, who lost his wife in Guadalajara as he speaks of Nephi and his boat.  We smile as he asks if he really will be ready next week, it seems so close to him but not to us.  In these few weeks of visits we know he’s ready. We know Manuel.

I slide the red-grey Bank of America card through the machine and accept the receipt with a warm “thank-you” as Elder Cox hands me my bagged groceries.  We briskly exit outside and to our bikes against the blue metal sign in the Food 4 Less parking lot.  Draping our bags over the handlebars we speed out and return to busy Santa Fe.  Almost six, and time to return to the norm of appointments and street preaching we hurriedly heat up black beans with corn tortillas to eat before we depart.

The woman to my right folds her tray table down as I take my seat and slide my shoulder bag beneath the row.  We talk pleasantly a moment when she squints a bit and pauses, looking at my badge.  “What’s that you’ve got there?,” she asks.  I too pause. And then I grin.

1 comment:

  1. I really like the urban description in the first paragraph, the "urban orchestra" detail added to the setting development. I also like how you end your essay, emphasizing the continuing nature of missionary work. The paragraph about groceries and eating could be more meaningful if it connected more to the previous paragraph.