Sunday, August 4, 2013

Stories from My Mission: The things you don't tell your parents about. (Part 1)

I will go ahead and label this post "Part 1" since there were many things that happened to me on my mission that I, um, just didn't write home about. Not because I had done anything wrong, but there were just the little things that happened that I never told them because I really didn't want to make my parents worry about me. I have no idea how many of these stories I have. I did tell my parents some of my big stories, like being bitten by a dog, breaking my rib, or being robbed on the street, but there were all the other little stories that I didn't bother to write them about.

In my fourth area in the city of Eldorado I had one companion, Elder Caballero, who I was with for one transfer (before I was "emergency transferred" out of the area during a normal transfer, but that is another story. Wait, I don't think I ever told my parents about that one... I told them about my first emergency transfer that brought me to Eldorado, but I don't think I ever told them about why I had to leave Eldorado...oops. Anyway back to my normal story.) So, Elder Caballero was a very outspoken Paraguayan who always made it clear what he thought about things. In Paraguay they speak both Spanish and Guarani so he was obviously fluent in both. I on the other hand only knew how to say 5 or 6 words in Guarani, and two of them were "jagua piru" which means "skinny dog", so in other words, I knew nothing in Guarani. In the city of Eldorado about a third of the people were Paraguayans, and thus there were a lot of people who spoke Guarani.

One day after returning from a mission conference in Posadas, we were getting off the bus and my companion bumped into a woman as he was walking down the aisle of the bus. He turned towards her and said, "Excuse me." and then moved on and didn't think any more about what had happened. We were walking down the street about 2 hours later when a man approached us. All of the talking that happened next happened in Guarani so I didn't understand a word of it, but I could understand the man's tone. My companion explained afterwards what he had said.

We almost walked right past each other on the street but at the last moment the man turned and planted himself in front of my companion. He pointed his finger at my companion's chest and asked him if he was the one who had disrespected the woman on the bus. My companion was at first confused, but the man said that he remembered seeing my companion step on the woman's foot on the bus earlier. My companion said he was unaware of the fact that he had stepped on her foot but he said he was sorry about it. The man was not placated and continued to accuse him harshly with his finger now pointed directly at my companions face.

It was at this point that I noticed the ring on the man's finger. It was, shall we say, bone white and had a swastika carved into it. There was something about the man that was very unsettling. He continued to accuse my companion of "disrespecting" the woman and my companion continued to apologize profusely. The man was insisting that my companion would have to do something to satisfy her "wounded honor", and the general implication was that it would somehow involve a knife. My companion, Elder Caballero, who I had seen stand up to toughs on the street, listened to him talk big and would let nothing diminish his honor was obviously disturbed by the man's accusations and was trying to apologize and placate the man as best he could.

Eventually the man was satisfied with what ever my companion told him and with a parting warning he walked off. After the man left Elder Caballero explained to me what the man had said. My companion also told be about how in Paraguay someone's honor is a very serious thing, and to violate someone's honor could provoke serious consequences. My companion knew people who had been knifed over wounded honor (for example, my companion's full last name was Caballero-Ruiz Dias, but he only went by Caballero since another family in Paraguay had a blood feud with the Ruiz Dias family). So for my companion when the man accused him of dishonoring the woman on the bus, this was a very serious thing, especially considering the man's, um, shall we say, choice in jewelry. We were both a little shaken by the experience.

We explained what happened to our branch president. He was concerned but there was nothing he could do. We told our zone leader and mentioned it to the Elders in the mission office, they filed it away behind all the robbings, and kidnappings that happened in my mission (we averaged about one companionship per year was kidnapped/held hostage and robbed per year, which doesn't include all the street muggings at knife/gun point which happened every two or three months or so...something else I never mentioned to my parents...). Since there really wasn't much we could do we just chose to ignore it. Fortunately we never saw that man again.

1 comment:

Jared said...

All I can say is that I had it easy (minor dog bite notwithstanding).