Thursday, July 7, 2011

Letter from the MISION ESTE

This is a letter we just received from the Mission home. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I would share it with all of you!!

Dear Shattuck Family,
Issued solemnity by the Missionary Homeward Bound Committee to the family, and loved ones of Elder Steven Richard Shattuck who has served in the Santo Domingo East Mission of the Dominican Republic.

By virtue of the astounding, if not mind boggling, 24 wonderfully accumulated months composed in equal parts of dirt, sun, sweat, tears, and incredible joy in the service of the Lord, the Missionary Homeward Bound Committee has decreed that the time has come for these calloused, blistered, tired, and dirty feet to take a rest. Soon they will once again be in your midst, the rest of the body wearing out-of-style clothing, tanned from the neck up and elbows down, but full of love for the gospel, to once again enter into the wicked Gentile World.

As chairman of the committee responsible for the homeward bound missionaries departing from the DOMINICAN REPUBLIC SANTO DOMINGO EAST MISSION, it is my duty and privilege to inform you of the return of Elder Steven Richard Shattuck to the United States of America, after a completed service to the Lord as a missionary in the “DR”. He will arrive in the designated airport on the designated date of departure (San Jose Airport, August 16th @ 4:55PM) sent to you by the other kind people of the missionary department.

In making proper preparations to welcome your missionary son back into the organized society, it is advised to keep in mind the confined, unusual, and foreign environment that has influenced his life for the past 24 months. One would be advised to stock the kitchen with plenty of Mom's cooking and goodies such as: Oreo cookies, Blueberry muffins, and kind of cheese cake, homemade pies, T-BONE STEAK, pasta salad, cinnamon rolls, homemade bread, and of course your missionary's favorite dish. It would be wise to prevent further trauma by disposing any signs of moldy bread, white cheese, fried food, mondongo (cow guts), goat head soup, yucca (a kind of boiled root that turns to cement the instant it makes contact with your stomach), sugar cane, powdered milk, and boiled or Cloroxed drinking water. Try to be understanding when he has frequent uncontrolled cravings for arroz con leche (Dominican rice pudding), berenjena (eggplant), rice and beans, mangos, fresh fruit juices of every kind, and guineos (bananas).

Don't take it personally when he sifts through the flour and sugar looking for ants, or examines his food for any bug before he actually takes a bite. Don't be alarmed when he washes his fruits and vegetables with Clorox water. Do not think of him as deranged when he spits out bones and raw spices on the floor. Take into consideration and do not be disturbed when he eats with his elbows on the table, uses only a spoon, uses his shirt as a napkin and throws leftovers out the window. You will need to remind him what a trash can is and where it is located.

Be sure to have a full tank of hot water, so that he can enjoy his first bubble bath or hot shower in a long time. Do not be surprised when he wears his sandals in the shower, bug repellant as cologne, sprays Raid as air freshener, uses a butcher knife as a can opener, dumps 3 buckets of water down the toilet to flush it and throws used toilet paper in the garbage can (explanation: We do not flush it here). You will need to remind him not to use the hose in the house to clean, because of the damage it may cause to the carpet and furniture. You can also tell him it is not necessary to set up a mosquito net around his bed each night, and that he will not need candles and matches at his bedside. Yes, you will need to let him know that the camping trip is over.

If he is made aware of an illness of any kind, he will have the tendency to prescribe drinking something with lemon in it (that being the general cure for everything in the Dominican Republic). And if lemons don't work the MAGIC cream will. So for any headache, cough, cold, toothache, or other bodily ailment it would be suggested to buy the ten-cent tin of “Vi Va Pa Ru” (Vicks Vapor Rub).
Please do not be disturbed when he wears the same outfit for a week, judges travel time by how long it takes to walk, prays in Spanish, asks to share a scripture and prays at the end of the meal, or eats his food in 30 seconds flat to run off to an appointment.

Now he might really take it hard when you tell him that he will no longer have to scale cliffs, wade through streams, or jump fences to get to his next appointment. He still will be able to drive a car. You can give him a copy of the car keys, but before doing so you must teach him the rules of driving again. You see, he may follow the example of the “Dominican Driver” which means ANYTHING GOES – driving the wrong way down one-way streets, stop signs and signs are only suggestions, constant use of the horn, not stopping for the police, the largest vehicle has the right of way, etc. You will also want to explain the purpose of the lines in the road – where they came from, why they are there, and where they go, etc.

This poor, wasted person will probably scream, run wildly and become violent if you should mention worm pills, cockroaches, mosquitoes, tarantulas, rats, bats, biting ants and fleas, bikes in the rain, burning tires, gun fights, machete fights, rock throwing, and an elder's Dominican “snake” (over-aggressive friendly Dominican chick that wants to get to know you on the premise of your marital status, or not).

For the first few weeks, or longer, that he is home, accept with understanding his broken English. A simple request for a translation will be sufficient when he involuntarily breaks into a dialogue known as “Spanglish”.

Take into consideration his state of mind when he calls you “Elder” or “Hermana” and insists that it be a rule not to tell you his first name—Elder is sufficient. Do not be bothered if he walks in the door and yells, “saludo” instead of just knocking, says “con permiso” before entering a room, hisses at people to get their attention, points with his lips or face, wrinkles his nose when he doesn't understand, shakes his index finger to say no, asks everyone how they liked the meeting, or carries his backpack everywhere. Do not judge him crazy when his only topic of conversation is the Dominican Republic and the missionary work or think he is a religious fanatic when preaching to strangers and friends about Joseph Smith, the Ten Commandments, reverence in church meetings, and the importance of Family Home Evening and prayer. Do not be embarrassed when he says “Adios” to everyone or “Buen provencho” to everyone who's eating. He will definitely have a great tendency to shake hands with everyone when meeting and parting. Also, when asked to run to the store between noon and 2:00PM, don't be alarmed if the reply is, “We can't, they're closed!” Just patiently remind him that he is in the States now.

You are all hereby warned and duly cautioned to treat the newly delivered missionary with great care, courtesy, affection, and love. Humor him in every possible way. Remain calm when he jumps out of bed at 6:30AM to exercise, study, and beat his comp to the bathroom. He is used to having a companion 24 hours a day, so don't be alarmed if you are followed around and asked to have companionship study and prayer together.

He will surely be suffering from “Dominicanitis,” an extreme love for the Dominican people; so please try to understand that far away look in the eyes and tears brimming and quietly excusing him from the room, when it happens. He will be thinking of that far away land and the people that he has grown to love who have changed his life. But broken hearts are mended with lots of love, hugs, and chocolate chip cookies and with a little bit of patience, tolerance kindness, and time, he will once again resemble the pre-mission specimen that you once knew. However, when he does not respond to his given name, you may be able to catch his attention by shouting: Elder, Gringo, CIA, Mormon, Americano, Majone, Vacano, a comma' hea plis, and and if all else fails, try..................Pssssssst!

So send no more mail to this address because this Elder is COMING HOME!!! I thank you for giving close attention to these matters, and I hope that this information will be of assistance in giving your missionary a warm WELCOME HOME.


C.U. Soone
Homeward Bound Committee

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