Presidente Hernández (my branch president, leader of my congregation at church) called as I was writing up the introductory journal entry and I mentioned that I was writing in my diario. He asked me to put down that he loves me a lot (he was more flowery than that, but that gets the point across).
Thing is, he called me because he feels like I haven’t been feeling really comfortable in the branch lately, and he’s right. I’ve had a hard time of it recently.
About a year ago, I was called as the elders quorum president in the newly formed Cunningham spanish speaking branch. (Elders quorum president leads a quorum of priests in a congregation, consisting of all the men in that congregation 18 and older.) It’s been a real blessing, a lot of work, and recently, I’ve been letting myself feel really overloaded and a bit unhappy. I was talking with Clayton about it last night, because I’ve taken to being rather frustrated on Saturdays with the work that typically needs to be done to get ready for Sundays.
I’ve got a very Bill S. Preston, Esq. poker face, so I’m an easy read, and President Hernandez has always had a good feel for me. Even in the rare event that my whole life isn’t showing on my face, he can pretty accurately sense how I’m feeling, so he knew I’ve been frustrated for the past few weeks.
It made for a funny start to our conversation. He expressed his aprecio for me (he sincerely loves me like a son), and since it’s hard to out-flowery language someone with a “love you back,” I came back with something like “thanks, what can I do for you to show the love on my part?” (Wow that sounds infinitely lame in english! Just trust me that it actually sounds cool in spanish.)
Since he’d called to see what he could do for me, my en que le puedo servir didn’t get especially far. He was really straight about noticing that I didn’t seem to be real happy in the branch lately and we set up a time to get together and talk… then proceeded to talk for about 45 on the phone anyway. (I should probably mention somewhere along the line here that President Hernández doesn’t really speak english. He’s learning, but it’s easier to just speak spanish when we’re talking.)
I think we’ve got some quorum reorganization things worked out (I need new counselors and a secretary), and I got a chance to tell him about my goal to have some of the brothers from the branch prepared so that there’s a choice of latin brothers that could do the job. (That may just be my white male self-hate flaring up over white guy me leading a latino quorum, or my feelings of overwork getting really sneaky about expressing themselves to me. The basic desire to have our quorum by latins for latins is good, but I think I’m letting feelings of cultural and linguistic alienation have too much sway at the moment.) I also got to tell him that I’m thinking of moving into the city in the next few months because it’s about time I became a homeowner and the property values near work are on the rise. (Briefly touched on marriage concerns too, but didn’t get that deep into them. That’s a hard subject because my latin friends would love for me to find a nice latin girl. Problem is, last time I tried that I learned that I suck at being a boyfriend to someone that doesn’t speak native-level english and have a working knowledge of north american pop culture.)
Anyway… gotta finish up so I can get to bed. Presidente and me talked about the quorum, about how I’ve been feeling, about how he doesn’t want me to leave and wants to find a way for me to enjoy myself in the branch. We talked some about going to Honduras for a bit around Christmastime. I’d enjoy that, though I’m not sure how practical it will be. We’ll see how it fits in two weeks of vacation days.
What I’m thankful for at the moment: friends that 1) can read me easily 2) use that easy read to care for me. (I tend to feel like my masking disability drives people away or makes people feel like they can manipulate me.)
Sometimes I get to feeling alone as the only white face at church, and certainly the only american pop culture geek. Sometimes I wonder if I should go back to the english world. (Especially when I’m feeling sharply SO-less.) Days like today remind me that although we have cultural differences, my latin friends have generally loved me better than anyone that wasn’t family. (One of the strengths rather common in latin culture that get overlooked by the bigots crying “stop the invasion of our southern border” in recent months.) As closed and detached as I can be sometimes, I really don’t deserve that kind of love from people I have so little in common with and so frequently take for granted.