The Missions: San Francisco and San José

Unless the mission is oriented by charity, that is, unless it springs from a profound act of divine love, it risks being reduced to mere philanthropic and social activity...Consequently, being missionaries means loving God with all one's heart, even to the point, if necessary, of dying for him. - Pope Benedict XVI

this morning i was introduced to an interesting facet of domincan life: i went to the bank in elias pina (about 45 minutes away on the haitian border) to get the bank accounts straightened out so i can sign checks...) and afterwards decided i needed to buy some boots for riding the moto. so, three young men from the parish and i ventured deep into the haitian/dominican market. this is no small market - it covers about 10 blocks - all of which is covered by tarps, some 8 feet high, others 6 feet high, still others only 4.5 feet high. i had sent the boys looking for boots while i was in the bank so we didn't have to scour the entire market, but to no avail, for there is no real order under the make-shift tent city. you can buy just about anything: cooked foods, dry food, rice, beans, lemons, beer, tobacco, cassette tapes, toothpaste, shoes, clothes, underwear, belts - just about anything under the sun.

so there we were, looking through piles of boots and shoes and finally we found some that looked good. i tried them on, no good - too big. so we sloughed our way through some more and kept looking. i realized at one point that the boots all seemed to be slightly used. the soles appeared new, but the insides appeared somewhat worn. it took me a few minutes to come to grips with the fact that i was trying on used boots from haiti, but i finally got over it and picked a pair - the guy saw a gringo and asked for 350 pesos (about 12 bucks). i called him a thief. he shrugged and i said, "let's go." we moped around some more, by this time we were all hot and hungry, and couldn't find any more. so, i said to myself, "what the heck, 12 bucks is nothing" and we went back. this time i took the initiative and told him i only had 250 pesos - take it or leave it. he took it, complaining that i was making him a pauper.

so, i am now the owner of a slightly used, 9 dollar pair of dominican military boots. life is good.


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