Sunday, April 7, 2013

4/7/1993 - Alma Rosa

Twenty years ago today, I was a missionary in Santo Domingo, a couple weeks into a new proselyting area--which turned out to be my last proselyting area. I spent six months here, an unusually long time by the norms of my mission. At the time, I interpreted that as a vote of confidence from the mission president: i.e., he trusted me to be diligent and persistent enough to keep building up the work in this area without getting bored and antsy to go somewhere else. But, um, who knows what his motive was. (Pessimistic speculation: Maybe it was the mission president's strategy for keeping me somewhere he thought I couldn't do too much damage.)

Anyway, Alma Rosa was the name of the area--Alma Rosa I, officially. Alma Rosa II was the next barrio eastward; the city was expanding in that direction. My companion and I lived in Alma Rosa II, but we worked and attended church in Alma Rosa I. The chapel we attended was the same one I had attended in late 1992-early 1993, while I was working in La Milagrosa, a neighborhood just northwest of Alma Rosa. In other words, I was in familiar territory.

In the map below, Alma Rosa is the area shaded green. La Milagrosa, where I'd served in late 1992-early 1993, is shaded pink. (In retrospect, I should have assigned the colors the other way around: Alma Rosa means "Pink Soul." I have no idea why that name.) The chapel in the center of the map, in Alma Rosa, is where our ward met. The chapel near the southwest corner of the map is where we attended zone conferences. The chapel toward the east edge of the map was where the missionaries in my district held our weekly meetings. Ah, yes: I was district leader while I was in Alma Rosa. A long awaited feather in my cap.

The blue circle on the map indicates the approximate location where I lived while I was working in Alma Rosa. The green circle indicates the street where the first YouTube video below was filmed. The red circle indicates where I suspect the second YouTube video was filmed, a judgment I make based on the lack of vegetation. The northern "triangle" of Alma Rosa was a relatively poorer area. The middle section (moving south) was where the most affluent housing was, although rich houses behind walls could exist literally side-by-side with tin shacks. The southernmost stretch of the neighborhood, parallel to the highway, had big apartment complexes that I have in my head were government projects.

I am proud to say that over the course of six months in Alma Rosa, I systematically tracted out--i.e., knocked doors on--every street in that barrio. We didn't just tract, of course; but tracting was what we always did when we had nothing else to do; I insisted on that as a matter of discipline. I might not pursue that same course if I could do things over, but I was proud of it then because the alternative would have been killing time while fooling ourselves that we were being productive. Six months and a few companions later, I'd worked through every street and started over. At a couple houses, people asked, "Weren't you just here?" Nope, that was six months ago. I've been keeping track.

About the videos:

1. This short rooftop look-about shows a stretch of Alma Rosa that has been "developed up" more than I remember it as being twenty years ago. That is, I don't remember there being so many multi-floor apartment buildings.

2. This will be boring for anyone except a fellow Alma Rosa alum. I'm intrigued by the number of young people who have electronic devices--smart phones, whatever these things are called. (I don't keep up with technology.)

Other posts in this series: 

2/3/1993 - Ensanche Espaillat
9/30/1992 - La Milagrosa
8/12/1992 - A year after the call
7/1/1992 - FEDOPO
5/6/1992 - Guaricano
4/1/1992 - First day in Guaricano
2/5/1992 - The Zona Franca
12/4/1991 - La Romana
11/6/1991 - My first day in the Dominican Republic
10/9/1991 - Entered the MTC
9/4/1991 - Waiting to serve
8/1/1991 - Mission call