Crazy to think I am 22 now... so old haha. Celebrating a birthday as a missionary was different but actually really enjoyable. I woke up and my companions had covered the bathroom mirror in a happy birthday note with dry erase pens and hung streamers and balloons over our study nook in the kitchen. It was so sweet of them. Then we went out and got to work. We found two new investigators that day. And one of them now has a baptismal date! Georgetta is so prepared. Her mother was and her husband is a member, but she never joined the church because she was too busy raising her kids. Their name just appeared on our ward list when we printed a new one and so we called them up and asked if we could come visit. They said yes but then called back a few days later before our appointment and asked if we would join them for lunch too. Of course we did, and that 1st lunch appointment happened to fall on my birthday. Slim and Georgetta are some of my favorite people since coming on the mission. He has the greatest stories and I just laugh and smile so much while we visit them (plus I think Slim-pa is the greatest grandfather name ever invented haha). In addition to that Georgetta feels that her mother led us to her, that her mom wants her to be baptized and have the opportunity to go through the temple. I am just soo so excited for them and I can't wait to come back a year from when she is baptized and see them get sealed in the temple. We had dinner with the Andersen family that night and I just love them so much as well. They are such good people. I hope to model my future home and life after them. They are like my member hero's here. Sister Andersen made me a cobbler for my birthday at my request. The funny thing is though that I guess the text we sent her said something along the lines of "cobbler over cake" meaning preference wise, but she took it literally and thought I wanted some fancy type of recipe. She looked for a recipe that matched that description and ended up making cake over cobbler. We had a good laugh about that one haha. She asked if this was like some family tradition and I was like "huh?, oh no" hahaha that is how we figured it out.
Anthony got BAPTIZED! Yay yay yay. He is so cute. I love that kid. However, I never thought I would have to teach why egging someone's house is wrong on my mission, but a few days before his baptism Anthony got caught with his friends egging a house... geeze lol. He is just loving church so much though and him and Zachary pal around and now he is getting involved in scouts too! I felt like a proud momma to see them figuring out rides and which activities he wanted to do at their day camp this week.
4th of JULY!!! My second favorite holiday was also a good day here in Los Banos. I think I am finally starting to get why Dad always told me I should be more grateful and appreciative of the freedoms I have being born as an American citizen. So many things that I take for granted that other people try and obtain their whole lives. I think this especially hit me this year as one of our members here is being sent back to Mexico to await pardon before he can come back to be with his family here in America. His wife and children are all citizens, but he wasn't and so part of the process they are going through trying to get him citizenship includes this leaving the country for MONTHS and not returning until he is given the ok by the government. It is so sad and my heart breaks for them, but it also has made me stop and realize all that I do have. Also on the 4th we were invited to a party with the Laguna family. Great food (I even tried the little mexican corn with mayo and chili pepper), I lost horribly at ladderball to Sister Sorensen, there were minifireworks, and I talked about the gospel. One of the cousins at this block party was Catholic and had tons of questions for us. I hope that we were able to help her a little and that the literature I gave her can continue to help her as she travels home. After it was all over Hermana Sorensen and I laid in the grass and just looked up at the stars, talking about how grateful we are for the plan of salvation and our knowledge of it.
We also met the MEANEST lady of the mission so far. She was awful... Yelling at us through her front window about how we aren't Christians, that we are brainwashed parroting liars... I am sorry I don't care what religion you are or what your beliefs are I don't think that is the "Christian" thing to do. I was really upset about it for about two more doors and then I got over it.
Bishop Lee (the one with cancer) is getting sicker still. The cancer has spread to his shoulder and spine. He looked really bad this past Sunday at sacrament meeting. It makes it hard to coordinate everything in that ward, but we are still praying for him. He is still fighting and has started a new round of chemo and targeted radiation. So if you wouldn't mind including him and the work in the Los Banos ward in your prayers we would really appreciate it.
I also just wanted to mention one more member before I close this week. Brother Tualau (said like to allow) is awesome. He got up and bore his testimony on Sunday and Sister Sorensen and I both think he will be called as the new ward mission leader in Mercy Springs since Brother Betham our current leader has now been called as 2nd counselor to the bishop. I am so amazed at the love that Island people have. It is something cultural that we white people just don't have sadly. They have such big hearts and such strong love and testimonies. I am so excited that a large group of the Tongan people have started attending our wards here (instead of their other Tongan ward in San Jose). They bring new life into this area and I am so excited to work with them.
It is such a blessing to serve here and to see the miracles I do. I am grateful for this opportunity to learn and grow.