Oh mi familia querida!
Buenos tardes! I'm emailing at a different time today because we went to the Key Peninsula this morning to see the STARFISH! And other neat sea creatures of the great puget deep. Most of our zone went with The Key Center Ward's Bishop and his family. They showed us some neat critters, like the great Moon Snail, Crabs, Sea Cucumbers, Starfish, Clams, Gooey-ducs (or whatever they are called . . .), Sand Dollars, Catfish, Eels, SeaSuns, and even a real BALD EAGLE in the sky. Bald eagles are pretty commonplace in Washington, at least it seems like it to the people here. The little Utah girl in me kept saying "OH, WOW!" As it flew overhead. Absolutely stunning. Lakebay, Washington. We're visiting here someday, family! See the pictures for further details, funny faces, etc.
News on the visa--Elder Higginson (from my district in the MTC) and Elder Decker both got their Visas to Argentina and will be leaving next Monday. Sister Dean and I still have no idea. I'm not sure how I feel, and I'm trying hard not to think to much about it. I know Argentina will come in it's own time, but I'm not sure what timing I want that to be. I am hungry for Espanol and Argentina. And ever anxious in the sea of unknown. At the same time, I have completely, unexpectedly and unreservedly fallen in love with the WA-TAC and I will not restrain the tears when I have to say goodbye.
I want to begin with yesterday. Yesterday was June 23rd, my 21st birthday. It was one of the best birthdays of my life! Saturday night we had dinner at my dear friends Bob & Kim H's, they had made a delicious chocolate-strawberry cake for after our hamburger barbeque dinner (p.s, they are taking a trip to Utah in late July, Mom and Dad, and they want to meet you!). Sunday Morning, Sister Young ordered me to get ready first for the day. Usually we alternate who showers first, and it would have been her turn. While I showered, she made me a breakfast of banana muffins! What an awesome companion! We had ward council at 11:30, and Sacrament Meeting at 1pm. Asan and Tracy were both supposed to come, but neither of them showed. That part was rather depressing :( After a peaceful and renewing sacrament meeting, Sister Young and I took off to the 12th and Pearl building in Tacoma for the Missionary Broadcast. This is the chapel we have all of our transfer meetings at, it was the first place they took me after landing in the Seattle airport. Sister & President Weaver sat behind us, and several of our fellow missionaries watched with us as well. What a Powerful broadcast. The Spirit filled my heart, and I felt overwhelmed with gratitude and excitement and a little bit of intimidation to be a missionary at this time. There are souls to save, and the work is hastening. It was pretty special to have General Conference (of sorts) on my birthday, on my mission. I've never quite had a gift so special before! Some highlights--Elder Perry's energy. I love that man, and his excitement for missionary work enthused me even further! I want to be so energized and exuberant about the work at his age! Elder Holland is such a bold, powerful leader (I told Sister Young this week that if we were general authorities, she'd be Elder Holland and I'd be Elder Eyring). The video about member-missionary work was inspiring, I cried when I watched that sweet little boy sit by a new friend on the bus and share the gospel with him. Children are precious, and are an heritage of the Lord. I love and Sustain our Dear Prophet, Thomas S. Monson. Pray for him, as I'm sure you already are, as he mourns his sweet wife. Something powerful, also, was president Packer's testimony. He's such a wonderful teacher, and spoke about teaching--yet the things he emphasized the most were obedience and repentance. What interesting elements we need in order to improve our teaching skills.
After the broadcast, Sister Young and I piled into a 12-passenger van with 8 other missionaries to head to our musical fireside, the Assistants to the President (AP's) were driving. Keep in mind that the AP missionaries are named Elder Denison and Elder Parry.
Here dawns, thus-far, the most embarrassing part of my mission.
As we began to drive, it was awfully quiet. Still energized and spiritually filled from the Mission Broadcast, I said cheerfully, "Man, isn't Elder Perry just so cute? He's just so excited about missionary work . . . " With that, Elder Parry from the front seat said confidently, "Yeah he is!" and everyone else in the car began looking at me with a "Wow, did you really just say that out loud?" look. It took me a moment to realize that while I was talking about Elder L. Tom Perry, everyone in the car had taken me to mean Elder Parry Assistant-to-the-president Elder Parry, who was currently driving the 12-passenger van to the Missionary fireside. I blushed, explained I meant elder L. Tom Perry, and closed my mouth to prevent any further blunders.
We arrived at the Puyallup chapel and practiced our musical numbers. This would be the last musical fireside for the year. As of this week, the Washington Tacoma Mission and Washington Seattle Missions are losing parts of their mission to create the Washington Federal Way Mission. It was an emotional night as we realized 24 of our own missionaries were being sent to another mission. We sang with fervor and with spirit. My favorite is 'Amazing Grace.' Our 70+ voices rang brightly in the Chapel and through the cultural hall. Warmth enveloped our hearts as we, for the last time, shared our musical testimonies together in this fireside setting.
It was Elder Higginson's birthday yesterday, too! and he happened to be at the fireside as well! We talked a little while, and he told me about his visa. I expressed my excitement and 'bueno suerte' (good luck) to him in his travels. My MTC 41B District will always have a dear place in my heart and memories from the beginning of my mission, and I look forward to seeing all of them in Rosario again one day.
After driving home, Sister Young made me outer darkness for my Birthday treat! And I enjoyed opening my packages from Grandma Reesa + Papa Phil, and you my dear family. Thank you for the Solar flower and spending $, Grandma & Grandpa. And thank you, Mom & Dad and my dear brothers, for the wonderful contents of my package! The music, the clothes, $, the earrings, the cereal, the gum and chocolate. I sure love you. Mostly the pictures and letters, though! Those are priceless!
In all, it was a magnificent birthday.
This week, we ate dinner with the Clive Family. They have traveled all around the world to cool places like Angkor Wat. They have a lovely home on Fox Island. As we dined with them and their friend Loa A., she began telling us about her own adventures performing in Vaudville as a little girl, messing up her knee while riding an elephant, finishing school in Italy, and getting mugged in Tahiti. She told of her father, who said on her 10th birthday that she should write a list of 25 adventures she wanted to have before her 11th birthday. She did that every year but two in her lifetime, and by now, there's not a lot she hasn't done, she says! I decided to do the same. Seeing as the next year I'll be on my mission and traversing to a foreign land, I had at least 25 adventures I want to have before my 22nd birthday. #1 on my list was dying my hair for the first time--and Sister Young obliged this morning! She gave me some high lights and low lights, nothing too drastic since I can't do much with my hair in Argentina. But it is fun to have a change and to witness more of her talents firsthand. Looking forward to more adventures to come!
Sorry this email has lacked some spiritual element, I've been a little selfish, I apologize. There's been some incredible miracles this week. The most moving to me is Mallory, our 6:59 tracting miracle of last Monday evening. We knocked two dead end streets and ended at about 6:50. Sister Young told me she had faith that wherever I drove, we would find someone who needed to hear this message. I found myself pulling up next to a warehouse/shed/barn looking edifice on the side of a quiet road. Sister Young and I hopped out and decided to give it a look after saying a prayer, asking Heavenly Father to lead us even to one soul who needs the gospel. We climbed the hill by this shed, and found a little brown farmhouse behind it. After we knocked, this young, cute mom named Mallory came to the door. She said she wasn't religious, but we asked if we could share a prayer with her. She agreed. After the prayer on her doorstep, she invited us inside and asked if we were thirsty. And she began to cry. She has two sweet kids under the age of 5, and an abusive boyfriend she put a restraining order in for only a day before. She kept saying, 'It's so crazy you're here . .. it's so crazy you're here . . ."sister Young and I bore testimony to her that she is a child of God, and that God is very aware of her. There is no such thing as coincidence, only God's hand in our life.
I know God lives. He loves us. We are his children, and he is aware of us. I hope you are all praying for missionary experiences! I love you deeply and think and pray for you often. Lesquiero mucho!
Miki Moo face
Hymn of the week: I heard the bells on Christmas Day .. . I'll explain in a letter!
Scripture: 3 Nephi 11