One of the greatest events of my birth-week was the fact that we picked up a golden investigator! Last week, the Elders talked to this young man named Johnny. He was covered in tattoos, had huge gauges, and had just gotten out of prison. His wife had left him and taken his two kids. He converted to Christianity while in prison, and he was genuinely trying to change his life for the better. He lived in our area, and we stopped by!
Johnny seriously has the most sincere desire to be a good man. He's grown up around Mormons and knows a little bit about what we believe! We showed him the Follow Him video and it really touched him. He told us about his life and all the things he's experienced, but he knows that through Christ he can be made clean! Then he asks this weird question: "So how do you do the whole drowning thing?" Como? He was asking about baptism but didn't know the word. Drowning makes sense from an outside perspective, I suppose! But he wants to be baptized! After twenty minutes of talking to this man, he's humble enough to want to take that first step of following his Savior. It's been hard to see him again just with his schedule, but we look forward to our next meeting!
We had interviews with President this week. I don't know if there's a way to explain my love for President and Sister Mullen. They're like my parents! They love me and I know they do. I know that all they do is for the benefit of the missionaries and all people here in Riverside County. I know that they're here to help me reach my full potential. It was a little uncomfortable talking about our numbers with President just because we've been in so often with migraines and cysts and depression and reactions to medications... All in all, he gave us tips on how we can improve and truly become the best missionaries that we can be.
In our personal interview, I cried as I told President all of the things that I've locked inside my mind. I told him what it was like to be Sister Turner and how I felt pain and sorrow and fear. I could see the love and concern in his face as he helped subdue my fears. He has all the right things to say, and I know he's guided by the Spirit! Those moments with him just confirmed in my heart that I'm supposed to be here in the California Riverside Mission with President Mullen presiding over me and all of the other missionaries here. Although I heard something that no missionary ever wants to hear coming from their mission president: "I'm worried for your mental health." After ugly sobbing for a while, it's hard to bounce back and say, "No! I promise I'm okay!" But the medicine should be working to it's full capacity by the end of the week. Hopefully by then I won't be haunted by the past or by thoughts of utter failure and inadequacy:) I promise I'm fine!
The day after interviews, I noticed the left side of my head felt like I was underwater. The back of my throat hurt too! I couldn't tell if it was allergies or not, but after consulting my mission nurse I headed to the Urgent Care for the thousandth time in a row! As the nurses were taking my vitals, I talked with them and made them laugh. Love them. I sat in the examination room for less that five minutes (fastest wait time ever) and we saw a familiar face! Dr. Patel: the greatest doctor of all time. He diagnosed Sister da Silva's ear infection last transfer. He checked my ears and told me that I had a double ear infection!!! What??! Then he mentioned that another Sister missionary had come into Urgent Care the day prior with bronchitis and he just wanted to make sure that I didn't have the same thing. He checked my lungs and said, "Oh no. You sound like a choo-choo train. You have early stages of bronchitis." DOUBLE WHAT???? He gave me an immediate breathing treatment and put me on heavy antibiotics. Happy birthday to me...
On Saturday, I was a mess. I could barely sit up straight, my entire head felt like I was ten feet underwater, and the rest of my body felt like I was on a ship in the middle of a storm. But it was my birthday, dang it, and even if I was coughing out my spleen, I was going to do missionary work! We had a blitz in our area and I talked to some interesting people! There was an Asian woman on her roof, and I think that takes the cake. But I walked with Sister Nai and Hermana Babb and I told them this craaaazy dream I'd had whilst under the influence of children's cough medicine. We all gathered back together and while everyone started talking to one another, I sat down in the car and tried to stay awake. I close my eyes one moment and when I open my eyes the next, everyone is wearing party hats and there are balloons everywhere and there were cupcakes! Everyone sang Happy Birthday and I was in shock kind of. I thanked everyone profusely and we all devoured the cupcakes:)
Sister da Silva took me home and I passed out upstairs on my bed. I was so exhausted and my body felt so weird I needed to tap out. Two hours later, my companion is shaking me awake! "You need to come see something!" She helps me out of bed and I stumble to the front door. On our porch are MORE balloons, a homemade banner, and my name cut out in Mandarin! Also there was a blue alien, but not as impressive as my name in Mandarin. The Elders were hiding in bushes to watch my reaction, and I wished I could've given them all hugs I was just so grateful for all the effort they put in to make my birthday special!
The fun doesn't stop there. There's this wonderful family in our area, and when they learned it was my birthday, I knew we were in for a party. They had been planning this night for weeks before hand! They learned (through my companion) all of my favorite things and I was just not mentally prepared for what happened. The Hermanas were invited to the birthday dinner too:)
So I walk into their house and EVERYTHING IS PINK WITH DISNEY PRINCESSES EVERYWHERE AND PRINCESS AURORA STICKERS AND CENTER PIECES! They had a HUGE balloon that said "It's Fun to Be One" and underneath that they had written "1 x 20." They were cooking my favorite food: chicken alfredo. They had my favorite Cold Stone ice cream, German Chocolate Cake, in ice cream cake form. They had party crowns, party poppers, confetti, and a pinata. A PINATA! I'm so grateful for the Garrigues family. I know they love me and I feel like part of their family!
We partied so hard that evening, Sister da Silva and I slept through both alarms the next morning and almost missed church. But we also think the children's cough syrup had something to do with that.
Thank you to everyone who contributed their time and talents to make my birthday special! I'm currently writing "thank-you" cards to all you lovely humans who sent me cards and gifts, so please bear with me! I'm truly blessed to have such loving humans in my life. Depression can't get me now:)
Know you are loved!
You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor. - Aristotle