Hey everyone! :)
Thanks, everyone, for all the birthday wishes and the messages. I really enjoyed reading through what everyone from the family wrote and I'm sure I'll enjoy it more tonight when I can actually sit down with calm and read it through. ("With calm" is one of those phrases that works in Spanish but not so much in English. Oh well.) Thank you all very much!
So, a quick recap of the day's events. I slept in, had breakfast in bed, went and caught the afternoon showing of Prince of Persia, and then headed back home for a party with all my friends. Oh, wait - that didn't happen at all! Ha. Yes, I'm still a missionary, and behaving as one. This is what really went down. I woke up, exercised, had our hour of personal study. Then during the second hour (companionship study) Elder Jackson tried to make me a cake. The problem is, we only have a hot plate and a microwave to cook with, and with the lack of supplies on hand he did the best he could. We had pancake mix and so he tried to make a bunch of large, thin pancakes so that they could be stacked up into a cake-like creation... they turned out tasting more like crepes, but with syrup and peanut butter and crumbled chocolate chip cookies on top, it tasted pretty awesome. They went to a little store nearby (the kind that's on every corner, because here people just sell things out of their houses) and bought a giant candle and stuck it in the middle. I'll see if I can send a picture; it was pretty funny. They sang happy birthday and the Mexican equivalent (las mañanitas - look it up if you can) and we all ate and had a good time. Then we kept studying and went about normal P-day activities. For lunch we ate fried fish with radishes, tomatoes, carrots, and broccoli. (Sounds like an unusual combination - especially when you throw it all in a tortilla - but I've gotten used to it down here haha.) It was a fish called róbalo; I'm not sure what it would be in English or anything, but it tasted really good. Sister Velasco, the mission president's wife, called me around 9:30 am to wish me a happy birthday. She said to say hi and send her greetings and appreciation to the family and told me to keep working hard and to enjoy being 20 years old. It was pretty neat and very thoughtful of her to do that. And so that was basically how I celebrated my birthday - cake (sort of) and fish. No presents, really, but being a servant of the Lord is its own present and definitely more than enough. :) Plus, I received quite a bit of birthday wishes today - Lisa emailed me with messages from everyone on Mom's side of the family and Grandma and Grandpa Greer emailed as well. Please tell all the cousins and family of Greg, Cheryl, Uncle Bruce, etc thanks for their comments :)
Now let me say a few things about what's been going on this week. First off, the rain. It has been raining intermittently the last week or so, but yesterday and today have been crazy. It pours - and I mean it just comes down it sheets for anywhere from 2-10 minutes, and then just stops. The sun comes back out, even. But then five minutes later, the rain hits again. We'll be walking down the streets and it starts to rain, so we put our jackets on. Five minutes later, the sun's shining again and we're too hot, so we take them off. And so it goes... all day long. At one point yesterday it rained for no longer than seven seconds (pouring rain) and then just suddenly stopped. Seven seconds, and that's it. Weird, huh? But it's been pretty fun. We were hoping that seeing us soaking wet would make people let us inside out of pity or sympathy, but it doesn't seem to have worked. Oh well. :) The weather has been pretty crazy lately, and the river's rising a lot and threatens to flood if it continues like this, but I prefer cool temperatures to the customary heat, so all is well.
Our investigators are doing pretty well. María Luisa (Rosa's grandma) came to church yesterday and loved it. We set a new baptismal date for her on July 17th. She's doing really well and is always a lot of fun to talk to and teach. We taught Rosa and Ricardo about marriage and the law of chastity and "The Family: A Proclamation to the World" and it was really spiritual. They both want to get married (they have the cutest little two-year-old daughter), but they're kind of afraid of the commitment (yes, I see the irony). So we gave them some time to think about it, pray, and discuss the issue, and we're going to see what happens. We're meeting with them tonight and we're hoping for the best. If not now, I'm sure they'll be baptized eventually, but of course the sooner the better. I'll let you know how it goes next week. As a side note - it's really interesting how the Lord helps us as missionaries, especially when we don't always have experience with things the investigators go through. For example, I don't know what it's like to have a child nor to be married, but the Spirit helped us teach them about those things in a way that I think really got through. It's pretty cool when things like that happen. The little experiences with the Spirit are what make up our testimonies rather than just huge events.
Feliciano has to work on Sunday for a little while now. He's an albañil (which translates as stonemason, though it's not exactly the same type of job here) and they're working on a house that requires him to work on Sundays. He says they should finish soon, and that he wants to continue going to church when he can and that he still wants to be baptized, so we're going to keep teaching him as often as we can. He's still reading the Book of Mormon and progressing really well. I hope that his work schedule goes back to normal soon, because he has a pretty good testimony of the truthfulness of the Restoration and really wants to become more involved in the Church.
We're teaching another family, a referral from a member in the ward - her inactive son and his nonmember wife and daughter. They seem willing and dedicated to do what's necessary to gain a testimony. More news to come. Beyond that, we're teaching a handful of people and working our tails off to find new investigators. We had a cool experience giving a blessing to a less active girl this week - it cured her of her fever and really renewed her interest in the Church; we're going to start working with her family too. So there's plenty of work here and things are going well for us. This past week was full of good successes and we're hoping this coming week will be even better. The work moves forward! :)
Regarding the mission split - we still don't know when transfers will be. I'll be here for at least another week, and what the new president will probably do is keep things the same for this next transfer - meaning I'm likely not going anywhere for a while, which is perfectly cool by me. He arrives in Villahermosa in a couple days and we'll see what happens from there.
Well, that's about it for general stuff. I'm doing really well and still loving missionary life. I think I'll now move on to the "replies" section of Elder Greer's Weekly Letter... :)
Gabs: Hey Gabs! :) Your "happy birthday" greeting was pretty awesome - definitely the biggest of them all! Thanks! To be honest, I feel the same as I did yesterday. It's strange thinking that I'm now 20 years old. I guess that's how it always works, huh? Girls' Camp sounds like it was a blast! I liked how you described everything you did. It made it so that I could picture all the activities and everything. I bet you had a lot of fun and I'm glad you enjoyed it. I also laughed at the last part of your email - "i got car sick on the way home so when i got home i puked. :( :( then i was fine i ate a bread stick. then i got stung by a hornet then i cut my tongue. mom says to wrap it up." Haha! The way you said that made me laugh a lot. I asked myself, "A breadstick?" and then I remembered that I haven't eaten a real breadstick in a long time. Mmmm. I also thought it was funny that Mom told you to wrap your tongue. Maybe she was hinting at something... haha. :) I hope you have and equally fun time this week and that you keep being such an awesome sister! Thanks for writing! I love you very much! :) (Oh and PS have fun at Lake Powell!)
Miranda: What a letter! :) Nice job! It's a little weird being 20, but I'm sure I'll get used to it. It is pretty interesting how everyone's growing up - imagine that! ;) Also weird to think that Mom and Dad will be in their 50s when Gabbie's my age... (I bet that's a comforting thought, Mom and Dad!). Your dream was pretty hilarious and I laughed quite a bit about it - still laughing when I think back to it. Maybe it was some kind of prophecy... :) I really liked reading everything you said about Girls' Camp. It sounds like you had a great time and that it was both fun and very spiritual. It all sounds pretty neat and I'm sure all the girls were uplifted (I was just by reading about it!). You mentioned staying up late, and that made me think - I used to really enjoy staying up late before the mission (and eating a few chili dogs while I was at it - ha), but right now I'm all too ready for 10:30 to come so that I can go to bed. We work hard all day and when we come home there's not much time to relax. We plan and then I eat something, change my clothes, sometimes shower, read for a bit and then head to bed, and I'm often dead tired by the time I lay down. (Oh, speaking of, I forgot to mention that they finally gave us real beds. Pretty cool, huh? I think I'll still use the hammock every so often though.) I couldn't get anywhere near staying up till 2 or 3 am right now... uh-oh! I'm turning into Mom! (Haha. Just kidding, Mom!) Thanks for your letter and for being a great sister. I'm glad you had a good week and I hope this one is just as fun. I love you! Adios! :)
Mom: I remember way back when I was only 19 years old... (haha you never miss a year). Thanks for the birthday wishes. Nope, no packages or letters or anything yet, but they'll probably make their way up here soon... or eventually. :) I had a good birthday though. Different, but still fun. And I felt a lot of love coming from home, especially reading the email today. Let me know how the birthday celebration in my honor at home goes next week. :) It was really cool to hear about Girls' Camp and what everyone did. It sounds like you had a good time and I'm sure it was a good opportunity for everyone. I was glad to hear that Reagan survived the week too. ;) It was funny to read how he typed his "message" - I can definitely picture it. It seems like everything is going pretty well with everyone. Thanks for having been a good mom to me for these 20 years - here's to another 20 more! :) Thank you, Mom, for all of your support and love. I hope you have a wonderful week. I love you! :)
Dad: First off - I forgot to wish you happy Fathers' Day last week, so here it is: Happy Fathers' Day! :) Sorry about that. This week's letter is quite a doozy, but in a good way. It was really cool to hear from everyone you pasted at the end. It sounds like you had a really good time with Reagan. It was neat to hear about what you did and that everything went cool. (Not that I doubted, mind you... hah.) I bet it would be fun just to spend some concentrated time with him. It was also neat to hear about the Stake Priesthood thing; I'm glad it went over well and I'm sure it would have been cool to see. I wanted to comment on one thing I've been thinking about - remember how you always "accused" me of having no work ethic? (Haha. Kidding. Reminds me of the "you think I'm Satan" comment.) What I mean is, how we've talked about that before and you've always encouraged me to develop one. Well, I'm starting to realize what you meant. Whenever we talked about it I always thought, hey, I can work; if someone tells me to do something, I'll do it. I now understand that a work ethic is working when nobody's telling you to. It's one thing to work because you have to, but to go out and work as a missionary all day every day as hard as you can without anyone breathing over your shoulder? Well, that's something different. I think I've actually been developing a true work ethic out here and it's been really neat to learn that and to see my progress. I'm still not perfect at it, but I'm truly seeing the results. Just thought you might want to know that all of your lectures... er, I mean, all of our conversations have paid off. :) Seriously, though, thanks for always teaching me how to be better, and for all the advice you've given me. It's really helped me out, and continues to do so. Thanks for including all the comments from the family and for forwarding Mike's letter and pictures, and also from all my friends on missions, and cousin Mikey. Sounds like he's doing really well too. I would like to write more, but I'll have to save it for next time. Thanks for the letter; it was awesome. I'm glad things are going well and I hope they continue thusly for the coming week. I love you, Dad. Chow for now! :)
Thank you, everyone, for the birthday wishes and for writing a bit and telling me about what's going on. I really appreciate it and it makes me feel very loved on my birthday. I know the Church is true and that our Heavenly Father loves us. Until next week! :)