Firstly, I would like to thank everyone for the birthday wishes. It's always good to hear from friends and family. My favorite letter of the week came from my favorite California friend, N, who used my birthday as an excuse to tell all about how the Yankees are going to be good this year, and how Aaron Judge is already in the bigs. Well heck, N, I love you too.
But really, my birthday was great. The elders in the apartment made me blueberry muffins and sang to me. My parents sent me a cake and some frosting. But this one woman at church couldn't hold it in. She asked me when my birthday was two months ago, and I told her, suspecting she would forget, but no. Elder M and I were walking over to the main Sunday school class to pass around the dinner calendar when she ran up to me and squeezed out, "Happy Birthday!"
I mean, this would have been fine, except the whole of Old Settlers' Ward young women popped right out of their classroom at the same time. Sister W continued to tell all of them it was my birthday. One by one, came the "Elder Hall! Come over to our house today, we'll make cookies for you!" "Oh my gosh! Have you been sung to yet?" "This is so exciting! Are you 21 now?" "Come to our house and we'll have a birthday party!"
Here I was, trying to avoid any attention being drawn to me at all cost, and this happens. I felt like I was in some sort of bizarro reenactment of Gemesis 39. It's not that you can't celebrate your birthday on your mission, it's just that celebrating by having a bunch of teenage girls ask you to come to their house is the worst way possible to do it as a missionary.
In case you were wondering, I did not accept any of the invitations given to me. But I did get a s'mores cupcake from a returning active that night. That was delicious.
Tuesday was filled with all sorts of chaos. We were biking up the busiest street in our area before it was getting too dark. Everything was fine until when Elder M's front tire blew. And man, that thing was gone. While we were trying to figure out what to do, night flew in and we were stuck on the side of This road. Elder M kicked a rock in frustration, which ended up hitting an owl. We flashed a light on it, and turns out it has a broken wing and was already almost dead. Awesome. Luckily, we called this animal trainer to help out, and she was able to take of it. She wasn't able to give us a ride though.
Friday was filled with miracles. I was on an exchange with Elder D. Firstly, Elder D is a rockstar missionary. He has such a great way of balancing fun with work and being efficient. I love it. We had an awesome lesson with Bob B. Bob is an 84 year old who has been meeting with missionaries for a long time now, but has never had the desire to get baptized. He's been having back pain for a long time now and hasn't been to church in months. But not any more! In the space of 45 minutes, Elder D and I gave him a priesthood blessing, helped him understand authority, and got him to pray about baptism. This Sunday we entered into the church and saw him in the benches waiting for us. It may not have happened on that one night, but we think he'll accept our invitation to be baptized very soon.
The C family is doing great! K C is especially progressing. Just a few weeks ago he would ask tons of questions during lessons and get confused with some Mormon vocabulary, but since he accepted the invitation to be baptized him and C have had no problems. All three lessons we had with them this week went crystal clear, filled with the spirit. They even came to church all three hours! To me, it is a testimony of how God blesses those who take steps of faith with a sure knowledge. Sometimes we had to take the leap before we find the ground, but we'll never get to the other side until we jump.
Saturday morning we went to the church to practice a special number I'm doing in sacrament meeting soon. Elder M and I walked into the foyer and found ourselves in the middle of a Women's conference! Whoops. We couldn't go thirty feet without an "Elders! Can you move this for me?" "Elders, help put up the tables!" "Elders! Move these gigantic palm trees into my Super Duty!" Bad timing on our hand. By the time we were done, there was no time to practice! I guess we'll have to figure out another time to practice. Elder Hall's golden pipes are a little rusty.
There was a heck of a lot of things that happened this week that did not totally go to plan. At the moments notice we were forced to adjust, and you know what, it happened. And you know what, I loved it! As much as order and exactness are needed, there are times you have to pull off the run n' gun. I'm loving it out here. This is paradise restored. This is where all the fun happens. Miracles are happening every day. We have the faith, we need to expect greatness now.
Elder Richard Hall