HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME! My birthday was last Tuesday! It’s crazy because while I’m on my mission I’ll miss two of all the best holidays: Birthday (last year, only 5 days after I entered the MTC it was my birthday!), Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween…only Valentine’s Day and Easter are spared the sacrifice. Well, there’s no sacrifice, it’s just spending these holidays in a totally different way that has absolutely nothing to do with getting, but instead giving.
Last week, I made it my goal to serve others for my birthday so that I could avoid expecting anything, and so that I would keep my focus on my missionary purpose. As a missionary, it can’t be about me. So it started with Monday, last P-day. We got the missionaries from Chungjang and Nongseong together and a few members as well to go to the mountain! I have only been to the famous mountain in Gwangju once before, when it was freezing cold and there was snow and ice that made our journey very treacherous. Last week when we went it was humid and hot. It was also one of the Nongseong member’s BIRTHDAY! Ever since I found out his birthday was the day before mine, I couldn’t let it rest. I made sure that he would come and celebrate his birthday with us. On Sunday, the Nongseong elders said he wasn’t going to come, but I decided that I hadn’t heard anything and I just texted him with all the information as if I knew nothing. And he came! We made him a card and everyone secretly signed it, then we all sang to him. I could tell he was embarrassed, but it was his birthday!
We had a super great day at the mountain, heat and all. We took fun pictures and played games along the way and just overall had a really incredible time! When we were done, we all ate delicious, cheap Korean ice cream and went back to work. After the hike and later that night, he told us that he’d never had a birthday quite as special as this one and definitely not with as many people with whom to celebrate it. I love birthdays, and even more than my own, I love it when I can help other people feel super loved on their birthdays!
The night before my birthday, there were strange things going on in our apartment. Like, my companion closed the door to our room part of the way, and I could distinctly see a flashlight beam flying around in the kitchen…not really subtle at all. My companion also stole the phone from off the corner of my mattress where I keep it at night…but she bumped the mattress and was making all sorts of beeping noises with the phone, so that was a total giveaway. The next morning after the alarm went off and I prayed, I walked into the kitchen to find yarn tied everywhere, Parent Trap style. Sister Sheffield handed me a chopstick with one end of the yarn tied and said, “Have fun.” I started out being a good sport…going around and following the string, but there was SO MUCH STRING! Finally I handed her the chopstick back and walked to where I could see the end of the line. Not sorry. There I found…a Dunkin’ Donut box with…a post it. No doughnuts. I assumed there would be doughnuts involved in my birthday because a) they’re one of my favorite things and b) my companion had alluded to food the day before. The clues to my birthday scavenger hunt were as follows:
3 Nephi 12:13 Salt container
Helaman 11:13 Umbrella Cabinet
Ether 12:37 Washing Machine
Alma 40:26 Food trash
Revelation 3:20 Door
Esther 8:10 Mailbox (I had to go outside and downstairs for that one)
Luke 22:30 Table
Matthew 17:20 Honey Mustard Bottle
Exodus 8:21 Mosquito Zapper
2 Nephi 33:3 My pillow (placed while I was checking the mailbox…)
Doctrine and Covenants 38:30 Emergency kits and my PRESENTS!!
I’ll be honest, I’d been kind of bummed because my birthday package hadn’t come from home yet, BUT low and behold it had along with a package from my Momsmom, I just didn’t know it because the other sisters had been home when the packages arrived and they had been hiding them all along! So we had doughnuts for breakfast and I opened my presents! For lunch we had a big fancy Korean/Vietnamese/Japanese (no one is really sure where it came from) meal called Shabu-shabu, and for dinner my companion and I had Baskin-Robbins…two scoops! By the way, Baskin-Robbins in Korea is WAY more delicious than in America. Then that night, we met with a new friend, only for the second time, but she remembered that it was my birthday! She brought me a little cake with a candle and a new headband! The member who came to her lesson also brought both my companion and me new bows.
My birthday wasn’t about me, we still had to teach a bunch of lessons and meet new people everywhere we could, but I don’t think there’s any other way I would’ve rather spent the day! It was a beautiful day in Korea, and I got to do the very best thing! Spreading the happiest message on earth! HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME!