Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I'm feeling 22 (plus 2)

Today is my birthday eve. Tomorrow I will turn 25, and it’s a big deal. I will be 25 on the 25th. For someone who loves their birthday as much as I do a golden birthday is like Christmas meets Thanksgiving meets payday meets Disney fireworks. I have been talking about this birthday for years and I am so excited for it to get here! But today, on my birthday eve, I want to pay tribute to how awesome 24 has been.

Truthfully, 24 will join the ranks of 21 and ages 12-14 (the hall of fame for difficult years, if you will). Luckily, just because a certain year may be difficult does not mean that it isn't filled to the brim with joy.

With that, I give you the most joyous moments of 24 (starting with my mission):

1. The Toms River Branch throwing me a birthday party complete with tinker bell balloons!

 2. Lilia and Oscar got married

3. Oscar got baptized. Oscar, the man who used to walk out of rooms the second he heard "las misioneras..." Oscar, who told me that he was "a man of faith, not a man of religion." Oscar, who told me he was too sick to leave his house and would never be able to attend church. Oscar, who had one of the most incredible change of hearts I have ever seen. Oscar, who isn't perfect, but who is doing what is right. Oscar, my dear, dear friend whom I love. That man. He got baptized. It was awesome. 

4. Crying happy tears in a parked car while talking to other missionaries about experiences that changed our lives and how we wish the same joy for everyone. Realizing that I loved my mission and that I did a good job during my time in New Jersey. Feeling God’s love and feeling so close to heaven I could burst. 

5. Bearing my testimony every single day. 

6. Leading music in front of a Hispanic congregation

7. Raking leaves for a stranger who we later found out had lost everyone and everything else in her life and desperately needed help with her house chores.

8. Attending the temple with President and Sister Jeppson. Hearing them tell me I did a good job. Hearing their advice for life after the mission.

9. Being reunited with my family after 18 months!

10. Swimming with manatees and then having dolphins chase our boat. Also canoeing and SCUBA diving and snorkeling and paddle boarding and boating. It was a good year for reacquainting myself with water. 

11. A trip to New York with my mom and sister to see all the Christmas decorations. BONUS: running into some of the greatest missionaries on their way back from the temple AND seeing President and Sister Jeppson at the Christmas fireside—hugs from President Jeppson really are the best!

12.  Spending New Years Eve in Canada with one of my most favorite people in the world!

13. Sailing for the first time.

14. Visiting New Jersey and reuniting with people who I love so dearly.

15. Finding out that I’m going to be an aunt!!

16. Settling in, sight seeing, working, living and eating in/near DC. So many firsts I have lost track.

18. Going back to Brazil. Seeing a world cup game where Brazil played well. Visiting with family. Eating all of my favorite foods. Laughing with my family. It was a dream trip!

19. Making my first quilt and having it turn out fantastically.

20. Learning the art of the slackline.

21. Attending the sealing/wedding for one of my dearest friends, Taiba! Feeling so close to heaven that day!

22. Seeing Les Mis live.

23. Remembering that I have talents outside of my church activities and using them again!

24.  Being a temple worker.

This year has been a doozy, and it ended just when I felt like I was getting a hang of things.  

Every birthday I find myself reading the poem Eleven by Sandra Cisneros. “What they don't understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one… Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That's how being eleven years old is. You don't feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don't feel smart eleven, not until you're almost twelve. That's the way it is.”

So tomorrow I’ll turn 25, but I’ll still be 24 (smart 24 at that). I will also still be a missionary, a college student, and a timid fifth grader who just wants to hide her four eyes behind a copy of Anne of Green Gables. All the little bits of me working their hardest to make the next year my best yet. So bring it on 25, you’re sure to be nothing short of golden!

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