First off, I would like to give a shout out to my wonderful brother. Congrats on getting engaged! I'm sad I can't go, but I'm super happy for you! I know that the blessings of being with Tess for all time and eternity are so much greater than we can understand right now.
So while I am on the subject of life-changing events that I was unable to attend, there was one that happened this week that I am so very pleased about. As you may recall, I was working with a family of 5 while I was in Honolulu during the winter. They are the Fitzgerald family. In fact, they will probably read this at some point (well at least the Mom, she likes to blog stalk me)! Anyway, they were my absolute favorite family I've worked with on my mission. They are some of the most down to earth, kindest people I've ever had the opportunity of meeting. Well, they have been coming to church for the past 7 months as regular attendees of the ward. For all intensive purposes, they were the definition of "Dry Mormons". They were waiting to get baptized until their youngest daughters turned 8 to make the commitment as a whole family. As a family-oriented church, I can't really blame them. Well, she turned 8 a couple of weeks ago, and guess what happened on Saturday. They got baptized! Unfortunately because of mission rules, I was unable to attend, but I am so overwhelmed with joy at the fact that this family was able to join together in the gospel of the Lord. I love them with all my heart, and I know their lives will be changed for the better from here on out. From the initial reports of the missionaries who attended, it sounds as if the baptism went well! Apparently the confirmations took about half of the sacrament meeting, but I don't think anyone really minded. The unification that the church brings into families' lives is simply splendid.
Another neat thing happened in which I DID get to attend! A man by the name of Via Sikahema came to talk to all the missionaries serving on Oahu. For you ancient BYU football junkies, he's the guy who ran a punt return back for a touchdown to spark BYU's miracle come back in the "Miracle Bowl". He was also part of the national championship team, and became the first Tongan player to be drafted into the NFL, where he spent nearly a decade playing for three different teams. Now he a commentator for NBC and covers most of the Olympics, as well as serving as a Stake President in New Jersey. He was a super funny guy. I think the line of the night was, "Look at my son-in-law. He looks like he's right out of GQ. My daughter-in-law is drop dead gorgeous. I always tell my kids the same thing: 'Us Sikahemas don't marry ugly or dumb. We need to better our gene pool." It was relaying the point that on his mission he learned skills that later helped him in life, including finding a wife. It was cool to hear him say that out of all the things he's done in life, including playing in the NFL and being on a college national championship team, the thing that made the biggest difference in his life was serving a mission. He told us that everyday of his life, a memory of something or someone, or of something thought he had on his mission always comes up. He can't say that about anything else. It was a great experience.
The last cool thing that happened this week is we had a stake sports fest. Our ward isn't the most athletic of wards, so when we went, me and my companion weren't sure we would have enough people to play on the basketball team. As it turns out, we had 6 people, but one of the older guys took a tumble in the beginning of the game and had to sit out. So that just left us 5. A Mexican guy, me and my companion, a pretty tall navy dude, and a 60 year old short guy. I didn't think we had a popsicle's chance in hell that we'd win, but I guess we were out there to have fun, and coupled with an underdog mentality, we ended up winning! The bummer thing is that we had to wait like 3 hours for the next game, and half our team left, and so we were really tired for the next game and so we got destroyed. But it was all for fun, and I can't complain. I did jam my thumb pretty good and it got all swollen and bruised! It looks cool. BATTLE SCARS.
Anywho, things are good! Life is good. Food is good. I love you all so much.
Elder "Purple thumb" Gleave