Well, JT was baptized! He is now officially a member. He loves the Book of Mormon, and his family is behind him. His dad, step-mom, mom and little brother all attended the baptism service. We're hoping he can receive the priesthood in a week or two. Now that he's baptized, our young men's quorum has jumped from 2 to 3! We're working on it.
Saturday was Elder Kowalk's birthday. It was nice to have the baptism held on that day, and we were fed lots of food. He's 20 years old now. He'll hit his year mission mark on July 20.
We had a branch council meeting yesterday after church, and it was great. We're applying the Toolbox! The members are stepping up to their duties, and we're helping them to do 'em.
This morning, one of our recent converts, a young woman, gave us a call. She was very excited to tell us that her mom had felt several impressions that she should investigate Mormonism. It was a very unexpected call, but we were very happy for this news. We've got a new responsibility on our shoulders! We can't wait to begin teaching her!
This past Tuesday was the Transit of Venus. Venus crosses between the sun and the Earth, and with protective eyewear, Elder Gerber and I (we were on exchanges) were able to see the tiny black speck move across the sun's surface. The entire event lasted six hours, but the sun set after about two hours. It was great to watch, though. Such an event won't happen again until 2117.
The bed bug bites turned out to be chigger bites. Chiggers are tiny red arachnids that secrete acid onto your body, bury into your skin, suck on your blood and die. I took a salt bath this morning to try and relieve the itching, because I've been dying of scratching. We're just glad it's not bed bugs, because that means we don't have to spray our apartment to kingdom come.
Chigger mites infest human skin via areas of contact with vegetation, such as pant cuffs or shirt sleeves and collars. They migrate on the skin in search of an optimal feeding area. A common myth about chiggers is that they burrow into and remain inside the skin. This is not true. Chiggers insert their feeding structures into the skin and inject enzymes that cause destruction of host tissue. Hardening of the surrounding skin results in the formation of a feeding tube called a stylostome. Chigger larvae then feed upon the destroyed tissue. If they are not disturbed (which is rarely, because they cause substantial itching) they may feed through the stylostome for a few days. The chigger's mouth and feeding structures are delicate and are best able to penetrate the skin at areas of wrinkles, folds, or other areas of skin that are thin...All mosquito repellents (such as DEET), applied to skin and clothing, are effective at repelling chiggers.- Dad]
That's all the news from this side, really. We're thankfully getting the car back this week. I'm trying to be better every day, and doing my best to reject the adversary's discouragement and fear out of my life. It's a very real thing, and I've turned to the Lord many times to conquer it. Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers and letters.