Happy 4th of July! One of my most memorable Independence Days was the first one I spent out of USA. I was a relatively new Mormon missionary, age 19, living on the northern outskirts of Mar del Plata on the Argentine coast. That day I recorded:
"For the 4th of July today, Hno. Ferro, a new member, invited the 4 of us out to his house way out in the campo and made us lechón. What he did was kill a young pig, pretty much cut it right down the middle, stretched it out on a metal cross thing, and cooked it by the fire for three hours. Of course we showed up right when he was just about done with the process. The pig looked and smelled great. You could pretty much eat any part of it. The weird parts like the skin you just put between bread like a sandwich. It all tasted great. The only thing I didn’t like was the occasional pig hair or two or three that was still attached until it was already in my mouth.
"They also made a chocolate cake, and we brought sugar cookies. After dinner, to show gratitude, the four of us sang Ye Elders of Israel. We had prepared it before with harmonies, but Elder R. was kind of sick and couldn’t sing very well, so I helped him out on the melody. We sang all three verses in Spanish and one in English. Then we sang the Star-Spangled Banner. When Pedro realized what it was he motioned for everyone in his family to stand up. It was touching - the first 4th I’ve spent out of the USA - and it gave me a greater appreciation for my homeland."
One thing that surprised me as a new missionary was to hear the Argentine people pray, "We're thankful to live in a free country". I frequently included that phrase in my prayers as well, but I guess I only had the stars and stripes in mind. Fortunately many countries in the world, especially the Americas, are blessed with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and many other important freedoms.