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What a humbling few weeks it has been lately. I don't even know where to start. Okay I guess I'll start with my current companion.
I still don't know where to start. Remember how I wrote that I could always count on Sister K. to make any situation hilariously awkward? Sister P. is on a whole different level.
I thought I was pretty embarrassed by my mom when I was thirteen. I thought there couldn't be anyone less tactful than my fifteen-year-old brother. Sister P. has broken all boundaries, gone against the grain with a force that rips the skin off. My whole body has gone cold and my cheeks have been set on fire. My jaw is sore from clenching it when I want to laugh. I have winced so often my shoulders and neck are permanently sore.
Maybe examples will help? Have you ever watched a romantic movie with your mom? She giggles and pokes you and you feel like the humiliation might choke you until you die. This week we watched a romantic musical written by Elton John, the one the only Aida. One of our Ward members was the lead and two of our investigators attended with us. Sister P. did not just giggle, she flat out snorted and grabbed at me during moments of complete silence. I died a eight times over. I died a slow, painful, horrendous death. Oh, others laughed, but they laughed at us. They laughed at Sister P. because she has no whispering capability, and they laughed at me because I was burying my head into my own lap. She asked an eighteen-year-old English student if he likes girls. She's tone deaf but sings anyway.
These are little discrepancies. But they are magnified when the name of Jesus Christ is written on your chest. I just want to be taken seriously, to be understood and respected. It's hard to receive it when your companion is dishing out bad pick up lines, laughing at chopsticks rolling on the ground, and talking loud enough for the whole apartment building to hear. I was just horrified by the thought that all of Japan would think Latter-day Saint Missionaries are too young, naive, and shallow. Heaven forbid they think we're flirtatious when my companion is laughing at everything someone says.
I was being dramatic.
I realize that missions are like a box of chocolates.
Hang with me.
The number one thing I've realized on my mission is how insanely blessed I am. I've met some people who have some decently terrible lives. Who are currently suffering. Despite their best effort, their lives just might always be tough. I realized how much better I have it than a large percentage of the world.
At first this depressed me because I thought it would only bring me jealous girls and thieving creeps and I would never be able to relate to those truly suffering. After a couple transfers of moping I realized something. God was blessing others by blessing me. Sounds so shallow but hang in there reader! Read this from D&C 84:76 "But, verily I say unto all those to whom the kingdom has been given--from you it must be preached unto them" Imagine you're a parent of two children. You give one child two candies. Deep down, you're hoping your kid gives the extra chocolate to his brother, right? What a great lesson to teach all involved. You could just give each kid their own chocolate, but you know they would both eat it immediately, devour it faster than they could dream about how much they want it, and both kids walk away, never thinking about the two chocolates again. But if you give one kid the chance to wait and develop that desire for the candy, and you give the other the chance to serve his brother, they both learn and are edified. What if your kid gave both candies to his brother? That would be enough to write a million blogs about how Christlike this kid is.
Missions are like that. As missionaries, we generally have it better than the people we teach. If not financially or physically, spiritually we do. We take those blessings and spread them as thin as we can, trying to reach as many people in our circle as possible. We give away all our chocolates. God gave us the kingdom and has assigned us to pass it along.
I have coached sports teams, tutored students practicing their public communication skills, and taught piano. I have learned a whole different language just to be able to give my testimony to as many people as possible. I have put my whole strength and soul into bike rides, just so I can give someone my smile. I have paid every compliment my brain could think up, hugged friends with all the arm strength I've got in my puny arms, spent the very last second of my day praying for the people I've met.
Sometimes I can't give the best, and I can only give what I have. Cue a story my trainer read me from the Liahona:
"As an elementary school teacher of more than 25 years, I have received a lot of interesting things from my young students. Silly notes, drawn pictures, and imaginative crafts are common gifts. Last year, however, was the first time I had ever received a potato. “A potato for the teacher,” young Emma said proudly when she came to my desk, “because I didn’t have an apple.” It was a medium-sized potato, scrubbed clean, and beautiful as far as potatoes go. I thanked her and placed it on my desk. I saw Emma’s large blue eyes shine with pride whenever she looked at it throughout the day. After school, when I was working at my desk, I couldn’t help but regard the potato with a tender smile. Children see things so simply, and with that common potato, Emma taught me something important. I left it on my desk for over a week because it served as a reminder to me. As a visiting teacher and a sister in my ward, I wanted to serve others, but I was always waiting for an “apple” before I took time to help. If I was busy and couldn’t make an extra casserole or if I wanted to give a special flower but didn’t get to the floral shop, I ignored the still, small voice of the Spirit whispering of someone who needed my service. “I’ll do something this weekend, when I have time,” I would convince myself. “Nobody needs me today.” But what if someone really did need me? What if I hadn’t ignored the promptings to visit an elderly neighbor or the young widow who had just lost her husband? Could I have helped or served, even with what I could offer then--a “potato”?
I learned a great lesson from Emma that I am trying hard to put into practice. If I don’t have an apple, I give a potato instead, and I do it now. I don’t wait to make a casserole or my special lemon cream pie; I buy a box of cookies instead. I don’t often get to the florist, but I can drop in for a chat without the flower. A homemade card would be great, but so would a quick phone call. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture of service every time. A small gesture of love is just as nice. I have the potato at home now, but I don’t think I’ll ever eat it. It serves as a constant reminder to serve when I’m prompted. I give what I can now instead of waiting until later. A potato for the teacher really was the nicest gift." January 2015
I can't deliver this perfect message in perfect Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, or even English for that matter. My experience as a twenty-year-old gets me nowhere. I know very few, close to no one, in the grand scheme of the universe. I don't have much money and I'm not allowed to give it away anyways. While I might think I'm giving away my most precious chocolate, I am only passing out potatoes.
So who cares if Sister P. makes an ethnic joke? What does it matter if she laughs the whole day through? We are lower than the dust of the earth. Take pity on us world, and take our humble potato.
Love you, see you soon,
Sister Goldsberry iPadから送信
Too many miracles are happening in this my final transfer that just leave me thinking: "Man! I'm glad I'm still here!"
When I was in the MTC, I met an Elder named W. He's half American, half Japansese so he was a huge help in my endeavor to study the language. I asked him questions all the time. He always told me: "Pray you get called to Shibuya Ward so that you can meet my family!"
Over a year later I forget the name of the Ward his family lived in and even his last name. I hadn't thought about him at all until unknowingly, I was at his house and his mom showed us a picture of him. It was a beautiful, full circle miracle. The miracle doesn't end there because we take a picture and send it to him in the Fukuoka mission and he remembers me too! About a week after that he sends his mom a letter for me to give to his girlfriend before he left on his own mission. She's a medical student, and insanely busy, but who does he trust with this precious referral? Twelfth transfer Sister Goldsberry. What an honor. He wrote me instructions on where to study in Preach My Gospel to prepare to meet her. He suggested I remind her how funny he is, "or something like that." The best missionaries in the mission have served in this Ward but if I hadn't stuck it out until my twelfth transfer Elder West might not have felt comfortable to give out this referral. I'M SO GLAD I STAYED.
Our friend D. was having a really hard time. Her visa to stay in America was denied. We've only met her three times, but being the self reliant person that she is, she turned to the Book of Mormon for comfort. She prayed, read in Helaman 12, and came to realize that perhaps it wasn't God's will that she go to America, but that she stay in Japan so she can be baptized on May 1st. That's a huge miracle in itself. She shouted our individual names into the phone and said: "I LOVE YOU!" and right then I was glad I stayed so I could hear D. tell her she loved me.
There have been so many ailments, so many twisted mentalities that I've been healed from on my mission. A lot of the people I had to forgive, a lot of the habits I had to develop, a lot of the revelation I had to receive didn't come to me until my twelfth transfer. For that I am eternally grateful.
Also, this week my two companions defined me as "dignified" and "suave." Missions really do change people.
See you soon, Sister Goldsberry iPadから送信
This week God answered every single one of my prayers. This was how our week went down.
1. Guide us so we can meet Leo, and bless us with the courage to teach him the gospel A member from this English Ward gave us a tip that Leonardo DiCaprio was in town. In town, as in in the neighboring city to the church that is off limits to missionaries after 6:00 PM. But the possibility of walking down the same sidewalk as a celebrity drove us insane. We gossiped all throughout the week, joking about fasting over the chance of meeting him. But this week those words actually escaped the mouth of a sister missionary as we were doing a group prayer. We giggled, shouted the most faithful "AMEN!" of our lives, and headed out the door. That day we actually had a tour of Tokyo planned. We were going to walk around under the guidance of a man who spoke decent English with a bunch of other foreigners living in Japan. It was in the morning, and still very cold. When we arrived, there were friends of ours there too. One friend, a particularly crazy grandmother ran up to me, nearly yelling: "It's so cold! Feel my hands!" Now a gift I've been bestowed by God is warm hands. No matter what, my hands are warmer than the general public. So this crazy grandma realizes this and is grabbing at my hands in such a frenzy that she captures the attention of a couple standing nearby. She urges them to feel my hands as if it's some life changing experience and I'm just shrugging my shoulders telling this girl around my age "Go for it." She touches my hands and awes in such a way that her boyfriend walks over too and says "May I?" He doesn't wait for a response and suddenly I'm holding hands with a member of the opposite sex for the first time in a year. It was actually a great ice breaker and we kept right on talking as they held my hands. Turns out they're both from China, met there, moved out here together for school. They were both looking for a church! Of course they ate up everything we had to say about being Christian missionaries and we exchanged information with them and invited them to church. They came the very next day. Right before I introduced this adorable couple to my companions, I asked him: "By the way, what's your name?" "My Chinese name is pretty hard, so you can call me Leo." ...I met Leo. He held my hand. God answered my prayer. We're going to baptize Leo.
2. Please answer Y's Prayer My best friend in the whole of Japan is getting baptized on April 16th but she still doesn't know about Joseph Smith. This week she had a dream she was in the sacred grove with Joseph and felt happier and more peaceful than ever. Y. is just so humble! God trusts her so much He tells her like everything by dreams.
3. Bless D that she can sleep well tonight We're teaching another friend who came to church for the first time last week on her own just because two of her Mormon coworkers didn't drink any alcohol at a business party. That takes some faith. As we were teaching her the Restoration she let us know that she has insomnia. It's a problem that bleeds onto all her other problems and makes them a whole lot messier. She accepted the message pretty readily, but was too shy to pray at the end. I said the above prayer. It seemed like the end of an ordinary lesson. The next day she messaged us on Facebook and told us she felt amazing. She had slept cradling the Book of Mormon in her arms. She slept peacefully all night! She was ecstatic to meet again, so she came to the General Women's session of Conference. There, she told us she believed Joseph Smith had seen God and Jesus Christ, and that she would start taking work off on Sunday's, and that she would be ready to be baptized in May. Lots of prayers answered, but the fact that she slept well this week was an answer to them all.
4. Tell me why I'm out here Again at the General Women's session of Conference, we were waiting for another friend who never answered our calls. She was a long time investigator of my third companion and she became really concerned about this friend. The conference had already started but Sister Crellin wanted to go outside and look for her. So we did. We just took off running to that nearest station, didn't even slow down to pick up our coats. So I'm out in the dark cold standing around wishing I was listening to conference when this friend texts an apology and says she won't be able to make it. Well at this point I was pretty mad. Not necessarily at any particular person but I was just upset at the circumstances. I prayed to God, almost sarcastically, "Why am I out here?" My companions were far more upbeat than I, as we marched back to catch the last twenty minutes of conference. As we were about to enter the church, a girl about our age caught all of our attention. Instinctively, we stretched our neck so to look at her, and then one of my companions just said: "Let's talk to her!" We had been talking to people all our way up to the church, experiencing about ten straight rejections. But as soon as we talked to A, we knew she was going to be so different. She is half Japanese, half American. She believes she is a Christian like her mom, but the tarnished reputation that Christians have have made her too shy to say it out loud. When we said we taught people more about Christ, she asked if she had to pay. When we said "Mormon" she said her mom loves Mormons. When we asked her if she knew if anyone else was interested she said she did, and suggested that we all five meet on a weekly basis. Obviously someone of this caliber was enough reason to be missing conference. We only saw the last ten minutes, but A. was worth it. We got to tell all the sisters the miracle afterwards.
I don't do missionary work. I watch it happen.
That was my week! God hears every prayer and will answer it, but maybe not in the way you expect it!
Love you, See you soon, Sister Goldsberry iPadから送信
|Found this cute girl playing her guitar in the park and sang along with her.|