Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Every Missionary has an Epic Bike Story. This is Mine.

Let me tell you of the terrible morning that was Wednesday, February the 18th. 

Sister O. woke up sick. Luckily, she had bought this special ginger lemon drink that is supposed to be drunk hot. She got in the shower and I thought I'd be nice and put it in the microwave for her. At the same time, I decided to open up a new bag of cereal, and of course, I ripped through the whole bag, spilling granola all over the floor. Our microwave doesn't have a timer, so I swept up the whole mess just in time to hear the bottle explode in the microwave. Hot, sticky, smelly liquid dripped everywhere. I cleaned that up too. The best bit; the bottle isn't even meant to be microwaved, the drink isn't even supposed to be drunk from the bottle. One dilutes this horrible stuff into hot water. 

Later, after study, we found it was raining. I threw on my rain gear and headed off. There were no real sidewalks where we were going, we had to just ride along the highway, a common practice at this point. At one point, I looked ahead to see a puddle. My choices were: A.Ride through the puddle B.Merge onto the highway and die so I rode through the puddle. But the side of my tire hit a curb I couldn't see and side swiped my bike out from underneath me. I landed knees first in the puddle, and watched my bike skid out in front of me. I turned around just in time to see my companion get sprayed in the face by the wheels of a semi truck. I stayed on my knees a little longer, thanked God I was a missionary and let my companion laugh at me there. All was well.

I've had mornings like that all the time. I know it's going to be a good day by how bad the morning is. But this day, nothing exquisite happened. We were able to meet with one friend that day. Nobody else was home all day, we just left notes. We see miracles every day, but there are a ton of miracles we don't see. I'm still wondering what I missed that day. I wonder how God used me as an instrument. Maybe one day I'll see the significance, but for now, it's just a hilarious story.

This last week I had my fourth exchange. This is when missionaries switch companions with a missionary in a leadership position so they can sort of evaluate us. As Sister Goldsberry, along with every other missionary out there, I'm always looking for ways to improve so I love exchanges. My favorite part is the end, when I am reviewed. I take notes. It's awesome. So this week I went on an exchange with a girl I hadn't really taken time to know. I knew her name, I knew she was also from Utah, and I knew she had the entire periodic table memorized. We had two promised appointments that day, and they were in a decently distant place. Before, my companion and I had gotten there in fifty minutes. But I tried a little experiment.

When I was on my high school's basketball team, I missed a lot of practice. We traveled a lot as a family. Whenever someone missed a practice, they had to run what is called a 24/7. You had to run down the court and back twenty four times in under seven minutes or else you had to do it again. It sounds terrible, but because I did it so often I got to be one of the fastest girls on the team. I remember my last one. I was tired. I'd done it so many times I knew that my body was conditioned to it, so I slacked off. I jogged it. I was halfway through my twenty four when my coaches started counting down from sixty. The last thing I wanted to do was to do this wretched exercise over, so I picked up the pace by about 200%. I ran the fastest I could. When I finished, my coach congratulated me: "That was your fastest time!" Turns out, I didn't have sixty seconds left, I had like three minutes. "But if you would've kept up that pace, you would have never made it." I remember her telling me. I was mad at this twenty something at first, but this experience has stuck with me ever since. You never know how fast you can run until you do it. 
So I wanted to know how fast this sister could run. This is her final transfer; she's lived in Japan and traveled by bike for more than a year. I pushed her hard. I didn't give her any indication of how far away this ride was or how fast I would ride until we were on our bikes, headed the direction we needed to go. This girl kept up! At something a little over than a hundred pounds she kept at my pace, which was pretty close to as fast as one can travel safely on a bike. A ride that typically took fifty minutes took thirty. And because we essentially shaved off forty minutes on travel, we were able to visit more friends in that area than we planned. Every time I looked behind me, this sister was right there. At the same time, while she kept my pace and a cool composure, every time I turned around she was leaning her chest a little more towards her handlebars. I knew she was tired, but she kept biking. Why slow down
We had to take a bus which would eventually take us to a train station so that this sister could return to her area at the end of the day. We had timed everything perfectly, except the bus came ten minutes early. We saw it there, as we were stopped at a stoplight. It passed right by our stop since no one was there. I turned around, anxious. My new companion heaved a sigh of relief because that meant we could stop riding our bikes and just wait for the next bus, but I thought: She's still got something in her.
"Let's chase it down," I said. And we did. We rode faster than we ever did and we beat the bus to the next stop. We got on the bus hot and sweaty, but we got on the bus. Later, as she caught her breath, this sister told me: "You know, my first instinct would have been to just wait for the next bus. But you just yelled: Let's chase it down! So I wanted to mirror your enthusiasm. And we made it!" This sister would go on to tell me that she never exercised before her mission, but I knew that she had some serious untappped strength in her little body. This fiasco dubbed me "The Most Athletic Sister Missionary." Yes, this is cause for concern if I, Sister Jenny Goldsberry, am the most athletic sister missionary in the Kiryu East Zone. My favorite part of this story though, is when my actual companion, heard this story about us making that trip in thirty minutes, she went out and made that same trip with me the very next day. We got there in thirty minutes. Any barriers you have are in your head, I decided.

On Saturday, we had a really cool experience. Everyone in the mission committed to give away three Books of Mormon that day. We ended up giving away four, but I want to share two stories from that. 

At one point, we were riding along one side of the road, when on the opposite side I saw a young mom with her kid. I looked at them, but I thought, Eh! Let's just keep going. We came to an intersection and the crosswalk light was green but as I crossed, I was nearly hit by a car turning into the road I was crossing. I stopped, backed up, and knew that we were supposed to talk to that mom. I mean, God was willing to kill me if I didn't! We turned around and found her. She spoke a little English. She said she was a foreign exchange student in America, where she attended church for the first time. She felt the urge to pray, but fought it "Because she's Japanese." (Japanese people are kinda weird huh?) She said she'd really love to just know the truth about God. When wee explained the Book of Mormon to her, she looked at it hungrily. She was quite literally thirsting for knowledge. She took it greedily, whereas other Japanese people would ask if it's okay, hand it back to you like three times, and bow five more before they took it. I was way happy to give it to someone who really wanted it.

Then we visited a referral. This referral was given to us by a recent convert who's kinda lonesome. The only reason she wanted to visit this boy (Yes, a boy. He's ten) was because one day, he said hello to her as he walked home from school. We were way anxious to meet him. We were afraid his parents would just think we're crazy and send us away. But we brought a Book of Mormon anyway. Long story short the kid actually really dug the book! His grandma let us in, because she liked how we complimented her grandson's manners. We flipped through it with him, he looked at all the pictures. He opened up Joseph Smith's first, so that was a fun one to explain! But this boy. This adorable sweet boy, had no idea who Jesus Christ was. He hadn't even heard the name. And I remembered what this was all about. As we were explaining, I got this prompting: Tell him that it's real. Of course the prompting was in English, but I knew the words in Japanese so I told him. "Really?!" He yelled. "All this really happened?" My companion and I felt the happiest we have in a single moment at that moment.

Everything else is fine! I'm eating well and all that! Fun Fact: We have a celebrity in our ward. If you grab, your General Conference Ensign, find the talk "Lord is it I?" By Elder Dieter F. Utchdorf, you will see a picture of an older man with headphones. HE'S IN MY WARD HERE IN JAPAN. I SHAKE HIS HAND LIKE EVERY WEEK. I thought that was cool. 

Love you all see you soon!

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