Monday, April 27, 2015

The Most Exhausting Week of My Mission Thus Far‏

If you don't have a lot of time to read this email just know: this week was crazy, I dropped like three pounds, walked a marathon, got sunburned, my friend received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and if you thought receiving a mission call to Japan wasn't humbling enough, you have to read to the end of this email.

WHERE TO BEGIN. Everything went "wrong" this week. I put that word in quotations because yes terrible misfortunes happened but we laughed through every single one of them.

Well first off we have something like three members in the hospital. Two recent converts and the father of an active family. All different for different reasons too. Cancer and strokes to name a few. Life is so fragile. In Japan, the cherry blossoms stay in bloom for about a week before their blown off of their branches by wind and rain. A WEEK. Life is more fragile than that.

One day I lost my spare bike key so I had to carry my bike home. It's okay, my arms totally benefited. But a lot of people stopped and yelled: "Isn't that rough?!" "You're worrying me!" "Let me help you!" Japan's pretty great about that kind of stuff. 

There is this beautiful area where I serve that's untouched because it's unbearably far. We did the math, family. You can have numbers now. This area is twenty six miles away. It takes us over an hour to ride it by bike and I'm always exhausted by the end. On Thursday, we rode to that area right after lunch. We'd planned to push back dinner so we could have maximum preaching time. After a successful day, we headed back, and when we hadn't ridden more than a few miles my bike tire went flat. It took us three hours to walk back. We laaaaaaaaughed. The past few days had been exhausting. We'd ridden our bikes all day long and shortened our meal times nearly every day. We were exhausted. We just laughed out of exhaustion and hunger. That next morning I was beyond tired and hungry. I'd been tired and hungry all week. My body was quite literally failing me. But we laughed some more and moved on.

The next day, our friend Sister N. got in a car crash.  She didn't know if she would be able to come to church the next Sunday in order for her to receive the Holy Ghost. It was such a bummer. I tried to seem optimistic on the phone, but after we hung up I just couldn't help the tears that followed. At the same time, I had this overwhelming feeling that everything was going to be okay. And everything was! She was still able to come to church and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. In her blessing, a Canadian member in our ward promised her that one day her, her husband, and her daughter would be sealed in God's Holy Temple. Right then I KNEW everything was really going to be alright. Side funny story: You know how missionaries aren't using Facebook as of late? Well, the other day Sister N. was on Facebook, saw something she didn't like, so she went to my profile to find some solace. She saw my status where I told everyone I wouldn't be using Facebook for six to twelve weeks, copied it and pasted it to her own Facebook. She just wants to have peace, she said. I love her, folks. 

At one point, one of our friends called us from the hospital and begged us to walk her dog for her. Being the clever missionaries that we are, we decided to combine it with missionary work. We took the dog for a walk toward a less active's house. On our way there, a stray three legged dog approached pretty aggressively. We weren't worried; it was a three legged dog for crying out loud. But then out of nowhere it broke into an all out sprint that had us running for our lives. We outran it folks, don't worry.

All throughout this week we had friends tell us they don't want us to visit any more, other friends became impossibly busy, and we almost lost hope. It felt like all the forces of life were against us. We knew that if we just kept doing what we were doing, tried our best to be obedient, God would perform miracles. Whether or not we would see them we didn't know. Well, He pulled through, like He always does. Three friends showed up to church out of nowhere. No warning. First time. 

Then today came. It's the end of the transfer here in the Tokyo, Japan mission. I've been with the loving and loved Sister D. for six weeks can you believe it? I can't. In this mission, this is how transfer calls go: If neither you or your companion are moving to a new area, you get a call from the Zone Leaders. If even one of you is moving, the Assistants to the President will call you. Very rarely, the Mission President himself will call you. These calls, transfer calls, come on Monday. If you're moving you have a single day to pack so that you can ship your luggage and your bike on Tuesday and arrive in your new area on Wednesday, just in time for Free English Class on Wednesday night. It's so quick! One barely has time to pack let alone say goodbye to everyone. The point I'm trying to make is we pretty much know right away whether or not we're moving just by who calls us. This morning, we dreaded the call. We dreamed up possibilities that we'd stay, perhaps become a trio of sisters and continue to preach in Koga. This morning, we received a call from President Budge. He called my name and....I'm moving. Into the city folks! That's not all: He told me I will become a Sister Training Leader. I cannot explain this sufficiently to someone who doesn't know LDS missionary work too well. Here's an explanation straight out of our Missionary Handbook: "For training purposes, the mission president may assign experienced sisters to conduct companion exchanges with other sisters." That's all I got for you folks. It's not so much a title as it is an opportunity to love a whole lot more sisters! Already my mind is blown but President Budge goes on: "You're also training!" Alright family, you gotta know one thing: one does not simply jump into missionary life. There's A TON of adjustment. I must have broken like a hundred rules when I first got to Japan just because I didn't know any better. Especially in Japan, there's culture to learn, rules to follow, safeguards to erect. Every missionary spends two transfers (twelve weeks) being "trained"; adjusting to missionary life. Really, though, I'm still adjusting. But now I've been asked by inspiration to help bring someone else into the fold of missionaries. THAT'S NOT EVEN ALL OF IT FAMILY. The sister I'm training? This is what President Budge's next words were: "Her Japanese is really good...She's Japanese. Ha!" HE LAUGHED AT MY PREDICAMENT FAMILY. I know with all my heart that companionships are divinely inspired. I know that President Budge prays fervently before he makes these sorts of decisions. Even he was surprised when he received this bit of revelation. I thought my heart was going to jump into my throat, I was going to suffocate myself, and die. Not only I have to worry about the well being of all the sisters in my zone, but I have to make sure my own companion adjusts properly and I have to do it all in Japanese. Those prayers you've been giving to God? Remember them? You've been praying that my Japanese would improve. Well if this isn't the crucible that brings that to pass I don't know what is! Thanks! Your prayers have been answered!

Wow that's my week. That's not even half of what happened but it's so long already. I love you all, I feel your prayers, and God is fulfilling them in the funniest of ways. There's nothing like my God! 

See you soon,
Sister Goldsberry

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