Transfer calls are in! I'm staying! Sister M. is staying! I am rejoicing and exceedingly glad! Wow I don't think I've ever screamed on a phone call, but my poor zone leader got an earful. This is my third transfer in Chiba. (I hope you're keeping track, friends! A transfer is a six week period.) I could not be happier. Well I guess if we found enough Spanish/Portuguese speakers in Chiba to make a branch, I'd be just a tad bit happier.
There was perhaps one person who was happier than I was. She is a recent convert in one of the two wards we take care of. Yes, family this is the same member that broke my faith across her knee! This is the member that punched my confidence in the gut! She took a bite out of my pride, spit it on the ground, and stepped on it as she walked away from me, without so much as a hello let alone a hug. When I looked at this member, I got a small taste of how Moses must have felt when he looked at the face of God. I definitely came to the realization that I was the dust of the earth.
But by the grace of God, quite more literally than you will ever know, she came to like Sister M. and I. Not just like us but love us! She told us she loved us! She hugs us whenever she sees us now! Just last Sunday, she told me: "We're friends, right?!" I am so happy. It makes no sense right?! How could I come from feeling so low to being so happy in her warm embrace?! Her smile makes me happy rather than filling me with fear.
Well, when this member was at her meanest, my companion and I often mumbled: "If I wasn't a missionary..." or "I'd love to give her a piece of my mind..." or something along the lines of Let's even out the playing field. What do we humans do when we get punched in the face? Well, if you're fifteen-year-old Jenny Goldsberry you punch her back! I remember getting punched in the face during a basketball game once. You know what I did? I kept the ball in my left hand to give my right hand a full range of motion as I shoved this girl. The ref called a double technical. A technical means a big foul, a big rule breaker. It's such a big deal, you have to sit out on the bench and watch as the other person gets a free shot. I remember thinking how unfair it was. Not that I got punched in the face, but that I also had to sit out just for defending myself. I didn't even hit her as hard as she hit me! I whined. I've experienced many more technical fouls since that moment and if you asked me about every single one I would justify them all. But anyone who knows anything about Jesus Christ knows that there's a higher path.
Christ was ridiculed, humiliated, and killed. But even then He didn't mutter a mean thing. He submitted Himself completely. I am by no means anything close to the kind of person Christ was. But when I think of all He went through and how He just took it, it gives me the strength to grit my teeth, tighten the belt on my skirt, straighten my name tag, and walk into the belly of the beast.
In this process, this sister has really gotten to know me. She's seen me weak. She's shown me her weak places. Somewhere along the way we came to love each other.
We've gotten so close! So close! Just yesterday, we were talking after church. She was way anxious about transfer calls. She told me she wished I would just become a ward member and never leave. I promised her everything under heaven. "When you find the man that will be sealed to you and your son in the Salt Lake Temple," I told her, "come stay at my house." She laughed and said she understood. After more anxious yelps, she finally blurted out: "We should have become friends sooner!"
Family, this is not a regret you want to experience. I remember I read an article once way before I left on my mission about the top five regrets of dying people. One of them was something along the lines of "I wish I'd kept in better contact with my friends." When it comes to losing your pride, the sooner the better. Throw it away! The joy that follows humility is so much stronger than any humiliation we could experience. The friendship I made with this member is so sweet! I am so grateful for every incorrect, broken Japanese conversation I've ever had with her because it humbled me and brought us closer. I came to hate the phrase: "If I wasn't a missionary" and "After my mission." I want to be this way forever! I want these kinds of friendships with every single person possible! Because at the end of the day, I am the dust of the earth because I'm human, not because I am a missionary. Christ is the Savior of the World, the Perfect Teacher, and Creator of the earth and I will serve Him and follow His example even after I take this black tag off a long time from now.
See you soon!
Got up at 5 a.m. to go clean up the beach with the ward.
The picture of the food balls behind her are stuffed with Octopus, apparently, they super delicious.
Cleaning the beach
Companion tag and her tag
Video of Sister Goldsberry dancing in a Japanese festival. Can only be viewed from a computer, not a mobile device.