Monday, February 22, 2016

Advantages of Being an Alien, Confidence, and Crack‏

Clarification: I'm still in Shibuya, family! I didn't transfer. My
companion Sister P. transferred here from Koga.
Man oh man this week I came to terms with the awesomeness that is
being an alien. No, I don't mean an extraterrestrial but a foreigner.
At first I sort of hated standing out. I wished I could speak fluent,
accent-less Japanese and be taken seriously in this country. The fact
is, that will never happen. But I have found my loopholes. This week I
discovered the pros of being foreign over Japanese.
1. People are honest with you
This week I finally met the only investigators that existed in Shibuya
before I came. My previous companion had talked them up and assured me
they would be baptized. My previous companion and her then Japanese
companion had received a call from their daughter who is a member.
This member asked the missionaries to help her parents move into their
new home in Shibuya. From then on they took the discussions. But all
of last transfer they couldn't meet. Lo and behold a day opens up and
Sister P. and I make our way to the home of this family. 
Now let me tell you about the way there. Sister P's bike hadn't
come yet, so we had to go by train. We got immensely lost in the dense
concrete jungle and ended up walking a ways to find this place. As
we're walking we're getting rejected by every person we try to talk
to, we have no idea if we're moving closer or farther from our desired
destination, and I get clipped by a passing car in the process. For a
fleeting moment, I thought, maybe this is becoming so difficult
because the next forty five minutes of my life are going to be
Well what I thought was going to be a forty five minute lesson turns
into a ten minute rejection by an eighty-year-old woman. Turns out
they were never interested, they just felt obligated to listen because
these two other sisters had helped them move in. She was honest with
me because I was an alien. She was crystal clear too because she used
simple Japanese. That was bitter sweet because I had been so pumped up
by my previous companion about this couple but on the other hand we
got that much closer to finding our next friend to be baptized. Thank
goodness I'm American, or else I'm afraid that woman wouldn't have had
the heart to be straight with me.
2. People are open towards you
This week we got called to a member's house last minute because she
was being evicted of her house. This member lives with her mom and
brother, but she's the only bread winner of the home. She has an older
sister who seems to only stir trouble. Well we go over there to pack
up all of their things from that small apartment. This older sister
never comes to help back, despite living nearby. She only calls to
disturb her mother as we pack. Five minutes into our visit, the
seventy-year-old mother of our member receives a particularly cruel
phone call. As soon as she hangs up, she just crumples and begins to
My American companion and I were there just in time to comfort this
woman, even if it was just with physical touch because we didn't have
the Japanese to truly console her. All we really did was put our hands
on her shoulder. But as soon as she got the strength to stand up she
wrapped her arms around me and sobbed into my dress. I was okay with hugs and snot. Anyone can always count on me for a hug because I'm foreign and that's what I'm used to.
Yes I'm foreign so that means I can't speak the language very well and I don't know much about the culture but I can take the American jokes if it means I get more honest conversations and tender, awkward, hugs. People have literally laughed out loud at my awful Japanese but I couldn't care less because I know God put me here, rather than a Japanese sister missionary. It's divine, miraculous. Somebody else might know everything about every Japanese holiday but they can't give a Brazilian hug like I can. No one can give a heartier American laugh than me. This week, our bishop told us a story about a cracked pot. This pot had such a great crack in it, that every day when the man of the house carried it home, it would lose about half of its water. One day this pot apologized. "I'm sorry I've got this big crack. I can only bring a half pot's worth of water. I'm more trouble than I'm worth. I'm really sorry." The man responded: "I know about your crack. Haven't you noticed all the good it has done? I planted seeds along the path we walk every day. You water the flowers every day and you don't even know it! I pick this flowers and use them as the center piece of our table. Didn't you notice?" Missionary work is the easiest work on the planet if this parable is understood. Of course we have weaknesses. Of course we don't accomplish our task one day let alone every day. I give my best but even that isn't enough. If missionaries realize that they aren't just foreigners living in a foreign country but representatives of Jesus Christ their job becomes a whole lot easier. A new light, new confidence comes in. I know that even though I might be failing miserably I am still accomplishing good. I have enough faith and hope in God's work that I believe no matter what I do, God will take my effort and use it to further His work. Of course He knows my weaknesses. He planned ahead. He uses even my weaknesses to accomplish His great purposes. Let's face it, my weaknesses are more dependable than my strengths sometimes. I know that the hard parts of my mission have been hard because I was too focused on the crack, and didn't look around at the flowers that were blooming around me. Missions are so easy! Just go out, act a fool, be good, pray like mad, and no matter what God will use you. You will see miracles, you will laugh, you will bring others to Christ and be more converted yourself. I know because it's happened to me. It's still happening to me, I ain't done yet!
See you soon,
Sister Goldsberry

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