Monday, April 18, 2016

Missions are Like a Box of Chocolates‏

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
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


1 comment:

  1. Love the potato story. I totally get it and give potatoes