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 me. 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 iPadから送信