Monday, January 13, 2014

Week Labing-Apat: Filling the Cracks with Gold

Happy Monday! What a week, though to be honest, I don't have much to report. Sister Lang, an Sister Training Leader who stayed at my house the other night, said I looked like Molly Ringwald and that I need to wear pink more often, as Pretty in Pink is her favorite movie. And since we also decided that she is the ruler of my life, I guess I have to comply.

I forgot to tell you - we caught rats last week! We had set mouse glue traps all around the house, but our rat problem was still at large, until clever me left the lid off the big bucket of water storage. Sister Pace found two drowned rats there in the morning. Turns out, the reason why our traps weren't working was because the rats were bigger than my foot. R.O.U.S's for sure. I didn't see them, thank goodness, but yeah! It's more fun in the Phillies!

This week, I've been helping Sister Jaya apply for BYU - she's leaving so soon! I've been specifically helping her edit her application essays. Sort of made me miss college. After I expressed interest, the Nelsons, a senior missionary couple, said that after my first twelve weeks in the field, I can ask President if I can teach English at the CES building to Filipinos. I'm way excited for that, so I'll keep you updated!

I have a cold this week, sniffles and Kleenex galore! But I feel my health is on the horizon. I'd be more discouraged about it if I didn't have this beautiful weather. Rainy, but it is FINALLY cool and even a little breezy! Everyone around me is bundling up and complaining about the "cold", but I've been dancing in the rain and enjoying every bit of this spring-time-feeling weather. I'm loving it!

Ooph! We just had a brown out for thirty minutes. Elder Walker ran to get Jollibee sundaes, and now we're back! Thank you, autosave!

My title comes from a dear elder that my friend Margaret Young sent me on Christmas that I just received this week (thank you!). She told me that her present to her daughter this year was a broken cup mended with gold glitter glue, and she explained to me that "when the Japanese mend broken objects, they aggrandize the damage by filling the cracks with gold. They believe that when something's suffered damage and has a history it becomes more beautiful." She then included the musings of American writer Barbara Bloom: "Such a deep and profound metaphor for what the ever loving, ever-powerful Universe does with our grief, pain and suffering. We can offer up all the pain to the Source that can transmute and heal all. You have the power to transmute and heal the pain and fill all the cracks with gold."

This week, I was faced with not just one, but multiple people I love doubting their self worth. Their personal agony was so great, and I watched with a heavy heart as these wonderful people in my life felt worthless, with me standing by without an idea of how to help. In one situation, I simply had to embrace Alma's words in the Book of Mormon, "Yea, and [be] willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort" (Mosiah 18:9). I felt helpless in those moments, but perhaps the only good thing I could do was wait and be available. And as I thought of these people in my life that have altered mine so much for the better just by being in it, I was faced with my own pain as I desired so much for them to see themselves as I do, and by extension, see themselves as God does.

In those moments of aching, I remembered the words that Dean William Ralph Infe wrote, words that I had only read a few days prior: "'Do not forget,' said the Devil with a smile, 'that I have been evolving too.'" The first time I read that simple sentence, I shivered, understanding the truth of that sentence. No matter how strong I get, or how I strong I know other people are, the power of the adversary is ever growing too, finding ways to hurt us. How terrifying a thought! I know, however, that through constant faith and perseverance, we can stay ahead of the growing darkness.

I pondered in my personal study how in my own life and in the lives of others, how could we bounce back from times we felt vulnerable, scared, alone, or worthless. How could we stay ahead of the dark and stay in the light? Or perhaps, escape the dark when we've fallen into it? As I pondered this, I remembered Margaret's dear elder. With eager hands, I unfolded the paper and read those comforting words again. Despite being broken, in a collector's eyes, a broken bowl can be more beautiful with it's cracks filled with flecks of gold. Despite our brokenness, our longing, our despair, we can be mended! We can be healed! And like the Japanese pottery, if we live through our shattering moments and not agonize over our prior "cracks", but fill them with gold, perhaps it would be easier to see ourselves as God does - ever purposeful and beautiful.

Margaret also included a poem, written by Peter Mayer. In it, I enjoyed the meaning in the lines:

So now every old scar shows
From every time I broke
And anyone's eyes can see 
I'm not what I used to be
But in a collector's mind
All of these jagged lines
Make me more beautiful

and then later,

I have some cracks you can see
See how they shine of gold

In the grand collector's mind, our cracks, our experience, make us worth something. We were not made to be perfect, we were made to become perfect. Those people struggling in my life are better with their trials, showing how the bounced back! They did not stay broken! They carried on! This experience this week has made me determined to not hide my scars, nor be ashamed of them, but to do as Barbara Bloom suggests and utilize my "power to transmute and heal the pain and fill all the cracks with gold", becoming a fuller, and more experienced person who can hopefully in the future offer more comfort to those who stand in need of it. Hopefully, those people who are struggling can remember that they are loved, that they are worth so much more than what they sometimes are tempted to feel. Hopefully, they can overcome their darkness and fill their lives with light.

I had something else I wanted to touch on, but we have to book it across the city to Sister Jaya's English class. Next week then! I hope all of you have a smashing day. Even though teaching was slow this week, I'm so thankful to be a missionary and to be teaching and reminding God's children that He loves them, and that through the gospel, they can overcome anything. I've found that when I'm serving my hardest, I am my most happy. 

To quote my favorite hymn:

5. Stript, wounded, beaten nigh to death,
I found him by the highway side.
I roused his pulse, brought back his breath,
Revived his spirit, and supplied
Wine, oil, refreshment--he was healed.
I had myself a wound concealed,
But from that hour forgot the smart,
And peace bound up my broken heart.
(A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief)

I have a lot of cracks, but through the healing power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and through my missionary service, I've found them slowly being filled with gold. And even if this year is the hardest year of my life, I know it will also make me of more worth in the end. 

"When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." - Mosiah 2:17

"You will want a might change in their hearts. Well, He will want a mighty change in YOUR heart." - Elder Jeffrey R. Holland

All my love,

Sister Green

1) We've Only Just Begun - The Carpenters

2) Concerning Hobbits - The LOTR soundtrack

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