Meet Sister LJ AhMu. She served her mission in the late 1970s in the Cook Islands. She spoke with us recently about some of her biking memories from her mission. Enjoy her stories:
I walked and rode a bike a lot during my mission. If I wasn't walking I was pedaling. No car for the sisters! Only the Zone Leaders drove a battered up bomb masquerading as a car.
My bike wasn't just any bike. It was "French" (oo la la) - A Peugeot- thank you very much. A veritable Jaguar of bicycles with its beauty and delicacy-perfectly suited to the streets of Paris but not so the pot-holed riddled lanes and paths of a rustic and remote and still jungle-like Pacific isle.
This was basically my bike. The morning I arrived in Tahiti, President Mack sent us with the office elders to change our American money to French currency so we could purchase brand new bikes, which then flew with us from Tahiti to the Cook Islands. Didn't have a choice- the office elders basically went ahead and bought the bikes and loaded them up right away for the mission home till we shipped out (1 sister-me and 3 elders) to the Cooks a few days later. We were so tired from the 16 hour flight from LA - arriving in the early, early morning to high heat and humidity. We had interviews with President and all sorts. It was a very, very long day. So tired. After I showered in the afternoon at the mission home, I fell asleep in my chair in the living room while waiting for dinner.
Even though not the sturdiest of bikes, still it was my bike, and I rode it thru wind and rain, thru sunlight and moonlight. And I rode it in dresses and skirts, (no trousers for Sisters on bikes in my mission era). Still and all we were very recognizable as the only pair of "Mormoni" sisters on the island riding our bikes here, there, and everywhere.
I had many adventures on that bike, like parking it against the trunk of a tree and unwittingly on top of a bed of fire ants hidden by natural debris who introduced themselves to my sandal shod feet in the most immediate way. I never shouted so loud nor jumped so high. Or having my face meet the ground in the most unbecoming way. Once when riding thru the middle of town via a round-a-bout my companion followed too closely behind, nipped me, and hello road! Another time riding home on the main road around the island with some elders also riding bikes from a P-Day missionary zone "Coconut Day" of fun activities, an elder decided to to test his hair trigger bike brakes unexpectedly right in front of me and voila, splat! I'm now taking in the island scenery sitting in the middle of the main road. The front wheel of my delicate Peugeot was bent and refused to come out of its forced misshapen-ness. So I rode a rickety bike the rest of the way with a very repentant elder in tow who later that week bought me a bag of doughnuts to amend. (He's seated in front of me.)
The Bates' doughnut shop.
So goes the humbling nature of the mission, replete with all its "thrills and spills". Even the falls are a warm memory to me now almost 40 yrs later. I never had so much satisfaction riding a bicycle as I did on my mission. As missionaries, this is an example of how we make the best of what we have. And when we fall, we pick ourselves up and go on. And still find joy. The challenge is the same today as it was 39 years ago.