Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Seven Days of Miracles (August 1, 2016)


As promised, here is a real email! Yay!

This week was...
Seven Days of Miracles

I always hate when people make lists of what they did every day of the week, well I guess I don't hate it but I almost never read it, but this week was too good to skip it, so I just made a list of the miracles we saw this week in as concise a way as I could. Enjoy!

1. Monday: Miraculously resolved technology issues, the most successful mission home FHE I've ever been to. Two of our investigators attended and both walked away having felt the Spirit.

2. Tuesday: A joint lesson in which our artist investigator expressed concerns she had which neither of us really knew how to resolve, but the member who was with us shared an experience that helped her understand the why. Also a visit with the Young Women President in which her stern exterior shifted enough for us to see her kindness, light, and warmth.

3. Wednesday: A call in the morning from the Stake President's wife which led to going to lunch with her and a lesson with another investigator, who, when invited to church, answered, yeah, I'd love to come! Later a lesson with another investigator in which we break down walls and begin to understand much more.

4. Thursday: Lesson with a woman who not only kept her commitment to pray but also understood and acceptd the entire Message of the Restoration, expressed much interest in the Book of Mormon, and then committed to read the introduction and pray to ask God if the Book of Mormon is true. Rushed back to an extremely spiritual district meeting, where President Smith showed up unexpectedly and we were all edified together. We proceeded to have another investigator lesson in which we broke down more walls, then visited a less active member whose sick city finally took its medicine and began to eat again. Played a hymn on my violin for her and we all felt the Spirit so strongly right there in her doorway.

5. Friday: We visit an investigator's cafe with two members. She shows us a nearby waterfall and we set another appointment after singing I am a Child of God together.  Kamisugi FHE is the most successful it has been since I arrived, with some YSA and the elders' investigator. We bond with a YSA sister over the final game in which we identify and slay a werewolf (which ended up being the elders' investigator...)

6. Saturday: Visit not once, not twice, but three times with the same sister who was having a hard time. Lots of mysteries are cleared up. Visit a less active sister and discover the reason she is unable to attend church with us. Go to lunch at a legendary member's home, with two investigators. We then attend a sports activity together, in which every companionship had at least 2-3 nonmember friends in attendance. Smashed volleyball pretty hard;) One of the girls invites us to her dance competition.

7. Sunday: Two investigators to church, and the elders have people, too. We all learn together. We go to the investigator's dance competition. Dinner with a member couple for her birthday along with another investigator and one of the elders' investigators, complete with a wonderful message at the end where the Spirit was present. (Which is hilarious, 'cause the elders couldn't come since it'd break some mission rules, hahaha:) Both investigators committed to seek answers and peace from God for their own needs.

Yep. 'Twas a good week. If you read all that, you're a champion and more generous than I'd probably be, or you're my parents:D

And, after being asked to give a five minute training on things I've been learning on my mission, so here are five principles I've learned. I can't claim true doctrine on all of them quite yet, but I feel that they describe what I've learned all right.

1. The Atonement of Jesus Christ cleanses and empowers us
2. The Atonement of Jesus Christ allows us to grow--but only as much as we choose to
3. Time is exceedingly short, in dendo and in life
4. Trust in the Lord (and His timing)
5. God never expects more than our very best, but He does expect that

So grateful to be a missionary here and now! I love the people, I love the work, I love what it feels like when we have to run back to the apartment to keep curfew, I love seeing people grow and come closer to Christ, I love teaching people and talking to people, even the creepy ones and the not-so-nice ones, because we are all brothers and sisters after all and when all is said and done, all we do is offer them peace and joy and all good things. I know God loves and loves each and every one of us. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior and He saves us from fear and insecurity and pain and anguish, and that as we trust Him and Almighty God, there is nothing that can prevail against us. We are intended to become so much greater than we can fathom by virtue of the fact that we are His children. I'm grateful for second chances and the stars that rise each night when the light is gone. There is peace and sunlight in my soul, because of the truths that I know. I am the happiest.


Pictures: Last time I didn't explain at all, but the missionaries in Kamisugi served as waitors/waitresses for a wedding reception, which is why we have the matching bowties and black-white thing. Also my little friend and I. Mostly this picture just makes me look a lot nicer than I actually am, so, I like it;)



仙台七夕! Next week is the Japanese Star Festival. Legend has it that two lovers, like the star prince and star princess (or something, frankly I've never had the story accurately explained to me) who fell in forbidden love can only meet once a year, and that's next week. Anyway giant decorations are beginning to make their appearance around Sendai:)



One of my favorite English students is a traditional dancer of the Suzume odori, or sparrow dance. Probably the coolest thing ever. If I remember to I'll send a video in a following email.




Not her group, but still way cool!

video



Bonus photo: Kamisugi Zone conference


Monday, July 11, 2016

Just a Snippet (July 11, 2016)


What up! I know I said my farewells all dramatic and whatnot, but here's my next attempt:) Seems like I can send messages okay, just receiving them is a little spotty and they disappear, so if I've missed a message or not responded, I apologize, that's my excuse;)

Lemme just tell y'all about one of my favorite parts of the week. We're working with a less active sister who is so, so cute. Due to health issues and past experiences, she is mentally pretty young and she LOVES the missionaries. We visited her and shared a message about prayer and that Heavenly Father always answers our prayers, like a parent who answers the cry of their frightened child at night. We agreed that we would all pray for her to have the courage to come to church this week, and we touched base with her a lot, prayed over the phone together, and did whatever we could to help her. However when we called her on Sunday morning, she said that she wasn't feeling too good. She cut the phone really fast before we could say much else. We went to our morning meeting a little disappointed, but when we walked into the chapel for sacrament meeting, she was sitting on the bench closest to the door with the biggest smile on her face, because she had surprised us by showing up. She had to leave right after sacrament, but being able to watch her pray and partake of the sacrament was one of the sweetest things ever.

The organist didn't make it to church on Sunday, so they asked me to step in last minute, I had a great vantage point to be able to watch the ward (and that sister) as they renewed their covenants with God, and even though I still don't know everyone's names yet and although I don't have a personal relationship with them all yet, I love Kamisugi ward and their desires for righteousness. It is so evident when people are trying to do what's right. It touches our hearts. It is my hope and prayer that we will ever be striving for truth and right.

Haven't taken many pictures recently (we got work to do!) but here are some from last week (sorry, parents, recycling;).

It is so humid here, we've been above 90% a few times (and here I was thinking missionaries don't swim!), but the 紫陽花 (あじさい = ajisai = hydrangea) are way, way pretty.

I'm pretty too, but no one ever says anything. (That's a joke, please don't respond to that or I'll just feel uncomfortable. *Laughs awkwardly like someone who's lost all social skills, which is actually pretty accurate.*)


P.S.

Just a silly story from this week

This week, we housed this apartment complex, and no one answered the door. We got to the last door where the post was overflowing with flyers, but rand the bell anyways. Right when we were giving up--Sister Burton was starting down the stairs--the door popped open and out of nowhere is this white dude in a luxurious navy bathrobe. I was so startled that the only thing that successfully made it out of my mouth was, "Uh, you speak English?" He answered, "Yeah! You speak English?" and it was obvious he wasn't American. Ends up he was European, and he had heard of Mormon missionaries before, but "Alas! I'm not interested," because he has some Mormon friends and knows "it's not for me." (We speculated that he probably likes drinking too much because he's from Bristol. OBVIOUSLY a drunkard.*kidding*)

Anyway, just a silly little story from this week:)



(July 4, 2016)


元気だよ!大好きだよ!

今週は東京の姉妹の友達と初レッスンしました。日本では思えないほどすごかった。最初は二人に神様とお祈りについて教えましたが、23歳のカナちゃんは彼女のお母さんと弟と一緒にレッスン聞きたいと言ってくれました。皆んなで神の子ですを三番まで歌ったら、皆んなで涙を流してカナちゃんと違う友達の48歳のさとみさんがお祈りしてくれました。二人共純粋で素敵な祈りを捧げてくれました。

次の日、サキ子さんと言うもう一人の友達とレッスンしました。今回はまたヤング姉妹と交換で行きましたが、サキ子さんと自己紹介してから、彼女はなぜ宣教師になったの?と聞いてくれて、私達は二人共神様の愛を感じた事や助けを得た時について話しました。そしてその幸せと希望、平安と慰めを分かち合うために日本に来たと説明すると、サキ子さんは、涙を目に輝かせ、私は神の子だと感じた事がありません。と、言いました。その続にものすごく霊的な時間を過ごすことができました。一緒に神の子ですを歌って、彼女の純粋の心の祈りを聞きました。

本当に特別な方々はこの上杉や東北や日本に住んでるんだな。最高です!


いつもお祈りありがとう!大好きだよ!


I'm doing well! I love you!

Today we had our first lesson with friends of sisters from Tokyo. It was so amazing you wouldn't think it was Japan. First we taught the two of them about God and prayer, and 23-year-old Kana said she wanted to hear the lessons with her mother and younger brother. We all sang "I Am A Child Of God," all three verses, and we were all crying, and then 48-year-old Satomi said a prayer. Both of them are so pure, and it was a beautiful prayer.

The next day, we had a lesson with another friend, Sakiko. This time I was on an exchange with Sis. Young. After we introduced ourselves, she asked "why did you become missionaries?" We both talked about times we felt God's love and times we received help. When we explained that we came to Japan to share that joy and hope, peace and comfort, Sakiko said, with tears in her eyes, "I've never felt that I was a child of God." After that we had an amazingly spiritual time together. We sang "I Am A Child Of God" together, and heard her pray from her pure heart.

There are very special people living in Kamisugi and the Touhoku area and in Japan! They are the best!

Thank you for praying for me! I love you!


(Bonus photos:)






Tuesday, June 28, 2016

(June 27, 2016)



Hey y'all! This week was great. Lots of miracles and things, which is wonderful because heaven knows we need it, haha... :) We are working hard and trying whatever we can to see success here in Kamisugi. Here is one story that is my favorite so far.

A girl we're teaching, R, has a strong Christian background. We've only begun meeting with her since I got here three weeks ago, but she's very Christian, which is unusual in Japan, to say the least. She's from a different country, and often tells us about her adventures in her share house, with the woman who "dirties the walls and dustbins" and such. She's way logical and has the best skeptical face I've ever seen on an Asian woman, she's my favorite:) Anyway, yesterday, she walked into our lesson, sat down, we sang a hymn and prayed, and she says, "Just wanted to let you know, I did what you said, and I asked God about whether the Book of Mormon is authentic, and he said, yep. So yeah. Just wanted to let you know that."

Sister B and I about died.

From a missionary working in Japan, that's like, stuff of fairy tales. I dunno about all y'all in Christian countries, but usually at this point in time, we're still working with the investigator to grasp the concept of a loving God, and this girl's casually like, yeah, God told me it's true. We've still got a ways to go in terms of what's the priesthood and why is church important and why do we need to get baptized again, (that's where the priesthood comes in...) but we are feeling pretty hopeful. 

Also, due to recent technology problems, it remains to be seen whether or not I'll be doing emails much from here on out... So I'd like to leave you all with a testimony and we'll see if emails work in the future or not;)

One thing that has been on my mind recently is whether or not I will be able to have an impact here in Kamisugi, since my time here is by far the shortest. In a ward of considerable size, I looked at the members and wondered if I would be able to touch their lives or to help them feel the Savior's love at all. Church is only once a week. I wondered if we would be able to find any real investigators who want to know the truth. I'm not the most charismatic person, I'm not all that smart or talented or fun or memorable, but I sincerely do want to make a difference in the places that I serve. As I pondered this sitting cross-legged on my futon at night, I realized that while there are many weaknesses and concerns, as I've seen time and time again on a mission, I have great faith in the last door concept. If you work until the very last minute, there will be a miracle according to your faith and the will of God.

And although I don't know everything, and although I am weak, I do know that by the power of God, I will be able to accomplish whatever He needs me to do. I want to help people find eternal joy and I want to help people discover the divinity within them, and then share that light with others, but the hows and the what ways, I do not know. However I do know that as I rely on my Savior and listen to the voice of the Spirit as it whispers to me, that I can do what I was sent here to do, whether that's something I can comprehend at this point in time or not. I want to be a powerful servant of the Lord, and although it may not feel like it at times, I know that taking the right step in the right direction at the right time is all we can do. So that's what we will do, because He loves us, each and every one, and will guide us every step of the way.

I'm grateful for the fullness of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that God has given us a way to find eternal joy and to become the very best that we can be. I'm grateful for the gift of the Book of Mormon that teaches us truths and supports the Bible as two witnesses of Jesus Christ, who is our Savior and Redeemer and understands what you're going through--yes, you--even if you don't, and you think no one else does, either. He is our light and our life and our joy, and I am grateful for His divine grace that draws us out of darkness and into the light. I testify that this is the work of God and that He is with us always. I feel Him in my life. He is my everlasting Friend.


I love you all! Have a wonderful week!


Bonus photo: Lisa went on another split with Sis. Anne Young!


Monday, June 20, 2016

(June 20, 2016)


Hyodo S's last Sunday:( Us and Shion chan, who just graduated recent convert status. She's half.



Stevenson Conference. You can see the top half of my face about four rows behind Sister Smith.




TSUYU. 湿気が。。。の割には雨は降らないんだけどね
(RAINY SEASON. Oh, the humidity... despite that, it hasn't actually rained all that much.)



Bonus photos:



Monday, June 13, 2016

This Week Was A Thousand (June 13, 2016)


What up! L Luke!

Yeah... We're just gonna picture it this week. Late night miracles and sarcastic revelation, I can testify that God has a sense of humor (with just enough fire to singe your eyebrows). Hapoy, exhausted, and the best days here in Kamisugi. Pretty sure I straight died and came to heaven, just with a road map that would leave good ol' Socrates scratching his head. (And at least he can do that since he doesn't have those beloved missionary helmenta, laugh.)

Pictures:

Emergency transfer elders passing through on Kamisugi District Preparation Day. All three Lukes in the mission are liked up there in the back, two out of three repping Idaho. Rockin' it.



Stake Conference was basically the Celestial Kingdom. Two of my favorite Ishinomaki members, my bean brother, and companions. Yay!



Went on a split with my granddaughter Sister P, Momma A makin' me so 
proud. *Tear.



There are a jillion vegetables at Kamisugi. We like it:) (Also learned that mushrooms and fresh parsley in your vegetable stir fry suddenly makes you feel about ninety two times more classy than you actually are.)