Monday, February 23, 2015

Tsunami Warning...? (February 23, 2015)

'Ello! I wasn't going to mention it, but my parents heard about it, I guess.

I was reading my scriptures on Tuesday morning when I felt something that could be described as oddly similar to the earth quaking. "Do you feel that?" I said, watching a paper chain dancing on the wall. "I think it's an earthquake." Sister M said, no... oh wait, maybe, yeah. Gentle shaking for maybe thirty seconds.

Five minutes later, we got a call from the APs (assistants to the president): "Hey, Sisters. Did you feel that earthquake?" Affirmative. "Okay, well, there's been a tsunami warning, so you're supposed to get to high ground immediately." Holy smokes, right?

We had a little frenzy getting our ugly yellow emergency backpacks from the closet and trying to find the cell phone, because somehow we misplaced it in the two steps to the closet, but I confess I had a blast. The quake was so small (I've heard enough descriptions of the pre-Disaster quake to know it was harmless), so it wasn't remotely scary, and we waited for the elders and climbed up a hill, found a park, ate bananas (courtesy of Elder B) and climbed on the jungle gym. A local lady walked by and told us we were crazy for seeking high ground after such a minor quake, but we are obedient little missionaries so we stayed on that hill until the APs called us back. That was the adventure of the week:) 

***For those who might be feeling concern at this point in time, please don't worry, little quakes are a good thing. It releases tension between tectonic plates. If there are little quakes, it's actually safer than having that tension build up, which would result in a much larger and more destructive quake. I'm Lisa Luke, and I approve this message.***

Moral of the story: sometimes, we might do things that seem silly in the name of obedience. We might feel foolish choosing what we believe to be right, and we might sacrifice some other good things for it. But even if you don't see the benefit of getting to high ground when you know there will be no tsunami, if there comes a time when you are truly tested, you will know which hill to climb to get out of harm's way. The world can be a scary place, but I promise each of you that as we strive to follow God's plan for us, we can and will be happy; the choice is ours. I love you all very much. Thank you for your support and encouraging words.


One more thing! Sorry for the long email... I was mailing one of my MTC friends and was giving kind of a language pep-talk-ish, and I thought what these lovely ladies said to me was inspiring and wanted to share it with all of you. Sorry for the additional text. Thanks:)

Yeah, I get you on the social thing... My companion is SUPER peppy and can talk with anyone, it's really inspiring, but definitely does push me a lil' bit. My companion and I had this super long talk about beanhood last night, and what we came out with was three things that I really liked: 1) Choose to be happy, 2) don't go home, and 3) if Satan tells you you're not good enough, tell him to bug off. Anything that says you're less than amazing is not of God.

Another thing I liked that a lady who was visiting our branch told me yesterday is this: it doesn't matter what language you speak, or if you can or can't do it well. It simply does not matter. What matters is that you show them love, because as representatives of Jesus Christ, that's our role; we weren't called to master a language or become good at talking to strangers easily, we were called to serve and to love these people, to show them that God loves them and that life is full of hope. Isn't that awesome? I love it, because at the end of the day, what matters is that you touched their hearts and their lives in a way they might not recognize, but someday, they will.

Pictures: A companionship mirror selfie, because, why not? And my beloved district on the jungle gyms. It's a terrible picture, but I need something to remember my first (and probably last) tsunami warning.

We had a potatoe chip party!!! Except no one actually knew how to make potatoe chips, so we kind of spun it in such a way that we made French fries instead, because fries are easy to make.

(Away for only a month and the Idaho Girl has already forgotten how to spell "potato." ヤベッ。)

(A few more random photos -- she didn't include any explanation.)

Sunday, February 15, 2015

More pictures, but not of me, sorry, Mom. (February 16, 2015)

Here are the rest of the Valentines, I think they're so funny. But the Samuraishitemasu is my absolute favorite, pun courtesty of Sister M.

So there's this man here, Onodera san, and I want him to get baptized so badly. He's a Chem teacher and has all these crazy theories, and he has a really deep faith and relationship with Christ and he believes in repentance and all these wonderful things, but he's not sure about baptism, and it's driving me insane. He has all these crazy conspiracy theories and the other missionaries don't have a lot of hope for him, but I honestly think he is so ready to take that leap and commit to it. The thing is, he's very forward and can come across as a little pushy, but I just think he's a stubborn old man and you just can't give too much weight to what he says because he's the kind of guy who just says whatever he thinks. We gave him a joint lesson with the elders and I think we gave him some things to think about. Actually, he asked Oonuma Kiyodai (our local Bible scholar guy) for a lesson specifically on baptism, so if you can, pray for him!!! I think his heart is ripe to be softened and he is ready to make the covenant of baptism. I just know it. He's stubborn but he's been investigating for two years and he treats the Book of Mormon as the word of God because the character of Christ is consistent with the Bible. It's so close!!!!

Anyway, he gave Sister M an electronic Japanese/English dictionary, and he was like, oh, I'd feel bad giving one of you something and not the other, so he gave me these adorable little light-up seal bath toys which are supposed to be great for playing with kids. It was really random and funny, but we're beginning to teach English to 2 and 4 year old brothers, so they might be useful yet. (We do a program where we teach English for half an hour and then we have a spiritual message for half an hour, so we'll teach the kids and the mother will listen. I love them, they are so, so, cute.)

We also got to do some service this week! We passed out flyers and then did aroma therapy hand massages for people living in the temporary housing from the tsunami, and it was so much fun. We essentially get to sit and talk to these wonderful people, and despite the fact that they've lost everything and are still searching for somewhere to live, they are so full of hope and love and light. I love getting to know these people and seeing how priceless each of them is. (And also, everyone loves the picture of D, R, J and I in the kimonos, it's super fun.)

Also, I had takoyaki and taiyaki for the first time. It was an egg-cream taiyaki, please tell Mother that it was delicious.

Let's see, what else? Oh, the picture of me on the hill was when we went to meet this lady Rioko san, and it ends up she wasn't home because she was at a hospital in Sendai and it took longer than anticipated, but we found her house (her address wasn't in the area book) and wrote it down for future generations. Her house is on a hill (obviously) and there's a huge jinja at the top, we didn't go see it but I'd love to go check it out sometime. (Especially because it's at the top of a huge flight of stairs, and working out in the mission field is a joke, I really just want to do something really physically challenging but right now it's not an option.) Since my trainer's almost done, I figure I'll wait until my next trainer and then make her go exploring with me and we'll get good and lost on a P-day and have a jolly good time:) I love Ishinomake! Everyone is so nice. Also, the conspiracy theory guy has this mission, he says, "gain weight mission!" Super funny. I told him it's stay the same mission. He told me about three sisters that left Ishinomaki having gained weight, but I refuse, and as Sister M says, as long as you burn more calories than you consume, it's fine. :)

And, yeah. By the way, most of my emails home consist of things that I didn't have time to write about in my journal, so if Mom's printing them like she did Andrew's, would you please print me a set, too? If not, I can deal with it upon my return 'cause I'll probably type up my journal as well. Thanks:)

Oh, and can you send me a pancake recipe? I want to use that syrup you gave me:D

Thanks! Love you!

Cake Day and Other Stories (February 16, 2015)

Once upon a time, we visited T, an American living here to teach English, and she shared a tradition with us that I might adopt. It's called Cake Day.

One year, T saw a DQ ice cream cake online, and wanted it. So then she was talking to one of her male friend and said, "Hey, I really want that cake. You should get it for me." And so, he did, brought it over on Valentine's day, and cut it and ate a piece and then he left and she had the whole cake to herself. The next year, she thought, I want that cake, and asked another boy to get her a cake. He did. And then he came over, they ate a piece of cake, and he left, and she got the entire cake to herself. After that, she started with a tag like this: "So I have this tradition where every year, I have a guy bake me a cake, and sometimes they're really good. And they come over, and we eat cake, and then he leaves and I have this cake. Do you want to make me a cake this year?" And this lady has literally gotten a cake for the past seven years.

Genius, right? She gets a cake and Valentine's Day is never a disappointment, because it's Cake Day. I think it's hilarious, I'm baking myself a cake next year (assuming I have an oven next year).

Another fun thing from this week was that we visited the K family, a mother and sons ages 14, 11, and 7. (The father works in Tokyo and comes home on weekends, so he wasn't there when we visited.) Two of the boys had birthdays, so we ate dinner with them (takoyaki! First time I've had it, pretty sure), and then we gave them a message related to the story of the 2,000 stripling warriors. We had them stand up and then we threw balloons at them and shared a message about staying true to what they believe in, keeping their standards, no matter what comes at them as they grow older. It was super funny and adorable. 

I'd like to share the same thought with each of you--no matter where you are, always be true to yourself. Be the best you all the time. Because, why not? We're all learning and growing, and yeah, sometimes we're not perfect, but if we give living life our all, we will become better; that's a promise I make to each of you. I love you all very much, and am grateful for the relationships I have back home and the ones I'm developing now. 

Living life to the Mack. 2.16.2011.

--Sister Lisa Luke!

Pictures: The view from one of our investigators' back yards, and the Valentine's Day card Sister M and I made our district leader. They were hilarious.


Takoyaki: Chunks of octopus mixed in with a batter kind of like pancake batter, then fried in a mold that makes it a round ball about an inch across. Very tasty!

"life to the Mack": Mack was a friend that played with Lisa in the Chamber Orchestra, who passed away 2/16/2011.

More stuff (February 9, 2015)

Hey-o! Some more information, since I'm sure you want it:

As I said, Nate Smith is in my District, and he's training Elder Nickolas Peterson. We also have Elders Bodily and Okada, no idea what their first names are. My trainer is Amy McGreevy, and this is her last transfer, so I will have a new trainer in five weeks, which is a little tragic because we get along beautifully.

Ishinomaki Shibu is not super big, but the members are very strong. Yesterday we visited a PI (potential investigator) who had a birthday, and a sister called Usui Shimai (who also left us cookies on the day I arrived, she's a sweetheart) drove us to their home, which is close to where I saw the bridge with the water line marked on it. Anyway, I guess they like music, so I brought my violin and played Happy Birthday and the Spirit of God.

Here are two more pictures for Momma, one is of me, our MTC branch president's wife, and my companion, Sister Christina Sugie Ahn. The other picture is Cami Fish, she took good care of me in Japanese 301 and is a teacher at the MTC. She is the sweetest.

We have a PI who I'm so excited about. Her name is Tomomi-san, and she is 29. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she was kyoumishinshin, she practically started reading it while we were still there. She has a book of proverbs or some sort of scripture that's like, 365 pieces of advice, and she believes that whatever she flips open to will help her out, so it was good. She already believes in God and believes in faith, and when we taught her that we're all brothers and sisters, she said something along the lines of it being familiar to her, like it made sense. I think she's gonna get baptized. Either towards the end of this transfer or the beginning of the next one. :)

My challenge here is that everyone already knows and loves M Shimai (she goes by Mick Shimai so it's easy for them to say), so I need to get in with them, learn names, become friends with them, figure out navigation, and be Ishinomaki fluent by the time my next trainer arrives. We don't have an apartment map, and our cell phone GPS is off, so we get lost sometimes. We usually have to take pictures of the map that's pinned to the wall in our apartment (it's huge and not one we're supposed to take) and go with that. But it gives us opportunities to stop and ask for directions, so it's okay. Also, missionaries in our mission wear these hideous white helmets, and sometimes we ask people if they've seen gaijin on bikes with white helmets, and they're like, oh, yeah! And it's a glorious moment.

Okay, time's up, love you all, and I love it here, too. My jetlag is pretty much whooped thanks to the mission schedule, which is a blessing. Send me pictures of Daniel's date!!! And also if you could send me more family or friend pictures for my photo album, I would appreciate it but it's not a huge deal. Mostly the only friend picture I have right now is of Jack and I 'cause I snagged it off my wall on my way out, so I'm thinking the Dancing Through Life closing shot might be good, or something, whatever. I don't care that much. Thank you!!! :) Love you!


Sunday, February 8, 2015

Bean! (February 9, 2015)


I'm a BEAN!!!!! Newbies are called "beans," short for "green bean." It's hilarious, my trainer always reminisces, "When I was a bean..." :)

I'm serving in Ishinomaki, which is still being rebuilt after the tsunami of 2011. There's a bridge (over a road so you can cross the street...) with a marking on it that shows how high the water came that day, I want to take a picture of it eventually, it's rather sobering. A lady in our ward had a friend who survived the tsunami on that bridge, and the water came up to maybe six or seven steps of the top. The people here are angels. It's a beautiful place, and I love everything about it. I'm truly blessed to be here. We are busy all the time, but that's really something to be grateful for.

After 24 hours of travelling, my little band of five missionaries arrived at the baggage claim of the airport in Sendai. There's this huge wall of glass, and on the other side of the glass was some distinctly non-Asian people dressed in suits and dresses, so I started waving like mad when I realized that I recognized one. Got our bags, met my trainer, and one of the trainer-elders walked up to me and said, "Sister Lisa Luke. It is good to see you," and that's how I came across Elder N. Smith in Japan. He's training one of the elders I came with, and actually we're in the same district (which means we work in the same area and attend the same branch). Little crazy mini miracle.

AND, we got a call from some elders who are some sort of leadership called, so I talked to Elder M. Jones on the phone as well. (Note: Elders S and J and I graduated from the same school.) AND, my lovely friend A got called to Sendai as well!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Blessings all around.

Life is so, so good, and I've met a number of sweet ladies (one of whom trimmed my poor trainer's eyebrows and aparently also did an elder's, and threatened to cut my hair but then she decided that the Americans cut it too short and so I was spared. She's a hair stylist). 

Attached is a picture of my MTC zone, minus two elders, and the sun was really bright. The other picture is of the ladies in my MTC district. They call this "Luke Shimai no pose," or "The pose that is Sister Luke's." I may have had a little too much fun in the MTC;) I love them, but none of them came to Sendai with me. That's okay.

It's a long email, so I'll cut it here, but Sister M, my trainer, is a doll and I love her and she teaches me so much every day. I'm in good hands.

Thank you all for the support, best of luck with everything, hoping to hear from you each! :)

Always, Sister Luke!

Note: Ishinomaki is a city a bit smaller than Boise, located about 20 miles up the coast from Sendai. It should be a reasonably warm place to spend the winter -- at least compared with most places in the Sendai Mission. :)


A few photos of Lisa arriving in Sendai!

With her mission president and his wife.

The arriving group. I think the missionaries on either end are probably the assistants to the president, then there is the president and his wife in there, and five new missionaries with their trainers.

Lisa and her companion, with Elder Smith (who graduated from the same high school), and his new companion.