Sunday, March 29, 2015

Count Your Many Blessings... :) (March 30, 2015)

This week... was, quite frankly, pretty difficult as far as weeks tend to go. I have this image in my head that "real" missionaries are supposed to be calm and caring and super perfect all the time, but actually we're crazy lil' hooligans running around trying to spread hope and happiness. And sometimes we get home for the night, sit down, collapse, and go limp on the floor because that's about all we can handle right now. And our poor companions are like, what...? Buuuut there's always God and ice cream, so you know things will always work out;) And so, I'd like to take this opportunity to make a list of the many, many, many wonderful things that did happen this week, so this might be a longer email, feel free to read as much or as little as you'd like.

-WALTER. Last P-Day, I bought a beautiful piece-of-trash ukelele from a secondhand store for like $10. I fixed him up and he will be of use when we pass out flyers in the future. I named him Walter.

-Church yesterday was awesome!!! We had FOUR LAs show up unexpectedly, and the Spirit was so strong. That was definitely a miracle:)

-We figured out how to bake cakes in our rice cooker! I didn't know that was possible,

-but a man in our branch turned 95 this week and so we baked him a cake. He is blind and does massages after church each week as service because that's the only service he can do; he told us that he will continue doing that service until he's 100. (He's adorable.)

-Met an LA for the first time--25 years old, home alone while her husband works, and she invited us back! She was very sweet:D

-My companion Sister T is AMAZING, not sure if I gushed about that enough last week, but she is very talented at discerning needs of people, and we were able to help a member who was having a hard time because of it. Blessings all around:)

-We heart attacked a member!!! We caught wind that she'd be out of town, so we biked over the day before she came home and taked about twenty hearts with nice messages all over her door.

-Sister K! Love her, she's the lady that took a razor to my first companion's eyebrows the first time I met her. (She's a hair stylist.) Introduced my companion to her, talked about Japanese graves...?

-Sister U, a wonderful member missionary, introduced a lady to us for the Lesson Monitor Program, which is essentially an opportunity for us to teach a few "trial" lessons to see if we can spark some interest. Bless her.

-Sister T and I have silly times together... Much hilarity and laughter has gone down this week.

-PING PONG NIGHT. A girl who is a potential investigator came to ping-pong night, and we played Sister T and I against her, 'cause she's really good and Sister T and I are remarkable terrible at ping-pong, and it was probably the funniest thing ever. (I also accidently hit the same member with the ping-pong ball about six times, thank heavens he's patient and thought it was funny.)

-I got a package in the mail! From my parents, what lovely people they are, someone give them a hug for me, please. :) They know me well, they sent me peanut butter and Nutella, which I ate a bunch of and then was forced to hide from my sight. Thanks, Mom and Dad:)

-And another letter/package thing from some kiddos I babysat last summer! Their momma sent me pictures and drawings from them, and it brightened my week and brought me great joy. Thanks, H family:)

-I also felt the Spirit a bunch. Ah, it's a good life.

And when life's got you down, you know what you've gotta do? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming... Oh what do we do, I love to swwiiiiiim.

'Cept really. Know that God loves you, and everything will be all right. And lookit that, what a wonderful week it was:) I truly feel so blessed to be serving as a missionary at this time, I still can't quite believe I'm grown up enough to be a missionary, how crazy is that??? Mm, what a lucky girl I am. And it's practically spring here, what a wonderful time.

I love you all!
Always, Sister Lisa Luke:)

Pictures: One time, we had a day where literally no one could meet us, so we went housing for five hours. It was really fun!!! But we also sat on a playground for five minutes partway through because dress shoes and walking around and standing for five hours was a little long. Also I tried really hard on the other one, but it was really windy and really bright, so... Happy Birthday Daddy-O:)

PS, here is a cake I baked in a rice cooker! And also when we did a secret service:)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lisa "The Killer" Luke (March 23, 2015)

Unfortunately, my name doesn't sound particularly threatening, even with "The Killer" as a nickname I gave myself. *sigh.* In mission culture, we kinda talk like a mission is a lifetime, where you're born, and then you're a bean, and when you go home, you die, and your last companion's the one who killed you. So. For those who are waiting with bated breath, here it is: I killed my trainer. (Dun dun DUN!!!) My new trainer is Sister T, and she is Japanese and really, really, really cute. I met her on Saturday and I can already tell that we will see great things this transfer. She has a lot of ideas and there are many great changes in store for Ishinomaki, I'm excited to see how it goes. Sister T will also "die" this transfer, but she's transferring back to the Fukuoka mission, she's here temporarily because she got sick and had to come home, so she's doing two transfers in her home mission before heading back. BUT she is super focused and we've already brainstormed a bunch of ideas for firing up the member missionary fire!!! (Feeling super determined/optimistic.)

We also had the Elder Evans Conference on Saturday, which was very, very, very inspiring. The entire mission came, which is probably the first and last time that'll happen, but 115 missionaries in the Sendai mission, one room, and the Spirit was incredibly strong. We're a smaller mission, but I truly believe we are lent power through obedience (one of the major mission focuses is exact obedience, and God blesses us as we obey the commandments He set for our benefit). "Discipleship in the Digital Age." We also didn't get our new technology, that'll be in a few weeks, and it'll be a gradual integration process so I'm a lot less nervous about than I was. My favorite part of the conference was... the musical number. (I'm a brat.) The Legendary Poff Choro played piano and I played violin, and we arranged a combination of How Firm A Foundation and The Spirit of God, and IT WAS AMAZING. (Sorry, I didn't get a chance to properly geek out over it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.) We had about two hours to put it together, and I'm far from a perfect musician, but I know God helped us to bear our testimonies through music. Was it a perfect performance? Nope. Mostly, The Legendary Poff Choro is really, really, really good, and I just did my thing, and it worked out to be all right. It was thrilling. And then it was requested that we sing How Firm a Foundation as the closing hymn instead of Called to Serve as planned, and How Firm happens to be my favorite hymn so I was basically flying high. It made the conference that much more special to me--please go read the words to all of the verses for me. I love it so much.

"The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine."

(Note: Lyrics are available here.)

I just want to say in closing that I know God lives. You might think, well, obviously, that's why you're on a mission, but truly, I want to testify to each of you that He lives. As we approach the Easter season, please know that Jesus Christ lives, and because He lives, we can have joy and eternal life. It is by Him and through Him that we can be purified on a daily basis. Because of Him, we can become more than we are now. I love each of you very much, and if there is anything I want anyone to know from knowing me, is simply that: He lives, and He loves you.

I'm grateful for the many blessings God has given me. Thank you for being my blessings. :)

Pictures: First off, check out how ADORABLE my new companion is! She's perfect, I love her. Miracles to come:) And, we made a long norimaki (think California roll but different) for the Relief Society activity. Their theme of the year is Moses 7:18, about Zion being of one heart and one mind, so they planed an activity around working together. They're so cute, love my ladies.

Nekojima ikimashita. :D  (We went to Cat Island.)

Bonus photo: Pulpit view of the Sendai Mission conference held Saturday, March 21, 2015. Lisa is the leftmost person in the photo.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Friday the Thirteenth... (March 16, 2015)


TWO new investigators this week, it was a really, really, really good week. They are golden, I'm so excited to see where they go!

Also, on Friday, one of our appointments took considerably less time than expected, so we were standing in the city hall/mall-ish building making a phone call trying to reschedule things for the day, and this random man started speaking to us in English. I just thought he was crazy, but Sister M thinks he was drunk... Anyway, we made our calls and he caught us again as we were trying to exit the building and gave us roses......................... he went back to the flourist to pay for them and we took off down the street as fast as we could. And when we arrived at our investigator's home, I almost took my flower into her home because I thought, it's gonna get stolen. And then I decided I would actually feel better if it was, so I left it in my bike basket, and when I came back out... it was gone! I laughed so hard:)

Pictures: Our beloved District Leader as Harry Potter for our Harry Potter themed District Meeting. Pretty good, eh? Aaaaaand said roses.

Sorry if I didn't email you individually this week, no time... :P

Note: Apparently she attached different pictures than what she describes...

More pictures! Harry Potter DTM and the balloon release in memory of 2011.

Mc Shimai's last Zone Training Meeting! Mom, Elder Piano Guy (Poff) is the blonde boy with glasses. These kids were all in the same district something like five transfers ago, and all ended up in the same zone so they wanted a picture.

(March 9, 2015)

Hey there! And we meet again, P-Day.

Another beautiful week! Lots of LA visits and loving on people.

Lots of miracles this week; every appointment we set this week went through, and I know the hand of God was in that and in guiding us so we didn't get lost. (Sister M designated this my mini senpai week, or in other words I was bike and study leader so I'll almost know what I'm doing when my next trainer comes. She helped me a lot, though, 'cause she's a sweetheart.)

M is a Filipino lady who is LA because her husband is against the Church. She is an angel but has been very stressed lately; this was the first time I met her. We taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel, with an emphasis on modern miracles. This was the first time that I quoted the prophet Joseph Smith's words regarding the First Vision in a lesson, and the Spirit enveloped us completely with an overwhelming feeling of love. (I'll attach the quote at the bottom.) It became clear to us as we sat in that room that M has been experiencing feelings of inadequecy, and we talked about God's love for her and His understanding about her situation. She is such a treasure in His eyes, and it was a huge blessing for us to feel that as we spoke with her.

I promise that even though life isn't always easy, there are miracles every day, and God is aware of each and every one of us. That's my simple testimony of the week. I'm so grateful to the Lord for His grace and mercy, and it is my hope and prayer that we can each learn to recognize His hand in our lives.

Pictures: Took my violin to an LA visit in Sister U's neighborhood; she's also LA (for health reasons) so we dropped in. She wanted to hear me play, and she got so excited when I opened the case that I simply had to let her try. She is so cute! And also me being really, really, subtle, but an off-focus birthday photo was in order.

I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me, I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, "This is my Beloved Son. Hear Him!"

Love always, Sister Lisa Luke!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Zone Conference and A Birthday Miracle (March 2, 2015)

Hey-o! What's up?

My first Zone Conference was this week!!!!!!!!!! It was fun and so much spiritual learning, loved it! One crazy announcement was that at the end of this month, Elder Evans (of the Seventy) and Elder Aonagi (of the Area Seventy) will be coming to train us on... wait for it... iPads! Yaaaaaay!

M'kay, I'm less than enthusiastic about it at this point, but the idea of not carrying scriptures in two languages is growing on me. ;) (I'm fairly anti-technology but there are benefits, and if God wants me to use an iPad, I can do it. And we get some spiritual powerhouses to train us on it, so I'm okay with that.:) Cool things unfolding here in Sendai. :)

A birthday miracle!!! We visited a homebound less active member (LA) with whom we've had a lot of contact, so we took addresses of other LAs (who have had no contact) tovisit briefly with them. It was very cold and I was a little paraoid because we had a potential frostbite scare earlier this week, and finding Japanese addresses is one of the most challenging things since for some reason, our apartment isn't equipped with an area map... but the lady we struggled most to find welcomed us and guess what? It was her birthday! She was busy so we just sang her a birthday song and a hymn, and she invited us back!

It was a good reminder that God cares about us individually. We usually don't have time to show up at LA homes to see if they're willing to meet, but the cards played out so that we biked up to this lady's home in good time to help her feel God's love. I truly believe our Heavenly Father saw her heart and nudged us in the right direction, even as we considered giving up so that we could find her home to bring her a small gift of music. It doesn't matter where we are on our walk of life; we are God's children, whether or not we let ourselves feel that way. It is my testimony that the Lord is looking out for each of us. I'd like to challenge each of you to look for an extra opportunity to brighten someone's day, even if it's something small, and help them feel the love we share as the family of God. (And share your experience with me? Is that asking too much? You don't have to, just serve someone:) Love you all!

Pictures: Sister K took us to Matsushima!!! And our investigator G lives by the ocean, so she took us to the coast. Beautiful, right?

P.S. Tidbits from other emails I sent today

(Note: This is really random stuff... but there are a some interesting details in here, too.)

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY CHRIS AND CHANDRA!!!! (That makes it sound like they're engaged but that's not what I mean, teehee:) Would you tell Chris congrats for me? I don't know Chandra as well but if you talk to her, tell her I said the same:) Bless them both, those little BYU kids. That's crazy, everyone's getting married... a boy and a girl from my home ward also just got engaged this week to each other, and all the student ward kids... Geez, that was fast. How exciting, though, all the spring/summer wedding that'll be going down;) Ah, what an exciting time of life. I feel like we're not old enough to know people who are getting married, you know?

We like to tease my companion about how fast she's gonna get married--she's 23 and goes home in two weeks, and a lady in our branch read her palms and told her what kind of guy she should marry, it was so funny.

I love my companion and literally everyone here, they are the sweetest. There's this old lady I love that is inactive because she's old and frail and half the discs in her back have collapsed so sitting in chairs for three hours really hurts her, but the elders take her the sacrament each week and we visit her and her son every week or every other week, just whenever we can. Her son is mentally handicapped, so he's forty but in his heart he's about six, he is the sweetest. He LOVES root beer, which is really, really unusual for a Japanese person, so he gives us cans of root beer all the time. (I hate root beer, so it was challenging the first time but the second time I told him I wasn't feeling too well so he gave me a can to take home, which I gave to my companion after we left, but he is just so sweet.)

The thing I love most about missionary work is that we get to befriend these people and get to know them and give them love, and you get to peek into their lives and see how beautiful each of them is. It's so fun to literally spend every day thinking about them and serving them and inviting them to learn more about Christ, and sometimes it's hard or awkward, but even if they don't want to learn more, you still get to talk to them and love them. I'm not being very eloquent but it's a very special feeling, that's for sure:)

This week was also amazing! We did a lot of service, including helping an LA lady move. We were also able to share a brief message with her about the power of the Atonement in allowing us to have a fresh new beginning every time we utilize it. 

Zone Conference was also incredible, but because you were also there, I'd like to mention another highlight of the week, which was this past Saturday. 

We had the opportunity to visit Grace in her town, which was really neat, to be able to spend some time with her and talk about Gospel topics. We discussed a lot about Catholic belief of Saints, which was really interesting; I don't know much about the Catholic faith, but it seems that Catholics pray to saints much in the same way that we pray through the name of Jesus Christ. The saints act as an advocate who were mortal and experienced things like we do, and as such they can essentially convey what we pray for the our Heavenly Father. Sister McGreevy had noticed when she prayed at our last meeting that she concluded her prayer with "amen," but didn't use the Savior's name, so we asked about that and she said that it's mostly because of the saints thing, and saints seem more accessible because they weren't perfect. However she also said that she prefers to talk directly to God instead of through the saints, which was very neat. 

Another thing I loved is that on the way to and from her town, we rode a bus, and we happened to be with the same group of college students both ways. The bus part of our journey wasn't very long, unfortunately, but they were very friendly and we were able to leave them with cards and some Eikaiwa pamphlets. They're from Tokyo, though, so we encouraged them to visit the website to try to find a class from near their school. One girl got our names and said she would try to find us on Facebook, which was sweet of her. They were all very nice, and I have hope that they will watch some "I'm a Mormon" videos and maybe attend an Eikaiwa as a group, and eventually learn more about the Gospel. 

There were other miracles as well this week, including a surprise LA visit which happened totally by chance (or in other words by the Spirit) that was on the lady's birthday, and overall it was yet another wonderful week. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this work; I am eager to begin another wonderful week.

My corner of the garden here is my favorite. The people here are golden, I adore them. A lot of older people, I'm the youngest active woman/girl in the branch, which is kind of strange to me but I didn't notice until I realized that one of our PIs would be the only YW, so I guess it's pretty normal. The weather is pretty up and down--we're right against the ocean so there's a pretty strong breeze every few days, but I love the wind so it's super fun. (I'm from the mountain, no ocean gusts in Idaho...:) It gets fairly warm, went without a jacket for a day last week, but then we also had a potential frostbite scare a few days after that (but only after six hours outdoors and the issue resolved itself). No crows or potato vendors, unfortunately, that sounds rather magical, actually:) Probably 25 active members, but they are all sweethearts. I don't know, I love it all, we're busy and tired and being a bean is a lot to learn, but I'm really enjoying every minute of it. Tomorrow's hour month mark for being in Japan, isn't that scary? I feel like time kind of slips through your fingers here. There's just so much I want to be doing, so many people to see and love and learn with and grow with, and then suddenly it's time to go to bed, darn it. Buuuut it's fun, and it's the Lord's work, so all is well:)

PS, Dad, my nametag is cooler than the Tokyo mission's at this point. 10 points to Gryffindor!

Bonus photo: At the Sendai Zone zone conference