Sunday, April 26, 2015

Sixteen and Pregnant...? (April 27, 2015)

Well, surprise, surprise, it's a girl! Tomorrow night, I will mosey on over to the Sendai Airport to welcome my very own mission baby bean-chan.....................

Hullo, I'm gonna be a trainer! Alllow me to say/type that again. I'M GONNA BE A TRAINER. Seeing as today is my first official day as a beanhood graduate... Pray for me? Please.

One week before my mission began, I was really worried about how I would do as a missionary. I felt underprepared and inadequate, lacking in courage and skill and knowledge. I went to a very special and sacred place for me, and I prayed to God to ask for help. I told Him I wasn't sure if I could do it; eighteen months in Japan, loving a people who might not love me back, testifying--I didn't know if I had the strength. All I wanted was to be an instrument in the Lord's hands, and I plead for the faith and humility to be able to become that. I just want to be a good missionary. I just want to be a worthy instrument--please help me. At that time, the thought that came into my mind was an image of Peter, walking across the water to where the Savior stood waiting for him. Although I didn't hear anything, the words that accompanied that image were these: there are greater miracles. 

There are greater miracles than lil' Lisa Luke actually crossing the ocean to be a missionary. There are greater miracles than Sister Luke being an area senpai seven weeks after entering the MTC. Yes, we got lost, and yes, it was hard, but there are greater miracles.

I don't have the knowledge or the experience to be a trainer; I'll be honest, I'm barely beginning to function as a missionary myself. I don't know if I have the capacity to teach someone else how to teach when I'm still learning myself, but here is what I do know: if Peter could walk on water, if Jesus Christ asked him to, and he did it, then I can be a trainer. If the Lord says I can do this, I can do it. There's no question in my mind, but the "can do" is not from me. But what I've been teaching others, I know from the depths of my soul and the bottom of my heart. If the Lord is with you, all things are possible.

If Moses really parted the Red Sea, if Nephi really built a boat to cross the ocean--if God the Father really appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in 1820. If Peter walked across the water in a storm so strong it could shake his faith--if all these things are true, I can do this, because there are greater miracles. Am I nervous? Undeniably. But can I do it? With God, all things are possible.

"O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen."

- 2 Nephi 4:34-35

Pictures: I already forgot what picture I attached first and for some reason I can't open it right now, hopefully it wasn't anything too sketch. Sister Luke on a bike in the sunset. With a violin. Yay!

Oh, dear, that first picture was a little embarrassing. Whoops. PS, I'm having fun:D

Bonus photos:

Monday, April 20, 2015

My hands are high, my feet are low... (April 20, 2015)

Hey-o, L Luke is back! 

Big news of the week is that Sister T was called back to the Japan Sendai Mission, which means she will NOT be dying next week, and she will NOT be returning to Fukuoka. Translation: not all my friends are dead!!! Yay:) This adds a really, really, really weird dynamic in a lot of ways, but time is short so I'll skip that. In short, I'm pleased, although it also means transfer calls will actually be exciting this time. 

One of my favorite parts of this week was Eikaiwa!!! (English Conversation Class, we put one on once a week as service.) I'll be honest, I kind of, sort of, HATE Eikaiwa. It's way stressful because I want to teach well and the method we have right now... doesn't feel like I'm teaching well. (I've designed questionnaires and brainstormed game ideas and collected opinions, so it's on the up and up, never fear.) I teach the middle level which is hard because etc., etc., etc., but this week was fantastic. Here's why: I was exhausted, Sister T was exhausted, and there was a storm, so only a few students were there at 7:00, which is when we start. So, I said to our District Leader, let's have a game night. Wouldn't that be fun? And then I said the same thing to the whole district and then it kind of happened. We played Down By The Banks with the loser penalty of having to play charades, Wiggalow, and Big Booty, and it was WAY fun and everyone left happy and feeling satisfied. Let's just say I never would have guessed that I would one day play Wiggalow in a church in Japan with a bunch of Japanese English students, the youngest of whom is 45. (Wiggalow is a Girls' Camp-type game where you sing and dance and it's super fun, it's also adorable when you're playing it with a bunch of Japanese people.)

Moral of the story: If you're tired, and you have something terrible at the end of a long day, make the best of it. Not exactly lemonade from lemons, but, I do hope you dance:) 

Pictures: Sister T and I today; we went to Matsushima with the district for Preparation Day. Which, incidentally, is also why I probably won't reply to most of the emails that I received this week, which I would like to apologize for, because it means a lot to me when people email me. But such is life, I'll catch you next time:) And, Sister B and I--Sister T went to Izumi for a split, so Sister B and I worked in Ishinomaki together. Sister B is a third transfer missionary, and I'm second transfer, so... talk about the blind leading the blind. But miracles were seen and lives were touched, candy was given to children (well, one child, anyway), sakura trees sat under and testimonies born. Of such is the kingdom, eh?

Monday, April 13, 2015

Angels in White Helmets (April 131, 2015)

Hey friends! I apologize to my faithful readers who've emailed me this week because it looks like I won't have time to reply to most of you as I had a really really really really really really really really long letter to my mission president this week. Short summary: Kayo came to part of General Conference!!!!!!!! Her two young boys got sick this week so we weren't sure if she could, but she did, and we were quite please:D And M also came to a different part of Conference, there was much joy abounding for sure.

But what I really wanted to talk about/record was a miracle that happened this week. It was the birthday of one of our three young men this week, and we wanted to heart attack their house because they are a truly wonderful family. However, I've never been to their house, and things went long and we set out when it was cold and dark outside. We were tired, it having been a long day, or rather, a long three days, but we wanted to serve this family with the short time we had before curfew (missionaries are supposed to be in their apartments by 9:00). We were exhausted physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, all of the -ally-s. I knew how to get to the first landmark, and had a general idea for the second. While we were stopped by the side of the road discussing which way to go next, Elders G and T (zone leader and a first transfer bean) walked past us on the way home from a split. Being a ZL and a bean, neither could help us, so they wished us luck and we bid them good night before setting out once more. Sister T's map skills got us to where we knew we were close, but none of the four apartment buildings in the same area were labelled with the name of the complex, which they usually are. We walked around for a bit, trying to find signs to lead us to the right building among those strewn along the street (strewn is the wrong word, someone help my English!) when we decided to pray. We stood together in the shadow of a building on a dark night and offered a simple prayer to our Heavenly Father: we want to serve this family. If it be Thy will, please help us find their apartment. We stood for a moment in the stillness. I thought, we'll find it, but the car that was turning into the parking lot was not the boy's mother, and neither was the car that passed by moments after. At the same time, Sister T wondered, would God answer the prayers of two imperfect missionaries like us? We stood for a moment, then slowly walked towards our bicycles, thinking maybe we had come too far. We reached our bicycles, and as we stood on the corner of the street, we saw a light. I glanced in that direction, and what I saw in the darkness was beautiful indeed. Two bicycle lights, two white helmets, and the white triangles of the shirts of two young men in suitcoats and ties. My brothers, I thought, and our Japanese elders pulled up besides us and said, (approximately,) "Lost, are we?"

Cue scripture: Alma 26:27: "Now when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold, the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give thee success."

Elders O and T showed us where the apartment was--literally about twenty steps away from where we stopped to pray. Although they didn't know it, the words they spoke to us that night were exactly what we needed to hear to be comforted.

The Lord surely works in mysterious ways, but I swear to you He answers prayers. It might not be the way we expect or the time we expect, but He will answer you. When your heart feels depressed and you feel like you just can't do it any more, two skinny, well-intended young men in dorky helmets might come around the corner and be the answer to your prayer. I can honestly say those brothers of mine helped my testimony of God's love for each of us grow in ways they will never know. The two of us cried on the way home, not out of sadness, but of joy. What a beautiful miracle it is, that eternal love of God.

Pictures: White helmets are a missionary classic. And, it's a terrible picture but today (tomorrow?) the 13th is my momma's birthday!!! おたんじょびおめでとう、お母さん!大好きだよう!!!

Sunday, April 5, 2015

SOS (April 6, 2015)

Hey-O, Sister Luke here!!!

Raising a quick SOS... I need your help. Yes, every single one of you. We have an investigator, and her name is Kayo. She is a young mother of two and is learning about God for the first time. It is beautiful to watch her begin to recognize His hand in her life. So, I ask a favor--there is great power in prayer. Will you please pray for her? We're not perfect teachers, but I know the Holy Ghost is, and I want her to fully understand the things that we teach her and know that God loves her. Thanks:D Our most recent lesson with her was about 120% by the Spirit, and I have really great hope for her. It's a wonderful thing.

For those of you with friends in the Kobe Mission, this is gonna sound like old news, but we got iPads this week. Yikes. Heaven knows how bad I am with technology... We shall see how that pans out;)

Along with that, we also had Zone Training Meeting, and guess who got to translate? Yup, yours truly. I can't exactly say I did a perfect job of it, but it was SUPER FUN. It's mentally challenging in an entirely different way than I've had before, and it was fun. Somebody go find my parents and give them a hug for teaching me Japanese as a kid, life would be so much harder right now if it weren't for them. What blessed souls they are:)

One theme of the week for me was learning that no matter who we are, the Lord can use us for good. I have different talents and abilities than my companion, and our district is a bunch of kids who are totally different from one another working together, and it's important to maximize the abilities that God has given you. (Like the parable of the talents!) God doesn't just put you somewhere because He didn't know what else to do with you; He's very aware of who and where you are. So. Just be you, the best you you can be... [insert Dr. Seuss quote about no one being youer than you.]

I know God lives, and I also know that He can use imperfect people to be the perfect help in a time of need. I know that Jesus Christ was resurrected on that Easter over 2000 years ago. I wasn't there, but I feel it in my heart, just as I feel His love. Hope General Conference was great! Our Conference is next week so that they have time to translate, so I'm excited to hear the word of the living prophets:) If you haven't seen the "He Lives" video put out by the Church, go look it up! It's super spiritual, I cried. That's all. Love you all:)

Luke out! 

Pictures: Raindrops keep falling on my head... And my hair is rapidly approaching hobo phase. I sense a hair cut in the near future. And we got food from a member!!! Yay for Brother O! (PS, Japanese apple juice is the best ever.)

Bonus photos!

Easter pictures!!!

Note: the statue is a character from an old Japanese manga / anime series that started back in the 60s, called Cyborg 009.

Note: The eggs say "Happy Easter!" on them. I assume the were a gift from a Church member, probably?

We like bananas!!!

Note: The building behind Lisa is the Ishinomaki train station.

Doremon Easter Egg. I love him.

Note: Doraemon is another manga / anime character (a robot cat from the future). When Lisa and her siblings were young, her Japanese grandpa would tape the show and send the tapes over, so she grew up watching it.

P.S. Additional information from a sideband e-mail:

Hey! So, we have an investigator coming to General Conference!!!!!!!! (Which is next weekend.) I'll talk about her in my general email, but if you have a recommendation on which session to invite her to, will you let me know??? Thomas S. Monson has to speak in it, and if there are topics relating to family, that would be awesome. Someone leaked that Linda K. Burton talked about love and something something, so that might be good. We got iPads, so I will be able to read (but not reply) to any mail you send me, and we will see her on Wednesday so if you can let me know before then, I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks:)

To answer Mom's questions: Sister T is Takahashi Miruka Shimai, after Milcah, Rebekah's grandmother in the Bible. She's from Aizuwakamatsu, which is in our mission, but like I said she's originally a Fukuoka missionary. We don't know where she'll go after this, it's up to the Missionary Department:(

Our apartment is small but tidy, and really close to the church, which is nice. (Dad, it's across the street from Ujie Super, across the smaller street, not the big one.) We cook dinner, and we eat things like marubo dofu, yakisoba, yasaiitame, and Takahashi s. made us daigakuimo once. Oh, and okonomiyaki, stuff like that, pretty Japanese-y:) And I eat granola cereal every morning because I love it. We have futons, and I have a down comforter, it's super nice. I didn't really get to talk to Elder Evans, but I did get to shake his hand, and also Elder Aoyagi. Elder Aoyagi actually sat in front of me during the second half of the devotional, so when I came to sit down after our musical number he shook my hand again, that was pretty exciting:)