Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Nametag Near Catastrophe (June 29, 2015)

One thing that is very, very important to the identity of a Mormon missionary is our black nametag. After months of wearing one on my left shoulder every waking moment to tell that world that I am indeed a representative of Jesus Christ, it gets to a point where, quite frankly, I feel a little naked if I walk out of the apartment without my little black square that represents hours of knocking, biking, studying, teaching, preaching, and working (as missionaries do). Because, right now, it is such a part of who I am, that's why;)

This week, I got two new name tags!!! Yaaaaaay! It was a much anticipated event. (I ordered two magnet tags because the pin ones that I have were starting to destroy the shoulder on my shirts, that tends to happen when you stab cloth repeatedly with a pin every day, oftentimes multiple times a day because it's exceedingly difficult to pin something straight on your shoulder, oddly enough.)

I received my tags on Thursday, and in my excitement I immediately took off my pin badge and clipped on my magnet one, feeling pretty fly. But then. Tragedy.

That evening, we biked over to a potential investigator's home, because although the elders had indicated to us where she lived, we have thus far been unsuccessful in catching her while she is home. It was dark and cool, which is a blessing as I am still learning how to
deal with this whole humidity thing. (It's not too terrible yet, I am a lucky girl.)

I rode over a bump in the road and it sounded like a pebble flew off my tire, but then my companion behind me said, "You dropped something!" I stopped, feeling confused, because I didn't think I had, but, well, I stopped. I wheeled my bike back around. I couldn't see very well in the dark, but I checked, and I had my wallet, the iPad, and the cell phone, so I said, we should be good, and then Sister O said, what about your tag?


No tag.

Um. Uh. Uhhhhhhh...

We looked around and we found the magnet, but we could not find the tag. I felt pretty... deflated, but we had stuff to do and I knew we couldn't spend forever looking for it, and it was dark, so I said, okay, we'll keep an eye out but let's go visit that potential investigator. Started gearing up in my head to be the-work-moves-on mode, so I went to put my bag back in my bike basket, and guess what was sitting in my basket?

Hello, name tag!

This is a happy missionary. The fact that the tag ended up in the basket makes no logical sense, but it did. And to me, that is a miracle.

Yes, I am a happy missionary.


Sister Lisa Luke

P.S. A bonus story

This week was once again excellent! I love this area and Oba Shimai is wonderful, I feel that we are really getting to a point where we teach well together. The district is wonderful and I feel very happy here.

We had an experience this week that strengthened my testimony, a little miracle that slipped into our lives so casually it almost felt normal, which was really strange to me. We had found a potential investigator and had tried to point out his home on a map for the elders to visit, but they had been unable to find it and we weren't entirely sure, so when we were close to the same area, we decided to try to find his home once again. We rode around the neighborhood for a while, finding landmarks that were familiar but we couldn't seem to find the house that we remembered. We had another appointment that needed to be attended to coming up, so we parked our bicycles and said a prayer before our final attempt to find this man's house.

This time, instead of riding, we walked our bicycles up the street that I felt was right from the image in my memory, and even though we had ridden past a house a number of times, we felt that it was right, and so we decided to do a housing approach to find out if it was right. We walked up to the door, both of us feeling that the entryway was different, but when we rang the bell, the potential investigator came to the door and he remembered who we were.

The power of prayer is something that never ceases to amaze me. Time and time again, the Lord in His mercy helps us and guides us in His work, and I feel of His love each time He sends these miracles our way.

I love being a missionary.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Do You Like English? (June 22, 2015)

One time, my district and I were passing out English Conversation Class flyers, and Sister O and I were standing on the corner by the train station. A friendly taxi driver old man was talking to us and he was very nice. A group of punk high school kids walked past, and high school kids are prime targets to get English flyers to, so I used my best American accent and said, "Free English! Do you like English?" and mostly got ignored. The last kid who passed was riding a bicycle, so Sister O threw a flyer into his bike basket as hard as she could, startling the kid into slamming on his breaks and almost falling over right there in front of us. He recovered quickly and in was so shocked I started laughing, as did the friendly taxi driver. The boy kind of nodded and moved on. He rode by later with his friends, and he threw a crumpled-up flyer at our feet.

It was so funny, I just about died. Sister O thought he was a jerk and although I admit it was a pretty jerky move, except for also hilarious. :)

This week was also good in other more spiritual ways as well... :)

I'm going to describe some music stuff I did this week, it is bracketed off, so if you are not interested, feel free to skip it because it is long. But I want to remember it:)

[This week, we had Elder Ringwood of the Seventy come speak to us, and it was really excellent (he's the guy who talked about Shiblon last General Conference, if that's any help). I was blessed with the privilege to play violin for a musical number for that meeting, and it was AWESOME. The Legendary Poff Choro was actually asked to perform, and he invited me to join him, so I was very grateful, indeed. We played a medley of Be Still My Soul and If You Could Hie to Kolob in the key of F, in case you were wondering (I know you were, who're you kidding). It began with a piano intro that was really soft and twinkly, and then I came in up high and we played a verse of Be Still and it was very reverent and peaceful. I dropped an octave on the second verse, and the piano switched to Kolob and I played a modified Be Still (so that the chords worked with the piano and also so that the hymns lined up in length since Kolob is two phrases shorter than Be Still). And then there was a crazy interlude section where he played a lead in for Be Still on piano and I played a melody I made up, and then the last verse was the BEST PART. I break into a slightly adorned Kolob and Elder Poff starts going at Be Still and it's a grand time, and but right where Kolob ends is right before the peak of Be Still, and it's a step away from the chord. Translation: it sounds super intense. And then I join him on "BE STILL MY SOUL," and he throws out a crazy arpeggio that covers a million octaves, basically, and then--a breath--and all that tension is released all at once and we relax into "The wind and waves still know/His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below."

I can't really describe it, obviously, but it was a really good arrangement, if I do say so myself, and the best part for me was that last little bit. When we practiced, it was still just me playing music, and whatever, but with the Spirit that was at the Elder Ringwood Conference and all the people there who have devoted so much and given so much to spread the word of God in this part of the world--that last bit, I closed my eyes, and it was the purest worship I have ever felt in my life. Up until now, when I've played for various meetings or occasions, it was worship,but there was also always a degree of performance still in the mix, me trying to say something to the people I was playing for. But on Thursday it was different. On Thursday, it wasn't me, and it was't Elder P playing piano. I lost myself in the music for a moment and the music is what carried my adoration and gratitude for my Lord and Savior to a higher plane than I have access to by any other means. ]

The song of the heart is truly a prayer unto the Lord. I'm not great with words and I'm not great with people, and sometimes I'm not great with anything at all, but I have been blessed with a little gift of music that I felt the Lord magnify within me. I'm so grateful to my parents for letting me indulge in that. Although I am small and there is much I am incapable of, I know that through the Lord, I am enough.

And you are, too. I don't know if anyone ever feels as weak and small as I do, but I do know that being small and weak and human is acceptable; in fact, it's pretty hard to avoid. So, chin up!

Everything will be okay:)

Love you all!


Here's our half of the mission! Where's Waldo? (This Waldo's in the top right corner.)

Bonus photos:

Statues like this are ALL over Ishinomaki. I'm a tough cookie.

Note: The mask says "I ♥ Miyagi," where Miyagi-ken is the name of the prefecture that includes Sendai and Ishinomaki. (It's also the name of the sensei in "The Karate Kid," for you 80s movie buffs.)

Food from Yumi:)

Food from Usui S:)

Note: That's "melon pan," bread flavored like Japanese melons (kind of like a cross between honeydew and cantaloupe).

My beloved district. I love then so much:)

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Maybe she will...? (June 15, 2015)

Once upon a time, my companion was reporting our work for the week via telephone to our beloved District Leader Wheelwright Choro Sama Sama, and he asked us about our finding efforts. Sisrer O described our finding efforts and he told us to explore a variety of finding methods using our talents. "What talents?" we asked, because we are sassy and our District Leader is a saint and okay with our shenanigans. He began talking and then stopped and said, "Well, you know, you guys are smart." And my sassy soul came out as I considered the fact that I'm still pretty clueless (although I feel loads more capable now than I did six weeks ago, thank heavens), so then I said, "Imma punch him in the face." (I'm still a piece of work, as in a work in progress, don't worry, I'm on my way, I can go the distance. I'll be there someday...)

Aaaaaaaand then my companion told our district leader that's said then, so I started laughing and he told her to kick me if I was on the ground. Sister O (who is Japanese but good at English because she spent a year and a half in Hawaii) says in her cute little accent, "Maybe she will kill you someday."

And then I was almost on the floor, it was way funny:D

ANYWAY invited a lady to get baptized this week, it's Kayo, the cute lady who came to General Conference! She got nervous because she feels like she doesn't know enough, but she is considering it and wants to keep learning. Prayers would be appreciated, I love this family so much!

One thing I learned this week is courage. It was pretty scary to ask Kayo about baptism, and we also had a few bold questions and bold testimonies, but it is in my heart that as people, it is our privilege to stand with surety.

This email is pretty random. But, it was a good week. I love you all!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Bonus photos (June 11, 2015)

Some bonus photos...

Six hours of translating

Three generation photo! My mom, me, and my daughter :)

(Lisa-speak for "one of my trainers, me, and my trainee.")

The Legendary Poff E. advertising for our music concert.

梅原 <3

Trying to deflate the baptismal font, we sent a mini river down the street. We intend to make this a regular occurrence.

Ishinomaki district, and a few others.

And, a couple of older photos of Lisa:

New missionaries and their trainers at the Sendai Airport, April 27, 2015.

New missionaries and their trainers, April 28, 2015.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

A Series of Fortunate Events (June 8, 2015)

What a good week! Blessings all around.

The highlight, of course, was ABE B'S BAPTISM!!! We rushed home from a zone training meeting and found out that our sweet branch president had set up the font and begun filling it already. (Because our building is rented, our baptismal font is a collapsible and fills up via hoses attached to the kitchen sink. Let this be a lesson: nothing stops the work of the Lord from moving forward, not even blow-up pools:D) And then, an LA lady showed up and we sang hymns with her while we waited for the font to fill up.

Baptism is such a beautiful thing. It is a symbol of starting a new life, a promise with our Heaenly Father to live a life of cleanliness. I still remember the feeling of the cool air against my skin on that September day nearly twelve years ago, knowing that I was pure in the
eyes of God. And what a blessing it is to be able to renew that covenant each week through the sacrament. My heart is full of gratitude.

Aaaaaaand we also had a music concert which was far more successful than anticipated, it was way fun and many people came and a good time was had by all. I sang, played guitar, and played violin.

And, transfer calls! The verdict is... I'm staying in Ishinomaki for yet another transfer! This is pretty unusual for a missionary in this mission to stay in any one area for four transfers, but I am so grateful. Elder T from my district told me that it means I'm still needed here, and since this is likely my last transfer in Ishinomaki, I'mma give it my all (not that I wasn't before, but there is so much potential in this area right now, I am so excited)!!!

Ishinomaki will see me through six months of this grand adventure called my mission. It is an understatement to say that I am in love with this town, I am so glad to be here. I am so glad. :)

Shoutout to my sweet brother who made it safely back to our home in Idaho, congratulations and thank you for your wonderful. Love you! Someone give him a big ol' hug for me!

Love to all,

Sister Lisa Luke

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Somewhere, Beyond the Sea... (June 1, 2015)

Note: It seems Lisa is still trying to figure out how to use the iPad for e-mail...

Or rather, I don't. Last week I wrote a funny story about a giant bug and its rather untimely demise, but it appears that the text disappears. Pity.

Sorry, no super awesome pictures week, and so sorry for the ugly picture but

We had SUCH a good lesson with our two new Qs, Y and E:) E is Y's fifteen year old daughter, and they are so cute, I adore them. We taught them about the Holy Ghost, and they shared experiences they has and everything, it was a beautiful thing. We also had a few prayer and LA visit miracles, but it's a long story so I will skip it. However, I do want to say, yesterday was Stake Conference, and it was a spiritual feast. One thing I felt during conference was some lyrics to one of my childhood favorite songs--namely, Give Said the Little Stream.

Specifically, "I'm small, I know, but wherever I go, the grass grows greener still." Cute, right? But, this lesson I learned as a child rings more true to me now than ever. Like, I'm still pretty clueless on a lot of things, but that's okay; I'm still a child in my heart, but right now, where I am, I am doing what little I can, and as the world blooms and opens up with the weather, we're beginning to see the hearts of the people open up here as well. There is so much good and beauty in the world. I'm just very happy and at peace right now. There is nothing that brings me greater joy than seeing these people that I am growing to love begin to feel the Spirit of the Lord. It's a good life:)

Congratulations to those who have received mission calls recently!

I've heard a few Italys, a few Japans, Dominican Republic, Boston--Be excited! You will be a light to others:)

Please pray for Abe San!!! Baptism in Ishinomaki on Friday, the first one in about a year and I feel will not be the last this year:)