Sunday, August 30, 2015

Six Thoughts of a Sixth Transfer Missionary (August 31, 2015)

... Are just going to have to wait because yes, transfers have rolled around again and this time, I am leaving my beloved Ishinomaki to serve in Nagamachi. Actually, make that thought Number One.

2) So this is what it feels like to transfer! That's the worst!

3) Continuing to multiply and replenish the earth... First 36 Weeks and counting:) Momma to an American once again, but she's a half bean so is half trained already. And my first daughter is training this transfer, so I'm also becoming a grandma;) (In more ways than one, those futons really do a number on your back, dang it.)

4) Transfer theme! Moses 6:34. Therefore, walk with me. Please go read the surrounding chapters, it's pretty deep. Enoch feels really inadequate and think people will hate him because he's not very good at talking, but the Lord tells him, "Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me." And that really spoke to me. Enos then proceeds to perform miracles and one of the biggest miracles in the history of miracles happens when his city is taken up to dwell with God, and guess what? It's just a little at a time. And we are the same way, we learn and grow bit by bit. :)

5) My heart is breaking. I can't leave here:( But I also know that the Lord sends us where he needs us.

6) I have a billion thank you cards to write. This email needs to end so I can do that.

That's about it right now, sorry for the rush! Love you all! Wish me luck, I already cried over this whole transfer thing, dang it. :)

The only thing about falling in love with a town of people is that it kills to leave.

Well. Guess that's mission life!

Nagamachi: I believe she is referring to the Nagamachi Ward, which is in Sendai itself, about two miles from the Sendai Mission office, about 20-25 miles southwest of Ishinomaki. Here is a map of Sendai, zoomed out enough to see Ishinomaki, centered on the Nagamachi church building (which looks nice and new and large).

Picture: We got lost during a split. But it was pretty so we took a picture:)

Bonus photo: The Sendai Mission assignment board, with Lisa still in Ishinomaki. With this transfer she is replacing the sister at lower right whose photo is tilted.

Monday, August 24, 2015

"I just heard a voice that said, 'Go. Now!'" (August 24, 2015)

It's the Luke Sister, calling in from Ishinomaki, reporting safe once again. Stats include four missed trains, two botched transfers in remote train stations, two splits, one district meeting, a thoroughly failed FHE, three sons offered in marriages, two earthquakes, and one straight-out-of-the-Ensign moment. Classification for the week: Pretty average.

Today I would like to share the Ensign moment.

After an unsuccessful hospital visit, we went out to our bikes, where we discussed our next course of action, made a phone call, and crash-coursed Sister M on how to get to the next location (because I'm a good trainer and I make her lead, bless her). Clipped on our tacky white helmets, ready to rock when I heard a voice. It said, "Can I have a moment?"

I turned my head, and there was a woman walking down to the bike area, so I stopped and turned around, walking toward her. Something inside of me said, oh, there she is. But not she, the one we came to visit, just her, so I parked my bike.

"Are you the sister missionaries?"

"Yes, we are."

She began to tear up and said, "I haven't been to church in so long," before her voice broke off, so I gave her a hug. "Are you a member?" I asked, and she nodded.

Sister K has been at the hospital visiting her father after over two decades of inactivity in the church. She was baptized by a set of sister missionaries, but Ishinomaki closed to sisters shortly afterwards and she simply fell away. She attended English Conversation Class in other locations acting as though she wasn't a member, and she missed the atmosphere that sister missionaries bring. She has been standing at the window looking out when she noticed two girls in skirts putting on matching helmets--she said, "I heard a voice that said, Go. Now! And I ran. You're not supposed to run in the hospital, but I did, I just couldn't get the elevator to go fast enough, but I'm so glad I did."

Very rarely have I ever felt the love of the Lord as strongly as I did when she told us her story. I truly felt that my sister who had been lost was safe again, that we could take her into the warmth of the fold once more because she chose that moment to act. We were able to share a few scriptures from the Book of Mormon with her, offer a prayer together, sing a hymn. We are looking forward to meeting with her this week and I am so, so, so grateful that the Lord has trusted us enough to put us in the right place at the right time, and to send a prompting strong enough to send our sister running, against all rules and logic, to literally stop us in our tracks.

If there is anything I want to tell each of you, it is that God knows you. He loves you, He loves each one of us as individually and personally as if there was only one. Life can get crazy and a little rough sometimes, but in the end, we always have a place that we can be safe from the storm, and that's in the deep and abiding love of our Lord and Savior.

Until next week:)

Pictures: One time we were biking and the creek thing was storybook beautiful. And then, we kept biking and the lily things turned into storybook HUGE. The picture doesn't even do it justice, those were enormous.

Random creek that was prettying

Same creek with HUGE lily things!

Bonus photos:

In the rain, the pavement shines like silver...

同僚's first どら焼き

同僚 = どうりょう = companion

どら焼き = dorayaki = essentially a pancake stuffed with sweet bean filling

Mission Leaders' Conference, August 5, 2015

Lisa teaching at Zone Training Meeting, August 7, 2015

Sendai South Zone, August 13, 2015

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Delivery Guy (August 17, 2015)

Once upon a time, a couple weeks ago, we were trying to contact some Less Active members who lived in a cluster. We arrived in front of an LA man's oddly Spanish-looking home right when a red delivery guy motorcycle was parked in front of it. A delivery guy in the official delivery guy uniform came out of the house, got on the motorcycle, and drove away, and we visited the home. The LA was out, and we sang his wife a hymn and left.

This week: we were trying to visit a particular lady in the cluster of LAs, and she wasn't home. We only an awkward window of time before our next appointment, and unsure of what to do, we said a prayer. After a moment of reflection, my wonderful companion Sister M and I compared notes. I'd felt two particular side roads, and she had felt one that was in agreement with one of mine, so embarked on our journey. Tacky white helmets: check. Skirted sisters on bikes: check. Drink of water so we don't die: check. Bike up a slight incline, turn the corner.


All of a sudden, it looks very, very familiar.

Same empty lot. Same red roof. Same adobe-esque garden wall. Same red delivery guy motorcycle. "Wait a minute..." I said, and my companion said, "Isn't this where that one guy...?" We took that as a sign, skirted sisters off the bike, off with the tacky white helmets, grab a Book of Mormon, and the delivery guy in the delivery guy uniform comes out of the house. He clips on his tacky white delivery guy helmet, looks at us, and asks, "Weren't you here last time, too?"

Us: Yes...

Him: But over there. *points*

Us: Yes...

Long story short, we have a nice little chat about what we do and where we're from, he was like, oh, that's cool, and we gave him that Book of Mormon and he said he would study it then he was off on the delivery guy way on his delivery guy bike.

Yes, the Lord works in mysterious ways.

No, the LA was not home.

But I do know that the Lord places us in the right place at the right time, and if we have to courage to do the right thing, we can bless the lives of others and no, I don't mean just missionaries. :)

Find the right thing to do at the right time and place each day, and you will be blessed.

I love you all!

Always, Sister L:)

Picture: Sister M's first cow tongue, which is one of the famous foods in this part of Japan. (The other famous foods include the edamame paste and ホヤ、which the locals insist is "the pineapple of the sea" but is in reality a really ugly sea creature that mostly tastes like raw fish.)


edamame: soy beans

edamame paste: "Zunda," which she mentioned a few weeks ago in the context of a Zunda milkshake, which she said was "like heavenly choirs falling asleep on a pillow-cloud of deliciousness on your tongue."

ホヤ (hoya): ascidiacea, or "sea squirts." According to the Wikipedia article, "Various Ascidiacea are used as food. Sea pineapple (Halocynthia roretzi) is cultivated in Japan (hoya, maboya) and Korea (meongge). The peculiar flavor is attributed to an unsaturated alcohol called cynthiaol."

Bonus photo:

小西姉妹とFranz君 (Sis. Konishi and Franz [Franz being the name of Lisa's mission violin])

Monday, August 10, 2015

Ramblings of an Exhausted Missionary (Thank Goodness for Preparation Day) (August 10, 2015)

What up, all?

Another cah-razy week in Ishinomaki (yes, it was crazy enough to merit the high school hair-and-makeup-girl spelling of that word). Or rather, not in Ishinomaki... We spent half the week in Sendai for meetings and stuff, it was pretty cool, I guess. :) I also got a package from my cousins, which was way sweet of them, I love you guys!

One thing that I learned this week was about trusting in the Lord.

This week really was a lot of plans falling through and a lot of things going different directions than we planned and a lot of time on buses and sitting in meetings and being completely worn out, but I have learned that it's not about what you can do, but rather what the Lord can do through you. So even though I am rapidly turning into a grandma because being a sister missionary does that to you, and even though the mission is a huge refiner's furnace and each flaw and weakness seems magnified as the Lord molds us into who He needs and intends for us to be, I just want to reiterate, I know that my Redeemer lives. And even though most nights I crawl into my futon feeling like a broken piece of glass, He is the One who somehow carries me through the times I think I'm not strong enough to plan another lesson or another day.

Hahaha I'm exhausted, the heat really tackles you hard here, but I am so, so happy:) Luckily it's supposed to start cooling down in a week or two, and I can do anything the Lord asks me to because it's His work and His strength, I am only an instrument and that's all I could ever want to be.

I like music. I'm not making much sense anymore, so I'mma peace put at this point but know that this work of helping others find happiness is truly the best thing I could possibly be doing right now. I am so blessed.


Pictures: There was a huge festival in Sendai on the day we went to ZTM, so there were a lot of matsuri decorations all over the place. It was SO COOL. Everyone should go tons (to a?) Japanese festival at lesat once in their lives. That's all.

And, my wonderful companion Sister M and I, just another food selfie because that's what we do sometimes. :) She's the best. Tofu and rice because hello! We're in Japan!

Yaaaaay food:)

P.S. (from a separate e-mail)

Hey, being an STL is way hard but also really fun. I have done two splits so far with four to go by the end of this month. The hardest part is not being in our own area as much; this week we went to Sendai for ZTM, MLC for "leaders," and for another split. But, we've also passed out like ten Book of Mormons so far this transfer, which is more than my first four transfers xombined, so that's pretty sweet:)

Bonus photos:

Abe the Barber, Elder's Q (apparently Q is slang for kyuudousha = 求道者 = "investigator" [lit. "person seeking the way"])

It was cool:)

More coolness. Love this towns

You may notice that this photo was posted as a Bonus Photo a few weeks ago. At the time I had no idea what it was or why she sent it. I add it here again, as Lisa has since added the following explanation. And you need this explanation for the new photo below to make sense.

I meant to write that a 兄弟 (brother) in our 支部 (branch of the Church) makes vases each week for sacrament, and this one he told me was inspired by my musical number from a couple of weeks ago, said it sounded like butterflies to him:)

Titled, The Prayer, once again inspired by my musical number with The Poff. Isn't it beautifully

Oh, the irony. The clothing store called Naked Room...?

Our last meal before she went to Odate

Beautiful and terrible.

New companion and President and wife:)

石巻駅 (Ishinomaki Eki [Ishinomaki Station])

On the 電車 (train)

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Lost Sisters in Sendai (August 3, 2015)

Well this week was crazy.

To boil it down, we biked to the ocean, missed a train, almost missed two more, had our first combined district meeting with another area, first split of the transfer, found a miracle golden investigator through pure revelation, handed out several copies of this Book of Mormon, put blood, sweat, and tears into the work (okay, mostly sweat, hello humidity), had five cancellations, a much-needed surprise massage from one of my favorite members, rode my bike with two good-sized wooden pallets threaded through the straps of my shoulder bag (no it was not comfortable), middle-of-the-night-earthquake and associated half-sleep-talking conversation, and worked so hard waking up in the morning feels like a shattered piece of glass.

Yup. It was an adventurous week.

The split was an adventure and a half by itself. I worked with Sister G, who has been in Japan a little over a week, and sent my own fresh bean chan to Izumi to work with another American. Working with Sister G was so much fun and although we ran around like crazy and we may or may not have had a rapid ten-minute scarf-down of a lunch break, we both learned tons and the Spirit was with us. We taught three lessons and did our studies, placed a Book of Mormon to someone who said, "I will study," and attended FHE. The other two sisters were supposed to arrive back in Ishinomaki in time to catch the second half of FHE.

Well, FHE ended, and we came out of the room.

No sisters.

Checked the phone, we had a voicemail from my wonderful Sister M, like, Hey Sister Luke, we missed the train, we've lost the Izumi cell phone but we'll catch the next train in an hour.

Okay, I think, and look at my watch. That'll put them at the station in fifteen minutes, we'll see them at the apartment at 8:30.

Sister G and I go back to the apartment, conduct our split review, 8:30 comes and goes and still no sisters. Now I'm getting worried; I'm kind of a mom in my heart and we've got two American sisters somewhere in Sendai without a way to contact them. I choose to give them the benefit of the doubt and set up their futons, chatting with Sister G.

Nine o'clock.

Sister G and I are sitting on the floor and I decide, that's it. I call the Zone Leaders and tell them what's up, but let's be honest, Zone Leaders are also just 20 year old kids in neckties. They don't have much good advice but tell me to wait 'til 9:30, then call the President (of the mission).

Ten minutes pass. I start telling Sister G about all the reasons the sisters would/should/could be safe when I hear a rattle in the general direction of the doorway. I take off down the hall, pop the lock and burst out of the apartment in front of some travel weary sisters. "OH MY GOSH I'm so glad you're safe," was about all I could come up with but I ushered them in and they told us their tale over ice cream sandwiches.

Which actually wasn't that exciting, just some miscommunication and a lost cell phone and two girls in a big station with a fairly fundamental understanding of the language. Just about enough to give this little mama a heart attack, but another dendo memory:)

One thing I do know that I learned this week is at God truly does watch over us. He loves us and sometimes we are so blind to what will make us the most happy (in this case, ice cream after a long day;)

Love you all! If you could send a prayer Kayo's way, I would be quite happy. She has been progressing rapidly and the main factor keeping her from baptism is that she's afraid her family won't approve or understand. She wants her sons to grow up in the Gospel to keep them safe, so please pray for her and her family!


Apparently I took about no pictures this week, so here's a picture of the ocean in Ishinomaki!