Sunday, November 29, 2015

Another Daily Miracle (November 30, 2015)

Hey look, my mission president's wife's birthday! Also my new companion is Japanese, and mission older than me??? We are officially the oldest companionship of sisters in the mission, which is super crazy. Here's a story I shared with my mission president that happened this week:

On Tuesday, we had a lesson with a progressing investigator, and we had an hour of language study before we departed a half hour before our appointment in order to have enough time to arrive without rushing. The language study was crucial because I was with Sister O on Tuesday, and we needed the time to prepare our lesson completely. 
However, as we began our study, it began to rain intensely, hard enough that we wondered if we would be able to ride our bicycles to Endo San's home. We were wary as there had been a time a week previous that we had ridden out to a less active member and had been forced to walk home for over an hour due to the weather conditions, and I knew that if we had to walk, we would not make the appoint, even foregoing the necessary language study time. But then I remembered the story you told of the elders who, with a prayer of faith, witnessed the miracle of the stopping of the rain to visit a less active member. Still more faithless than I ought to be, I did not invite Sister O to join me, but I said a fervent prayer in my heart that if it be His will, that the rain would clear to allow us to meet with this dear sister. 
Although I still did not know how things would play out, I felt that it would be okay, and that if the Lord would stop the rain for the elders, if today was the day we needed to meet with this investigator, he would provide a way for us as well.
As I studied, I kept an ear turned to the window and felt myself begin to smile, because as the hour wore on, the elements calmed. Twenty minutes before our departure, the sound of the wet car tires was also beginning to dim, and when I opened the curtain, the sun was shining, and the pavement was beginning to dry. Although not surprised, I was filled with awe and had it confirmed to me that the Lord cares about each of us.
We rode to Endo San's home in safely, and when she attended church with us on Sunday, all of the topics seemed direted specifically to her needs.
Each day, we are witnessing miracles. K Shimai has a tradition that she has shared with me, and each evening, we find three miracles that we witnessed that day. It has helped my growth immensely, and I learn each day from my wonderful companion.

Sister K's my new companion, and someone I have looked up to since the first time I met her, five transfers ago. Super stoked for a series of miracles this transfer:)

God lives. He loves us. He loves you.

Not to be random, but I'm way stoked for Christmas.

Take care!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Eight Things... (November 23, 2015)

Well... I'm officially on my eigth transfer as of today! Yikes. This rather grown-up sounding number has caused me some serious reflection, like, "what? I'm only third transfer still!", "I'm so old!", and, "EIGHT???" and, "Wait, didn't we just have transfers?" This time, we are having some kind of rather Hunger Games-esque meeting to find out who are new companions are! Yaaaay! (Just kidding, ha, ha.) I do know that I will be staying in Nagamachi, but Sister O is leaving, so we shall see. Stay tuned! I'll keep y'all posted. (Just don't get on the edge of your seat, a week's a long time to do that.;)

After much thought and reflection... *drumroll*

Eight Things I have Learned About Myself since I Pinned a Badge on it

1) Not only do I laugh in my sleep, I also talk in both English and Japanese... including committing people to read the Book of Mormon and also singing hymns, also in Japanese. Evidently I am an active sleeper (no wonder I'm so tired all the time)!

2) I talk with my hands. A lot.

3) There is nothing like a good laugh to calm down and relax.

4) Much like my music, my cooking is frequently completely made up on the spot. (My companion: How much flour? Me: Like... a little... Companion: How much water? Me: Just... until it looks right... Companion: Do you measure anything? Me: Just chocolate chip cookies.)

5) I lock the door on autopilot every time we walk into the house. Every time we leave, I wonder if my companion is the one who remembered to lock it, but she recently confirmed that I am the culprit.

6) When I get really stressed, and then I bear my testimony, I cry, and then continue crying for approximately forever.

7) When I get REALLY stressed, I get nauseous and it's not very fun.

Note to self: don't get that stressed.

8) Although I stumble, and fall, and am not who I expected to be at this point in time, I have still grown and changed in ways I never could have with my beloved Ishinomaki or my wonderful Nagamachi. The biggest thing I have learned as I begin my big-kid eighth transfer is that, despite my weakness, and despite my lack in so many different ways, my God has truly provided me with a way to leave behind my mistakes and turn over a leaf each day, even every hour, because somedays I need that.

I'm not who I want to be yet, but I do feel as if I have been given the tools to get there. The true miracle is that fact that God so loved the world, no, your world, my world, that he gave his beloved Son, that all of us might be saved, in part, from ourselves.

We as people have a lot to learn, but we as people also have a lot of potential. The trick is to try to find the potential in ourselves and in others, that spark of divinity within each human heart, and draw it out. Nourish it until the fire cannot be denied, because that glow is the glow we feel when we feel true love for others and compassion and all the things that make this life worth living.

Although I don't know who my next companion will be, althought I can't see much past the next few steps, I have peace in my heart. I hope each of you will find that same peace. If you are seeking light or a rest for your weary soul, because there's a storm inside that you can't seem to find shelter from, my invitation to you is come unto Christ. Open your heart to Him, and you will find peace and light and safety.

And that is exactly what each of us needs, at least on occasion.

Thank you for all your love and support. God be with you!

Pictures: The reason I didn't write last week... District Preparation Day! Went out for sushi with the brothers, did some more crazy things like... take pictures... eat ice cream... ping-pong... Good fun:)

(There's a rule where you have to sit by your companion when eating district lunch, so it's always a little amusing to watch the four elders cram into a three-person spot, hahaha. Just kidding, I feel kinda bad, but it's not my rule, so...:)

We cut tomatoes for about forty-five minutes to prep tacos, the sure staple for--you guessed it--the Thanksgiving party. (Yeah I'm not sure either.)

The classic helmet selfie, and

My new friend Tom.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

(November 16, 2015)

Don't have much time to email 'cause district P-day, but love you!!!

Bonus photos:

Home evening activity with mission president and others, some time in October 2015.

Mission Leader Conference, November 2015

Sendai South zone conference, October 22, 2015.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Lead Me, Guide Me. Walk Beside Me. (November 9, 2015)

The thing about serving in Japan at the same time as three of your best friends is that sometimes, they pop up in pictures on the bulletin board at the church. (Shoutout to WILLIAMSON 姉妹, I'm working in 田中長老's (Elder Tanaka) home ward. No idea when the picture was from but looks like a fun district;)

Today, I'd just like to share a moment from my week.

Saturday was awful. I just felt like I was failing so hard at being a missionary; I juat felt off my game and I couldn't connect to anyone, and I felt discouraged and a little down, especially since my companion is still learning Japanese (well, I mean, I am too), so I felt like I needed to be on point more and just generally being more than I was. It waspretty frustrating. Sister O wasn't aware of the Luke-Shimai's-in-a-box-right-now situation, but she realized we hadn't planned our English lesson, so we sat down in a park and planned it out really quickly. At the end of our planning, we said a prayer to bless the few minutes of finding time we had left. (One really nice thing about being a foreign language missionary with a new missionary is that you can pray completely honestly like, "we can't do this on our own, lend us your strength because I am so weak right now" and not push your uncertainty on your companion. Just another perk.)

And that's when the miracle began.

We both felt inspired to go a certain direction, so we headed out. We walked past a girl I had noticed before, and a few yards later I stopped Sister O and we turned back and talked to her. She was really nice, but turned us away. Still carrying a degree of hopelessness in my heart, we kept walking, this time in the opposite direction that we'd felt to go initially. And then there was no one on the street, and I just felt incapable and inadequate (this is kind of unusual, but rough days still happen on occasion, because  missionary me is still human). There was one high school girl walking towards us, earphones in and everything, and I thought, okay, it's gotta be her.

We pulled a, "Do you speak English?" and proceeded to have this whole conversation in English where we invited her to our free English Conversation Class, gave her a Book of Mormon, and briefly explained it, and invited her to read it from the beginning, and the whole time she was smiling and thrilled to be talking to us.

We walked away ("SHE WAS SO CUTE!!!") and we'd only gone a little bit when Sister O pointed out to me that if we hadn't gone the other way first, we probably wouldn't have run into her at that point in time, and that was when I realized how special that was.

Sometimes, it's rainy and cold, and we feel hopeless. Yes, as illogical and seemingly pointless as hopeless is, it can sneak through the cracks because we are human and we can only see as far as the next corner.


When we feel like we are walking on the wrong road to nowhere in particular, when the distance is faint and the lights seem faded, there is One who is aware, who notices our every footfall and gently guides us around the traps and rugged edges. As courageous as we fight to be, thee are moments when we feel weak, when the height of our tiptoes doesn't make the cut. But the crest of every mountain, the depth of every valley of our lives is forged by the Creator of the Universe, and be it me in the box of my own heart or you in your personal darkest dungeon, when we close our eyes there is always a light to guide us. This is something I am learning still, but no matter where we are or where we aim to be, we have a Friend who will be there when all else is faded or lost.

May we each remember this truth and trust in His gentle, guiding hand.

God be with you! He certainly is with me.

Pictures: Went to dinner with these girls before a meeting, temporary comps with my trainer Sister T (with our matching glasses), and me trying to figure out where the other two sisters were after one left a bag on a train. (It was like two hours before we all safey made it to the meeting, but that's a whole 'nother story, hahahahahaha...)

Bonus photos:

Sister Training Leaders

Bonus photos (November 2, 2015)

A few bonus photos:

芋煮会 (Boiled Potato Party)

レミちゃんがなついてくれたの^ ^

(Remi likes me. We went through the haunted house together about five times.)


Sunday, November 1, 2015

It's Close to Miiiiidnight! (November 2, 2015)

Those of you who know your stuff will realize that my title for this email is totally quoting Michael Jackson's Thriller. Congratulations.

Last week was Halloween.

It was also absolutely insane. Just a few highlights:

-HALLOWEEN! Mostly the missionaries were in charge of running that show. And those of you who know me well know that when I plan a party, I plan it to the nines... My poor district, muahahaha. But the event itself was said to be the best Halloween this ward has ever seen, so that was pretty legit:) Bobbing for apples, hanging donuts, candy walk, haunted house, face paint, shooting at bottles, trick-or-treat doors, costume contest, Halloween treats and decorations... everyone followed through with their parts and it was glorious. Close to twenty nonmembers came, (in a ward with maybe seventy in attendance each week,) and I was so happy when it was all over, haha...

-SKINNER FAMILY!!! Right when the party ended and we were ready to go tear down our forty cardboard boxes worth of haunted house, out of the blue two of my friends from Tokyo showed up. I basically exploded. I can't even describe it. It was good.

-We'd been in the apartment all day between a head cold and weekly planning when someone rang the doorbell. Answered the door and some guy was going door to door selling apples. So, we bought some apples and gave him a Book of Mormon, invited him to English class and also church, and sent him on his merry way. 'Twas a good time.

Spiritual thought of the week: The Lord knows exactly where you are and what you need. He also knows what you can do and what you need to do to help others. Although life will not always be easy, it will always be the best it can be, whether or not you can see the other side of the glass. It's easy to get frustrated with your own lack or growth or the fact that you seem to be hitting dead end after dead end, and but you might be the right force to break through that wall.

And sometimes you just have to write "CHURCH" on your investigator's calendar on every Sunday for the rest of the year to show her that you really do want her to come. (Yes, she came to church.)


As ever,

Sister L

Pictures: Um. Yeah. And also Remi and Anna and us as minions:)