Sunday, December 27, 2015

It's Been Said Many Times, Many Ways... (December 28, 2015)

メリークリスマス!To you:) The first half of the week was spent in Christmas festivities and LA visits, caroling, handing out treats and Christmas stockijgs, and celebrating the birth of Christ. The second half was spent in bed with a fever, so not a ton of interesting news, so we'll just touch on some highlights via photos:

Missionaries of Sendai and Sendai South Zone! We got all fourteen sisters in the two southern zones to sing for the special musical number, we threw Silent Night and Joy to the World together. Unfortunately, no one recorded it, so no evidence, but it was glorious.

Sister I took us on a multi-hour less-active member visit tour on Christmas Eve. The former Bishop lived close, so we popped in and said hey to him and his adorable daughter:) Hjs English is pretty good, he likes to say, "Sister Luke. May the force and the Spirit be with you."

Kills me every time.

Yesterday out of the blue he gave Sister K and I Star Wars breath mints with Luke's face on the package. #killinit

This is how I teach English.
Okay, only sometimes.
Kids are hard to catch, man.

I almost forgot. Tanaka S's baby, Kimi-kun:)

Japanese children are perfect. I rest my case.

I hope you each have a wonderful New Year and may the close of this year and the start of another bring you peace and the hope that comes from new beginnings. This year for me has been a whirlwind of change and growth, and I am grateful for 2015 and eagerly looking forward to what 2016 will bring.

May the Spirit and Force be with you;)

As ever,
Sister Luke:)

Christmas Ramblings (December 21, 2015)

Hello from the Luke Sister in Nagamachi! Life's a little chilly but rollin' as grand as usual. (Actually, it's been freakishly warm this year, we've only seen snow in our area once so far and that was a barely-qualifies-as-snow flurry. Fingers crossed!)

Last week was our District P-Day, so I apologize for not writing...

sorry to disappoint, but we moved Tanaka Ayuko S's baptismal date, so no baptism there. BUT, she will be baptized on January 24, her wedding anniversary, and her husband will be performing the baptism and blessing their baby boy on that day as well, so it seems like a fair trade;) We did complete all the lessons this week, got the interview scheduled, and everything is moving along really well.

Recently, I've been studying a lot about our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I know, I'm a missionary, so I've been studying about Him for about, eh, a lifetime, but this week in particular I've been studying 3 Nephi, the Gospel of Luke, and Jesus The Christ, and the more I learn of Him, the more I love and treasure this Gift of eternity. This Christmas Season is such a precious time to reflect on our lives and to see the change and blessings that come because there was a baby born so long ago.

One of my favorite paintings of the birth of Christ is the one where Mary is dressed in red, and everyone else is looking at the Christ child, but Mary's gaze is directed toward the viewer. There's a something sad about the look in her eyes, as if she is asking, do you know what this innocent child will suffer, what my firstborn son will sacrifice--for you? There are few things more painful than seeing one you love suffer, but Mary and indeed God the Father did just that as Christ undertook the act that would redeem the world from all of our pain, all of our guilt, all of our sadness. I join with the shepherds of old in saying, let us now go (Luke 2:15) as we in gratitude become the people we were designed to be.

Who were you designed to be? Take a step in the right direction each and every day, because leaving behind the old you is a priceless gift afforded us by the child born in Bethlehem. It's a gift of hope, of love, of warmth, and I am forever changed and forever grateful because of it.

Give your families some extra love this season! I'm far from mine, but I know they are the best family God could've sent me to love:)

Pictures: District Preparation Day was a lil' crazy...

Exchange with the perfect Sister Q, this woman is my hero!

And, one time a less active member gave us--you guessed it--250 kiwis. (I know, right???)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Sometimes I Never Shut Up... Buckle Your Seatbelts (December 7, 2015)

If a picture's worth a thousands words, here's a pretty long email.

Haha, just kidding, everyone knows I never stop talking (writing?) when I get going;)

The big news of today is, TANAKA AYUKO 姉妹 IS GETTING BAPTIZED NEXT WEEK. Truly adorable mom of a truly adorable little chunk of a baby, she's wanted to receive baptism (a sacred covenant with God where we promise to obey the guidelines he's set for our safety and happiness, and he promises to lead and guide us and be with us) for a while now, and the time has finally arrived. She will be baptized on Tuesday, December 15. We are so excited for her to be making this important step in her life! Her goal is to go to the temple to be sealed with her husband and baby, so that they can be an eternal family. So uh, if y'all wanna throw her in your prayers so this'll all work through without a hitch, it's be much appreciated. :)

We learned about goal setting in faith with guidance from God this week, and the neat thing was that on Tuesday, Sister K and I knelt as a companionship and prayed for guidance on the goal we needed to set for people to be baptized in the month of December. This took a bit of courage because to be frank, statistically speaking, our mission is one of the lowest baptizing missions in the world. (God sends his warriors here, shout it out.) However Sister K and I have seen enough miracles to know that nothing is impossible to the Lord; my faith is not yet even the size of a mustard seed, but to trust in Him is one thing I have begun to learn as I serve here in Sendai.

After some consideration, we set a goal of two baptisms here in Nagamachi during the month of December. That same day, we had interviews with the mission president, and my companion went first. She told me later that with no discussion, with no warning, President Smith looked her in the eyes and said, "Sister Kishi, I know that there are two people in Nagamachi waiting to be baptized."

Revelation is a real thing, brothers and sisters.

The following day, we were able to set that baptismal date with Tanaka Ayuko 姉妹, which is amazing! We are so excited! God's work truly is rolling forward. If this can happen in the Japan Sendai Mission, it can happen anywhere in the world. (I don't know who this is for, but I feel inspired to say that, so if you are a missionary feeling doubt today, my friend, don't give up. I know it can be hard sometimes, but keep it up! You're doing great! Live your life worthy of the miracle and it will unfold for you! I promise.)

But, one baptism in the month of December, though wonderful and life-changing for my dear sister Ayuko, this is not enough. We counselled with God and were lead to the goal of two baptisms. Honestly, I don't know who number two will be. We've got a few with potential, but they aren't responding to our attempts to contact them.

This is something we will hage to push for, and hard.

I'm a pretty weak and inadequate human being, so if it wouldn't be too much to ask, would you please send a prayer my way as well? I am lacking in faith and courage, it seems (among other things, but we take it a day at a time so we'll get there when we get there). There is someone out there waiting for Sister K and I to find them and invite them to come unto Christ. We'll keep you posted. :)

Thank you always for the support and putting up with my sometimes long, sometimes short, sometimes non-existant emails;) It means a lot to have the support and prayers. You are among my angels.

My love to all this Christmas season! May we take a moment to remember that behind the lights and bows and wrapping paper is a still moment so long ago, when earth and heaven moved at the sigh of a newborn child.

Love always,
Lisa Kasumi Luke 姉妹

Pictures: A missionary meeting! Took a group photo and then the elders left, so we took a shot with just the sisters.

This is back at transfers, when pretty much the whole mission gathered and everyone put their bags in the bag room... with about a hundred kids, probably about fifty of whom were transferring = a LOT of stuff.

The result of last week's picture, credit to Elders W and S.