Sunday, February 28, 2016

Mountains to Climb (February 29, 2016)


Today, I would like to share an experience that provided a lot of opportunity for growth. It's kind of personal, but what I gained was so precious and dear to me that I would like to ask that you only read the following if you're actually going to read it. (Sorry, no skimmers!)

This week, we spent some time finding people to visit from old records, see if they were interested in hearing about the gospel. There was a woman close to some of the potentials who was a less active member, so we decided to drop by and visit. After texting the elders, they told us that she would probably talk with us, but that she hated Americans.

Well, I'm only half American, and I've been friends with people who doesn't like America, so we worked her into the schedule and set off on another busy day of dendo.

Most of the potentials had moved, so it was with some relief that we biked up to her home and heard a vacuum cleaner running. After a prayer, we rang her bell. She answered, and not only welcomed us, but let us into her home. She sat us on the couch, usual small talk, asked us where we were from and with slight hesitation, we named our homes.

As she left the room for a moment, I looked at my companion and said, "This is a miracle."

And that's right about when things took a sharp turn south.

This sister came back into the room, handed us some tomatoe juice, and sat across from us, and after a prelude of what seemed like normal conversation, she unleashed a stream of what I can only describe as disgust and hatred. Looking me straight in the eyes, she accused me of everying from corruption to bloodshed and terrorism, informing me that my ignorance was the cause of thousands of lives lost in warfare. She profaned everything from the land of my birth to my education, my faith, my God, the whole time peering into my eyes to see the effect her words would have on me, a concentrated stream of coldness burning into me.

I was stunned. I couldn't move, I could hardly breathe from the weight of such unrestrained hate and disgust pouring forth from this woman I was trying so hard to love. Crying out in my heart to my Lord for patience and charity, I felt in my heart, be still. I was a statue against this woman's passionate monologue, with my angel companion supporting me in whatever civil manner she could. I am forever grateful to her, because I simply could not stand alone in that moment.

Half an hour later, standing on an empty corner next to a vending machine, clutching a can of warm lemonade in hands that wouldn't stop shaking, whisps of the darkness I had just experienced still clinging to my heart--I started to breathe again. The shock wearing off from the closest thing to persecution I will likely ever experience in Tohoku, Japan, what I had to hold on to was the truth that echoed through my mind in the spiritual darkness of that poor woman's home.

Before I was American, before I was Japanese, before I was anything this world can claim as its own, I was and am today the daughter of a Father in Heaven. Before I was born of my own goodly parents, I was the child of God the Father, who designed the roaring rivers and carved the mighty canyons. I am not America, neither am I Japan; I am the daughter of a King, heiress to the hope and light this message brings.

So give me moutains to peak, give me valleys to crawl through, because if it be His will, there is not a single thing I cannot do--no, not one. So come what may, for I will never be shaken, and in my heart is woven this truth: I am a Child of God.


Never forget that you are, too.


岩手山 (Mt. Iwate)



Angel Companion:)



Bonus photo:

Nappy nap before Eikaiwa... kids are crazy



Bonus video: View from Lisa's apartment, probably?

video

Monday, February 22, 2016

盛岡だ〜! (February 22, 2016)



盛岡だ〜! (Morioka!)

video


I was hoping to hear about Lisa's new area and new companion, but no such luck. She only sent the above video.

This looks like it was shot from in front of the church building, which you can seen on the map here:

Here is the Google street view of what you'd see standing right in front of the church building (in slightly warmer weather).

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Stoooooooop with the Transfer Tears>:( (February 15, 2016)



Hey hey hey! Yep, you guessed it, transfer tears are back. See, if y'all could just stop beijg so darn nice to me, this wouldn't happen.

*sigh.* You called it upon yourself, Nagamachi.

Yes, I leave my beloved long town tonight. Packing, hugs, frantic business-card message writing, tears, what you'd call a normal Luke Shimai transfer is currently underway. I'm leaving my heart once again to grow a new one in 森岡, Morioka, forest-hill. (Although there's no way it's hillier than here, my biking muscles are literally the buffest they've ever been, and coming from someone who never gets buff, hey, that's saying something.)

Morioka is supposed to be like, the prettiest area in the mission, though, so there's that. Although I've heard that mid February in Morioka is comparable to Hokkaido or Russia, so there's that, too:)

Note: The average high temperature in Morioka (actually 盛岡) in February is 37 degrees Fahrenheit; the average low is 23. So it will be colder than Sendai, which has been in the 50s the last few weeks. And the average snowfall in Morioka in February is 29 inches (after 21 inches in December and 34 inches in January), so that will likely be a change. :)

You can see Morioka on the map here.

Good news is, it'll only get warmer from here on out since I'll be landing in the peak of the cold season. Yay? (Actually legitimately excited, my new comp is a boss and I've heard all good things about the area. Sad to leave, stoked to arrive.)

So. lots to do im the mext couple hours, so I'mma peace out here but enjoy some pictures of my last week in Nagamachi!


District Preparation Day! Dodgeball:)



Valentine's Cookies for the district and President and wife



Sendai South Zone Training Meeting 2.0, because the zone's so broad we split into two



Two of my favorite hooligans:)



L is for the way you look at me... 



Happy Valentine's Day! I love God more than I love you 〜! 
Buuuuut I still love you, don't worry;) 
Especially if you're my mom.
Or my dad.
;) 
Of to the land of ice and snow! Let the Morioka adventures begin:)




P.S.

岸姉妹とアンナちゃん大好き!!! (I love Sis. Kishi and Anna!)



長町離れたくないけど、森岡かなり楽しみ。里美姉妹と言う姉妹が同僚になります。STLとして最初の転勤に彼女と交換して楽しかった〜!彼女その時は一転勤目だったけど最高です。ヤング姉妹と同期です。

(I don't want to leave Nagamachi, but I'm excited for Morioka. I will be companions with a sister named Sis. Satomi. I did an exchange with her my first transfer as STL, and it was fun! At that time she was in her first transfer, but she was the best. She's been out the same amount of time as Sis. Young.)





Also here's the Yamagata side of our zone.


Sunday, February 7, 2016

Love, Elevate, Simplify, Strive, Strengthen, Sushi (February 8, 2016)


First of all... CONGRATULATIONS EW FOR HER CALL TO SERVE IN THE BEST MISSION ON EARTH. Glad to share this piece of Eden with you, excited for the people here to feel your love and win your heart. :)

This week, I just wanted to share with you the basic part of the Asia North Area Plan for 2016. (Really simply put, the church divides up the globe into a number of areas so that it can take care of areas based on the needs of the people there. Asia North Area is Japan, Korea, Guam, and the Micronesian Islands, if I remember correctly.)

Anyway, the plan is:

Because we want to live with Heavenly Father again, we:

Love
Elevate
Simplify
Strive
Strengthen
Invite

and Find Joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

My companion and I have chosen to quote this each morning in English and Japanese, and it's given me a lot to ponder about. Each of these verbs has a deep meaning, and I have a lot to improve on, but my favorite part is the emphasis on our finding joy. It is easy to be miserable or disappointed, but it is also easy to find joy. Each and every day is filled with moments, and we can choose to make these fragments of light or darkness.

It all depends on whether you look at the shadows or the source.

As we all know, contrast is what makes the picture beautiful, but I can also testify that a path of light is a lot easier to get along with no stubbed toes;)

Living life and loving the work! Luke out!

Pictures: Some holiday about the change of seasons, and for some reason which no one could really explain to me, y'all eat sushi on the third of February while facing some obscure island. Gotta get that sushi. Like, all of those people are going to buy sushi to eat it silently while facing an island, heaven know why. (Except us, if there's one thing we're not it's silent.)




Note:

February 3 is "Setsubun,"a festival that celebrates the day before the start of spring. The classic tradition is to toss roasted soybeans out of the house, while chanting "鬼は外、福はうち" (demons out, happiness in"). Apparently the eating of uncut norimaki is a newish tradition. Wikipedia has this to say about it:

It is customary in Kansai area to eat uncut makizushi called ehō-maki (恵方巻, lit "lucky direction roll"), a type of futomaki (太巻, "thick, large or fat rolls"), in silence on Setsubun while facing the year's lucky compass direction, determined by the zodiac symbol of that year. This custom started in Osaka, but in recent years eho-maki can be purchased at stores in the Kanto area and it is getting more recognized as a part of Setsubun tradition.

Wikipedia also notes that "While the practice of eating makizushi on Setsubun is historically only associated with the Kansai area of Japan, the practice has become popular nationwide due largely to marketing efforts by grocery and convenience stores." Natch.


Bonus photos:




Monday, February 1, 2016

A Few Items of Business (February 1, 2016)


1) Congratulations to those who are recently engaged or getting close, as heard through the grapevine (AKA my loving parents). It is wonderful to know that there is a lot of love and happiness going on right how;) Wishing I could come to all of the wedding receptions and things,  know that I'm wishing you well! Glad to hear of a successful start to your happily ever after, and grateful for the role you played in my life:)

2) Just a shoutout to the fact that it's February??? What?

3) I just want to express the fact that I know that God lives, and that He loves us. I know that he gave us families to guide and protect and teach and grow and learn together. This week, we were blessed with the privilege to visit the family of a sister missionary who came home last week, and seeing her family with her and the love they shared touched me deeply. I know that families are central to our now and to our forever, and that Jesus Christ was born into a family of his own over 2,000 years ago, a precious child born to bear our pains and our sadness. And because he was born, and because he lived, and because he lives today, he is the one who supports us when we think we can go no further, the one who pushes us forward when we can't take another step. The aching we hold and hide is his to take and heal and create, remold into something beautiful, because by his hands, all beauty was made, and we through him can be made lovely again, no matter how shattered or broken or stained we feel. He is our light and our hope and the truth and the way that makes not only tomorrow but today and yes, even yesterday a day to remember in the happiest of ways.

I am so, so grateful to know these truths, to know of our Redeemer, to feel my Savior's love.

I can honestly say that I cannot even dream of being happier than I am right now.

:)

Love you all! Thank you for the countless prayers and support. May God be with you!

--L


Pictures: Companion Exchange with another Sister K, and my original Sister K and I playing with snow:)




Bonus photos: