July 2012- January 2014

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hi Family!

Thanks for the updates on life back in Salt Lake City! It’s getting cold here so I’m just hoping and praying that I don’t have to face a “Logan Winter” here. Although everyone say’s Amarillo has pretty fierce winters. So…. If you want, you could send me some of my warmer clothes. Thursday was an exceptionally cold day (ok, ok I know that I have friends that are serving in ridiculous weather conditions…. Like Canada and Russia…. But just bare with me here) and yes, you guessed it, it was bike day. So we braved the icy wind, I put on some of my companion's tights and rode our bikes. We knocked a street with some success but frozen nonetheless. We walked to this house and my companion said, “This is the one, they are going to be nice and let us in”. And can you believe it, they did! This person currently goes to another Church. After getting to know him a little bit, we asked what he likes about his church. He sat there thinking about it for a little bit then said, “To be honest, I can’t think of anything.” I’ve learned out here that people are just generally creatures of habit. We continue to do things because that is where we are comfortable. But I feel like the gospel has so much more to offer our new friend. Not just regularity but progression! We are meeting again this week so I am praying that everything will go well. So…. Meeting with our new friend was so worth it even though we froze our faces off.

Last night, we went to visit a referral that we got about a month ago. But every time we go to visit her she is never home. Never. I’m not kidding you; we have tried her like 10 times and nothing. So last night, we felt like we needed to go and try her. And can you believe it her light was on and car was there. I started to get nervous because it was late and I hate knocking on doors late. But before we could even introduce ourselves, she opened the door right up to let us in. I stood there in shock and said is now a good time? And she was like of course! Then I blurted out, “I’m sorry, I’m just not used to people letting us in to their homes.” She just laughed. She is pretty much awesome. She had so many good questions about the church and told us that every member that she has met has been “different.” She said they are always happy and always have a positive attitude. So remember, your example is the BEST missionary tool. People do notice and it plants seeds for others to desire to learn more about the gospel. We were able to talk about the Book of Mormon and the Restoration and she wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon. She told us as we were leaving, “I will definitely read and pray about this.” Neat right? She just gets it.

For Halloween, the missionaries aren’t allowed to work past 6. So we are all planning on getting together with the other missionaries at the church.  My companion and I have been thinking about our costumes…. And I won’t give it away, but I think we might win the costume contest. We are going to work on them today. You’ll just have to wait till next week when I can send you pictures.

This Sunday we talked about Families and naturally, I told the story about how we went camping at cedar breaks. They all laughed when I described Johanna bouncing around the tent trying to knock off all the water that was caving our tent in. And then how we tried to dig trenches around Dave and Flo’s tent so they didn’t have a “water bed” anymore. And while this was going on…. The boys slept. This is one of my most favorite memories. Not that it was the most perfect vacation ( I think that was the trip Jer singed his eyebrows off...) But because I was with y’all. I love that we can laugh at those experiences now. I’ve got a pretty amazing family.

IMG_1064.JPGLove y’all so much! I’m always praying for you! Thanks for loving and supporting me!

Love, Sister Luke


Friday, October 26, 2012

Today I am emailing you from Amarillo College Library. Kinda fun! I am having flash backs of my beloved Utah State campus. I really love that place. (I never knew I had so much school pride…) Dad, thanks for keeping me posted on how awesome they are doing!
Momma and Pa, Thank you so much for the package. I absolutely loved it. All the missionaries are envious of my Halloween decorations! I loved all my little bats the grandkids sent! They are hanging in my window! And don’t even get me started on the salsa and dried apples. Seriously, those are some of my most favorite things. I think I like dried apples as much as my new companion likes candy.
Emily, I got your letter and I promise. I will write you back TODAY! I can just get so distracted on Pdays!
Johanna, some advice for missionary friends would be to study Preach my Gospel. I know if I would have started that earlier, I would have been so much more prepared.
So…. Here’s what is going on in my neck of the woods.
I’ve found that change is good. Especially in missionary work. I think I can do this for 14 months. My new companion is an amazing missionary and I’ve already learned so much from her. She is actually Filipino, small world! She was looking at my family picture and she picked out Flo as a Filipino too.  She is super patient (luckily) and likes to work hard. We have pretty similar personalities. I just wish I was tan like her. So I had to navigate her around town the first couple days…. Let’s just say, do to my poor directions we’ve had to do a lot of U-turns…. I think Brandon should send me some math jokes and analogies…. She would love that.

Well, a week ago, our friend's brother passed away. The brother’s death involved drugs and was really devastating for the family. We haven’t been able to see our friend much because our friend has been trying to take care of the situation so the parents don’t have to. We were able to talk last night and our friend told us that prayer has been a great strength. Our friend has such a strong testimony of prayer.  That is something I really admire.
We met with a Pastor at a little church last week. My companion and I left a Book of Mormon and asked the Pastor to read the Introduction and 3 Nephi 11. The Pastor seemed genuinely interested so we were thrilled to teach more. Well, we met at the Pastor's church to talk about what we read. The Pastor talked about how something in the introduction was bothersome. At the end of the fifth paragraph, it says something to the effect of if we obey the laws, we will be saved. When I’ve read the introduction, I have not given much thought.to this section, but I could tell that this was a huge stumbling block. The Pastor told us that Christ died on the cross so that we wouldn't have to obey the laws (the 10 commandments). To be honest, I couldn’t answer because I had never thought that much on the topic of grace. But luckily, My companion was well equipped to answer. She asked if the Pastor tells the congregation that they don’t need to go to church. And the reply of course was,  “no.” She explained that the commandments are all things that Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount. At the close of our meeting, the Pastor agreed to read another chapter out of the Book of Mormon if we will read Ephesians. We gladly accepted. In the 2nd chapter, it talks all about how the church needs to be built upon apostles and prophets.

Well, know that I am doing well! I promise! I am happy and working hard. And have learned so much and can’t wait to learn more.
Love y’all! Take Care!
Love, Sister Luke

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Hi Mama and Papa and family,

I’m sad to hear about Grandpa. I know that must be very discouraging for him. I love my grandpa so much! I’m always going to be proud of my tittle “little blonde” I’ll never forget it. I’m not going to lie, this news makes me a little homesick (basically the first time since I’ve been out), and in situations like this it’s nice to be with your family. You are all in my prayers, especially Grandpa and mom. It’s times like these that I just wish I could be with you and give you a hug and maybe cry a little. If you need to relay any information to me, you can always call the mission home.

IMG_1009.JPGThis week has been pretty good. We got a call Saturday night telling us that my companion is leaving and I am staying in Amarillo and getting a new companion. The only things I know about her is she is really good at math and super smart, and Asian.  I’m really sad to see my old companion go. She has been an awesome trainer. We’ve had so many great memories! I am excited to have some great experiences with my new companion also. If my biggest fear is change, I’m going to be getting over that quick here on the mission.

Our friend has been really busy this week. We’ve only had really short lessons. It doesn’t really give us the opportunity to feel the spirit. Our friend knows everything we have taught is true; but still struggles with a modern day prophet. I asked if our friend has listened to him speak and our friend reluctantly stated “no”. I said that in our next lesson, we are going to watch a talk given by our prophet in this past General Conference.  I told our friend that you cannot judge whether or not our prophet is called of God without even listening to him! This drives me nuts. So many people here just discredit the prophet or Book of Mormon based on hearsay or what their preacher tells them. How many of these people actually pick up the Book of Mormon and follow Moroni’s promise and read the book and pray about it? Few to none. The only way you are going to know is to experiment upon the words.  
We’ve spent a lot of time knocking and finding new investigators. I think I am really starting to get the hang of this. On Saturday, my companion and I were testifying to all that would open their door! We were able to leave a lot of Book of Mormons and make some follow up appointments. Such a blessing! A member brought her friend to church. She walked right up to me and said “I would like you all to come over to have a bible study”. We said, “Well, if we have to….” Just kidding! We were thrilled!! The Lord is preparing people!

On Sunday, I had to give a talk. I have been pondering and praying about what subject to speak about. I asked the 1st councilor what he wanted me to speak on, and he said missionary work. So I decided to speak on my most favorite sentence out of Peach my Gospel. “When your understanding of the atonement increases, so does your desire to share the gospel.” I truly felt guided on the things I needed to say. Man, I’m ashamed that I am just now figuring this out, but the spirit is the best study guide and testifier. When I spoke, the spirit prompted me to say things that I did not plan on saying. One of my investigators said that he could feel the spirit in sacrament meeting. It’s amazing what can happen when everyone is in tune with the spirit!  
Thanks for your letters. I love reading them! I love y’all! 

Sister Luke

Friday, October 12, 2012

Hi ya’ll!
Sorry for the late email! We went to Palo Duro Canyon this morning for some mountain biking. I don’t think it will ever get old. I love going there because it gives me a hint of home. I love it. It makes me so excited for backpacking and the outdoors! This week I celebrated my 3 month mark. Isn’t that nuts? It doesn’t feel like I’ve been out that long. I suppose time flies when you’re working hard and having fun! This week was fabulous, but long. And I know exactly why. My companion and I abstaining from all sweets, this includes ice cream, desserts, and candy. I have never gone on a diet so this has truly tried my will power. I know what ya’ll are thinking…. No Texas barbecue hasn’t made me gain 30 pounds… We actually made a pact with one of our investigators that if he would quit drinking alcohol, coffee and tea for a week we would give up something very near and dear to our hearts. I tell you what, I’m addicted and I didn’t even realize it. Going through this has made me realize a couple things. It’s a lot easier to give up something for someone else. I really care about our investigator and I know that the life style he is living right now does not bring everlasting happiness. We just thought if he could just experience life not doing those things that would destroy his body; he would recognize the blessings. But every time I felt tempted to eat a cookie or a bite of ice cream, I thought of our friend and just couldn’t let him down. Something else I learned was that not only are we asking him to give up something, we are asking to change his whole life. This includes family traditions, social groups, and other activities. Not only would he have to tell his friends he didn’t drink, he would have to tell his own family. I’ve also realized that we didn’t teach him as well as we could have. In preach my gospel it says that true doctrine understood changes attitude or behavior quicker than the study of that attitude or behavior. (Don’t quote me on that….. I am pulling this from my memory.) But our investigator gave in and bought some beer. It was really heart breaking to hear this, and hence why we need to reteach the word of wisdom.
We had two awesome lessons with our friend this week. We watched the restoration movie (I tell you I’m going to have it memorized by the time I get home.) and talked about Joseph Smith. This has been a stumbling block for my friend. Our friend had watched a special on the presidential candidates and their religious beliefs. It was obviously aimed at making the Mormons look like a bunch of “brainwashed members of a cult”.  An ex-member claimed that our church is all about money and fame. We showed the restoration video and explained that if Joseph was focused on money and fame, he definitely wouldn’t have died for this great cause. We said that “by the fruits ye shall know them” and if I’m being brainwashed to serve, love, and obey the commandments then I say bring it on. BRAINWASH ME! I’d love to become a better person through the gospel. Our friend loved the movie and is now studying Joseph Smith History.
Simply put, General Conference was amazing! The rumors are true, it’s a hundred times better on your mission. We watched it at the stake center which I surprisingly loved! (But I’m not going to lie; I missed watching it at home having contests with Brandon to see how many M&M’s we could catch in our mouths.) How about them 18 and 19 year olds eh? That is amazing news. It really inspired me to be a better missionary. So much work to be done, they are calling in the younger troops! But that makes me a grandma in the mission. One of the themes that I noticed in General conference was becoming truly converted. If you sincerely love God then you are going to serve his children. Elder Hollands talk was amazing and made me really reflect on why I am out here on a mission. I think some of my motivations have been purely selfish. It really gave me a lot to think about. I want my intentions to be purely focused on the fact that I love my Heavenly Father. I love the blessing of the atonement in my life and I want to see others find that joy.
Love Y’all
Sister Luke

Friday, October 5, 2012

Laura with a stray kitten
"You can't keep us out!" 

So good to read your letters today! 
I am so proud of my aggies!! Keep me updated on their game with BYU. And.... remember how I absolutely love our dried apples? If you really have as much as you claim, you might want to send some my way.

So… this week was rather an interesting week. 
Our friend is still progressing. The more and more our friend understands about the church the more it makes “perfect sense”. But it can always make you nervous to leave your old life style behind. We continue to talk to our friend about baptism, and it is always positive. Our lessons are so awesome! Everything we teach our friend either already practices or wants to implement. I pray that our friend will have the strength to do the Lords will.

Our other friend is doing so well also! Last week for our ladies lesson, we decided to have each person teach a part of the plan of salvation to us. No… this was not some ploy to get out of teaching….  It turned out to be a great success! Everyone studied and prepared a great deal before, so it was awesome! We gave our friend the spirit world. Our friend ended up studying that AND the resurrection to learn more. I love hearing recent converts or nonmembers teach because they point out details that I often leave out when I teach. I learned so much about teaching! I love them! But our friend is great and knows the church is true. Just needs to find the courage.

We may have to stop teaching a couple of our other friends because they are trying to convert us. They really love Jesus. And they are so happy and excited all the time!  They really like us though and always set up a return appointment. As we left they declared, “I’m going to take y’all out for steaks next week!” There is something loveable about these friends.

My allergies to cats have been confirmed.
My companion and I found an abandoned kitten the other day while we were riding bikes. So… nothing left to do but put the kitten in my bag and bring it knocking with us. (Yeah, I never thought I was an animal person either. But it was adorable.) And actually, we were able to talk to people that normally wouldn’t have listened to us. Everyone here loves animals. So we have a new door knocking technique. We brought the kitten home, and gave it a nice bowl of warm milk. Then put it in our bathroom because we had to hurry to another appointment. That night, we decided to leave the kitten in a nice neighborhood so she could find a home. (Tired of swollen eyes and terrible smelling bathroom) But we saw it sitting there all alone, and felt terrible. So we brought it home with us again. Luckily, the next day our neighbor found her a nice home in the country side! We were so relieved, because we are really not supposed to have pets. That stupid adorable kitten made us do irrational things. You can bet that I won’t be putting anymore kittens in my bag. I learned my lesson. Thank you very much.

All in all, it’s been a great week! Really the weeks are flying by! I can’t believe I’ll be out for almost 3 months in a couple days! I have moments where I wonder if I am really doing any good out here. Then the Lord directs me to someone who needs the gospel, or a recent convert shares their testimony. These experiences are gentle reminders that I am where I need to be right now. I sure do love you! Thanks for all you do! I think and pray for you daily. I am so blessed to have my family. 

Love, Sister Laura Luke