Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas! Nihon Week 42

 My heart is so grateful to the wonderful people of Japan and the love they share for my daughter.  They are truly a treasure and I know Alyssa couldn't be in a better place right now.  And I am so thankful for our Savior and for this wonderful time of year to celebrate his birth and his life.  And I am so happy for the miracles Alyssa is experiencing every day as she loses herself in the service of our God.  All is well!!

Minasan, MERRY CHRISTMAS! And pretty dang soon, Happy New Year as well! 
I hope that you all had an absolutely wonderful holiday spent with your family and loved ones and serving others and sharing the light of Christ that you all have :) This year was definitely the strangest Christmas of my life, but it was a memorable one that I know I will always be grateful for! 
This week was such a good one. We are still covering two areas until this Thursday and so we are still spending lots of time on trains and on the phone, but it has been so fun. I adore both of my companions and we all have a great time and teach super well together, and so even though sometimes the stress can be insane, we are at least having fun while doing it. This past week we were able to spend a lot of time in Sakai, and I was so happy for that! I missed my area and ward and investigators so much and everyone just warmed my heart when they saw me again and gave me the biggest hugs and told me "Welcome Home". Goodness I love Sakai! 
We saw a lot of miracles this week! The first happened on Monday night when we had some appointments fall through and weren't quite sure what to do..after some prayer and counseling we felt like we needed to go visit these certain investigators for some reason, so we headed on our way. Not even halfway there, we saw these three girls walking home and so we stopped them on our bikes and talked to them for a bit. They were way cute and we got talking to them and it turned out that one of them knew tons about Christ and thought He was great and wanted to come to Eikaiwa and learn more! We exchanged contact info with her and were way stoked that the Lord was able to help guide us in the right direction to be where we needed to be to meet her. 
Wednesday was special because we had the Christmas Taikai! We all went to Abeno in Osaka with the Kyoto and Sakai and Osaka zones, and we got to play sports all morning (dodgeball and futsal are life)! So much fun! In the afternoon we had Mexican Food and a talent show and then watched a slideshow of mission photos. It was seriously so much fun to be reunited with old companions and friends and just really celebrate the Christmas season together. Honestly such a blast and I love serving in the Japan Kobe Mission. 
Thursday we had another awesome miracle. We were biking home from giving service at the old person home and were about an hour or a little more away. We had some extra time and so we just decided to stop and find on the way home. We were biking home and Manwill Shimai felt like we needed to stop and House this apartment...we got off our bikes and did but nobody was home and so we were a little disappointed but felt like there had to be a reason. Like two minutes later we pull up to a stoplight and we start talking to this 18 year old girl. We introduced ourselves and told her about Eikaiwa and that whole deal and she tells us about how she wants to work in rehabilitation someday because she loves to help people. She was super cute and way sweet and it reminded us of the Light the World video and so we asked if we could share it with her, and she said yes. So we were standing on the side of this busy road and it was sort of rainy, but I kid you not the second we pulled out the video, the area went silent as no cars went by, and the rain stopped. We showed the video and the Spirit was SO strong, it was seriously the coolest thing. After the video, the girl had totally changed. We asked her what she thought, and out of the blue she told us that she wanted to learn about Christ and read the bible to become more like Him. We were seriously stunned that we were so blessed to witness such a miracle right in front of our eyes. We exchanged contact info and she is super busy with tests for the next bit, but we will be meeting with her after that. Such a miracle and so grateful for the Christmas video!! 
Friday we had a super fun combined district meeting and then visited less actives before the Sakai Christmas Party!! Holy cow I am so proud of my ward. They all tried so hard and almost every family that came brought a nonmember friend or less active! We were so busy running around all night to try and meet these people and contact the referrals and entertain our investigators that came, and it was the best. At the very end of the night, the Bishop got up and was talking and made a comment about how we should all give presents to Christ this year...then he looks at me and says "But because we can't see Christ with our eyes right now, how about we give presents to people who have a His name on their chest?" They called all of us missionaries to the front and presented us with this HUGE box of presents and then thanked us for serving and loving like the Savior would, and it brought tears to my eyes. I felt so much love from the ward and from my Savior as I was really reminded once again of the honor it is to be wearing His name every single day, especially during this special season. 
Christmas Eve was fun as we got to do lots of service with ward members all throughout the day. It was just so neat and liberating to not be focusing on myself or my problems! That night we had a dinner with some members and all the recent converts of the Sakai Ward. Their faith and testimonies are so precious, love them to pieces. 

Sunday rolled around and was Christmas! (And just to answer the question I have been asked a million times...Christmas is super different in in it basically doesn't exist haha. It was pretty sad. Outside of the church and our apartment it was life like normal for people, they worked and had practice and had life and looked at us weird when we wished them a Merry Christmas. Sort of killed me inside, but we made sure to really keep Christmas in our heart haha)We got up early and watched the Nativity and opened presents from our family before getting ready to head to church. Sacrament was a blessing because one of our investigators came and had a GREAT experience, and it was all centered around the Savior which I just loved. After sacrament I got the best present all day...I was able to Skype my family! Holy cow I am so so blessed. Words can't describe how much I love them and how much I miss them, and how grateful I am for their constant love and prayers and support. Loved talking to you Mom, Dad, Ry, and Brianna! That afternoon we just went out and did work. We visited less actives and did contacting on the streets and served random people and gave away Christmas presents and it was so so happy. Seriously being a missionary at Christmas time is the coolest. So blessed to have had this chance. 
Coming up this week we have transfers (I turn 8, that is scary), going to go to Kobe to get my trainee, and New Years! Should be busy as usual with our two areas and trying to baptize before Sunday. Lucky God has our back as usual, or this would be incredibly stressful haha. 
Well everyone, I hope you all had a merry merry Christmas and I wish you an amazing start to the new year. As we set our resolutions for 2017 remember that it is never too late to change to become the person that God wants and knows we can become. The atonement is there for us to change :)
I love this gospel and I love my mission and I love all of you. Have a great week and talk to you next year, okay? Aishiteimasu minasan! 
Sister Pickering 

  •  Dec 25 at 5:52 AM


    Message body

    Saturday, December 24, 2016

    Merry Skypemass!!!

    Certainly the highlight, if the not the best part of Christmas was being able to skype with Alyssa.  We had a precious 45 minutes where it felt like we were all together once again as a family.  Alyssa looked beautiful and sincerely so happy, almost as if she were glowing. 

    It was so great to hear her voice and her laugh and first hand personal experiences  of being a missionary.  She absolutely loves it.

    Early in December we received a personally decorated box from Japan.  We have been anxiously awaiting opening it ever since.  Inside was a treasure trove of lovely Japanese trinkets hand picked by our daughter for each one of us.  There was a mix of candy, chopsticks, sushi stickers, photos, headbands, and personal gifts for each of us.  It was so sweet and fun and unexpected.  What a treasure.

    Of course the time flew by way too fast and it was time to once again say goodbye.  It was a little easier this time compared to the first skype call but still a little emotional nonetheless.  But during the Christmas Season we celebrate the great gift of the birth of our Savior and the hope He brings to us.  Because of that  I can sacrifice for just a short time, in the grand scheme of things, by allowing my daughter to give herself 100% to being the best Representative of Him as possible.

    We are so proud of Alyssa and the work she is doing.  She is a wonderful gift as part of our family.

    Tuesday, December 20, 2016

    Sakachinagano and a BEAN for Christmas: Nihon Week 41

    Smith Shimai, Pickering Shimai and Manwill Shimai.

    Minasan, konnichiwa!

    I can't believe that Christmas is in a week! Wow time just flies by.
    It still doesn't make sense in my brain although the weather is
    DEFINITELY acting like December! The temperature has dropped and with
    humidity and then freezing rain it is just brutal and freezes your
    soul. Definitely different than a Utah Christmas, but we are surviving
    over here!

    But wow has this week been crazy! For starters, we had surprise
    transfers! Well I guess not super surprising because we knew that
    Gibson Shimai would be heading home to America, but we had NO clue
    what would happen to me and to Sakai. Like 14 sisters went home this
    week so there were gonna be tons of empty spots and weird threesomes
    and changing around and so basically anything was up for grabs.

    Tuesday evening rolls around and one of the AP's calls me and tells me
    that I was receiving my pre-transfer transfer call...and that I
    wouldn't be leaving Sakai! I was stoked! And then he told me that I
    was going to be training a new missionary and I got even more excited!
    But then he told me that my bean wasn't getting to Japan until
    December 29th and so for the meantime I would have to be in a crazy
    threesome haha. My hopes were a little too high there for a bit, but
    it all worked out and I was assigned to work in a threesome with the
    sisters in Kawachinagano named Smith Shimai and Manwill Shimai. They
    are both from Utah (St. George and Ogden) and both played soccer (and
    fun fact, Manwill Shimai plays goalkeeper for the BYU Women's team and
    is basically a boss) and so we have enjoyed working out together in
    the mornings and playing games and being competitive and it has been
    so fun. We are just having the time of our lives aside from the fact
    that our stress level has been through the roof as we are covering
    both Sakai AND Kawachinagano around Christmas time and trying to see a
    baptism in both areas before the end of the year. It is basically pure
    insanity but we are rolling with it and are seeing so many tender
    mercies. But for now we are known as the Sakachinagano Sisters haha.
    And I will be training a brand new missionary and I couldn't be more
    excited to introduce someone to Japan and missionary work. I go to the
    mission home next Thursday to pick her up!

    The first half of the week was super super busy as we ran around
    trying to get Gibson Shimai packed and ready to go. Killing her was
    super sad because we became such amazing friends and I love her to
    pieces. I feel blessed to have been her last companion in the field
    and boy did we work hard and see miracles until the very end.
    Something cool is that we got a referral from Temple Square this week
    and went and found this lady who had been taught by missionaries like
    40 years earlier and just loves Jesus Christ. Haven't been able to
    meet with her again since that time but I am excited to see where that
    goes! We also just continued to share the Christmas video and
    Christmas message with people and then said bye bye to lots of members
    for my companion. Of course Sotoma Kyodai (our well off ward
    member) had to be precious and take us and another YSA in the ward to
    go get crab for her last meal...he literally dropped like 250 bucks on
    us and it was the fanciest thing ever and SO delicious, all except for
    the crab brain which I think I will pass on after that haha.

    Thursday I said goodbye to Gibson Shimai and met up with my new
    companions (and had an adventure where we had to comb Kobe looking for
    a sister that got lost and ended up in the wrong city) and were in
    Kawachinagano for the rest of the week. Japanese members are just
    awesome and adopted me into the ward so fast (and made me speak in
    church haha) and were so sweet. We have seen so many miracles these
    past few days but boy has there been opposition in all things...Satan
    really does not want us to get this baptism and he has been fighting
    us tooth and nail this week. Both of our Baptismal candidates in our
    areas dropped, our investigators can't or won't meet, plans have been
    falling through, and scheduling lives around Christmas dendo in two
    areas has been a massive headache...but we are still alive and kicking
    and loving dendo and Christmas and we know the Lord has way more
    blessings in store than the adversity that has popped up. With Him we
    can definitely do all things.

    In Kawachinagano we have this super solid investigator named Kim from
    Korea that we committed to baptism when she knew it was true, and she
    looked at us like we were stupid and said "Of course". She is such a
    boss and loves the church and the teachings but doesn't think she has
    gotten an answer yet. Please keep her in your prayers! Also in Sakai
    there is this lady that was a friend of a member that came to the Open
    House and wants to meet with us and start taking lessons. So excited
    for that and just love dendo so much.

    Well is Christmas this week! If you know me at all, you
    know this is my favorite time of the year by FAR. I love everything
    about Christmas and at first I was a little nervous to be away from
    home at this time, but now I know there is nowhere I would rather be.
    I have never felt so close to my Savior at His special season, and I
    just know He is here and this is His gospel and as we seek Him like
    the wise men of old, even now, we will always find Him.
    He is the gift, of that I wholeheartedly testify. I am sure I sound
    like a broken record, but He is our Savior and our Redeemer. He not
    only suffered and died for us to live with Him again, but He lived so
    that He can show us how. He means everything to me and is the light of
    my world and the reason for this special season. Please keep Him in
    your heart and your homes during this special season. As you do so, I
    promise you will have the merriest Christmas of all :)

    So much love to all of you and wishing you the happiest of holidays.
    Make sure you all eat some Christmassy food for me and share the light
    of the Savior and all you missionaries out there, enjoy your Skype
    call. MERRY CHRISTMAS! Aishiteimasu!

    Sister Pickering

    P.S. Today for P day a member took us and the elders to Costco and it
    was the happiest day of my life. It was so American I wanted to cry
    haha. Please enjoy various photos. The dark haired one is Smith Shimai
    and the taller one is Manwill Shimai. ALSO Gibson Shimai and I rock
    the rain suits over our winter coats, we know haha.

    They take raincoats seriously in Japan
    They are full body rain suits.

    Choose your crab . . .
    Alyssa loves the Japanese Cuisine

    Sotoma Kyodai

    A piece of home.

    Wednesday, December 14, 2016

    I LOVE CHRIST(MAS):Nihon Week 40

     If I could use one word to describe Alyssa and her week it would be JOY.  I can read it in her email and see it in her face in her many many pictures.  She is truly happy which makes me so happy.  She loves her ward, her companions, the culture, the people in general, and of course the Gospel and the Savior.  At this time of year I couldn't ask for a better gift.  Now if only I could get names and places to go along with the pictures she takes. :)

    I also received an email and pictures this week from another lovely member of the Sakai ward.  I am so grateful for them.  Here it is:



    I'm sister Kawakami who are a member of the church attending Sakai ward.

    I just wanted to tell you that how much sister Pickering is beautiful and she speaks very good Japanese!!

    I'm in primary so I don't have very many chances to talk to missionaries anymore but she is doing really good.

    They are going to Kyoto today, I'm sure she is enjoying it! I wanted to go with them but I have work so too bad 😭

    Have a good evening!

    RIRIKO  Kawakami

    Aren't people wonderful?  And of course her group email:

    Minasan, konnichiwa!

    First of all, I have an onegai for everyone. I received word this week
    that my ward mission leader from my first area has been hospitalized
    after having a brain hemorrhage this week...if y'all wouldn't mind
    keeping a Brother Inamori in your prayers, I would be mighty

    This week was so busy and so wonderful! It was a little different
    because we had two full days out of our area, but we still managed to
    see so many miracles and tender mercies from our Heavenly Father.
    So first and foremost...we spent two days in Wakayama this week!
    Wakayama is the zone leader area here in the Sakai zone and it is
    super pretty and right by the ocean. On Wednesday we had Zone
    Conference, and then on Friday we had Zone Training Meeting and both
    were wonderful! Of course I loved Wednesday the most because we had
    the chance to learn from our wonderful mission president and his wife.
    I love the Welches! The theme of this past conference was Faith and
    Repentance, and together we really dissected the topic and discussed
    what it looks like for us as missionaries and how we can better
    improve by using more faith and repenting more. I learned so many
    things! It was so neat and as a follow up, as a mission we are all
    going through the Book of Mormon together again this time with a focus
    on faith and Repentance...I am so excited for this reading and to see
    all the things we have to learn!

    I know on my mission my perception
    and understanding of these topics have grown leaps and bounds and I am
    so grateful. I now have a better understanding of faith and how to use
    it in my daily life and dendo, and I especially have come to love
    Repentance. It is the best! It is just a daily consistent change that
    allows us to become more like our Savior. All we need to do is try a
    little better to be tomorrow who we weren't today, and that is enough.
    Christ will always help us as we strive and make efforts to be more
    like Him.
    We also talked a lot about angels, and how they are present
    in our mission every single day. I know that to be true! Whether it is
    the mysterious motorcycle dude that fixes my broken bike or a member
    that drives us around all day to visit less actives, there are angels
    that walk around every single day in the Japan Kobe Mission, and the
    only question we have is whether or not we will recognize them.

    After the conference I got to go on a nice long walk and have a good
    life chat with Sister Welch while my companion had her final
    interview. Gibson Shimai will be heading home to America this week,
    and I will miss her lots! We have had a good four weeks together and
    have seen lots of miracles and I can't wait to hear all about her next
    transfer to America where she gets to pick out her next companion ;)
    that being said I have no idea where I will be this week! I don't know
    if another sister will come to me in Sakai or if I will go somewhere
    or if I will become a threesome with the STL's until the end of the
    year! Regardless God is in charge and it will be a fun adventure no
    matter what happens, so stay tuned to see what happens there! I am
    praying to stay here in Sakai because this ward is phenomenal and I
    hope to keep working with them until the end of the year to see this

    So this weekend our ward put on a church open house for the community
    and members and everyone to come and see! The ward members did a
    wonderful job and our church was literally transformed into Temple
    Square for like two days haha. There were displays about Christ and
    the Book of Mormon in the gym area and then in the chapel we had a
    Nativity and a Christmas tree and Christmas videos playing. The whole
    setup was so perfect and everyone loved it! Sister Gibson and I were
    so so busy as we ran around like crazy and gave tours to everyone that
    came in. I was SO PROUD of the Sakai members! They all did their best
    to invite their less active and nonmember friends, and we saw a lot of
    success from it! A lot of less actives had super touching experiences
    and expressed a desire to return, and likewise we got so many new and
    potential investigators from the open house. It literally was just two
    days straight of miracles. At the end of the whole thing, we ended up
    receiving 14 new referrals that were friends of members that they
    brought us to teach, and it was just so amazing!
    I know with all of my
    heart that as we continue to work with the members here in Japan, this
    will become one of the highest baptizing missions in the world. That
    has been prophesied and that day will come and I feel blessed to see
    just a little part of it here on my mission now. It was super funny
    though because one of the tours we ended up giving happened to be to
    the mayor of of our members is his neighbor and he just
    went for it and invited him, and he showed up! They asked us to come
    and give him this tour and we had no idea why everyone was being so
    formal and bowing so much and using WAY formal speech and then only
    afterwards when we were told who the guy is! It was funny though
    because we became friends and invited him to church and I am fairly
    confident that soon enough the city of Sakai's official religion will
    become Mormonism haha.

    This Christmas season has been just amazing. I have never felt more
    close to my Savior at Christmas ever, and that is just the greatest
    blessing of all. As we were giving tours to all these people, members
    and nonmembers alike, the Spirit would just testify to me that Jesus
    really is the Christ and that He is our Savior and is the light of the
    world and the reason for the season. I cannot adequately put into
    words the feelings that I have for my Savior. It has grown so much on
    my mission and my goal is to develop a relationship here that will
    continue to go stronger for the rest of my life. I love my Savior,
    Jesus Christ with my whole heart. He is Christmas and He is everything
    to me, and I feel so blessed to be His representative during this
    special season.

    Hope you all have a wonderful week and that you continue to Light the
    World! Aishiteimasu, minasan!

    Sister Pickering

    P.S. Today for P day we went....wait for it wait for it...back to
    Kyoto haha. Nobody in my district has ever been before and Gibson
    Shimai wanted to go before she we went with the elders and
    Sakagami Shimai (a ward member) and met up with Fujii a Shimai, my
    last companion! Such a great day and so much fun!

    What a wonderful picture.  This shows love for former companions,  the wear and tear on her missionary clothes, and Alyssa actually looks tall which she isn't at all.
    The Sakai Ward Open House
    Look at the size of this mural.  The ward really went all out.

    Kids are the same everywhere.
    Alyssa's popularity continues with her blonde hair.

    Zone conference
    Alyssa had the opportunity to visit a Japanese hospital to have a Ganglion Cyst removed.  In the end, the outcome was a big needle in her hand, lots of pain and not much success.  A memory for the books though.

    Alyssa loves her sushi bars.