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Sunday, January 31, 2016

Questionnaire #2

So here is my advice from a one missionary mom to others.  I would highly recommend sending a questionnaire to your missionary to fill out.  Not only does it insure that you get actually snail mail, but you can also get those questions answered that your missionary often forgets to share.  I gives me a more in depth picture of what Alyssa's day to day life is like in the MTC.






I have also included her latest actual letter to us.  It includes a more thorough description of her district.  I have seen so many pictures and yet still didn't know who is who.  Now I do.



Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Language Mishaps, A New Calling and Families are Forever

I found this past week quite interesting.   I think reality is sinking in that Alyssa is going to be gone for awhile.  Combine that with January blahs and I found that these past few days were a little harder than it has been for me.  Well, wouldn't you know that Alyssa was also feeling somewhat the same.  It is kind of like E.T. (we are sharing the same emotions) :)  I am so grateful that she was able to snap out of it and so have I.  The Lord knows what we need,  and sometimes it is just  hard work and a whole lot of prayer.  Here is an excerpt from her letter to me:

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE LETTERS AND THE PACKAGE!  It made my entire day. (The majority of her package were her socks from home.  It is the little things . . .) The choros always get super pumped when I get a package because they know it means memes and candy, and they were stoked about both. I shared the brownies and they died because they were so delicious, so thank you so very much.
Life here is good, but this week was rough.  I was struggling with the language and there was one day where my motivation was zero and I didn't want to be here.  I didn't have the spirit and it was a struggle.  But through prayer and reading and pondering, I got back to where I needed to be and I recommitted.  This work was not meant to be easy, because salvation is not a cheap experience, and I know that is true.

I like what she said, "that salvation is not a cheap experience".   Isn't that the truth?  We have all felt it at times.  It takes continual work and a whole lot of faith.  Now on to her more detailed letter:

Alyssa's favorite place.  I love to see the Mickey Band-Aid on her finger because it helps me see that she is still Alyssa.
Konnichiwa Minasan!
I can't believe it is already P day!  Time here is so trippy, each day feels like a hundred years but the weeks just fly by...it is already almost February, that is absolutely insane!
This week was super good but also super difficult.  Some random highlights include:
-Breaking the MTC record for sisters in the soccer juggle and mile run (I am not going to even tell you my time or number on either one of those because they are embarrassingly bad, but hey I was bored in gym one day.  The moral of the story kids, is don't get out of shape after high school!!!) My name is on a board and it made me happy and pretend to have a regular life for two seconds.
-My companion and I got pulled out of class one day to be in a photo shoot for a new missionary website...basically we went out by this random tree and pretended to pray in the snow, but hey, look for us on the world wide web now!
-Sister training leaders! Tupuola Shimai and I were made the sister training leaders of our branch this week which basically means we are the sister equivalent of zone leaders.  We are over all the sisters in our zone and it is a lot of fun and a great opportunity to serve, I love it a lot.  We get to train and teach and interview people and it is wonderful. I cannot wait until we get new missionaries in next week!
-Our senpai left this week to Japan, so we are now the oldest missionaries in the Japanese zones. It was really sad because they were so much fun and we loved them a lot, but it was time for them to move on to bigger and better things.
-Celebrating a birthday of one of the choros in the district.  Some moms smuggled us in cake and martinellis and we really had a party. Super good time!
Okay those were just some random happenings of my week, so now on to the good stuff: the Nihongo update and the Spiritual stuff.
As far as the Nihongo...it is really hard. I kind of hit a wall this week and there was one day where I was just like "I do not even want to be doing this anymore."  But, through a lot of prayer and reading the Book of Mormon I was comforted and reinvigorated and I have actually learned a lot.  It is easy to get discouraged because I feel like I don't know anything, but then I just take a step back and think about where I started.  The gift of tongues is real and it manifests itself when I have the courage and the faith to actually open my mouth and attempt to speak in Nihongo.  I have learned that the Lord will ALWAYS help you with the language when you are attempting to testify and teach by the spirit.  It is such a blessing, and I know that someday I will feel confident in this language so long as I try and always have the spirit with me and rely on the Lord.  We still have plenty of humorous experiences with the language though.  Earlier this week Tupuola Shimai and I accidentally mislead our Buddhist investigator Asakura Kyodai and told him that essentially we lived as scary ghosts in the premortal life, and the entire lesson we basically just preached that we lived as monsters with God up in the clouds before this life #apostasy #falsedoctrine.  When we got out of the lesson we laughed for a solid five minutes because sometimes you can either laugh or cry, and we choose to laugh. I also accidentally testified to my district that this church doesn't receive revelation or have priesthood authority. Yeah it was an interesting one but luckily I am not the only one to make such ridiculous mistakes and we can laugh it off.  I really am learning and I really do love Nihongo, especially praying.  It is SO cool getting to pray in another language.  I love it so much. 
Okay this week was also crazy spiritual and built my testimony so much.  Last Wednesday we had the opportunity to listen to the Worldwide Missionary Broadcast and I learned SO much. We got to sing "Called to Serve" altogether and it was neat knowing that I was singing that song with my homies all over the world whether they be in Peru, El Salvador, Indiana, Lousiana, or anywhere else I can think of.  The broadcast was of the importance of teaching repentance and baptizing converts, and what really stuck out to me was the idea of reactivating less active members. Japan is really struggling with inactivity right now especially among their youth, and I am super fired up to go and love them and try and bring them home.  Every one of those individuals is a child of God and was somebody else's convert, and I want to do everything I can to bring them home. 
Another very spiritual experience I had was yesterday when I was preparing a lesson.  We were going to teach on eternal families because our new investigator Nagau Kyodai lost his wife to cancer and is feeling very lonely and sad.  We prepared this whole lesson and it came time for me to write out my testimony of families in Nihongo.  As I struggled and did it, I felt the spirit testify to me SO strongly that families really are forever, and what a blessing that is.  Through this gospel we CAN be with our loved ones again. I was struggling this week with missing my family, but as I prepared this lesson and testified of its truth, I was so filled with comfort as I was reminded that I left my family for a short season so that I may help others be with their loved ones for eternity.  
Watashi no mokuteki wa, hitobito ni Kirisuto no moto e kuru yo susumeru koto desu. Sono tame ni watashi wa Iesu Kirisuto to Kirisuto to aganai, kuiaratame, baputesuma, Seirei no tamamono o ukeru koto, saigo made taeshinobu koto o toshite, karera ga kaifuku sareta fukuin o ukeirerareuru yo tasukeru no desu. 
I love you all so much, and my prayers are with you.  This church is so so so so true, and I testify that it WILL change your life if only you allow it to.  
Aishiteimasu,
Sister Pickering


Westlake cross-country peeps.
 

Sisters from her Zone
Missionaries from her zone that are on their way to Japan.  Alyssa's group is now the "oldest" Japanese speakers in the MTC.
I never knew a planning meeting could be this much fun.
Some kind of Japanese product
Candid shot with mouth open as usual
Tupuola Shimai and Pickering Shimai
Apparently Alyssa has as phone now that she is a Sister Training Leader.  I am not sure who she actually calls with that phone though. 
The early bird captures the worm or at least the washing machines in the MTC
Pure joy that comes from receiving a package full of your own socks from back home.


Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Gift of Tongues and Temple Blessings

As much as I love receiving an email on p-days, I so much more enjoy receiving an actual letter, from my missionary, in the mail.  I must be old school but there is nothing quite like reading about Alyssa's experiences and testimony in her own handwriting.  I have read and reread the letter so many times and it never ceases to amaze me how close I feel to her and how much growth and maturity she is gaining every day.  It is has only been just over two weeks and I can honestly say that I can't imagine it getting any better than this.  And yet,  I am sure it will and I have faith that it will.  I am going to put just a few excerpts from her letter here on the blog.  I would love to talk to anyone in person if you would like to know more in depth of the miracles she experienced this week.

"I love having lots of time to benkyo (study) the fukin (gospel) every single day, because I learn something new every time, which is suburashii!  This week I learned lots about Iesu Kirisuto no aganai (Jesus Christ's Atonement) and that has been very special.  I have learned that Serei (the Holy Ghost) will ALWAYS Akashi (testify) of Iesu Kirisuto, warashitachi no sukuinuishi (our Savior).  If you want to feel mitame (the spirit), study the aganai.  You will gain a much greater appreciation for what He sacrificed  for each and every one of us, and you will love Him even more! 

I also have really strengthened my Akashi of Igen no tamamono (the gift of tongues) this week.  All things considered, especially with the fact that I have zero background in nihongo, I am doing very well, and it is all thanks to Ten no Otosama (Heavenly Father).  My comprehension is excellent when it comes to vocab,  I am beginning to really understand the grammar, and I understand what is being said to me.  My Sensei told my district that I am a living example of igen no tamamono, and for that I am so grateful.  Not that is isn't muzukashi because it totally is, but Ten no Otosama is blessing me very step of the way, and it is truly a miracle."

I just wanted to say thank you to all of you again.  I know many are praying for Alyssa and especially for help with the Japanese language.  I am sure your prayers are being answered and that they are making a huge impact on Alyssa's life.  You are part of the miracle.  :)

The rest of the letter was in regards to an amazing experience she had at the Temple.  Alyssa has a great love for the Temple and it doesn't surprise me that deep spiritual experiences happen to her while she is there.  Roger sent her with a stack of family names to do while in the MTC and she has been sharing them with her District.  This past week  she had a very sacred and remarkable thing happen and certain members of her district were also involved.  I am sorry that I can't go into more details here.  However,  I know that she would want you all to know how strong of a testimony she has of the Temple and the work that we do there.  She would testify that there are people waiting on the other side that need our help and need the Gospel.  She would say that Family History work is so important and if we seek to do it in earnest, we will feel the guiding presence of angels, of our ancestors.  She wants to encourage us all to do family history work and pray to feel that our families are being united. 

I am in awe of the spiritual giant that my daughter is becoming.  I know I can learn from her and that even though I am not on a mission at this time,  I can still grow and progress and strive to strengthen my testimony and experiences in the Gospel here at home.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Fukuin wa jinsei desu (Gospel is Life)

 
 
 
Well another week down and another great letter.  I am just so happy to hear that Alyssa is loving the MTC and the people she is with every day.  I totally understand the reference to Groundhogs Day because I remember feeling that as well.  The big difference though is that most of what she is experiencing is positive rather than crazy like the movie.  And it looks like the Japanese is coming along nicely.  Google translate isn't my friend when it comes to Japanese so hopefully you all have better luck figuring out what she is trying to say some of the time.
 
I am going to post a short message from her letter to me because it seems to sum everything up in a simple phrase:
 
Hi Mommy!
I am doing super well.  I am so tired and sometimes crazy frustrated with myself and the language, but I am also always happy.  I didn't consider myself an unhappy person from before, but I don't think I have ever laughed or smiled more in my entire life here.  Living with the spirit is really the best way to live.
 
I hope we can all remember that living with the spirit is really the best way to live.  It is obviously working for her :)
 
Now for her letter:
 
Konnichiwa minasan!
Ogenki desu ka?  Genki desu, and I am still super pumped and happy to be here!  I just wanted to take a minute and say thank you for all of the prayers, the love, and support that I have been receiving and feeling. It means the world to me and is a great motivator when things get rough.  Also to everyone that has sent me mail, THANK YOU!  Mail might be the lifeblood of the MTC (secondary to the spirit, of course), and it makes my day like 900 times better when I get to hear from all of you.  If you don't know what Dear Elder is also, investigate that, because it is a beautiful free mail service that delivers to the MTC no charge and you just type it as an email.  If you want to let me know what is up throughout the week, that is the best way to do it!  Anyways, thank you all again so much!  Aishiteimasu!
This week was super great, although admittedly my days are starting to blur together here a little bit because we do so many similar things.  My district and I decided that our MTC experience is a mixture of the movies "Groundhogs Day" and "The Village", and if you have seen those movies, there is my life in a nutshell right now haha.  I seriously love it here though.  The spirit is incredible and we have had so many amazing opportunities!
My companion and my district are still great, we really are kazoku here.  All the choros call me mom because they forget to do things like 24/7 and I have become the voice of reason when they want to do things like dare each other to eat a whole stick of chalk (which they did anyways, because I was teaching my kyudosha and wasn't in the room).  Overall we are still having so much fun though!  My branch is also great, and we are the "special" Japanese branch because we get all the native speakers in our branch.  This week we got 6 Nihongin in our branch, and I love them!  They are so funny and nice and their testimonies have been inspiring to me.  The Nihongin people are amazing, I just love them so much already!
Tupuola Shimai and I had some great lessons with our kyudosha this week, and the last one in particular was super powerful.  It was the first time we shared personal experiences in Nihongo and the Seirei was very strong and we all cried, and then she asked to offer the prayer, which she did and it was a very tender experience that made me love teaching even more.  You can only imagine our surprise when the next day to find out that "Takahashi Shimai", our cute little investigator, was actually our 3rd Sensei, Kawamura Shimai.  Plot twist of the week right there! We all laughed about our experiences as we failed to teach what we wanted to, and she gave us some great feedback.  I seriously love her, she is so cute and awesome.  On that note, we start teaching 2 new kyudoshas this week, and it was kind of a spiritual experience finding out because it is just our senseis acting, but they are acting as real investigators that they taught on their dendobus.  They just bore their testimonies of the realities of these people, and how much they loved them, and they plead with us to love them so much because they are Ten no Otosama no kodomo.  It was a very special experience to "meet" them.
Oh! I finally know hirigana know (one of the Japanese alphabets), so that is very very happy!  I can finally read the hymn book and sing in sacrament, as well as read things that sensei writes on the board, so it is wonderful.  Nihongo is super tough, but I am really loving it.  All of my prayers are completely in Nihongo, and the gift of tongues is soooooo real.  Such a blessing.
Finally one more experience/thought, this week at Sunday night devotional we had the chance to hear from Sister Janice Kapp Perry and her sweet husband.  They were too cute, and serious relationship goals.  She spoke about song and testimonies and the importance of being involved in our missions with our whole hearts.  We sang a medley of her songs, and then at the very end we sang the EFY Medley, and I have never felt the spirit so strongly through music.  I had chills and everyone was crying and it was amazing how the spirit chooses to testify.
Well, that about sums up my week!  I am so happy here and I wouldn't want to be anywhere else.  Being a seknyoshi is such an amazing experience, and I encourage EVERYBODY reading this to be a missionary, whether full-time someday or in their daily lives.  The Lord has so many people He wants to be blessed, and He needs all of our help to share His light and His love.
Watashi wa Iesu Kirisuto ga Sukuinuishi da to akashi shimasu.  Watashi wa Kamisama a Ten no Otosama da to akashi shimasu. Watashi wa Morumon Sho go shinjitsu da to shitte imasu.  Watashi wa Josefu Sumisu ga yogensha datta to shitte imasu.  Watashi wa fukuin ga shinjitsu da to akashi shimasu.  Iesu Kirisuto no mina ni yotte akashi shimasu, amen.
Aishiteimasu,
Sister Pickering
 
 
 
 
 
 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Questionnaire

I knew that Alyssa would only have so much time on the computer to read and answer all of her emails.  So I sent her a questionnaire that she could fill in while doing laundry or whatever else.  Alyssa is very descriptive, if not thorough.  I didn't realize that I should have left a whole lot more of blank space for her answers.   Don't get me wrong,  I am grateful for her willingness to answer all of my questions.  I felt that this was a good way to learn more about her day to day experiences.  Because it was so long,  we took a picture rather than trying to retype everything.  I hope you all can read it. If you click it, then it blows it up a little bigger.
 
 
 
 


Wednesday, January 13, 2016

First Pday Truly Felt Like Christmas

Well it has finally been a week and seeing an email from my daughter was even better than Christmas.  I knew that she would be doing well but it was just nice to have it reconfirmed in her own words.
 
I gave Alyssa a substantial amount of advice before she left but the one thing that I reiterated over and over was to write specifics and take a lot of pictures.  So far so good.  I love it!
 
 
 
 
 
Konnichiwa Everybody!
I am so happy to say that I successfully survived my first week of the MTC!  It has been a complete rollercoaster of emotions with laughter and tears and the spirit and frustration but I have overall come to the conclusion that I LOVE being a missionary!
My companion is named Tupuola Shimai and she is from Hawaii, but is Samoan and speaks Samoan which is super awesome. I absolutely adore her.  She is the perfect example of quiet dignity and has this amazing ability to love everybody that she comes into contact with. She has been such a tender mercy because I have learned so much from her, and our companionship is super strong. I love her to pieces and we get along great. 
My district is also fantastic. We have six choros with us named Trinca,Korth, Bodily, Philburn, Perez, and Johnson. They are all great guys and wonderful missionaries. We work really hard when the time calls for it, but we also know how to goof off and have a blast. It is crazy how something like the MTC can really bond people together, because we are all as close as Kazoku already.  Since Tupuola Shimai and I are the only sisters in the district, they really watch out for us also. The other day we were playing volleyball and I almost got spiked in the face by this crazy intense guy from the Marshall Islands, and Perez Choro (our district leader) went over there and was like "Hey! Don't you mess with my sister!" Needless to say I am being loved and watched out for.
 Somebody wise once told me that the Japanese missionaries are the best guessers, and how true that is.  I feel like sometimes I spend half of the day trying to guess what is being said in class while our Sensei gestures wildly.Oh the joys of learning Nihongo...it is tough you guys.  Holy cow. So the MTC has implemented this program called SYL which means Speak Your Language, and so essentially our senseis NEVER speak to us in English.  The first day I sort of wanted to cry because I had NO clue what was being said, but it is catching on. The thing that kills me is that Japanese makes NO sense if you have grown up speaking English, because the sentence structure is super wacked out and backwards.  It is kind of crazy to learn, but sooo gratifying when something finally clicks.  I am actually amazed at how fast I am learning, and it has seriously strengthened my testimony of Igen no Tamamono.  We have tons of funny experiences with it though. We made our district motto "Kamisama ni tayoru tokini hitoride wa arimasen", which basically means "When you rely on the Lord, you are never alone", but originally we messed up and wrote it so that it said "When you rely on the Lord, you are always alone" and we were so proud of ourselves and we kept telling everybody that...thank heavens for a Sensei who eventually corrected us! The choros also have fun teaching.  One companionship in particular, Philburn and Bodily always have issues explaining things so they usually end up pantomiming ridiculous things and we get a good kick out of it. 
The spirit here is so neat. It is awesome being in a place where everyone has made the same covenants that you have, and wants to love the Lord and work hard. I have had so many great experiences already, and it has changed me so much in only the one week I have been here. 
My schedule changes from day to day but it essentially includes A TON of class (like 6 or 7 hours), PE, study time, meals, and teaching. We already have an investigator named Takahashi Shimai, and she is so sweet.  We started teaching her on our 2nd day here which was crazy, because she doesn't know any English and so it was totally in Nihongo. It was super hard at first but it is getting better, and the Lord helps us out sooooooooo much. I can actually understand what she is saying probably 98% of the time, just responding is the issue. But it is coming along and has been such a wonderful experience. 
The worst part of my week was finding out that Alabama won the National Championship game (Sorry not sorry Spence, love you anyways), but the highlight was definitely in my 4th lesson when I offered my first prayer entirely in Japanese without help or cheating.  It was INCREDIBLE and I felt the spirit so strongly. I am truly beginning to love this language. 
This week has been kind of exciting at the MTC because 6 of the 12 apostles are here training the new international MTC directors, so last night we had the wonderful opportunity to hear from Elder Neil L. Andersen. His talk really changed my whole outlook on missionary work and myself in general. He very simply told us that our primary calling is to preach of Christ. Not to teach, not to speak Japanese, but to talk of Christ ALL THE TIME. That was a wonderful reminder for me because I have had a bad habit of getting caught up in the Japanese that sometimes I can forget why I am here: To invite and to help others come unto Christ.  And what a blessing that is! I love waking up everyday and getting to put the Savior's name on my chest.  It is truly such a privilege, and I love being a missionary more than anything.
Well, that about sums my week up! Thank you for all the support and the love and the prayers, because it truly means the world to me. I am so grateful for all of you and all you do. 
Iesu Kirisuto wa watashitachi no Againuishi desu to shitte imasu.  Seirei ni yotte kore ga shinjitsu de aru koto o shitte imasu.  Iesu Kirisuto o aishiteimasu.  Fukuin o kansha shitte imasue.  Iesu Kirisuto no mina ni yotte o-akashi shimasu, amen.
Aisheteimasu!
Sister Pickering.
 
 


It's official.  Look at that tag.
 



The ever famous pictures in front of the World Map.  It is tradition in the MTC.
 







 




 








This is her zone on a Sunday visit to the temple.










I received a follow up email with this important piece of information:

Oh one more thing I forgot that is kinda cool!  My branch presidency is awesome, and in my branch presidency are Collinsworth Kyodai and Collinsworth Shimai.  They are the parents of the BYU Kyle Collinsworth (I know, I got so freaking excited) and they adopted me as their daughter here.  They give me all the sports updates I need, and take good care of me.  They are my MTC parents and I love them.  They even told me they are going to bring Kyle to meet my district because I am such a big BYU sports fan haha.  Such a good time!




So one of Alyssa's favorite movies is Napoleon Dynamite.  I sent her this Meme for kicks and giggles.  And she sent this picture of some Elders reenacting the scene.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

First Letter

We received our first letter today.  It was short and sweet but wonderful to hear that she is doing well.



Hi Family!
I got a few minutes to tell you guys that I am alive and well.  My companion is Sister Tupuola from Hawaii but she is Samoan and she is super chill.  We get along super well and we are the only sisters in our district.  Yesterday I was actually a solo companion for the majority of the day because her flights were delayed so all the elders were designated as my "bodyguards" so it was kind of crazy.  This morning we already had our schedule played with to go on splits with the STL's, but it is all good.  I am happy and doing well and love being a missionary!  This is where I am supposed to be and everyone is so happy and nice to me.  Yes the first lesson was entirely in Japanese, no English, and I was sooooo lost haha.  No clue what was even going on so that was an adventure, but it will be okay.  Hopefully it goes better with the help of the Lord today!  I am excited to learn!  
I love you all, I am praying for you so much and hope all is well.  Have a wonderful day and I will email you on Wednesday which is my P Day!  Tell everyone that I love them so much and so does Heavenly Father!
Aisheteimasu!
Sister Pickering
 
Of course being the good mother that I am,  I already Facebook stalked her companion.  She is from Kailua-Kona on the Big Island of Hawaii.  She is going to the Tokyo South Mission.  She should offer Alyssa a great experience of getting to know a new culture and background.  It should be an adventure.  I can't wait until Wednesday to hear more of the details.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

MTC Adress

For those wishing to write to Alyssa  here is her MTC Address:

Sister Alyssa Pickering
MAR09 JPN-KOB
2005 N. 900 E., Unit 40
Provo, Utah  84602

This is for those that wish to send her letters or packages directly.  Of course you can always email her at alyssa.pickering@myldsmail.net.  This obviously goes straight to her email that she can read on her p-days.

There is one more convenient and nice option for sending her a letter.  If you go to the website: www.dearelder.com  it will give you the opportunity of sending a letter for free.  Basically you type your letter on their page and they will then print it out and deliver it daily to Alyssa.  That way she gets a hard copy of your letter (with no need for a stamp) and not just on p-days.  It has helped me feel like she is not so far away :)

Happy writing!

And So It Begins

Well after months of waiting and anticipation the moment finally arrived to say goodbye.  I am not going to lie and say it was easy.  It wasn't.  There was sadness and aching and it felt as if a piece of me was being left behind.  But at the same time, there was excitement, anticipation and peace.  It is hard to explain but true.  I finally have a bit more understanding and empathy for every parent that has done this before.  I never truly understood.  And even though I left as a missionary,  I didn't comprehend what it was like being on the other side.  I would describe it as bittersweet. 

Honestly though, there is no other place I would want her to be at this time of her life.  My mission changed me in so many ways.  I think about it every day.  Who I am and what I do and how I do it, all stems from the things I learned in that short time of my life.  I cannot wait to see the remarkable young lady that will return in 18 months.

We followed the typical pattern of most missionaries by going to the Provo Temple grounds to say our goodbyes.  It was a beautiful winter afternoon and the backdrop was gorgeous.  I already treasure the pictures that we took there.  Alyssa had a chance to say goodbye to each one individually.  I was especially touched by the tenderness and love shared between the siblings.  My heart was full.

We dragged it out as long as possible and then we got back into the car to make the shortest yet longest drive of my life.  Alyssa composed herself and was ready. 

When we arrived at the MTC, it was crazy with cars, new missionaries, volunteers, families and missionaries currently serving.  We pulled into our spot and an eager young Elder came right over to help Alyssa with her bags.  He noticed Roger's Ohio State shirt and said "Go Buckeyes".  This lead to a brief discussion of where he is from and it turns out that not only is he from Ohio but Westerville, and actually lives in Roger's Mom's ward.  In fact he was her home teacher for awhile.  Some might say that it was coincidental that out of all the missionaries helping we got one with a direct connection to Alyssa's Grammy.  I would say it was a tender mercy of the Lord.  It eased all fear and anxiousness at that moment and my last view of my daughter was her walking away, excitedly talking with this Elder and not looking back.  I know that Lord is aware of each of us and sends us those we need at just the right time.

So it is official.  Pickering Shimai is has begun her journey.  I am so excited to hear about the many experiences ahead.






This picture makes me smile.  Apparently it is a Japanese culture thing to show peace signs in your photos.  As a family we have been perfecting the technique over the last 4 months


Final Family Photo for 18 months



I love these photos with her Dad.



Sisterly Love





Whether Ryan chooses to admit it or not, he is going to miss his sister.







Siblings










  One last hug.




This is Elder Young from Westerville, Ohio.






 Alyssa didn't even turn back.  She was ready.