Wednesday, February 10, 2016


From Alyssa's various letters she seems to be doing so well.  She has reiterated over and over again about how much she loves to teach and how well the language is going for her.  But more importantly she continues to talk about breaking through spiritual barriers.  She is learning so much about the power of discernment and also to act on the promptings she receives.  This will be an invaluable tool for her as a missionary and probably the most important thing she can learn.

So in her letter home she shared an interesting experience.  Here are some of her words:
"So I want to share with you an experience from earlier this week.  I had the really cute idea one night that I was going to stop saying anything negative. I wasn't going to let one complaint come from my mouth, because everything here was so dandy and happy and wonderful, and I thought it would be easy. Wednesday night I let my Heavenly Father know that in my prayers, and then I went to bed.
I don't know if it was Heavenly Father testing my resolve or the adversary trying to mess with me, but Thursday was ROUGH, and like everything seemed to go wrong. I couldn't remember Nihongo, I dropped my body wash and broke it, I had a really poor lesson, my skirt broke (or rather the zipper did, the Mika Rose one, actually it was the second one to do it so I might need you to send me some safety pins so I can just pin the zipper and deal with it), my broken body wash leaked all over my closet and made everything a mess, and the list goes on and on. I was SO unbelievably frustrated, but I was determined to stick to my goal.  No matter how bad things got, I resolved to not let a single negative word come from my mouth, all day long, even when I was frustrated and REALLY wanted to complain. 
The moral of the story is that my situation never changed through my attitude, but my outlook did. I was able to handle each situation with a lot more grace than I would have otherwise, and it honestly didn't stop me having a good day, despite all the hardships. It made me realize that so often I would let little things ruin my mood, and how stupid is that?  I am trying to still be better, and I think it is making a lot of difference."
Isn't that crazy?  Something you try to teach your child their whole life and in the end she had to figure it out for herself.  God doesn't take away hardships or trials or even bad days.  But, if we have the right attitude we can still find joy and happiness or even hope when necessary.  That is something we can all try and remember because challenging days are not exclusive to missionaries.
Her is an excerpt from another letter regarding a conversation with a member of her branch presidency:
"One final thing is a conversation that I had with Collinsworth Kyodai last night about how I tend to be a stubborn person, and so maybe me going to Japan was a humbling mechanism.  He shook his head at me, looked me in the eyes and said "Sister Pickering, you are NOT going to Japan to be humbled. You are going to go there and break through barriers that have been placed that nobody has been able to break through before. You are going to show people that they are loved and remind them who they are like nobody else can.  THAT is why you are going to Japan." And that really resonated with me. Every single day I am convinced even more that Japan is where I need to be, even though I never would have picked it out for myself. God knows me and knows what I want, and I feel so blessed to be here and to be able to serve there."
I am grateful for inspired leaders and people that are put in her path to bless her and strengthen her when she needs it the most.
And finally, her parting words say it all:
 "As hard as it is every single day and as much as I miss you guys though, I know that this is where I need to be. I love teaching and I love this gospel and I am already learning so much. It is an amazing experience and I know that Heavenly Father knew that I really needed it to grow up a little." 

Amen to that!  Now for her weekly letter:

Konnichiwa Minasan!
Before I say anything else, quick shout out to one of my best and most dearest friends Makayla Ann Long who received her mission call this week going to the BRAZIL MANAUS MISSION!  I am so happy and proud of her, and I know that she will do AMAZING things down there in the Amazon jungle. Everybody keep me up to date on the mission scene, because I love to know!
So this week had a bunch of milestones that happened!  I hit my one month mark of being in the mission, which is just crazy, I cannot believe how fast it is going. Life here in the MTC is a time warp, I will be the first to preach to that. Secondly, we hit our halfway mark through the MTC! As grand as this place is and I really do love it, I am so stoked to get to Japan and get to work. I am starting to go a tiny bit stir crazy, but it is okay because I am learning lots and the spirit is awesome. The MTC is really what you make it, so I am trying to focus on having a positive attitude about it all and it really helps. 
As far as actual events that happened last week we got a brand new district of Nihongin into our zone, and I love them with my whole heart.  There are 4 Choros named Takamasa Choro from Dublin Ohio (Go Bucks), Tamura Choro from Japan, Watanabe Choro from Japan, and Oliveira Choro from Brazil.  Takamasa speaks English fluently but the other three kind of struggle so I only speak to them in Japanese!  It is actually super cool and fun and I end up pantomiming a lot, but they are so nice and patient with me! They are all so kind and humble and funny and I love getting to teach them things like how you don't eat tater tots with a fork and knife. Needless to say I love the Japanese people more and more every single day, and I cannot WAIT to go to Japan in a little less than a month!  We also got word last night that next week we are receiving 2 new districts into our branch, and so we are officially senpai!  As Sister Training Leaders, Tupuola Shimai and I are especially stoked because we are getting in 10 new sisters! Fun fact, the MTC actually currently has more sister missionaries than elders right now #girlpower. Girls if you are thinking about serving, take it from me that it is awesome and you are needed and wanted and appreciated.  Truth be told there are just some things that elders aren't super great at, and we can touch hearts in a unique way. Serving a mission is super challenging, but it is also SO rewarding. Okay sorry I will get off my soapbox now! 
We also kind of adopted a fourth sensei named Edwards Shimai and she is the coolest.  Basically I just want to be her when I get off my mission, and so I talk to her a lot and get some great advice. I am learning so much and it is just awesome!
We had lots of opportunities to teach this week and it was the best, because teaching is my favorite thing to do. This week we got banned from taking our Japanese gospel phrase book to lessons and so we had to rely fully on the Lord, and it was amazing. We had our best lessons yet and the Spirit was there and unhindered and it was amazing. Tomorrow we are committing Nakau Kyodai to baptism, and we are just so excited. He is ready and wants to be with his wife again, and I have loved getting to get excited about the gospel again through him. We also did an exercise where we had like a few minutes to prep a brief lesson and then we randomly taught someone from our district. I prayed and felt prompted to teach on fasting, and then I felt prompted I had to teach Johnson Choro.  We did one-on-one in front of the class, and it was super awesome. The spirit was there and it was strong and we both got emotional because it ended up being just what he needed.  You guys, I promise that if you just listen to your investigator/friend/family member, and then listen to the spirit, you will learn EVERYTHING you need to to help them out. Heavenly Father loves each and every one of His children so personally, and He wants to use you as an instrument to share His love.  Don't be afraid to ask for promptings, but then act when you receive them, and I promise that you will see more tender mercies than you could even imagine. 
Another cool reminder I received this week is about the gospel in general.  Bingham Kyodai, one of my senseis shared some experiences with us, and then invited us to never be afraid to share the experiences that we have had in our lives.  He told us that the gospel is a personal thing because God and Christ know and love all of us personally, and so we shouldn't be afraid to share our experiences to help lift others up and let them know that they can see God in their lives in the exact same way.  You guys, that is so true.  Earlier this week I was having a rough day and I pleaded with God to help me feel the spirit as I prepared to teach, and I also prayed to receive a particular letter because I just wanted to feel His love.  Well I went into the lesson and had the chance to testify of the Savior multiple times super powerfully, and as I did, I felt the Savior's love for me so profoundly as He reminded me that His atonement is enough to strengthen me too, and I need to remember that as I testify to my investigators.  His love and His atonement is perfect for EVERYONE and you will receive strength as you use it.  After my lesson I headed back to my classroom, and sure enough the exact specific letter that I wanted and had been praying for and had not been expecting was sitting on my desk.  The Lord hears and answers our prayers, because HE LOVES US!  If I could get just one thing across to all of you, it would be that.  
Finally just one more thought (I am sorry, I am being so preachy today haha, I just love this gospel and this is what being a missionary does to you) is about the amazing chapter in the Book of Mormon called Jacob 5. Real talk, I used to hate that chapter.  It bored me to tears and I didn't understand it one bit. But through diligent prayerful study, it has quickly become one of my favorite chapters.  You can learn SO much about the nature of the Father in that chapter, and it is amazing. His abundant love for us is so apparent, and it motivates me to be better and to make Him proud. It also highlights the importance of missionary work, and if we are just willing to go out and work hard and labor for a season, we will be blessed beyond our comprehension. I invite you all to prayerfully read and study this chapter, and I promise that you will find something in there for you specifically.
Minasan, I love you all.  I pray for your well being and happiness daily. Thank you so much for all of the love and the support that you so constantly lend me, because it allows me to be strengthened beyond my own capacity. This gospel is true.  God's love is real. The atonement is amazing and repentance will CHANGE your life. You guys, I know this with my whole heart. I love this gospel with my whole heart and I am so filled with gratitude that I am able to preach it to the wonderful people of Japan.
I love you, all.  Keep being amazing and HAVE A HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!
Sister Pickering 

I think her cookie looks a lot like the Japanese Flag
Cookies for all
1 month down!
Sister Tupuloa
The District officially celebrating their half-way mark in the MTC
The doldrums of the MTC have struck.
Perez Choro
Trinca Choro

Self entertainment in the MTC???
Trinca Choro doing whatever it is that he does in life
Bodily Choro
Johnson Choro
Philburn Choro
Pickering Shimai

Alyssa's entire zone doing peace signs, including Collinsworth Kyodai from the Branch Presidency
The new Nihongin District; Tamura Choro, Oliveira Choro, Watanabe Choro and Takasama Choro
This is Takamasa Choro.  He is from Dublin, Ohio and so in Alyssa's words they are OSU Homies.

This is one of Alyssa's teachers, Kawamura Shimai.  She is from Japan but studying at BYU.  She was actually Alyssa's first "investigator".  Alyssa adores her.

These are the other Sisters going to Kobe; Sister Miller, Sister Fau'uma, and Sister Park.

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