Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Spirit is the Coolest: MTC Week 7

Another week down and once again I find myself pleasantly surprised on the growth and progress of Alyssa.  I have said it at least a hundred times, or at least 7 for as many weeks that she has been in the MTC, that she couldn't possibly learn any more or have such amazing spiritual experiences. I stand corrected.  I am so thankful that the MTC provides a continual place of learning, not only for a language, but how to be a better individual, missionary and member.  I love reading about those spiritual moments.  It has reminded me that if she can have those kind of experiences in a closed environment, then how much more should I be having them in the real world.  I guess I just need to work harder at recognizing the spirit and acting upon it.

In her group letter she talked about acting on promptings and it was a valuable lesson for me.  Sometimes we know they are coming straight from God.  Other times they are just thoughts that may come directing us to do something good.  We don't always necessarily recognize them for what they are; inspiration and promptings.  But how much better if we do because we are conscientious of our thoughts and actions.  And in the off chance that our thoughts were indeed from ourselves and not God, we will never regret being kind and doing good for someone else.  This week I am going to work on being better about being in tune with the spirit.

Also,  I have loved reading about Alyssa's investigators and her enthusiasm for teaching.  But I have also been a little confused about the people and their circumstances.  So I asked Alyssa to explain a little more about it and this was her reply:

"Okay as far as my investigators go, this is sort of tricky.  All of our investigators are played by our three senseis...but they are real people. They are real people that our senseis taught on their missions and the only people they play are investigators that they had a very deep and special connection with. It is actually kind of a really sacred experience for them from what I understand. I know for a fact that each of my senseis goes into a room before we teach them and they pray fervently for like five minutes to be able to portray the investigator as accurately as possible.  Honestly as far as I am concerned, they are real to me. When we walk into that room to teach, we are not teaching our senseis. We are teaching Nakao Kyodai or Asakura Kyodai or Yoko Shimai and the spirits we feel from them are very different from our senseis. It is kind of hard to explain and I am not doing it very well. Just two days ago Tupuola Shimai and I taught Asakura and the SECOND we walked into the room we felt that there was something terribly wrong. Now Asakura Kyodai is played by McCarty Kyodai who is like this super happy dude and he was fine as our sensei before we taught...but when we went in the other room to teach there was a great sorrow in the room and we talked to him and were able to find out that there had been a death in his family and his family found out he wanted to join our church and they were shunning him and being pretty cruel...emotionally it was a very hard experience.  I was moved to tears and it was very tough to hear. I truly love my investigators with my whole heart, and they are real in every sense to me.  Sure they might just be played by our senseis, but it doesn't feel pretend...does that make sense? As far as I am concerned, they are real to my companion and I.  We plan for them and we pray for them and we talk about them all the time. It is a very cool experience every single time and I love it. I think I actually really might want to teach at the MTC when I return, I think I could be pretty good at it.  We will have to see where the wind takes me."

That helped clear things up for me and hopefully it helps you too.

I have also been really curious (I am not sure why) about the exercise classes and what they do for music when it comes to doing Zumba and so forth.  So since inquiring minds want to know, I asked her and this is what she said:

"The music in the exercise class varies from day to day. On yoga mornings it is like this weird mystical Irish ballad type stuff that I can't take seriously....I have become pretty tight with the sisters in the other zone going to Kobe (they are honestly true homies, I love them all so much) and me and Park Shimai just sit together at yoga and try to stifle our laughter. Then sometimes it is this music that makes me feel like I should go to a barn raising, and then other times it is this weird techno music...I really miss lyrical music a lot, not gonna lie!"

At last but not least here is her group letter.  I highlighted the part about following the spirit but the whole thing is wonderful.  Enjoy!

 Konnichiwa Minasan!
I GO TO JAPAN IN 12 DAYS!  HOLY COW CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??  I obviously can't, because a a part of me feels like I have been living in the MTC for my entire existence, and another part of me can't even comprehend how fast time has been flying! Crazy stuff!
My week was super great, although not a TON of new things happened! Sickness finally befell the dynamic duo of Tupuola and Pickering Shimai (it really is inevitable here at the MTC for this long of a time), and so that was kind of sad. I just had a cold for a few days and it was fine but my companion got suuuuper sick yesterday and so we were under house arrest which was nice for a few hours to be able to catch up on some rest but then I went a little stir crazy because she slept for like 16 hours and I didn't know what to do! It really made me realize how trained they have you here to be productive and be in a schedule and I actually really like it. I get so much done and it is awesome.
We got our kohai in! We have 10 new sisters and they are all so cute. They moved in just next door to my companion and I so now it is like a nonstop party with lots of new people to talk to. It is actually kind of funny because they semi worship the ground that we walk on because they think we know so much Japanese...wellllllll lol at them because I seriously still know nothing! It is okay though because I have been able to help them and it has been really fun. I have found that I learn the best by having to teach it to other people, and so I have been catching on to a lot of things. I actually really sincerely love this language. There are a lot of aspects about it that are perfect for me, and it is just great. Speaking in another language is SO cool, especially when teaching about the gospel. The language of the Spirit transcends any and all language barriers that might exist, and it is just amazing. We also get in 12 new Nihongin today and I am so excited! The Nihongin are literally the best people on the face of the earth and I love them so much. I have already met four of them (and was able to have decent conversations in Japanese!) and they are super cute. Such humble people with rock solid testimonies and it is just great.
Teaching this week went really well! Nakao Kyodai is continuing to prep for baptism and he is on track. Yoko Shimai looks really promising and we are going to commit her to baptism this Saturday for our last lesson with her. Asakura Kyodai has been progressing slowly, but he is progressing. We FINALLY got him to tell us that he wants to be baptized...but now the issue is his family. He just had a death in the family and his family caught him praying how we taught him and they got very upset that he wants to become Christian when they are all Buddhist...he has been struggling a lot emotionally and it has been very heartbreaking, but we are hopeful that the gospel will be able to help heal all these wounds. We also had TRC last week and got to Skype a real member in Japan! Ahhhh it was so neat. The members there are seriously so incredible and they are so kind. Their testimonies are so solid and I cannot wait to get out there and meet all of them. It was such a fun experience and I cannot wait to go and do it again tonight!
So Sunday was a pretty big day for me in a few ways. For starters, my companion and I were just minding our own business when our branch president came in and told us that he wanted us to teach Relief Society even though we had taught the week before....okay, we agreed, we had a lesson planned from PMG about the Book of Mormon, so it would be great, the STL's would just teach elsewhere at some other time like initially planned. So we prepped and about two seconds before we go to the classroom to teach, Daniels Kaicho comes in again and basically says "Oh btw, Sister Burgess is coming in to hear you guys teach, so make sure it is good."  Ummm.  What??  Sister Burgess is the wife of the MTC president and the only time we ever see her is on the screen at devotionals...she never like frolics around and comes to random classes!  But apparently she wanted to come hear us teach!  Tupuola Shimai and I were TERRIFIED! Right before the lesson we just prayed so fervently that it would go well and we would have the Spirit, and Heavenly Father helped us out so much. The lesson went GREAT. The Spirit was SO strong and the discussion was awesome and Sister Burgess loved it. After the lesson she came and pulled me aside and thanked me for the lesson, said how wonderful it was, and then told me that I will be a wonderful missionary because I was an amazing teacher. Oh my heavens it made me feel so happy and so grateful to Heavenly Father that He was able to help me out so much! I have progressed so much, and it is all thanks to Him.  THEN after the lesson Sister Burgess pulled me over to meet her husband, President Burgess, and I got to talk with him for a bit and it was super cool. I am so grateful for that wonderful opportunity!
So after that lesson I was semi spiritually drained, but I had received the exact impression earlier in the week that I would be speaking in sacrament, and yep, I was right. The moment my name was called, I wasn't even surprised, and I am just grateful that I had prepared!  My talk actually went super amazingly branch presidency was super impressed and Collinsworth Kyodai just always teases me about what a nerd I am, but I was just happy it went well! I felt like I was just speaking jibberish but apparently it made sense and the spirit was there and I was happy. Speaking in Japanese is such an awesome experience, and I am so so grateful for the constant help that the Lord provides me here.
This week, I learned tons more about the spirit. It really is a tangible experience so long as you are worthy, and it is a gift that the importance thereof CANNOT be understated. So many times throughout the week I receive gentle impressions and feel guidance come through feelings, and I am just so grateful. For instance one lesson this week went completely off course from what we had planned, but it was okay because it was what the Spirit wanted and it ended up being just what our investigator needed. 
We also watched a snippet from a devotional that Elder Bednar gave some years ago at the MTC. Literally, that ten minute segment changed my life. He talked about how we don't need to always know we are being prompted by the spirit to receive a spiritual impression, and how we just need to follow our positive uplifting thoughts that will help others. I am the type of person that would think there is something wrong with me or maybe I wasn't worthy if I wasn't receiving and recognizing distinct spiritual impressions 24/7, but that isn't the case. We are led by the Spirit SO much more than we realize, and that is why it is so important to be worthy. If you have a good idea or thought that will help someone else, just do it. If you have an idea that seems out of place but is in line with the gospel, just do it. You don't always need to be aware that "Yes, this is a spiritual prompting and therefore I shall act." Don't worry about it and just do it! I promise that the more you act, the more promptings that will come, and what a blessing that is.
Always live worthy to have the spirit. Serve others, be kind, read your scriptures, go to the temple regularly, and seek it. Ask the Lord to feel His spirit imparted unto you, and you will. The spirit is, as described in PMG, a foretaste of the eternal life and glory that we have to come, so take advantage of it! 
I love this gospel so much and I love being a missionary. It is SO hard. Honestly I struggle so much, but I am also so so soooooo happy. It is so worth it, I promise. This work is so important and I feel so blessed to be a part of it. I love you all and am so grateful for your examples and testimonies. 
Have an amazing week!
Sister Pickering 

As much as I love my daughter and seeing her beautiful face, especially in front of the Provo temple,  I am a little excited for her to get to Japan just so we can see some new material :). Of course I am excited for other reasons as well.

Bazillion new Kohai

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