Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Because of Him: MTC Week 8

Alyssa's official name tag in Japanese

Well the time has finally come and in just a few short days Alyssa will be crossing the Pacific Ocean on her way to Japan.  It is hard to believe that she has been away for 8 weeks now.  She has learned and grown so much and I feel like she truly maximized her MTC experience.  It is time now to put it all together and begin the work.

Thanks to all that have supported her thus far on her mission.  She has felt overwhelming love and generosity from so many friends and family and I know that has helped her so much.  She is truly blessed to have so many wonderful people in her life.

Pray for her, not only as she begins the next 16 months in pure Japanese but also that she can actually figure out how to transfer planes in Japan and get to her mission :)  It should be an adventure for sure.

Konnichiwa Minasan!
Okay, time for another mission call shout out. This time, it is my other lifelong homie that got her mission call!  Sister Sadie Monson has been called to serve in the Florida Fort Lauderdale mission, Spanish speaking, and she is going to be amazing! I am so proud of her and all of my friends that have chosen to serve the Lord! Missions are super hard but they are also the best. I am seriously so happy here and wouldn't want to be anywhere else. Congrats, Said! Love you!
Okay so this week! It was another good one as per norm, but it was considerably slower than all of my other weeks here because I am so stoked that I go to Japan in 5 DAYS! Yep, it is true. After eight long weeks of being in the is almost time for me to get out of here! I am too stoked, I can't even handle it. We got our flight plans and our Katakana name tags this week and it is finally starting to feel a little more when I actually start packing this afternoon I won't be able to believe it!
Lots of super awesome things happened this week. For starters, TRC was awesome again. I am just blown away by how amazing the Japanese church members are. Seriously you guys, they are amazing. Many of them have sacrificed so much for this gospel and their testimonies are just rock solid. I want to be just like them someday! This week we skyped a man from Nagoya named Miura Kyodai and he was awesome. We taught on the Book of Mormon and had a super great experience with that. He was too funny, at the end of the lesson he asked "Facebook ga arimasu ka?" and we said yes and then he took a picture of us to post to show all of his friends. Too funny.
We also got in another Nihongin district, this time with mostly sisters! They are so cute and nice, and I love speaking to Japanese even haha. They are coming to Japan with us on Monday and I am so excited. 
We have been finishing up teaching all of our investigators this week and that has been really sad and hard actually. I love all three of them with my whole heart, and getting to watch them change over the past 6 weeks we have been teaching them has been amazing. Saying goodbye is hard, but I am excited to get to Nihon and just find more people that I will serve and come to love. The best part of teaching this week though was that we FINALLY got a baptism commitment out of Asakura Kyodai for March 15th! When we went to teach him again after we taught the repentance lesson, we walked in the room and it was like he was a completely different person. He was happier and smiling and engaged and was letting the gospel change his life as he came unto Christ. When he expressed his desire to be baptized, it was the most gratifying feeling in the world. We have worked with him so hard to get him to this point, and it was just so wonderful. I am so happy for him and all the steps he has made! This gospel truly is a miracle! We also taught Yoko Shimai and she ALSO committed to baptism after we taught her the Plan of Salvation and how she could be with her mother again!  This gospel and the many blessings that we have are so wonderful, and teaching makes me realize how much I take them for granted. It is just so wonderful. 
Another experience that I want to share with you all happened on Friday. Last week I had been having trouble sleeping because I was starting to get so stressed about leaving to Japan and the language and everything and I was just a walking ball of anxiety. I wasn't sleeping so I was EXHAUSTED every single day and I didn't know what to do. Then, I had the very distinct impression that I needed to receive a blessing, not only to help me sleep, but because Heavenly Father had some things He needed to tell me. I followed through and asked my good friend Johnson Choro to give me the blessing, and it was wonderful. Perfect. Exactly what I needed to hear. I was filled with so much love and peace as it was over, and I have been able to sleep and be calm ever since. I was assured that the Lord was proud of me for deciding to serve and that everything was going to be okay. Everyone, the Priesthood is an AMAZING blessing. It is literally the Lord's power worked through man on earth today. Are you taking advantage of that wonderful blessing as much as you could be? Sisters, if you ever need extra comfort or health or strength, ask for a blessing! The Lord wants you to receive a blessing and the experience and blessings are wonderful. Brothers, make it a goal to always be worthy to perform a blessing in the moment you are asked to do so. You will never know what lives you will be able to help and bless!
Finally, I just wanted to share with you my testimony of my Savior. Earlier this week one of our seneis had us do this exercise where we just bore our testimonies of Christ to our doryo in Eigo and Nihongo. We did it, but it was kind of a routine thing and to be honest, I didn't really feel the spirit a whole ton. Then, Kawamura Shimai showed us this video (I am going to post the link below), she had us really think about Christ, and then bear our testimonies again. You guys, everything changed. As I truly thought about my Savior, I was overcome with gratitude and love for Him. I was so overcome with the spirit and as I bore my testimony in both my native and my mission language, I felt His love and the Holy Ghost confirm His reality.
He is real. He lives. He loves us. Through Him, we can have new beginnings, happy endings, and hope. His atonement is EVERYTHING to us, because we can do absolutely nothing without it. Jesus Christ really did die for us so that the grave might have no victory, and He lived so that we might know how to return to live with Him someday. He also willingly suffered for not just our sins, but our pains and our sorrows and afflictions. HE DID NOT HAVE TO DO THAT.  He chose to take on the additional suffering because He loves us and He WANTS us to come unto Him. Everyone, please turn to Christ, always. In your happiest moments, in your darkest hours, just do it. He will wipe away your tears and strengthen you beyond belief if only you let Him. His invitation to all of us is to simply COME. It doesn't matter who we are and what we have done, if we go unto Christ, He will heal us. Because of Him, this life is so amazing. Because of Him, I am on this mission.
I invite all of you guys to watch this video, even if you have already seen it before. If you watch it and seek the spirit and really truly think about what Christ has done and can do for you, you will feel His love and a testimony of Him. Then please, share this video and pass it along to someone else who could use it! As you think about how you share this and other messages of the gospel, I know that the Spirit will direct your path. That is my promise to you. 
Everyone, I love this gospel with my whole heart. I love my Savior. I love being a missionary. Next time I write you I will be in Japan, and I am just so excited to get to work serving my brothers and sisters. Thank you for all the outpouring of love and support, it means more to me than I can even explain. Please know that my prayers and love are always with all of you. Have a wonderful week, everyone! Aishiteimasu!
Sister Pickering 


Super Pumped
Can you guess which tag belongs to Alyssa?
This is it . .
Oh my goodness -  It is real

"I'm not short, he is just super tall like his basketball son"  Collingsworth Kyodai
"This is Miura Kyodai!  He lives in Nagoya and is totally suburashii.
He took a picture of us and put it on his Facebook"

"We were trying to do our mission gang signs #thuglife"
Sasuga chorotachi

Nihongin district
Pickering, Park, Fa'aumu, Miller, Tupuola

"We tried to spell Kobe, we are cool"  These are the other sisters going to Kobe with Alyssa.  She has gotten really close to them even though they haven't been in the same district.
One of Alyssa's favorite places on Earth
Love these two together.  Alyssa is so sad about having to say goodbye to each other as they head to separate missions.

Alyssa has said thank you over and over again to the generosity and support from so many people as she has been in the MTC.  I also thank you as her mother for helping take of my baby girl during this time.

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