Monday, March 28, 2016

God is Good: Nihon Week 3

This is such a sweet video of Alyssa and Rina.  You can tell how much they love each other.

The Young Women in the Yamatokoriyama Ward on Easter Sunday
It was another week full of ups and downs for Alyssa.  In other words, the typical life of a missionary.  I know that she is working hard and learning all kinds things that she never imagined.  I love p-days and being able to piece together a small picture of her life and what she is doing day to day.  I am going to include a small portion of her letter to me because it is so touching and heartfelt.  I hope that she doesn't mind that I share it with everyone.

Okay so here is a story for you that you might like. Once upon a time the other night I was feeling really down and sad and so I was praying to know what the heck I was doing here. I felt like I wasn't blessing anyone or being effective or anything and it was super hard for me. Anyways the next morning I felt prompted to read my patriarchal blessing and I did and I noticed some things very specifically. One was a phrase from a paragraph about my mission that said "You will touch hearts."  I was so astounded, because literally twice in this last week I have had some ward members literally say to me that my testimony "touched their heart". In that exact phrasing. Last week I had the chance to speak in sacrament and it was terrifying but it went okay and I just bore my soul out in my crappy Japanese but these members just said that they felt the spirit so strongly as I testified of Christ and they knew how much I loved Him. They said it touched their hearts and made them want to have that kind of relationship with our Savior. As I read my blessing I was just so touched to be able to realize that I wasn't here for my amazing Japanese, but because of my testimony, and at the end of the day, that is all I really need. It also said some stuff in there about me being a light and showing love to I decided I was going to do just that. Later that morning we were biking to the train station and I decided to greet everyone that I came in contact with and give a big smile and good morning. I got so many positive responses and smiles back and it made me so happy because that isn't really in their culture to do. Then at the station I had another feeling to do that to this one lady and I just smiled and said good morning and then she got SO excited and immediately came over to us and started talking to us in English and thanked me for saying good morning to her because it made her happy and feel good...moral of the story is that we ended up with a new investigator out of that experience, and all because I just decided to say good morning and try and make people feel some of God's love. These past few days I have really been trying to be a missionary in my way, the way that God called me to be. I'm not going to be cookie cutter like everyone else and that is okay, because I, Alyssa was called to be in this mission specifically. Also patriarchal blessings are the freaking bomb and I love them so much. I love getting to feel that love from my Heavenly Father and it reminds me that I'm not alone even if I feel like it all by myself here in Japan sometimes. 


What is your address in you new area?  Do you live in an apartment or
a house or other?  Do you still like sleeping on the floor?  Are you
near the church?

So I am not for sure on my address...they just forward us stuff from
the mission home and it is pretty easy..sorry I am at the church
emailing or I would check for you!  We live in an apartment in this
cute little neighborhood by an elementary school. Nihongin kids are so
freaking adorable. The futons are actually super comfy and I like them
a lot. Then again every single night I am so exhausted that I am just
immediately asleep anyways!  I am about a 7 minute bike ride away from
the church and I technically live in a place named
just cross the train tracks and go up this Main Street and across a
bridge and in this little neighborhood and I am actually pretty close
to a little shrine!  Super cute place, I like it a lot.

Your ward area looks pretty big.  Do you have people in all areas?  It
looks too big to cover completely on a bike.  Do you ride public
transit to visit some people?  What is that like?  How do you get to
your District meetings?

Yes we do use the trains a fair amount. So there is us and the Asuka
area in this ward where the elders are at but they are thinking about
dissolving that area and just combining us so that we have no
boundaries as far as where we work. We also just do tons of biking
because our area is one of the biggest in the mission. We ride a train
to get to district meetings in Nara. I love Nara, we are going there
for Pday next week to see the deer and the blossoms and I am stoked.
Nara is the original original capital of Japan so it is a big city but
also has lots of traditional stuff. My favorite thing in Nara is this
food place we go after is called Indocurry and it is to die
for. Maybe my new favorite food and it is from Indonesia of all

Did you have your baptism of Aimi and Miu?  Is there a font in your
church or do you have to go elsewhere?  Or do you make your own?  Do
the ward members support the baptisms?

We have a font in this church! Their baptism got
postponed..again...such a frustrating thing but we know it will go
through, just in the Lord's timing and not ours. The mom needs to step
up her game a little bit and we are trying to work with her and get it
to happen. The ward members here are amazing with missionary work, we
have two meetings with the ward every Sunday to figure out how we can
work together. They are pumped about getting people baptized.

You say you love the food.  What exactly do you love about it?  What
types of things are you eating?  Do you have many DA's?  What do you
cook or make for yourself on a regular basis?

The food is delicious. The bread is the best thing of my life, as is
the milk and yogurt and basically all dairy products...I could
honestly just live off of that my whole mission and be fine. They also
have this super tasty cereal that I love and I bet you could buy on
Amazon and you totally should. It is in a red bag and called Calbee
and looks fruity and nutty and is just amazing. Our eating is pretty
crazy depending on the week. Members feed us like once or twice a week
but I have only had Japanese food there twice because they are sweet
and are making us American food to help us feel at home. We make lots
of pasta and get some bento boxes and sometimes eat Ramen out. Toast
is good. Cereal is good. Potstickers and rice are good also. I love
Japanese food. I am so stoked for you guys to come eat it already.
Your lives will change forever.

How much teaching do you typically do?  How much do you work with
members?  Do you tract or how do you find people to teach?

We are hitting at least twenty lessons a week...which is crazy and we
are trying to get more. Honestly I love teaching, it is the best part.
We do a lot of working with the members, about half of our lessons
have a doseki (a member with us) which is great and what Welch Kaicho
wants and they help us out so much. Sometimes we go housing and
housing is the worst because it is so not effective. Here they have
these little camera and doorbell things so most of the time we get
rejected there and don't even see the people. So frustrating!  I like
train dendo the best because it is more natural to talk to them and
they can't escape.

Are the people fascinated with your hair and blue eyes?

Somewhat. A lot of teenage girls always tell me I am so beautiful and
like an angel which makes me feel good haha. Little kids just gape at
me like I am a freak which is also amusing. Sometimes people scream
"Gaijin!" At us which means foreigner.  Silly Japanese people, that is
one word that I do know.

What miracles have you experienced this week?

We found two new investigators that both speak English and actively
want to meet with us...after a a rough week and lots of prayers it was
such a tender mercy. They are both from the Philippines and believe in
Christ and it is going to be a beautiful thing. We found them on the
same day on separate trains.

What tender mercies have you experienced?

Every single day there are tender mercies, I just have to look for
them. That is actually gonna be the main focus of my group email, so
stay tuned for that one.

Are the cherry blossoms out yet?

Somewhat, but this weekend will be the big blooming. Super stoked to see them!

Are you staying warm while riding your bike?

For the most part yeah. At night it gets pretty chilly though.

Do you see other missionaries very often?

Just the zone leaders in Asuka who are in our ward, we are always
talking to them and working with them and we teach Eikaiwa together
twice a week. I also see four other elders at district meeting every
week. We don't see the STL's like ever but this week we have exchanges
so we get to go work in Osaka for a day and see them then!

How is Rina doing?  Is she still on tract to be baptized?

Rina is great and so cute but Satan is the worst and we were only able
to meet with her once this we are probably gonna have to
push her baptism back a week but she is still wanting it and is on

Is the language getting to be a little easier or still just as frustrating?

It depends on the day. Sometimes it goes well and then sometimes I get
so frustrated I just want to cry. This language is so hard and these
people speak faster Japanese than I do the struggle can be
real sometimes.

Anything crazy or humorous happen this week?

We got whipped cream shoved in our faces for part of a ward
skit...that was an adventure. Some ladies also tried to convert us to
Buddhism. Oh this is good/bad. I was mentioned in a sacrament talk by
some guy and I had fallen asleep at the time and so everyone was
looking at me probably but I was dozing hardcore and didn't even know
until after. It was the worst.

Favorite thing this week about being a missionary?

I love these people so much. They make me so very happy and I love
getting to serve them. I also love getting to learn so much about the
gospel every single day, it is truly such a cool experience.

What do you need?  How can we support you?

If you ever feel like maybe sending me some tortillas, that would be
good...I am in major quesadilla withdrawals. Other than that, maybe
please send me the chocolate chip cookie recipe that I love as well as
some caramel popcorn...that would be great and maybe just other easy
meals!  Just keep praying for me because I need it...your love and
support and prayers mean everything to me during the hard days because
I love and miss you guys lots. Just keep taking care of yourself and
being happy!

Any messages that we need to pass along to anyone?

Just tell everyone how much I love them and that I am well. Please
thank the Buie couple and the Hadfield couple for sending me some
letters, it was very sweet!  Also thank the animals for their cards as
well. Especially the ghost of Dakota who has a messed up memory
because I never had a phone when she was alive. Also tell Scarlet she
is rude for not sending me a card when my dead dog did. Kay thanks


Group Letter:

Konnichiwa minasan!  And happy Easter for those of you who are still
awake back in the states!

Well another week of my mission down and I can hardly believe it. Time
is seriously such a warp here, I already can't believe that people
back home are in the midst of Spring sports and testing and general
conference and all that good stuff.  Such fun times!

This week here in Yamatokoriyama was pretty good!  The beginning of
the week started off as usual with just lots of teaching lessons and
teaching Eikaiwa (Oh yeah!  I forgot to tell you all that twice a week
we get the chance to teach a free English class. I originally thought
I would be teaching the children's class but then I showed up my first
week and one of my zone leaders thought it would be funny to have me
teach the advanced now I teach an advanced English class
and it is actually super fun!  I have like eight students and they are
so nice and sweet. They also think I am some amazing wizard because my
college major is English and now I "speak" Japanese too.  Really these
people are so cute, and I love English!  It is so much fun!) and just
visiting lots of people.

Then Thursday we had the great chance to go
back to Kobe for TTT!  Basically that is a meeting for all of the new
trainers and trainees where we go back to the mission home and have a
discussion and learn together and have some good old fashioned Costco
pizza. It was truly so much fun though, I loved getting to see
everybody from my MTC doki and swap experiences about what we are
learning and who we are teaching. It was also great to get to learn
from President and Sister Welch again, I learned so much. One of the
things he really harped on repeatedly was that if my motivation for
this mission, for learning this language, for teaching this people,
isn't love, I am doing it wrong and need to repent and try again. He
told us how love is the motive for everything in this gospel and as we
seek to emulate and share that love, we will become better
missionaries, better people, and will learn Japanese quicker. Heaven
knows that I need all of those things and so I am trying my best to
become more loving towards everyone I come into contact with!

The end of the week was good as we had district meeting on Friday in
Nara, and then the Spring Festival for the ward on Saturday! It was so
much fun to see all these people share their talents with  all of us,
and we had a ton of investigators show up and so it was a happy happy
day. Kenney Shimai and I also had the chance to be in a skit with some
of the youth and the elders that serve with us...basically it was us
answering a bunch of gospel questions nonsensically while this
Japanese elder pretended to be girly and then smashed pan and whipped
cream in our faces. It was absurd but everyone thought it was
hilarious and it helped build kankei with the members, so whatever
works I guess!

Yesterday with Easter was good although it was so sad because nobody
here knows or even celebrates Easter and even the members forget it
was Easter until we told them...such a sad thing!  I love that day and
the chance to reflect on the love our Savior has for each of us
personally.  Such an amazing miracle we get to witness!

A quick funny story that happened to me judgment because
this probably shows how I might be the worst missionary ever but bear
with me. So once upon a time I have never been more exhausted in my
entire life than as a missionary. You are just so busy and going going
going and so when you get to sit just crash. Also church
can be kind of hard because I have to translate everything and it was
exhausting. Well yesterday in sacrament my companion and I split up to
sit by some different members and whatnot, and during this one talk I
started dozing...needless to say at one point in his talk the guy
started talking about me and how my testimony the week before touched
him and he was so grateful for what I said and my commitment to the
Lord and everything...and as he is saying this I am totally dozing off
and have no idea what is going on. I didn't even know until after the
fact and now I am so embarrassed I could die. Missionary work is so

So in reality though, this week was probably one of the hardest of my
life. A lot of things happened and fell through and we came across
some rough circumstances to slow some work down and complicate things.
I was really frustrated and not sure what to do so I was just praying
to see the good in the situation and boy did the Lord deliver. I have
truly come to the conclusion here on my mission that God is SO GOOD.
Honestly, even in the amidst of our trials, ESPECIALLY in the midst of
our trials, He is with us and constantly blessing us. His tender
mercies are all around us, we need only look, like it says in 1 Nephi
1:20. We had two of our investigators postpone their baptisms again?
That's fine, Heavenly Father introduced us to two new promising
investigators. I'm struggling because I don't know how to speak
Japanese? Heavenly Father prompts me to open my mouth and I end up
making some lady's day. I have a rough day where I feel alone? A
friend has the feeling to send me a perfectly timed email that is
EXACTLY what I need to hear. I am more exhausted than I ever have
before? The Lord gives me the strength to accomplish everything I need
to. We can't get ahold of one of our investigators? She just shows up
at the church at that random moment we are there so we can meet with
her. The tender mercies of the Lord are EVERYWHERE!  All you need to
do is open your eyes and look and you will find them, I promise. God
is so so so good to us. He truly is our father and in our hard times
He will always bless us with things to bear us up and strengthen us,
we need to only let Him. Truly I wrote down this entire list of the
mercies I saw this week that I wanted to put in the email but I don't
want to bore you all but let me just say this one final time....God is
real. He loves us. He knows us. He blesses us every single dang day of
our lives, and all we have to do is open our eyes to see that. We are
never alone for a single second of our lives, and we are so so loved.

Ahhh I just love being a missionary and getting to see all these
blessings. I encourage you all to look for them in your own lives and
then express gratitude as you find them.

I know that this church is true. I know that God is real and He loves
us, and I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that He atoned
for our sins and our sorrows and He will always be with us. I know
that Joseph Smith truly saw God the Father and the Son and that we
have the true church restored with us on the earth today. I know all
these things and I truly love them so much!

I love this gospel and I love all of you.  Have an amazing week!
Sister Pickering

Us with Rina Chan!  And Hiro Chan, a church member
After the ward skit.  Moral of the story: Never do skits that the elders make up
"I love this sweet girl. She helps us so much."  Ibuki Chan
"Here we are doing what we usually do...visiting people that are never
home and so we use our cute little Ibuki to help us write notes to

"My advanced Eikaiwa class"
Reunited with her MTC Friends

Alyssa was so happy to see her MTC people and to catch up on the last few weeks
TTT (Trainers, trainies and teaching)

Area photos

No comments:

Post a Comment