Monday, April 11, 2016

Best Weekend Ever: Nihon Week 5

"The sheep is worthy of divine rescue simply because it is loved by
the good shepherd"
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Alyssa and her sweet Rina Chan right before her baptism
 Alyssa's words from a recent handwritten letter:

 "One year and half might seem long now, but it will all be okay.  Right now I am trying to help some little Nihongin families have the same blessings that we get".

Minasan, Konnichiwa!

I hope that this email finds everyone well and happy back home or
wherever you are!  This week was such a crazy and good one and so I am
going to go ahead and just jump right in!

The first part of the week went by super fast and was super busy as my
companion and I ran around like crazy trying to plan a baptism and get
everything ready for Rina Chan this weekend! We taught a lot of
lessons and also had the chance to do a lot of work with the ward and
the youth. We are really trying to increase dendo fire in the ward I
am serving in (which is funny, because they are already so stellar)
and so we have been trying to get people to really think about their
loved ones who won't be with them in the life after this one because
they don't have those precious gospel has been having a
great response so far and people are motivated, and I think we will
see a lot of success and hopefully gain a lot of referrals from this
course of action. I just truly love this ward so much, they are such
special people and I learn so much from them every single day. I also
really love the youth, getting to work with them is a privilege.

Yesterday one of the young women came up and gave me a big hug and
said "Pickering Shimai, I love you" in really cute English and it just
melted my heart so much. I love these people SO much, it's like I
don't even know how I was living normally before coming here and
interacting with them!

Friday we had the chance to have ZTM (Zone Training Meeting) and it
was so much fun. I learned a lot about how to better use the key
indicators for conversion as found in PMG as well as about developing
Christlike attributes. It is always so much fun to be able to see
other missionaries too and get to learn from them and all their
experiences. In the Osaka Zone there are like 23 of us, and so it was
a blast.

Saturday was the start of General Conference! Honestly watching a
General Conference as a missionary was an entirely new experience for
me. I don't know if it was because I was more focused or in tune
spiritually, but it was AMAZING. I learned so much from every single
talk and I am so grateful!  I went into conference with a lot of
questions that I had been pondering and praying over for a while, and
I found so many SPECIFIC answers. I testify that this is a church
based on revelation and the foreknowledge and love of God, because so
much was just so perfect for me. I absolutely loved the talk by
President Uchtdorf about bringing home the lost sheep. Honestly my
favorite quote from all of conference is probably "The sheep is worthy
of divine rescue simply because it is loved by the good shepherd."  I
love that so much because very simply it captures everything I want to
accomplish not only as a missionary, but as a member of the church for
the rest of my life. We are all in the fold of Christ, and in His eyes
we are all worth saving. He loves us so much and wants us all back so
badly, and so the least I can do is try and help my brothers and
sisters here come home to their loving Savior. It doesn't matter who
they are or what they have done, they are loved by Christ and so
therefore, that is enough.

I also loved the talk by Elder Mervyn B.
Arnold about going out and rescuing those who need it without delay.
This is another principle that we are trying to do here for our less
actives, and it was such a tender talk and really moved me to want to
put a greater emphasis on them in my own work here. We must not delay,
we must never give up, and we are always called to the rescue. This
doesn't just mean us missionaries!  All around you in the wards where
you live or serve, there are people who have gotten lost for a little
while and need help now. Don't wait and ponder about whether or not
they would want the rescue, just do what you can and show them some
love and you will never know what difference you could make in their
lives. To quote another talk but one that relates to this, their
temporary struggle does not define who they are, but our reactions to
helping them through their trials most certainly define us. Ahhhh can
you tell I just loved conference so much haha?

Finally, yesterday I had the amazing blessing to be a witness to the
baptism of my cute little Rina Chan. The service was beautiful and the
ward members were so supportive and it was such a spiritual
experience. I was so moved watching that fourteen year old girl enter
the font so happy and then exit so pure. As she was getting ready in
the dressing room afterwards she was singing to herself about how she
was currently pure and perfect, and then she told us afterwards in her
own words and attempt at English, that her heart felt hot. The Spirit
manifested itself to that little girl and I am so grateful. Her
baptism was so special and I know that I will remember it forever and
will keep it in the forefront of my mind as my motivation for the rest
of my mission. Even if she is the only one I teach all mission that
accepts this message, her joy and happiness and testimony would be
worth it, because I know that she is going to change so many lives
through her personal conversion.

Well everyone, that about sums up life here for now. As usual, thank
you so much for all the prayers and the love and support. I love you
all so much and am so grateful. I also want you all to know that I
know that the church is true. Every single day I realize more and more
that this gospel is everything to me. Jesus is my Savior, God is my
Heavenly Father, and families are forever. I know these things are
true and I feel so blessed to be able to share those truths and my joy
with others.

Love you all so much and am praying for you always!

Sister Pickering


So did Rina's baptism go through?  How was it?  Did you have a lot of ward support? How did she feel?  How did you feel?  Did her family come? 
Lots of ward support, this ward is so great!  They are going to be her new family, honestly. Rina didn't have any family come and support. Boo people. 

How was General Conference?   Did you watch it in English or Japanese?  Do they do it in place of church there or do you watch it separately? Did you have investigators watch it with you?  How did they feel?  Anything in particular stand out to you?

Love me some conference.

How are your other investigators?  Anyone progressing towards baptism?  How are the Filipino's?  What are their names?

The Filipino's are actually sort of crazy...the mom is like committing adultery with some guy in the US and all of this is just a mess and so we kind of hesitate meeting with her because she likes to tell us all of her problems in great depth and the a Spirit just instantly leaves...we are not quite sure what to do with her right now. As far as other baptismal people, we are still trying to get Aimi and Miu Chan's family to step it up and help us out. We want them to get baptized so bad but it might still be a while. Our other baptismal candidates are kind of weak right now, and we need some new investigators really badly. Hence the member plans with referrals. But if you could pray that Emi starts to have interest in the gospel, that would be amazing.

So have you figured out the Yen's yet?  Is it confusing?  How goes the shopping in general?
Yen isn't too bad now that I have figured it just takes a minute to think about sometimes. The shopping is good, and it is funny because I am actually the one who cleans and makes stuff at the apartment...I am such a homemaker now because I can't stand the alternative.
How is the weather?  Have you purchased a rain suit yet? 
Not yet, I need to get out and do that. The weather has been super nice lately, pretty warm which is great.
Has Yamatokoriyama started their cherry blossom/ goldfish festival yet?  What does that entail?
The cherry blossom festival was last weekend and I didn't have P Day and so I didn't get to attend. However one of our other investigators named Ishimaru San places at the "worldwide goldfish scooping contest" so there is that I guess haha.
How goes the chopsticks?  Are you getting a good handle on all of the customs such as when to bow and so forth?  Anything new you have learned in that regard?
Chopsticks are good!  I am a pro now I think. The customs are good also but sometimes there are weird things that I never knew about until after the is a very culturally rich place which is good but also crazy sometimes. I have learned so many new things about culture and whatnot, it is just always an adventure. 
Any crazy experiences this week?
Not a ton.....

What has been one of the hardest adjustments for you?
Being away from family. That has easily been the hardest thing for me, hands down. Truthfully I hate it, so I just keep busy and work hard and then I am happy and all is well. And riding bikes everywhere. But I haven't crashed yet, so take that you haters.
What has surprised you about being a missionary?
I do not always receive revelation like I thought I would 24/7. I have learned that a large part of being a missionary is also exercising my agency righteously to know how to help people and the gospel, and so we don't immediately always have super visible answers of what we need to teach. It isn't until after the fact that we realize we needed to teach what we did.
Any miracles this week?
I saw a baptism in Japan. I'm just so so happy.
Anything or anyone you need us to pray for specifically?
Emi Chan to accept the gospel, for me to start understanding Japanese, and maybe just for the work to go well in the Japan Kobe mission. Every night at 6 PM we have mission prayer where all the missionaries and the members just stop what they are doing and pray for the work in the area, and it is a super cool thing. You can get in on that action if you want haha. 
Any messages that you need passed along?
Give everyone lots of hugs and loves for me. I miss everyone so much but am doing well. Just give everyone so much love for me!
Featuring Yamatokoriyama ward members and Takahashi and Boettcher Choro
"Looking off into Eternity" as captioned by Alyssa

The ward showing support to Rina after her baptism
Osaka Zone

Zone training! So much fun. We also killed one of our AP's (he goes
home next week)
Sakamoto Shimai!  She is this cute little grandma who had us over for
pizza and Mexican Flan (she googled American desserts) and then hula
danced for us because she loves hula. She is so dang cute.

I ate a delicious lunch of all you can eat, homemade sushi with our
investigator named Fujikawa San and her sister for her birthday.
Love You!!

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