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Monday, April 4, 2016

Exchanges and Earthquakes: Nihon Week 4

Nara Park Temple (Not an LDS Temple of course)

It has been a fabulous week.  Not only were we able to listen to many hours of counsel and inspiration from our church leaders during General Conference, but we received our first hand written letter from Japan and many, many pictures from Alyssa on her p-day.  And to top it all off, her sweet investigator Rina, passed her Baptismal interview and will be baptized this Sunday.  Alyssa is over the moon.

Also, on her p-day, she was able to experience some Japanese culture.   They took a train to Nara to visit a Japanese Temple.  This place is also know for the many domesticated deer that just wander around and allow you to feed and pet them.   This excited Alyssa very much for some reason.  Anyway,  I am thankful she had a fun experience, even if it didn't allow her much time to write.  I am sure we will get more details next week.

Group Email:

Konnichiwa!

Okay just to start off I am sorry if this email is short and lame and
if I don't respond to you I am so sorry...today has been so crazy! We
had a baptismal interview and a lesson and have been running all over
Nara doing various tasks and I got to be somewhat like a tourist for
the first time today and so my time is a little short!  Gomen nasai in
advance, I love you all!


This week was great and went by super fast!  We taught twenty five
lessons this week and it was so much fun. I truly love teaching so
much, it reminds me why I am here and I love getting to testify and
show God's love for His children through that medium!  Our
investigators are doing pretty well for the most part, but our little
golden gem is Rina Chan. She is so great and cute and sweet and is on
track to be baptized this coming weekend!  She just has the gift of
faith and is so accepting of the gospel and is already doing so much
missionary work!  She has already given away a Book of Mormon,
advertises for Eikaiwa for us, has invited people to church, and has
given us referrals and has brought us friends to teach. Seriously this
girl is golden and I am so excited for her to be baptized!  I feel so
blessed to have been here to find her again and teach her all the
lessons!  It is so funny how much I love her and all of my
investigators and the people there when I can't even understand what
they are saying most of the time...the spirit is just so cool like
that.


Another cool thing that happened was I had the chance to go on
Exchanges this week! I went with two Nihongin sisters and got to
frolic around the big city of Osaka and do dendo there!  The STL's
taught me so much about Japanese and the people and opening my
mouth...they were so amazing!  Saijo Shimai literally chased down
people to teach them lessons on the street and it really opened my
eyes to what I want to become as a missionary. Honestly approaching
strangers and speaking to them about the gospel in a foreign language
is a bit scary at times...but I have faith that I can do it haha, even
if I am still probably failing initially. I don't want to meet anyone
in the afterlife that I came across on my mission and have them be
upset with me for not sharing this beautiful message...so I am gonna
try my best!


So after our exchange from Thursday-Friday, we went back to Nara for
district meeting! That was super fun as always and as we were walking
to Dominos for lunch in the pouring rain...our phones started going
berserk. And then sirens went off and lights started flashing.  And we
were all really confused and then we realized it was earthquake
warnings...we stood in the parking lot of Dominos waiting for this
earthquake and then eventually decided we should go inside and order
and then wait for the earthquake and our pizza at the same time
(#multitasking) and then our ward mission leader called us and told us
to go back to the church and wait...so we got our pizza and wandered
back to the church and ate our pizza and reminisced on the good old
days of our lives and waited for this earthquake that was supposed to
be pretty big..but it never hit our area. Eventually our zone leaders
called us and told us that it had only been felt in Osaka, where I had
been that morning for exchanges but we never felt a thing. All the
elders were super disappointed but we were mostly happy that it didn't
affect our teaching schedule too badly and everyone was safe!  Crazy
crazy times. I guess there were several earthquakes that day all over
Japan, but everyone is okay!


As far as other news goes, it is currently Cherry Blossom season here
and it is beyond gorgeous. This place is beautiful and I love it. We
also had the chance to watch Women's Conference in English and I
learned so much about love and service and I would encourage everyone
to go and read those talks!  Truly so amazing. We are also super
pumped to be able to watch General Conference this weekend, because
what an amazing chance we have to be able to hear from our living
prophets!  I hope you all took great notes and are pondering and
praying on how you can implement what you learned in your own lives!


Well everyone, that about sums my week up!  As always thank you so
much for the prayers and the love and the support, it means the world
to me. I truly love being a missionary so much. This gospel is so true
and I love getting to share that every single day. Heavenly Father
truly loves us so so so so sooooo much, and I just can't even get over
it. I am also so grateful for my Savior and His atoning sacrifice so
that we might live again and always have the chance to change and
become better. What a blessing this gospel is.


I love you all so much and am praying for you always!  Be safe and
happy and share the gospel with someone who needs it! Aishiteimasu!


Love,
Sister Pickering


Excerpt from my letter:

We did however get to watch the Women's Conference on Saturday with the ward Relief Society party thing and some brother in the ward got it for us in English!  I was so happy!  Seeing the pulpit and hearing the music and seeing the kids and moms singing made me so nostalgic as we were there together last conference and then I started to tear up a bit and get kinda emotional...but I loved it! I just love how universal the church is. Japan, the US, it is all the same everywhere. And the messages were so phenomenal this year. I loved Sister Marriott's talk again as well as Elder Eyring's talk. Really trying to implement a lot that I learned! 
 
As far as the language, boy it has been a struggle. My area has a lot of Kansaiben speakers which is basically the equivalent of the Deep South of Japanese...so I learned proper Tokyo Japanese so that has been an adventure but I try like always. The reading is really frustrating because I realize that is something I have totally taken for granted my whole life. Honestly I feel powerless at times because I can't read Kanji! But I just keep trying and ask lots of questions and it is all good. Sometimes I get way frustrated and don't ever believe I will be able to Learn this language and it makes me so upset but I just have to have faith that the Lord did call me here for some reason and it wasn't to fail. I keep holding on to that if nothing else! 
 
Our investigators are doing well. Rina is so golden and I love her with my whole heart. It is funny how much I can love someone I can't even understand all the time!  The spirit is so cool like that. She is so prepared though and definitely has the blood of Israel running through her veins. She has the gift of faith for sure and it is amazing. She is such a happy and loving person and just makes everyone around her happy!  She also loves the gospel so much. I will always have this image of her in my head of her reading a Law of Chastity pamphlet while she crosses a busy street and there are all these cars swerving around her...honestly it was like a movie haha. But yeah she is on track to be getting baptized this coming Sunday right after conference!  Hurray!
 
And one other update she shared:
 
This just in!  Rina passed her baptismal interview and will be getting
baptized this Sunday at 3!  Wahoo!  I am seriously so excited for this
girl. Baptisms really do happen here and there really are elect, you
just have to be patient and go out and find them!

Rina is seriously so golden and we really are so happy for her. To
tell you a little more about her, she is fourteen and believes in God
because a few years ago she was hit by a car and should have died but
she was miraculously unharmed and she just felt like something or
someone was protecting her. She loves God and wants to follow Him so
she wants to get baptized and has so much faith!  She also has sort of
a super rough family life...her parents are super negligent I think
and she just kinda frolics alone all the time which is super unusual
for a Nihongin kid. We just give her lots of love and try and help the
most we can. If you all could pray for her baptism to go through this
week, that would be amazing!!

Sorry all my emails sort of failed this week, today was crazy!  I just
want you all to know that I love you lots and think about you for
always. Things are great here and I am trying my best to work hard and
be the missionary you all think I am (LOL). You seriously all mean the
world to me and I am so grateful that families are forever. Sometimes
I get kind of homesick in this crazy world where I can't read anything
or talk to anyone...but then I just pray and remember you all praying
for me back home and all is well. Heavenly Father is taking such good
care of me, and so are these amazing ward members. I am in the best of
hands!

Seriously, I love you guys so much. Be safe and keep in touch!  Lots of love!
Aishiteimasu!

Love,
Alyssa


Beautiful Cherry Blossoms







Blossom Selfie
This is Alyssa's Sacrament meeting program.  When I saw this I had a new found respect for how challenging the Japanese language really is and what she may be going through.
The Missionaries have official business cards to share with every one.


A Plethora of Blossoms




Love this!
Ward Relief Society Activity
Sekiya Megume

Nanami
Rina's Baptism"s Announcement!

Yamatokoizumi
Exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders


Alyssa loves the Asian children
An investigator from the Philippines
Another investigator from the Philippines


An investigator Emi on the left, and then a ward member Erika on the right
"Operation Baptism 1"

Murae Shimai and Nanami
Various Food?
Craziness on Exchanges


"These girls asked to take a picture with us on the train...I am basically famous"
Nara
Japan Stuff
Nara Temple
Feeding the Deer in Nara
Do deer eat cookies??

Homies


Blossoms everywhere
District Homies

Indocurry

video

                                                  Video of Cherry Blossoms from the Train

video

                                                              Petting the Deer in Nara

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