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Monday, April 25, 2016

I love Life and I love Japan: Nihon Week 7

Welcome Rainy Season

The last little while, Alyssa's Dad and I have been reflecting a lot on our own missionary experiences.  This caused us to pull out our journals and "truly" remember what it was like.  Either our memories have faded with age or we have blocked out a lot, but it was humbling to see how difficult those first few months in the mission are for every one.  It is a huge change of lifestyle with a variety of factors and influences.  I don't believe any missionary comes through that unscathed.  It is hard and that is totally normal.  If you can just hang on, have faith and work hard then things slowly start to change and get better.  I think you know when a missionary has overcome that first major hurdle when they stop counting the days until they come home and start reflecting on how little time they have left.  That happened for Alyssa this week.  She has loved her mission thus far but it hasn't come without challenges and heartache.  But she is starting to recognize the urgency of the work and how quickly her time will be gone.
 
This week, her letter brought me joy and peace knowing that she has survived her first major trial and will be a more effective and loving missionary because of it.
 
Here is an excerpt from her letter to me:
 
I really can't believe how fast time is going...the first part of the transfer felt like eternity and a half but now time is really starting to fly and by time this transfer is over, I will have been on my mission for five months...that is more than 25% done and that freaks me out. I feel like I just got here and still don't know anything and if I blink I am gonna miss stuff!  I am just happy that I am finally getting sort of the hang of things though, because at the beginning, not gonna lie, I used to think "Oh sweet, only this many more months until I can go home" but my mindset is changing a lot. The other day I was at a dinner with some ward members and I was looking around the table and these people that I met not that long ago and my heart was just so close to bursting with affection for them. Honestly I don't even know how it is possible for me to love them as much as I do! I just love them so much and the thing that is sad is that when I say goodbye to them, odds are for most of them it will be goodbye until the next life and that thought just breaks my heart. They are so special to me and so I am trying to enjoy every single moment I can with them. 
 
It has been a great week of work here. Kenney Shimai and I worked super hard and we actually have had a blast. We have been getting along amazingly and working so hard and having so much fun. All it takes is prayer, charity, a whole lot of patience, accepting people for who they are, and then a common purpose, and some amazing things can happen. We are having so much fun and I am so grateful.
 
Anyways we have been working way hard and visiting lots of people. We got a new investigator and visited tons of less active members and all is going well here in this area. I am confident that if we keep working hard and doing what we need to be doing, the Lord is going to bless us with some serious miracles. I just feel so blessed to be able to witness them every single day!
 
Rina Chan was able to be confirmed yesterday, which was a miracle in and of itself. Honestly her home life is so screwed up, and it just breaks my heart. It has altered her way of thinking a lot and so we have had to work through a lot of things, but she is a strong girl and has a huge heart with a lot of love to give, and so I think she will be okay. This ward is taking such good care of her too. She won't be able to slip under their radar while the current leaders are on the job.
 
Emi Chan is also doing great. It was kind of frustrating though because after church we taught her and we were gonna give her a soft baptismal commitment, but every single time that the Spirit was climaxing in the lesson, someone would barge in the room or be loud or something...Satan is honestly the worst. Ahhh it killed us. Hopefully this Friday will be a bit more peaceful when we teach her again! (Oh how I could relate with this experience.  I used to say that Satan worked through the telephone.  Without fail, every time we were about to extend the invitation to baptism the phone would ring.  Some things don't change, especially Satan)
 
Other random things...haha I am glad you liked my borrowed rain suit, I still don't have mine yet. I need to get on that, but there isn't a mall super close in my area and so we need to plan a journey sometime to go get one. My hair is also always super curly and sometimes it looks great and sometimes I look like a freak, but that is okay. The Nihongin love it I guess, and all these old grandmas just faun over my companion and I and tell us how beautiful we are. They are super cute. Anyways it is super fun when it rains though and we have the suit. On Wednesday I think it was, it was torrential downpour and I just thought it was hilarious and I laughed hysterically the entire time we were out in it. Everyone thought I was crazy but I thought it was so much fun. Every single day is an adventure if you choose to make it one!

 
 
And or course her group letter:

Minasan, Konnichiwa!

First and foremost congratulations to the beautiful Kylee Hazard who
received her mission call this week!  She hasn't opened it yet because
#life, but I just wanted to shout her out because I am so proud of her
and I know she is gonna be amazing. Love you Ky!

Well this week was absolutely amazing. We found out on Tuesday that
both Kenney Shimai and I were staying here in Yamatokoriyama, and we
were so excited!  There are a lot of great things happening in this
area right now, and we are so blessed to be a part of it. I also have
come to love these members and my investigators so much and I am not
sure that my heart could take another goodbye yet...and so I am so
happy that I am here for at least another transfer!

This week was probably one of the busiest of my mission so far, and
honestly it was also the happiest. There is a quote in PMG that talks
about how the secret to missionary work is quite simply work, and boy
is that true. Sometimes it can be hard and your motivation can be down
because it is hot and humid or you are homesick or want food or
whatever the circumstance may be, but the cure to it all is simply to
forget yourself and go to work! My mission president is always telling
us to make the mission bigger than ourselves, and that is so
important. If we can do that, we can face any challenges that may come
our way as part of mission life, and all will be well!

Some of the things that happened this week, let's see...oh well I got
my first taste of a real Japanese rain storm and it was such a blast.
When it rains here, it rains HARD. Nonstop. All day long. And you get
COMPLETELY soaked. Lemme tell you that there is nothing more stylish
than two sister missionaries in our rain suits and white helmets
riding our bikes down the streets of Japan, especially when one of
them (me) is laughing uncontrollably because they just think that life
is the funniest thing ever...honestly I got so many looks and so many
people thought I was crazy, but it is okay because I was just happy.
We went and visited one of our investigators and we were soaked and I
was still laughing and she looked at me really concerned and said, in
broken English..."Pickering Shimai....no books...no TV...no
music...Going crazy!" Of course that made me laugh only harder which
didn't help the case, but such is life.
 
I also never realized before I came to the mission how much of our finding people is guess work.
Sometimes we have to get on a train, get off at a random stop, and go
wandering in a random direction with only the spirit and a
semi-unpredictable Google Maps app as our guide...being real, Kenney
Shimai and I get lost seriously ALL the time, but it is okay because
we get to meet a lot more people that way! We figure if we are being
obedient and following the spirit, even if we don't know where we are
geographically speaking, we are always in the right place that we need
to be. I also have realized what a blast it is.
 
Last night Kenney Shimai and I were trying to find this less active member and we
literally had to hike up a mountain to get to her house and it was
dusk and we had no clue where we were going but we were just laughing
and enjoying it, and hit me how wonderful this mission is. I am
getting to frolic in one of the most beautiful places on earth,
interacting with some of the most amazing people, and sharing the most
beautiful and happy message that has ever been known to humanity. Can
life really get much better for me right now?

Anyways, just a couple short thoughts to wrap up...firstly is the
power of small and simple things and following those subtle
impressions of the spirit. So often on missions you hear these amazing
stories with miraculous, ground shaking miracles...and don't get me
wrong, those happen too, but more often than not, I see the greatest
things come about here as we simply follow a prompting like "Get up
and offer that old lady your seat on the train" or "Say hello to that
dude gardening" or "Just smile even when they slam the door in your
face". These little ideas may not seem like a big deal, but as you
trust in that spirit that leadeth to do good, amazing things come to
pass. I get to see that every single day here, and for that I am so
grateful.

Secondly, this week we had the chance to go do some dendo (tracting) with a youth
in my ward. This girl is so cute, I love her so much. Anyways, before
we left the church, Hibiki Chan grabbed a Book of Mormon and told us
that she wanted to give it out. Kenney Shimai and I encouraged her to
do so, but in our minds (don't judge us, we already repented over this
flawed train of thought haha) we didn't think she would actually be
able to give it away. We go housing a lot and it usually isn't very
successful...so we thought it would be a miracle if we could give it
away. Well surprise surprise, within an hour and a half, Hibiki Chan
had given away the Book of Mormon and borne a very a sweet and
powerful testimony to go with it. I was so touched by her faith and
her determination, and it made me realize what a weak missionary I
truly am. This girl, not even set apart, had the faith to go out and
place a Morumon Sho, and she did. It made me realize that the Lord
really does work according to our faith, and I have a lot of growing
to do!


Sometimes people think we are just so automatically strong and
faithful as missionaries, and that is not the case. Every single day I
become more and more aware of how I want to improve, but that means I
am also just becoming more and more aware of how powerful that my
Savior and His atonement are. What an incredible blessing that is.

Well all, that is about it for this week. Thanks so much for all the
prayers and love like always, things are great here on my end. I love
these people and this place and this gospel so much. I know it is true
and I am so happy getting to share it with those around me.
 
Love you all so much and hope all is well at home or wherever you may be! Have an amazing week! Aishiteimasu!
Love,
Sister Pickering



 
Hibiki Chan doing Dendo (tracting door to door)
Baskin Robbins for Kenney Shimai's birthday
video



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