|Street performer in Osaka|
|Traveling to Kobe to meet with Elder Stevenson|
|The missionaries were able to visit an aquarium on p-day. Alyssa now believes that Narwhal are real|
|Embracing the Culture|
Serving a mission is a fantastic growing opportunity. Not only spiritually but emotionally, mentally and physically as well. To fully appreciate the experience, you have to embrace it all; the good, the bad, the crazy, the culture, the living conditions, and the people. Although, the main purpose of this blog is to share the spiritual experiences of Alyssa, I also want it to be informative, well rounded and fun. So this week I am including some of the crazy things about Alyssa's mission that just comes as part of her over all experience.
-This week was great! We worked super hard and it went by way fast and was so much fun. We taught a lot of lessons and ran around in the heat and then overall just wanted to die, but it is just a day in the life so it is all good. From what I hear it is only going to get hotter and more miserable in that regard, and then next month monsoon season really hits, so I am in for an adventure. The bugs are also crazy...our apartment is so old and kind of gross and we have a new pet named Herman that we found this week (and then lost) and he is a cockroach. Yep. Haha all sorts of good fun, but I guess it is okay to be in the worst sisters apartment because I am getting to work in the best area.
After the taikai last night we went and slept over in Abeno with the STL's so we could go to an aquarium in Osaka with our zone today and it was so much fun! It was fun to be a tourist and just enjoy the quirks of Japan. Osaka is crazy town but was way fun. I have a video of our district leader doing this show with some street performer, so it was just a blast. I also saw the ocean and that made me happy.
-We went to this barbecue with an investigator and she invited friends
and we actually got to teach them a lesson and it was super great! But
then they started getting a little drunk but it was kind of hilarious
because Japanese people are so uptight and to see them let loose a
little bit was crazy. The one lady kept going on about
all these American celebrities that she thought were attractive and
every time I didn't know who one of them was, she would smack me and
then laugh hysterically. Don't drink, people! Although it was so funny
-We have this old grandma investigator who is basically a hippie and
she likes to try and challenge my companion and I but we handle it
like a boss with the Book of Mormon. She has also given us a bunch of
referrals so we have more people to meet which is great, but she is
also one of the millions of people trying to set us up with some
random Japanese dude. Everybody wants to marry the American girls! It
is the weirdest thing.
-We had a service opportunity this week to go and try and return a
lost dog to its owner! We were unsuccessful and wanted to take it home
to replace Herman, but sadly the white handbook says no.
-The rain here is crazy and unpredictable sometimes...hence the
garbage bag raincoats in some of the photos.
And the next thing isn't anything crazy but is definitely a perk of being a missionary:
The taikai with the apostle was also so wonderful, I learned so many things. He wanted to greet every single one of us and so I got to go up and shake his hand and it was just so neat. They have such a light about them and I know that they are truly men called of God. There is so much revelation in this church and I am so very grateful for that! It was a neat experience and I learned so much.
And the group letter:
I cannot believe that I am staring down my last full week as a trainee
missionary...I am a mixture of excited and also slightly nervous at
the prospect of being expected to be able to actually speak Japanese
now haha. But it will all be great and I am just loving every single
day that I am having here in this area with my wonderful companion. We
are working so hard and having such a fun time, and being a missionary
is honestly the BEST!
I don't have a ton of time today and so this might be a little bit
scattered so please forgive me in advance. For P day today we had the
chance to go to Osaka with some members of our zone and go to an
aquarium there and see a whole bunch of cool things and really just
enjoy this wonderful place that we are serving in. I love Japan so
Some highlights of things that happened this week included that we
were led by the spirit to a brand new investigator who seems super
promising! One night during planning Kenney Shimai and I were both
prompted that we should go and visit this one random lady the next day
who really hasn't been progressing at all...but we felt strongly that
we needed to go visit her and so the next day we did. As we got to her
apartment complex, we saw a young girl standing there and once again
the Spirit let us know pretty clearly that we needed to go and talk to
her. Well we did and she was super sweet and cute and now we have a
new investigator with a lot of sincere interest! I was so glad for
this experience because it was such a reminder to me that the Lord is
so involved in all of the small details of this work. It is truly such
Another miracle that we had this week was that one of our
investigators, this 76 year old man named Teru San, is FINALLY so
close to baptism and is progressing a ton! He is so sweet but has this
shop he runs on Sunday and so has been very hesitant on showing any
faith and acting...he also has had some struggles with the Word of
Wisdom and doesn't like prayer...but these past few visits something
had changed with him. He committed to keep the Word of Wisdom and has
a desire to be baptized and loves praying! And his prayers are so cute
and funny! He loves talking to my companion and I about our lives back
home and when he found out that I had a boyfriend on a mission, he
immediately prayed and said "Please bless Sister Pickering that she
can finish her work here really quickly so that she can go back to
America and get married and then be happy." We were trying not to
laugh but he was just so sweet and sincere. We were trying to figure
out why all of the sudden has been progressing so much, and we
realized it has been because we have been using the scriptures with
him more lately. He has a great ability to learn from the scriptures
and the spirit, and we love getting to watch him learn and grow. We
can't wait for him to get baptized, hopefully very soon! He is the
last member of his family to join the church and so we are excited for
Another cool thing we had was district meeting. We got to go to Nabari
and have the meeting at this place where travelers through Japan stay
and it was super traditional and cool and we just had an awesome
meeting where we talked about the similarities in Buddhism and our
religion and how we can solve all the misunderstandings through the
teachings of pure doctrine in the Book of Mormon. So cool and so
Of course the highlight of the week was yesterday when we went to Kobe
and had the wonderful privilege to meet and learn from Elder Stevenson
of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. That man is truly called of God, and
the testimony he bore of the Savior at the end of the meeting was so
powerful. I have no doubt that the leaders of this church are led by
Jesus Christ, and that everything is run through pure inspiration from
our Heavenly Father. It is truly an amazing privilege to be apart of
such a great work! Elder Stevenson also talked a lot about the power
of promising blessings as missionaries, and how that is how we
exercise faith and open the doorway for miracles. It really opened my
eyes to what the Lord is willing to do to bring His children home, and
I only get to see a small glimpse of that. Ahh being a missionary is
just so neat, and I could honestly go on for hours about all I learned
yesterday. The church is just so true and I am so happy to be
preaching it here in the wonderful country of Japan.
Well everyone that about sums up my week...as always I just want
everyone to know that this gospel is so true. It will change your life
and make you happier and a better person if only you allow it too,
because I know it happens to me every single day. I love my Savior and
my Heavenly Father and although I am so far from perfect, I just want
to be the kind of missionary that does everything out of love and
gratitude for them.
I hope you all have a great week wherever you are! The church is true!
Lots of love!
|Street performer in Osaka|
|Traveling to Kobe to meet with Elder Stevenson|
|The missionaries were able to visit an aquarium on p-day. Alyssa now believes that Narwhal are real|
|I love this picture because it captures many elements of Alyssa's life. She is taking a picture of Osaka, Japan. You can see her reflection in the window. And if you look closely, you can also see a reflection of our family in a picture. Photographically speaking, it is very artistic and was probably a happy accident.|
Ward strawberry picking party
|This is Fujikawa San and she is an investigator and she spoils us|
ridiculously. The kimonos took like an hour to put on and they are
super expensive and then she bought us dinner afterwards. We love her
so much! She has such a sweet spirit. Also the kimonos were way legit
and yet I could have survived being shot in that thing..so many dang
layers! So cool though!
It was a great week for Alyssa. She and her companion seem to be really into the swing of things now and are working really hard. They taught 31 lessons and visited a lot of less active members. They were also able to find 3 new investigators which is always a blessing. And to add icing on the cake, they are enjoying the work and people so much. I love the picture of the sweet lady who gave the missionaries the incredible experience of trying on the kimonos. You can see pure joy on all of their faces. I don't know these people personally but I have grown to love them too even if it is vicariously through Alyssa.
Alyssa also remarked about how much she misses going to the Temple. But she was reminded that she is currently participating in the salvation for the living and soon enough she will be able to help with the salvation of the deceased. But we definitely need to be doing our part here.
She also apologized for her poor English writing skills. The Japanese language is really getting into her head and it has definitely effected her native language. But that is wonderful because it means she is finally thinking in Japanese. I find it amusing to read her letters since she always took pride in her English skills. And I know it is a great blessing for her to be able to communicate with the Japanese people.
And one final thought; "How amazing is Yamatokoriyama Ward?" How cool that all the members went out together in the spirit of missionary work. I imagine that would strengthen them so much as a ward. They understand the significance of the work and the Gospel in people's lives and they are doing all that they can in that part of the Lord's vineyard. The blessings are bound to be pouring out on them soon. Truly a faithful people.
Here is her group letter this week:
This week was another AMAZING one here in Yamatokoriyama! Ahh I cannot
even express how much I love this area and these people. We have
transfers in two weeks and I am already stressing about whether or not
I will get to spend another six weeks with these amazing people...I am
so happy here and they have stolen my hearts so completely, at this
point I can't imagine being anywhere else!
This week was awesome as far as teaching goes! Kenney Shimai and I had
our best week yet as far as teaching lessons, and it was so much fun!
Our mission president has asked us to start challenging people to
baptism on our first contact...well we have been trying our best to be
obedient and it usually ends up pretty humorously, but we have gotten
some new investigators as we try our best to just be bold and say it!
Sometimes it can feel a little awkward inviting people to follow
someone they haven't even really heard about...but I know for a fact
that the Spirit can do wonders with testifying and one of these days
somebody is going to say yes!
Kind of a cool finding experience happened this week when we were
tracting one day in the pouring rain. My wonderful companion and I
both had the feeling to go towards a certain area, and then as I
offered the prayer before we began, I felt prompted to pray that we
would find someone who would listen to our message because we had been
working so hard and trying our best to be obedient. Well we set off
for work, and NOBODY wanted to listen to us. In fact this one lady
straight up told us all about how what we were doing was impossible
and so we should basically just quit...kind of discouraged we were
gonna head back to the church to meet a member for a mogi lesson but
then Kenney Shimai was all "Well we can't end on that note, let's
knock one more door!" So we did and surprise surprise, God answers
prayers! The door was opened by a woman named Angela, and she
immediately invited us into her home! She is from Ukraine but speaks
English, Russian, Spanish, and Japanese, and so we have our pick of
languages with her haha. Anyways she was super sweet and is Christian
and has an adorable family that she will be bringing to church and
investigating with...ahh Heavenly Father answers prayers and I am so
grateful! Not only that, that experience was a huge reminder of the
blessings that come from exact obedience!
Another cool thing that happened was that yesterday we had what our
ward called "Dendo no hi" or the day of missionary work. So basically,
us and all the ward members did a gospel blitz of the area with
pamphlets and fliers and tried to teach lessons and invite as many
people to church as we could! That being said, I got a new temporary
companion, this super sweet like 75 year old lady named Murakami
Shimai, and we went and did dendo together for the afternoon! At first
I was so nervous to go out and teach people without my companion, but
I prayed to Heavenly Father soooo much that I would have courage and
be able to speak the Japanese I needed to, and of course He delivered
for me once again. It was a great experience and so much fun being
able to teach and really rely on the Lord. I have been doing my best
to become a lot more bold, and that is a scary thing sometimes! It is
hard to tell people about something so important in a different
language, and so I have been praying for lots of courage and help. But
the amazing thing is that when I open my mouth, the Lord is there to
back me up every single time. Anyways, the activity yesterday ended up
being a huge success and got a lot of the members fired up about
missionary work, which was so wonderful and needed. I love this ward
so much and I am excited to see what other miracles can come as we
work together with the members!
Just kind of one last spiritual note to end on is something I have
been thinking about lots is week. This week we have taught the
restoration lesson a bunch of times, and I just want to testify that I
know that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His son, Jesus Christ. I
promise that every single time you read the Joseph Smith experience or
watch the video or pray about it with sincere intent, the Spirit will
testify of its truth EVERY.SINGLE.TIME. It is truly such an amazing
miracle, and it is even more amazing that we have such a loving
Heavenly Father who is so willing to confirm such a big and miraculous
event for us. All we need to do is pray and ask Him, and He will
deliver. I have such a strong testimony that Joseph Smith is indeed a
prophet of God, and I know that through God's power, He translated the
Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon will CHANGE your life if only you
let it, and I just know that to be true with my whole heart.
I love this gospel so much, I can't even put it into words. I am truly
so happy to be here on a mission, and I know it is a joy that can only
come from living the gospel and serving the Lord and others. Everyone,
this gospel is true. I know that and I love it so so much. I hope that
everyone has an amazing week wherever you are, and know that my
prayers and my love are always with you!
P.S. Today I got to wear a kimono and become Nihonjin for a little bit
and it may have been one of the best moments of my life. No big deal.
|My blonde Nihonjin at heart.|
|I am not sure I know what is going on here but I am glad they still have their tags on over their black plastic bags!|
|DIY Raincoats?? They don't look too effective.|
|The missionaries' favorite Ramen shop in Yamatokoizumi|
|Kenney Shimai's birthday cake (I am not sure who made it???)|
|Watching their favorite church video - Guillermo trying to reactivate a member|
|Elders from her MTC District|
|This is Ueno Shimai! She is from Tokyo and started her mission the day|
that I got to Kobe because she is currently visa waiting...but we just
found out that she is leaving on May 16th to go to the Provo MTC for
three weeks so she can start her mission at temple square! Please go
there sometime and find her and tell her who you are! This girl is the
sweetest ever and I love her so much and am so sad she is leaving!
Please find her and like buy her an ice cream or something, because
she is one of the best missionaries I have ever met! I love Ueno
Shimai! And she speaks English haha, so there is that bonus!
|Dad "patting" his daughter.|
|Skype is working!!!|
|A hug from across the ocean.|
|The whole family.|
Alyssa saying hello in Japanese
Alyssa trying to send a shout-out to everyone she knows.
|The Yamatokoriyama Ward showing the missionaries love by buying them their favorite cereal|
This week I have just felt such a profound appreciation for the wonderful Members in Japan that are taking care of my daughter. I am just so grateful that the church and Gospel is the same no matter where you are and that serving the children of God is a universal theme. I wonder what more I can do here in our own little vineyard to help the work progress and bless the lives of those around me. What goes around, comes around I guess. I hope to someday be able to thank those wonderful Japanese people for loving my daughter.
Alyssa has been in Japan now for almost 2 months and I included an excerpt from her letter about the language. It goes to show that even with the Lord's help it is hard and takes a lot of work. Thank goodness the people are patient and when it truly matters the gift of tongues is manifested.
It has been another great week of work here in Yamatokoriyama! I seriously love these people and this ward so much...transfers aren't for like four weeks still and I am already scared that I am gonna be out of here because I just love this place so much and don't want to leave when I am just barely starting to figure out life! The language is still super hard but it is coming. Kenney Shimai and I have started to make up language games that we can do together throughout the day, and it is seriously helping so much. We are having fun and learning a lot, and so it has been great! I am starting to feel a little more hope that someday I might actually be able to speak this language haha. The reading though is still way hard. I am struggling through the Book of Mormon, but I am determined to read it at least once on my mission and then continue through my life so I can keep up my Japanese..it has taken way too much effort to learn to be forgotten when I get home! No way Jose! Anyways whenever I read the Book of Mormon out loud in appointments, it is sooooo stressful haha. Last night I was actually at a dinner appointment with this cute family in the ward, and after I basically massacred this super long verse, they all clapped for me and congratulated me and I thought it was hilarious, but the best part was that they were serious! They are just that nice of people here! Ahh I love the Nihongin, they are so great.
I can't believe it is already another P day here in Japan...you guys
time is seriously going so fast and I don't even know how to
comprehend it! We get so much accomplished in a single day that it can
feel like a lifetime, but then you blink and another week has gone by!
I am really trying to focus on making every single day of my mission
count, because I am really scared if I blink I am gonna miss it...this
is seriously such an amazing opportunity and I am so happy to be here!
It was another amazing week here in Yamatokoriyama! Every single day I
am here I fall in love with this place and this people more and more.
Coming on a mission to Japan was never something I would have picked
out for myself...but I am so glad that Heavenly Father knows better
than I do! He knew exactly where I needed to come and for that I am so
grateful that we have living prophets that assigned my call to Kobe
through divine inspiration!
Some events that happened this week was the announcement of a big
taikai we have coming up this month! In three weeks we have Elder
Stevenson of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles coming to speak to the
mission here in Kobe, and we are stoked! In preparation for the
meeting, President Welch has asked every companionship to see a
baptism before he arrives...it is an intimidating challenge but Kenney
Shimai and I have the faith that if we continue to work hard, we will
see some miracles come to pass and we will see another baptism! We
were promised by the Lord that the field is white ready to harvest,
now we just need to listen to the Lord and figure out the best place
to thrust in the sickle!
This week we also had the chance to go and heart attack a recent
convert/less active member, and it was such a
great experience. Getting to his house was kind of a debacle because
we had to go by train and it started to downpour on us and we were
lost, but we ended up getting it done and it ended up really touching
this brother...he was so grateful and expressed so much love and
appreciation and has been making efforts to try and fix his work
schedule and whatnot so he can come back to church! It just goes to
show you that a little love and a little service can go a looooong
way. For some reason since I have come here, I have developed a very
special spot for less active members, and so I love getting to work
with them. Every single person is a sheep in the Lord's fold, and I
feel so blessed to be able to work for this short time to be able to
try and help some come home!
Another kind of funny thing that happened
this week was that our ward mission leader put it on some social media
thing that Kenney Shimai and I like some certain kind of cereal...we
showed up on Sunday and our basket had been COMPLETELY filled with
this super expensive granola cereal, all from the ward members. We
felt so much love from them and it was almost comical how much
everyone had brought in an effort to try and step up and help out the
"poor" missionaries. I cannot even tell you how much I love these
people and their kind and generous hearts. I can most definitely tell
you that they are all changing my life and who I want to become. I
cannot get over how blessed I am to be here.
So all in all, it was another great and busy and productive week. We
are working hard and having a blast and seeing tons of little miracles
daily, and I really couldn't ask for more. We are also excited because
this week we get to go to Kobe for TTT, Abeno for an exchange, and
then we have Zone Meeting on Friday. It is going to be a crazy busy
week but I am excited to learn a lot from all the mission leaders!
Anyways just one final thought I would like to share is found in
Mosiah 2:17. It quite simply talks about how we are in the service of
our fellow beings, we are only in the service of God. I have come to
know that scripture is so true here. I have come so much closer to God
not only because I am a missionary or because I am studying the gospel
for three hours a day, but because I am serving His children. When you
serve someone, you truly can't help but love them, and as we serve
God's children, our love for Him increases as well. It is truly just
one big beautiful cycle in this gospel, and I would like to encourage
all of you this week to look for someone to serve...it doesn't have to
be a big deal at all, something small will be perfect, and as you do
so, I promise you will feel more love for God and for those around
Also, happy Mother's Day this week to all the mothers out there! I
especially want to shout out my own Mom, who is one of the most
amazing women on the face of the earth. I know I for sure wouldn't be
where I am today without her love and her example.
Well everyone, that about sums up this week! Thank you for all the
love and prayers as always! This gospel is so true and I am so blessed
to be sharing it!
|Giving a member a "heart attack"|
|You got to love the candid shot of the missionaries taking pictures of cereal|