Wednesday, June 29, 2016

BAPTISM: Nihon Week 16

A beautiful and amazing day.  The Shimai's with Ayaka Chan

This week, my whole family (my siblings, my parents, and my nieces and nephews) had the opportunity to visit our Nation's Capital.  It was our first family trip without Alyssa.  The overall experience was very educational and packed full of many fun things.  I couldn't help but think how much my daughter would have loved being there with her cousins and grandparents and how much she would have entertained us all.  I was so fortunate that throughout the week there were a few special experiences that helped me feel closer to my daughter.  We attended a ward in Arlington Virginia and learned that they had an Elder serving in the same mission.  I was able to meet the family and share experiences and was struck by the camaraderie that we shared immediately because of our missionaries.  Then later in the week, we visited the Capital and were able to take a tour of it, through our Congress Woman Mia Love's office.  Well, there were interns there that conducted the tour.  As we start talking and finding common ground, lo and behold one of them happened to be one of Alyssa's MTC teachers.  What a small world.  It was so fun to talk to her about Alyssa and realize she not only has seen her more recently than me but also knew her as a missionary.  It was a sweet tender mercy to meet her that day.
Then,  we received her emails for the week.  She was full aware of missing out on this opportunity and yet firmly stated she was where she needed to be.  To see her pictures this week of her with her sweet Ayaka Chan did my heart good.  I can see pure joy emulating from her.  As much as I missed her I was reminded of the eternal nature of the work she is doing and the significance it will be in the life of this young girl that she had the privilege of teaching.

Here is an excerpt of a letter she sent to my whole family:
Hello everyone!
I hope that you are all having the most amazing time in DC! I have loved seeing the pictures and hearing about all the crazy adventures.
I just wanted to take a minute and express my love and my appreciation for every single one of you. I am most definitely the person I am today because I am a member of the most amazing family, and I feel so grateful.  I am sad that I don't get to be there with all of you having fun and making those crazy memories like usual, but I feel so blessed to be a part of a family that not only lets me be here, but WANTS me to be. Your support and encouragement means the WORLD! Just remember that every single person that I get to help on my mission owes a little something to each and every one of you, because I most definitely wouldn't be here and be the missionary that I am without you!
I know that this is where I am supposed to be! I love my mission so much, and I love my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Because of His atonement, our family can be together forever, and for that I am so grateful, and for that I am hearing sharing that beautiful message with our brothers and sisters in Japan. 
I hope you all have an amazing rest of the trip! Be safe, have fun, and try and look for ways to share the gospel! LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!
And here are a few more details about the baptism from my letter:

Ayaka Chan! She is the best. She got baptized yesterday and it was seriously so happy. Her testimony at the end was so cute and she just melted the heart of everyone in the ward. She is 16 years old and is the youngest, her parents are divorced and she lives with just her dad. Her older brother is like her hero and he was able to come to the baptism yesterday and is once again investigating the church, and so it was a very special experience. I also had to speak at the baptism and give her introduction and explain the spiritual backstory behind all of it which was terrifying, but apparently it went well. Afterwards Inamori Kyodai came up to me and told me that I have a lot of potential for Japanese haha, so interpret that as you will, because I have no idea. But overall it was a great service, and we are so excited for her confirmation on Sunday. She was just glowing and so pure and emanating the light of is such a real tangible thing!

And of course the group letter:
Minasan, Konnichiwa!

Once again hello from the beautiful area of Yamatokoriyama. I can't
believe that is already P day again and time to write another
email...time is flying by so quickly here and it is just crazy how
that happens!

This week was so great! Tuesday was super cool because we had the
chance to go to Abeno with two investigators and basically the entire
Ward and go to a BYU Hawaii Choir Concert! It was so much fun and the
choir was super entertaining and our investigators absolutely LOVED
it. It was also fun for us missionaries because it was basically like
a big reunion as tons of people were there, and it is always so fun to
catch up with people and see how the work is going all around the

The rest of the week was super good and busy as we ran around like
crazy (we ended up teaching 40 lessons last was insane and I
am so exhausted but it was also SO cool, teaching is THE BEST, also my
companion is such a BOSS and I love her) and tried to get baptismal
prep stuff done and try and visit members and reactivate some people
and just have regular missionary life. We had district meeting on
Friday and that was super great as always, because we talked a lot
about the power of the Spirit in conversion, and facilitating those
experiences for our investigators that will allow them to experience
their own conversion. I learned a lot, and I also gained some personal
revelation for things that I need to work on in my own mission life.

One thing that the Spirit chastised me for pretty strongly was that
oftentimes when we contact someone on the street or whatever and they
immediately say they are Buddhist, I sometimes have the tendency to
get annoyed or want to move on because usually they don't want to
listen..the Spirit very strongly told me not to do that anymore,
because it isn't that persons fault that they haven't had the gospel
brought to them yet and that is why I am here to help bring that
message to them! It was very humbling but as I have tried to make that
change, I have felt my love and patience increase. Asking the Spirit
the "What lack I yet?" questions can be hard sometimes, but they end
up making us into far better people and missionaries!

Okay for the rest of the email I just quickly want to tell a story and
some of it might be a repeat but oh well, that is okay. Once upon a
time last month Kenney Shimai and I were planning for the next day and
we had the feeling that we needed to go visit one of our investigators
who like wasn't progressing at was sort of a strange
prompting but we figured "We like following the Spirit, YOLO" and so
we planned it in for the next day. The next day comes and we ended up
getting back from district meeting pretty late and so we were going to
have to adjust our schedule...we wanted to head to two different areas
that day in opposite directions and we're going to have to choose one.
One of the areas had two progressing investigators in it and more
chances for finding, and the other area was just our stagnant
investigator. As we decided what to do, we realized that logically it
made more sense to go to the first area...but I just feel like we
needed to go visit this lady. My wonderful companion trusted my
feeling and we set off for that area. As we were biking and pulling up
to the apartment complex, Kenney Shimai had the very distinct
prompting that we were not just visiting that apartment complex to
visit Kobayashi San....shortly thereafter we saw a girl at a vending
machine, and we both had the feeling we needed to talk to her. We
parked our bikes and went on over and asked this girl what the best
drink was, and the rest was history.
There we met our wonderful Ayaka
Chan, and she has been one of the greatest blessings in my life for
the past month

She started out with no Christian background but as of
this week, she has come to all three hours of church every week, she
prays everyday, and she is over 100 pages into the Book of Mormon and
is pounding through the Isaiah chapters in 2nd Nephi like a boss. She
has an incredible ability to feel the Spirit, and loves Jesus Christ
so much and really has a strong testimony of Him and His atonement.

Yesterday after meeting almost every single day for the past month,
thanks to the help of both of my amazing companions, Ayaka Chan was
baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day
Saints. Yesterday was so happy, I can't even explain it. She was
baptized by a recent convert of the elders, and after she was baptized
she bore this sweet and simple testimony that just melted the heart of
everyone in attendance. She was literally glowing and emanating the
light of Christ, and she was SO happy. Not only that, her older
brother was able to leave his soccer tournament early (after winning
the whole thing and skipping his medal ceremony) to come to her
baptism, and he is once again investigating the church seriously. It
has all been such an amazing tender mercy, and I cannot even
adequately express my love and my gratitude for my Heavenly Father for
letting me be a witness to His glory and His work.

I know that this is God's church, and I know that He cares very much
that His children come find it. He is so willing to guide us in every
aspect of this work to the elect, and all we have to do is being
worthy and willing to follow those promptings when they come. God
loves His children so much, and He is willing to do so much to help
them come home, and I know that it is the same for each and every
single one of you. God loves you, He knows you personally, and He is
always rooting for you to be able to come back home to Him.
I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and I know that through His
atoning sacrifice, we can all have hope and joy in this life and in
the life to come. Ayaka Chan's testimony of Christ was what compelled
her to baptism, and I want my testimony of Christ to help me to become
whatever He asks of me as well. He is our Savior and the Redeemer of
all mankind, and I feel so blessed to be able to wear His name every
single day.

I love this gospel, I love this work, I love my God and my Savior and
I love the people of Japan. I can honestly say that right now I
wouldn't want to be anywhere else.

Thank you all so much for the love and prayers, I wouldn't be able to
do it all without you. Sending all my love your way and hoping you
have an amazing week!

Sister Pickering

P.S. I have a request! I like teaching by using personal experiences
and stories of those that I know...I was wondering if any of you have
any specific experiences where you have kept the commandments even
when it was hard, or made some sacrifices for the gospel and saw the
blessings that followed, if you would be willing to email me about it!
I would love to be able to have more stories to share with my
investigators that come from the testimonies of those I love. It can
be anything from Word of Wisdom to Sabbath Day to reading the Book of
Mormon...anything will do! Thank you SO much in advance!

Ayaka Chan

Pure joy

Apparently,  Alyssa's zone leader is a professional golfer.  I guess he took them out for a private lesson on their p-day.

Such serious concentration
And no, that is not a fake thing...June 21st baby. Celebrate it.

Just for fun we "brought" Alyssa along with us to D.C.  :)

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