Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Shimogamo! Nihon Week 19

Alyssa's last few words of wisdom as she said goodbye to her dear convert.  This picture chokes me up.
Well just as Alyssa suspected, she was transferred to a new area this past week.  From everything I can gather,  it was extremely difficult to say goodbye and leave her last area.  I am amazed how much she has grown to love those people in relatively short amount of time. 

Anyway,  she was transferred to the Shimogamo area (and I just recently figured out how to say and spell Yamatokoriyama and now I have to learn a new word) which covers the town of Kyoto.  Now when Alyssa got her mission call and told others about it, those that were familiar with Japan would get so excited hearing that Kyoto was in her mission.  Apparently, it a place rich with tradition and culture and when you think of traditional Japan this is the place that is often represented.  Movies and books and other things are based right in Kyoto.  So, if she had to be moved, then this is a pretty cool place to go.  I am sure it will pose all kinds of new challenges, in regards to the work, but I am equally sure she is going to love it.

Here is one brief description of the city that she shared in a letter to me:

Kyoto is a GREAT place to be. So many people which is awesome, but also kind of
overwhelming because I have no idea how to do missionary work when there are just people everywhere. Another interesting thing is that there are like a bazillion tourists and white folk roaming around, so it could be like I am back in America. I will have the chance to teach some English lessons and some of our investigators are foreigners as well, so it should be fun!

I had the chance to attend a summer festival in downtown Kyoto on Saturday with a less active and some members to go visit this other less active...holy cow it was so crazy. More people than I have ever seen in my entire life. It was like Disneyland in the summer, meets a BYU football game after party, meets Culvers after Priesthood session. SO CRAZY but so cool. Definitely something I will remember forever. Lots of kimonos and lanterns and music and cultural stuff and food. Super super cool.

And of course her group letter:

Minasan, Konnichiwa!
It has been another crazy busy week here in was arguably
one of the most emotional weeks of my entire life, but it was so good
and filled with so many tender mercies.

The beginning of last week I received the phone call that I would
indeed be transferring from Yamatokoriyama. When I first found out, I
was DEVASTATED. I loved Yamatokoriyama with my whole heart, and
leaving just was not something I wanted to do. However, when I heard I
was being transferred to Shimogamo in the Kyoto zone, I instantly felt
peace. The Lord let me know in that instant that He needed me in my
new area for some reason, and I was grateful for that confirmation
that made the departure a little easier. I was able to have peace of
mind through the Spirit, and I was so grateful.

The next few days were a blur of packing and visiting people and
saying goodbye. Oh my heavens it broke my heart to say so many
goodbyes! It is truly crazy how much I was able to come to love these
people. They truly changed my life, and I know I will definitely not
be the same person because I served as a missionary in the
Yamatokoriyama Ward. The hardest goodbye I had to say was to my sweet
Ayaka Chan. Soooo many tears were shed from both of us! She will
always have such a special place in my heart and as hard as it was to
say goodbye, at the same time it made me happy to know that I was able
to make some small difference to someone by helping them come a little
bit closer to our Heavenly Father. If she is the only one my entire
mission that I got to help be baptized and stay active, it has already
been 100% worth it.

Thursday was the day that I headed out from Yamatokoriyama to get to
my new area, Shimogamo! I arrived at the Kyoto eki and the first thing
that struck me was how many millions of people there were EVERYWHERE!
So many tourists and Nihonjin and it was a little bit overwhelming how
different it was from my last little quiet area! At the eki I had the
chance to meet my new companion, Uchida Shimai! I have a Nihonjin
companion and I am so excited! She is from Saitama, Japan and is
probably the cutest and nicest and most perfect human being I have
ever met in my entire life, and I adore her so much!  She is a 12th
transfer and just finished up being an STL in Okayama, so she is of
course such a boss and I am learning SO much from her. I have this
goal to serve my companion every single day, and it is kind of hard
because she is Nihonjin and is like ten steps ahead of the game in
serving me and being kind and considerate...she is just so great and I
feel so happy to be serving with her for this next transfer! It is
also sort of an adjustment to be doing Japanese 24/7, but it has also
been so fun. I found out that I know A LOT more than I thought I did,
so that is always gratifying! I really like speaking my mission
language all the time though, and I feel myself improving a lot. And I
am teaching Uchida Shimai English as well, so it has been a blast!

After we met at the eki, the longest day of my life started from there
haha. The last sisters in the area had lost the key to the apartment,
so another sister going to Kobe to pick up a trainee was going to grab
a spare key from the mission home and bring it back for us, but that
wasn't going to be until like 5 and it was only 11. So we navigated
the crazy of Kyoto with our luggage and barely made it to the church
and ate for the first time that day and then got some stuff figured
out and taught a member, before having to turn around again and go
back to the eki to meet the other sister! We finally got there and
FINALLY got our apartment key, and then made this other crazy
adventure to our apartment  and got there at like 6:30...from that
point on, we realized that we had the wrong key. We were so exhausted
that we just laughed our heads off, and then after calling our zone
leaders, we found out we would have to take a 2 hour train ride and go
BACK to Kobe to get the right key and then spend the night there. It
was quite the ordeal and one problem after the other, but my companion
is so sweet and positive, and so we made the whole thing into a fun
adventure. The good news is the NEXT day by like eleven, we were
finally able to enter the apartment! Hurray!

Shimogamo is a great area. We are right in the middle of touristy
Kyoto and so there are so many people everywhere all the time,
especially for things like the summer festival that has been going on
lately. I am not quite sure how to dendo in a big city yet, but we are
trying our best to figure it out! It is sooo different from
Yamatokoriyama, but I already feel surprisingly at home, and I know I
am supposed to be here!

Uchida Shimai and I had the chance to fresh start this area, and so
that has been a little bit of a challenge.  Neither one of us know the
area or the investigators or the ward, and so these past few days have
been sort of crazy and stressful just trying to figure out what the
heck is happening. We are finally getting the hang of things thanks to
the elders and this great ward, but are slightly nervous as almost
none of the investigators have contacted us back....yikes! BUT!
Something so neat about this area is that we have a FAMILY of
investigators here, and we have already met them! It is a dad and mom
with four cute kids, and they just want the best for their family and
are super open to the message and keeping commitments. We are so
excited for them and know they will make great members, and so please
keep the Hirokawa family in your prayers!

This ward is super strong and excited about dendo, and that is another
thing that makes me happy. My first Sunday was great! Everyone was so
kind and welcoming, and I am excited to be working here. Something
kind of cool is that there are lots of foreigners in this ward that
don't speak Japanese, and a lot of LDS tourists attend this ward as
well, and so I spent the last two hours of church translating! It was
kind of stressful because I have never done anything like that before,
but it was also SO fun and something that I will probably get to do
every single week. Please pray that my Japanese will be able to handle

Sunday night was super fun because we went to this huge dinner with
the Mizoguchi family and the elders and an elder that just finished
his mission with his family. The food was delicious and everyone was
so fun and kind, but the worst was that they informed us that they
have a gishiki (ordinance/initiation) for all the new
missionaries...they made Uchida Shimai and I stand up in front of
everyone and sing a solo of our favorite hymns in Japanese in front of
like 20 people! It was so embarrassing and scary and I wanted to die,
but it was also kind of hilarious. Like a million videos were taken,
so please don't look for that on YouTube, but overall the night was so
great and we had an awesome lesson afterwards. I think I am going to
really love this area!

I know this is already way long but just one last thing really
quick...before I left Yamatokoriyama, Ayaka Chan gave me this note and
it was so sweet and was her testimony and a bunch of things like that,
but something she said really touched me. She told me that since being
baptized, she is always smiling and her confidence and self worth has
increased. That really struck me, because in the MTC one of the
speakers talked about how we don't need to have self confidence to do
this work, but Christ confidence
. That has become something of a motto
for me, because I do not trust myself or my Japanese at all, but I do
trust Christ, so I find the strength to do hard things. It was special
for me to be able to see that in action in the life of my recent
convert, because she has truly epitomized that phrase. She loves
Christ so much, and since trying to follow Him and emulate His life,
she has found greater happiness and confidence, and I know this is
true for all of us. As we lose ourselves trying to seek Christ, we
will always find ourselves as better and happier people.

As always, thank you so much for all the love and the support and
prayers, I couldn't do it without all of you. I love this work and I
feel so very blessed to be a part of it!

Have an amazing week everyone! Aishiteimasu!
Sister Pickering

So many goodbyes
Yamatokoriyama Ward Members
Pickering, Ayaka, and Edwards
More farewells

My last hug with Alyssa at the MTC was heart wrenching.  This one looks equally tough for my daughter.

One last hug
Her English class threw her a goodbye party.  So sweet.

This was a companionship that was tough to break up.
These new friends will meet again at BYU.
Faithful ward members.

First look at her new area.
The church in Kyoto

Summer festival in downtown Kyoto.
Members and missionaries in her new area.

Alyssa and her new companion Sister Uchida
Apartment adventures.

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