Monday, August 1, 2016

Return of the Gokiburi (Cockroaches) and the Doctrine of Christ: Nihon Week 21

Each week, Alyssa's letters never cease to amaze me.  The amount of growth and insight she offers in the Gospel has taught me so much.  I was especially touched by this thought she shared with me: 

Kind of an interesting experience from earlier this was after sort of a tiring and rough day and I was biking home. I thought to myself "I am not good enough to be here doing this" and the Spirit almost immediately shot back at me "No, you're not. And neither is your companion or anyone else doing this work." But then immediately after it dawned on me that it is impossible for me to try and do the work that the Savior did exactly as He did. Not only that, I will never be perfectly worthy to wear His name on my chest. But the Spirit really taught me in that instant that it is okay, because the Lord knew He was calling somebody imperfect. I am incredibly imperfect trying to do this perfect work, but He is going to help me every single step of the way. I do not have to be alone as long as I let Him help me through all of this! 
Life here is good. I am happy to be a missionary in this beautiful place with people that I love so much. As much as I miss you all terribly, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I know this is where I am supposed to be and I know this is where the Lord needs me, so how could things be better? 

Group Letter

Minasan, Konnichiwa!

Hello again from the lovely city of Kyoto, where it is almost as
hot as the place where people will go unless we get to teach them our
message (jokes, jokes, jokes...but no is dang hot here)!
We had another great and busy week here in the Shimogamo area, and it
wasn't even slowed down one bit by the fact that the heat made us all
want to die a little bit, but it is okay because 7-11 sells 2 Liter
bottles of water that we have no shame in biking around with :)

The week started out super good with a super fun P day with my lovely
companion. We went to downtown Kyoto and went to the Disney store (I
walked in and "Soaring Over California" was playing on the speakers
and I almost cried) and other places, and then I went to a conveyor
belt sushi place for the first time and it was SO good. Japan has so
many quirky things about it, but I just love it all so much!
Tuesday was amazing! We had the great opportunity to have interviews
with our wonderful mission president, President Welch, and it was so
very amazing and so very needed. Every single time I speak with him my
testimony is just reaffirmed even stronger that he is called of God to
lead this mission, and revelation is REAL. He was able to offer me
counsel on some things that I had been wondering about or struggling
with that nobody else knew about besides the Lord, and I was just so
grateful that he had sought the spirit beforehand so that he could
know what to say and how to show that love from my Heavenly Father.
I started the interview with a prayer in Japanese and at the end of the
prayer he just gives me the biggest smile and compliments my Japanese
and says "I am so proud of you". It was just the fatherly comfort that
I had been needing, because sometimes Japanese still has a tendency to
stress me out, but it was so great. We had some amazing discussions
about the Shimogamo area, the Book of Mormon, and most importantly,
what I am doing to live and exercise the power of the atonement in my
personal live every single day. He told me that it all comes down to
living the doctrine of Christ to the fullest in every way we can. I
get up in the morning on time, exercise, and begin my studies, all
acting in faith that it is what I am supposed to do. I act in faith
when I open my mouth to the stranger on the street, or when I try and
extend a bold and loving commitment. I repent when I realize that the
next day I can improve even more, and try to be a better missionary,
companion, and person. I remember my baptismal covenants every time I
partake of the sacrament, and as I try and always remember Jesus
Christ. I use the gift of the Holy Ghost as I follow promptings to
help life the lives of those around me, and share the gospel with
someone who needs it. And then I endure to the end by doing it all
over again the next day and the next day and the next day. As we
talked about that, I realized how true it was, and how completely
amazing and profound it is as well. I can testify that if you want the
power of the atonement to flow more powerfully in your life, study 2
Nephi 31 and then find ways you can live the learned principles every
single day. I promise you your life will change and you will feel the
Spirit more abundantly, because I know it certainly has happened for

The rest of the week was great and a blur of visiting people and
teaching lessons and just trying to be the best missionaries that we
can be. We had a super solid lesson on Tuesday with our investigator
named Regine, who moved here from the Philippines not too long ago.
She shared with us some hard experiences that led her to have faith in
Christ, and then we were able to testify to her that through this
gospel, she will become closer to Him than she ever thought possible.
The Spirit was SO strong and we were all crying and sharing
experiences, and it was so uplifting. Moments like that always remind
me why I love being a missionary! We also had the chance to meet with
our investigator family, the Hirokawa's again! I love them so much,
they are so great. We were able to meet the 11 year old daughter, and
she is so stellar. She loves Christ so much and really desires to
follow Him, and once again I am just left in awe at the faith that a
child can have. No wonder Christ asks us to all become like them! We
extended the baptismal commitment and they aren't quite ready yet, but
think they will desire that for the family as they continue to learn
and come closer to Christ. So exciting!

Another funny story really quick....we had the return of the
cockroaches unfortunately. After Eikaiwa we were in this big room
talking with investigators, and me and this one elder see this
cockroach fly in and land on this guy's leg. We exchange this look but
didn't dare say anything, and then we look outside in the hall from
where it came from, and there were cockroaches flying around
everywhere! It was basically the stuff that nightmares are made of as
we went on this frantic cockroach massacre while all these other
people are just having this pleasant conversation inside the Eikaiwa
room. Goodness I love Japan, but I will NOT be sad to say goodbye to
the cockroaches!
It was just a super solid week for us here. Things are finally
starting to come together in our teaching rhythm and with
investigators and with getting to know the members. The Shimogamo Ward
is really so sweet, and I love being able to be here and serve with
them. We have had the chance to really work with some less actives and
see them come back to church, and in my mind, that is one of the most
rewarding things ever. Christ would do anything to go find that one
lost sheep, and trying to emulate Him in some small way in that aspect
of the work is just such a blessing.
I love being a missionary!

One final thought...yesterday before church I had the chance to have
some personal study and I felt prompted to study the atonement
chapters in the New Testament in preparation for the sacrament. As I
did so with that mindset, the experience became so special and
spiritual. When I actually took the sacrament, it was so sacred and
like a completely new experience. I feel so sad that I have missed out
on having that complete spiritual rebirth every Sunday, and I cannot
wait for it again next week! I encourage you all to do whatever you
can to prepare to take the sacrament each week, because if you enter
that meeting having repented and spiritually prepared, it will change
you and set you off on the right course for the rest of the week. That
much I can promise!

As always, thank you for all the love and the support and the prayers,
I definitely could not be doing it all without you. I know this work
is true, and I feel so blessed to be apart of it. I love serving my
mission in Japan, because I know this is where the Lord needs me to
be. This church is so true and I cannot wait to share that with
everyone I can!

Have an amazing week, everyone! Aishiteimasu!

Sister Pickering

Photos: We had the chance to go to Ginkakuji (the silver temple) for P
day today, and it was so fun, so enjoy some photo selections from that
and other various missionary life activities!

2 liter water saves the day. ( I have followed the weather app for Alyssa's area and it is no joke when she says it is hot.  Often times the 90's temps plus 90% humidity puts the real feel at 108+ degrees.  Good thing she doesn't melt).

"There were some Peruvian flute dudes the other day, and so I got
to pretend I was serving a Spanish mission for like two seconds.

 Here is a song that is an excerpt from one of the new Meet The Mormons movies.  The story is about 4 siblings from Tokyo Japan that are Entertainers in the music industry.  They have found a way to balance their careers and still maintain their values and Christian beliefs.  This story is especially touching to me since these are people that Alyssa loves and is currently serving.

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