Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Oh Happy Day (Sung in the stylings of a Japanese Gospel Choir): . . . .

Typhoon weather in Japan

I posted a few videos of Alyssa experiencing the climate in Japan.  I never knew that Japan had such extremes in weather.

This week I have been really touched by the blessings that Alyssa has received on her mission apart from the apparent and expected ones.  Granted, her spiritual growth has been phenomenal but there has been so much more.  They truly seem endless and each week more miracles happen.  Alyssa is very fortunate to be serving in one of the most beautiful and culturally enriched areas in Japan and in the world.  She has an amazing mission president that not only allows, but encourages his missionaries to visit and experience the areas where they are serving.  Sometimes I see her pictures and feel like she is on an extended vacation.  But then I read her emails and am thankful to see how hard she is working and the many tender mercies she sees manifested each week.  She has also been blessed to be visited by her faithful convert Ayaka, on a couple of occasions.  That is a humungous blessing for both of them and a rare occurrence in most missions.  She is truly fortunate.  And then we are all extremely blessed by modern technology.  I am able to receive short videos where not only can I see that she is well, but I can feel the joy coming through them.  God is so good.  And this mission has enriched our family in so many ways and has certainly changed Alyssa.  Thank goodness for an understanding and all knowing Heavenly Father.
Group Email:
Minasan, Konnichiwa!
Hello once again from Shimogamo (okay I am sorry that the beginnings
of my emails are so awkward, I don't even know what to say and I am
just awkward in English to begin with and so just pretend like I said
something witty and move past the first part, okay?).
THIS WEEK WAS SO GOOD. It is quite possible that this week was filled
with some of the most tender mercies and little miracles that I have
seen in my entire life, and it has been such a faith building several
So our wonderful district leader Hirschi Choro has talked to us a lot
lately about the importance of doing everything in our power to
achieve our daily goals...lately that is something that we haven't
been struggling with per se, but it just hasn't been a focus of after hearing some pretty cool experiences of his, we decided
that during nightly planning we were going to try and be a little bit
more thoughtful in setting out our number lesson goals for the next
day, and then just not be satisfied with our work until we have
reached them. We decided we were not going to take any excuses and
just work our very hardest, and I can tell you that that simple
decision opened up the gateway for us to see MIRACLES, right from the
very beginning of the week!
Tuesday we had the chance to go and visit this 80 something year old
widow in the ward again named Nakamura Shimai, and oh my heavens I
love her. She just pulls out all the bells and whistles for when we
come and visit her and gets us this ridiculously delicious sushi and
then we just teach her and I always feel the Spirit so strongly in her
home. Her faith just inspires me and her love for the Savior is
tangible and it is so neat. She then asked Folkman Shimai to play the
piano and for me to sing for her and she recorded us on this little
tape recorder thing and then she listens to it (she has others from
past missionaries) when she gets sad and lonely..ahh it just melted
our hearts. She always is so grateful when we come and visit her and
she says she feels the Spirit and so much love and around us, and in
moments like that, I am just convinced I want to be a missionary for
the rest of my life. Anyways after that we had some awkward time and
it was dark and we still needed to get two lessons to meet our goals
and we didn't have that much time...but we were determined to do what
we had decided to do so we fervently prayed and decided to go and
street in this one lighted intersection place and we were very quickly
led to two people I KNOW we were supposed to meet and teach...and one
of them turned into a new investigator! Such a miracle and we were so
blown away by the tender mercies of the Lord! She is like a grandma
but asks us to call her Tanaka Chan and she just started playing the
piano and so invited us to come and meet her other beginning piano
grandma friends the next day and to talk, and Folkman Shimai would
play some hymns for them (my companion is SO TALENTED, FY), and she
was super great and listened to us. WE WERE SO EXCITED!
Wednesday we biked to the place where we were going to meet Tanaka
Chan, and we met her and her two little Grandma friends and it was
basically the most yabaii thing ever because we go in there and Tanaka
Chan starts acting like a doseki for her friends as we introduce them
to the gospel and play some hymns and sing for them and then have a
super spiritual lesson on prayer..Folkman Shimai and I were in such
shock of what was going on! But they seemed so prepared to hear us and
meet us in that moment! It was cool because Tanaka Chan is super
receptive to the Spirit and she kept telling us that she feels so good
around us, and when we talked about prayer her heart felt hot...boy
are our hopes high for her. She and her friends are such goons too.
They loved looking through the pictures of the front of the Book of
Mormon and all decided that Moroni is handsome but Joseph Smith is a
"beautiful boy". Literally haven't laughed so hard in so long. That
night we had a great Eikaiwa and SO many new people came (including
these two insurance ladies that tried to house us one morning during
studies but we turned the tables on them, holla), and it was just
great. That night we needed one more lesson and so we decided to walk
home until we absolutely HAD to get on our bikes to be back in time
for curfew, and nobody was listening. We were getting kind of nervous
but we had seen the Lord put His hand in our work so many times
before, and so we had patience and faith. At the very last moment when
we HAD to get on our bikes to be on time, we see a lady in the
distance and decide to give it one more go. Sure enough, she was cool
and listened and let us teach her. She didn't want to meet again, but
she did want to learn about prayer! Miracles for days, my friends.
Thursday after another RC lesson, we went out finding for a bit before
SKK, and my companion gave me the goal to not take no for an answer
that day, and I am sure that was entertaining for everyone. I have
become a much bolder person on my mission (which is funny, because
that isn't something that I thought I struggled with before), but it
is gratifying to think about myself as a missionary 6 months ago and
note the changes. Just everyone needs to be baptized haha.
Friday was cool because we had ZTM, and we did it like in workshop
format this time where we rotated to the different classes we wanted
to companion and I focused on finding techniques and
teaching baptism more, and it was so cool. We definitely have so many
things to improve, and luckily now we know how to do it! That night we
also had a lesson with our investigator Regine and it was super solid!
We committed her to baptism and although she declined a date at the
moment, I know she will get there soon...she just needs a more solid
answer about the Book of Mormon and we will get there soon!
Saturday was also a super good day. We got to go help at a RS activity
on emergency preparedness (good news everyone, if there is an
earthquake I know how to make food now so I don't die), and then we
went to go to the piano recital of our three new grandma
investigators. Oh my heavens they were so precious and were SO touched
and excited that we came to see them, because nobody else did. We were
able to bring them such joy from such a simple act of kindness, and it
just warmed my heart so much. But the best part was that before the
piano started, there was a Japanese gospel choir.. oh my heavens we
laughed so hard we literally cried (I know, we are terrible people).
They all wore these silvery sequin sparkled scarves and were swaying
and signing like they were from the Deep South and the kicker is that
they don't speak English so they have no idea what they were even
saying and they don't even know who Jesus is..  what even is this
culture haha. But regardless I saw my first gospel choir performance
and it was by a bunch of Japanese people and it made my entire life.
Sunday was great, my companion gave an amazing musical number in
sacrament meeting (I turned the pages for her on the piano and I have
never felt so musical haha) and the Spirit was super strong, and one
of our investigators FINALLY made it to church with her member
husband, and we were able to have a lesson with them during the second
hour. On the way home to our apartment that evening, we got caught in
a typhoon and I have never seen so much rain in my entire life and
everything was flooded and we were soaked to the bone and the
Lightning almost struck us like 56 times but we lived so it is okay.
Haha I love Japan.
Last spiritual thought (sorry my emails are so long, I am a loser, I
know)...the other day during companion study Folkman Shimai and I were
discussing how we sometimes feel like the Japanese culture is stacked
against them to accept the gospel. They are so incredibly busy 24/7
and family relationships aren't incredibly valued here to the same
extent that we have in the church and in America and Jesus Christ is
nothing but a sometimes heard name and they just struggle so much to
understand the simplest gospel doctrines sometimes...we were getting
pretty deep and kind of sorrowful honestly as we thought about these
people that we love so much not being able to accept the gospel
because of the "wickedness of the traditions of their fathers", and as
we were talking the scriptures Jacob 5:21-22 came so strongly to my
mind. I looked it up and read it, and basically the servant of the
vineyard is asking the Lord why He put some trees in the "poorest spot
in the land" and he was basically questioning if the Lord knew what He
was 22 the Lord counsels the servant to "Counsel me not",
and basically tells that He is fully aware of the situation that He
places his trees in. This struck me so strongly, because I realized
that I was being that servant that was questioning the Lord, and so
lovingly He reminded me to not counsel Him, because He is aware of the
situation that He has placed these wonderful Japanese people in. He
knows there might be some cultural barriers, but I happen to know that
God loves us so much that He is willing to give us help proportionate
to and more of the trials that we face. Everything we are given in our
lives is given for the benefit of us returning to God someday, and
what a blessing that is. If you are going through something hard,
don't counsel the Lord about it. He knows where He put you, and He
knows exactly what you need so that you can grow.

I love this gospel and I know it is true. Everyday is such a blessing
to be a missionary of this amazing church. Love Japan and these people
and I can't wait to help them receive the gospel every single day that
I am here with this badge on my chest. Wouldn't want to be anywhere
Love you all so much, and hoping everyone has a wonderful week! Aishiteimasu!

Sister Pickering

P.S. For P day we went to Kinkakuji (the golden temple) and my cute
little Ayaka came and met us again! She is basically my favorite
person ever, love her to pieces.

Folkman Shimai
 Kinkakuji (the golden temple)
Sweet Ayaka came to visit
Connected for Eternity
Another video, this time of their p-day adventure
And finally, another video.  This one is of Ayaka.  But I also love it because you can hear Alyssa talking in Japanese which we haven't heard since she left the mtc.  It's amazing what 6 months in another country can do.

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