Monday, September 12, 2016

Forgiveness and Fushimi Inari: Nihon Week 27

Fushimi Inari

Excerpts from my letter with some answers to my questions:

As far as your questions about me and Japan, yes it feels like home now, I have been here for six months, how crazy is that? Sometimes it still strikes me that I am here and that it is so beyond amazing, but then other times it has become a part of life for me. I am finally at the part where I understand basically everything that is said to me and I can BASICALLY communicate whatever I want back. It won't be pretty and there might be some pantomiming, but I am finally feeling comfortable here and I feel like a boss anytime I strut up to some tourist place and start speaking to them in Japanese. They get SO excited as I even try to talk to them, it just warms my heart so much, these people have hearts of gold. I was around a fair amount of Americans today at Inari and honestly I was so not amused with them haha. They were loud and rude and just so American and in that moment I realized how much Japan has changed me and my outlooks a lot haha. As far as things I miss from America...I miss my bed. My back is done with futons. I miss the pets and I miss Mexican food and Sour Skittles and real burgers and French fries. I also miss garbage disposals and dryers and feeling like I have a full night sleep...but really all is well. I love Japanese food and I love the culture here and there is so much that is just so special and I love so much. Such a unique place really. I will be happy to return to America someday, but I will also miss Japan terribly. It has become a part of me.

Funny thing is I actually prefer teaching in Japanese. Mom I am so awkward in English now, like you don't even know. I literally do not know how to dendo people who speak English. Sure I can do trainings for missionaries and teach a lesson here or there, but overall teaching in Japanese is just comforting. It is the weirdest thing. Maybe it also has to do with the fact that Japanese is my mission language and so that is what I was promised divine help in speaking. But yeah, interacting with people from all over the world is so cool. Very international.

might get to see Ayaka next week! We are going to the Golden Temple (NBD) and she has a school break and wants to come see me. Honestly it makes me so happy because I am HER missionary. I am the only one that went through EVERYTHING with her and we have such a special bond. Love her to pieces, can't wait for you to meet her. She is everything to me and in this moment I hate serving so far away from home because I don't know when I will see her again. 

The "good" stuff:

Minasan, Konnichiwa!

Wow what another great week here in Shimogamo! I am seriously so
blessed to be serving in such a great area with an amazing
companion...we are having so much fun and seeing so many blessings and
missionary work just keeps getting better and better every single day!
Monday after emails we went and visited Shimogamo Jinja and then tried
to visit the Kyoto Imperial Palace but sadly it was closed on Mondays
because they hate missionaries or something. Then we just went and
shopped around Demachiyanagi before the proselyting day started and we
did some good old fashioned AreaBook Dendo and made a bunch of
chirashis to hand out to everyone about prayer. It has actually been
super successful thus far!

Tuesday after regular studies we had some awkward time before we had
to go to our first actual appointment of the day so we decided to go
and do some finding by the river. It was kind of hot (but not tire
melting hot, thank goodness that has passed) and we literally were
talking to so many people for about 45 minutes and not a single soul
would give us the time of day. It was kind of discouraging and we
didn't know what to do, and so we just both had the feeling that we
needed to just go aside and say a prayer for a minute. We prayed so
fervently and told God that we just wanted to find someone we could
teach and share the gospel with and we told Him we were willing to
work hard to do it...we just wanted to be able to fulfill our purpose!
Literally less than a minute after prayer we see some lady with an
umbrella in the distance and we just know we need to go hunt her down
and so we end up running in the other direction to go and catch her
and lo and behold, she believed in God and let us teach her. Then
shortly after, we were able to teach 4 more people back to back. We
were absolutely blown away that suddenly everyone was willing to
listen to the message, but then suddenly we weren't surprised at all. The power
of prayer is SO real. God loves us so much and He is so willing to
grant us so many blessings, all we need to do is just ask! He has been
pulling strings all along to be able to help us in our lives, we just
need to turn to Him and He will mercifully deliver, as our Father. It
was such a tender mercy and honestly the little daily miracles just
like that are what makes the mission so beyond worth it.

Wednesday we had ZONE CONFERENCE! We had the wonderful chance to get
together with the Kyoto zone (which as we were reminded, is the most
envied zone in all of Japan) and the AP's and the Welch's and receive
some great training. Folkman Shimai and I received so much revelation
for our area and how we can strengthen Shimogamo in the ward and our
investigators, and it was so cool to just feel the Spirit speaking to
us personally. As always, President Welch was phenomenal. Seriously
his trainings just blow me away. He is an incredible spiritual giant
and I learn so much! With him we talked a lot about how to focus our
studies on our investigators, and as we do so out of love for them, we
will receive inspiration for them and for us as well. As we have tried
to REALLY diligently apply that in our studies this week, we have seen
miracles in planning. So dang cool. Another training I really liked
was by the STL's and it was all about trusting in God. In life and in
the mission we all have desires to work hard and be obedient, but
sometimes we find that we have these little "Yeah buts", whether they
be about getting up on time or not contacting as much as we should or
maybe back at home rationalizing immodest clothing or not being honest
in school....needless to say we are all imperfect and have a lot of
"Yeah, buts" that we can improve on. I can testify however, that as we
try our best to fix those with obedience, we see the blessings and
power of heaven flow down around us as we allow God to help us
unhindered. As we trust in Him, we will be more blessed than we can
even imagine, in any aspect of our lives.

Thursday was a good day as well as we visited some members (I LOVE
JAPANESE PEOPLE) and I taught a cute grandma on the bus (slowly but
surely Obachan Nihongo is becoming a little easier to understand) and
then we did SKK and had a planning session wth the elders about how we
can baptize the world here in Shimogamo. We applied a lot from Zone
Conference and getting to work on it has been so fun.

Friday we had District Meeting in Katsura, and it was kind of fun
because Folkman Shimai and I were able to provide some training on
"Listening" from PMG. Listen to those you love with love, and  listen
to the Spirit, and you will be able to help everyone who talks to you.
I can testify to that so strongly! After DM we visited some members
and it was neat because that night we had the chance to share a lesson
with a sister who has been struggling lately. We talked about the
importance of reading the Book of Mormon and how it can strengthen us
beyond our own capacities as we make the time to read daily, and the
Spirit was so strong. I felt prompted to share an experience from my
own life and it was tender and emotional and the Spirit in the room
was just amazing. This sister was so touched and we saw her yesterday,
and she is reading regularly again and is doing worlds better. The
moments like those make me fall even more in love with my mission.
Getting to help lift someone a little bit with the doctrine of our
Savior is the coolest.

Saturday we taught some friends and had some great dendo and Sunday
was similar (church is amazing, translating is still hard), but we
finished off the week with a great dinner and lesson on the atonement
at our regular Mizoguchi family dinners. My goodness I love this area
so much.

My final spiritual thought this week comes from an experience we had
yesterday...we work with this less active who was once an incredibly
strong member but then about 24 years ago she stopped coming to
church. The reason that she gives everyone is that it was because she
thinks food storage is apostasy (don't get me started on how
ridiculous I think that is), but Folkman Shimai felt there was
something deeper. We went into the lesson yesterday with the resolve
to just listen with love and show as much love as we can to her (she
is fluent in English and sometimes like to sass us, if only she knew
pre-mission Sister Pickering, that would be fun), and the Spirit was
with us right from the very beginning. We just listened and barely
spoke but when we did it was through the Spirit, and she eventually
confided in us the real reason she left the church, and it has to do
with the fact that a member offended her and she has not been able to
forgive them. Because she has not been able to forgive this man, she
has lost out on blessings that the atonement and the temple and the
sacrament and the gospel has had to offer her for the past quarter
Hearing the story just broke my heart for her and her choices,
but it has made me seriously contemplate a lot of things.

We are all so imperfect. All of us sin and mess up and hurt people on
almost a daily basis. Almost all of us could choose to be offended or
to hold grudges over any given things, but to what end? At the end of
the day, as we choose not to forgive others, we choose to stand under
a pavilion that doesn't allow the blessings of peace and forgiveness
and the atonement flow into our lives. As an authorized representative
of Jesus Christ, I testify that the Savior has never once held
forgiveness from us. Everyday we do things that require His
forgiveness, but as we plead to Him in mercy, we are always granted
that peace and forgiveness and love. As we choose to not allow others
to have that same peace, we are only holding back ourselves. I plead
with you now to FORGIVE. Big or small, whether it happened ten years
ago or today, please forgive those around you. We are all trying so
hard, and we are all on the path home. I have seen in my own life and
the life of investigators what happens as someone chooses to forgive
and chooses to let the Savior heal them, and I have seen what happens
as the opposite choice is made. The latter is heartbreaking and won't
help anyone, and so I just encourage you all to do whatever you can to
never let a grudge or hurt stop you from being welcomed to the
Savior's embrace.

Well everyone, I know this church is true. I know that it is blessing
my life and the lives of all those I come in contact with, whether
they realize it or not. God really is our Father, and He really does
love us. The Savior really did atone and die for us, and He is always
there waiting for us with welcoming arms and the invitation to be
healed. I love my mission so much, and I feel so blessed to be here. I
love being a missionary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day

Have a wonderful week everyone! Aishiteimasu!

Sister Pickering

P.S. Happy Willie Day to all my XC friends out there...I forgive you
all for not writing me :)
P.P.S. Today for P day we went to Fushimi Inari and it was AMAZING.
Please enjoy the overload of pictures from my beautiful mission and
amazing country.
P.P.P.S. Sorry my email titles are getting progressively lamer...I am
just boring now and I like alliteration, so there you have it.

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