Thursday, September 8, 2016

Sorry My Emails Are So Long but Miracles:Nihon Week 26

Word of wisdom from my daughter.  I really miss her at times but how could I think of myself when she had such an amazing week with miraculous experiences.  I am so proud of her and her dedication.  And being able to see her in a video, like the one I posted at the bottom of this post, really helps me a lot and makes me smile.
Excerpt from my letter:
I have learned that it is so easy to lose your testimony. Every single day you are either progressing or regressing, there is no in between, and you have to make a conscience effort to learn and grow every single day. it definitely is not easy, but it is definitely worth it. God is there and is reaching out to every one of His children, they just need to look up and see for themselves. Luckily repentance is real and is a thing, and is something I have come to appreciate very much because it is something that I need like every two seconds, lol. I know really understand though that repentance is not just something you do to get rid of the bad, but it is something you do to become something good. The changing power is real and I am seeing it in others and in myself, and that is a neat experience for sure. I just feel so blessed to have been raised in the gospel like I did, in an environment where I was able to develop my testimony for myself under the nurturing of a wonderful family. If the Japanese could just figure out how to get that done, there would be so many less problems here. Most of the youth are second generation and their parents are converts and don't know how to raise kids in the church and so they are either way too relaxed or way too strict...either way the kids end up less active and the future of Japan is stuck needing leaders. It is definitely an interesting balance but what I have learned is that I am just going to teach my future children like my investigators now. They all have different learning styles and different ways to feel the Spirit, and so if I can hone in on that and just facilitate those experiences for them to learn, hopefully it will all be okay.
Group Email
Minasan, Konnichiwa!
Holy cow this week had so many tender mercies and little miracles and laughs and testimony building experiences and I don't even know where to start...ahhh I just love being a missionary so much and the fact that I hit 8 months this week is just so yabaii. I feel like I just barely got here and am still so new and learning, and yet if you blink time just keeps on escaping and so you have to just take every moment you have and run and enjoy it!
Last Monday for P day after emails we headed to Shijo Kawaramachi to show my country bumpkin companion (lol not really, she has just been banished to Shikoku her entire mission) what the big city looks like. We went shopping and visited the Disney store again (because you can never have too much Disney, AND both of our families are going to Disneyland without us in the near foreseeable future, so what the heck, we figured that we had to get our fill in), and it was great. That night we went and visited a member named Hazel and translated visiting teaching for her (she is from the Philippines and her teachers are Nihongin, naturally), and then after that we had the chance to teach a lesson to her roommate Regine! Regine is currently practicing another Christian religion but has been open to hearing our message lately, and so we decided to all read out of the Book of Mormon together and discuss it. As we did so, the Spirit flooded into the room so strongly and I felt prompted to talk about baptism with her and I was super nervous but the Spirit told me to do it so I kind of had a YOLO moment and went for it. My companion was totally on the same page as me, and so we were able to present a beautiful message through the Spirit, which ended with Regine telling us that she wants to get baptized. YATTA. We still have a lot of barriers to work over with her, but the point is that we followed the Spirit and something great happened...shoutout PMG for giving us the idea to all read together in the first place!

Tuesday was funny because we got to teach this really old grandma and we had a doseki from this sweet member in the ward (that was actually funny in and of itself, because we accidentally had two members show up because we have been really focusing on working with the members this week, shoutout Shimogamo Ward for being amazing), and it was great. We introduced her to the Book of Mormon and although she stubbornly insisted that she is Bukkhyo, she said that she would read the Book of Mormon, although she wasn't planning on converting or changing...we all told her, sure go for it, just read...and then all chuckled mischievously at the thought of her reading the Book of Mormon and not changing, because we all know that doesn't happen!  After that we went and taught Tomoko Shimai the recent convert, and tried to get her on board with visiting teaching.....before she was pretty nervous and didn't want to do it, but we decided to all read from the Book of Mormon together (that was another theme from this week, and just reading the Book of Mormon with people you want to teach is so boss, because the Spirit really is the one that does the teaching), and we slowly introduced the topic...haha it got to this point where she was telling us about how she was searching for her current mission in life and Folkman Shimai just bursts out "It is probably visiting teaching!" It was SO funny and I had to keep in the laughs, but hey, apparently something clicked with her, because now she is going to be a visiting teacher! (Also Tomoko Shimai is just the cutest and has the sweetest heart, and she is currently obsessed with Marilyn Monroe and told us very seriously how she wants to go to America and meet Marilyn's family and get permission to do her temple work, because she needs to be saved too haha).

Wednesday we had SKK and so we planned for like a million hours, and then we went finding and had Eikaiwa! Although we didn't find any new investigators, we were able to meet and teach some people that the Lord definitely had in store for us...getting to see His hand is the coolest ever.

Thursday we went to Fushimi and had a kokkan! I got to work with Rees Shimai again, and it was great fun, and we basically just continued in our endeavor to baptize the world, starting with the Kansai area of Japan.

FRIDAY WE SAW SO MANY LITTLE MIRACLES. We had district meeting and ate Indocurry which are of course just lovely, and then we had the chance to visit this less active. The lesson was going a little weird but then we just felt prompted to testify of the Savior, and the spirit just came rushing in and was tangible. SO NEAT. She also committed to come to church on Sunday, and she actually did! Then we visited an active  member, and were able to extend her an invitation through the Spirit that she told us Heavenly Father knew she needed (being an instrument of the Lord is the coolest). After that we were unsure of what to do because some plans and timing changed...we prayed and I felt prompted we should go visit this other less active and Folkman Shimai agreed...we prayed fervently to be able to go there and do what we needed to do, and meet anyone that we might need to meet. The second we got to the apartment complex and stepped in the elevator, we met a lady who we had actually seen before. She is from Egpyt and practices another religion but we actually were able to talk with her and teach her for a long time, and she wants to meet again! Holy cow the Spirit was so involved in us meeting her, and then we went and knocked on the door of the less active and she wasn't even home, but we didn't care because we met this other lady, but then we got to the elevator and sure enough, the less active just happened to show up at the right moment. Tender mercies for days!
Saturday was another day of tender mercies. We had a great doseki lesson on the restoration with our other little grandma investigator (once again, I just want to testify that the message of the restoration is TRUE), and the Spirit was so strong as we testified. Seriously such a neat experience. Then we went and met with this former investigator of the last sisters, who we had dropped but then she FINALLY contacted us out of the blue and wanted to meet! Such a miracle! She is from China and is SO she has literally been taught and raised that God is not there and so that is a challenge we are working with, but we are excited to see her faith grow, especially as the Spirit definitely guided that lesson. We finished off the night with another great lesson with a progressing less active, and then ping pong night (where our ward mission leader and his son dressed up like frogs to play us, because Japan).

Our Sabbath was amazing. So uplifting as usual, and the Spirit was in such abundance. We went and taught this other less active, and I actually went crazy bold on her (it kind of shocked me actually haha), but we built some good relationships and I am confident that we will see her come back to church.  Then we went and had dinner with our funky ward mission leader (his self-declared title) and it was the funnest night all week....he is such  crazy dude and kept wearing different disguises all during dinner so we had some great laughs, but at the end of the night, we had a great Spiritual experience together as we discussed dendo and prayer. Then finally, thanks to a random freak injury that appeared on my companion's leg that made us stop and have to search for a bandaid in the depths of my bag, we were able to perfectly time a spontaneous meeting with an investigator. Can God get any better?

Just as a final thought, I want to share two scriptures. 
Alma 26:36 Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people, who are a branch of the tree of Israel, and has been lost from its body in a strange land; yea, I say, blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land.
37 Now my brethren, we see that God is mindful of every people, whatsoever land they may be in; yea, he numbereth his people, and his bowels of mercy are over all the earth. Now this is my joy, and my great thanksgiving; yea, and I will give thanks unto my God forever. Amen.

Even though I am currently in a "strange land" far away from home and speaking a language I am trying my best to learn, I know God is mindful of me. And not only that, and even better, I know He is mindful of the people here that I teach and that I love dearly. The Lord is my biggest hope, and I am so blessed to be His representative for the next 10 months. I love my mission and I love this gospel so much. I just know that it is true.
Sister Pickering
P.S. I just received an email and pictures that Ayaka's brother from Yamatokoriyama was baptized this weekend. So. Many. Blessings. 
P.P.S. Ignore the abundance of selfies, also it is September which means that it is basically Christmastime now, so we decorated this week. It's the most wonderful time...of the year!

I don't know what she ordered but it looks fun.
Ayaka's brother's baptism.  Oh happy day.
"Got this from Ayaka today...her brother got baptized this week! Ahh such a happy miracle I was able to be a part of. Seriously so many blessings come from missionary work. Love love love this family and this work."

Monster Inc. Eyeball Hair Elastics?

Out doing Dendo (or knocking doors)

Interesting picture

Ward Mission Leader and his son.
Ward Mission Leader

I know that Alyssa loves Christmas, but decorating in September might be a little ridiculous.

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