Monday, October 3, 2016

Time Is Not Okay: Nihon Week 30

Well a little update since Alyssa sent out her group email.  She is staying in Kyoto which was kind of a surprise.  Although she is super sad about being separated from Folkman Shimai, she is thrilled to be staying in her area.  She has worked really hard to establish relationships within the ward and is starting to see progress there.  She is hoping that through the ward they will find success and have help in the missionary work.  She truly loves the people.  And she has been so blessed to have such great companions.

Also,  I loved her insights about Repentance.  It was like she was quoting from two different General Conference talks that were just given this weekend and she hasn't even heard them yet.  But she was so spot on.  It is truly something we all need every day and it is a gift.  And how much better off will we be if we can look at it as a positive thing for our growth and progression instead of such a negative "have to do it" thing.  She is growing in leaps and bounds.

Also, a couple of excerpts from her letter to me:

To answer some of your other questions from last week about contacting and whatnot.  We usually start out with the classic Eikaiwa approach and then move into talking about God and asking their opinions and beliefs. Usually people say they have never thought about God before. This used to blow my mind because I thought that wasn't possible...but it is literally a cultural thing here for them to never think about God or religion beyond the shallow name. We ask people who claim to be Buddhist about their beliefs all the time but they can never tell us because they have no idea haha...they are such an enigma of a people truly. Sometimes we try and teach a baptism lesson on the street and usually that is and adventure, but sometimes we also see really cool things. Truthfully I am really bad at finding and getting new investigators, but I can just have that faith and the hope that I am planting seeds. The Japanese I think are incredibly different from any other people on the earth and as such so is missionary work is crazy haha. I don't even know how to describe it other than I can guarantee it is a waaaaaaay different world from that of a Hispanic missions. 

In spite of the trials and frustrations we had, this week was super neat though, really. We have just continued to see an outpouring of tiny miracles as we simply try our best to fulfill our goals and work our hardest. Our numbers and lessons have looked pretty good, but not only that our relationships with the ward members have been one of the most satisfying things of my entire life. We have worked SO HARD to get them to like us, and to see the subtle changes has been so rewarding. We are really starting to work hand in hand with these members, and I have come to love them so dearly. It is funny how much your heart can love people, because just when you think you can't anymore, it just surprises you and keeps growing. That is the beauty of charity and coming to understand the atonement, I guess! 

Group Letter:

Minasan, Konnichiwa!

I hope that you all had an absolutely wonderful week and enjoyed
General Conference! We are a little bit behind over here in good old
Asia and so I will have the chance to watch all the conferences this next
weekend, and I couldn't be more excited! I hope that you all remember the
special feelings and impressions that you received this weekend, and
that you make a plan on how you will change because of them! I promise
as you do so, you will see the guiding hand of the Lord every step of
the way!

Well for starters, earlier this afternoon we received a call from
President Welch where he told us that Folkman Shimai was being
transferred away to go and be an STL in Akashi...needless to say we
both cried for an hour haha. This past transfer has easily been the
best of my entire mission; we have learned together and laughed
together and have seen an innumerable amount of tender mercies these
past 6 weeks. She is one of my very best friends and I am going to
miss her like crazy, but I know that she will go do wonderful things
as an STL (clearly Heavenly Father sees how much help I need out here,
He just keeps blessing me with the most amazing companions haha), and
so I will be moving on to companion 4 in 4 transfers! Granted I am not
100% for sure if I am even staying in Shimogamo, but if I were to
guess I would say that I will most likely be staying here for a third
in Kyoto! That would also be crazy because no sister has really stayed
here longer than 2 transfers, and so I will feel blessed to continue
on this work in this great area! I guess we will just have to see what
He wants :)

This past week was absolutely wonderful. We saw so many miracles and
once again I had the great opportunity to have my testimony
Monday after P day we went and translated visiting teaching for this
sister named Hazel (who is so dang cute) and we miraculously made it
to her house in 30 minutes on bike during rush hour when it usually
takes us 45 minutes to an hour (miracles are real, people) to get
there, and it was just a great start to the week. Love service and
love the gospel.

Tuesday was just another testimony to me about the power of prayer and
the love that God has for us. We had a day where so many plans fell
through and we had no idea where we needed to be. . . after we prayed we
felt like we needed to go and find around Kyoto University and we were
having no success there either...not gonna lie, I was getting pretty
discouraged and so I just started praying in my heart that we would
find someone to teach. At long last when I am about at my wits end for
the night, I see this high school girl and feel like we should go talk
to her. I contacted her by first inviting her to Eikaiwa, and then she
responds in fluent English and we get talking and she ends up being
such a boss! She lived in America and started to believe in God and
develop deep faith but then she came back here and saw how sad
everyone in this country seemed without God and she didn't like it and
wanted to find people that she could talk to religion about and go to
church with...we were so elated to meet her! She also needed service
hours for school and so has the plan to come and start helping us out
with Eikaiwa! Our current problem is that her family is Buddhist and
isn't overly thrilled with her doing the whole Christian thing, but we
have faith and are praying! She is so golden and I am so glad that
Heavenly Father was merciful enough to hear my prayers.
Wednesday we had another typhoon! Woohoo! Haha so we basically just
ended up dendoing in the pouring rain all day long and even our rain
suits couldn't keep it out...we ended up changing outfits 3 times that
day because we were so soaked haha. It was kind of an adventure
because people don't like talking to us on those days, and yet we
still found ourselves being led by some subtle promptings of the
Spirit to go and visit some members and cheer them up...Heavenly
Father is just so cool.

Thursday was one of the most productive days of my entire life! We
were so busy every single moment and when you are busy as a
missionary, you are happy. We had the chance to be the Elders Quorum
for this lady (we moved furniture and carried boxes haha) and then
went and did some SKK and then went and taught our investigator
Tanaka, our little piano grandma! We shared with her a Christmas
message about the Savior (because why not?) and sang her a song and
the Spirit was SO strong. She even felt it and it was so happy...she
just smiled at us and told us that the air in the room changed
whenever we come in, and she just feels so warm. SUCH A BLESSING. We
extended her the invitation to take the lessons, and she accepted
officially! Hurray! Then we had to rush and go catch this train to go
visit this member family but because I am an idiot we missed the train
and I was super bummed out, but then because God is amazing, we ended
up meeting this super awesome 12 year old girl named Moyu who LOVES
Christ and prayer and wants to meet again. Tender mercies! And then
just the icing on the cake of the night was that when we visited this
member family, they fed us Hispanic food (the dad is from Chile) and
it was so good we wanted to cry. He also tried to speak to me in
Spanish and I can't do it anymore haha, so sorry friends and family.

Friday we had ZTM! It was actually super cool because earlier in the
week the STL's called us and asked us to train on behalf of them (they
had to go to another zone) and so Folkman Shimai and I ended up being
able to give a training on accountability to the Kyoto zone! As we
studied and prepared, we learned a lot and saw it positively affect
our dendo so much, so it was exciting. The training was super fun and
went well, and the meeting was overall so great. The ZL's revealed to
us a revelation that Welch Kaicho had, and it was amazing. He received
the revelation that every companionship in the mission will see a
baptism before the end of the 2016...we just have to work our hearts
out to see it happen! We were all kind of stunned but then got super
excited....we know that this is a promise from God, and so we are all
embarking on the hunt to find the one who is ready for us, probably
here in Shimogamo! Can't wait to be apart of so many more miracles.

Saturday was good (and stupid, because it is October now, what even is
this?), lots of good study and we had the chance to visit my favorite
member family in this Ward and mogi contacting families with them, and
then we had a rough afternoon of brutal rejection for like 2 hours,
but then it was okay because God is amazing and led us to some other
great people at the end of the night.

Sunday was just the best. Fast Sunday is so incredible! I love getting
to worship together with the members, they are just so special and
mean so much to us. YW's was awesome because we got to teach and role
play doing missionary work with the girls, and they are just awesome
and excited to give it a try. I love this Ward so much! Then the night
finished off amazing when we were able to FINALLY meet with one of our
investigators from last transfer named Emma...she is such a boss. She
told us all about how when she meets with us, she is confident that
she will feel peace and happiness in her life, and she wants to keep
meeting and learning and growing in faith. She also loves it when we
share our testimonies and favorite scriptures with her, and so it was
neat. The Spirit was so strong and I love dendo :)

One final order to achieve this baptism goal by the end
of 2016, a lot of things are going to have to change, because we can't
keep doing what we have always done. We need to expand our vision and
focus on God and His power rather than our own fears and weaknesses,
and basically I realized that I need to repent. I just kind of wanted
to go on a rant about repentance for a second, because it is something
that I have truly come to love on the mission. I used to have this
really scary image of repentance growing up, like it was what you did
when you were unfortunate enough to mess up, but now I realize that
that couldn't be farther from the truth. Repentance IS the plan that
God has for us, it is not the backup plan! Repentance is truly nothing
more than a change to become more like Christ and to become a little
more sanctified and worthy to be like Him someday....repentance is
truly just elevated change to help us reach our potential, and every
time we choose to do so humbly and willingly, we are changed and see
I love repentance and I am so grateful for the chance I have
to do so, because I need it every single day. I am so weak and
imperfect and falter constantly, but because I can repent and follow
my Savior, it doesn't matter. All that matters is that I try and use
the atonement and become a little better today than I was yesterday.

I love this message and the chance I have to be sharing it. I am
grateful for a mission president that receives revelation from God,
and I am grateful to be a witness to miracles that help accomplish
this work. I am grateful for a loving Father in Heaven that knows
infinitely better than I do, and I am grateful for a Savior who helps
me overcome every trial. He lives :)

Love you all so much and hope you have an amazing week! Aishiteimasu!

Sister Pickering

P.S. I went through the temple over a year ago now and I hit my 9
month (halfway) point this disgusting is that? Time needs
to chill out.


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