Well my daughter is officially 20 years old today. It is so hard to believe how fast time passes. I never would have imagined that on her 20th birthday she would be living in Japan, speaking the language and working hard every day to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone and everyone that will listen. I am thankful she can celebrate her birthday in such a meaningful way.
This past week was Thanksgiving as well. I can help but express my gratitude for the love and protection that Heavenly Father has afforded Alyssa during her mission. Although it was a little strange not having her here to celebrate with us, I knew that she was being cared for and loved. In fact, we actually received an email on that day from a member of her Sakai ward. It was so sweet and brought such a peace with it. I am just so thankful for those wonderful members in Japan that have shown compassion and love for my daughter. It truly is a small world within the church and I know that we are all bound as brothers and sisters in the Gospel. I love these amazing people for loving my daughter. It certainly helps the separation on our end be more bearable.
With every email, Alyssa just expresses over and over how happy she is being a missionary and serving these people. I couldn't ask for more.
Email from Member:
Dear Pickering Family
Hello! I'm a member of Sakai ward where your daughter is serving. I just want to express our appreciation to you. She is doing well and working very hard. My wife and I were convert this church when I was 16 and my wife was 20. We have been married 40 years. We have two sons and 6 grand children. We are very grateful for sending your daughter to our ward. We are blessed for working with her. If you have any concern about her please let me know. May the Lord bless you. Tadashi & Aiko Komatsu
Well I am here and happy to say that I survived probably the busiest
and hardest working and yet happiest and most miracle seeing week of
my entire mission! It was so amazing but heavens are we exhausted!
There were several times this week I would sit down for two seconds
for a meal and then find myself just collapsed dead on my futon with a
pillow over my head thanks to my cute companion haha. I haven't ever
been so tired but I also have never been happier and more grateful for
the many blessings and tender mercies of the Lord.
I learned so many things this week. When I came to Sakai, we had no
progressing investigators. The area was hitting the standards of
excellence for the mission, but the potential was so much higher. Add
in the fact that we have about a month to baptize someone in this
ward, and we knew that we needed a lot of changing to happen in this
area with a lot of miracles from the Lord. We prayerfully set some
goals to achieve some things that this area hasn't seen in a long
time, and were determined to just use the atonement to the best of our
ability and get out and get to work. Every single day we just hit the
ground running and sought the Lord in everything we did, and we were
just so blessed. We ended up finding 7 new investigators this week, 3
of whom are now progressing, 1 other is progressing, and tonight we
are gonna set a Baptismal date for another one of our investigators.
The only thing that I can say is that God is so good. I do not know
why we were so blessed to be working in this area at this time to
witness these miracles, but I just feel like this entire week has been
my birthday present from God!
I was really reminded of the individual nature of the gospel this week
as well. We went to the hospital to go and visit the 98 year old
mother of a church member with Alzheimer's. We went and she wasn't
really coherent and couldn't understand us but w sang hymns for her
and talked with her and the Spirit in the room was so special. I was
just reminded how special this precious daughter was in the eyes of
her Father, and experiences like that as we go and minister to the ONE
are why the mission and life is so worth it. Christ atoned for us all
on a personal level, and as we do our best to show that personal love
to others, we will feel His love for us more strongly.
Thanksgiving was just the best. Sooo not American, but it was good
haha. In the morning we had a lesson with our investigator Sayaka! She
is super sweet and we are working with her to overcome her WOW
concerns and have a tobacco quitting plan in action and when she
decides to completely stop we have to give up chocolate so we can
suffer together haha...but hey anything for a baptism. She wants to be
baptized really badly but also has a boyfriend and Law of Chastity
issues and wants to get married first....not that I have been praying
for them to break up because that would be rude, but it would be nice
if they broke up haha. We are gonna be setting a Baptismal date with
her tonight at dinner! If she agrees it will be the best birthday
present ever. After that we went and did service at an Old Person's
home and it was the best. We sang hymns and talked with them and it
was so special. I love service. I always feel the Spirit so strongly
and it just made me so grateful for this gospel and our Savior and the
Plan of Salvation and my many many blessings. I just know that as we
are in the service of our fellow beings, we are really in the service
of our God. Truly the happiest way to live. We ended the night by
going to a Denny's that we found! It was kind of American but not
really haha, but it was a valiant effort on the half of Japan.
My Eikaiwa class is great here. Super big and we have found a bunch of
new people to come too. It is actually super effective for dendo here,
so I am excited to see what we can make happen. All of my students are
super hilarious too. Actually Japanese people are just hilarious in
general. It just wouldn't be a week in my mission without being
stopped to talk about Trump or hit on by teenage boys or smacked by
some random grandmas on the street or scolded by a police officer for
accidentally being rude on our bikes. I love this country haha.
We have been really working to build good relationships with the
members and it is super great. I love this ward so much, they spoil us
and want to help us so much. I haven't had so many member present
lessons in forever, and it is the best feeling! They love dendo and it
is great to work together with them.
Sunday was great as always. I love church. It was freezing and pouring
rain all day which was unfortunate because the gloves and winter coat
had to come out, but it was only a matter of time. The sweetest part
of the day though was when one of my Eikaiwa grandpas (keep in mind, I
have met him once) burst into the church and delivered me this cake he
got me for my birthday. It was so sweet and moved me to tears. We
tried to kidnap him and get him to stay for Sacrament and he wouldn't
have it haha, but it was the best. These people are so Christlike and
they don't even know it, it kills me sometimes.
Also I turned 20 today haha, which makes me an adult in Japan! Hurray!
My companion was cute and told literally everything that breathes
about my birthday without my knowledge, and so I have been showered in
love and cakes and gifts. We went out to lunch today with some members
in Osaka and it was way fun (and fun fact, the guy is the Hogwarts
Express Conductor at Universal Studios Japan), and the elders made me
brownies and then dropped them on the floor but hey they get points
for trying. It has been a wonderful day and I have been so blessed by
all the love and wishes from all.
OKAY BUT HERE IS THE BIG NEWS. This past week, the church released the
2016 Christmas Initiative entitled "LIGHT THE WORLD" and it is
literally so amazing. If you haven't seen it yet, that is what
repentance is for, and so go look it up on Mormon.org right now! I
have watched it a million times and it touches me so much every single
time. I know that we can ALL be Christlike in our daily actions and
share His love and His light with everyone around us, no matter how
far our sphere of influence extends. He is the light of the world and
our salvation, and we too can we lights for this world as we try and
love and serve others and emulate Him this holiday season. Please
watch this video and share it with others. Please do the daily acts of
service and share it with everyone! I know that all of us,
missionaries and members, disciples of Christ alike, can share His
light this season and help bring others closer to Him. And I KNOW that
as we help bring others to the light and knowledge of our Redeemer, we
will inevitably become closer as well.
He lives and He loves us! Please never forget that and try especially
hard to remember Him as we kick off this holiday season :)
I love you all so much! Have an amazing week! Aishiteimasu yo!
|A taste of home.|
|Thanksgiving dinner in Japan.|
|Something in place of pumpkin pie.|
|The church in Sakai.|
|Surprise birthday cake.|
|Birthday cake from a member of her English class.|
|Birthday lunch with a member family.|
|A burger and fries for her birthday.|
|Mike Wazowski birthday pancake from Monsters Inc.|