Monday, November 28, 2016

LIGHT THE WORLD: Nihon Week 38

 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

Group Email:

Minasan, konnichiwa!

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.
Grateful regardless!

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 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!

Sister Pickering

A taste of home.
Thanksgiving dinner in Japan.
Turkey sandwich.
Something in place of pumpkin pie.

Sushi bar.

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.

 Link to the Light the World video from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Video from some members of her previous ward.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

SAKAI: Nihon Week 37

So as Alyssa indicates in her letter, she has been transferred to Sakai, Osaka.  Here is a little info on her new area:

Sakai (堺市 Sakai-shi?) is a city located in Osaka Prefecture, Japan on the edge of Osaka Bay at the mouth of the Yamato River. It has been one of the largest and most important seaports of Japan since the Medieval era.

Following the February 2005 annexation of the town of Mihara (from Minamikawachi District), the city has grown further and is now the fourteenth most populous city in Japan,[2] with 833,414 residents as of May 1, 2007.[3]

The current city was legally founded on April 1, 1889 according to the laws of Imperial Japan. Sakai became a designated city in April 2006[4] giving it a greater measure of self-determination in governmental affairs. It is divided into seven districts.

Sakai is known for its keyhole-shaped burial mounds, or kofun, which date from the 5th century. The largest of these, Daisen Kofun, is believed to be the grave of the Emperor Nintoku and is the largest grave in the world by area. Once known for samurai swords, Sakai is now famous for the quality of its kitchen knives; most high-quality Japanese cutlery originates in Sakai, and its production is a major industry in the city.

As of August 1, 2011, the city has an estimated population of 842,760 and a population density of 5,600 persons per km2. The total area is 149.99 km2.

This should be a whole new learning experience for Alyssa. 

She also mentioned in her letter about feeling another earthquake.  This is becoming a little more commonplace and I am not sure it makes me comfortable.  Especially, since receiving her p-day letter, we heard on the news that yet another major quake hit Japan and brought with it Tsunami warnings.  Fortunately, it was pretty far north from her and all is well in her mission.  Yet my heart goes out to the people of Japan who were effected knowing how much my daughter loves them.  I am having to trust in my Heavenly Father that he is protecting her and she is exactly where she needs to be right now.

With Thanksgiving this week and her birthday just a few days after that, I am missing her a little more than usual.  But I know that she is being taken care of and that she is happy.  This calms my heart and I know that time will pass soon enough.  In the meantime, I am proud of her hard work, dedication and faithfulness to the great work for which she has been called.  She is spreading joy and hope and the Love of Christ to all she encounters.  What more could we want??

Group Email:

Minasan, konnichiwa!

Somebody at the beginning of my mission once told me that if you are
born into the Osaka area, you never really get out...and that seemed
to be true for me at least! I was indeed transferred last week to an
area called Sakai in the Wakayama Zone, but it is like southern Osaka
and like a 45 minute bike ride away from Abeno. It is very different
from Yamatokoriyama and Shimogamo, but I love it so much! BUT ANYWAYS,
this week....

Monday after P day and hiking this majestic mountain, we went out
street contacting and it was super good but then it started raining
and got super cold which is always an adventure, but it was good
because it was missionary work and so we had fun as always :)

TUESDAY WAS A DAY OF SO MANY MIRACLES. We had plans to blitz a bunch
of members for stake conference, but then I received the impression
that we needed to go and visit this less active was a pretty
strong impression and so we biked on over and then we were pretty
disappointed to see she wasn't home...but I still just had this
feeling like we needed to be there for some reason and so we decided
to house around for a bit. I ended up being drawn to this super
sketchy apartment building next to the railroad tracks, and there were
like four rooms. We went to the top first and had no luck, and then
went to the bottom and saw one door open...the inside was like a
cluttered mess and I didn't know if I wanted to ping it or not, but
then this SUPER cute dog came out and ran up to me and I was like
"Okay yep, we need to be here". We call into the house and eventually
this older gentleman comes out. His name was Tsuda and we talked to
him for a moment, and we introduced ourselves as missionaries. I asked
him about his beliefs and then he is silent for a minute and he just
breaks into tears...we ended up talking to him for over an hour and he
told us about how he had had some struggles in his life as he was
recovering from brain hemorrhages three years back and during that
time he had been robbed and there were problems in his family that
left him lonely and sad and alone. I have never felt so much love for
anyone in my life so fast ever. The Spirit was so strong as we taught
and testified of him, and he cheered up so much as we shared a special
prayer with him at the end. He agreed to let us come back and teach
him the lessons, and I was SO grateful for the promptings that led us
to him, because I KNOW that He is golden and ready for this gospel.
Ahh I literally love him so much, he was so sweet, and this afternoon
was honestly one of the best experiences of my entire mission. I KNOW
God loves His children and that He sent us to find Tsuda that day for
a special reason when he needed us and the Savior the most!

That night we were typing lesson reports and then we get a call on the
phone from the Wakayama ZL's...and yep it was for me. I was super sad
to be leaving, but was also excited because the zone leaders are two
elders that I am very good friends with and worked together with back
in my bean area, and the zone is just filled with great missionaries I
respect and love. I knew NOTHING about Sakai, but I was excited to get
to work!

Wednesday we were so busy blitzing members about stake Conference
and teaching Eikaiwa and saying goodbye. I think that transfers just
keep getting harder and harder because my heart keeps getting torn out
over and over again haha. It is crazy how much I love these people. I
was also torn up about leaving Tsuda after we had just found him, but
I know that Fujii Shimai will take good care of him for me! Also it
was hilarious because one of our investigators wanted to say goodbye
to me but we didn't have a ton of time so we met at this nearby
hospital and then she ended up taking us inside and we ate a meal
together in the hospital cafeteria...haha life on the mission is so

Thursday I came to Sakai and met my new companion! Her name is Gibson
Shimai and she is super sweet. She is from Holiday, Utah and has about
4 weeks left in the mission before she heads home, but she is a
wonderful missionary and we have a lot of fun and get along great.
Also the area! It is weird to be back in Osaka, and I am not gonna lie
that I am struggling with the Osaka-ben again....I haven't understood
some of the words that people have said to me lately, but I know that
I will get my touch back eventually :) but this area is super good.
There are lots of people here to talk to and share the gospel with, so
I am excited!

Friday we spent a lot of time planning for this transfer and Saturday
was very much the same, but something exciting was that we had another
earthquake! We were just minding our own business making some curry
and then all of the sudden everything started shaking for like 15
seconds and we just stood there not sure of what to do haha. It was a
lot bigger than the one a few weeks ago, but as far as I know,
everyone was safe and okay! That night we had sports night with the
youth (we have so many youth here and it is great!) and the elders (I
am here with my douki Samuela Choro and his bean Booth Choro), and it
was great.

SUNDAY WAS THE BEST. These members here in Sakai have absolutely
stolen my heart. There are like 150 active members here which is crazy
for Japan, and they absolutely adore us and just trip over themselves
to help us with the work and with everything we need. I just love them
all so much already, and going to church on Sunday really just felt
like going home. I also gave a talk in Sacrament which went well, and
then we were just so busy going between meetings and everything! Our
Bishop is a boss and has a great vision and plan for this area, and
our Ward Mission leader is a gem and named Komatsu Kyodai and used to
be a mission president, so he is wonderful as well. I know that we
will all see so many miracles this transfer!

Ahh it was such a wonderful week and I just feel so very blessed to be
here in Sakai. At first it was a little hard to accept that I would be
transferring and going to kill a companion in a few weeks, but then I
just realized that it is more important to be the missionary that the
Lord needs rather than the missionary that I want to be. I think that
is true for everything in our we all seek to become what
the Lord needs and wants, we will receive so many blessings and be
able to have more peace and joy in our lives than we could ever
achieve on our own. I know these things are true with my whole heart

Hope that you all have an amazing Thanksgiving, and just know that I
am so grateful for this gospel and my mission and all of you. Have a
wonderful week and have a pie for me, okay? Aishiteimasu!

Sister Pickering

Wet again.
The dog, and the help of the Spirit, led the missionaries to a special new investigator.

Saying goodbye.
English Class.

Nighttime Work.

Transfer notice with train details.

In Japan, they ship their belongings to the new area when they transfer.
Goodbye notes to the people she loves.
More goodbyes.

Leaving Sister Fujii behind at the train station.

Her new District
New companion Gibson Shimai.
Her new bed (futon).

Study central.
Amazing kitchen.

She has a washer!!  Never a dryer but at least a washer.

Only in Japan.

Park fun.

Check out those slides.
Art museum?  Picture zoo?  Who knows.

Companion love.