Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Emperor Threw Off My Groove: Nihon Week 34

A year ago,  Alyssa and I would eagerly check the Japan Kobe Facebook page for any insight on her mission, the areas and the people.  We especially loved the Halloween posts and seeing all the wonderful Japanese people embrace many crazy American customs.  It is still hard to believe that Alyssa is actually there and experienced these things first hand.  And just like last year,  I loved seeing the Halloween posts and the joy of the people. 

I am also thrilled that Alyssa hasn't lost her sense of humor. ;)

I also asked her a few questions about other things we saw online before she left and how accurately they were portrayed.  Mainly about chopsticks and bowing.  Here is her response:

To answer your Japanese questions, yep we use chopsticks bakari. The only other utensils we use are spoons for like curry and soup because otherwise that would be stupid and impossible haha. I am completely used to it, I think chopsticks are way handier than forks anyways now, and will probably want to keep using them in America and I probably will as I assert my dominant American spirit. It is kind of fun, there are lots of cultural quirks here that I am sure that I am used to now that were so crazy and foreign when I first got here almost 8 months ago. Crazy how time flies. I don't have any fancy personal chopsticks yet, but I am sure that will have to change eventually. What else did you ask...oh yeah we bow haha. It isn't quite as exaggerated as the videos, but yes I totally do it. There have been lots of funny Japanese things like bowing and doing the hand sword and a bunch of things that have just sort of assimilated into my personality. It is funny. They are so crazy, if you like even accidentally bump them they freak out apologizing to you and bow and say "Shitsurei shimashita" which is basically like "I was just so rude!" These people are so crazy, but I love them.

Also,  I found this information interesting, especially for me in my own quest for growth and progress:

This ward is so great and really want to work hard, but for some reason they are SO stingy with their referrals. It kills me. I have like put my heart and soul into loving this ward and getting them to trust us and although they now adore us, they are still slow as to the whole introducing their friends thing...gah it is a good thing that patience is a Christlike attribute that we need eternity to perfect. We will get there someday. Member missionary work is seriously the ideal, it is much quicker and effective and we see way more miracles as we work together.

And group letter:

Minasan, Konnichiwa! And Happy Halloween!

Another busy week behind us and here I am staring down the last day of
October...whaaat haha. Time is so not okay. I am getting to the point
where I am meeting missionaries that are significantly younger than me
in the mission and are calling me old and people are telling me I am
going home soon (I still have 8 months people, calm down) and it is
just the saddest thing! I love being a missionary and I don't want my
time here to go so fast!

Last week was super great though. Monday after P day we decided to
continue on in our quest for new investigators and did some street
contacting (which I am probably pretty terrible at but hey, we live
and we learn and we keep trying), and I had the fun chance to teach
another classic Pokemon Go lesson. We asked this lady if she knew of
our church, and she laughed and said that she only knew that it was a
training gym for her game. As suave and cool as I am, I told her that
the church is actually like our spiritual training gym as we go and
learn about Jesus Christ and His gospel haha. Basically I was groaning
to myself internally as I said it, but hey I am desperate, and
whatever gets people to come, I am basically willing to do at this

Tuesday was so wonderful! We had the chance to have interviews with
President Welch, and those 15-20 minutes are oftentimes some of the
best highlights of my week. His opening prayers are just so inspired
and really dictated by the Spirit, and as he prays for us all so
individually it really sets the example of how I want my prayers to be
like. We talked a lot about this upcoming baptism and what we can do
here in Shimogamo to make it happen based off our current situation
and investigators, and heavens did I receive some revelation on how to
change and improve. But it was so good, because I know so much of it
was what God needed me to hear on how to help this area grow and
progress. As always he was super focused on me and how I was doing as
well, and so I was able to just really tell him how I was feeling
about dendo and life and this challenge, and with all  the feelings of
tender parents, he gave me some great counsel and as always I felt the
love from him and Heavenly Father so strongly. It was a great start to
the week and gave me some great ways to move forward how God wants me

Wednesday was just busy as we ran around to members and less actives!
It was kind of funny, because last week the Japanese emperor came to
Kyoto and was touring around for a few days to different shrines and
whatever. That being said, I am pretty sure that the entire police
force of Japan was lining the streets and directing traffic and
rearranging travel routes for a few days because he was
first it was cool but then it just became an ojama in our lives as we
tried to go someplace and had to go find another route because the
emperor was within a 5 mile vicinity. You could truly say that the
emperor threw off MY groove (please someone validate me and tell me
I'm funny, my Japanese companion has no idea why I am so hilarious and
as I tried to explain this joke she just stared at me blankly) haha,
but it was okay. That night we had Eikaiwa and since one of the elders
got sick, I flew solo and we combined the three classes and it was
super crazy, but way fun. The highlight of the night was when I was
asked to explain the meaning of the phrase "break free" as used in an
Ariana Grande song. Oh Babylon.

Thursday after weekly planning we went to go and visit Tanaka Chan,
our piano grandma! She is such a boss and brought ANOTHER friend for
us to teach haha. She is super good at member missionary work and she
isn't even a member yet, haha. We taught them and it was good, and
then it was funny because her friend felt like she was indebted to us
for the knowledge or something, and so she insisted that we let her
teach us yoga for lie 5 minutes. Japanese culture is too funny. Also
we were able to meet with Rika again! She was sick so wasn't able to
stay long, but came just long enough for us to meet with her and give
her a Book of Mormon, and she was way excited. She acted like it was
the best present ever (cuz it obviously is) and she has been texting
us saying she has been reading it. So happy!

Friday we had District Meeting which is always a party, and I was
introduced to Tim Tam Slams during our snack break, so that was always
a good time. That night we had dinner with a member and a less active
and had a way good lesson on the Area Plan and living the gospel
joyfully, and it was just neat. The less active came to church on
Sunday, and so it was super happy :)

Saturday was so fun because we had the Halloween Party! We have been
planning this bad boy for ages and it was so much fun to see it come
to fruition! The members tried super hard to invite their friends to
come, and so we had a great turn out! Our investigator Emma was able
to make it, and after much begging, pleading, crying, bribing, and
basically using any other means of persuasion deemed appropriate by a
missionary, Tanaka Chan came to the church as well (of course with a
different friend, because yappari)! She had such a great time and kept
talking about how much she loved the church, and how the air felt
"different". She definitely wanted to come back, and so it was such a
success and a great night all the way around!

Sunday was just another day filled with so many tender mercies. First
of all Sacrament meeting was the best ever because it was the Primary
Program, and it was basically the cutest thing I have ever seen in my
entire life, and I just cried the entire time because it was so
precious. We had a great lesson with Fuji Shimai the less active after
church, and she dropped the news on us that she has made the decision
after 20 years of being inactive that she is gonna start coming again
once a month (seriously a miracle of all miracles), and then we had a
great dinner appointment with a wonderful member family. So very
blessed, but my favorite experience of the week was something that
happened during the last hour of church.

We were all combined with the priesthood and the elders quorum and
ward mission leader put on a special lesson about missionary work and
bearing our testimony. We were put into pairs, and each had to take a
minute to bear our testimony to our partner. My partner was a woman
from Tasmania named Evalyn. She has been less active for a very long
time and was baptized into the church about 20 years ago, but came on
vacation here and felt led to the congregation again. I have had the
chance to be working with her and translating these past few Sundays,
so she has become a dear friend. Her faith sadly, has all but
crumbled. So as she was asked to bear to me her testimony of Christ,
she expressed that she thought He was a good person, and that if we
were all like Him, life would be good, and that was the end of it.
Then it was my turn, and I bore my testimony and tried to do so with
as much feeling as I could, but she didn't really seem too affected.
After we finished that, the leaders came around and put an empty chair
right next to each partnership. They then asked us, once again for a
minute each, to imagine that the Savior was sitting with us, and to
introduce Him to our partner. The entire atmosphere in the room
changed. It was so thick with love and the Spirit, I couldn't even
handle it. I couldn't handle my emotions as I bore my heartfelt
feelings about Christ to Evalyn, and told her about the personal
relationship that I have with Him, and about He really is my best
friend. The Spirit was SO strong and warm and I looked at her, and I
saw tears rolling down her face. When it was her turn to testify, her
voice had softened and she had had her first reawakening with the
Spirit in such a long, long time. She had changed in a matter of
moments, as the power of a heartfelt and sincere testimony had spoken
to her. She expressed that she knew that Christ was there for her and
loved her, no matter how lost she had gotten as well. Ahh I cannot
even describe the feelings that I have from that experience.
I know that the power of a sincere, heartfelt testimony can change
lives and hearts in a matter of moments. I know especially, that a
testimony borne of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, has the power to

I know that my Savior lives. I know that He loves me, and because He
loves me, He suffered for my sins and my pains and my sorrows. I know
that repentance is real because of Him, and that I can be forgiven of
my sins and my pride. I know that He knows my struggles and my fears,
because He experienced them so I would never have to go through them
alone. I know that he is my Savior and my Redeemer, and I know that I
have never felt so privileged to wear His name on my chest, as His
disciple and His servant for the remainder of my time here in Japan.

Love you all so much, and hope that you have an amazing week! Share
your testimony with someone today :) Aishiteimasu!

Sister Pickering

Shimigamo Ward Halloween Party
The Missionary "Glow"

Grandma Tanaka Chan and Friend
Crazy American Party Game

Mummy Wrap

The District

Tracting or doing Dendo

This is a fun video of missionaries just "rolling" with their circumstances. Plus you get to see Alyssa actually riding a bike :)

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