Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas! Nihon Week 42

 My heart is so grateful to the wonderful people of Japan and the love they share for my daughter.  They are truly a treasure and I know Alyssa couldn't be in a better place right now.  And I am so thankful for our Savior and for this wonderful time of year to celebrate his birth and his life.  And I am so happy for the miracles Alyssa is experiencing every day as she loses herself in the service of our God.  All is well!!

Minasan, MERRY CHRISTMAS! And pretty dang soon, Happy New Year as well! 
I hope that you all had an absolutely wonderful holiday spent with your family and loved ones and serving others and sharing the light of Christ that you all have :) This year was definitely the strangest Christmas of my life, but it was a memorable one that I know I will always be grateful for! 
This week was such a good one. We are still covering two areas until this Thursday and so we are still spending lots of time on trains and on the phone, but it has been so fun. I adore both of my companions and we all have a great time and teach super well together, and so even though sometimes the stress can be insane, we are at least having fun while doing it. This past week we were able to spend a lot of time in Sakai, and I was so happy for that! I missed my area and ward and investigators so much and everyone just warmed my heart when they saw me again and gave me the biggest hugs and told me "Welcome Home". Goodness I love Sakai! 
We saw a lot of miracles this week! The first happened on Monday night when we had some appointments fall through and weren't quite sure what to do..after some prayer and counseling we felt like we needed to go visit these certain investigators for some reason, so we headed on our way. Not even halfway there, we saw these three girls walking home and so we stopped them on our bikes and talked to them for a bit. They were way cute and we got talking to them and it turned out that one of them knew tons about Christ and thought He was great and wanted to come to Eikaiwa and learn more! We exchanged contact info with her and were way stoked that the Lord was able to help guide us in the right direction to be where we needed to be to meet her. 
Wednesday was special because we had the Christmas Taikai! We all went to Abeno in Osaka with the Kyoto and Sakai and Osaka zones, and we got to play sports all morning (dodgeball and futsal are life)! So much fun! In the afternoon we had Mexican Food and a talent show and then watched a slideshow of mission photos. It was seriously so much fun to be reunited with old companions and friends and just really celebrate the Christmas season together. Honestly such a blast and I love serving in the Japan Kobe Mission. 
Thursday we had another awesome miracle. We were biking home from giving service at the old person home and were about an hour or a little more away. We had some extra time and so we just decided to stop and find on the way home. We were biking home and Manwill Shimai felt like we needed to stop and House this apartment...we got off our bikes and did but nobody was home and so we were a little disappointed but felt like there had to be a reason. Like two minutes later we pull up to a stoplight and we start talking to this 18 year old girl. We introduced ourselves and told her about Eikaiwa and that whole deal and she tells us about how she wants to work in rehabilitation someday because she loves to help people. She was super cute and way sweet and it reminded us of the Light the World video and so we asked if we could share it with her, and she said yes. So we were standing on the side of this busy road and it was sort of rainy, but I kid you not the second we pulled out the video, the area went silent as no cars went by, and the rain stopped. We showed the video and the Spirit was SO strong, it was seriously the coolest thing. After the video, the girl had totally changed. We asked her what she thought, and out of the blue she told us that she wanted to learn about Christ and read the bible to become more like Him. We were seriously stunned that we were so blessed to witness such a miracle right in front of our eyes. We exchanged contact info and she is super busy with tests for the next bit, but we will be meeting with her after that. Such a miracle and so grateful for the Christmas video!! 
Friday we had a super fun combined district meeting and then visited less actives before the Sakai Christmas Party!! Holy cow I am so proud of my ward. They all tried so hard and almost every family that came brought a nonmember friend or less active! We were so busy running around all night to try and meet these people and contact the referrals and entertain our investigators that came, and it was the best. At the very end of the night, the Bishop got up and was talking and made a comment about how we should all give presents to Christ this year...then he looks at me and says "But because we can't see Christ with our eyes right now, how about we give presents to people who have a His name on their chest?" They called all of us missionaries to the front and presented us with this HUGE box of presents and then thanked us for serving and loving like the Savior would, and it brought tears to my eyes. I felt so much love from the ward and from my Savior as I was really reminded once again of the honor it is to be wearing His name every single day, especially during this special season. 
Christmas Eve was fun as we got to do lots of service with ward members all throughout the day. It was just so neat and liberating to not be focusing on myself or my problems! That night we had a dinner with some members and all the recent converts of the Sakai Ward. Their faith and testimonies are so precious, love them to pieces. 

Sunday rolled around and was Christmas! (And just to answer the question I have been asked a million times...Christmas is super different in in it basically doesn't exist haha. It was pretty sad. Outside of the church and our apartment it was life like normal for people, they worked and had practice and had life and looked at us weird when we wished them a Merry Christmas. Sort of killed me inside, but we made sure to really keep Christmas in our heart haha)We got up early and watched the Nativity and opened presents from our family before getting ready to head to church. Sacrament was a blessing because one of our investigators came and had a GREAT experience, and it was all centered around the Savior which I just loved. After sacrament I got the best present all day...I was able to Skype my family! Holy cow I am so so blessed. Words can't describe how much I love them and how much I miss them, and how grateful I am for their constant love and prayers and support. Loved talking to you Mom, Dad, Ry, and Brianna! That afternoon we just went out and did work. We visited less actives and did contacting on the streets and served random people and gave away Christmas presents and it was so so happy. Seriously being a missionary at Christmas time is the coolest. So blessed to have had this chance. 
Coming up this week we have transfers (I turn 8, that is scary), going to go to Kobe to get my trainee, and New Years! Should be busy as usual with our two areas and trying to baptize before Sunday. Lucky God has our back as usual, or this would be incredibly stressful haha. 
Well everyone, I hope you all had a merry merry Christmas and I wish you an amazing start to the new year. As we set our resolutions for 2017 remember that it is never too late to change to become the person that God wants and knows we can become. The atonement is there for us to change :)
I love this gospel and I love my mission and I love all of you. Have a great week and talk to you next year, okay? Aishiteimasu minasan! 
Sister Pickering 

  •  Dec 25 at 5:52 AM


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