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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's Beginning to Look a lot like Christmas: Nihon Week 45


Alyssa had another fantastic week and her biggest concern is whether or not her fingers and toes will freeze off because of the freezing cold humidity.  She would take the super hot summer (remember it melted their bike tires) over this weather.  I am super impressed that she is persevering and finding success.  It is so great to see her growth week to week.

Minasan, konnichiwa!

Not that long ago, somebody asked me what the scariest thing I have
seen on my mission is. I am pretty sure I just recalled some
experience and gave it offhandedly, but upon reflection I have come to
the conclusion that by FAR the scariest thing on my mission is how
fast time goes. Is it seriously already Monday again?


Okay so now to explain the email title because I am so excited I can't
even wait! The other day it was FREEZING (like I am wearing two layers
of tights, gloves, adhesive heat pads, hand warmers, fuzzy socks,
cardigans, a winter coat and a scarf covering my face like every
single day now haha, who knew I would actually be serving in Siberia),
and then out of nowhere I see some suspicious white stuff start
falling from the sky...I wait a sec and think it is probably something
else...but then it continues and you better believe it was actually
SNOW! I was so excited! Haha it was pretty pathetic, just like a few
cute little flakes here and there, but it was the first time I have
seen snow in Japan and so I was STOKED. It didn't stick or anything
which was a disappointment, but I was just happy to say I could see
it. Then today we go on a P day adventure to Osaka and lo and behold,
it starts snowing again, but this time like legit flakes. I was so
happy, I have missed a good old Utah winter. Merry Christmas to me!

Anyways, this week was super good for us here in Sakai! We worked
super hard, received a lot of revelation, and saw a TON of
miracles...all while trying not to freeze to death on our bikes! We
actually have started making daily goals to not complain about the
cold, because I am sure it is building character or something. The sad
thing is that it is a little harder to contact people in this type of
weather because people don't really want to talk, but I am sure that
we will and are receiving blessings for our efforts here.


Training is so much fun! Epperson Shimai is doing great and it is
seriously such a joy to watch her grow as a missionary and increase in
confidence and excitement about the work. She has been doing awesome
talking to people on her own and trying to share the gospel. She is
learning lots and has improved tons and I know she will bless this
area and this mission so much. So proud of her and all that she is
doing!


Monday night we saw a cool blessing from following PMG exactly. We had
received a referral and so we went to go and visit them and it was
kind of far and out of the way, so we're understandably disappointed
when they couldn't meet with us. Not sure of what to do with an
awkward amount of time, we remembered that it told us in PMG to ALWAYS
go finding around referrals you receive, because you never know who
you are being led to. We decided to do some housing (I am still
awkward and not good at it by the way haha) and weren't having any
success, but the last house we decided to hit up RIGHT next to the
referral ended up being this Christian lady who loves church and
Christ and stuff and was way impressed with us as missionaries and
wanted us to come back. Hurray for obedience!


Wednesday we had Eikaiwa! Super fun as always, especially because my
class lately has exploded and now involves me running around for an
hour trying to teach 7 adults who speak like no English to so-so
English on top of wrangling 5 energetic little boys between the ages
of 4 and 9. They are cute but I have my hands full! Shoutout to Moms
everywhere for doing what you do.
But after Eikaiwa was cool because
we had a former investigator show up and ask us to come and teach us
and his family again, as well as the news that one of our other
investigators is reading the Book of Mormon! Slowly but surely people
are making progress here.


Thursday was super special because we had the opportunity to have a
General 70 come and do a mission tour! We went to Abeno in Osaka with
the Osaka and Kyoto zones again and got to have a day of wonderful
conferences with the Welches and Sister and Elder Whiting. The
revelation was amazing and so real! I walked away with so much
revelation and things I want to improve, it was crazy. We talked about
spiritual erosion, and the importance of doing the little things in
the gospel in order to always remain strong, we talked about grace and
the enabling power of the atonement that makes good men better, and we
talked a TON about recognizing the Spirit in our lives and letting it
change us for better.
It was seriously so special. At one point he
also opened the meeting up for Q&A and that was neat, because I had
come with personal questions and he somehow managed to answer every
single one of them without me opening my mouth once. Heavenly Father
is just so cool. One of the things that he said that I loved was in
regards to how we should dendo and treat our members...he quoted the
prophet Joseph Smith and said that if we all as members were doing our
job right, our chapels would smell like smoke and all sorts of things
as it is full of people trying to overcome. I loved that lots, are we
helping make the church a place where we all as sinners can go to be
healed?
Another thing I absolutely loved (Okay so I loved like all of
it) was simply "How blessed you are to be you...you have a God that
loves you, a Savior that redeemed you, and the Holy Ghost that wants
to guide you...how blessed you are to be you." Seriously everyone, we
are SO blessed.


Something I have personally been working on lately is improving my
prayers. You would think as a missionary that my prayers would be
amazing, and they have DEFINITELY improved since before my mission,
but I can't even tell you how many times I have woken up in the middle
of the night still on my knees, not able to feel the lower half of my
body from falling asleep while praying (I'm a sinner too, we are all
working on it)...needless to say I wanted to level up a little bit, so
I have started going out on our little balcony in the cold and praying
out loud. I honestly cannot even tell you the difference it has made
in my week. I truly feel like I am CONVERSING with my Father in
Heaven, and the Spirit has led me to pray for specific things that I
have seen come to pass during the next day, all because my prayers
have improved. I feel closer to my Heavenly Father and even more
grateful for all of my blessings. Something kind of cool that came
from this is the other night I felt prompted to pray that in the next
day I would have an experience with the Spirit, follow the prompting,
and then see something amazing. Kind of strange and specific, but I
went for it and hoped. Flash forward to the next day and I am biking
along the side of the road and I see this woman with a cute dog and I
just feel like I need to stop her so I do. We get talking, she is
super sweet, and then she finds out we are missionaries. Turns out
that she has been reading the bible and looking for answers as to the
purpose of life and resurrection, because her brother is currently
dying with cancer. She was wanting answers and wasn't sure where to
look, and she had actually met Mormon missionaries before. It was
CRAZY and the Spirit was just SO strong. We talked for a long time and
did some hardcore testifying, and it was neat to see her faith in
Christ lift a little. We ended up asking to meet again and she said
she would love to, but was too busy right now always being in the
hospital...in that moment I was pretty much wanting to join team Satan
and take away her agency because she was CRAZY prepared...but we
settled for giving her a Book of Mormon. She was so excited and
grateful and promised to read it and then contact us after we gave her
our number. I know that she will be baptized someday, I don't know if
it will be in my time here or sometime down the road, but heavens was
I grateful for that miracle from my Heavenly Father. Prayer is real, I
promise.


Something I have been pondering lately is the difference between a
testimony and conversion. I used to think they were the same thing,
but experience and studies and the Spirit has shown me different. I
have come to the conclusion that a testimony is the words we say and
the beliefs that we have, and conversion is the life that we choose to
live based on them. At the end of the day, we all truly need to be
CONVERTED to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When the winds are strong and
the seas of life and rough and choppy, only a conversion to our Savior
and His precious gospel will give us enough a grounding to survive the
storms around us. As we seek to follow His will and stay true to Him
and His teachings no matter where we our in our lives, I promise that
we will all become as converted as He would have us become. Really all
in all I want it to be my CONVERSION that gets me out of the door in
the wind and freezing when I am already exhausted from the past year
of work, not just my testimony, and I know if I do my best and turn to
Him, He will change and strengthen me beyond anything I could do on my
own.

I love this gospel with my whole heart, and I love my mission more
than I can describe. Every single day I am so grateful I have for the
privilege to share the beautiful message with a wonderful people in a
wonderful place. To quote Elder Whiting, "How blessed I am to be me"
:)


Hoping you all have a wonderful week wherever you might be! Stay warm
and don't forget to say a good prayer tonight! Love you all and talk
to you soon! Aishiteimasu!


Love,
Sister Pickering


Photos:
Companion Selfie because why not
The rascals in my Eikaiwa class
Japanese Sunsets
Life lately
P Day Adventures at Osaka Castle featuring the Mikunigoaka and
Sekime Elders, and snow


Osaka Castle








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