Monday, February 27, 2017

All Out of Creative Titles: Nihon Week 51

Brother and Sister Minamimoto

Minasan, konnichiwa! 
Hope that this finds you all having a wonderful week wherever you might be and whatever you might be doing! Things here are going great for us here in Kawachinagano, and we have even some hints of it MAYBE becoming Spring soon...the other day I didn't need gloves AND I have seen people start to water their driveways again (don't ask me why, Japanese people do what they want haha), so we are hopeful that we might be able to start unthawing soon for the first time since like November! 
This week was super good and super busy for us although it was honestly one of the weirdest weeks of my entire mission because we were in so many meetings and planning sessions and interviews and conferences and on SO many trains (Tangent: the other day I had to take home my bike from Sakai to Kawachinagano finally because my bike box got ruined in the rain and so the people wouldn't ship Manwill Shimai and I are super buff obviously and so we decided to be like the elders and use their bike bags and carry my bike on some trains to get back to our area and it was fine and all except for the fact that it was time for everyone to go home and the trains were like almost Sardine packed and then you have us standing there like idiots with this large awkward mysterious black bag and we are all smushed in and taking up tons of space. Pretty sure we offended the entire country with that breaking of social norms, but it's all for the sake of dendo, so it's fine right?), and so it felt like we had no time to actually work in our area, but it was good because seriously Heavenly Father blessed us with so many miracles. 
One of the highlights of the week was that we had Zone Conference in Sakai! Seriously love Zone Conference so much and the chance we have to learn from President and Sister Welch and our wonderful mission leaders. We focused a lot on finding, working with members, using the white handbook and PMG and Book of Mormon as the three pillars of missionary work, and obedience and unity. Manwill Shimai and I had the chance to give a training (and I was scared out of my mind about it haha) in front of everyone and it ended up being way good. We talked about the Anti Nephi Lehites in chapters 23 and 24 of Alma and how they buried their weapons of war in order to be obedient and unified with God...talked about how in life we all have our own weapons of war and rebellion that might keep us from being completely obedient and so we talked about how we can go about burying them in order to become more converted. Super fun lesson and I learned tons from teaching, and was just able to get more excited about repenting and then getting out to work! The best part of course was the training from President Welch, and he focused on something that I loved, and it was about the three baptisms that are mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  We have the baptism of water (like actual baptism by immersion), baptism of the Spirit (receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost), and then the baptism of FIRE which he emphasized. He talked about how we all need to have personal baptisms of fire during our lives and our missions, and they are simply trials that purify us and strengthen us to become the missionaries and disciples that God needs. It was super powerful as he asked us if we are all willing to go through our baptisms of fire to see miracles and change and growth, or if we all stay back from the flames in order to only survive. Way thought provoking and made me way grateful for all the baptisms of fire that God gives us because He loves us so much. 
So Kim is doing absolutely wonderful. It was super special because at the beginning of the transfer Manwill Shimai and I prayerfully set the goal of having a shigansha (someone on date for baptism) by February 26th...well this past week rolls up and we are super nervous because we are working way hard but still don't have it. Well Kim is a boss and so we have been meeting her daily and she has just progressed and changed SO much...and so we feel impressed to bring up baptism with her again. We first talked about Matthew 11:28-30 and how Christ invites us to take on His yoke and we connected that to covenants and to taking His name upon us through turned into a WAY spiritual lesson about the atonement and she opened up to us SO much and the lesson ended with her committing to be baptized on March 26th. We were literally so thrilled we about cried. She has really decided this is for her and what she wants and the change it has made in her is awesome. The main issue now is that her husband is hantai (doesn't like religion or the church) and doesn't want her to be baptized...they were discussing it all weekend and we are super nervous to hear how it went so PLEASE keep Kim and her husband in your prayers! Truly such a miracle and so excited for her. 
Want to really tell you all super quickly about some of my favorite people in the world this week. They are named Brother and Sister Minamimoto, and they are an older couple in the world who just returned from a couples mission in Fukuoka back in December. They have more dendo fire than anyone I have EVER met times like 500 and they are the best in the world. This week we had the chance to work with them lots and they just amaze me with their faith and dedication to this gospel. They visit less actives and part member families of their own accord on a daily basis and always invite us and our investigators over for meals and drive us and investigators everywhere to meet, honestly talking about them makes me emotional because their example and love for this work and their Savior and for us has changed my life. I always ask them how they do it, how they are still so converted and excited and finding daily joy in the gospel, and they just get all modest and truly don't see that what they are doing is extraordinary. They have just always done the little things and it has brought them closer to perfection than anyone I have ever known. I love them with my whole heart and I am so grateful for their loving example and for how they have changed my life. Missions and the people you meet here are just the best. 
To end I want to share this beautiful quote I discovered by C.S. Lewis:
"We say we believe in Christ as we believe in the sun at noonday, not that we can see it, but that by it, we can see everything else."
 love this quote so much because this is truly the definition of my entire mission experience thus far. Before I got here, I had a testimony that this gospel was true...but now since being here, I have a testimony that there is no way it CAN'T be true. I love everyday getting to go outside and find those that are prepared for the beautiful truth, I love working with my sweet Investigators and less actives and watching them change as they embrace their Savior and the principles that He teaches...all of the experiences that have built my testimony here have come from the fact that I have seen the influence that Christ has everywhere in this country and these people that I love...I may have not seen the Son directly here, but because of Him, I can clearly see His hand and the miracles and the truth of the gospel in everything else. 
I love this gospel with my whole heart and I hope that everyone I ever come into contact with knows that. I love my Savior! He has changed my life and I want Him to continue to change me into someone He can better rely on and trust to help our brothers and sisters come home. 
Hoping you all have a wonderful week and that you remember to look for His influence in your life, because I promise you it is there :) talk to you all again soon, okay? Aishiteimasu! 
Lots of love, 
Sister Pickering 
P.S. Shoutout to one of my very favorite people Spencer Brian Sabey that turns 20 this week, if you know him send him an email and some love, I'm sure he would appreciate it! 

Photos: Super awkward Zone Conference picture, us and the Minamimoto couple, my companion and I at a service project and after having biked a massive hill, and then views from Kawachinagano

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