Monday, February 6, 2017

Bye-bye Sakai:Nihon Week 48

Change is never easy.  I know Alyssa is very sad about being transferred out of an amazing area.  She has grown to love this ward so much and has such a high respect for them and their faithfulness.  She also wishes she could finish her training with Sister Epperson.  They have grown and changed a lot together.  She is also concerned about her wonderful progressing Investigators, especially since they are bringing in all new missionaries into the area.  She has worked really hard to help them progress and desire to change and wants to see it through.  It is hard to have the faith to let them go and trust in their journey with new missionaries.  However, Alyssa is also very fortunate to be transferred only 1 area away. Her whole mission she has served within an hour and a half radius which is incredible considering the large geographical size of her mission.  But this has allowed her to continue to visit various people and hear of their progression.  As an STL I am sure she will be able to continue following up with many.  This is a neat new opportunity for her and as we all know, even though change is hard it usually allows for all kind of growth experiences and blessings.

In my letter this week she shared an insight that can apply to all of us no matter where we are or what are circumstances may be.  I will share it here:

"We went to meetings in both Wakayama and Kobe this week, and received tons of revelation and training and it was the best. It was cool because Welch Kaicho told us that one of the reasons that we have big meetings is for us to be put into situations where we can receive revelation if we are prepared. It got me thinking, shouldn't our regular church meetings be exactly the same? I had the impression that when I get home I want to continue to take diligent notes in sacrament and whatnot in order to try and keep that line of revelation alive. Personal revelation has become everything to me, because it has seriously become my lifeline here on the mission. It is cool though, because we can get it so many different ways, whether it be through prayer or the scriptures or just hearing speakers at a meeting. I have just really come to realize that God is there and He really wants to talk to us, we just need to tune in and make sure that we are listening."

Minasan, Konnichiwa! 
Hello from another busy week here in Sakai...actually I don't really know if I can say Sakai because we were on the road so much this week, but it was still a super good week! Time is just flying by more than I even know what to do here on my mission. . how  am I even starting my 9th transfer this week?? And today is 13 months in the mission??
Like I said earlier, this week was a good one (I am sorry that all my emails seem repetitive and are poorly worded...I have kind of given up haha). Monday night after P day we had a great service project called one of the chains on one of the elder's bikes broke, and so we spent a good time trying to fix that (I have become a pro at fixing bikes thanks to this whole mission experience) and then did some finding and Areabook work. It is awesome as we have been cleaning it out and trying to make it a more useful tool for working. One of these days we will find a kinjin (golden person) from it, I am sure. 
Tuesday we had the awesome chance to go to lunch with and start teaching one of our Eikaiwa students! She is a super cute young mom named Mayumi and she has this way precious 6 year old named Taichi who is fluent in English just because he watches Netflix...seriously the kid is insanely smart and teaching him is so much fun! Anyways at lunch we were able to teach her about what we do as missionaries and why we are here, as well as really bear some powerful testimony about how the gospel has blessed us and our families. She doesn't have any particular religion but she believes that God is there and that He watches over us, and it was neat to share about how He loves her as His special daughter. Goodness gracious I love teaching and bringing the newness and the light of the gospel into the lives of this good people!
We also got to go and do service with the RS and make bags for orphans, and just in case anyone is wondering, I still have no artistic skills. They gave me one try on the sewing machine and then kicked me off and replaced me with my trainee and I got to walk around and gather scraps and trash for an hour haha. Oh well, all in a day's work. 
Wednesday was another wonderful day. First I have to tell you about one of my favorite people in the universe...her name is Wada Shimai and she is an older lady here in the Sakai Ward. She lives alone but loves this gospel so much, and so always volunteers to go and work with us and offer us her car to travel to far away places. She set some New Years resolutions to do more missionary work and so we went out with her almost all day to go and visit less active sisters in the far away parts of the area, and it was wonderful. None of these sisters were Wada Shimai's "responsibility" so to say, nobody told her to go and visit them, but being the true disciple of Christ she is, she just cared about her fellow sisters in Christ and wanted to help them. I someday hope that I will be a church member like Wada Shimai! She is such an example to me. After we went out with her, we went back to the church for the AB Lessons we have been teaching, and then went to dinner with some ward members (this ward is gonna make me fat, help) and then taught Eikaiwa! Busy busy day until the end but so good. 
Thursday we got to Kobe for TTTM! This is a meeting where all the trainers and trainees gather and receive training from the AP's and President and Sister Welch, and it was awesome. The spiritual environment was so real and I received tons of revelation on how I can improve as a missionary and as a trainer and how to better help our area. It was also awesome because I got to reunite with some of my favorite humans in the world (Park Shimai and Miller Shimai, this is a shoutout to the two of you) and other great friends. It was fun to get together and talk about the struggles of training and the great questions of the soul, like why our trainees call everything and everyone "Fam" and what the heck a dab(?) is and other weird worldly trends haha. It was a great day and many amazing things were learned that have been so great to apply!
Friday we were back on the road but this time going to Wakayama for zone training meeting! It was another awesome environment and we all just got to have a huge discussion about the new key indicators and schedule and how we have been COMMANDED to become more effective. Seriously this is such an exciting time to be a missionary, especially in the great land of Kobe, Japan. I love all the missionaries I serve with here in the Sakai zone, and it is a privilege to see all the miracles that we do with them. 
By time Saturday rolled around we were DEAD exhausted but so relieved to be back in our area! We had a great day of finding and visiting some PI's and Less Actives, but the best was when we visited Hisako in her cafe. She is doing great and is praying and is pumped to keep meeting and learning! Seriously love her to pieces and she is helping me live the American dream because I can stroll into her cafe, take a seat at the bar and basically be like "The usual" and then a cup of hot chocolate gets sent my way. Life just doesn't get much better than this haha. 
Sunday was another awesome day, I love fasting with my whole heart and I love this Sakai Ward. We ended the night with dinner at the Ozaki family's house and taught about missionary work in preparation for the youngest daughter who is waiting on her mission call. This family is way boss and the Spirit was super strong. I just love these people so dang much. 
Something I have really been pondering lately is this quote I found recently by C.S. Lewis...“I pray because I can’t help myself. … I pray because the need flows out of me all the time, waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.” I know that like all of my thoughts have been about prayer lately, haha but you are going to have to forgive me for not caring. The longer I am out here, the more beautiful the simple aspects of the gospel become to me! Anyways I was just reflecting on the role of agency and prayer this week, and thought a lot about my life before the mission and even at the beginning. It used to be if I got in a hard situation I would pray lots for it to change or for other people to change...but through all my studies and experiences I have come to realize that the most important change I have made is that I now pray to change MYSELF....and really it is changing me. When I turn every night to speak with my Father I am no longer praying to change His will or change the agency of other people, but now I am just pleading with Him to change me and my heart and my will to become more like Christ. It has been an interesting experience and a humbling one, but I can't even describe how much prayer means to me. It is my lifeline here on my mission, and every single day I am just so humbled by the fact that Heavenly Father cares so much about one of His crazy daughters running around here trying to do His work in Japan. 
So I guess it is time for the big news of the week...this morning we were going to Costco for P day and I received a call from President Welch where I received a pre-transfer transfer call...I was in complete shock because I had thought I would be staying here in Sakai to finish up training Sister Epperson, but it would seem that the Lord has other plans for me at this point in time. So I will be transferring really far away (#sarcasm) to...Kawachinagano! I am to become a STL (a Sister Training Leader).  I will be going to the area I worked for 2 weeks over Christmas and my new companion will be Sister Manwill, who I was in a threesome with. She is an absolute boss and one of the nicest people ever and I adore her, so I cannot wait to work with her! I am happy that I will still be able to work in the Sakai zone and check up on my beloved area and investigators and members through companion exchanges and whatnot, but I am not gonna lie that I am scared out of my mind about this new assignment. I emailed President Welch about that in my weekly email and he very simply said "You have been called of God-I can bear testimony of that". So I will take my fears and replace them with faith and can't wait to go and see what this new adventure has in store for me! 
I love this work and my mission so much. I have loved my time in Sakai and am heartbroken to be leaving, but I know God needs me in Kawachinagano (where I will probably end my crazy is that?) and to be working in this new assignment as an STL. I know that God lives and that He loves each and every one of us, and that He will enable each of us to do whatever we are asked to do in our daily lives. Jesus Christ lives! He is our Savior and He loves us and if we rely on Him, we cannot fall :)
Hoping you all have a wonderful week! Aishiteimasu minasan! 
Sister Pickering 

To infinity....
Making yakisoba #homemakers
Park Shimai and I at TTTM! Future roomies!
All the missionaries I came to Japan with that are training!
All the trainers and trainees in the mission! 
The crazy missionaries in the Sakai zone
When you leave your bikes alone with the elders...
Wada Shimai!
Street contacting fun 
Some former investigators had us over for dinner
Us with the Ozaki Family! At least some of them haha
Mister Donuts because nobody has time for real breakfast when you travel as much as we do 
Me and Manwill Shimai...the future companion!

Bike shenanigans courtesy of the Elders

Trainers and Trainees
Park Shimai and future BYU roommate

The Sakai "digs"

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