Since I am old and the were no such things as STLs when I served my mission, I asked Alyssa to explain a little bit about her new responsibilities.
"So being an STL is like being a zone leader for sisters! We go on a Exchanges with every companionship twice a transfer or so (we are over three trainee-trainer companionships in the Sakai zone) and follow up with them on the phone once a week individually for 30 minutes and with the zone leaders. We plan zone conferences and zone training and go to Mission Leadership Council once a month in Kobe..basically we just are super busy but it is awesome. I love the chance to serve in this capacity and even though I in no way feel good enough to be here, I feel blessed to have this chance. I am learning lots about love and revelation and time management!"
Also more evidence of the continual growth that Alyssa has experienced:
"Random spiritual thought...I was sitting at the table the other day talking with my companion (because we literally never stop talking because she is the best) and I was thinking about all the hard things I have experienced on my mission and I just felt the weirdest sense of gratitude come over me and the thought came into my mind "I am so grateful that God loves me enough to put me through that". No WAY would I have thought that before my mission, but now I know it is true. He loves us so much that He is willing to test us a bit on the hope we choose to progress and follow Him and return to live with Him someday. Literally every experience we are given in this life is designed to bring us closer to God if only we let it, and boy am I grateful for that."
Hello hello from the beautiful Inaka (countryside) of Kawachinagano! I
am safe and sound in my new area (although dead exhausted as per
usual, but I am okay with that now haha) with my new companion, and
life is so so good!
Okay so literally this week was so insane and so fast haha...I know I
say that every single week and I have become one of those
stereotypical missionaries that you all want to punch when I get home,
but for reals...this week was one of those weeks where I felt like I
did everything and nothing at the same time! It was a blur and I am
not sure what exactly to say but I will do my best!
So after I got my transfer call on Monday, we were literally thrown
into a frenzy of nonstop packing and preparing the area for me to
leave Epperson Shimai with her second trainer to come in. There were
calls to be made and the records to update and all this packing stuff
to happen...and then we get the news that Epperson Shimai would ALSO
be transferring and so two new sisters would be coming into Sakai next
transfer. Not gonna lie, the stress level rose a little bit as we
tried to get both of us ready to go! It was way hard and sad we would
both be leaving, but actually it is kind of funny because both of our
elders are leaving too, and so the area was filled with six new
missionaries. Sakai is so boss and is a great training area, and so
since Elder Samuela went to go be a zone leader, Elder Booth wasn't a
trainee anymore, and I went to go become an STL, they just decided to
bring in three trainers and brand new missionaries. Needless to say it
was only a little insane, but Sakai is such a great ward and handled
it all like champs. Seriously a huge part of my heart got left there.
Tuesday we got up bright and early (the hour of 4AM is becoming all
too familiar to me) to go have a companion exchange with the STL's
that we already had planned haha, and so I ended up going to my new
area a day early to go and scope things out. It was also nice to haul
some of my luggage there early (but seriously suitcases plus packed
Japanese trains in the morning don't always go so well haha), but the
best was that I had one last time to work with Sister Smith before she
went home this past week. Holy cow I love that girl, and she
influenced my mission so much. She is truly one of my best friends and
saying goodbye was hard, but I feel way blessed to try and go and fill
her shoes in Kawachinagano. We had a great exchange and made some
great memories and overall had a wonderful day.
Wednesday we returned BACK to Sakai to finish packing and get all our
records in order for the new sisters, and then the goodbyes started. I
was way proud of myself and was holding it together really well until
I went to go and see my favorite less active Sakaguchi Shimai and say
goodbye and then all the tears just started and didn't want to stop on
and off all day haha. Transfers are hard. You just come to love these
people so much and then you leave them, but I have really just come to
learn to be grateful for the chance that I had to love them in the
first place. My Eikaiwa class that night spoiled me with treats and a
goodbye poster. I really don't even deserve the love these people give
Thursday was another day of 4 AM arising as we hurriedly left our
empty apartment and walked in the pouring rain to the station with our
luggage (it ALWAYS rains on transfer day, why?? haha). It was a day of
in some way happy reunions when I got to see my trainer unexpectedly
at a station and I cried, I love Sister Kenney with my whole heart and
am just continually so grateful for her love and example for me. She
changed my life and my mission! And then at the mission office I was
reunited with my beloved Sister Folkman before she went home, and that
was like the epitome of happiness. I basically tackled her with her
suitcases and all and didn't even care, because she is one of my best
friends in the universe. Can't wait to room with her at the Y come
this fall! Then the goodbyes came...we dropped Sister Smith off and
almost cried (but then remembered we would see her Tuesday when she
came to visit with her parents) because our threesome was finally
splitting for a while, and then I had to leave my precious trainee.
Holy cow I am so blessed I was able to train Sister Epperson. Saying
goodbye to her like cut my soul into a million pieces, but I am so
proud of her and know that she will do great things in her next area.
She blessed my life so much! After all that, I finally was able to
head home to my new area with my new companion, Sister Manwill! (Also
fun little story...in Umeda Station in Osaka which is MASSIVE by the
way, some lady runs up to me and throws a small package in my hands
and yells "Ageru!Ageru!" (which basically means to honorifically give)
at me and then runs on her train...we just stand there way confused
and are way scared we just got like sucked into a National Treasure
movie or something but then we opened it and it was a fancy Japanese
hand towel haha. At this point tons of people are staring at us but we
just play it cool and try and leave haha. Japanese people are crazy
but I love them).
So for those of you who don't remember, Manwill Shimai is one of my
favorite people on the planet. She is from Layton, Utah and plays
goalkeeper for the BYU Women's soccer team (so she is a boss and
working out with her is kicking my butt haha), and is one of the most
Christ like people I have ever met. She is so kind and faithful and
obedient and has a smile on her face 24/7. Going out and working with
her is seriously such a joy. The laughter and smiles are real, and it
is such a blessing because as an STL I am now living my life
perpetually exhausted! Can't wait for all the miracles we will see
Friday we were able to meet with some investigators and holy cow this
area is boss and the area is filled with so many prepared people. We
are working with this woman named Kim and she is Korean and is
awesome. She loves praying and reading the BOM every single day and
wants to be baptized but just doesn't think she is ready yet, but we
are working with her and I love her to death. Her heart has changed so
much since I met her in December, and I just know the gospel changes
people and their hearts so much. We also work with tons of way
precious less actives, and some of them even came to church on Sunday,
so it was way happy!
The rest of the week was spent in finding and working on Area book
records and meeting with members and investigators and PI's and just
learning how to be an STL. We have two Exchanges this week and I am
scared out of my mind, but also excited, so pray for me please haha.
Going to church on Sunday was awesome because all the members
remembered me and welcomed me home with open arms. They are a word of
about 80 people and are all WAY strong and excited about missionary
work! Feel super super blessed to be here.
Okay so since it is Valentine's, I feel obligated to give some themed
message here, so bear with me haha. Ever since my mission, my
perception of love has changed so much, and it really all just comes
down to charity. If you want to do a great study of the topic, I would
invite you to turn to Moroni 7 and take a gander there, and you will
learn some great things! I am just so grateful that we are a gospel
that is centered on love and charity...we are all here because of the
love the Father has for us, we can return to Him because the love the
Son has for His brothers and sisters and His father, and we can
someday become like them both as we show love to all those around us.I am so grateful for the love that our God has for each and every one
of us individually, because it can be a lifeline through all our
trials and troubles if we allow it to be so. You have a God that loves
you as His child! And not only that, you have a perfect older brother
that loved you so much, He died for you. He knows you perfectly in
every way possible and loves you and will never stop, no matter what.
When we realized the love they have for us, ultimately it should
change us...I know for sure it has changed me.
So this Valentine's when you are buying chocolates and roses for that
special someone, take a second to remember the love that God and Jesus
Christ have for you. It is real and it is there, I promise :) I get to
see it and feel it for others and myself literally every single day
here in the Japan Kobe Mission.
This gospel is true and I am so blessed to be here sharing it. I love
my mission so much, I love my Savior, I love my God, and I love all of
you. Hope you all have a great week and I will write again soon!
Photos (please ignore how tired I always look Help haha)
2. Exchange with Smith Shimai
3. Sakaguchi Shimai
4. The Dream District
5. Living it up at Asahi..bike problems are fun
6. Yoshinaga San, our investigator that is a parking lot guard
7. Hisako! Our golden cafe lady. Miss her so much!
8. Eikaiwa class/Old person social club
9-12. Hellos and goodbyes
16-18. Kawachinagano Sisters!