Monday, February 20, 2017

The Sun Will Always Come Up: Nihon Week 50

On Sunday I had the opportunity to attend the homecoming of one of Alyssa's former companions, Folkman Shimai.  It was such an incredible meeting.  Sister Folkman was so humble and yet shared such a powerful message on the atonement.  I could totally understand why Alyssa loved her so much and learned  a lot from her in their time together.  The entire meeting I couldn't help but picture my daughter having similar experiences that were shared by Sister Folkman.  The love that she has for the Japanese people was so evident and you could strongly feel how much she misses them already.  I know that it will be a difficult transition for Alyssa when she comes home. I do not look forward to seeing Alyssa's sorrow as she is separated from the people and doing the work that she has grown to love so much.  But I know I will be amazed at the growth and changes that has transformed my daughter over the course of this mission. Folkman Shimai also gave me hope that there are still many amazing miracles yet to come for Alyssa as she finishes strong.  I know that her body is exhausted but thank heavens for her sheer determination to keep going and giving it all that she has left.  It was truly a blessing for me to attend this great Sacrament meeting and to feel a little closer to my daughter once again.

Folkman Shimai's Homecoming

Minasan, konnichiwa!

This week was another wonderful one for us here in Kawachinagano! I
seriously am just loving this area and my companion and everything so
much, and being a missionary is still the best ever. I can't believe
that I have actually been in Japan for 50 weeks's like I
don't even remember America or what is weird here anymore! It is okay
though because I am embracing it and loving every minute that I can.
So blessed to be here in the Japan Kobe mission!

Like I said earlier, the week was good but so so busy! It is funny
because I feel like last P day was ages ago because so much happened,
but at the same time it feels like yesterday because days are just
flying. I have really come to appreciate how good it feels to just be
working hard and so focused on what is going on...working for the Lord
is the happiest thing to do! I have to say though I have never been so
exhausted in my entire life as I have been this past week haha. Every
night I just want to collapse and fall asleep but then we still have
stuff to do and I am pretty sure I would die if I wasn't companions
with Manwill Shimai, because she is an angel. She is the kind of
person where after a long day of fasting and we have no energy and are
walking our bikes up a massive hill, suddenly it gets easier for me
and I look back and notice she is shoving my bike up behind me as well
as her own. Seriously I swear I am becoming more Christlike just from
living with her!

We had a super cool finding miracle this week that started last Monday
at the grocery store. We were biking there and some girl cut me off
accidentally and I had to do some fancy maneuvers to not die, but it
was chill. Then we get in the store and she accidentally cuts us off
AGAIN but this time in the line to pay and she got all apologetic but
it was fine so we waved her along and it was the end of it. Flash
forward to the next day and we are biking and in the distance I see
two cute young collegeish age young girls walking on the side of the
road. I feel like we should stop and talk to them and my companion
agreed and as we stopped, I suddenly just felt like it was the girl
from the day before and we start talking and lo and behold, it was
her! We started talking to her and she told us that she had wanted to
talk to us the day before but was embarrassed because we were
foreigners and she was way cute and nice and then she told us that she
wanted to meet and learn all about God! It was way exciting because
she was so pumped to give us her contact information so we could set
up an appointment! We were stoked out of our minds and then the best
ever was when we accidentally ran into her AGAIN later that day. Her
name is Haruka and so please pray for her to meet often and be able to
progress! We really felt like God needed us to meet her and it was
cool to see Him work His hand in our lives and hers multiple times so
that we FINALLY had the chance to meet and talk.

Our investigators are doing great! Our investigator named Kim from
Korea is a total boss. Her life is way hard and her husband is super
sick and so she has been thinking tons about life and the purpose and
all those questions of the soul. She is praying and reading the Book
of Mormon daily in 3 languages and just soaks it all up, and tells us
constantly how she feels that she is changing as she prays. We have
been teaching her commandments and how they are ways to receive
blessings, and that made her so excited because she wants blessings
haha. She also has such a great ability to feel the Spirit and she
tells us how much she loves the peace that comes into her heart when
we meet. She wants to be baptized but is waiting for an answer to her
prayers about Joseph Smith, so please keep her in your thoughts and
prayers as well!

We also had a great chance to have exchanges with two wonderful
sisters this week! On Wednesday I had the chance to work with Sister
Hokanson serving in Wakayama, and then Friday-Saturday I worked with
Sister McGuire that works in Sennan! It was so much fun to get to work
with both of these sisters because they are such good missionaries and
so enthusiastic about life and the work, and they pumped me up to go
out there and baptize everyone. It is way fun because I love getting
to work with these sisters and learn so much from grateful I
have been blessed with this responsibility to get to serve them! We
did lots of visiting PI's and less actives and we basically had tons
of waking in pouring rain because I still don't know my area entirely
haha, but the work was still fun and I have learned that the Lord will
always bless us as we simply TRY. If we try and do our best and try
and work hard and try and do what we need to, the blessings won't be
contained and they will always come eventually!

So last night we had an incredibly special Devotional that was
broadcast to all of the stakes in Japan, and it was with Elder Holland
and holy cow. If I could even adequately put into words the feelings
and topics of discussion that were brought up, I would be happy. The
message that he shared was so beyond perfect for Japan and these
special people, and He talked a lot about what we do when we face
trials in our lives. He talked about faith means nothing unless we
have it when it matters most, like during trials or when prayers go
unanswered and miracles unobserved. He talked about how it is okay for
all of us to be broken at times because of heartbreak or trial or
sickness or whatever, because God loves broken things. He loves us
just the way we are and can and will fix us if only we let Him!
(I am
totally butchering all of it as I try and paraphrase but really...the
Spirit was one of the strongest experiences of my entire life) He also
emphasized how God love us in our broken state the most...especially
when it means a broken heart and a contrite spirit and how we can come
and be healed every single week during the sacrament. The Spirit was
so incredibly strong and there wasn't a dry eye in the room. Something
that really touched me was the translator and he too had to just pause
because he was overcome with emotion as we all just felt the love of
the Savior so strongly. I will just end with one thing that Elder
Holland said at the end that I absolutely adored..."Of all the names
that is given to the Savior that I love the most, I love the one that
comes from the Book of Revelation...and it is the Bright and Morning
star. He is the sun! He is the sun and the light of the world and no
matter how long and dark the night may seem, the sun will ALWAYS come
up in the morning."

I know this to be true! No matter how hard and dark and crazy life
might seem at times, the sun will always rise over our trials, and it
will come to us because of our Savior. He loves us so personally and
perfectly, with all of our flaws and sins and imperfections. Because
of His atonement, we can cry unto our Father to be fixed and we can
and we will be Every. Single. Time.

This church is true! The Savior lives and I know that with such a
certainty that I can know way deny it. I love my Savior, my Redeemer,
my everything, even Jesus Christ. So blessed to be here as His
representative at this time in Japan.
Have a wonderful week everyone! Aishiteimasu!

Sister Pickering

P.S. Sorry if I don't email everyone back today...District P day at
the aquarium in Osaka plus pouring rain plus messed up trains equals
no time. So sorry but I love you all! Enjoy pictures instead :)

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