Monday, March 27, 2017

God's Plot Twists:Nihon Week 55

Something we are all taught is that one constant is change and that seems to be the story of Alyssa's mission.  I do not know why she has received a new companion for every transfer her entire mission.  But that is what has happened.  I know this one has thrown her for a loop and was very unexpected.  Things were going so well, almost too perfectly, and that always seems to be when the Lord decides we need another growing experience.  Alyssa has had a lot of opportunity for growth :).  I am sure true to her personality and determination she will face this head on and I can't wait to see the blessings that come from it.

On a positive note,  I was able to attend another one of her former companion's homecomings.  This was actually her trainer, Kenney Shimai.  It was a very spiritual meeting and I was so touched as she actually talked about my daughter and some experiences they shared.  I came to realize that Alyssa has a whole life that I am not fully part of and it is kind of surreal.  She is no longer my dependent young girl but a responsible, mature adult and is an amazing individual independent of me.  I suppose this is what we hope for as a parent and the rewards are great albeit a little heart wrenching at the same time.  Once again, I am so proud of the young lady she has become.

A little nugget of wisdom from Pickering Shimai:

"I've really just been pondering on the necessity of us having the Spirit with us always, and it is not just for us.When we have the Spirit we are allowing ourselves to be used as instruments of God's love for others, and I can think of no greater privilege and blessing than that. Oh how I love the mission."

Minasan, konnichiwa!
Hello to everyone wherever you are! Hope you all had a wonderful week
and are getting ready for the wonderful week of General Conference
that you all have ahead of you! Super jealous I still have to wait two
weeks, but all is well haha.
This past week was a crazy one for us here in Kawachinagano with lots
of ups and downs that all started on Monday night. There we were
happily doing our thing minding our own business with the basic
guarantee that Manwill Shimai and I would be staying together, when
all of the sudden we get the shocking news that Manwill Shimai would
actually be going to Okayama to train a new STL and fresh start the
area while I would stay here to train a new STL as was
something so completely unexpected and I am not gonna lie that there
were lots of tears as can only be expected after you have spent 6
weeks doing missionary work with one of your best friends. We were
still pretty thrown off when the precious Minamimoto couple came to
take us driving to a bunch of their friends and some less active
members. Moral of the story is that this couple is once again proving
to be absolutely amazing and we were able to find some new
investigators that are the children of some WAY less active people
that want to start coming to church again. It was seriously such a
miracle that always seem to come from working with church members, and
we were so grateful! We have some appointments to start teaching the
kids this week and we are so excited!
Tuesday was seriously a rollercoaster of emotion. We were still both
pretty sad about transfers and had just no peace whatsoever and then
some of our investigators started having some troubles and then other
things about life started to fall through and it was basically one of
those days where like everything that could have gone wrong
was SO hard but it was so neat because it was also full of so many
tender mercies. I received an email from my mother who felt prompted
to write me out of a prompting of the Spirit, other people stepped up
to really help us, and at the end of the day I had the chance to
receive a blessing from the elders. I am SO grateful for people like
my mother and the elders and the hundreds of others in my life that
live worthy of the Spirit, because as they did so, they were able to
bless me in ways that Heavenly Father needed to. Our necessity for the
constant companionship of the Spirit is not just for us! We are meant
to have it to bless our brothers and sisters around us and be vessels
of God's love. Also once again, priesthood blessings are literally so
amazing. How cool is it that we can receive direct words from our
loving Father in Heaven as often as we need it?
Wednesday was crazy busy running around packing and doing record
updating and basically getting ready for the transfer ahead of us. We
saw lots of sweet members and did lots of planning over the phone for
upcoming conferences, and basically just got really prepared for the
next miraculous six weeks we have ahead of us!
Thursday was the day....haha I said goodbye to Manwill Shimai on a
train (and the tears were so so real) and it was way sad. She impacted
my mission so much and I am so grateful for her love and
influence...she is one of my best friends and I can't wait to have her
in my life for forever haha. Anyways I headed to Sakai where I met my
new companion, Sister Larsen! She is one Transfer ahead of me and so I
actually knew her in the MTC a bit and she is way cute. She is from
Provo but is half Mexican so speaks Spanish which is way fun to be
around haha. We will have a great transfer ahead of us! That day we
visited our ward mission leader and it was good to start planning and
then he also drove us around to visit some referrals...yay member
missionary work! Him and his wife were also way sweet and helping take
us to the city hall to get stickers for our garbage where I was
reminded once again I don't know Japanese at all haha, help. It was a
good and busy day though filled with lots MORE planning, but we should
be all set and ready to go.
Friday we finally met with Kim again! For the lesson I had the chance
to share with her this email that my grandmother had written her about
how she joined the church without her husband, and it was so perfect
for Kim. She was so touched by the love and the Spirit and I really
saw it soften her heart so much. Please please keep her in your
prayers because things have been super tough with her husband lately!
We also met with Kana and had a good follow Up Lesson with her on the
BOM (she is reading and progressing as well, yay!) and then we watched
"Meet the Mormons" with her and the elders and some of their
investigators. Super good night and she was way touched by it. Can't
wait to see where it all keeps going with her!
Saturday was busy but the highlight was our lesson we had with these
four kids we teach English and the gospel too. They are so precious
and it was way sad because two of them are moving back to Hokkaido but
I am sure they will be baptized someday (their grandmother is a member
and was having us teach them), and we will see them again soon. Ahh
children are so precious and pure! The good news is that we will
continue to teach two of the other little kids and hopefully work with
getting their family more involved in the church together!
Sunday we had a super special miracle. Lately our church attendance
hasn't been great and so Saturday night I just poured out my heart in
prayer so that we could have someone come to church the next day,
preferably someone who could be baptized within the next transfer.
Nobody had plans to come and I wasn't sure who it would be, but I
wanted it so badly. I woke up the next morning and felt prompted to
fast for it and so did so full heartedly. We show up to church and
nobody is there and I was way sad but then last minute a member walks
in with his cute nonmember wife who we have been trying to dendo! Holy
cow when I saw them the Spirit was so strong that it moved me to
tears. I felt the love of God so strongly as He answered my prayer and
fast so quickly and specifically, and I was just so reminded I am not
alone in this work here in Kawachinagano. We have an appointment to
start teaching this sweet lady on Sunday at the home of another
member, and we are so excited! So many miracles! Fasting and prayer is
Just a final thought that has been on my mind lately, and it is really
the idea that some of the biggest blessings that God gives us are
through people. Whether it be through a good friend or a loving parent
or a stranger who shows us a random act of kindness or an investigator
that comes to church unexpectedly, God almost always blesses us
through people. I know I can think of my life and some of the biggest
showings of love from Him have been found in my family, best friends,
companions, and people I serve here....I was pondering why that was
and then I realized that God always gives us gifts in the form of
people as a symbol of the fact that the ultimate gift that He ever
gave us was His perfect son, even Jesus Christ.
I know He lives and I know that this is His church! I know that God
lives and loves us and hears us all personally, because I can testify
of that after this week like no other. He is our father and He is so
aware of us, we just need to turn to Him and He is there :)
Hope you all have a great week! Enjoy General Conference for me!! The
church is true! Aishiteimasu!
Lots of love,
Sister Pickering

Photos: Manwill Shimai and I decided to match everyday before we split
up because we love each other haha (and we have matching pajamas now
so that's cool), Ward ping pong night, Kim, the Eikaiwa kids, and the
YSA Dinner!


Monday, March 20, 2017

10th Transfer Already? Nihon Week 54

Being an STL makes me so exhausted but I love it so much. I honestly feel like a big part of my mission was meant to be here helping all these sisters, and I have just gained so many new friends and learned so much about Christ like love and am just so grateful for this chance I have had to grow and to try and help others along the way as well. I love serving other sisters and missionaries! We have follow up phone calls every night which is fun but also makes me so tired haha, and exchanges are so fun too but also make me so tired...basically I am just way more tired but am also way happy and with more friends. It is super neat to serve in this capacity and I am grateful. I guess that really just sums up the majority of all my feelings lately, just a large bunch of gratitude. Literally I am so blessed, and we as church members are just so blessed. When we take a second to step back and think about it, how can we not feel and recognize love from God every single day?


Monday, March 13, 2017

Life as a Nomadic Missionary: Nihon Week 53

Minasan, konnichiwa!

Hello hello from another week here in the Japan Kobe mission! I don't
feel like I can confidently say from Kawachinagano this week because
it feels like we were literally everywhere but our area this week
haha, but it was still good and we saw lots of miracles as usual.
Mission life is exhausting and it is the best.

One of the coolest opportunities that I had this week was to go to
Kobe for my first ever MLC! It was so much fun to go into this room
and be there with tons of missionaries that I love and respect so much
(shoutout all the sisters in my douki and like all my former Zone
leaders haha), because I learned so much. We had some wonderful
training from President and Sister Welch and the AP's, and I learned
so much about what I need to do to be a better missionary and a better
leader for the missionaries in our zone. Seriously it was such a good
meeting and what was even crazier was to be back in the mission home
exactly ONE year after when I got there the first time, with the exact
same sisters. Wow how time flies! One of the coolest things we did was
pick our favorite Book of Mormon missionaries as companionships and
then make tons of lists and compare and figure out all the
characteristics of a successful missionary...learning from the Book of
Mormon is so neat and powerful as it just inspires me to be so much

So Wednesday was the ONLY day that we had to work in our own area, so
yay haha. We went out and visited some PI's and were able to make some
new appointments (God is really so good to us) with some of the
people, and we were also able to find some new investigators through
our new Eikaiwa program (shoutout the Quorum of the 12 for being
completely inspired)! Two of them in particular are young college
students named Kana and Mai, and they both have tons of interest in
the gospel! Kana in particular was super stoked about the Book of
Mormon and took it home to read it and was way pumped to get closer to
God! It was also a great day because we were able to have a lesson
with Kim and had one of the Kawachinagano members present, and it was
AWESOME. They hit it off way good, and have been meeting outside of
our lessons to get together and study the Book of Mormon. Basically
the entire day was just such a tender mercy and testimony to me that
God will most definitely take care of us as we try our very best to
work as hard as we can with the minimal time that we might have...He
really is so merciful in taking all our weaknesses and magnifying them
for the benefit of His work. It is truly just the most humbling thing
ever but I LOVE it.

Thursday was the beginning of our road trip! We got up super early and
jumped on an early morning train to have an exchange with the sisters
in Sennan! I was blessed to work with the amazing Sister Workman, and
we had such a great time. Our companions had the bikes for the day and
they just opened the area and so we had a good chance to walk and Find
for like 8 hours which was quite the adventure haha. I am just coming
to realize how spoiled I am because all of my areas have had huge
wards and lots of people to talk to...Sennan was a little bit on the
opposite of the spectrum and we technically didn't see a lot of
success in all of our work but we still had fun and were able to
practice using more questions in our contacts. Nothing super crazy
happened other than meeting a grandma who kept interrupting us every
two seconds to tell us how beautiful we are, and I saw the ocean, so
it was a happy day! Moral of the story is that I love Sister Workman
and missionary work, no matter what happens during the day.

Friday we were back on the road to head to Wakayama for a double
header of ZTM and then another exchange! ZTM was super fun, it was
great as always to get together with all the wonderful missionaries in
our zone, and this time was especially fun because we had matching
contests among the districts (Hashimoto District for the win haha) and
then a great potluck lunch afterwards. We focused a lot of the
training on accomplishing the zone plan to baptize weekly, as well as
extending commitments. Manwill Shimai and I trained on the last bit,
and if was really eye opening for me especially to take a look at how
I have been extending invitations to bring my investigators unto

After ZTM and another leadership meeting ended, we started another
exchange and I was able to this time work with the lovely Sister
Ashdown from Wakayama! She is a brand new missionary and has so much
fire to just get out and baptize everyone, and it was cool to be with
someone so young and new again, and it made me miss training a little
bit (all the love you to, Sister Epperson) but I also forgot how tired
it made me haha. We worked a lot on finding and also had the chance to
teach this couple that they are teaching about God, and it is awesome
because they are super interested and I think our sisters will be
having a family baptism soon! It was a great koukan and I learned lots
from Sister Ashdown, so it was a great experience as always!

The weekend was happy because we were finally able to come home and I
was so excited that it made me want to cry haha. All of the different
areas and sisters are so fun and wonderful, but it is always a little
bit of happiness to come home to my own area and companion haha.
Sunday was a good day where we had the chance to do a dendo fireside
for all the members, focusing on social media, and it was cool to see
the members getting so excited to share the gospel. I really love this
area so much.

Just kind of a final thought to end this email (sorry it is sort of
sporadic and everywhere haha, it is a weird thing to not work in your
area all week and then try and type a group email in a room with like
half of the zone) one of the things that has been stressing me
out lately is that I will go home from my mission unchanged. I have
had all these wonderful experiences and I feel like I have changed but
then sometimes I still feel like myself and it was a silly sort of
stress for me for a while. At MLC, President Welch got up and started
talking about the mission and change and he just looks at us and tells
us that he is looking at a room of changed people, and that there was
not a single person in that room who came to the mission the same as
they are now. He then got all teary eyed and simply said "You guys are
the miracles of the mission. You are evidence of the doctrine of
Christ working."
Seriously, how neat is that? I know that is not just
true for us as missionaries, but for all of us as members. We too have
the same access to the same beautiful doctrine of Christ and as we all
choose to live it, we can all become evidences of the reality.

I am so glad for my mission and for the changes it has brought into
the lives of not only all those I have taught, but for me as well. We
can all choose to exercise faith and to repent and to renew our
baptismal covenants and follow the Spirit and keep doing it daily to
endure to the end, and we can all change. Because of Jesus Christ and
His atonement and subsequent doctrine, none of us HAVE to be the same
person that we are today. The only question that we will need to
answer is the question that the Spirit will sometimes ask me and it is
"Are you willing to be changed the way I want you to be?"

I promise if you live the doctrine and turn yourself unto Christ, you
can and WILL change to become more like the people you want to become.
You can start now to become a better friend, parent, missionary,
teacher, spouse, whatever. All you need to do is give your heart and a
little effort to try and the Lord will do wonders among you.
I testify that this gospel is true! It works and I promise it does
because I see the results of it doing so daily. I love my Savior and I
know that He lives and I know it is through His atonement that we all
too can live again as well. I know the Book of Mormon is true and that
you WILL get closer to God as you read it! Last but certainly not
least is that I know God lives and He loves you as your perfect
father, promise promise promise.

Hope you all have a wonderful week! Talk to you all again soon, okay?

Sister Pickering

Photos: MLC and friends there, exchange in Sennan, matching district
photo at ZTM, zone picture, Manwill Shimai and I, Zone P day, and some
random pictures from this Japanese festival with all these dolls we
celebrated last week!