Monday, April 17, 2017

Being in Your Own Area is Overrated: Nihon Week 58

If I were to pick the title of this week's email it would have been CHOOSE TO BELIEVE.  I loved Alyssa's insight on how faith begins with the choice to believe.  It is so simple and yet so profound.  Alyssa has grown so much and has come to deep understanding on so many gospel principles and of life itself.  I am just so amazed.

Minasan, konnichiwa!

First of all just a quick shoutout to my baby brother Ryan who turns
17 today in America! Can't believe he is so big now, but I love him to
pieces and if anyone wants to give him lots of hugs and embarrass him
for me, I would appreciate it so much haha. Love you Ry!

We had a wonderful week here in the Japan Kobe Mission as they all
tend to be, even if it did end up being a little unique. Due to
scheduling and other life circumstances I ended up being on an
exchange with every sister in our zone this week haha, and so my
companion and I were literally together only on Monday and half of the
day on Saturday...haha life is crazy but I love Larsen Shimai so much
and feel blessed to be back home and working with her again!
So the first of our many adventures this week was to head over to
Sakai to have an exchange with those sisters before Zone Conference! I
was blessed to once again work with Sister Maiwiriwiri from Fiji and
it was so fun. She is such a bright and vivacious individual, and I
learn so much from her! We did a lot of great work together and had
some of the most awkward housing experiences of my entire mission
(like this one time this dude invited us into his gate of his yard but
we got stuck because his gate got jammed and then he tried to kick us
out and then we got stuck again and it was literally the most awkward
five minutes of my life), but it was neat to see such a young
missionary work so hard to be bold and share her testimony with
others. It was also awesome to have the koukan in my last area Sakai,
because we were able to meet with some of my favorite investigators,
Mayumi and her precious son Taichi. They are doing great and it made
my heart so happy to see them.

The next day started off bright and early with an ultimate frisbee
game for exercise before we got ready and had Zone Conference! I love
Zone Conference with my whole heart, President Welch came and gave
some amazing training on the Doctrine of Christ and he really talked
about how if we are all wanting to baptize more, we need to understand
this doctrine more...and so starting on the 22nd of this month we are
doing ANOTHER Book of Mormon challenge where we will be studying and
focusing on the Doctrine of Christ, and I am so excited. Because
President Welch leaves in about two months we are all going to be
reading four chapters a day to finish before he leaves, and I just
know the revelation is going to be crazy so I am excited. I love the
Book of Mormon with my whole heart! My companion and I also gave a
training on working with members and had some of our wonderful members
there to help us teach which was a blast, and we learned tons about
goal setting from the zone leaders. I absolutely love meetings, they
are such great opportunities for revelation and to know more of what
Heavenly Father would have us do.

After the conference and leadership meeting ended, we were finally
headed home where we had another exchange with the Wakayama sisters. I
worked with Sister Harada who is from Northern Japan, and she is such
a sweetheart. Her goal was focused on listening to the Spirit and so
we had some great Study and discussions together and were also able to
apply it in some lessons. Really wonderful exchange!

Our next exchange was with the Sennan sisters! I was working with
Sister Ashdown who is still in training, and she is just a dendo
fireball. She is way solid and loves working hard and so we had a
great day of just hitting the pavement and seeing some miracles. The
weather was BEAUTIFUL and so we did some good Finding in a nearby
park, and also had some good lessons with other investigators. Our
last contact of the night was super miraculous because it was this 16
year old girl who wanted to learn about Christ and eagerly accepted a
Book of Mormon. She won't be able to meet for about a year because she
is not allowed to until after she graduates, but it was just exciting
and humbling to some small part of her eventual conversion. Next year
she will be golden and a miracle and when we focus on that eternal
perspective that God has, it is just all the more rewarding in the
end. Never been happier to be a humble sower.

Finally this weekend we were back in Wakayama and I was able to spend
a lot of time with Sister Hokanson. She is an amazing sister with so
much love and charity and I was able to learn tons and tons from her.
We actually were companions on Easter, and it was neat to be able to
really think on and focus on the Savior together. I love Jesus Christ
so much and I just wish I could adequately put that into words. He is
everything to me, and He is the reason and I am able to do everything
that I do.

Our investigators are doing well, but it has also been a challenge to
be able to meet with them lately because of schedule issues. Luckily
Sister Larsen was able to have a lesson with Kana earlier in the week,
and she says she wants to be baptized and so we are excitedly working
with her on that goal! She is just so prepared and cute and it is fun
to work with her and help her seek her conversion through the Book of
Mormon. Kim has honestly been struggling with so much turmoil in the
world lately, and had a lot of questions about where God is for the
innocent who struggle and die whether it be in war or poverty or
whatever. They were some tough lessons but they were also awesome
because the Spirit was so incredible. I know for a certainty that God
loves all of His children and that He has a plan for us, and as long
as we trust Him we can know with certainty that it will all work out
in the end. I would be so lost without this gospel and the hope and
joy it brings.

Something I have really been reflecting on lately is faith and how it
truly begins with a CHOICE to believe. Being perfectly honest, if we
really wanted to, I am sure that every single one of us could go back
and doubt every spiritual experience we have ever had, but having
faith is CHOOSING to believe...choosing to believe that God is there,
choosing to believe that things will work out, choosing to believe
that there can always be hope found through our Savior. We had an
investigator who was struggling with wanting to choose to believe, and
it really just made me think on my life and experiences with the
gospel, and honestly I have said it before and I will say it again,
but if in the end by some crazy chance this gospel ended up NOT being
true, I would have no regrets. I have been brought so much peace and
joy and hope from this gospel and from God and Christ, it has changed
me. Even if my faith was just a choice to believe and it ended up
being for nothing, I wouldn't even care.
But the most beautiful thing about all of this is that it IS true.
God really does live and He does love every single one of us. Jesus IS
the Christ and did live, die, and even now lives for every single one
of us. Joseph Smith really saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, and
through Him we really do have the restored church. The Book of Mormon
really is true and families really can be forever and this gospel is
really everything to me.

I feel so blessed to be here and sharing this gospel and beautiful
message with the Japanese people. I love them so much and I want them
to have this more than anything, because it is true and has blessed me
and my loved ones more than I can even begin to put into words.
This church is true, I promise. If you aren't sure, choose to believe
me and believe that it is true! I love you all so much and hope that
you have an amazing week, wherever you may be. Aishiteimasu, minasan!

Sister Pickering

Photos: Exchanges for days, Zone Conference and frisbee, Mayumi and
Taichi, shots from the ward hiking party, and random views from
working this week.




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