Monday, May 29, 2017

Hot Outside but the Spirit is Cool: Nihon Week 64

Minasan, konnichiwa!

Hope this email finds you all happy and well wherever you might be! It
sounds like my family and others are all spread around the world right
now being engaged in the work of the Lord, and it is just cool to be
so United with so many of my brothers and sisters, wherever we might

I'm going to be honest, I don't remember a ton of what happened this
week! I must be getting old or maybe the heat is just starting to melt
my brain...regardless that is where we are at, at this point, haha
gomen ne. However I can do a highlight list, so we can start with

So on Wednesday we had the awesome chance to head over to Sakai to
have an exchange with the sisters over there! I worked with Sister
Rees who is a fourth transfer, and it was a lot of fun to spend an
awesome day in my past area super focused on finding. Sister Rees is a
great missionary and we had a good time together, and saw some neat
miracles. Highlights include meeting so many of my beloved members
from Sakai (one of my favorite members brought me another huge bag of
100+ full size Snickers, it is super yabaii), meeting some wonderful
PI's, and then getting kidnapped by a former Eikaiwa student and the
elders to get taken to get sushi for dinner. I will literally never
understand Japanese people, they are crazy but I love them haha.
Needless to say it was an awesome koukan!

So the next day I started getting dang nasty cold came back
and had me out basically the entire day because I hadn't been sleeping
well up to that point and I was exhausted beyond belief. I rested for
a lot of it (I hate being inside, it makes me crazy) and then that
night we went to go teach the children's Eikaiwa class. The member who
was in charge of it thought it would be a good idea for us to teach
the children (who are like 2 year old, mind you) how to make American
cookies like we were Rachel Ray or something and so we tried but then
it turns out that Japanese measurements are a slight bit different, so
it actually sort of completely failed, but it was fun anyways. We were
able to share a great spiritual message about overcoming failure
through faith in Jesus Christ haha.

The rest of the weekend was pretty low key because I was honestly dead
to the world...shoutout to my amazing companion though, she was an
angel and took care of me like a champ. There were some nights I would
be up coughing at like 3 AM and she was already up and making me
oatmeal and herbal tea. I don't deserve Larsen Shimai, she is such a
great example to me of patience and charity. It has been a blessing to
work with her over the past two transfers here in Kawachinagano!
One blessing of being sick and dying (I like to try and look for the
positive in things these days haha) is that I have been able to spend
lots of quality time in the Book of Mormon! I know I say this like all
the time, but I LOVE the Book of Mormon. I get so excited every time I
get to read it and am just learning so much all throughout. A huge
theme I have been noticing lately is the responsibility that we have
to help BRING our brothers and sisters to repentance. I think the
phrasing of "bring" is interesting, because it implies that we have to
already be there ourselves. The central purpose of our life is to
bring our lives and wills in line with God through repentance, and
embracing that brings us joy in our own progression, and joy in the
progression and change in others. I know I have seen that so much as a
missionary, and I am so grateful for the chance to have been here to
see and witness it firsthand. I am honestly excited to keep repenting
for the rest of my life haha.

Something kind of fun was that Saturday evening we had a family home
evening activity at the church, and so many investigators and members
came! It was seriously so much fun, we just shared a short message and
played some fun games and ate some treats and it was just way
successful for our investigators to get fellowshipped by the members
here. We also had this less active family we were working with come,
and that in and of itself was so satisfying. I just love this work so

Sunday we were also blessed to have two investigators there at church!
It is always a little nerve wracking to have people at church because
you are always a little nervous that someone is going to give some
crazy talk or like testify of something apostate haha, but thankfully
all went smoothly and the second hour lesson was planned perfectly to
be about baptism. I will never stop being amazed at how perfectly God
plans out His work.

So for my spiritual thought this week I need to take you all back to
Friday morning, when we were sitting there in the Kawachinagano church
having another lovely district meeting. We were discussing something
missionaryish (I don't exactly remember specifics at this point haha)
but it ended up turning into this super passionate sermon by our
beloved district leader Elder Wride where my companion and I got
chastised for being too hard on ourselves. I had made some offhandedly
comment about how I hoped I would make it to the celestial kingdom if
I died like tomorrow, and then Elder Wride just let us have it haha.
He asked us how we could possibly go out and preach repentance to
others if we don't believe that it applies to ourselves (as
missionaries who preach the gospel and repent DAILY) and it was
actually super enlightening. It was interesting because as he was
talking p, in my brain I was sort of being sassy and I was like "Well
of course they would think that about me and my work being sufficient,
only I am inside of my head and so nobody really knows what is going
on in here except for me and so of course I am gonna be hard on myself
because I know what is up" and basically I was just in this super
negative spiraling train of thought about myself and my mission and
efforts here in Japan. It was in that moment where the Spirit came to
me so strongly and clearly and simply said "Sister Pickering, there IS
someone who knows you better than you and He loves you and is proud of
your work and knows your potential and efforts and His name is Jesus
Christ. He knows all your weaknesses and loves you BECAUSE of them."
When I heard/felt that, I couldn't help but be overcome with gratitude
and love for my Savior. No matter what we pretend, no matter what
ridiculous self pity parties we like to throw about how nobody
understands us and or would love us if they did, we simply cannot deny
the fact that it isn't the truth. We have a Savior, someone who knows
us better than we do, someone who loves us infinitely, and I know He
is rooting us on every single day. I have never been more aware of
that then I am now, and I have never been more grateful for His hand
that is always extended to us. We simply need to reach out and take

I love Jesus Christ and I love serving here as His representative to
the Japanese people! I can think of no place I would rather be or
nothing I would rather be doing. So so blessed.
He lives and loves you and so do I! Hope that you all remember that
and have a wonderful week! Aishiteimasu minasan!

Sister Pickering


Monday, May 22, 2017

Revelation for Days: Nihon Week 63

Words of Wisdom for the week:

"I just keep thinking about how we can't ourselves be disciples of Christ and endure to the end without helping everyone we can and bringing others along the way with us. Charity should be our walk and our talk and is truly the lifeblood of how we should treat others and handle our lives, and it all stems as we live the Doctrine of Christ and by applying those simple principles like faith, repentance, etc. I know as we wholeheartedly embrace the Doctrine of Christ, we can become more charitable people and more worthy for the kingdom and more filled with joy as well."

Minasan, konnichiwa!

Wishing you all a happy week from over here in Kawachinagano! For
those of you who graduate this week...CONGRATS! Super proud of all of
you. For all of you receiving mission calls and heading out to the
field and whatnot, also super proud of you. The mission is the best
and happiest thing ever. For those of you getting married soon....haha
also congratulations but also not gonna lie the fact that I have
friends getting married weirds me out. Carrying on.

This week was a wonderful one for us in Kawachi, and I just love this
area and these people so so much. Monday after P day and some super
fun (#sarcasm) record updating and phone calls we had to do, we headed
out to go finding for a bit. Hit up this super large apartment
building and unfortunately didn't find anyone, but had a great chat
with a grandpa who sternly lectured us for 25 minutes on how dangerous
it is for us to be out at night. I love how considerate these people

Tuesday we had our monthly visiting Teaching spree with Maekawa Shimai
and Soga Shimai to go and find all the less actives. These members are
just so funny and passionate about taking a selfie and eating fruit
with the less actives, it always makes for a good time. Later the day
we had a Skype coordination meeting with the Zone leaders (I don't
like meetings anymore haha, I just want to go out and work) and then
ended the evening with Eikaiwa where we all had them play musical
chairs to teach a spiritual Message at the end. It was sort of a
stretch but we made it work and overall it was a success.

Wednesday we headed over to Sakai where I had my last interview with
President Welch before he heads home. Holy cow can I talk about
emotions. I love that man so much, I know he is so inspired and called
of God and the idea of him not being here is just too weird. We had a
good chat, he gave me my new temple recommend (and this one is in
Japanese, so it's fancy) and then ended in a prayer that moved me to
tears. He is so led by the Spirit and I am so blessed to have been
able to serve with him here in Kobe. The Welches will always be a part
of my life from here on out! Right after interviews we started a
companion exchange with the Sennan sisters where I worked with Sister
McGuire. This sister is literally the Alma to my Amulek and so we work
hard and have a blast and basically experience all the joy of the
gospel. Way too fun.

One interesting thing that happened is that as we prayed during
companion Study, we both felt super strongly that we needed to go and
visit this dropped had ended on sort of rocky terms
and I was nervous but we couldn't deny the Spirit, so we went. We
visited and nothing immediately happened but it ended up in us later
receiving a very mean and nasty phone call from this investigator
where my heart basically got torn to shreds (haha AGAIN) and I was
super super confused why God would have had me do that when He knew it
would cause me that pain. Honestly I was sort of upset and angry with
Him, and honestly I still don't know the reason why He has us do that,
but recently I was impressed with a lot of Peace and the knowledge
that sometimes God just needs to see if we will be obedient. How can
He trust us with the BIG prompting if He doesn't have the assurance we
will follow the small and simple ones? It was hard and not fun, but I
was grateful for the chance to prove my loyalty to my Heavenly Father
in some small way.

Once the exchange ended on Thursday, we headed to the church for
ANOTHER Skype correlation meeting for Zone Conference, and then that
night we taught children's Eikaiwa and then had a meal appointment
with this family named the Kyoutani's. They are just awesome, they are
all so strong and have such a love to share the gospel in any way they
can and it was humbling and inspiring to be their home. Can't wait to
keep working with them to move the work forward here in Kawachinagano.
Friday we had district meeting here in Kawachinagano! We talked about
how we could improve on how we teach repentance but it ended up on
warping into this super spirit led discussion on how we can better
serve with our heart, might, mind, and strength and what our barriers
might be to doing so...super humbling and I have lots of repentance to
do haha but that is okay, repentance doesn't scare me anymore. That
evening we taught the Eikaiwa 30/30 Program to the Oonishi family and
had a Follow Up lesson about Jesus Christ, and it was awesome.
Children just love and accept our Savior so easily, it is the coolest
thing. We all need to be more like them!

SATURDAY WAS THE DAY. After the Sennan sisters came over again on
Friday night and staying with us, Saturday morning we all got up early
and headed over on a train to Ibaraki (this place in Osaka) where we
had a mission wide Broadcast with Elder and Sister Oaks, Elder and
Sister Gong, and Elder and Sister Aoba. First of all it was awesome to
be together with the WHOLE mission, I saw my trainee Sister Epperson
and we cried together haha, as well as tons of other friends that just
mean so much to me. For all you Westlake people out there, I also
finally saw Elder Braden Allred! It was super fun to chat about life
and catch up on the mission. He is doing way happy and is a great
missionary, although he is currently banished to this tiny island and
I so never ever see him haha. The conference in and of itself was
amazing. The Spirit was overwhelming and joyful, and that was exactly
what Elder Oaks talked to us about...the joy of the gospel! He asked
us how we could NOT be joyful because of the truths we have about our
Savior and the Plan of Salvation? How could we NOT share that and use
it to strengthen others? Just awesome and so much revelation. Shaking
his hand and meeting him and feeling his love was humbling and
amazing. He is definitely called of God and was sent by Jesus Christ
to come and visit the Kobe mission at this time. Another crazy thing
was when we all stood together and sang the mission theme song and I
was just hit with emotions and tears and memories and love over my
mission the past 16 1/2 months has given me. I love being a missionary
here in Kobe.

Sunday was also special because we had a special Stake Conference with
the Area President Elder Whiting over in Sakai. For those of you who
keep track (or are even reading this email at this point still, sorry
it is so long haha) I have been blessed to have been serving in this
Sakai Stake for the past six months, and so there were more just happy
reunions. I saw some less active members return, some sisters heading
out on their missions, and just so many people dear to my heart. I
love the Sakai Stake with everything I am. That meeting was also
wonderful, the Spirit and love I felt was overwhelming. I am not ready
to leave this place.

That evening there was ANOTHER Devotional with Elder Oaks and Elder
Gong and their wives, and that was also awesome. He spoke a lot about
how the growth in Japan right now doesn't look strong according to
numbers, but it is amazing when we look at the individual growth and
strength of faith and foundations of the members...and now it is time
to go up and improve from here. That in particular was so special to
me because I feel so strongly so much of my mission has been dedicated
to helping these amazing wards I have been so blessed to serve in.
Ironically I go in there to try and help change them, and yet they
always end up changing me. So grateful for every single one of these
people here. Haha needless to say, it was another good meeting, lots
more revelation, I am spiritually dead but that is okay.

In reading the Book of Mormon this week, I am learning lots about
Ammon and the Sons of Mosiah! Aside from the fact that they are just
completely boss, I learned about the essentiality we have as members
to be good examples. Ammon didn't do much for Lamoni besides humbly
serve and be a good example of the believers, and then took the
opportunity to testify when it came, and from that THOUSANDS were
converted. As members of this church and as true disciples of this
church, we have such a great power and responsibility to share the
light and love of Christ with everyone around us! I promise as you do
your best to share that light and example with those you can in your
small sphere of influence, lives will be changed and joy will be
found. It is true and real and joyful, I promise!

I love this gospel, it means EVERYTHING to me. Also love my Savior and
my Heavenly Father and how they have blessed me with the chance to be
in this special place with people I love more than words can describe.
To simply quote Alma, I cannot say the smallest part of what I feel.

I love you all and hope everyone has a great week! Minasan, aishiteimasu!
Sister Pickering

Photos: Various members and events, Oaks Taikai reunions, road trip
for Stake Conference, happy Stake Conference reunions, humidity and
hair at train stations haha


Monday, May 15, 2017

Angels in the Streets: Nihon Week 62

So we had a fabulous opportunity this past weekend to Skype with Alyssa because it was Mothers' Day.  This skype felt a little different than the last two.  I am not sure if it is because she has been gone for a long time now and we are settled into a routine or because we know we will see her in a short two months.  But it was less tense and more joyful.  Alyssa was just radiating and looked so beautiful.  You could see how much she loves being a missionary.  Every now and then she would slip into Japanese as we spoke and she still took delight in the simple things such as seeing the cat or comparing how much her siblings have grown.  It was just so wonderful to hear her voice and talk back and forth.
Near the end of our conversation we did bring up a few things about the end of her mission.  Roger and I are picking her up in Japan, when she is done, and we had a few details to discuss.  As soon as we started to talk about her coming home, you could see her physically deflate before our eyes.  It was painful to see the trepidation and worry that she has about coming home.  She can't imagine not being a missionary and that is hard to accept.  It proves to me even more that she has given 100% and loves those people wholeheartedly.  A mission is truly a wondrous thing.  It is difficult to go on one and just as difficult to return.  I am hoping that she can focus on these last 2 months and give it all that she has left.  We will continue to pray for her strength and success.
We ended with her sharing he testimony in Japanese.  And boy, did she get emotional.  He testimony of this Gospel has grown so deeply and means everything to her.  You could feel in her words and see it in her tears.  She knows without a doubt of the truthfulness of the work she is doing.  That is priceless.
Minasan, konnichiwa!
First of all, HAPPY MOTHERS DAY! Especially wanted to send a super special shoutout to my own mother and grandmothers and aunts and basically any other women in my life who have made a difference and have helped me to be here. Truly so grateful!
It was another wonderful week for us here in Kawachinagano! I love this area and this ward so much and I am just so crazy blessed to be here.
Monday after a nice P day of nothing (honestly we are just so tired and so like taking naps basically every week haha) we decided to start combing through our Area book and called TONS of former and potential investigators. We were working for a while and had no success until we finally made contact with this 15 year old who wanted to meet with us again. Super exciting! We ended off by heading out to go and visit this elusive less active that we were FINALLY able to make contact with and have a good lesson with. Success in the little things!
Tuesday we were up bright and early to head to Kobe where we had MLC! I know I say this like every single month but I seriously love MLC. I love going and seeing so many missionaries that I love and respect (and it was fun, because some other elders from my MTC days were made Zone leaders and so it was like having this giant family reunion) as well as receiving training from President and Sister Welch. The entire morning session we spent having this giant discussion on what we are learning from the Doctrine of Christ Book of Mormon Challenge, and how we can better apply it as leaders, missionaries, sons, daughters, future spouses, etc. It was super neat and the Spirit was definitely present and able to teach me lots of things I needed to learn and hear. One thing I really liked that was talked about was the essentiality of having our lives and our countenance be the biggest testimony that we share of the Doctrine of Christ and its ability to change people. We can share about it all we want, but until we experience it, it means nothing as we share it with those around us. It was a cool moment for me to sort of sit back and reflect on how I have changed these past 16 months. Alyssa used to be a good person and all but through the doctrine of Christ, Sister Pickering has been able to change into someone so much better (haha I hope).
Wednesday was another super happy day just being back and working in the area. Had some good studies, had a lesson with a member, taught some less actives, visited a former Investigator, and contacted all along the way. Nothing crazy memorable or miraculous, but just good and happy nonetheless. That evening we packed up and headed on a train to go to Wakayama where we would have an exchange with the sisters down there, which brings me to Angel #1.
So it is 8:15 PM and we are walking along this dark country road in a random place in Japan called Wakayama when I receive a phone call from an investigator that is incredibly dear to my heart. We talk for a second and she proceeds to drop us...but this wasn't like a nice "Thanks for everything, maybe someday" drop, but it was one of those gut wrenching drops where it feels like your heart gets torn out and thrown in a blender. Basically I was being called a child and was told that none of this is worth it and I am wasting my time here. I was pretty devastated and was walking to this apartment with tears just coming uncontrollably, when I see this car pull up to us. I am about to be annoyed when I assume it is some random Japanese person being racist and suspicious about the gaijin walking alone late at night when I hear a familiar voice say "Pickering Shimai?" I look inside the car and it just so happens to be one of my favorite members in the WORLD, Minamimoto Kyoudai. He reaches out and shakes my hand and gives me a smile and just thanks me for everything and in that moment I was so overwhelmed with comfort and the Spirit. Wakayama is like 2 hours away from Kawachinagano but God cared enough to send me one of His angels in that moment to comfort me when I really needed it. 
The next day we were on exchanges with the sisters in Wakayama! I was super blessed to go out and work with Sister Morris from Orem, Utah and it was so much fun because she had literally been out in the field for like a week! Her faith and testimony was so strong and she was just way cute and fired up about the work, and it was awesome to work together and see tons of miracles that day. Honestly it made me miss training so much! Being with a new missionary is one of the coolest experiences of all time. That night we all had a good time back in the apartment and it was awesome to catch up with Sister Miller, one of my dearest friends ever as we tried to catch up about our lives and missions for the past 16 months. She is awesome and I am way grateful for her! 
So Friday was supposed to be Zone Training Meeting in Wakayama but it sort of got spontaneously cancelled indefinitely which meant we were up early again to catch a train over to Hashimoto (and on the way we taught a man from the Dominican Republic and got him committed to go to the church, and no I don't remember any Spanish FYI hahaha) for a district meeting. It was a super great meeting with tons of Spirit as we focused on testifying and teaching from personal experience, and as always I just learned so much. That evening we taught the Oonishi family about Jesus Christ (we used a tatoe with books to explain the atonement and it was super good), and then we went and taught Yuto and read a picture New Testament book together and he soaked it up. Kids are incredible. 
Saturday was a super rainy day but it was filled with tons of small miracles! We had some appointments fall through with people, but it ended up leading us to some other areas where we met some other solid potential investigators and found some awesome neighborhoods with tons of new families. I was also over the moon because we found the SUPER countryside part of our area, and I felt like I was just living the dream as I biked through the Japanese countryside and the rain. We met with a former Investigator that day who was sadly only interested in foreigners (but the good news is I held a hamster and a ferret during that experience), had some good contacts, placed some Book of Mormons, and ended the night teaching a less active. We also found a cockroach in our apartment which basically brought me PTSD from the plethora of crises we had last year, but we will see what we can do to overcome this summer. 
Sunday morning brought Angel(s)#2 and it was simply the fact that I was able to Skype my amazing family. There were lots of tears of joy and just all the emotions basically at seeing them again, but I was just so struck at how blessed I am to have such amazing parents and awesome siblings. I love them more than I can describe and even though I am in no way ready to not be a missionary anymore, I will be excited to see my eternal family again. 
After Skyping was the usual church block and it was awesome as usual, and then we went on splits with the members which bring me to all the rest of the Angels. I was blessed to go and work with a sister named Kyoutani Shimai and we went out and passed out tons of flyers for our new Eikaiwa program and guitar class and church, and she was just a fireball and contacting everyone before I could even get over there haha. She is way sweet and I learned lots from her example. While I was doing that, my sweet companion Larsen Shimai went with the Minamimoto couple to go and visit the family we found last week! They are named the Oonoya Family and it is a mom and dad and two daughters, ages 9 and 7(?) and they are SUPER excited about taking the lessons and reading the Book of Mormon together as a family. Seriously the blessings in this place are unreal, and Minamimoto Shimai was a dream of a companion for Sister Larsen. Couldn't do this work without these angel members. 
I know I say this all the time, but I am always just filled with so much love and gratitude for my mission. It is the most special experience and has changed me so much. To close I would just like to share a scripture that prompted me to serve a mission, and one that I read this week during my studies:
Mosiah 4:9 Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
To all my wonderful family and friends back at home, Believe in God. He is there. He loves you. He wants your happiness. Turn to Him and you will never be disappointed. 
Hope you all have a wonderful week! Aishiteimasu minasan! 
Sister Pickering 




Monday, May 8, 2017

Help Thou Mine Unbelief: Nihon Week 61


Minasan, konnichiwa!

Hope that you all had a wonderful week, it was as always a good one
for us here in Kawachinagano! The weather is warm, the people are
wonderful, and blessings are just everywhere. Life is good and I
really can't complain!

Monday night after P day we had the chance to go over and have dinner
with a wonderful family in the ward named the Suzuki family! Holy cow
I love these people so so much. They are a family where basically
everyone is a returned missionary and so we had lots of good talks
about dendo and they were able to give us a lot of advice about
working with this ward to see so many miracles. We shared some great
stories, received lots of revelation, and the Spirit was just felt in
abundance. I have said it before and I will say it again, but I work
with angels every single day here in the mission, and they are the
Japanese members! To end the evening we all knelt together in a
"family prayer" for us to be able to find new investigators, and I was
honestly just overcome with the Spirit and with so much love. I love
these people so much.

Tuesday my sweet companion unfortunately got super sick, and so not
much happened. What I did learn however, is that it is possible for
someone to literally sleep for 24 hours straight (shoutout Larsen
Shimai, she only woke up because I poked her to check if she was still
alive haha), and that I should never kill someone because I could not
handle the whole solitary confinement thing haha. I did have lots of
chances to read from the BOM though, so that was special as always. I
love the Book of Mormon.

Wednesday morning we were up bright and early and I got to fulfill one
of my mission dreams and go labor in a Hatake (field) of one of the
members of the ward, and it was just a blast. It was also service
which was fun, and it was a good time to just develop more
relationships with some members. After that my companion was still
dead so we were back in the apartment where I found a dinosaur
Area book and basically went excavating to find some former
investigators that we can go visit soon. We have some addresses now
though, and so we are excited!

Thursday was Transfer day in the Kobe Mission, and although neither my
companion and I were transferring, we had to go to Sakai and wait with
a sister whose companion was coming from Shikoku (which is the island)
which is already a far trip...basically she ended up missing her bus
and so was even later and so we spent a good portion of the day with
Sister Maiwiriwiri doing some finding around the eki until Sister Rees
came in! It was good though, we got a bunch of super cute new sisters
MTC together and I love her with my whole heart), and so koukans and
whatnot should be a blast this transfer! That evening we had our
weekly planning session and made our plans to baptize everyone and so
we are excited to get it done!

Friday after some good studies in the morning, we headed out to go to
this concert for the Oonishi girls, the daughters of this family we
are doing the English/Gospel program with. It was super cute and a fun
way to get exposure about us missionaries out in the area! There
happened to be a former Investigator that lived near the concert hall
and so we biked on over to check it out, and this super cute mom
answered the door and really wants us to come back and meet again!
Such a miracle! After that we headed over to this pond to go do some
findings, and we ended up having a way boss lesson with this 16 year
old girl named Yuka. She is CRAZY prepared and really wants to learn
more about God and Christ, and she just glowed with the Light of
Christ, it was awesome. We gave her a Book of Mormon and set up an
appointment to meet again and were just thrilled, but then were super
devastated when we heard from her that night that her mother was not
down with her meeting Christian missionaries because of the Buddhist
ties. Way heartbreaking but we know God has a plan for this special
girl, and one of these days she will be older and absolutely golden.

Saturday was another day in the apartment because poor Sister Larsen
was just not able to kick this sickness. She slept a lot and I did a
lot of studying and I will just say once again that I love the Book of
Mormon haha. That evening we went to go and study with a member who
had been having a hard time of late, and it was neat because it was
one of those special experiences where I really felt the Spirit
working through us to bless this lady. It is honestly the most
humbling experience ever to be a missionary where people seek you out
to feel the Spirit and learn and be uplifted...very humbling and cool
and very much a model for how I want to be as a friend for the rest of
my life.

Okay in order to explain the miraculous day that Sunday was, I kind of
need to go into my spiritual thought a little early. So Saturday
evening we made a specific plan for how we would see a baptism within
the next six weeks and it was super good and solid and we were excited
about it all and just ready to see miracles. However that night we
were talking and we realized that it has been about a year since
either my companion or I have had an investigator enter into the
waters of baptism, and honestly without knowing it, it has kind of
become a normal thing for both of us to not baptize. It was sort of
heartbreaking and humbling for me to realize that just like faith
without works is dead, works without faith is dead and in some ways
that it had sort of been me. Sure my faith is stronger than it ever
has been, but I realized that my faith to baptize was NOT where it
needed to be. As we were talking about what we needed to do, the story
from Mark 9 came to mind where the man with the possessed child
approaches the Savior and asks Him to heal his son. Christ asks the
man if he has faith for it to happen, and the man simply says "Lord, I
believe, help thou Mine unbelief". In that moment I realized that was
me. For so long I had been so sure of my testimony and my faith that I
hadn't felt the need to try and strengthen it beyond regular dendo
life. That night I got on my knees and had a super super heartfelt
prayer where I repented LOTS and just pleaded for the Lord to help
mine unbelief and strengthen my faith so that we could see a baptism.
The next day instead of just fasting for a baptism like I had
originally planned, I fasted for my faith to increase so that we COULD
see one.

The next day we had a super promising investigator come to church and
found four new investigators, including a FAMILY that wanted to hear
our message. Larsen Shimai and I just kept looking at each other in
complete shock and wonder at all the miracles that were happening
before us, because it was honestly a day unlike one I have ever had on
my mission. I was so blown away by the mercy that God has for us, and
I was SO struck by the fact that when we simply have a DESIRE to
change and improve, we are endowed with power from on high to see
those miracles. My faith increased so much in that one day, and I know
I still have a long way to go, but I am so grateful for a God who
blesses us as we simply seek to have more FAITH.

I know that the Lord wants to bless us, and wants our faith to
increase so that He can bless us more. All we need to do is turn to
Him and seek and ask, and more miracles than we can even imagine will
come our way.

I love God and Jesus Christ and this beautiful gospel message. I
absolutely love this work and I love being a missionary.

Hope you all have an amazing week and remember how much God loves you!
Also shoutout to all the amazing women in my life that have made a
difference in my life, and happy Mother's Day to you all! Aishiteimasu

Sister Pickering


Monday, May 1, 2017

My name is Russell and I am a Wilderness Explorer Scout: Nihon Week 60

Minasan, konnichiwa!
I hope that this email finds you happy and well wherever you are!
Can't believe it is May already, but hope you are enjoying the nice
weather wherever you might be, because I know we certainly are over

Okay so first of all...transfer news! I am officially an 11th transfer
now, but here is the crazy part that I wasn't expecting...I am going
to be staying in Kawachinagano as an STL with Sister Larsen! And this
time it is for sure real haha, I am not getting pranked this time.
This is the first time I will have a companion for more than one
Transfer outside of training, and I am excited to see what miracles we
will continue to have in this awesome area. Such blessings!
This week was good and busy and somewhat normal, so it was awesome!
Weeks we get to work in our own area every single day are seriously
the best.

Monday after P day we hit the road and went to try and go visit tons
of less actives and some potential investigators and nobody was home
which was super unfortunate, but it was okay because we just got to go
out and plant some seeds which is something I have just come to love
lots out here.

Tuesday in the morning after some great studies we went out again for
some other less actives and potential investigators and had some great
contacts too! We met this super cute mom and daughter from China who
want to start coming to our English class which was a total blessing,
and we are way excited about it. It was kind of funny because we had
this goal on this day that we were going to look for unplanned service
opportunities but I don't know how much you guys know about Japanese
people, but they DO NOT LIKE being served and helped, especially by
strangers. We probably asked like 50 people that day if we could help
them do things from weed to carry groceries and whatever and they all
said no. My companion was laughing at me and said I was like Russel
from the movie Up where he was all "Can I help you cross the street?
The lawn? The porch?" It was good though, someday we will achieve that
goal haha. That afternoon (after my companion crashed her bike into a
fence, super gracefully of course) we had a mogi Lesson with a way
sweet member and then Eikaiwa. Super good and fun as usual!

Wednesday we went and had a lesson with a Less Active and read from
the BOM together which was way good (I just love the Book of Mormon a
lot so it was great) and then that afternoon we went to go and have a
dendo powwow with this member in the ward named Fujiko Shimai. She is
a young mom and is super cute but the funniest part is that she is the
older sister of my former companion, Uchida Shimai! We had some good
talks about dendo and how to help each other be better member
missionaries as well as maintaining the Spirit through our studies.
She is an awesome example to me and I hope to someday be like her!
That night we had some solid ping Pong where I ALMOST won but
didn't...but someday friends, someday.

Thursday we had exchanges with the Sakai sisters! I was blessed to
work with Polatis Shimai and we had an awesome day. We had a lot of
finding time which can usually be a little killer, but we both just
decided to go out and have some fun with it and see what we could make
happen. One thing that we tried was to go out with a ukulele...keep in
mind, neither one  of us play the ukulele but we figured YOLO, so we
just walked around strumming it and it was actually SUPER effective.
Tons of people came and contacted US and we ended up with a bunch of
solid potential investigators, some new Eikaiwa students, a traffic
jam (after some people stopped their cars to stare at us, foreigners
are sort of rare around here haha), and one marriage proposal from a
catholic missionary from the Dominican Republic named Julien (which of
course we ran away from in incredible haste haha). One thing sort of
cool though is that we had this goal that we REALLY wanted to find a
kinjin that day and so we were working way hard and praying super
hard...and the last contact of the night were these two cute girls
that are 13 and 15...but the thing was that they were like super nice
because we were gaijin, but when they found out we were missionaries
for Christ, they got STOKED! They told us they had always wanted to
learn about Christ and so this was like a total miracle. I was blown
away by the mercy of the Lord, and so excited that we have some more
youth to work with. They are super sweet and are going to be trying to
meet with them this week!

Friday was the last DM of the transfer which is also fun and a little
sad, but tons of good learning to go around for everyone. After our
weekly planning session, we had our two Eikaiwa lessons with the
Oonishi family and our little kinjin kids of the less active parents.
We taught both about agency and making good choices and the Spirit was
way strong. I love teaching the gospel to children so much, they just
GET it. They are so pure and innocent and the light of Christ radiates
from them, I really understand why we are told to become as children!

Saturday was one of the weirdest days of my entire mission, but it was
also super effective. We started off going with these members to the
mountains to go and chop out bamboo from the forest with pick axes and
then do these wilderness activities as a source of finding, and it was
WAY awesome! We found a new family to teach the English and gospel
program to, and this way legit 25 year old PI that came and spent P
day with us today! The Lord has been blessing us and our teaching pool
so much, it has been awesome. Not only that, I can say I have now
gallivanted through a bamboo forest with a pick axe haha. After that
we rushed to our meeting with our girls Nanami and Yurika from last
week and had a good meeting with them, and they introduced us to
ANOTHER friend and we will teach all three of them this week. Then the
rest of the day we were finding/volunteering at this festival at this
big pond to kick off golden week...which basically meant that we
walked around for four hours interviewing people and accidentally got
turned into the stars of this documentary for this festival, but it
was legit because basically they just filmed us sharing the gospel
with people haha. I am sure we will be a big hit on Netflix coming

Sunday was awesome as usual, because it was the Sabbath. Church was
awesome, the weather was beautiful, and we got to do some more work
with awesome members. That night we had dinner with the Ogaki family,
and they are wonderful. Have I talked about how much I love this
Kawachinagano Ward?

So we are continuing to chug along ahead with the BOM challenge, and
it is awesome. Reading at this fast pace can be kind of crazy when we
have to study for investigators and stuff as well, but there is always
revelation to be had, which is awesome. Ahh I love the Book of Mormon!
One thing that really struck me was the notion of small and simple
things...I was pondering that this week and of course got thinking
about that in relation to faith. I was thinking about my mission and
how I felt for a moment like my mission hasn't had tons of CRAZY huge
miracles like finding families of 27 prepared people or whatever, and
I was stressed for a second because I thought I was maybe doing
something wrong. But then it hit me, that my mission has been a
mission of small and simple things and that doesn't make my
experiences or my testimony less. I have never been more converted,
and I am so grateful. I think so often we talk about how much faith we
need to summon those big miracles, but sometimes I think we just need
just as much faith if not more to recognize all the small and simple
ones that are all over our lives every single day.

I know this gospel is true and it is a gospel of small and simple and
yet incredibly miraculous things. I love Jesus Christ and Heavenly
Father and I love serving them here!

I hope you all have a wonderful week wherever you are! Remember God
loves you! Aishiteimasu minasan!

Lots of love,
Sister Pickering