Monday, June 5, 2017

YOLO with Faith: Nihon Week 65

It is so hard to believe that Alyssa is about to begin her last transfer of the mission.  You can see and feel the tender emotions that she is experiencing as she thinks about leaving the people she has grown to love so much.  It is hard to believe that the heart wrenching feeling I experienced when I dropped her off at the MTC so long ago will be felt once again on her end when she leaves.  A mission is truly a wondrous thing and at times difficult to truly wrap your head around.  I am finding that the nature of my prayers for her are changing from asking for protection and strength and miracles to helping her find peace, and joy and contentment knowing that she gave everything she had to this experience.  I also pray that she will be able to walk on the plane with no regrets and looking forward to the future. 

I know it is still a little premature to be talking about her coming home since she has 6 more weeks of miracles ahead.  I just know her loving heart needs all the prayers she can get.

That being said, here is something she shared with me this week:

"One crazy thing that happened is
that since we don't have a Zone Conference next transfer, they made me
get up there and give a "Dying" testimony like all the returning
missionaries do. It felt so surreal and I just cried but then halfway
through I was just filled with hope while the Spirit reminded me that
my mission is NOT over, not even close. I am simply headed to a new
part of the vineyard where I will have new companions and a new role,
and this vineyard even has Mexican food so I can't even complain. The
hardest thing will be leaving behind all the laborers that I love so
much here."

And this:

"Just really been pondering lately about how grateful I am for the
blessings that we have that come through being members of the church.
Honestly when we take a moment to think about it and really FEEL changes like everything. Thanks to this gospel I am who I am
and have become so much better and have way more self worth and
confidence than I ever could without it, and the blessings just go on
and on and on. And our family is sealed for eternity! Seriously
doesn't get any better than that."

Group Email:

Minasan, konnichiwa!

Hoping this email finds you happy and alive and not too hot, wherever
you might be! We had another wonderful wonderful week here in
Kawachinagano, and as always I am just overflowing with love and
gratitude for this special experience. Seriously too blessed!

So last Monday we had one of the coolest experiences of my entire
mission. Their is this slightly less active/recent convert couple in
the ward that we work with and visit weekly. They are just the
sweetest people and are trying to become active since Kyoudai has had
struggles with the word of wisdom and sort of slipped out of activity.
Recently they have been super fired up and going through the addiction
recovery program so that they can make it to the temple! We had a
lesson with them and we went over and had an amazing lesson about the
Doctrine of Christ and our Savior...and lemme just tell you that the
Spirit was crazy strong. I was sitting there in that tiny, cluttered
house speaking in a language that is not my native tongue and yet I
felt the love Jesus Christ had for me and for them so was
amazing! Anyways we followed up with Kyoudai on how he has been doing
with the word of wisdom and he told us that he still was smoking lots
daily...we sat there in silence and then my companion and I looked at
each other and felt the Spirit urge and we asked him to hand over his
cigarettes and lighter in that moment. He was way surprised but went
to the back room and got them, and brought us a pack of cigarettes
that was about halfway full. We asked him if there were anymore, and
he said no. We thanked him and testified, and then had a closing
prayer. During the prayer, once again the Spirit was CRAZY strong and
the love in that room was moved us all nearly to tears.
At the end of the prayer, we expressed our love for this sweet brother
and the love that the Savior has for him, and we also told him that
Sister Larsen and I were going to quit chocolate while he is quitting
tobacco. As we spoke his eyes softened and his face changed, and then
he told us to wait a moment and left the room again. We were confused
but then a second later he walked back in with a ton of cigarettes
that he had hidden in the back room. He told us he didn't want them
anymore, and handed them over. The Spirit was INSANE. We literally saw
repentance in action right then and there, and it was so powerful. The
influence of the Spirit and the love of our Savior can change
everyone. They are doing awesome this week, he hasn't relapsed and
every time we call to follow up they are like listening to hymns and
watching church movies. I love this gospel so so so so much.

Tuesday we had the chance to head up to Kobe for MLC and it was
awesome as usual. It was he last MLC that President and Sister Welch
would preside over which was super sad and weird, but it was a great
meeting nonetheless. We talked a lot about love and charity and the
joy of the gospel and ministering that to others (which was super
great and informative and helped me form a lot of my goals for next
transfer), as well as some technical things like making our English
classes more effective and working better with the ward council. My
companion and I were also asked to give a training on following up
with investigators to ensure progression which was fun, mainly because
we realized we have to repent a lot and the Spirit is helping us do so
haha. It was a great day, super spiritual, super awesome, the mission
is the best.

Wednesday we had another great day filled with tons of revelation,
because we had Zone Conference in Sakai! It was awesome to be
surrounded by so many members in this Stake that I love (one brother
in my ward right now excitedly told us that he had worked for 24 hours
straight and had finished up at 4 AM that morning to be able to come
to the meeting and it made me cry, these people are the best in the
world) and to receive some awesome training again. We all had great
discussions on how we can better apply what we are learning from the
Doctrine of Christ Challenge, and I just learned tons. I also had the
chance to give another training (yay leadership haha) about companion
communication and relations and based the doctrine out of the chapters
in Alma where Pahoran and Moroni were exchanging epistles. The
training totally came from the Spirit which was cool, so hopefully
that means it ended up going slightly well? So one interesting that
happened was that at the end of the meeting I was called to give my
"Dying" testimony...I was caught way off guard because I go home next
transfer and thought I had time, but since our mission President is
changing we won't have a Zone Conference next transfer, they had me
stand up there and give my last testimony in a meeting. Holy. Cow.
Emotions. Basically I just got up there and started crying as I was
overwhelmed with emotion and love and gratitude for all the miracles
that my past 17 months have had. I can't even adequately describe what
my mission means to me, but basically I had like six minutes to get up
there and try to not make a fool of myself out of everyone, but it was
a cool experience nonetheless. At first I started out heartbroken at
the thought of my mission ending, but halfway through it turned to
simply peace and joy and gratitude for these experiences and the
knowledge that my missionary work is not ending, but only just
beginning. It only goes up from here on out, folks.

Thursday we had the Wakayama sisters over for a koukan, and it was
awesome because I finally fulfilled a mission dream of mine and got to
work with Sister Miller, one of my best friends from the MTC. She is a
complete boss and I learned so much from her, and we just had a grand
old time working with some less actives and trying to do some
promotional stuff for our English classes. Love her tons and was
grateful for the chance we had to work together!

Friday we had a great district meeting in Hashimoto (we brainstormed
how to double our baptismal candidate numbers by the end of the
transfer) and I learned a lot, I need to repent a lot, but it is okay
haha. We had a weekly planning session, had our weekly Eikaiwa lessons
with the Oonishi family and the Ueda family and it was awesome. The
kids are all praying daily and just blow me away. Can't wait for them
to be able to be baptized someday.

Saturday was cool because it was one of those days that was totally
led by the Spirit but we didn't even realize it until the very end
when we just ended up everywhere we needed to be at the right times.
We have been trying to hit at LEAST 20+ solid contacts daily and so we
went and were working our tails off, and were blessed with a cute new
Investigator in the process. Her name is Yukina and we can't wait to
meet with her this week! We also had some great lessons with less
actives, a bunch of super awkward contacts around the mall, and just a
solid day of dendo. I love missionary work!

Sunday was Fast Sunday and was awesome as always...the Spirit is just
the coolest thing ever. After church and our meetings we headed out to
visit some less actives and house this legit looking neighborhood we
found (it ended up being sort of like a city of Ammonihah experience,
minus the whole they burned the believers type deal, which was
unfortunate, but someday they will be ready haha). We have had this
motto lately where during Finding or teaching or whatever if there is
something that we want to do but it scares us, we look at each other
and say "YOLO" and then just do it. We have modified it though to YOLO
with faith of course haha, but it has led to some interesting and
creative contacts. One of my favorite experiences was that we asked
this man if he was preparing for death (we aren't psychotic, some
members told us to do it and use it and try it haha) and he told us he
was and then seriously described how he was going to divide up all his
furniture and stuff. Sadly no gospel interest (yet, of course), so we
let him go his merry way and tried to shake his hand, but he told us
no because his female dog would get mad and jealous. What even is
Japan sometimes haha.

And that was the week! I just can't get over all the feelings of love
and gratitude that I have in my heart for the people of Japan and for
this work and for my Heavenly Father. I am forever changed by my
experiences here and the blessing God has given me in letting me be a
witness and small part of it all. I know this church is true! I know
God lives and loves us, that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that He
atoned for us, and that through Him, we can ALL be changed. What a
miracle that indeed is.

Love you all so much and hope your week is wonderful! Talk to you
again soon!  Aishiteimasu minasan!

Sister Pickering

P.S. Shoutout the Kawachinagano Ward members for rearranging their
work schedules to kidnap us and take us to Costco for P day...muffins
and bagels for days baby!


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