Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Week 25: Go to the Temple!

Hello Everyone!!

Alright. So.... I have a HUGE problem. I could write four novels on everyday of this past week, and I don't even have very much time to write. So... I will start from today and move backwards.

I WENT TO THE TEMPLE TODAY!!! If you haven't been recently, now is your chance! So is tomorrow... maybe you could do both. Haha. Jk. But seriously. That is the one thing I don't like about being a missionary - we only get to go once every six weeks!

Now, why? I will tell you. There is no better place to be tutored by the Spirit. Are you balancing a heavy load? Struggling with a decision? Needing to feel some peace? Wanting to express some gratitude for all the blessings in your life? How about do some service that will extend through the eternities, and allow people to be with their families eternally? If any of those things could be good for you, I would recommend going to the temple. And you probably fit into one of those categories. If not, you should probably go to the temple and rethink your life. So there you go. You fit into one of those categories. Go to the temple. You won't regret it.

One thing that particularly stood out to me at the temple is the following: the Lord can do anything - even take an inexperienced missionary like me to help other people, but first I have to give Him the time to give me direction. I may not know how to work with a ward or overcome a problem, but He certainly does! After turning more and more to Him over the past week, things took a sharp incline in progress! I am definitely liking the direction our area is facing, but it certainly isn't from anything that I can take credit for.

For example, we decided that every plan that we would make would come from revelation, and we actually prayed with the expectation of receiving revelation. As we did so, we ended up in the perfect place to receive many unexpected miracles and meet a lot of great people!

We headed out to meet with a recently reactivated member, and when we got to the train station, we saw some clearly lost foreigners (a mother and a son). We took about an hour to get them on the right platform (after finding out the buses were full, and exhausting every other possible option; they were pretty stressed up to the end, at which point it broke into gratitude and relief), and it actually turned into a great missionary opportunity! When I first brought up the church, she was very reluctant (toward the beginning when she asked what I was doing), but after helping them for an hour or so, their hearts were clearly softened. I hope that they are able to progress in the Gospel even though we won't be able to teach them (they live in the US).

After that, we had an incredible lesson - where the goal was for him to go to the temple. That is the end goal for him anyways - he is pretty active, but hasn't been to church in a while. Anyways, as we talked, another less active walked up to us and said, "well if it isn't the Mormon missionaries!" Out of time, but hopefully we can meet with him again soon!

It's been incredible to see how much more the Lord can do with my time than I can!!! Go and try it this week! AND the perfect place to start is the temple!

Elder O'Reilly

Christmas present from a member!

Bro. H at the temple! (wearing my suit, shirt and tie -- long story)

Week 24.5: The Christmas Skype

Elder O'Reilly is doing fantastic! 

He looked and sounded great!

We really wanted to just reach out and hug him! 

It was so fun to hear him speaking Japanese with his brother, Skeets! He was so happy and positive and had questions for each of us to answer. We were allowed up to 40 minutes for the skype... and if you know Thomas... the call was over at exactly 40.0 minutes! It went way too fast!

Looking forward to Mother's Day already!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Week 24: The Ammon Missionary

Hello Everyone!!!


When he was baptized, and the doors to the font were closed (so it was just me and him), I decided to follow the advice of a wise Mission Prep teacher (Aka Brother Pinkston), and ask Brother H what he was feeling, and this was his description (translated, of course), "When I was down in the water, I felt a light enter into my heart! Thank you! Thank you!"

The Spirit was strong, and I can't wait to see ALL of Tokyo have the same experience!

After the baptism, Brother H bore his testimony, and explained how much he just wanted to continue becoming a good person! He expressed his excitement to be a member and to just grow into a stronger and stronger member from here! So... he is pretty solid.

So... other things this week... We also met with Brother J again! It has been a while since he is pretty busy... when we invited him to be baptized if he came to feel the truth of our message, he said that he wasn't willing to. Rather disappointed, to be honest. Basically just offered him the greatest happiness in the world, and he turned it down! We still plan on teaching him a little more, but if he doesn't start progressing, there isn't much we can do. :P That is the worst part of missionary work - when people know enough to act for themselves, and they choose not to!

On the other hand, we taught a different Brother H - and he said yes to baptism! Still a rather loose commitment (if you feel this is true, and are able to prepare yourself), but it is still a good goal to set. Perhaps we should just start teaching people whose names start with H! haha. Jk. He is the father of a family of 3. We met him after Eikaiwa, and he seems to have a good amount of interest in church! Excited to see where it goes from here!

We were also able to teach Brother F this week. He is looking more and more golden! This week, he was just curious about how he could get answers from God to help guide and support his family. Could he have better desires? He is progressing well, except that church is hard to come to... :P That is a hard one for the Japanese. They all just work WAY too much!

Well... I know this doesn't flow very well... but today is rather busy... lots of office work! Making some Christmas videos and other mission wide stuff for the Naganos, so I have over 100 emails to take care of! AHHH!!

But this was my Spiritual thought for the week:

Think of Ammon. No, not Ammon Price, but the other Ammon, though both are pretty cool.

He has an incredible turn around. He leaves for his mission, boldly going to the Lamanites. His FIRST DAY in the field, he is thrown into prison! From there, he has a probably rather nerve racking interview in front of a king with a reputation for killing Nephites and servants alike, where he had to turn down the king's request. Then, after three days of doing his best, no success has come. All that he has accomplished is that he has given his life away to the service of a king.

Then, just to make things worse, his sheep are scattered. What does he do? He quickly plans, and REJOICES... would that be my first reaction to seeing a group of armed men who were in number not a few? probably not. But, Ammon held to the promises of protection from the Lord, and went to face the army by himself. I feel that it is important to note that the Lamanites felt that any one of there soldiers could take care of him. He was not a mighty man, just a faithful one. 

What I want to focus on is that Ammon never freaks out, complains, or anything of the sort. He loves, he thinks quickly and seemingly calmly, and presses forward in faith. 

You know, I always wanted to be the "Ammon Missionary" - but I don't think I ever realized what that would take. He went alone through many trials, and stood alone against an entire army of men! He relied on the Lord through fasting and prayer, but he didn't abandon the Lord when things looked impossible. He rejoiced, knowing that this was just an opportunity for the Lord to work miracles!

So, when things get crazy in life, though you may not be thrown into prison or faced with an army, choose to stay by the Lord! He will work miracles in your life if you will let him, but not until after the trial of your faith!


Go share the Gospel! Nothing is better than "feeling the light in your heart" 

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

P.S. A note from Thomas's mom: We are so excited to Skype Thomas on Christmas day! It will be the first time we've ever gotten to Skype one of our missionaries! I also wanted to include a little of what he wrote to me: "So... yeah. Words don't describe how I feel right now... but as close as I can get:

Incredibly happy.
I want to share that happiness with EVERYONE!
Very peaceful, and like things are actually going up from here!

SO... yes. I'm both satisfied, and more excited to work than ever."

Feeling very blessed! Merry Christmas everyone!

Home Made Takoyaki!

This Christmas I am giving Christ...
my fears, excuses, & distractions
So He can turn them into
boldness, determination, and a focused heart & mind.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Week 23: Indebted Unto Him

Hello Everyone!

So... I am again on cloud... hmm... I'm not sure what number, but it is DEFINITELY over 9000!!! (Hope you get the reference! If you don't, that's ok - I have no idea what it is from either. Something that my companion quoted)

So... Brother H. is planning to be baptized this Saturday! He asked me to baptize him, so I am pretty excited! And he plans to go to the temple on the 29th! So he is right on track! Just to show you how AWESOME he is, I'll give you a little insight on his lesson.

We were teaching about fast offerings and tithing. Before we even asked him to keep the law of the fast or the law of tithing, he said, "oh, that shouldn't be a problem. I don't make that much money anyways." Which to me sounds like the hardest situation to pay tithing, but he is just that AWESOME! And then, after he told us that he was willing to keep the law of tithing, we told him about the blessings. Can you believe it? He is so excited to become a member that he didn't even care to know the blessings before he was willing to keep the commandment! HE IS SO AWESOME!

We also were able to meet with Brother F this week! He came to a session of stake conference, and about halfway through, he stopped listening to the translation (he doesn't speak too much Japanese, and our church has an English translation). At first, I was a little concerned for him, but when we talked with him afterwards, we realized that he wasn't understanding much of the English, either, so he decided to read the Book of Mormon (in Chinese) instead. He then informed us that he was beginning to understand the strange language used in the Book of Mormon, and was actually really starting to like the book! And he also commented on how much he loved the feeling of our church meetings! I can tell that he is already starting to love the influence of the Spirit!

So... you know how weaknesses are turned into strengths? We definitely saw that this week! We went to go meet with a less active, Brother J. for the first time. We didn't have any contact info, only an address, so we rang the door bell... and no one answered. We began writing a note.... and writing in Japanese still takes me forever, so about twenty minutes later, when we signed our names, he came out to go on an errand. He was like, "Wait, missionaries, what are you doing here?" We talked for a minute, and we found out that he was listening to music with earbuds, so he couldn't here the door. Furthermore, he is a DJ! Which, considering my companion was a DJ before his mission, was a really convenient connection. So... he wants to meet with us again next week! We never would have been able to meet with him if it didn't take me forever to write in Japanese! haha.

Anyways... the thing that stood out to me the most this week was honestly Brother H's willingness to be obedient! We hadn't even taught the blessings, and without even a moment of hesitation, he just said that he would do it! I expected some sort of surprise, some sort of "really? 10%? How can you expect so much out of me?"

As I thought about his willingness, I realized how much it really made sense. Don't get me wrong: Brother H is AWESOME - but I think that this comes from a higher perspective. When I thought about the "costs" of the Gospel, I had to also think about what we are "buying" (though, you should note, I realize that we are not really, in any way, paying back God for the incredible blessings he gives us!). They include, but certainly are not limited to: eternal life, eternal families, the gift of the Spirit, peace, personal revelation, grace... the list goes on. The blessings are both immediate and eternal, and, in all reality, what we pay is NEVER comparable to that which God gives us! Sometimes we are tempted to count the costs - but in reality, we are "still indebted unto Him" (Mosiah 2:24)!

So my challenge for this week: choose to be grateful for the opportunity to keep the commandments! They truly are blessings! 

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

One of my friends that always comes to the church FHE event!

Exchanges with Elder Okada

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Week 22: Can you feel so now?

Hey Everyone!!!

It's December, and we are definitely seeing some Christmas miracles!

First, we had someone call us and say, hey, I haven't met with the missionaries in a while, and I'd really like to meet again! We were able to have a great lesson with Brother K. and he committed to be baptized in February! (It's a little far away, but he says that the next couple of months are busy, so he doesn't want to do it any sooner) I honestly still don't know him that well, but we plan on meeting him again tomorrow, and he seems to have a lot of potential!

Next, we taught Brother H. a lesson about temple work. We started by showing a great video with lots of pictures of temples, and he was just in awe. Then, we explained the importance of temple work, especially doing temple work for our ancestors. His immediate response was "what do I need to do to go to the temple?" We explained the requirements, and we decided to go together on the 29th of December! I can't wait for him to experience the blessings of the temple!

Just to keep you posted on Brother S (as requested), we weren't able to meet with him this week. I'm afraid we might have pushed him too hard to come to church, but hopefully we will be able to meet with him again soon!

Then we taught  the father of a family, Brother F. We've been teaching him for a while, but somehow, I don't think I have ever written about him. He and his family moved to Tokyo recently, and wanted to start learning English. They found us online, and started coming to our Eikaiwa. Each week, after Eikaiwa, we teach him some about our church. This week, we started out by teaching him the Plan of Salvation. At the time that we usually conclude our lesson, he told us that his daughter was already home, and that he wanted to study more, particularly about what he had to do to go to the Celestial Kingdom, so his family could be Eternal. Unfortunately, time ran short, and we didn't get to talk about the Gospel of Christ in full detail, but he did pray for the first time at the end of the lesson! Just by the amount that he wants to learn and the fact that he has begun praying and reading the Book of Mormon, we are very excited for him and his progress!

One principle that really stood out to me from our lesson was one we taught during the Plan of Salvation. We were talking about judgment, and how scary that sounds. Certainly, I don't want to be judged for all the mistakes I make!

As we discussed the laws of mercy and justice, we talked about how there was a price to pay to get into Heaven: absolute perfection. This is justice. Perfection, or payment. Perfection is a little (as in unmeasurably, ridiculously) out of my reach. However, there is the law of mercy, that comes through the only one who could pay this price. How grateful I am to have a Savior who has already payed the demands of justice! Instead of paying the demands of justice, through the law of mercy, repentance, or change through the power of the Atonement, is sufficient.

Now, the reason this principle really stuck out to me, is because just a few days after teaching this lesson, after I got back to the apartment at night, I was getting pretty down on myself. All the people I didn't talk to! And even the ones I did! I could have taught so much better!

In my frustration, a small voice came to me, asking me to stop and listen. So I paused, took a deep breath, and the distinct impression came to me, "Really? For your investigator, progress is sufficient, but for you, you think you must be perfect now? Didn't you just teach this principle?"

I realized then that while I understood the Atonement on a surface level, in that moment, I was clearly forgetting about what it really meant. That while the end goal is certainly perfection, for now, I can be content with progress (paraphrasing Brother Wilcox). As I prayed and asked for the much needed forgiveness, I felt a peace. I felt that for God, it was enough. To me, this is what Alma meant when he asked "if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5:26) It is not only to remember that Christ died for us, but to remember what that means for us!

So this Christmas season, remember the gift that is of greatest value! Show your appreciation for it by using it. Let the peace and joy of the Atonement into your life through repentance and prayer. Nothing is sweeter!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

p.s. If you want to hear a great talk on grace, try listening to "His Grace is Sufficient," by Brother Brad Wilcox. Way awesome talk!

His Grace is Sufficient (youtube video)

Christmas is here!
Decorated my desk with some AWESOME stuff sent in packages from home!

Monday, November 30, 2015

Week 21: I Will Show Unto Them Their Weakness

Hello everyone!

This week was transfer week! SO we had 8 guests (returning missionaries) at our apartment. It made things a little crazy and messy, but they gave us a referral, and helped us teach a lesson to a less active who (kind of) came back to church!! So this week was crazy busy (all tech staff responsibilities are during transfer week), but we saw lots of miracles, too. 

First, we met with Brother R again! He`s the one who ran up to us and asked us to tell him about our church probably 2 weeks ago. We taught him about the restoration, and then committed him to be baptized! He said yes, but because he is busy, he doesn`t want to pick a date yet. However, he is super interested in what we have to teach, particularly the plan of salvation. Obviously, we are pretty excited about him!

Then the (kind of) reactivated member! We have been working with Brother S (different Brother S than our sick investigator) for a while now, but he hasn`t really had any motivation to come back to church. He loves missionaries - he even wants to become one - but he doesn`t like being around large groups of people... so church is kind of hard. We went with a returning missionary to visit him, and the missionary used a new level of boldness. He basically just said, so your coming to church this week, right? and then helped Brother S come up with a plan for how to motivate himself to come to church. The whole time he was only half on board, but apparently it was enough, because he came back to church! Unfortunately, as soon as he saw how many people were coming, he got stressed and left, but that was a huge step, and we are now working with him instead of against him, so that makes a big difference. And I learned that (obviously) I still have a TON to learn as a missionary.

Now, I'll be honest. This week was pretty crazy. There were lots of demands on our time this week, and my normal (pre-missionary) time management techniques don't work at all - that is waking up earlier and staying up later. We kind of have a schedule.... now, on paper, it all still worked, but now when unexpected problems came up, it was a
much larger test of my patience. It reminded me a bit of Ether 12:27...If men come unto me, I will show unto them their weakness.

Sometimes, I feel like when I do the right thing, it is supposed to be easier, but what is written here, is not that at all. The blessing for coming unto Christ is seeing my weaknesses. But the follow up blessing is that if we are humble, we will be enough. Is that easy? No. Fun? Not necessarily. But it is the only way to grow and change. Seeing that we are not enough, and then choosing to place ourselves in His hands, so that He can change us and help us.

As I began to see things more this way, not much changed in any immediate way. But things become worth it in the end. There was a goal I was working towards - a better me. No, not a magic fix, but a goal, a change, and suddenly, the difficulties have meaning.

So, when you come unto Christ, and it isn't easy, because there will be those times, choose to give it all up to Him! It is best that way!!

Elder O'Reilly

(I got this picture off facebook)

(Another one off facebook from his mission president's wife)

Christmas display at the mall! Gives us a new dendo technique!
"Do you know the meaning of the Christmas tree?
True meaning of Christmas? "  etc.
Answer is almost always a combination of no and curiosity, which is perfect for us!

My companion wanted to go back to the Pokemon store! So here we are! :)

Monday, November 23, 2015

Week 20: Remember These Things

Hey Everyone!!!

It's been forever since I've written you all!! haha

Actually, it's felt like a total of 2 seconds, and it's only been... 4 days? Ish? Yeah.

Anyways... the last few days have been awesome.

First... Brother H! He was golden as always. We called him Saturday to make sure he could come to church, and he told us he was working in the afternoon, so he couldn't come. He sounded SUPER disappointed, but he told us he would love to meet us in the morning - and when we told him that we had a sacrament meeting in the morning, he got SO excited! He is just so ready to receive the Gospel!

Then, today, we were planning on teaching him the first few commandments. Including the commandment "Pray Often." Before we started, he told us that he had a question - he was wondering if he could pray before he went to bed. After that, we were like, do we even need to teach him?!? And he said he still wants to be baptized. Way excited for him!

Biggest highlight is that we had part of a new family come to church! They are Chinese, so they didn't understand too much, and the wife didn't want to come, because she doesn't speak English or Japanese. However, this week was the Primary program - so they used simple Japanese (even I understood it!), and a lot of good singing. Their daughter, who is enrolled in a Japanese school, understood it I think. The father doesn't speak too much Japanese, but as I talked with the father of the family after church, he told me that while he didn't understand much of what was said, he loved the atmosphere at the church. And after church, he said he wanted to come back next week! Can't wait to see him progress with his family! So that is the F. Family.

As I've been seeing some of our investigators start to find the joy of the Gospel, I realized that these new investigators have a great excitement in the new light of the Gospel that I don't often see in most members. And as I studied Moroni 10 before offering this challenge to them, I noticed something there that I haven't noticed before. After Moroni "exhorts" us to "ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true," he also "exhort[s] [us] to remember these things."

So, today, my "exhortation" is simple. First, ask God if this is all true, having the intent to act, and a mind willing to receive. And I can promise you that He will answer you. I can promise you that He will answer you - even if you have already asked Him before. I can promise you that because I have asked Him many times, including today, and He has never ignored me. If you want a truly incredible experience, go through all the exhortations in Moroni 10, really go through and ponder them, and then ask God.

And then, don't forget; choose to remember. Remember the answer that God gives you, that the book is true. And then remember what that means! Families are eternal; God is your loving Heavenly Father; He wants to communicate with you, help you; you can receive personal revelation; Jesus Christ suffered for you, and understands you perfectly; God prepared a way for YOU to succeed and return to Him. Life can throw some crazy things at you, and it can be hard to remember - but if you ever forget, you can just get on your knees and ask again. He will ALWAYS answer you!

So remember this week how exciting and beautiful the Gospel is!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

At the temple with Elder Harrison (found on facebook)

Found this on facebook.
Sis. Nagano says "Thank you for your great service in Nakano and Mission Office!"

Went to the Zoo with a member and my companion!
There is a hippo in 
the background.... kind of.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Week 19: "Yea, I know that I am nothing"

Hey Everyone!!

This week was a week of miracles. So prepare to have your minds exploded with awesomeness.

First, Brother H. So, last week, we set a soft baptismal date - namely, when you get your answer, will you be baptized? And eventually, he said yes. This week, he came to church, and this was the conversation after church:

Me: "So how was Church today?"

Brother H. : "Pretty good. The people are very friendly. There is a warm atmosphere at the church."

"Oh! That is awesome! Any questions or thoughts on the meetings today?"

"I guess I have one. How can I join your church?"

"Umm... (I almost literally asked him to say that again - it caught me a little off guard) that would be through baptism."

"Ah! I remember! We talked about that! So, when can I be baptized?"

And that lead into our lesson topic perfectly - the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Since then, I have heard him testify of the good feelings and peace that come from reading the Book of Mormon, and already heard him tell me about his experiences asking God for direction and help in his life. Certainly, this is one of those that was kept from the truth only because he knew not where to find it! It's crazy to me that we stopped this man on the street just a couple of weeks ago, and now he is just so excited about everything that has to do with the church!

Next, we met another investigator with a lot of potential! We were on our way to teach a bible class (we teach that weekly), and we didn't have too much time, so though both of us (I and my companion) felt that we should talk to him, we brushed it off, with the excuse that we were running late. We walked past him quickly on the way to the church, and he ran to catch up with us, and said "Hey! I keep seeing people like you around the streets! Could you tell me a little about your church?" We then gave him a quick church tour, and exchanged information so that we could meet again. I'm excited to see how it goes with Brother R! And if nothing else, it definitely renewed my conviction of talking to everyone!

Now, these two investigators are both looking pretty awesome, but the thing is, it never seems to be something that we do that works the magic. In Brother H.'s case, we weren't even smart enough to get contact information on the first contact. With Brother R., we didn't even open our mouths! As a companionship, we talk to SOO many people - but the contacts that seem to "go well" - when we can understand the Japanese, when we try to get contact information, or set return appointments, when we open our mouths, when we get a conversation going about the Gospel - have not yet been fruitful. Whenever an investigator has had the least bit of potential, our initial contact has always started with some sort of blunder, with my Japanese or otherwise. And it has made something very clear to me here - I am not the one doing the work. The Lord is. Certainly, I have to be trying my best, but without the Lord behind me, I could do nothing. I feel very much like Ammon when he said, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." It is awing to think of the Eternal changes that we are seeing in people's lives, and humbling to realize how it is really done by the Lord!

So here is my challenge for the week. Put the Lord first. Rely on Him. Even if life is busy, or putting Him first is difficult, go to the temple; make time for scripture study; make time for prayer. You will be amazed at the blessings that flow as you strive to make time for Him first! He can do so much more with our lives than we can - I've seen it this week, as I've seen it many times before!


Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

My companion and I by the Christmas display by the temple.

Me, looking snazzy in the park near the temple!

Tokyo Temple!

Some weird fish thing we found today.