Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Week 12: Some Good Reminders

Hey Everyone!!!

Hope life is amazing where you are! It is beautiful here in Urawa! :) Weather is just about perfect right now - I'm told that we are between the rainy and the cold season - which means it's not boiling hot any more, just warm enough to feel the sunshine. :)

Now, on to the crowning moments of the week!

By far, my favorite experience this week was bringing four people to the Tokyo Temple for the first time! We did baptisms for the dead, and it was just such an incredible experience! Just looking around at all the people that I've been working with, and seeing them all taking important steps towards Christ!!

One of those that I was most excited to see there was Brother F. He has a heart of gold. He was converted about six months ago, and is now a ward missionary, so we work with him quite a bit. He has a super strong testimony, and shares it openly with just about everybody.

The reason I was excited that he came is because he has been worthy and ready for months - but he was too nervous to enter the temple. We've been working with him for a bit about it, and when we told him a group was coming, he said he would be willing to join us. However, he wasn't sure if he would participate. He still had a few concerns.

As we sat talking about our favorite scriptures in the temple, I shared a few verses out of D&C 109, and testified about the power that doing temple work brings into our lives. As we spoke, we felt the kind of peace that is only felt in the temple. He was calmed, and had an incredible experience at the temple.

This is the reason I love missionary work. You find golden people, you tell them how they can be happy, and then watch their conversion take place. Every time I see someone make a change - whether it be overcoming a concern, a commandment issue, or just finally feeling that peace - it strengthens my own conversion and reminds me of it's importance. Sometimes it feels like common place - something that everyone has, something that I've always had. But it isn't that way. It is something that I had to work hard to gain, that I have to work on every day. I love seeing it constantly take place in others, because it makes me never forget about my own conversion. So that is the joy of missionary work summed up in a nutshell.

The other big thing that happened this week was companion exchanges. We did it twice with the same companionship this week - so I got to go with another trainee and a Japanese Elder this week, both of which
were very exciting. :)

When I went with the trainee, we tapped into two sources of power that I hadn't really considered before. The first is gaijin (Foreigner) power. We stood out pretty well - we were literally the only non-Japanese we saw all day. Pretty exciting stuff. :) We talked to a lot of high school kids (that is the age group our mission is focusing on;
15-25), and one of them even ran off and told his friends about us afterwards! We surprised a lot of people, and that was pretty fun.

The second thing we noticed was the power of being positive. When we approached people with a big smile on our faces, and in a friendly voice, most were a little surprised, but very willing to talk to us. If we ever let ourselves get a little down, it didn't go half as well.

We definitely tried our best to use these two things, but there was an even greater power at play. As we talked with people using our broken Japanese - neither of us spoke all that well - there was clearly someone greater than us at play, or no one would have given phone numbers or showed any interest in what we had to share.

The Spirit definitely directed us as we were searching for new people - there was even a time that we sped past a family on our bikes on the way to an appointment, then looked at each other, and just knew we had to turn around. When we talked to the family, they told us that they had often seen two crazy gaijin, dressed up in white shirt and tie, biking past. We talked to them about why we were there, and how the Gospel had blessed our families - and they seemed fairly interested! It was way cool to see the spirit work on us and on the people we talked to that day. Unfortunately, we weren't in my area, so I probably won't know what will happen to the people we met, but it was
a great day anyways. :) It's always nice to realize again that God has a personal interest in directing our lives, and then to have the opportunity to testify of that to other people!

Go and have an awesome week!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Answering some of Mom's questions:

Japanese? I was able to translate without hesitation the other day (for the trainee I did splits with) - but that was definitely aided a bit by the Spirit. :) It comes day by day, so I understand 50-95% of conversation, depending on who is speaking, and what they are speaking about. Coming up with what I want to say and how to say it at the same time is still a little hard, though. It's just to the point that doing a lesson with the Trainee could come off as a success - understanding and answering questions, etc. So... yeah. that is how it is coming.

Biggest struggle? When people fall through repeatedly - I just feel like sometimes what I am trying to teach them just didn't get through somehow.

Simplest pleasure? Well... the simple ones include doing the dishes to EFY music, biking in the sunshine, and eating sushi. Yep. :)

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Week 11: My Notes on the Week

Hey Everyone!!!

I don't have a lot of time. An appointment went over, and I had to do some reporting... sorry. I haven't thought about this at all, and it will be quick. So it will probably just be my thoughts thrown out on a page. :P

First, I want to talk about the man that we met randomly at the church who was searching for Eikaiwa last Friday! He came!

So, after Eikaiwa, the purpose is always to talk to people and try to set up lessons. I decided to try to talk to him, and see if I could find any desires that I could connect to a reason to learn about the Gospel. As I was talking to him and getting to know him, he just said, "yeah, I'm going to Australia soon. It seems there are a lot of
Christians there, so I would really like to learn about Christianity." I have to say, that is an incredibly easy desire to hook to the Gospel.

SO... we taught him yesterday! The lesson was great! We were on companionship splits, so I had to lead out on a lot of the lesson. It was exciting, though a bit crazy and scary, but in the end, he said it was fun and that he wanted to meet again! Aside from that, he said he wants to find out for himself whether or not it is true. He basically had all the right desires, and I was just there to watch the magic happen. This was one of many experiences that has shown me that this is the Lord's work!

Now, as for how the bulk of this week went, we mostly just met with recent converts and less actives. That's awesome, but not meeting with any of our investigators killed me...

However, on Sunday is when all the miracles happened. We had three or so lessons planned. However, through unexpected phone calls on Saturday night, and talking to people unexpectedly Sunday morning, we ended up teaching six lessons, four with investigators! It was crazy! We didn't have a lot of time to plan, and some of them had to be done on splits, so I had to think quickly. I know that the Spirit was the only way they could have gone well at all! I have two minutes, so I can't give details... sorry. :P But all of our investigators were able to, first, make some progress, and second, make appointments for throughout this week, so I'm excited. :)

I guess the big thing I learned this week is the importance of looking for and following the Spirit. We had a conference with Elder Whiting, and he said to take, as a challenge, every positive thought as a prompting from the Spirit. The biggest thing it's made me do is focus my thoughts more on my investigators and trust that God would give me inspiration to help them. Especially on Sunday, I KNOW that God helped me find just the right members to help and make the right lesson plans, even on such short notice!

The Spirit is so important in everything we do in missionary work - we couldn't do missionary work without it. But there are more things in life than just missionary work that we need the Spirit for. It's essential in making decisions, and we never know when we will need it to keep us safe. That's why it's important that we take time each day and live in such a way that we can really "receive the Holy Ghost." Doing that is an active thing, and there is no objective more worthy of our time or focus. As I've sought the Holy Ghost, I've been able to
more fully see God's hand in my life, and things just fall into place, exactly as they should be. Aside from that, who doesn't want to feel the  Holy Ghost all the time? And I know that other people can have those awesome experiences, too. That's why I'm here. :)

Well, those are my thoughts for the week!

Love you all!


Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Us, helping with the Mormon Helping Hands experience on Saturday.
Sorry... I really wanted to talk about this, but... next week.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Week 10: The Perfect Plan

Hey Everyone!!!

So much happened this week, but I'll settle for just giving you the highlight - the coolest miracle of the week.

It was raining pretty hard - to the point that Elder Abo said "it isn't raining - it's flooding!" (we were joking, but apparently it flooded in other areas). Whenever it rains hard, a lot of appointments fall through. People don't like leaving their houses when they have to swim to get to their destination.

So, because of the rain, our teaching appointment fell through. We got a phone call from an investigator - Bro. Y, who we thought had dropped us - while we would have been teaching. We don't answer the phone when we are teaching, and we wouldn't have had time to teach him that day if the other appointment hadn't fallen through anyways. So it was perfect timing.

But wait, it gets better.

We hopped on our bikes and went to the church. Our investigator was a little late, so we had time to talk to a member we had been trying to get a hold of - plus he gave us a McDonalds gift card, which was both random and a miracle.

Afterwards, we walked into the church, and started talking to a member who was waiting for institute to start. Just then, a man walked in and asked us if Eikaiwa (our English class) was tonight. He had apparently searched us out online and found us, and just happened to walk in right after we got there! We told him that Eikaiwa is each week on Wednesday (it was Friday), we exchanged contact information, and he told us we'd see him then!

Finally, our investigator, Bro. Y. came in about 20 minutes late - which was perfect timing for us. He asked us if we thought that now was God's timing for him to be baptized. We told him that the fact that he was meeting with us was a sign that it indeed was - and he agreed with us! I'm excited to see him start progressing again!

It's funny - earlier in the week, I was getting frustrated with myself. I kept telling myself that perhaps if I were a better missionary, Bro. Y. wouldn't have dropped us - but I was missing the big picture. Sometimes, I think we want everything to work out, and we want it to work out now. God's timing doesn't work like that. He lets us struggle for a little bit. We learn some, and then He shows us the miracles.

Remember, God has a plan for me, and He has a plan for you. There are hard times in that plan. Sometimes, we mess up pretty bad, too. However, God is the perfect planner, and even when we don't know exactly how things are going to work out, we can have faith in the One who does. Just think - the most powerful, all knowing being in the Universe loves YOU and has a plan for you personally. I don't think anything can be more comforting than that!

Well... those are my thoughts for the week!!

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder O'Reilly

Group of recent converts that we teach together about once a week. We
teach them how to teach the Gospel for missions and future families
and such... Cause I'm totally a pro at that. Haha. Lol.

My zone!

Apartment Building (Mom found it on google :-))

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Flooding & Landslides near Tokyo

Dear Missionary Parents,

Some of you may have heard of the floods and landslides near Tokyo that took place over the last two days. I wanted to inform you that all of our missionaries are safe and accounted for. Some of the members within our mission have been adversely affected as their homes were flooded, but I am happy to report that there are no casualties or injuries.

The local stakes here are planning on having "Mormon Helping Hands" activities to reach out to the victims of the floods over the next few weeks. Your sons and daughters may be participating in those activities depending on their areas. In that case, we will make sure that they will be safe while they will help clean up the victims' homes or be involved in other activities. We will keep you posted via the mission blog and via posting on my wife's Facebook pages. Thank you for your prayers and support for the missionaries of the Japan Tokyo Mission.

Best regards,

Takuji Nagano
Japan Tokyo Mission

Monday, September 7, 2015

Week 9: A Message to the World!

Hey Everyone!!!

It has been an incredible week here in Saitama!!! I'm making so many friends here, both members and investigators.

We've been seeing so many miracles here in Saitama! I don't even know where to start...

Well... I've got some good news, and some bad news, so I'll start with the bad so I can end on the good. That'll give me somewhere to start, and it will go from there.

Unfortunately, Brother Y. didn't come to his teaching appointment on Saturday, nor to church on Sunday, so we are a little worried about him. :P It's really weird... we just had a great lesson with him where we confirmed that he is keeping all the commandments and knows the Gospel is true. So... hopefully he's just a little busy this week.

Now on to the good! I can't even tell you all the good we had this week!

First, we have been challenging lots of members to pray for missionary opportunities... and one had this awesome story.

The first day she prayed, she got a call from a friend who got a flier from a missionary on the street. The friend had realized that it was this member's church. So... the friend called and asked to hear about the church.

Yep. If you want to see a miracle this week, pray for missionary opportunities every day with faith, and God will give you that opportunity! I can't guarantee it will be answered as quickly or directly, but the opportunity will come if you look for it! The Gospel really is a message to the world! No one excluded!

Second, I taught another lesson on splits... usually when this happens I get someone who can speak English. I explain the lesson plan to them, get confused, read some scriptures, and they explain what I should have explained, and call it good. But this time, my douseki fell through. I had to get a last minute replacement, and he didn't speak English. I also had no time to explain the lesson plan. I stopped for a moment, prayed for the gift of tongues... and I actually understood what was going on! That was truly a miracle. Honestly, I think my Japanese
jumped at least 10 levels in a minute. It's amazing to see God's hand in EVERY aspect of His work!

Lastly, I was on a train. Today, actually. I was walking down the train, trying to decide who I should talk to. Don't judge me too hard, but I usually look for someone who looks nice, maybe a family, or just a kind man, to share the Gospel with. There are a lot of people, so I have to pass some of them by. I usually pass by the people
who look a little rougher around the edges, assuming they would reject my message. But, as I was about to pass this man by, my Dad's advice came to mind. "Don't assume that someone won't accept the Gospel. It
is for everyone." So... I went and talked to him. Turns out he has a lot of interest!!! We talked about the importance of family and believing in God. I got his phone number, and I will be contacting him later! I have no doubt that it was the Spirit that brought that advice to my mind at that moment.

So... as you pray for missionary opportunities this week, don't make any assumptions about who is ready to receive the Gospel. Share it with EVERYONE!! Everyone is a child of God, and everyone NEEDS to know it.

Be Awesome Missionaries this week! Go out and share it!!!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly


This cute guy was playing with my iPad... haha. His family is awesome!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Week 8: A Lesson from Nephi

Hey everyone!

I guess the first thing on my mind is that transfer calls were this morning! My companion and I are staying here, but Elder Abo became district leader! That means that I'll be doing a lot more splits (District leaders go on splits with every companionship in the district twice, once with every companion). I'm excited to learn from all the other missionaries!

Well... I don't even know where to start... so much happens in a week!!!

Hmm... I taught a lesson to an investigator on splits with a member... and it all happened so quickly, but we were happy to take another lesson, so we did it even though I had to come up with the lesson on the spot... that was interesting. My impromptu Japanese needs some work... haha. However, the Lord certainly blessed me with a good topic and some good scriptures came to mind. The most important part was the discussion that followed. The lesson was with Brother E. He's been a little concerned because he doesn't feel like he is progressing. I assured him that he was progressing, but that progression comes slowly as we continue to do those small and simple things.

We also went on splits this week! So I taught a lot of recent converts in another area. Recent converts are always so excited about the Gospel! I wish there were a way to always stay that energized. I think that somehow, if we aren't careful, the Gospel becomes normal. However, if we take a second to think about it, really everyone needs it, and not nearly enough people know about it to call it "normal." If anything, I would call it a rare and incredible blessing. Recent converts are always "dendo fire" (dendo means missionary work in Japanese; that is what we call people that are super willing to share the Gospel).

One thing that we have been working with with a recent convert and Bro E. is consistently trying to live the Gospel. I found this as I was studying in Nephi - hence, a lesson from Nephi. However, I also found that it applies to me pretty well, too. Funny how the Gospel seems to be so universal!

God promises us that He will provide a way to accomplish His commandments (1 Ne 3:7). However, He doesn't say it will be easy, or that we won't have to put in our own efforts and ideas.

In this verse, Nephi is about to go out and do a "hard thing," as described by Laman and Lemuel. However, he has a firm testimony that the commandment is from God, and that with God's help, he can do it. They go and they fail twice. Sometimes, I think we skip that part of the story. They go to get the plates, and they fail. And it is a hard core fail - they lose all of their riches and almost get killed. That is a rough day. Now, at this point, everyone else wants to give up, and they even beat up Nephi and Sam for having faith. Yet, Nephi continues to have faith and goes back alone. This time, on the third time, at the end of an incredibly difficult day, the Lord provides a way.

I have to make a confession - I like to remain positive. Of course, I like to report on the miracles here, but I think it is important to make note that it doesn't always work that way. More often than not, I am rejected on trains. Sometimes appointments fall through, and things don't go according to plan. But I find that usually, if not always, the miracles come at that moment when I say "can I really talk to another person? Can I really keep going?" God likes to work in a way that can push us. However, my testimony of this principle from Nephi is being strengthened everyday.

For instance, recently, we were walking through the streets. It was towards the end of the day, and we had already talked to SOO many people, and no one was too interested, but after a little hesitation, I decided to talk to another anyways. He had met with the missionaries in Australia 10 years ago, and had learned English from them! He came to Eikaiwa (our free english class), and he has been to church before, so I think he has some real potential.

To be honest, we have a lot of people at that point - where we are almost teaching them. I don't have time to tell you about all of them, so hopefully I will tell you about some new investigators next week!

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder O'Reilly

P.S. Just so you don't freak out, Mom, I don't know whether my letter came out positive or not, but I am VERY happy here. Yes, there are hard moments, but overall, I feel like I am seeing a lot of success, and I just can't wait to start the next day of dendo. I just heard of all my friends that are about to go out on missions, and I wanted to
make sure that they knew that there are hard parts of a mission for everybody. Life is never just roses and sunshine - but through our Faith, life can be turned into something AWESOME!!!!

Family in our ward. One is working towards a mission, another
towards coming to church. The parents are way solid seminary teachers.

Something that Brother Y (an investigator) gave to me. Cool coin from
about 300 ish years ago? and a famous Japanese Painting.

The Abo pose with everyone in my apartment at the church.