Friday, October 9, 2015

Week 13.5: The Secret to Happiness

Hey everyone!

I hope you all had a fantastic week and a half!! I'm sorry that it took me so long to write! P-day got pushed back so that we could go to the temple, which was amazing, by the way. Definitely one of my favorite places to be. So, if you haven't been recently, you should choose to increase your happiness by going sometime soon. :)

So... one of my favorite miracles of the week actually happened on the way to the temple!

We were all just sitting on the train (we being a few other missionaries and myself) not talking to anyone. It's kind of a mission culture thing - on the way to the temple, most missionaries just take a break and think about life, look at emails from home, etc. I was sitting there, doing the same thing, when I had the impression to talk with the boy standing next to me (the train was pretty packed, so a lot of people had to stand).

So, I turned to the guy next to me to strike up a conversation. I looked at him for a second to see if I could find a good way to talk to him, and I realized that he was reading what looked to be a play script - in Shakespeare style English. I asked him if he could speak English, and he said that he lived in America longer than he lived in
Japan (even though he was perfectly Japanese), so yes.

I have to be honest, this made me very excited. Japanese conversation is still pretty difficult. Basically I ask them about themselves, I catch bits and pieces of what they say, and then make a very natural transition into religion, by asking something like "what do you think about God?" So... not very natural. :P But it works - sometimes.

Anyways, doing it in English was much easier, and much more natural - especially since this person was just golden.

I talked with him for a few minutes, and he asked me why I was in Japan. I told him I was a volunteer and showed him my badge, and he said "Oh, you're one of those Mormons, aren't you!" I was rather surprised, but we continued, and he told me about how he had chatted online with missionaries before. I asked him if he'd be willing to study with Missionaries, and he said yes! Apparently he wants to study religion in college, and he seemed happy to do some studying in advance.

In the end, we talked about how God is our loving Heavenly Father, and not just some supreme existence (what he had previously thought). When I asked him what he thought about it, he said that that changes everything!

Then came the final question - I asked him where he lived so that I could refer him to the missionaries in his area - the temple is not anywhere near where I am. This is the part that makes a lot of missionaries hesitant to dendo on the way to the temple - it's a lot of work to only possibly give someone else an investigator, though it really shouldn't be seen that way :P - but he replied that he lived near Naka-Urawa, which is where I live! It was the craziest miracle! We should be meeting with him soon. :) He is a high school aged boy, and I hope that we will be able to meet with his family; if we can't, meeting with just him will still be awesome.

We saw many other miracles this week, but time is short, and I've wanted to talk about the Mormon helping hands project for a while now.

So... jumping backwards a bit. About two, maybe three weeks ago, there was a ton of rain, even typhoons and flooding in some areas. All the missionaries in our stake were asked to go and help clean up alongside
the members. On the drive up, we passed cars that had been tossed into ditches and fields, rice fields that had been ready to harvest flattened and ruined, homes that were pretty well destroyed, and just garbage everywhere. When we got to the home that we would be helping at, we realized that the people we were helping were rice farmers, which means that the flooding had just destroyed their livelihood for the next while, but they still greeted us with a smile on their face.

They divided us (2 members and 4 missionaries; the groups were companionships plus a member) into two groups. We went to different sheds, and started shoveling soiled rice supplies into garbage bags. After that, we threw away ruined furniture; the furniture was so badly damaged that some of it fell apart when we tried to pick it up.

What impressed me the most with the experience is that as we were throwing away their  ruined rice, furniture, and other things, all they expressed was an overwhelming gratitude. In fact, they even wanted to feed us before we left (we didn't take all that they offered us, but they made sure we took at least some)! I just loved how they
had such positive attitudes even though things had to be pretty difficult for them lately. It was also a great reminder to be grateful for all the blessings I have in my life - in hard times, and in the good ones. It can be easy to focus on the negative, but there are just so many blessings in life! If we instead focus on counting our
blessings, we will quickly discover the secret to happiness. It's so simple - but it is much easier said than done. But, if we really want to be happy, then we will find that taking a little time to be grateful is definitely worth the effort!

So take some time to be grateful this week!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

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