Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Christmas Skype!

Hooray!! We got to talk to Thomas for a few minutes on Christmas day! He is so happy! I mentioned that the time goes way too fast (meaning the call) and his reply was...

"It was great to talk to all of you!! It goes WAAAY too fast. I would love to be a missionary forever. :)"

We loved hearing him testify of Christ and the excitement in his voice.

Merry Christmas!

Our family picture!

Week 77: Light the World!

Merry Christmas Everyone!!

I hope you had a great time celebrating the birth of our Savior! It was a great day for us. Nothing went exactly as planned, but in the end, it went pretty awesome!

We went to church and tried to set up for teaching a few of the recent converts, when we got distracted by a less active who has been starting to come back to church. We talked to him for a minute before we went to find our recent converts.

Turns out they were participating in a welcome party by the ward, and were just having a great time. We had to return a random call from an investigator from two years ago before we joined them, so we got there just to see a bit of the party. Brother S hit up all the YSA's in the ward. Haha. And then he walked up to me with two tomatoes and said they eat them like apples in China. Not half bad. Then one of the Ward members was trying to convince us to eat it in chocolate sauce. We conveniently had to go because we were running late.

We went over to the Ward Mission Leaders house for lunch. He made a delicious feast, and we brought Grandma O'Reilly's Peanut Bars (using her recipe) covered in chocolate. Probably one of my most used recipes on my mission. Simple and delicious and American. Which makes it go over great. :) then, we realized that none of the four Elders prepared a message, so my companion just threw it on me, and... It went alright. We read Luke 2:10 and talked about how Christ is a message of great joy.

We were going to go out and talk to everyone about lighting the world in the busy parts of Shibuya, but we had an impression to visit an Elderly man, Bro T instead. We didn't have time to get there and back before our next event, but we went for it.

It was his wife's birthday, and he is a widower. Plus it was Christmas. He was a bit lonely, but he lit up as we spoke with him. And he had a gift sitting on the table to give the missionaries the moment we walked in the door. We had filled a stocking with some candy and a note, so we exchanged presents, and we were so glad we visited, though we didn't have much time. We set up a time to visit again and talk a bit more.

Then we hurried back to a birthday party for Brother S. He's the less active that has been coming back to church. We had some snacks, sang some Christmas songs, Happy Birthday, etc. and he did up his hair fancy. Usually he hides it in a hat, but he showed it off this time. He has been growing out his hair now for ten years. Apparently it's his hobby. :) he felt very loved, and we took 8 MILLION pictures, by request (what do you want to do for your birthday party? Take pictures. What else? ... Take pictures. Haha. Ok. He loves his hair)

Then, we got to do a bit of "paper work" for Zone Leader stuff. Love stats. Haha.

So it was probably one of the crazier Christmas's of my life, but it was a blast!

As I have focused on being a light for those around me, I have noticed a great pattern. In order to reflect the light to all those around us, we have to be close to the source, our Savior, and we ourselves shine brightly as well. There is no greater way to joy then reflecting the light of our Savior to all those around us!

So let's follow His example, and LightTheWorld all year!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

The Birthday Party!

Temple day with Elder Goldsberry

Cool robot we saw today!

Week 76: The Gift of the Spirit

Hello Everyone!!!

This week was CrAzY!!! And instead of sitting here and wondering what to write, I'll just tell you everything. haha

Monday: An insane amount of reporting. :P Also taught brother S, who is a Less active who just started coming back to church! We are excited to start strengthening him. He came back to church and wanted to start meeting with us! He's come the last two weeks now.

Tuesday: Half day splits in Senzokuike (newer thing. Now when missionaries do splits, both come to the leaders' area, so we go to their area for just 5 or so hours). Including travel, we were gone from 7am - 6pm. Talked with tons of people, and found some new investigators (though none are in our area.)!

Wednesday: Checking missionaries area books, iPads, and having interviews. Then, we taught an Eikaiwa student, Brother A, a lesson about how we are children of God. He didn't take it very well... I think he is willing to meet, but not very willing to take even the simplest principles. Then we taught Eikaiwa (English Conversation Class).

Thursday: Piloted a revision to a digital pamphlet entitled "who is God?" to a nonmember kid they found for us to teach. He was a friend of the church leaders running the pilot. His motives were not because he wanted to know who God was, so that was an interesting lesson... ;) But hey, either way, he knows now! Haha. Visited a man who struggles to come to church due to his health. He is also a pretty new member, so he needs to understand the church doctrines a little better. He was breaking the word of wisdom without realizing it! Haha. We'll be working with Brother W more this week as well.

Friday: Splits with Elder Boris! Such a GREAT missionary!! We followed the Spirit together, and ended up being everywhere at just the right times! Got to the church with our bentos, and thought we had lost our dinner time (we had talked to many people on the way). However, the man we were supposed to teach, called us and told us he would be late, and we found that Bro T (a recent convert) was there just about to eat dinner, so we ate with him, and built a great relationship with him, before an investigator came of his own accord and we had an unplanned
member present lesson. Brother K (The other Elder's investigator, not to be confused with our Brother K) came in and started asking about our lives, when we study, what we do, etc. Then, he suddenly brought up baptism, and it gave Brother T a great opportunity to testify about it. Brought in a great Spirit. Brother T had to leave, but, then, our actual appointment came, and we read the Book of Mormon with Brother I (recent convert) and Brother K. Great day!!

Then, on Saturday, we were able to prepare for our Christmas party on Sunday, and teach Bro O and his mother (non members) at an event called Strive. We actually have it every Saturday night, but I don't think I have written about it. Basically FHE for non-members and some recent converts (of course, we would love for some other members to come, though!) We talked about the Restoration. Had two recent converts come as well, and their testimonies were powerful for that family as well as for Bro Y, a less active who came. Their family has done a lot of research on the church and seems to have a lot of potential! We had time to just call a few people, so I called one of our former investigators, and he came to church for the first two hours! We will hopefully meet with him again this week (we will call him tonight to check with his schedule).

Sunday: Spoke in primary about the symbols of Christmas! They all focused for the three seconds when I pulled up a new picture of a symbol of Christmas, and then missed when I talked about all the Spiritual parts. Oh well. I think at least 2 or 3 of them focused. Then had a great Christmas party! Many of the Eikaiwa students came, and one of them even brought me a gift for being their first Eikaiwa teacher. Great opportunity to talk to them about Christmas's true meaning! Had a sudden call from Brother K, telling us he will come to church next week and wanted to meet with us. He has been reading the Book of Mormon and trying to decide which Christian church to join, but hasn't been willing to meet with us. So this was GREAT progress!!! We meet him tomorrow, and I am SOOO excited!

Then today, we had zone p-day. It was pretty fun. Played jeopardy (I read the questions we prepared) and had a gift exchange. And now we are going to see a castle built without nails with a Recently activated member. Should be fun! We are actually running late, but I would love to tell just one story this week before I go.

On Friday, while we were finding on the way to dinner at the church, we had a prompting to go down a street. We did so, prayed, and followed another prompting. We continued this pattern and felt the Spirit strongly. I was as certain as ever that God was there and was guiding us. We had some great contacts, and we came up with a new
approach, talking to people about the symbols behind their Christmas decorations.

However, we found nothing.

As I discussed this with Elder Boris, we were wondering why we felt the Spirit then.

We came to the conclusion that perhaps we don't have to see a miracle to know that this is God's work. We don't have to be wildly successful to know that God is with us. In fact, we can simply do our best, and know that that is sufficient. In doing so, we get the gift of the Spirit and joy. Regardless of whether there are miracles or not, we will experience the joy of the Spirit and know God. I learned for myself that Faith is earned not by miracles or mighty works, but simply by righteous works.

So let us seek the Spirit through righteous actions this week! As we seek it in all we do, we will feel the joy of the Gospel regardless of the result!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Bro. O at the Christmas party

Cleaning up from the Christmas Party!

Zone P-day

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week 75: My Week

Thomas didn't have time to write a blog post this week. So, this is from an email to the family. This was his response to "What is your average week like?"

Recently, things have been pretty crazy, and investigators and such are always different. No one super steady right now.

But, Monday, p-day (kind of. I HATE p-days. So Usually, I try to plan some lessons and stuff. Free time kills me. But Sister Nagano told us to have a p-day, so I tried it today. Alright I guess. Just some talking time. Haha.

Tuesday, Meet Brother S.  Nice, recent-ish convert, who is married in the temple, who sometimes struggles to come to church. Study PMG with him.

Wednesday, A few appointments. Great recent convert that just came to the ward! An investigator. :P I teach the beginner class in Eikaiwa to younger kids that have a hard time focusing.

Then, Thursday, Weekly planning.

Friday, District Meeting.

Saturday, Eikaiwa (English class), Basketball with S (investigator).

Sunday, DCS (ward missionary correlation meeting), church, teach some recent converts (Brother M., and last week, Bro. S.,  a less active, and Bro. S, the man we just baptized), and in so doing, skip lunch. Have some contacting. Eat dinner. Put in some stats.

Then, add two or so splits, zone meetings, half day splits in other areas once or twice, throw out all our regular plans, and reschedule with mad skills (and occasionally skype), and you have my week. :)

Plus lots of new investigators. Like, we just taught person after person last week at church!!! And I translate sometimes for church now. SOOO yeah. That is my week.

Also, Elder O'Reilly got a new companion this past week. Elder Goldsberry. Here's what he said about him:


AWESOME!!! He has as much energy and smiles as I do. We just talk to EVERYONE!!! And they all just get blasted with energy. We've been seeing lots of success. EVEN TAUGHT A FAMILY WITH A TWO YEAR OLD SON!!! FIRST TIME ON MY MISSION!!! :)

He's been out about a year. He is also zone Leader. He is from Farmington.

Elder O'Reilly

My companion, Elder Goldsberry

Bishop took us out to lunch again!
(Side note from Mom: this Bishop's niece lives in my ward now... such a small world!)

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Week 74: "Smile. It invites the Spirit."

Hello Everyone!!!

This week has been GREAT!!!! One quote that has been going through my mind is from Elder Yamashita when he visited our mission a while ago.

"Smile. It invites the Spirit."

I didn't really intentionally apply this principle, but I have noticed as I am happier and smile more, that it really does invite the Spirit. I've still got a long ways to go on following the Spirit, but I've noticed an increased in tune-ness as I have the Joy the Lord intends us all to have. For example, I just barely felt impressed, "go look at your phone". So I did. And it was dead. I'll be leaving in an hour, and I need that phone to be charged tonight. Having the Spirit with us prevents dangers, turns frustrations into small victories, gives us a greater reason to be joyful, and just makes life a lot better. Truly it is a gift! So I'm going to smile this week whether or not things go my way so I can have it with me more fully.

Now, why was I happy this week? Umm.... That would take pages to write, but simply put, missionary life is awesome. Here are a few miracles:

For the first time since I have been here, Bro Y, a less active with TONS of questions, came to church! He seemed to have a good time, and I am happy that he came. We had a particularly good lesson with him, and we feel like we have gotten some good revelation with him. He focuses so much on strange doctrines, and asks questions that demand far out answers. So we are going to focus on some basic principles from Gospel principles that he has been missing. Like God is our loving Heavenly Father. Charity. The Atonement of Christ, etc. Everyone can feel free to study the deep doctrines of the church, but never forget that the most important things are your understanding and testimony of the basic principles of the Gospel! If you know that God loves His children, you don't need to understand the meaning of all things.

Bro K also came for his first Sacrament meeting. I actually fasted THAT DAY that he would come instead of randomly leaving just a little early. And he came. That Sunday. Seemed like a very powerful and immediate answer to prayer. He informed me after church that he had a great experience, wants to come back for more, and wants to read about Alma the Younger (who he had heard about that day), so I showed him where he could read it in the Book of Mormon. He is SO awesome!

Then, a particularly awesome experience was just when my companion and I reviewed the transfer, the people, the progress, and the miracles. Just took a minute to slow down and talk because it was p-day and he is leaving. I didn't realize all the good that had happened!

So... I learned two great things this week. 1) don't ever forget to smile. Men are that they might have joy! There are really only two paths we can take - the Lord prompts us to take the path to joy, and Satan tempts us to the path of misery. Perhaps if we are miserable, we need to listen just a little harder for the voice of the Good Shepherd. (Alma 5). and  2) Never forget to look back on things and enjoy them as they last! Life can be tricky and stressful, but as we strive to follow Christ, we can EXPECT joy, because that is our life's purpose!

So smile this week! And never forget to remember all the great in your life!

Hurrah for Israel!!
Elder O'Reilly

December Mission Leader Conference

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
(He got our package!!)

Everywhere we go!
(Fun fact: this Elder is going to Niigata B, where I came from a while ago)

Birthday party for Brother S and farewell party with my companion!
Member on far left and investigator close to baptism (in Tokyo 1st ward, long story, but I just did his interview!) next to him.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Week 73: Made Glorious

Hello Everyone!!

Well... This week flew by. Honestly, I sit down to write these, and it's always "was that really a week? I don't remember anything I did..." Yep. Never know what to write. Haha.

Anyways... We did have a few exchanges this week! Literally every other day. Splits on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. Great chance to learn from other missionaries (including the previous Zone Leader here), work with old friends (from Niigata), and learn from the assistants!

On Thursday, I had a particularly great day with Elder Manapori. It was snowing. I was tired. And it was cold. 4 appointments fell through. As I tried to pull out fliers, they stuck to my fingers, and got wet. People didn't want to talk too much. I focused much on myself, and how frustrating people were being for the first bit of the day, and I felt like what I was doing had little effect on the people we talked to.

As I was biking in the snow, I realized how lame I was being. Preaching a Gospel of happiness, and selfless service, and then going around as a grumpy man thinking about himself.

So, I applied some of the things I had been studying. As we had thanksgiving the day before, I had studied to teach the family who had us over for dinner. I had just read the following scripture (D&C 78)

17 Verily, verily, I say unto you, ye are little children, and ye have
not as yet understood how great blessings the Father hath in his own
hands and prepared for you;

18 And ye cannot bear all things now; nevertheless, be of good cheer,
for I will lead you along. The kingdom is yours and the blessings
thereof are yours, and the riches of eternity are yours.

19 And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made
glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even
an hundred fold, yea, more.

No, we cannot bear all things now. I'm a child - I can't even handle a little snow. But, those who are grateful are made glorious.

Now, if you will realize that God's Glory has less to do with riches, and more with an Eternal life, joy, and feeling the Spirit, I think it will help in understanding this scripture.

So, I tried giving thanks.

I was on exchanges with a great Elder.
I was in Shibuya.
I have a family that loves me and supports me.
I have the Gospel, and a hope for something far greater than anything this world has to offer.
I have a Savior that suffered far more than I even can, let alone the small things that were in my current circumstance.

The list go on. In fact, I don't think I could count the number.

No, my circumstances didn't really change. From that point on, more cancels due to the snow, and it was still cold. But, I was overwhelmed with gratitude, I was filled with joy, and I wanted to share it.

Now, you probably know this, but people like talking with happy people. Sincere people. So, more people stopped. Not everyone listened for long, but many actually did, even in the snow. We even got a few numbers, and at the very least, everyone that we talked to got a good laugh and left with a smile. While I'm not sure how much we will be able to teach the Gospel to those we found yet, and it may take time before I really see the results, the effect for me was quite immediate and incredible. Turning outwards and upwards in gratitude is certainly the way to be made glorious!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Elder Manapori taking a pic on my iPad during "iPad checks"

Went out to lunch with a return missionary (from Shibuya) and his friend
- someone I knew when I was back in Nakano! (Tech Staff)
We were on our way back from the temple today, so still in suits.

Christmas display at the Temple.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Week 72: Baptism!!!

Hello Everyone!!!

Ok. SO first, Bro S got baptized. And one of our other investigators came and enjoyed the service. Bro K seems to be looking for a Christian Religion. So... That is awesome. But he always has work in the afternoon, and Sacrament Meeting starts at 12:00 (our church is backwards), so he can never come. :P

Anyways. Bro. S was baptized in Chinese by a member, and it was a fantastic experience. And he was confirmed during Sacrament. He is going to be a great member. He was actually looking over his teaching record, and wanted to know if there was anything he could do better. He saw the square that said "introduce friends to the missionaries" under commitments. :) I like that one. I think we will play basketball with his friends in the near future. Maybe not this week, but soon.

Aside from that, we had a missionary come back to our Ward, and we had dinner at his house with Brother S and a referral, Brother T. He has had some powerful experiences with the Shinto religion, but he likes how Joseph Smith went to a grove to pray, and we will meet him again next Monday. Hopefully it goes well!

So... Things are awesome! I love seeing people come unto Christ, hearing their experiences as they feel the Spirit, seeing them be happy! Nothing is better.

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Tokyo Zone Conference - November

Zone Conference lunch

Went out for Okonomiyaki!! :)

We had a member do the baptism in Chinese for him. Bro S is AWESOME -
said that he felt close to God as a result of his baptism!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Week 71: How Great Shall Be Your Joy!

Hello Everyone!!!

Did you know that this Gospel is Awesome? If you don't, I'd love to tell you about it. Probably my favorite hobby right now. :) haha

Anyways... This week was great. We had two investigators come to church this week.

The first was Brother S. He passed his Baptismal Interview!!! WHOOHOO!!!! He's excited, we're excited, and the Ward seems excited, too. When we did our mock interview with him, the Spirit was so strong.

We asked him if he believed that God was his Heavenly Father.

He said yes with confidence and without hesitation (in stark contrast to his not being sure if there was anything out there just 6 or so weeks ago).

We asked him how.

He first described how we taught him these basic truths. Then he went home, read the Book of Mormon and prayed. He testified to us that he felt the Spirit tell him it was true.

The rest of the interview proceeded in a manner that continued to blow me away. I LOVE hearing recent converts bear testimony, especially when I know that they just came to know. That in it's self is an incredible miracle. Thus, the Lord says that "this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground." (D&C 8:3). When we first met him, he was super nice - always asking if he could help put up chairs, set up, etc. He just looks for ways to serve people. Now there is an additional light around him, and he just seems a bit happier. No, his life wasn't a wreck before we met him, and he was a great guy, but life with the Spirit just brings it to a new level. He will be baptized Sunday Morning, and then confirmed. I LOVE seeing the joy the Gospel brings!

The other investigator at church was Bro K. He actually came the first week that Bro S came, and shows serious potential. He talked about how awesome it was that Bro S had started coming to church every week, and congratulated him on his baptism. As I continued to talk with him, he told me that his Mother is Catholic, and has been praying that he would read the bible and become Christian for a long time. He has never had interest. Until recently, right around the time we found him six weeks ago. He felt that it was the answer to his Mother's prayer, and now believes in the power of prayer.

As I continued to talk to him, I found that he had read from the Book of Mormon we gave him and liked it. Plus, he feels like his baptism as a baby had no meaning because it wasn't by his will. He seemed to like our doctrine on Baptism, particularly by immersion, and is excited to come to the Baptism this week. He isn't willing to meet with us outside of church, and doesn't let us talk to him much except during Gospel Principles class, which really confuses me. But he is so kind. We think that as a Catholic, he knows the goal of Missionaries is to Baptize, and is therefore a little hesitant. However, he gets a little better each time, and I feel he will start progressing really
well really soon (hopefully when he comes to see the Baptism?).

We had some other investigators, but we referred them. People come from all over to Shibuya. One actually lives not too far North of us, and we already heard that he went to church and liked it! Hopefully Brother E does well, too, though I won't see too much of his progress.

Then, one of my favorite activities this week was "prep-mission." We all got together with youth from another stake in the Shibuya Chapel. We were assigned new companions for the day, and went out finding. I got two companions, a return missionary and a 19 year old who just applied for his mission (still waiting on the call).

As we were finding, we talked to one particular man, and were able to testify of and give out the Book of Mormon. Normal days work. Right?

My companion was ecstatic. It was the first Book of Mormon he had given out in his life. It scared him out of his mind, but the joy and Spirit that came from it was so real. And it made me think how great this work is! As we perform it, we bring peace and joy into the lives of our Brothers and Sisters. And as we do so, we multiply the joy and peace we feel. Oh, How great is that joy!

So... I have a challenge for you. Open your mouth to at least one person this week. Maybe on the elevator (I've done that one before, you have to be fast and prepared. I wish I had been a little more of both), or maybe with a close friend. It will be hard. Maybe awkward. Maybe you won't know what to say. But how great will be your joy! (D&C 18:15)

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Companions at the mini mission! (Featuring Elder Banks)