Monday, March 28, 2016

Week 38: Happy Easter!

Hello Everyone!

SOOO much happened this week, I don't even know where to start!

I guess the first thing is, one of the people we started working with wants to be baptized! First he wants to make sure our church is the true church, but I really don't feel like he will have too much of a problem with that. He moves to Shibuya for school on Thursday, but I'm still excited for him, especially since I know some of the Elders in Shibuya.

Up through the week, he read various parts of the Book of Mormon with us and on his own, along with reading a pamphlet to prepare for each lesson. He basically just asked us questions about the deeper stuff he didn't understand - like about the fall of Adam and Eve, etc.

Then, during one of our lessons, we felt prompted to ask him to read 1 Nephi 3-4, where Laban is killed by Nephi. He asked a TON of questions about it in the next lesson... But the chapters really caught his interest, and he ended up committing himself to reading the whole Book of Mormon! God really knows His children a lot better than I do - I would have never assigned that chapter, but reading the whole Book of Mormon, and getting his own personal concerns out with us before hand, will definitely help his progress! I'm glad I am not alone in this work!

As for the other people we met with, one seems pretty interested, but is sucked up in gambling, and I am not sure we will be able to meet... The others were just a little curious in who we were, or coming and seeing church once, etc. I think bringing someone to church still helped us gain the trust of the members though and we found some more PI's, so things are starting to get moving. In addition, the man that came to church has a professor who studies with professors at BYU, and said that he loves the Mormon people! We got his contact info, and we will see how that goes this week!

Well... It was fun teaching so many people this week... got me pumped to find some people this upcoming week!

Yes, Mom, I have played the piano while I've been out. I actually just played the piano in a talent show yesterday! I will find you there my friend. I also played at a funeral, and a few times during Priesthood and such.

One of my favorite things to do this week was testify of Christ and tell people what Easter is - most people haven't even heard of it here! I am glad to know I have a Savior, someone who makes up for my short comings everyday, and loves, cares, and plans carefully for each of us!

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder O'Reilly

No pics this week, but here is a video of the end of the last District Meeting - three of these missionaries go home this transfer, and they wanted a recording of us singing the old mission song, so here it is!
The missionaries going home are the Elder in only a white shirt (no jacket or sweater) and the two sisters in the center of the Sisters, if that makes sense.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 37: The Arm of Flesh

Hello Everyone!!!!

This week was incredible. We found SO many people to teach this week - to the extent, that we can't fit in all our appointments tomorrow. And then from Wednesday we become a threesome companionship with the Zone
Leaders because one of them is going home for school (one week before the end of the transfer). They also have a lot of teaching appointments... So our week will probably be filled with teaching this week!

Now, if I were to say the main difference that happened this week, it would be the difference between relying on ourselves and relying on God instead. When we started this transfer, we were so confident that we knew what we were doing. We were told by our leaders that talking to 100 people would find us 1 new investigator, and out of 10 new investigators, one would be prepared enough to be baptized, so we went out and talked to a lot of people - and saw no success.

This week, instead of focusing on just what we thought we should do - going to people filled places and stopping everyone - we really prayed about what He would have us do. As we sought His will, we didn't talk to as many people, but we found more people that listened! In one day, we found 4 people that wanted to hear more! One is particularly interested in baptism, one is interested in learning how to use the Atonement, one wants to hear about the Book of Mormon, and one is just curious in who we are. And those are just the people we found in one day! Plus, everyone that dropped off the map before I got here started calling us and wanting to meet. It was as if someone just came and lit our area on fire!

One experience that stands out to me in particular was on Thursday. We were looking for some less actives with little success - the addresses have like no pattern in Japan, and not even Google maps can get it right. We realized that with the time we spent lost, we wouldn't have enough time to complete all our plans, so we prayed to seek direction. Previously, perhaps we would have just shot out to work and find people, but, we felt that we should just get back to the apartment a little early. Such a thought would have never come to me, but the first kid we talked to was interested in learning about Christ!

So, if I learned one thing this week, it was not to rely on the arm of the flesh. I did everything in my power for 4 weeks, and then we strove to do it God's way for one day and had more success then all the rest of the transfer combined. God is certainly a God of miracles, and can do His own work if we will let Him! So seek His direction
through prayer this week, and then really listen for His direction! I can promise that He is waiting to bless you, you just have to let Him!

Stay Awesome!!!!
Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

When I looked up Thomas's address on google, look what I found... haha!

Eating Ramen as an apartment. Ramen is SOOO good in Japan.

Played frisbee and soccer in the rain with the YSA and the 1 youth in the ward :)

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 36: A Better Way

Hello everyone!

Well... If I were to sum up my week briefly, we talked to A LOT of people! Always way fun. Wave down a bike and say, "Excuse me! Excuse me! We're teaching people about how they can become happier and find peace through Jesus Christ, are you interested?" And we found some people that said yes this week! So, we have a couple appointments, and we'll see how they go.

As for teaching this week, we decided to drop the last person we were really meeting regularly... He didn't want to accept anything besides the bible, so there just wasn't much we could do. Man. I wish I could just make people see this the way I see things! But I guess it doesn't work that way. God wants people to walk by faith, because that is the way people grow.

That can be pretty easy to forget sometimes - even when we do have the Gospel. To be honest, I asked myself a few times this week, how come I can't find people to teach? Couldn't following the Spirit be easier? Why can't I just know exactly where I should go, what I should do, and what I should say? But, walking by faith, not knowledge, is what makes people grow. When I think of the Saviors example - His wisdom as He taught the woman caught in adultery, His love as He forgave the Jews as He suffered on the cross, His strength as He performed the Atonement, His humility as He said Thy will be done - I feel grateful for the opportunity to grow. Even though sometimes I want the easy way, when God grants me a glimpse of His way, I am grateful that He knows a better way. I hope that some day it will lead me to do, serve, and love as He did!

Loving everyday of this awesome work!
Love you all!
Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly
The Beach! Niigata is the most beautiful place in the world!

My companion being a beast... he ripped his pants making this picture...haha.

Me, trying to be as cool as my companion.

Selfie with a dolphin! Went to the aquarium as a zone today.

Some questions answered for Mom this week:

Q. How is the language coming along? 
A. When I try hard and I'm not tired, it comes very naturally, and it is actually pretty fun. Listening, especially to old people can still be pretty tricky. :/ Praying for the gift of tongues definitely helps though! :)

Q. Do you feel like you can understand more now? 
A. Depends on the topic. I can talk about the Gospel and understand most of what is going on, particularly when reading the Book of Mormon. Airplanes? Wedding photography? Other random topics that come up as we talk to people? Not so much. Don't have enough vocab for that yet...

Q. How are you doing with your companion? And all your apartment-mates? Are you all getting along well?
A.  Elder O'Connor is pretty laid back, fun, and super hard working guy. All the Elders in my apartment are good missionaries. The other companionship are the zone leaders.

Q. I'm glad you are being so greatly taken care of in the food department by the kind members there! How are you liking the food? Do you like everything? Have you found anything that you don't like? 
A. LOVE the food! I LOVE everything. There are some things that took longer to love, like Nato, but I actually plan on having that tonight for dinner in my apartment. It is a good, healthy, cheap meal.

Wow! Lots of questions! Haha. I'm doing good, Mom. :)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 35: Slippery Ground

Hello everyone!

So... This week we met with a few investigators! It was the weirdest thing. Both of them had a background with the bible.... I've never had to teach out of the Bible! Certainly a test of my scriptural knowledge. More than that, learning to rely more on the Spirit to guide me to scriptures that I definitely could not remember otherwise.

One of them came from New Zealand. He has been meeting with the missionaries for a while, but loves the bible and isn't super interested in the Book of Mormon, though he is willing to read if we assign something. Best part is that he wants to be baptized! Unfortunately, he doesn't want to join a church. He feels it would separate him from other people of other religions. He pulled out the part of the Bible where Christ says those that aren't against us are for us, and basically said any Christian church is ok. Not sure how to help him see that there is truly one faith and one baptism... (Yes, I tried showing him that scripture).

The other has already been baptized, but not into our church, obviously. He doesn't see why he needs to be baptized again. He wasn't happy when I told him that his previous missionaries didn't have the priesthood, but we'll work with him to start reading the Book of Mormon. He's busy with work and school, but hopefully he can find
enough time to get an answer.

Now, the one thing that stood out to me from my study today was the importance of building on a firm foundation. I read from 3 Nephi 11 (in Japanese during language study, and I actually understood it decently!). It talks about how if we don't build on a firm foundation, when the floods come we will be washed away.

Later today, we were playing frisbee in the park (yes, Mom, I actually started taking p-days. And it does feel pretty good. I guess I have realized the importance of actually relaxing for a bit - especially when you have a companion. Haha). It rained this morning, so the ground could be pretty slippery. This was fine, as we were just standing and throwing the frisbee back and forth. However, I can't throw a frisbee to save my life, and my companion had to make a quick move to catch the frisbee... Which you can't do on slippery ground. He quickly fell and was unable to catch the frisbee.

Now, my companion is fine, and in reality, it was still plenty of fun. We moved to drier ground and continued. However, I was thinking that it is the same in life. Sometimes, we tell ourselves that we don't need a firm foundation. We choose to stand on slippery ground - after all, throwing a frisbee back and forth isn't that hard, right? But when the smallest thing happens, we fall. This is why even in good times, we MUST stand on good ground. You never know when I could be the one throwing the frisbee. ;) There is only way to guarantee no falls, and that is building our life, desires, and happiness on our Savior Jesus Christ.

So build on Christ this week!
Stay Awesome!
Elder O'Reilly

Visited this man this week! He is a rice farmer and has a HUGE 100
year old house!

This shrine thing is IN his house!!!

Niigata Zone Conference
(taken from facebook... the mission president's wife is so great to
post pictures and videos... I love to hear them sing! -- Thomas's mom)