Monday, May 30, 2016

Week 47: Simplicity

Hello everyone!!!

This week was FANTASTIC! Talked to lots of people, and got to teach a KINJIN!!! :) We were in Sanjo (on splits) but it was still fun to talk to someone that wants to get baptized. That's always fun. :)

As far as fun moments this week, by far the top is when I took a wrong turn on the way home from splits. We only went about a minute down the road the wrong way... But my companion happened to pop his tire in those 60 seconds, making us miss our train.

We then got to study at the station as we waited for the next train (the day was already too packed to get in a better study than that). I then got to run with my companion's bike to the nearest bike shop, more than a 5k a way. We discovered that when you are dying from running alongside a bike with a flat tire on a hot day, more people stop and hear your message! I don't think anyone waved us away. Maybe I'll try it again sometime. :)

As far as miracles this week, some of the ward members are catching some Dendo Fire! Helping us with less actives, inviting people to activities... So hopefully some good comes out of that!

Now, as for what I learned this week, I really realized how simple missionary work is. Up until now, I have always been so worried about if I was doing it right, or if I should be doing this or that better - and don't get me wrong, I will still be trying to improve - but really, it is God doing His work. If we want to be effective in it, we keep the commandments, we repent, we give our all to Him - and as we do that, the Spirit comes in (it's role is a cleaning agent, as we do these things, it HAS too), and as we have the Spirit, we know what to say. Not because we're good at it, but because God is giving it in the very moment that we need it.

So my challenge to you is to give it all to God this week. Let the Spirit into your life. And just see if God can use you to help someone else.

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

My companion, and one of my zone leaders. Writing home.
Also, me showing off my hair cut that I did myself. yep. Definitely getting it fixed up by a pro.
But for the time being, this will have to do. haha

Monday, May 23, 2016

Week 46: Standing Out

Hello Everyone!!

This week was fantastic! Learning SOO much everyday. Also realized that for the most part, I still have no idea what I am doing as a missionary. Guess that is where relying on the Lord comes in. Funny how easily my mind slips and I start thinking that it's me doing God's work when it was really Him the whole time. Good, humbling weeks fix that though. And yes, I had another one of those. So still no appointments with investigators, though we could contact a few... Some busy working, some busy getting married... Excuses. We already have some appointments for this week, so only up from here!

So, this week, being lost on what to do, decided to fast with some specific questions. That day, we suddenly had splits with the other Elders in our apartment, and he literally answered all my questions as we talked. Without me bringing it up or asking anything. He also only gave advice specifically on the questions I had... Shows me that I have very spiritually in tune zone leaders and a loving Father in Heaven looking out for me. Also got some really cool personal direction in addition. From here, working more with members, and trying to be more creative in my missionary approaches - things I knew I should have been doing, but I guess I was just satisfied with the progress we were having, and it was more comfortable to do it my own way.

So, we had some practice lessons and appointments with members, and starting to build a better relationship with the ward. Which is actually pretty fun, and usually delicious. Just a slight bonus.

Then, we were able to meet with two new less actives this week! It's not too common that that happens - people are usually not home, moved, or even passed away - the records the church is having us go through are so old! Neither particularly wants to meet again, but one of them opened up a little bit after we testified and wants to meet the missionary that baptized him again. He was baptized some 50 years ago, so not sure we can do that, or that his missionary even speaks Japanese or is alive, but we'll certainly try! And at first he said he didn't remember the missionaries at all, but then, as he felt the Spirit, he admitted that he clearly remembered him, and even respected him! Still active member of a different church, but we might be able to help him a little? We'll certainly try.

Well, my thought this week is simple, and comes from the pictures I sent. I went to a shrine today, and they had some koi fish. We were all looking at them, when a red and yellow fish came out from under the bridge. As I thought about these fish, I thought about how no one ever says - "hey, look at that fish, it's the same as all the others!" Those fish are boring. Everyone admires the bright colored fish.

Then I thought about people. So many people are so afraid of being different, being picked on, or being left out. So they try to blend in. Consequently, they can turn into these boring fish! I think back on the people that I really looked up to - it wasn't those that went with the flow, but those that had the courage to stand out, particularly those who chose to do so by being bright with the hope of the Gospel!

So choose to stand out this week by living the Gospel of Christ! I promise people will admire the bright light of Christ from within!

Stay Awesome!
Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly
"Look at that fish! It's just like the others!" haha

Me. Being super cool with the founder of the oldest park in Japan.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Week 45: New Companion!

Hello   Everyone!!!

I got to meet my new companion!!!!! HE IS AWESOME!!!! We have a lot in common. SO we have a lot of "fights". They go like this -

"No. I get to do the dishes. YOU got to do them last time!"

Or "Wait. You have to let me serve you, too. Isn't that part of the Gospel?"

Or "So... What should we do with our p-day?" "No no no - YOU get to choose!"

So you can say we get along pretty well. :)

This week has been fantastic. Just serving my companion, and working hard with him. He basically just wants to be an obedient, PMG missionary that does his best. So I learn from him. And It's great speaking Japanese all the time. :) I've had to translate a few times for different meetings and things as well... It was super fun! I even got one of those mics, and all the Japanese people had earpieces to hear what I was saying. Pretty legit, but pretty crazy. Realized that my Japanese still has some room for improvement.

Then, we had a CRAZY busy week! So many appointments! It was hard to even make time for dinner and such... But then all our appointments fell through. Like, literally all but one. And the investigator dropped us in the lesson. I'm laughing about it, but I'm a little worried for my companion. He's good though. And we'll see some miracles this week!

So... We unfortunately don't always get to pick our circumstances. But that isn't the point. Perhaps I don't get to pick if I am Alma or Abinidai (both served in the same city, one was burned at the stake, and saw 0 baptisms, and the other saw 450 baptisms shortly after), but we DO get to pick if we do the will of God or not! And when we do the will of God, we are happy. I can say that, because I've honestly never felt so rejected - but I've also never felt so happy!

So keep the commandments - in this there is safety and peace!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Arriving missionaries and trainers
Elder Okano, Elder O'Reilly, Pres. & Sis. Nagano

Elder Okano is from Sapporo, but he went to school in Okinawa, most north and
south points respectively. We get along GREAT! He just wants to be a
good, obedient, hard working missionary. We spend good chunks of our
time serving each other. I also feel like we have pretty similar
personalities. Haha.

Niigata Zone (with Elder O'Connor)

Niigata Yamashita Conference... lunch

Elder Abo (Thomas' trainer) is home!

Monday, May 9, 2016

Week 44: His Ways

Hello Everyone!!

This week was incredible!!! Also, I will be trained by a new missionary starting Wednesday! Can't wait for all the great things I will learn!

First, Brother G is doing great!! We taught him the rest of the plan of Salvation, and he committed to do the big three - pray, read scriptures, and come to church! He should come this week, and we should meet him again tomorrow! Also, the family man, Brother S, will be the first investigator I meet with my new companion RIGHT after we get off the bus on Wednesday. Like, it will be a rush to get there! I hope we don't miss it!

Alright. Actually have a couple cool stories this week.

First, yesterday, we were about to go out finding (sorry to my family who already heard this story over SKYPE), and after we prayed to seek direction, we both felt that we should visit an investigator, Brother B, instead.

This is Brother B!

We had never been to his home before, but the sisters in our area housed into him recently, and gave us his address.

We got to the address, and realized we didn't know the apartment number! We figured that if we were supposed to visit him, he would be home, and only one apartment fit that description. So, we knocked... And it was his home! Unfortunately, he wasn't home, but his friend was.

My purpose in visiting was to give Bro B a French Book of Mormon. So... I introduced the Book of Mormon to his friend, Bro A, in a mix of broken French, Japanese, English. Haha. I'm surprised he understood! But he said that he wanted to read the book, so we gave it to him. He said he wanted to learn more, so we set up an appointment for next Sunday. I'll be brushing up on my French this week!

Other cool story happened today. We were on our way back from groceries. There were a lot of people out, and we didn't have a lot of time, so we couldn't talk to everybody - I hate passing people on the street, but sometimes you have to. However, I felt that I should talk with one boy. I stopped, told him who we were, and he said, "Oh, Christians? I'm a Boy Scout, and I'm working on my Christianity badge!" I didn't know that was a thing, but I fully support it. We plan on meeting him later this week! He is also interested in taking Eiken - an English test for Junior High students. We just so happened to have started a free course on that last Friday, so we should be able to meet with him pretty often. God works miracles if we will let Him!

So... Rely on the Spirit this week. Be willing to change your plans for His plans. Remember what He said, "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts." Look to Him, and He will bless you beyond what you could imagine!

Stay Awesome!
Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Brother Tsukano - an awesome member of the branch that fellowships investigators really well,
and even goes out to find less actives homes with us!
He was converted just eight years ago -- AWESOME man! :)

These crepes were delicious!!! And buy one get one free... Apparently.
Ate one, and then they called us back and gave us one for free.
won't complain. :)

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Mother's Day Call 2016

Just after dinner, waiting for Thomas to Skype!
We were so excited to get to Skype Elder O'Reilly for Mother's Day! He looked and sounded great! It was fun to hear him talk to his brother, Skeets in Japanese (who was on the phone in California). And to hear his testimony of our Savior!

All gathered around, taking pictures and videos, laughing and crying

Looking great!

So good to hear his laugh!

Monday, May 2, 2016

Week 43: A Perfect Brightness of Hope

Hello everyone!

This week was GREAT!!! First, quick update on some people.

Bro. G - have to push his date back a week. He will be in Joetsu the day we original set. But we had a golden lesson with him! He prayed at the end of the lesson that he would be able to become a good person through coming to our church. I think we can help him. :)

Bro. S - He cancelled on us this week due to work. He is busy, but AWESOME. We will meet him again after Eikaiwa (English Class) Next week (the 11), which is actually after Transfers. We'll see what happens.

Bro. H - He was out of town last week. He'll come back this week, so hopefully we can teach him the restoration!

So... Those are some of the main people we are working with this week. Also trying to get some Less Active YSA to come back... The ward is pretty old right now, so we are focusing on the youth. Everyone is important, but if we don't get some young people soon, the ward will be gone in 10 to 20 years, so we are working on it. Haha Had a pretty serious discussion about that with the Branch President this week, and hopefully we can get some things moving!

Now, this week I went back to the basics. This scripture really struck me. "Faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work." I have focused on every section of this verse before, to prepare myself for the work, except for hope.

I think that subconsciously I felt that I didn't really need hope. I thought that holding out and enduring to the end was enough. But it isn't. God meant for us to be happy, now and always. Plus, without hope, faith becomes weak. They are very interrelated.

Now, it is easy to say, when I get out of the apartment in the morning, oh, yes, I will do the work of the Lord today. I will see success. I will hold to hope.

But then you get rejected 100 times in a row. Yes, I love talking to people, but there are times when I wonder, is this really doing something?

So, because this Hope is one of the 5 essentials to missionary work (and life), I thought about how I can always have this hope. And Aaron's council came to my mind.

"If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest."

I had never realized this before, but sincere prayer combined with repentance is the way to hope. Not just from most of our mistakes - but ALL.

SO... I've been trying it. No, I'm not perfect, but I tell God that I will give up my every weakness if He'll remind me, help me, strengthen me. And there is still A LOT to change - but one thing has already changed. As I rely more fully and give a better all each day, a great hope fills EVERYTHING! I've begun to realize, again, for the first
time, that God has a perfect plan for everyone, He is in control, and our happiness is His goal. So there is no need for worry, fear, sadness, or disappointment - and getting rid of those things makes space for confidence, faith, joy, and the strength to get through our day to day things. So join me this week! Try it - give Him your all!

Stay Awesome, and hold to hope!
Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Having fun on p-day!

Hair cuts!