Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Week 51: Why church?

Hello everyone!!

This week was a blast, as always!! :)

We mostly visited less actives this week, which meant more teaching and finding along the way, which is a lot of fun. Plus, one of them came to church as a result of our visit! He is one of the few YSA's in the ward, so that was definitely a plus.

Coolest thing for him is that no one has been able to contact him in a while. We were going to visit him Thursday night, but we missed the train by just a few minutes. We had to move things around in our schedule, and we visited Saturday morning. It turns out that he would have been gone Thursday night, so although it felt inconvenient at the time, it was definitely the way God wanted it to work out. In fact, we had been praying to meet him, and perhaps a missed train was an answer to our prayer.

When we visited his house, no one answered... But we took the bold route and just walked in. Doing so woke him up, but surprisingly, he doesn't hate us for it. He actually accepted us very well and we set a return appointment. Bro. M really just needs some hope, love, and friends. I feel like the Gospel can help him with that. :)

Aside from that, we were able to meet with Bro. Y and Bro T again. Bro T had to leave half way through the lesson, but Bro Y said that 80% of him wants to change. 20% of him wants to hold on to grudges and be unforgiving, but that is the kind of person that the Gospel is made for - people who want to overcome their weaknesses. He's been praying to learn how to forgive, but hasn't felt any sort of answer yet. We'll be working with him on that.

Something I have been focusing on lately is the why of what we do, as missionaries and members. It was a focus of District Meeting this week, and it struck me again when Brother M asked me why he should come to church. Why church? Why Gospel? As you could probably guess, I get this question asked of me multiple times a day. Sometimes with words, sometimes with looks.

For me, it is summed up in two verses. Moroni 8:25-26. I've probably shared these verses before, they are my favorite, but I'll share them again.

25 And the first fruits of repentance is baptism; and baptism cometh
by faith unto the fulfilling the commandments; and the fulfilling the
commandments bringeth remission of sins;

26 And the remission of sins bringeth meekness, and lowliness of
heart; and because of meekness and lowliness of heart cometh the
visitation of the Holy Ghost, which Comforter filleth with hope and
perfect love, which love endureth by diligence unto prayer, until the
end shall come, when all the saints shall dwell with God.

This is the reason I live the Gospel. Repentance and ordinances bring me in line with the Spirit, which feels awesome, and helps me improve (by giving Perfect love, or Charity). Then I get to live with God again. Basically, happiness now and later. Isn't that what everyone wants?

So I hope you find joy in living the Gospel of Christ daily, because that is the purpose of the Gospel. Take advantage of it everyday!

Stay awesome, and hold to hope this week (by living the Gospel, of course!)

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Monday, June 20, 2016

Week 50: The Greatest Choice

Hello everyone!!!

This week was AWESOME!!! FULL of miracles!!!

First, went on splits with Elder Ulrich!! Got to go to Sanjo. Very different area. It is more country side, so not many people on the streets. We went housing, which was definitely different than what I normally do. We didn't find anyone while housing, which was too bad. However, when we only had a little time left, we decided to pray to find out how to fulfill our goal of two new investigators with the little time left. We decided to head back towards the station in hopes of some students being around there - school had just gotten out.

There were not too many students on the street. In fact, only three on our way back. All three had interest in things we could teach from the Book of Mormon. We gave each one, and got return appointments! We had talked to 80 people that day, including other high schoolers, but it was after we gave our best, and turned it over to the Lord that He made the miracles happen.

Then Elder Okano and I had a FANTASTIC miracle in our own area!! We were on our way to visit a less active (who ended up not being home), and we were talking to people along the way. Then, my companion struck up a conversation with one of the people we passed. He said he was interested in our message, and, though he was normally busy, had time right then to hear more. So, we went to a near by shop, and taught him the restoration. He said that he would be baptized when he found out it was true, and was excited to read the Book of Mormon! We got a return appointment for today, and we are going to have FHE with him and some members tonight.  SUPER excited for him - we plan on setting a date for him to be baptized tonight!

Seeing lots of miracles everyday, but those are probably my favorite two of the week.

Now, one thing I have been thinking about this week is Alma 34:19-27. It says to "cry" over our fields, over households, for protection against the Devil, and various other things. First, are my prayers a cry? Do they carry that much emotion and desire?

Then, in addition to praying over everything, to "let your hearts be full, drawn out in prayer unto him continually for your welfare, and also for the welfare of those who are around you." Have you tried this before?

It takes a lot of concentration, and a lot more effort than simply getting through the needs of the day. However, I've noticed as I try it, I notice more the opportunities to serve. I feel a greater love for the people. I feel the Spirit directing my words towards the needs of those I meet more often. I feel a great desire that my prayer is fulfilled, and I find greater motivation to work so it is so.

As a result, there hasn't been a major difference in the amount of people accepting my message, nor is the change all that visible at all. However, I've discovered something.

Often times my desire is that people will accept me and my message, but it feels even greater to be accepting of those around me. Often, my desire is to have others be patient with me, but having patience for others is what will actually make me happier. Often, I think I want to be loved, but really loving others is actually the greatest emotion. Love is an emotion, but it is also a verb, and a choice. Have you ever felt poorly while feeling love towards another? Let me answer that question for you. No.

So my challenge is for each of you to try drawing your heart out in prayer, even for just one day with your heart drawn in prayer. And I can promise, as Mormon did,  that that great love endures by diligence unto prayer.
Try it this week!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

We had a zone p-day last week!! The carrot and daikon were used as batons in a relay.
And we had to pick jelly beans out of flour with our faces. Hence, the flour.
Also, note that the English on my companion's shirt is really bad. Pretty funny.

English class I taught for the Eiken test!

Bro. I!! We have FHE with him tonight and some of the members.
He has a heart of gold! :-)

Monday, June 13, 2016

Week 49: Trying Again

Hello Everyone!!

Sorry for the short email last week. We decided to finally clean the apartment (the shelves and closets were SO disorganized when I got to this area. Instead of cleaning them, I went the route of not using them...), and as a result, we were a little short on time. Now the apartment is pretty clean, which feels great!

This past week was a pretty AWESOME week. I'll give you a few of the highlights.

First, on Monday, we had a lesson with Bro Y and Bro T. They are gambling friends. They claim to have interest in our message, but usually can't manage to leave the pachinko (Japanese place for gambling). We have a member that has a similar past to their present, and he was present at the lesson for us. We had had a lesson with them before, but they didn't really see how they could apply it, and weren't sure our message could really help them. But the member testified that simply coming to church, praying, scripture study, meeting with the missionaries - seemingly small things - would have a major impact on their lives. His testimony was strong, and they will probably come to church this week. Hearing the testimony of a member was powerful, and they now actually have some good potential for turning their lives around!

On Wednesday, we had a "Family Home Evening" (it was actually Friends, Church, Mid-day, but FCM just sounds weird) with some converts and singles in the ward. None of them have any members of the church in their families, so they've never done an FHE before. We had a lot of fun - they just loved talking to each other, and I made some French Toast for dessert. We discussed the importance of loving our neighbors for the lesson, and challenged them to use the Area plan to do so. The area plan is super awesome and simple - The vision is "Because we want to live with Heavenly Father again, we Love, Elevate, Simplify, Strive, Strengthen, Invite, and Find Joy in the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Church leaders in Japan want us to find specific ways we can do at least 3 of the things on this list this year, so we challenged them to do so, and they got excited about it! It was a fun way to get members excited about missionary work.

Then, on Thursday, we went out to contact a referral. Bro K. We biked 10 kilometers out. Then he called and cancelled on us. And we biked 10 kilometers back. Mostly just a great view of rice fields, but occasionally there were some people, and EVERYONE was interested in our message. Like, literally. We talked to one man as he was getting in his truck. We didn't have much time, so I just asked him if he was interested in Jesus Christ. He said, "Of course I am! Aren't all Japanese people?" I'll tell you right now that that isn't the case, but I didn't tell him that. We had a great discussion about Christ and the plan of Salvation, and he has a pamphlet on the plan of Salvation with our number - but the unfortunate part about Thursday was that everyone just made excuses. Like, "I'm busy this week, and don't own a phone." Or "I work all day everyday, if I have time, I'll contact you." Etc. Still a way fun day, though! Hopefully we were a means of helping them for the future.

Then, on Friday, we actually got to meet the referral. And he brought a friend, Also Bro. K, but different last names. Just same first letter.

First off, the way we got the referral is because they ordered a Book of Mormon. Wanting to read the Book of Mormon is a really great place to start. After giving a Book of Mormon, we asked them, "Do you have any questions for us?"

"Do Mormons have a form of baptism?"

Um... Yes. SO, They are gold. They are excited to read from the Book of Mormon, said they will be baptized on the twenty fourth of July if they get a confirmation that it is true, and had awesome questions throughout the lesson. REALLY excited for them!

Saturday was splits, which was way fun, but no major events. Then, yesterday, we were able to meet with two investigators that we haven't met with in a while.

With Bro T, we talked about the Spirit and answers to prayers, and he wants to feel the Spirit now! So it was a good lesson! The other investigator we met with has no desires related to the Gospel at all. Eternal Life? No. Communication with God? No. Eternal family? No. Meet loved ones after they die? No. Peace and help over coming difficulties?   No. Become like God? No. DO YOU HAVE ANY DREAMS OR FEARS AT ALL? No.

Oh. That explains a lot. So... Why did you meet with us? You like meeting new people? Ah... I guess that would make you like missionaries. Not sure if we will be meeting him again. Haha. Really awkward lesson.

But this week was pretty AWESOME! Just packed with miracles!

Now, unrelated, random thing that has been on my mind lately.

I've been thinking about Baptism (bet you never could have guessed I would be thinking about that!). Why is Baptism the way it is? Why does it need to be done perfectly?

Well, I've been thinking of the Master teacher, the one who instituted Baptism - maybe He was trying to teach me something here. Of course, there are lots of symbols with Baptism, but let me suggest this as one.

There is no limit to how many times you can attempt a baptism. "No, you already tried to say the words properly or completely immerse them 100 times. Now they just can't go to Heaven." That doesn't exist. So long as you keep trying, God will accept it so long as the last time is perfect. No ultimate failure, no major problem, we just have to try it again.

I've been thinking that the covenant we make is the same way. We make the covenant at baptism. And we break it. Only Christ kept it perfectly the first time.

Then, we take the Sacrament, and we make the covenant again. And we break it. A lot of times. And you know, God always lets us try again. As long as we take each attempt seriously, and really try, eventually, we make it. Through Christ, through a process of renewing our covenants a million or more times, eventually we can keep it perfectly.

No ultimate failure, no major problem. We just have to try again.

So keep pressing forward this week! Try to fix something; let's keep our covenants just a little better. And eventually we can all make it together!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Monday, June 6, 2016

Week 48: Out of time

Hello Everyone!!!

Well... It's been a fantastic week! Not really sure what to talk about, but a few things we did this week.

First, taught a man who has interest in the Bible!! Taught one of my favorite chapters, Isaiah 53, a prophecy about the Atonement. He was moved by the doctrine and by the fact that it was prophecy. Hopefully we will be able to meet with Brother H again sometime.

Then, we were also able to meet with Brother Y - a less active that just works on Sundays. Spirit was strong, and he is working to come back to church!

Oh, and we biked 45 KM to get to a less actives home. That was a blast. Haha.

Companion is holding up... He doesn't like talking to people, but he does it when I ask him to.... Which is pretty much all day every day. Haha. He's a trooper.

Training? Most days I forget I am training... Just small things and helping him get the missionary fire! He asked me the other day, isn't it ok if I just go to the terrestrial kingdom? So... Still working on a few things. Haha. But loving him, the work, and the Lord, so I guess that'll get us somewhere, right?

Hmm... Today, we fixed my companions flat tire. Then, we stopped by some nearby stores to get some stuff for the week, and went to a Buddhist temple. Thought it would be like a Shinto shrine, but not at all. The monks inside got SUPER excited and tried to convert us. Haha. Not doing that again. But a fun one time experience. They believe some interesting stuff!

Family man? Missed 2 appointments because he worked late, felt bad about it, and doesn't want to miss again, so said he is too busy for the time being. :P Eventually he'll come around! :)

Aside from that, we talked to a lot of people, and had a great week! Sorry for the shortness... Out of time! :P

Stay awesome, everyone!
Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly