Monday, July 25, 2016

Week 55: Simplicity

Hello Everyone!!!

So... First off, we think Brother O will probably get baptized this week. He is going to confirm with his Doctor today, and we will confirm with him at 7 tonight. If his eye is ok, he asked me to baptize him on Saturday! His conviction is solid. When we went through the baptismal questions, he told us that Christ was the center of his everything, and that this church is the only true church. He didn't have a job because of the problem with his eyes, but he is going job hunting to become a pharmacist again - after he gets the Holy Ghost so that he can make sure he makes the right choice. We didn't suggest that, but his faith is awesome.  (Of course he's studying out different options right now, but he won't make the final decision until he's sure he has the Holy Ghost to help him). 

We got to teach both Brother Y's this week! For the older Brother Y, we decided to just visit him spontaneously, and he suddenly had time. :) Turns out his phone was broken which is why he suddenly stopped communicating with us. I think we will be able to teach him more this week, and there is a good chance he will come to church!

Then, the younger, newer Brother Y came to a sports activity. He brought his friend Brother S with him, and they both have some interest. Not strong investigators yet, but I think they have some curiosity. And we became friends with them both at the activity, so we should at least be able to meet them again this week.

Then JACOB AND BROTHER M CAME TO CHURCH!!! I sat between them, and my two investigators were in front of me, sitting with members and my companion. Most fantastic feeling in the world! Nothing makes me happier than to see others experience the joy of the Gospel. Jacob said he felt good coming back after so long, and he was greeted well by the ward. :) Brother M is going back to his home town tomorrow, so we visited him this morning. He committed to read the scriptures and pray daily, and then fast to know if God is there. I will be following up over Facebook even though he is moving. Hopefully he finds what he is looking for! Both have progressed so well!

You know? This work is simple and it is awesome. First, we find out that there is a God that loves us, and he created a plan for our ultimate happiness. Then, we experience the happiness. Then we share it. And unlike anything else in this world, the happiness multiplies 8 billion times over. The joy from the Gospel is indescribable, but the joy of missionary work goes beyond that. Isn't that incredible? I think I have come to know just the smallest part of what the scriptures mean when they say "how great shall be your joy" when you help others come unto Christ! So let's invite our friends. I mean all of them! What is the worst they could say, no? And if they say yes, both they and we get joy beyond anything we have experienced to this point. I see no down side. SO let's make like Nike and do it!

How great is God's work! Let's press forward together!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Me, relaxing during dinner. My companion took this picture because he
was surprised by how weird my arm is. Haha

We had a sports  activity this week! The one with a picture of a band
on  his shirt  is a friend of Brother Y (the one with the striped
shirt). They are both relatively new investigators! Hopefully we can
teach them more this week. :)

Monday, July 18, 2016

Week 54: The Fundamental Principle

Hello Everyone!

This week was AWESOME as always! First, updates on a few people.

Brother O is looking great for Baptism! Pretty sure he is keeping all the commandments now! The only thing that might hold him back is that he has eye surgery this Wednesday... Not sure if he can put his head under water after a week and a half. However, he is excited to be baptized! My favorite quote from him this week:

Me: "Will you live the law of tithing after you are baptized?"

Brother O: "I feel that I would be denying my faith in God if I did not. Obviously, I will pay my tithing!"

So... He is pretty solid. :)

Next, Jacob is doing great! He is starting to read scriptures on his own again! And he only smoked once or twice this week, which is definitely progress! We helped him clean up his room this week (I've never seen a room so messy before!), and we're going back tomorrow to help again. He will soon be much more in tune with the Spirit! :)

Then, Brother I, the high school student (there are two Brother I's... This is not to be confused with the one coming to church on 9/4 that I told you about earlier. He is a college student, and I still think he is golden, just busy) met with us on Tuesday! He told us he wants to hear about other religions. We committed him to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it first - to go straight to the source of truth (God). He said he'll try that and meet us again in two weeks to talk about whether or not he gets a confirming witness. When he does, we will continue doing lessons with him. :) If you want to pray that he gets his answer, I would appreciate it. :)

Brother P didn't come to church. :P That's rare. But we got to meet with him and teach him a lesson, which is also rare. He wants to learn, but focuses on small questions, like why were the gold plates gold, instead of are they true? We're working on it, but I don't speak Nepalese, so it can be hard. :P

Then, we met with our good friend Brother M. We ate donuts together (we ate pancakes last week, Mom), and watched part of the 2016 Young Adults devotional by Sister Nelson. Highly recommend it! Then, he came to church. He is starting to read everyday, and I'm hoping that he starts recognizing the hope of the Gospel again soon! :)

So... Life is awesome. :) That pretty much sums up the best stuff I did this week. I did give a talk yesterday - which was my first full length talk in Japanese. I thought I would share with you a few of my thoughts.

Recently, when I met with Brother P, he told me that I always talk about applications - commandments, prayer, church, reading the Book of Mormon, Eternal Families. However, he said I didn't testify much of the Savior. So I decided to testify of Him and His Atonement.

Joseph Smith taught the following:

"The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it. But in connection with these, we believe in the gift of the Holy Ghost, the power of faith, the enjoyment of the spiritual gifts according to the will of God, the restoration of the house of Israel, and the final triumph of truth."

Eternal families, joy, happiness, forgiveness, are all appendages to the Atonement. It is not that they are not important, it is simply that if we forget the Atonement and it's power, we forget that they are possible. The Atonement is essential because it effects all we do, and allows us to have the Light of Christ.

I cannot, in my own words, describe the suffering that the Savior went through for us. So I will use His words to do so (Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19)

15 Therefore I command you to repent--repent, lest I smite you by the
rod of my mouth, and by my wrath, and by my anger, and your sufferings
be sore--how sore you know not, how exquisite you know not, yea, how
hard to bear you know not.

16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they
might not suffer if they would repent;

17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to
tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer
both body and spirit--and would that I might not drink the bitter cup,
and shrink--

19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my
preparations unto the children of men.

The Savior suffered EVERYTHING. He knows your pain perfectly. He can heal you. Because of Him, you don't have to suffer even one day. So repent, so that we don't suffer. Repent, so that we can enjoy the Spirit. I see many miracles daily as a missionary, but my favorite daily miracle is the miracle of God's forgiveness. There could be no greater miracle. It astounds me that our Heavenly Father reaches out to me in love and mercy daily, regardless of the fact that I am making the same mistakes again! Never go a day without repenting. Doing so is wasting a portion of that beautiful gift that the Savior gave us through His suffering; through His Atonement.

As I think about how the Savior was able to do the Atonement, my mind is drawn to this scripture. 
Mosiah 15:10-11.

10 And now I say unto you, who shall declare his generation? Behold, I
say unto you, that when his soul has been made an offering for sin he
shall see his seed. And now what say ye? And who shall be his seed?

11 Behold I say unto you, that whosoever has heard the words of the
prophets, yea, all the holy prophets who have prophesied concerning
the coming of the Lord--I say unto you, that all those who have
hearkened unto their words, and believed that the Lord would redeem
his people, and have looked forward to that day for a remission of
their sins, I say unto you, that these are his seed, or they are the
heirs of the kingdom of God.

He saw each of us! It is not written what vision He saw, but I imagine that He saw us using the gift He was giving. He saw us taking the Sacrament. He saw us repenting. He saw us going through the temple, becoming Eternal Families. He saw us feeling the cleansing effects of the Spirit that come as a result of His Atonement. In essence, I imagine that He saw that His sufferings would put an end to our suffering; He saw that His suffering would become our joy. Though perfect, I think He needed to remember the why of what He was doing in order to endure that pain. And, in the greatest demonstration of love in all mankind, He finished His preparations unto the children of men!

My friends and family, I have used the words of Prophets in describing the Atonement and love of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. However, know that I have had a confirming witness that they are true through the power of the Holy Ghost. I have seen the reality of the Savior's power in my own life. I testify that Jesus is the Christ. He has all power, and loves us perfectly! What could be greater comfort! Rely on Him, learn of Him, walk beside Him by repenting daily!

Know that I love each of you, and I love my Savior. For that reason I am serving a mission. I hope you feel His influence daily in your lives as I do!

This is the testimony, last of all, that I give, that He lives!

Love you all!
Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Monday, July 11, 2016

Week 53: Better Plans

Hello Everyone!!

Don't even know where to start. So much happened this week!

First, out of the five new investigators, 3 or so seem to have good potential, and we've been finding some more along the way. Seeing the importance of the Spirit in missionary work!! I've tried talking to literally everyone, and So I know the average ratio of acceptance... but it is incredible to see that the Spirit can guide us to someone with interest and desire to change even when we are busy and just have time to talk to a few people in a day. We even found a new high schooler today, after talking to only some 10 or so people!

So, first, Brother O (new investigator with a baptismal date for this month... We'll probably have to push it back for legal reasons, but he is keeping all the commandments!) came to church, and so did Brother P. (Long term investigator, but due to a language barrier, he never understood the Restoration until now! We read it with him from the Book of Mormon picture book - we think he will start progressing now!). Brother M (the less active college student who we barged in on the other week) also came to church!! He really just needs the joy and direction that comes from having a testimony of he Gospel, but it's hard for him to see it that way... :P

Then, we got to meet a couple times with Brother I (16 year old new investigator) this week! He read from the Book of Mormon before we even met; he likes 2 Nephi 2. yeah. I was impressed. He's a smart, golden kid. He wants to get to the Celestial Kingsom, but is worried about what his parents and peers would think about baptism and such... But we plan on meeting him tomorrow.  Going to help him honor his parents and such so his family can see the Gospel as a good thing. Excited for him! :)

Then, we meet with Brother Y Saturday. He likes baseball, and so does my companion. They get along GREAT. It is actually hard to get them to stop talking. :) he is also the one that we found after passing many people on the way to the station. I'm excited to see him progress! We need more young people in Niigata! (He is 22ish) We meet him Saturday.

Also working with a good number of less actives. One that has been a miracle recently is with Jacob. (His nickname) He came to the church randomly on Wednesday night to meet with us. We were going to teach Eikaiwa, so we couldn't teach him.  However, the power went out, and everyone went crazy trying to fix the breaker, and I sat with him by a window and began to talk.

It came to my mind to ask him how much he had been smoking. Not something I think I would normally bring up, but I asked anyways.

"One box... So maybe about 20 a day?" He paused, I waited, and then he said, "but I think I want to stop." Ok. That's cool. So we built a plan to stop together, (including tips from Brother Pinkston on overcoming temptations, memorizing scriptures, reading the Book of Mormon, praying, etc.). We talked about when he is usually tempted, and wrote down what he will do to overcome each temptation. He wrote down the last part, and the power came back on. Literally perfect timing. I went home that night with his last cigarettes, and he hasn't smoked since! I thought I was going to teach Eikaiwa that night, but I guess God had better plans!

Well... If I had one thing that I learned for sure this week, it is that God loves us, and He gives revelation so that we can bless the lives of others! So rely on Him this week, pray for the Spirit, and follow the promptings. I can promise that you will see miracles if you try to serve others and Him!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Incredible meal with a member!! Sister Nishikizawa pulled out like eight courses!!
And all of it was delicious!

Beach was a blast!! Went with the zone... We have zone meeting tomorrow.
 Giving a training on finding... Pray that the Spirit will

teach them what I clearly can't! Haha. :)

Monday, July 4, 2016

Week 52: Miracles (One year mark!)

 Hello Everyone!!!

Ok. This week. Amazing. I think I have been blinded by miracles.

So, Monday, after I wrote you all, we went to look for service opportunities at the station. Nothing. But on the way back, we met with a Less Active on the Street. He had free time, and decided to come to meet us at the church.

We had a lesson about scripture study and commandments... And decided to start reading scriptures together every morning before he goes to work!! Or at least when he picks up. We talked with him 5/7 days. Me and my companion love waking up at 6 to do so. Haha. Great way to start the day. :) He used to be good friends with the other Elders, but has been hard to contact recently, so it's been incredible to see him change so quickly and be willing to start reading scriptures with us. Before, he wasn't really accepting lessons... But we testified of the love and grace of God even in our trials yesterday, and he prayed for the first time in 4 months! He is definitely progressing. :)

Then, on Tuesday, something hit me. I was on the street talking to EVERYONE. It's my new hobby. :) But I got the impression that if I was talking to literally everyone, than I wasn't giving myself the Spiritual latitude to find people to teach. We then biked fifteen minutes out, passing many people on the way to the station. Talked to 1 person and biked back. We meet with Bro. Y again next Saturday (same name as other brother Y, funnily, but no relation, I think). We talked to a few people on the way back, but Brother Y was the miracle of the night. I guess the Spirit really is the most important part of missionary work, even if I tend to focus on the work part. :P

As I thought about this, I realized that there is NO way that out of ALL of God's children in this area, that there are 0 new people for us to find in a day. SO... We changed our approach. Despite statistics, we followed the Spirit and talked with a lot less people. And found five new investigators this week. We usually talk to 200-300 people in a week, but this week was only 144. I realized this week that when we partner with God, it really isn't about the statistics. We didn't go to new places, or have fancy approaches, we just expected to be directed by the Spirit in God's service.

Now, I don't honestly know how all these investigators will go; we have appointments for all of them for this week. But there is one I would like to talk about briefly.

His name is Bro O. We didn't really find him. He just called the church. We picked up, and he informed us that he had been searching for truth by going to various churches. There was a Book of Mormon on the ground, left open to the picture of Jesus Christ. He saw it, was interested in Christianity, and picked it up. Underneath was a restoration pamphlet.

Before he met with us, or even called us, he had decided that this was the direction of God in his life that he was looking for. He knows it's true! And when he read the restoration pamphlet (also before he met us), he told us what stood out to him was that our church has what others don't. He said their preachers don't have power, but there was power in our eyes, as he put it.

He has no problems with commandments, and I expect that he will be baptized on the 31. The only reason we are waiting until then is because he is having eye surgery. Just a one day deal, but he can't put his head under water. But it also means he has a break from work - he's been reading the Book of Mormon for an hour everyday and can meet with us anytime! He also plans on coming to church every week. (Came yesterday!) He really is incredible. And I'm just here to watch the Gospel change his life.

We also had an unusually high amount of miracles with other investigators and less actives. Little short on time. Sorry. :P Met with Brother Y, he is going to work on praying to forgive, and repenting. His friend, Brother T will do the same. Brother M, the less active I barged in on last week, ate dessert that we brought to his home (cookie dough, of course!), and decided to start reading scriptures. He noticed for himself that his life was better when he was doing those things! But then he didn't come to church... Looks like we will have to bring French Toast and visit again. :)

Certainly, I attribute the miracles this week to the promptings of the Spirit. Nothing could be more important than receiving and acting on promptings. You can be the answer to a Brother's prayer, a Sister's plea.

So my challenge for you is to focus on learning to receive revelation this week. You don't have to be perfect at it - The Lord will bless you as you try; and the best part, is He can bless others in the process!

Stay Awesome!
Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Middle- Brother O - He has a baptismal date! Not the greatest picture... Sorry.

Mom to Thomas:  Thomas... you hit your 1 year mark on Friday!! Oh my goodness! You are a seasoned missionary now. I know you never do things half-way... you are an all-the-way kind of guy! So enjoy a little celebration this week and Press Forward in Faith! I know you are an awesome missionary! Keep up the great work... here you go on your 2nd half!
Thomas to Mom: Nope. Not half way. I'm going to be a missionary forever. Haha. :)