Monday, October 31, 2016

Week 69: Choosing Happiness

Hello Everyone!!!

This week has been GREAT!!! New transfer, and a good number of things are changing. New people in the apartment, and it feels like it will be a lot of fun. Been doing a lot of laughing in the apartment, but it's carried onto the street as well. Getting people to smile or even laugh in our contacts is quite enjoyable, and it makes me happy to see others happy. Plus, focusing on being happy and sharing that happiness has resulted in a higher number of positive responses.

Now... Few cool things this week. First, Brother S has decided that he wants to be baptized. He made the jump from "if it's true" to "because it's true." We watched the restoration after that, and he was amazed by the power and love of Joseph Smith! He truly was a great prophet! Loved seeing a little more into his life. And though I have not ever met him, I know he was a prophet of God. The Spirit testifies of it, and that is something that each of us can know for ourselves. We just have to ask!

Aside from that, we were able to find a few new people this week. We actually found three new people just today! 2 high school students, and a Chinese man in the train today. Great to see how the Lord prepares them, and leads us to our needs as we pray and seek his guidance!

One thing that I have been teaching a Less Active recently, who has been struggling with feeling unhappy, is that we can choose happiness. He was convinced that we are meant to experience lots of sadness. To an extent, yes, we need trials, difficulties, and there will be down days. But we never need to stay in unhappiness, and we certainly don't need to choose unhappiness!

In fact, the purpose of our existence is joy, and saints can have joy in every circumstance. Often, I focus on teaching that men are that they may have joy, but I often forget to teach the next verse (2 Ne 2:26). If we choose Christ, we can be saved. From what? Unhappiness. Imperfection. Frustration. Grudges. All of it! We can choose to be happy when we choose Christ!

So, this week, let's choose to be happy. Choose obedience. Choose love. Choose Christ.

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Monday, October 24, 2016

Week 68: The Power of the Book of Mormon

Hello everyone!!

First of all, thanks for all the birthday wishes!!  I had a fantastic week!! We had three investigators come to church this week. Honestly, we have nothing to do with any of them coming - a part member family moved in, Brother and Sister N; a man was referred from Okinawa with interest in family history, Brother I; and a self referral, Brother Ne, who may have actually just wanted food. Haha. But because they are new, and a new area opens in our area this week (today was transfer calls. Me and my companion stay, Elder Murakami), we will probably be referring those three to the new area? Still have to discuss it with my companion. But I would feel bad if we didn't give the new companionship anything, seeing as Elder Titel, a trainee I worked with in Niigata, will be whitewash training and District Leader. But still a way cool miracle, even if I won't be too involved in their progress.

Currently, our top investigator is probably Brother S. He came to church last week, and will come next week, but couldn't meet with us until after church yesterday. On our first meeting last Sunday, he said he wasn't sure that God was there. Yesterday, after reading the Book of Mormon for a week, he said that he wants to follow God. He is SOO gold. Way nice man. We then took him on a church tour, and when we showed him the font, he said, so this is where I'll be baptized on the 19th? Umm... Yeah. He hadn't said yes to our commitment yet - he had wanted more time to think. But he seems to be leaning towards the yes side.

One of our other investigators, Brother A was found last week when we used our Door Book of Mormon. He claims to have met me there anyways. I actually don't remember it at all, but I'm not going to question it. We talk to a lot of people.

Anyways, he is pretty golden. He had met with missionaries before, and says that after going through some trials, considers himself more prepared to receive our message. Awesome. In addition, he saw in a dream that God wanted him to join His chosen people. That's us because we have no payed preachers. Way cool. But then he doesn't want us to teach him because he wants it to be given to him directly from God. Also, he is convinced that the Holy Ghost comes directly from God with no ordinance or people involved in the process. So... Some difficult ideas, but he likes the Book of Mormon (so we can share scriptures instead of "teaching"), so we may just be teaching a lot out of the Book of Mormon and overcoming some doctrine issues, which in the end is alright. However, he also believes sacred text shouldn't be translated, so he refuses to read the Book of Mormon in Japanese. Or go to church in Japanese. So... We may refer him to the English ward. And I'm not going to be the one to tell him the Book of Mormon wasn't originally written in English. Haha.

These two experiences, in combination with many others, allow me to testify of the power of the Book of Mormon. I testify with Joseph Smith that by following its teachings we will get closer to God than by any other book. It changes hearts, and it changes mine daily as it teaches me in clarity and power about my Savior, His Atonement, and His Gospel, the way to get the gifts of happiness and peace provided by the Atonement.

And I testify with the Book of Mormon that Jesus is the Christ, the only one who could pay the price for our sins. He is what makes it possible for us to change, repent, improve, and become more like Him! He allows us to be saved from sin, weakness, impatience, anger, frustration - not by saving us in such things, but allowing us to change, and thus be saved from them. And I know that striving - just trying really hard - to follow the teachings in the Book of Mormon, allows us to get those blessings. That is something that we can all do. What a great pathway the Savior has opened for all of us!

So I challenge you to read The Book of Mormon daily. Study it. Love it. Find out if it is true by applying it's teachings. And watch the power flow into your life; watch your relationship with God and your Savior grow. Let your testimony become strong, and watch with it your happiness, confidence, and joy become steadfast and immovable!

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

This was delicious!

Fried up our own Okanomiyaki!! I had Seoul style (kimchii!!!)

Went bowling today!

Week 67: A Gospel of Joy!

Hello Everyone!!

Last week's General Conference was AMAZING!!! It inspired me to change, to have more sincere repentance, and know my Savior better through preparation and taking the Sacrament.

Now, let me tell you, repentance is not an easy process. Changing ourselves is an active process, and it takes work! I think in the process I learned a little of what is meant in the scriptures by "sore repentance" (Mosiah 23:9), and "wrestle which I had before God, for a remission of my sins" (Enos 1:2). Certainly, only a love for the Savior, a better understanding of the suffering He went through, and hearing the word of God can trigger such actions to change!

For some reason, as I talk with youth in my ward, and people that I meet, somehow, repentance has such a bad image. I think that Satan works hard to make it that way to eliminate the important process which is essential to our life purpose: to have joy!

As a result of our increased desire to do what is right, repent, and come closer to God, two major things happened. First, we felt great joy as the Spirit came and cleansed us from sin. I never have lived a perfect day in my life, but the Spirit comes powerfully as the cleansing agent when we repent. Daily repentance and striving to keep our covenants is how the Spirit becomes our constant companion.

Second, a greater level of sincerity entered our work. The same Spirit that was working in us, worked through us. People felt that sincerity (and love towards them, which comes from the same Spirit), and they felt the Spirit that we carried.

For the first time in Shibuya, we had people come to church! Three people came, some who we were directed to and talked to on the street! And one other we found also went to church in Hiroo, the English Ward. He has a baptismal date with the Elders there, and already feels like the church is true. Certainly, they had felt that same Spirit we had!

As I sat with my new friend, prayerfully waiting for the Sacrament to be passed to me, I was hit by a wave of the Spirit. Both cleansing and edifying. Powerful and beautiful. I know this church is true, that the Priesthood of God is found in it, and that these ordinances are His way of making promises with us. How merciful and wonderful is a God who will continually make and keep promises with me, though I continually make and break them with Him!

Now, I wish I had some more specific stories to give, or interesting details to give, but the Lord works in small and simple ways, as He always does. For instance, one day, we planned on making several visits to those we felt we should (members and less actives and such)  none were home, but we found new investigators at every location, two of which came to church this week! Taking that path also helped us "find" a less active from Nakano who recently moved closer to Shibuya. We were friends, and we will meet this week for lunch and he said he would like to try the Shibuya Ward out! Miracles happen as we get in tune with the Spirit of the Lord!

I suppose I learned a simple, but great lesson this week - before we share the joy of the Gospel with others, we have to experience it ourselves (1 Ne 8:10-12). So take time to experience joy this week! Come to know the Savior, not just of Him, through prayer, repentance, and partaking of the Sacrament! It's not about being good enough, but rather that we will be good enough in the process of continual repentance and coming to know the Savior better!

As you experience the joy, sharing it will be a natural result; and in doing so, your own joy will be magnified! This truly is a Gospel of Joy!

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

Family we visited! The girl in the front had a fun app... Haha.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Birthday Mail!

Hello Everyone!

This is the missionary mom! Just wanted to get the word out that Thomas has a birthday on October 23rd! He turns 20 in just 10 days!! Woah!

So, if you would like to send a card/letter/picture/etc... I know he would love it! It costs a little more to send international mail... so $1.15 for a regular envelope.

Thanks for all your love and support!!

Elder Thomas Ray O'Reilly 
Japan Tokyo Mission
4-25-12 Nishi-ochiai
Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo-to 
161-0031 JAPAN

Week 66: Tokyo Temple!!! :)

Hello Everyone!!!

Just got out of the Temple!! It was fantastic!! :) first time in a LONG while. Missionaries in Niigata don't get to go, so this is the first time since I was Tech Staff... That was January, maybe? Anyways. I think it was the second time this year. I've missed the close communion you can have there. Going in a session is like being hit by a wave of the Spirit!! It's always hard to leave. I would encourage all to spend time there regularly!! It is such a great blessing.

This week has been fantastic all around. Unfortunately, the investigators we were working with the most dropped off the map. However, we found more investigators this week than we had in total before. In addition, I was able to get into contact with one of my former investigators from Niigata (the one that read the story of Laban and decided he needed to read the whole Book of Mormon). He moved to Shibuya, which is the reason we stopped teaching him before. We referred him over to the Elders here, but apparently, they never actually got into contact with him (maybe they called at the wrong times?). He seems excited to meet, but is busy this week (he freaked out over the phone when I told him I had moved to Shibuya), so it will have to wait until next week. That is Brother D.

Then, we were able to meet with another investigator, Brother T. He hadn't been progressing too well, so we weren't sure if we would continue meeting with him. He was "busy," so we couldn't meet too often, and he wasn't really willing to commit to much. However, his dream is to have a good family, unlike the one he grew up in. We decided to have a Family Home Evening with him in a members home, and he seemed to enjoy it very much. I think it may have become motivation for him, so that he can have that kind of family! We were able to set a goal for his baptism on the 19th of November, but it's still conditional on his getting a confirmation of it's truth. However, he said he wanted to read and pray everyday, and come to church when he can, so it should go over just fine. :)

Also met with a few people on the street that literally gave us their number after we introduced ourselves. One was Brother A. Met with him for lunch, and found that he simply wanted to learn about Christianity, since he feels like he doesn't get to hear about it much in Japan. He was absolutely certain that he can't believe something he can't see, but we explained to him about Spiritual senses, and he said he will try to read the Book of Mormon and pray - but with more of the goal of learning who Christ is than whether or not it is true. But if he has any real intent whatsoever, I think it will be awesome! :) We'll see. We meet with him again on the 22 of the month.

I'm not sure which of our other investigators will pan out, but all of them were AWESOME! We've been super busy (planning zone meetings, interview with the president - which means we stay inside and check all 24 missionaries iPads from 8-4, meeting with the leadership of the mission, etc), but as we strive to follow the Spirit and accomplish His work, miracles happen, everything comes together, and the work in our area is actually going better than ever!

I know that God lives and loves us! Don't ever take it for granted; remember to express gratitude, and ENJOY the Gospel daily!!

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

Mission Leader Conference
(picture from Sis. Nagano on facebook)

Played soccer with some investigators!