Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Week 89: Ultimate Joy!

Hello Everyone!

I just wrote a few days ago, but today is my p-day this week. With all the craziness here, it really just ends up being the day that is open.

Last time I wrote about the "Mission School," and I realized I haven't really written much about what that is! It is actually a really big part of what I do.

The term "Mission School" in my mission refers to basically any activity that begins and ends with a prayer, and has a simple Spiritual message (actually pre-determined by the Area Presidency). These include "I feel joy as I keep my word" or "I feel joy when I say kind words." Always simple principles that most people already understand through the light of Christ, and we teach them using simple object lessons. The point is simply to help them come in contact with us, as missionaries, and help us come into contact with the Light of Christ in them. It's proved to be an effective tool to build relationships, improve the image of the church, and, as a result, many people also ask to hear about the Gospel, which is also great.

The main part of Mission School is English. English Conversation Class, TOIEC prep (college students often take that test), Eiken prep (a test for high school students) and an English study method, call English Brain Training (Eigo - nou - tore, in Japanese). In addition, we do personal tutoring (I have taught math, physics, chemistry (had to use the dictionary A TON for that one), and computer science). Then, we do other activities as "extra-curricular." For instance, in Nakano, we have a Music Night (I currently teach Jazz drumming - not that I am super qualified, but my student is actually progressing really well!), Basketball (some of the Elders are actually pretty experienced players, so they teach skills as well as do games) on Saturday Morning, and Zumba (taught by a member on Friday nights - this one is rather new. He teaches Zumba professionally, and some of his friends come to the church to learn from him for free) on Friday nights. We have maybe 50 students or so in total, which is decent, but we want to improve the number.

We actually had one miracle from Mission School just this last Saturday. A youth (16), Brother Y saw a post on Facebook and came to our Eiken course. We taught him, and set up a personal tutoring session for Monday. When he came, there happened to be a youth activity for the Stake at our church, so he participated in that instead. They had a good amount of get to know you games, so he became friends with all the youth in the stake, which is WAY cool. Afterwords, he and a member of our ward who will leave on his mission next year, Kensei, studied English together and became great friends. Brother Y receives the Spiritual messages really well, is using our Mission School as his cram school, and even shows interest in the church! He has a great light about him, and I think he will be investigating the church very soon. He plans on going to a Mission School for College (Christian school (in this case a university) founded by missionaries - this is where the church got the idea. These schools have a very positive image), so he is very open to church in general.

Another miracle we had actually happened today! We left the Temple a little late - in fact, out of the 20 companionships left, we were one of the 2 still there because we had chosen to eat at the Temple Cafeteria.

As we were leaving the Temple, one of the workers asked if we knew the Nakano missionaries. I responded that we were the Nakano missionaries. He promptly brought us to the lobby to introduce us to our new friend, Sis T.

She has been worrying about various things in her life, and her friend recommended she come to our church. She looked it up, and because of some confusion on the phone, etc, she ended up at the temple right as we were leaving. We taught her a simple lesson about who God was - found out she has a Christian background, has been reading materials from her LDS friend, and wants to come to church. She has work on Sundays, but she was thrilled to find out she could come to the mission school tomorrow and learn more. She seems to have a lot of good desires, though she is worried about entering the church since her parents belong to a different sect. We told her that was fine, and that she could still come. We are excited to meet her again tomorrow! She had a great light about her, and really is just searching for truth.

Well... those are the highlights of the last few days. My companion and I have been focusing on the little things, like prayer, and exact obedience. I really feel like I am striving to do better, and in the process, I feel like I am being directed for good. Every person we talk to seems to light up, and I can see the hand of the Lord in everything we do. I know He loves us. Because of that, He provided a way for us to achieve ultimate joy. The way is becoming like Him through Him. I hope that each of us feel the joy of progressing towards Him each week as we take the Sacrament and each day as we exercise faith in Him unto repentance. Only through this way can we receive the Holy Ghost and be purified and perfected as He is!

I love you all!
Let's taste ultimate joy this week!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Us eating curry with the two recent converts in our area!

Sis T in front of the Temple! It was raining, so we took it right in the door way.

Week 88: More Meetings, Miracles, and a Zombie Apocalypse. You know, the usual.

Hello everyone!!!

This week was FANTASTIC!!! I don't have a lot of time, so I will start with the exciting part and go from there.

On Friday night, President Nagano was asked by a member to help out with their school video. So... he sent us out there. The member has helped a lot with providing materials for the mission school, and is a GREAT member missionary, so he thought he would give her something in return.

We didn't really know what kind of video it would be, but it turns out we were extras who were running from zombies. I mean, all we were really doing was running and they were taping, so I guess that was chill, but it was definitely the most interesting thing I've done as a missionary! They wanted to emphasize the fact that their school was international, so they put us four in a good part of the video. Truth is, their department only has one foreigner, and they are from Egypt, but now their video features four Americans. I even got a line that they wanted to have said in English. It was pretty interesting! Haha.

Anyways... as we were just extras, we mostly just ate dinner with and talked with the students. Everyone was asking us who we were, and why we came. Plus the member was introducing us to everyone. EVERYONE there was interested in English, and we set up the expectation to teach a group of students English, and found a family that was looking for a mission school because they like how it helps people be better people. I think we can help them!

So, participating in a zombie apocalypse is probably not the most conventional way to do missionary work, but it was certainly effective!

Anyways... my favorite part of my week was going up to Niigata again for Zone Conference. I got to see some members and BROTHER O!!!!! Yep. Made. My. Life. He is SOOOO converted to the Gospel. He talks about the Gospel with random people he meets, studies the Gospel daily, and is just progressing wonderfully. Made me happy. :) That was probably my favorite miracle this week.

Before we went to Niigata, we went to a Zone Conference in Urawa on Tuesday (I got to see a ward leader that I knew from that time as well! I was surprised they remembered me!), and went from there straight to Niigata to drop off the Watabe's (a couple missionary set that does trainings at Zone Conferences. They are called to work on building up the mission School, so they gave a training on teaching quality English Classes). We had the most delicious sushi of my life with a member there before going down to Nagaoka for splits the next day.

I've never been in Nagaoka before. It is country side, so not too many people out on the streets. A focus of the mission is creative missionary work, so we ate lunch with our new potential investigator that we found by eating lunch in a restaurant by a college. He wanted to learn English, so it was easy to strike up a conversation!

Then, we found some events that we were allowed to go to on campus (such as an event for foreigners to get together and speak English, etc), and at community centers around campus. These kind of activities seem to have higher effectiveness than our normal approaches. And, of course, we talk to people on the way! We have been finding some good students for mission school this way, and we hope it will gain us some good investigators.

Well... sometimes the direction I receive from priesthood leaders has surprised me, and sometimes it takes me some time before I really catch the vision. However, the more I work with President Nagano and the more I follow his direction, the more I strengthen my testimony of Priesthood keys, and come to really see how God directs His church! It's brought great success, and working with the President closely has taught me a lot about revelation, charity, and hard work. I know that God directs this church to the blessing of all those who follow it!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

Dinner at the mission president's home

With his new companion, Elder Clark (from Alpine, UT)

Mission Leader Conference March 2017

This tunnel was 10 km (6.2 miles) long, straight through the center of a mountain!

Sis. Watabe (Elder O'Reilly in the background listening)

Zone Conference Lunch

Niigata Zone Conference

Role playing

Role Playing with Elder Clark

Saitama Zone Conference

In Niigata!

Friday, March 10, 2017

Week 87: Meetings!

Hello Everyone!!!

This week was INSANE!!! It was from meeting to meeting. All day. Train the New Missionaries. Pick their companions. See the Returning missionaries off. Plan Missionary Leadership Council. Plan the Zone Conferences. Get reports from a senior couple on the English teaching in our mission. Go to Missionary Leadership Council. Go to Zone Conference. And some where in there, we had splits with the Elders from Niigata. I have not had so much as a minute of normal missionary work with my actual companion. Haha But it is fun to be busy!!!

My companion, Elder Clark is just great. He is such a great leader, and loves the mission SOO much! Super organized, punctual, and thoughtful. And is great at remembering all the things we have to do. Really just such a great example to me.

One thing we have been focusing on is discernment. We don't have that much time to be finding people to teach. So... we'll be out going to some task or visit a less active member, and we can only talk to 1 person on the way. While not every person we talk to is willing to meet again, every contact has been meaningful, and I can tell that who we are speaking with is directed by the Spirit. We just happen to talk to people who want to learn English, went to a Christian School, etc. God is really directing our daily work!

An interesting thing we tried this week on splits this week: Free English Challenge. Had a short test for the people to take. They were walking up to us! And everyone had great interest. Unfortunately, it seemed that more women were interested in the test than men, but... either way, we got lots of contact info, and we just had better contacts with people in general. Of course, this was more of a way to get students for Eikaiwa and such, but that is a GREAT source for investigators, so we are hoping it is fruitful!

This upcoming week, I will get a p-day on Monday. This last Monday, we were preparing for MLC and Zone Conferences (Tuesday and Thursday). Next week, we will be going to Saitama Zone Conference, then up to Niigata. So... I will leave my area on Tuesday morning and get back Friday afternoon. Certainly a different type of work. And somewhere in there, I will be starting to apply for my Japanese license. SO... that's exciting!

This week, I have been praying more than ever that I will be able to help the missionaries and people that I will come in contact with. It is my testimony that God answers our prayers and, through His grace strengthens us to accomplish His work! He guides me through every step of the way, and I am so grateful to be a tool in His hands! There is no other path to such great joy!

Hurrah for Israel!
Elder O'Reilly

All the missionaries in my ward! And the Dendo shunin on the far right. Also, Sister Bede, far left, was here the last time I was in Nakano. We both came back this transfer. Just fun random fact.

Fast Sunday Dinner with some Members. We brought food to the church and made it with the YSA, and two of our Recent Converts! Also, we taught them (Brother M, top Left, and Brother H, Second from bottom left) a few times this week. So... we still do normal missionary work. Just mostly, people come to us because we don't have much time to go out to them. Haha. We never leave the little corner that has the Church, Mission Home, and Office/apartment! Haha The two in the Bottom left refused to fully get in the picture.