Monday, October 31, 2016

First week in Japan - week 10

今日は みなさん! (konnichi wa minnasan – hello everyone)

Greetings from Yamagata! What a cool week! So Japan is amazing, the food is amazing, the people are amazing, the scenery is amazing; it's all awesome. So many things I could talk about. My companion is named Elder Barr, he's from Brisbane Australia. This is his second to last transfer, so he knows his stuff. This is good, because I only know food and gospel words. I can comprehend a surprising amount, which is legit, but it's still pretty tough. Super super fun. We're white-washing an area, which means they bring in two fresh elders, and we kind of have to start fresh building relationships with the few already existing investigators and find new ones. Super good opportunity for me to practice housing and streeting (contacting people on the street), we get kekko'd (Japanese polite refusal) a lot but it's still super fun and I am surprised by the number of people that actually want to listen to us. It's like we're walking around with a stack of money in our hands and people say "nah, take it somewhere else, we're already good, we don't need it". Breaks my heart, but in a good way. Kind of. I guess. Still, it's amazing when we get to share it.

So I'm not the only Elder Orgill to serve in Yamagata, my father served here 34 years ago. A couple of members in the ward here remember him and one of them actually still has his meishi (business card). I'll have to get a picture of it next week. So cool to be in the same city, maybe some of the less active members will remember him too. Such an awesome opportunity. 

Japanese food is incredible. We eat curry all the time, I eat natto tamago kake gohan (fermented soy beans and egg … probably raw … over rice) EVERY MORNING for breakfast. Well, basically. Or just straight natto  (fermented soy beans – smells really bad and only some Japanese can eat it). Parents, you're wrong, you said Japanese milk tastes burnt but it doesn't, it tastes like incredible mixed with amazing and it is infinitely better than American milk. The drinks are incredible, I'm currently drinking an entire liter of sweat (Pocari Sweat, that is, it's a grapefruit flavored kind of sports drink thing). There is chewy jelly soda, melon soda, and a ton of stuff I haven't even tried. Also, I drink Mugicha (cold barley tea) LIKE IT IS MY JOB. 

Lots of finding this last week, housing, visiting less actives, it was amazing. All the people are so cool, they work so hard and a lot of them are just kind of hopeless and they need the light of the gospel. We taught a recent convert yesterday after church.... in Japanese sign language... Coolest experience of my life. Me and him are gonna be bros.

I want to share two scriptures this week. The first is Jacob 6:12. "O be wise; what can I say more?" Basically, don't be stupid - I think that's applicable to everyone.

The second is Ether 12:27: "And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." I have a LOT of weaknesses, but over the recent weeks I've begun to look at those weaknesses as strengths in disguise. If I am humble enough and rely on God to make up for my weaknesses, I can be so much more than I otherwise would be. I have seen some of my weaknesses made strengths over the past six months or so, and I am continuing to try to constantly improve and build every weak thing I have into a strength, and increase upon the strengths I already have. Basically: I wanna get spiritually swole. (This is what we call “Jonglish” … linking spirituality with body building).

Love you all, so good to hear from you all throughout the week.
Take care, and "be wise, what can I say more."
Elder Orgill
Elder Orgill arriving in Japan with President and Sister Smith

Elder Orgill's group from the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT finally arrive in Sendai, Japan after 3 flights and crossing the international date line

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The 今日-est of the は's to you all, みなさん!- week 9

Editor’s note: He’s starting to get his languages mixed up, as is evidenced by his opening line:(The konnichi-est of the wa’s to you all, minnasan! … the “hello-est” to you all, all of you!)
What an awesome week! Well, every week is an awesome week at the MTC, but this one was especially awesome because it was my LAST FULL WEEK BEFORE I SHIP OUT TO JAPAN!
Next Monday I'll be getting on a plane to fly to Japan! I can't put into words how excited I am. I never thought this day would come, I feel like I hardly remember anything that isn't the MTC, but the day is finally (almost) here. Do I feel ready? Absolutely not. But at the same time, I feel completely ready. I can't wait to get to a foreign country and not know the language and meet awesome people and do embarrassing things. I've been told that a mission is two years of embarrassing moments, so it's lucky I have grown to love embarrassing moments. 
It's a super small world when you're Mormon. I met a sister going to Taipei this week whose father lived in the same apartment as my father when they were both serving as missionaries in Ishinomaki, Japan. I met another sister who said she was from South Lake Tahoe this week (well, technically Minden/Gardnerville, but basically the other end of Lake Tahoe), and her companion was from somewhere in Southern California (I don't know SoCal geography … fight me), and as it turns out, she was in show choir with my two best homies Katie Beach and Amber Norris! Another Sister also to Sendai was in Jackson Wightman's ward at BYU, and is best friends with Sister Monroe who is currently a missionary in the Tahoe North ward. So many cool connections, I don't even have time to write down all of them. 
So I mentioned last week that I kind of pick up language patterns from other people. There was an elder by the name of Elder Richards who had this particular way of speaking where he would put emphasis on each word, and I kinda started picking it up after he told me "You look like a tryhard deacon", but it turns out it has blended a little bit into all of the rest of my speech. So I picked up the term "Mina-squad", which is a reinvention of the term "minasan", which means everyone, and I took to saying "What is UP Mina-SQUAD" and emphasizing every word, and it started to catch on. I didn't really think about it much, but people started to do impressions of me (Elder Walbek can do my voice better than I can), and it grew and grew, and now everyone in my zone says it like me, only half ironically. Even the sisters do it; the sisters in my district were getting ready for bed and heard some of the kohai doing the voice. I'm basically a legend. I started talking to some sisters from another district, and a couple of sentences into the conversation, one of them stopped and said "Wait, are you the 'What is UP' guy?". My reputation precedes me. 
I didn't think that much about it until last night in the devotional. The quote "The highest form of admiration is emulation" was shared, and afterwards I got thinking about it. It's just a small thing, but it made me think a lot about the example I set for others. It started with one room of elders, six of our kohai (the ones three weeks behind us), who I talk to every night and give them all hugs before bed. I've grown really close with all of them and they always look forward to a hug from me before bed. I realized that I'm not just another elder to them, I'm an example. I didn't realize it at first, but the more I think about it, the more I've come to realize that they pattern their behavior after some of the things I do, they look to me for guidance and advice, they talk to me if they've had a tough day. Until yesterday, I was trying to be perfectly obedient for me, but now I've realized I have to try to be perfectly obedient as an example as well. 
We're all examples in some way. We don't think about it, but other people notice everything - the things we do and say, the way you treat others, the standards you keep, the way you carry yourself. Other people notice it, and they make judgements about you - except it's not just about you, it's you, the people you associate with, the people you represent. I used to tell myself that I didn't want to be an example, and I acted accordingly, but I didn't cease to be an example, I just became a bad one. 
It's a simple concept, I don't know why it took me until now to get it, but that little experience this week gave me some motivation to step up my game, reminded me that I am being watched by those around me, and that I should do the right things for the right reasons. Ask yourself "What kind of example do I want to set?" If that's not the example you're setting right now, set goals and make the change, it's an awesome experience.
The other short thought I want to share this week is that we're all weak. We are all super weak. We're all totally inadequate. And that is AWESOME. Lemme explain: I've been thinking a lot about weaknesses, and the whole "And through me, your weaknesses can be made strong" thing. Ether 12:27 I've been reminded a couple of times this week in various ways that I, as a missionary, am totally inadequate for the work I'm doing, but through God's divine help, if I recognize my weakness and ask for his help, I can do anything. I've seen a couple of times in my life that my weakness has become my strength (through a lot of hard work in some really personal experiences), and I have been working on taking inventory of the weaknesses in my life and setting goals for things I want to and can improve on. Are you bad with anger issues and patience? Set goals, work on it, pray about it, and you can overcome it! Are you bad at talking to new people and being nice? Set goals, work at it, pray about it, and you can get better. Are you bad at staying focused while you study? I'm still working on that one, but I get the feeling the formula is the same. My challenge for the week is to ask yourself honestly "What are my weaknesses?" And then look for ways to change and improve. Life is about constantly improving ourselves, NOBODY is perfect, and EVERYONE can get better with whatever weaknesses they have.
I love you all and would love to hear from y'all :) Even a quick email makes my day :) Good luck with your constant improvement (かいぜん-kaizen) y'all.
オーギル 長老 - Elder Orgill

Missionaries all headed to Japan in the next 9 weeks
Elder Orgill's group of missionaries - half going to Sendai and half to Sendai next week
Add your own caption ...

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

"Hey, You have something on your tie" – week 8

今日はみなさん!(Hello everyone!)

こんしゅはスパすばらしでした!(This week has been super/great!)
The weeks are really starting to fly by, my Japanese is improving like crazy, and I am loving every second of it. This last Wednesday, we got a group of new Elders and Sisters, which means my group is now the oldest Japanese group in the MTC. It cracks me up to hear English speaking missionaries talking about how they've "been here forever", by which they mean two weeks. 7 weeks in, less than two to go!
So basically everyone is at least slightly sick. Our classroom goes through at least one box of tissues every day. One of the Elders in my room, though, has some super gnarly congestion, and he falls asleep by 10:35 every night. He snores like no other. Luckily I got some super sweet samples the first night (you best bet I'm going to resample and resynthesize that into some sick dubstep and trance when I get back from the mission), but it is SO loud and just inconsistent enough that I can't mentally tune it out. So every night is a race to fall asleep for me, which I'm not so good at, so I've taken to wearing earplugs to bed. REALLY hoping he gets over his cold soon.

I think I'm pretty much the only one that doesn't really get sick, I've managed to not put on any weight at the MTC so far because I basically don't eat anything with carbohydrates in it, I only eat meat/meat-based-dishes and salad/vegetables. Still, it's a struggle, only an hour of exercise time every day and very little walking. It was a bit of a shock to me to go from working on my feet for 8 hours a day to being in a classroom for at least 10. I can't wait to be out in the field.

I've made friends with a couple of the Elders in the middle district (the ones that have been here 4 weeks), one of them is absolutely hilarious, he's been telling me some gnarly stories about some rather unique experiences he has had in the past. He has some vocabulary I have picked up, he makes a screeching "Shkeeshk" noise, he says "sus" and "buji" a lot as well and I've kind of picked it up. I kind of pick up speech patterns from other people, hopefully that helps me pick up the language and accent better.

Also, got sent a package of sticky googly eyes this week from the coolest parents ever, I've been adding eyes to everything and it is incredible.

Last week we had a district picnic, and we decided to take some pictures. Someone asked "Do we have a selfie stick?", and the 6-foot tall sister in our group said "We could just use my arms". I almost died laughing.

So as for the title of this week's epistle: You know that thing where you tell someone "Hey, you have something on your tie" and then you flick their nose when they look down? Well, we were standing in line for choir this week, and I saw our choir director standing by the door. One of my companions dared me to go up to him and do the tie flick (let me preface this by saying he is super cool and funny (I could definitely see him doing it to a missionary) and if there would be anybody in the MTC who would be cool with that, it would be him). So, of course, after asking if he was serious, I did. Brother Eggett then told me "Wow, you're going to grow up to be a great missionary". Roasted. But we got talking a little bit, and he did tell me he thought I had the confidence to walk up and talk to anybody and that would serve me well on my mission. On reflecting, I have realized something - through years and years of awkward situations, I have gained a valuable trait - I don't know if it is confidence or shamelessness or a little bit of both, but I'm not afraid of awkward things, and I'm not afraid to walk up to anyone and start talking to them. I have the confidence to walk up to anyone on a street in Japan, and tell them in a language I barely speak "I have a message that will bring you more joy than you could ever imagine, and change your life forever", and I have no regrets, because I made a friend out of Brother Eggett, and I learned something valuable about myself.

We also did splits this last week, I got to spend the day with Elder Rees, it was a super cool experience to learn from different Elders and teachers and learning styles.
I was thinking about obedience a fair amount this week, it's really hard to be 100 percent obedient, I have a little bit of conflict in my heart about little rules I just think are stupid, but one of the days this week I had a dream about what I'd been thinking about and woke up with the Matthew 6:24 on my mind "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other." Funny enough, I basically haven't studied that scripture since it was a mastery scripture in early-morning seminary. Anyway, it was an answer to my questions, can't be perfectly obedient to 99 percent of the rules and resent the other one percent, I have two years to work my hardest: What do I lose if I am perfectly obedient? Nothing. And what can I gain? Well, there is the promise "perfect obedience brings miracles", so I guess I've got that to look forward to.

I had a couple of days this week where I was feeling kind of down, but thought about it a little bit and realized I was being selfish and shutting myself down, so I prayed and refocused myself on serving others, and I have been feeling awesome ever since. I can't wait for the opportunity to serve the people of Japan and really lose myself in the work.

Coolest thing of the week by far was that we got to see Elder David A. Bednar last night. He and his wife came to do a devotional, and instead of just doing a normal devotional, he talked to us about how he studies and extracts information from General Conference talks. From every talk, he extracts three simple parts: the principal or doctrine, the challenge, and the promised blessing. We practiced on a couple of talks, and he and his wife gave impressions as well during the parts of different talks. One of the things he asked which really hit me was "Are you hearing things that aren't being said?". After that, I listened and tried to hear things that weren't said, and I got TONS out of all the different talk snippets and everything he said, the Holy Ghost really started talking to me. The way he taught was kind of how we teach as missionaries, only so much growth can occur in a lesson (or a devotional), but by giving the investigator (missionaries) challenges and teaching them how to study, tons of growth can come after that. It is amazing that we can receive modern scripture from the mouths of prophets every sixth months, and I know we can gain incredible blessings and personal revelation from studying them as we would from studying the scriptures.

I love you all and love hearing from you all :)
Take care,

Elder Orgill

オーギル 長老

Googley eyes are showing up everywhere ... dictionaries, water bottles, theromostats

"Spooning" is a popular practical joke at the Missionary Training Center

This one had the title "Ya happy, Mom?"

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Voice of Angels – week 7

Hey Everyone!

I had the coolest week this last week. So many cool things happened, but the highlight was undoubtedly singing in General Conference.

I made a couple new friends this week, an Elder who sat next to me in conference, he's going to the New York City mission who lived on a military base in southern Japan. He told me about all the awesome food to look out for too, so I already know what's good (everything). Also, an Elder from Huntington Beach going to Pocatello, Idaho, who is 6'6, 375 pounds, and is playing football at U of U when he gets back (He deadlifts 800 pounds, he's my hero). He also has a PERFECT Elmo voice, and it is incredible. Also been bro-ing out with some of our kohai (the people in our zone who got here three weeks after us), a couple of them go to the gym and one of them has got some CRAZY stories from when he was a bit of a crazy kid. There are so many cool people here, I love it.

Singing in Conference was SO COOL! It was such a massive blessing. I failed to mention this last week, but the choir members were actually prayerfully selected from a SURVEY they took. There were some examples where someone had almost no qualifications, but the people doing the selecting felt prompted to put them in the choir. There were so many blessings and miracles that went into the preparation, we learned and memorized four songs in eight rehearsals, and when we sang at conference we sounded like angels. 
And now to the title of my email: The Voice of Angels. So on the bus on the way back, some of the kids were singing hymns and songs and stuff (they are choir kids after all), and the voices I heard were most definitely not the voices I heard in Conference. I got to listen to the songs afterwards as well (watch the videos, they're awesome (I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go, Hope of Israel), and the difference between what was heard in General Conference in the presence of the prophet and his apostles and what I heard on the bus was night and day. There were countless prayers said on behalf of our performance, and what we did through the Lord's help was a miracle in the most literal sense of the word. In our last rehearsal, Brother Egget (the director) told us that what we were asked to do was to "sing and invite the spirit so that prophets can testify with power". Also, I got to teach 10 million people through song, how cool is that!?

I didn't really feel any overwhelming spiritual witness during any of the practices, I always felt the spirit a bit, but anybody who knows me knows I'm a little bit irreverent, which doesn't always invite the spirit. I felt the presence of the apostles and the prophets when they walked in, and I felt the spirit a bit during the first couple of talks, but I wanted a WITNESS, a SPIRITUAL SLAP IN THE FACE, so I prayed for that right after we did the congregational hymn "Called to Serve" (missionary music whoo!), and about 10 minutes later, Elder Yamashita stood up to speak. I had heard about Elder Yamashita from one of my teachers who had him as a mission president in Nagoya. Peterson Kyoudai (Brother Peterson), my sensei, had gotten really close with Yamashita Choro on his mission, and he told us about him and his son (who he talked about in his talk). I was really excited for his talk, and it was everything I could've hoped for any more. I highly recommend you all read it (BeAmbitious for Christ)

He talked about being ambitious for Christ - having faith that we can endure all things, overcome all things, and do all things if we have sufficient faith. During the whole time, I was thinking the lyrics to the song "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go", and about my own mission call. I never voiced the desire, but ever since I can remember hearing mission stories from my dad, I have had a desire to go where he did and serve those same people, to have the same experiences he did. When I opened my call, I felt an outpouring of my Savior's love, and it hit me again during Yamashita Choro’s talk that the Lord knew that desire of my heart, and that the Sendai, Japan mission is EXACTLY where the Lord needs me for the next two years. 

The spirit hit me like a brick, and I just started bawling during his talk, I was a straight up mess. I kind of got myself together, but as soon as he sat down and we started singing, it hit me again, and I started crying more. Luckily I got myself together again before the third verse where I get to sing a legit bass part. No song I have ever sung has meant that much to me. I will truly go where He wants me to go, say what He wants me to say, be what He wants me to be, and I am filled with gratitude for the opportunity.

Love you all, 

Elder Orgill
オーギル 長老

Elder Orgill & Goliath
Apparently going to the temple can make you feel great
... as well as coming back from the temple

Sunday, October 2, 2016

General Conference - MTC Choir

Elder Orgill was in the far upper-right and we only got glimpes of him in the 3rd and 4th numbers. All missionaries in the choir are learning a foreign language (as can be seen on some of their name tags) and are at the Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Provo, UT for 6-12 weeks.  Those who auditioned for this choir have been in training for at least 3 weeks.  Check out some fantastic musical arrangements at:

I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go

Hope of Israel