Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas 2016 Update - week 18

So we got to Skype with Elder Orgill for about 40 minutes and he is doing great.  He didn't write an update this week, but he did send a quick video blurb and some pictures.

No description, but his fascination with excellent food continues

For some reason, he decided to decorate a large daikon radish

Weekly update video

Monday, December 19, 2016

Weekly - week 17

Hey Everybody!

So this week was really cool. Like, really cool. We've been super blessed lately; we have been finding investigators like crazy. The week before last we found three new investigators, and this week was not just three, but four awesome new investigators. We have seen miracle after miracle. But I'm gonna get to that later, first the fun stuff.

Today for p-day we went with a friend from Eikaiwa (English conversation class) to a pottery place and spun up some really cool bowls and cups and stuff. It was super fun, and we got some solid ramen afterwards.
We had Christmas 大会 Conference this week with the Koriyama zone in Kamisugi which was super fun, we put on the nativity and it was absolutely hilarious. President Smith talked about our new standard and made some really powerful and really solid blessings. When that man speaks, he speaks with power. POWER. It's intense, he's intense, and he's amazing.

So one of the miracles this week was like six little miracles in one. 1. The first door of an apartment building we found a new investigator. 2. He immediately invited us in. 3. We found out in our later lesson, but he was literally thinking about the purpose of life when we knocked at the door asking him about the purpose of life. 4. He has a SWEET record collection and loves music, and our tastes are actually reasonably similar. 5. I'm not going into detail but I ended up sharing a very personal experience with him and it resulted in him sharing some incredibly personal and deep experiences and basically he needs the gospel and has so much he can change and he can basically go through the change I went through over the past year or so. 6. While we were talking he went to put on a song. He goes to put on Wu Tang Clan - C.R.E.A.M. Don't get me wrong, I love Wu Tang, but the lyrics to that are not exactly missionary appropriate or conducive to the spirit. And he drops the needle, picks it up again, drops it again, picks it up again, and finally sets it down on the instrumental. The Lord answers silent prayers, my friends, and he can guide the drop of a record player needle the same as he can our lives.

I also had the super cool opportunity of visiting some old friends of my father in Yonezawa on splits this week, and after thirty four years they still remembered him fondly. I hope I have that kind of impact on people after I come home.

One more cool thing that happened this week was an experience I had while visiting less active members, we got to the house for one and there was a BIG FREAKING DOG in front. Like a REALLY BIG DOG. He was on a pretty long leash and slightly wet and really really not happy and not excited to see visitors. And he was right in front of the door. And he started barking really loud. And he continued barking really loud and angrily. And I tried to make friends with him and scratch him behind the ears and he just kept barking angrily and giving me the evil eye. I took about five minutes to make my way the ten feet to the door, and somehow managed to reach around him and get to the bell. Anyway, it was びみょ (sketchy) as heck, but despite being super super afraid at first and throughout the whole thing (I ain't afraid of dogs, I love dogs, especially big dogs, but this one was seriously angry), I had a peace and calm in my heart and an assurance that I was on the Lord's errand and doing what he wanted me to do. And you know what? Once the less active member came out we were able to share the Christmas video with him and a message and during the entirety of the Christmas video the dog didn't make a sound. Crazy. Nothing will stand in your way if you're doing the will of God.

A little scatterbrained this week, I know, but I want to finish off talking a little bit about Christmas. Why do Japanese people eat Christmas cake and eat KFC? No clue. Why do we have the trees? Dunno (but Brian Regan has something good on it). Why do we give gifts? Well that I do have an answer for - it is kinda symbolic of the wise men bringing the gifts to Christ. But also, we give gifts to show love. How cool is it that this time of year we use presents and cool little gifts and things to tell people we love them and care about them, and they do the same by giving presents and gifts and stuff to us. The funny thing is, love is a choice. Jesus gave us a commandment to love everyone. EVERYONE. Not just the people who love us, but everyone. Which means it is something up to us. The best way to strengthen that love is by serving people, by doing selfless things for them to show our love. Sometimes we have to force ourselves to do it, but once we do, it gets the ball rolling and you find yourself loving the person more and more. I used to be a really hateful person, with a lot of dark spots in my heart, people and things I didn't like, but if you let the love of Christ fill you, you can see those dark spots start to disappear and be filled with light and love. Tell someone you love them, give someone else a big hug, and find a way to serve someone this week.

Merry Christmas :)

Elder Orgill

Caught in the act ... writing e-mails home on his preparation day

Singing in the Yamagata Ward Christmas Party

Looking handsome at the Yamagata Ward Christmas Party
Taking the bullet train to Fukushima

Snow covered park in Yonezawa

Snow covered valley from the bullet train

Meeting with a friend his father knew 35 years ago ... Professor Hayakawa

Throwing some pottery on his day off ... in white pants, of course

Duped by the weather forecasts

Monday, December 12, 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas – week 16

 Hey everyone!
It's gonna be a quick one this week, not a whole lot to report on (and we spent a lot of time at the yakinuku (grilled meat) place today), but there were some super cool things.
First off, we got a new elder in the apartment, a nihonjin (Japanese person) who is fluent in both English and Japanese, who is also an excellent cook, can read kanji, and loves putting tons of seasonings and garlic into food. Needless to say I will be learning a lot and eating well this Christmas season/transfer.
This Saturday and Sunday it basically snowed all day and it was AWESOME, snowy Japan is even prettier than normal Japan. Saturday was also the day we went caroling with one of the awesome member families, we visited members and less active people and someone with a new baby (I can see why the Japanese word for baby is akachan (red child)), ate a japanese savory rolled pancake on a stick thing called どんどん (dondon), and visited a castle and it was all sorts of fun. The members here are amazing, I do my best to find ways to help them and talk to them in broken Japanese and build relationships with them. Sometimes the best thing to do is just smile :)
We had a miracle this week. We were wondering how we were going to achieve the new standard (the mission standard of excellence changed this transfer), which requires an investigator at church, and even though Friday was super busy and we had some things which kept us in the apartment for a lot of time, we finally got out and dendo'd (proselyted) in the evening. The first person we met with, we shared a copy of the Book of Mormon. The first apartment complex we housed we shared another copy. Then we went to visit an old potential investigator from some previous elders. When we got there and he opened the door, we were surprised to find nobody by the name of "Hoseya" but somebody we had met six weeks prior on the street, given a Book of Mormon to, and not gotten contact information for. Turns out there is no such thing as Hoseya (at least from what he said), so it's a little bit spooky And about an hour after that, the last apartment complex of the night, we met someone and shared the Christmas video with him and he really liked it, got really interested in what we were sharing, and when we asked if and when we could meet next, he said "Well, I was planning on coming to church on Sunday...", so we found a new investigator who could help us meet our goal for the week. (He didn't actually come to church, we're still working on that, but then again there was a crazy large amount of snow on Sunday morning).
So the thing I want to talk a little bit about this week in the "Things I wish I knew before my mission" (and things I am still learning) is that being thoughtful is not a superpower. I legit thought that's what it was. There were these considerate people I knew, and I assumed it was a personality trait, a character attribute from birth, something which was deeply engrained in the fiber of their being from a chance encounter with cheerful radioactive material or some alien spacecraft of charity. Nope. It's something that takes work. It's something that takes thought. I used to be, and am still pretty bad about being thoughtful, about giving thoughtful gifts, about doing little things for people that really benefit them, about seeing opportunities to serve. Why? Because you need to think about those people and what they need and how you can help them and what they like and be more interested in them than yourself. We are supposed to think about our investigators NONSTOP, how we can help them, what they need, how they can receive nourishment from the good word of God, and that isn't something that can be realized in five minutes of thought, I need to be thinking about that while buying groceries on p-day, while doing "personal" scripture study, while riding my bike, while exercising in the morning, while cooking food with way too much garlic and hot sauce. It takes time to be thoughtful, it takes thought, and I want to challenge each and every one of you (and myself) to make a short little list of the people you like, care about, want to serve, want to strengthen your relationship with, want to learn how to love better, and just think about them, and how you can do those things. I promise as you do that you will find your relationship start to change and you will start to feel yourself have the "superpower" that is charity, thoughtfulness, and love.
Love you all, thinking about y'all (well, some of y'all, I only have so much time but I'm working on a schedule for it ;) ) (That schedule thing was a joke, I'm organized but not that organized) (Or was it?).
Your homie in Japan,

Elder Orgill オーギル長

Buddhist temples in the neighborhood
More temples
Yamagata stream
Add your own caption
Local luxury sport car dealer

Nothing like finding warm canned corn chowder in a vending machine on a cold day in  Yamagata

Just another snowy evening in Yamagata

Monday, December 5, 2016

Yamagata is lit, Fukushima is also lit – week 15

Hey みなさん (minasan=everyone)

This week was legit. Straight up legit. First off, we had a bunch of meals with families and an investigator this week, which was amazing. The Misawa family: their three sons have a frightening amount of energy, the father is super quiet but hilarious, and the mom is super outspoken and funny and they are basically the most American-seeming family I have met yet. The Suzuki family. He is super into fashion and is a DJ and has an awesome record collection and his wife is adorable and decorated basically the entire house pink (the toilet paper is pink), and they have the cutest baby ever and they are the best. And the Karube couple, who are the best and brought a friend along to lunch as well. And we had lunch with Tsukida, our 83-year old investigator, but I'll get to that later. But basically the ward here is amazing and I love it so much and am so glad I get to stay here for another two transfers probably (Oh yeah, transfer calls this week, I'm staying).

So much fun stuff this week, on Sunday we took a shinkansen (bullet train) down to Fukushima to go to church there (there are no missionaries in Fukushima or Koriyama right now because of the residual radiation). So if I get superpowers, we know why. But really, the ward there is awesome and strong and they are doing their own missionary work and they are so grateful for the missionaries. Turns out Fukushima is nowhere near the actual reactor, but it was still cool to see a thriving city which is still technically slightly irradiated. I would be totally down to go there if and when the area opens back up.

People in Japan are not very affectionate, but they do show their affection through food. We had lunch with Tsukida, one of our investigators, this week. He is super grateful for the message we are sharing and the joy of it and the knowledge that through baptism he can live with his recently departed wife again for eternity in the next life. He said he wanted to take us to REAL Japanese food this week, so we followed him on his bike down to a restaurant. It was downright incredible, the nicest and most expensive meal I have ever had. Why did he take a couple of dumb, reasonably uncultured 19 and 20 year olds to a restaurant that nice? I thought about it a bit, it wasn't to flaunt money or just to show us what Japanese food is like, it was to really show his gratitude for the joy of our message and what we are bringing to him. We are bringing him the words of eternal life, and he is showing his gratitude by humbly treating us to the very best. I sometimes forget the value of what I'm teaching I guess. "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, my brethren, ye have done it unto me". Compared to him, we're basically a couple of kids, with no idea what we're doing, but we representatives of Jesus Christ, and he really treated us as such. I am amazed at the expressions of gratitude I see from some of the people here, they don't do nice things for us; they do kind things because when they are serving these two young dumb gaijin (foreigners), they are really serving God. Awesome and I got to eat some killer good Japanese food.
Thing I wish I knew before the mission of the week: There is nothing wrong with doing potentially embarrassing things or getting rejected. There are a lot of things which take "courage" to do that sometimes people are uncomfortable with. Yeah, sometimes talking to people takes courage, but most of the time it is really just not being wrapped up in yourself. Whether it be not wanting to share the gospel, not wanting to ask a girl out, not wanting to invite a friend to church as a member, not wanting to raise your hand in class and ask a question, you are basically just being too wrapped up in yourself to look outside of your own personal interests, and actually, by consequence, not doing that which is in your own personal interest. First off, as a missionary, I am never going to see any of these people ever again, so there is nothing wrong with embarrassing myself, which is the worst possible outcome. If I get turned down by a girl, that's the worst thing that could happen, and you won't spend any time fretting about what could have happened if you had the courage to ask her. If you invite a friend to church or share the gospel with them, you are sharing the thing that makes you the most happy in life, holding that back is selfish. With not wanting to ask a question in class, you probably aren't the only one with that exact same question, and you benefit others and yourself and the teacher by asking it. And if it sounds stupid and everyone laughs, you laugh along with them, and make friends in the class from it. Be able to laugh at yourself. See the world and yourself in third-person and realize some of the things you do are hilarious. If you mess something up, own it. Just as long as you see rejections as learning experiences and not failures. From what I've seen, people who are chill with rejection and "awkwardness" are generally more successful in life. It comes from an internalized confidence, an internalized sense of self-worth. If you don't get the job, don't get the girl, have something "embarrassing" happen, you can pick yourself back up, remember that your self-worth is not determined by any one of those "failures", have a little laugh, go out and eat some ice cream if you're feeling sad, and move onto the next opportunity.

I used to be scared to death of embarrassing things, scared to death of "failure", scared to death of any rejection. There was a point where my parents basically had to push and push me to go out and apply for jobs because I was afraid of being rejected. I'll let you all in on a little secret: My dating game before the mission was garbage. I know, this beautiful, shredded, well dressed, muscular, great hair, ball of confidence used to have straight up awful game. Ya know why? Because I was had awful confidence. First off, I didn't buy the market, ya gotta if you're in a bull market (i.e. BYU dating pool), sometimes ya gotta buy the Dow Jones, not invest in a single stock and hold onto it for sentimental value. But stock analogies aside, I was just too afraid of getting rejected. As a missionary, if you want to find investigators, you're gonna have to get some rejections. The same with dating, you gotta put yourself out there a little bit. And I didn't realize that. Which was dumb. I was too wrapped up in myself and the fear of embarrassment from rejection to ask out a lot of cute girls who would've loved to be asked out and who probably would've had a really fun time. I was too focused on myself to realize it. Missionary work is the same, some people are going to say no, some people are going to say no, but some people are really looking for the things we are sharing and will reap the eternal joy from what we have.

Nephi and his brothers failed to get the brass plates twice before succeeding. His brothers were discouraged by the failure, but Nephi wasn't, he changed his approach and tried again. He probably had killer game as well. Be like Nephi. Be confident. Don't be discouraged by "failures", if you learn from them they change from "failures" to "learning experiences".

I love you all. Forget about yourself, have confidence, be OK with being rejected, smile (force yourself if you have to), and find a little way you can serve someone else this week and I know you'll feel the joy of the Christmas season - that's an Elder Orgill promise ;)

Merry Christmas, 
Elder Orgill オーギル長老

It's official ... fattest dog in Yamagata

Evening panorama in Yamagata

Missionaries meet the Matrix?

With the Suzuki family
Yamagata zone missionaries