Monday, January 30, 2017

Weekly Email: 普通普通 (Normal, normal) - week 23

Hey everyone!

This week was super uneventful. Like, super super uneventful. I don't even think I really did much of anything dumb. We had a missionary schedule change (which basically didn't change for us), but not a whole lot else. Dendou (proselyting) with Elder Fono is super fun, he keeps it real and we have "mad chats" and we have the perfect balance of fun and serious with a whole heap of hard work. I also beatbox while we are walking around and he freestyle raps about dumb stuff, so that's basically a party. Thanks to the schedule change, though, we can go to bed a bit earlier, and with our mission's schedule we now have two hours of personal preparation in the morning which means a solid extra half an hour in the morning of working out.

One super cool event this week was me giving a blessing of comfort in Japanese. Which was super scary. And I managed it. The language is hard, Tohoku-ben (local dialect) is harder, but I find myself astounded at how much I can do with my limited ability. The blessing was actually pretty solid, and it doesn't matter if I can barely speak the language if I have the gift of tongues. I am also gaining a stronger and stronger testimony that I have specific reason I am not just in Japan, not just Tohoku (northeastern region in Japan), not just Yamagata, but the very specific places I find myself each and every day. My unique experiences, personality, and testimony will be the perfect thing to bless certain others.

For things I wish I had known before, it's probably this - 1 John 5:3, which throws heat a little harder in Japanese and basically translates to "it's not that hard to keep the commandments". It's not that hard. You don't give up that much, and you benefit a lot. Don't fight against it, don't reason a way around it, don't ought-right rebel against what you know is right. Because that's stupid. Accept it, ask God to soften your will, and don't "kick against the pricks", go with the (righteous) flow because it's so much easier in the long run.

Love you guys, everyone is pretty cool

Elder Orgill オーギル長

Another food picture. This time, grilled eel.

Another beautiful winter panorama

Monday, January 23, 2017

Snowmen and Star Wars - week 22

Hey みなスクアッド!(Mina-squad – unique Elder Orgill Japglish)

It's been another super fun week in 山形; Elder Fono and I are absolutely KILLING IT. We've been doing our best to make dendou fun, whether that is incorporating a word of the day, doing little dares, or just being a little bit goofy. In a good and very consecrated way.

The word of the day thing is pretty fun, we had Star Wars as the word of the day, and so whenever we were housing or streeting, we would try to use it in our approaches. I talked to somebody about how the light side and the dark side of the force are like opposing forces in our lives and it was actually pretty good. He talked about how Spider-Man is like Jesus Christ one day because he helps people and from his vantage point he can see better what's going on than we can. And when the word of the day was Volleyball, we talked about how we need to set the ball so someone else can spike it just as we have to be humble and ask God to "spike" our problems. Actually pretty turned out pretty good, Japanese people really connect with analogies.

As far as goofy stuff we have been doing, it's mostly little food challenges, we've gone through a large amount of my bottle of death sauce, basically it's a party all the time. That and jumping into snow banks. I felt like we should've given someone a Book of Mormon after we stopped talking to her, and when I mentioned it to Fono 長老 (Elder) he chased her down and ran after her and tried to give her one. Gutsy and dumb-looking, but I respect that a lot.

So my thing I wished I had learned before my mission for the week is to listen. Not to just not talk as much, but to really forget about what you might want to say, what you are trying to say, the next story or experience you want to share, and listen with real love for the person talking. Anything someone says is something they care about enough to actually put into words. We had two lessons in a day this week where we listened hard and our investigator/recent convert and they really opened up a lot, and the things they said and questions they asked led in perfectly to what we wanted to teach and commit them to do. Sometimes people need to talk and be listened to for them to make some solid realizations. Just a super cool realization this week, test it out this week and see what happens, what you can learn, how your relationships are strengthened.

Love y'all, take care :)

Elder Orgill (オーギル長)
Reportedly ice cream tastes better on cold days

Who says missionaries can't fly? Anyone recognize the guy in the middle?

He got a giant box of stroopwaffels for Christmas and is still enjoying them.

Monday, January 16, 2017

"So do you believe in God?" "Nah, I've got all my meat in the fridge and stuff, so I'm good." - week 21

.. .said by our new Indonesian friend

Hello everyone!

The weather finally made up its mind this will. By which, I mean we have had snow for a week straight. It's stupidly cold every day and walking everywhere is super slow and nobody wants to talk to us on the streets but I love it. Also, Japanese people don't know how to drive in snow and nobody has four wheel drive cars and they don't really snow plough all that much, so it's super sketchy and fun to watch people skid at every stop sign.
So with transfers this last week, Elder Barr went home to Australia and I got a 12th transfer missionary from Hawaii name Elder Fonoimoana. He's hilarious and super spiritual and it's going to be a super fun transfer. We're perfecting a technique of using middle schoolers throwing snowballs at us as a method of missionary work and getting them to come unto Christ. It's a work in progress. But needless to say, there's a little bit of goofing around and a whole lot of CONSECRATED MISSIONARY WORK YEEEEH. We're going to see heck of miracles and have heck of fun while doing it.

So on Tuesday Elder Barr and I got into a "snowball fight" with some elementary schoolers (it wasn't an actual snowball fight because we let em win, I would straight wreck those fools yo, 1v1 me on twitter homes, let's slap box) but it was fun and we made some friends, and what do you know, we run into the same kids again about the same time on Thursday with Elder Fono. We let em wreck us in the snowball war; it was cool to make some six year old friends. Life lesson: having friends just your own age is boring. Have old friends, have young friends, have a couple in-between friends, and you'll always have something to learn from them. Also, I started giving the various guys we meet streeting bro-hugs as opposed to just a handshake. The reactions range from super awkward and confused to super excited because it's the "American thing", but either way it is pretty hilarious and helps me show a little brotherly love.

Other funny happening of the week was Elder Sato decided to cut his hair because President Smith came on Sunday to do some missionary work with the ZL's, and Elder Brantley took of the guard on the razor and forgot about it and totally messed up a decent haircut, so now he's got significantly shorter hair than he was intending to have (it isn’t that bad, give it a couple days, everybody will probably just think he's a Japanese baseball player). But we've been quoting a quality scripture from the Bible this week: 2 Kings 2:23-24 "And he went up from thence unto Beth-el: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the Lord. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them."

This week we just barely made the mission standard last night with 20 minutes left of the night. It was a straight miracle, and was the result of a lot of prayers this week. Also, we have one of our investigators progressing like crazy, he is so receptive of the gospel and so well prepared I feel so blessed that he was placed in our path. He is changing so much as a result of the Gospel, and he has received so much joy as a result of it. The gospel really changes people's lives, and the atonement can really change anyone and anything.

For my "Things I wish I knew before the mission": Two simple things this week. One: do awkward or uncomfortable things confidently until they stop feeling awkward. Honestly, a mission is two years of awkward moments, and I love it. And two: Don't dwell on bad things, don't think about bad or dark things too much, even if it doesn't bring you down it won't benefit you. Dwell on happy, good stuff. Yep.

Love you all, Have fun wherever you may be and take care :)

Elder Orgill (オーギル長)
Elders Fonoimoana and Orgill

Even more pensive.

Monday, January 9, 2017

イエス は YES - "Jesus is YES" - week 20

Hello from 山形 (Yamagata), where I will be staying for another transfer at least!

So great news this week, I'm staying in 山形 (Yamagata), which was to be expected but I'm still excited about it. My new companion is from Hawaii and has a super long last name and I can't remember it right now, but I'm sure I'll learn quickly enough once he gets here on Thursday. From what I've heard he's a bit of a funny guy, a bit crazy, and it sounds like we are going to get along perfectly. So excited.

It's been a super eventful week. Tuesday was New Missionary Orientation back in Kamisugi and dinner with a member family, so basically awesome. One of the things that hit me was we were talking about Christ-like attributes and someone mentioned the whole beatitudes thing, you know the "be kind, be humble, be clean" type stuff, and Smith Kaicho (President) put it excellently "することじゃなくて、なること” which in English translates to "not the thing of doing, but the thing of becoming". That's one of the little subtle language things I didn't really notice, the idea of "be kind" isn't just do kind things, it means to be constantly becoming kind. Actually, I'm not really sure, but I think "be" is a form of abbreviation of "become", でしょう? Anyway, that was kind of the thought I had been dancing around with my musings in a few of the other emails, but basically 'be the best you can be', which you can extend to 'become right now the best you can become'. Just thought that was so cool.

We had a miracle this week, one of our investigators was visiting his family for New Years, but we randomly got a call from him on Wednesday out of the blue and he told us he wanted to confess something at the church. We hadn't even taught about repentance or confession or any of those kinds of things, but apparently he had a dream that brought back the knowledge of something he had done bad in the past and he wanted the guilt and wrong he had done gone. So we met him on Saturday at the church (well, my companion and Elder Brantley since I was on splits with Elder Sato for the day) and taught him about repentance and he accepted a baptismal date and came to church the next day and was blown away by the amount of people who just want to make themselves better people coming together to do just that. He is awesome and such a blessing and also a total bro. He asked for forgiveness from one of the people he lied to today and they said it was all good and he called us and was super super excited and happy.

So Saturday was the bomb. Why? Because AP splits are the bomb. Me and Elder Sato absolutely KILLED IT, we had a lesson with a less active where we learned about the most interesting family situation I have ever heard about (seriously, you could make a movie out of this guy's life, he's a bro and has had some CRAZY stuff happen to him), somehow had a lesson with a guy that is almost never there, and then found like crazy. We met this one guy who was super super chill and was really big on Jesus. We asked him what he thought of Jesus. His response? "イエスはYES”Basically, Jesus is Yes (Jesus in Japanese is iesu and kind of sounds like yes). Needless to say, he's a bro. Top that off with a whole bunch of finding and a killer good ramen with a bunch of spicy miso on top and it was a pretty sweet day.

And this week on the "Things I wish I knew before my mission/am still learning" segment (I should really shorten the name), is excuses. Don't make excuses. Don't. Don't do it. Don't. No. Don't make excuses. Don't do it. Every time you feel tempted to make an excuse, it is an opportunity for you to face truth, for you to act kind, for you to turn away from yourself and help others. I challenge you, I straight up CHALLENGE you to find me some situation where justifying any thought, action, or deed has overall led to a positive outcome. Don't justify bad habits, don't justify grudges or hate, don't justify breaking of your New Year’s resolutions, don't justify or accept anything less than greatness. Because you're all great :)

ABSOLUTELY KILL IT THIS WEEK everyone,

ELDER ORGILL (オーギル長)

Apparently icicles make great walking sticks ... or he's trying to part the snow

He's not starving

Toppings and sides at the mochi-party. He was in heaven!

A specialty Yamagata noodle

Elder Orgill and Elder Barr with boy from church

Yes. More bowls of noodles.

This was reported to be a killer hamburger-type thing. Could be beef tongue, which is a specialty in his area.

Monday, January 2, 2017

Weekly: 正月!(New Years) - week 19


Happy New Year everyone!
In case you didn't already know/assume, new years in Japan GOES OFF. So much fun, everybody is in a great mood and goes to temples and has vacations and eats savory octopus pancake balls (takoyaki) and stir fried noodles (yakisoba) and waffles with sweet red bean paste or custard inside and Japanese fried chicken (karaage) and claps at the temples and rings bells and stuff and gets fortunes and there are a ton of super cool special foods that symbolize luck and fortune and long life.

Funny cultural thing: Mochi, basically cooked rice pounded into a sticky paste, is super stretchy (and delicious) and supposed to symbolize long life. And every year, old people choke on their mochi and a few of them die. Irony. Love it.

A whole bunch of really cool stuff happened this week. I had splits with Elder Warnock, what a bro, we absolutely killed it in Yonezawa and found a new investigator and went out to lunch with an old friend of my dad's and it was great. We also had Elder Barr's last district training meeting, which was super sad but I shared a video of little kids explaining things that Jesus did and then bore my testimony about it and it was great and the rest was super spiritual as well. Only a week and a half left with that guy, I'm gonna miss him when he's gone.

Twice this week while we were housing, we started talking to someone about the gospel and sharing a message and they tell us to hold on for a second, then pop back inside, grab some sort of food (pocky or baby oranges or something) and then come back out and give it to us and tell us they're not interested but good luck (well, がんばってね, which is literally "do your best"). Honestly, that's the best possible way to get rejected, I have no problems.
And the other amazing thing I found this week: Melon essence. It goes good on everything. I love melon flavored stuff so much it's not even funny.

The funniest/ thing of this week (besides sharing the gospel and the light of Christ and sharing the message of the restoration of Christ's true church and the joy that comes through the gospel and atonement of Jesus Christ, ya know) was the Takahashi kids. Not specifically anything they did, but just them in general. We aren't supposed to proselyte on New Years, so we just had some really fun appointments at member's houses and got to share little messages with them and spend time with their families. The Takahashi kids are amazing; they have a daughter who is 15 and two sons, 12 and 7. And they're all super loud. And not very Japanese-like. And the little one talks unintelligibly about Minecraft all the time and the daughter always talks super super fast and is super overexcited about everything and the 12 year old, , is just a bro. It felt like having little siblings again. I mean, not againbut ya know what I mean. Anyway, spending time at their house and going to a temple with them this week were definitely my highlights, so cool to hang out with a strong, loving family centered on the gospel.
Just want to talk for a second about goals, you've probably heard tons about em and you're sick of hearing about em, but just think for a second about two things. One: Who and where are your goals centered upon? I promise you that as you center your goals on helping you (and your family) come closer to Christ; the rest will fall into place. Two: there's a different kind of goal people don't really think about, not a "I want to lose 20 pounds", "I want to make $XXX this year", not a numbers goal or something that is either achieved or not achieved, but a different kind of goal - that of the kind of person you are and become. If you get an idea, a vision, a goal of who and what you want to become, and how that person would act in a situation, you can achieve your goal simply by being like that kind of person. Make that vision, internalize it, remind yourself what you want to be and how you want act, and every time you follow that, you become that person a little more and keep your goal. Probably sounds super convoluted, but just give it a think and make your new year’s vision, not just a resolution.

Love y'all, have a killer good New Year and best of luck with your goals!

Godspeed,

Elder Orgill (オーギル長)

Apparently it's the year of the chicken

Yamagata church members and missionaries at local shrine to celebrate New Years



video
Pounding mochi is a popular New Year tradition in Japan.
Not so sure about wearing short-sleeves in winter, however ...