Monday, February 27, 2017

The Rolling Stone - week 27

Hey everyone!

So we got transfer calls yesterday - I'm going to Ishinomaki(石巻), literally “the rolling stone”, my dad's first missionary area. [Dad’s editorial comment: despite the name, there have been no sightings of either Mick Jagger nor Keith Richards EVER in this small port town. This town is famous, however, as it was one of the towns which was devastated by the big earthquake in 2011. Many of the homes and families I knew were swept away by the tsunami.] New companion is a Japanese native, so I'm super super excited and my Japanese is going to get CRAZY GOOD.

This week was awesome! Elder Fono and I worked like crazy, as usual, and we had some really cool experiences. We're going back to the dojo again today, just like we did last week, and we're going to get some fresh photos in our gi's. I've made a lot of great memories here in 山形 (Yamagata), and I'm going to miss the members, the investigators, my district, everyone here has been absolutely awesome.

So we have this one investigator who is a little bit of a hoarder. I mean, not like the show hoarders level of hoarder, but you used to not be able to see his floor and he would have to climb over tons of bottles and stuff to get to the floor. So we went over with trash bags and cleaned for a few hours and took away 12 big bags of trash and bottles and now you can finally see the floor and it's awesome. We had to stand at his door for about a half an hour to get him to make up his mind on whether or not he would let us to help him clean, but we slowly made our way in and it was really cool, as we cleaned, it was like the years were being stripped away and I felt like I could see a younger him, with hobbies, friends, joy in his life, before all the "mendokusai" (troublesome, bothersome) and falling into bad habits and smoking two packs a day. Anyway, it was a super cool experience and he's slowly making progress, it's amazing to see. I'm gonna miss him so much.

Oh yeah. Elder Holland.

So the Elder Holland conference felt like it was three weeks ago, even though it was straight up less than a week ago. It was amazing. It was absolutely amazing. It was so incredible, I can't put it into words. I came to the conference with a very specific question and, without asking it, was able to receive a very specific answer. He speaks with so much power, so much authority, and he is really a prophet of God. I don't have my notes with me right now so I can't tell you all the insights about all the amazing things I learned, but I will say this - everything we do should be motivated by our love for God, and the more we know about God, His traits, and His attributes, the more we will love Him. Ponder about God and His character, and you will begin to understand more about why He does what He does and feel your love for Him start to grow.

I love you all a bunch and wish you all could've been there to hear Elder Holland speak. It was absolutely incredible.

Elder Orgill (オーギル)

Now onto pictures of food, and a few of Elder Orgill ...

Japan Sendai Missionaries at the Elder Holland conference. Our boy, 3rd row from the front on the left.

Pudding-flavored shake/drink

Melon-flavored soda & jelly

More noodles

Don't know how thought this one up ... grilled noodle chocolate!

All-you-can-eat lunch with all-you-can-eat-and-wear cotton candy. Note his great grandfather's ring ... almost 90 years old.

When you have eaten all that you can, then you can start to wear your food.

Katsu (fried pork cutlet) curry

Monday, February 20, 2017

Been craving stroopwafels lately... - week 26 (25% finished!!)

Hey everyone!
So yeah, Elder Holland is coming to Sendai tomorrow to give us a super special missionaries only conference just for this mission. Pretty much a huge deal. I'm crazy excited. I can't overstate how excited I am, I'm just so pumped. We've been preparing a bunch for it and reading some of the talks he's given and we're going to fast before it (so we're doing a bit of a last supper today at the tabehoudai [all-you-can-eat restaurant]). He already gave two conferences, one for young adults, and another for everyone else, and they were both incredible. But I'll talk more about that later.
This week was pretty sweet, although it went by pretty fast and in retrospect I don't feel like all that much happened. The food highlight of the week was definitely Thursday though, where we went to lunch with our 83 year old investigator at the nicest restaurant I've ever been to (yes, the same one as before, he took us again) and it was incredible and beautiful and super super quiet. He was telling us about his former hobby, mountain climbing. He climbed Everest THREE TIMES. MOUNT EVEREST. And he was telling is about all these times he snuck into Kazakhstan and Afghanistan and all these places during the Soviet takeover just to climb mountains. He's an absolute bro and I love that guy to death. If I transfer, I'm gonna miss him hardcore. Also, that evening we ate the polar opposite of what we ate for lunch, a ¥1000 "bakamori" which basically means "stupid-size mound of food" which was a stupidly large tray of rice and fried squid, potato, chicken, and pork. Even on tough days, at least the food is always good.
Funny thing of the week - we had a talk from someone on Sunday and I didn't understand a ton but she talked for five minutes about how she was really happy the past week because she bought ...a humidifier. And she was laughing super hard and it was just hilarious and I just kept hearing her talk about how she bought the humidifier for super cheap and laughing. It probably related to the gospel but I didn't understand that part.
We recently made friends with a seventy seven year old seventh degree karate black belt who has a super cool dojo which we spent some time at today. He taught us a little bit of judo, we cleaned his dojo a bit, and we did a bit of sumo (video below), which was quite fitting after the all you can eat lunch. And yeah, I got judo-flipped by a 77-year-old. He set us all up with super sweet judo-gis too since he was just going to throw a bunch of stuff away. Hopefully we can do more service for him this week.
I want to talk about one thing really quick this week - hope. In Elder Holland's talk to the people of Japan he talked about fear. Everyone has fears, whether it be concerning money, people, children, marriage, politics, whatever. The important thing to remember is that fear is the opposite of faith and always comes from Satan. A lot of Japanese people have a lot of fear which is very apparent when they talk about America, about terrorism and Islam and Christianity, about Trump, about the future. Yeah, things are scary for a lot of people, but if we have faith in God's Plan of Salvation, we know that things now are okay, and things, no matter how bad they get, will always get better. And no matter how bad things are, they could be way, way, way, waay worse. Make the little part of the world you can influence as good as you can and don't worry about the rest. And never stop seeing the humor in things.
I love you all and I hope you have a great week :)
オーギル長老 (Elder Orgill)

Kaiseki meal - dish 1

Kaiseki meal - dish 2

Kaiseki meal - dish 3

Kaiseki meal - dish 4

Kaiseki meal - dish 5

Kaiseki meal - dish 6

Kaiseki meal - dish 7

Korean BBQ

Yamagata panorama

They spend a lot of time out in the snow

Birthday cake from last week from his Japanese sign language class members
Bakamori - heaps-o-food

Decked out in his new judo-wear

Sumo with one of the other missionaries

Monday, February 13, 2017

Bonus pictures - Yamadera in Winter

What a dramatic difference 3 months makes.  These are his pictures from the peak of fall colors:

Yamadera in November

This is what it looked like yesterday as his district took another trip into the mountains:

He DOES own a jacket

Missionary with the longest arms gets nominated to take the selfies.
Group squat
Yamagata District - February 2017

Temple complex, several hundred feet up steep stairs above the valley floor
He's getting that panorama-thing down

Sunday, February 12, 2017

This week just "flu" by, heh heh – week 25

Hey there friends, family, and future loyal fans and followers(??!?):

It's ya boy, Elder Orgill, reporting back after another week of CRAZY dendou (proselyting), INTENSE meetings with a member of the bishopric about member missionary work, and HARDCORE housing sessions.

So this week definitely had its ups and downs, started off at kind of a low spot with me having the flu I think, but it continuously got better throughout the week and I got a SUPER AWESOME BIRTHDAY PACKAGE from the parents so you best bet I'll be rocking that super fresh-looking apron all the time. We had a little bit of drama recently with the new Ekaiwa (English conversation class) programs and differences in ideas about how to implement the new programs, but something really good came out of it, which is that we realized the ward wants to focus a lot more on member missionary work and they realized they aren't doing their part for it and that we have very little idea how to do that since this mission is almost all small branches whose capabilities for member missionary work are significantly less than that of a large ward like 山形 (Yamagata). Anyway, we're gonna be turning up and strengthening the ward from here on; it's gonna be sweet.

So we went housing this week and ran into a a deaf guy and I started talking about Jesus Christ in Japanese Sign Language (手話), and I called him お母さん which basically meant I called him a female, but it's whatever since I did the right thing in 手話 so he didn't get offended. The gift of hands is just as real as the gift of tongues.

The last thing I want to talk a little bit about is change. We have an investigator who is kind of a hoarder. Not like he really wants to hoard a bunch of trash, but it is "面倒くさい" to do anything different (mendokusai basically translates to "hassle/troublesome/bothersome = literally stinks of trouble"). Taking out the trash, eating anything besides cup noodles, doing anything besides going to work and sleeping 12-14 hours a day is too “mendokusai”. I've learned a few things by pondering his situation. I could write a whole essay about how I'm never sleeping a minute over five hours a night and I'm being super productive for the rest of my life and never leaving anything on the floor, but I'm no., I'm just gonna say that doing hard things is good, and no matter what state we're in, no matter what we think is "in our nature" can be completely changed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

Love ya all and I hope you all have a lovely week,

オーギル長 (Elder Orgill)

The "super fresh-looking" apron ... we couldn't resist that the brand was "Big John"

Not sure why these two are pondering life at night sitting in the snow.

Note, as usual, there are more photos of food than of our favorite missionary ...

His favorite part of Japan ... the food

More food ... looks like stewed vegetables over tofu.

Monday, February 6, 2017

A title full of Japanese emojis which don't come through on the blog 😢 ... week 24

Hello family, friends, enemies???? and future children (that's right, I'm talking to you Wolfgang, Thaddeus, Lafawnduh, and Sora).

I've spent a bit of time this week thinking about how I can embarrass my future children in these weekly emails. I haven't come up with anything good yet.

So this week was super cool. We had Elder Whiting come and give a big conference, which was super super cool and spiritual. The best part about the way he did it, though, was he could crack jokes like crazy and still not disturb the spirit, which is super cool. I left there feeling super uplifted, having received a bunch of personal revelation and revelation on behalf of our investigators, and really wanting to make myself better. And then we went and ate 油そば (abura soba, literally oil noodles) which was amazing.

For good luck this week we did a Japanese tradition on the second where you face North North-West and eat an entire sushi roll without talking, and then throw peanuts at each other. Hooray for experiencing weird culture. Apparently it didn't help my luck that much, though, because I got sick on Saturday night. I don't know what it was, but I was too lazy to diagnose it, so I just called it a cold. Japanese people treat the common cold as something 83x worse than it actually is, everyone at church was telling me they would keep me in their prayers and being super super nice and asking if I needed help and I was just thinking "it's just a cold, not that big of a deal". But I ended up wearing a face mask in public, which is another part of Japanese culture just got to experience 👌🙌.
We had one day this week which was super miracle-y, it started off by us visiting an investigator on a whim and managing to get him perfectly between when he woke up (at 3 in the afternoon) and him going to work. After that we knocked some doors and talked to some people on the street with no success, but a couple of minutes after it started raining we found college student who was super interested and set up another appointment with us. And after that, we were super cold and thinking about going to Eikaiwa (English conversation class) early, but we stayed out and found someone else who we had a great conversation with who has a fair amount of interest as well. And then after Eikaiwa we had dinner with a member and I shared a scripture about trials and how we can learn from trials and hard things. I challenged the couple to think about trials they have right now and the lessons God wants them to learn from that, and it turned out the husband was just about to go into the hospital for a really long and difficult shoulder surgery. We basically saw a miracle in every lesson we taught that day.

For my lesson I wish I knew before my mission, it's something that Elder Whiting talked about in our conference with him. It's this: "You can endure your mission, or you can enjoy your mission". Preach🙏. Holy heck that's the truth. I've always "known" that, but living it is another thing. I definitely had the idea that I would be enduring two years before my mission. I still feel like sometimes I am enduring it, counting the months and days until I can listen to "real music" again, but as with anything else, you can enjoy it or endure it. And on the days I choose to enjoy it I am waaaay happier and way more effective. So take something you're enduring right now and try to enjoy it more.

Love you all,

Elder Orgill (オーギル長)
Cotton-candy beard

All-you-can-eat grilled meat restaurant ... rumored to have gone out of business after these 4 were finished.