Monday, May 29, 2017

This week's theme is "Incompetence" – week 40

Hello everyone! Hi. How are you? That's nice, I'm doing fine; thank you for asking.

This week has been my first week as senior companion, and boy has this week been a week. It started off pretty exciting. Within four hours of taking responsibility of the phone, I lost it. Now this wouldn't be a problem if I was a normal person, or in a four-man area, or knew what I was doing, or wasn't in a foreign country, or wasn't talking a bus between prefectures, or my companion's luggage had not broken, but none of those things happened so it was a whole lot of FUN. Long story short - we were taking a bus from Morioka to Sendai, one of the big cities in the mission to THE big city in the mission, where somewhere along the line I got a call from our friend talking about - you guessed it - the Alpha-Omega bomb. Somehow the phone did not end up back in my pocket, and it was not until we had departed the bus, walked 20 minutes to the church, waited for the previous meeting to end, and I entered the meeting that I realized it was missing. Once again, long story short (I'm retelling the story to myself in my head, the chain of events is still a little blurry), over two days, two trips back and forth from the bus stop to the church with very heavy broken luggage, an additional bus back to Morioka, a round trip 3 hour bike ride by the Morioka Elders, a final train ride back to Ichinoseki, and another half hour walk with broken luggage to the Ichinoseki apartment, we got back our precious phone.

You're probably thinking "Elder Orgill, why are you telling us all of this?" Well, it was because I learned a whole lot of very important lessons. First off - somehow it was fun. Being super stressed in a foreign country and being totally out of my league with these kinds of things, I still found myself laughing, or at least smiling. Second - the transfer started off pretty bad, and the only way it can go from here is up, right? Thus, I have very high expectations, and you know what? Every day seemed like it was better than the last, which is pretty cool! Third - It is so dang nice to have a Japanese companion, despite only being six weeks in the field he has had 19 years in the country so no worries. Fourth, calling is WAAAAAY easier than just texting. Fifth - write down important contact information and keep it in your wallet or something so you have a backup if the electronic version dies, nothing is worse than borrowing a stranger's telephone and having no idea what number to call. Sixth - do what you can and don't worry about the little things you can't change, stressing about them won't change them. Seven - pack light. My grandma always says that "Orgills can travel out of a Ziploc bag". Eight - keep a stash of emergency money, whether for bribes, bus tickets, or beef jerky, when you need it you'll know. Nine - don't lose important stuff (that's kind of a given, but I really want to make this list ten items long). Ten - you can ALWAYS rely on the Lord. I don't know how many prayers I said in that 24 hours or so for various things - faith, patience, forearm strength, more patience, peace, and to just find the dang phone, Heavenly Father heard my prayers and lovingly gave me just enough to last to the end of that little trial.

Anyway, this week has been one of a lot of stretching and growth, along with a lot of realizations about myself. Also, somehow I am waaaaaaay more responsible now than I was last week, I can't explain it, all I can say is I'm a different person now than I was just last week.

I love my bean, he's the best. He is 19, from Nagoya, 5'4", and his hobbies include fashion, American pop music, and throwing things away. He's a super good missionary his first trainer is one of the best missionaries in the mission in my personal opinion, plus he can actually speak Japanese, so ya know, pretty powerful combo. Anyway, we're turning up.

Other random things - I can now say that I have eaten a bug while riding my bike. Gotta get that protein somehow. Also, the church here is basically the coolest church in the mission. Why? No, it's not haunted like a certain apartment or another certain church I won't mention, but it used to be a CONVENIENCE STORE. How cool is that?! So it's located in a pretty CONVENIENT location hah get it? 

Love you all, have a great week and eat some garlic because it's good for your health

Elder Orgill


P.S. Sorry the food pics are limited this week, I have $3 in my wallet, something about $120 worth of travel money this next week, didn't really have money to eat out, but fear not, we'll be spending some time in Morioka this next week so prepare yourselves.

Cool view over Ichinoseki

With new companion, Elder Ikeda

Yes. That is a real van with another one like it in the background.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Going off like an Alpha-Omega Bomb - week 39

Well hey there everybody!

It's been another week of straight turn-up in Ichinoseki (and a little bit of Kitakami, but I'll talk about that later ;) ). This week has been great as always, started great with a lovely call to my family, was punctuated by lovely calls from our crazy friend who calls us and yells in half-English half-Japanese about some craaaaaaazy stuff, and ended quite lovely with TRANSFER CALLS. How exciting is that! But all in due time, gotta save the best for last.

The Mother’s Day call this week was absolutely awesome, I got to talk to most of the family (with the exception of the new brother-in-law; shout out to Yuki). Speaking of which, I think I've neglected to mention it in my last couple of emails, but HUGE shout out to my lovely sister Natalie who was married just a couple of weeks ago, I saw some pictures and got to talk to her about it and it sounded like the loveliest of lovely. Also, I think I need a thesaurus since I've already used lovely six times in this email. I was talking to Sister Smith (mission president's wife) and somehow the conversation went from my old companion getting called out by a general authority to beards to marriage to her essentially making a guess (prophecy?) about when I'm going to get married. I'm taking that one to the bank. Anyway, her and President Smith are the BEST, I love them so much and I'm gonna miss them so much when they go home. But luckily they live two minutes away from BYU so I'm just going to join Smith 姉妹's book club and it'll be a party. Did I mention I've been having difficulty focusing on things recently? If you think this email is scatterbrained, you should see what my language study looks like.

So I haven't given updates on a whole lot of stuff in a while, but basically two weeks ago we did district p-day in Hiraizumi and checked out Chuson-ji and it was amazing and I loved it. Our crazy friend is still calling us; he's switched up a little bit of what he's yelling over and over. Now he's saying something along the lines of お前たちはサルだ and yelling about an Alpha-Omega bomb and how お前たちはあるファーオメガボームの破壊力知らない! Which means "You don't know the destructive power of the Alpha-Omega bomb" and "You are monkeys". But with kind of offensive pronouns for the term you (plural) since お前 literally translates to 'thing in front of me'. But ya know, he's kind of right since we DON'T know the destructive power of the Alpha-Omega bomb. Never a dull day here.

So this last week, I didn't have an update on this stuff, but we headed up to Morioka (two hours by train) with a couple members for a district conference, and we figured we'd head back with them Saturday night and come back with them on Sunday morning and everything would be groovy, and that's what we tried to do... Except the people we drove up with were staying the night in Morioka. So we're like "flip, maybe get a ride with the other members?" Nope. All staying. So we think "Well, what if we take the train back?" Well, problem is there's only about a train per hour, in addition to a 20 minute bus ride back to the station to get that, and we didn't have bikes at the train station so at BEST CASE scenario we would've gotten back to the apartment at about 10:30 which is a biiiiig missionary no-no. So what to do? Stay with the Morioka elders? Problem is - there were already another 10 missionaries planning on staying there, in a tiny barely four person apartment. So basically we got permission from the mission president to cram the last couple of us in there and we had 12 missionaries in one apartment and it was a PARTY. And you know what? Not a peep after 10:30 because OBEDIENT. But turning up with ALL the homies, Fono, Marshall, Mimaki, it was great. So also, we had to buy breakfast since raiding someone else's pantry is no chill, so we went to a convenience store to buy some random stuff to eat. I thought - "what's the dumbest thing I could possibly buy for breakfast?" So I bought a liter of yoghurt drink and four Garigari-kun popsicles. No regrets.

So just gotta do a couple of food updates, because you know I gotta. We hit up 優勝軒ラーメン (Yūshō noki ramen - which translates to "winning place" noodles) this week and got some crazy ramens, and also in the last couple of weeks I have had the fist-sized karaage (fried chicken) at the Morioka Shokudo, I tried Jajamen (think it's a rip-off of a Korean food), we made gyouza, okonomiyaki, and other goodness. Also, life-hacks right here - add one part crushed garlic to one part soy sauce, let it infuse and pour it on everything. Also, if you're making gyouza and you run out of wrappers, just throw the leftover filling in a pan with some rice and pour on vinegar, red pepper oil, and soy sauce and BOOM, you have gyouza (pot stickers/dumplings?) flavored fried rice. And ooh boy, the food highlight of the last couple weeks was undoubtedly the shabu shabu with my best buddy Elder Holdaway. That's right, the MTC comps got back together again (sorry Elder Perez, we missed you) for splits.

The split with Elder Holdaway this week was amazing, we got to work in Kitakami and we put in some straight work. We found two new investigators, one of them is super young and bro-ish and has a car with the wheels straight tilted out sideways for drifting. The other one is an old investigator who we randomly housed into and she's the best, her English is perfect and we got to teach her a really solid lesson and it was great. We found two other strong potential investigators too, and best of all - we went to shabu shabu. For those of you who don't know what shabu-shabu is, it means swish swish and is basically all you can eat meat that cooks within seconds of dipping it in a super-hot broth. There are tons of sauces. I was in heaven. So cool to be able to work with my old MTC companion, he's progressed so much in EVERYTHING and he is so nice and great, I just love the guy. Also, the whole split the conversation kind of centered on frogs since there are a ton of rice fields interspaced around the town, so we could hear frog noises everywhere. Elder Holdaway loves frogs, and I'm not going to try to explain the banter, but needless to say, it was fantastic.

We had a devotional yesterday with Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, and it was fantastic. It was broadcast all over Japan and I loved it so much. One of the things he said which really hit me the most was a little analogy he talked about. He talked about how Japan appears to be growing very slowly, especially in comparison to how much other areas of the church are. But he connected it to the growth of a tree - trees can grow in a very visible way, with branches and leaves and new limbs, or it can grow in less visible ways - the strengthening of the roots. When the roots are being strengthened, it may seem like progress might not even be happening at all, but the growth that is occurring right now in the Japanese members, the strengthening of them and their personal testimonies, is EXACTLY what the Lord wants to be happening. Japan is growing in exactly the way the Lord wants it to, and though we might not be able to see the growth right now (which can be reeeeally frustrating as missionaries), God has not just a plan, he has a PERFECT plan for ALL of us and EVERYTHING. It's the same with us - don't get down on yourself if you feel like you aren't progressing, if you feel like you aren't getting better, or if your growth is slower than you like it, trust the 'master of the vineyard' that He knows best and know that your roots might just be being strengthened and the growth of your branches may come later.

You're all the best, be the best you can be!

オーギル長老 (Elder Orgill)

Oh yeah, transfers. I'm becoming follow-up trainer (trainer, but to a second transfer missionary) for a Japanese missionary named Elder Ikeda. So becoming senior companion and trainer all at once, in a two-missionary area with a companion whose native language is different than mine. Basically, I'm stoked. 🎺🎺doot doot🎺🎺

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day - week 38

We were able to talk with Elder Orgill via Skype for Mother's Day so there was no written update, however there are some pictures to enjoy.

Skype screenshot courtesy of Natalie with Mom, Dad and Allison's family in Houston


Newly planted rice paddies

With MTC companion Elder Holdaway

Elder Holdaway at lunch


Eat your beansprouts!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Shorty - week 37

Greetings friends, family, and fellow garlic enthusiasts!

It's been another excellent week of learning experiences in Ichinoseki, this week was a fun one. We had the chance to go up to Morioka not once, but TWICE this week, and I absolutely loved it. Morioka is a little bit farther north, so there was still a bit of Sakura blooming there when we went up for interviews on Tuesday. The church there is right by a really cool pond surrounded by Sakura trees and it's BEAUTIFUL (imagine I said that in the voice of the Bill Wurtz guy who did that 'History of Japan' video).  JK - no time this week but plenty of pictures to compensate

オーギル長老 (Elder Orgill)

Japanese fried chicken

Something got lost in translation on this product

The cook

The masterpiece

Drinkable choux creme

Carmelized banana

Tiny bowls of noodles - a local specialty

Everything tastes better fried

Local 7-11 done in brown tones vs. the regular more colorful logo in the rest of the country

Monday, May 1, 2017

*Unintelligible Tohoku Old Man Dialect* - week 36

Hey there everybody! How was your week? Lovely? Oh, that's good to hear, so was mine!

This week was a great week, but then again, as a missionary, every week is a great week.

Honestly this week was not SUUUPER eventful, but we did have some pretty cool and pretty funny experiences. First off was the most awkward thing of the week - having no idea how to end our 英会話 ( English conversation) class. We taught our English Conversation Class as usual this week and ended with a prayer, but we usually stick around and talk for a little bit and the people who have to go just go. Well our three students this week were a bit different from the usual ones, so we ended and just sat there and started some normal conversation, and they all just stuck in their seats. We chatted for a bit, and they just started to look more and more uncomfortable. Conversation trailed off gradually and we started stretching more and more to talk about various things, and eventually I realized the students didn't know class was over. I asked Elder De Leon, and he agreed they probably had no clue that class was over and we were just chatting and not actually teaching any more. So we just kind of told them "We don't mean to keep you if you have somewhere to go" and ended it super awkwardly. I honestly don't even remember how it ended, but the uncomfortable in the room was so thick you could've cut it with a knife. Also, speaking of awkward moments, that reminds me of yesterday. Elder De Leon was practicing a little bit of piano and I realized he could do an octave plus two notes, and I asked him "Whoa, how big are your hands??" So we put our hands up against each other and were comparing hand size when a lovely Sister from the branch walked in and Elder De Leon felt so awkward and tried to explain it and she was laughing and I was laughing and I thought it was too funny to even feel the awkward and he turned red like a tomato and it was hilarious. A mission is two years of awkward moments, and I have figured out my superpower is out-awkwarding other people (not hard to do with Japanese people).

We went on splits with the District Leader in Kitakami this week as well, which was super sweet. Elder Murakami is a total stud, we put in some serious work together. We talked to a cool guy doing bonsai and he showed us all his tiny trees and let me tell you what, I love me some tiny trees. We also went to a ramen shop for lunch and hoo boy, was that an experience. We walk in and are assaulted by three people from the shop talking at us. Apparently they straight love missionaries. They jested with us in very thick Tohoku-ben (the dialect), and the cook had a very heavy old man accent. Anyway, we sat down and I basically asked what was strong and had a lot of garlic, and the cook yells at me from the kitchen something about how much want, so I said I want to eat a lot, and he jested back something about it costing $500, and I said something to the effect of "eh, I'm down". He gave a bit of the an evil laugh and I think he made my ramen from scratch or something, I could see he had kind of a crazy look in his eye when he had the jar of garlic in his hand, and the next thing I know they come out with this bowl heaped with who knows what filled with blood-red soup that reeks of garlic. It was so hot it burnt my tongue, so spicy I started to sweat, and quite possibly the best ramen I've had in Japan. This place was the greasy spoon joint to end all greasy spoon joints, made your average hole in the wall look like a somewhat reputable restaurant, basically I loved it.

Anyway, for my thought this week I want to talk about having joy in the midst of and despite trials and hard things. Being a missionary isn't easy, heck, LIFE isn't easy, we all have good times and bad times, but even in a time where you might not feel like a million bucks all the time and sometimes you're gonna have some really really tough times, but that doesn't mean you have to be devoid of joy and hope. You'll have days, probably weeks, maybe months, and possibly even years where you feel devoid of happiness, where every smile feels forced and where it hurts to lie when somebody asks you "How are you?", but the thing to remember is that "men are that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25), and you can have joy even the midst of what feels like the polar opposite of happiness. How do you do that? Well, there's no cure-all, but one way to start is with gratitude - looking at the challenges you have as a blessing, as a chance for you to learn hard to lessons to learn and progress and change for the better, and if you can recognize even a little bit of change, you can start to feel a bit of that joy. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by feelings of incompetence and feel like we are spinning our wheels, going nowhere, but we have our specific trials for a reason and sometimes we need to be broken a bit to grow, and that's a happy thing. So be happy, smile!

Love you all, hope y'all have a killer week!

オーギル長老 (Elder Orgill)

Doing volunteer work