Sunday, July 30, 2017

Episode 5: The Alpha Omega Strikes Back – week 49

This week was like Japanese meat Christmas. 土用の丑の日 (“~dog days of summer”) AND 肉の日 (“Meat day”) both in the same week?!?! COULD IT GET ANY BETTER? Well, yeah, if I'd had money to spend on grilled eel and meat that would've been good, but I spent it all on quadra-discounted ice cream last week; ya gotta pick your battles.

What is this magical day dedicated to eating grilled eel? Did I talk about it last week? It's a day invented by unagi (grilled eel)-sellers a long time ago in Japan to sell more grilled eel because apparently it "is super healthy and helps you not get heat fatigue", but hey, any excuse to eat grilled eel is a good excuse for me (except the fact it's insanely expensive). And there was the 29th, 肉に日, which is meat day which is always a party.

We went out to try a traditional dish of Iwate-ken called “hatto” this week with a friend of ours from our Hiraizumi Eikaiwa (English conversation class), and it was pretty sweet; we ended up teaching the grandma working there some English. The funny thing is it seems like everyone knows everyone in Hiraizumi (the little town next to Ichinoseki with a very long history). It's hilarious because everyone there has mad connections and knows every single shop owner and chef (kinda reminded me of Sayeed – a tour guide we met in Morocco).

Zone Conference this week was absolutely awesome, I came away from it with so many new ideas for things I want to try and apply in my work. We focused a lot on skills this conference, President Sekiguchi talked about how we have the spiritual maturity, we're doing the work (as a mission we talked to 10,000 people a day during the kekko [rejection] contest!), and all we need now to bring it all together is the skills. “Because girls only like guys with skills... You know, like nunchuck skills, bow-hunting skills, computer hacking skills.” But all Napoleon Dynamite quotes aside, if we step up the usage of our skills and "level up" our work, we can see mad miracles. One skill I'm going to try to use more is making people laugh. My Japanese joke game is nowhere near as on point as my English joke game, so it's gonna take a lot of hard work in language study and a lot of trial and error to step it up, but I have faith!

And then there was coming back from zone conference. The train we usually end up taking back from Zone conference is the most busy train of the day, but it was way cool because we ran into and got talking to a friend we met a couple of weeks ago on the same train. And then, a few stops later, we got talking to these two high school girls. And one of them randomly says "hey, you wanna see something cool?" And I'm like, "yeah, of course!" So she straight points both of her eyes into different directions like a straight chameleon. Quite possibly one of the coolest things I've seen in 11 months of being a missionary. And what's even better, Elder G was super freaked out about it and he gets the heebey jeebies every time I bring it up haha. But that's OK because he likes to poke literally every spider he finds with a stick or something, and bruh, I don't do spiders. At least not Japanese spiders.

So yeah, this week we found out we live in the middle of a jungle. First off - there are spiders everywhere. EVERYWHERE. And they're huge. Also, there are these massive beetles (Cicadas) which are super loud and make the craziest hissing/buzzing/kind of like a baby crying but in a bug form. I think they're edible though, so there's a part of me which wants to deep fry one. And then this week, we were walking by this little shrine surrounded by foliage and we thought "hey, let’s stop and enjoy the scenery and take a couple pictures!" And as we were looking around, I looked up in the tree and spotted probably a four and a half foot long snake climbing its way through the tree. It literally climbed onto a telephone wire, slithered across about 8 feet of it, and climbed onto another tree.

Hey, FOOD TALK. Found out that tajin isn't just good on watermelon; it's also amazing on watermelon flavored popsicles. Also, I completed my collection of tubs of Chinese miso this week. And I tried to make Mexican-ish food and it was pretty good. Me and Elder G also ate a kilo (mostly Elder G, that boy has the heart of a true Korean) of kimchi in three days. END OF FOOD TALK

So yeah, I learned something interesting this week. D&C 60:2 "But with some I am not well pleased, for they will not open their mouths, but they hide the talent which I have given unto them, because of the fear of man. Wo unto such, for mine anger is kindled against them." Sometimes I think "man, I ain't got that many talents", but by simply opening our mouth we share our talents, which is pretty dang cool. Other scripture I liked: D&C 24:12 "And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men." First of all - it says “voice of a trumpso that's pretty funny. Anyway, I definitely have experienced this: me opening my mouth and talking to homies despite having no idea what to say, and ya know what? I end up seeing straight miracles and somehow not saying tooooo much dumb stuff. And I like that whole "strength as is not known among men" part, it kinda motivates me to not be as afraid about stuff. Anyway, I just really liked those scriptures last week. Also, my mom sent me an article about rejection this last week with a homie who did a 100 day rejection challenge and it got me thinking. I didn't really think of anything profound, but I definitely wish I had a different view of rejection before I started my mission, and I'm beginning to see rejection in a much more positive light than I used to.

Anyway, love you all a bunch, have a good week!


オーギル長(Elder Orgill)

"Straight homies at the hatto restaurant"

"Jungle Shrine Turnup"

"How do you feel about having to wait an hour to take the Shinkansen/Bullet Train
cause they randomly canceled our train which we woke up at 5:00 a.m. to
catch?"

Feelin Froggy - *engine noises that sound like a lawnmower*

Attempt at Mexican food - note the bottle of tajin at his side

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Week in Which I Won a Dance Battle in an Attempt to Use My Talents to Share the Gospel – week 48

Is food an effective motivator for bringing about the salvation of souls? What really IS the most effective way to talk to a large number of people in the town of Ichinoseki? Why do Japanese people eat grilled eel on the 25th of July? Does rejection bring about any good? Will Elder Orgill and Elder Garaycochea win the all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu?

I will endeavor to answer these questions and more in my analysis of the week of 7.17-7.23.

So yeah, this last week was straight ridiculous. President Sekiguchi extended a challenge the mission, a call to action, an earth shattering proclamation involving all you can eat meat. For the three companionships and one district in the mission that receive the most rejections this week, they will be treated to a dinner of shabu-shabu, steak, or something else of their choice. Now you're probably thinking - do missionaries really need food to motivate them to go out and try to find people to teach and bring unto salvation? Nope, but a challenge like this did really change the way we work and try to find people. I'll talk about all the groundbreaking things I learned later, though, it's time for FOOD TALK.

DO NOT READ IF HUNGRY Not much special food this week, tried a killer good ramen shop in Morioka while on splits there, the coolest part about the place was probably that they had ALL YOU CAN EAT FRIED CHICKEN. I don't know if you've ever had a "黒豚ラーメン" (black-hog/Berkshire pork and soy sauce ramen), but it's good, and it's even better with fresh-pressed garlic, and it's even better topped with fried chicken. One of the best bowls of ramen I've had in Japan, thick base, good noodle texture, and pretty cheap. Other than that, I made a Korean teriyaki chicken and rice bowl this week (it's Korean because of the spicy miso) which is my new favorite; I think I'm starting a Korean food phase. It's the end of the month, so we're running out of money to spend on fun food, but you best bet next month is gonna get INTERESTING. END OF FOOD TALK

We change the method of finding this week to talk to more people, and we saw some really cool things come out of it. We did a lot of finding on the street this week, except Ichinoseki it's not very big, so we mostly stuck around the train station and talked to as many people as we could. We met a guy on Monday night and ended up talking to him for about a half an hour, and then we ran into him on Tuesday night, and then we ran into him again on Wednesday night. We're pretty good friends now, and even though he doesn't have any interest in the gospel, he bought us ice cream the third time saw us, so MIRACLES. We met a super nice guy from Nepal, a cool couple who walked all the way from Yokohama, a Japanese girl from London who spoke perfect English and Japanese, a guy who spilled sake all over his shirt when we started talking to him, a guy that got two inches away from my face while we were talking, and made a few other homies as well. The funniest guy we met was this guy who scolded me for calling him お父さん (“father”) and corrected me to お兄さん(“older brother” - sounds kinda weird if you try to explain this in English), and then scolded me for not knowing Japanese cultural history and said I need to study more like Elder Garaycochea and going off on random stuff and then he gets a call and says his girlfriend is waiting, and corrects Elder G's pronouns for him from お兄さん (“older brother”) to お祖父ちゃん (“grandpa”), and tells us good luck and was on his way. Basically he was straight messing with us and I didn't even realize it until after, but Elder G has been roasting me ever since telling me that I need to study more. We got rejected 508 times this week (which is pretty dang good for being in one smallest areas in the mission (technically the fifth smallest area because Yokote and Odate and Miyako and Misawa are smaller)) but it was way cool because I was super happy this week and it kinda turned my perspective around from a rejection meaning I didn't do my part or talk well enough or anything like that, it was more of me realizing that I gave somebody the chance to hear the gospel, and that's pretty dang cool.

We had splits with the zone leaders this week and I got to work with Elder Price who's a straight stud of a missionary and we put in a ton of work and found a couple of people at the end of the night which was pretty dang cool, I learned the power of testifying simply and from the heart, it means a lot more to bear a simple testimony about how these things have helped you feel joy and become better than it means to bear testimony of things they don't even understand about. Also, Morioka is amazing, there are so many people.

So I got thinking a lot about the contest this week, and found myself thinking about why President Sekiguchi would put something like this into place, why an inspired leader would put a contest like this to see how many rejections we could get. From this week, I learned a lot. One of the interesting things was how to get rejected. There were certain approaches I could go with that led to instant rejection almost every time, and others which grabbed people's attentions bit more. Another was how to read people - nobody is going to feel the spirit testify of the message when they're worried about a train to catch or just really don't want to be there talking to you. By keeping them there against their will, all we do is build an image of missionaries as annoying Americans who are inconsiderate of peoples' time. I also learned more of how to open my mouth this week, because until you open your mouth you never know if someone is interested or not. The two best contacts of this week were two guys straight hauling on bikes (also, the faster they are going on a bike when they stop has a direct correlation with their probability of being super prepared to hear the gospel). The two we met on bikes, Sato and Gen (my homie from Nepal) weren't necessarily interested in the gospel, but by opening our mouths we were able to build a relationship quickly and strengthen the image of the church. In everything I did this week, I tried to talk to people in a way that the next time they met missionaries they would just smile at the sight of them, and I think for 95% of people I actually did succeed in strengthening the image of the church. It's interesting how a challenge just to get rejections to win all-you-can-eat meat changed the way I think, speak, and do missionary work, and I think the way I think and do missionary work has changed far beyond just what I did this week, I have learned things I will be applying for the rest of my mission and life. I now know very well what DOESN'T work, and now I just have to do the things that DO work.

Rejection is great, it helps you learn and grow, and I challenge you all to do something this week where you expect total rejection, and if you do get rejected you lose nothing and if you don't then that's AWESOME. Love y'all, have a great week and get rejected a bunch!

Elder Orgill オーギル長老

P.S. I forgot about the grilled eel thing, it's apparently really good for your health so they eat it so you don't get heat fatigue, but it's actually just something clever eel salesmen came up with back in probably the Edo period or something to sell more unagi. But hey, an excuse to eat unagi is an excuse to eat unagi, so I have no problems with that.


P.S. #2 Oh yeah, the dance battle was just we talked to some homies in high school and they were chilling in one spot on the main street in Ichinoseki and just not moving and kinda making fun of us and I decided to just chat with them a little more and just mess around and I asked if one of them danced and he threw down and then I threw down; good stuff.

"I love 7-11 spicy snacks"

"Gains Borough"

Went to a ramen shop this week with a garlic press and all you can eat
fried chicken

Our buddy Kumagai

Monday, July 17, 2017

This week was Groovy - week 47

Hey everybody!

This week was SUUUUPER sweet. And by SUUPER sweet, I mean that there was not all that much crazy or cool stuff, it was pretty normal. Not a bad normal, just normal normal. But hey, we might be going to a 1000 year old golden temple today, and we went out for sushi twice this week, so that was pretty sweet (just so you know, はま寿司 (Haha Sushi) is better than スシロー (Sushiro) which is better than かっぱ寿司(Kappa Sushi), it's all about those five different types of soy sauce and crazy wide selection of fish).

DO NOT READ IF YOU DON'T CARE ABOUT FOOD OR ARE HUNGRY
I decided to make chashu this week (Chinese sliced pork that you put on ramen) and I don't know how I did it and I would never be able to replicate it, but I basically made the best-tasting chashu I have ever had in my entire life(well, second best, the first time I ever tried chashu at 優勝圏 (literally "winning place") it straight blew my mind). I also ended up making ramen soup-base while I was making it, so I made up an Elder Orgill from-scratch ramen and it was amazing. If anyone wants to co-found a ramen shop in Utah, I'm down. Also tried a ramen shop we found in Kitakami while we were there for interviews and I found a hot and sour ramen, which also blew my mind a little bit, basically the ramen version of my favorite soup ever so #blessings. Also added sweet and sour pork (酢豚)to the recipe arsenal this week. And, I got to try mustard-flavored soft serve at the festival, which was actually waaaay better than I was expecting. 

FOOD TALK OVER FEEL FREE TO RESUME NORMAL READING

The coolest thing we had this week was probably the little festival we went to on Saturday. We heard about a festival in this town just north of 一関 (Ichinoseki) called Hiraizumi, and we thought we'd go and make a showing and talk to some people and be friendly and try to pass out flyers for our English class. So the festival is based around people picking up and carrying these big arc-of-the-covenant-looking-altars down the street in cool blue judo gi-looking things, and I'm pretty sure people just dump water on them as they march by. Super cool, right? Super Japanese-y. But turns out the big main festival was yesterday on Sunday, and Saturday was more of the family event version where basically all of the first graders in Hiraizumi get together and put on their little costumes and pick up little versions of the arc and march around and wow, it was the cutest thing I have ever seen. This one kid saw us and just started pointing at us and said ”外国人、スゲ! which means "foreigners, cool!". He kept spotting us whenever we moved around, and we were play-shooting each other with ki blasts and basically we made some good homies. We met some cool guys from Australia too (I see you Elder Barr), and one of the guys was using words like "groovy" unironically, and it kind of made me question my entire descriptive vocabulary. We also got given a couple of bottles of green tea tea by a guy who we were talking to, which is the funniest because we don't drink TEA. But yeah, met and talked to some really solid people, sharing the gospel one chubby six year old Japanese kid at a time.

The other super cool thing this week was 手話 (sign language) circle, where we learned hand language and it was legit! We show up randomly and it turns out the missionaries used to go all the time and everybody there loves missionaries and is hilarious and super nice and we met two people who used to be investigators and we spent an hour talking to this super chill fifty-something year old deaf guy who was HILARIOUS and has good taste in ramen and used to play AMERICAN FOOTBALL?!?!?! when he was younger, and we became homies right off the bat. It still surprises me how much I can say in my very limited 手話,(sign language) probably all the Gift of Hands (that was a gift of tongues joke). From what I have seen, deaf people in Japan are a lot more American-seeming than most Japanese people, there are some cultural nuances they either don't pick up on or just don't follow, and they end up being a lot more fun and outgoing and loving and all that, I love Japanese deaf people. Also his six year old granddaughter was there too and being kind of annoying and it was adorable to see the grandpa-granddaughter relationship, basically 手話 (sign language)circle is now my favorite part of the week.

So in interviews with President Sekiguchi this last week, he was talking to me a little bit about how I can use my talents for good and I ended up telling him about how I am using my little sampler to take samples of the sounds of Tohoku, and he thought that was really cool and basically wants to get me an interview with a newspaper and maybe television station and use that as a tool for finding. Crazy, right? crazy COOL. He's an inspired man and he has a lot of love in him for his missionaries. I am excited to work with him and try to use the special talents I have as a way to help, serve, find, and teach others. You all have talents too, you might not even recognize them, but try to find them or maybe ask a friend or family member to help you find them. Identify them and strengthen and use them, and it will change your life and the lives of those around you. Do it. And maybe read the parable of the talents in the New Testament if you want to, that's also a good one.

Love all y'all and I hope you have a wonderful week!

オーギル長老 (Elder Orgill)

(Random fun stuff, it's like 90 degrees and a billion percent humidity every day here, but turns out I actually like the heat; I guess I really am from California)

Panorama from Motsuji (temple)

Obligatory weekly food picture -- awesome ramen

Picture planted in a rice field

"Ya Boy"

I don't know what this is but it was cool

"Waiting Princess Waterfall". What is she waiting for? Probably more
pictures of Elder Orgill's food

Literally built into a rock

Gorge near Ichinoseki

The lads at the Gorge

Look at this GORGEous photo
get it? GOREGEous? Because it's a gorge. Haha. Nice.
video
Video from local festival

Monday, July 10, 2017

Witnessing the HOLY FLEX – week 46

Spit bars
Ima drop a beat on this shiz
It's bubblin in Sendai
Like Pocari sweat fizz
Just kidding. Pocari sweat is non-carbonated
Ima rap this email even if I get hated
Stay with your companion, never get separated
My raps are like a spices, got value get traded
Now I'ma chill, I hope these raps are satisfactory
Cause I’ma put in work like a MONKEY IN A BANANA CANNING FACTORY
OHHHHHHHHHHH

This week we had to walk around in the rain, so to pass the time we started freestyle rapping. Music videos in progress. We also have started trying to tell each other ridiculous things and convince each other it's true. The best thing I convinced Elder Garaycochea of this week is that for my masters thesis I want to go into the field of hypothetical culture and study hypothetical Egyptian skater culture. What would the pyramids have looked like if the Egyptians had skateboards? Would the statues and art have been different? And I also convinced him that for my masters thesis I wanted to attempt to answer the question "Would King Tut have been able to do a kickflip?" Tohoku is a party, y'all.

This week was super solid, I had giant gyouza (pot stickers) at a podunk ramen shop run by a 77-year old lady who's super sassy, had the legendary jajamen at a shop here in town (it's a pork and black bean paste sauce that goes over noodles, you put on as much garlic as you want and it's amazing, also a total copy of a Chinese/Korean dish). Other than that, I tried my hand at making chicken wings again, which was pretty solid, and I made the BEST GYOUZA I HAVE EVER HAD. There's this magical ingredient called Shantan, and it is like a solid bouillon the texture of ice cream and you can make 中華そば (Chinese noodles) with it and I basically made garlic shantan butter gyouza and they're so good they don't even need sauce.

This week I also saw the biggest bug I have ever seen while housing, I legit thought it was one of those plastic prank ones until it started moving and I had a silent prayer that the person would not open their door so I could get away from there as soon as possible and THE LORD ANSWERS PRAYERS.

Found some scriptures I like this week about how the "Lord will make bare his arm", which I guess in old English is a way of saying God will demonstrate his power, but I've started thinking of it as a "holy flex", and every time we see a miracle it isn't because of us, it's just us working as instruments and the Lord manifesting his power through a holy flex.

So a few super cool things from the last week. I got to meet President Sekiguchi, and he's amazing, he's so young and full of energy and I absolutely already have a testimony that he's receiving revelation on behalf of the mission here. I am so excited to work with him, and I can already feel his love towards all of us and I'm so privileged and blessed to have had a year with President Smith and to have a year with him as well.

No new investigators this week (yet), but a few things are falling into place really well and things are starting to work out 🏋, Elder G and I found a 手話 (Japanese sign language) circle we are going to try to go to this week and we found some new places we want to try to find people and we're looking into more creative ways of finding people. And some super solid news, we have a recent convert here who is inactive because her husband is pretty opposed to the church, but we met her and it was super awesome and super good timing with a lot of different things and she told us about how she was thinking about coming back to church and thinking about how she missed talking to the missionaries and stuff like that, and she said she's going to do her best to come back to church and also bring me some Filipino food when she does (she's Filipino), and basically just MIRACLES all around.

Another miracle from this week happened yesterday - I got assigned to give a talk, but only 10 people showed up and the branch president and his second counselor had to talk after me and fill up 45 minutes and they both talk every other week and basically told me "take as much time as you want to or can", so I got up there with seven (English) bullet points and gave a 20 minute talk in Japanese about using the scriptures in our lives and the blessings that come from it. Didn't think I'd be able to do THAT as easily as I did before the mission, I couldn't even manage to go over 12 minutes or so in English with hours of preparation. So yeah, something about constantly having a desire to open my mouth and share things and then having a chance on Sunday, blessings.

So for my little thought this week I want to remind you all of a little duality in the Book of Mormon. I just recently finished reading through the Book of Mosiah, and it talks about two prophets - Alma and Abinadi. Abinadi is called of God to lift his voice up and cry repentance to the people - he is taken, bound, brought before the king, and eventually put to death by fire because of his testifying and teaching (which he was called to do by God) were considered blasphemy and offended the wicked king. In his ministry, he saw absolutely no success; no souls were brought unto repentance, though he sealed his testimony with his blood. And then we have Alma, a wicked priest of King Noah, who heard Abinadi's words, repented, fled to the woods, taught hundreds of the words and teachings of Abinadi, and baptized hundreds. Both of them were at some point commissioned of God with the work they were to do, but the success they saw varied greatly.

I was thinking a bit about this duality recently, and I was surprised yesterday morning to get a phone call from President Sekiguchi. He told me that an investigator I had found in Yamagata had been baptized on Saturday, and that he wanted his thanks conveyed to me and Elder Sato for finding him. We found him on splits some five months or so ago, and I honestly didn't even recognize the name when I heard it. If I remember correctly, it was somewhat late in the evening and I felt like we should house a certain apartment. We started at the top, and the first person that even listened to our message was him on the bottom floor. He looked sad and smelled heavily of smoke, but we shared a short message about how our purpose of life is to have joy, gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon (which he reluctantly took), and moved on. I've been a missionary for 10 months, and so far I've only had one investigator so far who has even had a baptismal date. So yeah, it's discouraging at times, sometimes I feel like what I do has no effect, but it was really a miracle for me to be reminded that what I am doing is changing people's lives, even if I might not see it.

Love you all, do something good and never forget about the impact you have on others, it's bigger than you think.


Elder MC Orgill  / オーギル長


"Artsy"

Jajamen

Ramen

Huge gyouza

Still a better ISP than Comcast (that was an internet service provider joke)

Reset mode - buzz lightyear

"Stunt It"

He tried to do the king size and failed.

Made more wings and they were pretty good

It really BUGS me that bugs this big exist (haha get it? Bugs? haha. It's a pun)

Made amazing gyouza

Cookies and cream ice cream in between two black thunders (crushed up
Oreo covered in chocolate)

Baghead

New take on an old meme