Elder Giles

Elder Giles
Mission Photos

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Miracles wrought by the hand of faith‏

Dear Family,
I can`t believe I`m almost to my 6 month mark. Wow, time absolutely flies out here. I know that my mission will only start to go by faster and faster as time goes on and I get more and more used to this life and this incredibly difficult language.
I don`t really know what happened this week but I feel as if my language ability has exploded. I can now understand almost everything people say, it changes from person to person, but for the most part, I`m finally getting it. I`ve noticed as well that as my understanding starts to increase more I`m able to notice how to use words that I`ve been hearing but haven`t known how to use them. Its crazy! I still have a long way to go. This week, however, was the first time I`ve been able to teach part of the doctrines of the lesson without having things written out. Its been incredible to see the growth and the progress I`ve made from August 7, 2013 to now. I feel so blessed to have this opportunity to learn this language. I don`t know how yet, but I know the Lord has more uses for my Japanese than just my mission.
This week was the first time on my mission that my companion and I have hit ALL of our weekly goals. It`s been incredible the success we`ve been able to see. We taught a man this week about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We found this guy two weeks ago outside of a convienee eating a bag of cookies. He`s deaf in his right ear and we`re pretty sure he has a social dissorder but he agreed to give us his number and then came to church last week! We met with him again on Saturday and he was able to open up a little bit more too us about his life. This man works in a factory where the conditions are very poor. I almost cry every time I see this man`s hands. They`re almost rubbed raw from all the abuse they take. He`s really quiet but he told us how he likes games and spending most of his free time in the arcade. We taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it was the first time I took the lead in a lesson. I really had to simplify words like `Atonement` and `sin` but with the help of my native companion, he got the idea. We explained the importance of Baptism and how by receiving Baptism we can be free of our sins and able to return to the presence of God. After we taught we talked more about Baptism and asked him if he would like to be baptized. In our preparation before the lesson, when we were praying about his Baptism date, we both felt strongly that he could be baptized pretty soon because of his pure heart. When we asked him to be baptized I felt one of the strongest feelings of love and peace that I`ve ever felt in my life and I swear the veil was lifted from my eyes because I saw how much Heavenly Father loves this man. It was so beautiful. He will be baptized on March 16, 2014.
We taught another one of our investigators later that day. This investigator has been meeting with the missionaries for about four years now and because of severe depression, hasn`t really progressed and hasn`t committed to be baptized. His depression is so bad that his hands shake uncontrollably and he can`t make a lot of our lessons because he has to stay home. It`s absolutely heartwrenching what this man has to go through. We started the lesson just by talking. We talked a little bit about his family and I told him about my family too. I showed him my family picture and he couldn`t believe how much Dad and I looked alike. We talked for about an hour and a half about his interests and hobbies and just about everything else there is to talk about. When we started the lesson we taught him about prayer. The lesson was going really well but he still had a lot of doubts about our church and about God. We got to the point in the lesson where we demostrate how to pray and then asked him to pray. My companion and I both offered simple prayers and asked him how he felt. He said he felt good but it wasn`t really anything special. We asked him to pray and gave him a little card with the steps of prayer on it. I`ve never heard a more personal prayer. He even started to tear up and cry during it. I couldn`t help but think that this was probably the first time this man has talked to Heavenly Father since coming to this world thirty six years ago. The feeling was amazing. The love of God is so powerful. We`re taking this really slow with him so he won`t be getting baptized anytime soon but I know he has now felt the love of Heavenly Father.
This week has been awesome. I`m learning so much on how to rely on the Lord and really applying what I learn in personal study into the rest of my day. My growth has been amazing to see and I really feel like I`m getting closer to the missionary Heavenly Father wants me to be. This week has been really funny too! We`ve asked everyone on the street that we contact where they think I`m from and almost everyone says Italy, France, or England. Its hilarious! I even had a guy tell me he thought I was from Canada. Canada? Are you serious?? It was awesome! The people here are awesome. I love Osaka. The people are a lot more friendly than they were in Akashi. I`m loving it!

I hope you all have a great week. I love you all!
Elder Jeffrey M. Giles

Some additional pics from Ninja City promised last week.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Tired, Tired, TIRED but still smiling

Hello family! I hope you`ve all had a great week! Mine has been absolutely crazy!
We packed our bags and shipped them off last Preparation Day and went up to the Ninja City before heading back down to Osaka Sakai. The Ninja museum and stuff was way cool but everything was super expensive! We got to see the Ueno Castle too which was really cool. I`ll send some really cool pictures in a little bit!
Back to the everything-was-expensive-in-Ninja-City part, my companion and I blew through all the money we had and we had about a three hour train ride to Osaka that we didn`t know how we were going to pay for. We had a few dollars for the short trip back to Nabari but that was about it. One of the other missionaries gave us about $10 before we left so that got us that far. On the train we were wondering how in the world we were going to get to Osaka after the train switch in Nabari. I said a little prayer on the train and just asked Heavenly Father if there was any way he could help us get to Osaka. After I prayed I remembered that I packed my coin pouch in my carry on bag that I had with me and I felt like I should check it again even though I KNEW I only had a few cents in there. I got the pouch out and opened it up and low and behold, a 500 yen coin was right there in plain sight. I don`t know how it got there. I really don`t. All I know is angels watch over missionaries and we were able to get to Osaka by the hair on our chins.
It was really crazy having to start from zero again in a new area. Because we left Nabari so fast we had to leave our bikes there too and we couldn`t bring them with us so this week we`ve just been on foot. Its been pretty tough because the only place to find people, the Sakai Higashi Eki, is the only place to find people and it`s about an hour walk or so from our apartment. After making this walk several times this week my body was just about ready to quit. I was sore, tired, and complaining. I was praying one night and I just told Heavenly Father, `Look, I`m doing everything I can, I can barely keep myself up on my knees right now, but I know you can make me strong, I don`t want to be tired and sore anymore and I don`t EVER want to complain again. Please help me.` My mind was immediately drawn back to my first day in the field, on the train heading to Akashi with S 長老. The train was crowded and during one of the stops a lady pushed her father onto the train in a wheelchair. I couldn`t help but look at the man`s eyes and see despair. This man couldn`t walk but I saw hope. I felt so much compassion and love towards this man and I was drawn to recall my own circumstances and how blessed I really am to have what I have. I remembered thinking of what a blessing it was that I could just walk. The Lord has blessed me with the strength to stand on my own. As I remembered this experience during my prayer I apologized for my pethetic complaining. I am so blessed in my life. No matter how tired, sore, or hungry I get I will never complain again because I have been blessed so much. The Lord really does send angels to protect and watch over his missionaries.
Sakai has been really great. Its nice to get back to the city where we always have a lot of people to talk to. The city itself is pretty dirty but its alright because the people are what matter. We`ve been doing nothing but finding this past week and the Lord blessed us with three new investigators! Two of which came to stake conference yesterday! The Sakai Church is the Stake Center of the Osaka Sakai Stake so it`s almost a Utah sized building which has been awesome! Its quite the contrast from our last area where we were on the fourth floor of an office building with about 15 members. Now we have fifty and they are all awesome! I`m really excited about the opportunity to serve in this area!
So I have a cool experience from last night. I was wasn`t really feeling that great and I was a little sick to my stomach as we went to bed. I couldn`t sleep so I kept just getting up and walking around or just going through some of my pictures. I finally tried to get some sleep but something was keeping me awake. I decided I would go grab a drink of water and see if I couldn`t go to sleep after that. I walked in the kitchen and noticed a flickering blueish light coming from the corner of the room. I really couldn`t tell what it was but as I got closer I saw that it was the stove still turned on under a pot that had been left from earlier in the evening. If that would have stayed on we would have burned our apartment to the ground. I was so glad that the spirit kept me awake and prompted me to see what was wrong. I know that the Spirit can guide us if we just listen and now I have an experience to back that up.
I`m doing great. I love life and I can`t believe I`m almost 1/4 done with my mission. Its crazy how fast time flies in the mission field. I love you all and I hope you`re having a great week! I read Mosiah chapters 2 and 3 this morning and I absolutely loved it. I`d recommend reading there if you all have time this week! Godspeed!
Elder Giles

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Big News from Mie Ken- Nabari!


Well it`s been a great run here in Nabari for a whole 11 days but I`m sad to say that I`ve been fast tracked back to the big city. My companion and I got a call from the Assistants to the President last night around 8:30 saying that we would transfer today. Our apartment right now is way to small and we were pretty much living on top of each other. They decided that our living situation would be to stressful for the next few weeks and they couldn`t find a new apartment so my companion and I are leaving today! Crazy right? My new area is called Sakai and it`s back closer to Osaka so I`ll be going back to the city! I`m really excited!

Nabari was a great place and I`ll be really sad to leave. It reminded me a lot of Heber actually! The ward here was great, even if it was only 10 people and on the fourth floor of an office building. I was really excited about maybe having the opportunity to retire another sheep number in Nabari. There is currently three more elect waiting in Nabari but I guess the Lord needs other missionaries to find, teach, and baptize them! Even though I was only here for 11 days I really have grown to love the country side of Japan. Its way different but I like it a lot. The people are more relaxed and you don`t really feel pressured all the time like you do in the city. I`m looking forward to going back to the fast life in Sakai though! 

We had I really cool experience last night when we were housing this neighborhood. The night before I felt like we should go house this one part of our area that was up a really steep hill. I didn`t know why but I just felt like we needed to go. After church we rode up the mountain to this area. When we got there neither of us really knew where we were supposed to go and we both know very well that housing in Japan is a waste of time unless you have a specific revelation for where to go. My companion and I prayed for guidance and still didn`t really know where to go so we just started to ride. Went to the very corner of this area and just started knocking on doors. We weren`t having any success at all. I lot of slammed doors and no`s but we just kept going. After an hour and a half or so we felt like we should ride again. We started riding but up the hill through this neighborhood when I saw a man and his son outside working on their gate. Like I usually do I just gave them a nice `Konnichiwa!` The guy looked up at me and in almost perfect english said, `Hello!` I was way surprised and I asked him if he actually spoke english. He said that he did a little bit but he wasn`t that great at it. I started to ride again when he said, `Hey, you`re mormon missionaries right?` I responded that we were and he said, `Can you help me?` I almost fell over right there in the road because that kind of thing NEVER happens. He said that his daughter had an english test coming up and she really needed some help so she could pass and asked if I could take a little bit of time and help her out. I said that of course I could and he took us into their house. The daughter was really shy but she had pretty decent english. I told her that I speak Japanese which really seemed to calm her down and I was able to help her out a little bit! The family was really excited about our Free Family English Program that we do and they plan on coming to our free english class this week! The Dad said that the family went to the mormon church a couple of times but they stopped going because they got busy. It just goes to show that the Lord really does direct this work and he really does guide his servants where they need to be. I`m so grateful to be lead by the Spirit on my mission. I don`t know what I would do without it.

We had an awesome New Years conference last week in Ibaraki. I can`t stress enough how much I love my mission president. He`s the man. We got a new training plan for the mission called `It`s about you... Relying on Him`. It`s all about putting all of our trust in the Lord. It`s exactly what I need right now in my mission for sure and I`m really excited about it! I had the opportunity to share my own personal conversion story in Japanese in front of the conference which was really cool! I was super nervous but I was able to give it pretty well and actually got a little choked up during it. I just feel so blessed to be a member of this church. I`ve been so blessed in my life and I`m so grateful to have been raised in the gospel. We sang our mission theme song at the end of the conference, its `To Bring the World His Truth` translated into Japanese. I couldn`t contain my emotions and I just started to cry as we sang the song. I love this mission. Kobe is a special place. I know I was chosen to come here before this life, I know that there are people here that need the gospel and they need to hear it from me. This is God's work and without him I know I am nothing! We have two special goals set up with this new training plan; 1) We will see 400 investigators at church on Febuary 2 and 2) Every single companionship in the Japan Kobe Mission will see a baptism by March 23! Crazy right! I`m so excited!

I love you all!

Elder Jeffrey M. Giles

Sunday, January 5, 2014

New area, new companion, totally different experience!

Hello family

Greetings from Nabari! My new area is awesome! The change was like going from downtown Salt Lake to Heber! Its crazy how different it is here. I`m loving the country though! 

My new companion is pretty great. He`s a lot more easy going than My trainer was so it`s a nice change.

We`re opening up this area, there where two Elders here before and they just made it a four Elder area so we`re pretty much starting from scratch! It`s been pretty crazy because really all we can do is go out finding because we have absolutely 0 investigators! It`s alright though, the elect number in Nabari is 3 and we have a goal to find and baptize all 3 this transfer!

The area itself is very pretty. Its nice to be up in the mountains but its wayyy cold! Our apartment situation is pretty crazy right now. The apartment is fairly new but it was definitely built for two people! Right now I eat, sleep, and study in the kitchen! It`s hilarious! The church is on the fourth floor of an office building and I think I can count on two hands the amount of members that came to church yesterday. Its way different than Akashi, we don`t get food from the members very much but they are still awesome and I`m so grateful for how strong they are! The first day we got here one of the members had us over for lunch at his house with him and his wife. It was nice of them and the husband even spoke a little bit of english! Our second day another couple from the ward had us over for dinner to introduce themselves to us. It was fantastic. I love Nabari!

I can`t believe what a change it has been from being trained to just being a regular missionary right now. I feel like my entire mindset has changed. I`m a lot more excited about the work and a lot more motivated to find the elect in this area! We`ve been biking all over this area like crazy the last few days. It was tough to say goodbye to Juliet... oh well. She`ll be a great story for another poor new missionary I guess!

I wish I had some cool crazy experience to share this week but it`s pretty much just been a ton of housing and streeting! I can`t believe how much my confidence has gone up with my Japanese. I`m really starting to improve a lot, I can almost understand everything people say but my speaking is still pretty rough. I just keep reminding myself that the Lord will provide a way for what he has commanded us to do. I love Japanese. It`s the most beautiful language in the world and I feel so blessed for the opportunity to learn it. I can`t help but think that the Lord wants me to be quite fluent or he wouldn`t have put me with two Japanese companions in a row. I`ve talked to a lot of older missionaries who never even had a native companion on their mission, how crazy is that? I`m being blessed so much! My new companion's style is very similar to mine so I believe we can be quite effective this transfer! Its funny, we`re both Tokai (city) Missionaries who got exiled out to the far reaches of Osaka. It`s awesome!

I think the most difficult thing I`ve done so far was saying goodbye to the man I baptized two transfers ago. On my last day in Akashi, S Choro and I went to visit him to tell him that I was being transferred. We had a great last lesson and I shared with him the scripture from the Book of Mormon Mosiah 2:21-22 and told him how much I want him to stay faithful so we can meet again someday. He actually teared up when we had to say goodbye and so did I. I know that I`ll see him again someday. It might not be in this life, but what a blessing to be a part of his eternal progression. Ah, I love this church! I can`t believe how much we take it for granted sometimes. We are so blessed to be a part of Gods church on the earth today.

My Zone Leaders called me yesterday and gave me an assignment to share my conversion story in Japanese at Zone Conference this week! I`m way nervous and I`ve been praying a lot that I just won`t sound like an idiot up there but I`m excited for the opportunity.

I hope you all had a great new years! I just went to bed at the normal time so I didn`t see the new year but its great to finally be in 2014. I`ll be 20 this year! I`m getting old... Can you believe I`ve been out for 5 months already? Its crazy! I love you fam! Have a great week! Godspeed!

Elder Giles