Elder Giles

Elder Giles
Mission Photos

Sunday, February 23, 2014

One suit down, two more to go...

Hello eeeevvverrryyyyone!
  I can honestly say I can`t believe I`m back in this chair sending my weekly email home again. This week went by so fast! I`m not even really sure I can remember all the cool things we did this week but I`ll try my best! I have to start out with some bad news.. The other day one of our potential investigators came to the church to play ping pong and have a lesson and I managed to completely tear the seam on the pants of my gray suit... I was so bummed! Six months in and I already wrecked one of my suits. I`m sure you`re all wondering how on Earth either ping pong or a lesson could destroy a suit. Lets just say in the last four and a half months of biking the hills of Japan, I`ve put about three inches on my quads making my suit pants just a LITTLE tight. Needless to say when I reached down to pick up the ping pong ball they finally broke lose at the seam. I`ll attach a picture so you can all see what I was working with..
 On the other hand the lesson with our Potential Investigator went great and he is now an Investigator with a Baptismal Date! He`s a 17 year old high school student that we contacted on the street a week or so ago. He wasn`t really that interested in learning about a church but he agreed to come anyway. After the first lesson he agreed to come back two days later to talk again. The second time we taught him about God and played some Ping Pong again (don`t worry, I was careful with my pants this time). We taught him about Heavenly Father and his interest started to increase! He now understands that God is our Father in Heaven and we are his children, our goal is to be able to return to his presence, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is how we prepare. We committed him to be baptized and he agreed! His baptismal date is set for Mom`s birthday, April 20! We`re way excited.
 This week at our District Meeting we got a big surprise. Apparently, as a mission, we weren`t doing a great job of applying our training plan about relying on Jesus Christ so our Mission President gave us a new one focused only on who exactly the Savior is. Its so awesome. In order to hit our Baptismal Goal by March 23 we need to know our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ perfectly. Not only that but we need to establish our working relationship with him in order to do HIS work the way HE wants it done. I`ve learned so much in the last few days about Christ. I`ve read a lot from Elder James E. Talmage`s `Jesus the Christ` and it has brought new light and knowledge to my life about who exactly Jesus Christ is. I absolutely love that book. On page on 21 of that book he talks about why the Savior was qualified to be just that, our Savior. He talks about how he was the only perfect sinless man, how he was chosen in the grand councils before the Earth was, and how he is the only man that is literally the physical son of Heavenly Father. Truly the firstborn of the Father, and the Only Begotten in the Flesh.
 Its the simple truths of Jesus Christ that really build my testimony of him. I`m so grateful that this is his work. I can`t even imagine trying to do this alone. Aside from all the stresses of missionary work, obedience, daily schedule, minimal food, ect. I have this incredibly difficult language to try and learn to the best of my ability. Without the help of Jesus Christ I would be no where right now. Sometimes it gets tough. Its really hard. I read a really cool quote from President Hinckley that said something along the lines of, `Isn`t it great that the Lord allows us to experience the lowest of lows so that the highest of highs feels so great?` Thats really how it is. I`ve experienced just about every single emotion a human is capable of experiencing in the last six months. I`ve been sad, mad, happy, content, angry, depressed, ecstatic, and felt the greatest joys in life and I`m so grateful for each and every one because they have made me, and continue to make me, the man I am now. I`ve grown so much on my mission and it`s because I know my Lord and Savior better than I ever have in my life.
 This morning I read 2 Nephi 7:7 and I loved how simple it is. I won`t spoil it here but go and read it for yourself. The simple message is this, `I know he will help me.`
 I love you all and I hope you all have an awesome week! I got the family calendar in a package this week and I absolutely loved it! I loved the grandkids picture on the front with everyone holding a picture of some guy in a suit. Wasn`t really sure what that was about but It was pretty cool I guess... :). I love you guys!!!!!!

Elder Jeffrey M. Giles

Thank you for the 6 month care package!!! It was awesome!!!!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Snow, Fasting, and Prayer

Hello fam!
  We`ve had a crazy weather week here in Osaka! On Wednesday we woke up to a few inches of snow on the ground. It was the first time in close to ten years that they`ve had that much snow here. Thankfully it was warm enough that it only stayed for a day or so. It was super wet and gross, nothing like the snow in Utah. It was so weird though! We had fun making snow men in the few extra minutes we had at lunch that day.
  This week has been awesome! Our numbers shot up and we are feeling the blessings of the Lord so strongly! Because we have such an important goal to achieve this transfer we decided that it would be really helpful to fast every week. We started our fast on Thursday in hopes of finding a new investigator and having a baptism by March 23.  We were street contacting around the train station by our apartment when I watched this guy walk into the station, wait as if he were waiting for someone, then turned and looked at us. He casually wandered out of the station when my companion called out to him. We introduced ourselves as missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and he told us he had seen one of our churches in his previous area before moving to Sakai but had never really known anything about our church. We talked for a little bit and he expressed real interest in our church and desired to learn more about Jesus Christ. He didn`t have a phone so we walked with him down the street a little ways so he could show us where his apartment was. We asked him if we could meet him at the station the next day and walk to the church for an introduction and a lesson. He accepted and then walked back to his apartment. I didn`t think about it until later that night during our planning session when it hit me. There was no real rhyme or reason for him to be at the station that day. He walked in, simply looked around as if he was waiting for someone, proceeded to talk with us, and then went back to his apartment when we were finished talking. It was so weird!
  We met him and went to the church the next day and he absolutely loved it. We gave him our `Setting the Table` lesson where we give him an overview of what we teach and he actually had a really good foundation about God! He told us he saw things as God is on the top, he`s our Father, and we are all his children so the whole human family is actually related. We were like, `Yeah thats pretty much it!` He was more than willing to come to church yesterday as well. He came to church and stayed for all three meetings and even took good notes during Sunday school! We taught him after church with a recent convert from the ward who was baptized in December. We talked about God again and our member gave a great testimony and his personal experience about meeting and being taught by the missionaries. It was an extremely powerful lesson. We briefly went over the Gospel of Jesus Christ and then asked him to be baptized. He gave a solid `Yes.` and will be baptized on March 23! I got the confirmation when we asked him to be baptized that he was the one. This will be the one that we baptize this transfer. It was an awesome feeling!
  We got another new investigator this week too! He`s nineteen right now and pretty much a straight up Japanese thug. We were street contacting and I called over to him from across the street and he came right over and talked to us. He`s way cool and loves Americans. He talked to me about how much he likes American Hip Hop so we bonded over that and sports! We invited him to our church party on Sunday and he said he would come. We taught him after the party and he actually showed some interest in learning about God! He`s going to make a solid missionary in a few years! Both Y 長老 and I had a great feeling about him and we look forward to teaching him more! I think we`re going to go play soccer with him and his friends later this week in Osaka too so I`m excited for that!
  We had a great week and I`m so greatful for all the love and support that you all show me. When times are tough all I have to do is remember that I have a loving family and Heavenly Father and everything is ok. Its insane how fast this mission is going. I grow so much as a person and a missionary every day and it absolutely terrifies me because I know I`ll be home before anyone even knows it. Two years is nothing compared to what Heavenly Father has given us. He asks so little and gives us so much. I`m more aware of that every day. I know in his strength I can do all things and I gain confidence in the knowledge that no matter how bad my Japanese is, it will be backed up by the hosts of Heaven. This is his work and his glory. I`m merely a lowly tool in his hands just trying to do what I can. I love my Heavenly Father and I love my Savior Jesus Christ.
  Have an awesome week everyone! I love you!
Elder Jeffrey Maxwell Giles

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Just keep on keeping on

Hello Family!
  I hope everyone is doing well and is enjoying the OLYMPICS! USAUSAUSA! Japan really doesn`t get that into it from what I`ve seen and I`m kind of sad! I hope everyone`s having a good week and I`m actually surprised to say that Osaka was more like Utah this past week! We actually got an inch or two of snow and I guess it only snows once every five or so years here!
  This week was REALLY slow as far as numbers go. We couldn`t find anyone to save our lives so this week we`re planning on changing it up a lot! We`re really trying to show our faithfulness so we can see a baptism by March 23! I think tonight we will pray as a companionship for a revelation on when exactly we will see our baptism and work from there. Right now we have an investigator with a baptismal date but recently we haven`t really been able to meet with him so we`re not sure how solid he is for baptism!
  This week I got to go on exchanges with my District Leader and his companion. I went down to Sennan on Wednesday with Elder J and we had a really good time! It was really different being with an American companion. We planned a lesson for one of their investigators that is really committed to baptism but has a problem with giving up his old religion for this one. We were unsure of how exactly we could tell him in a gentle and unforced way that he had to give up his old religion in order to be baptized. We planned on teaching him about the Ten Commandments and really focusing on the first commandment, No other Gods before me, and letting him kind of sort out the details for himself. The planning went pretty well and we had a solid lesson plan set up so we went out to find. We went to this apartment complex to do some housing and no one was really responding very well so we decided to go pray for some guidance. After praying I felt really strongly that we should go to this other building and just work our way down. On the fourth floor of the building a man answered the door and at first, seemed pretty uninterested. He told us he was Buddhist and wasn`t interested in Christianity. We finally just told him a little bit about our English Programs and he opened up a ton! He let us into his house and we talked for over an hour about English and about what we were doing. He has really been wanting to learn English because he has a daughter that lives in California and a Granddaughter that only speaks English so he really wants to be able to talk to her. We were really excited about his good desire and he now wants to do our Free Family English Program where we teach a half hour of English and a half hour of the Gospel. He was totally willing to listen to our message as long as he got some English experience with it! I`m curious to see what the Lord has in store for this man. He works in mysterious ways thats for sure.
  My exchange with my District Leader, Elder H, was awesome. He barely speaks a lick of English but he`s absolutely hilarious! He really helped me to open up and just talk with people out on the streets. We had a pretty good day but we were still really struggling to find people. It got really late and it was just about time to head home so we walked to our bikes to leave. When we got to our bikes I got this impression to wait for just a minute. I stood there in the dumping snow wondering why on Earth I was still outside just desperately trying to get people to stop. One guy walked by and I said hello but he didn`t seem to notice and kept walking. I kept looking at the guy and about fifteen feet later he stopped dead and turned around. He came back over to me and asked, `Can you speak English?` I said yes. We talked for a little bit and he said he`d love to come to our English class and meet with us next week so I`m excited to see how that turns out!
 This week I`ve been thinking a lot about how I can change to become the missionary that God wants and expects of me. I`m trying to fill my potential but it can be really hard sometimes. I`ve been reading a lot of 2nd Nephi and Mosiah this past week and I came across a beloved set of scriptures that I read a while back with my trainer. 2nd Nephi 4 talks about when Lehi finally passes away. Before he goes down to the grave he blesses his posterity telling them that their seed would be preserved. He passes away and a few days later, Laman, Lemuel, and the sons of Ishmael come after Nephi again. I can`t image how Nephi must have felt. He just became a prophet, his Dad just passed away, and his brothers still attack him. He was having a rough time. I imagine he was close to giving up when he starts to pray to Heavenly Father. I think it starts in verse twenty five or so. He asks why he is subject to sin and pretty much why things are the way they are. He finally asks God, `Wilt thou redeem my soul?` He repents of his way and then asks God to remove his stumbling blocks and make his was straight before him. I think it`s verse 30 or so when he says something like, `I won`t trust in the arm of the flesh` meaning that he`s no longer relying on himself. He finally understands that the only way to do this work is through trust in the Lord. I`m trying to do the same thing right now. The only way this work gets done is by trusting in Jesus Christ. That`s all it takes!
 I`ve really been thinking recently about why missionaries get so stressed out sometimes. I mean, it`s not like we have a promise from the creator of all that we WILL succeed or anything like that. President Zinke was talking sort of along the same lines at interviews a few weeks ago. He asked us if there was ever a time in the Saviors Earthly ministry when he was running around wondering where someone was that needed a miracle or if we thought that Elder Richard G. Scott ever ran through the halls of the church office building wondering who has proofread his talk for General Conference. It really is funny to wonder why we stress sometimes. When we trust God. We need not worry of anything else.
 I love you all and I hope you have a great week. Wish me luck! I love you guys!
Elder Jeffrey M. Giles

Sunday, February 2, 2014

`With men, this is impossible, but with God, ALL things are possible.`

Happy Super Bowl Sunday! I hope you all had an awesome week, and more importantly, a better fast and testimony Sunday! This week has been great and we`ve seen miracles in the mission for sure!

At our New Year`s Conference we got a new mission training plan. These trainings just give us a good focus and ways that President Zinke believes that we can further the work in the mission. I absolutely love them and I study it every day! This training plan is called, `Its about you... Relying on Him`. It`s exactly what I needed right now in my mission for sure. The training plan references a lot of scriptures and then helps us to put the doctrine into action in order to reach our goals.

We got two special goals along with this training plan. We were promised that if we really put this training plan into effect that we would see 400 investigators/nonmembers to Sacrement Meeting on February 2, 2014 and also that every companionship in the Japan Kobe Mission would see a baptism by March 23, 2014. These are goals that we, as mere mortals, couldn`t even fathom, but we have faith that the Lord can do all things! It`s been absolutely crazy because not only did my companion, Y 長老 and I start with nothing once this transfer, we had to do it twice! This week has been packed full of inviting absolutely everyone we could to church and planning for the five investigators we have right now.

We knew that in order to reach the goal of 400 investigators to church in the mission we had to have at least 6 investigators in every ward. This didn`t seem like too hard of a task because we usually have 3-4 come but we wanted to make the goal so bad! In the mission, the most investigators/nonmembers we`ve ever had to church was 163. That was WAY intimidating but I think we all had to have faith to see miracles.

One by one we invited to church. We had 3 of our investigators commit to come and the other companionship in our apartment got 7 of theirs to commit to come! We have a really solid ward here in Sakai that`s really excited about missionary work so we asked all the members to do what they could to make the goal. They were all really excited about it and said they would do what they could to bring their friends to church!

Yesterday morning was really stressful trying to figure everything out for sacrement. We had two of our investigators show up and we were really excited to see them but we knew we needed more! When sacrement meeting started I didn`t know how many nonmembers were there until I got up on the stand to bear my testimony. I saw SO many unfamiliar faces sitting with members, it was so awesome! After sacrement we got together with the Ward Missionaries and the Bishopric to total up the numbers. We had 13 nonmembers at church yesterday! It was awesome!
We knew we did our part to achieve the goal but we still weren`t sure if the entire mission had seen the success that we saw. It was going to be even tougher because two of the zones in the mission had Stake Conference this weekend in Kobe and not everyone was going to be able to go all the way to the Stake Center.

We sent our numbers in last night, knowing that of all the wards in our Zone, we needed 60 nonmembers. We got the report from the Zone Leaders last night and we had 73 come in our zone yesterday!

We were ecstatic but we STILL didn`t know whether or not we hit our goal of 400... About an hour or so ago we biked as fast as we could to look up the number on our emails. We had 396 nonmembers at church yesterday. Our God is a God a miracles. From the most EVER of 163 to almost reaching an unthinkable goal of 400. It was amazing.

I couldn`t help but feel the electricity and the spirit in the air in church yesterday. Something big is about to happen in this country. The work is truly about to astonish the entire world. I can`t wait to see what happens with our next goal of every single companionship seeing a baptism by March 23.

If we achieve that goal we will be on pace to shatter another record of baptisms by the end of the year. If we hit our goal we will have 126 baptisms in the mission by March! We had 204 total last year. The Lord is truly hastening his work here in Japan.
I really do feel very priviledged to be here and to be on my mission. Its really weird to think its not `Two Years` anymore. I`m 1/4 done. I`m at six months and I can`t believe how fast it has gone by. This hasn`t been easy by any stretch of the imagination. This is the hardest thing I`ve ever done in my life. Every single day is a struggle but looking back, I can never remember how hard it was, or any specifics, I can only remember the joys. It`s funny how that works right? I read an awesome quote this week that really put into perspective how much the Lord truly loves us. I`m typing this from memory so I might take a few of my own liberties but this is the jist of what it said: `At the end of a mans life he found himself walking along a beautiful beach at sunset with the Savior. The Savior asked him if he would like to view his life one more time, the man said yes, and scenes from his life started to flash across the sky. He saw the joys he had experienced as well as some of the hardest moments in his life. The man couldn`t help but notice that when he was watching the joys in his life, he saw two pairs of footprints in the sand, his, and the Saviors. In the hardest points in his life, however, he only saw one set of footprints. Extremely troubled the man asked the Lord, `How come you always walked beside me in the best moments of my life, but in the hardest times, you left me?` The Savior looked at the man lovingly and said, `My sweet, sweet, child. I would never leave you on your own, for in the hardest, most trying times of your life, It was I that carried you.`
I thought that was so beautiful and a perfect representation of the Saviors love for all of us. I love this work. I love Japan. and I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know he carries me every day.
I love you all! I hope you have an awesome week. I`m praying for you all constantly!
All my love,
Elder Jeffrey Giles