Elder Giles

Elder Giles
Mission Photos

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Reality Setting In

Morning Everyone!

I hope you`re all having a great day. I`m sitting here wondering how
it`s even possible I`m still functioning. I`m so tired, but I feel
good. It`s good to be a missionary. It`s good to soak up these last
few weeks as well. I had my final Zone Conference and final interview
with President W last week in Okayama and wow, I can`t believe the
end is actually here. It feels so weird. These last two years have
gone by so fast, but at the same time, it`s been the longest two years
ever! Ha. I guess that`s just how life goes sometimes. The bottom line
is I wouldn`t trade the experiences and miracles that I`ve seen on my
mission for anything. There`s been a lot of talk on what the biggest
thing I`ve learned on my mission is, and I think it`s got to be this
simple fact: there is a God in Heaven. He loves us and is very aware
of what we`re going through. I have conversed and spoken with my
Heavenly Father many times in the last two years of my life and I can
honestly say that he`s heard every single time. One of the members in
church yesterday about something that would happen in the Ward after
I`ve returned home. I told him that it was too bad I would be
transferring. He looked a little confused and surprised and was like,
"you`re transferring? Where are you going?" I responded with, "Salt
Lake City." That got a good laugh out of all of us. I just can`t
believe how weird it is that it`s almost over. My interview with
President W was incredible. I love that man. We both cried like
children and I can honestly say he`s one of the greatest men I have
ever had the opportunity to work with. After that interview though, I
think it`s safe to say that I`m prepared to transfer to my next area.

 Well, we were blessed with another baptism yesterday. The Lord`s
hand is so strong here in Matsue I love it! The daughter of a Less
Active, H M, was baptized by her recently returned to activity
Father and her Mom was baptized as well. This was one of those tender
mercy baptisms for sure. I seriously didn`t do a thing! I was merely
an instrument to teach M the lessons and prepare her to be
baptized. The Ward and the Spirit did the rest. It was so cool to
witness her Father, who just received the Aaronic Priesthood two weeks
ago, go down into the water and perform his wifes`, and his Daughters`
baptism. It was a special experience for sure and now they`re working
to go to the temple in a year to be sealed as a family. Hopefully in
that time their other children will make the same choice and enter the
waters of baptism so they too can join their family in the temple
soon! The work continues.

 During Zone Conference, President W issued us a new challenge to
read the Book of Mormon again by the end of November of this year.
This time, we`ll be marking and studying specifically the Doctrine of
Christ and how it can apply to us in our own lives. It`s so cool! I`m
only a few chapters into the Book of Mormon so far, but I`ve already
found so many things that have helped me out a ton. Nephi was a beast.
He also shared with us an experience from his own mission. He showed
us a chart of the number of baptisms per month in a three year period
while he was a young missionary and the numbers were crazy! They went
from getting about what we get, which is about 20 baptisms per month,
to over 200 in three years. He explained the reason for this jump in
success. His Mission President issued a challenge to all of his
missionaries that they were to rededicate their areas where they were
serving to missionary work, and also, they were to rededicate
themselves to the work. After they did that as a mission, miracles
happened for sure. Because of that, President W issued us the same
challenge. Next Sunday night, we will be finding somewhere special in
our areas to go, kneel down, and rededicate the area for missionary
work and for the finding of the elect of God. He boldly told us that
"they`re there. Go find them." and I know we will. I`m super excited
about this challenge and this final stage of my mission. I`ll only
have about ten days or so to be rededicated, but man, am I ready to
change and see some miracles in these my last days.

 I`ll close with my testimony of missionary work, my Father in
Heaven, Jesus Christ, and the Prophet Joseph Smith. My mission has
been far from easy. It has stretched me in ways that I never thought
it would. I have come to know myself better than ever before because
of these last two years. I love my mission. I have come to know the
God lives, he loves us, and we are really his children. I feel that
every day as I go out and work. I feel his love and I want so badly
for all of these people in this strange country to feel the same. I`ve
come to walk with my Savior. I know He lives! He descended below all
things, and now sits at the right hand of his Father. Without Jesus
Christ, I am nothing. My life would be incredibly challenging. He has
taken away my guilt and he has given my strength I never knew I had.
I`ve also come to respect and love the Prophet Joseph Smith more than
I ever have. I can`t imagine what he went through. I can`t imagine the
weight that was on his shoulders. I don`t even want to try to imagine
what the weight of an entire dispensation feels like. I know he saw
what he said he saw. He was a Prophet of God and through him, the Book
of Mormon was translated and stands of a witness of the Saviors
divinity. I know that this is the Kingdom of God on the Earth today.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. I leave that
with you, as well as all of my love, in the name of Jesus Christ.

I love you all! I hope you have an awesome week! I`ll see you soon!

Elder Jeff Giles

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Higher Standard

Friends and Family,

I realized this week that I now have too many fingers to count the number of emails I`ll send to all of you before my mission comes to a close. If you think that I`m winding down, and settling in for college life and dating after my mission, you`re wrong. I`m planning on grinding to the last minute. I didn`t come here to fight for two years, and then take it easy for the last few weeks before it`s time to return. I came to serve the Lord, and that reason alone. Sure, I`m exited to come home and see you all, go to college, and date, but those things are in the back corners of my thought process right now. I have work yet to do. 
So we were on a companionship exchange, and we went to visit a member that was recently baptized, but has had some health problems and struggles with the Word of Wisdom that have kept him from coming to church recently. Every time we go over to his house he talks about how hard it is to go to the hospital all the time to get a problem with his leg figured out. He complains how much his leg bothers him and how difficult it is to walk to the church. When we went over to his house, his mood was worse than usual. He showed us all the medication that he had to take for the pain in his leg and just seemed flat frustrated with what was going on. On hearing what this man was saying, I remembered suddenly that the companion I was with at the time knew a lot about the human body and how massaging and physical therapy work to make us better. I looked over at my companion, and signaled that he should try and give him a massage. At first, he was skeptical, and so was I, but we asked the member if he would like to see if my companion could help his sore leg. It took some convincing, but the member agreed to let my companion see if he could help his leg. It was painful, and the member complained quite a bit, but when my companion was finished, all he could say was "本当に有難うございます” and "とても楽" which basically translates to, "thank you so much" and "it feels so good!" He sat there for a moment and my companion told him to try and stand. When the member stood up, he stood straight up faster than either of us had ever seen! We looked at each other in complete surprise and the member was full of joy and gratitude. That`s where the Spirit came in. My companion noticed a pack of cigarettes and a lighter on the table and asked the member if he`d been smoking recently. He said that he had, but he only smoked every three days or so, and he really was trying to quit. My companion told him how tobacco can be very harmful for our bodies, and might be a cause for the pain he was experiencing in his leg. The member agreed and said that he thought he could quit. I took the pack of cigarettes and opened it to see how many he had. There were 8 cigarettes in the pack and I proceded to take 2 of them out. I told the member that it would be difficult to just flat stop, but he could have these last 2, and after that, he was done. The member readily agreed. I asked him if I could take the cigarettes and he said yes. Because we followed the Spirit, and because my companion used the special gits and talents that he has been blessed with, the man was not only healed, but was able to experience a softened heart that lead him to commit to quit tobacco once and for all. Well, going to church yesterday we learned that the member actually continued to have a hard time, and actually got a little mad at us for taking his cigarettes. The member said not to worry and that he just needed to understand the doctrine of our church a little better. I thought of the scripture in 1 Nephi 16 when it says, "guilty taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center". I know he`ll be back. He just needs some time for the Spirit to work on him, and for his body to heal.
I won`t lie, this last transfer has been the hardest one of my mission. I`ve had to deal with some pretty difficult circumstances and situations, but through all of this I`ve learned that God must have a lot more trust in me than I give myself credit for. It`s been a challenge, but nothing has helped me to grow like the last three weeks or so. I know my Father lives. I know Jesus Christ is His Son. I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true. These things I`ve come to know because of the trials I`ve had to overcome. I`ve had to earn a testimony, it hasn`t come easy, but I wouldn`t have wanted it any other way.
I love you all and I hope you all have a great week! We have a Baptism Sunday of a15 year old girl and her Mom. They will be getting baptized by their recently returned to activity Father and husband so we`re excited for that! It`s going to be a great Sunday for sure. I`ll see you all soon. I love you!

Elder Giles

Companionship exchange with Elder T.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

One year older and (hopefully) wiser, too

Friends and Family,

This week was an interesting one, for sure. I wish I could share some
of the details, but I can`t. It`s been a little difficult, but know
that I`m doing just fine and I`m working as hard as I possibly can to
help people my last little while in the mission. It`s so crazy that
I`m also 21 now... I actually forgot it was my birthday yesterday until
I saw an unopened envelope on my desk from Sister W that said,
"don`t open until July 12". Ha! It was a great birthday, for sure!
 Most of this week was spent, well, loving and lifting. That`s all
I`ll say about that. Being a District Leader and a Senior Companion to
a very very young missionary is a huge blessing for sure. It has
helped me to forget myself and just focus on the needs of either my
companion, or my District. Our investigators are doing really well
right now as well. We have a 15 year old girl that will be getting
baptized in two weeks with her Mom. Her parents have had some
difficulties, so long story short, the parents live over in Izumo
(about an hour away) and their daughter lives here in Matsue in an
institution. The Dad was baptized some twenty years ago or so, but has
been less active up until recently when a missionary invited him to
come play ping pong at the church for an activity. He went to that
activity for a few weeks, and then approached the missionaries and
said that he wanted to come back to church, and he wanted his family
to be baptized as well. It was a huge miracle for sure! So yeah, the
Sisters over in Izumo are teaching the Mom and we`re teaching the
daughter here in Matsue. She`s doing really really well. She comes to
church every week and plays with all the kids because we don`t have
any young women in the ward, but she just does what she can anyway.
It`s basically like she`s already a member. We taught her the
Commandments yesterday and she readily accepted all of them. She`ll be
getting interviewed by the Zone Leaders for baptism on Saturday with
her Mom, so miracles are happening for sure!
 We had to jump on the 3 hour bus down to Okayama again last week for
Zone Training Meeting. It was a blast though! We have two Brazilian
Elders who were sent up here to the District to try and start a
Portuguese branch in the area next to ours. One of them in the Son
(trainee) of the one and only Elder Brown, so he`s pretty solid!
They`re both really good guys though. I had fun learning some
Portuguese from them on the way down. Our ZTM was way good. As a Zone,
we`re focusing on "Becoming One through changing". That`s something
that I really really love. I`m so imperfect, and the only way I`m
going to be able to work with someone else is to change and become
more like the Savior. I had the chance to bear my testimony at the end
of the meeting, and I was overcome with gratitude for the two years of
missionary service I`ve been able to have. This really is the greatest
thing I have ever done. I wouldn`t want to be anywhere else, and I
know what I`ve done here has had eternal significance. I`ve come to
know my Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ over the last twenty
three months and that`s something I`m incredibly grateful for.
 I`m sorry I don`t have a lot of time this week because I`ve got to
go celebrate my birthday right! Know that I love you all, and I pray
for you all the time. I hope you have a great week! Wish me luck and
I`ll see you in a little while!

Elder Giles

I`m 21!!!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

No More Counting

Friends and Family,

 This week has been a long one, which is a great thing! I`ll be just
fine if this last little while as a missionary goes by as sllooowwww
as can be! Haha it`s been a great week. Elder Takahashi transferred
out last week and I`ve got a new companion, Elder Jackson, now. He`s a
good guy. He`s from Arizona and came to Japan about 2 months ago. He`s
young, but he`s doing great! Transfer day was a tough one for sure.
This transfer we started transferring with bikes, so there was all
sorts of commotion over that. Usually transfers are done by about one
in the afternoon and everyone is on their way home, but it was a
little different this time. Because we were carrying bikes with us on
the trains, we had to go in smaller, more spread out groups, which
made transfers a LOONG day. To make a long story short, I basically
spent 9 hours in the Okayama train station helping people get where
they needed to be and waiting for missionaries to meet their
companions. It was a drag, but everyone got home safe and sound... I
 The week ended in a great way. We were able to be a part of Brother
Jiken getting the Aaronic Priesthood. It`s amazing to watch him
progress in the Gospel. He worries because he doesn`t speak Japanese
that well, that he is a hinderance because we have to translate for
him all the time. I told him to not think like that, but understand
that it is a major blessing for me to be able to help him. I love the
guy. I want him to stay active and grow in the church forever. I feel
the big responsibility that I have. These people who I`ve helped come
into the church deserve a continuing example of faithfulness to the
Gospel in their lives. I intend to be that example for them. This is
just all part of enduring to the end.
 We had a really interesting experience with one of our Eternal
Investigators that I talked about a few weeks ago. Basically she`s
really lonely. She lives alone and doesn`t really have anyone in her
life so she likes it when the missionaries come over. We figured that
she hadn`t been keeping her commitments, so we went into the lesson
thinking that if she didn`t start showing signs of progression, we
were going to have to drop her. I followed up with her about prayer
and she told us that she hadn`t prayed, and probably wasn`t going to.
She went about talking to us like it was all a big joke. That set off
a fire inside. I asked her why she thought we gave her commandments
and why we were there in the first place trying to share the Gospel
with her. She talked about how missionaries in the past have tried to
get her to do the same things and how she doesn`t really have any
intention of doing anything we ask her to do that isn`t reading from
the Book of Mormon. We testified of the blessings of prayer and how we
can receive answers from God. That`s when the wheels just about came
off. She asked me in a strange way if I had ever REALLY received an
answer from God. I felt something well up inside so strong that I just
couldn`t contain it. It was one of the strongest testimonies I`ve ever
born. I witnessed that God was there. That he lives and that we are
his beloved children. I testified that unless we have a desire to act
on what we receive, we probably won`t get anything. I know that God
lives. He will answer his children IF they are ready. This women just
isn`t ready yet. We committed her one last time to pray for herself to
find out if these things were true. When she receives that answer,
she`ll come to church. I love bearing testimony. My testimony has
grown so much here and I was able to fully witness that when it was
put to the test. I can say with all that I have that I know this
Church is true and that Jesus Christ is our Savior. God does indeed
hear us and I`m incredibly grateful for that.
 That`s about it for me this week. I love you all and I hope you all
have a great week. Pray for my companion and I and I`ll see you all in
a little while! I love you!

Elder Giles

Happy 4th of July!