Monday, January 27, 2014

A Rushed Report

I don't have much time to write today, because today, there's a District Activity. We're going out for something called 焼肉(yakiniku) which literally translated is fried meat. I don't know what it's like though, so I guess both me and you will have to find out.
This last week was kind of crazy. Elder G had to go to Nagoya on Friday for a leadership conference, so I went to Fuji, the other area in our district and was on an exchange with one of the Elders there. I won't give a lot of details, but to put things simply, he is very hard to work with and very hard to live with. And they are actually having lots of problems in Fuji for that very reason.
At the end of the exchange, Elder G and I stayed in Fuji and performed in a music night their ward was having, and I played 'Claire de Lune' and I accompanied Elder G for an arrangement of 'Savior Redeemer of my Soul.' It was really nice.
On Thursday, I crashed my bike. It was 'oh so' exciting. I was just trying to take my glove off while riding and I lost control and ran into a concrete curb. I bruised my knee and it was hard to ride for an hour or two, but I went home and iced it and then I've been fine ever since. And my bike was fine too. It was very much a blessing.
Later that day, I was just riding along and I think school had just gotten out because there were lots of kids on the sidewalk, but my companion and I passed these girls -- they must have been middle school age -- and one of them said "Hello!" in English. Lots of kids say hello when we pass since we're American and most everyone is studying English in School. Anyway, I say 'Hello' back and then the three of them just started giggling a lot. Girls are crazy! I'm really glad I don't have to deal with that kind of thing while I'm here, as fun as it is when I'm not a missionary. Ridiculous.
Sorry there isn't much. But I think those are the important things.
I hope everyone is well. I love you all!
-Elder Alex Mueller
P.S. Pictures!!!

This is the apartment. And Elder G studying.

Elder G wanted to try my beef stew, so I managed to make some. It tasted pretty much like how it tastes in America, which is a miracle.

I finally got my good nametag with my Japanese name and my English one. Yes!

Monday, January 20, 2014

I Made a List!

So, I made a list of stuff during the week that's interesting or funny so that I didn't forget any of it when I write today. So this week, you're going to get a letter full of the weird and cool things that have happened.
One thing that I found out soon after I got to Japan is that the Japanesization of "Mueller," is "Myura," which is really close to a name that is an actual Japanese name. "Miura." Weird, huh? A lot of the time when I'm introducing myself to people, because I don't have a nametag with both English and Japanese on it yet, they will ask me if I'm Japanese. And of course I say "no," because I'm not. But, I found out the Kanji for the name and it looks like this : 三浦. It means "Three bays."
So, I neglected to tell you that my mission president is actually one of the Seventy as well. And he spoke in General Conference in 2011. You should go watch the talk, even if it's just to know what my mission president sounds like. His name is Kazuhiko Yamashita.
Last Tuesday, Elder G and I took the train to a town called Gotemba so that we could visit some people who used to come to our English class. It's a really pretty place with a much better view of Mount Fuji. But it's kind of in the mountains, so it's significantly colder than it is in Numazu. Not that Numazu is very warm either. Gosh! I can't wait for spring! Mission work will be so much easier once March comes. Anyway, while we were walking to where we wanted to go, I looked at a vending machine, and they had Dr. Pepper! I was so excited! They have a lot of vending machines everywhere here with various drinks, hot and cold, but this was the first time that I have seen Dr. Pepper, so I bought it and it tasted soooooooo good. Wow. I forgot how much I liked that stuff.
On Wednesday, we had a lesson with an "eternal investigator" who's name Y-san. He is actually a Bhuddist Priest who invites us over to the place where he lives which is also a temple so that he can learn about our religon. Elder G really wants him to take a leap of faith so that he could find out if it is actually true, but I'm not actually sure that is going to happen. Every time that the missionaries visit him, some kids come to play with the missionaries and it is really fun. We played a matching game with them, and then we took our train back home.
One thing that's amazing about my area is the sunsets. They are gorgeous. Because the ocean is so close, there are lots of beautiful clouds, and as the sun sets, it illuminates them with the prettiest of colors. I'll take a picture for you so that you can see this week.
Every Thursday, we have a lesson with a different eternal investigator who has us call him "T." He's a funny old man who loves the missionaries and loves the church. He wants to come to church and he has a goal to be baptized, but his wife doesn't want him to be baptized because her family is part of a radical Bhuddist sect that really doesnt't like Christianity and she doesn't want them to get angry at her. When I met him a few weeks ago, T-san described himself as an "underground Christian," jokingly. He used to come to church and to English class, but a few months ago he had a stroke and his wife doesn't really want him to leave the house, but Elder G says that he seems a lot better than when he met him, and that he moves a lot faster now too. I really want to see him baptized before I leave the area, and I pray for him a lot, and I really thing that it could happen.
I've noticed that here (and probably other places too, I've just never noticed) there are just lots and lots of people with stories that are kind of sad. And it makes me want to help them, but sometimes you don't really know how you can help, or even if there is anything you could possibly do to help. And so you just try to help them partake of the Gospel so that they can have the blessings and joy of it and often that is all you can do. And often, for some reason or another, they don't want any of it. And so all you can do after that is just love them. That's it.
On Friday, I had my first exchange and so I went to the city of Fuji, which unfotunately has a lot of industry, so it isn't very pretty and it doesn't smell very nice. The Elder I was with is nice, but he has a lot of trouble taking care of himself. And he's also only on his second transfer. I am really grateful that I'm where I am and that I'm companions with Elder G. We get along so well and can talk about so many things together. And this area is so beautiful, and I know that that God blessed me a lot. Maybe this is a bit of a reward for enduring the MTC.
Oh! I finished the Doctrine and Covenants! It was amazing. I would suggest to anyone who has yet to read it to do so. So many things make more sense after reading it.
The last thing I want to write about that happened is something that happened yesterday, on Sunday. We finally got to go to Ward Council Meeting. The missionaries in Numazu haven't been invited to that in a very long time, and I think it's a sign that the ward is coming to trust us more and wants to work with us, which is a very exciting thing, because it means that we're a lot more likely to find people who will want to listen to us and also it will strengthen the ward a lot too.
This next week, Elder G and I have been invited to go perform in a "Ongakukai" (that means "music meeting") in Fuji. We found the music for "Claire de Lune," so I'll be playing that, and I'll also be accompanying Elder G in an really pretty arrangement of "Savior, Redeemer of my Soul." I think it's going to be really cool.
Well, that's all  I have time for this week. Next week, I'll talk about what kind of things we do every day, and what being a missionary is like.
I love you all! Jesus is the Christ, and His Gospel is still true!
-Elder Alex Mueller

Monday, January 13, 2014

My First Mission Miracles

Hello everyone!

This week, especially near the end of it, I was not feeling too great. I've been expecting too much of myself. I've been really tired lately, and getting out of bed has been really tough and I've been falling asleep while studying too. And I've felt like a really bad missionary because of that. But I prayed and read the Book of Mormon and I felt much better afterward. I remembered that I'm trying my hardest to work as hard as I am capable without sending myself over the brink of insanity. Also, Elder G and I have had a hard time finding people to teach, and we've visited the homes of a lot of less active members and former investigators, but a lot of the time they just aren't home, so a lot of the biking we do feels like a waste.

Then, yesterday, a lot of things happened. First of all, during the first hour of church, which is priesthood --they have a backwards block-- a woman that neither of us had seen walked in, so we went over to talk to her, and it turns out that she had been on, chatted with one of the missionaries there, and decided to come to church. Her name is A, and she is Filipino, and her parents are Catholic, but she says that she doesn't really believe Catholicism. She also said that she's been going around to different churches to see what they're like, and that she really likes this one. And we have another appointment to teach her next week after church.

The other thing that happened was that after church we had a lesson with another investigator who's been meeting with the missionaries for about a year, named W S san. She is a little strange, and my companion thought for a long time that she only meets with the missionaries because she like foreigners, but yesterday we committed her to baptism. I really hope it pans out.

All of this goes to show that this really is the Lord's work. And that he really is preparing people, and that he rewards work, even if it is with something completely unrelated to the specific things you've been focusing on.

Next week, I'll write more about what being on a mission is like, and what Japan is like. But for now know that I'm working hard, and that even though missions are hard, and sometimes you get a little down, God is helping you. And he loves you a lot.

I love you all!

-Elder Mueller

Monday, January 6, 2014

Happy New Year!

Hello! I am your son! And I am in Japan! For God!! WOW!!!!!

As you might have already assessed, I am very excited to be here. This is an amazing place and I cannot imagine a better place to serve the Lord.

On Monday morning of the 31st, I woke up at 3:45 to get on a bus that took me to the airport. After a short flight and a long flight, I arrived in Japan. And I was so relieved. That second flight was brutal.

The mission president and his adorable wife were there to greet us and take us to the mission home. And we had dinner there. I slept on a futon for the first time that night, had an amazing shower and then we had breakfast and orientation, and Sister Yamashita had us do origami for orientation. One thing I really have liked about Japan is that so many things that would seem absolutely childish in America are just commonplace here.

After that, we walked over to the church building behind the mission home where we met our companions and found out where we are serving. And I am now companions with Elder Gillespie in the Numazu ward. It's on the very edge of the mission and so we took the Shinkansen (Bullet Train) to get here. It was way cool! And my first real Japanese meal (at the mission home they fed us stuff that wasn't really Japanese) was a bowl of Ramen. It was soooooo amazing. And I felt so full afterwards.

The next day, we went and got me a bike which I am sending a picture of. It's awesome. It has a basket. And a nifty light that turns on when it's dark and powered by pedalling, and a nifty bike lock.

Since then, we've done lots of visiting member's houses, because Shogatsu (Japan's New Year Celebration) is like Christmas in America. No one wants to be bothered during it. But now that's finally over.

Japanese people are adorable. Especially the little kids. The Bishop's son in particular is just so cute. I will have to send you a picture of him some time.

I must admit, I was a little unsure if I was actually going to enjoy missionary work. For the longest time, just the way people talk about it I guess and the kind of people who are excited about missionary work, I kind of felt like it was just something you did and if you did it enough you got blessings and you became the kind of person who loves missionary work and you turn into some kind of missionary robot. But I got here and I've found that it really is just helping people. And I want to do that so badly. There are lots of people in Numazu who have really sad stories, and I really want to see them happy. And that's really what this work is about. It's not just riding around on bicycles and knocking on doors and being super 元気(genki (kind of excited and happy and stuff. That's the feel of the word)) about the gospel. And that's something I never realized before.

I am so happy I'm here. I can tell that it's going to be hard sometimes, but right now I'm just really excited. I get giddy over weird things, I can hardly speak any Japanese, and I stick out like a sore thumb because I'm an American (I've seen all of two people in Numazu who are white who aren't me or my companion). I've got a great companion and I'm working hard. Don't worry about me. Do write to me. I love you all.

The gospel is still true,

-Elder Alex Mueller

P.S Sorry there aren't more pictures.

P.P.S This is the address of the mission home. To send a letter to me, it first needs to be sent there. And it needs to have everything I will type for the address.

Elder Alex Mueller
Japan Nagoya Mission
1-304 Itakadai
Meito-ku, Nagoya-shi
Aichi-ken Japan

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