Monday, March 31, 2014

New Chapter

Hello everyone,

I have been having a bit of a hard time. This week has been a little psychologically tough on me.

Last week, I was finally transferred from Fuji. It was a great relief to leave Fuji and Elder T. However, Elder T dragged it out to the end. While we were on the train platform we were having a decent conversation, but he got impatient with me and threw one last insult at me. The rest of the way to Nagoya was kind of cold and silent, because I didn't want to give him any more opportunities to get angry at me.

      I met my new companion, Elder J, at Nagoya station. He is really great. He is Korean, but he has lived in Japan since he was 6, so his Japanese is perfect. However, his English is not as good. Communication is a little difficult at times, but we manage just fine.

      Coming back to Numazu was nice. To know where things were and be able to actually do some missionary work was refreshing at first. However, even on the train from Nagoya to Numazu, I still felt so sad and dark inside. And I began to doubt myself and to doubt the Lord. Even though it was extremely hard, when you actually can see what's dragging you down, it's much easier to fight against it. But when it's in your own head, bouncing around and interfering with your normal thoughts, it's much harder to fight back.

      I was very anxious. I had to carry the weight of being the Area Senpai after not having been in the area for a month and also after having only been in the field for 3 months. And I didn't know what to do. The task seemed overwhelming and I slowly began to lose control of my thoughts. I allowed myself to become discouraged. Japanese is still difficult. And even though I am improving, I still often have trouble understanding and speaking.

      Things all came to a head last Saturday. All the responsibilities and things I had to do seemed so overwhelming, that I just broke down and cried. I felt like I could do nothing. That I was destined for failure. That there was no way that I could become the kind of missionary who actually enjoyed missionary work. Teaching and planning and everything else just made me so tense and worried that I just couldn't do them.

     The next day I got to work, because I had so much to do. But I felt so broken. It was taking all my focus to do anything, and there wasn't much time, since we had church. But I talked to Elder G, who is now my Zone Leader, and I told him that I was depressed and that I was going to tell the Mission President. He said that was a good idea, but that I didn't need to worry, since it was just a Sunday, and P-day was the next day. And also that I should try to tell my companion, so I did that. Then we went to church. Using all my patience, I made it through, and even gave the talk I was asked to give in sacrament meeting (giving talks in Japanese is way weird). And after church, we talked to the members and I felt better. After church, we just stayed home all afternoon, since there was a little typhoon; the wind was crazy. And my companion shared some things with me that helped a lot. And he told me that I should rely on Christ and His Atonement.

     Now I'm okay. I'm recovering from the setbacks I've had. And everything is going to be alright. I need to strengthen my faith, and I need to rely on the Lord. He will help me. Especially when I am trying to do His work, even if it's not something that I really enjoy doing yet.

     Thank you for all your prayers,

     -Elder Alex Mueller 

Monday, March 24, 2014

My Day of Deliverance is Nigh

Tomorrow, I will be leaving Fuji, and Elder T. I'm so excited to go! This is a fantastic area, and I love the people here, and I even love Elder T, but he is extremely taxing for me to be around and if this companionship was going to have to continue for much longer, something really bad would happen.

Last Saturday, we had transfer calls. And I will be returning to Numazu with a new companion, Elder J from Korea. I don't know him yet, but he was Elder Z's (my first MTC companion) trainer and I think we are going to have a good time.


Elder T is staying in Fuji, which means that we will still be in the same district. But things should be better. I'm not quite sure he's excited about staying here, since he told Elder G that he's pretty much given up on this area, but the Elder that's coming was his best companion for 5 transfers in a different area, and so he's really excited about him coming.


Unfortunately, in the past two weeks, we have done very little to no missionary work. We just stayed at the apartment and I tried to keep busy, doing useful things like studying and cleaning, while Elder T watched TV on his iPod. When we did go out, for English Class or church, things were always really tense. Being around him makes me really tense in general, but when we would have to do things together, I'd get anxious because it was at times like those in the past when I would just have to endure his complaining and abuse. But ever since transfer calls, things have calmed down a bit.


In all the time I've had, I've have been able to read the Book of Mormon in Japanese a lot. And I'm already in Mosiah 19! I know it probably doesn't matter to most of you who read this, but I'm excited about it, so I'm telling you.


My trainer, Elder G, is going to the Shizuoka area to become a Zone Leader for his last two transfers. Which means I still get to talk to him and see him at Zone Meetings and things. And, since I'm going to be companions with the District Leader again, I'll get to go on one or two last exchanges with him before he goes home.


We did get to go do something exciting today. As a district, we went to Fujinomiya where there is an enormous shrine where the deity of Mount Fuji is supposed to dwell. It was really cool. Although it wasn't exactly a district activity because the sisters stood us up at the last minute, so it was only the four elders. I'm sorry, I forgot my camera today, but next week I'll send you the pictures.


Tomorrow, I'll be going to Nagoya, and then back to the promised land of Numazu. My day of deliverance has come, Hallelujah! The Lord has saved me from my tribulations and now I may return to the land of my inheritance. Praise ye the Lord.


With love,


-Elder Mueller

Monday, March 17, 2014

Becoming a Person I Never Thought I Could Become

Before I relate the events of the last seven days, I first need to thank those of you who e-mailed me this week. The words you wrote were exactly what I needed to hear. I can tell you with the utmost assurance that all of them were divinely inspired.


On, Monday evening, something happened. Elder T began to once again mentally abuse me. One of the ways that he tries to manipulate people and he especially uses it with me because he has seen that it works really well on me is trying to guilt me into doing things. And he was trying to do that to me right then. But instead of slowly being guilted into doing what he wanted me to, I held fast. And I felt a little bad because it seemed like I was just being stubborn, both to myself and to him. But eventually he wore down, and he started telling me about how he had an extremely hard time growing up and about how the Gospel helped his life so much and that that was the reason that he came on a mission. And so I told him about how it was hard for me to work with him when he was so critical of me and he apologized, and so I thought everything was going to be fine. Because now we were on the same page.


However, as had happened every time before when I thought that we had worked things out and I gave him the benefit of the doubt, I was mistaken.


The next day, when we did our extra hour of companion study for my training, he began to criticize me, and many other things, and so I took a mental step back and just let it pass over. But he could see that I was beginning not to listen and so he got upset. And yet again, he began to lecture me about the same things that he always does, and he started to destroy all of my confidence that I had had about everything the night before.


So I just sat in my chair, and stared at the same spot, praying in my heart "what should I do?" I knew what I wanted to do, and that was call Elder G, but Elder T always indirectly tried to make that solution sound like the worst possible thing, because he didn't want me to do that, and I knew that if I tried to use the phone, he would get upset. So I prayed and asked "Do I need to run outside and call Elder G?"


I felt the confirming feeling of the Spirit, and so after summoning all the courage that I could find, I finally stood up, firmly took the cell phone, and ran outside to the top of our apartment building. I called Elder G and told him "I'm in trouble."


I told him what was going on and he asked if I had already called the Mission President, and I was kind of astonished. It hadn't occurred to me that this was that magnitude of a problem. He told me that he'd call me back and to wait for his call. That's when Elder T found me. So I ran. And I hid behind our apartment building and waited. Elder G finally called me back as I was running back up the stairs after having been found again and told me after I saw Elder T riding away on his bicycle to call the Zone Leaders, and that he would call President Yamashita because Elder T was probably going to find a phone so that he could call them first.


The Zone Leaders told me to sit tight and so I went back into the apartment to wait for either the sister missionaries or Elder T to come back and that Elder G was coming to talk to us both. Elder T came back first and then proceeded to tell me all the things that I had done wrong in the situation, and that they would never believe that something was actually wrong because he had never done anything to physically hurt me. But he told me that I could lie all I wanted and that I could convince them that he did everything, but that it would all be on my head when judgement day came.


After that I was really nervous. I knew that I couldn't exaggerate anything. What did not help was that throughout all of this, he was so calm. Ridiculously calm, because he didn't really care what happened. He doesn't care about anything really. He just pulled out his iPod touch and started watching anime.


We waited for an hour, and then they finally arrived. Elder G wanted to talk to Elder T first, since he had talked to me on the phone, so I was alone with Elder P.


"So, what happened," Elder P asked me. I told him about how everything had gone while I'd been here in Fuji. How I always tried my hardest, but how I always was beating myself up because I always thought everything was my fault because that's what Elder T kept telling me.


After a little while, Elder P said "that sounds really familiar."


Elder P has a lot of problems that make it really difficult to do missionary work, he just does some weird things, but now everything made sense. What was happening to me had happened to Elder P before, he just never could do anything about it. All my worry about what Elder T had told me when he came back instantly vanished.


When I got to go in to talk to Elder G, I told him everything. Start to finish. And we talked about what we should do, and he asked me some questions that he had after talking to Elder T and we both came to the conclusion that something was really wrong with Elder T.


Luckily, the next day, I got to go on an exchange to Numazu. And so we got to talk some more, and talk about what needs to happen. And it was so nice. I wish I could tell you everything that we talked about, but that would take far too much time. But he did tell me that he knew I could do it and to keep up everything that I had been doing. And that he cared about me a lot.


Through the following days, we haven't done much in Fuji. Elder T mostly just continues to watch Anime, and I sit in the front room and study, and I thought we would just be able to hang on until transfers next week. Because he obviously doesn't want to do missionary work, and I psychologically can't do mission work with him because that just makes everything worse. But today we had an appointment with a member and things went from bad to really bad. As we were walking from the train station to his house, he started tearing me down again. Telling me that it was all my fault that things were as bad as this and if I had just chosen to do missionary work that everything would be better. That I was going to just suffer my whole life because I was just taking the easy way out. That I was letting everybody down. And then after the appointment his words got more hostile, more doubting, more accusing, until I just could hardly stand it. He uses my own words and even the words of men of God to try to destroy me.


I prayed and prayed for help. I knew that I was doing the right thing. He is destroying this ward and the people in it, but now I am his scapegoat and I have to take all the blame. Then we came here, to the internet cafe, and I saw the words that everyone had written to me and I knew I was going to be alright. That I have been transformed from the somewhat selfish, somewhat proud, somewhat downtrodden teenage Alex Mueller I was a couple of years ago into someone who is strong in faith, hope and charity. Whose patience is so much greater than it used to be. And even, dare I say it, much more humble than I used to be. Because I know through whose power I was transformed this way, and it is definitely not my own.


Throughout all of this, I stayed silent. I knew that anything I said would be used against me, and that if I lashed out at him in rage then I would be stooping to his level and that I would just have to bear it. I only have to last one more week. And tomorrow I have another exchange with Elder G, and I have asked him to give me a priesthood blessing. I know the Lord will provide for me, and that even as I am forced to listen to words that jab my heart like poisoned needles, he will bear me up.


He says he cares about me, and about the ward, but he does not. I wanted to trust him, when I came, but he betrayed my trust over and over. I still love him. I still care about him. I want to see him change, to be happy. But he is determined to be miserable, and also to make everyone around him miserable.


Please. Pray for me. I will need it.


-Elder Mueller

Monday, March 10, 2014

Episode 18: A New Hope

Up until about five hours ago, I was really depressed.

The reason is my companion, Elder T. Ever since I came to Fuji, I have been unhappy. At first I thought it was normal, I was still adjusting, but I didn't trust Elder T, and he noticed and confronted me about it. And I so I started to trust him, but he is really really depressing all the time, and it affected me badly. He criticized me and other missionaries and our Mission President and even himself to the point where I just couldn't do missionary work. And he always thinks that everyone does everything in order to further their own ulterior motives. and so I was afraid to do anything whatsoever. I just froze up with fear and felt awful inside, and Elder T would then try to get me to do things and I psychologically couldn't. And so I just endured for about a week. And he kept saying things like that he was trying to help me, and so I believed that he truly was trying to help me be a better missionary. He also has a tendency to make situations sound much more dramatic than they need to be, and that we, as missionaries, unless we do our job just right, the entire ward will just fall apart. And that made getting here extremely stressful, especially since I'm young and inexperienced and just barely got to the area so I have little to no idea of what's going on.
 
     Then, this morning, he called me out again. and he criticized me for not wanting to be here and not really wanting to help our investigators. And criticized the way I learn Japanese and that I was being selfish with how I used my time. And he asked me about what I really want to do, and I told him 'I want to go home.' Because I believed everything that he had said about me and I thought that was really what I wanted. Satan was using him to get to me. And it was working. I know now what it's like to be in an abusive relationship. Now I know just how truly awful it feels. Just how much it makes you feel like you can never be happy again. And I just couldn't say anything. I just freeze up. It was like my worst childhood nightmares. And you think that it is all your fault but you find that you can't do anything about it.
 
     So I went into the other room, and I prayed, and I read my scriptures, and I felt that I needed to call my district leader, my old trainer who I love and trust like he was my dad. So I did. And I told him what was going on. And I thought this was all my fault and that I really didn't want to be on a mission, and then he told me that Elder T was wrong, and that I really was very well prepared to come on a mission like he had said when we were companions and that it wasn't a lie. And so I realized that I can't trust Elder T. I can't trust what he says. He thinks that missions are really hard and miserable, and that everyone is out to get him. And he thinks the same thing about life in general. I've heard him talk about things off of missions too, and that's what he expects. He expects everything to be hard and for everyone to always be trying to stab him in the back. He and Elder G had an exchange last week and apparently Elder T said some pretty terrible things about me. But now I know that he is trying to make me miserable like him, and that it's okay if I just try hard until the end of the transfer and then leave. Elder T made me feel guilty for liking anything, or taking pleasure in anything, but it's going to be okay now, because I know the Lord wants me to be here and I remembered why I'm here.

    And so now I'm prepared and have the fresh perspective. I'm working hard. I'm trying my best. And right now, doing things is really difficult. But I haven't given up. I actually feel really good about everything right now. And in a couple days I have an exchange with Elder G, so I can talk to him about it and have a short break.

    I'm finally doing better. For real this time. I was lying to you and myself last week.

    -Elder Mueller :)

P.S It's the beginning of Sakura (桜 Cherry Blossom) season, and they are so beautiful! Trees covered in pink everywhere! And I just got batteries for my camera, so I'll send plenty of pictures next week. じゃね!

Monday, March 3, 2014

First Week of a New Era

Hello everyone,

So, I'm still in Fuji. And this week has been difficult, mostly through my own doing. Instead of getting my act together and acting like a man when I got to Fuji, I was pretty mopey. I tried to pick myself up, but I just didn't realize what my problem was. I was in Fuji physically, but I wasn't there metally. And so I was sad and a little miserable. And I didn't really want to do much. 

People sometimes criticize Luke Skywalker for being kind of whiney at first, but I think I finally get it. Sometimes stuff is hard and doesn't go your way. And when you're young and just getting out into the adventure that is life, it's hard to have the perspective that makes it easier to push past the hard times. Especially when you're in a completely new situation that's so different from what you've been doing up that point in your life. 

But now I'm alright. I know what I need to do here and I'm ready to work. I may only end up being in this area for four weeks, and one of those is already gone. But I can make the best of the time I have here. There are great members in this ward, and they are extremely loveable. And I was called to work here for and with them. So I will. Fuji is pretty nice. It's a good area with a great ward. And it's got a lot of pretty mountains, including Mount Fuji itself. The only downside is that there are a lot of factories. The weather has been getting slowly better here, though we had quite a bit of rain in the last week. It should slowly get warmer, and the cherry blossoms are starting appear everywhere as Sakura (cherry blossom) season gets closer. 

T 長老 (Elder T) continues to get better too. He was really upset with the Assistants to the President and President Yamashita, but I think he's slowly coming to forgive them. And we are getting to be better friends every day. He is a real help to me. I'm glad I'm with him. Elder T is from Hawaii, but he's 3/4 Japanese, so he looks Japanese. He says that since he doesn't speak Japanese like a native sometimes people look at him weird.

Sorry it's short. I didn't feel like writing much today. But know that I love you all and am wishing you the best. :)

-Elder Alex Mueller

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