Monday, May 26, 2014

Not a very exciting week, but nevertheless. . .

Hello, I found out some cool stuff this week. I still don't know the details, but apparently Ueda was the location of some pretty famous stuff in Japanese History. The fought off Tokugawa's army twice. I want to know what the story is better though. Because right now I just know the very basic details.
We have these investigators. Their name is Miyazawa. It's a family of 5. There are three kids, and we teach the older two English and then afterwards we teach the parents about the Gospel. One thing that is common in Japan with missionary work is that if a person has been to America, they are much more likely to actually progress and have genuine interest in the message that we teach. The Miyazawas spent a lot of time in America and their English is really good.
This past Saturday, we had a lesson with just the husband, not the wife, this week. And it went really well. When we talked to him about Joseph Smith's First Vision, he said that he would want to have an experience like that, and that Joseph Smith must have been really special to have something like that happen to him. He does have genuine interest, and I think his wife does too.
I had a talk in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. And it went okay. Members are usually just impressed by the fact that we can speak Japanese at all, so their pretty forgiving of language mistakes.
Things keep moving along. Ueda is a good branch. There is some tension between members sometimes though. Which is not so great. I think it's harder in a branch with things like that because everyone has to do more. But at least people are still civil with each other.
I definitely want to stay in Ueda for a long time. I don't want to have to move. Hopefully, after Elder Beck leaves, probably at the end of this transfer or next transfer, I'll get the chance to train a new missionary. I really want to get that opportunity. So far, the best times on my mission were when I was with my trainer, not that things aren't great right now, but I want to help someone and mean as much to someone as my trainer did to me. Especially since my trainer, Elder Gillespie is going home in three weeks :P
I hope you're all well. Because I'm doing fine. 気をつけて!!!

-Elder Mueller

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ueda is Awesome!

Hello, everyone.
Things have been pretty much going great. I love my new area. And my new companion is also great.

The best day this week was definitely Saturday. We spent from 9 am until 3 pm moving wood for a member named Sister N. It was great, but both mine and my companion's backs are way sore. After showering, we then had a lesson with J-san. She's about 40 and she has a daughter named S, who likes Star Wars a lot. She's been an investigator for a while, but lately she hasn't really been interested in the Gospel at all, she just really likes being friends with the missionaries and comes to English Class in Saku sometimes. But since I'm still a pretty new missionary, we asked her if we could do a "roleplay" lesson so that we could practice our teaching and our Japanese. Except that secretly we weren't really practicing, we were trying to teach her. It went really well, and I think she has a little interest now. If we keep teaching her slowly, this could go really well.

I might be teaching piano to an investigator's kids soon, so that will be an exciting adventure that I've never done before. 

I've actually had a lot of opportunities to play for people ever since I came to Ueda. Sister N has been praying that a missionary who can play the piano would transfer to Ueda for 4 years. She tries really hard to play for sacrament meeting, but she can still only play the very simplified hymns. But she's trying to learn so that she can play for church. But she loves that I was transferred here. 

I've also had a lot of other opportunities to play here. People just find out I can play the piano and then they want to hear me. It's kind of funny. But it's also really nice to know that I have a talent that I can share with people, even when I feel like my teaching or language skills aren't as good as I think they should be. 

This should also be a good week. I'm excited!

Hope you're all doing well.

With love,

Elder Mueller

Monday, May 12, 2014

Mother's Day Call

This is Alex's Mom. We had a long talk with Elder Mueller yesterday, so I thought I would share some of what we talked about.

New Area, New Companion: His new area is Ueda. It is definitely smaller than where he has been since he arrived in Japan. He called it "rural". It is up in the mountains, not far from Nagano (where the Winter Olympics took place in 1998) so it is not as humid. His companion is Elder B. We got to "meet" him yesterday as well. He is American and English and his parents are currently living in Okinawa. Ueda only has a small branch, so there is a lot of time spent contacting people in the streets and less time visiting members.

Food: He says his favorite food is ramen. Of course, what we know as ramen here in the U.S. is not at all what they have in Japan. He also likes the Japanese curry (He says this is usually what the members make when they feed the missionaries) and Indo curry. He says his least favorite Japanese food is still nato, femented soybeans. He misses pizza the most. He successfully baked a cake in the rice cooker, so he's looking forward to doing that again. He is definitely eating rice with everything. He seems to like the food pretty well, but says that Swiss chocolate beats Japanese chocolate hands down.

Transportation: Alex loves the trains (no surprise, since he has always been a train nut.) He told us about how he and Elder B got on what they thought was the right train a few days ago. They fell asleep, and then when Alex woke up, he discovered they were on the wrong train, going exactly the opposite direction from what they planned, and they got off on the last stop just before leaving their mission. That was a close one! They ride their bikes A LOT. Alex's bike is not a mountain bike, but the typical bike that the Japanese people ride. The other missionaries make fun of his bike a lot :). But he likes it, especially the basket.

Living in Japan: He says he appreciates that our house is clean and misses that. He has been cleaning up his new apartment (Elder B has been cooking--split the duties). He misses his bed since he sleeps on a futon on the floor. We asked him about the crazy Japanese toilets. The toilet in the apartment has a heated seat. He has seen a wide range of different toilets from the "squat" toilet to the crazy electronic ones. He says the grocery stores are pretty good. Alex says that transfers are "the worst" part of being a missionary. They pack all their belongings up in their suitcases, take their bikes apart and put them in a "bike bag". Then, they call a service that transports their suitcases to their new area and the bike goes on the train with them. They travel to Nagoya, then to their new area. Maybe Alex will get to stay put for a few transfers. They have an ancient, virtually unbreakable cell phone. They spend P-days shopping and emailing home. The computer is at the church building.

Serving in Japan: They teach two English classes a week. They are free of charge and the Japanese people like being able to speak with native English speakers. The branch in Ueda only exists because of the the English classes that were started there decades ago. They are starting another class in nearby Saku. They are excited to have teaching appointments. They are pretty much just teaching Japanese natives in this area. In Numazu and Fuji, there were lots more foreigners. 

He is doing very well and looked and seemed happy. His new companion is an answer to prayers and they seem to be getting along well. Thanks to everyone for your continued support and prayers for Elder Mueller!

We love Skype!
Alex sharing the kanji for "gospel". Translated, the gospel is the "sound of happiness"!
Introduction in Japanese.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Moving On

Hello, I have some big news. I'm moving to a new area! My new area is Ueda, In Nagano-ken. It's in the middle of the mountains, and I've heard it's beautiful. The ward probably isn't very big, in fact, it might not even be big enough to be a ward yet, but I'm so excited for the opportunity to go there.
     This past week has been very busy. Mostly because there is a new apartment in Numazu for the missionaries that we had to move into. We were preparing all week and then on Saturday we did the move. The new apartment is really really nice. But I'm leaving so I'll most likely never get to stay in it again.
     I did get to have one last exchange with my trainer, Elder G since he has been my Zone Leader . This transfer is his last, so it was the last time I get to work with him as a missionary. It was a really nice break from the difficulties I've been having in Numazu.
     I've learned a lot about how hard it is to be humble when faced with someone who is disrespectful and condescending to you. My companion, Elder J, has not been very patient or understanding to me. And it's been really hard for me to deal with in the past few weeks. However, I have endured this trial well, I think, and now I get to go somewhere new and work with someone different. Hopefully I will be able to learn a lot this transfer and get some understanding that I haven't had since I was being trained.
     I'm sorry I don't really have any good stories this week. It really hasn't been all that exciting, and the moving did take up a lot of time. And I honestly have just been trying to keep my head on straight as I endure to the end of these trials. But I'm doing okay now. And I'm holding fast. I've had a lot of opportunities to learn things throughout these difficulties, and I know that the Lord is guiding my life.
     With love,

-Elder Mueller

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