Monday, August 25, 2014

Re: Working Hard Enough

Here is an excerpt from Alex's letter this week. It's a response to his dad's latest letter regarding what it means to "work hard":

It's actually interesting that you mention goals. There's a lot of push to make and achieve goals in this mission. Though I think that from reading "Preach My Gospel" that's just the general case here. I don't know if you remember this, but I've never been much for goals myself. But we set goals everyday for finding investigators and for all the different kinds of lessons that we teach. Our Mission President is pretty big on goals. Since I've gotten here the big goal that the mission has been working towards is "One companionship, one month, one baptism." 

It's also interesting that you mention the difficulty of achieving goals that regard things that have a high level of variability and are out of our control, because in fact, that's all of our goals.There are of course things that we can do to influence those things, but in the end, it's not up to us. What's also interesting is what it says in the first chapter of "PMG" about what a successful missionary is. And not one of those things has to do with achieving goals. 

When I was being trained, my trainer told me that in the mission, the rhetoric swings back and forth between "we need to get numbers" and "numbers don't tell you that you are a successful missionary." And it turns out that he's right. Right now we are in the "numbers are important" phase, and that may have some relation to the degree of stress that I've been feeling regarding "working hard," especially because I have a companion who is very worried about numbers, but not very willing to work in order to try to get those numbers.

But what I've come to understand more and more is that the Lord just wants us to keep going, to keep trying. If the Lord was really focused on getting high numbers, about getting people baptized, he could do it. Like my district leader told me the other day, he could just send a natural disaster, humble a lot of people really fast and lots of people would get baptized, like what happened in Sendai in 2011. If He was focused on that then every companionship would be perfect and no one would ever feel discouraged about missionary work. But that is not the case. 

The Lord lets a lot of things happen on missions. Lots of things that are really hard. But I think that more than you help anyone else change during your mission, whether that be companions, members, or investigators, he changes you so many hundred times more.

On a different topic, I had a chance to talk with a very interesting, quite old man whose been investigating the church for about 10 years. He has traveled all over the world, and used to be a researcher who studied culture, specifically that of developing countries and he is very impressed with Mormon missionaries. Also, since he's been in contact with missionaries for a long time and being a person who just thinks about lots of things, he has thought a lot about how the church could do things for non-members that would help missionary work a lot. 

Anyway, I talked to him for about an hour and a half on Friday, and two more hours on Saturday and it was very interesting and all in English which was a nice change.

Have a good week,

-Alex

Monday, August 18, 2014

They Have Really Big Spiders Here!

Hello!

Ueda is good. I still really love Nagano-ken. It's really pretty here. We had some rain last week, so it was pretty cool here for a few days. It's a typical summer's day right now though, but it should start feeling more like fall in the next few weeks.

This week, there was a traditional festival all over Japan called O-bon. During the week of O-bon, the spirits of all the ancestors are said to come back to the earth, and people go and visit the graves of their relatives all over the country, so it was a little hard for us to visit people this week. But we took some time after an appointment to go to a Buddhist temple with Brother Wakabayashi and see all the special things they had for the festival.

I found this guy while housing yesterday. He was about the size of a. . .well, a pretty big spider. I don't think these ones bite though.

The church is still true. Christ is our Savior. Through Him we can become mighty. 

This is a really cool video the church made for Easter:
http://easter.mormon.org/

With love,

-Elder Mueller

'Allo 'Allo

Here are some random answers to your random questions. I did feel an earthquake in May. And last night I had a dream that there was an earthquake so big that it made our apartment fall over. We had a little rain this weekend because there was a typhoon, but we were on the edge of it, so the wind wasn't that strong. It was pretty cool from the rain, but I think it's going to heat up again today.

I am having kind of a hard time. I don't know how to help myself learn to work hard. Through having difficult companions who don't want to work, I let my fear of talking to people lead to not wanting to do missionary work which lead to laziness, a heavy dose of apathy and an eternal feeling of discouragement and dissatisfaction. 

My new companion is the kind of senior companion who worries a lot. Worries about statistics a lot, worries about whether or not we are doing the right thing. But despite all his worrying, he won't take the steps of action necessary to get things done. And so if I do not make things happen, they don't get done. 

He does speak pretty good English though. We probably speak about 50-50 Japanese and English. And we are a lot more able to communicate than I was with my last native companion. 

But we did some pretty fun stuff this week. We went with some members and people we are trying to make into investigators to see the fireworks show last Tuesday. It was way cool, and we wore kimonos:


and I also used the recipe you gave me to make a cake for our investigator, J...o-san. Her knees have been hurting a lot lately, so we haven't been able to meet with her for a while, but we took her a cake. This a picture of our counter while I was making it.

It turned out pretty good, and she was very happy with it.

Finally, yesterday, Elder Aoyagi of the Asia North Area Presidency visited our branch yesterday. He is extremely nice, and very spiritually powerful. Later I was looking at the Liahona, and I saw his picture in the new area presidency assignments page. It was very interesting to think "I just saw that man earlier today, and here's his picture in the Liahona."

Okay, that's all for this week.

Farewell,

-Elder Mueller

Monday, August 4, 2014

The State of the Work in Ueda


Hello all,

A new transfer has begun. I have a new companion.

Last Monday night, Elder B and I had to take a train to Matsumoto and stay there for the night so that we could be at the bus terminal at 5:15, all so that we get to transfers at Nagoya Station on time.

My new companion is Elder T...yama. He's kind of short and is Japanese. I am his Junior companion, and so I'm trying to figure out how to teach him about the area, having been here longer, while figuring out what we should do.

M...zumi-kun is trying to figure out his life right now. We're trying to tell him that his life will get better if he follows Christ, but we haven't made much headway with him for a while. I just asked him to pray to know what God wants him to do last time we saw him, so hopefully, we will be able to help him figure out what he should do soon.

M...yama is another one of our investigators. He's really worried about his future right now, and he hasn't been listening to us at all until last Friday, we had lunch with him, and he started getting really down and talking about how he has no future and that he has no options, but then we shared a scripture with him that says that today is today and to let tomorrow worry about itself and he was really happy after that. He hasn't been open to anything gospel related before, so hopefully we can make some progress with him.

We had lunch with Brother W...yashi and Sister N...zawa on Saturday for my birthday. Sister N...zawa made some something with noodles. I don't know what it's called, but it was really delicious.

I still haven't made my birthday cake. . .but I will eventually. Maybe this week.

With love,


-Elder Mueller

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