Sunday, August 30, 2015

Adventures with Elder B

It turns out that my pronouncement that "All is well in Zion" was a little hasty. Things have again become difficult, though I am coping better and reacting more wisely. I'm sometimes baffled at just how immature and childish some missionaries can be. I can't say that I am always a model of dignity and repose myself, but I do feel a little out of place when around those individuals who think that nothing is more important than when the next meal is.

The highlight of my week was definitely my companion exchange with an elder in my district. He's a smart guy whose mission so far has been very similar to mine. But we had a great time just talking about missions and difficulties, as well as Ueda, where we both have served before. He also has seen a lot of anime, so we talked about that a lot and he gave me a list of ones that he suggested, so I have a lot of resources for keeping up my Japanese when I get back to America.

This is our English class. We gave them a whole bunch of words on pieces of paper and had them put the sentence that we took them from back together. It was maybe a bit more difficult than we anticipated. . .

We also had a sports activity this week! We played "soft volleyball," which is what the volleyball association invented to make volleyball more possible for older people and and kids and everyone else too. The ball is bigger and a lot softer. It's a lot easier to play than normal volleyball. Though the court is smaller, so the two people that were there who had a lot of volleyball experience kept hitting it out of bounds.


Here's a picture with everyone in strange poses.


Here's a picture of my team after we had just won! (I'm in the red shirt)


This is everyone who played. Two of the people, the one on the far left and on the far right are both English class students. The two Japanese people without name tags are members. And the rest of them are the Nakatsugawa missionaries.

I'm enjoying my responsibilities as district leader a lot more than I did last transfer. There's a lot less pressure from the Zone Leaders than there was before, due to the new Zone Leader. And I'm just a little more used to preparing training and making sure everything gets done that needs too. It's also just a relief just to be able to talk to people other than my companion at the end of the day. We do reporting three times a week. So my evenings after we've planned for the day can be pretty busy, but I like talking to everyone. I think I might be more social than I thought I was. I really do enjoy talking to people, it's just that some people are difficult to work with. Especially when the leaders are trying so hard to keep everyone here. It's not like a job where people who cause problems can be fired. 

Anyway, the time is swiftly slipping away. And I am determined not to let even difficult companion relations, which is my least favorite thing about missions, ruin my mission experience for my last nine weeks. It would be such a waste. So I figure the only solution is to just do what I can, realize that this is the Lord's work, and so it can't be stopped, and to look for the good things that happen every day.

I send my regards and my love,

Elder Mueller


Monday, August 24, 2015

Unexpected Turn of Events

So I'm not exactly sure why things were as difficult as they were last week. But a spirit of friendship has entered my relationship with Elder A....quita. We have had some good times. It's still kind of a struggle to get things done. We have so much to do, and it's difficult to get him to move quickly. But at the very least we are friends. I don't think I could have asked for something better. I attribute it to your prayers there at home, as well as the prayers of my mission president, who I was working closely with this week before things seemed to be getting better.

In addition to being able to talk to my mission president face to face about the troubles I was having, I also enjoyed the privileges of working in the same zone as the mission home by having a temple recommend interview this past Friday when we were in Nagoya proper for
a Zone Training Meeting. It's been two years since I went to the house of the Lord and was endowed from on high. And it's been more than a year and a half since I last had the pleasure of going there. I've heard that the temple is the Lords university, and I think I'm a lot more ready to learn than I was last time that I visited.

We had the opportunity to go help a recent convert who was baptized just before I arrived in Nakatsugawa. In the past few years, he has lived alone and his house has turned into a real disaster. So we went up with the Branch President and his wife and helped clean. There was
a lot to throw away. Bags and bags of garbage. But I made an interesting find. I found a slide rule. That's what they used before they invented pocket calculators. I don't really know how it works, I can only multiply and divide numbers on it, but I thought it was worth saving because I heard they were hard to find now, so I got permission to take it home.

Finding food has proved to be quite the challenge since my companion has a gluten intolerance and thus has to be extremely careful about what he eats. So mealtime is a bit difficult since it takes time to make food that he can eat. But at least one effect that it is having it to increase my patience. It has also made me glad that I know how to read Japanese at least decently, since we have to check all the food he buys to make sure it won't kill him.

I've heard training a new missionary was similar to parenting. Trainers are even called "dads" sometimes, and now having finally become one, I can see what they must have meant. It's really interesting to have to take care of someone in an environment where they can't take care themselves. There's a totally new language, new customs, new culture, new life, higher standards. And trying to help someone get used to all of it as well as balancing all the work that needs to be done as missionaries is monumental. But I've seen the Lord blessing me in small and simple ways as I do my best to keep the commandments.

Missionary work is still hard. I'm not sure exactly the reason that it's still so difficult for me to talk to strangers. But the Lord must not think any less of me still, because he still blesses me. I've been trying for a long time to start doing this as well as other missionaries do, but I still struggle just to even talk to one or two people every day. It's easy to pass people by when there are so few on the street. And the mission is still focusing on talking to as many people as you can every day, so there's a lot of pressure, but I'm trying to move forward, and not to get discouraged.

I've served with a lot of missionaries, but even before I transfer places, I guess I have a reputation for being nice. I hear that from a lot of places. Before my mission, I never really thought of myself as someone nice. I was always the "smart" guy. The one who knew lots of stuff. But I've just tried to be nice and friendly to people. I wouldn't ever consider myself a great missionary. I can't do all the things that I feel like a missionary should be able to do. But I can say the I'm a better person than I was before I left on my mission. I think I can say that I've done my best within the various situations that have confronted me. So, maybe I'm not such a bad missionary like I once thought.

I'm doing good. I don't want to go home early, but I am glad that the end is in sight.

With love,

Elder Mueller

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tender Mercies

I was really excited to be a trainer, but things aren't going as well as I hoped. He's kind of taking over everything. Even though he just got out of the MTC in Provo and so he has no experience. He also gets upset at me when I don't agree with him, or when I ask him to follow mission rules, like going to bed on time at 10:30. I'm talking with my mission leaders to see if there is anything I need to do. But right now I'm kind of just enduring. It's not very pleasant.  But it's making it very difficult to get anything done.

But the Lord is showering me with tender mercies in many forms. Like finding a random Kit-Kat in the freezer that I must have put in there. Or the quotes on those cards that you gave me. On Saturday, a lot of things that were difficult to handle happened, but the quote for that day was "today's trial is tomorrow's testimony." Or the fact that an Elder who I was really good friends with while I was serving in Ueda and he was serving in my district became my Zone Leader,so I can talk to him about everything. Or like the fact that when we had to go to the next area over to buy a bike for my companion, we ran into a member on the way back, and she told us her conversion story, which was a pretty crazy story and she spoke fluent English, so she was switching back and forth between English and Japanese and she bore her testimony to us. Or how We showed up at the church in time to catch the last 30 minutes of a fireside that they broadcast from Tokyo that was really good.

It's still pretty hot here. Although the weather has been kind of strange this week. Almost like the rainy season again. It just starts raining unexpectedly a lot, but not usually for very long. You have to be careful about it though. We got caught in the rain without umbrellas and had to walk home in the pouring rain last Thursday.

I really like Nakatsugawa. I feel really close to the members here. Because there aren't that many of them, and I speak a lot more Japanese than I ever have before so it's easy to just talk. There are lots of mountains around us. And not a whole lot of people. This week there were 4 days of festivals that I didn't know we're happening. So we went to see fireworks and dancing. I think it was in conjunction with the Japanese festival of the dead (Obon), when it is said that all the ancestors come back from the world of spirits to their graves, so every has family gatherings and goes to visit the family grave, kind of like Memorial Day.

Still teaching English class. They do it in every city where there are missionaries in Japan. It's kind of fun. I still don't feel like I know what I am doing most of the time though. There isn't a lot of guidance as to what we are supposed to teach, which is okay, it just makes it difficult for our students to progress in their English skills. We also have a children's English class here in Nakatsugawa. They have them in some places, but this is the first one I've ever taught. It's crazy! It's just a bunch of little girls between the ages of 4 and 10. And some of them just make fun of you, but it's just "whatever" because their just crazy kids. There are also sister missionaries serving in Nakatsugawa,which is also a first for me. I've never really served in the same area as sister missionaries, other than the month when I was in Fuji.

But just know that things are a little tough right now, but I am doing my best to work through them. And I know that God is looking out for me. He manifests himself in funny ways sometimes, but I know He's there. I would love your prayers for things to work out with my companion.

Talk to you next week.

Alex





Monday, August 10, 2015

New Assignment

Another transfer has gone, and this new one I have a new responsibility:
I'm going to train a new missionary!

Training takes 12 weeks, so the rest of my mission is pretty much decided now, unless something crazy happens.

So I'm going to be companions with someone who's fresh out of the MTC. And I'm pretty excited about it. It's going to have it's difficulties but, I'm ready to do my best and leave the rest to heaven. Sister Hamamura who is serving here in Nakatsugawa is going to train a new missionary as well, so things are going to be kind of hectic these last two transfers.

This week was really busy due to the fact that I had to go on two companion exchanges this week just like last week. And because of long travel times, they tend to take up a lot of time, so Elder Johnson and I haven't been able to meet with our investigators much at all. But one of our investigators, Taguchi, came to the branch barbecue that we had on Saturday. And he seemed to enjoy himself a lot and made good friendships with the members there. We are really trying to do everything we can so that he can be baptized in the next couple months.

Church is true. Christ lives. And I am His servant.

With love,

Elder Mueller

 On the bus home from the district activity last week.


BBQ!

We're Melting Over Here

Guess what! My companion and I went to Kasugai, the next area over, because our area doesn't have a good bike shop, and I needed to do some repairs. And there was a thermometer, and it said that it was 42 degrees Celsius. I'll let you have the joy of converting that temperature.

We had interviews this week with President Ishii for the first time. It was nice to be able to talk to a friend.

We are also going to go play tennis as a district in a couple hours, so I'm pretty excited.

Transfer calls are this Saturday, so everybody is going to get shuffled around. That's always exciting. It's also President Ishii's first transfers, so there will be an extra measure of unexpectedness.

Well, the work goes on. I'm still doing okay. Just trying to stay healthy in mind, body and spirit. It's a bit difficult, but I think I'll manage okay. It's just kinda busy and hot.

I love you all,

Elder Mueller

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