Monday, September 28, 2015

Shizuoka

Hello! My new area is great. Shizuoka is a good place to be. And other

than the occasional rain, the weather is great too.




This is my companion, Elder McC, at the beach.

This week has been pretty exciting. I left Nakatsugawa on Tuesday and said goodbye to my trainee. That was quite the relief. Then we spent three or four hours getting to Shizuoka, not counting the stop for lunch/dinner in Hamamatsu. So it was already pretty late once we got back. 

I'm staying with three other Elders here, and one of them happens to be my former companion, Elder M from Toyohashi. I haven't been able to see him at all ever since he transferred away from Toyohashi about six months ago, so it was nice to be able to see him again. It's a pretty fun apartment to be in.




Elders McC, N...moto, M, and Mueller

The other two missionaries in our apartment are Zone Leaders, so I get a peek into what the mission leaders are doing. Which is kind of fun. I've always wanted to be a Zone Leaders just for a little while just to see how the mission leadership works, but it looks like I'm not going to be able to get that opportunity after all.

Things are a lot more low key this transfer. Last time I had a lot of responsibility, what with being District leader of a really big district and being a trainer. But this transfer is a lot simpler. I'm actually junior companion, technically. So it's a nice opportunity just to work hard on my own area with my companion and not worry about much else.

Elder McClellan, my companion right now, is a really good guy. He's pretty mild mannered, but he does get passionate about one thing: food. If you ask him what his favorite food is, he says "pretty much anything." He's always on the hunt for good restaurants. We don't have much money right now because it cost a lot to get here and it's almost the end of the month, but I'm sure we're going to eat some pretty good food this transfer.

Since there were not missionaries working in our places before we got here, we have to start from zero. When I first got here, that was a little daunting, due to the fact that I still don't like knocking on doors or talking to people on the street much. But we found an investigator yesterday, so hopefully we will be able to get things off the ground here!

I got a blessing yesterday, because I've just been really fatigued and felt kind of sick for weeks and a little down too, and the Lord told me to remember that He is always there, which is something that I tend to forget.  It was emphasized two or three times in the blessing. I remember another blessing that I got when almost the exact same thing was said too. Also in the blessing it said that I have done the right thing on my mission. It was really comforting. As you know I tend to take things too seriously, and so it's easy to think that a lot of things that have happened or didn't happen on my mission are my fault. That if I had been better, my mission would have been a lot different. But that's not the case. I have done what I'm supposed to. And I have tried so hard to be good. 

It also said that the Lord wants me to pray about everything, even things that it seems like God wouldn't really care about and that I would be helped.I took comfort in that and almost immediately put that promise to test when five minutes later, I was looking for my name tag, and couldn't find it. I said a short prayer, and thirty seconds later I realized where it must have been. That was the same day that we found our new investigator. 

I guess the Lord doesn't just like playing games with us. He's not just waiting for us to fulfill a huge list of requirements before He blesses us. He is anxious to bless us always. Blessings are not like a computer where if even just one little thing is wrong it won't work. Being a missionary isn't about just trying to find the perfect combination of good things to do in order to magically get people into the baptismal font. It's about faith in Christ and patience. And hope that the Lord will lead you to the people that He needs you to. And "a perfect brightness of hope" that as long as you are doing your best you cannot fail the Lord. 

My mission is nearly over, which I am grateful for, because nothing has ever made me feel so inadequate and vulnerable than missionary work. But I'm so grateful to know that my two years in the Lord's service has not been a waste, but that it will bless me so much and everyone I've met so much and everyone I meet ever again. Because I'm different now. And Japan is just a little different now because I had the faith enough to accept the call to serve. So I'm happy. And less worried that I'll mess up now.

With love,
Elder Mueller

Monday, September 21, 2015

All's Well That Ends Well

So another transfer has come and gone, and much to my relief, I am separating from my companion. Working with him has been like reliving all the difficult companionships that I've experienced up to this point, so it's going to be a relief to be able to say goodbye tomorrow.

I am transferring to Shizuoka. And I am very excited. During my first few months in Japan, I got to go to Shizuoka a number of times, and I had very good impressions of it. It's also a big city. Definitely the biggest one I will work in ever.

My companion is also someone I know already, so I am not worried about things there. He's someone who was in my district this transfer. In fact, I worked with him on a companion exchange last week! His name is Elder McC, and he's from a small town near San Jose.

The number of missionaries in Shizuoka also is changing from two elders and two sisters to four elders and two sisters, so my companion and I will be starting from nothing. It's going to be a great chance to work really hard and go out strong.

I think I've learned a lot about working with others on my mission. I didn't particularly enjoy working with others before, but when things work out, it can be really great. But even when you are working with someone that you don't match up well with, you can still do your best
to avoid fights, to compromise and to see things from the perspective of the person that you aren't getting along with. A lot of fights I had with my siblings could definitely have been avoided if I had known that and actually thought that way back then.

It's definitely not easy though. Especially when there are things that need to get done. It's hard to remember to be loving and gentle when work needs to be done. But I think that God cares a lot more about us acting kindly to others even if they don't do what they should. God
weeps when his children fight and hate each other, it says so in Moses 7:28-33.

I am worried about Elder A. I'm worried because I know he will have difficulties with others, and because I know that until he humbles himself and follows his leaders, that he will not be able to be a successful missionary. But I don't think that there is anything more that I could have done. I tried to instruct him with love and tolerance, and he has rejected my counsel. And now there's no time left but to just be nice (as patience trying as that can be) and hope that he will figure out someday that you can't just ignore everyone else and insist that you are right all the time. It's okay to be wrong.

God will bless us with love, as we ask for it. And as we repent as we make mistakes, we will be strengthened by power from heaven. Because that's what the gospel is really about. It's about being strengthened and blessed to do things we couldn't before.

Love,

Elder Mueller

Monday, September 14, 2015

Our Mission Got Called to Repentance!

Time continues to just move faster and faster. I think it's a sign that I'm an adult now. It's certainly a lot easier to be patient and wait for things nowadays. As a kid everything always just felt so long.

We had a special mission conference this week with Elder Whiting of the Seventy. He's presiding over the Asia North area, which includes Japan, Korea, and some of the small pacific islands. At the beginning of the conference, they opened up the time for some questions (in my experience with general authorities, they really like to do this. At least they do with missionaries). And I was able to ask a question: "How does one rely on the Atonement of Christ?" And after letting his wife answer and talk about grace, he started talking about faith and how it's related to power which was the topic that he was planning on speaking about. So it felt like the entire conference was just answering my question. I thought that was pretty cool.

We also performed "A Child's Prayer," and I played the violin. There were other people singing, but I had to practice with Sister Bunker, the pianist who is sitting on the right, a little more before we performed.


Anyway, what Elder Whiting related was an experience from a few months ago, when Elder Ballard visited. This was the same time that we had the special mission conference last February. But apparently Elder Ballard met with the area presidency and they gave a report about what kind of things were going on in the area. Once they had finished, Elder Ballard asked them why we aren't baptizing people here. And the only answer that he would accept, is that we don't have enough faith. So we started talking about faith and how we can exercise it and whether or not we have the faith to baptize. 

It was a really good conference. And I think it will definitely help us as a mission to move forward together. It was definitely helpful to me, and has led my prayers to be more sincere and less desperate.

On Friday, after a companion exchange, we stayed in Seto, and went to play soccer with some investigators and some kids. It was really fun! I like soccer a lot. And I got to be on a team with some of the kids, and they thought I was best, because my name, Mueller, is the same as one of the best players on the German soccer team that competed at the World Cup last year. That and pass the ball in times other than when I'm in trouble.


Me and my team

Something that I've never done before Nakatsugawa is teach a English Class for kids. But we have one every week here. And it's pretty fun. The kids can get pretty crazy sometimes. And not having a native-level grasp on their language can make it easy for things to get out of hand. At least we have a native missionary here though. She helps a lot!

Also, they're all girls.

Anyway, things are going okay. Although it's hard to get anything done still with this companion of mine. This has definitely been one of my more difficult transfers.

I finished the Book of Mormon again yesterday. It's still true, in case you were wondering. And if dad was going to ask, yes, the Nephites still all die at the end. Something that I did differently this time was that I went through with my markers and marked all of the places where it mentions Christ's names, as well as His name, and where He is directly quoted. It has made me more aware of how the Lord works with us. As well as just how often it says "you will prosper if you keep the commandments." It says it so much. 



We just got back from an all-you-can-eat restaurant with the district.

It's a pretty good week! The weather has been lovely ever since the typhoon passed on Tuesday (the sun started shining through the clouds in the middle of the mission conference). And it's not too hot anymore. I'm just enduring to the end with a brightness of hope and faith in Christ.

With love,

Elder Mueller

Monday, September 7, 2015

More Violin Opportunities!

Hello everyone,

This week has been pretty good. I'm doing my best, and hanging on okay.

Tomorrow and the day after that we have special conferences that we need to go to Nagoya for, so the whole week is going to be really busy trying to get everything done. The first one which is on Tuesday is a meeting for all the trainers and trainees in the mission, so they will probably just talk about training. The second one which is on Wednesday is a special mission tour that the are president is conducting, so we have another general authority coming, Elder Whiting. Because of my musical abilities which apparently were more widely known in the mission than I thought they were, our district received the assignment a few days ago to prepare and perform a musical number for the mission tour. So we are singing "A Child's Prayer" and I got permission to use our ward mission leader's violin, so I'll be performing on the violin while everybody else sings.

We also performed in sacrament meeting yesterday in the same way, singing with piano accompaniment and me on the violin, and it went pretty well. Our ward mission leader has an awesome violin, too. It's really nice to play.

Things with my companion continue to be less than pleasant on a day to day basis, but I'm managing to keep myself busy with a bunch of goals I have, like studying Chinese Characters (I only have about 70 left to go before I know the 1006 characters Japanese kids learn in elementary
school), and reading Jesus the Christ in Japanese, and reading the Book of Mormon and highlighting all the references to Christ -- his names, attributes, actions and words -- so I have other things that I
can think about.

One thing that I am extremely grateful for is that I have no allergies to foods or medicine or anything like that. Dealing with my companions gluten intolerance is a nightmare. Especially since Japan is not like in America where there are lots more people with nutrition troubles, so they specially manufacture things so that they don't have gluten in them. Anyway, I've just been very grateful for the physical health that I have always been blessed with. I just need to make sure I maintain it well.

I called the mission president and had the chance to talk with him for a little while. He said that he thinks the Lord just wants me to do my best, and that I am enduring very well the challenges that I face. Hopefully I won't need to go through another transfer of this, but even if I do, I'm sure God will be helping me to endure to the end.

Aunt Jana sent me mustaches for my birthday, so I took them to the Japanese class that we do for the Brazilian member in the branch.


As you can see, we had some fun with those

Well, time continues to move along, much to my delight. The end is definitely near. I'm just hoping that I can work with another companion next transfer so that I can get some real missionary work done before I come home.

With love,

Elder Mueller

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