Monday, October 26, 2015

Mission Accomplished!

Do you realize that this is the last time you'll get an email from me before you see me?

This week was great. Working with Elder M again is a blast. We work well together. Teaching is really fun with him because we have really good balance. I also just like teaching. That's something I've found out on my mission.

Last Tuesday we went to go drop off Elder N and on the way home we went through Toyohashi, which is where Elder Mitchell and I werecompanions earlier this year. And we had dinner with the Elders there at this restaurant that we used to go to all the time called Katsu Sato. It was really fun to go back there, especially with Elder M.

Of special note this week was the opportunity I had to play trios. There is a member in Shizuoka who is studying the cello, and she set up a time for us to go over to her teacher, who apparently is pretty
famous in this area, and he played for us a little bit. I'm not sure how, but they had found out that I play the violin, so they invited me to play something. And so we played together. Due to years of not
practicing, I was pretty rusty, but all things considered it went really well, I think. At the very least I had a good time. It made me want to practice though.

We also had a stake sports day. There were lots of little events like seeing how many plastic balls one team could throw into a laundry basket on a pole, and a relay, and a tug of war, and a speed walking race. It was great! But because I wore shorts, which I don't usually do outside, my calves got sunburned. That was pretty unexpected. But not really surprising since my legs are so pale now.

Well, I guess I should write about my impressions concerning my two years as a missionary now.

To be honest, I was never too excited about serving a mission when I grew up. Especially since as a teenager my life was not at all in harmony with what someone who planned to be a mission should be
living. But I knew it would be hard for me. And it was, in many ways I did expect and also many ways that I didn't expect. And I'm still not sure how I made it through the darkest of times that I've ever experienced. I have no explanation but the grace of God.

But it hasn't been all bad. It hasn't been something that I've just had to grit my teeth and bear. In fact, because of Christ, even the bad things have had good effects on my life. It has been a privilege. And now, being on the other side and knowing what I know now. I would not exchange my experiences in Japan for anything. And the reason is because I came to know who Christ was.

I'm happier now. I'm healthier now. And I'm hopeful about the future.

I've already said so much about this in previous letters that I can hardly keep from repeating myself, but I am glad that I had this chance to be broken down, so that I could be built up too. I'm grateful that I had the chance to come to know God in my extremities while serving in the Japan Nagoya Mission.

I'll see you soon,

Elder Alex Mueller

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Last Changes

Dear Mom,
Hello, it turns out that my companionship is changing again. Elder was called to be an assistant to the mission president, so he
will be going to the mission home tomorrow, and it will just be me and
Elder M together again for two weeks. That is, unless something
else happens. It shouldn't. Unexpected transfers should be extremely
rare, but two have happened now.

It was definitely kind of sad to say goodbye to Elder McC last Tuesday, but I saw him at the Zone Conference last Friday, and he was doing well.

Working together with Elder M and Elder was pretty fun. It was a little strange. Being in a three-man companionship is way harder than it was in the MTC. But we had our fun. We even went out for pizza one time:

Elder with pizza
Elder's bike broke down while we were really far away from the apartment the other day, and we had to stop what we were doing so that we could go to the bike shop. That made for quite the adventure. We didn't have to walk there, but he did have to ride very carefully because the axel where the pedals attached to the frame was making really sketchy noises. Anyway, we were pretty exhausted after that ordeal, so we went to get pizza.
Zone conference was this week too. It was really good. It was the first one that President Ishii has done, and it was my last. It was really good. We've been talking a lot about faith and personal conversion this transfer, and the conference was about those things. We're reading the Book of Mormon as a mission, and highlighting things about Christ and faith and it's been going really well. Every time I read it I can't help but think about just how much I like it now. It's so much more engaging than it used to be. I guess it means that I'm different now, because the words sure haven't changed. They are exactly the same as they were when I was a kid.
President Ishii hasn't been mission president for very long, but he has emphasized over and over when he speaks the importance of having a testimony and of how the success of a missionary is not measured by the number of baptisms he performs or even by how many investigators he finds. It's about how much he changes. And whenever he says that, I feel happy, because I know I've done my best.
Here is the Shizuoka Zone.
Well, this is going to be my second to last letter home. And it feels strange. I never really thought that I would make it to this point. I just couldn't imagine it. I didn't know what to expect, but I am so glad that I am where I am now. When I was in Takayama, there was a friend of mine who I talked to a lot that transfer because I was just so discouraged, and he gave me a note when he left to go home to America, and he said that after trying to think of what he should write, he decided on four words. "You can do it." And I wanted to believe him, but I wasn't sure. But now here I am. I've done it.
It's a good time to be me.
With love,

Elder Mueller

Sunday, October 11, 2015

General Conference is the Only Missionary Holiday

Conference was pretty much the best one I've ever seen. I don't think
I've ever learned as much from a single conference than I did this
weekend. It was pretty amazing.

I especially liked all the talks emphasizing incremental improvement
through the guidance of the Spirit. I like that concept. It makes it a
lot more easy to see the path between where we are currently and the
celestial kingdom.

Still see plenty of spiders everywhere. It's just that time of year, I guess. Elder McC with a friend.

So, I'm actually losing another companion. There was an Elder who is going home, so my companion, Elder McC, is going to replace him in Numazu, which means that I get to stay here and work with the Zone Leaders. Another threesome. It will be fun. A big change from the peaceful, simple work that we've been doing up to now this transfer. The Zone Leaders are super busy all the time. Lots of appointments and things to do. And Elder McC and I have just been searching for investigators all day every day. So the change will be nice.

Making my way down to the last few weeks of my mission. It's hard to believe that I'll be leaving Japan soon. But I'm glad that I've gotten to learn and grow as much as I have. I struggle less, which I assume means that I'm a lot different than I was two years ago.

The Gospel is still true. God lives. We aren't alone. We can get better every day.

Love you,
Elder Mueller

Monday, October 5, 2015

Good Week!

This week has been kind of long, but it was really good.

This week's adventures included eating wasabi flavored ice cream. It was kinda gross. But it was worth trying once!

An old guy who is friends with the bishop of my companion's last area called us and took us out to eat at this amazing restaurant. They sold "katsu" which is a breaded fried pork cutlet. It was so good! This is the picture we took with him.

I'm doing really good right now. We still don't have anything really moving yet, so we are doing a lot of street contacting and door-to-door stuff, but it's not so bad.

We also had a Zone Training meeting this week. It was a pretty good time. Everyone in this zone has a lot of energy. Most of the missionaries are still pretty new as well, which makes quite a difference. I don't know if you recognize him up there, but my companion from the MTC, Elder Z just went home today. He was serving in the same zone as me. And this meeting was one of his last days which was a little strange to see, but just a lot of things, including this, make it feel like my mission is coming full circle.

There was a typhoon this week too. It hit at night time, so we didn't have to worry about going out in it or not, but the wind and the rain was so loud that it woke us up numerous time through the night. It was so loud that even though I could see the flash from the lightning, I couldn't hear any thunder.

The church is still true. And I'm still learning things everyday. There is no end to the things that one can learn. It's pretty nice if you think about it. I can imagine that if there were only a finite number of things that you could learn in life, it would get kind of boring. The key is to stay humble. That makes it so you can keep learning.

With love,

Elder Mueller

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