Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving to you!

> So, I want to drop some specifics about the trip that I took today during the city's brownout (that is why I wasnt here at the same time that I normally am) Today we decided to go to this island that one of the nanays always talks about. It was decided that we bring a couple of people along with us so it turned out to be this big trip. It was really cool because in order to get to the boat that took us to the island we needed to ride this train...thing for a good half an hour. I say train thing because it was a homemade train car with a lawnmower engine on it and that is what pushed us at the speed of light across the tracks that definitely WEREN'T even...now that my pelvis is broken in 32 places...anyways, it is way neat because there is just one set of tracks so whenever you and another car come face to face one person, usually the driver, just picks it up and walks off the tracks with it. When I say homemade I mean home MADE. So, we eventually got to the place where the boat was going to take us over and it literally took my breath away. It is just like it looks in all the pictures-crystal clear water that is blue as the sky, and the cool boat looking things that are the boats that they use in "the other side of heaven." It only took like 20 minutes by boat to get to the island but it, once again, was way cool because there is just one house on the whole island and the person who owns the house is a friend of one of the people that we brought along so that was way fun. We cooked dinner (5 pounds of rice that we poured onto these leaves that are a good 3 feet long. Everyone just grabs what they want with their hands and eats it...except me haha. I sit in the back wondering how many diseases are all over the peoples hands that are touching my food and so I ended up eating a fish instead. Yea, not some fish, A fish. That is how they cook fish-whole. They drop it down on your plate as one thing. You can tell which fish are girls cause they still have makeup on that is how whole they are but you get used to it eventually...) and hung out for most of the day. While everyone was talking I walked the beach for some alone time if you will but never fear-I was in the sight of my companion:) I got a bit red today but that was to be expected.
>
> So, things here in the Philippines are going as normal. We just had an emergency transfer because on of the zone leaders decided to sneak out every night so...in nicer terms, he got...demoted. They transferred him outta here faster than Ben can climb on you when you are sleeping. Then, our district leader got released because president caught him with a cell phone (that was not church issued) and a dvd player. Are you serious? What a fool. He is a nice guy and everything, but the scriptures say that obedience is the first law of heaven for a reason. What was that? When we obtain any blessing it is upon _________ to the law upon which it is predicated? Fill in the blank. I guess that is what you get when you disregard rules though. He said something to me that made me realize how much dedication is needed when you are working on the Lord's clock..."Its ok though, I didnt come on a mission to lead or any of that [stuff] I came to teach" HA. It is funny how sometimes you get messages out of things people say that are inversely proportional to their intended thesis. Fun times here though.
>
> I have another funny story. I want to warn you all right now because I fear that my english is gonna slowly go down the drain. Our new zone leader-elder Lee- has been in the field for 9 months and speaks Tagalog really well. Today he intended to ask "how many of there are you" referring to the amount of people he needed to tell the boat driver so he could do something and he ended up saying "how much are you" so if in 16 months I end up speaking like a 2 year old, you will know why!!!
>
> So, about the baptism, it was what we like to call non-existent. The person we were going to baptize decided they didnt want to come to church. It is funny how sometimes the adversary twists and grinds something as brutal as a thorn into something as beautiful as a rose...until you touch it. There are so many times that people are so excited in the gospel and they end up bailing on everything because they decide its "not for them." Oh well-more reason to keep trying. I do have one coming up that I am really excited for however. There is a boy named Gilbert who is 19 that we have been teaching. He is a close friend and he decided that he wants me to baptize him. I told him that a member should but he really wants me to do it. I would ask his father to do it, but he isnt a member...yet...so that would be sort of difficult.
>
> So, in answer to the question about my apartment, it is actually nice. I am almost positive that I have bed bugs which sucks because I wake up and have random bites all over my body, but it is ok because we have what we like to call the permethrin of justice. Permethrin is a insecticide that is illegal in the states because it kills cats and small dogs haha but it is ok here I guess. Apparantly it is a force to be reckoned with. A few sprays with that baby and BAM-judgement day for some poor insect souls. But, you will see my apartment in the video that I sent you guys last p day. It is on my memory card which should get to the house this week...hopefully...my apartment is clean, and it has clean water-after filtration. It doesnt have warm water so cold showers are what I have gotten used to, but it is ok.
>
> That is way cool that you got to sit in front of president eyring and uchtdorf. Man, what an opportunity!!! If I was there I would have started the conversation of champions with them. There is so much stuff that I want to ask them haha. That is also really really cool about dad seeing-hopefully-a calling in the future. Genealogy is way tight. I never really noticed it before, but there is so much stuff that you can do with such things. You should get brady over to the temple to rock some baptisms for the names that you find.
>

> Haha good ol Bernard is doing fine. He makes me feel at home whenever I go over to visit the Lungasa family. He always comes up and gives me a giant sized hug and says "mataas" which means up and so I put him on my shoulders and run around-probably looking like a fool but I dont care-and it makes my day. Ha I love that kid so much he is such a cutie. I will try to get some pictures with that family here soon, along with my other families because as of now I only have boring pictures of water, trees, more trees, and run down buildings.
>
> Tonight I am going to a FHE with another family that we are teaching. Their youngest-puchi (pronounced poo-chee) is the most hyper-active kid that I have ever seen in my life. Ha he is a blast to be around. I will be teaching sitting on a bench to the family and he will climb on my head and jump up and down on my shoulders while pulling my hair. Sounds annoying right? Ha I love every minute of it!! I cant wait to become a teacher. Those kids have no clue what will have hit them. Anyways, the family got baptized in October so they are fairly new, but they are so loving. I hope they take a trip to the temple next year and get sealed.
>
> This brings up that favor of the gold dollar. I have a different reason for asking for it this time. Can you include a gold dollar in my christmas present? If they are hard to come by it is ok ha shows you how much I know about them:/
>
> I have asked this 10 million times so I am sure it is getting annoying, but can you continue taking pictures and putting them in the mail? My walls are filled with pictures, but they are all pictures of church events...not that that is bad or anything but it would be nice to have some pictures of my family if you know what I am saying!
>
> Aside from the emergency transfer, the island story, and the baptism update, nothing intense has happened. I have some more favors to ask however. Can you get me the addresses of Leah, Sarah, Grandma and Grandpa Muller (I have Grandma and Grandpa Clark's address and I will write to them soon) and of Scott Bradford? Many many letters to write ha.
>
> I cant believe that I have been here almost 3 full weeks. Time really does fly. I was thinking the other day and when I get back I am going to be 21. Common sense, but mind blowing nonetheless. Can you imagine that? A 21 year old jake...complete with facial hair and everything. Brady is gonna be 15 when I get back holy cow. Dang, and mom, you are gonna hit the big 4-0 next year. DANG. Ha thought I would rub that in:) Its ok cause Dad is gonna be 47:/
>
> There is one more story that I want to tell haha. So, last week I had some 2 letters to send out-one to you all and one to Chelsea. I went to the LBC, which is the Filipino equivalent of UPS and they wanted to charge 2400 FILIPINO PESOS TO SEND THEM. THAT IS LIKE 42 DOLLARS. So, I looked the lady straight in the eye and said "HA ill email my parents" and I took the letters out of her hand and walked out. Then I walked over to the post office and they charged 50 pesos for both of them. That is barely over a dollar to send 2 letters to the united states. That is what I am talking about. Just goes to show you that you cant buy the first thing that you see haha. I thought of you mom when I dominated that lady because it brought up memories of you dominating the people at the yard sales on the east coast when they tried to rip you off.
>
> So, I sent those letters last p day. I was going to write more today, but I only started one. I will try to send them out this week. The one to you guys will have some cool stuff in it;) It will also have a phone card, the one that I told you I would send to you so you didn't have to pay an arm and a leg when you call this Christmas.
>
> Well, that is all she wrote. Tis time for me to leave once again. I love you all and hope you are all doing well!! I have FHE in 10 minutes...
>
> Love,
> Jake
> aka Elder Muller

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Week 2 in the Phillipines

> So, I have a story about the whole wallet thing. Remember how I frantically emailed you last week about how I had lost it? Well, it turns out that the trike driver found my wallet in his trike, took the money, and tossed the wallet into the gutter outside this weird Catholic Church. I told the bishop about it when I was at his house the day it happened and he went and told the tricycle president and his wife texted the FM station and they broadcast a bulletin about how I had lost it and anyone who finds it should bring it to the radio station. My zone leader came in my apartment 4 days later and told me that they had found it and that the radio station had it. I was expecting to get a wallet that was torn to pieces and that was practically unusable, but to my surprise everything (except the money of course-but that isn't important) was in there. Things were re-arranged but nothing was missing. All my IDs, my temple recommend, and even my subway card (which has enough points to get some free cookies-very very valuable, and come to think about it, since all my cards were canceled it was probably the most valuable thing in my wallet. Too bad the person who could have taken it would have had to fly 7000 miles to use it...) were all safe and sound. What is the lesson that I learned from this experience? Well, that is another story from another day. I feel like I am living a Dr. Seuss book because there was a hidden message in my struggles, but isn’t there always??
>
> So, back to what I had typed in the last email that got erased...the Philippines are so different than the USA-obviously right? I will say it is discouraging at times because whenever we have an appointment I can’t catch half the things that are being said because they are being said at mach 4 and my brain doesn't register words that fast, but I am getting better. Luckily I have elder Banawan because he does a lot of the talking and whenever I want to say something that I can’t get across right, he is always there to help me out. This mission has an extremely high baptizing rate and I can’t understand why. Every week we get 2-3 more people with a baptismal goal date-which is only a goal I realize, but it is that much closer, and better than nothing. I have a baptism this coming Saturday that is going to be interesting because I will probably say the words wrong because they need to be said in Tagalog ha. The Filipino people are the kindest, most loving people that I have ever met in my life. Last night, at one of my appointments, Elder Banawan mentioned that we hadn’t eaten that day anything besides lunch and the family made us a meal which was only supposed to be for the father, but they expanded it so it would suit us. Whenever we go to an appointment people always try to feed us haha it is so so different than the USA where one, in contrast to here, people are so greedy and selfish. How is the food you ask?
>
> The food is a different story. It isn’t too bad actually. I was expecting things like intestines (which, like I said in my last email, I have eaten...I almost threw up all over my companion...) and chicken head but it’s not that bad, or at least I haven’t seen it that bad yet. One thing that they do is cook a whole fish and then slap it down on your plate accompanied by a "you eat fish!" It isn’t very comforting to know that the thing that you are about to eat is staring you right in the face. You just have to remove the meat and eat it with a smile on your face. In accordance with all the jokes that you all made about me eating nothing but rice-you were wrong...there is a carrot or two thrown in there every now and then. I have never eaten so much rice in my life. Am I getting sick of it? Ehh...not yet actually. It never is straight rice-they always make something crazy to put over the top so it isn’t that bad. I haven’t had the blood and organ pudding or the boiled chicken foot yet so that is next on the list. I am ashamed to say that I had to turn down baloot yesterday because my companion told me that one of the American elders ate it and they got really really sick. The little boy who was handing it out had this look of innocence on his face and I think deep down inside he was thinking "if only I can get this American to eat this baloot...then we will see how strong his stomach really is..."
>
> The kids are another thing in themselves. Kids always come up and crawl in your lap and joke around with you and they allow you to take time and have fun. There is this one kid named Bernard who rekindled the fire in me to become a teacher. He is one of the cutest kids that I have ever seen. Good ol' Bernard is 4 years old and he is one of the only people that I can have a conversation with because his vocabulary is about as extensive as mine. Bernard and I have each other’s backs-except for yesterday...he tried to put this ant the size of Rhode Island on me and I screamed like a girl and ran away into the barren wilderness.
>
> I had the opportunity the other day to stop by a birthday party and let me tell you-Filipino birthday parties are something ELSE. In reality though, they are not that much different than one you would see in a non-lds home in America. We heard this music coming from the home when we were approaching and we could see a light. When we got closer, we realized that it was a karaoke machine. Filipinos LOVE karaoke. Much to my dismay however, when we got there it turned out that the people singing it weren't the best people to have at an LDS birthday party. Let me describe the scene for you. I walked up and I saw a couple of drunk Filipinos with no shirts on drunk out of their minds singing in a language that, even if I was fluent in Tagalog, I couldn't understand. We wished the sister happy birthday, talked to her for a little bit and then left.
>
> Transportation is a fun thing here in Lopez. In order to get from one area to another, you call a trike. It is kind of like hailing a taxi, but you get in this little side car (which I awkwardly don’t fit in ill have you know) and you tell them the destination and they go-their 100cc engine sputtering the whole way. If you really try, you can get a good 6 or 7 people on that baby and then it’s going 3 mph up a quarter mile hill-as dad would say, sped racer. It is fun to ride them however cause you get a decent breeze and you can watch the scenery go by.
>
> My companion is a cool kid. He is a native of the Philippines and he speaks rather efficient English. I have taken the liberty of explaining such essential English words as "boonies" and "ghetto" to him so he will be able to understand me when I speak in English. Elder Banawan is 5'5" so it looks...shall I say...different when we are walking down the street together. I am pretty sure I already said this in my last email, but we totally look like David and goliath when we are walking to our appointments.
>
> Now, the height is another issue in itself. I don’t fit on my bed, I dont fit in any of the trikes, I dont fit at my desk, I dont fit in anyones house (cause they are all made of bamboo and these leaves-most of them at least, the ones that arent in the city) and so whenever I get into the house the floor creaks and I have to hunch down because if I dont I hit my head. It sucks and is funny at the same time because the Filipinos always hang their laundry out on these metal wires...that are just high enough that they dont hit them...and there is no electricity in most of the trails that we walk obviously and so at night I always run into them and strangle myself. Funny, but not:/
>
> I dont think that I have ever been more grateful for all the things that I took for granted in the states. Family is a big one. I dont think that we really realize how much family really means to us until they are gone (or just really really really far away). There are also things that I miss deeply...washing machines...my bed...wal-mart...air conditioner...cold...english..
.schoolwork...a reliable form of transportation...clean water...there are so so many things that I will never again take for granted. Absence makes the heart grow fond and that is totally being manifested ha.
>
> I am going to send out a letter today (hopefully) that has my memory card in it so I hope it gets to you all safely. Seeing as how I lost all my spending money, I want to apologize for skimping out on the Christmas presents this year. I will find some way to send everyone stuff for their birthdays however.
>
> The mission president is a really really nice guy. You can tell, or maybe just I can tell I dont know, that he is a grandpa haha. He is really really nice and immediately took me under his wing. The mission home is a really nice place and it served us well. I will send you some pictures on my memory card of the mission home and all the missionaries in my batch. Have you found Elder Hansen's mom yet? I told him to tell his mom but I dont know if he did or not.
>
> I love you all with all my heart and miss you all so much. I hope that you all are enjoying the snow cause all I get is rain and MUD MUD MUD MUD:/
>
> Stay safe and bundle up. Keep going strong in the church. Brady, Samuel, and Ben, you may not realize it now, but eventually the church will become one of the most important things in your lives. Cherish it. Dont blow it off and play video games your whole childhood (now who does that sound like...) ha. Embrace young mens and try your hardest to accomplish all you can in scouts. I didn’t get my eagle scout, but I know that it would have been worth it and I regret not getting it. Hang in there guys!
>
> One again, I love you all and hope you are all doing well.
>
> Until next Monday
> Love always,
> Jake
> Aka Elder Muller

Monday, November 9, 2009

First Week in the Philippines

> So, I just spent an hour typing an email, but the computers here are from the 1980's so it deleted everything. So I will try to type up a quick one because I pay for everyminute that I use.
>
> LIfe here in the Philippines is good. As a whole, it is really poor, but it really makes me appreciate everything that I have back in america. Ha some of the things that americans take for granted I now appreciate much more. Take toilet paper for example...my toilet paper is a sprayer. Take walmart for example...my walmart is a market with pig legs and pig intestines hanging all over the place. Ill have you know that I have tried intestines-yea, never again.
>
> The people here are really nice. They offer you food no matter when you come to their house. They are really giving and love everyone. I dont fit anywhere ha. People look at me when I walk down the street. I always get one of two questions-1) what is my height, or 2)are my eyes real. I dont know why, but people always ask if I am wearing contacts that make my eyes blue haha.
>
> The scenery is gorgeous. The stars at night are breathtaking. I look for the big dipper every night but I cant find it because it is over america right now ha. Oh well-with time.
>
> This is really really frustrating because these computers are garbage and they deleted my last email. I need to go and I want to apologze with every inch of my heart. The computer keeps freaking out and it makes it really hard for me to email. I love you all so much. I promise you I will email next week more.
>
> Please pass on the information that I cant email anyone else other than you guys.
>
> I love you and look forward to getting your next email. Once again, please forgive me for skimping out on the email, it is really difficult for me to get up and walk away with this little amount but I have to because I have tons to do. I love you all and miss you so very much.
>
> I will email a lot more next time. Please teach brady samuel and ben to appreciate what they have. How are all you doing? Can you email me what is going on with everyone?
>
> Much love,
> Jake
> aka elder Muller.
>
> PS-sorry again honestly. I dont mean to be so short, but an hour of typing disappeared in a bleep. Patience though right?

Sunday, November 1, 2009