Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Monkey with a lollipop.

Dear Family-

How is life in Roy Utah?? Work in Calamba is still pulling a stone cut out of the mountain without hands and moving onwards with no obstacles. Yes yes, we all know the stories come first so this is what I will relate first…

This week will go down in history as one of the more difficult weeks in my mission. It was like I was marinated in problems this week haha but that is life. I am really weird about problems-I hate burdening other people with them, but I like solving other peoples problems…I don’t understand it either-that is just how I was made I suppose. Well, Friday night I had had enough and was like dude, De Leon I need to drop some stuff on you, I need advice. I dropped a lot of stuff on him and he told me that he actually was having the same problems that I was having (caused by different things, but, all in all, the same problems). De Leon and I are actually getting along better than I could have ever imagined. He is up there with my tatay (Banawan) and Duco. Today I actually asked the APs to give me one more transfer here in Calamba with him so we will see how that goes. Obviously, no matter how much we try, we cant change the will of the Lord. I guess the best way to explain this week would be to compare it to boogyboarding (cause I cant surf). You know when you are boogyboarding on top of a wave, having a good time, then you go too much forward and you get sucked under the wave and your face slammed into the ground? Haha that was this week! But, one week out of my 40 so far isnt that bad:D Now, onto some cooler stories.

Last Friday De Leon were about to visit a family that we found tracting that is having a hard time with in-activity. Do you see that first picture that I sent-the monkey with the lollipop? Ok, so let me tell you what happened. I was walking when I saw this monkey chained to a bamboo pole going, horizontally, from a shed to a tree. He had a lollipop so I decided to stop and take a picture of him…bad choice. I looked down to get my camera when I heard this rrrRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR and I look up to see this monkey FLYING through the air towards me. So, in like half a second my body reacts with pulling a limbo type action and bending my back. Now, I kid you not, this monkey was coming full throttle at me claws out ready to rock my socks. He either wanted to do one of two things-1)feel my newly shaven face to see if the commercials are true and see if gillette really is the best a man can get, or 2)beat me down for threatening his lollipop. Either way he was not a happy camper-kind of like brady when he dropped his cow pie thing with the peach filling on the ground (haha love ya brady!). When he was like 2 inches from my face the chain pulled tight yanking him back leaving him hanging by his waist. Now, I hadnt come this far, having almost had my life taken from me, to leave empty handed. I took a picture real quick and ran. He tried to follow me…didn’t work too well (chains arent easilly broken). The lighter picture was taken when he wasn’t mad at me, and the dark picture was taken when he was about to jump and attack again…and that is why you NEVER ask a monkey how many licks it takes to get to the center of a tootsie pops…the jerk bit it anyways

Last Tuesday (I think) we had a baguio (pronounced bhag-yo) (meaning storm) (actually its also a place) (oh, and a mission too…baguio mission) which was a fun experience. The drainage system in Pilipinas is an epic failure, thus flash floods happen almost everyday. The picture that I sent was of one of the roads…as you can see the water level is like 2 inches above the curb…haha the ricers with their civics were blowing bubbles in the water with their exhausts:/

That picture with all the writing says “I want to become a trashman so when your boyfriend throws you out I can pick you up” I just though it was kind of funny because we had taught the family before and they are married…and the guy is a trashman…

Yesterday was kind of a special day. Two things happened that I am gonna remember for a long time. The first happened when we were at the house of an investigator. As we were right about to start teaching, two saksi (Jehovas’s witnessess-saksi is witness in Tagalog so we call them Saksi. Haha Elder De Leon calls then “Saksi ni Judas” or Judas’ witnesses hahahahaha) came up and hopped in like we were best friends. They were sisters so they had a humble countanence (is that the right word??) about them so the bible bashing was…kept to a minimum. They shared their beliefs, threw sacred doctrine that we don’t talk about often on the table, and insinuated a lot while we just shared our message (the restoration) quickly and quietly then they left. Our investigator looked at us and was like “you know elders, I have to be honest with you all I accept every religion that comes and tries to teach me…but every other religion is just me shaking my head-there is nothing in my heart telling me to listen intently. But, when you all teach me, there is something pushing me along telling me to listen. There is something that burns within telling me its true.” We gave a quick scriptural thought (because the saksi took up like an hour of our time) and went to the Javier family-right above our investigators house. We arrived to a quiet house-which is NOT normal-and were let in by lovely. She just looked at me with this “something is wrong look” and I was like oh gosh…what’s wrong. She was like Andrea is losing it. Minutes later Diwata came down with Andrea sceaming and flipping out. Something happened inside Andrea’s mouth and was causing her excrutiating pain. She was screaming at the top of her lungs-something I have never seen her do before ever. Diwata looked at me and was like “elder, can you give her a blessing?” Her voice was kind of frantic because she was doing everything she could to calm Andrea down and nothing was working. Funny how things happen at the worst possible times. Someone in my first area stole my vial of consecrated oil so I now have no consecrated oil. Elder De Leon had left his at the apartment so we were like Ate, its gonna have to be a blessing of comfort cause we have no oil. Diwata was like ok it doesn’t matter just do it. Everything was loud, everything was crazy, no one could think straight. We had Andrea sit down in the chair and decided that I was gonna give her a blessing. She sat down in the chair and I put my hands on her head…silence. Everything went quiet-Andrea, the world, my thoughts, everything. I gave her a blessing and closed it and she looked up at me, then to Diwata. Diwata’s mouth was wide open. She was like…uh…are you ok? Andrea was like yep:D Diwata was like your mouth…doesn’t hurt? Andrea was like no, everything is gone, there is no pain, nothing. Now, either my hands, being as big as her head, squeezed the hurt out of her, or the catalougue of events demonstrating the power of the priesthood gained yet another entry. What a blessing it is to have the gift of the priesthood and to be able to help those who are in need.

Today was p-day. Last zone conference I, after talking with president for like 20 minutes about it, got him to give us permission to watch a movie as a zone. So, today we went to pizza hut, got 10 pizzas (because we have hookups 10 pizza hut pizzas cost each of us 100 pesos…2 bucks.) and watched up. Up was a REALLY REALLY good movie and flooded my mind of images before my mission, and stuff im gonna do after my mission. Haha man that was one funny movie.

That is about it for this week. Nothing really amazing happened this week actually so sorry if my email was way boring. Thursday is zone conference so I get to see a whole bunch of people again. To answer your question, yea that was Hansen in that picture. By the way, you might want to send me my memory cards…cause my 2 gig has room for like 20 more pictures just waiting to be seen by you all. Oh, and mom, if you could send me that picture from my first area that I asked for a while back. I need to send it to the family of that girl that died. It is the one where the two young boys are in baptismal clothing and there is a mother, a father, and a young girl (16 years old). Oh, and also, could you send me more fusion razorheads in the mail? I am on my last…and I have steel wool for facial hair (thanks…DAD cause I know mom didn’t give me that one haha) I think that is all. Yea, this email was weak but hopefully this week will be cooler…

Hope you all are doing well and staying cool. Tell brady to stop growing and stop tanning. I love you all and hope you all don’t get trunky this Friday (14 months to go…time goes too fast)



Ps-elder De Leon blew up our iron…so we borrowed an extra iron from other elders…only it is stuck on setting 6/6. Who in their right mind uses the hottest setting on the iron? It has no purpose…except maybe to cook a stinkin’ egg…

Saturday, June 26, 2010

busy week

Dear Family-

So, it would be extremely difficult for me to journalize my adventures that have happened today. Today was one of the most amazing days of my life haha:D:D:D I went to one of the capitals of the world, I went to the biggest mall in all of Asia, and I had delicious food (the only place in the Philippines that has a TGI Friday’s, Subway, starbucks, wendy’s, dippin dots, and cinnabon. Outback steakhouse and chili’s are in downtown manila). I cant even begin to explain how TRUNKY today made me haha. I went to a huge capital, I saw skyscrapers, I was with 50 other Americans, we passed the American embassy and I saw the first American flag in coming up on 8 months, I went into countless sports stores and was reminded about how much I miss running, and I hung out with kids in the biggest mall in Asia for 2 hours. Man oh man. Before I briefly touch down on such things I do have some stories to tell. There wasn’t any real spiritual bombshells this week just some kind of funny stories and one inspirational (for me) one…

So, I think I might have made the biggest fool of myself than I have ever before. We (as in De Leon and I) have 2 investigators that have the quietest voices I have ever heard. One of them is this little girl named Xavior Deanne. She is REALLY shy and we are trying really really hard to get her out of her shell. She has been going to church for the past couple years, her grandmother just hasn’t had the will to come ask the missionaries to teach her so she can be baptized. She is 11. Well, with these 2 investigators, out of De Leon and I, whoever is sitting closer is the one who listens to the prayer and says amen so that the other companion knows when to say amen. When I say amen to the really quiet prayers I say it really loudly and clap my hands (what am I, Baptist?) to kind of get the shyness out of the person praying. Well, we were teaching Xavier last Saturday and we asked her to prayer. She accepted and started to pray. With her prayer, you have to listen for the amen cause you cant understand anything else. Well, as I was listening I thought I heard her say amen, thus, following protocol, I said amen really loudly and clapped my hand…only to look up and see that she was still praying. I was like “oh…uh…just kidding” and went back into arms folded, head bowed position. Now, I feel like a fool right now…and De Leon makes it so much better by busting into uncontrollable laughter while this girl is praying…which makes the two nanays who were with us start laughing and then Xavier says amen and looks up and she is laughing. Cool. So, basically I ruined this girls prayer and made her think that prayer is a time to joke around. It wasn’t a submissive quiet amen either, it was a 120 decibles amen, and a loud clap to go with it. Not one of my best moments…

The second story deals with us tracting. Tracting is one of the funnest things in the world. If you are having a good day, you can spread the gospel. If you are having a bad day, it amuses you to hear the reasons as to why we “cant” tell them about the gospel. Last Friday I heard one that I have never heard before. We were going house to house (which is really hard in the Philippines cause you need to go to a richer sub division to be able to) when we tracted this older gentleman sweeping his house. We were like “tatay, how are you? (after a little bit of conversation) well tatay, we are missionaries and are trying to get to know people in the area…” and before I could finish he was like “im sorry, im a senior citizen.” Now, I am good with coming up with clever rebuttals to people’s attempts to kick us to the curb…but I had no clue what to say. You are a senior citizen…which prohibits you from meeting young people? Am I understanding right? He was like “im really sorry, im a senior citizen…” and walked away before we could say anything. I honestly had no clue what to say. Honestly, what do you say to that? Unfortunately, I had to admit defeat on that oneL but De Leon and I had way successful lessons for the rest of the day so I guess it kind of balanced it out…kind of…

I have another story that is intense. Someone told me that there is a guy in the Manila MTC that is Filipino and is tall. How tall? 6’? Taller. 6’6”? Taller. 7’? Taller. 7’6”? Taller. There is a Filipino in the MTC here in Manila that is 7’9”. He is the fourth tallest person in the world. I kid you not, he has to wear tire treads with rope for his shoes. The church had to make him special garments and is making him a special pair of shoes. Yea mom, so for all those jokes about my shoes being used in the case of a flood to save our family…we can just use that guys ark-like shoes. He needs 3 chairs cause he cant fit in the desks. Man…good luck in the jeepneys…

My last story is not important to other people cause it is a personal experience. It was just another of those goals that I got to check off on my “mission to do list” before I go home (which, at the end of next transfer is a mere year away…). We are teaching this girl named Caresa. She is 17 and is such an awesome person. She comes from rough background so it is interesting how the process of finding the “diamond in the rough” is coming along. Well, the other day Elder De Leon and I taught the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity. The Law of Chastity is taught differently here in the Philippines. Because of the translation, there is no sufficient word to explain the Law of Chastity as a whole we need to go step by step and explain everything in detail. It is a heavy lesson because the world has no cares about chastity so when the principles that we teach are brought before an investigator, they hit home pretty hard. It is different here in the Philippines cause you have to touch EVERY single corner and crack of the LOC because if you don’t people wont know about them-clean thoughts (pornography, immodest clothing), clean speech (profanity), and clean actions (homosexuality, body piercing, body disfiguration(tattoos and brands), sexual relations outside the bonds of matrimony, and abortion). It seems like a lot, but they all need to be touched-that is what we were taught. So, we went to Caresa and De Leon taught Word of Wisdom and I taught Law of Chastity. After we got done we told her that none of us are perfect and that if she has any problem with what we taught, that we are here to help her through the process of repentance. Poor kid took us as meaning we wanted her to break down her life in front of us. So, with tear filled eyes, she proceeded to tell us all the problems that she had with what we taught-everything that she had done from a little kid until that very moment that we were teaching her. It was a hard thing to see cause she is such a strong girl and she assumed that all was lost. It was a humbling experience to take her by the hand and pull her back out of the darkness and into the light showing her that things that may seem hard with the darkness of doubt and disbelief are shrouded about them, but when the light of the Gospel of Christ lights up the way, we see that things aren’t as the world makes them seem-life gets simpler and we find out that, no matter what, we can receive forgiveness from past disobedience. It was cool to be able to be that guide to lead her back to Christ-yet another privilege that the Lord gave me. Why the Lord is so merciful to me I don’t know. I most definitely am NOT 100 % obedient and am more blessed than I should be-in my eyes, but that is why the Lord blesses the world and Elder Muller doesn’t. I think of that hug the father must have given each of his children personally before they left his presence and traveled through the veil. The tears that were shed by both father and son, and the pleads of “please father-please help me come back to you.” Powerful stuff-the love a father has for his sons and daughters…and even more powerful-so powerful that we don’t even understand it-the love the father of us all has for every single one of us. Haha random tangent, but sometimes I just want to go up to random people and be like “you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, but, if I were a betting man, I would say that we hung out in the pre-mortal existence. Maybe played some go fish…some hop-scotch…had a few ice pops (NOT OTTER POPS…people from Utah man im telling you…)” I am wondering if Utah State has a minor program in religious studies. The more I study the gospel the more I want to teach it to people. I think becoming a seminary teacher would be one of the coolest things in the world haha:D:D But for now, elementary is at the top of the list!!

That is all the stories for this week. Last Wednesday was zone conference, meaning we each got personal interviews with president. President and I are extremely close because of some talks that we have had about my past and upraising and maturing and so I always look forward to interviewing with him. He interviewed De Leon first and then like 30 minutes later De Leon came out and president called me in and when I got in he had a angry look on his face and was like “Elder, lets talk.” That is NOT what you want to hear from your mission president:/ But, he just wanted to clear things up about De Leon. He (as in President) found out our (as in De Leon and mine) story and totally tore him (De Leon) to shreds. He shared something to me that I will share in another email sometime because it is really long and means a lot, but it was in regards to my testimony and protection when I get back against old things that are guaranteed to come back and be used against me. Oh, I cant wait to step back into the filthy world…SIKE.

This email is really really skimpy because I have no time. Manila is one of the most amazing cities I have ever been to. I saw the American embassy with this enormous gate with guards, guns, and 1000 people trying to get in but couldn’t because they had no passport:/ I went to the biggest mall in asia (I think it is the biggest…it is like a square mile…), and I went in a sports store and drooled over the running shoes that I cant use. Today was a fun day. This email is way weak cause I have no time at all to do anything. Love you all and hope you are all doing well. Tell Grandma to hang on there and keep on being one of the strongest women I have ever known. Tell Brady that I am proud of him for becoming a teacher and for him to NOT underestimate the responsibilities and duties of the teachers-they are napakahalaga or really really important. Salamat sa halimbawa ni’yo sa ‘kin. Syempre, ang hirap ng gawing missionero pero ‘pag may supportahan ako galing sa mga membro ng pamiliya ko tsaka galing sa mga kaibigan ko, maging mas madali ang Gawain ko!!! Thanks to you all!!! The Lord loves you all, I saw a 2010 subaru sti earlier, and cinnabon is absolutely amazing!!!


Elder Muller

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Happy Sabbath

Dear Family-

Yet another week down; another group of people, hopefully, brought closer to the Lord, and another 60 miles clocked in on my crocs. This week wasn’t one to change lives, but it did have small seemingly unimportant (to other people, but not to me) reminders as to why I am serving the Lord. I really don’t have any stories that would make the New York Times, but I can share small things that happened.

First off, you need to realize that missionaries have something called “the pool.” This refers to the not yet progressing investigators-those who are not yet past the first lesson (the restoration). Every week, the pool empties and fills back up with different people. One of the drops that made up the pool this last week was a man by the name of Felix. Felix is a devout Jehova’s Witness and wont change. We met him one day when we were tracting and got a return appointment with him. His brother had been taught and baptized by the missionaries before he died, but as of now he has no ties ( blood or social) to someone of the Latter-Day Saint faith. He does have a book of mormon,given to his family, from 1977 though-and its way cool!! It has all these cool inserts and stuff and different pictures in the front of plates and tools that were found in persia and stuff. Anyways, De Leon and I had set the lesson as principles 4,5,and 6 (Christ’s earthly ministry, the apostasy, and the restoration of the gospel). Well, as could have been expected, we got to the apostasy and hit an enormous roadblock. The bible is complete and that is all that we need-the apostasy didn’t happen because the bible was still here after the death of Christ. No big deal-this is the problem of a lot of people and it is a big stumbling block. The bible is the most read book in the world-to say it was changed and is now incomplete would basically be smacking billions of people in the face…or so they think. There are ways to get around this small hurdle-verses that reference non-existant books (I have actually offerred money to people who can find the prophesy referred to in Matthew 2:23. Although there is speculation that it COULD be reffering to a scripture in Isaiah, it isnt proven and is too vague of a passage to be considered), historical facts that illuminate the fact that councils gathered together and changed the primeval bible into what we now know as “the bible,” and, of course, the testifying power of the third member of the Godhead. Good ol’ felix, after we pretty much proved that the bible, as much as he might like to think it is, is NOT complete, refused to consider anything. This is where De Leon comes in. De Leon gets intense when he gets angry. I was sitting there wondering what kind of Mr. Clean could soften the grime that had hardened over his eyes when I hear Felix say “even if you have evidence that the bible is lacking, for me, it is still complete.” De Leon looks him right in the eyes and goes “well then you, my friend, are thinking wrong.” Small side note-things that sound good in Tagalog sound retarded in English. It is hard to get a direct translation with the same impact. The guy was taken aback and, after a good 20 minutes of bible bashing between De Leon and Felix I interjected and was like “You know what, Brother Felix, we arent here to say that you are wrong. We arent here to bible bash with you, or to throw out scriptures that counter your claims. To be completely honest, I have much better things to do with my time than to sit here and bible bash with you-its not why we are here. We are here to tell you the truth and to give you the opportunity to accept it or to reject it, but before you reject it, we ask that you pray about it. It is not that hard of a thing to do. I am a simple person and being such, I could be lying through my teeth to you right now about Joseph Smith, about his contributions to religion, about the apostasy, about everything…but the Lord cant lie to you. I am telling you right now that if you pray sincerely with the 3 items listed in [Moroni 10:4] that you will find out for yourself that in 1820 the Lord took a young boy by the hand and, together, they changed the face of contemporary religion forever. All it takes is that one step of faith.” All he had to say was “The bible is complete. I pray everyday.” It was kind of sad because this happens quite often. People don’t want to accept that there is something different. Their parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, and wife are a certain religion, so that makes them a certain religion. Many people belive that if they “accept” christ than all is well. Done. Complete. No more (although to accept Christ, you need to accept his doctrine which definitely does NOT imply no action. People look at 5 verses in the bible and assume that because it says it there that it is the full doctrine. Fail.). Felix is a good guy, but unfortunately he wont let his big fat head shrink down a little bit and allow a new idea enter. How hard is the concept of prayer? “Pray about it and if you are told its not true we will leave you alone.” Not difficult. The Adversary is, unfortunately, the smartest guy on the earth right now-not because he is the devil, but because he is old and knows tricks to throw people’s exhaltation in the trash can. Hopefully Felix will be considered one who was “blinded by the craftiness of men” and given another chance. It’s not the coolest feeling in the world to see how much the gospel can help people…if they would only give it a chance. Sad day. But, on a good note, the seed has been planted. Hopefully it will grow into something that other missionaries can help. That was one of the more exciting things that happened this week-yea not an exciting week (except for Saturday and Sunday.)

Saturday was the cultural event at Cebu, so we got the opportunity to go to the stake center and watch it. It was interesting to see because it included dances from mindanao (the southernmost island that is full of Pilipino culture) to swing (because when the americans came over in world war 2 they introduced swing dance). It was a cool thing to watch, but the real diamond in the rough was Sunday.

Sunday was a day that I was looking forward to for a LONG time. Ever since I was told in February that the Cebu Temple would be dedicated in June I have been counting down the days. Elder De Leon and I had practically gone to every member’s house in Calamba trying to get them ready for the temple dedication. Well, Sunday finally arrived and we arrived at the stake center. All the doors are shut and locked and have curtains over them except for the furthest back set of doors leading into the extension of the cultural hall. Being a zone, we entered into the doors and the only way to describe it is feeling home again. The second I heard the music playing, and looked up and saw the pictures of the different places inside the temple a flashback of all the temples came into my head. The sessions I did in the Provo temple while in the MTC and the archives of information that I uncovered; getting endowed in the Draper temple and having no clue what was going on; going to the Ogden temple with my mind filled with problems regarding my mission, my future, and choices that I had to make. It has been SO long since I have been in the temple, I had almost forgotten about the solemn feeling of guidance from on high that you get. The spirit is different within the walls of the temple-almost as if in the purest form cause there is no physical impediments that halt your receiving of the spirit (is that english right?). When I walked in the stake center I got that feeling again and it almost brought me to tears. The feeling that you are literally in the Lord’s house. He is there in the room with you and is constantly whispering guidance in your ear…you just need to listen. The feeling that you are 100% safe from EVERYTHING. You can stay there for as long as you want (well, until the temple closes down) and seek the guidance of the holy spirit of the Lord. I miss the temple SOOO much. I took having like 8 within an hour of the house for granted before I left on my mission-something I will never do again. That feeling that I got hit with is indescribable. Eventually, on the screen, the picture slideshow stopped and I went live inside the temple to the room that they were staying in. Amazetastic. 100% amazetastic. It was gorgeous inside. When the general authorities walked in it only added to the feeling that electrifies every one of your senses. The temple dedication proceeded; talks were given, songs were sung, blessings were offered, and it came time for President Monson to speak. That man may be one of the most amazing people I have ever met in my life. He is everything every righteous man and woman want to be. He gave an amazing speech which relit that deep burning fire within all who heard it, and proceeded with the dedicatory prayer. Never before has something so magnificant entered my ears. We finished the dedication and left the session. Because of a split second decision, we decided to attend the 3 o’clock session also. Those who attended (which couldn’t have been more than 30 or 40) were blessed to hear a talk from President Monson which will go down in history. He spoke for a good 45 minutes and it was one of the best talks I have ever heard in my life. He said something to the effect of “The Lord will cradle us in his arms and love us like we have never before been loved, if only we do what he asks us. He is reaching out to us-let us take his hand and never again let go” obviously that isnt a direct quote, but it shed a new light on obediance. There were a lot of talks given about the importance of entrancec to the new and everlasting covenant and some words from the sealing ordinance were quoted and it made my arm hairs stand up. It also reorganized my priorities in life. Obviously the Lord and his church are first, but it reorganized my 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc., priorities. I made a commitment to, because I will be within 15 minutes in roy, and 2 minutes in Logan, attend the temple more than twice a week when I get back. The temple is the beacon that we can all look to for light. It also shed a new light on starting the eternal companionship within the walls of the temple. What a blessing it is to be priviledged to enter into the house of the Lord, and be sealed for time and all eternity-with him sitting right there next to you. That is one of the things that I regret most in my life-taking the temple for granted. I could have run to the temple in Ogden every single night…and yet I didn’t. It made me think about the contrast between the saints that have the blessing of a temple within 1 hour of their house, and those who don’t. Oh, the blessings that we take for granted (like hot water in the shower…). I have decided that that is the first thing I want to do when I get back. After I get released by president Jensen, we (as in all who can come) are going to the Ogden Temple. The bad thing about the temple dedication was the temperature. The airconditioner within the cultural hall are BEAST…and were set at 16 degrees celcius…which is 60 degrees farenheit. I came in sweating and spent 4 hours in the cold…and now I have a runny nose and a cough. I guess that is the Lord’s way of saying stop complaining about the heat:/ Let me say this-because its not cold my nose runs like a faucet. You have to realize that there are 2 kinds of people in this world-nose blowers and sniffers. I am a sniffer: I sniff and sniff until I get a sinus infection and have to blow my nose. Tsk tsk. Such is life.

That is life in Calamba for right now. The Lord continues to provide people for us to teach. Weather here is really weird. Until noon it will be baby blue skies with no clouds and then all the sudden, BAM-crazy weather and torrential downpours that flood everything. Luckilly the water in the streets only gets like 7 inches deep so we just take off our socks, roll up our pants, pull an erkel, and continue on our way. Is Brady really 5’6”? What in the world is that kid doing, taking growth supplements? I didn’t hit the good ol’ growth spurt until I was like 15. If that kid passes me up in height…oh well. Please tell brady that it doesn’t matter if you are 5’ flat or 7’1”-you are always taller on your knees. If he doesn’t understand please explain it to him. That is crazy about the weather. I have decided that I will stick with the 120 degree 100% humidity weather over cold freezing utah anyday after my 4 hours in the cold and the sickness that resulted from it. I hope you are all doing well at home. Next week I might skimp on the email, im not sure. All the americans that go home in 2011 are taking a bus to Manila next week to get fingerprinted for their visas or something (and eating at subway WWWWWWWWWOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!!!!!!!!!!! Although they have a tgi Fridays and an outback steakhouse in Manila…or course I don’t have 2k that I can drop on a steak…) It is gonna take up our p-day so I don’t know if I will be able to email or not, but I will be sure to tell you all about what went down in my next email. Remember- “A merry doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

Love you all-

Elder Muller

Friday, June 11, 2010

Dear Family-

This week was absolute pure concentrated awesomeness-like as in holy vienna sausage awesome. I don’t even know where to start, so I will take the easy way out and start with Monday…

Last Monday may have been one of the absolutely coolest days in my entire life. I got to go to enchanted kingdom. WOOOOOOOOOOOTTTTTT!!! Ok ok, it is an amusement park smaller than lagoon and aimed at 7 year old Filipino girls but that most definitely does NOT mean I cant have an amazing time pulling a NASCAR experience on the bumper cars (which were NOT meant to hold an American…I looked like a stinking pretzel:/). So, that is a funny experience. It all started when we got up nice and early to be at enchanted right before it opens. Why? Because the employees do this cool (and yet unsurprisingly corny) dance jig thing that is basically a direct invitation for your endorphins to come out and greet the sun:D So, we jeep-ney and trike our way through the metropolis known as cabuyao to get to the area that has enchanted. While we were on our last trike going there I saw the Ferris wheel and about fell off the back (I need to ride on the back cause I don’t fit in the stupid little 1950s British motorcycle sidecar thing) I was so excited. So, we got off our trike and walked the remaining 400 meters or so to the park parking lot entrance where we asked the guard to verify if it was gonna open at 10. He looked at us with a weird look in his eye (but I guess we shouldn’t have expected anything different-8 American males over 6 feet trying to get into a kid amusement park…its like watching a 25 year old man get in the mechanical race car rides at the mall that move back and forth when you put in a quarter) and said that they didn’t open up until 2. So, bummed we walked back to walter mart and decided to spend the next 4 hours in there 1)because it has air conditioning and 2)because we weren’t about to drive the hour and a half back just to leave again in an hour. That is where I emailed you mom and we had our little chat of awesomeness. So, at this time our group started slowly diminishing. The sisters bailed, a companionship bailed, and we were still waiting for people to come. Every missionary in our ward invited the single adults to come with us so we were waiting on them and we told them 10 so by 1:30 we were kind of bummed that they still hadn’t come. Finally, at like 1:35 the other elders and TONS of single adults showed up which brightened everyone’s spirits. We took off and ran back to the entrance, bought our tickets, and waited in line for the cool dance to start. We waited a good 20 minutes for that dance and…it was pure weak sauce. It was almost a mix between Richard Simmons and an unchoreographed tae-bo video…but I cant really complain I suppose. So, we entered the park, I got a picture with the cool wizard guy and his princess (that wizard had to have been sweating off a good 5 kilos of body mass an hour holy COW was it hot). We had no clue what to do with ourselves because we hadn’t been inside an amusement park in almost, for me, 9 months and so I was like a kid in a toy store. Yea, I was taller than most of the support beams for the rides, and probably weighed more too, but it was still fun. We headed to the only roller coaster (in the Philippines) first…but it was closed until 2:30. We were way bummed until we saw one of the most amazing sights an American missionary serving in the Philippines can see-a dairy queen. My mouth could not have dropped faster. So, I ran over with elder Davis and rocked Dairy Queen’s socks and it was absolute deliciousness. When the rides started working we went on them and had an absolute blast. Everything from getting soaked on the rapids to screaming like a 4 year old on the pirate ship (not because it was exciting, but because I will only get to ride a pirate ship while I am assigned in this zone), to riding bumper boats and throwing my crocs at people (they float-who knew:D), to riding the ferris wheel and spinning the gondola so fast elder Lopez almost threw up:/ I also got to do this thing called space balls…oooooooooooo…(mysterious I know…). They put you inside this ball and fill it up with air and seal it up so it is a perfect airtight sphere, and throw you on top of this lake. It is SO much fun, but it is really loud inside cause it is airtight and your breaths deafen you…plus you absolutely BAKE inside, but it was really fun. Unfortunately, as is to be expected with teenage guys and girls between the ages of 18-27, something happened at the park that started the world drama championships so that kind of ruined a good hour and a half of our day, but we eventually got over it and moved on. I also saw this guy from new York who is going to play for the PBA (Philippine basketball association-its kind of like the NBA). He was a legit thug and I was afraid that he was gonna stab me but he turned out to be a REALLY nice guy who graduated from Syracuse. At the end of the day we went paintballing which was absolutely horrible. It was Americans verses Pilipinos which was the worst mistake of our life. Every single one of us stuck out over the over the obstacles because we are gigantum and we could never shoot the flippin Filipinos cause they hid all the time. I swear they hid under the blades of grass or something because when I thought I had stealth and sprinted across the field (while singing the mission impossible theme song ill have you know) I got DESTROYED. Like what in the world, I just exposed myself to you all for 3.2 seconds and I know have purple shorts, hands, and neck. Cool. We got obliterated. It didn’t help much that they got the corner of the field with no lights, all the obstacles, and they were in all black. Haha nothing like a good game of target practice:/ but we had a BLAST and it was a LOT of fun.

That is actually the most interesting story for the week. De Leon and I have been having so much fun working in our area. Ate Andrea and ate Catriona (the daughters of Ate Diwata) are finally confirmed (they didn’t come to church last Sunday…) and are already going stronger than I have ever seen them before. Diwata is the mother of andrea and catriona, but the sister of lovely but the four of them are like one big family. I so desperately hope that I am NOT transferred this coming up transfer day (July 16) because saying goodbye to them is gonna be one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. It is so weird to say, but I love them all so so much and I honestly just want to shove them in my suitcase and take them with me everywhere. Ate Diwata is absolutely hilarious and has friends on every stinking country on the earth from America to Britain to…Belgium (I don’t know if that is a country or a city…but who cares-I am in the Philippines far far away and couldn’t care any less about them or their stupid waffles). She is absolutely amazing. Ate Lovely, Catriona, Andrea, and I are like a group of siblings. They are so so fun to be around and make your cares melt away.

Something really really sad happened this week…my STUPID INGROWN TOENAIL REVIVED ITSELF AND CAME BACK. So, in my first area, it surfaced and I got it fixed. Then, it waited and waited for me to make the wrong move…which I did and it came back again. I went to the hospital again and the guy cut off half of my toenail. Well, my toe got really mad because he was defeated so he decided to double his forces and come back, but he is too smart to come back on the western front so he infiltrated my defenses on the eastern side and is now causing large scale fatalities. I realize that 1)my toe doesn’t have the personality of Napoleon Boneparte, and 2)it was probably my own fault that it came back, but honestly? Im sure I can find someone around here with an itak (machete) that can take care of my toe for good. This is getting really really annoying. I don’t want to ask president because it is like 30 bucks everytime I get it done, and it costs the church money. Feet are just dumb. If I could, I would trade them out for goodyears…then there would be no more ingrown toenails, no more stank feet, and I would only have to change my socks every 50,000 miles. ARRRRGGGGH. Oh well, I guess third time is a charm to learn the “proper way” to cut toenails.

I also have an interesting story to tell. You know, it is not often in life that the circumstances are perfect for the Lord to teach you something through a type and a shadow. This past Sunday, I felt one of the most amazing things I have ever felt in my life.

If you all recall, Kuya Rexan Jay was baptized on may 1st. Duco and I found him one day playing on his computer-asked him if he was a member because his whole family is and he said no, so we started teaching him. Slowly, piece by piece, we got to know his family; his mother, his father, and one of his brothers-Reynold. Reynold immediately put off a STRONG impression because he offered immediate resistance to our teachings. Every time we tried to invite him into the lessons, he would laugh and walk away; everytime I would offer a testimony he would come up with some excuse for why its not right, why the church isn’t true, or why its not for him…but slowly we got to know him. Him and I listen to the same music, him and De Leon both play guitar, we like the same things in life, have the same interests, and want the same things. We eventually got it to the point that we could teach without him interrupting and driving the spirit away. One day a long time ago, as we were teaching Rexan Jay, I got this strong impression to invite Reynold to church. I offered the invitation and he turned to me, looked me straight in the eye and, in not so nice terms, told me that he was NOT coming back to church, and proceeded to tell me the reasons why. It was hard im not gonna lie because here is one of my friends who most desperately needs the gospel, and yet he wont accept it. I accepted his rebuttal and continued the teaching of rexan jay. The next time we went back I had the impression to ask him again and I thought to myself what in the world, he totally told me off last time, why in the world...but I invited him again…and he forcefully rejected again but this time something was different. It is really hard to explain, but I saw something in him...something different. Even though there is this person in front of me with hair drooping over his face, brands covering 30% of his body, and tattoos covering another 40%, a person who does NOT look too friendly…there was something there. For some reason, I wanted to see their scriptures. I told Rexan Jay to get them…and almost exactly to what I had thought, the inside looked like a comic book-with markings up the side, in the footnotes, the verses, the chapter headings, and detailed explanations as to why everything was highlighted. The inside covers were more post-it noted than the hallways of a highschool after the senior prank. I held this book open in front of me just astonished. I asked who marked the scriptures and Reynold, without looking up from his guitar, said “me.”

I was blown away. I had no clue that this kid was once strong in the church. What happened? What made him go inactive? Why did he become so anti-LDS? All these questions popped up and I asked them as they popped up and Reynold gave me no answers. He wasn’t gonna come back to church-and that was final. You gotta understand-Reynold was a really depressed kid. He has had problems with immorality and drug usage in the past so that only fueled the fire-degrading his self esteem and making him feel more and more alone. He said something to me that I will never forget. Reynold is really good at English, and one day he turned to me and said “elder, why don’t you just give up on me? Cant you see that I have no intention of returning to church?” I looked back at him and said because kuya Christ is waiting for you and im not gonna leave you here to stumble around in the dark not knowing where to go. He rolled his eyes and left. After this point, things stood still for awhile. I made sure he was in every single lesson that we taught, had him say the prayers (although at first he said he was “unworthy” to say the prayer)even, and made sure he knew that the atonement, like a tool, is only good if we use it. If we let it sit and don’t utilize it, it does us no good. Reynold stopped progressing. I don’t know what happened, but there was always this voice in the back of my mind saying keep going-you may not see why now, but you will in time. So, I never stopped. He attended the baptism of his younger brother which was amazing to see and I think it was one of the factors that led to this past Sunday.

Obviously, this past sunday was fast and testimony sunday. When Elder De Leon and myself came out of the room that is used to teach gospel principles, who in the world do you think we saw? Exactly. Reynold, but it wasnt. He was clean. He had on nice pants and a nice shirt. He didnt have any of the bracelets on his arm. I saw him and my jaw just dropped. I ran up to him and about broke his hand I was so excited to see him. He didnt give a reason as to why he was there, he just was. We went into the sacrament hall to start the testimony meeting. After sacrament the normal people got up and gave their testimony and as I was listening to one of the testimonies, I got this "LOOK AT REYNOLD" thing come into my head and so I glanced over at him and he was staring right at me. I looked at him for like 2 seconds and right when I was about to turn away I heard an "amen" from the congregation...and guess who got up to bear their testimony? Exactly. Reynold. He walked up to the stand and started with the tough guy attitude of "well there may be more to this church thing than I originally thought..." but ended up breaking down and offering a testimony that brought me to tears. The feeling that I had is undescribible. He said in his testimony, as he was saying what he was thankful for, "and I am grateful for the elders because they never gave up on me...even though I told them to. The process is gonna be long-I have a lot of sins I need to get cleaned up, but the pathway is set and I am ready to take it" It gave me that "now arent you glad you trusted the Lord" feeling, and brought back memories of from back when I was up at USU and I wanted nothing to do with the church or its members. It made me so much more grateful for those people (my family, my priesthood leaders, and one very special person) who, despite me telling them that I wanted nothing to do with the church (plus a few vulgar profanities), they kept me under their wings. I tried to walk out in the storm, but they shut the door and wouldnt let me out alone. In the short span of 3 months Reynold changed from a person 100% against the church to 100% for it. I am so very honored to bear the name of the Church on my chest every single day. I cant even tell how it felt to see him, and to see the change that took place in him-and to feel the love that the Lord has for him. After sacrament meeting I approached him and he gave me the biggest smile I have ever seen in my life and asked me a question that almost made me ask if he was joking... "hey elder, where are you guys working on tuesday? Maybe...maybe I could come with you guys?" I am so very grateful for the opportunity that I had to be able to help him along the way to righteousness. I just hope he will do the same for some other person:D

That is life actually. This week has been amazing. We randomly fell in on this woman and she was like "hey elders, uh, I was taught by elders before but they stopped coming. I know the church is true, I just need to be taught so I can be baptized" plus a bagillion more things. The Reynold story is REALLY long and I would have to explain it over a voice chat thing to get the whole story, and all the other stories are really long too so I am gonna cut them off for now, but that is how it goes. I am really really excited because we are trying as hard as we can to get the quinco family (ate snooky and her family) ready for a sealing in the temple. Haha that is funny about how you asked about Brother and Sister Hunt. They were only the coolest most awesome senior couple in my mission. They are flipping amazing. Elder Hunt is one of the must humble guys you will ever meet in your life and sister Hunt is really really nice too. How do you know them? They just got back last month or so too…interesting…



Aka Elder Muller