Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Hello from Utah

Dear Family-

This week was definitely an interesting one. The Lord truly has poured his blessings out upon us in this work. You guys are expecting cool stories right? Well…I am at a lack of them. This week was pure tracting. Some people work 40 hours in an office…I spent 49 hours going from house to house looking for people to teach. Haha it was truly an experience in itself with people screaming at us, swearing at us, rejecting us, and hiding from us, and literally running in the opposite direction, but the Lord was with us and what would have been an exhausting week of rejection turned into a week filled with learning and personal progression. Saturday we actually almost barged in on a wedding that was taking place in this church up in the mountains-that was interesting and awkward. Friday we had one of the most interesting lessons I have taught…

Meet George. He is a middle aged man who lives with his mother in the city proper. We were walking home one day when out of the blue I felt the need to tract this completely random house in the middle of a billion other houses. I have learned to just do what you are told so I immediately walked over and did the vocal equivilent of knocking on the door. George answered and was like “what do you want? You want me to come to your religion?” I was like “…well hello to you too brother:D I am elder Muller, this is my companion Elder Quimsing and we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.” He looked at me and was like “I am Roman Catholic and I am not changing. Sorry” and started walking away. I stopped him and got him into a conversation and told him about the restoration. He became interested (which he should have, how often do you hear of a golden bible?;D) and told us to come back another day (it was like 8:45 at night) and so we scheduled a return appointment for Friday and went on our way. We returned Friday to be greeted kindly and let into his patio area. We spent the next 45 minutes or so talking about him about his history. I don’t know why, but he felt an obscure need to put his trust in us so he let us in on his medical history. In 1988 he had a complete mental breakdown. He basically failed at everything-mental processes, daily function, everything. His wife left and his mother took him under her wing. Slowly but surely he returned to “operating status” and was able to take his life back into his own hands. He was doing alright for a little bit, but eventually relapsed again and was admitted into a mental hospital in Manila which he basically said was the earthly equivalent of impyerno. He said the guards were corrupted and used the prisoners to their advantage. Cigarettes in the Pilipinas are dirt cheap (the cheapest at 1 piso a stick, and the most expensive at 2 pisos a stick…that’s 2-4 cents for a cigarette. That is the reason that you see eight year old kids smoking on the street-because they only need to find a single piso on the street and they can buy cigarettes…) and he said that if they made their way into the prison the guards would blackmail the prisoners to get them. The second a guard would get them the other guards would fight with them to get the cigarettes. He told me about the treatment of prisoners, the food, the rooms, everything. He was in the mental hospital for 2 years, but was eventually released. He still cant find work because of his mental status, and is a little impulsive. Well, we spent 2 hours teaching a lesson that can be taught in 15 minutes because he went off on random tangents about his religion. He has WEIRD beliefs. I don’t just say them because they are different than my beliefs, I say them because they are way out in left field. He has disgusting beliefs about women, their purpose here, Christ’s crucifixion, and misinterprets everything. I showed him the picture of Christ appearing to the Nephites and explained that the book of mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and he got all mad and raised his voice and was like “SO YOU THINK YOU ARE THE MESSIAH?” I was like “uh…george, with all respect intended, where in the world did that come from? That may have been the most random thing I have heard in my life…” He was like “oh…what do you mean then?” It was like that the whole time. I got a little frustrated at the end because I said, and I quote “George, if the Lord Himself appeared to you right now-if he decended here-right here where we are sitting-and addressed you saying ‘George, I have sent you my missionaries to tell you where my church is-start worshiping me there’ would you?” he looked at me and was like “nope.” I was like “are you serious? Uh, can I ask why?” He was like “because I wouldn’t forsake my religion.” He was like that the whole time. It took us 30 minutes to get him to commit to pray about Joseph Smith. It was probably the most interesting night that I have had in my life. The biggest problem is that he believes that the priesthood continued in the line of authority after Peter died until now-the pope. We tried to explain that not only was the authority not passed down, but at one point there were 3 people who claimed authority of the Catholic church and they decided who had the authority, not by revelation, but by council. Tsk tsk. And that was my Friday night…

Yesterday was also an interesting day. We arrived at church and went to priesthood class. The teacher was teaching us about the path of our duty and fulfilling our callings. Mind you, our ward has a BIG problem. The bishop and his one counselor stand solo in the leadership because everyone else cuts everyones throat. When someone does something wrong he blames the bishop and tries to convert the members to take his side-thus our ward, leadership wise is divided. That isn’t easy for our bishop being a father, living 2 hours away from his wife and kids cause he is a full-time student, being a bishop, and being only 26. Yesterday, randomly, the subject of tithing came up and the dookie hit the fan. One person blamed the bishop because he was told that his tithing wasn’t complete when it was so another came to the bishops aid and another attacked the aid of the bishop. Eventually there was like 3 people yelling at once and the bishop was like “brother, I believe it is your duty to be teaching the class about callings…” and the teacher was like “yea…but before I return, I have something to say…” and he returned to the contentious debate which raised voices in that room to screaming. It was interesting-the first time that people had actually like fought in the church that I have seen. Other than that, yesterday was a really good day. Every Sunday elder Quimsing and I carry this old nanay from her house to the street, ride the trike with her, then carry her up into the chapel (our chapel is 2 floors). She cant walk at all so she needs help going to church. We are fully able to help her so there is no reason that we shouldn’t. We carry her from room to room, then, after church back to the trike, then back into her house. After each Sunday she looks up and says thank you and the feeling that comes from her gratitude is enough to keep me carrying her small, fragile body to and from church every Sunday.

Yesterday, we had a guy named Brother Benny work with us. Brother Benny is an interesting person. He is 40 years old. He lives with his parents and works as a person washing clothes and dishes for them although he is kind of shy to tell people. Benny is a ball of sunshine; whenever you see him you get “ELDER, ELDER-HOW ARE YOU?” Brother Benny has a mental impairment. Yesterday we had the opportunity to take him with us to our lessons and it truly was a privilege. Benny offers the most heartfelt, sincere testimonies that I have ever heard. Yesterday, I think he scared one of our investigators because, as she was telling us that the missionaries from her own church started visiting her ever since we started visiting her, Benny said in a loud voice “AH THEY ARE SCARED THAT YOU ARE GOING TO LEAVE THEM AND COME TO US” It was kind of an awkward moment…but it was exactly what we all were thinking:/ It got really frustrating though because as we were walking Benny said “Look elder, that is my friend. We are friends elder. Him. He is my friend.” The guy would made some snide comment about brother Benny and how he called him his friend and how he (Benny) had an American walking with him. I looked at the guy and was halfway about to go over and confront him but decided it was a 10 to 1 ratio of bad to good consequences so I merely put my arm around Benny and said “well Benny, that man is one lucky guy!” Benny is one of those lights that Christ talked about-one of the people who want to get to know Christ because they know Him. Its funny how the Lord can use the simplest things to teach us the greatest lessons. Benny is oblivious to the people on either side of him making fun of him. Mental Retardation, atleast in Majayjay, is looked down upon. People are called “special children” and are not accommodated. There is no such thing as “down syndrome” in Tagalog, and people believe that if you have autism, you shouldn’t be baptized. Mental handicaps are EXTREMELY misunderstood-hence so is Benny. One day that man, he who is considered underneath all by everyone else, will be exhalted in the Celestial Kingdom-free from his worries and cares, and in fulfillment of the promise and the last shall be first, and the first last.

That has pretty much been my week. Elder Quimsing is doing well. He is a really good teacher, but he doesn’t take charge. Sometimes it bugs because of how I live life. Before my mission I was more of a “I don’t know what to do now…what do you want to do? I have to take charge to do something? Lets just sit here-im fine with that” kind of dude, and now I am more of a “lets plan what we are doing efficiently, effectively, and then lets follow the plan. This is what is going to happen-what is your feedback so we can adjust it?” and whenever I ask that I get a “uh…what do you want to do?” back but I am completely fine with making 100% percent of the decisions…although that is NOT how it should be. Obviously a companionship is 50/50 so slowly I am turning Elder Quimsing into someone who makes decisions and doesn’t rely on other people to make them for him:D The weather here is still absolutely gorgeous. At night I actually have to use my top sheet or I get too cold. We are way up in the mountains so airconditioner is free. The only problem is the water. The water up here is pure cause it comes from the mountain…but because it comes from the mountain it is FREEZING. We don’t have a shower, we use a little bucket that we pour on top of our heads to get wet with. The bucket sits there overnight and gets REALLY REALLY COLD so, there is no problem waking up in the morning…especially after the shower slash body dousing…

Ha that is really cool that you get to fly like 5 times these next coming 2 weeks. That’s always a nice break, fly a couple hours, visit a part of the united states, have a few meetings, fly back. Do it again the next week. Haha cool stuff. Is it people from your company all over the states, or just the westeren conference (if you will?) Plus white water rafting? Haha remind me to tell you at a different time about the white water rafting trip I took with Jeremy and Brian and Brannick and all them up to the snake river. Haha CRAZY.

Will Brady really start his freshman year this year? What the DEUCE? Who does that kid think he is? Holy cow, time FLIES. What happened to the days when we would ruin everything in the house by having baby powder wars and stuff like that? What happened to the days when I would walk home from Monocacy middle, and he from monocacy elementary and I would hear “jaaaaaaakkkkkeeee, you waaaaaaaalk toooooooo faaaasssstttt” “well brady, maybe if you weren’t SO SLOW you could keep up” “jaaaaaakkkkkkeeee, my legs hurt” “well brady maybe if they were longer they wouldn’t hurt” “jaaaaaaakkkkkeeeee…” “what now brady” “uh, I forgoooooooooot cause……myyyyy leggggggs huuuuuurtttttttt” Haha that kid is awesome. Love ya Brady:D (ps brady-woman…ohh ohh) I remember back in the day when I was walkin into TJ. Back in the day when I was 5’10”…makes you think…had I not have served a mission I would be entering Junior year at USU right now. Tell that kid he better rock freshman year or I will yell at him in Tagalog. I am actually feeling really really well. Recently I have acquired this spiritual hunger that I can not satisfy. I spent a good 2 hours a day reading the scriptures, and then any extra time reading books like Jesus the Christ, institute manuals, etc. Its crazy, but I feel good. No problems here:D

Please tell grandma that I loved her package. I absolutely loved the ties that she sent me…but there is one problem. She sent me like 15 or so…and only 2 of them are polyester. I wash my ties every 3 or 4 weeks cause they get SO dirty…hence I don’t want to mess up the silk ones cause I will have to go find a dry cleaner and I don’t know where to find one:/ Tell her that I love her and that I am extremely thankful for her package!!!

I hope you are all doing amazingly. Tell grandpa that I laughed EXTREMELY HARD at what he said. Haha mental image to the max. Where was that? Like in Iowa or something? Haha oh man funny funny stuff. Legacy. Only 5 more months until Christmas. I have already started singing Christmas songs as we are walking. The other day I was singing one from my favorite Christmas movie of all time (of which mom is the only person on the whole earth who knows) and it made me really trunky. Woo, go Rankin/Bass!!! Love you all and hope you are all doing well:D


Elder Muller

Ps-Brady, watch out for your best friend…Bailey…ah ga ga ga ga ga

pss-that picture with the bamboo trees is really cool. The people walk on that bamboo to cut down the coconut. Cool stuff huh?

psss-the talk given by a lady in sacrament meeting yesterday was interesting...are we assets or liabilities to our father in heaven???

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