Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Nov 15

Dear Family-
How is it going in good ol' Roy? Majayjay is still going strong...except, oh wait a minute-I am transferred!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! President actually told us last week that we were going to be closed down and pulled out...good thing we are NOT! That would throw missionary work for a fat loop and destroy all that which we worked to achieve. Something interesting happened this week which I want to share...

So, we have this investigator named Maria. She is around 31 years old and has been an investigator of the missionaries for a good 8 months. She started as a referral, and slowly progressed over the missionaries that went to her. I met her when Quimsing was my companion-a little while back. Ever since I met her, I have seen her progress every single time that we went to her. She has a long long story which I found out in fullness when she testified to me this past week. She met her going to be husband back in 1993-when she was 14 years old. When she met him, they moved in together and started their co-habitation. The problem here in the Philippines is when you want, you can go with whoever you want and live in a kubo (a bamboo shed like thing in the woods) in a community of other kubos and start co-habitation. If you both are 16-nothings stopping you. Go buy a kubo and move in together. This is what Maria did. Ever since then, she has lived with this guy named Seriyako. Before the missionaries found her, she was a drunkard, and was addicted to cigarettes. She felt as if she was in this rut in her life. She always fought with her husband and her children. Then, she started coming to church and everything changed. She got rid of Alcohol, threw her cigarettes out the window, started looking for the good in her husband, and started looking for the truth. It would take a thousand years for me to tell of all the trials that she has gone through in my short 4 1/2 months here in Majayjay. The other day, we were at her house because we were hoping to get their marriage scheduled (that is a whole nother story. It involved people running back and forth to Santa Cruz getting affidavits, postal IDs, scheduling time with the mayor, getting their marriage licence, meeting eligibility requirements, attending family planning classes, going to the Municipal building every single day...it took FOREVER. We had like 3 people running over the Philippines at once. The problem is, the government here is corrupt. If you know someone high up in the town government, you can have anything you want happen-just ask and pay them under the table. If you dont know anyone, you have 200% of the normal process to go through-especially if you are poor because they look down on you like dirt. BUT-when you dont know anyone, but you are a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you merely go to Santa Cruz to the lawyer who is a member and they take care of half of it, then you go to the member who has practically been here since 1857 and have them talk to the mayor and they do the other 50%. SO, LONG LONG LONG story short, after much sweat and tears, their marriage is scheduled at the chapel at 9 am tomorrow!!!!!!!!!!!!!), and I felt this weird feeling to review the 4 of the principles that they NEED to know in order to pass the baptismal interview-Law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, Law of Tithing, and the day of the sabbath. I opened my planner to the baptismal interview and the second I opened it the line that had the law of Chastity practically smacked me in the face. I felt this weird feeling that something wasnt right-that I needed to go over the law of Chastity again. Its a hard feeling to explain, pretty much uneasiness. We started going over the law of Chastity when we came upon the word abortion. The second I said the word I knew that was the problem. I dont know what it was, something just told me that that was it. With dire reluctance-almost as if I didnt want to ask the question, it rolled off my tongue-"sister, have you ever participated in, or been a part of an abortion?" She looked down at the ground for a couple seconds and looked back up at me and was like "you know elder, im not going to lie to you...(tears fill her eyes)...I have" What I felt next was a weird feeling. It was obviously devastating...but there was something at the back of my mind-this feeling. The best way to describe it is by saying "thats what I was waiting for...she is ready..." It is a hard thing to describe really, but I suppose that is the best way to describe it. We stopped the lesson and told her that our mission president would have to come and interview her because we needed someone more mature and with more experience to help make the decision if she can be baptized or not. She asked if she would be able to be baptized anytime soon with tears rolling down her face and I had to practically force the words out-"Im sorry sister, but we cant promise you anything-that is up to our mission president. BUT, always remember the sweet gift of repentance-the gift the Savior gave to the whole world. I can promise you that you, in due time, will be able to repent of that which you have done!! Dont lose hope-there is always hope!" She then said something that I think I will never forget-"Elder, even if I am not baptized, I will never leave the church. It is the only true church of Jesus Christ on the earth. I know that what the Lord wants is what needs to happen. If that means I cant be baptized...(tears pour out again)...well then that is what it means-but I wont stop going to church" I couldnt help but share a few of her tears. Here we have a person that may be denied baptism (mind you, that may is extremely limited. I called president and told him the situation and he said that it most likely will pass-she has suffered enough these past years), and yet she is more faithful than some of the RMs in the church. Amazing. We left her after a prayer and got a return appointment. She was planning on telling the bishop AFTER her baptism. Uh...big no no. We visited her the next day, and the day after, and every single day until yesterday when the bishop called her into his office. He came running up to us right before sacrament and was like "ELDER, ELDER! I have something I need to tell you!!!" We went into a room privately and he was like "elder, I just interviewed sister Maria and she told me what happened...and I cant help but feel that she is 100% ready to be baptized." Sister Maria had an abortion back in 2000. She said that every single day she wakes up to the memory of what she did. It constantly occupies her mind, and her heart. She cant forget it, although she has tried. If that isnt suffering enough I dont know what is. SO, president is coming to Majayjay on Tuesday in order to interview her. I have this feeling in my heart that he will call upon me to be his translator. Maybe, maybe not. Obviously the APs are much better than me at tagalog cause they have been here 8 months longer so they might be who he uses, but I dont think he would bring third parties into the situation so I might be the one. Cool experience. Anyways, her marriage is at 9 am tomorrow, her interview is at 10 am, and hopefully her baptism will be straight after the interview. Then, we have a ward FHE/farewell party for me tomorrow night at 5 pm. I am really going to miss Majayjay. It is my favorite area-the members here are awesome. If I could, I would live here no doubt!!! (Well, maybe vacation house style live). Anyways, that is the story.

I have a hard time sleeping past 6 in the morning, so I am usually up by 6 or 530 or something. Its really dumb-even if I go to bed at the latest the night before (1030) and I walked 18 kilometers the day before, I still cant sleep in past 6. I try on sundays-I dont set my alarm until 6:30, but I wake up between 530 and 6. EVERY MORNING. I have given up sleeping in. If it is p-day, you can wake up, eat breakfast, and go back to sleep-its p-day...but even on Pday, I cant do it. So, the other day I woke up and went to go use the bathroom, and what do I find? I find that first picture that I attached to this email. Nice right? I blew on it cause I thought it was dead and it started moving and pinching its pinchers at me and stuff. So, I fetched the stateside illegal pesticide (cause it kills small animals and people) and blew that sucker to Alaminos. It was small which means it was a mere baby...but where is the baby momma? I suppose we shall find her here in a bit:/

Anyways, that is my email for right now. Its kind of lame because I am crazy busy with packing and we are going to move apartments to this rich people neighborhood and teaching and stuff so I really dont have any time, but I send my love and hope you all are doing well.

Elder Muller

Nov 9

Dear Family-
I dont think that a week could have gotten any better than this week. Although trials are destined to come into our lives, with the companion of personal righteousness, we can ask the Lord for a one week blessing advance and almost be guaranteed immediate help!!! I have a ton of stories, and only a couple minutes, so im gonna kick it down a gear and pump this email out!!!

I have yet another nasty food to add to my "foods that will probably cause intestinal worms eaten in the Philippines by elder Muller" list. It is called "bugok." Now, with a name like that, it cant be too pleasant right? CORRECT!!! I have always seen the people selling it on the motorcycles, but I never tried it. It is the eggs that are broken-the ones that wont form a fetus because they have a defect...they throw them together and cook them into this egg loaf thing. It is the WORST smelling thing that I have ever had the misfortune to smell in my life:/ Like, rotten eggs nasty-cause thats what it is. When you ask natives about it they say its "bulok" or rotten...and they live here so I dont even want to know. Elder Miranda and I saw a guy selling it so we decided to buy it. I tried some with his homemade hot juice stuff and I couldnt have chewed it for more than half a second before I spit it out faster than you can say coo coo kachew, and spent 2 minutes spitting on the side of the road while the Pilipinos laughed at me cause they know how gross it is. Elder Miranda ate two bites and was like "oh man elder...I cant finish this. Ugh!!!" He was about to throw it to the side of the road, but I stopped him and was like "wait...I want to be able to say that I have eaten it." I reached in and took a little peice out. I decided that I was going to chew it once, and swallow it as fast as I could. Quite possibly the worst decision of my life. I chewed it once and was immediately grossed out by the texture. It is really hard to describe...like this spongy dry nastiness. I could barely get it halfway down my throat before I practically threw up all over the place. I spit it up and sat there heaving for the next minute or so. It was quite possibly the NASTIEST thing I have ever eaten-cooked rotten eggs...next story...

In the mission you make a lot of friends. Elders, sisters, mission presidents, senior couples, members, non-members, etc. There is this girl here in Majayjay that caught my eye the first time I saw her. Haha no, not caught my eye as in ill be calling you in a month telling you I want to marry her, but caught her eye because she seemed like a little me. She is a young woman-age 15-by the name of Cherie (pronounced Cherry). The first time I saw her, she came to church with rings on each finger, an enormous 4 inch long steel cross hanging from her necklace, in ripped jeans, with a purple shirt on. She is best explained as a "black sheep." The first time I saw Cherie, I noticed something in her-almost as if I saw potential. It is hard to describe, but its what I saw in her. Over the past couple months she has kind of become a little sister, and I thought she was getting closer to the church...until what happened last friday

I feel like I should put a chapter heading here because if this was a book it would go here in this story so...


Elder Miranda and I had just gotten done an appointment at 8:23 at night. We were about to go home because the work here is really hard at night and after 8 oclock, there is nothing. Plus we take our dinner hour at night after we get back so, usually, 8 is when we go back. But, as we came out of the lesson I felt we needed to go visit a member who had given us a referral. I knew the odds of us being able to contact the referral were slim to none because we had gone to her house a couple days before and the referral was still in Manila. I dont know why we decided to go visit her, it just seemed like the right thing to do. As we were crossing the bridge to cross into barangay Banga, we saw a bunch of people huddled around this person-who was crying and screaming. I looked at elder Miranda and he looked at me and we hurried over to see what was going on. The girl looked like she had been through vietnam. She had no shoes, her clothes were covered with dirt, and gravel. Her hair was all over the place, and she was crying and screaming. At first I didnt notice who it was, but elder Miranda was like "elder...uh...thats Cherie!" I got closer...and it was. It needs to be known that Cherie is a lesbian. She is yet a kid, so hopefully that will change. She hangs around kids she shouldnt hang around-ones who most definitely dont follow either the law of chastity or the word of wisdom. We asked what happened and to our horror found out. Cherie had been hanging around with her friends when they started drinking. She drunk and drunk and drunk to get rid of her depression (pressure from parents to become active again in the church, the want to fit in, troubles regarding her future and studies right now). She came at the point where she couldnt drink any more...but her friends didnt stop. Now, I have had enough experience with enough drunk people (from teaching them to almost getting into fights with bunches of drunk guys...but I dont include those stories in my emails:/) to know that there are different levels of intoxication. There comes a point when the person will either pass out, or be so drunk that they cant handle any more and they, although drunk, will have enough common sense to stop. There is also the level that is only attained when you are a chronic alcoholic, or when you are forced that your body cant take it anymore. That is the level that Cherie reached. She cant weigh more than 90 pounds, and after she wanted to stop, her friends took her and made her drink more...and more...and more until she was in excrutiating pain. Cherie, crawled to the bridge, hobbled up and over the waist-height stone fence, and was about to throw herself off when a passerby saw her, ran to get her, and ripped her off the fence-saving her life. We arrived when she started throwing up an ocean. Cherie was in pain-she had fell down the hill earlier when she was climbing up to the bridge and was covered in wounds. Her friends were trying to hide her-they were just going to leave her there (which pissed me off. People in the Philippines, although I love them to death, have no standards-hence 14 and 15 year olds getting pregnant left and right. Had they left her there, it is 100% sure-confirmed by members later-that she would have been raped time and time again by passerbys. You have to realize that the Philippines run off power, money, and corruption. Its NOT a nice place to live), but when she was found by the young man and pulled down, they needed to cover their tracks. They were going to take her to this house of someone they knew and leave her there until she could walk again, but we stopped them and told them to wait there because we were going to go get help. I was about one inch from just picking her up in a cradle and carrying her to bishops house. I may not be the strongest lad, but I can most surely pick up a 90 pound 5'4" filipino girl. BUT, I didnt know what would happen to me if I did. She is a young woman, and I am an elder. So, we decided not to. We sprinted up the hill to the nearest member and got him, and ran back down to the bridge...but they werent there. We asked this old guy there where she was, and he said that they had taken her to this house up the street where "people would take care of her." We hurried up the street to find her being ripped out of the tricycle by people-despite her crys to stop-who claimed to be her friends. Before they had left, there was this random guy who offered to take her to his house and help her. I am so very thankful that the Lord prevented that from happening. Brother Pableo, who moves 250KG pigs all day (and is ENORMOUS) practically ripped the tricycle apart getting the friends away from Cherie. To make a LONG story short, she, after the proper process, was fortunate enough to recover and not get alcohol poisoning. The problem is that she not only tried to kill herself, she was almost raped by the guy on the bridge that offered to take her to his house (one grown man against a couple of girls with a 16 year old kid in the darkness of night? Not that hard to assess who would win if force was used.), and was almost stashed in a house of people she doesnt know. A little heart wrenching-plus the story is a bagillion pages long, but that is the summary of what happened Friday night in Majayjay, Laguna. Fun times right??

I had a funny experience the other day with a couple of kids. I was teaching this 12 and 10 year old with their friends and I had just gotten done teaching prophets. I asked "now, who is our living prophet? Thomas..." and this awesome little 4 year old was like "THOMAS AND FRIENDS!!!" in english referring to the thomas the tank engine show that plays here. Funny stuff hahahahahahaha.

I have a quick question mom, could you include a watch in my next package? Just some garbage one from walmart. I kind of need a watch:/

I hate to have such a crappy email. I dont have any awesome spiritual experiences in this email although this week was full of them-cause I now have no time left...next time maybe!!!

Love you all,
Elder Muller

Oct 18

Dear Family-

"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."
-Ecclesiastes 4:9,10

All is well here in Majayjay, Laguna. The Lord continues to show his tender mercies to us through the blessings we receive on a daily basis. Although time seems to be the only enemy here in Majayjay, we are giving it our all. It seems that this week was national have a baby day cause pretty much everyone in Majayjay had a wee young lad or laddette added to their family. Last tuesday we went and visited a family that just had a baby and it was definitely inspiring to see the joy shining in their eyes as they held a child fresh from the baby factory on 127 Moroni St. in the Celestial Kingdom. The baby was blessed on Sunday. I had an opportunity to take a position in the circle in the baby naming and blessing and the only word that can describe it is electric!!!

Last Wednesday, Bishop McMullen, a member of the presiding bishopric, and Elder Teh of the 70 came to San Pablo Mission on an assignment from President Packer and spoke to us Missionaries. It was really cool because we got to have a question and answer portion where questions such as "What, as missionaries, is our responsibility concerning those [beggars] asking money from us? According to the doctrine of King Benjamin, we should 'administer of [our] substance unto him that standeth in need; and we will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish'...," and "How, in the view of the Church, will the 'weak things' confound the 'wise [things]'?" and "What, as missionaries going home, should we know or remember about the Temple in our lives?" It was a really really cool question and answer segment. It was in Cabuyao so I got to go visit my old area, and I wanted to go and visit Diwata and Lovely, but time didnt permit such an action:/

I went tracting the other day and had the opportunity of seeing something that I had never noticed before. The life of a missionary is kind of like the life of a dirty suit as you take it to the dry cleaner. Once you actually decide to give it to the person who will clean it, It is cleaned, pressed, neatened, and given back to you in a condition 500% better than what you started with, with a tag dangling out of the pocket that says "new CleanCoat, now with added dicipline!." We went tracting a few days ago and came across a house with a bunch of people inside. We introduced ourselves and entered, only to find them watching the PBA (Philippines Basketball Association). The look on their face was almost scary-as if their whole soul was put into this inanimate object. As we were teaching, we didnt ask them to turn it off because the Nanay was the only one who showed any remote interest in us. Even my comp got sucked in to the tv. I dont know, it was just kind of like wow...tv really is a virus. It sucks you in and gives you nothing back in return. It was really sad because the guy traveled way far just to watch the tv at this lady's house. Cool, what a way to spend life right? Did you know (well, it is simple math actually so I guess the flar of "did you know" is lost cause it doesnt highlight any intelligence...) that if you waste 1 hour a day for 2 years, it adds up to a complete month of doing absolutely nothing? Ha think about it the next time you say "well, this show is only an hour..." ah ha but oh the places you'll go in that hour!!

Yesterday was blessing central. Elder Miranda and I were cranking out the blessings. I always love giving blessings because it allows me to help people, while learning how to use my priesthood correctly. One of the blessings yesterday was particularly cool. As I mentioned earlier, Majayjay is baby central. We visited one lady whose due date was yesterday (Sunday) on Saturday and wanted to know if they were planning on coming to church. She said they were and I told her that I think the Lord understands if you have been in labor for 8 hours and 9am rolls around if you dont say "well...although I am in excruciating pain (epidurals here are impossible) and I have a baby trying to greet the world, I think ill walk the mile to church in the 566 degree heat." She said if she wasnt yet in Labor, she would come to church. Sure enough, the next day, there she was huffing her way up the 30 steps to the chapel, and the 30 more to get to the second floor of the church. After Sacrament (sacrament is last) she came to us and was like "uh...elders I need a blessing...and like NOW" Apparently she started having complications with her child and was in alot of pain. My favorite part of the blessing is the actual blessing because I always (call it selfish) like being the tool that the Lord uses to reveal his will and promises to his children. Elder Miranda is still new so he isnt very comfortable with giving blessings so he annointed and I sealed. It is really hard to describe the feeling of being spoken for if it has never happened to you, but that is pretty much what happened. The blessing was only supposed to be for the pain she was feeling right then and there, but the Lord extended it to the labor and delivery of the child-that no complications would arise and that she would feel no pain during the labor. Now, im not a woman, or an OB/GYN, but I can use my 20 year old brain and conclude that childbirth is not a bowl of cherries, and, especially without an epidural, has some pain associated with it. Hence, to promise that no pain or complications would arise was something heavy to promise. But, with trust in the Lord (and shaky hands for the things that I had said to her) we gave her a blessing and continued on our way. There was something that was said in the blessing that makes me wonder. While I was blessing her, the phrase "that your feelings may be light now until after the labor and delivery." Just a cool phrase! This morning, as we were walking to the Palengke (kind of like flea market) a man on a tricycle half ran us over-turned out to be her husband. She gave birth easilly and successfully and no complications arose. They werent going to go to the hospital because they dont have any money and she was just gonna do it at her house (midwives here are way good at what they do) but at the last minute, she decided to go to the center down the street. Hey, let the Lord's will be done!! That's my motto!

About the typhoon, we heard news that there was going to be such a bagyo, but we havent felt its reach...yet. There is nothing we can do. Our roof might get torn off, but that is easilly fixed-a couple hours and everythings peachy. Thats pretty much the best approach you can take cause yelling and "shaking the dust off your feet", as Christ commanded his apostles to do, wont make the sheet metal nail itself back to the frame. Such is life, but hey bring it on. Maybe the roof will fly into the room of a married couple and we be able to use that as an excuse to teach them "well Mr. Ignacio, it seems to us as if roof just happened to have flown into your room and destroyed all your imported chinese furniture...do you mind if we retrieve it...and tell you how you can keep your life from looking like this furniture??"

My dumb ear is fine. I dont know what is going on with it. Sometimes, after my all too fancy bucket shower with cold water, my hearing goes away so I guess its just water. I use those cue-tip things, but it does nothing, but it usually comes back in like 8 hours or so. But hey, who needs hearing anyways? Such a sense is overrated:/

I must say that when I see our Father in Heaven, I will thank Him for my talkativeness. Maybe that is why I send emails such as this-ones not 2 sentences long like other elders-cause I can just keep talking and talking...and talking.... Well, last Sunday Elder Miranda and I forgot that we were speakers, hence we had nothing prepared when Bishop came up to us and was like "so elders, what are you gonna be speaking about?" So, I wrote down 5 scriptures that came to mind, and gave a 15 minute talk in Sacrament. I think that is something that I found out in my mission-when you have a talk, dont write down every word of it. I go in with bullets, scriptures, and time limits, and just go off the spirit. I believe that sometimes the Lord has things he wants you to say that you wont find out unless, like teaching the gospel, you rely on the spirit. This is the way Elder Muller works. Maybe other people are different. Some say that these things come in the preparation for the talk, but hey, thats why we are all different right? Now we know how the gears in Elder Muller's head work huh?

I also want to correct my Tagalog in my last letter. That is what I get for typing in a rush. It is not "Aanhin ang kabayo kung patay ng damo" but "Aanhin ang kabayo kung patay na ang damo" Such a childish mistake...that sentance actually means, "what good is the horse, if the grass is dead" It was said to me because I forgot to give a blessing to someone and he was basically meaning well, what good now is tatay, you didnt give him a blessing. Tsk tsk tsk...

About the Crocs Mom, just make sure they look missionary appropriate, and they are black in color. I shower with a croc and a flip flop now cause my one croc shrunk. I look like a wierd-e, but hey, no one sees me rockin the bucket method so I couldnt care less!! But, it is rainy season. Shoes that can get wet, and dry in an hour without breaking would make me jump for joy:D

I wanted to put in a special Happy Birthday in this letter to Grandpa Muller. I didnt get the memo, so to say, that your Birthday was coming up...well last week actually so I wanted to say Happy Birthday and Maligayang Bati!! Another year down, decades more of happiness to go!!!

Funny you mention the whole police incident that happened at the house. Nice to see the neighbors are filled with charity towards their fellow man...and fellow member...and stinkin' neighbor. Oh well, what goes around comes around. Maybe ill send a Pilipino dog to their house and give them 1)a flaming case of rabies, and 2)a blinding parasite infestation in their carpet!

I am looking forward 1000000000000% to my call at Christmas time. I actually have a list of people I want to call so I am gonna run it by president. Haha one of them lives in the UK!! Cool huh?! Anyways, the Pilipinos start Christmas music in September in all the stores so I have been rockin out to christmas songs for the past month and a half!!! But, 2 1/2 months to go and then BAM my fingers start the dialing. That is scary cause when I call you all, it means I will be home in 9 months...uuggghhh. As much as I love Utah, I am NOT looking forward to my leaving the mission. Not fun. But, good thing I have awesome family waiting to make up for the hole that will develop when I am no longer a missionary. Maybe ill just extend another 30 days! Hey, im not going to fall semester so well see:D

Well, I suppose I shall bring this email to a close. Wanna see something cool? Look up the Doubleday edition of the Book of Mormon on Amazon. It is a Book of Mormon that people can buy for 25 bucks. Basically, a commercial edition of the Book of Mormon. Why would you buy something you can get for free? I dont know, but hey-whatev!

Elder Muller

Oct 4

Dear Family-
Wow, Maligayang Kaarawan and Happy Birthday to Samuel!!! Ten years old? What in the world, man, do I feel old...I remember when I went to his baptism. This overwhelming feeling came over me that I needed to go on a mission. What a special opportunity-baptism. Anyways, off of that completely random tangent, yea, happy birthday Samuel. When I get back ill take you bowling (cause that's what the cool kids do nowadays). Where else do you get to wear stylish shoes and listen to music 3 notches too loud?...besides the 70s...I hope your birthday is awesome. You all should take a trip to temple square! What a cool birthday present...go rock the pantry in Salt Lake!! Happy Belated Birthday Grandma!! Wow, nangyari na pala:/ Happy happy birthday!!! Oh and before I even start my letter I want to complain to Brady-please forward this to him:

Dear Brady-
Who in the world do you think you are at 14 years old and 5'9"? If you remember, I told you that you will NEVER pass me up in height...although I wasnt that tall when I was your age. This is whats going down-first off I have contacts in Roy, if you know what im sayin, that can take care of this little height problem that we are having. What is this "he wants to be over 6' when you get back" garbage? *sigh* I suppose there is nothing that I can do to prevent such a thing from happening...but I will still always destroy you in basketball ah ha ha ha ha ha ha ha...

Anyways, wow mom, 13 months and counting. Time goes way too fast. Soon, ill be graduating USU...then ill have 8 rambunctious bouncing babies, then 45 grandchildren...then, well who knows what! On the down low, I have received your (mom) package. I actually received it last week, but forgot to mention it. Let me just say that those starburst didnt stand a chance:/ I kind of felt bad because I wanted to share them with my comp so when I opened the first bag I was like hey you better take some of these before they dissappear. He took some and then...well...I dont know what happened...2 bags dissappeared over 2 days. I did share a bag (well I tried to share but his hand was just too slow...as was his mouth) with my zone leader so...yea. 5 Good Samaritan points for elder Muller!!!! I dont remember getting any package from Grandma and Grandpa Muller...but I do have a slight memory gap, as kids call it these days...no but ill tell you all when I get anything. I must say, I opened my package and the smell of the house came up and carressed my nostrils and I couldnt help but hold the shirts up to my face and just smell them...for a good 15 minutes. The wierd things you do on your mission right? My comp thought I was kind of a wierd-e...but who cares, I was in euphoric awesomeness!!! I had a big misunderstanding though because when I opened my package I saw this blue bag in it. I opened the bag up and saw this croc no more than 7 inches long. I was like why in the world did mom send me benjamin's croc? Turns out the APs opened my package and put MY croc in it. I had left it in their apartment when I slept over at the start of the transfer...and they put it in the car and forgot about it. Well, turns out my croc got shrinky-dinkified in the back of the car because of heat and water. Sad day right? I suppose that is life. So now, I wear one croc and one reef flip flop that was lent to me when I take a bucket shower. Hey, no one can see me so I couldnt care less:D

I am REALLY excited for general conference this coming up Saturday and Sunday. We are really kickin it up a notch here to get our investigators ready, to make sure they have the money to go see general conference (it is at the stake center in Sta. Cruz-a 33 piso trip one way. That is less than a buck, but it isnt easy for a family to pay both ways when there are 5 or 6 of them. That is awesome that they are putting a new temple up north. I have been telling people that there is gonna be another temple erected here (hows that for prophesying?) for ever and ever. The Pilipinos deserve another temple. They are downright awesome, but it takes some a year to save to be able to go to the temple. I have a guess-either on Mindanao (the southernmost set of islands), or in Baguio city. We will see if I am right!!!! I am between the Manila temple, and the Cebu temple (you either need to fly or take a ship to get to Cebu, it is on another island...or when you are like me and have mad swimming skills, you can make it in ten minutes:D). The Manila temple is a good 3 hours away from Majayjay (Majayjay to Sta. Cruz, Sta. Cruz to San Pablo, San Pablo to Manila) so it wont be near here.
This week was a good week;just an all out good week. I have really been stuck in this rut for a little bit now, and things kind of piled up on Wednesday which wasnt the best or the easiest, but after prayers, a fast, and searching the scriptures, all is well. Fasting is probably one of the biggest blessings that we, as members of the Church, miss out on. Of course, it's a hard thing to go 24 hours without food or drink. Sometimes we fast just to fufill the requirement each first Sunday of the month...but is that really fasting. Although it is common sense that we cant change the Lord's will, we can receive the blessings that we couldnt otherwise by fasting. Needless to say, I am full of gratitude for the opportunity to fast-the health and the knowledge needed.
Elder Miranda and I have really been putting our blood, sweat, and tears into the members here. There is this one young woman that we have been trying and trying to get back to church. Her name is Julie-Ann. Her mom is a member, but her father isnt...and doesnt want to become one anytime soon. She is youth so she is all over the Philippines all the time...thus justifying the level of worrying that her mother does for her. We have been really really persistent with her because she is different-I can see it. She is gonna tear it up when she gets older. Sunday she bore a powerful testimony about trials and about how hard they are without the Lord's help. In a nutshell she was like "brothers and sisters, it has been a while since I have gone to church...I thought I could do it, I though I could handle myself...but I cant. Trials are impossible without the Lord's help...and I am gonna do all I can to become active again because I need his help...I cant do it alone anymore" It was an awesome testimony and tears in the audience confirmed that her testimony penetrated the hearts of those listening.
My health recently just doesnt seem to like me at all. On my right big toe (the one that was "fixed" twice) I have dug out 2 ingrown toenails. Doctors here have no clue what they are doing. Last night I spent an hour, ripping at the base of my toenail because walking was so painful. But, with the use of a razor blade, thumb tack, tons of hydrogen peroxide, and scissors, my attempts to eradicate the enemy were successful. Although it isnt the safest, you gotta do what you gotta do. Atleast now it isnt as painful. I also lost my hearing in my right ear. I woke up one day (now this is kind of gross so viewer, or reader rather, discretion advised) and I felt like something was in my ear so I went to work with my good ol' friend mr. Cotton tip...and my hearing disappeared. Later we are going to the mall in Sta. Cruz with the zone leaders so I am gonna stop in the hospital to see if they can fix it. Why does hearing randomly go away? Way to go body...way to live up to your calling as a temple of God...
Sister Ninit's baptism is this coming up Saturday. We had to go castopo style to get her husband, Joel, to accept our invitation to baptize his wife. Although...she is pregnant...and one big woman. Brother Joel is a wee itty bitty man, but he is strong so he has it in the bag...hopefully...
Last Friday we went to the house of a member who is, well was, pregnant. We went in search of the reason why they havent been going to church. We walked in and I was like where is Ate? The sister (the is only like 20 or so) was like, in english "elder, I have a new baby!!" Her baby was only 12 hours old and it was probably the most perfect thing I have ever seen in my life. The sister looked like she had been through world war 2 and back again (there was even mortor shells in the background), but she had the biggest smile on her face I have ever seen. How awesome is it that the Lord trusts each one of us enough that he allows us to rear his spirit children here in an imperfect world? Awesomely awesome I tell ya!!!
I want to drop a quick thank ya to whoever bought the pizza lady t-shirt. I think it was Chelsea, but I am not 100% sure. If it was, thanks Chelsea-you are a pocketful of awesomeness. If it was another person, thanks other person-you also are a pocketful of awesomeness!!
I am sending some pictures along with this email. The first one is this killer sunset that I saw. To the left is a really heavy rainstorm (rain here is IN-TENSE), and to the right (down the mountainside, which you cant see, towards Sta. Cruz) a sun-filled evening sky! The second one is of these awesome twins that we found in a family next to an investigator we found while we were tracting. They always come and listen when we teach Ate Rochelle. They are way fun to be around. I dont know how all these kids I want to take home are gonna fit in my luggage...after all it is a 40 pound limit...and the last picture is of my kid and me!! Elder Miranda...what an awesome companion. How awesome? "[he] eat[s] a bowl of nails for breakfast" "pssshhh, thats nothing" "WITHOUT ANY MILK!!!" Name that show...ill betcha Brady, Samuel, or Ben know...anyways, that is how it goes here in good ol M to the J to the J Majayjay. He is really easy to train because he is 1000x more prepared than I was when I entered the field. Things here are chill like ice cream! One thing that the mission teaches that really has stuck with me is that your testimony will make up for your inadequacies. 100% true my friends!! I still havent gotten my scriptures because the lady who did it...well, thats a different story for another day. Whatever, Ill get them not this wednesday, but next wednesday cause she is bringing them to transfer day. Man, I only have 6 more weeks here in Majayjay. Sad day. Im gonna ask for an extension...I think...but it depends on the Lord so...yea. You might have noticed in my picture that I have a cool new belt. It is made of wood-how cool is that? The front is the CTR shield. I am having him make me a Utah State Belt with the big A and the word Aggies underneath it!! I also want a belt made of the white horns of a caribou. The problem is it is 1200...but you cant buy a bone belt in the states for 25 bucks so hey, im all for it!!
Pasko(Christmas) is a mere 2 1/2 months away! Hope you all are ready!!!
I hope you all are doing well back stateside. Please, dont take anything for granted. A beautiful chapel, hygenic living conditions, proper medical care, a decent job (something that pays more than 20 dollars a day), temples close enough you could ride a bicycle to, a government that isnt corrupt inside and out, personal transportation, sanitary drinking systems, effective sewers, protection from the elements...etc., etc., etc. For these are the things that over 90 million Pilipino's live without. So let us think twice next time we go to complain that the airconditioner is broken, the car wont start, the water tastes bad, or the doctor's visit took forever:D
With a heart full of love for the people I will be with throughout all eternity (with many more to come;D),

Sept 27

Dear Family-
This week, like other weeks, the Lord continues to bless our work, our companionship, and our area. It is really difficult to explain this week because the things that I experienced are, honestly, best as told by the spirit. The email does no justice whatsoever, but hey, that is how life goes. Last P-day we called all our investigators together and we had a family home evening at Joseph's house. After we started we watched the Restoration which always invites the spirit. After we got done we asked them if they had any questions and Alona spoke up and was like "yes, I have one," and while she was speaking she was in sort of a deep contemplative state, and, paraphrased-"I couldnt believe more in Joseph Smith if he was standing right in front of me." I dont think that there is any work on the face of the planet more rewarding than missionary work. The only thing holding Alona back is her marraige. She is 26 and has a child, but her boyfriend doesnt want to get married. It is kind of like a thorn in the side of her progression because she cant be baptized in her current situation. Missionary work is a funny thing-you get really close to your investigators-to the point that when they hurt, you hurt. The other day we were teaching her and she was like "elders, can you explain again why I cant be baptized right now?" We explained the law of chastity and how important it is to be clean before the Lord and she was like "yea...I read it in Jacob...how sin involving a man and a woman is 'abominable' in the sight of the Lord...that means...I...I am abominable in the sight of the Lord" It wasnt the easiest thing to hear because of the sadness that beset her when she said it. But we went over with her that the Lord condemns the sin, and loves the sinner. Not because they are sinning, but because of the potential they have to become clean yet again-because they are his child. It was a moment when the gospel provided that light at the end of the tunnel. At the end she was like "elders, there is something that has been bothering me...why are you all so patient at teaching me?" At first I didnt understand what her question was and so I was like uh...please refrain...and she was like "you all know that I cant be baptized right now, why are you so patient in your teachings when you know that I wont be able to be baptized right now, why dont you just leave me and come back when I am ready?" We reassured her that we would be here even after her journey to baptism was finished and she was starting her life anew and that she would never be alone. I dont think I could find a cooler investigator if I contacted every single number in the phone book!!!!

We also have an investigator named Maria. She also has a problem with her marriage, but has one of the strongest testimonies that I have ever seen. I have never seen any other investigator that has gone through more trials than she has. The Lord is preparing her for a great work-I can feel it. We went on splits the other day with our APs and Elder Lee (my zone leader in Lopez) and I went to Maria. It would take 5 pages to explain what happened so all I will say is hearts touched, the spirit felt, minds changed, and problems solved. End of story.

I recently had a really heavy convo with Joseph. Although he has alot of trust in me, he tells me things regarding extremely personal stuff that he most definitely SHOULDNT, but he does anyway. We got talking and we got on the topic of patience. He wants to make changes in his life because of lack of church activity of someone he knows (cant get any vaguer than that:/) and I told him that while we may be able to see (or think we can) a few miles ahead in our own lives, sometimes we can barely see a few feet into the lives of others because of situations, problems, and opinions that we still dont know about yet. He asked me to explain so I went into the story about me as a youth and my distance from the church, going to college and having my mind changed because of the patience someone had with me-although I told her many times she was wasting her time. It made me look at myself before, and now and made my jaw drop at how much I have changed. I am almost embarrassed at how I lived before I served a mission. Its amazing how change happens when you dont even know its happening. Scary thing. Anyways, I suppose that is how the cookie crumbles.

Today we had a zone activity. Sister Clave is now going home and so we had a zone home evening at our (elder Miranda and I) apartment. SIster Clave is one of those people who inspires you with every move they make. She is known throughout the whole mission and rocks peoples socks. She said something earlier that I already knew but made me think "a missionary's success isnt measured in their baptisms, key indicators, or proficiency in a language. It is measured by the change that takes place in the heart of the person who serves the Lord." She is just one of those people who you want to be like because they radiate with the light of Christ. She returns to her mom down south in a couple weeks and she is going to tear it up. It just reminds me of the song "each life that touches ours for good" I have always been surrounded by strong women in the church-growing up, going to college, and in the mission.

Yesterday, on the other hand, was definitely NOT a good day. There was an explosion in Majayjay in which I was 100% involved. I tried to fix it and only more damage happened. Such is life...and drama:/ Hopefully I will be able to fix it in this coming up week.

I really am sorry about my emails. I am on splits with elder Monnett, and will be until wednesday and we are chatting it up and having a blast. I dont even know what I am typing half the time so sorry if my emails are k-mart quality. One of these days I will be able to get a decent email out that is worth reading and has at least one worthwhile joke in it so I dont seem boring:/

I hope you all are doing well. I am having a blast. My companion, area, and zone are absolutely amazingly amazing. Hope you all didnt fall asleep reading my email. Tandaan-mahal po tayo ng ating ama nasa langit!!!!!

Mahal ko kayo-
Elder Muller

ps-bakit di-makalipad ang calibou hahahahaha:D-gotta love tagalog jokes!

Sorry all of this is coming late- Sept 16

Dear Family-

Bastilan ang aso nasa tabi ng bahay namin-papatayin ko siya and hello to you all!! I still dont know what is happening to the time. Man, it just keeps speeding up. I am looking at these pictures that you all sent me and it amazes me. Brady looks like he is 15 and he looks like he got way skinny!! Way to rock it Brady ha! Unfortunately, this week was yet another week that just pressed on. I hate to dissapoint, but this week was a lot of fixing in our area. Reviving the ward missionary program, fixing investigators that were messed up last week when Elder Saunders got sick and didnt want to work, and continually spreading the gospel. Yesterday we actually did have a cool experience. Yesterday we went on splits-Elder Miranda and I. He went to the less-actives in Majayjay, and I went to our appointments with Joseph, and Cora. Joseph is our Ward Missionary Leader and he is awesome. I have learned more from him than anyone else on my mission. I am probably closest with him than any one else here in the mission. He rocks people's socks. Cora is a ward missionary that is preparing to serve a mission. She has 11 brothers and sisters in her family and works constantly to help support them. She has one of the most amazing testimonies I have ever seen, but is stopped from going on a mission because of some health problems that he has. They are easily fixed in America, but here the medicine is extremely expensive so she not only has to work to support her family, but has to work to save enough money to be able to buy the medication that she needs. She is such an awesome person. With Joseph, Cora, and myself, we make quite an interesting team!! Yesterday we went to the Esquillio family. The family and his children are members, but the father got divorced and married again and the children of his new wife are not yet members. We have been teaching this girl called Glisel. If anyone can say they have been led to someone that has been prepared by the Lord for them, I can. Glisel is one of the humblest, cleanest, young women that I have had a chance to teach. Plus, Cora is the young women president in our ward so it was perfect. We started teaching them back in the day when Quimsing was still my comp, but some things arose which severed our teachings to them. Yesterday we taught them the Restoration again and it was a teaching to remember. There are 5 of them. Three of them are members, and the other 2 arent yet. It was those 5 plus us 3 in this tiny room. As we taught you could just feel the spirit practically speaking to you-testifying of the truth that we were hearing. Obviously Joseph Smith's story is my favorite to teach because it houses so much spiritual power, you would have to purposely harden your heart (which, unfortunately, people do) not to feel the truth. We explained Joseph Smith's surroundings, why he couldnt come to a conclusion, and what he read in the bible. We went forth with the first vision and it was solid power. I have never said the first vision with such effect before-ever. It was almost as if every word I said was drilled directly into the heart of all those who were listening. We got done teaching and Glisel asked how she could know that what we said was true. We told her about prayer and explained that the Lord gives to those in need who have righteous intentions. We committed her to pray and said we would leave a closing prayer but we asked to kneel. By this time one of their friends came in and was listening. We all kneeled down on the second floor of their little house-9 in all, and offered up a prayer that was the "opp" that broke the little ball in "Horton Hears A Who." There was an aura that fell upon us that is indescribable. After it was over I just looked up with nothing to say and everyone was just stunned. Solemn. That was my cool experience. Yea, no one was brought back from the dead, but someone was brought out of darkness-just as good!!

That is pretty much all. I am way jealous that you now have cold. I tell everyone, cause they all ask what color Utah is (cause the Philippines are green year round), that Utah has every single color you can imagine-and they are constantly changing. Here, it is hot every single day haha. One day I will be able to wear a sweatshirt again!! I was told something this week that definitely had an impact. Joseph was a temple worker in Manila before he moved back to Majayjay. He didnt have a wife at the time which means, obviously, you dont need to be married to be a temple worker. Hopefully such an opportunity will come my way. I do get 8 hours in the temple before I go home, but I want to be able to work there. My toe is ok I suppose. I have gone back to wearing shoes (cause my crocs are about finished) and obviously it isnt the best, but its ok cause it makes me look like an actual missionary. The problem is my scab keeps getting wet (cause of sweat) and getting ripped off so its never gonna heal. I was supposed to go back to san pablo a week after I left for the doctor to check up on my toe and tell me if there is anything that I need to fix or start doing, but obviously I am 2 hours away from san pablo so I cant go back. There is only one doctor here-and I was referred to him. The only problem is he is an OB/GYN and not a podiatrist so that might pose problems who knows, but I am keeping my own. Funny story about the package deal. Because the schedule was changed in the mission, I receive mail only once a month now. So, I will tell you when I get the package. The problem is I get Dear Elders, letters, and packages a month after they get here, and if the APs forget, 2 months-hence I am always late responding to stuff:/ Please get that picture-that would be awesome. And I REALLY need that picture that I specified-the one at the very first baptism with the two little children dressed in white with the parents and siblings in the background. Other than that, things continue onwards. Sent out a letter today so that should get to its recipient...2 months after I get back haha. Hope you all are doing well and keeping awesome. I heard something that really meant something to me yesterday-

"Never let a child wonder if He or She is loved by Heavenly Father or by Jesus Christ"

I second that motion.

With tons of Love,

Elder Muller

ps-pig skin that still has hair on it but has been "cooked" is NOT delicious...dont try it...never again