Sunday, December 6, 2015


Kalabaw eating his luscious jungle. 

This week could be described as eventful. We had sooo many less actives come to church yesterday! It was grand. My poor little ol' heart almost stopped, haha. A lot of my mission has just been calling less actives to repent. The activity rate of the church here is... in need of improvement. But, the people here are just good. I know the Philippines is just starting to get into the work of salvation.

In other grand news, my day yesterday was absolutely made. My whole two years was made! I'm about ten minutes south of my second area where a family got baptized. I haven't seen them in a year and a half. Yesterday, they went to take the Sacrament where I am, and they told me they were just endowed the weekend before :)

rbwiohcf5wh78ow85dfon5thso3yth7th894v... describes my feelings fairly well.

I love being a missionary :)

In addition, I'll attach a picture of one of the things I'll miss most, which are picturesque views that make me feel like I'm on the travel channel. Here's one of a kalabaw eating his luscious jungle.

Love you all :)

Elder Mikesell III

Sunday, November 29, 2015



Happy Thanksgiving to all! I'm not sure if I mentioned last week, the Philippines does not celebrate Thanksgiving. Instead, they start putting up Christmas lights as early as September :P but there is a whole lot of stuff to be thankful for, a lot of which I've noticed since I've been here in the Philippines. I think the list would go on for a while, let it suffice to say that there is much to be thankful for that I think we all take for granted, especially for those who are all in good ol' America. For our Thanksgiving feast, my beloved companion, Elder Dougal, called up Jollibee (a fast food restaurant here in the Phillies) and had them deliver, so we had fried chicken, hamburgers, fries and sundaes.

This week was good in general. We worked hard, and the Ricana family came to church again, so we're very happy about that! My companion also showed our area and the people to the new elder who will take over our area when we leave. His companion was sick, so I just stayed home with him while they went and did productive things.

So, I guess that's all for this week. I love you all.

Elder Mikesell III

Sunday, November 22, 2015


This week was righteous! We worked hard and did a lot this week. It was much better than the last couple of weeks. We doubled our average lesson count and new investigators and about tripled our TC or "testifying of Christ". Basically, just talking to everyone. Some other missionaries call the OYM or open your mouth. Brother Uwi came to church, and it was nice because he still came even though his wife couldn't come! Usually folks here would use that as an excuse to not go but not him! And the branch is doing a really good job of making him feel welcome, always talking to him and such like. Because of the amount of Suday's we have left, we're working hard to make sure the branch is focusing on them as well as the new missionaries who will take our place, too.

We ate pizza today, which was nice, at a place called Yellow Cab that used to only be in Baguio but there is now one down here. I nearly cried. Sooo good.

In somewhat funny news, I saw a real live genuine "Las Vegas Mini Grand Prix" shirt in my area yesterday! I was dying. The world is a very very small place indeed. It even had the address of the one next to my home, if there are even others in existence which I'm not sure there are.

Love you all :) Shout out to the women who make my life possible/enjoyable and who have been doing so much stuff fore me, I don't even know how to thank them, the beloved Kelly Mikesell and the most wonderful Barbara Thorton! :D

Love you all!

Elder Mikesell III

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Back in Baguio for a special mission conference.

Jimeny Christmas, this was quite a week indeed! Since about May 2014, I've had it as an item on my bucket list to shake the hand of a living apostle... check!

Our mission was visited by both Elder Neil L. Anderson and Elder Dale G. Renlund!

I though I'd never get to see Baguio before we went home, but I made it up for one last visit, hoorah! We had a special mission conference up in Baguio, on Friday, with everyone from the mission. A lot of the people I saw are on the other side of the mission, and there is an 80 percent chance I won't be able to see them again before I go home and 99 percent chance that I'll never see them again in this mortal life. Very weird thought. Elder Richard J. Maynes of the Seventy and Elder Ian S. Ardern, the Philippines Area President were also there! So, it was cool to listen to them and shake hands with them. But Elder Renlund, who is the newest of the Apostles, talked about knowing whether or not we're successful by judging our level of commitment. In that way, we can find out immediately how we are based on if we're committed. It definitely applies in missionary work, and I can imagine how it applies to other parts of our life, too. I took notes too, but left them at the house, so I can't recall everything they said, but I'll definitely go back and study it. It's not everyday, after all, that two apostles come and speak to you.

But, if that's not enough, we got to listen to Elder Renlund again on Sunday when he came to our district in Agoo for a special district conference. We had one investigator come, Brother Wakas! But the Uwi family did not which shattered some dreams. Quite the Sunday not to miss, too. Oh well.

But, other than that, this week was pretty normal. My beloved companion, Elder Dougal, made oatmeal raisin cookies because we had lots of oats. He had to do a little bit of maggot wrangling, too, as he sifted out the flour to make sure there were no uninvited guests in the cookies. We didn't have any real cookie sheets either, so I just used a couple of flat metal drip pans that go inside the bottom of the other oven (the smaller unused one). But they turned out pretty well.

I love you all so much!

Elder Mikesell III

Sunday, November 8, 2015


Oh golly this week!

The first and prime major super duper ultra hyper amazing thing I wish to declare to the ends of the world this week... both the Wakas and the Uwi family went to church! :D They even stayed for all three meetings! There is hope!

Me and my beloved companion are very excited, haha. Both families are doing quite well, but one of the main hurdles with the Uwi family is that Sister Uwi never even started schooling and doesn't know how to read. Brother Uwi can read, but also wasn't able to continue his schooling past the second grade which means he's a little bit unused to reading books with 100's of pages in tiny font with two columns on each page about ancient prophets and prophecies... like the Book of Mormon :P But, we're working on it. They're wonderfully humble and sincere people, and they already have quite a few friends at the church. I overheard him talking with the Elder's Quorum President who's from the same barangay as him and was very pleased with his comment.

"It's a little different... but it's definitely better than the church we go to now."

Hahaha! Which is a little bit promising. They had a baptismal date set for November 28th previously, but because they didn't go to Sacrament meeting for three weeks in a row, it was postponed. We're going to re-extend to them for December 12 on Tuesday. Please pray for them!

Brother Wakas also went to church! Because he spends so much of his time in Baguio, we're actually going to try and have the companionship in Aurora Hill, where he stays, teach him while he's up there and we'll teach him while he's down here!

In other news, me and my companion, Elder Dougal, have made it our goal to find every last member of our area on the directory, which is quite a task. Almost every ward I've ever been in here in the Phillies has AT LEAST 600 members on the roster... I've also never been in a ward with greater than 150 in attendance at a sacrament meeting, haha. To further complicate matters, the directory's information sheds about as much light on the whereabouts of the people recorded on it:

Name:               Address:
Alabra               Tubod
Alabra               Tubod
Alonso               Pong Pong
De La Cruz        Raois

And so forth :P Imagine trying to find "John Jones" with no more info than "within five miles radius of the McDonalds at Decatur and Lone Mountain", haha! It involved a LOT of asking members for anyone they remember from way back in the day and when that falls through just going to the barangay listed and asking about 10 people if they've ever heard of the people you are trying to find. It is possible, though, because Filipinos are very talkative and know about 43 X more people in their neighborhood than any given American would. When you ask people, you eventually get a "hit" as we refer to it which narrows it down a bit further. You then go to that place and repeat until you actually find the house, knock on the door and see the fear in the eyes of these years now inactives who are no doubt thinking "how on earth did these white boys find me!" Some awesome experiences have resulted, though. Here's one:

We determined to find a name listed in barangay Baybay, a coastal barangay that actually can't be accessed by the roads of the municipality it belongs to. We bussed up to the city of Agoo and then walked down the coast in order to find it. All in all, we ended up walking about four hours that day, which was about 12 miles :P Then we semi-miraculously found the person's nephew who lives on her house and was willing to take us there. He was the second person we asked :P She was a bit shocked when she saw us, and then a little cold, but she warmed up to us fast. By the time we left she was almost crying and saying that she was so thankful we took the time to find her.

No one from the church had visited her in 20 years.

I love being a missionary!

Elder Mikesell III

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Hello there friends and fam!

Many mixed emotions have conflicted and collided with one another in my brain/heart this week. Dread and excitement about going home, finding out I got accepted into BYU-I which was surreal because my whole life college has been a distant concept, love for the people I serve, disappointments when none of them keep their commitments, endearment for the wonderful place in which I serve and clashing emotions of inadequacy and feeling the Spirit all over the place.


Elder Dougal's Birthday
Anywhoosies, neither Brother Wakas nor the Uwi family went to church which was difficult. I had very very high hopes for them, but somehow I'll manage to get them back up again by Sunday, mostly likely to have them thrown back down, but hey, that's a mission :P We're doing our best to help the families to keep their commitments. Please pray specifically that they'll find the desire to study the Book of Mormon.

Other fun highlights are that my companion Elder Dougal celebrated his 21st birthday yesterday night and that both Elder Renlund and Elder Anderson are coming to my mission in November! :D

It's been on my bucket list since senior year in high school to shake an apostle's hand. The hope is soon coming to fruition.

Thank you all :) I love you all dearly.

"Keep practicing!" - Brad Wilcox in the greatest talk of all time, "His Grace is Sufficient." Look it up. Find the one on you tube that he delivered to a batch of BYU students.

Elder Mikesell III

My swanky new apartment!

Monday, October 19, 2015


Ohhh my! What a week indeed!

First and foremost, about the work: we have two families that we're focusing on hard. The Wakas family I mentioned in my update last week and my new possibly even more beloved family, the Uwi family! Quick update: the Wakas family is made up of two kids and their parents, all of whom are active and church going members except the father, John John, who's been taught by a lot of missionaries in the past and just hasn't committed yet. The Uwi family is also the bomb. Brother Carlos and Amelia Uwi are about 50, and their kids are mostly grown up and gone. Brother Wakas left for a job up in Baguio City, about an hour's bus ride from my area here, and he won't be back for a few more days, but we just had an amazing lesson with the Uwi family on Friday, and I really really really felt the Spirit, to the point where I feel like the questions Brother Uwi was asking were given to him by the Spirit!

"What is the name of the church Christ restored in these days?"

"How do we act on your message? What can we do?"

It was the best. Ever. We extended a baptismal invitation to them in that lesson for November 28th which they accepted! :D I don't want to be overly excited, but they are the first investigators I've had who have accepted a serious "I will commit to prepare myself" IBD since October... of last year! I am overjoyed. They committed to go to church and even asked that we come to pick them up on that Sunday morning because they didn't know exactly where it was (which in Filipino culture means that they really intend to do what they're talking about.) My companion and I were ecstatic!

... and then the typhoon hit! Typhoon hit! I've experience two typhoons and a monsoon in my mission so far, but this one was a monster. We haven't had power for days and lots of poor little Filipino families have had lots of things destroyed. The Uwi family weren't able to get to church and actually the only people that did were us six missionaries in Damorits branch, the branch mission leader who presided and two men from the Elder's quorum. The typhoon has mostly passed by now, but we actually had to bus from Agoo to San Fernando, a much bigger city, in order to email and buy groceries. They eye of the storm and some of the most powerful bands of the storm were reported, this morning, to be directly over the little town of Santiago Ilocos Sur, the little town I just came from. Please pray for those folks, they'll need it.

We're safe and mostly dry. I love everyone back home. Please pray for the Wakas and Uwi families!

"Keep practicing!"

Elder Mikesell III

Sunday, October 11, 2015


Elder Dougal and Elder Mikesell in new area!
I am doing smashing! I was transferred! I have left the province of Ilocos Sur and am now in the extreme southern tip of the La Union province, brushing right up to the Pangasinan province and the very border of the Baguio mission. While I was in the Ilocos region up north, I was working hard on learning Ilokano, the regional dialect there which they speak better than Tagalog. Here, I've tried to use it, but with mixed success, due to me being this close to the region where the native dialect shifts to Pangasinanse, so cheers to learning the basics of a three languages but being actually good a none, haha. My companion is Elder Dougal, he was one of my district mates from the MTC. He is freakishly weird in all the right ways. He and I will have a wonderful companionship. He is from Washington State, and we will be having a "suicide pact" as missionaries call it when two missionaries are going home at the same time and are also companions.

Geographically, the area I'm in, called Damortis, looks pretty much identical to Santiago where I'm coming from. The vast majority of the Baguio Mission, except Baguio City itself, which is on the top of a big mountain, is all along a very long highway that goes up the coast. From west to east, my whole mission has looked like this: some mountains, then a lot of rice fields, some homes and businesses, a highway, the rest homes and businesses, more rice fields, the beach and then the ocean :P

I love the Wakas family!
I already found "my family" or the one family that I get really attached to in a given area, the Wakas family! Sister Wakas was baptized when she was about fourteen but married a wonderful nonmember, Brother Wakas. he's taken the missionary lessons off and on since about 2011, but he goes back and forth between here and Baguio City for his work as a painter, and many of the previous companionships weren't able to get him baptized because of it. They have two kids, age 7 and 11. Sister and the two kids are at church every week. Please pray for them!

I'm using denial as a coping mechanism and prefer not to think about the fact that I will be flying back home to America in two months! Every week is like whattt the heckkkk, how is this possibleeeee? It's moving very fast. Like light speed. I'm going to miss virtually everything about the Philippines but the heat, being looked at like a zoo animal everywhere I go and everyone telling me how America has no problems and that I'm filthy rich :P  I was recently asked if I dream in Tagalog... I have been told by four of my companions that I speak/yell in Tagalog while I sleep.

I love you all terribly. I'm off to save souls! :D

Elder Mikesell III

Sunday, September 27, 2015


Oh my. Quite a week indeed. First and foremost in terms of importance:

Sister Itak went to church again AND brought their daughter! We now  have 2 out of 5 and we plan on getting higher next week. What's more is that they stayed for all three meetings, which is unusual for new investigators who usually bug out right after Sacrament until they have friends to go with. We've discovered one of the family's main concerns, which is that their daughter (who is studying in San Fernando and thus has been absent in the lessons so far) isn't with them to be baptized, and their concerned about "leaving someone behind" as they put it, so we've worked with them and their schedules so that their daughter will come back on Friday to Sunday and we'll teach them on those days instead! We're very excited.

Other than that, we've been hacking back at jungles, riding our bikes through mountains to get to the jungle hacking just mentioned, attending a baptism from the other elder's area held on Saturday, were invited to a ward member's "debut" which is the Filipino version of a girls quinceanera but is held at age 18, and worked with the Bishop on Sunday! Very very fun stuff.

I apologize for not sending pictures, my SD card got a virus and is currently being fixed.

My companion, Elder Alonzo, will be released Wednesday next week, and if what president has told me actually comes to pass, then I will be getting my trainee that week as well! I'm interested to see the VERY abrupt contrast between working with a missionary at the end of his mission and working with a new missionary who's mission has JUST started.

I love everyone and am out of time!

Keep your fire burning!

Elder Mikesell

Sunday, September 20, 2015


I'm addicted to coconuts!

Prayers have been answered this week!

The mother of the Itak family came to church and had a good experience! This is the first time this has happened to me in a very long time on my mission, where a real investigator went to church. Brother Itak was determined to go, but a problem with his kids traveling to a different municipality came up and he wasn't able to. He's committed to go next week. Sister Itak has also been tearing up the Book of Mormon. We're going to invite them to be baptized again on Wednesday.

There's an interesting quote I will paraphrase:

"A mission is months of exhausting and discouraging rejection broken up by scattered moments of pure joy." True story :P

In other news, my bike broke once again, we were once again able to hack at the jungle for a service project, and we had to confront the homeless man who keeps breaking into our house for food yesterday. Fun stuff. We tried to keep it civil because he always carries around a long screw driver which I think he keeps for self defense, but we were able to keep everything reasonable so nothing tragic occured.

I love being a missionary :)

Elder Mikesell III

Feeding the ducks after a service project & looking out over the ocean.