Monday, March 31, 2014



The days go by VERY quickly as a missionary! This was a tough week. After the initial spike of success we were having in Tuding, we've hit a bit of a wall. Lots and lots of being "punted" as missionaries call it, or in other words being asked to leave, people not coming outside when we knock (even though we can hear them inside) or otherwise just telling us they are not interested. But, it's all part of being a missionary! To anyone preparing to be a missionary, IF you serve with all your yourself, it will be fun! Hard but fun. If you leave part of your mind and heart back home, IT WILL BE AWFUL! That's like tearing yourself into two different places. Just be happy where you are and serve with ALL your heart, might, mind and strength. 

In other news, our golden investigators have kept coming to church, are living the Word of Wisdom, and are progressing sooo very fast! I really sincerely love them. They are the best. The families in question are (fake names) the Rizal's and the Pinoy's. The Rizal's are hovering between the lower and middle class. Middle class here means, basically, that money isn't your FIRST concern. (It still may be one, just not your first. You are mostly provided for.) The father is working construction, and we are working with him to stop smoking, so he can get baptized! He's down to one cigarette, so pray for him! The mother is very intelligent! She eats up our lessons and she actually referred us to her parents! She's sharing the gospel like a part-time missionary, seriously, and she's not even baptized yet! They have three kids, and I'm so excited for them! 

The Pinoy's are more middle class. The father stays home to take care of their daughter, and the mother is an accountant. Both are very intelligent, and the daughter is downright naughty, but so cute it's very hard to get mad at her. The father is a golden investigator to the core. He bears his testimony pretty much every time we meet, feeds us, and lives every law and commandment as soon as he knows about it. The wife is a little bit of a tougher cookie, but I'm very hopeful for her as well!

Other other news, my Tagalog is beginning to sound like something approaching to a language, I've lost weight from eating a missionary diet (which is sparse, haha) and walking up and down day in and day out, haha. Baguio is exceedingly mountainous, I may have tonsillitis and me and my companion are starting to really understand each other! I love this country, this language and this people, but especially this gospel, the Church and my Savior Jesus Christ. Take care! Defend the faith!

Monday, March 17, 2014


How long did you have jet-lag?
At least three days. I crashed every night when I got back to the apartment, haha.

So, is your apartment in Baguio or Tuding?
I am serving in Baguio City, in the the Tuding area. Kind of like Las Vegas and Summerlin, Tuding is a subdivision of Baguio.

Do you share an apartment with just you and your companion, or are there more elder's like in Jay' mission?
It's unusual, but the apartment is just me and Elder Wilson, haha. It gets interesting when two different personalities are cooped up with each other all day, every day, but I love him to death. He's super obedient and a really good trainer.

How big, geographically, is your mission? Your area?
It's HUGE. I didn't realize that. The Philippines looks small on a map, but it is huge in real life. My area is mostly just a road named Itogon, with purok's and barangays (neighborhoods and communities) on either side. There's actually no end of my area until the Kawain Mission, according to the myth, so if we wanted we could go teach like cannibal tribes out in the mountains of Banguet.

Are there any members in Tuding?
There are, but very few. The bishop, a single sister and her son, and a small family. But the ward missionaries in my ward are soooo awesome. They travel from all over the place to help us out!

Do they have dogs as pets? Or are they literally just considered another animal?
Some people do, usually the richer ones, but mostly they are just kind of a nuisance. They breed and live all on their own throughout the Philippines.

Any cultural adjustments that have been interesting?
When to and when to not use "po". Po is an interesting word that doesn't have an English translation, but you throw it in to be polite to whoever you are talking to. It can also change pronouns, especially "you". You are supposed to use it with people older than you or strangers. It's hard for me to get it right, though! If you use po with a kid younger than you, especially little kids, they'll laugh at you, and if you forget to use it with strangers or older people, they think you are a punk, haha.

If they don't have much toilet paper... what exactly do they use to clean themselves after using the restroom?
They have kind of a ladle deal. You're supposed to basically pour it down your lower back to the desired areas and wipe with your left hand, then wash your hands afterwards. In a lot of ways, it's a lot cleaner than using toilet paper, but I won't discuss it in great detail, haha.

Do members have you over for dinner like they do here in America?
Not every night. Food is expensive and there are not a lot of members in my area. At most, once every two weeks or so.

Do you cook a lot of meals?
We do, but it's my companion because he's a much better cook than I am, haha. My job is cleaning up afterwards.

What are their grocery stores like?
Depends where you are in the city. If you have enough money, you can go to the Baguio SM which is a giant super mall, with a full American style grocery store in the bottom, but it ain't cheap. Or you can go to the tiny stores and vendors on the streets, but where your food came from and it's quality is a little more questionable.

Are you allowed to drink the water?
Nope! Even Filipinos don't drink out of the tap. It's a sure way to get VERY sick. They buy filtered water in big jugs from water stations. I use the tap water but with my filtered water bottle.

I hope that was illuminating! And as for my report, two young families that I have been teaching have baptismal dates!!!!!!! I'm so very very very excited! The Lord has blessed me and Elder Wilson very thoroughly. Other than that, I'm just keepin' on! I love everyone back home!


Tuesday, March 11, 2014


Hello all!

I will now go into great depth of my going-ons! My companion's name is Elder Wilson. He's a cowboy from Henderson, Nevada, and he's actually seen the name "Golf Cars Etc." a few times, haha! He's been out for 18 months and is essentially fluent in Tagalog and another language popular in the north called IIokano. He's an awesome trainer! One of our goals as a companionship is to work work work. He's pushed me really hard. We do our best to be our best. "I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things," Alma 26:12. Heavenly Father has soooooo blessed us as we've tried to work hard. The president was actually going to shut our area, Tuding, but sent me and him in as one last try. Through the Lord (because if he wasn't helping us every step of the way, we would accomplish NOTHING) our area went from only three or four lessons a week to about seventeen!

Apartment pics... and more apartment pics...

I'm actually struggling quite a bit with Tagalog. I've always fancied myself to be good with languages, but it's much different to be in a country around people who are verrry fluent in the language your're trying to learn. We've found an awesome family who I'll call the Rizal's. (Anyone who knows anything about the Philippines will get the joke.) The Rizal's are super humble. They have three kids, the father works in construction and the wife takes care of the home. The wife especially is really sharp about prophets and contributes a lot to the lessons. We teach a lot of lessons in our area, but unfortunately, we don't have many progressing investigators. We are trying to change that, though!

One of my batch-mates in Candon has actually already eat dog! This might freak some folks out back home, but here it is just another animal. He said it tastes like beef. He got a picture of them butchering it, too. Haha, hopefully no one just fainted! I love you all back home, keep the faith!

I'm in the Philippines!

Pics while traveling to the Philippines

Elder Mikesell III

Tuesday, March 4, 2014


Well, hello all! I am indeed alive! It has been a long while since I have been able to give you any epistles so I'll be very thorough and in depth with this one!

Manila International Airport from plane

I have no idea how the differences in time zones affect travel, but I was exhausted when I finally got to my apartment in the Philippines. It went a little bit like this: We left the MTC at 4:30am in the morning and flew out of Salt Lake at around 8am. We flew from Salt Lake to San Fran then across the pacific to a 2 hour layover in Tokyo then another flight to Manila. All said and done between hitting the Philippines and leaving the MTC the total travel time was about 23 hours. We bussed to the Manila airport hotel and got there at 11:30, but were told to be out in the lobby at 5:00. A travel agency then shuttled us down to a bus station where we loaded onto a charter bus and drove through Manila to a city in the north named San Fernando. That trip took about seven hours. In San Fernando we met with President Balledos and the AP's, and bunked in the mission apartment there for the night. The next day we met our companions and sectioned into zones (transfer day) and then piled into a hired jeepney for another six or so hours into the Baguio mountains, where me and my companion finally found our apartment. So, lots and lots and lots of traveling!!!!! I'm glad to finally be in my area!

Jeepneys are the most popular form of transportation in the Philippines.

Okay, now for the good stuff- I love President Balledos! He's so humble and just a great guy. I'm glad he's my mission president. My companion is an American named Elder Wilson who's actually from Vegas, in Henderson! He and I are having a great time. He did a lot of cowboy type stuff like ranching before he came out. I am actually serving for probably the next six months in Baguio city itself! I'm told I'm reeeally lucky.

And now for the reeeally good stuff... THE PHILIPPINES! I love this country. It's a wonderfully bizarre mix of completely foreign and totally familiar! In Baguio city itself, especially, there's a LOT of English. It's soo weird. I'm trying to learn Tagalog, so I'll speak to people in it, but they almost always respond in English! Just let that sink in for a moment... the Americans are speaking Tagalog but the Filipinos are speaking English! Just a list of funny things about the Philippines-

1. Jeepneys. I knew about jeepneys before I came here, but I didn't realize that they are EVERYWHERE. It's the main form of transportation. 

2. Animals are everywhere. They just roam around and I'm not sure if anyone in particular owns them or if everyone just owns them. There's goats, chickens, cows, cats, and lotsssssss of dogs. There is a dog in Baguio for every two people, I'm not kidding. (In the boonies it seems like there's two goats for every person) sometimes the dogs get aggressive, but all you have to do is pick up a rock and they run away.

3. There is, indeed, very little toilet paper.

4. A lot of people convert their houses into vendors shops and just sell a little bit of everything.

5. Little kids LOVE calling me 'joe'.

6. Baguio is VERY mountainous. 

7. The saints here are sooo astig! (awesome)

8. There are essentially no traffic laws and it is the funnest thing ever. I have seen one traffic light in Baguio, NO stop signs, and it's just as (if not more) densely populated  as Las Vegas. Every drive is an adventure.

9. No bikes for missionaries in Baguio. Between how steep it is, how many jeepney's/taxis there are and the lack of traffic rules, we would die.

10. We have like no food... I'm so glad it's p-day. We've been living on rice, eggplant, and oatmeal, haha.

11. Lastly....its actually COLD! Never like snowing or anything, but I actually get a little chilly sometimes!

I am sooo very happy to be in this area, haha!

And now for the mission stuff! We have a golden investigator! He's soooo freaking smart, and he's really driven to learning about this gospel for himself. Most of the time we teach random families. A lot of people speak ilicano here, so I get to learn a second language too! Yay!

I love you all! Deepen your conversion! I have to write a letter to President Balledos, so I've got to go! Love you! Bye!

Elder Mikesell III

P.S. Keep sending letters! I'll try to write back! It's harder in the field, especially because the post office is far away, but they would make my day!