Sunday, March 1, 2015

Week #28: He's ALIVE!!!! (An Email From His Trainer)

We have not received an email from Elder Buhler since October 9. Our last letter he wrote to us was dated in December. We didn't get to skype him at Christmas. Up to this time, he has been with his trainer, Elder Kim. They were the only two missionaries on the island of Marakei that has no internet. Elder Kim transferred to Tarawa and wrote us last week. I wrote him back and asked him how Jacob was doing with the divorce etc. He wrote back today and sent pictures. Apparently the island ran out of postage so Jacob has not been able to send letters. Elder Buhler is now with Elder Carrington, one of his MTC companions. 

He is doing awesome. He is happy.  He totally has immersed himself in the work.
He is trying his hardest to not let that [Note: referring to our divorce]  affect his work. I remember saying that he just doesn't want to deal with it. At the same time, he is dying to know how everything is going. The last letter he got from you guys was in the big package. You had mentioned that you were dating. He had mixed feelings about it.
I don't know yet if President Weir has let him know, but I remember him saying that he just doesn't want to deal with any of that at the moment.
Send him some more food! He is doing well with the food here, but he enjoys his mac & cheese and beef jerky. Haha.
Also, he was upset that he didn't get any letters from his dad. so if you could let him know...that would be great for Elder Buhler

He is doing awesome. Don't worry about him. He is being protected and watched over by our Heavenly Father.
Elder Kim

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week #26: Elder Buhler Is a Senior Companion

Dear Buhler Family,

This is Elder Kim, and I just came in from Marakei on Wednesday

I'm just sending your son's regards. He has received many packages and he is very grateful for the five jars of peanut butter. Haha.

Elder Buhler is doing very very well. He is doing well with the language and culture. He is now the senior companion, and his companion is Elder Carrington, from his intake.
I have total trust in Elder Buhler that he will take care of the island of Marakei!

Anyways, I have personally forced him to write many letters. However, the island has been out of stamps since January. But he has many letters waiting to post off to you all.

He is doing awesome. He is very happy. Very Skinny...haha. He's fine.

Take Care


Elder Kim

Monday, February 2, 2015

Week 23: Loving the People and the Work

Hi family,

So I just heard from E. Young Cassie got a 31 on the ACT so that’s super good. Who knows, maybe she is smarter than me. So this letter is really just to say thanks for everything you all have done for me.

A mission where I have seen 1 white person in the last 3 months, and no outside contact gives a person a lot of time to think. Just know I pray for you guys all the time, and I also can’t decide if my lack of knowledge on the outside world is helping me grow and focus more on the work or driving me crazy. But, never the less, I know the world keeps turning regardless.

It’s not that I don’t have a lot to say, but it’s that I have too much to say. So just so you know I love you guys and I hope Josh enjoys the home life. Loving the people and the work.


Elder Buhler

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Week 21: " I had Dog and its Actually Really Good."

Written December 22, 2014 at 4:00pm – Kiribati

Dear Family,

It’s Christmas!!! Haha, not really, but it’s pretty close. December 22nd right now, and it’s still as hot as ever. So bummed about no snow for Christmas. I’m always trying to explain 4 seasons to people here and especially snow, but it’s pretty tough. But I love it here.

We had our big Christmas celebration here last week at the chapel with basically all members from the whole island, and some family and friends of members who should be baptized but have various concerns to resolve. It was pretty dang fun. Just straight chillin’, ya know. I had a bunch of candy Elder Kim and I have received from fam and we gave most of it away. It’s pretty sick to see people’s faces when they try American stuff – always super happy, but overwhelmed by the flavor. It was a 2 day even. A lot of people slept the night in the classrooms the first day and after was just straight food prep, people playing Sorry the boardgame, but they make their own board and it’s played with cards. Stuff like that. Tons I could write about it, but that’s for a later time. We had a baptismal service later that day. We did it ocean side this time. Pretty much just vibin’ to the Spirit, ya know. Oh and I had dog for the first time, it’s actually really good fun fact.

There was this pretty cool story that just barely happened. So sometimes we rent a truck to pick up members from around the whole island so we can have church together at the chapel. Otherwise Elder Kim and I bike the island the whole day and do sacrament meetings for 4 villages (not including the one at the chapel). Anyways, we got on the car to make sure our people who just got baptized would get on so they could be confirmed. 5 total baptized. 2 made it on the car and 1 got sick from the pig from Christmas (I ate that same pig so just imagine the pyrotechnics that would have been taking place inside my colon. Absolutely spectacular let me tell you.) so a bummer he couldn’t come but understandable. Then there was this teenage girl who  missed the car straight up but we talked to her since so we will be good to go next week. And finally Been (his name), this 11 years old kid who.  He was the one person I didn't get to teach until recently because straight up he couldn't understand my accent. His family got on the car, but he was nowhere to be found. We waited for a bit, but regrettably we had to move on. I was super bummed. So we went to the next village and we were there for an unusually long time. But I was just chillin’ talking to some members and reading my Kiribati BoM waiting for awhile. When all of a sudden this head popped up near the tailgate of the truck. It was Been! We were all completely shocked. First thing his mom says “Elder hang korakora ana onimakilei (his faith is strong), we all busted up laughing. Let me explain why. The villages are what I imagine to be a 20-30 minute walk, and this kid who when we first started teaching him was only able to understand very basic concepts had just run that. The life here is very different. Running a long distance is not something someone would generally do. We had had some people not come to a 12 minute, 4 person sacrament meeting 15 yards away from their house because they were cooking. Which is completely funny because it was the dinner they were cooking for us! A dinner we would eat a little after sacrament meeting (see Luke 10:38-42 for biblican story of similar events). Plus it had been (not the name) pretty unusual. We had waited in that other village so long, so I would love to know more than anything his thought process through that whole ordeal. If he had planned to run straight to the chapel or what? That is pretty dang far to run for a church. I have only recently realized he understands and has retained most of what we have taught him. Whatever truly did go through his mind I know that God had a plan that day and he executed it flawlessly that day as he always does. To perform what, to me, is nothing short of a miracle.

Loving the people of Marakei so much. Obviously learning the language of a country you only realized existed a few short months ago is interesting, but I’m comfortable communicating with anyone (even Been) :). It all comes down to prayer. Gift of tongues is straight up real. I promise everyone will work out regardless of your circumstances if you just love the people around you. These people are some of the happiest people I have ever known. Not by ignorance, they understand they are many things we take for granted they will never have, so although for all of you the Christmas has long passed, be grateful and show thanks for everything. Pray more earnestly. Love more fervently, and allow yourselves to be happy “regardless of your circumstances” – Uchtdorf. Christmas definitely won’t be the same, but I think it will be my favorite Christmas yet.

Elder Jacob Buhler

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Week 19: "Its Like "The Other Side of Heaven.'"

Written 12/01/2014 – Monday – 3:14pm (3rd letter in 19 weeks)

** We did not hear from him at Christmas. He was on a remote island that does not have internet service or the capacity for him to call.  He does not email. Gratefully, he has a mission president that when his mother is really dying...she can email him to make sure her son is alive. 

Writing on this paper as a sort of side note. The mission is going well; continued progress as always. I ask lots of questions which I think helps. I am not afraid to be ridiculed or be told it’s something I already know. Sometimes I feel a little foolish but that’s all part of the learning process. And I am always very keen to learn. I also don’t kill myself to learn the language. I am very aware of my strengths and I know I could completely immerse myself and obsessively learn the language, but there is a chance of some very unwelcoming side effects to that. I could become irritable and tough to work with if I go into a zone like that. I could go crazy out here, which on an island in the middle of the ocean isn’t desirable. And most importantly there is a good chance I would lose track of WHY I’m learning the language. I’m here to immerse myself in a culture, love a people, and preach the gospel. Not to add something to a resume.

I will be very straightforward and honest with you and tell you I have weaknesses and yes they are plentiful, but I am willing to acknowledge them and turn to prayer for hopeful guidance from a loving Heavenly Father and let myself be 1 Nephi 20:10.

I love it here. Straight up a lot of similarities with The Other Side of Heaven. Elder Kim even said he has had his head and hand chewed by rats. Not gushing blood but still pretty interesting. Most people are family, etc.

Have I gotten discouraged? Rarely, but yes. Usually when I hear someone say something about my language or I straight have no clue what to say. But straight up honestly, I testify to the gift of tongues because I am still learning this language very quickly and faster than most I figure. That’s God’s strength not mine. I am HAPPY here. I tell my rougher times (3-4 times) so you can realize that I am human and make mistakes too. But I couldn’t be in a better place than right here because this is where I am called. Pray a lot. Read words of prophets both past and present and realize happiness is now and not only that things will only get better. I love you all and something I realized for me, the small and simple decisions influence the big ones, not the other way around. Will write more when I get letters.

Elder Buhler

Love you all. Thanks for stuff. Wrote this before package came. Had to write J-Botch. Will write at a later time. Super busy. Know I love you all. Hope this is good too.

Jacob wrote Justin that he got our "humongous" package and used all the decorations we sent to decorate their little abode. It made the $287 to send it worth it. 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Week #16:Elder Jacob Buhler's Letter to the BYU Mens' and Womens' Soccer Team (He Was A Member of the BYU Mens' Soccer Team) Describing Life in Kiribati

Sent Tues 11/04/2014

Hello all! I would like to start off by saying I haven’t seen or talked to a white person in weeks (My companion is full Korean and did a year of pre-med at Cal Berk before coming on the mission) so it’s really hard trying to imagine all of you right now.

I am on an island called Marakei inside the independent and sovereign republic of Kiribati with the only electricity coming from solar power. And really only enough for a light to hang from the buia (raised house made out of coconut branches and wood foundation and leaves). Everything cooked over fire. Since coming here I have had … let me think … raw fish, fish, lots of rice, eel, raw clam, breadfruit and coconut in every possible way, crab, lobster, lobster poop (Elder Kinm tells me it’s not but I watched him open the shell; it was definitely poop), papaya, etc. It’s pretty consistent with being drenched by either rain or sweat at all times. During the day there are lots of flies and night mosquitos. But it is so beautiful. We bike here on these crappy bikes that are like tanks along the dirt road that circles the island, takes 1½ - 2 hours to bike around island if you don’t stop. We are the only missionaries here and we sleep on the floor on mats called kie’s. All of our water we drink/shower with comes from rain water. We wash our clothes with well water. Our house is pretty nice given we live in chapel house. We have fans that work for 1-2 hours then die. Lizards and cockroaches and sometimes spiders and flying things of all kinds are a constant presence. Our shower is pressurized, but it takes drinking water so we take short showers. We have desks and a roof and walls so life is good.

OK, now hopefully I don’t bore you by listing all of that off. I tried to think of stuff you might want to know about lifestyle. But anyways, I love the people. The mission has literally been the most humbling experience. Everyone here has so little, and I kid you not they would starve rather than not feed us. We have done lots of service for people here too, helping scrape out coconut meat, helping refloor people’s buias when it goes rotten by finding, skinning and tying the branches together a certain way. It’s hard to write really cool, long experiences because I don’t have a ton of time right now (got to go bike and facilitate FHE a few villages away), but watching people change through the gospel is the most beautiful thing. The language is way faster here, but I understand a lot of what people are saying. Unless it’s a bunch of kids yelling all at once or a really anyone talking really loud. My conversational is slow but alright. My lesson speech is way better. I am constantly praying for God to help our investigators and a great amount of my time is spent thinking about how I can help our investigators more. That’s why I like Elder Kim, because he likes to form a relationship by actually talking to them.

The work has really picked up here ever since I got here – that’s what Elder Kim said. We had 25 lessons last week, which is a ton for an outer island I hear. I had my first baptism on Saturday – 5 people, 1 19-year-old daughter of a Catholic missionary, and a group of really smart kids as far as Kiribati is concerned. 8-12 who are always asking me questions, which getting a Kiribati person to ask anything ever is impossible. So they are my favorite and when we are in their village for service, FHE lessons, I work really hard with them that they understand and live the gospel, which they really already do. They have read a ton of scriptures, but there is a problem with less actives here and I don’t want that to happen to them. I am working so hard trying to do the best I can with all our investigators, but especially them. We had to walk like 1/8 – ¼ of a mile into the lagoon to do the baptism dodging sea urchins as we walked out there. And it rained that day and we were a little late, and the sun was going down. Something about sunset here – THE greatest thing. They are absolutely gorgeous. They are National Geographic, or like a Billabong t-shirt. I love watching sunsets, and you all know how much I love movies and I say this out of a 100% sober and sound mind. The night of the baptism I saw the most beautiful set of scenery I have every seen in my entire life as I turned to look back once we got to the deep enough part of the lagoon. The tender mercies of the Lord are simple and profound. No words could sufficiently describe. And after a long day of work we bike along the really big dirt runway for the plane and turn out our flashlights and just look up and witness the grandeur of God’s creations. The stars shine ever so bright and the moonlight ever so tenderly lights the coconut trees and is truly remarkable.

I go home exhausted every night. I love my mission. I love the people, and I have yet to have a bad day. Roughish moments, but 3 biggest regrets of those reflecting on one’s life. 1) I wish I would have spent more time with those I loved. 2) Wish I would have lived up to my potential. 3) Wish I would’ve let myself be happier. Happiness is right now. It’s in the tender mercies of the Lord. It’s realizing that there is something higher than self. “In contrast to the institutions of the world to know something, the Gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something.” –Dallin H. Oaks- I challenge you all to find your own happiness, but I testify that through the gospel you will find true happiness. I love you all. Because of you, yes you, I find myself the whitest person on a very primitive island sharing the gospel and loving it. Happiness is right now. Find yours.

Elder Buhler

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Weeks #13-#16: "I Love it Here. Wouldn't Want to Be Anywhere Else."

Dear Family,

Part 1 – Mon, 11/24/14 4:11 p.m. written – will send tomorrow.

I received your package and 4 separate envelopes on 11/22/14. Packages like that don’t get sent out until the Sr. couples have time, but usually within a week. Don’t worry about me. I am alive and well. Appreciate the food. But not even kidding you, the flavor is overwhelming. Diarrhea of course is pretty constant here. I am fine though. Not tons of paper left in my notebook so I split the letter to you and the mission president in half. Hope you have received my first letter by now, and I also sent my BYU friends outlining life here. Tell Bear; Britt should have it. I had lost weight, which I was stoked about. I look at that box and see it all coming back. My normal breakfast was Sunshine (powdered milk) Milo (chocolate powder) Weet Biks (can only be described as those really dry flakes with no flavor inside Honey Bunches of Oats) mixed with water and some sugar and bananas.

Thanks for letters Mom, Bear, Dad, Gardners. Any news on my mish friends and Justin! Also I have really liked the talks (Gen. Conf) and the letters of support. Don’t send heavy things while I am on outies that I would have to fly in. We only get so much. Food is good. Love you guys a lot. Love the work too.

Please don’t send a letter a week. At most please do 1 letter every 3 weeks or put your letters from every week into the same envelope to send every 3 weeks. I love you guys, but I have been trying to really focus on the work. I love you guys. Just really trying to embrace things here. Life is good though. Very simple. Elder Morley was spot on with my peanut butter. I definitely kept the jar after it went empty to remember (single tear) until it grew mold then I cleaned it out and that’s where I keep my spoon. Pretty basic here lifewise – teach, talk, eat. I can speak pretty well. I mean I sound white, but I can teach and interact. Complex thoughts and new stuff is obviously not there yet, but if you can teach that’s all that matters right? I left most of my learning language books on Tarawa but it’s because I wanted to learn mostly by listening, speaking, asking questions, and writing in my notebook. Mostly just practice when we are  biking to and from places to myself.

Love the people. We have had unusual success here. Not stereotypical outie. I am doing great though, My iPod died 2 weeks ago so I hope you sent it. Please J I really like the hymn Brightly Beams. Definitely won’t be in by Christmas time. A big group of mish come January 1 so we will see. But I love it here; wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I rely on prayer a lot. Strength and success comes from God. Just know I am fine. Focus on Josh; he needs it. I will write as often as I can afford. But at least I will write when mails gets sent out here. Love you all. If you want to hear more look at the letter I sent to my BYU friends. Please don’t email Pres., I want to stay an outie if possible. Way better than Tarawa. I don’t expect to be back in earlier than Christmas at all.

I will buy a new notebook this week so don’t worry Mom. Don’t try to read into the letter; there are no hidden messages or cries for help I promise J Love you.

Love you all,
Elder Buhler

Part 2 – written Tues 11/25/14 7:40 am

Life is pretty basic here. All electricity is solar. Just straight chill. Sunrises are the bomb here and the stars are so pretty. Biking home from the west at night over the air strip is the bomb too.

Still not that  great at sitting cross-legged. I have bruises like stripes across my feet from the coconut fronds on the buias (houses/huts here). Missionaries are really respected on Kiribati so don’t worry. I’m safe. Elder Kim is chill. He’s Josh’s year in school. Definitely like an onion though with all those layers and such. Tell Drake I probably won’t get to email him before he heads out so good luck and to email me.

People are awesome here for the most part; really helpful and love to joke. Not rushing anything language wise and such; don’t want to go crazy out here. That would be unfortunate. I pray for people from home a lot, especially you guys. Sundays are fun because the land is like a circle and we start at the chapel and do a full on sacrament meeting with 30 or so people (Elder Kim and I spoke last week – power of prayer through trials) then we go around and do 4 more sacrament meetings (praying, pass sacrament, 1 of us conducts, the other other presides and gives a thought). Approximately like this: 1 – 30ish; 2 – 30ish; 3 – 4ish; 4 – 7ish; 5 – 3ish as far as people per sacrament. People feed us and it takes the whole day. On Fast Sunday everybody comes to the chapel.

Bananas here are way better than back home. Smaller, but really sweet. Wake up every morning without an alarm clock between 6-6:30. Went back to bed a few times, but never actually got up later than 6:50. Hard to explain life here. More one of those things you have to be here for. Once the sun goes down everything shuts down. We just go to dinner and chill with members usually.

Hope this letter answers some of your questions. I find it quite difficult to write letters. Hope everyone is doing well. Also, the P.O. Box here is 400 not 406.

Well, that’s about it for now. I’m sorry if I sounded ungrateful/sharp with my comments on the other paper. I just really want to work hard. I love you guys a lot, but the people here deserve nothing less than my best and if my mind is home there my heart will be too. Hel. 5:8. Hope you guys know I love you. Talk soon. Got to sleep.

Elder Buhler