Monday, January 15, 2018

Iokwe from OK! Transfers! One month left!


Iowke!

I've got just one month remaining. This last month, I'll be in Owasso with Elder Ellermeier still; we'll also be joined in a trio by Elder Tureson, whom I served around in Guthrie 2nd a few months ago! He was in the Guthrie 1st area while I was in Guthrie 2nd. He is a great elder and I will be blessed serving with him and Elder Ellermeier this last month.

I just read an article while emailing that will probably change the course of what I was going to write. I've been learning a lot about growing in faith and making decisions through that faith. In the Book of Mormon, Alma likens faith to a seed being planted. 

 "Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me" (Alma 32:28).  

I've often viewed it as something that we are compelled to do. We learn and grow and have to make certain decisions based off of what we now know how to do. I've also often thought that with our own faith and, in particular in assisting someone else in their faith journey, when things don't go the best, that it was because we had fallen short, every time. 

I've learned this: Our faith and growth is like a bean sprouting or an egg hatching. It is not in our control when the egg hatches or the sprout reaches a certain height, what DNA was already in the chick and in the sprout, and countless other things. We can control, however, the environment around them, giving them warmth, sunlight, nutrients, water and other things essential for life, and then watch them grow, having controlled what we can and prepared for them to do their best with what we've given them. 

It is the same for us. When we try to increase our faith, or learn to make better decisions, or experience any type of growth in our lives, we can do our best to put ourselves in good, uplifting environments, but after that, we can only control what we choose - much of what is around us we have little say in, especially what others choose. We will be happiest as we try to be patient nurturers for ourselves, rather than losing hope as the outcomes that we were trying to force don't occur as we please.

I know God does the same for us. He is a patient nurturer, hoping for us to choose to grow well under His care.
Wish I had time for more. Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit
www.mormon.org

Monday, January 8, 2018

Iokwe from OK! January (and 5 weeks left of a mission!)

Iokwe!

*gasp* It's a little curious to think that I have just over a month left of my time as a missionary. I spent about a full minute trying to decide what word I wanted to use to describe how I felt about it. Most of the things that others have said about their short time left are coming true for me: I'm reluctant to give up my calling as a missionary. I am excited for family and friends back at home (and some few other things, like school and learning academically). I want to use my remaining time the best I can and leave nothing behind except happy memories and move on to relief that I was able to enjoy so fully my time to serve here and satisfaction knowing that I will continue to serve to the fullest extent I can for my life in the future as well.

I have much to update on, but for the sake of time and since my last letter was long too, I'll focus on what is the best of it. I know I've mentioned some aspects of these ideas for many letters throughout much of my time here, and I feel that this is a good summary and more refined idea that conveys the best of what I've come to understand.

This last little while has been a point of learning for me. As I've gone about my time, striving to exercise my strengths and use what knowledge and talents I have for the betterment of others, I've also been balancing my perspective on my weaknesses too. I've learned to keep a focus on the idea that there is a lot of good in us, though we may be quick to make mistakes along the way too. Something my mother shared with me this week I think reflects the idea of remembering to look at our triumph and failure with a fair view:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” 
-- Theodore Roosevelt

I believe what it says is true: it's not the critic that counts. We can't be one who puts others in the dirt where they already feel like they are struggling to do the best they know how with what they've got. We can do more good than that for our brothers and sisters. 

While I've often thought it was important to not look down on others, I've been learning that it is equally worthless to be your own critic too. It is important to see the effort that is made in valiant attempts to walk the best we can our understanding of what path we are to follow. We look at it with a balanced view: we understand and appreciate our good intentions (provided they are good) with also an eye for the results and goals we see need accomplishing. If we are off, we make necessary course adjustments to correct our trajectory, and then we turn our sins and mistakes and the rest of it over to the Savior. It is through Him that it is made okay that we didn't come up to what we wanted or maybe needed to be. Without Him, correction is just "miserable behavior modification" (quote: Dale G. Renlund). But through His grace and atoning power, it is how we reach where we want to be, in balance with peace through the process - not loathing for or constant agony from what we do or where we are at in our progress.

It's been my privilege to have experienced learning this truth over the past couple years, and I do know of its surety. I am not a perfect person, nor do I have a perfect knowledge; but I do have hope for change and remission of my imperfections through Jesus Christ, who is a Savior that I do believe in. His claim of His divinity was, and is, real and true. I have come to know this myself through diligent scripture study and intent prayer and it is my hope that you all can and will do the same, to experience it for yourselves.

P.S. from Mama Kilmer:  Elder Kilmer wanted me to share a link to David Archuleta's song, "My Little Prayer."  Hope it works:  https://www.google.com/search?q=david+archuleta+my+little+prayer&oq=david+archuleta+my+lit&aqs=chrome.0.0j69i57j0l4.5575j0j1&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8

Love you all! Have a great week!  

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit
www.mormon.org

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Iokwe from OK! Holidays and Miracles

Iowke!

Haha, it's started to get weird for me to put that at the beginning of my emails! It's been about 5 months since I've been in a Marshallese-speaking area! Crazy. My English is doing great though! 

Apparently my Spanish is doing well too! We saw a couple miracles last night! Here's another story similar to finding Patrick when my bike broke down over a year ago! (Patrick, by the way, will be baptized as soon as he finalizes a family logistical matter)

We decided yesterday to bike over to a neighborhood about 2 miles away to see some people past missionaries had left records of and suggested that we visit. Missionaries prior to us hadn't seen them since and they were from 2013, so we had no idea if they would be there, but we decided to give them a shot since they seemed to be interested in learning more. Though it was below freezing outside with a slight Oklahoma breeze (which means pretty cutting and cold despite layers) and few people were out.

But we bundled up and went out anyway! It was pretty cold. But we kept going, and tried the first couple of people, one of which wasn't home and the other said that they really weren't interested in us coming back or sharing more with them anymore, but thanked us. We had thought about a couple other potential people that had also talked with missionaries in 2013, but only briefly. We had talked with a couple other people who were also crazy enough to be outside (and said the same about us, haha!) so it was getting a little late, progressively colder, and we had some other plans to get to when we went back, but we felt that they were people we needed to see.

So we went to see them anyway! The first person we tried walked out onto her porch to talk to us - even in the cold, which was great! She also only spoke Spanish! We learned her name was Maria, and she seemed willing to talk, so I tried speaking a little Spanish with her (background on my Spanish: I took up to Spanish 3 in high school and it's been about 4 years since I've had a class, and really no vocabulary about religion). I was doing my best to recall anything that I know from school and what other missionaries used around me to communicate our purpose to her. It was a subtle miracle, but amazingly I had words come back to my memory that sufficed. Though they communicated the barest, minimal understanding of what we wanted, I was able to explain that we were missionaries, what church we were from, and set up a time for us to come back to, in her understanding, discuss faith with her. This was different that my experience with conversations in Spanish in the past, since it's really just been a struggle to not just speak in Marshallese, which is often what happens anyway. Though I was not fluent by any, any means, we still got what was necessary to set up a time to come back, and only that because I started speaking in Marshallese with very little Spanish right about after we got the appointment to come back set up. So, we will be going back with someone who is fluent, but I know the Lord blesses us with spiritual gifts, when they are needed, enough to bless His children when we are in the position and willing to do so.

The second miracle was on our way back: we stopped by the other home and the person who opened up had moved in (so he wasn't the guy we were looking for). But we learned his name was Jacob, and after learning we were missionaries, he welcomed us in! We learned he had moved to the US from Asia a few years ago because he felt God was inspiring him to do so, and that he really didn't know what more he was supposed to believe. He had moved in to that home two months prior and was looking for direction in his life. We stayed briefly to explain that we are here to help people know who God is and what His plan is for us. He told us he believed we came by looking for someone for a reason and we made plans with him to come back to teach him more! We made it back home when it was dark and later than we had planned, and according to our information line, it had been 15 degrees Fahrenheit outside while we were deciding whether to head back earlier or to follow what we felt the Lord was suggesting we do. I know when we do what He directs, we will always see miracles, whether they are just enough to get us or others through to what we need, or bigger and involving the direction we need in our lives!

I love the miracles that come through faith because of Heavenly Father's love for us. I know He loves each of us enough to watch out for us when we need it and to be near, whether we seek Him or not. We just have to look and see it, but the miracles really are there!
Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit
www.mormon.org

Monday, December 11, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Oops!

Iokwe!

Update from Tulsa! It's pretty nice up here. I've been enjoying it a lot, actually. The area mostly involves biking, which is a nice change from our last area. Elder Ellermeier is my new companion and he is so great. He's super nice and so willing to do anything for you. He's also pretty smart and a good elder. I'm happy to be with him. 

This week I hit my physical limit. It was the day after transfers and I had recently lost a lot of sleep and was running pretty low on energy. I thought I was doing okay while we were biking to someone's home, but I suddenly started getting light headed and losing my senses and ended up nearly passing out. It was at that point I realized that I was low on sleep and had no gloves on biking in the cold and hadn't really had much to drink recently either (*sheepish emoji*). Haha, oops. We made it back to the apartment okay, but that was my incident for the week. Lesson learned (probably). 

I've got to get running to respond to a bunch of other emails, but I want to let you know that I know for myself that God really loves us. He doesn't ask us to do things or to sacrifice or obey commandments because we are to earn His love or merit blessings. He loves us and that is why He asks us to change, be more, and follow guidelines on how we live. It is the means to bless us, not the price we are to pay to get something down the line.

I'm so grateful for this knowledge! I invite you to follow what God has asked you to do, not because it's required, but to trust that He loves you and that He will bless you through what He asks. 

Have a great week doing that! Love you all!

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Monday, December 4, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Transfers!


Iokwe!

This may be the last I really get to claim "iokwe" as part of my mission! Transfers are coming this Wednesday and I am heading to Owasso, near Tulsa! I've only got one and a half-ish transfers left (transfers are 6 weeks), so this may be the end of my Marshallese work on my mission. I've only been out to Tulsa once for a meeting, so I'm not sure what it will be like (but they do have a Sprouts!!! Thank goodness....). I also don't really know much about the area itself or the missionaries I'll be serving around. It's out of the Stillwater area, which is where I've spent all but 3 months of my mission! 

The Marshallese areas have Elder Lazarus, Elder Springer, Elder Watterson, and Elder Magleby. Elder Springer is pretty new - he came a few weeks ago. They'll do great up there and I'm excited for them. 

Elder Leavitt is staying in the Guthrie 1st area and he'll be joined by Elder Theurer, whom we both know. I'm excited for them.

I'll have to give you more updates when I get up there and have some information to give you. At the moment, I want to say thank you for all of the comments you've all given recently - they've been really uplifting. I have experienced a lot of growth this last while (I know that due to the growing pains). It's not been easy, partially because of the pain of leaving comfort zones and pushing limits, but also because I've moved on to new areas on my journey that I didn't expect to be in. It's as if the path has opened up to a view of an entirely different direction that it curves in that I had not expected on my hike upwards. I'm not always sure where to go. But one thing I am loving is my ever-increasing testimony of the Savior. I have not known Christ the same way as I am learning to. My understanding of who He is, but also why He is important and has value in my life, and why I am happiest as I turn to Him and rely on Him has broadened and deepened past what I thought was really important or could help me. 

I will be continuing to seek for greater light that comes from Him as I study His life and His words, both from the past and in the present. I believe ever more that He lives and loves us. He is the light of the world, and we can have that light ourselves and hold it up for the rest of the world to see. Seek for ways to do that, especially this Christmas time! He is really there!

Jeramman!

Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission
不動心 Fudoshin:  immovable mind

Monday, November 27, 2017

Iowke from OK! On Worth and Identity

Iokwe!

Hahaha, I love learning. I love having realizations that click and make sense. I had one this morning, actually. This week during interviews with our mission president, he told me that I need to "stop overanalyzing myself into the negative" (this email will be a celebration moment for all of the people who have told me variations of this throughout my entire life; sorry I didn't listen :) ). I got the gist of what he was saying (I am negative about myself), but didn't quite get what he meant. He talked a little about focusing on strengths and improving those and not just focusing on weaknesses, which helped, but I still didn't quite see. 

I was pondering about it this morning, since he made it seem important, and as I was studying, I realized what he meant: I'm more focused on fixing all of my problems than I am being happy with the things I have managed to change. I've become consumed with getting rid of faults, though I didn't see it that way - I thought I was just trying to change and become better, but for the purpose of giving myself value. The fault in my thinking was that I've attached my idea of my worth to how well I live up to my standards. On the surface it seemed okay; I told myself "I've got to live up to what I know and constantly improve". But underneath was the dangerous thought, which was "I can be happy with myself when I live up to what I know I'm supposed to do and be what I'm supposed to be, but I fail when I fall beneath that", which easily became "I'm of worth only when I live a certain way or do what I'm supposed to. If I mess up, I need to do better so I can be worth something (again)."

Agh, what a terrible thought. Haha, on paper it sounds so ridiculous. I never thought I would think that way. But I did. That pernicious thought was the drive behind everything I did and the thought still lingers even though I'm aware of it. It's enticing in a way, because you feel good when you do well, so it seems to make sense in the moment. But I've learned that way of thinking will never leave you satisfied because you will make mistakes sometimes, and you will not always live up to everything you know, even if that is ideal. I used to resist this thought, thinking that if I accepted that, it would mean that I was accepting a lower standard and I would become weak and live far beneath how I should. I thought that was wrong and a way people rationalized their mistakes and shortcomings. A good look in the mirror recently has helped me to see that I can't always live up to what I should. I don't. I can't always live perfectly. I don't. So I'll never be completely happy because I can't and don't constantly do things that give me worth.

Unless.

Unless worth doesn't come from what you do. If worth were an inherent value we had, simply because of who and what we are, we could be happy and feel of value no matter how many mistakes we make or how short we end up falling no matter how often. Of course, those things aren't without importance - we should strive to live better - but maybe there is a difference between a life worth living and a life (or person) with worth. 

I've learned that there is. We have value because of who we are. We are of worth because we are children of God, who loves us. Mistakes and shortcomings, opportunities missed and plans failed, weaknesses and faults, worlds without end do not change who we are. We are the sons and daughters of God, our Heavenly Father, He is the all-powerful being who created the universe and all of the stars and planets in it. He created that... and yet He created you.

You have worth because:
You are His.
And He loves you.

I am still going to pursue a life of improvement. I believe that adds value, depth, and joy to life. It allows me to help other people more, which makes me happy. But I will now work to remember that I, myself, have no less value when I live short of expectations than when I live life to its fullest and achieve higher standards with flying colors. All because I am a child of God. And He loves me. I testify that it is the same for you. You are a child of God. And because of that you have value and worth, no matter what you do, or who you are, or how far short you've fallen. It's true.

If you have never learned this truth for yourself, or perhaps if you have forgotten: pray and ask Him. I promise He'll answer. I know it's true.


Have a great week everyone! Remember who you are! Remember you are loved.
-- 
Jeramman!

Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission
不動心 Fudoshin:  immovable mind

Monday, November 20, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Thanksgiving


Iokwe!,

Thank you all for the birthday wishes! Those who know me know that I really prefer to have low-key birthdays that don't involve being the center of attention. However, I anticipated that my loving parents and the mission Facebook page would not allow that to be the case. I was unfortunately correct.... However, I'm grateful for those who said something - it's nice to hear from friends and family wishing me well. I'm learning to be grateful for others' efforts to build me up and help me feel happy and loved, even if they are not what I would have asked for. I'm glad to have realized that - it makes me and others a happier person and it's the much kinder thing to do. Accepting it begrudgingly is rather selfish and ungrateful and a little prideful too. I'm not perfect at it yet, but I'll keep working on it, holiday after holiday. We've got Christmas coming up, which will be a good time to practice!

This week I have very little time to share much, but I do want to comment on learning and growing in this life. I feel that most of my messages tend to center on that, but change and growth are how we connect with the reason we all arrived here in the first place. We just need to have faith and be believing in the things we learn from the experiences we have. We can't keep questioning what we experience or what we have already learned. Our stake president in CA said, “I’m thoroughly convinced that controlled yet challenging environments are an ideal way to accomplish this”, commenting on a similar topic of learning to have faith. Those things we learn are meant to propel us into a greater experience of learning and changing in the future. If we sit and doubt that we are headed on the right path, we will ultimately end up with little initiative to press forward on the correct one. We should look for signs that let us know, but only ever with faith and an eye to move onto the right path, not to falter and come to a halt. I know as we do that, we'll find greater hope and peace! I'll be doing the same throughout this week!

Love you all!

Elder Josh KilmerOklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心Fudoshin:  immovable spiritwww.mormon.org