Monday, August 14, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Maintenance

Iokwe,

This week has been way busy. We've spent a good amount of time on exchanges with other missionaries, including some familiar faces, such as Elder Menlove and Elder Smith. It's been a blast. 

Elder Wold (tall brand new missionary) Elder Lloyd (goes home this week), and Elder Kilmer


Currently, we are spending a lot of time setting up our area since we are all new and know nothing about the members of our congregation or the people the former missionaries had been working with. That's left us really busy and with a lot of preparation and planning to do. Elder Lloyd and I have often been up until 1:30 am planning for the next day, only to wake up at 6:30 the next day and run for the whole day. We've had so much to balance as well, so it hasn't been just a mindless robot day ahead of us.

Despite that, the first few days were going really well. However, after we'd been going about a week, it began to get more and more difficult. The lack of sleep was weighing on me and we had been driving a lot and were so busy that often we didn't get personal study in. That was the thing that hurt me the most. The decreased presence of the Spirit from my lack of seeking after it started to make it much more difficult to be fully engaged and patient and loving, especially in stressful situations. 

However, haven't I already been through this issue? Remember those 3-4 emails I sent before on the very same problem?

It's sparked a question for me: Why am I failing to live up to the lessons I've already learned before? Why am I failing to apply the gifts and attributes I've received already? Why when I shift my focus from one area to another does my proficiency in the first area drop? Can't I just learn something and keep it? Or do I need to make this same mistake of failing to read my scriptures every day when I get busy about every three months or so? At what point can I just hold on to something?

As I've considered this idea, I've drawn a couple conclusions: 
1) We have the capacity to choose what we do and the way we live and who we are
2) With God's help, we have the strength to live up to that capacity in its fullest
3) Receiving God's help also requires we give everything we have

I don't have all of the answers yet, so I'm going to save this thought until I feel I can answer it succinctly and clearly without rambling. But, to give you an idea of what I'm doing to work on it: my goal for this next week is to do an inventory/analysis of my testimony and my beliefs so that I don't just keep saying "I know" about everything when in reality I have some things that are more of "I believe" or "I hope"; and also to do a personal inventory of my character and look for character defects and faults that I am still holding on to and reluctant to give up. If I have to keep correcting myself on the same problems over and over again, then something else is wrong and I'm putting a band-aid on a deeper wound. I'll get back to you on what I find, but I strongly believe this:

It's tough to take a real look at ourselves and admit our faults. But it will help us move forward. I believe that true and sincere, lasting repentance is real and brings eventual peace. I believe that the Savior can take the weight of our faults so that we don't have to. My goal is to let Him in the next coming weeks. 

Love you all! Have a great week!

Jerammaan!

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

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Iokwe from OK! "English powers, come to me!"

Iokwe!

L to R: Elders Lloyd, Kilmer, and Wold

Thankfully I have remembered how to speak English. I still misspell so many words though... It takes me forever to type out a sentence. 

I also have very little time this week, but a lot of promises broken revolving around responding to personal emails, so I'm sacrificing my group email this week. I'll give you a better update next week. 

However, this is what is happening around here:

In Enid, Elder Smith and Elder Menlove are currently covering both the East and West areas waiting for their two new missionaries to come next Wednesday, at which point Elder Menlove will move to the West side with his new companion. Elder Oberender is in Ponca City for his last two weeks, trying to help out a little with the Marshallese work up there. 

I'm down in Guthrie 2nd, which is an awkwardly shaped area that covers a little bit of Edmond and all of Guthrie. We get to drive a lot in between the two cities. I'm with Elder Lloyd (he's served around me a little and was companions with Elder Smith in Ponca for a while), who is going home next Wednesday, and Elder Wold, who is a new missionary. I don't have the time to rave about them, but I will say that I really appreciate them and what great missionaries and people they are. We are having a blast.

The fun thing for us is that all of us are new to Guthrie 2nd, which means we know no one around here. We have spent the last 5 days getting to know the ward (congregation) and who they want us to work with and how we can help. It has been way effective, but also really really exhausting. We spend a lot of time planning and don't really know how to go to sleep on time. A friend just emailed me last week with this line: "I know you’ve been super busy and I hope that you have time to rest and unwind every so often."  *insert slightly crazy laugh here* Not at all! But there is nothing I would rather be doing right now. I love this work and it's making me something worth being. 

More of the same difficult personal improvements this week. No time for details, but I want to share again that it is really hard, but I know it's worth it. Little decisions today build up into a great character tomorrow.

Love you all, have a great week!

Monday, July 31, 2017

Iokwe from OK!: Leaving Enid (For Real)

Short email from Elder Josh Kilmer this week as he was in a rush.  We don't know much about his transfer other than he is moving to Gutrie, Oklahoma, which is just north of Oklahoma City.  His companion, Elder Oberender, goes home this week.

Here's an earlier photo of Elder Kilmer with Elder Oberender next to him on his right.

Hey everyone,


So sorry, but I actually have no time this week. Another week of crazy P-Days. I have enough time to say that I am actually leaving Enid this transfer! I'll be moving to Guthrie, which is about an hour south of Enid. No Marshallese work, however, it has been where Elder Lazarus, my old Marshallese companion has been staying. 

I'll give you more updates next week, but just know that I am super excited! Also, not too sure if I'll be able to come back to Enid to see my Marshallese friends since I only have 4 transfers left. We'll see. 

Love you all. Christ lives. I feel Him closer every day.


Jerammaan!

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

Friday, July 28, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Taste of My Own Medicine

Iokwe!

So, President Mansell announced a few weeks ago that he was going to dub one week this month as Bike Week and he would let us know when that was because he wanted to do research on the weather; he promised it would be a week that wouldn't be so hot. 

Well.

Last week was decided upon to be the don't-even-think-about-touching-your-car-keys week. It was also the hottest week of the year. I really don't look at the weather, but I'm pretty sure it broke 100 every single day. Thank goodness that it was a dry week and less of a humid week. It honestly really wasn't that bad - like I said, thankfully I've already reached the "It's hot, so what?" stage - and we just made sure to drink a ton of water. But we sweat a ton. I've never sweat so much in my life. My shirts are so dirty. Some days we would come home for dinner just drenched in sweat and have to change all of our clothes. It was actually pretty fun. The best part was the number of people that stopped us and asked if we were okay. Everyone was so concerned that we were biking in such heat. I think President's idea was that people would take notice that we were willing to put forth such effort to get our message out there and feel the importance of what we were trying to share, but I think just about anyone that I ran into ended the conversation by shooting us a "You guys are idiots" look. Haha, oh well. 

Yesterday, we had interviews with our mission president, and Elder Oberender and I were asked to train on something. So, we chose to train on not waiting to become the person you want to be and who God wants you to be. We invited everyone to sit and ponder who they felt God sees in them and what is holding them back. We talked about setting low expectations for ourselves and putting it off until "someday" as excuses that we use to protect ourselves from making commitments we think we'll just end up breaking. We explained that we can't give up just because we see less in ourselves than God sees in us. We taught that if we can just catch a vision of what God sees in us, and believe in that, then we can do it.

It was super great. And then we had opportunity to do it ourselves (something about not being above what you ask other people to do). I was so excited to do it. And then I got what I asked for. It was something that I had never considered before, nor did I think was possible for me to do. I was astounded. The more I thought about it, the more I began to doubt and create excuses and lower expectations and put it off until "someday". 

It was really tough. I want you all to know that I understand how hard it is to try to make changes. This one almost got me. But, I heard a voice in my head (that sounded suspiciously like a friend from back home) that said "You idiot, apply your own training." So, I did. Everything that we taught everyone yesterday, all of the principles we shared and reminded them of, I know are true because they applied to me and they helped me overcome something hard.

I know life gets tough. Sometimes it may seem like we don't have the capacity to make bigger changes and become better people. Often, we probably don't. But, if we believe in ourselves and believe in the Savior, there will always be a way. I still have no idea how I'm going to live up to this new goal. But I know that with His help I can. I'll let you know how it goes.

Love you guys. Let's keep improving.

Jerammaan!

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

Monday, July 17, 2017

Iokwe from OK: Great Week!

Iokwe!

Big change: I have been in Oklahoma for about a year and a half now, which is the amount of time it took for me to not want to lie down and die as soon as it reached 90 degrees outside. Thank goodness. I hardly notice the heat anymore, which is good because it has broken 100 degrees several times the past couple weeks. 

Elder Kilmer at Leadership Conference.  I'm pretty sure he's not asleep.

Over time, I've made a lot of changes while serving here in Oklahoma. Recently, I have been doing a topical study of Jesus Christ. It's actually the same study that President Nelson did and suggested to us, for those of you who heard that. The change I have seen most recently has come from an increased testimony of the Savior. As I read about Him and His teachings, my perspective on life changes. I have enjoyed an increasingly greater understanding and feeling of Heavenly Father's love for us. I have recently come to realize that the things we do in life are purposeless if we are not focused on helping His children.

The idea that we are family is not integral to only those who are religious. The entire world recognizes that we are united as a species. Our family will either increase in love, strength, unity, and joy or it will atrophy and find envy, grief, hate, and misery. I have found the greatest joy in my life as I have spent less time on those things that serve myself and increasingly look outward towards those I can lift and strengthen. A major goal of mine recently has been to remove from my conversations and actions those things that would lift myself by cutting another down. I've recognized that so many of my jokes accidentally leave more of a sour taste than mirth. 

I'm not sure if others have noticed a difference as I have tried to be more of a blessing than a curse to others of God's children, but I have. I am more at peace and more happy as I have changed to be a part of this family that lifts others. I have felt more of Heavenly Father's love as I have done so: for myself and for others. I love these Marshallese people that I am serving. I love the missionaries that I am serving with. I am anxious to return and create more of the same at home. 

Extending a challenge no longer really seems right to me. I'm not really in a position above anyone else to do that. However, I do know that the same peace and love that I have felt is the natural consequence of creating a happy human family and would love to hear about your experiences in striving to find it. 


Love you all!


Jeramman!

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

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Leaving Enid.

Iokwe!
I'm not really leaving Enid. But I have gotten to spend some time outside of the Marshallese Black Hole this week. For a while now, we have known that the most Marshallese people in the US are located in Arkansas. We've also known that there are no Marshallese missionaries called to Arkansas; English missionaries get assigned to serve with the Marshallese. We've also known that they have no study materials to work with, except for Marshallese Book of Mormons. This last week, we've finally done something about it!

With his favorite 9 year-old monkey named Kalie

After some planning, President Mansell coordinated with the mission president in Arkansas to have a couple of our missionaries spend a week with their Marshallese missionaries to teach them the language and help get them started. Elder Oberender and Elder Lazarus were selected to go. It's going really well, from what I have heard so far, and they should be returning this Thursday evening. Because we lost two missionaries, that means the rest of us get to shoulder all of the responsibility. 
Moo Cows, Moo!

Which means, dream team is back!!!! That's right, Elder Smith and I are companions for this week and we are covering all of Enid, with occasional help from Elder Menlove, who is bouncing back and forth between Enid and Elder Lazarus's area about an hour from here. It has been so crazy.

With Elder Langi at transfers
On top of that, things are getting started in Ponca City for Marshallese work. We've had a member just come from the islands and he is doing everything he can to get a branch started up there. There are a ton of members in Ponca that just never come to church because they don't understand the language. So, starting last weekend, we have been driving up to Ponca City to translate for the Marshallese members during church and then driving back down to Enid just in time to join our own service. I got to be part of the translation crew this weekend and it was so tiring. There's nothing to humble your perspective of your language capacity like having to listen to yourself hopelessly try to explain words that don't exist in another language while keeping up with the speed of a proficient English-speaker. That burnt my poor brain out. The second round of church was like trying to listen while on NyQuil. However, I took a nap for a few minutes during our dinner hour and woke up feeling totally revived and like my Marshallese was flowing better than ever. We had great lessons that evening. 

This week has been so exhausting as we've tried to coordinate things across areas, across cities, and across states. But, it has been so wonderful to see how much the Lord has supported us. We definitely would have failed a long time ago if we were on our own. To close, I want to leave you with my testimony that this isn't our work. It is the Lord's work and our privilege to serve and participate. It has done wonders for me.

Love you all. Have a great week!

Jerammaan!

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

Monday, July 3, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Back in action

Iokwe!

This has been a good week. I don't have the usual time I have to email this week (fourth of July stuff), so this is going to be brief:

The main thing that I learned this week has been very instrumental. I've realized that recently I have allowed myself to be somewhat paralyzed by doubt. This isn't really something that I thought I was capable of doing, but that's how it's been. I think the biggest problem was that I thought "Doubtful? That's not me. Being doubtful is dumb. That can't be my problem".

For a long time my drive to become better has pretty much been fueled by pride. I wanted to be better than everyone else so that everyone would look up to me and think that I'm awesome. Thankfully, God has slowly been refining that out of me. However, with my previous fuel gone, my drive and confidence have suffered because I have yet to find a better energy source. So, the real reason that I struggled so much to write those emails a couple weeks back was because I was so caught up in worrying whether what I was saying was actually what was best or whether it was what God wanted. Same thing with figuring out what to study, what to teach people, etc. 

The scripture that has helped (which I already knew about but refused to allow to help me because I didn't want to admit doubt was the problem - pride is bad everyone) has been this: 

For behold, it is not meet thashould command in all things; for he that is compelled iall things, the same is a slothful and not wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.  Verily say, men should be axiously engaged in good cause, and do many things of theirown free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;  For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lostheir reward. (Doctrine & Covenants 58: 26-28)
Currently moving forward striving to do good things of my own free will and be open to correction when needed. God doesn't need mindless drones; He needs courageous sons and daughters who are willing to trust in Him, try, and learn. 

No more time, but expect awesome things in the coming weeks! Have an awesome week!

Jerammaan!

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