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

Monday, June 26, 2017

Iokwe from OK: Ryan!

Iokwe!

This week has been great!

Yesterday, Ryan, one of the people we have been teaching on the West side, got baptized! I haven't explained about him before because I've really only just gotten to know him after moving from the East side. However, Elder Oberender told me that he has just eaten everything up. When he learned from someone in his house that we don't smoke, dip, etc (big problems around here), he tossed out all of those things immediately. 



(Ryan is in the middle with Elder Oberender. Elder Menlove on the left with myself on the right. The extra guy in one of the pictures is Barmel (previously baptized).  He's the biggest teddy bear ever--so awesome.)


Ryan has continued to love everything we have explained and yesterday, after his baptism, he came out to teach a lesson with us. He told us, "It feels so good to live this way. I want to learn how to teach like you guys do so I can share how I changed my life and how other people can change theirs." 

Love you all, have a great week!
--
Jeramman!

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


Monday, June 19, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Bagudal Triangle



Iokwe!

Last week for P-Day, Elder Menlove held the 2017 Bagel Olympics. It was a blast. Events ranged from wheelbarrow races to dizzy 3-point shots to bagel paper airplane contests. Our favorite was chair stacking, which involved placing a bagel on the highest stack of chairs you can create. Elder Smith and I, who formed the territory known as the Bagudal Triangle, took gold with 32 (ish) chairs. 

Inline image 1Inline image 2 

Special mention to Elder Smith's back.  A few of our members joined us as well. The kid with me and Elder Oberender is Kaipo, the son of one of our good friends.

This Wednesday is transfers and I am finally leaving the Marshallese East area. Not a whole lot is changing though, because I'm moving back to the West side. With Elder Oberender! *fanfare* This will leave both Elder Oberender and myself having been companions with all of the Marshallese Elders here in OK. I'm really excited. 

I'm especially excited because this last week has been amazing. In stark contrast to my loss for words the last two weeks, I have too much to say this week. Light has been permeating through the obscurity we had been facing the past few weeks. After laborious counseling and planning, Elder Smith and I have refined our goals and plans for these Marshallese areas and have been putting them to the test this past week. It has been wonderful. I have never worked so hard on my mission. It was everything I thought my mission would be like when I had fantasized about it before the MTC. 

It has also been so hard. I. Am. Tired. We put in around 15-20 miles on our bikes almost every day this week and it has broken 100 degrees Fahrenheit a few times. I have never sweat so much in my life. I actually lost around 2-3 pounds this week by my estimation simply because I did not have the foresight to purchase the number of calories needed to sustain that level of activity this week.

However, things are really looking up right now and here is why: When I came into my mission, Elder Nicholas and I were opening up a new area on our own. We had no direction, no one who was actually interested in studying with us, no accurate records, and we had no idea how to actually do missionary work with Marshallese the right way. It has taken us until this point to get started at the place that we really should have been all along. We have two new missionaries coming in August and I do not want them to have the same experience that we did. 

So, we have a refined direction and new plans that we have the 4 of us to test and complete throughout the next six weeks in preparation for the new generation of Marshallese elders. Marshallese work was absolutely atrocious and a disgrace in years past and we are breaking the chain now. Take that, Satan. 

So, that's the update I have. The reason I haven't really ever mentioned many people that we are working with is because we have been working on the fundamentals. With those close to being finalized (at least this time around), expect to have better reports of what is actually happening. 

I know that God lives. I know He is our Heavenly Father and He loves us. Have a great week as you remember that!

Jerammaan!

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

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Iokwe from OK!: Sorrrrreee

Iokwe!

So, we found out that for Zone P-Day this coming Monday we are going to drive over to Stillwater and spend a couple of hours at an indoor climbing gym! My entire life was centered around rock climbing before I left on my mission, so I am super excited. I've been trying to train for our climbing day to use our time as best as I can, and I am so sore. I definitely pass out almost instantly every night. I should have some pictures next week and they should be good because Elder Rodier, our district leader, is also a climber and we are already planning to have our own climbing competition (you can start placing your bets now).

I don't have a whole lot to update everyone on this week, so I'm going to keep it short and mostly respond to personal emails. However, I do want to share with everyone my goal for the time being:

Currently I am working on being more sincere. I have noticed that I will often not really mean what I say or not say what I actually mean. I'm getting better at it, but there are times when I will just say something because it will please the other person, but I don't really actually feel what I am saying. For example, the whole "You're the best!" compliment that everyone knows is more empty than the calories found in a Hostess snack. 

My vision is to be someone that can look people in the eye and they will really feel that I mean what I am saying, that I am complimenting them because I think it's true, that I am saying what I am saying because I believe it, and that I am really genuinely interested in their well-being. I feel that if I can achieve that, I will be a better influence for good because of it. Especially because I believe that the Savior is that kind of person and when He talks with people, they can't help but feel His words are full of meaning. Maybe I can't be quite like that right now, but I want to help people feel of His love and I can't do that if I'm not sincere about it.

If you have any suggestions on how to accomplish that, or ideas on how to refine the vision I have, send them my way!

Love you all, have a great week!

Jeramman!

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

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Choices

Iokwe! 

As we talk with people here in Enid, it often comes up in conversation how they know God exists or why they believe in God. For some reason, a common response is "Of course He exists: I should be dead right now!" which is usually followed by a related near-death experience. This week we were supposed to be struck by a "powder keg of storms" that would include some number of tornadoes. It sounded like the world was supposed to end here in Oklahoma. When it hit, it rained really hard, lightninged a bunch..... and then mostly passed right around us after about an hour and a half. We pretty much just ate dinner and then walked right back outside. So much for the life-threatening storm. I'm wondering if this "near miss" allows me to join the "I should be dead right now!" club.

Other than that, not too much exciting to report for this week. To be honest, I don't really have many updates for our area. Things are really slow right now and, as we have discussed the reasons why, Elder Smith and I have felt that we need to focus more on helping the branch grow and become more unified. We just aren't getting any traction in our areas because we aren't in sync with the branch. We've had some really good ideas already and we are hoping to finalize those this week and set plans in motion. 

Something that I have been thinking about this week has been choices. Our decisions are so important. President Monson, our current prophet, often says "Decisions determine destiny". I have really been learning how true this is. 

If you imagine a large gate, when you open the gate the movement near the hinges is quite small. The gate is really only passing over a small patch of ground. However, farther down the gate, the metal has covered a substantial distance. The difference was only a few degrees at the hinges. The same with a ship: if the captain intends to reach his destination, he must be sure to not deviate from the correct course or a couple of degrees difference could lead to hundreds of miles distance from safe shore.

Our lives are the same. If we are looking forward into the future of our lives, as if our path were highlighted in front of us, if we choose to turn a couple of degrees from what is right, we may find ourselves very far from safe harbor and unsure of how we got there. The decisions we make now, even small ones, will determine where we are and who we are in the future.

Let us choose to make good decisions now. If we desire to reach our intended destination of being happy, good, righteous people in the future, let us choose to do happy, good, righteous things now. Let us choose to make a bright future by choosing brighter choices today. Now. Let's not deviate from course. Hold to those things that support us in our efforts to become better and to lift others as they strive to do the same. Let us choose to remember the Savior and follow His path. 

I know we'll inherit a better destiny as we determine to choose the right now. 

I look forward to making it there with you all. Have a great week!

Jerammaan!

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