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

Monday, November 13, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Updates

Iokwe!


Thanks for all the well wishes this week! Sorry I haven't been able to respond to them all!

Things are going so well out here. We had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting this week on Sunday. So many people shared such personal and sincere witnesses about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and how the Spirit it brings and the truth it shares has touched their lives. I loved hearing about it and I feel the same - it really has blessed my life and I love the truth I learn from it. 

Photo of the week courtesy of a kind ward member Shawna McKinley  

One truth that I have loved was something we shared with a friend of one of our members, who met with us last week. Her name is Irene and she has been wondering what it is in her friend who is a member of our church that helps her experience such peace in her life. As we talked we learned that she feels that God has such an unfair way of dealing with our lives, that the good people often end up being punished and experiencing hardship and trial, especially due to the effects of those who choose to act poorly and selfishly. The reason behind this became clear to her as we explained about God's role in our lives and His relationship with us. We taught her that God is our Heavenly Father, that He loves us just as parents love their children on earth, and just like how parents let their children take their own first steps to learn how to walk, our Heavenly Parent allows us to take steps on our own in this life so we may learn to walk more like He walks. 

As we discussed agency, our ability to make decisions for ourselves, and God's plan to help us learn to use that for good, she began to see the peace that comes from making good decisions and how her life can be something good and of value and full of peace and joy as she follows Christ and trusts in a loving Father who wants what is best for His children.

I know that is true. God wants us to grow and learn to choose what's right - sometimes that involves us and our brothers and sisters here on the earth making poor decisions as we learn to exercise the ability to choose properly. This plan allows us to learn and live in a much better way than having our lives forced to follow a certain path - it just requires us to choose right and learn to live in accordance with God's commands, which keep us on the right and happy path. I loved teaching that to Irene and I have loved living as a part of this plan each day as time passes on. I wish I had more time to share more this week, but time was really short!

I love you all! Have a great week!

Love,

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

Monday, November 6, 2017

Thanksgiving!

Iokwe!
Elder Kilmer at mission leadership conference

Elder Kilmer with his new companion, Elder Leavitt at stake conference from yesterday



Because I am prone to missing emailing about holidays the week they are happening, I'll mention this today:

I have been keeping a gratitude journal since a little before the beginning of the month. It has been something I've actually grown to cherish. It began with writing something simple I thought of, usually right before going to sleep. After about a week or so, the things I've written have grown more specific, more thoughtful, and more plentiful. I've enjoyed very much noting things I am grateful for, especially since I have begun to notice them more than those things that are difficult about life. 

Negative thought cycles are easy to get caught in. I actually think positive thought cycles are too. They're more difficult to get started because it can be easy to sink down in pessimism, but they are more natural to us than negativity, I believe. It's easy to see that we catch on quickly to positive and grateful thoughts and attitudes and naturally retain that type of perspective as long as we do a little upkeep. The person who gave the journals to us promised that if we wrote in them every day we would find more joy. I've found that to be true and invite you to do the same and look for that promise being fulfilled!

I don't have time for an update on what's going on in our areas at the moment, but I'll let you know next week! Have a great week! He lives!

--
Jeramman!

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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Humility and guidance


Iokwe!

I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on my progress and testimony this week. My desires have also been a point of introspection. I've been comparing them a lot with the past and wondering what I've really been learning about recently, through various struggles and experiences. I'm not really sure what the Lord fully has in store for me, but I feel like I've had brief glimpses at what He is trying to build me into, as well as what the past has held for me as I've pressed forward through challenges and obscurity. 

Perhaps the biggest thing I feel I have learned is that I have no need to worry. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to move forward and what path will be best. I've felt that I needed to know what was going on so that I could be figure out what the Lord wanted for me. If I didn't know, maybe I would have messed up His plan and lost what He had in store for me. I felt like I had to have control so I could steer in the right direction. If I didn't know what to do, I was hopeless and a failure. 

A hymn that has been sung twice now at church in the last couple of weeks has spoken some words of comfort to me:

Lead kindly light, amidst the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on.
The night is dark and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see 
The distant scene
One step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on
I loved to choose and see my path,
But now, lead thou me on
I loved the garish day, and spite of fears
Pride ruled my will
Remember not past years

I have learned to keep the words of this hymn in my heart: I don't need to see. I can trust and be led. As I have come to trust in the Lord more and rely on Him to guide, rather than the little that I can see being my solace, I have found great peace to be my companion on the path I see so little of in the darkness. It does not matter whether great or small stretches of the way are clear, I feel more secure in my walk than ever before and feel I can echo the words of the last verse:

So long thy power hath blessed me,
Sure it still will lead me on
O'er moor and fen and crag and torrent 'til
The night is gone

The night is gone when the Savior is close. I've felt His hand. He's always close, waiting for us to truly stretch out our hand to Him. It's not a matter of what we have earned or what we can give Him. It's only necessary for us to have a broken heart and contrite spirit so we will allow Him to work with us. Is there any that He has not commanded to come unto Him? I know that He has promised that for those who will come unto Him, "the veil shall be rent and ye shall see me and know that I am". It won't be with our natural mind, but it can be with our spiritual senses. This promise has been fulfilled for me to a greater and greater extent as I have allowed myself to rely on Him. I have a bright hope that it can be the same for everyone who reaches for Him. 

This is the Savior's invitation, and this week it will be mine:

Come, my brethren, every one that thirstethcome ye to the watersand he that hath no money,   come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which   cannot satisfyHearken diligently unto me, and remember thwords which have spoken; and   come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be 
corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.


Have a great week!


Love,

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