Friday, February 26, 2016

Josh's First Letter!

We were very happy to receive Josh's first email today.  We are so excited to hear from him and know that he's doing well.  It's plenty to get us through another week.  I am sure he would love to hear from you.  His email and mailing address are in the sidebar.


Jelok bud for taking so long to write.... It's been super busy here. Let me share my schedule with you:

6:30 - Wake up
7:00 - Study (self-directed)
7:40 - Breakfast
8:10 - Classroom Instruction (i.e. A teacher talks to you in a language you are supposed to understand)
11:10 - Study (self-directed)
11:55 - Lunch
12:25 - Exercise time (i.e. Get smoked at basketball)
1:30 - Prepare for next class
2:00 - Classroom Instruction (i.e. A different teacher talks at you using words you were have supposed to learn this morning)
5:00 - Dinner
5:45 - Study (self-directed)
6:00 - Personal, Companion, and Language study (hereafter referred to as PCL)
9:00 - Planning
9:30 - Return to your room, prepare for bed, write in journal, etc
10:15 - Quiet time (my favorite)
10:30 - Bed

Most days are like this, with some variation. Sundays are a little different, but I'm afraid I don't have enough time to explain this week because that's one of the more boring parts of the email.

Missionaries are assigned a companion that they stick with 24/7 (except in the bathroom). We never leave each other's sight or range of hearing (if you are obedient, that is). I have been gifted two companions. My real companion, Elder McFall, is 25 and hails from American Samoa. He's really funny and super intelligent; though he struggles to speak sometimes since he hasn't had much practice actually speaking English, he reads really well and Marshallese will be his fourth language. He's also a super hard worker. He worked on cars before the mission to help take care of his sick mother. He knows how to put his head down and work, though it's a little difficult for him to sit down and learn all day (I feel the same; sitting down is the worst). It's also just us two in the class, so we don't have many people to talk to. Or any, really.

My other companion is Elder Miller. He is 18 1/2 (yes, he told me 18 1/2 when we met) and comes from Alaska. He is going to Kiribati (pronounced "Ki-ri-bus"; they only have ten letters in their alphabet, so their words are weird), but he's the only elder learning that language, so they stuck him with us because the Majol mission covers both countries. He is a cross country runner and cross country skier, loves psychology, and talks a whole lot. He has an upbeat personality and goes out of his way to share what he loves with people. 

On Marshallese: This language competes for one of the world's easiest languages. We literally only conjugate the "to be" verb and everything else stays the same. Other than learning a few grammar rules, it will pretty much be like new words with English syntax and very simple conjugations. Coming from studying Spanish and Japanese, it's a huge relief. However, that being said:

We've already taught a few lessons ilo Kajin Majol at this point. That was....... an experience. The first one was full of much silence. I like to pretend we were trying to invite the Spirit. The second one went better. Then we got rid of our notes. Atrocious is probably the best word to describe that. We're getting by now on having a few key vocab words written down, but next week we get rid of that too..... Yay, growing pains!

In the MTC (Missionary Training Center), we do a lot of practice. Everything is practice for the field. So we practice planning, practice studying, practice teaching, practice the language, practice teaching, practice living the schedule, practice teaching.... It's getting repetitive and that is good. It will become habit by the time we get out of here in 5 weeks

So, on the mission we have a unit called the zone. It's bigger than a district, which is the Marshallese and Kiribati classes for us (5 people), but it usually doesn't have more than 40 people or so. Ours includes Marshallese, Kiribati, Tongan, Samoan, Fijian, Malagasy, Haitian Creole, and American Sign Language. We've got a really great zone; everyone is pretty cool and mostly obedient, which makes for a nice atmosphere. No one is dragging behind or dragging the others down. We're pretty lucky.

Time for some complaining: The food here is abysmal. Mom and Dad, I repent of my complaints about the 7 bags of peanut butter granola you left me with. They are my saving grace. I mostly eat the same thing in the cafeteria every day: pineapple, cantaloupe, honey dew melon, an apple, a banana, an orange, some rice and soup, and a wrap. All of my protein comes from the granola. Also, Grandma: YOUR HONEY WAS THE BEST THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO ME. I got this water bottle stuffed full of pure honey straight from the bee keepers and it has made my life. Honey is my favorite food. It's also the best food.
Fact: Honey sustains life.
Fact: Honey never expires.
Fact: Honey has medicinal uses.
Fact: Honey tastes good.
Therefore, honey is the best food.

Okay, now for something serious. I want to share a challenge with every letter and this is mine this week: Life gets hard. I've been very well prepared for the MTC, and honestly, a lot of it hasn't really felt difficult like people said it would. Maybe I'm doing it wrong. But some things have been hard. I've been sick for a week straight. I haven't slept well at all (beds are too soft, also who put the 10,000 lumen street light outside our window?!?). It's really hard being with two companions almost 24/7 and being patient with them. The food is meh. I get very little time to exercise. However, I've learned that when you focus on the things that suck, you feel sucky. You have to look beyond the current moment.If I'm tired, if I'm sick, if I don't want to see my companion's face ever again.... Who cares? I came here for a purpose. We put in too much to our lives to give up because it's hard.  One more hour. I can make it one more hour. If I make it one more hour, maybe I can gain the strength for one more day. One more day, one more lesson, one more page, one more week, one more lap, one more month, one more meeting, one more verse, one more year, one more life. 

Moral of the story: Don't. Give. Up. When you give all you think you have and then keep going, doors start opening for you. The only door that opens when you give up is the exit. That's lame. Ain't nobody got time for that. One more day, one more day, one more day. Someday, you'll look back and you'll have made it a lot of days. And you'll have gained the strength to carry on through much more difficult challenges.

As Elder Grant Drivas says: Impossible is nothing. I like that so much that I want to steal it, but I'll have to come up with my own ending.

Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission

P.S. Thanks to everyone who wrote me. I don't have time this week, but I'll try to write everyone back who sends something.

P.P.S. Send me healthy food and I'll praise your name forever.

P.P.P.S. Working on pictures. There's no WiFi here.

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