Things are going great. I don't have as much time today, so I'm sticking to a concise report. I've had a breakthrough in my Marshallese listening comprehension, which has been a huge blessing. I've had a lot of experience beginning to learn languages, but I've never studied to fluency before, nor have I had to hear native speakers, so this side of learning is more difficult for me. However, I'm finally tuning in on what they are saying in church and the like, which has been a great relief. It's been hard to try to meet the needs of those we talk to when I don't know them very well because I only understand my end of the conversation.
One night this week we got a referral from the Marshallese East Elders and went to go visit the house. When saying "hi" in Marshallese, we usually ask "kwoj ta bajjek?" which basically means "what are you casually up to?" There are two usual responses we get: "jijjet bejjek," which means "casually sitting" (or some variation of that involving doing nothing, lying down, standing up, talking, etc.) or some excuse about how they are really "poub" (busy) at the moment with (insert excuse here) because they don't want to see us. When we knocked on this door, we asked the usual "kwoj ta bajjek?" (What are you casually/lazily up to?) to which this man responded "Najj poub bajjek," which basically translated to "Oh, I'm lazily/casually really busy right now." I laughed so hard and he realized what he said made no sense and was super lame and started laughing too. It got us a return appointment scheduled. :)
A few weeks ago, Elder Nicholas and I were waiting for our ride to pick us up and bring us back to our apartment, since it was too late to bike all the way back. A preacher from a local church walked up while we were waiting and started trying to attack our beliefs. Nothing he said was educated or logical and he was mostly relying on an attack on our character, on the Book of Mormon, and on Joseph Smith, which is the usual; but towards the end he told us that we didn't believe in Jesus Christ and that we won't be saved because of it. He then proceeded to degrade the fact that we claim to learn of spiritual truths by a spiritual witness through the Holy Spirit, as well as other arguments that aren't worth mentioning, but I bring this up because his accusation that we don't believe in Christ actually really bothered me. I couldn't believe that he had the audacity to tell us that we didn't believe in Christ, someone so precious and necessary to us.
Since that time, I set a goal for myself to read through the Book of Mormon again in 3 weeks. It was pretty difficult because most of my time isn't actually my time out here and I've been moving into a new apartment, which subtracted from even more of my time, so I ended up mostly reading during personal study and meals. It was wonderful! As I read, I began to understand what the scriptures describe as a "hunger and thirst after righteousness." I felt such a powerful presence of the Spirit as I read--more than I've ever felt before. It felt so good that the only things I wanted to do was read to I could invite that feeling back. I began to truly ache when I couldn't read because I wanted it so bad. I think if I had a say over my schedule, that I would have finished it in 3 or 4 days for all my desire to read.
In the final chapter of the Book of Mormon, Moroni, an ancient prophet and the final author of the Book of Mormon promises that those who read the Book of Mormon with sincerity of heart and pray and ask God, with faith and intent to act on the answer they receive, if the Book of Mormon is true, will receive an answer by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true. I'm actually grateful to that preacher because he sparked my interest in acting on this promise once again. Because of him, I feel inspired to give my own personal witness:
I have read the Book of Mormon in its entirety, with the intent to know if it is true. I have prayed and asked God if it is true, and He has affirmed to me through the power of His Spirit that it is indeed true. As a representative of Jesus Christ, called by a modern prophet, I add my own testimony that it is true. I also testify that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God--as God has done time and time again--to translate the Book of Mormon and restore the Church of Jesus Christ once again on the earth. Most of all, the Book of Mormon testifies, Joseph Smith testified, and I add my own testimony that Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. I know he died for us, suffered for our sins, and was resurrected so that we can be forgiven and one day be resurrected and restored to our bodies as well, and live with God again. I believe in Him, and I know that He is the only way that we can return to live with our Heavenly Father.
The best part about that is that I didn't always know these things. I have gained this testimony for myself through consistent study and prayer. And that brings me to my challenge for this week: Find out for yourself. God loves you. He wants you to know truth--His truth. He is willing to answer you, if you will only ask. I challenge you to read the Book of Mormon, as I have done, with the intent to find out for yourself if it is true. I know that if you read and pray sincerely, you will receive an answer. The Book of Mormon promises, and I also promise that if you do all of these things that you will know through the power of the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true, Joseph Smith was God's prophet and that Christ is the Savior of the world. It will bless your life. It has blessed mine. I leave this challenge and testimony with you in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking
Fudoshin: immovable spirit