Thursday, June 23, 2016

Iokwe from OK! Being Hardworking (Week 18)


Great news!  I can finally understand what people are saying!  I have just broken through the barrier of using context, facial/body expressions to get the gist of what people are saying to now actually picking up the words the use.  It definitely makes the lessons more fun because its full of real laughter, not “Oh, Elder Nicholas is laughing…ha, ha, ha.”

In other news, we should be getting a new elder from Kiribati (located near the Marshall Islands) tomorrow!  We still don’t know where he will be going, but our guess is to Ponca City with Elder Oberander.  We’re so excited.

Also, Happy Fathers Day!  We had a Father’s/Mother’s Day party at the church yesterday that we helped host (we are currently trying to help the branch learn to have activities).  During one point, a women got up and sang a few songs for the men.  One consisted of the oldest woman joining in at the end of each verse and making fun of each individual man in the room.  She toasted everyone pretty well; everyone was laughing.

This week, Elder Nicholas and I have been trying to learn how to use our time more wisely.  We have been wanting to work hard, but have come to recognize that it doesn’t just mean outputting more effort haphazardly.  We decided that the answer lies in the difference between working hard and being hard working.  We decided that working hard means that you are expending a lot of energy and effort, but that it didn’t necessarily mean a lot was getting done.  Admirable effort is applied, but the outcome may only be that you end up exhausted.

On the other hand, we felt being hard-working means that working hard is part of your character and identity; it’s who you are.   But you don’t just exhaust yourself---you are hard working while trying to apply your effort to the things that matter most.  Working hard while working smart by choosing things that are best, not just good.

How do we do that?  I don’t know.  We’re still figuring it out.  But we are going to sit down this week and set carefully considered goals to which we can happily commit and wear ourselves out at.

So my challenge this week is to do the same: evaluate what you spend your time on.  Choose to be hard working by making plans and setting valuable goals, and make working hard part of who you are—a lifestyle that feels rewarding through progress, not a life-draining quota you have to keep up with.  I feel far too many of us nowadays spend so much energy on so many things that don’t matter, get nothing important done, and then feel they can’t rest because the still carry the weight of unfinished, truly important tasks.  A stressed-out life is not how we are supposed to live.  We should enjoy progress, but also enjoy rest.  We are meant to be happy—that’s the purpose of life.  Sure, there are mountains to climb, but they are there for progress.  Don’t break yourself climbing the wrong mountain. 

I promise that if we aim to focus on what is most important and put forth and effort into that, we’ll be able to enjoy the rewards of both working hard and resting.  Our lives will be happy and full of peace---the way they are supposed to be.
Keep up your great work!  You’re all awesome.


Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Friday, June 17, 2016

Iokwe from OK! The work of teaching and leading

Iokwe aolep! (Hello/love all!)

A little update on people we have been working with:

Patrick is someone we see every day, who is really really solid, but is waiting for his kids to come from the Marshall Islands so they can be present when he is baptized. Apparently they plead with him to wait every time they talk with him.  We are fasting and praying for them to be able to come quickly.

Albert and Matella (whom I have nicknamed Nutella) are working toward marriage.  Albert should have gotten paid this last week, which should speed up preparations.  They are a little quiet, but really funny and they always poke fun at one another during lessons.  

Richie and Zniko (pronounced Zenicko) are so awesome. Probably because they understand "white people humor." Marshallese humor is really dry, so sometimes we'll insert something funny into our conversations and it goes right over everyone's head because they just aren't used to that kind of humor.  Richie and Zniko are masters at our humor and even shoot things right back at us.  I got my own joking turned back on me the other night by Zniko.  One of my "favorite" verses to call upon with a bit of fire and brimstone humor is 2 Nephi9:34: "Wo unto the liar, for he shall be thrust down to hell." I shared that with them when Zniko misremembered something, and she smashed me with that verse later that night when I told them the wrong page number.  I totally deserved it.  Right now we are trying to contact Richie's family in the Marshall Islands so they can make wedding plans.

Barmill is another great investigator.  He's really shy, but he and his fiancee, Helen, are wonderful.  We are about to set a marriage date with them--probably this week.  We've got a lot of marriages coming up.

Side note on why marriage is important to us from  "It's no stretch to say that a person has a serious advantage in life if they come from a loving, supportive home. Many people still succeed though they come from less-than-ideal family situations, but having our basic needs met, knowing that our parents love us and learning life lessons at home make all the challenges of day-to-day living that much easier to face. Likely, as an adult you want a happy home for your family.  
      This is no coincidence. God organizes us into families so that we can grow up in happiness and safety, and so that we can learn to love others selflessly—the key to true joy. Within the family is the best place to learn to love others the way Heavenly Father loves each one of us."
      God's Church exists to help families gain eternal blessings. We believe the greatest blessing He gives us is the ability to return to live with Him in heaven with our families. We follow our Heavenly Father's will because that is how we earn this blessing.
Our ultimate goal as missionaries is to help families receive the blessings offered through Temple covenants.  "Most people think of a marriage made in heaven as a rare occurrence in which both parties are deeply in love and highly compatible. We like to think that all our marriages are made in heaven. When a man and woman enters one of our holy temples to be married, they covenant (or promise) they will stay together forever—on earth and in heaven after they die, if they are faithful to each other and their promises to the Lord. A temple marriage doesn’t include phrases like, "Till death do you part" or "So long as you both shall live." If we keep these promises, our children also become part of this heavenly promise—sealed to us forever."
A funny experience this week:
We were sitting in a lesson with a member named Tommy when there was a knock at the door.  He opened it up partway, but so that we couldn't see who it was from the couch, nor could they see us.  We heard a man introduce himself as a new preacher from the church half-way down the street and then say, "Tommy, have you found God?" in a demanding voice.  

It was so hard not to laugh out loud at the situation and it was all we could do to not answer for Tommy.  I'm sure he would have been shocked to have happened upon two missionaries, but preachers around here like to try to bash with us (argue about points of doctrine) and that's not our purpose.  We all had a good laugh about it though.  

One thing I've been thinking about this week is leadership. Often we think about leadership as managing something like a company.  Steven Covey, author of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, says that "Management is doing things right, leadership is doing the right things."  That ties in to a talk given by one of our General Authorities recently.  He said that the greatest leaders are the greatest followers:  they follow and live true principles and eternal truths.

Eternal truths are things that are true regardless of our own perspective.  Gravity is a good example: on earth, things fall.  Even if I don't believe in gravity, if I drop something it will fall at around 9.8 m/stoward the ground.  We may not understand everything about gravity, but we know it is a law of the universe.  Similarly, there are eternal truths and principles that exist, regardless of our perspective, such as integrity.  Imagine a world that had no honesty, no integrity.  It would devolve into chaos if no one was ever genuine and each person lied to seek after his own gain. We can see that, even if we don't always believe integrity will benefit us in the moment (such as when a child has no money for a candy bar, but the clerk isn't looking), it is a true principle that will help us to be happy if we live it.  

Sorry for the technical tangent; back to leadership...The greatest leaders are the greatest followers because they follow these true principles.  As they live these truths, they invite peace of mind and happiness in their lives, and they inspire others to do the same.  They follow the principle of being genuine, so people trust them.  They may not be perfect, but they try to continuously improve.  It is because others see these things that they begin to follow this leader--others aspire to be like them.  

In this case, we may not all be managers, but we all have the ability to be leaders.  My challenge this week is to be a leader.  Live by true principles, not by whims or popular vote.  Our society in general continues to decline in morality and principle in favor of things fleeting, lesser value.  Be a follower of good, true principles and help others be inspired by the good they see in your life and the happiness and peace it brings.  

If you aren't sure of what to live for, I suggest reading Steven Covey's book.  It gave me a good start.  In addition, I have been able to listen to modern-day prophets that stand as witnesses of eternal truth and help us understand how to live by it.  They have helped guide me through my life thus far, and I have continually found great value to the precepts they share.  I would invite you to go to and hear for yourself what they have to say. 

I know that I have seen a difference in my life when I have lived by following these principles and not only has it brought me peace and happiness as I have followed these truths, but it has brought me great joy to have discovered that I have inspired others to do the same.  I promise that as we lead others to greater light in their lives by living true and correct principles ourselves, we will all rejoice together in the happiness we find.

Sorry for the novel today.  Have a GREAT week!


Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Iokwe from OK!--Eradicate the negative


This last week we had transfers!  Actually, the only thing that changed among the Marshallese Elders is that Elder Oberender transferred to Ponca City!  We're sorry to see him go, but we know he'll do really well there.  That leaves Elder Nicholas and me in Enid West and Elder Smith and Elder Menlove in Enid East.

A funny experience from earlier this week:  We talked to a few Marshallese men outside of some apartments.  We greeted them in Marshallese and talked with them for a bit. One of them, who must have been a bit out of it that day, started asking us questions in slow English.  We responded in Marshallese.  He asked us (in English) if we know the Marshallese language, to which we responded that we did. He then continued asking us questions in English and we continued responding in Marshallese, all the while his friend kept saying, "Dude, they know Marshallese better than you know English!  Just use Marshallese."  I'm pretty sure he asked us if we knew Marshallese 3 times to which we responded in Marshallese.  Finally, we gave up and told him (in Marshallese) that we didn't know the Marshallese language so that we could move forward in the conversation past that particular point.  We somehow managed to set up a return appointment with him, but that backwards, bi-lingual conversation was the strangest we had this week.

Following up on last week's challenge, this week has been better for me as I've tried to live the principles I discussed in my last letter.  I studied with purpose and filled my life with good things.  My prayers were more meaningful.  I was more grateful for the blessings in my life.  I also lived the way I know I should, I talked with everyone, followed our schedule, and worked to exhaustion.  The result:  a happy, guilt-free Elder Kilmer who has found more peace and contentment in his life.  I know as you work to nourish yourselves with good, uplifting things and choose to be proactive and make decisions for good in your lives, you will experience the same change.

As Marshallese missionaries, we have challenged ourselves to eradicate negative comments from our conversations with and about each other.  We have been trying to create a stronger bond of unity among the missionaries in our district and, even though a negative comment may not hurt someone's feelings, we all have emotional bank accounts--we only deposit or withdraw in our interactions with one another--and we have chosen to only make deposits in one another's emotional bank accounts.  This is my challenge to you this week:  seek to make more deposits than withdrawals.  Avoid relationship debt at all costs.  I know that as you do, you will be more united in your friendships and families and a new spirit of peace and love will be found in your homes.


Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Iokwe from OK!--It's the little things (Week 15)


Jolok bōd. Thank you to everyone who has written me.  I love hearing from you all, but my time is short, so forgive me if your response comes via snail mail.  I do read everything you send though and it makes my weeks, so please keep it up!

We had some pretty great storms this week.  Lightning struck near our apartment this morning; there was a really bright flash followed about a second later by a loud crack--it must have struck only a few hundred meters away.  I got some great pictures of a lightning storm earlier in the week as well.  The sky here does not disappoint.  Also there was a tornado, but it was about 10 miles north of Enid and heading in a totally different direction, so there was no danger.

This week we did exchanges with our district and zone leaders, so I was the only Marshallese-speaking elder in our area for two days in a row.  Somehow I survived despite my continual lack of knowledge of conversational vocabulary or ability to understand the more difficult accents.  Even though I didn't understand the words they were using, I often understood what people were saying, which was a huge blessing.

This weekend was Marshallese May Day, which is essentially their constitutional independence day.  They basically spent 3 days playing baseball, eating, and hanging out celebrating at a park.  That, combined with several kemems (birthday parties) made it really difficult to find people with time/intent for us, but it was fun to see them get together and celebrate.  I love the Marshallese people.

This past week has been a little difficult.  I've really been dragging behind this week.  I haven't been talking to everyone like we need to as missionaries.  Each door has been painful to knock on.  I haven't really been excited to teach and I've lost my desire to work.  As a result, I've been thinking about home a lot.  As I sat pondering on this and wondering how to change it, I realized that it was because of two reasons: 1) I was focused only on myself and what I wanted in the moment; and 2) I had stopped doing the little daily things that keep me where I should be.

I really want to focus on the second reason (though the first is important too).  I've come to realize that many aspects of our lives run on the same principles as our bodies do.  Our bodies need nourishment--food and water--each day, or they don't function properly.  It needs to be good food too; if you eat too much of the same thing or only eat junk, your body fails to perform its proper function.  We also need to exercise.  Our bodies either grow stronger as we push them, or they atrophy (break down and grow weaker) if we don't use them.  It's very difficult to stagnate.

It's the same with our character.  We need to be fed with things of value--wholesome and uplifting media and activities.  There are things that we need to do each day to keep our lives nourished so we have the resources to continue forward.  We also need to exercise our ability to make decisions for good, and use the strength we have cultivated.  If we don't continually choose to live what we know and make good decisions, we experience atrophy of our ability to make good decisions, and this creates guilt and sorrow in our lives.  

This is what I got to experience this past week.  I wasn't as focused in my studies, nor was I really trying to study what I should have been thinking about--such as the needs of those we taught.  I also kept choosing to be lazy rather than living up to how a missionary should act--such as excusing myself from talking with the people we saw on our way to appointments.  As a result, I started feeling guilty for not living as I should have, but I had no "nourishment" to run off of, and started looking at missionary work as a chore.  However, the past two days I've begun to apply this principle of character nourishment and exercise and I feel just as good as when I started my mission.  It makes all the difference.

We all live this cycle in all areas of our lives.  It's part of being weak as humans.  So, here is my challenge this week: Nourish and exercise your character.  Identify an area that you are struggling with--waking up on time, speaking kindly, etc--and list some ways you can daily nourish yourself to give yourself the energy to change.  Exercise uplifting media, a good friend, scripture study, daily prayers, and the like are all good means to finding nourishment.  Then exercise your ability to choose good things.  The more you do, the easier you will find it to be and the happier you will feel.  Just like how we feel good when we give our bodies the right sustenance and we exercise them and help them to become stronger, our character, thoughts, spirit, emotions all benefit from good nourishment and exercise.

I promise that as we do this, our lives will improve and we will experience greater peace and happiness.  I'll have a better report next week in how it's going for me as I do the same.  


Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit