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