Monday, July 25, 2016

Flashback Update: New Photos from the Old District

Update: some new photos from Elder Kilmer's district in Enid.  Elder Kilmer's former companion, Elder Nicholas, in the tall one next to Josh in the background.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Iokwe from OK! New in Norman


So, I am now in Norman, which is by Oklahoma City.  It is a college town and super beautiful.  The roads are smooth here (what a blessing!).  Also, there are so many trees!  It actually feels a lot like vacation.  I keep expecting to hit the beach or something.  

My new companion is Elder Larsen, who's our district leader (a district is a group of three to five missionary companionships).  He came right after high school and has been out for a year (I actually just passed my five month mark <<gulp>> time flies).  He is into computer programming, but I haven't gotten much time to discuss that with him because we have to bike super fast to make all our appointments (The sister missionaries mostly keep the car).

Sadly, there are no Ri-majns (Marshall Islanders) here.  I keep asking, but hardly anyone has even heard of the Marshall Islands.  We do see a lot of Native Americans though.  I almost got a red-tailed hawk feather from one.  I was so disappointed when he said he brought it for us but never actually ended up handing it over.

My dad asked me to explain the pictures of the cut on my face from a while back.  I thought I had explained that before, but it'll tell the story here, just in case.

So, Elder Nicholas and I were biking down the sidewalk one day.  I was in the lead and I saw some low-hanging branches that extended downward right in front of me.  They looked pretty flimsy, so I thought, "No tree gets in my way!" gave my best battle cry, and plowed head first right through them.  Well, it turns out that it was a branch that had fallen from higher up in the tree and wedged itself pretty tight on a lower branch, so it had very little give.  Hence my facial cut.  Am I dumb? Yes.  Would I do it again?  Also yes.

We have been teaching a family recently who wants to get baptized and confirmed.  Danny, the father, told us that in the two weeks that he has been meeting with the missionaries and reading the Book of Mormon, and praying, he has never felt happier.  To be honest, when I first decided to serve a mission, it was to meet expectations.  I knew that I was supposed to go, but I didn't really have a desire to serve God or help other people or anything noble like that.  But, since I have been out here and really living the teachings that we share with everyone, I've recognized how happy following the Savior's teachings makes me.  It really does make me so happy.  I've seen other people's lives change as we have taught them and I can tell it makes them happy too.  It's easy to see there is a difference in the lives of those that live these teachings and those that don't.  They go through the same rough times as anyone else, but those that live the gospel are always the ones with a happier countenance.  

We are taught that if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine (John 7:17).  That is, we can know if these teachings are true if we will test them by living them.  That's my challenge this week: try this church.  Test its teachings.  If you truly try with an open heart and mind, I promise that what you reap from your efforts will be delicious above all else because it is Christ's church and His teachings and, therefore, His blessings that you will receive.  If you are already sure of this fact, find a way to live it a little more in your life.

I testify from personal experience that it will make you happy.  Maybe you already are happy, but just like an intelligent person can learn new things, a happy person can still increase in happiness, gathering more light until the perfect day.  It may not come at once, and it will take some effort, but it feels good.


Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Week 22: Some Photos of Elder Kilmer

Here are a few photos of Josh this week from his mission president, President Mansell.  It's always great to see him.  We're glad he is in good spirits and that he looks like he's having fun.  He may get the nickname of Elder Photo Bomb for the one photo.

Elder Kilmer and his companion Elder Larsen

Keeping up his reputation for funny photo faces and photo bombs.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Iokwe from OK! Stormin' Norman English-speaking


News:  I am leaving Enid!  I've served in the Enid West area for the past two transfers (6 weeks per transfer), but now I get to move to Norman, English-speaking!  Norman is in the South Oklahoma City area.  I have no idea what it is like there.  Apparently I will be companions with an Elder Larsen (from Southern Utah).  As far as Enid, Elder Menlove will now be with Elder Nicholas on the west side and Elder Smith will be training the new Marshallese elder, Elder Lazarus.  I had the realization today that I might not come back to a Marshallese area for the rest of my mission.  I have no guarantee of where I will go; I may have served the duration of my stay with the Marshallese this early in.  That makes these next few days all the more precious.

One person I will miss teaching is John.  John is someone we met through Jebet, one of the members here.  They are both 16 years old and they had a friendly debate on prophets, to which Jebet called us in on to back up his side.  We don't look for opportunities to argue, but they are both friends and it wasn't heated, so we went over to his house, feeling like it could be a good teaching opportunity.  It was.

John changed from asking us questions to test our knowledge, to sincerely questioning us on topics he was unsure about but wanted answers to.  Lessons with him are honestly so refreshing because with Marshallese people in general, they are vaguely Christian but don't have much religious education so they struggle with questions like "What is faith?";  John struggles with questions like "What is faith?" because he analyzes everything and then asks 3 follow up questions for every answer we give.  He asks us questions I have never been asked before.  John is the kid that every mission prep and seminary teacher prepares you for because each lesson we study beforehand pretty much goes like "What deep question is he going to ask us this time, and what are some Bible and Book of Mormon scriptures can we us to back up our answers?"  Last lesson we were able to give him a Book of Mormon and he said that if  he reads, prays, and receives an answer that it is true, he will happily be baptized.  We're stoked.

On thing that I have been thinking about is faith and trust in God.  In my personal study this morning, I learned that faith in God and trust in Him are developed by 1) learning more about who He is and getting acclimated with His character, and 2) being tempered through experience.

When a sword (or any blade) is being created, if it is good-quality steel, the blade will have been "tempered" through a process of heating and cooling.  These extreme temperature changes strengthen the steel and allow it to take some abuse.  Untempered steel is subject to breaking when put under stress.

The same is true of our faith and trust.  It's difficult to have faith in or trust someone you don't know.  Thus we must draw closer to God and get to know who He really is.  This can be accomplished by diligent prayer and scripture study, and going to church.  Someone seeking will be rewarded with the discovery of God's character.  We will get to know Him.  However, without tempering, this newly developed faith and trust will be at risk of shattering.  We must experience for ourselves that God's teachings are true, that they will bless our lives and that He does keep His promises.  This tempering often occurs in the furnace of trial and challenges that life brings.  Staying true in these instances and allowing God to help us through will strengthen our faith in Him.  But, just as the steel is repeatedly heated and cooled, we too can experience the cool and refreshing experiences of taking a step of faith and testing a gospel principle or trusting in a promise God has made and applying it in our lives.  

A good example:  the Book of Mormon.  In 1 Corinthians chapter 2, Paul promises us that we can only learn of spiritual things through spiritual means.  At the end of the Book of Mormon, Moroni--an ancient prophet--promises us that if we read the Book of Mormon and ask God sincerely if it is true, He will answer us by the power of His Spirit and tell us if it is true.  I have applied this principle in my life.  Having read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it, I have received a witness that it is true.  This has strengthened my faith in God and my trust that He will follow through on His promises.  When my faith has been tested on my mission, I have been able to draw on this experience, among others, to strengthen me and help me continue to act in faith and trust God.

With this in mind, my challenge this week is to strengthen and develop your faith and trust in God by trying one of His promises for yourself.  Allow Him to prove that His teachings are true.  Live a gospel principle that you have been struggling with or were unsure about.  God promises us that He will bless us for our obedience to His commandments.  I promise that if you choose a commandment or principle, or promise to apply in your life, God will come through, He will keep His word, you will feel a difference in your life, and your faith and trust in Him will be tempered against the coming stress and abuse life will throw on you.  

You're all the best!  I'll give you word on Norman next week!


Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese/English speaking

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

New Photo: Elder Kilmer

Random photos from Elder Josh Kilmer this week. Here, we assume with one of the Marshall Islanders he is teaching. He hasn't put photos to names, but I think this is probably Patrick, who has been waiting for his children to arrive from the Marshall Islands before he is baptized.

Iokwe from OK! Power to ACT

Hi everyone, 

We just learned that Elder Kilmer will be transferring to Norman, OK on Wednesday 7/13/16 to an English-speaking companion, Elder Larsen.  We will continue to pray for Elder Nicholas and those people they were teaching together in Enid and are excited for his new experiences with Elder Larsen.   Below is his letter from this week:

Iokwe Aolep!

Inline image 1

Well, it's been an interesting week.  As I said in my last letter, Elder Menlove dislocated his right pinky finger while playing basketball.  It was actually rather ironic because President has told us that we are getting too many injuries while playing sports so we need to tone it down.  So they were playing a relaxed game of 21--which mostly involves shooting from a distance and Elder Menlove stuck out his hand when someone was passing him and then we spent a few hours getting him medical care.   He's okay now, and surprisingly, it hasn't been dislocated again so far.

Secondly, President Walkenhorst has now left the mission.  We got to meet President Mansell this week which is exciting.  I am grateful to have learned so much from President Walkenhorst during his service here.  He was very focused on the Spirit of the Law--the "why" and the higher law behind all of the mission rules.  He was always letting us make our own decisions and learn from the consequences rather than forcing us to live a certain way.  He was always loving and patient and we will for sure miss him.  However, life goes on for everyone and it's time for him and Sister Walkenhorst to continue with their lives.  We are excited to learn from President Mansell at this juncture. 

The past few days, I've been thinking a lot about action.  I've noticed many times in my life when I believe, know, or desire something, but didn't act on it.  I know it's a good thing to ask someone if they need help, but rationalize and make excuses about why I didn't need to.  I believe that I should say something to someone that could help them, but remain quiet instead.  I notice someone doing something they shouldn't, but I don't intervene. 

Those instances of inaction really bother me.  I never regret acting on what I believe to be good, even if I do make a mistake, because I was trying to live what I know.  But some occasions when I have failed to act come back to haunt me time and time again.  I'm sure many of you can recall similar experiences as well.

So, my challenge this week is to act.  This is not a call to imprudent behavior or impulsive choices.  This is an invitation to live what you know and act on your beliefs.  If we make mistakes, that's okay, we can learn from those.  We don't often learn from inaction, but usually claim guilt and regret as our reward.  

Perhaps this challenge could be best summed up by the German phrase a modern-day Apostle shared with us recently: "There is nothing good unless you do it."

Let us go out and do good.  I promise that as we act on what we believe and live what we know, we will rid ourselves of the guilt of inaction and fill the world with good works.  We will bring peace to ourselves and happiness to others.

Scriptural references relating to this topic:  
  • Romans 13:11-12 11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.
     12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.
  • 2 Nephi 1:13, 21   13 O that ye would awake; awake from a deep sleep, yea, even from the sleep of hell, and shake off the awful chains by which ye are bound, which are the chains which bind the children of men, that they are carried away captive down to the eternal gulf of misery and woe.... 21 And now that my soul might have joy in you, and that my heart might leave this world with gladness because of you, that I might not be brought down with grief and sorrow to the grave, arise from the dust, my sons, and be men, and be determined in one mind and in one heart, united in all things, that ye may not come down into captivity.

Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Iokwe from OK! Seeking to set a new standard


Life is great.  We are all loving it here in Enid.  It has been quite hot though.  Most days it's around 95 degrees and often jumps up to 104 degrees F.  We've been pretty sweaty.  But that's not going to stop us!  Take that, weather, you can't hold this missionary back!  Thankfully, despite that attitude, I have yet to be sunburned. Though I have been getting pretty tan--which apparently has lead to the rumor among the Marshallese here that I'm Hispanic.  The other Elders keep telling me they get asked if I'm from Mexico or if I speak Spanish.  I mean, I've been to Mexico and I took three years of Spanish in High School, but I'm very obviously caucasian, which makes the whole thing pretty amusing.

In other news, our Mission President--President Walkenhorst--is leaving this week as his three years serving as mission president will have been completed.  We will definitely miss him, but we are excited to welcome President Mansell this week as well.  I should be able to give an update on him in a couple of weeks after we've met him. 

A little update on those we are teaching:

Barmill and Helen are waiting on a few papers to finalize in the next 2-3 weeks and then they'll be getting married not too long after!  Apparently Marshallese people don't propose, but we promised them that if Barmill proposes on the 4th of July, we'll get the whole country to set off fireworks for them.  They didn't really get the joke and then we felt dumb.  It's the worst when they aren't familiar with our cultural jokes because then there's just awkward silence.  

Albert and Matella have sent for Matella's passport and it should be arriving this week!  That's the last preparation they needed to get married, so we are really excited.  Not too much else exciting, but the way things are looking, I'll have more to say in the next couple of weeks.

Recently, I've been talking a lot about how us Marshallese Elders are trying to improve.  The reason is because we have discovered that there is so much joy in improvement.  Due to some awkward circumstances, those of us here have mostly had to train ourselves and look to other missionaries for examples--all other experienced missionaries had left by the time we arrived.  We've started to get the hang of things and we've decided that rather than others saying, "oh, they don't know because they are the Marshallese missionaries--they had to train themselves" that we were going to work until they instead said, "Let's try to be more like the Marshallese Elders."  We've felt much satisfaction in our progression.

That is my challenge this week: Don't stop improving.  We find joy, peace, and lasting happiness in progression.  There's only brief pleasure in stagnation and it quickly leads to atrophy.  I will likely recreate slight variations of this challenge my whole mission, but that is because I intend to continuously relearn its value.  I know that joy is found when we look back and see how far we have come, how much we have improved.  In dark times, it's the light that encourages us to keep moving forward.  It's the purpose of this life and our means to inspire happiness in those around us, as well as in ourselves.  I promise that as we strive to improve, our lives will improve.  Step by step, weakness by weakness, as we exercise effort to make small, constant change, we will be blessed.  Peace is in improvement.


Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

P.S.  Some of you have sent me emails expressing your thoughts on my letters.  I greatly appreciate that and welcome any feedback on what you like/didn't agree with, what struck you, personal experiences that apply, etc.  I am anxious to share things of value and I am happy to hear how I am doing.

P.P.S.  I finally have a pretty open day today.  I love getting your emails and some of them have been sitting in the pending response pile for a month.  I'm taking that on today, with the intent to write everyone back.  If I don't, I'll get to you next week! Thanks for being faithful, despite my silence!

P.P.P.S.  Well, that's the last time I make any promises.  Elder Menlove just dislocated his finger so it looks like I will be spending the day in the hospital.  Talk to you all next week!  Sorry to push responses back!