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 , 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!