Friday, August 26, 2016

Iokwe from OK! Overjoyed for Danny and Family


Joluk bōd for last week--I wrote out an entire email and then decided at the end of my time that it wasn't what I wanted to send out, so I had no time to rewrite it.  

Life has been great.  We got to go to the Temple.  What a huge blessing it was to enjoy the peaceful spirit that prevails there.  It was definitely the highlight of the past few weeks...

Until Saturday...Danny and his family were finally baptized!! That was such a great moment.  We watched them change over the past couple of months to become a family anxious to make covenants with God and follow the example of the Savior.  They were confirmed on Sunday and as we had a lesson with them after church, I was reflecting on the changes that they had made.  I can see how they have grown closer as a family.  I can see the greater light that exists in their home and just in their very lives.  You can just see a difference in them.  They seem so happy.  I realized that helping people make that change in their lives is why I came out here.  I experienced that change myself.  I know that newfound joy comes from living the principles of the Gospel.  Danny told us his life didn't have direction before; he was just living day to day.  Now he is working to learn, to better himself, and one day return to live with God again. He's following the Savior.  I want that for everyone.  

I've been serving a full-time mission for over six months now.  1/4 of my mission is now over.  Instead of a weekly challenge, I want to share some of what I have learned so far.

I've had some time to spend really living what we teach. I've spent time helping others to live it.  I've studied it, prayed about it, fasted about it.  I've learned for myself that these are true principles.  They don't exist to hold us back or limit our lives.  They exist because our loving Heavenly Father wants to set us free, help us to be happy--truly happy, and one day return to live with Him again.  I know that as you live them, as you really apply the teachings of the Savior, that they will bless your life. No matter what needs or concerns I've run into, they all have been able to be resolved by wholly living the Gospel.  I love it.  It's making me happy.  

It's making me happy because it helps me to change.  I am not a great person.  It's nice because I can relate to people that we talk to and share with them my struggles and weaknesses.  I have a lot of shortcomings.  That's not me being down on myself or negative, just being honest.  The mission field has been a great experience so far because I have been able to recognize those weaknesses.  The Lord promises 

"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them," (Ether12:27).  

That promise has come true for me. As I have recognized those weaknesses, when I have humbly tried to draw closer to the Savior, He has helped to change me.  That has been a constant source of joy for me.  I know that through the Savior's Atonement and sacrifice for us, we can find peace, relief, and true lasting happiness by changing and becoming more like Him.

Thank you all for your continual support as I have been serving out here.  I know you take time out of your lives to read from and write to me.  It means a lot and helps to keep me going.  I love you all and hope to continue to have you with me on my journey.

P.S.  Transfers happened--I'm staying in Norman.  Still with Elder Larsen.  Wahoo!!!!


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

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Monday, August 22, 2016

Williams Family Baptism

Here is the photo from Elder Kilmer's first baptism on August 20th.  From left to right are Elder Larsen, the Williams family, President Mansell, and Elder Kilmer.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Iokwe from OK! One of the stranger weeks


Little bit of a shorter letter this week.

First off:  Danny and his family are definitely getting baptized on 8/20.  We verified it yesterday and we're so excited!

Secondly, we had some very interesting lessons this week.  The one that topped it off went something like the following:

We show up at this guy's house around 8:35 at night.  We're talking and our lessons with him are normally strange--he's a little religiously crazy in that he is very fervent, very superstitious, and very into word games and puzzles, tests, and riddles--but this night he's especially off.  He can't decide if he loves us and thinks we're men of God or if we are sent by the devil; and keeps flip-flopping between the two sides.  At some point in the conversation, he decides he sees an evil spirit in my eyes, and as any good man would do, he decides to be rid of it.  

So the scene changes to me standing stock-still while in another language, he keeps getting closer and closer to my face, all the while slapping my head and face with an eagle feather.  It was all I could do to keep from laughing.  So, we probably won't be going back, but at least I am officially cleansed from all demons.

I'll be honest, this week has been pretty hard.  It's been really hot, we haven't had much luck with teaching lessons, and we've lost a few people we were teaching.  But, it's helpful to remember the upcoming baptism and confirmation with Danny's family.  The other (and more important) thing I've done is to remember the Savior.

He descended below all things.  He felt all of our pains and sorrows.  He paid for our sins.  He did this through no fault of his own--He willingly sacrificed Himself and did so without complaint.  He was tired, He was rejected, He felt hunger and thirst.  But He never ceased to give up His will for the Father's, and never stopped turning outward in love and compassion to those around Him.

My challenge:  when life is hard, remember Him.  He died so that He would know how to help us.  I know that if we remember Him and turn to Him, we will mount up on wings of eagles (Isaiah 40:29-31).


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

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Friday, August 5, 2016

Iokwe from OK! The Miracle of Baptism (sent 8/1/16)


Such good news:  Danny and his family are getting baptized and confirmed! Depending on his wife's work schedule--which we don't know about yet and is pretty inflexible--we will be holding that service on the 20th.  We are so excited!

Allow me to expound on why that is so significant.  Baptism is very symbolic.  It represents death and rebirth and becoming clean so we can start anew. Confirmation is when we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost so that we can always have the Spirit to be with us to guide us through our lives, help us receive personal revelation, cleanse and sanctify us, and bring us peace and happiness.  Both ordinances are great gifts in those respects.  

However, they have greater import than just these aspects. When we are baptized and confirmed, we make a covenant, or promise, with God to follow the Savior more in our lives and to always remember Him.  We promise to help those around us and to try to become more like Christ. Covenants, like those in baptism and confirmation, are essential to return to live with God again.  God commanded the Children of Israel to make covenants with Him and He still requires the same of us today.

Jesus tells us that "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God" (John 3:9).  Christ Himself was baptized because even He wasn't exempt.  We are excited Danny's family will be able to begin making covenants that allow them to return to live with God again.  That is the purpose of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; to help the children of God to participate in ordinances and make covenants necessary to live with God. In essence, that is a large part of our purpose as missionaries.  

An Apostle of the Church recently said of covenants: "At baptism we covenant to serve the Lord and keep His commandments. When we partake of the sacrament, we renew that covenant and declare our willingness to take upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ. Thereby we are adopted as His sons and daughters and are known as brothers and sisters. He is the father of our new life. Ultimately, in the holy temple, we may become joint heirs to the blessings of an eternal family, as once promised to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their posterity. Thus, celestial marriage is the covenant of exaltation.     When we realize that we are children of the covenant, we know who we are and what God expects of us. His law is written in our hearts. He is our God and we are His people. Committed children of the covenant remain steadfast, even in the midst of adversity. When that doctrine is deeply implanted in our hearts, even the sting of death is soothed and our spiritual stamina is strengthened.    The greatest compliment that can be earned here in this life is to be known as a covenant keeper. The rewards for a covenant keeper will be realized both here and hereafter." --Russell M. Nelson, Oct. 2011

I used to look down on missionaries that were always talking baptism.  Since coming on my mission, I've realized how truly important it is.  

I know what I have shared is true.  I felt like it was the message I needed to covey this week.  I know baptism and confirmation blesses our lives.

My invitation is twofold:

1) Be baptized and confirmed by someone holding the priesthood authority from God.  Reach out to a Mormon friend or go to and you can get in touch with missionaries like me who will be happy to help.
2) When you have done that, come to church and renew your baptismal covenants weekly.  We all will still make mistakes; coming to church and taking the sacrament allows us to repent, move forward, and relieve ourselves of guilt and sorrow.

Again, I know these things are true.  I know that baptism and confirmation by proper priesthood authority are essential for us to return to live with God again.  I promise that if we take these steps, not only do we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide and support us in this life, but we prepare ourselves for greater blessings to come in the next.

Love you all.  Great to hear from you.  Thanks for faithfully reading my letters and supporting me in my efforts to help those in Oklahoma.


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

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Iokwe from OK! The power of daily scriptures (7/25/16)

Editors note: were are a little behind.  This is actually Josh's letter from last week.  So, you get a double dose this week.  Enjoy!

Iokwe aolep!

It's actually really weird writing that Marshallese greeting, having served in English for a while now.

Some updates:  Still. So. Hot.

In other news:

Danny and his family are progressing so well.  I love going over to teach them. We taught them the Word of Wisdom this week (the commandment we received that helps us to know what to put in our bodies and what to stay away from); and Danny has stopped drinking.  He had an alchoholism problem a while back (is that right? can I say that? English phrases seem so wrong now...) and recently he liked to drink every night.  He has tried to quit before, but had major withdrawal symptoms--shaking, sweating, cravings, grumpiness.  This time he told us he said a prayer that he would be able to give it up and has had no symptoms whatsoever since.  His whole family seems so happy now.  It's clear that his wife, Elizabeth, is so grateful for the changes he is making.

On our way to our appointment with Danny, we were running really late (it was a busy day) so we were biking hard.  We reached an intersection where we needed to turn right, but we saw a man walking up ahead and at first I thought, "Nah, we're running late.  Danny's family is really important.  We'll just turn." But I felt like we needed to see him--the feeling hit me pretty hard.  Elder Larsen must have felt the same because he also didn't turn, but kept going straight.  Turns out that the man's name is Greg and he has been feeling like he can't find the right church where he feels welcome and excited to learn and grow.  Too bad we don't know any churches like that....Not!  We told him that those are some of the things we love most about our church and he allowed us to schedule a time to meet with him this week.  We told him it wasn't an accident that we had met with him.  I know it wasn't.  I know we were led to him after he had been prepared because God knows His children.

Recently, we have been focusing on helping people to make habits of daily personal and family scripture study.  I have such a huge testimony of consistent, daily scripture study.  It has changed my life.  My family can attest to that. I used to be the family member everyone wanted to avoid.  It was all about me and what I wanted and I had no time for anyone else's needs.  After I started reading daily, it took a while, but I slowly started to change.  My family started to enjoy having me around.  I was no longer someone you needed to tolerate.  Scripture study has continued to bless my life and to help change my heart ever since then.

Challenge time:  Make a habit of consistent, daily scripture study individually and with your family.  I am a great example of the change it can bring.  It will improve your life. When you demonstrate to the Lord that you are willing to make time for Him each day, He will take care of you; you will invite greater light, peace, and happiness in your life.  I have promised several people that as they build up the habit of daily scripture study, they will be able to break their habit of drinking or smoking (hopefully they start acting on that so I can have evidence of the power behind that).  I've seen it bring Danny's family closer together.

Start off by setting a goal that will still help, but will be so easy that you can't say no.  5 minutes, 10 minutes, 5 verses, 1 page, etc.  Set a time of day to do it.  This is not my promise.  This is the Lord's promise.  He consistently commands us to feast upon the scriptures and He promises to bless us.  As a representative of Jesus Christ, I testify that the Lord keeps His promises.

Love you all.  Life is great.  Always remember that.


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

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

An Indian Buffet Lunch

New photo of Elder Kilmer and Elder Larsen this week at a local Indian restaurant in Norman.  A friend of mine that lives in the area and works in Norman was nice enough to take two hungry missionaries to lunch.  Don't let those missionaries near the all you can eat buffet.