Monday, November 13, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Updates

Iokwe!


Thanks for all the well wishes this week! Sorry I haven't been able to respond to them all!

Things are going so well out here. We had a wonderful fast and testimony meeting this week on Sunday. So many people shared such personal and sincere witnesses about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and how the Spirit it brings and the truth it shares has touched their lives. I loved hearing about it and I feel the same - it really has blessed my life and I love the truth I learn from it. 

Photo of the week courtesy of a kind ward member Shawna McKinley  

One truth that I have loved was something we shared with a friend of one of our members, who met with us last week. Her name is Irene and she has been wondering what it is in her friend who is a member of our church that helps her experience such peace in her life. As we talked we learned that she feels that God has such an unfair way of dealing with our lives, that the good people often end up being punished and experiencing hardship and trial, especially due to the effects of those who choose to act poorly and selfishly. The reason behind this became clear to her as we explained about God's role in our lives and His relationship with us. We taught her that God is our Heavenly Father, that He loves us just as parents love their children on earth, and just like how parents let their children take their own first steps to learn how to walk, our Heavenly Parent allows us to take steps on our own in this life so we may learn to walk more like He walks. 

As we discussed agency, our ability to make decisions for ourselves, and God's plan to help us learn to use that for good, she began to see the peace that comes from making good decisions and how her life can be something good and of value and full of peace and joy as she follows Christ and trusts in a loving Father who wants what is best for His children.

I know that is true. God wants us to grow and learn to choose what's right - sometimes that involves us and our brothers and sisters here on the earth making poor decisions as we learn to exercise the ability to choose properly. This plan allows us to learn and live in a much better way than having our lives forced to follow a certain path - it just requires us to choose right and learn to live in accordance with God's commands, which keep us on the right and happy path. I loved teaching that to Irene and I have loved living as a part of this plan each day as time passes on. I wish I had more time to share more this week, but time was really short!

I love you all! Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit
www.mormon.org

Monday, November 6, 2017

Thanksgiving!

Iokwe!
Elder Kilmer at mission leadership conference

Elder Kilmer with his new companion, Elder Leavitt at stake conference from yesterday



Because I am prone to missing emailing about holidays the week they are happening, I'll mention this today:

I have been keeping a gratitude journal since a little before the beginning of the month. It has been something I've actually grown to cherish. It began with writing something simple I thought of, usually right before going to sleep. After about a week or so, the things I've written have grown more specific, more thoughtful, and more plentiful. I've enjoyed very much noting things I am grateful for, especially since I have begun to notice them more than those things that are difficult about life. 

Negative thought cycles are easy to get caught in. I actually think positive thought cycles are too. They're more difficult to get started because it can be easy to sink down in pessimism, but they are more natural to us than negativity, I believe. It's easy to see that we catch on quickly to positive and grateful thoughts and attitudes and naturally retain that type of perspective as long as we do a little upkeep. The person who gave the journals to us promised that if we wrote in them every day we would find more joy. I've found that to be true and invite you to do the same and look for that promise being fulfilled!

I don't have time for an update on what's going on in our areas at the moment, but I'll let you know next week! Have a great week! He lives!

--
Jeramman!

Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission
不動心 Fudoshin:  immovable mind

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Humility and guidance


Iokwe!

I've been spending a lot of time reflecting on my progress and testimony this week. My desires have also been a point of introspection. I've been comparing them a lot with the past and wondering what I've really been learning about recently, through various struggles and experiences. I'm not really sure what the Lord fully has in store for me, but I feel like I've had brief glimpses at what He is trying to build me into, as well as what the past has held for me as I've pressed forward through challenges and obscurity. 

Perhaps the biggest thing I feel I have learned is that I have no need to worry. I've spent a lot of time trying to figure out how to move forward and what path will be best. I've felt that I needed to know what was going on so that I could be figure out what the Lord wanted for me. If I didn't know, maybe I would have messed up His plan and lost what He had in store for me. I felt like I had to have control so I could steer in the right direction. If I didn't know what to do, I was hopeless and a failure. 

A hymn that has been sung twice now at church in the last couple of weeks has spoken some words of comfort to me:

Lead kindly light, amidst the encircling gloom,
Lead thou me on.
The night is dark and I am far from home;
Lead thou me on.
Keep thou my feet, I do not ask to see 
The distant scene
One step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that thou
Shouldst lead me on
I loved to choose and see my path,
But now, lead thou me on
I loved the garish day, and spite of fears
Pride ruled my will
Remember not past years

I have learned to keep the words of this hymn in my heart: I don't need to see. I can trust and be led. As I have come to trust in the Lord more and rely on Him to guide, rather than the little that I can see being my solace, I have found great peace to be my companion on the path I see so little of in the darkness. It does not matter whether great or small stretches of the way are clear, I feel more secure in my walk than ever before and feel I can echo the words of the last verse:

So long thy power hath blessed me,
Sure it still will lead me on
O'er moor and fen and crag and torrent 'til
The night is gone

The night is gone when the Savior is close. I've felt His hand. He's always close, waiting for us to truly stretch out our hand to Him. It's not a matter of what we have earned or what we can give Him. It's only necessary for us to have a broken heart and contrite spirit so we will allow Him to work with us. Is there any that He has not commanded to come unto Him? I know that He has promised that for those who will come unto Him, "the veil shall be rent and ye shall see me and know that I am". It won't be with our natural mind, but it can be with our spiritual senses. This promise has been fulfilled for me to a greater and greater extent as I have allowed myself to rely on Him. I have a bright hope that it can be the same for everyone who reaches for Him. 

This is the Savior's invitation, and this week it will be mine:

Come, my brethren, every one that thirstethcome ye to the watersand he that hath no money,   come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Wherefore, do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which   cannot satisfyHearken diligently unto me, and remember thwords which have spoken; and   come unto the Holy One of Israel, and feast upon that which perisheth not, neither can be 
corrupted, and let your soul delight in fatness.


Have a great week!


Love,

Elder Josh Kilmer
Oklahoma, Oklahoma City Mission
不動心 Fudoshin:  immovable mind

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Transfers!

Note from Mama Kilmer:  This week's report from Elder Kilmer is mostly logistics as the Mission makes changes in companionships and location assignments.  It also signifies that he has 4 short months left and I sense that he is feeling the weight of his mission time running short.  Bless you all for your continued support of Elder Kilmer.  We feel your love, and he does too.

Iokwe!

The reign of terror has ended. Unfortunately, the dream team is split up - on both accounts. Elder Smith is leaving the zone and Elder Wold is as well. Elder Wold is headed to OKC and Elder Smith is going to Lawton, so I won't be in touch with either of them anymore. 

We're sorry these two won't be together any longer (Elder Wold left, Elder Kilmer right)

However, I do have exciting news: I'll be staying in the Guthrie 2nd area (thank goodness, I love this ward) AND this area will be merging with the Guthrie 1st area! So, we'll have two areas to run. The planning is going to get so intense. I'm so excited though, it's going to be awesome. 

My new companion will be Elder Leavitt, who is coming down from Enid (no, he's not Marshallese). I've spent time around him and he's awesome. This is going to be a great transfer.

However, I am sad to see Elder Wold go. He's such a great elder. He has such good desires to be someone who can help others and do a lot of good. He's going to be a great missionary. I'm really glad to have been able to spend these last three months with him - he's a good friend.

That's all I've got this week! I'll send some more updates this week! I feel that the Savior really does live. He loves us. 


Have a great week!

Jerammaan!

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking

Monday, October 16, 2017

Iokwe from OK! I'm a changed man!

Iowke!

I wonder how many times I'll actually say "I'm a changed man" in my lifetime. I hope a lot. 


The Mighty Marshallese Elders (L-R): Smith, Lazarus, Menlove, Kilmer, Magleby and Watterson

I've got very little time this week, but I wanted to share some thoughts about something I've come to understand this week:

There are two types of things in this world (haha, I always laugh when I hear that statement): things that can act for themselves and things that can't. We'll call the things that can act for themselves "agents", and the things that can't act "objects". Agents are able to make choices and choose for themselves. Objects can only be acted upon. Example: I am an agent. My pencil is an object. I get to choose what the pencil does if I wish. The pencil does not choose. It is available for me to act upon it. We are all agents. This computer I'm typing on, the car I drive in, and the clothes I wear are all good examples of objects.

I used to view faith and religion as something that made me an object. I knew that God's goal for me was to learn and progress and to live a better and better life. I thought that this would be achieved if I eventually became humble enough to let God tell me what to do in every aspect of my life so that I would live a perfect life. My realization this last week is that I would never reach what God really intends for me if I were to be someone who only could be told what to do. That would make me an object. It would look like I was getting somewhere, but in reality stifle any real progress or development; much like a child whose parents never allow them to do their own school work or make their own decisions. 

Instead, I am learning that it is less about being told and more about learning to choose. Living gospel teachings doesn't force me into a box inside of which is the perfect life. Religion and Christ's teachings are designed as a tool to carve away at my outside layers, revealing inside a sculpture that is a higher form of the block of wood it used to be. The gospel is centered on helping me to choose an increasingly better way of life - because I've learned for myself to act. Some of that involves prevention - it would be better if I could learn some ways of life are harmful without ever experiencing them myself - but the purpose of true religion is always centered on creating more able agents that live better, not foolish objects that wither away and are empty inside.

This has changed my entire perspective about the purpose of church, school, family teachings, etc. This is why it is so important to learn what is true. I am so excited to continue to learn so that I can be an agent that can act for the better, to create a better life for myself and others around me. How grateful I am for a God who give me opportunity to grow in this life. I really feel that He loves me because of that. My invitation this week to seek for truth and to be an agent enabled by learning.

Have a great week!

Jerammaan!

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Monday, October 9, 2017

Iokwe from OK! On Truth

Iokwe!

Elder Kilmer and his trainee Elder Wold from Gilbert, AZ

What a blast this last week was. We had a bike week, which meant that we were not to drive our cars as much as possible. For us in our zone, this meant a week of miracles. We decided beforehand to text one another the miracles we saw as we looked for them and our phone was reporting texts constantly. One area in particular, that had started from scratch 4 weeks ago was constantly texting us, excitedly telling us that they were having a lesson and someone walked up and asked if they could join and then if they could come to church. This happened about twice. One of those people also turned out to have a roommate who had already met with missionaries and loved what they taught. We were really happy to hear about all of the people they were finding.

Inline image 1
We also had the major blessing of having Elder David A. Bednar, an apostle, come to our mission and spend about 3 hours with us. These apostles are called with the same calling that Peter, James, John, and the other 12 apostles that Jesus called when He was on the earth. The same power and authority has been given to these apostles that was given to the apostles of old. This power and authority was restored to the word through Peter, James, and John, who conferred that authority as angels to Joseph Smith, who in turn passed them on to others. Elder Bednar is one who holds that authority that was restored. That's who came and spoke to us. 

One reason that is so important is because with that power and authority, they are able to teach truth. Truth is a major issue we face in this modern world. Many people seek to proclaim that there is no one truth, that it's whatever works best for you. While there are a lot of decisions that vary in solution from person to person, I believe that, as a whole, truth is a little different. I think these lyrics put it well: 

Truth never changes, no matter how hard we try
It's already been there, since the beginning of time
We can yell from the rooftops, saying "It's what we make it!"
But truth never changes

Like gravity, truth is something that has always existed, regardless of whether we understand it or choose to believe in it. These truths are things such as: families can be eternal, there is a right path and there are wrong paths through life, love is essential, marriage is ordained of God, God is our loving Heavenly Father, fathers and mothers have essential roles and responsibilities in the family, and others. These are truths that give us light to walk by as we travel through life, which is not always so easy. These truths are and always have been, but aren't always well-known or taught clearly by the world. They are often misinterpreted, manipulated, and lost. For example, how many times do we forget the truth that we must love others and look outside ourselves?

Thankfully, there are prophets and apostles once again called by a loving Heavenly Father and given these truths and authority and power to teach them in a confusing world, so that we can have a path to walk on and guides to follow.

There's a lot I still have yet to learn about what's true and what isn't. But having just spent a night in the same room as a man who claims to hold that authority to teach truth, I truly believe that what he and the other apostles speak is true and comes from God. I believe that this truth will enable me to live a better and more joyful and fulfilling life if I follow and apply it. My invitation is for you to listen to what they say* and ponder on it, considering for yourself if they could be called of God and teach truth. After some consideration, pray and ask. If asking with a sincere heart, faith, and a real intent to act on what you learn, I believe God will answer your prayer in a way you can understand and recognize. It may not be an immediate answer, but it will come when the time is right in His wisdom. I do know that is true.

I hope you have a great week and feel greater peace as you follow what's true!

*You can listen to their messages on lds.org. They recently spoke to us in a general conference.

Jerammaan!

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Monday, October 2, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Lots of learning


Iokwe!

I have really enjoyed this last week. I've been learning so much. Seeing all of those weaknesses and shortcomings I've been mentioning has really opened up my eyes in preparation to learn to change and overcome them. It's brought me a lot of peace and joy to see that happen this week.

We got to go to the Temple, which was so instructive and helped me understand some truths that have changed my perspective on my progress and what that really means. The spirit that is felt at the Temple is such a blessing. I also found many answers from hearing from our prophets and apostles this weekend.

Yesterday, while biking, we saw a family sitting on their porch. After talking with them for a moment, we began discussing the importance of family and how difficult it is to maintain strong family bonds while the world seems so much to wear those down. We explained to them that the Lord knows and loves us and that He wants to bless our families and protect them from falling apart. It's His plan that our families are eternal. We told them that to fulfill this plan, the Lord has reached out again in these latter days to call prophets to guide us and share truths that will help our families. It started with a 14-year-old boy, who wanted to know what was right. Now He is continuing to teach us truth today through modern prophets. The Spirit powerfully witnessed that what we were saying was true. I'm grateful that it is. 

I'm so happy to be called for two years to share this great truth. God loves us enough to keep reaching out to us. I invite you to learn for yourself that truth. Keep reaching out to Him!

Jerammaan!

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Monday, September 25, 2017

Iokwe from OK! More Growing Pains

Iokwe!

It's funny how foreign that word is to me after only a couple months.

We had a great miracle this week: On Wednesday, we got a media referral for someone who wanted a Bible and was also interested in a Book of Mormon. We took one of our members to go visit her and she loved every minute of it. She was so excited to learn and seems to have so many questions we can help answer. She's been through some difficult marriage issues and it just so happens that the member we took is someone who wrote a couple books on marriage and is currently a lawyer who works in that area. Imagine that. Needless to say, Prisscilla was really comforted by it all and has been happily reading the Book of Mormon since and asking a lot of questions. She's out of town this week, but excited to come to church and meet with us again. 

This last week or so has been quite the struggle. I keep coming to junctures in my life when I end up thinking, "I know I'm supposed to be continuing to progress and grow, but I can't recognize a lot more to improve on..." I essentially reach the extent of my knowledge of what I need to change about myself, kind of like how an athlete without a trainer can plateau and not understand how to reach higher levels.

That's usually when Heavenly Father kindly points out to me a couple things. If I don't get it from there, it's usually illustrated very vividly through a few crash and burn cycles. Thankfully I haven't been following the crash and burn route recently, but I have had a couple things revealed to me that have been pretty tough. But, I have come to better understand the value of this scripture that I have heard so often: 

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. (Ether 12:27)

It's been a great reminder of where true strength comes from. We can't expect it to come from ourselves - we've only had so much time to learn, stretch, and grow - we need to rely on the Lord as He helps to build up our strength. I know He has our growth and happiness as His goal.

What a blessing it is to have a Heavenly Father who loves us enough to point out our weaknesses. What if I stayed stuck in the stage of not knowing where to go from here? It would be like a child who was never able to leave the stage of stumbling steps that could barely be called "walking". I am so grateful, despite how hard it is to see myself clearly in a mirror, to be shown my imperfections and faults. I would never grow to be anything great otherwise. It's definitely been hard - I've had the choice of letting it get me down or denying it - but I've tried to let it humble me and as I have done so, I have felt the promise that weak things will become strong come true for me. I'm happy to look forward to a future where someday all weak things will have become strong for me.

Love you all! Keep growing!

Jerammaan!

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit
www.mormon.org

Monday, September 18, 2017

Iokwe from OK! -- Happiness is having suit pants

Iokwe!


It really is. I've had off-colored suit pants for the past few months since my suit pants had a hole and my normal slacks are close enough to not look horrible... Until you look closer. So I finally got those fixed this week and the relief has been tangible. Nothing weighs on you as heavily as social pressure to match your pants and suit.

Elder Kilmer in the middle with new missionaries.
Side note from Mama Kilmer:  for those of you who know and love Elder Kilmer, you know that probably his lowest priority is fashion.  Special shoutout to President and Sister Mansell for lovingly pointing out that a representative of Jesus Christ probably should care enough to shine his shoes and have matching suit pants.  😂

This week, what I have been learning can be summed up by a couple excerpts from two talks from a general authority and an apostle given this year:

"Do you remember the biblical story of the woman who sufferefor 12 years with debilitating  problem? She exercised great faith in the Savior, exclaiming, “If may touch but his clothes, shall be whole.” 
This faithful, focused woman needed to stretch as far as she could to access His power. Hephysical stretching was symbolic of her spiritual stretching.   
Many of us have cried out from the depths of our hearts variation of this woman’s words: 
'If could spiritually stretcenough to draw the Savior’s power into my life, would know how to handle my heart-wrenching situation. would know what to do. And would have the power to do it.'
When you spiritually stretch beyond anything you have ever done before, then His power will flow into you.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is filled with His power, which is available to every earnestly seeking daughter or son of God."  

I have experienced this stretching over the past few weeks. But, not just because of inadequacy, but also because I have begun to yearn for greater light.

“That which is of God is lightand he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receveth more light; and that 
light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.”

That light I feel has continued to increase for me. I am so much happier than I have ever been - life seems more full. I believe that it has come from a simple mindset to be light-seeking. Elder Bragg promises us that there is always light available to us, especially from three sources: light from the church, light from the gospel, and light from our Redeemer.

As I have stretched beyond what I thought was my capacity towards the Savior in an effort to draw His life-giving power into my life, I have found that light available to me. It's life-promoting and positive. I love my life and I love trying to share what I'm finding with others. In reality, the light from the church and light from the gospel is light from our Redeemer. My invitation this week is to be light-seeking and spiritually stretch out to Him as you read your scriptures more intently, pray more sincerely, and attend church more purposefully. Gather that light!

Make it a great week!

Jerammaan!

Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, English-Marshallese speaking
不動心
Fudoshin:  immovable spirit