Monday, January 30, 2017

Iokwe from OK: One of the Best Weeks of My Mission!


As the title says, this was definitely one of the best weeks of my mission. Not everything went right - I was sick this week and often didn't get very high-quality sleep due to coughing fits - but it was just an awesome week. 

Honestly, I attribute it to the personal constitution that I talked about a few weeks ago (I finished my rough draft, by the way!). Despite how tired I was each day, looking back over my constitution, it was easy to see that rationalizing going back to sleep or taking time out of our working hours to rest would not be what would make me happy. That's not to say that rest isn't important - it is super important and I've made sure that I've gotten sufficient rest; one day I slept in an extra hour because I didn't fall asleep until 1:30 and slept really poorly because I couldn't breathe too well - but whenever I wanted to go back to sleep, it was because I felt poorly in the moment and just wanted to escape feeling bad, not because I wanted to prepare myself to be a more effective person later (though that's always what the lazy side of my brain would tell me). 

As such, I have sincerely enjoyed this week. I've spent my time well on good studies in the morning, being productive during any brief moments of down-time, working hard during the day, and then sleeping like a cucumber (Marshallese idiom) at night. 

Yesterday especially was amazing:
I enjoyed some good studies on conference talks, one from Elder Bednar on always retaining a remission of your sins, the other from President Eyring on gratitude on the Sabbath day. Then it was off to church, where we had a PEC meeting with the branch leaders. Usually, this meeting is one of the most stressful times of the week because we get to find out what things we messed up on that week due to our lack of understanding of the language or something similar. Well, that didn't happen this week! Everything went really well as we shared our efforts during the week and we had a productive meeting. At church, both areas combined had about 10 less-active members who attended church. We were so excited. Not only that, but one of the members brought his friend to church and after talking with him, he agreed to let us come and teach him next Sunday. He had a bunch of questions and it was wonderful to see members reaching out to him and helping to explain things like what a prophet is. 

After church, we had dinner and I took a nap (because Elder Kilmer = sick) and then we went to go visit an investigator named Lati. He listened with great interest as we explained about where the Book of Mormon comes from, and when he asked about the story of Jesus Christ and Satan, he listened with wonder as we talked about where we come from, the purpose of this life, and God's plan for us. It was such a great lesson and it was so refreshing to teach someone with such a great desire to learn. The Spirit was very powerful throughout the whole lesson (which was almost 2 hours long) and afterward he told us that what we explained to him was something he had been wondering about and had wanted to learn. The best part was, this was a guy that I had really struggled to understand and also to speak to and be understood previously. Well, in that lesson, we talked with him for two hours and Elder Tetea spoke his best Marshallese ever; Lati understood everything we said and we answered his questions without any problems. That was a huge miracle.

Sometimes this week I felt really bad, and I was often pretty frustrated with various situations and it had some low moments. But, overall, it was a really great week. Again, one of the best weeks really of my life. I know that's because I am living the way I should. Not that I'm perfect, but I am beginning to really center my life on living according to what I feel to be right. That has brought me so much happiness. I know that, even if we face some struggles and that life is tough in the moment, we can still be happy if we follow what is right and what we value.

Therefore, this week my challenge is a follow up on my challenge from a few weeks ago. Remember back when I extended the invitation to spend some time figuring out what is really a priority for you in your life, and what you really value. If you haven't done that, now is your time. I'll reiterate the quote that I put in that letter: living according to your values gives you a "credible claim to inner peace." - Hyrum Smith

I've seen that in my life this week. Yeah, some bad stuff happened, but honestly, I can hardly remember it. I really feel like I have more peace in my life. There is satisfaction in living right. Let me know when you see it too!

Have a great week! Thanks for keeping up with my rambling letters (I know they get long)!


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

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Iokwe from OK! Experiment on Faith

Iokwe aolep!

This last week was awesome. Best part: we had our semi-annual temple trip on Thursday and also got to have interviews with our mission president. What a blessing it was to go to the temple and spend some time in the Lord's house. For any of you unfamiliar with our temples, they are a special building, just like the ones you can read about in the Old and New Testament. After they are built, a dedicatory prayer is offered and they are set apart as the house of the Lord. As such, they are a very wonderful place, and a special spirit is always felt inside. Whenever I go, all of the worries and problems I had been facing that week seem to be left outside, and a feeling of peace and happiness prevails inside. So that was a major joy this past week.
Visit to the temple (Josh is back row in the center)

Also, in church yesterday, one of the counselors in the branch presidency (leadership in our congregation) spoke during the third hour and got really fired up about members and missionaries working together. Basically, he spoke to us for 30 minutes about how he felt there was nothing stopping us from converting all 3,000 or so Marshallese people in Enid. When members speak of member-missionary work, they usually talk about how it's the duty of the members and they need to contribute more, etc. Basically a guilt trip. We were excited to hear him simply talk about how he knew we could help a lot of people come closer to the Savior if we would work together. It was definitely an energy boost for us missionaries.

One thing that has struck me somewhat this past week is faith. The longer I stay on my mission, the more I run into people that struggle with faith. Often, they speak of faith as something that is childish and foolish, as if we trade wisdom for belief. It's really sad for me to hear that, because as I have felt my faith increase, I have seen my happiness increase. Especially as I receive quiet, subtle confirmations to my faith, I can see that faith in God, faith in the Savior, and faith in His church have provided lights for me on this obscure path we walk through this life. Often on my mission, challenges and questions have arisen to which I have had to shrug my shoulders and answer with an "I don't know." But being able to have faith that God does know and that he has a plan for each of us has been a life-saver. 

I know that sometimes faith is hard. That would likely be due to the definition of faith: belief in something that you can't see. Especially since true faith drives us to action. Sometimes it has been really hard for me to act on that belief. But every time that I have, I have been able to see God reciprocating and taking care of me. I know that faith - though difficult to exercise - can be built on real evidence and tangible confirmations from a loving Heavenly Father. When we are humble enough to seek for those confirmations, I know that faith will bring us greater peace in this life, and a happiness that can't be found from relying on ourselves.

I know I often promise peace and happiness, but that's because I so often see those two blessings in my own life in consequence to what I share in these letters. I know what I share is true because I have experienced it for myself. I wasn't entirely sure of my direction for this letter, but I would like to extend the challenge for you to try a little faith yourself. Experiment on it, give it some time and nourishment, and see if it doesn't bear fruit. 

Love you all. Thanks so much for being so supportive and continuing to read these letters and send some of your own. I am so happy to hear from all of you and hope you get something out of reading these letters too. Have an awesome week!


Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Fudoshin:  immovable spirit

Monday, January 16, 2017

Iokwe from OK! A quick line of gratitude


Unfortunately, this P-Day has gone a little differently than we foresaw and I can only send out a quick line. I'm doing great; we had storms, but they mostly passed around Enid. 

One thing I want to make sure I get to say is that I am really grateful for my companion, Elder Tetea. He is super awesome. He cares so much about the work here; he wants to work hard and help people and he is a major inspiration to me. He pushes himself so hard all of the time and holds himself to such high standards. I'm really lucky to be able to work with him for the time being.

One thing that he did that I thought was so awesome was one week, during P-Day he ended up hurting his legs a little bit, so that it was painful to walk. But, because it had come during the time we had to relax and play sports, he refused to say anything about it until after the day was over because he didn't want his decisions during his rest time to affect his ability to spend our time to work. Isn't that awesome?

Okay, got to go. Talk to you all next week!


Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Living Up to My Potential

Hello, I mean - Iokwe!

This last week was super weird. We had two meetings to attend this week, which amounted to a few hours of driving. However, one of the meetings was what we call a zone conference, which is where a couple of the zones in our mission meet up, which adds up to about 60 missionaries meeting together to hear our mission president, his assistants, and our zone leaders train us on what they feel we need.

This transfer, they focused on becoming a consecrated missionary. We were specifically trained on leaving behind fears, negativity, sarcasm, pride, and disobedience. It was great because they weren't training us in this way to tell us we are doing wrong, but rather to express to us how they feel we are a mission that is able to move to a new level of consecration to the work we are here to do. 

This really got me thinking and during studies one morning, I opened up Preach My Gospel (our missionary manual of sorts) to the section titled "Using Time Wisely" and turned to the Accountability section. While reading it, I felt like I hadn't quite lived up to my potential over the past few months. After some self-reflection, I decided to invest my time creating what is called a personal constitution. If any of you are familiar with the "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People", this is the constitution that Steven Covey refers to. It's simply a clear statement of your values and how you want to live. It can be as long or as short as you want. It has value in delineating clearly what really matters to you. 

Since starting it (still an unfinished project), I have begun to recognize how much time (even on my mission) I spend on things that actually don't matter to me. Or don't focus on things that do. For example, if learning about the gospel is so important to me that I would list it as one of my values, then why did I zone out for so long during my studies the other day? Or, if I care so much about relationships with family and friends, then why do I take so long to respond to all of your emails and letters (sorry :) )? It's been very much an eye-opening experience for me. I have found that this statement by President Thomas S. Monson, our current prophet, rings true:

"A man without a purpose is like a ship without a rudder." 

We experience mental disharmony when we don't live according to what we value. Again, I'm short on time and low on inspiring calls to action, but I felt it was important to share my current quest to rid myself of the pain of living at cross purposes with myself. I know that as I begin to really act on what matters most, I will find greater joy.

As my challenge for 2017: find a way to live in better harmony with what matters most to you. Family, friends, education, etc. Figure out what you really value and make it your priority in your life. I know that as you do so, you will have a "credible claim to inner peace." (Hyrum Smith, friend and coworker of Steven Covey). Feel free to follow up with me on how I'm doing!

Have a great week!


Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Iokwe from OK! A Christmas Miracle


Happy New Year! It's especially big for Marshallese people, since many families combine their Christmas and New Year's parties together, so it was pretty fun on Saturday. We had to dance for our presents. 

Today was super fun. The youth in the branch had an activity at the church and we played volleyball. I was on the old people team. We didn't do too poorly. Except when I would mess up, all of the women would sass me in Marshallese I couldn't understand. Definitely not an ego booster. 

A lot of our time this past week has been spent on organizing our areas. We've split up our maps into several sections to help us use miles and time wisely. We're excited to be more efficient.

Updates on transfers round 2: Elder Nicholas is back! Super exciting. He and Elder Lazarus are together on the East side. Myself and Elder Tetea are still on the West side. Also, we realized this is my fifth transfer on the West side. That's 7.5 months. Wow.

A big miracle this week: Rose and Mottan are two people that we see. Rose (formerly called Lucy, if you remember her) is waiting for her and Mottan to get married so she can get baptized. Mottan is already a member, but currently struggles with drinking and dipping and hasn't been too active in the church. They've been concerned about whether they actually want to get married or not and Rose has been debating on just moving out. However, this past week, they have really come together. They are struggling a bit financially right now and on New Year's they had next to no money to purchase gifts for their children. They were especially concerned for their 1 year-old son, Francis, who had run out of diapers. Rose and Mottan decided together that they were going to pray for help together as a couple for help. After our New Year's party together, Rose felt she needed to make amends with a neighbor on this street that she had some issues with in the past, and asked Mottan to pray for her. They talked and resolved their differences and it turned out that this neighbor had already purchased a gift for their family. When they opened it at home, it turned out to be diapers for Francis who was going to have to sleep without any that night. Rose was so grateful that she told us she cried when she saw it. They are really happy to feel that Heavenly Father is watching out for them. It was a wonderful Christmas/New Year's miracle.

One thing that has really struck me again this past week has been humility. I actually believe that I wrote my first letter on humility. Well, it's come back around and I have been reminded of the importance of being humble. It's not a sign of weakness, it's a sign of strength. I was so impressed with an elder who has been having some communication issues with his companion recently. He was so concerned that the issue was him and had such great desires to know how he could change to resolve the problem. He went to his companion so humbly seeking to know what he needed to do to change. They had a good talk and have set their differences aside. I am convinced that it was this elder's humility that prevented further conflict.

This is a new year and a good time to make changes. I have recently been considering the ways in which I could be more humble. One way I am working on right now is using defensiveness and rationalizations to justify my frailties and failures and cover for injured feelings. I have felt that if I could just be humble enough to accept when I need to change, it would make for a better experience for myself and those around me, and save us the pain of hearing all of the excuses I could make. I don't have the time this week to come up with a well-worded challenge, so I'll just leave you all with my promise that humility is a landmark on our path to inner peace and happiness in our relationships with others. I hope that in this new year, we can all become a little more humble and relieve ourselves of the burden of pride. 

Love you all, have a great week!


Elder Josh Kilmer
OklahomaOklahoma City Mission, Marshallese speaking