Monday, July 10, 2017

Miracles are Happening

Dear Family,

Fasten your seatbelts, this may be a long email....

to start, you know that we had a big earthquake in my last zone. it was a 6.5, and completely shut down all power to all of region 8 (aka Tacloban mission). however, just earlier today, there was a second earthquake, from a different area. So, the whole mission is without power and many without running water. Most people can't afford generators, and this place is pitch dark by 6:30 or 7. so, we have modified our daily schedule a bit so we can be home before it gets too dark. No one has been hurt, but we are unsure when the power goes on. Rumors in the Philippines fly REALLY FAST, so we have heard it will be back in 3 days, or a month, or 3 months. We have no idea when. we are just enduring until the power returns. It is so hot in the apartment, and we tried sleeping on the balcony the first night. However, at about 3 AM, it started pouring rain, so we booked it back inside. that was pretty fun. 

We have some very exciting news. I have mentioned Nanay A many times. she is the mother of A, our recent convert. She has decided that next week she wants to be baptized!! she will have her interview this week so we can announce it in church. I am so excited for her!!!!! she is the best. She reads every day, reminds her children to read everyday (something they sometimes need) and they all come to church. In addition, her 9 year old son J also wants to be baptized, and will be on the 29th of July. He asked me to baptize him, and I hope I don't transfer, so I can be there for that. Miracles are happening, and I believe that it is the faith and work that brings them. We have a saying here "obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles." I have seen some amazing miracles on my mission, and this is one of them. another is we had 11 investigators come to church. what an amazing thing that was! one long time investigator came as well, and it was so fun to have her there for church. more on them later as they progress....

It has been a very challenging week, because President Argana has been asking for daily updates on the missionaries in this status. We have to check up on them a lot. but, I have learned something from this experience. It is how to truly care for someone. There are people that it is easy to love and care for, like family. However, the Savior did not just love his immediate family. He loved complete strangers, his disciples, and even his enemies. I believe the Savior only made it through the atonement because His love for others is complete and unconditional. Yes, He expects things from us, He wants us to improve and work, He expects us to follow him. But, He still loves us, even when we are not obedient or true. It has been such a blessing to see the love of the Lord in my life and the life of others. 

We had a bit of a funny p-day experience. We usually spend p-day with the assistants, because they are so close. So, they were asked by president Argana if they wanted to go get a haircut with him and his wife, since they were going to get one. We enter the mission home to wait, they welcome us in, they have some snacks for us, and they are wearing p-day clothes, something I never saw president Maurer do. then, still in my basketball shorts and a t-shirt over my jersey, We go with him into Robinsons and go get a haircut with him. It was such a normal experience, and President Argana even forgot his nametag!!! the Lord calls normal people to do amazing things. President and Sister Argana are just normal people like me, but they have a call from the Lord to serve. They still love to joke around with people, they still love to play sports and be with their family. they are so good at introducing the Lord into their daily life, and sometimes they mess up, just like me. But, we still love them and I am very thankful that I was able to spend a morning with them doing these things. 

I personally am doing really good. Despite the challenges we have, I still really love the work and the Lord who allows me to serve Him and help His glorious work roll forward. It is a great blessing in my life. I love people and desire to help them because of my mission. Yeah, I hit my one year mark on the mission last week, and I really love my mission. I hope it stays with me for the rest of my life. *I am still safe, I am still well, and I enjoy the chance to serve and work with the best in the mission. This week, We have another MLC, so we can introduce President Argana to the zone leaders, the mission culture, and the specific rules that are in Tacloban mission. we also visit a different DTM this week, so we can see how they are doing and how to help them. the assistants are sleeping in our apartment tonight, so that should be fun. Party party.

I love you all, and 1 year more to go! I hope you all are learning new things about yourselves and your roles in the puzzle that Elder Anderson talked about. I know a little more about my role, and Cannot wait to continue to learn. 

I miss you all so much, and hope that all is well. 

until next week,

Elder Kuehne

Earthquake Update

President Argana
 We are reporting that all Tacloban missionaries are safe from the earthquake.
Hi all! We are experiencing power blackout in all three islands so we have minimal contact with the missionaries today. We assume their phones ran out of juice already from the back and forth reporting to their leaders. There is one apartment in Baybay zone that had cracks on the walls. The missionaries are a staying at another missionary apartment close by. We will give you a full report on Tuesday after our Missionary Leadership Council with the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders. Please be assured that all of our missionary sons and daughters are safe and being seen to their needs. Thank you very much for your prayers, love, and support. #miraclemission #baptismoffire #faithtoconquerall

This morning at around 9:41 we experienced another tremor here in Tacloban City. The quake originated from Ormoc City again with a 5.4 intensity. We readily contacted the missionaries there and said they were all fine. We will be visiting them and the Baybay Zone missionaries this Friday. All missionaries were finding a way today to email their family. We are hoping that they will. But to those families who have received nothing today, please bear with them. It might be two more weeks before the power would be restored. Please know that your missionary is fine and we are doing everything we can to monitor their condition. We are going to visit the whole mission and would finish this July. We promise to update you with news from here. Thank you for your patience, prayers, love, and support. #nothingcanstopthework

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Focusing on Our Purpose

Dear fam,

What a strange week this has been. President Maurer has officially left the mission, and he sent one more email before he went. he wanted us to focus on the work, be a preach my gospel missionary, and he strongly supported us in our work. It was hard to see him and sister Maurer leave, and I know that they really did love the missionaries and the mission, but their time has come. I actually just met president Argana. He walks in the office, and that feeling I had when president Maurer walked in was exactly the same. I know the Lord called him to serve as the mission president, and I can already tell that indeed, he is the man the Lord called. I am excited to work with them

We went on splits with the assistants... for 4 hours. I was able to teach a family. I can't remember the name of the nanay or tatay, but I remember their daughter, G, and their son, C. We started, and the first thing C says is "Can I be the opening prayer?" melted my heart to see this family work so hard to understand the gospel. Brother was a little bit hesitant because his family doesn't want him to change religions, and he has taken lots of abuse from the family. But, the rest of the family wants soooooo much to be baptized and learn the gospel, that all we need to do is help him recognize the truth. The assistants have a very full schedule, and they won't work in their area for probably 3 weeks because they will travel the mission with president Argana and his family. they have asked us if we can visit maybe 2 or three families in their area, including the one above, and teach them, and continue to prepare them for baptism! hopefully, we can find time to do that.

zone conference was sooo much fun! it was a very spiritual thing, and president Maurer talked about how to do a perfect fast. I followed his steps, and I have never had a better fast. It was so amazing to have a fast like that. He talked about how fasting is supposed to help us control the natural man and have our spirit take the lead. and I felt it. other then that, We gave a training about the mission purpose, and it was amazing to see how many problems we can solve by simply focusing on our purpose. We watched an amazing mormon message, called the music of the gospel, and it really put things into perspective for me. very spiritual zone conference.

we got a text from a less active member. I visited the family before, and they knew the truth, but they were offended, so they really didn't try to come back. It was from a member of that family. she said she really wanted to be active in the church again and wants us to help here. Of course, we were amazed by that, and set up an appointment. we will see how that goes.

I still enjoy the mission. Lots of nice things are happening to us, and we have eaten at soooo many members homes this week. lots of yummy food. 

I am so happy that Lo and Molly both were baptized! they get to experience the gospel at a young age, and that is a great gift from the Lord. congratulations to them and to their families. I apologize that I sound so formal, I can only be so intimate when I am emailing from across the world. I will have time to more properly speak with everyone when I return.

Lots of missionaries are getting trunky. Lots and lots. I hope that I am not. in a few days, I will be halfway through the mission experience, and that is mind blowing to me. I enjoy all the opportunities the mission presents, and I hope I can keep working hard.

I hope all is well. I got a package from grandma Kuehne, and I love it so much! so does my companion :) the Filipinos barely get packages, and they never get American candy and food. they are very grateful for the things they receive, and they are just as quick to give. they are a special people.

Other then that, that is all. Work happens. We have interviews this week, along with exchanges. work all day

I miss you all and love you all. I enjoy the mission, and know the church is the true church, and the way for us all to return to Him. I may be different when I return, and I know the Lord is shaping me to be more like who He needs me to be. What a blessing that is

Until next week

MAHAL KITA!!

Elder Kuehne

Monday, June 26, 2017

My Testimony Gets Stronger, and my Drive Faster

Dear family, 

What a good week! we had MLC again, always fun to see the other zone leaders and the sister training leaders. we discussed some things, policies, and the protocol, as we always do. this was the last MLC for President and Sister Maurer, as they are leaving THIS SATURDAY!!!! the new mission president, President Argana, has been set apart by the brethren and will be here Saturday or Sunday. the senior couple, Elder and Sister Nelson, are also leaving the same day. it will be so strange to have a new mission president. He could change the entire mission, and nothing will be the same. He could, and if he does, that just means the Lord wants this mission to do things differently. Doctrine and Covenants says that whether the voice comes from Me or from my servants, it is the same. so, honestly, I am okay with that. The Lord is still in control, and I am grateful for what President Maurer has done. He was a mighty servant, and I expect President Argana to be just as dedicated.

Not a lot happened this week, because of MLC. slow week, not a lot of work. really nothing special. We have zone conference this week, And I go on exchanges with the assistants right after that. All these opportunities to learn, and I love it. They are chances for me to grow and prepare for the new mission rules. Palo needs a pick up, and I really want to help it grow. nothing is better in life then seeing the mission area grow because you are helping it grow stronger. 

last Saturday was a minor holiday called "San Juan," so named after John the Baptist. How do they celebrate it? well, to start, by throwing water in the windows of public transport. I was sitting in the jeep going to Tacloban, and there were like 5 little kids on the side, all holding ice water (which is water placed in a plastic bag, which to drink, you bite the top and suck, it's cheaper then a bottle). they then throw them at the jeep! they weren't very good at throwing however, and missed. I got a little wet from the splash, but nothing serious. Later, we were riding a trike to a lesson, and a truck was behind us with people riding in the bed. this huge group of people threw at least three buckets of water at this truck, and one guy ran beside the passenger window with a squirt gun, getting  passenger and driver. No bad feelings either, everyone was laughing and enjoying life. I swear the driver of the pick up slowed down a bit just to make sure his passengers felt the wrath. everyone here loves having fun.

I personally am good. I still love the mission, and have a really strong testimony. Whenever someone tries to argue about what we believe in, and present the scriptures or logic about "why we are wrong," my testimony only gets stronger, and my drive gets faster. We met a man from America, and he was convinced that no church was true, because in Hebrew, there is no "J", so the name of the Savior could not be "Jesus." made little sense, but he said some very complimenting things, like "I see all these churches taking care of no one except their own, while y'all are going through the ghettos and bukids sharing the word of God with others, making them better people." he encouraged us to keep doing what we were doing, and be good people. I wish him success on his journey, and hope that he finds the truth some day.

Just a little one this week, because really nothing happened. I still love you all, and though I cannot be with you all right now, I still love you all.

always remember the rock you have built upon. Work hard, play hard! and if anyone wants to email, I encourage it! 

-Elder Kuehne


 

Monday, June 19, 2017

Find the Bright Side in All Things

Dear Fam,

Transfers happened, and I am still here in Palo! I am really excited for it, because we still get to work in what may be the greatest area in the mission! 

this week was a pretty good week. lots of meetings last Sunday. We started with the ward council meeting, then we took president Maurer to the L family for their baptism, and then went to Tacloban stake center for a stake presidency meeting. as if I wasn't busy enough with proselyting...  joke lang, all is well. We are working, and we hope to find success soon.

The L family had their interview, and they cannot be baptized, because they remembered the date they started living together. so, unfortunately, the baptism will have to wait until December 17. however, something interesting happened. as we went back to the car, president could tell we were down, and he asked us "so, what did we learn?" that's it. he just wanted us to learn from it. 

we learned a big lesson from it; don't get frustrated. yes, they cannot be baptized yet. BUT, they will be. yes, I won't be in Palo for it, BUT someone else will. the bright side can be hard to find, but if we do find it, It can illuminate new possibilities and blessings. find the bright side in all things

after that, he asked us where we were going. We had some time, so we decided to go to a nearby investigator for a short lesson. and he says "lets go!" so, we went and had a lesson with the mission president as our Responsible adult! he doesn't know any Waray, but he gave a testimony about the gospel and the Book of Mormon, which the kids understood! after that lesson, he asked us where we were going, and we still had time, so we planned to go contact a referral. when we said this, he got in the car and said "let's go!" we taught two lessons with the mission president! it was great, because I learned so much from these 2 lessons. 

this week, we discussed how we can get more referrals from members. we came up with a top-secret plan, code name "lesson 6" lesson 6 goes like this; we visit a member family, and prepare a lesson. we tell them we will start with a hymn, and give them paper and pencils, and tell them that while singing the hymn, their job is to write down as many names of neighbors, family, friends, co-workers, as they can possibly think of before the hymn is over. we then invite some one to pray, we share our lesson, preferably about the plan of salvation, then we go over the lists and talk with the family members about their lists. we test it tonight, with a very active member family. we really hope that it works, because tracting is really hard in Palo. the area is big, and we can never be sure what area has been "found out."

we have a new investigator, Brother R. Elder D found brother R on exchanges, and taught. right off the bat, he asked "how do I become a member?" and he meant it. I met him last week, and we finished talking about the Book of Mormon and he asked "when I go to church, what should I wear?" unfortunately, Saturday, his brother, who is in the army, died, and he went to Catarman for the funeral. but, we expect him to come next Sunday.

I personally am still good. I think life is still great here in the Philippines, and all seems to be well. I still love the mission, and enjoy my life here. I have a hard time picturing how my life will be after the mission. I picture myself squatting over the sink doing my laundry in the sink. I picture myself ordering a one piece chicken and rice from McDonalds. I picture myself just speaking Waray when someone frustrates me. lots of funny little things I picture myself doing when I return. 

Happy fathers day to everyone! I hope it was enjoyable and relaxing. I miss you all, and I will be seeing you all next week.

--Elder Kuehne

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I Can Do All Things Through Christ Who Strengthens Me

Dear Fam,

this was a very busy week. sorry for the late email, It was in my drafts, fully typed. Somehow, it didn't send. so sorry about that.

Last Sunday, We had an area broadcast, for the Philippines. We had Elder Lynn Robbins, Elder Shayne M Bowen, Elder Ian S. Ardern, Sister Bonnie Oscarson, and Elder David A. Bednar share messages to us. they have all had personal contact with the Filipino people, and to hear them express their true love and admiration for the people here was a beautiful addition to my love for them. so far, I still enjoy their jokes, and somehow they enjoy mine.

I went on exchanges with the assistants, and my companion was Elder S, from Iloilo. He was companions with elder R after I was. and honestly, Working with him, I felt really inadequate. He taught by the Spirit, and when he was teaching, I could feel it. he went all over the place, talking with pretty much everyone we saw, and he found one kid, in his house. After basically walking in this house (there aren't many things you CAN'T do here), this young man talks with us about how his parents both died in Yolanda, and Elder S was on it. he talked about the plan of salvation, and life after death. I almost cried... he was so spiritual and knowledgeable, I simply felt I wasn't working hard enough. But, I have learned something else. Phillipians 4:13 reads "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Though it is easy to look at people like elder S and say, "I can never be as good as him," that is a lie. We all can do it, because the Lord promises us that we can do ALL things. Elder S was a great example, and a very humble man as well. I learned a lot, and know if we all try, we can work like this humble young man and rely fully upon the Lord and his merits.

Transfer day will be Thursday, and announcements made this Wednesday. I am really anxious, because, I don't want to transfer. Palo is such an amazing area. I love the members, Less Actives are returning, Elder D is the man, And many baptisms are planned. One miracle is the L family. to make it short, Filipino law says they cannot be married until 5 years after they have lived together because of special circumstances. Well, church rules are if 2 people are living together, they need to be married or split up in different homes. splitting up is not the best option, as they are very close, have almost no money, and just had a new baby boy. however, they started living together in 2012, which was five years ago. so, they can be baptized!!!! they will need an interview from president Maurer, but they can be. They have been investigating for a solid year, and have come to church ever since, but due to that problem, they haven't been baptized yet. When we asked them if that was alright, Brother C got so excited! it was so amazing, and I look forward to them joining.

I saw the photos of the temple, and I am jealous as can be. I miss the temple so much! I want to go there!!!!!!!!! when I get home, I expect to more fully partake of my temple privileges. 

Dad, Happy birthday! it's a little late, but here it is. Everyone here looks a lot younger then they are. There was a lady out doing yard work. I thought maybe she was 60, until we asked her (again, lots of things we can't do in America, we can do here), and she says "77." I just about tipped over. so, you look good for your age. be happy about that.

Congratulations to Heather and Justin with baby Ren! he is a gift from the Lord, and He should be proud of his parents. the Lord picked two of the best. 

I hope that you all know that whether you be a Stewart, a Kuehne, a McMullin, a Slater, a Clark, or anything else, I love you. the mission has strengthened me in so many ways, and my testimony has strengthened. I know God lives, I know Jesus is the Christ, and he died for us so that the Father's plan could work, and we can live with our families again. This family I have is forever, and I look forward to the day when the Savior will return and We will all recognize him as our redeemer and salvation. I miss you so much, But I know that this is the way, and I have a unique opportunity to help others. I hope you all are seeking chances to help others have the happiness we have!

Paghinay kamo, and I will email next week (on time, this time)

Elder Kuehne

No photos, because My SD card got wiped. all my photos are gone. I will just have to start over.

Our Words Will Ring True

last week, sorry! didn't send, was in drafts folder

Dear Fam,

this week, We had a lot of work done. We taught a lesson to the Y family. this family is actually 3 families in one home, and they welcome us. it's a really nice change of pace to people who just make excuses. they are so nice! we also had one new investigator, E, who's neighbor and best friend is an active member preparing to serve a mission. She has read "gospel Principles" almost every night because It is just so interesting to her. she also came to church. she has some concerns, but the Lord has said that we can help people and our words will ring true, so we are not worried.

We had the chance to help organize the ward missionary work. We have a LOT of ward missionaries, and each one is excited to get to work. They will be doing finding for maybe 2 hours a week, so we can spend more time teaching. also, they signed up for days to work with missionaries, and most of them picked Sunday and Saturday!!!!! School starts June 5, so we cannot blame them for that. I am so excited to get some help in the work! one of the missionaries is sister J, too! she has grabbed the gospel by the horns and takes her work seriously. it is so great to see a recent convert so.... well, Converted. unfortunately, not all recent converts are like that. Sister A missed church twice due to an old friend who she found and following his bad example. hoping she will accept our help.

but, how are you all? hopefully, my email catches you in good spirits (for dad, that may be a bit hard ;)) I personally love life. I just find that life is easier when we put our trust in the Lord and know He is in control. If we follow the commandments and be good, then the Lord guarantees blessings, not to mention that we can make it. Elder Cornish talked about that in November for conference, and It is one of my favorite talks.  I love the mission. Life is so good here.

Lots of people in Palo like cycling. like, pro cycling. I introduced myself to one biker, named R, and we just talked about his bike. He likes Giant, and as the son of a dedicated "Specialized" user, it was a rough conversation 😁 but, the people here are just so friendly. Nowadays, everyone asks me if I want the cavs or warriors to win. everyone is watching the finals, Every store is watching it. so, I know a good deal about what is happening. 

Just a short one today, telling you I am in good spirits and doing all I can to bring the gospel. I am happy because of it, And I want others to be happy just like I am. The best chance to find happiness for life and the life to come, Is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know what sin is, and It is NOT happiness. following the commandments brings happiness, though that can be hard to understand for some.

that's really all. Love you all, and next week will be better.

Until next week,

Elder Kuehne