Monday, December 12, 2016

He did it, but hopefully NEVER again!

Dear fam,

just want to start by saying I have officially eaten Balut. It's nothing special, and tasted just weird to me. won't be eating that again hopefully.

One thing I have learned is that everyone has a chance to participate in the work of a missionary. Whatever can be done to help them, take that opportunity. 

This week is, to be frank, killing me. Elder R has been sick, so we haven't visited Sta. Margarita most of friday, and all of saturday and sunday. It is worrying me so badly. We did get to go to sacrament meeting, where 2 investigators and 5 Less Actives, 35 in all, were with us. we have 8 investigators with a baptismal date, yet only 2 came. Prayer can do many things, But I unfortunately cannot pray away someones agency and schedule, As much as I wish I could. 

Training is Rough. this sickness means not a lot of time for training or anything, and not a lot of chances to speak the language. Elder is a pretty Independent person, and has been having a hard time adjusting, especially to food. But, I continue to want to help him, If he ever decides to let me.

Health hasn't been a problem. I eat lots of food, though strange, yet I also work out and walk all day, so It just doesn't stay. I may have to start eating more to counter too much weight loss. I was sick for a day, but every missionary is when they first get here, so no problem. Other then that, no complaints there. the food is really delicious, though odd and usually simple. 

The weather is same old. Hot, Rainy, and Hot again, but the rainy season will be ending soon. sometime in January usually. 

We went with President V to go and look at a new apartment that is actually in our area. It's a nice apartment, and we are waiting for President Maurer to check it out. Should be nice to actually live in our area. I would love that. 

3 days stuck in the apartment has really changed me. before, I loved the work and the people, but now, I am really CRAVING the chance to go and teach and visit everyone and get them on the track to eternal life. I study the scriptures hard. right now, I am reading the Book of Mormon, as well as a little old testament. Never read it before, but it has been very interesting to do so. 

I don't know anything about the whole situation with Skype. It may be best if you make one and send the info to me. That may be helpful to do that. 

Make sure Tyler and Morgan know that I love them, and can't wait to talk to them. Morgan didn't send an email, she's slacking on me :)

short this week, but perhaps next week will be a bit longer, hopefully. 

Love you all, 

Elder Kuehne

Monday, December 5, 2016

Butt Kicking Week


Dear fam,

This week has been a real butt kicker.

We only had 1 investigator at church, and the rest of them all were busy. We had far less lessons. all the new investigators were busy and couldn't have a return date. It really sucks. but, I am trying to continue looking on the bright side. We had 5 less active members at church, and it was amazing to see that! we are still working on some of them, and we are going to have to make some changes to how we do the work here to better accomplish our work here. I am just trying to continue looking at the good things that are happening, but I won't lie, that is real tough some days. we are going to continue to work and change to try to get some more life into this area.

but, we have lots of great things to talk about. Firstly, Brother J. He is AMAZING! he missed church yesterday, But that is because he was stranded in a different part of Samar and couldn't get a ride back in time, so that is ok. He passed his teaching exam, so he can be a teacher next year. He is so happy about it, and tonight, he invited us to dinner to celebrate. He reads, he prays, his questions are profound, he is a great, great person with a real conversion. He is currently trying to talk with his family about the church to see if they can be converted also. Doctrine and Covenants says that people receive amazing joy if they bring but 1 soul back to the presence of Heavenly Father, and I certainly feel that joy! 

I have lost about 7-8 kilos so far, which is about 15 pounds! I had to cut my belt down so I could cinch it up! it is amazing to see how much better I feel when I work out and eat differently, and that is my reward. It is such a great blessing to see me do that. I always wanted to, so maybe if I go and work hard for Heavenly Father, He will help me temporally and spiritually. 

my area is actually 9 little areas, or Baranguay's, that we go and visit. in order, Burabod, Cautod, Monbon, Cagsumje, Solsogon, Lambao, Palale, Napuro, and Inoraguiao. our church is in Solsogon. we live in Calbayog, which is west of all of this. This is one branch, mind you. we usually spend about 110 pesos per day in travel funds. little expensive, but we do lots of travel, so that is expected.

the issue here is less actives. President V says that we have about 350 baptized members, but our sacrament attendance is 45 or so. he asked us to help do some reactivation, so we have definitely done that. it's going pretty well so far, but lots of less actives mean we have to stretch ourselves a bit. We will certainly do all we can to get people back, while also doing investigators. It is so hard to not think there was something more you could have done in a lesson or otherwise. it's rough.

Haven't played basketball in a while. I really want to. Elder D gave me a jersey, and I really want to try it out, but, Elder R isn't big on basketball, so we have other ways to exercise. Still, I'd really love to play ball. really badly. SUPER BADLY.

this week, We have exchanges with our district leader in San Juaquin. We'll see how that goes. We travel December 20th to Tacloban for zone training. another long travel day. oh boy, excited.

now the exciting part. I received news about when to skype home! I can do it the 24th, 25th, or the 26th (Filipino time). I am coordinating with Elder R to figure out the best time. so far, we think Monday 26th, 9 AM or, for you all at home, I think that is December 25, Sunday night at 6PM. please double check if that is right. 

looks like that is all for this week. love you all, and I will be sure to talk more next week. 

Elder Kuehne.

The photos are from a district meeting. we have some missionaries that have an investigator that came. I was outside talking with some people, and one of the missionaries comes out and says to me, "Der! we have an investigator who would love a photo!" so, I complied. I got an email from this investigator with the pictures. not sure how she got my email, to be honest. probably from one of the missionaries. 


Monday, November 28, 2016

Thanksgiving - or Forgetsgiving week 😏

Dear mom,

I email you at this time, about 7:30 local time, because we didn't have time to email earlier today, and we had to travel to Tacloban for the training tomorrow. I am in Tacloban, at a computer shop, and I must say, It's pretty fancy. 4 hour drive to Tacloban is always terrible. just a really long drive in a not-so-comfortable van. but, we get to all hang out and just talk and laugh. it's a good time. 

I must say that my language is not bad. however, Many missionaries here settle for good in a language, and I cannot afford to do so. so, I will be working as hard as I can to improve.

I would like to share about how your gifts are helping our families. The CTR rings you sent, played a pivotal role in bringing not one, but TWO families back to church. the gum you sent, is currently helping a tatay quit smoking so he can be baptized with his wife. one of the bags of jerky went to our branch president, who ate only 1 piece everyday so it would last as long as possible. the basketball shorts made a great gift of remembrance for Elder Dela Cruz. the steak seasoning was perfect for our spicy spam with fried rice (delicious). thank you so much for the great gifts. 

so far, budgeting works well. We spend the majority on travel, and we spend about 100 pesos a day on travel. I wish we didn't have to do that, but none the less, that's just how we get to do it until transfer day. I will be in Sta. Margarita until February, then, automatic transfer because I am training. 

There is no thanksgiving, but, we do have the lift the world campaign. in fact, we are spearheading it. we have about 1000 pass along cards about it, and we are expected to get ride of ALL of them. We have the calendar's about service, but nothing is planned for it as of right now. we may come together as a zone and do a little show for all our areas one night to celebrate the movement, but, we still have lots of planning to do for that. 

We all actually forgot that thanksgiving was a thing, until that night. little awkward, but, true. 

To Morgan, I strongly encourage you to go with the missionaries when time permits. great blessings await you. one thing we want more of in our area that is very hard to do is LMP, or lessons with members present. lots of work, lack of money to pay for travel, make it hard in our area, but in the MTC, lessons with members are strongly focused on, and absolutely crucial to the work of the missionary. blessings are not just for you, but also through your testimony, you may be a huge help to bringing someone closer to returning to the presence of heavenly father. pretty crazy to think about it that way, right? you can do it, I have faith in you. You don't need a perfect knowledge of the scriptures or a perfect knowledge to help. all you need is faith that the spirit will guide your words, your testimony, and a desire to help and befriend another child of god. if you have those things, then you are a missionary already (just no nametag yet) 

to Tyler, Just continue to be happy. Don't change, just help around the house, love trains, and hang in there, Utah will win a game. As I write you, the guy on the computer next to me is watching highlights from game 7 of last years championship between the warriors and the cavaliers. Love you bud, and I can't wait to talk to you all this coming Christmas!

good to hear Heidi and the gang are in town. that's always a treat to see them, right? here in the Philippines, it doesn't matter, guests are respected and cared for, even getting the best and most food, though sometimes the family can barely care for themselves. Show them you love them through your service!

that's just about it for today. Hope this helps. if there are any questions, please ask! I love to hear what the family is curious about.

with love,

Elder Kuehne

Here's a little excerpt from the email to BK:
 
lets start with P-day. P-day is the day we do most of our laba (laundry). sometimes, it's not possible to do all of it on P-day, but we try. we clean the apartment, then we get ready for the day. We go email at a local netcafe, (one of which is called Rasta netcafe, and it looks like heaven. I will be sure to send a photo.) then we go shopping. in Calbayog, we have a super metro, which is the closest thing we have to a smiths or other store like that. after all that, we go and we visit some people in our area. always fun to do that. everyday, we wake up, prep and eat, at 8, we start personal study, at 9-11, we do companion study as well as study for our training. 11-12, we do language study, 12 we eat, and when we finish, we travel by trike to our area. depending on the day, we will visit certain parts of our area and visit certain people. that's really the plan. my clothes are doing great! they are hanging in there, which is great. 
that's really all the time I have. I love you dad, and I will be talking with you a bit more next week.
Elder Kuehne

Monday, November 21, 2016

New Companion


Dear FAM,

Firstly, love the photo.

This has been a mostly uneventful week. Not a lot of new investigators, things like that. However, I am a trainer now! 

My trainee's name is Elder R. he is from Layton, 18 years old. He has a great work ethic. He loves to go out and walk and work. He is less then excited about the food, and we will have to see about that, but, I am excited to teach him the language and see how he does in his first 12 weeks. Excited to be able to do this!

Traveled to Tacloban, and while the drive is beautiful, it is so long; about 4 hours. Next week, I have specialized training about budgeting and cooking.
 
We have a less active family who has been less active for a long time. however, for the last 3 Sundays, they have come to church! It is so exciting to see them do that. They are really getting over their problems and it is so exciting to see them so happy to come to church. They haven't come in a while, and the members have been such a great help. I want to say that members make a huge difference in the work. They have gotten these less actives to come back, and one more has decided to come to church, if only because EVERYONE in the church has invited her. Miracles do happen indeed. 

Not sure what else to say this week. Lots of travel, lots of nothing happened. Just one of those weeks. 

I celebrated my birthday with a chocolate bar at 10:00 at night. Pretty much nothing else. Next year, maybe I will get 2 chocolate bars. That would be pretty crazy.

That's really all for this week. sorry for the short email, but not much to talk about this week. Next week, hopefully, I will have more.

Love you all, and I will see you next week!

Elder Kuehne, 19

Here is an excerpt from the email he sent to Morgan that I thought you might like to read:

 
I still remember the first time I read all the way through them. I was at work in Jackson. One night, I finished, and I wanted to go to the Lord in prayer. Unfortunately, It was way too noisy in the tent, and scouts were everywhere. So, I went to the bathroom, in one of the stalls. There, I knelt and prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true, and if my desire to serve a mission was worth it. At that time, the strongest feeling came over me of determination and love, and I openly wept. It was in that little stall, in a boy scout bathroom in an obscure town in Wyoming, that I gained a testimony about the Book of Mormon. I encourage you to find your own testimony, Morgan. The kind that only comes through reading the scriptures. Continue, and know in all your work and school that the Lord has promised to help, if you ask of him.



Here is also the picture we sent to Blake that he loved:

Monday, November 14, 2016

Great Changes


Dear family

Firstly, I want to apologize. I haven't been very specific in addressing you all and the accomplishments you have all had. I am trying to be efficient, but in doing that, I have sacrificed personality. I will do better every week, starting now.

Morgan, I do read your emails. Every week. I love hearing how well you do in school and other activities. Of course, math is hard, and yes, sometimes, friends have their drama (believe me, I know). But, I will be working harder to include you more. I may not have time to send you a personal email every week because of time (90 minutes only, and I have some things to take care of on the computer) but I will make it work. Please forgive me. I will do better.

Tyler, I cannot be more proud of you! tying your own shoes! that's a big step, little bro. and the puzzle, I can barely do a 4-piece puzzle. you are growing up very fast, and sometimes, I didn't tell you I was happy for you. I'm sorry buddy, I will do better to talk with you more every week. I promise. I know about your little problem right now, but Heavenly Father knows too, and he will take good care of you. I will pray for you, and I would like for you to pray too. He will help you. Be patient, and after this, you can continue to have fun and grow. I will work harder to be there.

I apologize for emailing late. Because of transfers, President Maurer decided to have p-day on Tuesday this week instead of Monday. this is for this week only. next week, back to Monday

so, I want to tell you about some amazing news. I was doing personal study in the new testament on Wednesday, and the phone rings. Elder D is downstairs right now, so I reach over to his desk and grab the phone. I read who is calling, close my eyes, opens them, and read it one more time. President Maurer is calling. he never does that, because he never has time. I answer, we talk, and after some little questions, he says to me, "Elder Kuehne, I want to ask you to be a TRAINER this coming cycle!" I am going to train! I go to Tacloban tomorrow, and the next day, I return with my new greenie! so excited for that!

I also want to share a little story about a miracle. I have long felt that I don't have any talents. It has bothered me a lot. so, I asked in a prayer that I would be able to feel better and receive comfort. I was reading the new testament, Mark 8:36, and I felt the prompting to visit the sole footnote, which is Jeremiah 45:5. I'll let you all read that, but I know that if I work, the Lord can make up the difference. we are working hard every day, and I feel the difference when I work by myself and when I let the Lord guide the work. 

also, quick little story. Kids here have a game. this game is called "Spiders." they put two spiders on a stick and have them fight it out. each kid has a little match box with SPIDERS in them. they just whip them out and play. little terrifying.

anyway, that's all for this week. next week, I will have lots to talk about, so, until next week

Elder Kuehne


Monday, October 31, 2016

Blake's First Baptism!


 
Dear fam,

I should probably start with clarification. sometimes, I forget that missionary lingo isn't widely known. oops. OYM means we just talk to people, we introduce ourselves, our message, and try to set an appointment with them. we aren't teaching tomorrow, we simply talk with people and set some return dates, comfort people on this day of remembrance, and hopefully, show them this life is not the end. that's the plan for tomorrow, and maybe the next day. speaking of holidays, Calbayog is celebrating it's first halloween party today! naturally, we won't be there, but to think that they have never celebrated halloween until now is pretty strange for me.

also, Most likely, I will not train a new missionary. I will receive a normal companion, he will be my senior companion, but because I know the area, I will be leading the area. it's kinda like that.

So, brother J has been baptized! we performed the baptism Saturday, and the confirmation took place on Sunday. he really has a strong spirit and he recognizes the blessings that come from the church. he will be a fine member of the church, and maybe soon, he will receive a calling. so excited for that! my perspective of baptism is a little different. I have had the chance to be a part of someones conversion to the gospel, and if he remains faithful, we will see each other again in the presence of our heavenly father. the worth of souls is great to God, says doctrine and covenants, and I couldn't agree more. 

we have a zone training meeting this week, so I am excited for that. the last one was a very memorable occasion, and I know this one will be just as good. it is always wonderful to slow down a bit and instead of teach, learn.  we also receive a conference talk every week and we study it for our own enlightenment, and I know that reading these is reading the words of Heavenly Father himself. I love doing that!

I have already decided that I will return from my mission in July 2018, no sooner. that is my goal, and I will make it.

not a lot more to talk about today. I get to lead every lesson and every planning session this week as part of my training, so pray for me for that one! but, all should go well, and on November 14, I will receive a new companion. I received a package from grandma Shelley and Heidi, and many, many cards from grandma Kuehne, and I love them! 

I am attaching some photos of the baptism, as well as something more. this is LEGENDARY in my zone, and it is known as the Ricciardi letter. this is about a missionary, Elder Ricciardi, and how he was the greatest missionary he could be. this is what I want to do, and I am going to be working my hardest to be the best missionary I can be. I want to share this with you all because it is special to me. perhaps it will help someone in some way. 

I love being here. I still get to talk to my family and some of my friends, so it means a great deal to continue to speak with you all. I love the work, and as I work and improve, through work, we are brought to the Gospel, and if we remain faithful, magnifying our callings as sons and daughters of God, we will receive greater blessings then ever before known to man. this I know, and I will continue my work here. thank you all so much for your support and love.

until next week, 

Elder Kuehne


photos:

baptisimal photo, party afterwards, the photo has brother N, president V, brother E, a recent convert, and us




Sunday, October 23, 2016

We have pictures!! :)


GREETINGS

Hey Fam! 

 I want to begin with some Very exciting news: we have a baptism this coming Saturday! hopefully, you remember Brother J. he has been an investigator for a while, and many missionaries have taught him. but., he feels now that he is ready to enter the waters of baptism and make those sacred covenants that come with it. and what's more, he has asked that I perform it! So next week, I can promise at least one photo 😁.

I got to meet with President Maurer for our first interview in the field. It was pretty good. He trusts me, and I trust him. He didn't have any issues with me, and he says I will probably not train this coming cycle. Oh well, more time to focus on the language and area. When Elder Dela Cruz gets transferred in mid-november, I will stay and lead the area. So, I will make sure that all those who we are visiting continue to see our faces. Pretty exciting for me! Also, after President Maurer's interview, he took us to Bro. J's house so he could interview him for baptism. after that, we went to dinner with him at a cafe in calbayog. He is a great man, and it is obvious that the Lord has called him to the work. 

Christmas is in full swing here. Trees everywhere, decorations, and especially, the music. What's funny about the christmas music is that it is all REGGAE. yes, I have heard nothing but Christmas Reggae music. It is amazing! some of them are just hilarious. We always love to hear some of that.

 Also, we have a holiday coming up on November 1st, which is All Saints Day. on that day, everyone goes to the grave sites of passed family, mourn them, clean the graves, things like that. After that's done, They party, usually in the graveyard, and there is plenty of drinking, I have been told. So, we have been told that our OYM's should be through the roof that day, and to do that, we will go to the graveyard and talk with people. however, we have to leave at about 7-7:30, because that is when the rowdy drinking usually begins. When Filipino's get drunk, they are usually fluent in English, by the way. makes sense to me.

played basketball this morning. Filipino's are really good at basketball! they are quick and athletic, but they also play really smart. They sometimes forget that it's the americans that are known for basketball, though. Ball so hard.

Sorry for the lack of photos. We have to be careful when we take photo's, so we don't look casual or things like that. Also, we can't use them when we proselyte or during church, so that limits most of the time we get to use them. but, I am going to be better with photo's, when possible. like I said earlier, You will get at least one amazing photo next week.

Hope all is well at home, and that you are all happy and well. I always love to hear it, but I know that the Lord loves missionaries, and he will make sure that everything is all right at home while I am here in his vineyard. I would encourage all of you to read the Book of Mormon, whether it be alone or with the family, and make sure the family members whose email I do not have so that they know.

--

-Elder Kuehne




Monday, October 17, 2016

He's Alive :)


Dear Fam,

Yes, I am indeed still alive. Surprise! As I email you, Typhoon Karen is out of the area, so we are back to normal. For typhoons, level 1, we prepare, and then proselyte in a nearby area. for me, that means in Calbayog, not Sta. Margarita. Level 2, we stay in the apartment, prep, and just make it until it's over. Level 3, we go to Calbayog chapel with 72 hour kits (which for us, is just a huge box full of canned sardines, top ramen, soy sauce, and rice), level 4, we go to the chapel, bring food for a week, and hunker down. Level 5, we evacuate. no questions, we get to a safe evacuation site. Karen is a Level 2, so we just hunker down in the apartment. For us, that meant BOM studies, working out, eating, talking, preparing, and sleeping. it's a great routine, and all is well here.

To Morgan, I do receive your emails, but it is very hard to fit all my emails into 90 minutes, so I have to send one giant one and maybe 1 or 2 more if need be. I love to read your emails, and it means a great deal to me to read about how you are adjusting to high school life.

I am very glad to hear that all is well at home. All is well here as well. I really enjoy it here, and the work is progressing. We recently found 12 new investigators, and that is wonderful! I love to be able to share the gospel and to help others move forward in Christ and his gospel. Lots of work to be done here. We recently found a new investigator, and right off the bat, she was interested in the gospel. She has the potential to be a golden investigator. lot's of good and honest questions as well. The rest of our investigators are doing very well. We have one, who is one week away from his baptism! The rest are going to take a little more time. but none the less, one more soul is about to be brought to the fold, and that is already more then I ever dreamed. I also learned of an area we have where it is very hard to visit because it's in the bu-quid, or forest village. We will go and visit it Wednesday. Thursday, we have interviews with President Maurer. Always nice to talk to him. 

This week, I'm going to share a story about a current member- He hid from the missionaries because he didn't want to hear the message, nor did he think he was worthy of the message. This is common in the Philippines, where people will hide instead of cancel a meeting with you. What is amazing is that he hid for 14 YEARS! he moved to manila for a little while, and while there, he decided he had to quit hiding and meet with them. 2 years later, he returned to Sta. Margarita as a baptized member of the church, and today, he always loves to come and teach with us, and he has a very firm testimony of the gospel. He is currently wanting to convert some of his old drinking and gambling buddies. 

The food here is good. I love Balud, which is dryed fish that is salted. it is literally impossible to eat it on it's own, because it is so salty. so, you bathe it in vinegar, and then, the taste is amazing! I miss chocolate, which is SO EXPENSIVE HERE. Jerky is another big thing that would be nice to have here. other then that, finances are good. clothes are still good. thrifty and wise, is our motto for spending. so, we are being smart with money and food. 

that's all for this week. I love reading Emails from the family and friends, and love my work here, hard as it may be sometimes. Best of luck to all of you this week, and make sure the Whole family knows that I love them dearly.

Until Next Week,

Elder Kuehne

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Typhoon Season Begins

Message from Sister Maurer:

Typhoon Update: Some of you may be aware that there are currently two typhoons off the shores of the Philippines. Sarika (the closest one to us) is currently north east of our mission and moving further north west. It won't make landfall in our region, but parts (north east) of our mission will be affected by heavy rain and some winds.
I want to reassure our mums and dads (and other family and friends) that we are in regular contact with our missionaries at this time, and have a detailed protocol that we follow. President Maurer and our office staff are monitoring and updating the missionaries regularly as we watch carefully.
Currently the only areas affected in our mission are the Catarman, Catbalogan and Borongan Zones. No other areas will be impacted by Sarika. The missionaries there have been advised to stay indoors until the rain and wind cease.
We have been thru these before and know from experience that as the missionaries are obedient to instructions they are protected. There will also be opportunities for them to serve the people as a result.
Please also pray for the areas of the Philippines that will be fully impacted by Typhoon Sarika. The people here are resilient but always need our prayers in such times.

UPDATE:
Everything calm here now. All missionaries happy, safe and well. But please continue to pray for the rest of the country. It cut directly across the top of Luzon as a category 3.

**Another Typhoon is expected to hit the country on Monday

Monday, October 10, 2016

Alls well, but send more emails :)

Fam,

Firstly, conference. Conference was AMAZING! I can say that I learned more this conference then any other! It was a truly humbling experience to go to conference and learn how I can improve and grow. Heaven knows I have plenty of that to do. Conference was in English, as most of the members know a surprisingly large amount of English. Still talk to them in My broken Waray though. Can't go slacking!

To mom, Hang in there. you survived me driving, you can do it with morgan. she probably is doing better then me. to Tyler and Morgan, I hear a lot about your spiritual progression, and it's amazing to see how far you two are coming in the gospel. continue, no one is too young to know about the gospel and have a testimony about it. To dad, Hi. hope the recovery is going fine, 

Most travel here is done by van, those big 14 seaters. Buses are usually pretty expensive, so grand tours is the company to go to, and they use those vans. It takes an hour and a half to get to catbalogan; with that said, it should take longer. Those van drivers have a brick taped to the gas pedal, I am convinced. they are HAULING as they go through foresty areas, residencies, anywhere. I am not sure whether I call Filipinos the worst drivers in the world, or the best ones. 

I received Grandma's Card, but nothing else yet. I may be a little longer, because when the package get's to the mission office, It sits there until someone from the office or the president or his wife visits our area. so, It will be a bit longer. Maybe the packages are sitting there in the office right now. I'll never know. 

We also Got new Zone Leaders. Elder Santos is filipino, and he knows lots of english. Elder Esikia comes from American Samoa. They are both really nice and ready to work. It's nice to have them around. 

I am still safe, I am still happy here, and I still look like a gringo here. nothing has changed. 😄

none the less, the work moves on. lots of baptisms planned for october, and we just committed a baptism to a family on november 12. It's so wonderful to see the branch growing faster and faster everyday. more and more work is done, and It is amazing!

much love to all the family! I love to receive emails, and look forward to your package Mama! Make sure the fam emails, I only send a couple emails everyday. Make sure they email! don't go slacking on me!

Love you all, and until next week,

Elder Kuehne

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Missionary Cycle


Dear Fam,

Today marks a new cycle, and a lot of change is happening. Me and Elder Dela Cruz are staying, but Our Zone Leaders, Elder Ferrer and Elder Woolston, have left. Elder Woolston returns to Bountiful in the next couple days, and it is weird to think as he leaves, I just got here. 

To answer questions, yes, that bat was indeed alive, and no, there are no trains here. But, trains are Dumb, right? we don't need them.😇 the rain has died down as well. Life is all well here.  sorry for the short email last week, I had to take some time out of email to get some work done. but all is well

I want to start by talking about a Miracle. I spent Tuesday in an area called Gundara, just an hour or so outside my area, for splits with our District Leaders. I went with a missionary named Elder Zepty, from the Marshall Islands. We went to a buquid (basically a forest village) and taught an investigator. This all happened so quickly, and I didn't give it any thought until after. but this sister asked a question about the spirit world, and I UNDERSTOOD her. I rarely ever understand what people have said before, and out of the blue, I understood here! and for the rest of the week, I have had an easier time understanding people. I have played a bigger role in lessons and in people's conversions. My language conversion has happened, and I love it! 

We invited a young man to be baptized, and he readily accepted! we have about 9 baptisms planned for October, and most seem to be on track. Hope that they are able to understand the gospel and see that this is true. 

This week, we watch conference in Catbalogan, with whatever members choose to join us. I'm really excited to go and hear from the prophets and apostles. 

Miss you all, but all is well here. I hope I can study conference as hard as you all have! I am healthy and Well, still enjoying myself and learning things. keep going out and working hard and having fun! I will talk to you next week!

Elder Kuehne

 

Monday, September 26, 2016

Short and Sweet

Dear Fam,

This was a weird week. First off, I saw someone wearing a U of U hat. made my day. we officially started Typhoon season as well. the rain comes in a little at a time. Rain for 5 minutes, stops, rains for 5 more minutes, stops, I wish the weather could make up its mind. that would be nice. but, all is well here.

Firstly, to answer your question, I will be watching conference, but a week late. So not this week, but next week, I will be watching conference. real strange to think while we are fasting, you all are eating. sad face.

I feel that sometimes, we don't take the gospel super seriously. As a missionary, I am asked to magnify my calling. however, I think We are ALL asked to magnify our callings, Whether it be a church calling, or the simple calling as father, mother, or priesthood holder. so, I encourage everyone to take the gospel seriously. I didn't before, but now I know. 

I should take a minute to talk about 2 things. the first is just funny. the public transportation. My area doesn't have jeepneys, we have trikes. trikes are motorcycles with small car frames on top. they are super small, and many people seem confused as this trike drives down the road with some American squeezed in there. the second is about a member I met in another area. Before his conversion, He had some issues - but he met the missionaries, and was converted on such a level that he cleaned up his habits and has become one of the greatest people I have ever met. He also is a temple worker at the Cebu temple. he went with us one Sunday, and he has such a strong spirit and love, it's crazy. his faith is unlike anyone's I have seen before. he bought dinner for us one night, and excused himself. when he came back, he was carrying grocery sacks of veggies and rice, and  gave them to us. He may be the most Christ-centered person I have ever met.

The work here is great, and I enjoy every minute of it. 

I will talk to you all more next week.

Love

Elder Kuehne


 

Monday, September 19, 2016

So little time


Hello Dearest Family!

This was a really fun week. lots of lessons, lots of OYM's (Open your mouths, where we share our purpose with random people), lots of return visits. Happy Birthday to Easton, and by hearing what food you had for his party, I can say he is one smart kid. Happy 20th Anniversary. It was probably easier to celebrate this year. After all, you have one less kid to keep track of for this one! To Morgan, work hard, but remember to have fun as well. To Ty, Have fun, and remember, the "Arnold" voice is only to be used for good, not for evil. To dad, I got your email, and I know it's hard to be away from your passion for a while. Remember, I don't get to listen to ANY reggae here, for 2 years. You will make it. I know you will. 

Calbayog is really a nice place to be. Safe, not super loud, good places to shop and eat. the traffic is hectic, but that's a small problem. lots of police and military personnel, but I haven't heard of any crime here, so, can't complain. 

Our zone conference was Fantastic! The central message was about Repentance and the Atonement, and I have truly been edified. it was a fantastic lesson that really taught me a lot about both, and the absolutely crucial role that They play in our lives and in our progression. I got to see a good friend of mine from the MTC who lives in woods cross territory. His name is Elder Evans. he is a great kid, and it was nice to see him again and to catch up. same for President Maurer and sister Maurer. they are amazing people, and I love them both. They have such sweet spirits, and they really do care about the missionaries and their comfort and success. Sister Maurer was kind enough to create a language guide for Waray-Waray for me, Elder Evans, and for another new sister in our area. Before us, there wasn't a single language guide for Waray-Waray.

I feel I have adjusted physically. It's not really hot here, but for some reason, we sweat so bad! not sure why, but its true. the food is also pretty new. We have rice for every meal, with some canned meat or fresh veggies. We try not to buy too much fresh meat, because It usually is left out in heat and flies can get to it sometimes. also, we don't store much food, because the fridge may not be able to keep the food good for long. we just buy and eat as we go. Am I thinner? can't say I really know. Looking at how much food the locals give me and how much Softdrinks they offer also, I doubt it. but, I do work out every day. The Philippines MTC had some great workout plans, and I use them. so maybe, maybe not.

I haven't received mail yet. in addition to the ridiculous mail system, the mail also sits at the mission home until the ZL's (Who live in our apartment, and one of them went to Bountiful High) go there for something and bring it to us. May be a while longer until I get anything.

We met a new family, the G Family, and when we were teaching them, I had Deja Vu. I had actually Dreamed about that lesson, heaven knows how long ago. I remember vividly remember that dream now. This family is special, and we have been teaching them a lot recently. I know that the lord helps us, and that the lord has pointed us in their direction. now, we only need to capitalize. 

Lots to do, so little time here. 

That's the email. I love you all, and I am still safe and sound here. I know the gospel is true, and I know that the lord's plan has me serving a mission written in it. Take care, and I will talk to you next week

     Elder Kuehne

Monday, September 12, 2016

Where in the World is Blake??

Dear Mama,

hate to tell you, but we don't live in Catbalogan. We live in Calbayog city, in an apartment complex off the main road, Called Burungay Carmen. It is a pretty small home, but we have running water and electricity. We have 2 small bedrooms, a small CR (Bathroom), a tiny kitchen, a super small front room, and a laba room, which is where we do laundry. It is a super small place, but it is also super nice to be in. the only problem is that sometimes, the neighbors have TOO much fun on their karaoke machine in the morning. I love the people here, but they are as good at singing as I am, so that's not super good. The city itself is modern in some ways, like some of the buildings, but is mostly not modern. there are no traffic lights, so they rely either on policeman to guide the flow or they just wedge their way through traffic. most people own motorcycles, so this system isn't as bad as it sounds. most of the buildings are pretty run down as well. the city is trying to be modern, but it simply cannot.

This Sunday, we had 42 in attendance at sacrament, including 2 investigators. this number is pretty normal, and it also includes all the little kids. Many people don't come because they don't think they are able to pay for a trike ride to the church building. Many investigators don't come for a variety of reasons, none of them being super good excuses. with all that said, the members who do come have the greatest faith I have ever seen. They understand the importance of coming to church and they continue to do so, though they may have to make some sacrifices to do so. 

There are many homes in our area that are built exactly like Tanner Mudrow described. many homes here are built solely to avoid taxes. They tend to be smaller and have less stuff in them, to accommodate big families in as small of a space as possible. speaking of getting as many people as possible into as small a space as possible, we have a big zone meeting in Catbalogon tomorrow, and the entire zone is going to be fitting in our tiny apartment. not excited for that, but the meeting should be a good time. our zone is wonderful, I'll attach a picture in this email.

I cannot describe to you just how much I love this place and this work. The people are generous to no end, humble, and we almost never get turned down for a message, because everyone is so kind and polite here. my personal growth is ridiculous. I have never felt closer to the gospel then I do now. I truly know that this is the lords church, and I am the lord's instrument in bringing the gospel to the people of the Philippines. I know this, and I know that I have been placed here for this very reason. I truly feel the lord's hand in our work, and I truly know this to be the true church. There is no place I would rather be. I have never worked so hard, and I have never gained this much before.

Love you fam. It's hard for you as well as for me, and I know that you are making sacrifices like I am to allow me to be here, and I cannot thank you enough for your support and your love.

Music here really invites the spirit as we clean or eat or prepare for the day. We actually sometimes use Mormon messages, because every family has a laptop or a portable CD player, and we use them to talk about a certain subject.
 
I can't think of anything, but I'll let your Imagination run wild. No big boxes, please. the mission prefers no big boxes. 

Until next week,

Elder Kuehne

P.S. this photo is what they call a "Zone Attack." they take as many priesthood holders as possible, and go and visit any investigators or less actives in the area. it is the funniest thing I have ever seen in my entire life. Also, I saw an American driving down the street. he honked and waved at me. weirdest thing to happen yet


Monday, September 5, 2016

Second Week in the Work


Hi Mom.

My second week in the work, and it's already super interesting.

I learned I will be in this area until February. My trainer leaves in November. so, This will be my home for quite a while. I enjoy it a lot here though. Everyone is super nice and open to you, especially when your a six foot white american who speaks waray. They seem fascinated by that. I can talk with people a little better, and I can actually understand a little bit. It is a real blessing. in fact, I can teach the message about the restoration, which has 8 points to cover. The gift of tongues is real, and Elder Dela Cruz is an amazing teacher and an amazing companion. He has an amazing drive for teaching and is great at basketball. We have been getting along amazingly.

today, we went out in the morning with T (one of our investigators) and we went hunting for coconuts. we find a tree, and his son climbs up the tree with his machete and cuts down 8 or so coconuts. Then T starts cutting them, and we get the meat out. the water is also SO good and fresh. then, we took a big container of the meat, filled it with the water, filled it with condensed milk, and a few saltines. stir it up, and eat; it is so good! the food here is so good, and there is plenty of it wherever we go. the people here value Generosity and Family over everything else, and it is amazing to see how they all love to share and care for one another, and that goes double for guests. We had two investigators come to church, and it was the single most exciting moment of my life. When an Investigator comes to church, that usually means that they have some idea that the church is true here. It was amazing. 

Merry christmas as well! christmas is in the air here in the philippines, and people are already excited. there have been parties every night here, and they last for quite a while apparently. they know how to have a party. our neighbor's son had a birthday party, and the dad came over, knocked on the door, and invited us to join in, though I had never met him before. 

There are also lots of police out and about. there is a policeman at pretty much every store in the Philippines, sometimes two for things like banks and pharmacies. They are also super nice, especially to 6 foot white Americans. I say hi to them, and they greet me back with a compliment and a handshake, if they have a hand to spare and their not too busy holding their Assault rifles or shotguns. But, none the less, this place is the best. 

I have been studying the scriptures everyday, and I have gotten more out of them this time then any other time before. I know this is truly the work, and I love being here, despite the hardships. I hope all is well at home, that everyone is doing well, (especially dad) and everything is going well. My new P-day is monday, and I usually write after 1PM local time. that's the plan for the next six months. I will be attaching some photos. one is of Me, my companion, T, and his sons. the other is of our church building. it is smaller then it looks, trust me. lastly, when we were eating our coconuts, the sons went out exploring, and they came back saying they found a monitor lizard. T led us back to his house just a little ways back, said he would be back, grabbed his rifle, and got some neighbors to go get it. they came back 30 minutes later carrying a lizard about as long as my head to knee. it was still alive, so they roped it to a tree, and then they held it still as they finished the job. from what I heard, they can sell that lizard for 300 pesos easily, and that is a lot of money here. I've been told it tastes amazing. maybe one day I can have some.

I love you fam, and hope you are all well.

-Elder Kuehne



Note from Mission President and First Assigned Area

"Dear Brother and Sister Kuehne,

We are happy your missionary has arrived safely in the Philippines Tacloban Mission. Attached is a couple of photographs taken after his arrival and also a map of the Philippines Tacloban Mission.  Your missionary has been prayerfully assigned his first companion and trainer, Elder Dela Cruz and together they will be serving in the Catbalogan area. 

In order for them to be most effective in their responsibilities, your continued encouragement and support is of upmost value.

Here are some ways to positively influence your missionary:

·        Pray for them, especially in your monthly fast.

·        Send regular mail with encouraging thoughts and news.  Please leave out worrisome topics.  Email to their LDS account or pouch mail if in Philippines delivered through missionaries, or traditional mail. Missionaries have been directed to use only their MyLDSMail email account and not to communicate using “real time” conversations, facebook, or live-chat.

·        Phone calls are only on Christmas and Mother’s day. Paid by family and not through your missionary’s support

·        Packages, a welcome treat, but remember to not allow them to be too large or frequent as transporting them can be a challenge. Be careful to have the contents not create a longing for home. Note: FedEx or PhilPost adds an extra charge that your missionary will have to pay for. LBC does not attach that extra fee.

·        If extra money is needed for personal items (eg. dental expenses, preexisting medical expenses, or for printing pictures) can be sent with a personal debit card, LBC, or Western Union.  Do Not Send Cash through the mail. Please send only that which is needed.     
         
We appreciate all of the love and support you have given your missionary to prepare him to be a faithful representative of the Lord Jesus Christ.  He will make an important contribution to the work of the Lord by inviting others to come unto Christ and enabling their eternal conversion. It is a great blessing to have him in our Mission."



 

Monday, August 29, 2016

First Week in Tacloban


"First week in Tacloban. First off, this city is nuts. the traffic laws are as follows

1. don't crash

2. do anything else

The fast food places sell spaghetti. yes, spaghetti.

 I meet my new companion. his name is Elder Dela Cruz, he is Filipino, and has been out for over a year. he is my trainer and Tatay, which is "dad". he is the greatest. he has taken it to heart to be the best trainer he can be, and because of him, I can wash clothes, properly cook rice, ride a tricycle (motorcycle with homemade sidecar), and I can speak a surprising amount of Waray. 

We have been having lessons every day. we have families we are teaching almost daily. first off, the kids here are hilarious. I am a giant here. I tower over everyone, and often have to duck so I don't hit my head on door frames, and the kids know it. the shy ones will stare at me like I'm a messiah. the brave ones will try to talk to me. some of the things they say are "Hey Joe!", which is what they call any white person. "Taas Ikaw sa", which is just that I am tall, or my favorite "uphere", meaning they want a high five. they follow us everywhere. I look like a mama duck with a trail of kids following me around. the families here are so sweet and generous, and they are obviously prepared for the gospel. when we teach these families, it is hard not to feel the spirit.

I got to play ball as well. the second my companion and I walked on the court, there was some excitement. they quickly formed a team, and played against us. well, first off, I tower over everyone. secondly, Elder Dela Cruz is amazing at basketball. we did well.

I love this place. it's hectic and busy, as well as poor, but everyone is very friendly and humble. it is an honor to serve here and I know that heavenly father sent me here because I could handle it. I don't have many photos now, but next week, I will have more.

I miss all of you, but I am still working hard and loving it. this is all for this week. love you all, and I will have more for you next week.




-Elder Kuehne"

Thursday, August 25, 2016

And finally - TACLOBAN!!

On 8/24/2016 Blake wrote:

"Greetings from Tacloban!

I have been here for about 4 hours and I love it already. It isn't as hot here as manila, there is less traffic, and people are very friendly. President Maurer and Sister Maurer (pronounced Mora, like hill cumorah) are the greatest people I have ever met. I don't have long today, just as email to say that I am here safe and sound. tomorrow, I meet my trainer, and the work begins. My new p-day is monday, so that is how that is it is now. Love you, and I will talk with you more monday.

    --Elder Kuehne"
 
So good to see he made it!  I am most grateful to hear that his mission President and wife are "the greatest people I have ever met" - as they will be his temporary parents and it sounds like Blake is in good hands!!  From here on out, this blog will be updated every Monday!  We look forward to hearing of B's many adventures!  If you receive any letters that you would like to share - please forward them to me and we will post them here for us all to enjoy!!   WE LOVE YOU BLAKE!!

Manila MTC

On 8/19/2016 Blake wrote:


"Kumusta! I am here in the Philippines MTC, and this is probably the greatest place to be. We had our first flight delayed due to a flaming plane on the tarmac, so that was neat-o. not sure how that happened, but we passed it on our way to the main runway. other then that, Everything went really well. I still have all my luggage, so that's nice. The Manila MTC is amazing! The food is fantastic, (though I have only had one meal so far), and everyone here speaks one of the filipino languages, so I am expecting some good progression in Cebuano. I will be here until Wednesday, when everyone in the Tacloban area will fly out there and begin the work in that area. Tomorrow, I have the opportunity to join a missionary in the Manila Metro area for an afternoon of proselyting. I'm not totally sure how well that is going to go, but I know the lord is here and is willing to help me on my first real missionary work. I will be sending some photos I took. I didn't take too many, because the handbook says NOT to look like a tourist, but I did take some nice ones. I love you, and will probably send you an email soon in my area. Love you very much!

     -Elder Kuehne"
 
The note to dad explained the area:
 
"I'm in the Manila MTC, and it is so crazy! first off, the humidity is like a wall. you really feel it, and I started sweating instantly. It does feel nice, but still, that will take some time. Manila itself is like New york, if new york had Little Homes made out of wood and tin roofs dotted all over. Some homes are pretty normal, but others are definately poor and trying to make it work with whatever they can find. Some people have their jeepney, their newest iphone, and return home to a hut in the middle of a Shantytown. I am never complaining about Utah Drivers ever again. No lanes mixed with aggressive driving make for some really sketchy trips. no accidents, but when we are literally an eyelash away from scraping a wall or another car, it makes Utah seem a little better. The people are also the nicest people ever. Cars passing by would see who we are and wave with a huge grin on their faces. It is so cool here. I can get used to this. love you dad"
 
Its so good to hear a little about the area, as well as how he is doing spiritually!  Hopefully he sends pictures soon so we can have a visual idea of the area as well!
 

Hong Kong

On 8/18/2016 Blake wrote:


"Hello from Hong Kong International!

just wanted to send you an email saying I made it to Hong Kong safely. That was a looooooonnnnngggg flight.

 I tried the new card at an ATM here and it worked, so I think the card is officially ready to go.

All is well. Love you all.

   --Elder Kuehne"
 
A man of few words - fortunately for him, all I need to hear is I made it safely!!

Leaving the MTC

On 8/16/2016 Blake wrote:

"Hi,

Last email in the USA. It's really crazy to think about, but here I am. This has been a good week. We had the opportunity to hear from Elder Anderson last week, and I was in awe by his words. He said to us that now, the missionaries have the same title as him, which I never thought about. He also said that we have been called of the lord, just like he has, to be apostles. (only we have a little "a" at the start)

I've spent the whole day packing and going to the temple. When I was in the temple today doing initiatory work, I felt the spirit so strongly, stronger then I have in any temple before. It was a great blessing to go today, and I loved it. 

I reread the book of mormon twice while in the mtc, and both times, I have felt the spirit testify to me that this is the truth. I know it is, and I can't wait to share that message with the Filipinos!

I plan on calling once I get to Salt Lake. I may also call from LAX, not sure, and If I have permission and the ability to, I will call from Hong Kong international airport. My calling card I bought today has 5 hours on it, and I'm nearly 100% sure it works outside the U.S, so lets hope. 

Tell the family Hi for me, and that I love them very much. 

        -Elder Kuehne"


It was great to hear from Blake!  He was able to call from the Salt Lake Airport as well as LAX.  He was in great spirits and so excited to get to the Philippines!  He loved the MTC and was able to see a few friends while there.