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.


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."