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


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!! :)


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.

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 :)


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