Utica, NY

Monday, August 4, 2014

Goodbye Malone

Trying to catch chickens

I bear sad and glad tidings.

I am leaving Malone. I was only here for a transfer, but I was able to meet so many wonderful people here who have had a great impact on me. I know I will see them in paradise.

I received a call from President Wirthlin Saturday to have a mini chat. He told me I haven't yet received my visa to go to Brazil yet, but he said he knows why. He then extended the call for me to serve as one of his assistants. I was extremely shocked and confused, but he told me that it's what the Lord wants and that I am called to this mission, even though I will still go to Brazil when my visa arrives. I am a nervous, but I know the Lord will prepare the way for me. He qualifies the called, he doesn't call the qualified. Please pray for me though.

I put the wrong soap in the dishwasher

So I will be working in Utica for a little while with Elder Empey, who has his Bachelor's degree and is Jacob's age-25. He is also a personal fitness trainer and looks like Ryan Kunzler. He'll make a man out of me. He's a very hardworking missionary and very consecrated for the Lord. I'm so excited to learn!

I have been asked to bring my facebook account back to life, as we will be implementing facebook missionary work next transfer. Honestly, I don't look forward to trapping myself in cyberspace and viewing all the photos I put on my facebook account before my mission that aren't consistent with my sacred calling, but repentance is a good thing. We'll see how this goes, if the Apostles of Jesus Christ are recommending it, it will be an effective tool for missionary work.

This week was a great one. We really prayed for help, and we were able to achieve President Wirthlin's standards. Dan Foster has his entire agenda for his baptism set up and was upset that I will be messing it up by leaving. I chuckled. I have great confidence that he will make his baptismal date and have the joy of being a member of Christ's true church after receiving a remission of his sins.

One last with Jim Stone

We found a new investigator through a member referral this week. His name is Ryan Haynes. He is an MMA fighter and has lived a rough past due to tragic events that occurred in his life. Because of his frustration, he made bad choices that lead him to being very humbled. After experiencing a change of heart and finding faith in Christ, he devoted to a life of service and was baptized in the Baptist church, but is willing to accept any of God's word. We taught him the condensed message of the restoration using our "restored" teaching method, and he believes that Joseph Smith saw the Father and the Son. He came to church yesterday and bore his testimony. It was incredible. Many people were shocked! He is O HOMEM!

Jim Stone also mustered the courage to bear his testimony and told his story. It was very inspirational. I'm going to miss him so much. He has taught me so much about humility through repentance. Some of the most humble people I know have experienced a mighty change of heart. We should all repent!

Gravesite of Joseph Smith's grandfather near Town of Stockholm, NY

I love you all more than you know, and you are always in my prayers. I have no idea why I was blessed with the examples that I have in my life. I am the luckiest person in the universe.

Tudo Bem!

Elder Kunzler

P.S. Please send all USPS mail to me at P.O. Box 149 Whitesboro, NY 13492. It will be sent right to the Mission office

The fortune in my fortune cookie the day before transfer calls. the background is my hand skin

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Os Grandes Milagres!

The baptism of water


If you've seen the Disney movie, "The Sword and the Stone" you might recollect the scene where the scruffy skinny man gallops to the castle to tell the chubby red-headed man that they are determining who will be the next king. He says, "Big News!" In his words, I have big news:

The Lord is preparing the people of Malone to enter into the Kingdom of God. The work is hastening at a hastened pace! Elder Hawkes and I are the lucky ones the Lord has chosen to harvest the exquisite joy!

Jim's baptism was miraculous. We were rushed to get back from a service project to fill the font in time before the service. We could have used another hour or so, because when Jim got in the water, it only filled to his knees. Luckily after a few tries, he was still able to be fully immersed in the water, and Jim remained calm and patient. It strengthened my testimony of the importance of baptism by immersion! Regardless, there was a good turn out and a couple of our investigators were in attendance! It was powerful to see Jim's glow after he returned in the Relief Society room after being remitted of his sins.

I had the opportunity to confirm Jim a member and help him receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It was a very spiritual experience for me, and very powerful to feel the promises fulfilled from the scriptures that the spirit would tell me all the things I should say. It's been a huge blessing to be able to feel the Lord's power work through me and to be able to mature with my the priesthood I've been entrusted with.

Dan Foster told us he's been praying about baptism and knows he needs to do it. He told us that he felt a strong spirit confirm that he should be baptized on the 3rd of October. We are so happy for him. It's amazing how the spirit "pricks" our hearts, no matter what our background is, and tells us all that we should do. He has already picked out some family members he wants to do temple work for as well as the hymns for his baptismal service. Hehe.

We prayed about a date that Deborah Reed would be able to prepare to be baptized on and we both felt September 13th would be good. She agreed and is now preparing for that day. She still loves the Book of Mormon and Geneology work. Family History work is a very effective missionary tool! Both Dan and Deborah have been coming to church weekly, church activities, service projects and to Jim's baptism. We had a big volleyball game at the Potsdam District Picnic and Dan, Elder Hawkes, and I played a heated match against President Wirthlin and others. Not sure who won.

On Sarturday, we were volunteers at an event with the Senior couple at the Almanzo Wilder Farm, the place where "The Little House on the Prarie" series was written. 'Twas why we were late filling the baptismal font.

Another miracle is that we now have a Branch Mission Leader! We are so excited to work more closely with him and receive his inspired aid. I have no clue how to work with a branch mission leader, so it will be a learning experience for me!

The Lord's work is hastening! Everywhere! I'm so grateful for my worthiness to be part of it day to day!

I love you all! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Elder Kunzler

Mennonite Schoolhouse Rock!

Monday, July 21, 2014

any fires in need of a good fight?
Hello everybody!

I am going to try to make this speedy so I can respond to your personal emails!

Remember Dan Foster? He is the man we have been teaching who has a Buddhist background. This week he went to Palmyra with the senior missionary couple serving here and had an incredible experience at the Hill Cumorah pageant and Temple Visitor's Center and Sacred Grove. He said his experience in the grove was unlike anything he had ever experienced. He came to church on Sunday excited to meet with us and told us that he "needed" to be baptized. It was shocking, but very exciting. We invited him to ponder and pray about a date he can work towards, and he accepted. Oh, the Excitement!

Deborah Reed came to church on Sunday! She is now progressing towards baptism on a date will be praying about this week. We should have done that a lot earlier! But she is very excited about hearing more of the gospel and she loves the Book of Mormon.

Jim Stone's baptismal interview was on Saturday and he lit up like a giant light bulb afterwards. He was so excited and expressed so much gratitude (as always) in being able to feel the Holy Ghost change him. Stay tuned for his baptism this Saturday! I will tell you about it and send pictures next week!

I love you all and wish you a happy week!


Elder Kunzler

Sin will be smitten

Hello family!

Elder Hawkes and I put up another good fight this week in this battle against sin and evil here in Malone. Satan doesn't stand a chance. We were able to have a lot of success this week just like last week, and we are reaping the blessings of being in the Lord's service, much more than we deserve. We experienced a great miracle I am excited to share with you..

First of all, I would like to tell you a little bit about the Malone Branch. We meet in a tiny fully functional LDS building that was built about 5 years ago. About 20 people show up each week to church, so the missionaries play an active role in the unit. Yesterday I spoke about covenants and was just in awe the whole time how small of a congregation I was speaking to. I'm sure the branches in Brazil are even smaller. The units on the west coast are gargantuan. We are part of the Potsdam District, consisting of 6 or so branches. Teensy! We are working to get the members motivated to share the gospel with their friends. Many of the members do a great job of giving us referrals, we just need to continue earning their trust! Our branch president, President Nicholson is the MAN. He looks like Pierce Brosnan and he lives the life I want to live in the future. He is a mechanical engineer in Massena, but lives in Potsdam. He was the branch president of the Potsdam Branch (which was a ward before the stake broke off from Montreal and became a district) but received a special assignment to serve as branch president here in Malone.

We are teaching an elderly couple, Charles (Chuck) and Joyce Gardner. They believe strongly in our doctrine and want to be baptized. The only thing keeping them is that Chuck is the pastor of a church he organized many years ago, and that is his main source of income until he retires in just a couple years. They are the coolest. They feed us each week and love to read the Book of Mormon with us. Chuck takes the things our church teaches and preaches it to his own church. I love them.

A Happy 14th of July from the young Hawk.

I went on an exchange this week in Massena, which is the northern-most area in the mission. I got to look at the beauty of Canada. We worked in an indian reservation part of the time where the native americans are obsessed with lacrosse, and lacrosse stores are everywhere. Kinda made me want to LAX! with some native american blood.

We found an investigator named Deborah Reed sitting on her porch. She is extremely interested in her family history and wanted to know about the ancestors of the native americans. GOLDEN. We've met with her a couple times now and she wants to be baptized! We are giving her a tour of the church this week.

And now.. on to the grand miracle.

While I was working in Massena, Jim Stone dropped us. He said that he felt that everyone was tugging at him and there was too much pressure between the church and the many issues he has going on in his life. It was one of the saddest and most discouraging things I had experienced on my mission I would say. It was really hard for Elder Hawkes and I, he was SO close and had gone so far, but we both realized that the Lord had other things in store for us and him, and that the Lord wanted us to reflect, learn, and move forward.

A couple days later during our companion study, Jim called us and said he wanted to talk, so we met at his house later that day. During our visit, he very humbly told us that the real reason  that he dropped us was because he felt a ton of temptation to turn back to his past sins and addictions, and he really understood that Satan wanted him to abandon us and give up his soberness. The way he expressed his darkness and misery and lack of sleep those two days strengthened my testimony of the light the Gospel brings. Even though the temptation to sin was extremely high, he was able to stop himself, so he is still clean. He told us he wants to keep meeting and his goal is the baptism on July 26th. It was the most spiritual visit I've had my entire mission- a true tender mercy of the Lord. An incredible gift to be able to see an ex-deputy sheriff be humbled through true repentance and turn his life completely around.

I have learned so much about true conversion and humility though repentance throughout my life. I have been warned so much of the consequences of sin that I have no desire to even come close, but I know that repentance gives us a fresh view of God, ourselves, and the world. It is a gift to have the opportunity to change and gift up our pride to become humbled. Let's repent every day!

I love you all so much. Stay real.

Elder Kunzler

Elder Bednar playing baseball

Time is Running Out


Malone is the coolest! But I have to apologize because this email will be teenzy. I will explain why next week and also tell you all about Malone! First I'll give you some pictures to prepare you. It's a lot like Richfield-everybody knows each other and participates in community gatherings. The movie "The Little House on the Prarie" was filmed here in this area, so hopefully that can give you a sufficient description for now.

Elder Hawkes is the best! He is a humble, submissive, and diligent missionary who gives the Lord his best. He is a great pleasure to work with. We have had a lot of fun already!

This place has a ton of potential. We are teaching a man named Jim Stone who is preparing for his baptism on the 26th of July! He is such a solid guy who is so prepared. He used to be the deputy sheriff here in Malone, and made some choices that brought him to the lowest of lows, but he has turned his life around 180 degrees and is living on the pathway to descipleship. He gives all the credit for abandoning his addictions to God and is just so appreciative of the happiness he now has in his life. He will be the third convert in the Malone Branch in the past 2 or 3 years. I am indeed lucky to be here at this time. So so lucky.

From Jim's example, I've learned a lot more about the joys of repentance, and how it can make us so humble. When counseling his son Helaman, Alma said that nothing was so exquisite as was his joy when he tasted of the sweetness of repentance, and nothing was so tormenting as was his pain. If we repent daily, we will be humble. We can't preach repentance unless we are working on ourselves!

So sorry this was so short! I promise to give you a good description of Malone next week! I love you all.

Elder Kunzler

In a Big Country, dreams stay with you

Heroes of Time

I'm not going to lie, when I first got here in Malone, I had just higher than a tinse of culture shock. It was an adjustment.. but now, this is THE PLACE. The main source of entertainment here is bingo and rubber duck derbies. We do a lot of service with the community as well. The people here know the missionaries well, even though they don't believe in our religion, but do thank us for our kindness. We spend a couple hours a week here at soup kitchens, food pantries, and helping old people play HOY (whatever that is) at the local hospital. It's a different experience than the skyscrapers and city lights, but I love it! This week I swerved around two amish families in carriages along the highway. Don't worry father, I didn't forget to say, "oh gosh" seconds before swerving. I was kept safe because of that. Yes, President Wirthlin made me a designated driver. I never would have thought I would be trusted to drive one of the Lord's vehicles on my mission. Sadly it's not a black 1990 Nissan Maxima with really squeaky windshield wipers.

The last elder here prepared me for a whole lotta work here, that I've just been lucky enough to continue doing.. There is some really good work going on here. Tons of families! Elder Hawkes and I were just shy of reaching President Wirthlin's standards of excellence. We were very busy, which was wonderful!

We met with a Less Active girl who Elder Sam Bybee (Salem, OR) baptized, and met with here whole family. We read about Abinadi from the Book of Mormon stories book she is reading. Her mother and father were pretty in tune and enjoyed the message contained therein. The father, Joe, attends his uncle's church but asked if we could work out with him in the mornings. We accepted and we get to plant a gospel seed in his heart in doing so. He asks good questions and is a very nice christian man who is buff. He's going to make a man out of me, and in return the young hawk and I will exchange with something that will change his life! It's been really fun working out like a champ.

Jim Stone is probably the most humble and willing to learn investigators I've taught. He understands why we make covenants and why they are important to be worthy of. He is counting down the days until his baptism, and won't let Satan stop him from getting there. A little temptation has crept in with some of his past transgressions, so we are meeting with him every day now!

We picked up a few investigators this week as well! One of them was found in the ideal way, at a dinner appointment. His name is Dan Foster. His religious background is Hindu. (I believe) He believes everything we teach him except for resurrection. He is devoted to believing in reincarnation. We are just waiting for the holy ghost to touch his heart and change his mind through our short lessons with him. He is keeping all of his commitments and agreed to be baptized if he can still believe in reincarnation, so that's a good start.

The last thing I wanted to tell you about is that there are A TON of people here in Malone who love the missionaries and spoil us to death, but aren't willing to accept our teaching visits. It's weird, but cool. Right now I am at the home of a guy named Dave Nichols, who is mission famous. He owns a guitar shop that is pretty famous. He makes guitars for some of the biggest rockstars and celebrities. He is really wealthy so he buys us whatever we want and mails things for us for free. He loves missionaries because of their dedication for what they do. He has tons of respect for missionaries. He's extremely funny, he thinks that everyone in the world should be LDS so that it can be held together and not turn to garbage, but he is set on being a Mason. He and President Wirthlin are good friends. There are other non-members just like him who want to take us out to eat and buy us things. It's like I'm a missionary in Utah.

I'm so grateful to be a member of this church and this country! I know that the Restoration of Christ's church was needed in a place with so much religious freedom. Our forefathers have done so much for us so our lives can be so much easier. Be part of the restoration and build the kingdom! "Be an active member in your community"-Billy from Adventure Time

Muito amor,

Elder Kunzler SR!

The gravesite of Joseph Smith's grandfather. Read the quote on the bottom!

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Goodbye Albany

Ben's special day. Ben is the one without the "Mormon Smile" :)
Hey again!

Just as the title indicates, I am leaving Albany, but not the United States of America. I'm being transferred to the tippety top of the state near the Canadian border in a small town entitled, "Malone" like the character from The Legend of Zelda, only with an "e" at the end. Luckily the Lord knows that I don't have enough meat on my bones to survive the -50 degree blustery winter winds, so he is sending me there during the summer time. I know very little of Malone, I've heard from a couple of people that it's roaming with Amish people and lambs. Perhaps I will learn not to rely so much on TechMology.

My new companion's name is Elder HAWK. He came out just 3 months ago, so he may be the first companion I've served with that isn't of the legal drinking age. I love him already. I love hawks. Especially on t-shirts.

It has been pretty tough saying goodbye to the urban streets of Albany and the people here. I really have loved it here and I'm going to miss it. I've never been transferred before, so I now have a testimony that it is hard to leave such an awesome area. I know that the Lord has things prepared for me up in the north country, and I'm excited for the adventures with Elder Hawk. Wednesday will be a long day. It'll take us about 4 hours to travel up there from Utica. It will be a good chance for me to collect the scenery of beautiful upstate New York.

The Johnson family minus Za'Mainya. She was gone.

I spent the first portion of the week in Utica working with Elder Ferris. It was my third temple-trip exchange. He is a great Elder and we had some fun times contacting really weird people and some normal people in downtown Utica.

Remember how I told you that we found 2 new families to teach? Well one of them called us and told us that they wanted to stick to Catholicism, which was sad, but the other we picked up as investigators, which made us glad! The mother, Marika Hodge, is super funny. She got really into our lesson and said she wanted to be baptized! Cool way to end the transfer!

Another cool way the transfer ended was with Ben's baptism! It was absolutely wonderful to see his brother baptize him. Ben was already so prepared and just fell into our hands. All we had to do was have faith that the Lord would place someone in our paths that was searching for he truth, and that he did! After the baptism, a member wanted to take us out to do the Emack Attack Ice cream challenge again to celebrate. It was very random, but we were able to finish it in about 8 minutes this time, but with 2 more people. But that's not that important to share with you.

Ben Foote was confirmed on Sunday and interviewed to receive the Priesthood. After sacrament meeting, Elder Ledford and I spotted a new couple who sat in the back. We introduced ourselves and they said they were very interested in our religion. They are agnostic but accept our teachings. They became very interested in our religion from watching a series on PBS about mormons. We are going to call them tomorrow to set something up. Michael, the husband, requested a Book of Mormon in French to make it more fun to study. I told him that my brother just came home from his mission in Lyon. He cared.

Ahh, as I sit using this ginormous computer screen at the Empire State Plaza Library, I think of how much I'm going to miss having the "New York" feel. I'm going to be taking some quality shots with the camera after this. I know that it was inspired for me to come to this place for the purpose to save souls, not just because I like it here, but because I've been lucky enough to meet Ben Foote, the Yarleque family, the Johnson family, and several other people that have played such a huge impact on my life. I was meant for me to be here from the beginning, even if the world thinks I'm supposed to be in Curitiba watching the World Cup. I love New York so much. I know that God puts us in specific places for our growth and personal benefit. He knows our potentials and wants us aspire to them. He loves us perfectly.

I love YOU! And I wish you the happiest of weeks. So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye.

Elder Kunzler