Utica, NY

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry CHRISTmas!

Hello family!
This email will be kept short since I would like to catch up on sending personal emails to you, since I feel extremely guilty for not responding in weeks!
I would like to tell you about a tender mercy that I was blessed to witness this semana.
This week, I was a bit discouraged since many of our teaching appointments were cancelled. I enjoy talking to people in the streets, but I LOVE teaching appointments, just because I am madly in love with the spirit I feel while teaching people. After feeling rather upset about what wasn't going on in my week, I thought of Ether 12:6, the scripture about "receiving no witness until after the trial of your faith." So, during my nightly prayers, I pleaded for an increase of faith and that I would recieve some witness after that trial of my faith that I would have some kind of experience that would rekindle my faith in the work here in Albany. Friday night we had the opportunity to teach the Yarleque family, the family from Peru. Maritza, the Matriarch of the home has a baptismal date, but her husband, Christian is still struggling to know what the spirit feels like, and feels he hasn't recieved an answer that this is God's path for him. They come to church regularly and they both believe the Book of Mormon is true, but Christian doesn't believe that there is one true church. At the beginning of the lesson, we were prepared to share the story of christmas with them and watch the good 'ol Joy to the World DVD, but ended up spending over half of the time answering Christian's questions about the Book of Mormon, more specifically, Lehi's vision of the tree of life. I LOVE it when investigators ask questions they have about the Book of Mormon because it shows that they are reading and really want to gain a testimony of it. When the time was right, Elder Hougaard asked if Christian believed the Book of Mormon was the word of God. Christian said yes, and that it almost replaces the Bible because the "the Bible is so outdated." I laughed, and explained to him how the Bible and Book of Mormon support each other, that both are the word of God, and that God will always give us new doctrine, whether it be by his prophets or by books. Then I felt spiritually prompted to share the scripture about God being the same yesterday, today, and forever, but couldn't remember the exact reference. I ended up opening my scripture quad DIRECTLY to 1 Nephi 10:18-19. I was absolutely amazed. It was no coincidence that God would show me that he cared that I shared this scripture. I may be exaggerating, but I found this to be a miracle and an answer to my prayers.
I have no doubt in my mind that Christian will choose to accept baptism. Not because I was somewhat experiencing a spiritual "high" at the time, but because he said he thought he felt the spirit in that meeting with him. He really is diving into the Book of Mormon now that his semester at the University at Albany has ended. I'm so excited for the day to come when I get to see the Yarleque family in white.
The mission isn't easy. There are many discouragements, but the miracles outweigh the discouraging times. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the lord's work. I feel honored to wear our lord's name over my heart these two years, and to help people to find out the true meaning of christmas and the beauty behind it. I know that there is a light at the end of every tunnel we feel trapped in. Always. In the words of morrisey, "There is a light and it never goes out."
As Jeff Ramos, my favorite Dominican, always says, "Love, Peace, Chicken Grease"
Elder James Kunzler

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Ternas Misericordias do Senhor

Ola outra vez Familia!
Today was an eventful week of Christmas joy and snowy white pleasure. I'd like to share with you a few of the tender mercies that I was able to witness this week.
First of all, we had Zone Training Meeting this past thursday where we were informed by the Zone Leaders and President Wirthlin on how to proselyte more effectively this holiday season. It was very interesting to hear of the many unique ways that the NY Utica mission utilizes the Christmastime to teach families about Christ. I can't believe the transfer is already halfway over! It still seems like I just met Elder Hougaard.
We finally had a lesson with a guy named Shawn Steele who I've been trying to have a lesson with for months! He is ready for baptism and even said he listens to the Book of Mormon on audio every night! The only thing keeping him from baptism is that he isn't married to the woman he has been living with for 10+ years, and doesn't want to. He is afraid that she will change once they are legally wedded. Please pray that he he will recognize that legal marriage is ordained of God.
These past three days were a bit tough. Nearly all of our appointements were cancelled on us, right when the snowstorms started coming. This left us with our backup plans, which was to basically walk around and contact people while visiting former and potential investigators' homes. It's times like these when I walk around in snowstorms when I think of the memories that serving New York will give me. I will never experience the same things in Brazil. It really is crazy how different my two missions are.
Elder Hougaard and I both realized that the reason we didn't have any appointments the last three days was because the lord wanted us to give him our best. He wanted us to work hard, even in the harsh and cold weather. So, Elder Hougaard and I went back to our apartment, put on basically every article of clothing we had, said a prayer that the lord would help us find one person to share a christmas message with, and started working. We were successful, and found a couple of people that the lord had prepared for us to come back to their home and share a brief message with.
Yesterday, we had about 15 members show up to church because the snowstorm left many people's vehicles lost in the depths of snow. It was CRAZY! I wish I could've taken a couple of pictures but my camera broke.. (I'm sending it home today, there is a warranty on it!) After sacrament meeting and sunday school, we went to the apartment to get some snow shovels and help people dig their cars out. We did this the whole day, since our appointments were cancelled. At nighttime, we came at a crossroads with our shovels in hand. Elder Hougaard and I said a quick prayer to know which way to go. We both felt like we should turn right, so we did. The streets were dark, and we felt like we had made the wrong choice after walking a couple of blocks, until we found a lone man shoveling out his driveway. We approached him and asked if we could help, but he said he would be okay. Walking away a bit discouraged, he yelled back at us, "Nevermind, if you both help, I'll give you 5 bucks each." I replied, "Can we do it for free?" Turns out, this guy knows our branch president and wants us to come back to share a christmas message with him and his family. Prayer is real!
I love you all and wish you a happy week of Nice, school, work, etc. Happy Holidays!
Elder Ja. Kunzler
P.S. If Josh skypes at 8:30 Pacific time on Christmas, then I'll try to schedule my session at the same time. Hopefully that'll work out. I'll give you more details next week. The rule in this mission is 30 minutes skype and a 1 hour phone call. Strange, I know.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Christmas Miracles

Family, friends, loved ones-
I feel the true christmas spirit, and I haven't even pulled out the library of Christmas CD's, decorated a christmas tree, watched 'A Christmas Story', or been christmas shopping. The true christmas spirit comes from remembering our savior, and serving him. I've been able to feel this way because of a few christmas miracles that happened this week atop the killer 1st presidency christmas devotional that was given last night. That was killer.
We spent the beginning of the week organizing a giant map with pins of where all of our active and inactive members, potential investigators, former investigators, and investigators are located. It took a lot of our time, but was worth it to make it a lot easier to know which people we should contact depending on the area we are in.
We went about a normal week in the Albany downtown area until friday, when we received a DOWNPOUR of blessings. On friday, we went outside, and nearly everyone we contacted invited us to come back to share a christmas message. Not only this, but we picked up 3 BRAND NEW investigators that day, all of which are very interested in the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was spectacular. I'd like to tell you about one of these New Investigators-Shawn Gladdin. We passed by Shawn on the street twice before we contacted him on tuesday. Twice showing that the lord intended to have us talk to the guy. We talked to him and he said he had just moved from North Carolina and wanted us to return because he said he was at a time in his life where he has questions about which church and book is correct. In Albany, there are a lot of Jehovah's witnesses, so their bible is pretty well known. We returned on Friday and he invited us in. He asked us basically all the questions a young greenie missionary like myself would want to answer. We informed him about what we are going to be doing in our lessons with him and read the introduction to the Book of mormon together and bore testimony of it. He is going to read it! This is probably the greatest miracle I've experienced thus far on my mission.
At the end of Friday, Elder Hougaard and I tried to figure out what we did differently to have so much success that day. We realized it was nothing we did. God intented those people to hear the gospel. All a missionary is a vessel of the spirit that carries glad tidings of great joy to the world. We have an organized map, some solid investigators, some great great goals, and we are ready to attack this transfer! The lord provided us the needs to have a successful transfer.
I have been reading a lot about the Nephi in 3rd Nephi. I challenge you all this week to read 3 Nephi chapters 1-8 to see what happens in the americas in the time that Jesus come to the earth in Jerusalem, and how the Nephites prepare for his coming in 3 Nephi 11.
I love you all muito. Always remember the true meaning of CHRISTmas!
Elder Kunzler

Christmas Spirit

My favorite human

Friday, December 6, 2013

'Tis the season to be Jolly

My loving family,
What does it mean to be Jolly?
Another incredible week has swifted by. It's scary how fast the mission is flying by. Luckily I'll have another 21 months to create lifelong memories.
Elder Menlove has safely arrive at his home in Arizona. I said goodbye to him on Wednesday. He was a great missionary and I have learned a lot from him. I embraced my new companion Elder Hougaard for the first time on our staircase on Wednesday morning after having a successful language study session of teaching my investigator Tiago, a character I drew on my white board. It was quite dramatic.
I LOVE ELDER HOUGAARD. Not just because he looks EXACTLY like Buzz Lightyear, but because he is an incredible missionary. He works really hard and is really obedient and always finds the good in others. He helps me to aspire to become the kind of missionary I want to be. Since this is the first time he hasn't been a Zone Leader in 9 months, I was worried that he wouldn't enjoy having no leadership responsibilities, but this just simply isn't the case. We teach very well together. In most cases, trainers often do most of the talking in lessons, but Elder Hougaard and I are able to trust each other enough to split the time evenly. We work mighty miracles together.
We will have an amazing transfer together. I'm so excited about what lies ahead this transfer. We have had a great start with some great referrals who want to attend church this next Sunday. Boy, that will make my day.
Thanksgiving was a hoot! We ate a large American Thanksgiving meal with many of the members of the branch. I almost forgot how much Thanksgiving makes me tired! It was tough to remain alert the rest of the day!
A couple of days ago while Elder Hougaard was applying for his library card here at the Albany Public Library, I decided to go talk to a woman since I had nothing to do. Turns out this woman was reading a book about Mitt Romney and studies our religion quite a bit. Knowing that she was an avid reader and was interested in our religion, I gave her a Book of Mormon with my testimony written inside. Now, while she is currently sitting across from me telling me that she loves the book. I am SO glad I came prepared with a Book of Mormon!
I love the Book of Mormon. This is something I have realized on my mission. Every time I read it with a new purpose, I gain new insights about the things I am searching for. We can never read it enough. It testifies of Christ, it proves that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and that there is a true prophet today. As I find new flecks of gold in the Book of Mormon, I learn how to be a better disciple of Christ. May we all study and treasure this important Book that has been brought forth by many ancient prophets who knew we needed it to restore chirst's true church on the earth. It is meant to be shared with the entire world. Share it with your friends. Do not be afraid. It only can make one happy.
I love you all! Eat a lot of pumpkin pie and cheese balls for me!
Com muito amor,
Elder Kunzler
NY Utica Mission

Feliz O Dia de Acao de Gracas!


As my title with incorrect Portuguese grammar indicates, Happy Thanksgiving.

I have had yet another lovely week in the Northeast. There is snow here! The other night walking home from a lesson at the church there was a bit of a snow storm. I had never felt so cold in my entire life. I thought I was well covered up, but the small part of my body that wasn't covered, my face skin, about turned into a sheet of ice. I love that I get to serve in two distinct places that have COMPLETELY different weather patterns. Lots of memories shall be created.

I spend most of this week outside of Albany. Since Elder Menlove goes home on Wednesday, he went with the departing missionaries to Palmyra, which is a tradition at the end of everyone's missions here. I spent those three days in Schenectady with Elder Johnson. That was SO much fun. Elder Johnson and I are good friends. He and I figured out we have the same taste in music, so we found ourselves humming the lyrics to some of our favorite Arctic Monkeys songs. Schenectady is a sweet city. It is home to Ray Bradbury, the science fiction writer, General Electric headquarters, and Thomas Edison. Dad, remember when we read Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury together before I entered High School, because I didn't know how to read? If I end up going into engineering, I may be coming back to upstate New York. This is like engineering capital of the world. I spend my week on two other exchanges in Watervliet and Delmar, both small suburbs of Albany. I had a great time traveling this beautiful area this week.

So I didn't get my permission to enter the country of Brazil this transfer, but that's okay. I have not yet accomplished the thing which the Lord commanded me, which is to have at least one baptism before I leave. It's coming, I can feel it. My new companion's name is Elder Hougaard. I have not yet met him, but I hear great things! He has been a Zone Leader most of his mission kind of like Josh. This will be his first training transfer in 9 months. I'm SO excited to work with him. We are going to work really well together. I have really been blessed here in the Utica mission. I can't believe that even though I am a mere visa waiting missionary, the lord, giving inspiration to President Wirthlin, is giving me one of his best missionaries to complete my training.

When I arrived back in Albany on Saturday we were able to meet with Justin. We taught him the Plan of Salvation. He was really interested and had a lot of really good questions. He loves meeting with the missionaries and going to church, but he is still deciding if he wants to commit to being baptized. Please pray for him. Pray that the spirit will give him the desire to read the Book of Mormon as well.

Many of you are wondering what my plans are for Thanksgiving. Elder and Sister Helser, the senior couple serving in our branch, is making a delicious Thanksgiving meal for the missionaries and some of the members of our Branch who can't afford thanksgiving this year. It will be a good opportunity for Elder Hougaard and I to meet some more members!

Well I need to get off, but I wish you all a happy week! Keep reading the scriptures and praying! Those two simple things truly create a such strong relationship between God and man.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving and Black Friday.

Eu amo voces,

Elder Kunzler

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Your Utican missionary

Hello Family!

This email will be kept relatively short since I don't have much time to write today and I want to catch up on replying to everyone's personal emails.

Things are still going quite well here in upstate New York. I still love the gospel of Jesus Christ with every fiber of my being and the capacities it has to bring families such as our own together. I don't know what or where i'd be without it.

This week was mostly spent traveling. I spent Tuesday on an exchange in Troy, NY with Elder Freeman from Lehi, UT. Troy is a very small and very old village very close to Albany. The entire city is obsessed with Uncle Sam, since he spent most of his life in Troy. There are little statues of Uncle Sam on every street corner, where he is dressed in different costumes, such as captain america and as a pirate.

Thursday night I spent the night in the Mission Home with Elder Menlove. We had a special Trainer/Trainee meeting in Utica all day Friday where we followed up on how the first transfer of the mission has been. We were trained by President Joseph B. Wirthin, jr., Sister Wirthlin, the Assistants and Senior couple missionaries. It was a great day, as dad would say.

I love you all and wish you a happy week. I'll let you know if I got my visa this transfer next week! I love you all!
Elder James Christian Kunzler

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Feliz Dia das Veteranos!

Ola outra vez Familia!
Don't you like how I title my emails with something written in my assigned mission language, like what Josh does, so that the only way you can decode is by using google translate?
I give you my sincerest apology for not sending you an email yesterday, Preparation Day. If you guessed that it wasn't sent yesterday because it was Veteran's Day and the Albany Public Library was closed, you were 100% correct.
For those of you wondering, there hasn't been any snowfall here in Albany lately, but I'm 85% sure that the blustering winds of winter are soon to come. All we need is a little precipitation. Just walking here, these winds blowing on my cheeks felt as if Jack Frost was biting my face, not just nipping at my nose.
Jeff Ramos gave me permission to pet one of his dove. I named it Teancum.

This week has been by far the busiest I've had in the mission. The lord has blessed Elder Menlove and I with plenty of individuals to teach about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have had some very spiritual experiences and several experiences where I've had to self-reflect on how I can become a better representative of our Savior.
This past week I went on my first exchange with Elder Gleue (Gloy-yay), a Zone Leader, here in downtown Albany. He and I are good pals. Since I had recently watched the Mormon Message for Brandon Flowers, and since I was excited to work with him, I sang the song "Enterlude" by the Killers to him since I deemed it was appropriate. We worked great together and taught quite a few lessons that day to some of our recent converts and less active members. I taught him a few Portuguese phrases in addition.
My eyes aren't bigger than my stomach anymore! Elder Mernlove and I ate at a small Italian Pizzeria between a couple lessons on Wednesday and the owner, who looks like the Italian chef from Lady and the Tramp, cooked up for me a giant calzone about the size of my head. I ate it all. Then I thought of all those times when Jacob and Dad tormented me for being skinny. I may come home chubby.
We had the chance to teach our investigators Justin and Christian and Maritza and their family. We taught Justin about baptism and invited him to be baptized. He agreed, but was hesitant about setting a date. He told us that he would give it some thought about when he wants to set that up. We are excited for him. Elder Gleue and I taught Christian and Maritza, our Peruvian invetigators on Friday about Tithes and Offerings. It went really really well. They committed to pay tithing after baptism. They are the sweetest people and they have to young children who are hilarious. The boy has a bull-cut, kind of like Jacob's when he was a toddler.
The other day Elder Menlove rolled his ankle playing basketball, and now it's the size of a softball. I don't know what it is, but my companions always seem to get injured. I promise I don't hurt them. Luckily President Wirthlin is sending us a car so his ankle doesn't inhibit our ability to work.
On Saturday night after teaching a recent convert family, we experienced a miracle at the bus stop going back to the apartment. We struck up a conversation with a man named Ceequan about life, just a normal conversation. He looks like Michael Vick. He was wearing a hat backwards with a buddha on it. Eventually, he asked us who we where and what we do. He asked us what made our church any different from other christian churches, so we went into living prophets, the priesthood, etc. He was extremely interested and told us that he studies all kinds of religions, but never heard of ours. Getting on the bus, he sat next to us and wanted to know more. We basically taught him briefly the entire restoration through Joseph Smith on the bus ride. I gave pulled out a Livro de Mormon I kept in my sachel with my testimony written inside and gave it to him. I told him that he can know for himself if the things we teach him are true by reading it. He gave us his number and we are meeting with him this week.
At meal with my good friend Jenaro who has taught me quite a bit of Espanol these past weeks.
Incredible things are happening here. Even though the work is very difficult here, we somehow have enough people to teach to keep us occupied. The lord shows us where to harvest his souls. I love it here.
I might be informed this week whether or not I got my visa, since the transfer is ending in 2 weeks. I would love to get it to begin really working on my Portuguese, but I love it here, and I would understand if the lord doesn't give it to me quite yet. He has a need for me here. Everything is on his time, it is just my job to accept his will.
Brother Fredette of the Albany Stake presidency spoke in our branch on Sunday. This is Jimmer Fredette's father. He is an INCREDIBLE speaker. He talked about his conversion story and taught about the importance of being spiritually nourished as much as being temporally nourished. The way he spoke just made sense. I spoke to him briefly afterwards and told him that my friends, family and I were the only poeple in the Rose Garden to cheer for his son. He chuckled.
In Alma 32 it is perfectly explained how this spiritual nourishment can develop our faith. As we continue to feed our faith with scripture study, prayer, and church attendance, our faith can become a blossoming tree that produces a sweet fruit that others can enjoy. I know this is true. As we do these things, I promise that we can increase our faith in the gospel.
Have a great week. Eu amo voces muito!
Elder Kunzler

Monday, November 4, 2013

Ola Novembro!

Oi Familia!
Before I go on, I better give you my address before I forget for the third time.
Elder Kunzler
P.O. Box 149
Whitesboro, NY 13492
There. Now feel free to send me a little something that will make my day.
I can't believe I am already in week 4 of New York! The weeks just keep flyin' by. I ate lots of Buffalo wings and pizza this week and have been working on my New Yoka accent.
The winds of winter have approached this area. The huge population of squirells is scurrying. Today it was 21 degrees outside. It is CHILLY, and I'm not talking about the grub or the country. The sun is out, but it is deceiving. Sometimes I feel tempted to go about my day in just a long sleeve shirt, but then I find myself looking like Mr. Snow from "The Year Without a Santa Clause". But don't worry about me. I haven't been ill once while I've been here. In fact, I've never felt so healthy.
On Tuesday I had my very first Zone Conference. Elder Bruce D. Porter of the Seventy addressed us for about an hour about the Savior's atonement and grace. It was definitely a talk from a general authority. It was incredible. Some of my favorite talks are about the atonement and it's immense healing capabilities. I was able to have a good little chat with him afterwards.
A couple days ago we attended the baptism of a young chap whom the zone leaders taught. Baptisms are the best. President Wirthlin was there! He gave me a gentle shoulder squeeze and made sure I was keeping up with the Portuguese. I did not let him down.
This past week was a tough one. We weren't able to teach any of our investigators, so we attempted some potential investigators and less active members. We taught a lady named Elaina Arluck who is contemplating leaving the church. She has a tough time getting out of the house. We experienced a miracle with her. She started explaining why she doesn't want to come back to church, and ended the meeting by saying she did want to come back. We showed her the talk by Uchtdorf about Doubting your doubts. We are meeting with her again tonight, and I cannot wait.
Justin has been talking to his mother about joining the church. We heard this from some of his friends in the Branch. She is not very supportive, but he is an adult. We are just excited that he is wanting to accept the gospel.
The work here in Albany has been quite tough, but most of the members in our branch are recent converts, so they love to share the gospel with their friends, it is incredible. Since the branch is so new, the members are still learning a lot about how the church is ran. It can be really funny at times. Many members who come from a baptist backgrounds repeat prayers and shout "Amen!" These members are so loving though and are following the prophet by helping with the work of salvation.
The mission has stretched me in many ways. I have been well humbled by it. Even though there is much discouragement, the miracles and spiritual experiences are what make it well worth it. Family, help the missionaries. Give them people to teach, people who may be struggling with challenges in their lives or who you feel are prepared to feel the incredible amount of joy we feel from the gospel. It is very hard to find people to teach, most of our success comes through the members. This is why the prophet is asking members and missionaries to work together. We are one. We can all feel the incredible blessings from missionary work.
Eu amo voces. Tem outro feliz semana!
Elder Kunzler

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Feliz Dia das Bruxas!

Oi Familia, Amigos, e Amigas!

It's good to email you all for the second time on this cold day here on the Eastern front. I am still safe and healthy. My New Yorker accent has improved so far. Maybe someday I will develop a New Yorker/Brazilian accent. That would be radical.

In Doctrine and Covenants 84:114 it says that if the City of Albany New York does not cry unto repentance, they are doomed. It is my vital role to help these people do so. I will not fail.

This week most of our investigators cancelled on us, so we taught a lot of less active recent converts, and invited them to come back to church. Most of them said they would, which is very exciting. If they don't, I'll just have to read to them D&C 84:114 ;)

Our Branch's old chapel. We just got a brand new one.

We managed to sneak in one lesson with our investigator, Justin. He had many questions about the Word of Wisdom and our stance on Tattoos, since he likes to drink coffee and he wants to get a tattoo. Our plan was to talk about the Plan of Salvation with him, but the subject completely changed to the Word of Wisdom. He understands why we have the Word of Wisdom, so he's going to try to quit Coffee. Justin is golden. He absolutely LOVES going to church. We played basketball with him today. Just pray that he changes his mind about getting a tattoo.

A couple days ago Elder Menlove was giving himself a haircut while I was studying. Noticing that my hair was getting long as well and quite thick, I asked to use his thinning scissors to thin my hair. That was a bad idea. I ended up nearly shaving a bald spot atop my skull. After laughing at me, my companion basically shaved my head to a buzz cut to match the damage I'd already done. So now, after vowing to never get a buzz cut in my life, I sit at this desk looking like Natalie Portman from V for Vendetta. I haven't any pictures, so I'll just let you imagine what it looks like until next week.

Missionaries aren't allowed to proselyte on Halloween night, so after 5pm, our plans are to hang out at a members house to play Settlers of Catan. Just in case you wanted to know. We can't even pass out mormon.org cards to the children. Bummer.

One of my favorite things about being a missionary is studying in the morning. You have an hour in the morning to study things in the scriptures or in the missionary reference library, looking for things that can help you with your teaching or for investigators. Since I've been in New England I've been studying the New Testament. It has been an incredible experience for me to study closely the life of the savior and his attributes. I don't know why I haven't studied the New Testament before. I invite you all to study more about Jesus Christ, the head of our church. Try to develop his attributes. Become converted to him and his gospel. In Alma 23:5-6 it says that as long as Nephites were converted to the lord, they never fell away. You all can be the same.

Eu sei que nos temos a plentitude do evangelho e eu sou muito grato para este. Eu sei que A Igreja de Jesus Cristo dos Santos dos Ultimos Dias e A verdadeira igreja de Jesus Cristo. Ele e nossos Salvador e se nos tentamos tornar-se como ele, nos podemos sentir paz e alegria eterna.

Eu amo voces MUITO! Have a wonderful week an a Feliz Dia das Bruxas (Day of the Witches ;)

Elder Kunzler

Some cool graffiti 

These streets will make you feel brand new

Amani Edwards' baptism

Hello Everybody!
First of all I'd like to thank everyone for the plethora of emails this week. It feels so good to be reminded that I have a family and friends that support me, especially at times when I feel I am alone like Moroni was at the end of the Book of Mormon. You all rock.
After saying goodbye to all the awesome friends I've made in the MTC, I began my journey to Syracuse, NY. I was the only one going to NY, I guess they didn't schedule me on the flight to Syracuse the day after, when the other MTC missionaries were travelling there. Needless to say, that was a good missionary opportunity for me. I had a good intelligent conversation with a man on the plane about religion. Who knows what he did with the Mormon.org card I gave him, but he was very friendly.
Flying into Syracuse I was amazed at how colorful the trees were. It's easy to tell here that it's autumn. It smells like maple and looks like a giant pumpkin patch. I spend the first night in the mission home with two other sisters. President Wirthlin and I interviewed for a couple hours and he fed me a mean burger. He is probably the coolest Apostle's son I've ever met.
Currently I am in the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Not the City, in the Capital. My sphere of proselyting space is Downtown Albany NY. My companion's name is Elder Menlove. He is from Chandler, AZ and is 3 years older than me. This is his last transfer before he goes home. Even though he has so little time left, he is very obedient. I am surprised. He's a really good guy and we get along well.
The city of Albany is very old looking. The buildings and houses all look like George Washington once lived in them. There are many poor areas (ghettos) and plenty of college student who attend the local university. We don't do very much tracting here, but we do a lot of street contacting.
We are teaching 5 investigators right now. Christian and Maritza are married with two children. They are both from Peru but are here for school, where Christian learned English. I tried speaking Portuguese to them, but they don't understand, so Christian translates to Maritza for us. They both have a set baptismal date and are coming to church regularly and reading the Book of Mormon. Jeff is a recent convert from Santiago, Dominican Republic (Garth), but he is active in our Branch. He is the coolest because he understands Portuguese, but my favorite thing about him is that he has two turtle doves in a cage. He won't let me pet them yet. Nate, another investigator, is struggling with his life right now because of poor choices he's made in his past, but we've taught him that we've seen incredible changes in people through the atonement. I showed him a "I am a Mormon" video of someone who I felt related to him. He was amazed. He said it was just what he needed, and wondered if I memorized things like that to pull out for investigators in the MTC. I said no. I gave myself a pat on the back for following the Holy Ghost in that lesson. He is starting to come to church. We met a young adult named Justin just this week who wanted to start seeing us, because we played basketball with him. He is dating a girl in our Branch and she wants him to get baptized. We taught him about how to pray and the full restoration story. I gave him a Book of Mormon and bore my testimony of it. He said he felt good about the lesson, and that he would like to learn more about the pre-earth life, which is exactly what the second lesson is. He came to church, loved it, and is reading the Book of Mormon. God has prepared him to recieve the restored gospel! It's incredible to be a missionary. I cannot describe what it's like... just absolutely incredible.
We had a Baptism on Saturday! Her name is Amani Edwards. She is a student from Atlanta. The missionaries met her at a bus stop, and later began teaching her. She has a strong testimony, you can really see how the gospel has changed her life.
We are serving in a branch that is growing SO fast. So fast that a chapel was built here just 3 months ago. It still looks and smells brand new, and you don't have to turn the lights on when you walk in a room. They installed the clapper. I'll send you a picture of the old meetinghouse.
I'm not quite sure when my visa will get here. It could be here anywhere from 6 weeks to 6 months, since we can't leave in the middle of a transfer. My first transfer just began today, so I will if I got my visa in 5 weeks. There are a couple visa waiters who have been here for 5 months! Yet they still keep such a positive attitude. Don't worry, I am still studying a lot of Portuguese! I get an hour every day to read O Livro de Mormon aloud and do some other excercises. President Withlin is so good to me. :)
I have no time left, but I love you all and I will write more next week. Please don't be offended if I haven't responded personally to your letters or emails yet. I will in due time. I have a lot less time here, it can be stressful. I will write you all hand written letters in due time. Just give me your addresses if you know I don't know them. I know this gospel is true! Missionary work is the work of the lord! I feel him at my side every day!
Elder Kunzler
P.S. I'm still really skinny.
P.S.S. Pictures don't work on this computer so I'll try to send some next week!

Friday, October 11, 2013

I have received a temporary RE-ASSIGNMENT to the ... mission

Final MTC Picture

Dearest Familia,

It is so good to be able to email you one last time while I am here in Provo. The MTC has been far too good to me, and it's going to be weird not feeling the security I feel here, but in the words of Bilbo Baggins, "I think I'm ready for another adventure."

Yesterday in the middle of in-field orientation presented by a Frenchman from Lyon (Josh) our entire district went to the mailbox. Inside the mailbox there was a neatly folded pad of papers. We rushed to the residence hall to go around reading our new mission calls from the prophet. I have been re-assigned to the NEW YORK UTICA mission. I was so extremely excited that it was hard to breath. I could not contain my excitement, so I ran into the bathroom across the hall to yell at the top of my lungs, but I kind of got into trouble for that.. Kinda like how sometimes people get frustrated with Jacob when he is loud.

The Utica mission covers Syracuse, Albany, and part of Vermont, and apparently that is where Parley P. Pratt was born. Most of the church history sites are in the Rochester mission next door, but it will still be crazy to tell investigators that the Prophet Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ only two hours away. I hear it gets quite cold there too, so I will need to gather a few more long sleeve shirts. It's a darn good thing that I brought that giant coat and winter boots with me, mother. :)

I haven't a clue why the lord wants me there, but I am soon to find out. I have no ties there, at least that I know of. Maybe Heavenly Father just wants me to celebrate one last american Thanksgiving feast! Other missionaries were Re-assigned to Macon Georgia, Washington D.C. North, San Antonio (Don't worry, I told them about Jana and Don and the River Walk), and Nampa Idaho. I am the only Brasil visa-waiter going to Utica. Elder Henderson was re-assigned to Nampa and he was really upset about that. I know that there is a reason why the lord wants him there. We will all talk about our short missions when we get to Curitiba.

Conference was incredible, I was hooked. I enjoyed every message given by inspired men and women. I loved the emphasis on Repentence. Repentence is not a punishment, but a change of direction to hope filled future. I think members of the church needed to hear everything that was spoken. I particularly enjoyed the talks Given by Dallin H. Oaks, D. Todd Christofferson, Neil L. Anderson, Uchtdorf's about learning from failures, and the Prophets in the Sunday morning session, I believe.

My (acting) investigators have improved so much. Antonio is going to be baptized on Saturday. He has learned to apply the atonement to his life and has completely overcome his addiction to cigarettes. Jessica, our more difficult investigator has developed a desire to read the Book of Mormon and can now recognize the Spirit and knows that God loves her.

Todas coisas sao indo muito bem aqui em O CTM. I amo e aqui, mas eu sou muito animado para New York e Curitiba. Meu missao e indo ser incrivel. (Please excuse my bad grammar and missing accents Jacob)

Eu amo voces muito,

Elder Kunzler O Novo Yorker e Brasileiro
Meu Russian amigo. Russians don't smile

Don't worry about me mother. I sleep well, with plenty of blankets

Cinco Semanas em O CTM!

Olá meu Amando Família e amigos!

Another week has flown by in the MTC, and it's crazy that I am out of here a week from Wednesday. I can't believe I am getting my reassignment in a week. I am SO excited about that though. It is so exciting to see where the missionaries here have been reassigned. Elder Spragg is going to Houston! Crazy because that's where Saeder is! We all guessed on the white board yesterday where everyone will get called to serve temporarily. Many people in my district think my destiny will be begin in Florida. No one thinks I will get my visa. Rofl. I will let you know where I'm going as soon as a I can, even though they will probably email you the travel itinerary before I have time to send you an email. My guess is Salt Lake City :)

By the way, don't Google Translate the parts of this email that are written in Portuguese. They won't make sense. Just believe that I am learning Portuguese, and allow Jacob to "poke" fun at me. It's easier to speak than to type or write.

Our "fake" investigators are progressing very well. We are preparing Antonio for baptism, and helping Jessica find faith in God and Jesus Christ. She still struggles with the concept of there being a god, so we've been moving slowly with her, but the lessons have been very spiritual.

Elder Henderson dislocated his shoulder in Soccer on Saturday, and it got really bad Sunday night. I gave him a blessing Sunday night and we pretty much spend the whole day on Monday in Hospitals and the doctors office. I had some quality time to write a few letters and read the scriptures while the smells of Rubbing Alcohol and hand sanitizer were stained in my nostrils. I studied a lot about Ammon and his missionary qualities. He is my favorite person in the Book of Mormon other than Jesus Christ, but not because he was buff and cut off a lot of arms. His attitude about service and Christlike attributes are very admirable, especially for a young lad of a missionary like me. Elder Henderson is doing quite well now.

We left the MTC campus a few times that day to go to the hospital and physical therapist on a shuttle. It was extremely weird. As we drove by LaVell Edwards stadium and a Taco Bell, I felt like I was in a new realm. The song "funky town" from Shrek 2 was playing in my head. I wondered if I would run into Jacob, but I didn't. Then when I got back, I felt like I was home. It was weird. But honestly, there really is an amazing spirit here in the MTC. I could feel the difference.

On Wednesday I hosted a bunch of missionaries who checked in to the MTC for the first time. It was so much fun. Two were going to the Salem mission. I told them that Sister Kunzler would feed them the greatest Salmon they would ever have. Don't them them down, Mother :) It's so crazy that I was in their shoes just a few weeks ago, even though I felt like I knew everything about the MTC and that I grew up here. The mission is flying! I have already been here a month! Weird!

There was a warrant for my arrest for a couple days! I guess I never registered for Selective service when I turned 18, and the government treated it as me refusing to register. I took care of it with the front desk, so now I should be safe, but if I end up spending my mission in Prison, I will still try to be the best missionary I can be. My teacher laughed at me and said that I was a communist.

Hopefully that's enough information to get you all updated on my life here in the MTC. I still love it. I learn so much and experience extremely spiritual things every day. I miss you all, but I wouldn't want to be anywhere than in the hand's of the lord. I have never been so happy in my entire life. You don't need to wear a name tag to feel this spirit. Get involved with the missionaries by finding people they could teach, and help them teach them! It's the BEST thing in this beautiful world we live in.

Eu amo vocês muito, e eu esperança vocês têm um feliz semana!

Elder Kunzler

My struggling companion, seeing animals for the first time in a month.

Me trying to be cool

Already over halfway done with the MTC!

Meu Districto!

Oí Familia!

This past week was another good one in the MTC, but not much different than past weeks. I still love every aspect of the MTC. Thank you so much for all the emails and letters you all have graced me with. I love them all. Every time I get a letter or package it feels like5am Christmas morning, when I get to sneak out to see all the present Santa brought me. It is very difficult to make time to respond, but I promise I will get back to you. I wish I could wave a wand and have a bunch of letters written to drop off at the mailbox, but for now, just know that I couldn't be doing better.

We have two investigators right now. They are actors, but these are real situations that the teachers experienced from their missions. One is named Antonio, and the other is Jessica. Antonio is a construction worker, but very poor. He is worried about finances and supporting his wife, who is paralyzed. He has a great heart and is always cooperative with the things we invite him with. He came to church and is reading the Book of Mormon. He always has really good questions for us. Sometimes it's difficult to respond with my small Portuguese vocabulary. Needless to say, our lessons with him are going quite well.

Our other investigator is quite different. She is very difficult to teach, especially in Portuguese. Teaching Jessica has been a learning experience for Elder Henderson and I. She does not care about anything we've taught her so far, nor does she talk very much. She is not religious, nor does she want to be. She just wants to get married to her boyfriend José Luiz, an illegal immigrant. We think she is living with him too. We regret talking about things that she doesn't really care about and learned we need to start with the basics, such as God's love for her. So we planned on returning with a simple lesson. We are not going to move forward until she understands that God is real and loves her. We did just that yesterday. We worked so hard for that lesson and wanted it to go well so bad. We prayed for her a lot. The spirit was so strong, so so strong. I about broke into tears teaching my Teacher acting as one of her investigators. She had tears in her eyes and said she would try to pray to find out the truth. I cannot wait to teach REAL investigators! I can't imagine the spirit I will feel in each lesson.

Our district is getting smaller! Two good friends of Mine, Elder Maw from North Carolina and Elder Anderson from Dallas Texas got their visas and are now in the Brazil MTC. There is much more room in the classroom though :)

I need to go, but I love you all and wish you a happy week. Keep Praying and reading the scriptures. I love reading the Book of Mormon. Right now I am in Alma reading about the sons of Mosiah and their missions. I love reading the Book of Mormon finding ways I can be a better missionary, like Ammon, Alma, and the Sons of Helaman. I know for myself that the Book of Mormon is just as Joseph Smith described it as. It can bring you closer to the savior than any other book. I love the spirit I feel as I read.

Eu Amo Voces! (Bad grammar, sorry Jacob. I am using an American keyboard)

Elder Kunzler
I can't decide if I want to be a Jedi in training or a Brazilian Stormtrooper here in the Star Wars training academy

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hello Again Everyone!

Watching the BYU Texas game from afar

It's good to hear for you all again. Another week has gone by in the MTC, and time is FLYING. Literally. I can't believe I'm already in the third week and in three more measly weeks I will be out of here.
I am still loving every bit of the MTC. Portuguese is progressing well. Last week I was tired of having awkward Invesigator lessons and not being able to say the things that were in my heart and mind. I felt like I was saying repetitive things I learned out of a book. Then I prayed for the gift of tongues and for the ability to work with all my might to earn it. The next day my companion was very sick, so I taught the entire lesson myself. Neither of us had a clue what we were going to teach before the lesson either. So with faith, we walked into our lesson to meet Antonio, our new investigator who was our teacher in disguise. He is a single man who works as a construction worker. He has no children and his wife is Paralyzed on the left side. After getting to know him better I talked to him about religion briefly. He is catholic but shows interest in Jesus Christ, so we talked about him and his atonement, and how it can help us with difficulties such as with his wife being paralyzed. He was very interested and I felt the spirit strongly. I asked my companion to bear his testimony and pray with the little strength he had, and he did. Then I felt impressed to have him read Chapter 34 of Alma. He agreed, but wanted to know more about the book of mormon first, so I told him about it.
I after leaving the lesson, I was amazed with what I had just done. I realized that I am not actually a robot, but a missionary. I realized that the only reason I was able to say EVERYTHING I wanted to was because of my plead to god for the gift of tongues. It was amazing, and really strengthened my testimony of prayer. It is real. Overnight, my Portuguese improved to a new level, but I know I will have much to learn when I get to Curitiba.
Last Sunday we heard from Ron Tanner, producer of 17 Miracles, Only a Stonecutter, Ephraim's rescue, and the John S. Tanner story. He emphasized the importance of learning more about our pioneers and their sacrifice. He showed us a clip from Ephraim's rescue, and when there was a kissing scene, every missionary in the auditorium began to squeel. Elder Schwitzer of the 70 spoke to us in the Mariott Center on tuesday about changing from a good to better missionary. It was amazing. He gave it from a mission President's perspective. He was the mission president of the Yekaterinburg Russia mission not too long ago. I took some solid notes.

There is one more thing I'd like to mention before I close. Every day when I study in the hall outside my classroom I see missionaries with physical handicaps and I am amazed at their sacrifice to serve the lord with all their ability in spite of their weaknesses. I met one who had been out for a year already serving in the MTC. He is slightly physically and mentally handicapped, but this doesn't limit his ability to perform the lords work. For the past year he has sat on a computer desk in the MTC, skyping and online chatting people from all over the world and preaching the gospel to them. I was inspired by his sacrifice and dedication, and amazing spirit. Just like other all other missionaries, he only able to talk with his family twice a year. I met another young missionary who had very tiny legs and had to walk with special hand crutches. He is serving in the Provo mission. I was amazed at how much he sacrificed to serve the lord and how worried his family must be for him. I realized how little I have sacrificed compared to him. If I were an investigator in Provo, and this Elder taught me, there wouldn't be any way I wouldn't believe the message he would have for me. After pondering the amount of sacrifice he made to serve the lord, to lose himself and serve others and share a simple message with other families, his message must be true. That missionary will change the Provo mission.
I wish you all a very joyous week. I love you all and you're in my prayers. Eat plenty of Sun dried Tomato wheat thins, because I really miss those.
All my best,
Elder Kunzler
Part of District 69C