Utica, NY

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy almost 2014!

It was a beautiful sight to hear your voices and see your faces that haven't quite aged 4 months. It was also quite a pleasure to be able to see my long lost brother, who has got to be the classiest missionary east of the atlantic ocean, Elder Joshua Kunzler. It feels a bit strange being the one the family skypes, being the third missionary in the family.
On Tuesday, Elder Hougaard and I presented a training in our district on study and how to make it more effective. It was a very successful and great learning experience for me, being the first time I've done a training before. Afterwards, the Relief Society of our Branch gave us each giant stockings filled with packages, boxes, and bags. How exciting!
On christmas after skyping you, we ate dinner at the McGreevy's home and delivered missionarymade cookies to people we teach and less active members. I don;t think I'll ever eat another sugar cookie as long as I live. I got a little bit sick, and Elder Hougaard got really sick. I felt a bit guilty for giving them out to so many people, like I was spreading poison. I'm not 100% that it was the cookies that got Elder Hougaard sick the 2 days after christmas, but I was about 86% certain.
Elder Hougaard slept in bed all day on the 26th and 27th. I served him with a hot towel on his forehead, a thermometer in his mouth, small spoonfuls of homemade alphabet soup, and lullabies. Just kidding, I spent the days studying talks and scriptures about the sons of Mosiah, shining shoes, and cleaning/organizing the apartment, just so it didn't feel like the time was wasted THAT much. I studied "How to Become a Preach my Gospel Missionary" by Bednar, "Desire" by Oaks and "Mountains to Climb" by Eyring. All were incredible talks. All of Elder Bednars talks remind me of my favorite talk of all time, "Character of Christ" by Bednar, which was only played in the MTC and cannot be found ANYWHERE on the church sites. If any of you can find it, PLEASE send me an attachment! Just from reading those talks and about the sons of mosiah, I learned exactly what kind of missionary I long to become. That made it successful for me.
We were able to meet with our 19 yr. old investigator Justin at week's end. He hasn't had much of a desire to read the scriptures, but he has finally started reading them and is on course for developing a testimony! We are really excited about his progress. His prayer are becoming a lot more from the heart and sincere.
This week will be the final week of the transfer, and I have a strong feeling it will be my last week of New York. I won't know for sure until saturday morning, but this is a scary thought, just because there is so much more to do here, but I know the lord wants me in Brazil on his schedule. This upcoming week will be my best in Albany. Every night as I write in my journal, I think about what I have learned here in New York and why I was sent here before entering Brazil. I realized that God is merciful and wanted me to learn a few things first. He wanted me to not worry about learning any language other than the language of the spirit. He wants me to listen to my heart, and not my head. He wanted me to develop an optimistic outlook on the work, even though it can get really hard. He wanted me to deepen my faith and learn how to become a "Preach my Gospel" missionary and more like my Redeemer. I love my father in heaven. I love that I can rely opon his jurisdiction. He knows what's best for me. With him, I can be anyone who I want to be. I don't have to be perfect, I just need to give myself completely to him these 2 years and let him make of me what he wants, by his will.
I love you all so so so much. I cannot express this enough. I thank god every single day for things I don't even deserve. He has blessed me with this gospel, remarkable examples and leaders to look up to. I love you guys more than I can express. Have the greatest week of your lives. Deepen your faith in Jesus Christ, it will change your life. You all know how to do that.
Elder James Kunzler

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