Utica, NY

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Reuniao de Siao

My pal Elder J-Ohnson 'bout to leave
Boy oh boy do I love life right now. Christian Yarleque has FINALMENTE committed to being baptized. Christian Yarleque is the wonderful Peruvian man whom I write about weekly, in case you've forgotten. His wife was baptized on the 15th of February.
Here's the Historia:
Yesternight we had the divine opportunity to teach their family for the first time after Maritza's baptism, since they've been pretty busy moving to a new apartment complex. We both felt inspired to talk about baptism even though Maritza has already been baptized, and warm up the spirit until it was hot enough to invite Christian to be baptized. Just like Remigio from the District 2, Christian said, "I need.. more.. time." We were so sad, but we kept our faith and persistence and tried to resolve his concerns of being baptized without being too pushy, but he didn't seem to change his mind. At the end of the lesson, Elder Hougaard and I bore simple testimony of the Book of Mormon, then, Christian said, "Maybe a little push towards a date will be good for me." Then we set a date for April 12th. O EVANGELHO E VERDADEIRO!!
A couple days ago on the bus back to our apartment from teaching the Johnson family, we experienced a miracle. I really felt prompted to talk to the bus driver and begin proclaming the words of eternal life, so I was obedient. The lady's name was Mary Beth, and she was depressed. She told me that she had hoped that I would talk to her because we seemed to be happy people. She said that within the past 5 or so years, just about everything bad happened to her- it was very sad. She lives alone and her only family in Albany is her sister, who is married and has a life of her own, and Mary Beth is afraid to bother her. I gave her some words of comfort about the Plan of Salvation, we recieved her contact information, and we will be meeting with her this week. There is nothing that can fill an empty soul but the Gospel. I love being a conduit of the spirit.
On Tuesday we began teaching a language class with the sisters for those who can't speak English, to better our finding efforts, and guess who showed up? The Burmese couple that Elder LaCario and I helped shovel out of their driveway last week on an exchange. My heart was warmed at least 4 degrees. I was able to train the father, whose name I cannot pronounce or spell, how to say the words, "Hello" and "I am Excited." He tried with much earnest. They are now reading the Book of Mormon, and we'll see them again tomorrow night.
The State University of New York now wants Elder Hougaard and I to be involved with their interfaith program, where we teach classrooms who study religion about our religion. If we get permission from President Wirthlin, this will be an excellent opportunity to find, teach, and baptize. Apparently back when Romney was running for president, a lot of students were interested in our beliefs, and the Interfaith program director tried calling our church a couple times to get a couple of representatives to come teach them, but sadly nobody answers the phones at the church.
Yesterday I spoke to the Branch about conversion. My favorite part about giving a talk is the new knowledge I gain from preparing it. In Helaman 15: 7-8, Samuel the Lamanite outlines the process of conversion. In order to experience the mighty change of heart we must talk to our father in heaven with humility and repent. If we desire to change, we can through the atonement, but only if show godly sorrow, a sincere heart, and a contrite spirit. Only through this pattern can we remain firm and steadfast with faith until the end. I know this. It has happened to me. I am still becoming converted here in New York.
I love you all much, and think of you oft.
Muito amor para voces,
Elder Kunzler

Birthday Boi

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

O Batismo!

Happy President's Day!
Maritza Yarleque's baptism was incredible! Half of the service was done in Spanish. I could probably understand about 30% of the spanish, which was a tender mercy. Regardless of the language, the spirit was felt very strongly. At the end, Elder Hougaard and I had the opportunity to share our testimonies to the Yarleque family. I was a great moment that I will remember for a very long time.
Elder Hougaard and I will be staying here another 6 weeks! We are going to be filled to the brim with miracles this transfer, I can feel it. We have many baptisms aligned to happen this transfer. I'm so so excited to be able to be at the Johnson family's baptism!
Eileen Johnson is beginning her adventure of the Stop Smoking Program that is used throughout the mission tonight! Elder Hougaard and I are going to work with her to remove these poisons from her life. We are each going to try to give up something we have bad habits with so she doesn't feel alone, even though they won't be as difficult to give up as stopping smoking. I am going to give up quoting too many movies and music! Cheer for us!
We have a new investigator! Her name is Shaquinta Lace. The sisters met her at the grocery store and she expressed many concerns about life that related perfectly with the Plan of Salvation. I began teaching her on an exchange with Elder Lacario at the Albany Public Library. We outlined the missionary visits and found out her questions, needs, concerns, etc. We briefly taught her about the Book of Mormon and its ability to provide peace in this life. She committed to being baptized!
Many people are coming unto Christ in this area. The amount of people we have been teaching here has really shot up these past few months because of our faith to find, teach, and baptize. I am so grateful to worthy to enjoy these blessings that are coming. I love being a missionary.
Enjoy life this week.
Elder Kunzler
P.S. Just so you are all aware, I do not know when the visa to Brazil will be processed. I applied for an FBI Clearance about 4 weeks ago, and it is about halfway through the process. This is the final document the embassy needs. I don't how long it will be until President Wirthlin will call, but I will be leaving for Brazil within a week from when I get that call.

We all have work. Let no one shirk

What does the verb shirk mean? Does it mean to struggle?
So there's been a few blizzards in Oregon, huh? Does it look kind of like that scene from Mulan when the snowstorm buries all of the Huns into the snow except for the hairs on the tops of their heads? That reminds me of those times when I used to rejoice when school was cancelled because those were usually the days a giant paper was due. :)
If it brings any solace, we had a big snowstorm on Wednesday this week and were told by the assistants to stay in the apartment most of the day, being in one of the few walking areas of the mission. We spent most of the day deep cleaning the apartment.
Maritza Yarleque passed her baptismal interview with flying colors. I've never understood what flying colors are, but the bald man who signed my eagle scout certificate made me feel warm inside when he said that to 15 year old me. She was quite nervous, but is prepared to take this important step in her life. Elder Hougaard and I couldn't be more excited. I'll send pictures next week!
We have officially finished teaching the Johnson family about the Plan of Salvation. It takes us about 3-4 meetings to teach them each of the lessons, since we try to make sure each of the children understand what we teach them. We began using an old white board from our apartment to teach them this. Elder Hougaard bribed them with treats if they could guess each of the steps of the Plan of Salvation on the board, so they got really hyper and shouted answers and about tackled my companion off his chair. It was the best.
We had a very good Sunday this week. 8 of our investigators came, A NEWWW RECORD! Eileen Johnson was able to get off work this week to join us with her kids. I'm telling you, that family was meant to be members of our church. They love primary, young men's, and relief society. After church, Robert, the 13 year old, found me speaking in Portuguese to a member of our branch. He was curious why I could speak a different language until a friend he had made told him I was awaiting my visa to go to Brazil. He ran up to me and said, "Elder Kunzler, you can't go to Brazil! You gotta give us the gospel!" I chuckled.
This member I was talking to in Portuguese, Jairo Ruiz, from Ecuador, introduced us to his friends from Ecuador this week-Jareth and Susanna Gonzalez. Jareth is an inactive member but wants to come back to church. Susanna is not a member. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and it's role in conversion. She accepted to be baptized after she recieves her answer!
As you have read, there are many incredible things that are happening and will continue to happen in this extraordinary work. Being a missionary is a god given gift. I cannot describe how good I feel on a daily basis. Continue sharing the gospel with your friends, treasuring the scriptures, and praying with deep sincerity. By doing so you can experience the same level of joy and feel the heavens open to you.
With much love,
Elder Kunzler

Monday, February 3, 2014

Yew Nork

My beautiful family,
This week has been a grand one for missionary work in Albany, New York. I would like to share with you a couple of neat things that are going on here on the eastern front.
Maritza, the matriarch of the Yarleque family from Peru who I've been meeting with weekly for the past four months is getting baptized next week! We have been meeting with her about twice as much. On Friday we went over the baptismal interview questions with her, and she seemed exTREMEly nervous. She had studied the entire Book of Mormon, fearing that the Interview was a questionnaire of how well she knew the Book of Mormon. To her shock, she realized we weren't giving her a Book of Mormon multiple choice final. She will recieve many new blessings from studying the deep details of the Book of Mormon though. She is very prepared for baptism and loves the gospel. I'm excited to see her take this important step, and hopefully her husband will decide to be baptized from feeling the spirit at the service!
Eileen Johnson and her large family is progressing so fast! They all came to church yesterday and LOVED it. Sarahji (a boy), her nine year old son about went up to bear his testimony at the (tail) end of the testimony meeting, but President McGreevy walked up to the podium before witnessing little Sarahji struggling to make his way to the front. I wonder what he would have said, since he don't know much about the gospel quite yet. I'll keep you updated on their progression.
On Thursday, we spent a couple of hours sitting at a table at the State University of New York commons to share the gospel with some teens. It was probably the most fun finding activity I've done here in New York. It was very successful too! In the two hours we were there, we placed four Books of Mormon and picked up 6 potential 'gators. I had an interesting conversation with a Jewish man who was interesting in knowing our beliefs. I was able to learn a few new things about Judaism as well. He asked me why we proselyte as missionaries, since he said it is forbidden in his religion. I told him that Christ says several times in the New Testament that we are commanded to share the gospel.
Later that night, I thought a great deal about this, and how important it is to share the gospel. I realized I wouldn't have the happiness I have today if my ancestors hadn't responded to the missionaries. The gospel is meant to be shared. I am so grateful to be one worthy to share it. There very few things I love more.
Family, I know that as you prayerfully seek for opportunities to share the gospel, you too can feel that these "good tidings" bring "great joy." Being a missionary is the best.
Have an excellent week,
Elder Kunzler