Utica, NY

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Green Day

Oi Familia e Amigos!
Elder Hougaard and I are a simple companionship again. Jacob Beck, our mini-missionary left our fold on Thursday and will be submitting his mission papers soon. I am so excited to see where the lord wants him to go. If it's Curitiba, I may punch a hole through the wall, like Jacob did when Texas University beat USC in a football game a few long years ago. It was a pleasure to work with someone so eager to learn. He is very talented with music as well. I look forward to the days when I can bring my children to his concerts and wear his band shirts. I've attached a picture of him so all can see how cute he really is.
I haven't had the chance of seeing any leprechauns or 4 leaf clovers this St. Patrick's Day, but I did get to see another pot of golden miracles as I do weekly. Albany is known for holding a Gigantic annual St. Patrick's parade and festival, so we had to lay low this weekend. Both New Yorkers and Irishmen share a liking for alcoholic beverages, so there were many drunk people walking around town in this area, but the work didn't stop from moving nobly, boldly, and independent.
Elder Hougaard and I made a St. Patrick's resolution to contact EVERY less-active member in this area by weeks end, so we are both very excited about that. We are trying to work more with less-active members because many of them are unaware that there is a new building and haven't been contacted by anyone from the church for a very long time. This past week we were finally able to have a lesson with a less-active member named Georgette Tillman. She had become muslim after being a member when she married her husband. Her husband and her split and now she isn't practicing in that faith. We were able to re-kindle the faith she felt when meeting with missionaries so long ago. She desired to come to church, but when she walked out the door she slipped a couple of times on the frozen roads and got pretty bruised up. In the 5 months I've walked through these frozen plains, I have only slipped once. Some people just aren't so lucky. We hope to see her back at church this upcoming Sunday!
I realize that I failed to mention last week that Eileen Johnson is officially a non-smoker! After a lifelong habit of smoking 7 cigarettes a day, she was able to cleanse her body of toxins in just 7 days. Dreams really do come true. She is so dedicated to join the church, it's inspiring. She has been pretty stressed lately with the kids and work, so we weren't able to meet with her this week. She is currently praying for the opportunity to find a new job that doesn't have her working on Sundays. Since she has only been able to come to church once, we have dropped their baptismal date. I am so hopeful that she will be able to come soon. God will provide for her needs and she will be right back on date.
Christian is still reading and praying daily! We are reading the Book of Mormon with him from where he is at and answering his questions. He too, is dedicated. He wants to bump his baptismal date a week earlier, on May 3rd, which means he has faith that he will understand the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the Church. Yes.
Remember Jareth and Susanna, the couple from Ecuador? Susanna is investigating and Jareth is becoming re-activated. We had a spiritual meeting with them this week and talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. (Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Recieving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End). At the end of it, Susanna gave a very sincere spanish prayer and began to cry as she expressed gratitude for having good men coming into her life when she needs them most. It was very touching. We really look forward to seeing her progression and the changes she is making in her life.
I love being a missionary, I really do, even though I say that every week. It's such a blessing to have been raised with a gospel of happiness. Many people don't have what we have. Many families and individuals are living in difficult circumstances and don't know how to find peace. It is such a pleasure to help these people, no matter where I am. I am just so grateful to have what I have. The lord has me here in New York for so long for a reason. My calling is inspired.
Each one of you is in my prayers. Have a happy spring!
Be blessed,
Elder Kunzler

O Evangelho Abencoa as Familias

Hey Family!
I would really like to catch up on replying to some of your emails, so this one may be a bit shorter than most. Please forgive me.
I began my week on an exchange in Troy, New York. This is where Uncle Sam was invented. I have been there before on an exchange, but it was really great to help out Elder Koga with his work over there and get to know some of the members of the Albany ward. I had a very enjoyable experience because I love Elder Koga and I love exchanges. We found a graet potential who looks like Mace Windu. Maybe I'll name my firstborn Mace.
Currently we are in a tri-panionship. Jake Beck, an 18 year old youth from Elmira is assisting us in the work. He is EXACTLY like Alec Scott, in fact, it is him, in a different body. Jake Beck is an indie who is on a lifelong pusuit to follow his dreams. But really it has been a great opportunity for me to teach someone a few tricks with missionary work. He is very eager to learn things that will help help for his real mission. He goes home on Thursday.
A couple months ago we met a guy named Kenneth sitting on a bench who seemed really depressed, so we talked to him. He expressed that he had been going through a lot in his life, with the recent dramatic death of his wife. We were able to finally able to meet with him this week after months of trying to contact him. We gave him a message of hope including parts of the Plan of Salvation. It was easy to feel the spirit. He committed to being baptized, and we will follow up with him on a date this week.
Thank you all for always beginning my Mondays bright with a plenthora of all your emails. I can really feel a closeness to you and I really enjoy reading how you all are doing. I have no idea who I would be without the amount of support I have.
Tem um otimo semana,
Elder Kunzler

Monday, March 3, 2014

Os Dons Espirituais

My dearests,

I am so excited to share with you a few really cool things that are going on here in downtown Albany. I am engulfed in miracles each and every week.

On Wednesday, Eileen Johnson will officially be a non-smoker! We will be celebrating at their home with a large array of snacks, surprises, and even the movie "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration," the film they play at Temple Square. Eileen has been so dedicated. She deserves this satisfaction from her father in heaven. We gave her the mission's stop smoking program, which includes drinking Unsweetened Grapefruit Juice after every meal and washing her mouth with strong cinnamon mouthwash, as well as several other strange yet useful tactics to quit smoking. She has really developed a close relationship with her father in heaven through sincere prayer in the process. We are so excited for her new life as a clean temple.

Christian Yarleque has chosen to be baptized on May 10th, Maritza's Birthday. I cannot express how much excitement I have for him and his progression. The missionaries have been teaching him for about 7 months, so the only thing he really needs between now and his date is a strong testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. We have been meeting with him twice a week, just feasting upon the words of Christ with him. The more he reads the Book of Mormon, the more excitement he has about it. I love love it!

Something cool you might enjoying is that a youth from Elmira, New York will be joining the companionship of Elder Hougaard and Elder Kunzler this Wednesday for a week. President Wirthlin is encouraging mini-missions throughout the mission to give the future missionaries of the church a glimpse of what missionary life is like. While Elder Hougaard was in Elmira, his companion had to be emergency transferred out and was replaced with this same young man for a week. Elder Hougaard loves him with a fiery passion, so I am excited to serve with him.

This week we met a man on the streets named David Ventura who expressed gratitude in finally bumping into some missionaries, and said he loves what our church teaches as opposed to other churches. We met with him in a coffee shop later in the week and talked about the restoration. He wanted us to convince him that the church is true without him trying to find out for himself, it was very weird. He really wanted to know deep things like the nature of God and how we will one day become Gods. All we told him was that the answers to our questions come through sincere desire, faith leading to action, and diligence in studying the scriptures. We told him that the answers to our difficult questions are much more simple than we think. He accepted to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it to gain a testimony of it, Joseph Smith, and that this church is true.

Then, Sunday morning, when I was filling out a record of people we met with this week, I perused through the branch directory and found the name "David Cats Ventura." The branch had lost contact with this guy for like 8 years. In Branch council, we talked about our meeting with him, and President McGreevy asked if he fit a certain description, and he fit it perfectly, born in Miami, Florida and all. We were shocked. Either there are two David Venturas meandering through the cold plains of New York, or there is one who doesn't have any recollection of his baptism, with the middle name of CATS. There is one way to find out, we have to ask David if his middle name is Cats somehow this week. The story will continue next week, I'm sure.

Something very valuable I learned about this week through spiritual study is that we all have been blessed with spiritual gifts. These gifts can be found in D&C 46, 1 Corinthians 12, or even the hymn "More Holiness Give Me." Each of us has been given many or few of these gifts for the use of edifying and lifting those around us, bringing them and us closer to Christ. Jacob might be a scholar, able to exceed any test far above the standards that top rated schools might have set, or even be very sociable, being very friendly with everyone he comes into contact with. Josh might have the ability to make any member of the opposite sex fall in love with him without him even talking to them, and have a remarkable Christlike love for those around him. I might be very organized and able to remember things that happened deep into the past. Jonah might be diligent in doing those things that are most important and filling himself with good things that strengthen his testimony. Jaden might be able to lighten the mood when others are upset, and attract others around him to his kindness and firmness to doing what's right.

The main tactic Satan uses to make us lose sight of these things is the feeling of inadequacy. The adversary wants us to lose our self-confidence by comparing ourselves to others who receive plaudits or have different gifts, something destructive that can make us lose sight that we are children of God. We have weaknesses too, which are good to have. After all, we all need to have things to improve at on this road to perfection we are all on.

I love you all so much, and I thank the lord every single day for the Christlike examples I have been blessed with in my life. Life is so much more enjoyable with all you in my life.

Com muito amor,

Elder Kunzler