Utica, NY

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

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

White already to harvest

I'm going to again today for another Temple Trip exchange. 'Twill be my third. Crazy that the transfer is already ending! It's gone by way too fast. The speed of light. The longer I am out on the mission, the faster it moves along. Scary!
I wish you all my warmest Father's Day greetings. I express my gratitude to my own father and the fatherly figures in my life who have raised me up! I completely forgot Father's Day was coming up until church yesterday. Don't worry papa, I wrote out a letter to you today. Yesterday the relief society gave me a cute baggie of peanut M&M's with a friendly "Happy Father's Day" greeting attached to them. I didn't know I was a father.
Elder Ledford and I have 2 new families to teach! The first is the Hodge family. The mother, Marika, requested a bible to read while recovering from her knee surgery. We stopped by and asked if we could share a simple message about Jesus Christ with her and her family and she said we could come back this week to share the good word. We set up to come back on Thursday. The other family lives across the road from us, and were interested in finding a church to atend as they recently moved in. I don't know their last name yet, but the parents names are Darryl and Danielette. They will be expecting their third child soon, so they are out of work for the next couple months. Since we will be out of town the first half of the week, we will be seeing them on Wednesday. The gospel blesses families! The work is hastening here in the land I've been the past 8 months. I've seen so much growth. So many families are moving into the branch too! Pretty soon it will be a ward!
Ben Foote's interview was off the charts awesome. He came in a new suit and tie. He's so ready for his baptism on Saturday. Stay tuned for photos!
I just realized that I use a lot of exclamation marks when I email!
Yesterday for our Father's Day sacrament meeting, Brother Albert Fredette of the stake high council spoke to the branch. His son Jimmer Fredette plays for the Chicago Bulls in the NBA. He spoke very powerfully about the significance of the Great Apostasy and the importance of the Restoration of Christ's church using much biblical evidence to prove the truthfulness of our church. He is an incredible speaker. I heard him speak the beginning of my stay here in Albany as well. In the cultural hall before sacrament meeting, he and I chatted about  missionary work and how the easiest way to share the gospel is through our actions. He shared a story of someone in Jimmer's high school who had never met Jimmer but knew that he was a nice guy. It struck his interest in learning more about our faith and he was later baptized in the Glens Falls ward. Pretty cool. We don't have to be superstars to have an effect on people. We just need to share our light with those who want it! We may not see immediate effects, but we are planting seeds that can be harvested in the Lord's perfect timing. Be an example of the believers!
Muito amor,
Elder Kunzler

Wings of the bald eagle

Monday, June 9, 2014

The Bub

Hey Family!
I haven't too much time to write you today but I just wanted you all to feel my love and hear about a couple cool things that happened this week.
Remember Justin? He was my very first new investigator back 8 months ago when I was a young(er) lad. We've been teaching him off and on for a long time and he is finally progressing further toward baptism. We teach him very very simply so he can remember the messages we share with him, and we taught him the first lesson from our new teaching method about the restoration for about 15 minutes using the restoration pamphlet to assess what he could see in each picture. We reviewed it with him, and he remembered it, so we moved on to the Plan of Salvation and showed him the video from lds.org called "Our Eternal Plan" (I believe that's what it is called). He understood it well enough to teach US the message of the Restoration and Plan of Salvation like a scholar. He nailed it and is working towards being baptized on July 12th.
This week it was also a grand experience to go on an exchange in Cohoes, NY on an island that takes 3 45-minute ferry rides to get to, and is entirely populated with Orca whales and Leprochauns. Just kidding. You just have to walk across a short bridge to get there. I had the lucky pleasure to work with Elder Hutchinson, a newer elder. He is a rockstar. He likes soccer a lot and wanted to know what I thought of Brazil's soccer team. I know NOTHING about soccer, which is probably the reason why I don't deserve to be in Brazil during the world cup. While we were out knocking on doors and street contacting in 87 degree weather with clear skies, we received an urgent text from the government, saying that flash floods were coming to our area. We both looked at the sky and laughed. Then ten minutes later, all at once a HUGE monsoon (so it seemed) came and we ran for a couple miles to get coats. We were both drenched, like we had fallen into the Hudson River. Since I didn't pack wisely, I spend the rest of the day wet. Mission mems :)
I have been thinking a lot lately about the importance of the Atonement and ways I can teach it more simply so our investigators can understand more of it. I have learned that we can only receive all the blessing of the atonement if we become Christ's people, or in other words, members of His church. It is so important that everyone has the chance to hear that because of Christ, we can overcome any obstacle that comes in life. As we share this message with those who really struggle, they too can feel of the joy that this message has for everyone. Share the video "Because of Him" with your friends!
Muito Amor,
Elder Kunzler


I went to VERMONT this week. I've never been there before. It reminded me a lot of Oregon- It's extremely green, only there are many fields and hills were cows enjoy grazing. I'm 86% sure that there are more cows in Vermont than human beings. I guess that explains why Ben and Jerry's is there. Not very many elders have treat of tasting the sweet air of Bennington, Vermont in this mission because it's a sister's only area. I was assigned to go there to conduct a baptismal interview for a wonderful woman who was very excited to be baptized. It was a spirit-filled experience for the both of us and we are very excited for her baptism this week.
In this mission, we wake up at 6:29 every day. On Thursday morning, 6:29 sharp, Ben Foote texted us and said that he wanted to be baptized on the 28th of this month. I was the best alarm I've ever had on the mission and the start of a wonderful day. We were way stoked indeed, then I realized that transfers are on the 25th, just three days before. It was scary to think that there could be a chance I wouldn't be there at his baptism. Later that day in a lesson with him, he said that his brother couldn't come that weekend from Rochester to baptize him, so he changed the date to the 21st. Tender Mercies of the Lord are REAL.
On Saturday we did a couple hours of service of service for him-the best service project I've ever participated in. He is re-doing the patios of his house, so he jack hammered his old patios into piles of debris and large rocks. We moved all of that to his trailer and then drove it to the dump. We spend an hour at the dump throwing these large rocks at random things at the dump. Being destructive and shattering glass gave me a real sense of satisfaction- I caught a glimpse of how Josh must have felt as a child when he destroyed things, and when he threw Patrick into the canal in the YouTube sensation entitled, "The Usurpist." My right arm is still pretty sore.
Another miracle! We showed up to Eileen Johnson's home later in the week and Eileen surprised us that she left her job at Dunkin Donuts. Her manager didn't allow her to take Sundays off, so she couldn't come to church. She is so happy and excited that she can spend more time with her kids and come to church so they can finally be baptized! She has an interview with another bakery close to her home that won't have her work on the weekends. We are now preparing Eileen, I'Jalief, Robert, Sarahji, and Za'Mainya to be baptized on the 19th of July. Poor little Ei'Jere will have to wait a couple of years before he reaches the age of accountability.
On Wednesday we spent quality time at Zone Training Meeting, practicing the fundamentals of Preach my Gospel to become more powerful teachers using our new teaching method. The main idea is to create more spiritual experiences for each investigator so they can progress faster and gain stronger testimonies. I am in love with this new method and I really hope President Monteiro lets me use it when I get to Curitiba.
As you share the gospel this week, remember that God teaches His children in their own understanding and doesn't tesify of confusion. Use simple vocabulary to share the light and knowledge you have with someone who doesn't know ANYTHING about the atonement, the plan of salvation, etc. We have the happiness that many people are looking for. Be generous in sharing it with them!
Eu amo voces com todo minha coracao!
Elder Kunzler

Memory week of Memoirs

Happy Late Memorial Day!
Part of Preparation Day yesterday was cut out so that I could grace you all with another email, since all libraries were closed for the Holiday. I hope you forgive them for being closed.
Elder Ledford and I had a very momentous week. I hope you all feel the joy of reading this very condensed account of our adventures!
We met with Sir Benjamin Foote thrice, and taught him a little more "common sense," also known as the commandments. He went to the Gathering at the Grove this weekend with his member brother, an event held once a year where Young Single adults across New York gather to participate in several activities, listen to a general authority speak about the Prophet Joseph Smith, and eat snacks. He told us over the phone that he had a grand time, but we are following up with him today. So excited. He's been praying for a baptismal date best him. We'll see if his weekend had any effect on this decision.
Christian Yarleque received the priesthood two days ago!
We put together a little movie night on Friday with the sisters to attract member missionary work and fellowship for our investigators. There was a great turn out! The Johnson family, a new investigator we picked up this week named Ed Luciano, and a couple of the sisters' investigators showed up. We watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration, a movie that Elder Hougaard and I struggled to watch without laughing at some parts because of some lines we would quote together. I was able to contain myself this time. Everyone was really interested in the film and many questions were asked. It was a great success.
Our new investigator, Ed Luciano is a former investigator from this area. He stopped meeting with the elders a while ago because he felt he wasn't ready to join the church and didn't feel he could relate to many of the members because of his addiction to smoking. He is ready to quit and has faith that he can do so. We have taught him about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon. He wants to listen to it on audio. He's a rockstar. We are stoked for his progression.
We are starting to play basketball each Saturday with a 10 year old recent convert named Tiheem in the Branch and teach him stories from the Book of Mormon. He brought his cousin with him this past Saturday and two of the Johnson boys showed up as well. Even though I am terrible at basketball it was a fun little time. We taught them about Korihor afterwards, and promised that if he was good at church on Sunday we would play again this Saturday. He didn't come to church on Sunday so we still don't know what we are going to do. Probably choose mercy.
I just barely received an update from Church Travel and my visa is scheduled to process on July 18th, at 10:20am in case you are interested. I had to RE-RE-apply for an FBI clearance this past week. I imagine the slowness was because of the World Cup? Anyhow, it's a blessing to get to serve in two completely different parts of the world and get two different perspectives of missionary work. I'm grateful for the weeks I have left to work my hardest to not have regrets of from New York before I begin a new mission beginning in the MTC in Sao Paulo. I get to be a missionary baby again :) Maybe my next trainer will be less experienced than me.
D&C 100 is my favorite section of the Doctrine and Covenants. If you pay close attention to the wording on verses 3-6 you might learn why. But something I've thought a whole lot about this week is the importance of knowing that God always allows good to come to them that walk uprightly before Him, love Him, and keep His commandments. A big struggle of mine has always been patience and trust in His timing. I have learned here in New York more than ever before in my life that God knows exactly where we are at and where we need to be. He has promised us that if we trust in His will continuously and not try to take control out of fear, we will be lead to everlasting joy.
I wish you all a very fond farewell until 6 days pass.
Um grande braco,
Elder Kunzler