Monday, April 25, 2016

Week 13 In The Field

Week 13 has arrived and it is a transfer week.  I'm not leaving Rockwood and neither is Elder Patterson.  The exciting thing this week is we got a new car! We originally had a white 2013 Ford Fusion (Grant Malquist would love this car), but we just got a brand new 2016 Nissan Altima. It's a pretty nice car, but the sound system is absolutely terrible. Classical music doesn't even sound good, so I can't imagine Future or Drake would sound like. Anyway, it still has new car smell and I haven't smelled that since I last got to drive Grant's new Lincoln MKZ.  Well, enough about cars.

The only pitbull I'll ever hold...
This week was a good week for the Lord in Rockwood. The Rockwood Ward has 16 active Elders and 8 High Priests, and the number is slowly going down as a few people have recently moved or are scheduled to move this summer. This week we were blessed to be able to find some members who are perspective Elders and willing to come to church. The first is William.  William is 18 and is going to college locally. He hadn't been to church in Rockwood before, and had not been in over a year. We got his address from the church in Iowa and were able to contact the fa
mily. The family as a whole wouldn't come to church, but William would. William felt the difference (the spirit) this past Sunday. He loved church so much, he came out with us to help us teach 3 lessons afterwards. He taught about the Savior's earthly ministry, part of the lesson of the Restoration. William has decided to come back to church completely, he is committed to go to college through December 2017, but then wants to go on a mission. All this change in just a week. Truly the Lord's hand was present in his life, and can be for all who accept it.  I know that the Atonement can cover all.  It's an infinite atonement and can work for William, myself, and everyone else who will accept it.

The other guy we found is Mike. Mike and Janet are from Sacramento, close...yet so far. Ha. :)   Anyway, they lived in California for 28 years and joined the church in 2000. Mike was never advanced in the Priesthood past the office of a Priest. After they retired , they built a home in the middle of no-where, Tennessee which happens to be our area.  They have been living here for 3 years without knowing the church existed in Rockwood. They RV all over the country, for long periods of time, and had just never really been around to move their recordst. We ran into them by chance at Walgreens. They noticed the LDS missionary tag, and they were surprised to find out the church out here in the 'Sticks of Tennessee.

Mike and Janet, are the only members in their family, and they had forgotten much of the doctrine of the church. We've been doing what I called LDS crash course 101. It's been all the lessons really in depth, but compiled into super lessons, with extended Bible study along with each principle. It's been working out so far, and our goal is to see them enter into the temple.

People keep presenting me with these when they hear I'm from California.
Something cool that we talked about in Church this week: weakness. Isn't this the best topic? I absolutely love talking about it. Ether 12:27. But this time the conversation was centered on leadership, and God's mouthpiece, the Prophet. We spend a lot of time talking about our weaknesses, as regular people, members of the church, families, work etc, but what about those that are called of God......big time callings like the Prophet and Apostles. They had weaknesses too. In fact; if you really look at it, nobody in the Bible could pass a modern day background check. I mean come on! Look at Paul, LOOK AT HIM! We all know Paul's story, because we know his name hasn't always been Paul! When Paul was Soul, he persecuted Christians, he would march into their homes and arrest, kill, attack people for believing in Christ. Then he has his little encounter, and all of a sudden...almost the rest of the New Testament from that point is him preaching repentance. Paul clearly states that among sinners, I am chief among you. Moses told God he couldn't do his job because he had a speech impediment. Nephi tells us that he hates writing, but does it anyway because God strengthens him. Joseph Smith clearly made mistakes. You can read all about them in Doctrine and Covenants. Joseph Smith could have chosen to remove those accounts and sections out of D&C to make him look more professional and perfect, but he left them in. Why? To show us that he wasn't perfect, and he knew it. He sought the Atonement, and needed it just as much as any other person on Earth. 

So all this to say that ALL men (and women) have weakness. Read Ether 12:27 again if you don't believe me. Just because someone is called to serve a mission, or someone is called to be [insert calling, office, job etc] doesn't mean they are perfect. God calls us because He wants us to learn, and have experiences.   With the Atonement: all sin can be forgiven, all weaknesses can be made strengths, and any day can be the day a person chooses to come closer to Christ. 

Well, that was my spiritual rant for the week. 

It has been a great week complete with some tracting,  some fantastic meals, and even had a lesson in Spanish with a drunk guy that almost resulted in a bar fight. But I've decided that those stories are best kept in my Journal for now... 

Hope yalls have a good week!
Elder Kuhnen
The Great Tennessee Knoxville Mission

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Week 12 In The Field

Hey, everyone how's it going? This week has been amazing! We were packed full of service and teaching appointments and honestly, between those two things, life doesn't get much better!

Our P-day today was very exciting. We played Monopoly, Munchkin, and Scatter-gram for about 4 hours. Believe me, when you are stuck in the middle of nowhere with a few other funny dudes, any board game becomes loads of fun. We also got a surprise visit from the Jehovah's Witnesses, which was very entertaining. They had a 50 year old man, dressed like a frat star come and preach to us, but when we showed him our LDS missionary nametags, he said "Oh I'm sorry you guys, I hate to tell you this, but you are unable to be saved in the Kingdom of God. Have a good day and prepare for judgement day." I said back to this guy, "Thanks for the heads up, and by the way, if 144,000 thousand are getting saved, and there are over 3 million Jehovah's Witnesses, the odds are not in your favor. Have a good one!" He was already in his car, but had the windows down, so I know he heard me. Looking back on it, i shouldn't have bashed the guy, especially because he had a 13 year old boy behind him, but Elder Parker and I were just having way to much fun. Oh man, I already need the sacrament next Sunday!
The Loudon District

Our most progressing investigator, Jacob, ran into some hiccups.  We taught him in his home a few times and also had him over for a few dinners at a members home. Jacob was doing great until Friday, when another missionary came in while I was on an exchange and referenced the Pearl of Great Price scriptures. Uh oh. They explained that they were translated by Joseph Smith, but then Jacob did some research and ran into some anti-LDS material on the subject of Joseph Smith...and took it to be true. It was on polygamy and also that Joseph Smith couldn't have translated the book of Moses or Abraham because no other theology professors could. We had to make an emergency appointment to show him that people that hate our church tend to write false accounts, and some pretty funny fables on us. Do you go to a Chevy dealer for information on a Ford? No....only if you want reasons why Fords suck. It's the same idea people, 

On the flip side, Scott (hey, check it out), is doing awesome. He got a really good witness the church is true as well as the Book of Mormon. His only problem is the Law of Chastity.  He wants to get married first before he is baptized, but if he does that, he loses some check from the government. He is able to still receive it, he just has to file for it, and we all know how long big government takes to help the people on a individual level. He's been waiting close to a year now, so hopefully the government will feel inspired to actually do something and get him taken care of so we can move forward. We can't even set a baptismal date for him, which is causing him to be pretty down, because it's something he really wants. 

On Saturday we received a referral from a baptist woman who requested a free bible. We took one over and shared a message in John 10:16. There are other sheep not of the fold in the Holy Land that Jesus was going to visit, but who were those people? Oh, the people of the Americas who had sailed across and left Jerusalem, who followed the Law of Moses, more commonly known as the Nephities and Lamanites, the people whose records are found in the Book of Mormon. At that, this woman's face just blew up and she began to cry. She told us that it finally made sense, and that the spirit had told her the things which we said were true. We gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon and she's been texting us all weekend about her favorite parts and what sticks out to her. She also is finding scriptures that are identical and support the Bible. We told her that that is the point of the Book of Mormon, to support the Bible, not replace it. We will be seeing her again on Thursday, and hopefully she's going to be getting baptized soon. She already told us she's coming to church on Sunday so that's awesome too!

We had lots of other good spiritual experiences this week.   We found a woman who lived in Sacramento for 38 years, and the missionaries used to come over every other day for 5 years to do her house work while she took care of her fully paralyzed husband. She moved back to Spring City and never got in contact with the church out here. She isn't a member because she feels guilty of her addiction to cigarettes. She is the most LDS, but non-LDS person I've ever met, aside from the smoking, but in Tennessee, lots of members struggle with smoking. 

Well it's really late, and my companion wants to go sleep, so I'll have to talk to ya'll next week! Hope everyone is doing good, and untill next Monday!

Elder Kuhnen
The Great Tennessee Knoxville Mission

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 11 In the Field

Hey everybody hows it goin?

First I'd like to apologize to everyone who noticed some changes on my Facebook account. That wasn't me, it's my new PR guy, Ronnie, who is taking care of me while I'm AFK (away from keyboard). Periodically I'll be sending him pictures to upload and make changes as I ask for them. Again, I apologize, I forgot to tell him to make a status letting everyone know that my account would be active again. I've sent him an email asking to write a post letting everyone know what's going on, but for future reference, if you see something posted mission related, it's from him not me. 

On the topic of my association with Chubbies Shorts inc, I suspended my job as a representative for the time while I am serving my mission. I do not encourage or give preference to or in any way share my biased opinion of Chubbies Shorts with people while proselyting for the LDS church. However, I still like the shorts, and will wear them when I return home. As for the shorts not being in harmony with the standards of endowed members of the Church, I have a solution to that: buy the XL's and tailor the waist, or wear a belt. I hope no one will  try to change my opinion of Chubbies. Now, onto the content ya'll actually wanted to read.

The Rockwood Elders.
This was my first full week in Rockwood. One word to describe it is crazy. I found out quickly you never know what's going to happen here. It's a small town with a sleepy feel to it, but it's very much alive and active. Elder Patterson and I have a sloppy area book with lots of listed potential investigators and old investigators that don't give a good description as to why they were not followed up with, or dropped. We've been visiting these people and seeding through the ones who are really not interested. While many of them aren't interested at this time, we have found some very promising investigators and had a really funny referral experience. 

In a ward member's basement!
We contacted a family who had been listed as unable to contact because they didn't answer the phone....word? Elder Patterson and I agreed that it would be one thins to be on a bike, and bike 20 miles only to find out they weren't home, or not interested, but we have a car. Car areas mean no excuses, so we drove out there and this place was scary. This family lives in a wood house that looks like a Hell's Angels clubhouse or something like that. Confederate flag stuff everywhere, motorcycle parts in the front yard, horses in the backyard etc. We knocked the door and this teenager comes to the door and recognized us, he was very surprised, but got his Mom, and we talked on the front porch for a while. We taught a barebones version of the Restoration. It went pretty well, we have a return appointment, which will be the time where we get to meet the father and other kids. The mom and son seemed pretty exited to be recontacted though.

We also noticed we had a referral from last year that was contacted, but never followed up with, so we drove out 20 miles of Rockwood to the outskirt backwoods of Spring City. We found a vacant house, and a trailer that looked like a possible site for a meth lab. The trailer's address wasn't numbered correctly, so we tried the house and eventually discovered it was vacant. At the time it was around 5:30 and we had a meal appointment at 6. I was pretty hungry and getting frustrated with my companion as we had been out all day skipping lunch, and seeing people without success. Elder Patterson suggested we knock the trailer, but I insisted we go to our meal appointment. He insisted we knock, and after a small argument, I agreed to knock. Well, it turns out the trailer was the guy we were looking for, and he was receptive to a Book of Mormon, and believes many things we do. We had a long discussion, and he came to church on Sunday. We have a appointment with him this Saturday, and we hope to commit him to baptism then. Lesson learned: always listen to the promptings of the spirit, and also trust your companion who is also entitled to revelation. It was a humbling experience, as well as a spiritual one. 

For P-day today, we are playing Halo limited edition monopoly, shopping, and making pens out of old Jack Daniels Whiskey barrels with a member. This morning I taught seminary on Ezekiel 1-3. We learned that prophets are specifically called and prepared to lead the people of the Earth through challenges faced in their days. Thomas S. Monson knows of the struggles that man faces today. This past conference he talked about choices, and making good choices. If we follow his counsel, and make good choices, we can ensure our own personal salvation. Tue story. 

I hope everyone has a good week. Until next Monday!
Elder Kuhnen
The Great Tennessee Knoxville Mission
The photo Elder Kuhnen believes will be hanging on his wall showing his grandchildren "the good 'ol days"

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Week 10 In the Field

Hey everybody BIG NEWS! I got transferred!
Elder Patterson with a bearded dragon.
 It was very unexpected and a little upsetting at first, but now it's back to being awesome and BACK AT IT. The original plan was for me to finish this transfer and go another in Knoxville but instead, I'm now in Rockwood, Tennessee! It's a small town about 50 miles west of Knoxville, and it's very country. It reminds me of Coalfax or Auburn, California sometimes. It's also great because we have a car which makes life so much less stressful....really!  The only downside is now I have no excuse to not watch my weight and after these few days, it's going to be rough.. People out here like the missionaries...just sayin'.   

My new companion is Elder Patterson. He's from Arizona and is really cool! He loves to play the piano, Disneyland, and the Gospel! He is a misionero para LA Iglesia De JESUCHRISTO De Los Santos De Los Ultimos Dias. If you can't read Spanish...he's a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. That's the other big news, I'm learning Spanish! My call hasn't been officially changed as of right now, but it could be if I become good enough! We shall see in the future. 

We've had a lot of really awesome things happen the past few days here in Rockwood. The first day I got here we had a lesson with a girl named Cheyanne who's been working on getting ready to be baptized. She is 9 years old and has been taking the lessons for a while now. Picking a baptismal date and been hard due to family obligations, pressure from friends, and personal desire, but at the end of our lesson (tithing) she decided that she was ready. We set a date for April 23. The family is very exited and so are we! 

Elder Kuhnen starting to feel at home in Rockwood!
Coming into the area, there had been a family that was on date to be baptized, but due to issues with housing, the family was lost and went MIA with the church. On Thursday we got a call from them letting us know that they had found a home and were ready to have us come back over. We will be working with them this upcoming week to get them back on date to enter the waters of baptism. 

Conference was pretty good huh? 

Can I give a shoutout to NATHAN RICHES, and JARED for KILLING it in the choir during Priesthood session?!?!  Nathan, they didn't show you as much as Jared, but when they did I nudged everyone in the branch that came that that's my boy!

I was impressed with all of the talks, but the talk that stuck out the most, (beside Elder Holland of course) was Dale G. Renlund from the Saturday morning session. The biggest lesson learned  was the more we distance ourselves from Jesus Christ and the Atonement, the more we feel entitled to Grace. This is a very true statement. I can feel the difference from times in my life when I have gone out of my way to distant myself from the church, and that blessings do NOT come as we think they should. But when we come closer to Christ and His gospel, all of a sudden....WE START GETTING THE BLESSINGS WE WANT. A universal blessing we all want is true, lasting happiness. This is available to all who follow and LIVE the gospel of Christ. It then gets more personal as you allow Christ to direct your life. If you stop focusing on yourself, and focus on Christ and serving Him, He will focus on you. Let him take care of you, because I guarantee you, He can do a heckova lot better job than you can. 

Elder Kuhnen with bearded dragon!
So now for the food. I cannot wait another week to talk to ya'll about this here food we gettin'. So my first meal when I got here was with a senior couple. For four people, this sweet grandmother made a whole ham, 3 sweet potatoes for each person, buckets of mashed potatoes, broccoli, a couple of apple pies, and custard with whipped cream. All homemade.  Talk about...woah. That's all I could say, with a lot of sincere  "Thank-You's!"  Oh man, we eatin' good in Rockwood! Hey rhymin' accidentally...Chris Smoove anyone? 

These people are also really funny, and kinda scary. The husband, Frank, expressed his interest on mounting a 50 cal. machine gun on the roof, but his wife talked him down to a 30 cal. They're working on figuring out just how they're going to do that, but nevertheless: Welcome to the South!
The next dinner, we ate homemade biscuits and gravy, with sausage, sausage, and more sausage. Once again, fire. I got to hold a bearded dragon, and learned that it's skin is poisonous to humans, which was awesome because they told me this as it was crawling on the back of my neck. I think I'll be okay though, my skin isn't purple yet. 

Yesterday we visited this guy named Ronnie. This guy records music in his bedroom, and has the missionaries come over to be his "band". He's pretty weird, and his house reeks of nicotine and smoke (so does everywhere)   but he really loves having the missionaries over. He's been investigating the church for some time, and he is currently in the process of quitting smoking. He likes to give missionaries things like guitars, and other things he's got laying around, but for me, I got his Rebel Battle Flag. It's pretty cool, and now hanging from my ceiling. 

Elder Kuhnen with Rebel Battle Flag from Ronnie
Well that's all for this week everyone. One last thing, in Knoxville we had access to wifi,, but here in Rockwood, we are pretty spread out. I probably won't be at the church all day, so if anyone want's to write me and get a response that week, you should send the email on SUNDAY night. If you want to risk doing it on Monday just remember Tennessee is 3 hours ahead of California, and 2 hours ahead of Utah. Thanks everyone. Go Giants, Go Warriors!

Elder Kuhnen
The Great Tennessee Knoxville Mission