Monday, December 30, 2013

December 29, 2013 -- Email #10

Editors note-- We just returned from San Francisco where we traveled to watch Michael play in the bowl game.  I attached some pictures of our trip in my email to Elder K-- Knowing this, his first comments will make more sense :-)

December 29, 2013
Cabarroguis, Diffun, Cagayan Valley, Philippines

Kumusta Pamilya ko!

San Fran! That looks so fun! Ah, Full House, What's up Doc, Princess Diaries... Yeah that is a city of many childhood memories of mine. Even if I never went there. Oh well, you've done it for me. I'm making some memories of my own over here in the Pilipinas! You only talked to Sister Missionaries, though? I think I know of at least two Elders there who went to Maeser... Elder Adam and Rindlisbacher. I think? That's really embarrassing if I'm wrong. Oh well.

What happened this week? Oh yeah. Pasko. Christmas. Here in the Philippines, they stay up to midnight on Christmas Eve to celebrate. They have a huge fair, people get presents... It's pretty similar to here other than the temperature difference. We didn't get to teach nearly as many lessons because people were very busy with the holidays. But it wasn't that bad. We were very productive even though this season is crazy. 

The ward Christmas party was very fun. I won the game "It's So Fluffy" or as we call it in the states, "Chubby Bunny". 23 Marshmallows in my mouth. It was delicious. Oh yeah, and I got to try the Filipino desert Halo-Halo. It's everything I've ever loved in my life stuffed in a giant bowl. Ice Cream, freshly shaved coconut, flan, gummies, jello, and yes, even beans. So that was amazing. 

You know, I haven't really told you much about the people we're teaching. Lemme tell you about a few of them:

Brother and Sister Mercado we're being taught by Elder Manabo with his old companion before I came. My first lesson with them was my second day. They have been coming to church, always listen well, and always ask good questions. It's apparent that they want to know if what we are teaching is true, and even though they seem hesitant at times, they are finding out for themselves, and that's a good place to be. We've invited them to be baptized, and they said they would like to do it after they've finished building a house next door. So talk about a service opportunity! It kind of equates to the more we can help them on this house, the faster they'll be baptized. Really, in all honesty, the best missionary work is service. Even the smallest services we are able to offer go a long way. It's putting actions behind our faith. The example and positive aura of service, especially along side investigators, brings an excellent medium for the Spirit to be received and for truths to be testified of. 

I'll talk about another set of investigators next week, and so on, but I don't have a lot of time left.

Most people here are Christian. The schooling here is all bible-centered, although some things have been altered, which is funny. I was looking in one of kids school-books, and they show a picture of Jesus being baptized by sprinkling. They also, ironically, take the time to tell the story of John the Baptist not allowing the Pharisees to be baptized because they had not brought forth fruits (repentance) that they were worthy of it. Hey, that's right, isn't it? So, why do you baptize babies again?

I also would like to stress the importance of why I was called to teach in the language of Tagalog. 

People here are schooled in English. The prayers offered during school(memorized with crossing the chest) are in English. The road signs are in English. Most advertisements on T.V., billboards, or at the grocery store here are in English. Prices for things are repeated in English. They understand English very well! But, I was called to teach in the language of Tagalog, because Tagalog is the language of home. When a child comes home from a long day of school, and tells their parents about their day, it is in Tagalog. When the family gets together in the evening to talk to each other, it is in Tagalog. When we teach them the restored gospel, it is in Tagalog. Because this gospel, especially emphasized in this dispensation, is for families. It is for families to come closer and be strengthened in this time of great familial and relational destruction. It is not a vain, repetitious, "religious" thought. It is a tool for us to use; to hold close to those people we cherish most, and to stay away from things that might separate us from them. I know we have a living prophet and twelve apostles today, and that their counsel is not given indirectly. It is given to us directly, for our very real and moving lives, that we might be obedient. Obedience is how we learn what the fruits of faith are. Through obedience, we can find out for ourselves if this is the true church, if Joseph Smith is a prophet, and if the Book of Mormon is a true record of the people of Ancient America, and the word of God. So, try your faith out. "plant it in your heart," and "try the experiment of it's goodness"(Alma 34:4). And the Spirit, whether in a sign, or in a feeling, or in a still, small voice, will confirm. And always will. May we have such faith! In the name of our Divine Redeemer, Jesus Christ, amen. 

-Elder Kocherhans

Sunday, December 22, 2013

December 22, 2013-- Email #9

December 22, 2013
Cabarroguis, Diffun, Cagayan Valley, Philippines

Well, this week was swell! 

There was a funeral in the house next door to our apartment (and by next door I mean that we're kind of in the same house in a separate sort of guest house area). Traditionally in the Philippines, after someone dies, they set up a huge pavilion in front of the house, invite all the family members to come into town, and play poker and get drunk every day for about a week. Once they get tired of this, they decide they should have a funeral, because the body is usually just lying somewhere in the house. So they have a funeral service. With very loud music. Including brass bands. And karaoke. That play music. All. Night. All night. So that's great. Because you don't get sleep.

I also found that I will refer to moths as birds here. Because they are about the same size. I'm not kidding. I'm walking in the apartment one night and I see a large animal on the wall.

"Oh, that's a funny looking bird. Wait..." O___O. No. No no no no no no. Elder Manabo says the biggest he's seen is about two feet long. *Puke*

And the spiders. I'll call them dogs. Or hellhounds. Or Aragog. Or Shelob. Savages? (Air-fist to those who got that reference). Whichever works. 

VIDEO CALL: 9:00 AM here is 6:00 PM there. So I'm thinking I could call you, for me, on the 26th at noon or so, and that would be Christmas Day at around 9:00 PM for you. Would that work? And yes, Google hangout will work, I might need to use my personal email account to access it though. Which is approved, as long as I just use it for the hangout. 

Be grateful for good, clean hospitals. 

We visited a hospital here to give a sister a blessing of healing. I'm surprised I was able to maintain my composure while walking through that place. It was... absolutely tragic. I can't really explain exactly how tragic it was, but I can tell you that America is an amazing country, and our hospitals are among the best in the world. So be grateful for that; that you have access to such a thing in cases of emergency. We are truly blessed in that land. Among other things you can be grateful for are toilet seats, toilet paper being acknowledged as a necessity(which it is not here in the Philippines), hot water, authentic Italian restaurants, Coneys, J-Dawgs, traffic laws, clean strait teeth, and many other things. Which I will be fine without while I'm here, but that I will be grateful for when I return. 

I found an interesting parallel this week between the words of Jean Val Jean during Epilogue and Mormon/Moroni at the end of the Book of Mormon. This part in particular I like to see Moroni saying while closing the book and urging people to read it: "On this page, I write my last confession. Read it well, when I at last am sleeping. It's a story, of those who always loved you. [and many] gave their life for you and gave [this] to your keeping." I thought about how Moroni and Mormon must have felt, while compiling the records of endless wars and contentions and sins and righteousness which had fallen, and how deeply they must have wanted us, the future generations, to learn something from it. Can we please? Listen to the voices of those crying from the dust. They have been through much. They know. We ought to listen to them, if we are to maintain happiness on the face of the land.

I pray for you guys every night. I hope you know that. Family is so central to Gods plan, and it has been especially emphasized in importance this dispensation for a reason. Don't let anything come between. I wish for this Christmas that all families everywhere could become a little closer, and as I have learned here, it is so easy to get close to your family through the restored gospel. SO easy. So take advantage of the blessings and resources you have there, and use them to make Christmas about families, and about Him who came into the world to save us all, through His simple yet profound gospel. Maligayan Pasko! Merry Christmas!

-Elder Kocherhans

Ya know, just walking through the suburbs.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15, 2013 Email #8

December 15, 2013
Cabarroguis, Diffun, Cagayan Valley, Philippines

Fun times here in the Philippines! We're teaching on average about 6 times a day, and Elder Manabo says that this is the most productive time on his mission he's had thus far, and he's been here 8 months! So it's been really fun. Now it's just a matter of not getting burnt out. Teaching is absolute fun. When we're teaching, and the Spirit is on our side, it is just pure joy.  

I've had balut twice now! It is so good! Oh, and it is not what we all think it is. They don't bury it underground at all. All it is is a hard boiled egg that just happened to include a duck fetus in it. Super masarap(delicious). The rice cakes here are really really good. And they do have a MacDo in Santiago City, so we eat there on p-day. They have big macs and stuff, but they also have rice and chicken stuff. Pretty funny.  

Sometimes I catch myself thinking of home, and thinking about talking to people at home after I'm home, and Slick, and many songs have come to my head while I'm here, and I've come up with many songs... But I remember the words of Peter when he responded to Jesus: "To whom shall I go? Thou hast the words of eternal life." It's great to be in this work, and when I'm fully focused in it, there is nothing on this earth I'd trade it for. 

I've felt the spirit of the Book of Mormon especially this week. It is true. It is a record intended for our day; that we may read and gain from it. More than once this week I have welled up with tears and choked up when testifying to people that I love the Book of Mormon, and that I know it will bless their lives. Read it! It is unlimited in its teachings, through the power of the spirit!

So, this week I have a few stories about how awesome the Spirit is, and how if we use it, we can do all sorts of really good things!

Tuesday last week, I felt an impression that morning to bring an Ilocano Book of Mormon with me. We didn't have any Ilocano investigators, and rarely ran into people who only spoke Ilocano, but I brought it anyway. Later that day, we came upon an old man splitting wood with a machete, and he had a piece of wood with a huge knot at the bottom. So, it was really difficult to split. I offered to help him. So for the next five minutes I wacked this piece of wood as hard as I could against a rock with the machete, trying to split it. I eventually took the machete out of the wood and ripped the log in half with my bear hands, which was pretty fun. He was pretty amused with the whole ordeal; this random white kid helping him split wood. Afterwards, he started speaking Ilocano. So I pulled out the "Ti Libro ni Mormon" and gave it to him. He looked at it with surprise, like he could hardly believe we printed such a book in Ilocano. He thanked us graciously and we took a picture.

I wrote an enormous story here, but then I deleted the whole thing accidentally, and I'm going to take it as a sign that I was not suppose to tell you it. Because there are a few good reasons as to why I shouldn't disclose this story. So yeah. I guess I'll wait. I will testify that this is the true church, and that a prophet of God receives revelation today for us, to guide us at this time. I've been reading the conference talks again, they are so full of amazing counsel! Read up! I know the Book of Mormon is true, and that it is a powerful testament of Jesus Christ, and that it is powerful evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, and that Jesus Christ established this Church for these latter-days through the prophet Joseph Smith. I testify that this church holds true priesthood power, and true priesthood authority. 

I feel very inadequate sometimes, and I suffer with feelings of being forgotten by all those I've left behind. Like I will slowly fade out of existence there. But I can't let these feeling eat me, for they do not matter. I am a Filipino now. It will be a very very long time before I'm American again, and I just have to accept that. I appreciate all of your letters, one and all!

-Elder Kocherhans

Monday, December 9, 2013

December 9, 3013 - Philippines

December 9, 2013  
Cabarroguis, Diffun, Cagayan Valley, Philippines

We shall begin right after I got off the phone in Detroit. 

I sat down with Elder Peterson. He leans over and says "listen behind us". We were waiting for the flight to Manila, so naturally, the family behind us was speaking Tagalog. One of them said "bagsak?" and the other replied "bagsak." and then they both started laughing. That would be equated to someone saying "Fail?" "Fail." 

So I lean over and say "Kumusta! Taga saan po kayo?"(Hey! Where you from?) The man responded in English and explained he was a teacher at the University of the Philippines. We talked, he recognized us from the Broadway play he had seen, apologized for the mockery it made of us, and then I gave him a Book of Mormon. So that was cool. 

Then we had the extremely long flight to Nagoya. The person in front of me was watching some wacked-up Boliwood movie and then the person next to me decided to watch The Conjuring. That was a great desicion for them because it was just a little SEVERELY EMOTIONALLY SCARRING DUE TO HORRENDOUSLY SATANIC IMAGES but you know. No big deal. I had my head in the game so it didn't get me down.

I can say I've been to Japan now! On our way to the gate, a Japanese officer saw that we were all Americans and started leading us to a creepy gate titled "quarantine" where another Japanese man waiting with a mask and gloves. We told the guard we were going to Manila and his face relaxed. "Oh. Ok, nevermind, just keep going strait." The Japanese don't care if the Philippines gets contaminated with American germs.

We landed in Manila midnight the 4th, waited at a hotel for a few hours where we got zero sleep, then got into a van to head to the airport again for the flight to Cauayan. Yes, we flew to Cauayan. First of all, the traffic in Manila... HOLY AWESOME. So chaotic, and everyone is on the verge of crashing into the one next to them, yet somehow it all works. Jeepnees look like ghetto war vehicles. They are so gansta it ain't even funny. You don't mess with the Jeepnees. Basically all of the vehicles here are Tricees and occasionally a Japanese car. The Tricees are awesome too, I want to make one of my own when I return to America.

At the Manila airport, we ran into the batch from the Manila MTC going to Cauayan. There were several urgings from us to Elder McCausland to not say anything stupid. It's funny, when the Filipinos see his name, they read the first two letters and then exclaim "Elder MacDo!" (Elder McDonalds!)

On the flight to Cauayan, we began descending through the thick fog into the valley, and I was consumed with love for the place I was. We saw endless rice fields and rolling jungle mountains all around us. I stepped out of the plane and immediately felt "Oh my. I'm home." I haven't felt uncomfortable here. Even though it is so different, I haven't felt one bit of longing for the first-world home of America. We greeted the mission president, had lunch at his house, and then we were assigned to our Tatay (Fathers). Elder Manyabo is his name(Take out the Y and add the N with the little squigley over it). He is about half my size. All of the Filipinos are tiny. He is so awesome, though. 

So much has happened the past week here in the Philippines, I don't know where to start. My area is Santiago South, and the district is Cabarugis city. It's a beautiful place. It really is. Our apartment is pretty rough. But there is a shower head. There's a gas stove on the balcony thing and there's some manner of sink with a water filter from the mission. It's all concrete. We have a couch, and mattresses, and lots of cockroaches. But the cockroaches here are kind of... stoned? Or something? They move way slow and fall over and die all by themselves. So they haven't really been much of a problem. Mosquitos have been eating me but I have TerraSheild and Purify. The poverty here hasn't bothered me, strangely enough. The cold showers, the bugs, the lack of hygiene... Really hasn't bothered me. I find it a powerful testimony of me needing to be here right now.

After my first night of sleep that I had had in about three days, I awoke to my first morning in the Philippines. We taught about four lessons that day, and I actually had a large part in it. We also talked to a lot of people on the streets handing out pamphlets about the Restoration and sharing brief testimony. Tagalog is way fun to teach in, and they understand mixed English very well because English is taught in all of the schools here as a required course. It is also the language of pretty much every advertisement here. The second day we taught like six lessons. Everyone here lives in essentially camping conditions. Concrete slabs stuck in the mud with a few wooden benches here and there. There is jungle everywhere, especially my area. All appoinments we have after 6 are done in the dark, as we hike through the jungle with often only a cell phone flashlight. I've used my headlamp the past couple of times, though. It seems like I've been here forever. It's not like I did anything like this in America, yet I find everything so natural. We've had a ton of lessons everyday. My Tagalog comes with the Spirit, so it's a pretty fool-proof method. 

Lets see, I've taught a few severely drunk people(one of which showed us some surprisingly good kungfu), we've taught a few breast-feeders, we've taught some naked kids, we've attempted to talk to some farmers who only speak Ilocano(which is WAY different from Tagalog), we've taught a guy walking with him as he rode his Karibau(for you VeggieTales fans... It's a Cebuuuuuu) down the street dragging various sticks... We've had a lot of fun. 

I think the most simple testimony I bear here every day is being a random white kid with a name tag trudging through the mud and fields of Cabarugis, smiling and saying "Kumusta!" to everyone. I've never smiled more in my life since I've been here. And not like a fake smile. Truly, genuinely smiling all of the time. That isn't really like me. But it is here. Everyone notices I'm white. Even the goats here look at me like "Wha?" Whenever I tell whoever it is we're talking to that I'm from America, they laugh a little and I know they're thinking "Oh really! I couldn't tell!" (To quote Bugs Life). The popular thing to do here is to call out at the white people and say "Hey Joe! Whatsurname?" So that's pretty fun. All Americans are "Joe" here.

On Friday, we came past a Tricee station where a few guys were playing an Electric guitar. So, I decided to show them my stuff. We became real fast friends, and many Tricee drivers came by to watch. I then swiftly taught them about the Restoration, gave em a pamphlet, and arranged to return and teach. So that was fun. We also found and taught a family that basically lived in the middle of nowhere. I mean, like, middle of nowhere even by Filipino standards. We gave them three pamphlets with our phone numbers.

The ward here is way nice. I have been dubbed "Elder Kokokrunch". Kokokrunch is the Filipino brand of Cocoa Puffs. So yeah. That's how it is. We went to a baptism on Saturdaywhich was really awesome. She was ten years old, and began bawling as she bore her testimony about Joseph Smith. 

The weird foods I've had include: Fresh whole Squid on rice, grilled whole chicken head, grilled whole chicken feet, grilled whole chicken intestines, grilled cubed chicken blood, sauted whole chicken livers, milk fish(National Filipino fish in vinegar), packaged ulam(rice topping), and various other packaged Filipino snacks. They have all been delicious. Truly, they have. No Balut, yet. Just hasn't been on sale.   

So, somebody was a smart Elder this morning and forgot the card reader for the camera at the apartment. I'm about an hour away from it now. So yeah, pictures next week, I guess.

I can skype on Christmas, but details will come later.




Ok, phew. Got that out of my system. This is a great work, and I am so glad to be apart of it! My english is already starting to deteriorate, and even now I'm typing with an accent! I have no idea how to send packages, but I want to cuz I have a lot of cool stuff! 

This letter is really scattered. Sorry. Just let me know where to fill in next week.

Oh, congrats Kara and Michael, for the whole time and eternity thing. But really, welcome to the family! I'm so excited for you two! Awesomesauce! 

Ok. I think I got everything. Ingat po, pamilya ko!

-Elder Kocherhans (Kokokrunch)

Saturday, November 30, 2013

November 30, 2013 Provo MTC

November 30, 2013

Kumusta, pamilya ko!

Talk about leaving the MTC with a bang. This week. Haha. I just love thinking about it right now. I'll start with what happened Sunday night. 

So, since about Wednesday last week, I would walk into the dorm, put my stuff on my desk, inhale, and then exclaim "Oh my gosh it smells like feces over here." I was use to this smell though, considering what the food here had done to our digestive systems. So I didn't think much of it for a while, partly because we weren't in our room very often, and partly because everything here in any room smells awful. We are representatives of Jesus Christ, and we're all doing our part, but we still smell like 18 year old boys. 

Sunday night, though, the smell from my desk was unbearable. I yelled "Ok, Elder Peterson, we're going to find what is smelling this place up, and we're going to find it now." He agreed promptly, as well as Elder McCausland, and we began searching my desk. As we searched, Elder Peterson held up a bag of cookies that I hadn't touched in a while (from the Parry's). His eyes became wide with fear. He then turned the bag to Elder McCausland, who immediately began dry heaving. I have to say, on the bottom of the list of things I thought this smell could be coming from was the thing placed before my eyes, but it made perfect sense. 

Yes, inside the bag of cookies... Was a human poop. ( Meant to be read like the Aunt from My Big Fat Greek Wedding)

Your thoughts were my thoughts exactly. "What? Why? Here? Poop?". We immediately got dressed back up and headed to the front office, where we called Brother Cristofferson and talked to the front desk security clerk. They both reacted the same way. "You found a what in the bag?" Our district was completely dumbfounded as well. We didn't know who could have done this. As we all came back to the room, Elder Sefita exclaimed "Something still smells like poop in here." We assured him it was just residue from the previous resident. But then, our nostrils were consumed once again. We started searching. Elder Sefita found one of his Pringles cans. He smelled. "Ohp. I found it." Elder Peterson held the can over the bathroom trashcan. I carefully opened the lid with the outside of my fingernail. We looked in the can, dropped it in the trash, and ran back to the room with faces that can only be described as "pure denial". Two poops were placed in our room. How did this happen? Who could have done this? But we were faithfully reassured by the District Presidency and President Howard that whoever did this would be caught, and immediately sent home. 

This is all hilarious in retrospect, but I just want you to know that when things like this happen, missionaries get sent home, because obviously their minds are not in the right place. They are wasting their time in a place like this if the best they can do is poop in someones things. And that doesn't always mean someone else sends them home forcefully. They go home, because they realize they haven't taken the time or the sacrifice to find out what this work is really about. Which is a shame, because it is a great work, which is a work we should all be a part of in our own ways.

We had some amazing speakers at the devotionals and Thanksgiving programs. Russel M Nelson came, so that was awesome. He addressed the importance of implementing ward help during our missions. And guess who the other speaker was? A Filipino member of the Seventy. Yeah, I'm going to pretty much the best mission ever. Tagalog is going to be such a blessing in my life, I just know it. I have a feeling I will miss that language and these people so deeply when I leave, that I probably won't be a whole lot of fun to be around when I get back. I'll just teach you all Tagalog. 

Speaking of the Philippines, fun fact for ya: When you ask for directions there, most of the time they just come with you to wherever it is. "Hey, do you know where the bank is?" "Yeah, let's go together!" "Do you need to go to the bank too?" "Nope, but it sounds fun!"

SO basically everyone there is awesome.

I've been so anxious to get out to the field this week, with flight plans and all. Oh, so on the 2nd of December, my flight out of Salt Lake leaves at 7:30 in the morning, and we arrive in Detroit at about noon, then the next flight to Manila leaves at about 3:30. So there's the windows for calling, do you want to do just one call while I'm in Detroit? The window there would be about 1:00 PM to 2:00 PM, or something like that. I don't know what you guyzz schedules are like so hindi ko alam(I don't know). I'd be fine without a call too. It's up to you. 

We said goodbye to our teachers this week. They are both so amazing, but I will especially miss Brother Soderquist. His accent and tone with the language has helped me so much in sounding like a native speaker. It's so fun to speak Tagalog, so I'm excited to go to a place where you don't have to speak English to everyone! English is so lame. No offense to you English speakers out there. Tagalog is the bomb. 

Here's another word in Tagalog that is awesome. Ayos. It means "to fix", but they use it as slang there for "great!" or "awesome!". Pronounce it like Eye-ohs.

Thank you so much for the Christmas package! Awesomesauce! I love the pictures. So good. 

Thank you Cannon family for the giant package of pictures and books and letters! I love you all so much! I'm going to be looking at those drawings for the duration of my mission. This means a whole lot to me. Thank you so much. 

Oh, and thank you to aunt Ann for the package! We've been having fun with that whirlygig. 

Alam ko po na totoo ang simbahan ni Jesucristo and mga banal ng mga huling araw, at sa pamamagitan ng pagsunod natin, tatanggap po tayo ng mga sagot at patnubay. Alam ko po, dahil sa nangyari po ako. Alam ko po na totoo ang Aklat ni Mormon, at kung magbabasa po tayo niya, magbabasbas po ang Espiritu Santo sa atin kasama magdiscernment mali at tama. Sinasabi po ako ito sa pangalin ni Jesucristo, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Oh, and the beans!...
I forgot about this somehow, but we had an enormous humanitarian project that I got to lead in on Thanksgiving. They trained me in how to run the assembly line, and helped with a lot of other things. We packaged 350,000 bags of soup for hungry children all across Utah. It was so fun to be apart of. The organization who ran it was not Mormon, but our parting gift to them was copies of the Book of Mormon for them to read over. I really hope we were able to touch them with our spirit of service. It's so great to be a missionary at a time such as this.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

November 23, 2013 Provo MTC

Kumusta, Pamilya ko!

Well, where do I begin... Last P-Day was the last we had with Elders Denning, Lesa, Kelley, and Neville. It was so great to spend some time with them. They are going to be awesome in the field. We did this thing called "Sauna Saturday" where we get a huge curtain and tape off the entrance way to the showers, turn them all on the hottest they can go, and then Sauna it up. It was really nice. It wasn't entirely illegal, either. 

So, our zone got a new district this week, and guess who's in it? Elder Ethan English! From Maeser! That threw me through a time void. But yeah, he's right next door to me and I'm his zone leader. I'm so glad I got to go to Maeser. There is such a strong fellowship that exists within the student body. We are all just so united. It's amazing. Sister Baker sent me a journal of past Maeser missionaries that I will pass on to Elder English and then probably to Elder Moe. It is full of amazing MTC experiences and advice from my fellow Maeserites. So cool to be apart of this work, and to have said I graduated from Maeser Prep!

Alright, here's a few questions... Do we know a Ben and Terra Kocherhans that live in Arizona? Elder Rogers says they're in his home ward. And Jason, did you know Elders Calliger and Pitcher in your mission? Pitcher works in the mail room and said he recognized my name from the Merida Mexico mission.

I've been having fun trying new foods. One of the Elders from the new district brought some Vegemite. In small amounts, it's not that bad. It's kind of reminisent of soy sauce. I've also been eating Easy-Cheese like a mad-man. On crackers, no Leaning Towers of Cheezah. 

The speaker at the devotional was Sister Edmunds, the second ever sister in the Philippines. Hello, another Philippines reference. I'm going to such a cool place. Anyways, she was the funniest person in the world. We could not stop laughing after anything she said. I guess she writes books too, so I'd look her up. Mary Ellen Edmunds. She was also in the same area as our Branch President when he was serving in the Philippines, so they know each other. Sister Howard says she has her permission to be President Howard's second wife.

So, I've gained about ten pounds since I got here. Still skinnier than anything, but at least I'm gaining weight. 

We have flight plans! YES! We leave from here on December 2nd at 3:30 in the morning, get on the 7:30 flight to DETROIT(Yeah, what?), then fly from Detroit to Manila. 21 hour flight. That'll be fun. Looks like I won't get to go to China after all. I really wanted an international layover, but oh well. We're flying Delta, and they have all the weight requirements here, and it seems pretty straitforward so I should be good. 

My writing has gotten terrible since I started learning Tagalog. I feel dirty using English. Tagalog is way better.  

So, I'll tell you a little abbreviated version of Elder Dennings conversion story. He had grown up in a Mormon home, but never really followed anything in the church and didn't really care. As he explains, "I did a lot of crazy, stupid stuff in high school." He was in a death metal band, he was a cage fighter... he was also a professional surfer.

His whole family loves surfing, so the only times he had with his family were while they were surfing together. While on a trip to a third-world country, they went out for a day of surfing after a tournament the day before. There, they all caught a extremely dangerous strand of e-coli. He then explains how he started slowly dying from it. At a point of extreme suffering, his father offered to give him a priesthood blessing. Elder Denning exclaimed, "how could that possibly help me? Are you kidding?" His father then said "I'm not going to sit here and do nothing, let me give you a blessing." After the blessing, Elder Denning went to sleep. When he awoke, he felt fine. No signs of sickness whatsoever. But the rest of his family was still severely sick. There were no sanitary or helpful hospitals in this county whatsoever. So Elder Denning began to pray for the first time he had in many years. For three hours, he repented of what he had done in the past, and for not being worthy to receive the priesthood. He asked for his family to be healed. Lo and behold, they were all healed that moment. 

That is the power of the Atonement. It is the power of change. It's the power of a complete shift in direction, and a re-focus on purpose. That moment, Elder Denning realized that nothing else really mattered more than him being able to save his family, and living worthy of the power to do so. 

Like Nephi said, why should we sin? Because of the flesh? Because boys will be boys? Because we're all human? Because we're teenagers? Because because because........ Awake, my soul! Realize that the body becomes more powerful than could ever be imagined when it becomes unified with a clean spirit. The mind is sharper, and more focused. Emotions are pure. Desires are righteous. And physical strength is easily obtained. Why would an axe boast in it's own power, when it's real power comes from the one who wields it; the one who can use it to its full potential? Through small and simple means, great things are brought to pass. Through primary answers, the full potential of man can be reached. Sa pangalan ni Jesucirsto, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Some MTC pictures Nov 16, 2013

 Elder Kocherhans, Elder Rogers and Elder Peterson
Its snowing! Maybe for the last time for us in 2 years we'll see!

Here's a picture of the older Elders in the Zone: (Left to right) Elder Lesa, Elder Denning, Elder Rogers, Elder Peterson, Me, Elder Neville, Elder Kelley, Elder McCausland.

November 16, 2013 Provo MTC

Kumusta Pamilya Ko!

So, let me reply to some of your stuff first. I haven't been delayed since the Typhoon but there will definitely be a lot of service to do. I don't think I'll need more clothes but it's your call. 

I've been teaching my companions a little about energy work along with the oils. Elder Peterson and Elder Sefita are pretty interested. I think it's interesting that the Spirit can literally testify truths to individual cells in the body. Fiber of being, consuming of flesh... It says it many times in the scriptures.

So, Saturday night we got to teach a lesson to a member that was born in the Philippines. It was really fun. The language just keeps coming. Ha, but this was funny. The word for heart is "puso" and the word for cat is "pusa"... So lets just say that Elder Rogers told him that our message comes from the cat.

I am convinced I will be moving to Samoa when I get back. They love food. They have natural musicality. They're funny. I need to live there. They have this canned corn beef that they love eating and I got to try some the other night... Oh my heavens, best thing in the world. The new Samoan Elder Fa'asavalu is really awesome. He leads us all in A-Cappella numbers with all sorts of time signatures and stuff. He is the biggest teddy-bear. He puts cookies in his soda, explaining that we don't know what we're missing. And he is stronger than anything I've ever seen. Elder Rogers was talking about doing these pull-up things on the bunkbed, and when Elder Fa'asavalu tried it, the bunk came off the hinges. Haha, too much power. Then another Elder in the zone wanted to wrestle. Ha. This is how it went down. Elder Fa'asavalu didn't move at all, and places his hand on his back. The other Elder slammed to the floor so hard I thought he had died. So funny. 

Oh, whenever gym time lets out, all of the Samoans within the nearest square mile all of a sudden gather together and start doing war dances. It is so awesome to watch. There's been talk of a war with the Tongan Elders. Yes, I am Samoan loyalist. No Tonga for me. 

On Sunday afternoon, Bishop Cristofferson from my branch presidency was prompted to drive back to the MTC after priesthood and ask me if something was wrong. I looked at him confused, saying "Uh, I don't think anything specifically is wrong." He was a little embarrassed, but he had been stressing the importance of following spiritual promptings in leadership classes and Sacrament meeting. Later that night, I started feeling really off. I was having thoughts of shutting down, or running away... you know, crazy stuff like that. I felt really bad. Then, the next day at around 11:00, I got to teach some of the MTC guests. The MTC guests are extremely good actors that pretend like they know nothing about the church and egg you on to teach them. After I taught them, the Spirit was bursting within me about the Plan of Salvation and the love of God. On Tuesday, we had a devotional by L. Tom Perry, where he specifically mentioned miracles occurring in the Philippines. Afterward, Bishop Cristofferson was talking with me. He was saying: "I felt like something was wrong in your life. Not anything specific or moral, but just wrong. I felt like that for a while, but around 11:00 on Monday the feeling went away."

That man has the Spirit so strong... It is remarkable. His power of discernment is like nothing I've ever seen. 

I feel the Spirit within me so strong. My strengths here are brought on by the power of God. He is making me an instrument in his hands. 

Alright, until next week pamilya ko!

-Elder Kocherhans

P.S. I enjoy the company of chips and salty snacks when I have the munchies.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

November 9, 2013 Provo MTC


Hey everyone! 

Concerning the Ukulele, Elder Sefita's uncle gave it to him and he brought it in. I'm sure they knew it wasn't allowed, but I think it's just unethical to take a Uke from a Samoan. Speaking of which, all of the Samoans get together at night and hang out. It is hilarious. They speak Samoan to each other. Literally, after every single thing they say, they laugh like it's the funniest joke they had ever heard. They're funny guys, those Samoans. 

Ok, so last Saturday, after I wrote the letter, me and Elder Rogers and Elder Peterson were called into a meeting. Guess who the new Zone leaders are? Yep. Elder Makenzie told the Branch President that he thought I would do a good job as Zone leader after he left, so they called our companionship for the job. It's really fun, Elder Rogers does a great job at befriending everyone and Elder Peterson is awesome and making sure the details are clear. It's weird only being here a few weeks and being called as Zone Leaders, but it's really fun. 

Elder Makenzie, Elder Topham, and most of the older districts left for the field on Monday. The only older district still here consists of Elder Denning, Lesa, Neville, Kelley, and a whole lot of sisters which include the one that's a Beatles fan. All of them are so cool. Elder Denning is a total surfer dude. He was inactive his whole life but cleaned up and came on a mission. His presence is awesome. He has bestowed his Nerf gun to me after he leaves. I earned it by letting him shoot me in the face. 

Two new districts entered our Zone on Wednesday. We got a few Canadians, another Samoan (YES!), and a lot of Americans. They are really strong in the language already, it's awesome! They thought that me and my companions were 19 or 20. The MTC does things to you!

Ok, so I'm in the mailroom, and I see this Elder. We start staring at each other squinting, and then it hits us. "Nate Hunter?! You went to Foothill! What the?!" So yeah, we talked for a while and mentioned that Trey Madson will be coming to the MTC soon. Pretty funny stuff. I also ran into Parker Phair and Chris Bressau. Chris is one of Kennen's really good friends. He went to Foothill but we were always in different classes. He's a musician, I hope we can get together in a few years!

We were in class and Sister Shaw farted. Immediately after which, she pointed at Elder McCausland even though everyone knew it was her. It was really funny haha. Then she showed us some of her opera singing. After she finished a manganda kanta parte, I asked her immediately "Do you know the Hoskins?" She goes, "Jonah and Heidi! Yes, we take from the same teacher!" So there you go. It's a small operatic world after all. 

Elder Moe is in the room just below us. So that's pretty awesome. I haven't had time to talk a whole lot yet but I try to any time I get the chance. Tell the Parry family thank you for the package they sent! My munchies shall be satisfied. 

It has become an art not becoming bored of the food here. Most of it is fake, so it's just a game of finding the least fake thing being made at that time. Pfft. I'm excited to get to the field where I can make my own stuff. Speaking of which, send me some curry recipes I can mess with.

I saw Elder Fiso on Wednesday! He looked so excited to be there. And I see Bishop Call mentioned I saw him haha that was awesome! He's going to Tahiti? Or Fiji? One of those, right?

We taught a lesson to a new "investigator" the other day and we decided we would just teach the first lesson like we had before with minimal planning ahead of time. Ha. Guess where the Spirit went? DOON-DOON(FAR AWAY). So basically, the language didn't come out and we didn't teach anything because we were just three 18 year old kids trying to talk about Jesus and Joseph Smith. Nothing gets taught when that happens. So it's a big goal for us now to always plan and teach by the Spirit, and to be worthy of it's presence. 

Elder McCausland has really gotten on my nerves lately. I'm trying to love him. He began getting sick the beginning of this week, so we gave him a blessing. I blessed that he would be healed in accordance with his faith. That night, he coughed really bad and exclaimed "Geez guys, that blessing was bunk. I'm still sick." I really had to hold back saying "SHIOEF:OSJMND:FNSD:ONF:SDOFSDNFOSDNF:OSDFMOIDMF:OSDNFONSDOFNSDOFMOSDMFODN." And I did. But he says stuff like that a lot. Oh well. Patience. Charity. That oughta do it.

Alright, that's the weekly report. Love one another as Jesus loves you, try to show kindness in all that you do, be gentle and loving in deed AND in thought, for these are the things Jesus taught.

-Elder Kocherhans

Elder Kocherhans & companions at the MTC-- Left to right; Elders McCausland, Sefita, Rogers, Kocherhans, & Peterson

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 2, 2013 - Provo MTC

Alright, here's the lowdown this week.

We got into the swing of classes hard core this week it's been really fun learning more and more Tagalog. 

This week, I have become especially grateful for a few things:

1. I am grateful for my respect toward womanhood. Let's just say a few of the Elders in my district have some highly questionable views when it comes to what girls are for and how they should be treated. They talk about their craziest makeouts and who the hottest girls are, and I'm like "Yeah, um... I... Don't do that?" The good thing is that they know why they are here and keep things in line. So I'm not worried about them. All guys have made mistakes when it comes to girls. It has just made me grateful to know that I respect women. 

2. I'm grateful for the language of Tagalog. The Spanish words and Islander congegations are pretty difficult now, but EXTREMELY interesting. Most words are just super-congegated forms of simple roots. It's a very chaotic yet organized language. 

3. I'm grateful for the power of prayer. Prayers and their answers seem so clear here. 

So, heres some of the things that happened this week. 

Our Zone leaders came over for tie trades the other night. They are so cool! They help us out a ton and are just fun to be around. They leave for the feild on Monday(The Laoag Mission). My doTerra has come to the aid of some of the EldersElder Sefita was having trouble breathing at night so he used some of the peppermint and it really helped out. Oh, yeah, and then we discovered that one of the oils in Digest-Zen is called Anise... You can see where that went. 

Lots of poop jokes have emerged due to our diet here at the MTC. Tsokolate Rogers has taken on new meaning with the amount of times he has to go to the bathroom. The diet here is kind of hard to maintain, but I think I'm doing well. Everyone is farting pretty hard-core, though.

Let's see, I talked to Sister Miller some more, and I met a sister in our Zone that is way into the Beatles, and I ran into Elder Moe, which was awesome. 

Oh, whenever we walk now, Elder Sefita will start singing - "Eeeyooh, itsa Dayyy-o" and then the rest of us will join in parts singing "Daylight comin and I wanna go home." We've got Branch presidents to sing along with us, so you could say the reception is pretty good. 

I love the sisters in our District. They are awesome to talk to! I feel like conversations with the Elders can get a little inappropriate sometimes (considering we're all 18-year-old boys) but the sisters are just so mature and clear in whom they represent. 

But here's the big thing. Faith. Faith in Christ is so essential. Everything else follows it. It's incredible to be able to be a representative of Him. 

I'll try to get pictures up next week. I'm so excited to be a tool in the Lords hands in the Philippines.


-Elder Kocherhans


I talked to a Philippino Elder from Baguio, he was so awesome! I explained to him that MTC food was not truly American food, and that real American good is actually pretty good. He said I was pretty good at Tagalog and that he thinks I'll be fluent in about two months. So, talk about awesome stuff going on.

Oh, our teacher is now the person that played our first investigator. His name is Brother Soderquist and he is so cool. I love it when he teaches. 

Oh, and I saw sister  Kylie Bingham in the MTC today! 

We now have a ritual at night where I lull everyone to sleep with a ukelele, and I've been told by my district that they would like my signature before I get famous. haha, I'm so grateful for my musicality. I hope I will be able to use it in this work and not just for putting Elders to sleep.

Oh, and Mom, what do you want to do about an email list? Or a blog? Or just facebook or something? Several people have been asking about that. Maybe just go onto my facebook and post stuff from my emails on there. 

October 26, 2013 - Provo MTC

Hey Guys!

I can see everyone's email address when they send me mail. MyLDSMail is just Gmail with a different logo. So you don't have to worry about it being handicapped or something. 

So, the first day. After I was dropped off, I got all of my supplies and my name-tag was put on by Sister Bills, Susan Fry's mother. She said she remembered me playing with the kids and that was pretty awesome. And Sister Starley was there with her, they had a bit of a fight as to who would put the name-tag on. 

We then entered the class, and began the Tagalog emersion. The teacher, Sister Stonick (who says she knows a Kelsea Kocherhans but I don't know if that's you, Kelsea, or cousin, Kelsey.), spoke only Tagalog to us. I could actually understand more than I thought. For instance, she asked me where I was from and I was able to respond in Tagalog. So that was cool. Elder McCausland, the one we met at Rumbi's, is in my district. His companion is Elder Sefita. He was born in Samoa but most recently has been living in Hurricane(Hurrkin), Utah. I am in a tri-force-- I mean, a threesome companionship. Elder Rogers and Elder Peterson are my companions. The first day was so jam-packed it seemed like a week. Our Branch President put it like "Well, the moment you step through the door, it's like drinking from a fire-hose". It sure is. And you can see how it has affected the Elders who have been here only four weeks. For example, our Zone Leaders, Elder Mackenzie and Elder Topham. They're our age, in fact, some of them may be younger than us, but they seem like they are in their 30's. They're speaking Tagalog like they've known it their whole lives, and their disposition is so matured. Yet, they've only been here a month. It's incredible. No day at work I've had compares even a little to the amount we're able to put in here. It is truly an astoundingly effective missionary training center. 

Everyone around the campus speaks their language. It's awesome to see the diversity. Elder Rogers is really good at adlibing Tagalog so he'll pretend to speak it fluently when we pass people. It's hilarious. We also occasionally call him Tsokolate(Ts makes the "ch" sound sa Tagalog) Rogers because he drinks inhumane amounts of chocolate milk at every meal. I have acquired the nickname Kocherhantas because apparently I have a tendency to explore. The sisters call me that, too. The sisters in our district are Sister Murdock, Sister Davis, Sister Shaw, Sister McClain, and Sister Ramsey. They are all awesome. We sang a hymn on the second day, and when I went down to the bass part, Sister McClain and Sister Davis started singing alto, and Sister Shaw ripped out her opera lessons with a manganda(beautiful) soprano. We sounded really good together, so that has become a favorite pastime. 

Language is coming along well. I can bear my testimony sa Tagalog, and I've learned more than any other class could have taught. The gift of tongues(kaloob ng mga wika) is strong in these halls. How else could a ton of 18-year-old's pull off very reasonable comprehension being thrown into an AP Tagalog class?

Elder Sefita has a crush on a sister in another district. He gets so nervous around girls. It is hilarious to see his face every time she comes near by. Don't worry, he hasn't flirted. He's too scared, anyway.

I was called to be district leader. Right now, my only duty is to get the mail and such, but I'll learn more about my other responsibilities bukas(tomorrow). The Branch Presidency wanted me to tell you that all three of them marked an X over my picture during our first Branch meeting when I bore my testimony. They knew I was to be the leader and that my mom should be proud to have raised me. So, thank you(salamat) Mom!

So many kids from Mountain Ridge have been here. One sister from Maeser, Sister Miller, was here. She freaked out when she saw me, as expected of her. Haha. I've seen Coleman Webb, Ty Curtis, and some other familiar faces. 

Elder Rogers and Elder McCausland freak out about the mountains every time they see them. Rogers is from Arizona and McCausland is from Florida, so mountains are fascinating to them. I feel our district is really close. Maybe a bit hyperactive at times, but we get along well. 

When we have gym time, we will work out and count sa Tagalog so we can solidify the language. Our Zone Leaders are really cool and visit us often. They are always helpful and kind. I'm really excited to get to their point in about a month. And then, on top of that, live in the Philippines for a few years! I can't even imagine what I'll be like then. Well, I know I'll be ready and worthy to go on with the rest of my life as an effective father, husband, and man. How great is this work! I'm so excited to meet the people I am being prepared for, and who are preparing for me!

Alam ko po na totoo ang Aklat ni Mormon, at alam ko po na mapagmahal ang ating Diyos sa Langit. Sa panagalan ni Jesucristo, amen. (I hope I said that right.)

-Elder Kocherhans.
PS  Thank you for the package! I loved Kaylee's drawing! Tell her I miss her! I told my companions about the pillow room and they didn't seem excited... so that's lame.