January 12, 2014
This week, I've had the privilege of learning a lot of the language of Ilocano. What an awesome language! In some aspects, it is very similar to Tagalog, but in most, it is completely different. For example, "magandang umaga" is "good morning" in Tagalog, but in Ilocano, it's "naimbag nga bigat". Delicious in Tagalog is "masarap", but in Ilocano it's "naimas". It is the most amazing feeling to see peoples faces when you begin talking to them in Ilocano when they expect you to only know English. They see me, thinking to themselves "Oh, it's a white kid, I better speak English or he won't understand me". I then come up to them and proceed to talk in Ilocano. "Naimbag nga malem! Siak ni Elder Kocherhans, anya ti nagan mo?" Their face lights up like nothing I've ever seen. Let me make abundantly clear, though, that such experiences become truly cherishable due to the fact that I am there to share the message of the restored gospel with them. If I had come here as a mere tourist, looking for a little taste of the world, my joy would be hollow. There is nothing like being in another country, speaking a language that most of the world doesn't even acknowledge as existent, with the name of Jesus Christ on my chest, with the sole purpose of inviting those at the ends of the earth to join the ranks of Jesus Christ, and let them know a true and living prophet is leading his Church once again!
Speaking of Jesus Christ, some of the beliefs about God here cause me to wince. Most people see no distinguishable difference between God the Father and Jesus Christ. Catholic prayers are addressed to Jesus, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, whilst crossing the chest. Or they recite memorized prayers. It is so hard for me to grasp how they just forgot everything that even in the BIBLE is clearly stated! It's not like "Mormon prayers" are anything new or special! It says right there in the Bible, clear as day! Just like the song goes! "We begin by saying Dear Heavenly Father, we thank him for blessings he sends, then humbly I ask him for things that I need, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen". Anyways. I'll stop freaking out now. But sometimes it's just so... Blllarggggg!!
We've been having great fun preparing everyone for baptism! Brother Lowie(Who's recovered!), Brother Mercado, Sister Mercado, and possibly Hannah Nabatilan, will all be baptized on February 1st. We still haven't been able to teach Kevin this week. He's been at school and various other things. But definitely next time we teach him, he will have a baptismal date in February.
Here's some more of our investigators:
Brother Jove is married to a Sister in the church. They are a young couple, and he has always been eager about attending church and letting us teach him, despite his busy work schedule as a security guard. They are both going through a bit of a hard time right now, though. We hope it will all work out.
Sister Mylene is a recent convert, so we've been reteaching her the lessons. Her husband is a member, and they have the cutest little daughter on earth. We taught them recently about Temple marriage, and I showed them pictures of all of the siblings I have that have made that decision to be sealed in the temple. I'm so proud of my siblings for being great examples. Your examples reach all the way to the Philippines, how cool is that!
Brother and Sister Valera live in Cajel, which is about five minutes from Cabarroguis, where we live. They are always very involved in lessons, but they've never come to church, and have expressed they have received no answer about Joseph Smith. So, our focus with them as of late has been reading the Book of Mormon. We read with them aloud and continue inviting. They have a little girl who is super adorable, and an older son. I know the restored gospel would be an excellent foundation for their family, so I'm hoping the Spirit can be a mediator for change.
The words of Alma have very much resonated with me as of late. "Oh, that I were an angel!" Sometimes I get overwhelmed in wanting everyone to be progressing perfectly towards baptism, or reactivation, or whatever it may be. But I know that their agency is essential to this whole process. All I can do is make sure I am worthy, and that when God needs me to be an effective instrument in His hands, I am ready for whatever He asks of me. That doesn't mean everyone I talk to will cry "Oh my goodness, you're right! This is the restored church! Baptize me today!" Everything will come in its time, in its season. All I can do is press on.
If you feel that God has not been answering your prayers, I can relate to you. Everyone feels like that sometimes. Prophets have been anguished by such feelings at times. This does not mean your prayer wasn't good enough. It doesn't mean your prayer is useless. It doesn't mean that there isn't a God. Christ Himself prayed "Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me". God knows what we need. We are here, on this earth, walking in faith. It is necessary for us to progress. Sometimes, we need to go through some things that weren't really part of our plan, but His ways are higher than our ways, and His plan leads to something we can't even begin to imagine now in our mortal state. Please, I urge us all, as well as myself, to carry on. Make your prayers personal, and grow in that all-important relationship you have with God! For through the furnace of affliction, we will grow. And as we grow, we will be able to fall in line with what the Father wants for us, and our prayers will become mighty. MIGHTY! Like, shake a prison to the ground mighty, or heal the sick mighty, or whatever it may be! But before we get to that stage, we need to have faith, and keep praying, and keep trying! So let's do it! Press forward, saints! Sa ti nagan ni Jesucristo, amen.