Monday, February 24, 2014

February 23, 2014-- Email #18

February 23, 2014
Cabarroquis, Philippines

Kumusta Kayo!

Well, we just got the news this morning... Elder Manabo is being transferred on Wednesday. My training is all done, and now I await news on who my new companion will be. We all saw this coming; Elder Manabo has been in this area for about 7 months. Yeah. His time has come. I'm sending a picture of him with sunglasses which is super studly. Elder Merza from the other Cabarroguis district is being transferred too, so we will have two new missionaries coming into Cabarroguis. 

Well, Jonny and Dolores Mercado were baptized on Saturday! As well as Pitong Basco! I felt it didn't go as well as it could have, but nonetheless, I was there, they were there, the authority was there, and the font was full. I kind of had trouble with their full names. Full names in the Philippines are very similar to full names found in Central and South America... They're very long, fast, and hard to pronounce. And very Spanish. It stressed me out a bit, but hey, all's well that ends well. Brother Mercado has been reading the Book of Mormon more and more, and always reiterates the stories to us in explicit detail. They are just so awesome! They are an amazing addition to this amazing ward, and in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It feels so good to type out the full name of the Church. It just all testifies of truth. How great it is, that we are lead by Jesus Christ Himself, through a living prophet of God! Speaking of which, I am so excited for conference coming in April. Not entirely for myself, but for our new converts. It brings such peace to my heart that we are continually led by the True and Living God, and not by the doctrines or precepts of men. 

As for Lowie Reyno, we haven't seen him in quite some time. He doesn't come to church, and we don't know exactly where he is. It is really disappointing. I guess it just isn't his time yet.

Kevin hasn't been able to attend church either, due to work with his father, but he is still eager to be baptized. We taught him yesterday in a kubo-hut (It's hard to explain... It's like a little bamboo hut for hanging out. It's pretty sweet). We had a ton of fun answering his questions and helping him. I showed him that photo-album you guys gave me, and he asked if he could keep the picture of Kelsea. Haha, he has a huge crush on her now. He's holding her photo in the pictures I'm sending you. Along with his nephew and brother. Haha, so good.

I read something very interesting about baptism this week, in the book of Moses, chapter 6, verses 59 and 60. It describes that baptism is literally being born again in God, just as we are physically born of the elements. The verses precede the baptism of Adam, who is led to the water and baptized, making it clear to us all that baptism has been an ordinance of the gospel from the beginning, even from the time of Adam. I've always felt something renewing and cleansing about water; whether it was when I was standing on the beach in Newport, or swimming in a pool, or taking a shower in the morning, I've always felt that very rejuvenating spirit associated with that element. It's no wonder, then, that when coupled with the priesthood authority of God, complete submersion in water becomes not only physically refreshing, but a saving ordinance of salvation. And it is available for all, whether in the flesh, or vicariously for those who have passed on to the other side.

Since Elder Manabo is being transferred, I guess I should tell you about his background. Here is an abbreviated history of Elder Manabo. Condensed, but hopefully powerful:

Elder Manabo's father was a member of a very popular church here known as the Iglesia ni Cristo. I won't go too much into the doctrine of their church, but here are a few things: they are forbidden to celebrate Christmas, they cannot eat blood(which in the Philippines is a bit more difficult than it sounds), they are highly enthusiastic debaters, and they are not allowed to marry outside of their church. Elder Manabo's father and mother met and fell in love, but his mother did not want to join the Iglesia ni Cristo. When they were married, his father was excommunicated from the church. However, he still was very devoted to their teachings, and encouraged his children to attend their meetings. Elder Manabo, his two older brothers, and his two sisters, attended the Iglesia ni Cristo up until about the time Elder Manabo was age 9. His father became an alcoholic, and died in a vehicular accident. Soon after his death, their family encountered missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They quickly accepted the restored gospel, except for the two older brothers, who had become too heavily tied to their beliefs in the Iglesia ni Cristo. Now, Elder Manabo is here, called by a prophet of God, to bring the restored gospel to all of the earth. His faith, cheer, and loving, serving attitude, should be an inspiration to us all. He is truly an Elder in Israel. He has expressed to me that he feels that his father hasn't accepted the gospel yet on the other side, but that he feels he will know when he has, and will be ready to perform his work in the Holy Temple of God.

This gospel requires no degree of eloquence, or of prestige. It requires a broken heart, and a contrite spirit. 
My wish this week is that we can all pray for charity. Without love for others, we are nothing. Sometimes, it is difficult for us to look at others with a pure eye. All the more, we need the help of our God, to fill us with the pure love of His Son. If we ask, we shall receive. 

-Elder Kocherhans

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