Monday, April 28, 2014

April 27, 2014-- Email #27

April 27, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

Kumusta aking Pamilya!

Yes, Bernadeth Cruz Borup goes by "Nanay Violet" to us. She is the Relief Society President here, I think? Anyways, she is awesome. And she keeps telling me she wants to facebook chat with you. So here's your new pen pal! As for those things that were supposed to reach you, I gave them both of our addresses and your cell phone number. So it beats me. Oh wait! I think I remember the email address of Brother Johnson! I least I think it's gmail. Just search that in facebook and you'll probably be able to find him, and them. Hopefully we can find out what happened.

Guess what? Mothers Day Skype Call Time! President told us that May 12 would be ideal, but if another day is better, he's told us we can be flexible. Notify everyone and we'll make the arrangements these next two weeks. I'll probably be doing that call from Nanay Violet's house, they have really excellent internet. We'll see what works out.

In other news: I'm starting Jesus the Christ for the second time. Love it, crave it, gotta have it. The prophets and apostles in this dispensation, namely James E. Talmage, are truly inspired servants of God, and by reading their words, I know for surety they come from the Almighty, who speaks to us today. We best take advantage of that. Also, I witnessed the aftermath of a pretty horrific motorcycle accident. I won't go into details for the sake of those who are eating. But it was really bad. Caused by alcohol, of course, the one being drunk being almost unscathed, and the other losing the better-part of his head and brain. Word of Wisdom is true, folks. You'd think it would be more obvious. 

Alright, time for me to break the silence on how excellent our area is, and how awesome our investigators are... This last Saturday, we had 6 baptisms! The Rafael family have been long-time investigators here, so I just came in to finish things up, so to speak. Tatay Nestor, Nanay Vivian, then their children Nes, Darwin, Kim, and Vanessa. They are just amazing. What an excellent family. They have two other children who are still too young, Rachelle and Eileen. Eileen is so freaking cute. She has very little coordination and looks almost Chinese, which makes everything she does all the more adorable. The previous missionaries here have left us with a great area, and the fruits of hard work. 

This coming Saturday, we have two more baptisms. Sister Elvera is an older, single woman. She has also been a long-time investigator, along with her friend Mary-grace Balubal. They both shared the same problem: cigarettes. As of now, however, it is a thing of the past. It has been remarkable to help them through their addictions, and see the healing power of the Atonement do the rest. I'm glad I could be here at this time to witness the hard work of past missionaries pay off, and to be able to prepare these wonderful people to enter the waters of baptism!

Thank you for the poetry. This is something I've learned to much greater depth here on my mission; that all good and truth is inspired of God. 

We had the opportunity this week to talk to an old Doctor woman, who has been a member of the 7th Day Adventists for the majority of her life. We were walking down the street when we heard "Sweet Hour of Prayer" coming from a piano in their house, and we had to see if they were members. Alas, that Hymn is one of the many Protestant hymns we share in our hymnbooks, but it was worth a try. Haha. She works at the many Adventist Hospitals here in the Philippines, where she explained patients receive better care, and more prayer. Despite our differences, she was extremely cordial to us, and offered us a prayer of safety when we departed that was very heartfelt. We talked with her about many different things, but some of the things I'd like to point out are these: She has been an avid Bible student her entire life, and I'm just an 18 year old boy, and even then, I was able to answer her questions fully and detailed, and I could add upon things she might have thought too deep for us. I know I was able to do this because I have been called by a prophet of God, and that I have the Gift of the Holy Ghost with me, which is the very same gift promised by Jesus Christ to His disciples. That very same Jesus Christ is the head of this, His Church, today. But do not be ignorant to the fact that this Church could not have come about were it not for thousands and thousands of truth-seekers throughout history, as exampled by the Protestants, and perhaps the authors to those songs you're singing. The Dispensation of the Fullness of Times is made possible by men and women like this, inspired by the Spirit of God, to fight against falsehood, and break away the chains of captivity and ignorance, which although might not have been done with Priesthood authority, was done by the inspiration and direction of the true and living God. People were being inspired one by one throughout the entirety of that great Apostasy, all having equal part and contribution to the time that there would be a young farm-boy, in possibly the only religiously-free country in the world at that time, who would ask a question in prayer, and become a prophet, holding authority and power from God, which he had been foreordained to do. An excellent example of the truthfulness of the foreknowledge and greatness of God, who has given us the ability to choose for ourselves and gain our own salvation. I refer you to 2 Nephi 2:26. Yes, 26, the one before 27. 27 is good too.

Alright, I'll leave out now. May we all hasten the work, in the best ways we can. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Teresa's editorial notes--
-  I received a facebook friend request from someone in the Philippines.  Since I had never heard the name before,..and she friend requested twice in one week,  I asked about it in my letter to him...thus his explanation at the beginning of the email about Sister Borup.
-  He mentions again the package he sent home with someone from Utah who was visiting the Philippines.  We'd really love to track that down...!!
-  Jordan loves poetry...and writes quite a bit of it himself...including lyrics for the many songs he's written.  I included, in my email to him, some of the lyrics of the pieces we are doing for our Utah Baroque Ensemble Concerts this week.  Since he comments on them, as well as gives his thoughts about all truth and good being inspired by God, I'll include the lyrics at the end of this email for those who might be interested.  By the way, I carry copies of some of these powerful lyrics in my scriptures.  Some of my best pondering during the Sacrament come as I review and memorize lyrics, poems, hymns... so I've been collecting the ones that have become most meaningful to me over the years.

The music that accompanies these lyrics is powerful and expresses the feelings perfectly.  I really love it.  The author of this poem, John Donne, lived a notorious life of sin until he finally converted to Christianity.  Obviously, he appreciates the blessings of repentance...

Hymn To God     Eleanor Daley (1955)  poem by John Donne (1572-1631)

Wilt Thou forgive that sin where I begun, which was my sin, though it were done before?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin through which I run, and do run still, though still I do deplore?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done, for I have more.

Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I have won others to sin, and made my sin their door?
Wilt Thou forgive that sin which I did shun a year or two, but wallowed in a score?
When Thou hast done, Thou hast not done, for I have more.

I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun my last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
but swear by Thyself, that at my death-
Thy Son shall shine...shall He shines now, and here-to-fore.

When Thou hast done,
Thou hast done-
I fear no more.
This piece reminded me of our missionaries :-)

How Beauteous are Their Feet   by Charles Stanford (1852-1924)  Lyrics by Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

How beauteous are their feet who stand on Zion's hill
Who bring salvation on their tongues, and words of peace instil!
How happy are our ears that hear this joyful sound, 
which kings and prophets waited for, 
and sought..., sought, but never found!

How blessed are our eyes that see this heavenly light!
Prophets and kings desired it long, but died,
...died, without the sight.
The Lord makes bare His arm through all the earth abroad;
Let every nation now behold their Savior and their God.

We are singing this piece in latin, and even not knowing the translation, the music and words were touching my heart.  We've sung several different versions of this same latin text, but I hadn't really studied the translation of what I was singing until now.  The feeling I was getting makes sense.  Better late than never :-)  This particular musical setting of the text is one of my all-time favorites...

Ubi Caritas  by Ola Gjeilo  (1978-   )  Latin text is 10th Century (French)

Ubi Caritas et amor, Deus ibi est.
Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor.
Exultemus, et in ipso jucundemur.
Timeamus et amemus Deum vivum.
Et ex corde diligamus nos sincero.

Where Charity and love are, God is there.
The love of Christ has gathered us together,
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Let us revere and love the living God.
And from a sincere heart, let us love one another.

Monday, April 21, 2014

April 20, 2014-- Email #26

April 20, 2014
Santiago City, Philippines

Sup Peeps (An appropriate Easter greeting)

What an excellent Easter! We had a Zone conference this week, focused on the Passion and the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, which was beautifully done. I need to be honest you, it is a huge relief to have Elder Bautista as a companion. He is so hard working. He just gets it. Last cycle kind of drained me. Now I'm finally getting a rest by working hard. Hah, I love the way that works.

We've had tons of member help in this area. Three members of our ward have been of particular help with our work, almost every day. Lemme tell you about them.

Brother Rusell Dela Cruz(Who is with me right now and just checked the spelling on his name, so now I can assure you it is right) is way awesome. He's sixteen years old, and already has his own name tag made out of cardboard that reads "Brother Dela Cruz". He is super good at the guitar and has excellent taste in music. Consequently, we mesh really well. Among other interests, he enjoys fixing old electronics, especially speakers, and blasting MoTab on them. I've never met a young man more excited to go on a mission than this one. He would put us all to shame. Then there's Jethro Tuzon. It's kind of hard to describe his personality. I guess if you didn't know him, you would think he was gay. Hah. Yeah that's a good way to put it. He's about 22 years old, and awesome as well. We go jogging in the mornings occasionally with him. He is really amazing at teaching; his testimony is very strong, and you can tell that the truths of the gospel are of utmost importance to him. It's very comforting to be friends with someone so devoted to the gospel, despite having tendencies that this world in our day would have us succumb to. Then there's Brother Henry, who's probably close to his thirties. He's pretty much Cole, Cam's friend from the Maeser play crew, in Filipino form, almost exactly. Hence, he is super hilarious, and always has amazing advice for our investigators.

We're running short on time this session, so I'll have to write about our amazing investigators next week. Too bad! I'll leave off with something I learned from the account of Peter in my reading the New Testament recently.

In the gospel of Luke, we read that Peter's mother-in-law was healed by the Master, before Peter became a disciple. This healing created a great stir in the land. People came flocking from all around to see Jesus and to have Him heal their sick and cast out devils. But we don't hear anything about the excitement of Peter. In my opinion, I think Peter was too busy fishing. I assume this based on other instances in which Peter exhibits a love for fishing above many other things. I think that even though his mother-in-law had been healed by this man, and people from the land were coming to Him in droves, Peter was a little preoccupied trying to make his living to notice anything miraculous about Him yet. We then read that Jesus comes to the shore of the Sea of Galilee to preach. This is the morning after a long night of unsuccessful fishing. Probably exhausted, upon the request of Jesus, Peter lets his boat out a little ways off the shore, so Jesus can preach from the boat, being amplified by the water's surface. After the sermon, Peter still doesn't display any outstanding interest. But then, Jesus offers him a little advise. He tells him to try putting the net on the other side of the boat. Peter, now perking up in interest, is probably doubtful to a measurable degree to the credibility of this man when it comes to fishing, but nevertheless, he tries it out. We know what happens next. The fish are so abundant, they break the net, and James and John, fellow fishermen, try to help him haul in the load, only to have their boat as well take in water due to the immense weight. It is then that Peter proclaims "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord." Then Jesus tells them He will make them fishers of men, and just like that, they leave their business to the seashore, and follow Jesus.

Peter didn't decide to follow Jesus, even though He had already performed many miracles in close proximity to him, until he had seen the application of the power of God into his own life. The gospel is for everyone because it is a multi-purpose tool. When Peter saw that the Savior could help Peter in his own daily life, he received a witness of the divinity of Jesus Christ. That goes the same for us. If we want to receive a witness through the Spirit that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the World, and that He leads this Church today, then we need to find a way to use His teachings directly in our lives. Now, of course, there was a difference in the calling of Peter; he left his business straightaway, knowing that he was to be a full-time disciple of Jesus Christ. I get that privelidge here as well, being a missionary. I know you all have a lot of things to do everyday. In my opinion, whatever you're doing, it's probably a lot like fishing. And I know that if you look for it, you will find the words of the Savior just as Peter found them, which will bring blessings unimaginable, and a witness of the One who leads us, Jesus Christ. We will be able to implement Him into our daily routine, and we will fulfill our sacrament covenants, that we are to "always remember him". I say this in His name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

P.S. A Utahn family, the father being a former missionary here, came to vacation in Cabarroguis, and his sister in law said I could give her some stuff to give to you guys there. But I guess it hasn't reached you yet. I don't know what happened.

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 13, 2014-- Email #25

April 13, 2014
Santiago City, Philippines

Yello Family.

Well, it's a big move! HA. Just kidding. I just moved to central Santiago city, in the Santiago North Zone. Just an hour away. We came up here for P-days before. So I'll still be seeing Elder Dulaca often and eating at the Makdo(McDonalds) here just as I had before. The apartment here, however, is way better. It's huge, and actually has something distinguishable as a kitchen sink. We have four missionaries in this apartment, too. My new companion, Elder Bautista, is from Tarlac. I think that's part of the Angeles mission, still on the island of Luzon. He just barely finished his training, so I'm his "follow-up trainer". That isn't really a position, but that's what they're called nonetheless. Elder Cruz, whose part of my batch from the Manila MTC, is also in the apartment, with his companion Elder Delaney.

Elder Delaney is from Sydney, Australia. And yes, he is pretty stereotypically Australian. Which means there will be great fun had for all. We were in the MTC together briefly, he coming in behind me. He was originally assigned to the Tacloban Philippines mission, Cebuano speaking. However, Superstorm Yolanda wiped out that mission midway through his training. So he had to start-over his stay at the MTC, being reassigned to the Cauayan mission, Tagalog speaking. I guess it was a pretty chaotic time for all the missionaries assigned to that mission, in which missionaries were reassigned rapidly to different missions all across the Philippines. We've jokingly likened it to the "scattering of Israel". On a more serious note, I'm confident that when storms come, they come for a reason.

We got to watch General Conference this weekend. Obviously, it was awesome! I feel in their voices the urgency that something big is coming soon; that we will soon find new meaning to the phrase "latter-day saints". That being, we are in the latter days. The last ones. Then, our time is up, and we move on to our next sphere of growth. Here are a few notes I had during conference:

There were many talks concerning standing up for what we believe. I believe that's because this will become increasingly difficult as time grows shorter to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Through the many talks that concerned this issue, the words of Peter came to mind: "We ought to obey God rather than men." Sometimes, this council can be hard for us to follow. We often rely on the opinions of experienced people a lot more than anything else we might rely on. When people become experienced; whether it be they've come to know the mechanisms of big business, or they've led the construction of innumerable amounts of buildings, or they've perfected their technique and handling under pressure in a sport; this experience comes with an increase of persuasive power over others. That comes from a few factors. The person that has become experienced has a lot more confidence in his own knowledge. He knows what to do and what not to do. He's played the game, and is fairly certain he's come up with the best way to win. Reciprocally, the ones who are not as experienced have added trust in this person. They innocently follow the one who seems to know how things work. This builds influence. This can build arrogance. This can build ignorance. Anciently, this built empires. We've all been in this kind of situation before, whatever end we found ourselves at.

We know, however, from 2 Nephi 9:28, that when one becomes learned, or I'd like to exchange that with "experienced", they think they are wise. We could have a very long conversation about the differences between knowledge and wisdom, but this is the point I would like to make. We're going to find a lot of people, perhaps with great expertise and an inventory of experience, who will tell us to do things contrary to our standards. We will feel very inclined to follow them, having faith that because of their greater knowledge of things, or because of our ignorance of what they've been through, they are right. We will be persuaded to believe they have the truth, considering they've been through "everything".

There is only one person who has been through everything. His name is Jesus Christ. He has suffered all. And it is in Him that we should put our trust and faith. It is the same Jesus Christ who is leading His church today, and speaking to us that we might know the truth, and not what men claim the truth to be. I hope that adds greater meaning to the phrase: "We ought to obey God rather than men."

I also loved President Uchtdorf extolling that we should seek gratitude as a disposition, rather than something we do at Thanksgiving or in our prayers at night. Just as someone could say "Wow, that person seems to happy all the time!" or "Wow, they seem to angry all the time", people should be able to say of us that "they seem so grateful all the time." That's one of those things present with charity, which we should unceasingly be praying for.

I loved the quote from C.S. Lewis "Prayer does not change God. Prayer changes me."

So, I'm anticipating hearing insights from you all soon concerning your study in Preach My Gospel, as Elder Ballard has made apparent is for members' personal study as well as missionaries. How sweet! As they put it in High School Musical, "We're all in this together." (I just remembered that I totally know the dance for that part. Anyways.) I strongly encourage you to pray for opportunities to share the gospel. God wants to be asked. They will come!

Well, I'll leave out with some Tagalog testifying. Alam ko na ang simbahan na ito ay totoo, at nanumumo si Jesucristo niya sa pamamagitan ng isang buhay na propeta, at kakikinig natin yung mga salita niya na parang nagsalita si Jesucristo mismo sa atin. Baka, hindi natin naiintindian ang eksaktong kahalagahan ng iyan ngayon, pero meron naman tayong pananampalataya, at makapagsubok tayo, bale dapat tayo, at hintayan ang saksi ng ating pananampalataya at nang matututo tayo, at makakabalik ang lahat na tayo sa piling ng Ama natin nasa langit, sa kaharian Niya. Alam ko naman na totoo ito, at iniwan ko ito sa pangalan ng ating Tagapagligtas, kahit si Jesucristo, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

P.S. Soft-drink consumption is hard to avoid here, but after hearing about Dad's pain and regret, I've made much more concerted efforts to avoid consuming them in large amounts. Dad, I'll try if you try. It'll be hard for both of us. Let's carry the yoke together.

Monday, April 7, 2014

April 6, 2014-- Email #24

April 6, 2014
Cabarroquis, Philippines

Hello Sa Inyong Lahat! 
Trans. "Hello to you all!"

Let me clear up the matter of conference real quick. Here in the Philippines (or at least this part of the Philippines, I'm not sure how it is in more populated areas), we get conference the weekend after it runs. So I'll be watching it this coming Saturday and Sunday. I'm so excited! I'm become very dearly inclined to reading the Liahona as of late. I always find it full of helpful guidance, which would be expected from its namesake. Whether it comes to personal stories from members, conference talks from the Prophets and Apostles, or the testimonies of small children, I'm always edified by that magazine. 

Speaking of which, I read one article by Henry B Eyring that I found especially enlightening. It's his article in this years' January Ensign or Liahona, about giving better gifts to our children, and how to prepare to do such now. I recommend it; it's a good read. I especially recommend it to young students; I feel it answered a lot of unresolved motivation I needed during school. It kind of made me mad I hadn't read it before. Haha.
We got some exciting news this morning... I'm getting transferred! Don't know where yet, don't know who with, so that info will have to wait til next week. Pretty much everyone else in the district is staying here, except for Sister Paetau (The Samoan sister in Diffun who is super cool). I leave to Cauayan on Wednesday then I'll travel from there to my new area. I've got today and tomorrowto do all my packing and say my goodbyes to my first area. It's sad to leave, and I'm really hoping Elder Dulaca will take hold of things well when I leave. He's experienced, I'm sure it will be fine. I'm really excited to go check out new parts of the mission, meet new people, and most likely learn a new language! It's crazy how many different dialects there are in this valley, and how different they all are from each other. It's basically guaranteed with each transfer that you'll be learning a new local dialect with that area. I'm in such an awesome place. 

Yesterday, spur of the moment, I was asked to teach the YSA(Young Single Adult) class at church. Sometimes it is intimidating for me to teach them, considering most of them are return sister missionaries and they have extensive experience. Despite all of that, I let the Spirit take the lead of the lesson, and it was amazing the things we learned; what I learned as well. I find it so empowering to know that we have been taken into the House of Israel -- the very same House of Israel in the Old Testament that was led by the Lord in the wilderness -- and that we all have the opportunity to partake of those blessings promised to them in old times. It adds to my faith and confidence that we have established the same organization that existed in the primitive Church, in knowing that the very God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the same God who has taken His stand with us. We heard His voice this weekend. Did you listen? Listen again! Search, ponder, and pray! 
Another thing I learned is that we need to rely on the Spirit for obtaining a witness of truth, rather than our own understanding. That came up this week as we were teaching sister Elvie Abuan. She's been our investigator since before I got here. Very early on, she made it abundantly clear to the missionaries that she had "grown up a Catholic and will stay a Catholic." I'm sure that phrase sounds very familiar to all you missionaries who have ever served in a country that is the product of Spanish Imperialism(Mexico, all of Central America, most of South America). During our lesson this last Sunday, she expressed again that her entire family was a member of the Catholic church, and that she didn't see how our church had anything different or more to offer. We taught her, again, about how the priesthood was restored through Joseph Smith. She then asked the golden question, "Yes, but how do you know that's true?" We then told her that the ultimate way to know if something is true or not is to pray, and wait for the truth-testifying power of the Holy Ghost, which fruits are joy, and peace to the soul. Christ promised this to us before His ascension because He knew it would be extremely valuable to us at this confusing, difficult time. Ironically, all of the things we have said are "different" about our church come directly from the Bible, but are simply not implemented or perverted in the Catholic church. Sometimes we grow up in comfortable environments and seek that same feeling throughout our lives. Grace will be added upon grace, and truth upon truth, so that we might reach a higher plane, and a more perfect way. 

Elder Sogari told me this week how much he wishes he could have grown up in the church. It's interesting that he expressed this to me the same day I had taught someone born in the "wrong church". I told him that many young adults in Utah sometimes begin having doubts about the truthfulness of the church. They leave off into bigger things, and sometimes begin thinking that it would be too improbable to have been born in the true church of Jesus Christ. They might think their testimonies were simply formed from the teachings of their parents, and that all those fuzzy feelings they felt were just innocence. I know the feeling. I've thought these things before. If I hadn't, I wouldn't have known how to grow. When I told Elder Sogari this, his response was "Well then I'll just go over there and take all those people who have gone inactive because of that and just beat them up." I wouldn't press your luck; Fijians are descendants of Cannibalistic warriors. 
That aside... 

I testify to you that this is indeed The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that we can know the truth of all things (yes,all) by their fruits. Let's be meticulous in inspecting fruits, but weary not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We are all familiar with the phrase "death-bed repentance" because it is an all-too-familiar course in life; when someone thinks they've found happiness, and loses it all, discovering that there had never been a foundation beneath them. It happens every day. That's because wickedness, candy-coated or in the raw, never was happiness. Please, I plead of you, build upon the Rock of your Redeemer. He lives. He loves you. He has suffered for you, and wishes you to partake of the blessings of His gospel. Come to the True and Living God. Take everything away, get on your knees, and find him. If we seek, we will find. If we knock, it will be opened. May we do, rather than intend, I leave in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

P.S. I re-read this email and realized it's really cluttered with different ideas. If something sticks out to you that you wish I could have clarified better, shoot me an email and I would be more than happy to clarify for you.

P.P.S. Pictures: Me pulling an Otoka (Karibao cart), and me with Brother Alan from our ward.

...Just kidding about the pictures, this comp shop is really slow. Next week.