Monday, May 26, 2014

May 25, 2014-- Email #31

May 25, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

Hello Family!

Wow, it sounds like you all had an extremely crazy week. Tell Kelsea I love her and hope she gets to feeling better. And tell her happy birthday as well! She has been such a great example of working hard to me. My head would explode with that many things going on. In fact, it did a few times. Haha. Just let her know I'm here for her!

Also, Kara, happy birthday to my twin! You have a husband now, and I am in the Philippines, so I divert my birthday present giving responsibilities to Michael. I'm sure he did well. Thank me.

So many people here have had birthdays this last week! Jethro and his little sister are both on the 23rd, and Sister Durwin is on the 21st... many many more I have forgotten. I actually didn't do much on my birthday other than watch Elder Bautista pack, and everyone say goodbye to him. We had dinner at Sister Corazon's house, but that's it. Nanay Violet has promised me a special cake, so I'll let you know how that goes. Elder Bautista was very reluctant to leave, but hey, it's still only his first area. He made a real impact there that I hope to keep up. He is now in the mountainous region of Benito Sulivan, which is near Ilagan City. Elder Cruz is transferred, and is now in Tuguegarao, which is probably the hottest place on the face of this planet. And it's in the middle of summer. And his companion is from the Marshall Islands and doesn't speak English or Tagalog. Elder Cruz is going to learn a lot this cycle. A LOT. 

Something pretty funny happened on transfer day. I met up with Elder Peterson and Sister Murdock from my batch. Elder Peterson said that the whole time he was in the Jeepnee going to the mission home, he was talking about wanting to be transferred to Dupax, which is the furthest south area in our mission. Lo and behold, he was transferred to Dupax. Then Sister Murdock said before she got transferred, she really wanted to be able to go to Roxas zone. Lo and behold, she was transferred to Roxas zone. Then, all of the missionaries who would be training gathered to meet their new trainees. Immediately when I saw my trainees face, I knew I'd be training him. Lo and behold, they announced our names together. 

Elder Espanto from Olongapo. He has a very friendly disposition. He also has a very quirky personality. He kind of has a speech problem, where he speaks quite a lot, and some of it doesn't make sense. I'm not quite sure yet whether that's fixable or not. Regardless, he has a very strong desire to serve, and whenever he bears witness, you can tell that he knows for himself. That is definitely his strength. He's really funny and people like to be around him, despite any of his imperfections. I suppose that's like all of us. Being now that I am his parent in the mission, and him my son, a lot of his quirks and weaknesses are going to come out on me. We've had a lot of meaningful experiences while doing companion study and training, in which many times I've almost come to tears realizing how many ways the Lord has formed me and braced me up to be an effective trainer for Elder Espanto. We didn't have a whole lot of lessons this week, but the ones we did have were so much better than they would have been if we had rushed the work and not trained or planned. Not to say lessons in the past haven't been about the investigators and their concerns, but this week I felt we really got the feel of teaching people, not lessons. It has been very great to learn from myself through the Spirit, and to learn from my son. 

Email has run a little longer than I'd like it to this week, so I'll just leave my testimony once again that our Savior lives, and longs to give us more to our lives than maybe we're even able to comprehend. He runs this church, and His work moves forth as we move forth. We are the hands of God, and we are all His children. I hope we can all embrace each other one day, knowing we have done enough. I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Monday, May 19, 2014

May 19, 2014-- Email #30

May 19, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

Hello There Family!

It was great to talk with you last week, even if it's not quite the same in a noisy computer shop. I can see you are still all your funny awesome selves. Don't worry, I think I kept in the zone despite the Skype call.

NEWS FLASH: I got the call on Wednesday. Elder Bautista is transferring, and my new companion will be fresh from the Manila MTC. I'm training! It appears I'm the only one from our batch training. I'll divulge a little further later in the email.

Here's some information that I had left out in the Skype call that was pretty fun last week:
I had splits with Elder Monilla. He is from Saudi Arabia. The church there is totally underground (figuratively and literally). He has just entered the mission field. Both of his parents are full Filipino, and he grew up there the first 6 years of his life. He is almost fluent in Tagalog already; the only thing holding him back is his accent, which still sounds pretty English. He is extremely smart. I believe he entered college when he was 15? Anyways, he is super articulate with his words and it makes him all the more hilarious. We've gotten along really well due to a mutual interest in musicals. He is really the only one I've met here remotely interested in stage plays and stuff like that, so it's been great to bounce stories off each other. We always make fun of him because he's filthy rich. He'll try denying it, but then he'll mention something outrageous that only a rich person in Saudi would find normal, and it makes for good fun. His relationship with his trainer Elder Heumann is super funny to watch. His testimony is on fire and he is one of the most powerful missionaries I've met. He doesn't speak brashly, but when he testifies, the Spirit is plainly manifest. Such an awesome example.

Due to the large amount of member help we get here, I've found myself usually on splits with Rusell. That way, we've been really taking advantage of dividing and conquering. As I mentioned in the Skype call, our recent converts have been constantly giving us referrals for people to teach. I testify that the great changing power of the Gift of the Holy Ghost is true. I've seen it in Sister Balubal, in Sister Elvera, and in all the faces of the Durwin family. Truth has begun pouring down upon their heads, and it is apparent in the way they hold this gospel important to them, their desire to share it, and the increased understanding they gain daily from themselves. It's remarkable to witness true missionary work at practice. We come, we pray to invite the Spirit, and then they end up teaching themselves. That is how the Spirit works. And it only works upon principles of righteousness. I know that if I wake up one day a little late, and neglect to do all that I am asked to do as a missionary, I end up choked for words, and I find myself humbled and enlightened. Obedience opens the way for understanding. Selfishness does not. If we close up, and do not keep the covenants and commandments entrusted to us, we damn the way for further understanding to be made manifest to us. Obviously, this brings frustration, and a lack of truths being manifest into our lives. Then we wander. We forget. We find our own way. I testify to you if we hold our covenants dear to us, we will gain understanding, and our burdens will be lightened, whether they be physical, mental, spiritual, or all of the above. That is the power of the Atonement. That is what it is there for. For you.

As for training... I've felt pumped all this cycle that there would be a possibility I would be training when Elder Bautista left. But after I got the call on Wednesday... I had some serious doubts. A lot of things seemed to hit me really hard. I didn't think I was ready. I didn't feel I'd been obedient enough. I felt weak in the language. I felt weak to open my mouth. The next few days I felt pretty low to the dust. Then we had splits with our Zone Leaders. They taught us a lot of things by example that really helped me. First of all, I was talking with Elder Tietjen (That's Elder Proctor's trainee who is now our Zone Leader). We talked about other missionaries that have been in the mission, and their experiences with past companions, the work, etc. I learned a lot from the experiences he shared. I learned, first and foremost, that obedience is always priority for missionaries who really make a difference. If you have yourself situated on a strong foundation of obedience, the work comes easier and more Spirit-directed, even if you have "doors slammed in your face"(I have this in quotations considering we don't really deal with doors here in the Philippines very much). That is how you get yourself ready to go forth. They told me some of the obedient missionaries they knew, who really performed miracles in the work, were not all that popular with everyone. They didn't seek to be recognized of men, but of God, and His glory. Sometimes we get a little lost here in the world, where we can't remember the glorious world we came from, and can't really understand how beautiful the kingdom awaiting us is either. So we end up putting our trust in more tangible things. However, we need to put our trust in God.

How do we put our trust in God? We can remember the love we have for one another. The love you have for your children, spouse, etc. We know that love is eternal, and that through the plan God has revealed to us, we are capable of understanding love at a wholly more complete level than we can comprehend in our current state. We can also remember the testimonies of thousands of people past, from Jerusalem to Zarahemla, who have written to us that we may believe their witnesses, receive spiritual strength from their words, and remain protected against the wickedness always so prevalent in this world. We can pray, and as we pray, come to find what our true desires really are. Through prayer, we can become much more familiar with what we need rather than what we want. That opens the way for growth and progression, which is our purpose. We then, must press forward with faith. Through turmoil and sunny days, we must always press on.
There are a lot of things I wished I would have done in the past to not halter my progression. One I'd like you to know is that the power of the Spirit is essential in this work, and without it, this restoration becomes void. As President Uchtdorf has said, we cannot sleep through the restoration, and think that we can just teach people based on our knowledge and beliefs. We need to be worthy to invite the Spirit, and let Him teach. That is the only way this restoration works. That is the only way people can become closer to Christ; much closer than they could have in any other way. We must fulfill the Saviors words and show the world the power of the Spirit, which gives utterance, to groanings within that cannot be uttered. This is how we can return to Heaven. Our home. We can return to our Father, and become like Him, if we follow what he says. Listen to the words of the prophets. Study, follow the Spirit, and act upon the witnesses you receive. This will make us fit to enter the presence of our Father, guiltless, cleansed through the Blood of Christ our Savior. I leave this in His name, Amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Monday, May 12, 2014

May 11, 2014-- Email #29 Mother's Day Call, pictures

May 12, 2014
Alpine, Utah

Mom's post:

Hi Everyone,

We were able to have a nice long video conversation with Elder Kocherhans on Mother's Day!  He looked great, and it was wonderful to hear his voice and have some time to ask questions and catch up on things you don't necessarily have time to write about every week.  We had all the kids here, along with our 4 grand children, so it was a joyful gathering!

Some of the highlights of our chat...

He talked about how great the Member/Missionary efforts are in his area.  The members are feeding them referrals as fast as they can teach.  There are two companionships assigned per ward, and they stay busy.  The area he is serving, in Santiago, is a bigger city, and there are 2 Stakes...3 wards per chapel.

--It is really hot.  He didn't complain about the heat, but it was mentioned :-)
--Toilet seats are non-existent... and large menacing bugs try to attack you while you are using the bathroom.  Augggg.....
--One of the spiders he has had to deal with is called the Huntsman.  Google it and get freaked out...
--He still loves to eat Balut.  Google it and get freaked out... :-)
--There are lots of good candies in the Philippines, and overall, he loves the food.  And, like President Obama, he has eaten dog.  Eww.
--There are occasions he is using his music.  He sang a solo for a conference, and has done a little guitar playing.  He feels like he's losing his guitar skills.  Understandable.  I encouraged him to use his music as much as possible..and more than he may be doing at present, to do his Missionary work. He has such a seems to me a sad thing if he isn't using it a lot...especially when it can be such an effective tool to bring the Spirit.  :-)
--He said people think he is wearing contact lenses...they can't believe his eyes are that color naturally.  I kept noticing how beautiful his eyes looked...even in the pixily webcam connection.
--The Filipinos love Americans, and he has adults & children wave at him all the time.
--We talked to him about the missing package.  It is the Johnson family, live in Salt Lake valley somewhere...have a huge pig farm in the Philippines, and a vacation home there where they were visiting at the time with extended family members.  He has an email of "buymorepigs", not sure which .com.  They have our addresses and phone numbers, but we haven't heard from them yet...  Fortunately it wasn't anything valuable or irreplaceable.  I'd love to find out what happened, however...
--His birthday is coming up, so we wished him a happy one and talked about his plans.  They make a big deal out of birthdays there, so he is guessing he will have several dinner appointments and celebrating :-)

We moved to Alpine in February, so Jordan has never seen our new place.  We took him on a video tour of the house...  As we would walk into the next room with the webcam...his siblings and in-laws would be in that room, posing in a vignette, showing the room to it's best advantage.  Scripture study in the office, doing dishes in the kitchen, ALL of them piled on the master bed...ALL of them jammed in our shower...etc.  It was hilarious. :-)  Jordan was laughing.  It was so fun to hear him laugh!  Good times were had by all :-)

Overall, it was a wonderful conversation.  We got to see his companion, and one of the young men member/missionaries with which they work.  Jordan looks good.  Looks healthy, although he said there are always weird illnesses that just hit you time to time.  Makes sense.  It was sad to end the call, but wonderful to have enough time to discuss everything on my list :-)

When I got up this morning, I saw he had sent some pictures.

In addition, one of the Filipino members tagged me with some additional pictures of Jordan on facebook...  Good to see he hasn't lost it...  Classic Jordan :-)  You can see additional pictures on my facebook page.

And we'd just like to add...a Happy Birthday to Jordan's Grandma, Mary Kocherhans, today, May 12th!
We love you!

Monday, May 5, 2014

May 4, 2014-- Email #28

May 4, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

trans. "Long live!" i.e. "Greetings!"
On the subject of time, it goes SUPER fast on a mission. It still feels like yesterday I landed in Manila. It feels as if I was never even companions with Elder Manabo or Elder Dulaca. I think someone once put it as "short weeks and long days." I testify that is true. Haha.
As for the call, let's just use Google Hangout. And 9:00 AM for me, 7:00 PM for you, would be just fine. So that's next Sunday night for you guys. I'll be seeing your faces then!
Another thing I'd like to add... I guess Adam, Grandpa and the gang have been killing it with taco sales! That is so awesome!  I'm so glad I have such an awesome Grandpa and cousins! Hopefully you guys can get a store going by the time I get back. I'd love to work there again.
Isaac sent me pictures of the play and it looked incredible! I'm so glad I was at Maeser at that time. I made so many life-long friends there. I'm glad I can also say I was there when it was a bowling alley. Makes me sound so old when I'm really not. Haha.
Just to let you know, I use that photo album you guys gave me every time we teach about temple work and eternal families. It is serious so awesome that you all are amazing examples of making and keeping sacred covenants that go past this life. Maraming salamat sa inyong lahat ( Thank you all so much!). Everyone here is always so astounded how beautiful our family is. It really is; it's not just because we are white. Haha. Speaking of which, we went to a cultural parade earlier this morning, and I got most of the people in the parade to wave at me. It's almost like being a rock star when you're a white person in the Philippines.
Two more baptisms this last weekend, which were really awesome. Sister Elvera and Sister Balubal. They've progressed so greatly and they have tons of ward support as well, which is a direly needed thing to have that they have been blessed with prevalently. A few funny things happened at the baptism. One, when the font was full, and I was turning the water off, the little twisty thing fell off and water started spraying everywhere, so I had to dive into the font, find it, and screw it back on. So I got wet before the baptism. It was pretty fun. Two, when Sister Balubal (who during her lessons is always very mild mannered and quiet) put on her white baptismal jumpsuit, she came out and started doing kung fu moves with corresponding battle cries. It was so funny!  Jethro got to baptize Sister Elvera. It is the first time he's baptized someone before, and he was way excited. He's going to be a great missionary, and will have a very unique, invaluable testimony for whomever he comes to teach.
This last Sunday, our ward had an amazing activity, which they called the "Rescue the One" Caravan. The entirety of our ward council, which consisted of about 20+ members, all gathered together and visited each and every one of the recent converts in the ward, and a great number of less actives as well, one by one. It was a truly amazing thing to witness. I was really able to see why member missionary work is so essential. For example, as missionaries, it's a bit difficult for us to relate with investigators certain things about life in our conversations. Family, work, kids... We can attempt to understand, but sometimes I feel that our friendships have a lacking element. Which, as much as I'd hate to admit it, is just fine. We are not suppose to relate with them about everything in their life. We teach the full
ness of the gospel, invite the Spirit to testify of truths, and then the ward  becomes their best friends, not us. And I was able to witness just that this last Sunday. When all of those ward council members sparked up conversations with the recent converts and less actives, there was so much for them to relate to each other. It seemed as though the less-active members had just discovered how much they missed their old friends from the ward, the recent converts discovered how many people were willing to become their new friends, and the ward members discovered how much they can do themselves engaged as missionaries. Truly, the phrase "every member a missionary" suddenly meant to me that members are the best missionaries we have. Let me repeat that. You are the best missionaries we have! The only difference is we get to do it full-time, and you have a lot more distractions. I believe I can quote Sister Graham on that. Anyways, the Caravan idea worked here, maybe consider doing that or finding an alternative activity more appropriate to American culture.
I rediscovered D&C 121 this last week. What an amazing discourse of revelation. So many things in that section are directly applicable to our lives. One of them that stuck out to me was that of the conditions associated with the power of the Priesthood, in verse 36. I've always loved this scripture. It basically outlines, in essence, what our purpose on earth is, really. "That the arights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be bcontrolled nor handled only upon the cprinciples of righteousness. " Before we came to this earth, we accepted this plan as a way we could eventually become as our Father in Heaven, who is a God, and has a body of flesh and bone, just as we do. The plan began to be executed as Jehovah created the earth under the direction of his Father, using the powers of Heaven, or in other words, the Priesthood. Following which, this Priesthood was given to Adam after his fall, as a way to return to the presence of God one day, and to learn righteousness. This is something we know from the fall: that without knowing wickedness and misery, we could never know true happiness and righteousness. If God is perfectly righteous, and the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness, than we can conclude that all of the sufferings and strivings to choose the right here in this life are a part of us learning true righteousness, that one day, through that glorious power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can control and handle the powers of heaven based on the things we have learned here on earth; about righteousness and wickedness. Just as wickedness never was happiness, it was also never true power either. True power lies in our God, who formed the universe, and all that is in it. That is true power. And that is the power we must learn to wield, if we are to become as our Father. He is the God we must put our trust in! He's made His stand with us, let's stand up to meet Him!
I leave these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
-Elder Kocherhans