Monday, June 2, 2014

June 1, 2014-- Email #32

June 1, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

Hello Everyone!

Well, just another fun week in the Philippines. School's out for you guys, but school just started for them here. Haha. Their school-year is June until March. They also usually enter college at an earlier age, with significantly lower costs. Schooling from Elementary to High School is far more expensive than College here. Kinda weird. But hey, they also enjoy eating duck fetus, so I guess in comparison it's not that high up on the weird scale.

At district meeting, two of the sisters had a bit of a dispute as to who was Elder Espanto's mission mother, or my mission wife. Traditionally, the oldest Sister in the district, when a missionary enters the field, is the Mission mother, and the mission wife of the one training him. It turns out, however, that Sister Maestrado had convinced me it was actually the Sister Training Leader who is the true mission wife. I found out she'd been lying to me, saying she was my mission wife, when in reality Sister Guttenbeil was my real wife. They then proceeded to reenact a similar scene from one of the soap opera's here, "The Legal Wife", complete with dramatic yelling and slapping. It was hilarious. I love all the missionaries in this Zone, we've grown really close as of late. 

I got sick again on Wednesday. It was super weird, though. I didn't really have a fever or anything, and I was drinking water, but my stomach refused to hold down food. It passed after a day though, with prayer and Digestzen. I lost weight, again. Super annoying. I don't know whether I'll be obese or anorexic by the time I come home, considering how much my weight fluctuates. That's just how things work here.

This Sunday we had another Ward Rescue Caravan. It was another great turnout and we reached a ton of people. We got to contact several new less-active members as well. Again, I say, members are the best missionaries! That's why it repeatedly says in Preach my Gospel they are an essential part of the conversion process. Not just a "Oh yeah, it would be nice if there was member help every now and then", no. It is essential. It doesn't work without you. Missionaries get transferred, go home, etc. Members don't. Members are always there, and should understand how they must feel, and what steps they must take, to be involved in the conversion process. Thank you again for all of your efforts!

I've gotta say, planning and preparing for lessons becomes a whole different story when you're training. Elder Espanto has a lot of patience and love for me, which he definitely deserves from me in return. At times I'm pretty merciless in correcting him during our role-plays and such, but I'm always sure to compliment him and give gratitude afterwards. My focus has been on loving him more. Sometimes it's hard for me to not criticize him, but it is always worth it. I know if ever I'm having negative thoughts take over during teaching, or even planning, the Spirit has no room to do its teaching. And then we kinda lose the whole picture. He has helped me so instrumentally, though. Just from my desire to be a better example for him, I've become a much better missionary. As usual, though, whenever you step up a level, you realize how far you have to go to get to the next level. I'm glad we're making all of these steps to grow now, rather than later. 

This week we focused on inviting investigators to be baptized earlier on than later. We've seen how much it helps. We now have three more investigators with baptismal dates in June, or early July. Considering baptism is the first of the saving ordinances, it becomes way easier to teach after inviting to baptism, simply because there is a goal to reach of great importance. All of the lessons, no matter what they are about, all of a sudden fall in line with how it can help them prepare to follow Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism, and all of the commitments and commandments gain a far clearer purpose and meaning. For all those preparing to serve missions, invite to baptism early. Don't be afraid of rejection; you are a servant of the true and living God. Your purpose is not to save the world, it is to invite them to come unto Christ, which is the only name under which we can be saved. 

Speaking of which, this week I also realized again how incredible this church is in enabling others to know and believe in Christ. We've been engaged in many conversations with investigators, discussing the big differences between our church and their churches. It then becomes apparent that this church will bring an individual closer to Christ than any other church could. For one, we have an additional testament of Jesus Christ contained in the Book of Mormon. For another, we have a living prophet who guides us as a called servant of God, holding keys necessary to the organization of God's kingdom on earth, the absence of which would make religion pointless and void. We also have Temples, kept sacred for the making of covenants, where salvation is found for the living and the dead, and love is sealed and promised to us as families, fulfilling its eternal nature. 

Words cannot describe the importance of such things. Words cannot convince, especially the words of a 19 year old kid from Utah. 

Only the manifestations of the Spirit can let us know things which cannot be uttered. Trust in the feelings you have. All that is good is from God. Likewise, only the fullness of the truth can fill your soul. Maybe one bite of a sandwich tastes the same as if you had eaten the whole thing, but which will fill you up? That's what it means to feast on the words of Christ. In this His church, we have the whole meal before us. So are we going to be picky, taking little nibbles here and there, knowing it tastes good, and say we've eaten enough? Or are we going to fill ourselves adequately, to give ourselves strength to endure, til all of our beliefs are manifest as pure knowledge? That is the purpose of faith. So that one day we may know, rather than believe.

I think we'll understand what that means when we finally see our Heavenly Father, each and every one of us, and embrace Him, just as loved ones embrace one another after being apart, and remember how much we've missed each other. Then we will know. There will be no need for believing. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

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