Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014-- Email #36

June 30, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

Dear Family,

"For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation..." D&C 128:15

In this scripture, the Prophet Joseph Smith is counseling the saints about baptisms for the dead, and it has to do with our work in the temple for family members and others who have passed away without receiving those saving ordinances under proper authority.

However, this week, I found it took on a new meaning for me.

Elder Espanto is a very humble man. Despite being 20 years old, he hasn't really done a whole lot of growing up yet, and I feel as though I'm quite literally doing parenting rather than missionary training. That happens a lot here in this country, though. The culture here is that where you are born is where you should die, most of the time meaning literally in the same house. Many people never move away from their parents here. They think it quite the oddity that in the United States, children are almost expected to be out of the house no later than college. With that as their culture, you come to find that a lot of people have grown older but haven't really left the nest yet; haven't learned to fly because they never really needed to. Elder Espanto hasn't had the opportunity to learn a lot of basic things that seem really obvious to me but are not quite obvious to him. Let it be said today, that I have grown to appreciate parents on a whole new level. 

On Tuesday night, Henry started cooking dinner at Rusell's house and we all were talking as we waited, except for Elder Espanto. He was sitting outside and resisted invitations to come in. Even when dinner was ready, he refused to eat, or to talk. He was really shut down on us. I told him I wasn't going to eat if he didn't, and then he really unconvincingly pretended he was going to throw up. It was pretty evident he was in dire need of attention, and was having a bit of an emotional tantrum. I tried to talk it out with him, along with Rusell, Henry, and Jethro, but he continued to not speak that night and into the following morning. 

As we began our companion study, I asked him again what seemed to be the problem. He then said he was stressed. We looked over the "Adjusting to Missionary Life" manual a bit but he still didn't want to divulge details. I told him to write his stresses down on a paper, and then to write down blessings we have experienced as a way to counter-act them. After that, he finally told me he was stressed that the ward didn't start their meetings on time, and that he feels we were wasting time "we could have been spending on saving souls". His complaints seemed pretty irrational as to time management. After he was done, I told him very frankly that he could not, and could never in this life, be perfect, and that was never the purpose of this life. The purpose of this life is to learn and to grow midst all of this conflict, that we may be refined to perfection, return to our Father in Heaven, being cleansed by the Atonement of Jesus Christ, who suffered everything for us. I told him about the miracles that had come to us, and the enormous amount of fellow-shippers we had available to us. After I finished saying this, he turned on "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" on the speakers, buried his head in his arms, and cried.  

He continued crying for about 30 minutes. At that time, I looked over at my scriptures and almost instinctively flipped to a random page, which turned out to be the verse I stated earlier. That's when it really hit me. "For their salvation is necessary and essential to our salvation..." In other words, Elder Espanto's salvation is necessary and essential to my salvation. If I can't love him, help him, forgive him, and have patience with him, pleading daily with my Father that I could at least feel a fraction of the love He has for him, then how on earth can I teach him to be an effective missionary, and how on earth could I be guiltless before God?

Can I just shake your computer screens right now, please, to let you know how important this is!? Isn't this what Jesus has taught us all along!? Love one another! Feed my sheep! There is no way, no way at all, for us to show our love for our God without loving those that are the hardest to love! Love your enemies, those that despise you, hate you, think you're wrong, think you're not good enough. They are the ones that are more important to love. Love is what makes God's plan perfect. And you cannot, in any way, expect that if you go on in spiteful thinking towards others that you can be guiltless before God. Their salvation is necessary and essential to ours. And to quote Jeffrey R. Holland: "Salvation is not a cheap experience"  

It's just frustrating that I can't find the right words to say. That's why we should go to God, in prayer, praying for the Spirit to enlighten our minds, and to give us charity. Without it, we are nothing. And without the Spirit, we won't know why.

I testify of Jesus Christ, that he is our Savior, and that he leads this Church as he has in days of old. In His name, even Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans 

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