Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014-- Email #40

July 28, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

Dear Family,

Sounds like ya'll's been having a lot of fun back in 'Murica. Well, I've been having quite of bit of fun myself, as always. Ya'll might be nervous that summer will eventually come to an end. Well, no four-seasons here! The only four seasons we have here is a flavor of Tang. We have hot, really hot, and wet. And it goes year-round. Really fun week. And yes, Mom, I've been able to use my music. I'll explain.

On Tuesday we had Zone Conference in Cauayan. All 20 of us in the Santiago North Zone were crammed in a little Jeepnee for the 2 hour ride. We had some awesome training from President and Sister Rahlf on the Restoration. I think we should never be fearless to tell people that Jesus Christ Himself is the leader of this Church, and that we can trace back our authority to Jesus Himself. It is an immensely important message that we shouldn't hold back. The best part is that God, our Loving Heavenly Father, is the one who gives us this knowledge by the Spirit, and that we don't need to depend upon the doctrines of men. Remember that. Remember that blessing. Always remember your Father, and pour your heart out to Him in prayer, that the truth may become clearer, and deceit more apparent. 

After the conference was over, we went into the mission office to stock up on pamphlets. Suddenly, it began raining heavily. It's typhoon season in the Philippines, so rainfall can come at anytime unexpectedly. We all had to hang out in the mission office for a while until the rain stopped. Some of the Polynesian Elders started doing some a-capella, so I joined in doing bass. We locked in perfectly. It was super fun. We sang all sorts of hymns, at the request of our listeners. Elder Lavalua said "Yep, anything you want us to sing, you got it. We're like a missionary jukebox." I like the ring of Missionary Jukebox. Hopefully we'll get together for future musical numbers.

On Friday I had splits with Elder Enuake. He is from New Zealand. He's a huge Poly, so no wonder he was a rugby player. He was offered a scholarship and place on a very nice rugby team at the same time he was filling out his mission papers. He said it wasn't much of a question that the mission was much more important. He's only been out in the field for about 2 or 3 months, but he's really awesome. We had a lot of fun finding new investigators in their area, and learning to understand his extremely thick New Zealand accent. They had some BYU devotionals downloaded on their flashdrive, so I watched some given by Jeffrey R. Holland. I learned some awesome things.

We should never look back. Of course, the past is what has shaped us into who we are, and it is important to learn from past mistakes, but we cannot dwell in moments already lived, whether painful or pleasant. We need to have greater faith in the things in store for us, than the things that have already occurred. We've had a lot of amazing experiences. We've learned a lot. We've lived, laughed, and loved. We've cried, begged, and lost. But we're not done yet. The fight is not over. Improvement and progression are one eternal round. We'll never be done. All we need to do is keep pressing forward, enduring to the end, and it will all be worth it. When the children of Israel were on the shores of the Red Sea, legions of Egyptians surrounding them, fearing for their lives, and Moses still not sure as to what they would do, many of them thought it might be better to just give up, and go back. But I have no doubt that Moses, with the relationship he had with God, knew for certain that "going back" in the sense of "giving up" was not in God's vocabulary. Moses knew God have given him power, so in a step of faith, feet probably already wet, and still uncertain of the exact outcome, he reached out to the sea. And it parted. 

As it says in D&C 8:3 "Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground." It's a gradual process, and often requires us to go through some difficult, seemingly hopeless circumstances first. But the epiphone will always come. It's waiting for us. Don't give up before it arrives. You've got a higher path prepared for you than that. It's the Kingdom of God, and I'd like us to all get there together. 

-Elder Kocherhans

Picture: Me and Elder Enuake got to watch a pig slaughter. There she is. I'm told it's illegal to post on facebook...? So yeah, use your best judgement. 

editors note:  (I'm posting a cropped version so you can just see Jordan and not the subject of the photo.  
 Ewwww....Pass the bacon...:-)

This is Elder Enuake with Mista' Pig.

Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21, 2014-- Email #39

July 21, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

Dear Family,

This week was pretty delicious in a spiritual, and culinary, way. So, where to start? Let me start by congratulating you all on your member missionary experience! How sweet is that! Keep it up, you've all been given a very precious opportunity that God would want you to follow through with. This gospel, this message, this Church... It is all so precious. It is a blessing beyond compare for those with earnest faith. Do not take it lightly. Also, congratulate Sean on his placing in Wipeout! That's awesome! I'm glad families can be together forever, because our family is the best!

First of all, Rodolfo Nolasco has been baptized by water and fire this weekend, and is now a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints! It's been awesome to witness someone so prepared to receive the restored gospel make his first covenants and start anew! Disappointment for other baptisms being pushed back has been swept away by the assurance that the worth of souls is great in the sight of God, and even if it is just this one soul at this time, his joy in the kingdom of our Father is beyond that which we can understand or attempt to define, and that everyone's time to accept or reject the gospel will come, when God decides, and when the circumstances are just right.

On Monday night we visited with Sister Elvera again, who is still doing awesome. We ate some bangus(the national fish of the Philippines; also known as milkfish) and another soup of pork intestines. We also saw on the news that a big typhoon hit the Bicol region of the Philippines, but it looks like everyone in those missions is doing alright and all is accounted for. We also had dinner at Rusells house. His older sister cooked us some Adobo (The Philippines' national dish) which was super delicious. The whole night, Rusell was making allusions to his sister being an ideal wife for me, which was pretty funny. "You know, Elder Kocherhans, my older sister is a really good cook... That's something you ought to look for in your future spouse...They say you can tell who's the right one to marry by how good their Adobo is" "Hey Elder Kocherhans, have you heard my sister sing? She's got a really good voice..." Anyways, it was pretty hilarious.  

We had an amazing sacrament. At the beginning of the meeting, me and Rusell tag-teamed the piano accompaniment of "How Firm a Foundation" while the Elders quorum sang at the front. During the song, I really couldn't contain from shaking, and from tears brimming at my eyes. Those lyrics and music had so much power in testifying the truthfulness of the restoration. What made it better is that a lot of our investigators and less-active families were able to attend, and as that song was performed, it was impossible to not feel the immense power of its message. I felt as though I was one of the children of Israel, and there was a pillar of fire before all of us, guiding us through the dark night. The Spirit was equally strong when Rodolfo received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and the sacrament was administered. The God of Israel leads His church, and is gathering us together again, from all parts of the earth, to prepare the way for the Lord. I hope we can feast on the words of Christ, our God and Shepherd, who lives, loves us, and speaks to us still. That is the only way we can be filled, and never hunger; drink, and never thirst.

We also had an amazing lesson with a less-active family who has been through a recent tragedy: the death of two beautiful baby twins. They died during childbirth. I forgot if I've told you this story before, but I'll just go ahead and reiterate it. Their family consists of three children under the age of 19 and their mother. She has been pregnant with these twins for some time now, and has told us due to her limited mobility, she hadn't been able to attend church. After the death of the twins, we were able to see their little bodies before the burial. It impressed on my mind greatly the reality of death, but also the miracle of the Atonement. The Spirit then witnessed to me with greater power the truth of the Atonement when we taught their family a week later. We taught about the plan of salvation, accompanied by Sister Alialy and two of the Aggasid sisters. I'd like to express my thoughts on that matter. 

The entirety of the Plan of Salvation, when it was presented to us in the Pre-Existence, depended upon the ability of Jesus Christ to carry out such a sacrifice that would atone for the sins of all mankind, the suffering of all mankind, and death as a whole. The plan would fail completely if Jesus could not live a perfect life, give it up of His own will, and then take it back again. Hence, we know the first principle of the gospel is faith in Jesus Christ. This is the same faith which carried all of us to accept the plan our Father had presented. It was our belief, when we yet dwelled only as spirits, that even if we were to sin when placed in our tabernacles, Jesus would be born of the Father Himself, would not sin, and thereby be an adequate offering for the demands of justice. This would allow us the opportunity to come to the earth, to be tested in our faith, and be made clean from the mistakes we had made through our Savior Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We knew, and we still know, that this is the only way we would be able to progress, and that we could inherit that which our Father has prepared for us. We are His children, and He has great things in store for us. 

We might think we have big dreams for ourselves... We have yet to comprehend the big dreams our Loving Heavenly Father has for each and every one of us. 

I know that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, death has no sting. We will all be resurrected. All of us will live again, because of Him. We will be restored to perfect frame, and be taken to face our God, and be judged according to our works. I pray we can have the companionship of the Holy Ghost, to help us avoid sin, and lead us to good works, so that when we are judged, our reunion can be beautifully fulfilling, and we can say to our Father we did hard things, it was worth it, and we're ready to move on, to wherever He wants us to go. I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans


 I'm eating a 1-day-old barbecued chick. Super good.

Rodolfo Nolasco has been baptized

Below: We built a shack for one of the older sisters in the ward. That was also fun.

Me and Rusell down by the river.

And this sign... Please try and interpret what that could possibly mean. I'm at a loss. Haha. The English part that is... I know you can't understand the Tagalog part...

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014-- Email #38

July 14, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

Dear Fam,

I think I can second that motion; this was a great week for learning. It was a lot of praying for charity, changing of heart, and begging for forgiveness. But as you know, we need tough things to come so we can get a little tougher ourselves. Thank you for all the advice on Mentoring! I'll definitely be able to implement that. 

Rodolfo Nolasco is still on for being baptized this coming Saturday! He's still a reading rockstar in the Book of Mormon; He's in Alma 35 now! He passed his baptismal interview with flying colors. What an awesome guy. If only the rest of his family wasn't so busy! I'm confident their time will come as well. Sadly, the rest of the people we had set dates with to be baptized in July haven't followed through with their church attendance, so they're looking at August now for their baptisms. It's a miracle we've been able to pull this off at all, considering some of the setbacks we've had in our companionship. That's a great thing me and Elder Espanto share: we've learned how to forgive quickly. I don't feel keen to go into the details of what has happened between us, considering I'd be running the risk of being critical towards him... Needless to say, the miracle of forgiveness, and the healing power of the Atonement, are things we should always be turned to in gratitude for. 

You know, our Heavenly Father feels. He has emotions just like you and I. Of course, His emotions have reached such a perfect state as to be beyond all comprehension. However, this does not mean our emotions are not deeply dear to His heart. When we're happy, He is happy. When we cry, he cries. It doesn't matter the reason, or the choices we make, as to how deeply our Father in Heaven loves us. His love for us is always there. You could imagine, then, His deep sorrow when we choose wrong; when we deliberately sin, and choose a path other than the plan we had accepted in His presence. Why does He feel this sorrow when we sin? Because He knows it brings pain to us, and He knows us so well, and sympathizes with us so intimately, that anything that brings us lower causes Him deep remorse for our deviation from the right. Don't you know He intends to save all of us? Why would this plan exist in the first place if it was His intent to save only a few? 

I had an interesting conversation with Jethro's father the other day. We've gotten to be good friends through a mutual interest in Led Zeppelin. We started discussing lyrics to a few classic songs and he expressed something I've been pondering recently. He said that people will always change, and there will always be a new fad, and that he himself did not have the desire to join the church, but that it was fine if Jethro was a member, based on the premise that what we've been taught to believe in is what we should stick to. There were a few things that I wanted to expound to him that unfortunately time prevented. One, Jethro was raised a Catholic with the rest of his family, but when the missionaries began teaching him, he came to know by the power of the Spirit that the true and living God has restored a true church once again upon the earth, and that the Catholic church, to be frank, still worshiped a dead God. Of course, the words of prophets in all ages are true, but why would we worship the shadow of our God when we could follow Him Himself, as He is alive and well, and continues to speak to His children? Second, people do change, but God does not change. He has one way of doing things, and that is the way we ought to do it. He always calls prophets, and apostles, to lead His true church, without exception. I can't remember the direct quote, but essentially it was revealed to Joseph Smith that this is how the government of Heaven is conducted; by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. I testify that is true. 

If we've found ourselves worshiping a God whom we can't bear our hearts to, and that doesn't answer our prayers, we've fallen into our own little apostasy. Find faith in the living Christ. Search, ponder, and pray, 'til we know Him personally, just as He knows us, and we come into an open environment for truth to descend upon us. The truth is a powerful tool, offered to all of us through the prayer of faith and the Holy Spirit. Don't miss your opportunity! This life is the time! I leave these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans 

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 7, 2014-- Email #37

July 7, 2014
Santiago, Philippines

Dear Family,

Life is beautiful. Complete with its perfect imperfections. I feel I'll keep my email short this week, but I would just like to bear my testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the exact church that Jesus Christ Himself established in days of old. I don't know this by result of persuasion or by any means that could be obtained from the schemes of man. I simply know it because when I follow Christ, and press forward in my faith, I feel good. There isn't an end to my progression. My thirsting for the Spirit is quenched; my hunger for the words of God is not disrupted by the doctrines of man. Faith is not a perfect knowledge, but if you ask anyone, a perfect knowledge of a subject is not what motivated them to pursue it; a sound understanding of our inclinations is not what conceives our passion for them. It is because we feel it is right, and despite trial after trial, discouragement after discouragement, we keep going, because we can't get enough of it. We have been given ourselves -- the way we are, the way we speak, the way we think, the things we love to do, the things we want to get out of this life -- as a divine, inherited trait of our Father in Heaven. And because He knows there are all-too-many ways to squander our potential in this world, He provided a way to protect our own selves from being sold for less. It is through our ultimate, supreme Hero, Jesus the Christ. It was He whom we chose to follow in the Pre-Existence, not Satan. Satan has made himself quite a convincing god of happiness here on earth. Do whatever you want! There is no wrong! Well let me tell you, there IS wrong, and if we do wrong we will throw away all that has been given to us. Don't throw yourself away! Come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him! He is the only way whereby you will save your own self, quirks and talents and passions included. God knows you, and loves you more than we feel we deserve. And His love is eternal, just as all of us are. And in this the true church of Jesus Christ, we can take our hearts, and those within our hearts, and seal them for the Eternal Courts above. Love is eternal, and through love, we will progress forever. There is no death above, so decide today to serve our Lord and God. I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

-Elder Kocherhans