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...

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