Monday, September 29, 2014

September 29, 2014-- Email #49

Editors note:  For those who have not heard the sad news...our cute little pup, Bailey, passed away Saturday.  We've cried buckets this weekend, but it happened in a sweet and peaceful way, so that made it a little easier.  I had the feeling when Jordan said goodbye to Bailey last October, that she wouldn't be around when he returned.  Apparently he had that same feeling, though we never talked about it.  Instead of saying anything, I just took a few extra pictures as he was packed up and leaving for the MTC that morning.  I've included these photos in the blog this week.  Peace and Puppy Love, Teresa

September 29, 2014
Tuguegarao, Philippines

'Musta Mga Kapamilya,

WHAT A WEEK! Before I go on to tell you what's happened to me, let me share my condolences for Bailey. I had a feeling that my goodbye to her before I left would be my last. Like you said, she and Madison have been great blessings in our family. Those dogs were just so full of love, it was impossible to let any other emotion get in the way of that. I'm gonna miss that bug-eyed weirdo. I think Kaylee has a firm understanding of the role of animals in God's plan, considering past conversations I've had with her that went way over my head. I'm hoping I can eventually own a Cavalier of my own one day. Preferably a Ruby.

The craziness starts on Tuesday, with Elder Labertoria being transferred. I went on splits with him so he could say goodbye to the members and investigators in his area. Elder Labetoria is an awesome, hard-working missionary that fell under some unfortunate circumstances his last few weeks. He and Elder McCausland didn't get along well, and it drove the spirit from their companionship. It was a pretty sad thing to witness. It effected not only them, but us as house-mates, and more especially, the area they were called to serve in. They saw some amazing tender mercies, however, with part-member families becoming complete and the smallest of areas seeing progression. It was a sad parting, but we knew he was off to some bigger, better things in his next area. 

Tuesday night at about 10 o clock, we were trying to figure out who Elder McCausland's next companion would be, and who would fill the slot as our district leader. That's when we got an unexpected call from President Rahlf. They gave me the phone, and President told me the Lord had informed him I was to be the next district leader. I was pretty shocked, considering the short notice, but I felt really excited to have more opportunities to serve fellow missionaries in this role. When the Lord tells us if we are prepared, we shall not fear, He means it. That's been a real help to me, in recognizing whether I'm ready or worthy to do something. If I'm filled with excitement and a drive to go tackle a challenge, I know that the Lord is on my side, and knows I'm ready. I feel that part of having the gift of the Holy Ghost is receiving that kind of attitude about new things, when it's the Lord's timing and you're continuing along the right path.

On Wednesday, during transfers, we got an even bigger shock. According to the request of some of the bishoprics and Stake presidency, Elder Glassie and I would be pulled out of Cataggaman Ward and begin serving in the Tuguegarao 4th ward. We would be replacing the Sister Training Leaders there, and they would be replacing us in Cataggaman. That way, there would be 2 Sisters and 2 Elders serving in each ward, allowing more opportunities for fellowshipping from both young men, young women, relief society, and the elders and high priests. It's a great idea, but it means we have to take over each others' areas, which is not a very simple process. That's been the main focus this last week for us: trying to figure out each others' schedules, investigators, boundaries of the area, etc... It's been an adventure, that's for sure. We've switched from the smallest area in the mission to one of the largest. The portions of the area we have seen now have been awesome. We've had some amazing finding and serving opportunities and I'm looking forward to this next cycle.

Thursday I got to conduct my first district meeting! I think the lesson went well. We had a lot of participation and I got some good comments. It really helps that we have the STL's and the Zone Leaders in our district to help me out. The focus of the lesson was how to set effective goals. Preach my Gospel defines goals as a reflection of the desires of our hearts, so it is important that we know what we desire, and then apply it to our goals, so that we see greater improvement not only as missionaries, but as individual sons and daughters of God for the rest of our lives on earth, and into the eternities. Identifying our desires is an important step in repentance. It's impossible to fully repent if we still have the desire to sin. The purpose of repentance is to implement the power of the Atonement so that we can change our wicked desires into righteous desires. Our natures change into one that is unshakable by the powers of Hell, and we can leave behind anything that would let us sell ourselves for less, which is the way we become eternal beings, and heirs to the kingdom of God. Do we want it? Then we can have it. Ask, and ye shall receive. 

Saturday was an absolute blast. We had a "Family Week" celebration at the Tugue North stake center. Everyone from the south stake was there for food, games, and cultural presentations. Here are the highlights from it:

  • One of the relief society sisters got a not-so-serious head injury during one of the games that everyone started freaking out about. A few of the sisters in our Zone had taken nurse courses and knew she was fine, but the others insisted she had to be rushed to the hospital. Filipino medical care, gotta love it. Moral of the story: When you are wrestling over a greased coconut, someone is bound to get hurt.
  • We had some delicious variations of the vegetable "empalaya". It's a very bitter vegetable but the ways they prepared it were amazing. We had some done up with stuffed meat, some kind of like sushi, some were deep fried... it was good eating. It was also coupled with some sweet rice porridge and something called "ice candy", which is frozen juice with cream and various fillings. 
  • Two of the high priests from Ward 4 performed an amazing rendition of "If I Fell" by The Beatles! Afterwards, we starting geeking out with each other about the band and then jammed for an hour or so. They were shocked I knew so many Beatles songs, considering how young I was. We had an absolute blast. It was so amazing!
  • Some of the wards performed hip-hop numbers, and the songs they danced to did not have any censorship. They were completely oblivious to the inappropriate themes and language in the songs. Heh. Awkward. 
  • The High Priests from each ward performed a traditional Filipino serenade called "harana". The purpose is that a young man and his friends sing outside of their lover's home, in the hopes they will open the window and sing back. Afterwards, they get the father's approval for matrimony. They had some hilarious skits. One of the High Priests pretended to be an angry father and attacked the singers with a machete, and the other one tried to serenade a branch president's wife. All and all it was old men pretending to be young lovers and it was hilarious. 
Thank you for all of your prayers and support. I know if we are obedient to what the Lord has commanded, we will see miracles, lives will change for the better, and we can change the world. It is our obligation, as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to prepare the way of the Lord for His Second Coming. He will come, and this will be His Kingdom. It is our charge to take care of it, to gather Israel, and to spread the good news to every living creature, that we might all enter into the rest of our loving Father in Heaven. I get such a burning in my bosom whenever I tell an investigator that the very same Church organized in the past has returned, that God has not changed, and that we may partake of the fullness of the gospel, and never have to settle for less again. My prayer is that we may all understand our duty, so that our desire may grow, our hearts expand in capacity, and our nature be revealed. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

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