Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014-- Email #48

September 22, 2014
Tuguegarao, Philippines

Hello Ya'lls,

Sorry for the short time last week, Typhoon season makes schedules a little crazy. This also unfortunately was a factor in our work; it got a little bit groggy. However, we have a new ward mission leader who's an RM fresh from the field, and he's got a lot of spunk in him to get things rolling with the incorporation of members in missionary efforts. I feel like we've got a good cycle coming up. 

On Tuesday we had a pretty fun district meeting involving balloons and knives. Michael and Sean, we just had a Filipina Sister missionary transfer in from the Leeds, England mission. Her Visa expired after 16 months in the field so she's finishing out her mission here in Tuguegarao. She says her first area was in Bradford. She says she could never understand what anyone was saying because the English they used was so different from the English she learned in school. Anyways, I thought that was pretty funny. Her name is Sister Pacis. I know neither of you would have been around when she was there but it's cool nonetheless. 

After district meeting, we went to this really good American food place called Fat Kid Inside. They have the closest you can get to legit American burgers and such. They even have a giant burger challenge. The challenge is to eat the burger within 13 minutes. Do it, and it's free. Don't do it, and pay 500 pesos. Elder Cabaltica took the challenge on and, despite taking interesting strategic methods throughout the eating, failed miserably. But the employees were greatly entertained and we all had a blast. I've definitely reached the point that I choose Filipino food over American food if I'm given the choice. I find myself feeling that my meal is empty without rice, even if I'm just cooking eggs in the morning or something. I'm sure you're not very surprised my diet has shifted as such, taking into account all of the weird things I've eaten already. 

Last Sunday, the Stake President called on us to bear our testimonies during testimony meeting, and yesterday he called on Elder Labetoria and I to give talks during sacrament meeting. I don't know why he keeps picking on us, but it's always fun to bear testimony to the ward where we're called to serve. It's just a bit confusing, considering we have plenty of others members who would be more than willing and able to speak during sacrament. Anyways, I was assigned to speak on missionary work. Go figure. I focused the talk on how God chooses the weak to do His work so that He can show forth His power. I feel like sometimes, the members have little confidence in the missionaries. Of course, we're not perfect. We're young. We're not experienced. We're not the best in the language. But those have never been requirements of an effective missionary. I wouldn't say anyone God has chosen to be His servant would be "qualified" in the sense we might be inclined to define. Moses, the one called to declare boldly to Pharaoh (arguably the most powerful man in the world at his time) to let his population of Israelite servants free, had a speech impediment. Abraham and Sarah, well past their prime, were commanded to have a son, and that through their seed all families of the earth would be blessed. Their reactions seem typical with something we all would say. "What? Me? Why me?" It even says it there in Genesis 17:17 after God tells Abraham that Sarah would bear a child that "he fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?" Moses had a similar reaction, in Exodus4:10. "O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant". 

The answer is very simple. The Lord calls on the weak so that He can make them strong, and that all may know that God's power does not come from the wisdom of men, but comes from something much deeper, and truly infallible: faith. All they needed to do was believe that the Lord's words were true, and that the promises He had given them would be fulfilled. After that, anything was possible. A 90-year-old woman gave birth to a healthy baby boy, whose posterity gave us the words of all the holy prophets, Bible and Book of Mormon alike. A man with no eloquence left even the Pharaoh of Egypt with no other option but to "[call] for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up,and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the Lord, as ye have said." Paul understood the concept of faith as a principle of performing mighty works, as he lists many examples in Hebrews 11. He also makes particular mention that this faith was a faith in Christ, which we all know is the first principle of the gospel, and the way to return to our Father in Heaven. 

With 18+ years behind us as missionaries, we took a step of faith when we submitted our mission papers, accepted our callings, and left to a foreign land wondering what on earth we were getting ourselves into. But because of that faith, and because of our calling, we have been made strong. Simple testimony from a couple of young boys becomes life-changing shifts in perspective, warm feelings in the heart, shared warmth and unity with a family, and a growing testimony that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of the earth. This work is remarkable, not just because of the remarkable change occurring in wonderful people's hearts around the world, but because of the remarkably simple way it is wrought. By small and simple means, great things are brought to pass. Aint that true. 

Let's use faith in every aspect of our lives. The gospel is a fully applicable plan for success in any endeavor. Even those who do not believe in Christ know that these things would lead to an improved life. Believe you can achieve something, and you'll achieve it. It's like faith. Don't let your mistakes drag you down, learn from them, and eventually you'll stop making those mistakes. It's like repentance. Make promises and hold true to them. It's like baptism. Surround yourself with good people whom you love, and who love you and support you in your efforts to be successful. It's like having the gift of the Holy Ghost. Keep going, keep improving, never give in, never believe you've done all there is to do. Endure to the end. Add the Savior into it all, and it is the way we can achieve our ultimate goal: eternal life. Until we meet our Father in Heaven once more, and rest in His presence, with no more regrets. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

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