Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014-- Email #61

December 22, 2014
Tuguegarao, Philippines 


Well, I got your package! Thank you very very much, especially for the iPod with all of the amazing music on it. The Elders in our apartment are grateful for the music as well - we were getting a bit fed up with the cheesy EFY mix that everyone seems to pass around in this mission. And wait... what? Pregnant again? Hah? I was very amused as well with the funny whale fish and the turkey in the fish tank. Anyways, thank you for everything. It's also interesting to note that my stomach was displeased with the supplication of American snacks. I had to appease it afterwards with an offering of dried fish and rice. My stomach is way too used to Filipino food now. There's no telling what will happen to me when I have to alter my diet back to its original state a year from now. I don't like to think about it. 

As for the Hangout call, that sounds good. I'll make sure to be at the computer shop early so we can get things set up to start at 10:00 AM my time 7:00 PM your time. I'll use my personal email for the call again, jordankobalt520. As for the card, I'll try withdrawing with it again today just so I can get a reading of what the ATM says is the problem. I think it was just never opened for international access or something? There just seems to be a connection problem between banks. But yeah, anyways, I'll be seeing ya'll faces on Thursday/Friday

What an eventful week! On Tuesday we saw Elder McCausland out the door and welcomed in Elder Gumayao's new anak (or trainee), Elder Gerardo. He's a very cheerful guy, always smiling and wishing everyone a good morning. I'm very glad that I'm now housing with all Filipinos. It helps my and Elder Rebojo's Tagalog out greatly. And I get to refine my Filipino cooking skills! 

On Wednesday we were beginning a lesson when I got an unexpected call. It was the guy from Lebanon we met last week. He apologized for not being able to come to church the previous Sunday and then asked if we had any plans for later. I informed him we had a family home evening program/birthday celebration later that day that he was welcome to attend. So we set up a place and time to meet. When we met up with him, as he was getting out of the tricee, he paid for everyone else that was in the tricee with him. It is definitely important to note how kind this man is. While we were walking to the appointment, I let him know that we would be entering a very Christian environment, just in case he might feel uncomfortable doing so. He let me know, however, that he was very open and interested in learning and experiencing other beliefs and practices. It's part of the reason he came to the Philippines to obtain his masters degree. A lot of foreigners come here to study due to the civic and religious freedom enjoyed by all its residents. We ended up having an amazing time at the family home evening/birthday party. We played games, ate food, and shared beliefs, finding that most of them were just the same as ours. As we were walking back to the highway after the party, I recall thinking "Here I am, in the Philippines, walking home after a party with a Filipino and a Lebanese I've hardly known for a week, as if we were best friends... How did I get here?" Later that night, I got a text from him. It read: "Thanks to my Allah for you and your friends." Undoubtedly a thank-you I will never forget. 

On Thursday we had a nice Zone Meeting where we discussed Priesthood Keys and the organization of the Church in general. It became of great use, considering we taught the DelaCruz family essentially the very things that were taught in the meeting. The organization of the Church is fascinating; especially considering how uniquely close it is related to the organization of the primitive Church, more so than any other Church I can think of. That fact alone would sell me. Then you add the truths of the gospel restored to their original state, the power and authority of the Priesthood returned to the earth, the countless revelations, and the testimony of a latter-day Prophet sealed with his blood, and it's hard to see how any of it could be, even in the slightest, a fabrication of man. What a great latter-day work we have the opportunity to get caught up in! It is truly rewarding beyond compare!

On Friday we had a District activity where we went caroling to some of the people in our area. We only visited two people but it will go down in my personal history as one of the best Christmas presents I've ever given. We first visited Tatay Victor Ramos (The one I talked about in a former email). There are ten of us in the district and we all sang for him about three songs, which I might add sounded fairly impressive. The most impressive part, however, was the Spirit that was present. Brother Ramos burst into tears. He had placed a curtain over his door so that he would not have to look outside or participate in Christmas celebrations, due to the passing of his wife about ten years ago. He expressed his gratitude for us bringing Christmas back into his life, and we promised him he would see his wife again in the next life, all because of our loving Heavenly Father and the gift He gave for us beyond compare: the Savior Jesus Christ. I gave him some of the chocolates you sent in the package, at his request for American chocolate :) We then visited an older member of the ward, Nanay Augustine, who greeted us with a spunky "Why are there so many of you!?". We sang for her and she became very emotional as well. It was such a good way to spend the Christmas season!

When I call you on Friday, it will be the eve of the Dela Cruz family's baptism!! They passed the baptismal interview and are super excited! Speaking of other DelaCruz's, I had a pleasant Christmas surprise this last Sunday, with the visit of Rusell to Tuguegarao! He's up here with his mother until Christmas Eve. We freaked out when we saw each other. He fellow-shipped with us when we taught the Dela Cruz family last night. Super fun! I have pictures. 

Anyways, this is all I have time for. I hope I can live every day of my life worthy of the immense blessings poured out upon me, as imperfect as I am. I am eternally in debt, which I myself cannot pay, but I can do everything I can to show it. I know this Church is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

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