Monday, January 26, 2015

January 26, 2015-- Email #66

January 26, 2015
Tuguegarao, Philippines 

Trans. Greetings! (Surigaonon, the language of Surigao, Mindanao, Philippines)

Here we are, at the end of my fourth cycle in Tuguegarao, and awaiting my next destination in the Philippines Cauayan Mission! That's right, I'm being transferred! I will fill you in with the details of my new area next week. As for now, I don't have much to say of my last week in Tuguegarao, other than the work has continued on by the hand of the Lord, and I'm counted blessed to be able to witness it. I thank God He's called me to assist Him in His work. It has been such a tender mercy to be a part of that work in this wonderful city. I feel like I should say something cinematic like "destinies have intertwined" to best describe what I have experienced here. I've see the genius of God's plan. It's much more exciting for the bigger picture to be revealed gradually; peeling the veil slowly away, meeting people that, in reality, we knew before we came down, having faith that God has a bright future in store for us, and slowly but ever learning that any plans we have that interfere with God's are not plans worth having. 

In all honesty, it has always been a struggle for me to really understand God's unconditional love. My love is imperfect in so many ways I couldn't list them... So full of conditions, limitations, lusts, etc. What seems to be the reoccurring struggle for me, in particular, is love for myself. By the grace of God, I have been able to overcome that particular challenge as far as it not interfering with furthering the Lord's work in my assigned areas. There is still much I have to learn about the love of God. A very important lesson I've learned is that whenever I feel I have a lack of love for others, or myself, and a subsequent feeling of lack of love from God, I try my best to show my love to God by obeying His commands in any small way I can, and I immediately feel connected with my Heavenly Father again. He really is not far away, you know.  

I'm inspired by the story of Paul as he performed missionary labors in Athens(Acts 17:20). It seems the people of Athens have striking resemblance to the people and culture we currently live in this world: "For all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing". Sound familiar? Information addiction. The most widespread addiction we suffer in this world today. It turns out, however, that it isn't really a new thing. Even the Athenians had "itching ears".

The story goes on: "Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 

"That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring."

To think, that I was able to participate in blessing God's children, in such a small way as to invite them to come unto Christ by receiving the restored gospel... I suppose it isn't such a small way, when you really think about it. This is the everlasting Gospel. We were chosen to come down at this time. All of us. This is our time, as we await the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, in glory from Heaven. We came to earth that we may find our Father again, and as most of us have already found out, he isn't really that far from us if you look inside. He lives in each one of us. We are His children. We came here to be happy on the journey back to Heaven. The journey make take us through a little bit of hell, but if it didn't, it wouldn't be worth taking. We don't need all of the answers, we just need to know where we are heading. And we have someone waiting for us, at the gates, who will be able to heal our battle-wounds, scrapes, bruises, and trauma, because He has experienced it all. He paid for it with His own blood, and if we let Him in, He is the surest way that there is to know how much our Heavenly Father loves us, and wants us to come back. 

I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

It's so like Jordan to send a picture of a flaming rodent...with no explanation.  Ewwww....  

Monday, January 19, 2015

January 19, 2015-- Email #65

January 19, 2015
Tuguegarao, Philippines

Hello Family!

I hope you all had a good week with the move and the car accidents and the debit cards and the crying babies... We had an excellent week here! As part of our training, Elder Rebojo took the lead in all of our finding and teaching situations and he did phenomenal! I am super proud of him. We met a lot of people that were really in need of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am indebted to the Holy Spirit for guiding us into their lives. What an honor to participate in the marvelous work and wonder of Almighty God! 

 We had the opportunity this week to testify of the Atonement in a variety of ways, which happen to relate to a variety of Hilary Weeks' songs (Thank you again for the iPod). Let me relate a few of our experiences. Look for the references to her songs.

The first was a sister named Lidelyn. We found her and her cousin when we were tracting, and they allowed us to share with them. Usually during the course of beginning teaching, we like to ask investigators how Jesus Christ has helped them in their life in the past, or how important He is to them. Most people straight-away tell us He's the most important part of their lives, although they don't show it in their actions too often. Lidelyn responded very honestly that He wasn't very important in her life, and that she has never really felt He's there. Hence, some of her mistakes in life led to more and more mistakes until she felt hopeless and alone. We straightway testified that Jesus Christ lives, and had conquered sin and death, and that He had indeed come "to save that which was lost". We shared one of my favorite scriptures found in 1 Nephi 21:16 (Isaiah 49) "Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me." When Christ was resurrected, His body became flawless and painless, never to die again. However, He kept a token for us to see, on His immortal, resurrected hands, the prints of the nails that were driven through them, when he was crucified. It is a testimony to us that He will never forget us or forsake us. How could He? He came down to save us! He knows each and every one of us. We were the ones who believed He could accomplish the Atonement and save us from death and Hell, and we are now the ones that celebrate in His triumphant victory. He did what no other could do. To this day, His hands are still stretched out to embrace us, inseparable from the vision of those nail-prints which give us an everlasting testimony that He has graven us "upon the palms of [His] hands." Not only to the Jews, but to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. He is the Christ. We've returned a few times to Lidelyn now, and her faith in Christ has started to shine from her face, coming from the deepest parts of her heart which knew that He could never forget His precious sheep.

I had an insight into the incident of the raising of the daughter of Jarius, which we shared with our investigator Sister Mary Cris. We are told, in the incident of the raising, that there were a multitude of mourners at the house, weeping loudly and playing strange instruments, in accordance with Jewish traditions at the time. They seemed to be very certain the child was dead. Long dead. But Jarius, being the faithful and devoted father he was, came to the Master to raise his daughter from her deathbed. The Savior, seeing the man's great faith, complied, and as He entered the house, exclaimed: "Give place: for the maid is not dead, but sleepeth." It then says, "And they laughed him to scorn." Sleepeth?! She is dead! Haven't you heard? Don't you understand? There is no hope! But then what did the Master do? He walked through the noise and tumult of doubt, took the maid by the hand and said "Talitha cumi, I say unto thee, arise." She immediately arose, to the astonishment of all those who would see the child walking out of her chambers, healthy and alive. Sometimes, I feel like we can be as those mourners were. We don't have faith that other people can change. We think that they are the way they are and they will stay that way. These people might be entirely capable of repentance, yet we don't accept it. We don't let them. We must follow the example of the Savior, who sees into the hearts of each of us, and knows we are capable of so much more; overcoming sin, ridding ourselves of destructive habits and ways of living, and in this case, defying death itself. It is all possible, because of Him. He will lift us up.

The next experience I had in personal study, when reading the account of Jesus Christ visiting the Nephites. At this point, Jesus has just informed the people that He needs to leave and visit the other lost tribes of Israel, who will also witness His glory. However, His plans take a slight detour in 3 Nephi 17:5-7: "And it came to pass that when Jesus had thus spoken, he cast his eyes round about again on the multitude, and beheld they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would ask him to tarry a little longer with them. And he said unto them: Behold, my bowels are filled with compassion towards you. Have ye any that are sick among you? Bring them hither... and I will heal them, for I have compassion upon you; my bowels are filled with mercy." When I read this, I remember my role as a missionary. I of myself am not able to heal the souls God entrusts to my care in this labor of love, but my duty is to bring them to Him, so that He can heal them, through the miraculous power of His Atoning Sacrifice. There are so many souls lying in wait for someone to bring them to the Savior, so that He can heal them. We must fulfill this duty, as His disciples in the last days. Many cannot make their way through the crowds to the Savior's feet by their own means or their own power. We must lift them. We must carry them. If we do so, when we find ourselves in our own times of need, He will lift us, and He will carry us. 

I'm short on time, so I'll leave this email with one of my favorite lyrics from sister Weeks, which has helped me in my work greatly this week, especially in helping those individuals who really needed us: 

"Somebody's down to their last dime
Somebody's running out of time
Not too far from here
Somebody's got nowhere else to go
Somebody needs a little hope
Not too far from here
And I may not know their name
But I'm praying just the same
That You'll use me Lord to wipe away a tear
Cause somebody's crying
Not too far from here

Somebody's troubled and confused
Somebody's got nothing left to lose
Not too far from here
Somebody's forgotten how to trust
Somebody's dying for love
Not too far from here
It may be a stranger's face
But I'm praying for Your grace
To move in me and take away the fear
Cause somebody's hurting
Not too far from here

Help me Lord not to turn away from pain
Help me not to rest while those around me weep
Give me Your strength and compassion
When somebody finds the road of life too steep

Somebody's troubled and confused
Somebody's got nothing left to lose
Not too far from here
Somebody's forgotten how to trust
And somebody's dying for love
Not too far from here
Now I'm letting down my guard
And I'm opening my heart
Help me speak Your love to every needlful ear
Someone is waiting not too far from here
Someone is waiting not too far from here"

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Monday, January 12, 2015

January 12, 2015-- Email #64

January 12, 2015
Tuguegarao, Philippines

Hello Family!

Now that we've exited the holidays, we've finally had a week where we didn't have meetings and parties every other day! Yay for missionary work! It feels so good to get back into the groove. Oh, and I know who sent the package. The young men from the ward. Tell them thanks! I got some Christmas lights and decorations that I will now have to wait to put up next year... Oh wait, I'll be home by then. So... They also sent a Book of Mormon in English with their testimonies in the back, which ended up working out perfectly 'cause one of our investigators, an older woman with the very Spanish name of Maxima Balthazar, had just requested a Book of Mormon in English. She was very gracious in accepting it. She's still having a hard time understanding what the Book of Mormon really is, but she is keeping up on her reading and I know she will highly appreciate it throughout her life. It is a voice crying from the dust, to give us addition strength and assurance in the true and living God as we speedily approach His coming. Read it daily! It is a fool-proof way to suit the armor of God!

Let's take a look at the week page by page in my planner, shall we?

Monday night we watched the movie "Legacy" with the Balatico family (They are the super cool Ilocano family in our ward preparing to be sealed in the temple). To be honest, it's a highly cheesy movie, but it became so much more rewarding to see each of the family members' faces light up as they watched. They were so excited to see events from church history come to life, especially the pioneer trek and the singing of "The Spirit of God" at the Kirtland temple dedication. It always gives me a rush to sing that divinely inspired song, especially when you take into account the miraculous events which coupled its debut. The Lord truly did visit His house, accompanied by numerous concourses of angels. The Priesthood, and the various keys associated with it, were restored in that holy edifice to a living prophet of God. Who else can attest with such profound simplicity that God has not ceased to be a God of miracles, and of visions, and of prophesy, on account of the witnesses of the Holy Spirit, which have poured upon the saints unceasingly in this dispensation? The words and music to that hymn, "The Spirit of God", for me, personify my testimony of the Restoration. My heart and soul will forever be stirred when I sing it, and I will continue to praise my God with a song of righteousness. He has been so merciful to me in granting me the capabilities and the talents necessary to serve Him through sacred music, and I hope to continue living worthy of that tremendous blessing. Hymns truly have the power to call upon angels, and to chase away evil. I've seen it.

 On Tuesday we had a good district meeting about the purpose of missionary work. I asserted again what I had learned about the gospel being a perfect plan. If you were to take all of the spiritual points out of the gospel, it would still allow you to obtain temporal success and prosperity in your earthly life. Belief coupled with action, changing yourself for the better, setting goals and staying true to what you have promised, enduring to the end... Even without mentioning Jesus Christ, it sounds like a formula for a good life. Now, as you add the Savior, and His Atonement, and a loving God who gave us His Only-Begotten Son to save us from destruction, and the Holy Spirit to guide us and supply us with truth from Heaven, it becomes a formula for an unimaginably rewarding eternal life. That is the message we bring. Sounds like publishing peace, and good tidings of good, to me. What a great work, ready for you to get lost in. Later that day I practiced my Ilocano with one of the Relief Society sisters, and we've begun working on translating the First Vision. Naragsak met (trans. "Super fun")

Wednesday we had several opportunities to testify to people of the restored gospel. We were accompanied by one of the YSA in our ward who will be entering the MTC this February before serving in the Quezon City North Mission. His name is Jeremy Articulo. He is an awesome fellowshipper! We found a lot of new investigators from tracting who seem to be interested. One of them, a woman named Jennifer, had lost her husband a year ago when he was murdered. We testified to her of eternal families, and of the Book of Mormon in association with the restoration. I hope she can act on the Spirit which I know she's felt. We've continued teaching a good amount of students who are boarding near CSU. The problem with them is their busy schedule and the varied locations they go home to on weekends... But it's been an awesome experience. We met with Tatay Victor Ramos again, and he expressed a desire for us to baptize his 8-month-old grandson. We explained that one needs to reach the age of accountability first before being baptized, and left him Moroni 8 to read for the next visit. When we came back later in the week he expressed a desire to be baptized, but we'll have to work around his paralysis not only for being able to attend church but for the ordinance of baptism itself. He's still up-beat and funny as usual, always making us laugh with sly comments on how I'm imported and how Elder Rebojo should give him cock-fighting chickens from Mindanao so he can get rich. Did I mention that about cock-fighting here in the Philippines? There is a lot of it. Everywhere you go you can see hundreds of roosters on little porches being raised up as warriors. The fights go down on Sunday mornings. More people attend cock-fights than church at the Cathedral. Haha. Good ol' Sabbath Day, right?

On Thursday we went to the Tuguegarao North Stake Center so we could get Elder Rebojo his belated Christmas present: A Patriarchal Blessing! From the tear-stained eyes on both Elder Rebojo and Patriarch Bautista's faces after the blessing, I'm assuming it went well. While I was waiting in the lobby I also met an RM from Manila who served in the Cauayan mission when it first was split from the Ilagan Mission back in 2006. He was assigned in Cabarroguis and Santiago, just like I was! That was super cool. We exchanged stories with each other for a good bit while we waited. The rest of the day went well work-wise.

Friday and Saturday were pretty difficult. A lot of the return appointments we had set fell through, and we had cold reception from a lot of people. We did attend the baptism of Joseph and Susan, though, who are the Sister's investigators in our ward. This is now the 7th church they've joined. Yeah. They were born into Jehovah's Witnesses, then they moved through a variety of Born Again churches before going back to Catholicism, and then finally surmounting with when they met Sister Hirst. They both have shared how much they admire how persistent she was in helping them recieve the restored gospel. Both of them testified of how glad they were that they had finally been baptized under the correct authority, and how they had finally found the Church that Jesus Christ established, and not man. President and Sister Rahlf attended. They are now in awares of my nickname, Elder KokoKrunch. So that's good. 

Sunday we had an excellent broadcast from the Area Presidency which focused on calling the Filipino saints to become more self-reliant; in their homes, in their wards, in their stakes, and in their country. The only bummer of Sunday was that none of our investigators were able to attend church. Ugh. Stuff like that happens sometimes, so you just pick up from where you left off and press on, like we're suppose to. I am so dearly grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ, who laid down His life that I might live. He suffered for all of my mistakes, which are not a few, and it is unimaginable for me that he could do that for all of the rest of my brothers and sisters which encompass mankind. But He did it. He is risen. Death is conquered, man is free, Christ has won the victory. There is no doubt about it. The only thing we need to work out is which side we're on when the day comes that He returns, and accounts with us on how well we've taken care of our little time on this earth, in loving God and all of men. I hope I can say, in that day, without fear, that I've done all that I can. I am forever in His debt. Precious Savior and Redeemer of my soul, who has given us peace in such a tumultuous time as this. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

 -Elder Kocherhans

(some pictures I found of Elder Jordan on the Cauayan Mission Families page... bonus! :-)  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Philippines Cauayan Mission Blog link

Hi All!

I just realized there is a Mission blog!  Elder Kocherhans' mission Mom, Sister Rahlf, has been posting pictures and documenting events in the mission.  I've found several pictures of Jordan so far... pictorial evidence of gatherings and meetings he has described in his emails.  I don't know if it is a private blog?...but if you would like to try, it's found at

I wish she was posting videos of the musical numbers and things that have been recorded...  I haven't found any yet.  Maybe they aren't supposed to post those...but I know they exist, so I'll have to try to snag them at some point :-)

January 5, 2015-- Email #63

January 5, 2015
Tuguegarao, Philippines

Hello Family!

What a great week finishing out the Holiday season! We had a good mix of things to do. Before I get to that, however, did it ever occur to you that perhaps my personal card has expired? It expired in July. That just might be a contributing factor to why I wasn't able to withdraw. *Facepalm* How do we work around that? We need to figure that out soon as well, 'cause these mystery package senders have really cut into my support funds.*

(*Editors note: Jordan has to pay a fee in order to receive a package through certain carriers with the delivery system in the Philippines.  It cost him about $60 to pay for the Christmas package we sent... It will be his only package from us.  Too cost prohibitive when you consider it was over $200 for us to send in the first place.  gulp...  He received a second package from someone, not sure who sent it...super thoughtful and kind though!  He has to pay a fee for that one as well...not as much as the one we sent, but just so ya'll know...that's the way the system works there. Kind of crazy...and expensive.  Now, back to our email...) 

This last week starts with the DelaCruz family's first ever Family Home Evening! It was awesome. We had a lesson about sacrifice and obedience, coupled with the viewing of "Only a Stonecutter", a Church-produced film about John Rowe Moyle, a stone-cutter on the Salt Lake Temple. If you haven't seen it yet, do so now! It is super good! After the lesson we played a few FHE-esque games. One of them has become a real success among the FHE's I've been able to organize. It's called "Hi Harry". I'm not sure if the difficulty of this game would transfer over to English-speakers, but the premise of the game is that everyone's name is Harry, and one should avoid saying anything incorrect within the established dialogue of the game ("Hi Harry" "Hello Harry" "Where's Harry?" repeat...) or else be marked on the face with lipstick, earning you the title "One Spot". Those with new titles must be addressed as such or they will become "Two Spot", "Three Spot", and so on, depending on the amount of errors they've made. It's a really stupid game, which is why I am repeatedly astounded on how fun it ends up being every time. Everyone ends in tears of laughter. In the words of Uncle Eddy, "I dunno."

On Tuesday we had an extremely fun Christmas party. Yes, our Ward Christmas Party was on the 30th of December, 5 days after Christmas and just before New Years Eve. They're not the best organizers when it comes to activities. Heh. But it was a blast none-the-less! I got together with Brother Articulo from the High Priests group, a fellow guitar player and Beatles fan, to do a little rendition of "I Will". We harmonized really well and the ward loved it. Afterwards they also requested that I do "Blackbird". Later on the RM's from our ward compelled me and the other missionaries to participate in a very dunk-your-head-in-a-bucket-of-water-and-then-find-a-coin-in-a-pile-of-flour-with-your-mouth game which left us all very messy, as you'd imagine. But it was fun. After the party one of the young women gave me a love letter - or, I suppose I should say, letter of admiration - which was surprising. Haha. Supposedly, pretty much all of the young women have crushes on me, evidently seen in their gathering themselves in small circles and giggling (and from the things Sister Hirst, the other missionary in the ward, tells me they tell her). So, in conclusion, if I fail to find an eternal companion among the American beauties, I have several backup plans lined up in Tuguegarao. 

On New Years we went to the homecoming luncheon of a newly-returned Sister Luyun, who just came from one of the missions in New Zealand and has lost almost all of her Tagalog with her very adept New Zealand accent. At the party I had a small round-two Beatles jam with Brother Articulo and another High Priest from another ward. The highlight was us doing three-part singing and playing "Help!". What a beauty. I have a picture with those two as well. We had a lockdown at the house at 6 PM due to the large amount of fireworks being lit off past dark. We cooked a feast for ourselves, seen in the pictures I've uploaded. Rice cakes, sweet corn pudding, macaroni fruit salad with marshmallows, Bicol express... it was very delicious. We also played with the glow sticks you sent a good deal. The fireworks were impressively reminiscent of a war zone rather than a New Year's celebration, which in my opinion, made it quite more entertaining. 

Our district meeting was entirely guided by the Spirit. Usually, on the Saturday or Sunday before District Meeting, I get a pretty good idea of what I will be teaching, based on the needs of everyone's areas and such. This last week, however, I had no promptings come to me, other than the phrase, "New Year". The following days and hours leading up to the meeting, the prompting persisted to come, and nothing else with more initial structure seemed right. It finally came to my mind in the very moment I stood up to teach that I was to ask the district what three things they had learned in the year 2014 were most important and precious to them, and then to share how they would use those things in their life in the year 2015. We all stood up one by one and began to share, and the Spirit was abundantly present. It was such an awesome experience. In case you're interested, the three things I mentioned were:

1. The opportunity I've had to spend the entirety of 2014 in the Philippines. I love these people so much. I love the culture. I love the food. I love the language. And I will be forever grateful, and proud to say that I have spend such a dear amount of my life in this amazing country, especially as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ. Any other reason, and it would have been a hollow expedition.

2. The people I've met, especially the companions I've had. I specifically related the difficulties I had with Elder Espanto and how that I would not have learned to be more charitable if he hadn't been my companion. All of my companions have taught me a variety of things that now make me who I am. I'm so grateful for each and every one of them, and I'm glad they helped me work out my salvation.

3. How I've come to know the true and living God, and the adversary. Before I left on my mission, I understood there was a right and a wrong, and how it was essential that I should choose to do good to be blessed, but since entering the field, it has become all the more clear to me how deceitful the evil one is, and how cunning he is in convincing us to choose things that will not end in our welfare. More importantly, I've come to know how good God is, how much He loves me, how I have received of His mercy time and time again, and been empowered beyond my own capacity to do things that truly make me a man, and a son of God with divine potential. 

I'm afraid I've fun out of time! Until next week. I know these things are true, and I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is indeed the true Church of Christ restored to the earth in the latter-days through a prophet that we may sufficiently prepare ourselves for His great and terrible coming, and that we may not fear that day, because we are prepared, and we know where we have made our stand, with Christ our Savior. In His sacred name, Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Captain Moroni & Stripling warrior toys we sent for Christmas :-)  It looks like them too!

New Years Eve Party

Glow sticks are always fun.  Glad to see they put them to good use... :-)

This must be his Beatles buddies that did the "Help" trio

He has mentioned the dried fish being one of his favorite things... yum.  Heads & all.  Probably tastes better than it looks...