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

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