Monday, January 5, 2015

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...

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