Monday, February 2, 2015

February 2, 2015-- Email #67

February 2, 2015
Bagabag, Nueva Vizcaya, Philippines

Naimbag nga Bigat!

You know what that means? Back in Ilocano land! Wave goodbye to Tuguegarao with its Itawis and Ybanag! I'm coming from the scorching heat of Cagayan valley to the cool mountain air of Nueva Vizcaya!

Nueva Vizcaya is the province adjacent to Quirino, where my first area was in Cabarroguis. The environment is pretty similar: cool, fresh air, mountainous, lots of rice in the flat land... absolutely perfect. I'm in a town called Bagabag (Try to say that fast ten times). All of the cities down here seem to have very funny names: Bambang, Bayombong, Bagahabag... That reminds me of a Tagalog tongue twister you should try saying: "Librong Pangkatagalogan na Nakakapagpabagabag" (If you succeeded in saying the first one ten times fast, here's a real challenge). My new companion is Elder Larona. He is my batch from the Manila MTC. We are the Zone Leaders for Solano Zone, which encompasses most of the northern half of Nueva Vizcaya and the entire Ifugao province. We are serving in the Bagabag branch with two other Elders.

So, to cover some of the highlights of this transfer... It's exactly where I wanted to go. I have been saying for a while now that I wanted to be transferred to the south part of the mission, specifically Solano Zone. Ironically enough, I have also been saying that I wanted to become companions with Elder Larona, considering we never really knew each other that well and I'd heard many good things about him. I was also hoping that I would have the opportunity to be a leader, with opportunities to learn and grow as a missionary. Well, it all happened. Perfectly. And I praise God for His great mercy and love. He has answered my prayers without falter and is constantly showing me ways I can magnify my calling. Other bonuses with this transfer... Elder Larson is one of the District Leaders here, which means we'll have the opportunity to go on splits together. I'm really excited about that. I've been told as well that there is a delicious restaurant here by the name of Mrs. Bakers. I will have to update you on that.

REWIND! Let me tell you about my last few days in Tuguegarao. (Pictures, unfortunately, to come next week)
I had quite the send-off. It started on Monday evening when me and Elder Rebojo were on our way to say goodbye to the boarders at Carig Sur. As we were walking down the plaza, we ran into brothers Ziad and Akmed(The Lebanese and the Lybian)! I had tried texting them before so we could meet for lunch before I left, but the plans didn't work out. Luckily, we ran into each other at just the right time and were able to arrange a lunch for that coming Tuesday. The best part of the story is that Ziad tells me "something told me to get off of the tricee before we ran into you guys. In fact, we had just been talking about you before. If we wouldn't have gotten off of the tricee early, we wouldn't have run into you like we did." He then pointed towards the sky and exclaimed, "That's my Allah." Akmed cooked for us the next day and it was amazing. Seriously. He is a gifted cook. I showed them the church website while we were waiting for lunch. Ziad was very impressed with the Salt Lake Temple and the things that were done there. We exchanged contact information afterwards. They are amazing guys. I hope to keep in touch with them.

We had a very spiritual experience saying goodbye to the boarders at Carig Sur. We shared with them our testimonies of Christ, ending with Moroni10:32. It was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences I've had. All of us had a very hard time holding back tears. I exhorted them to read the Book of Mormon and to continue along their path of finding out whether it's true. I can't remember the other things I said to them, but I'll never forget the feeling. They were sad to see me go and we took a lot of pictures on their cameras. I got a few on mine as well. After that we had dinner with the Dela Cruz family and the Balatico family. I know, right? Two dinners! I really miss Tuguegarao. But I know I'm needed here in Bagabag at this time, so I do not linger on things that have passed.

The Branch here is super strong. I've found out this area has had a long line of talented, hard-working, charismatic missionaries assigned to it, which greatly intimidated me at first, but I've learned to forget comparing myself to other missionaries and do my best as I can. Elder Larona has been helping me by his example and I've learned so much from him in the short time we've been together. I'm so glad I have this opportunity to magnify my calling.

This is the true Church of Jesus Christ. The Priesthood has been restored to the earth, and all of the keys necessary to usher in the Second Coming of our Lord rest with a living Prophet, who continues to receive revelation for us, and keep us under the watchful care of the True and Living God in a world of tumult and confusion. My Heavenly Father has opened chambers of my heart that I didn't even know were there, and allowed me to see things a little more as He sees them, that my capacity to love may grow, and that I may bless His children my whole life, until I enter into His rest at last. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

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