Monday, March 30, 2015

March 30, 2015-- Email #75

March 30, 2015
Bagabag, Philippines


To be honest, this computer shop is full of probing kids reading our emails and it's a bit of a distraction. This email might be a little scattered. All in all, however, it was a great week. We had your usual mix of rejection and acceptance, walking and riding jeeps, Tagalog and Ilocano... Good stuff. It's a bit strange to not have any meetings or events to discuss. It seems we always have stuff like that. Nothing this week. It was a great opportunity to really focus in on the area and our investigators. 

On Wednesday we conducted splits with the Elders in Lamut. Guess who was my companion? Elder Rebojo! It was awesome to be able to work with my son again. He had a really good follow-up trainer after I left from Tugue and I noticed he's improved in a lot of ways. I'm still always taken back by his strong desire, and the way he talks with people in such a sincere, down-to-earth way, always inviting them to learn more about the restored Gospel. I had prayed that our splits would be successful and that we would be led to go where we needed to go. Interestingly enough, we were rejected from almost all of our planned appointments. The important thing was that we didn't lose faith. At the end of the splits, when we were discussing how things went, Elder Rebojo said he still felt our splits was a success, despite the trying circumstances and the low numbers to report. I learned a great lesson at that time that it was my desire, and not the Lords, that everyone would be at home and that we would have high key indicators, as evidence of a good splits. Of course, the Lord wants us to succeed and have us be worthy instruments in His hands to carry forth His work. So why did that day seem to be so difficult? God knows what we need, what we need to do, and where we need to go to be able to serve Him, and if a day comes that makes us feel like we failed, as long as we were obedient and sensitive to the Spirit, there was no failure, nor effort wasted. We had a great discussion about the subject as a result and I was so glad to be able to talk with my kid again!

On Sunday, we had a certain investigator that we've been inviting to church for some time now finally attend! Efren Oro came to our little meeting house in Lamut for the first time, and it looks like he loved it! The members were super supportive of him. He had conversations with many of them, including a less-active member who has recently started coming back. It was such a relief to see an immediate support base form under him. It is a plague to the Church in so many countries when members don't support the investigators that make it out to church. Anyways, he's doing super good. He's originally from Quezon province, but moved up here in Vizcaya because his wife is from here. He still doesn't know too much Ilocano. In past lessons, we have seen his face light up at eternal truths we teach, and his desire grows more and more daily. He has accepted the invitation to be baptized in the past, but now that he's begun attending church, his goal date will become a reality! How great is that! 

I've been reading a lot of great things in Jesus the Christ recently, and I don't have all of my notes on me to share as of the moment... but one thing I remember is the parable of Lazarus and the rich man. It has a powerful lesson within it, and foreshadows the day when Jesus raised his beloved friend, Lazarus, from the tomb. In the parable, there is a rich man and a poor man. The poor man, Lazarus, lives in the streets, being afflicted with disease, and the dogs are his only company. The rich man has many friends and conveniences as a result of his vast wealth. Strangely enough, he isn't given a name in the story. It ends up that both of these men die at around the same time. The poor man gets called up to Heaven, into the bosom of his father Abraham, while the rich man suffers for his sins in hell. The rich man asks that Lazarus be permitted to cool his scorched tongue, but Abraham explains that there is a gulf in between them that cannot be crossed. The rich men then pleas that Lazarus be permitted to visit those of his friends who are still alive, to warn them of the awful fate that awaits them if they do not repent. Abraham responds that they already have the commandments before them, yet they do not follow them. The rich man interjects that if they saw someone rise from the dead, they would certainly be compelled at that point to change from their sinful ways. Abraham, in the parable, gives an instructive response: "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."

No amount of evidence or persuasion can make us obedient to the commandments, and increase our faith. Only humility and submissiveness to the will of the Lord will allow us to receive a sure witness from the Spirit that what we believe, and more importantly, what we do, is right and true. Don't seek for signs. They're dead ends, and only satisfy a carnal curiosity. The mysteries of God will only be revealed to those who are ready to receive that knowledge; those who have Christ-like attributes and will use their knowledge for good.

I'm out of time! I leave these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Monday, March 23, 2015

March 23, 2015-- Email #74

March 23, 2015
Bagabag, Philippines

Dear Family,

I love the Lord! Just reading about all of those newly returned missionaries, getting emails from friends now in the field, hearing about more with calls (Mozambique... I suppose if anyone was going to go to Mozambique, it would be Mitch Baker (And this also adds further depth to our theory that he would marry an African princess)), and reflecting on the experiences I've had on the mission thus far... it's so overwhelming to think how merciful the Lord has been to us all, as weak as we are, in calling us to be His servants and help carry forth His work! There is nothing more fulfilling, nothing more joyous, and nothing I could want more in this world than laboring in love for God and His children! Now we have two more family members on the way, and all of us have enriching experiences to bring to the table. We have things learned that need to be shared in blessing their lives, and blessing the lives of others. 

I suppose I'll start with Tuesday. I sat in on Elder Olson's first district meeting and it was super good! His district is known as the "relief society district", considering he and his companion are the only Elders in it, followed by 4 sister companionships. He looked just as nervous as I was when I taught my first district meeting. It was a great lesson about helping resolve concerns, and I used a lot of the personal revelation I got there in our work. We had Oreo's afterwards, which are a thousand times better than their Filipino counterpart, Cream-O's (Not to say I don't enjoy Cream-O's every now and then as well). After the meeting we had an incomparably insightful specialized leadership training at the district center in Solano, where Zone and District leaders from Santiago to Bambang came to receive training from President Rahlf and the senior couples. It was so good! I tore through my notebook with golden advice from leaders with years of experience in leadership callings. The Spirit taught my soul so many instructive things that have helped me look at leadership with a new perspective. What I especially liked was the differences we learned between administering and ministering. Ministering truly is Christ-like leadership - following the Spirit in sticky situations, showing love through service and example, looking after the stewardship with genuine love and care, not only doing things right but doing the right thing - All part of our priesthood duty, being foreordained to fulfill our callings and go out of our way to help people on the strait and narrow. 

One thing I hadn't realized as deeply before is that the Lord will sustain us in our decisions, as long as we are worthy and ready. One of the Seniors, Elder Shorter, shared an experience he had when he was bishop that illustrates this point well. One time, a sister in his ward (whom he noted never smiled much) came into his office asking for help. The problem presented dealt with spousal problems, disunity in their family, work, and various other things. He knew he would be entitled to revelation to help this sister, so after she had finished venting out all that was disarrayed in her life, he looked at her and waited for something to say. He looked at the ceiling, then at the floor, waiting for some revelation to give. Finally, nothing came to mind so he simply told her to try and be the kind of spouse that invokes greater love. After she left the office, he thought to himself "well, I wish I could have said something more helpful... but nothing came to mind!" The week after, the same sister dropped by his office (this time, he noted, with a smile from ear to ear), telling him how grateful she was for his advice and that it had all worked out. The Lord wants us to make decisions and help people according to our ability so that we can learn and grow. After the decision has been made, as long as we are worthy and it is according to God's plan, He will sustain us in our decisions. What a great principle! It's best explained in modern-day revelation, D&C 58:26-28:

"For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward."

This last Sunday was one of the best in my mission. Five minutes before sacrament meeting began, there was only a handful of us at the meeting house, and it seemed like the turn-out might be less than favorable. But, in answer to sincere and heartfelt prayers, as soon as the meeting began, members, less-active members, and investigators the like flooded into the chapel. We counted 12 less-active members who came to church and about 5 investigators, all of which had member families fellowshipping them. What a beautiful Sabbath morning! The Gospel Principle class discussion went really well, and over-all everything worked out great, and it became an uplifting experience for all. We definitely saw the fruits of our efforts, considering we focused on less-active families this last week. Despite unexpected meetings and delays, it was a very fulfilling work week. Love it!

This week, during my personal prayers and study, I've come to know the Savior more and more. He's helped me set personal goals that helped me to obtain Christ-like attributes, and the more I work on those goals, I feel how much He has done for me and how unprofitable I am! I can never pay Him back. Neither can I understand how it felt when He suffered. Each one of us was in His mind when He knelt in that garden, pleading to His Father, never turning inward, but always turning outward. We were worth it. We were worth all of His pain and suffering. He knows each and every one of us. We were His unwavering supporters, and although we've passed through a veil of forgetfulness in this life, His impact and His light has never left a single one of us. He's the reason that no matter who you are in this world, or what you believe, there seems to be an almost instinctive sense of what is right and what is wrong. That cannot be denied. Whenever we stray from that light into darkness, there seems to be a distinctive fall in our countenance, on our value for others, and our capacity to love. Whenever we embrace the light, Jesus comes to our countenance, enlightening our understanding on the limitless potential of others, and expands our capacity to love beyond anything we could dream. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. That love is something we must grow to understand and feel, by following the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the only way we can cast away all our fears, and enjoy an eternal progression yet ahead. We may not yet be perfect, but as Jesus showed us, we can become perfect. 

I love this beautiful life. I'm grateful for the hardships that have helped me appreciate the tender mercies of the Lord. I'm excited for the bumpy roads and steep inclines ahead, on my way to the view from the top, when it will all make sense, and I'll leave the rest to my Savior. In His name, Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Monday, March 16, 2015

March 16, 2015-- Email #73

March 16, 2015
Bagabag, Philippines

Hello Family!

Hope you enjoy those pictures! It's been long enough since I got those out last. The weeks have been flying by so fast. Half of the zone changed this last transfer on Wednesday. It's pretty exciting! Both Elder's Larson and Eudela became Zone leaders, so I'll be seeing them next month. Elder Navarro was transferred to Tuguegarao Ward 4! I was so excited to hear that. I left him a few things to give to the members there, especially to say hi to the DelaCruz family for me. Elder Navarro is such a golden-hearted kid. He's going to do great things in that area. Guess who came down to replace him? Elder Rebojo! My child is following in my footsteps, coming down to Vizcaya with me! Now we're in the same branch again! It's going to be a blast seeing him more often.

The day before transfers, the Bagabag Elders and I had a service project at the Valdez family home. They are the family I sent the picture of my first week here. We chopped wood with dull axes and trimmed some trees with machetes, and our hands became super calloused up. Really got everyone feeling manly. We had an excellent family home evening there later that night, and Elder Navarro cried as he said goodbye to his first area. I remember similar feelings saying goodbye to past areas. What a great joy, getting lost in the service of the Lord, and allowing our Heavenly Father's children, in so many diverse places around the world, occupy such great parts of our hearts. It is all for Him. What a great joy He has called me to labor in love. It is a labor of love indeed.

On Wednesday, we had to wait at the chapel in Solano for a very long time to wait for Elder Rebojo to come down from Tuguegarao, as everyone from Solano and Bambang Zone made their final goodbyes and set off to their next great adventures. All of the new members of the Zone are super energetic and funny, which I love. The new district leaders, Elder Olson and Elder Lawrence, are very humble guys and I can tell they have great potential. We had a Zone meeting on Thursday that went super well. Elder Larona and I decided to mimic what President Rahlf had done at MLC, and perform a role-play for everyone else to observe and critique. At first, we were scared we wouldn't be good enough, but we were determined to be great examples for our Zone in word and in deed. The Spirit strengthened us remarkably, and it was an amazing experience of the power of faith. I know the Lord has strengthened me beyond my own capabilities to carry out His work. Ironically enough, later that day, we had a lesson with a new investigator that followed almost exactly as the role play we had performed did earlier that day. Isn't that something?

The rest of the week has been a test of patience. We were really excited to finally have a good solid work week, and then it seemed all of our appointment would fall through; people were not at home, seemed uninterested, off at work... I realized something that I had learned a while ago that really applied for this week. Sometimes, it is not part of the Lord's timing for us to get 8 lessons a day, or to baptize a whole family, or likewise things that sometimes become selfish desires. Our desires and the Lord's desires are on different planes, and we need to learn patience in order to understand the Lord's timing. We need to accept His timing. I know that whatsoever thing is necessary for the Lord to accomplish, we will know where we need to be, what we need to do, and what we need to say, as long as we're ready, worthy, and willing. The important part is to not lose faith, or else the blessings that may be soon arriving will pass on by without notice.

Another thing I've learned is that charity is a gift of the Spirit, and it fills ones heart just as the Spirit testifies of truth to us. Just like those times we can remember "Oh, I felt the Spirit so strong!", I can also recall times when the divine gift of charity flooded into my heart, so that I could gain a greater desire to serve God's children, and understand their hearts as well. God's love is perfect, and although we won't be able to reach perfection in this life, I believe we will all experience perfect moments, where we catch a glimpse of what it will be like. Just as the Lord showed visions of Heaven to the prophets, we will have moments where we see Heaven, and catch a little taste of perfection, in order to help us press forward, and that we may be special witnesses of that truth to others. God doesn't perform miracles just to show off. He does it for a specific reason to accomplish His plan, and then to have the faithful testify of it's truth. I know that is true, and I have tasted bits of Heaven while in the service of my God in this beautiful land, and I will testify til the day I die, and far beyond, that God loves us, does not change, and speaks to us today. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

P.S. Sorry if my English seems to be deteriorating.

  Pictures muna!

Taking a majestic pee into the beautiful Bansing Falls... Joke, but it does look like it no? 

 Bansing Falls, in the mountains overlooking Bayombong.

 Whoever said you couldn't cross a river with a tricee? (On the way to Bansing Falls)
 Early morning fog in Nueva Vizcaya

 Do Filipinos like rice? Yes, by the bucket-full. (Excellently modeled by our own Phil-Am Elder Navarro).

                                                              And Filipinos are so short!

The valley of Bayombong again.

"Then, climp up the stairs..." It doesn't matter that it's dark, you still wouldn't be able to see the bottom. That's in Lagawe.

Know this dog? It has tasted Tyler Haw's flesh. When Cedrick's family lived in Manila, Elder Haws was assigned in their area and was bit by this dog. It struck again just recently, biting Cedricks little brother six times. Ouch!

 We had steak at the Balubal family.

Pancake sandwich at Jollibee (Almost as good as the McGriddle).
Elders having breakfast at Jollibee before Zone Conference.
Who drew this?

Pictures from Elder Larona's camera - 

Elder Navarro being transferred to my old area in Tugue 4th!

Socializing with the Ifugao natives in Banaue. I think I've joined their tribe. Hence, the hat.

The main rice terraces, far in the mountains of Banaue, Ifugao.

 I have a thing for taking pictures with statues.

Top-load on the ride up!

Sunrise in Ifugao.
View of the terraces from further down.

 Sunset in Bagabag.

We were tracting one day when accidentally we ran into a dinosaur.

 Oh, and Mr. Bean.

Elder Larona's camera captures the color better at Bansing.

 Solano Zone before transfers.

Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015-- Email #72

March 9, 2015
Bagabag, Philippines


Last Monday, after I had finished emailing you, the week ahead seemed like it would be a normal, nothing out of the ordinary work week. Well, I was mistaken.

Monday night, while we're out at work, I get a text from the senior couples in Cauayan: "Elder Kocherhans, please print 6 2X2 pictures of yourself to bring with you to Manila on Friday." Ha? What? Manila on Friday? It turns out I've been in this country under not entirely legal terms for the past 16 months, and the mission received a mandate from the Area authorities that I, and about 41 other missionaries, needed to complete our non-immigrant visa requirements immediately. And who would have thought... The immigration office is in Pasay City, Manila. The trip alone was not the problem, however. We had to take into account that we would be in Cauayan on Wednesday for Missionary Leadership Council, which is a 4 hour bus ride from our area, and that we should be in Cauayan by Thursday night to be ready for the flight to Manila by Friday morning. So, in coordination with the assistants to the President, the plan for this last week followed as such:

Tuesday - District Meeting in Solano, followed by Baptismal Interview. Work in the evening.
Wednesday - MLC in Cauayan. Work in the evening with Santiago North Zone Leaders in their area.
Thursday - Work with the Santiago North Zone Leaders, and other missionaries coming from Vizcaya and northern Isabela awaiting the Manila trip.
Friday - Fly from Cauayan to Manila in the morning. Fingerprints at noon, afternoon to be spent as a P-day.
Saturday - Fly back from Manila to Tuguegarao at noon, take bus from Tuguegarao to Bambang, meet with Elder Larona there and return to Solano.

How about that, huh? It all went by in a blur, but a blur never to be forgotten! Let me take it a chunk at a time.

On Tuesday we celebrated Sister Jensen's birthday for a little bit after District Meeting. Sister Koncurat faked having fainted in the other room, so we all ran over to help her, Sister Jensen not knowing it was just a ploy so we could surprise her with a cake. We sure did surprise her! That night we had a really fun Family Home Evening with the Cumigad family (Cedrick's family). We shared about having a firm foundation built upon Christ (Helaman 5:12) and used an object lesson relating prayer, scripture study, and church attendance as small and simple things that build our testimonies upon Christ. It involved having a heavy book placed on three inter-locking spoons that each rested on a cup, and how that by implementing those simple things everyday, we are able to carry heavy loads, and choose higher ground, even though it had seemed insignificant at the beginning. Our Branch President, President Bumatay, attended as well. He is such a strong, spiritual man. He has great humility and allows the Lord to work through him in meaningful ways, which I really appreciate.

Wednesday and Thursday kind of blended together. We had a really excellent MLC where we covered the material for the next Zone Meeting, themed on improving teaching skills. I'm excited to teach. The thing I really admired the most about the meeting was that President Rahlf demonstrated a role-play for us. He implemented all of the skills and talents of a master teacher. He is highly experienced and lets the spirit guide him. You could really feel his deep and abiding desire to share the truth to every needful ear. I'm so glad he and Sister Rahlf were called to serve us as missionaries. I've really felt their love, and their connection with Heavenly Father in receiving revelation for this mission. I also had a pretty interesting experience working with the Zone Leaders in Santiago. I'm not going to go into details, but there seemed to be a lack of order and reverence in that place. I'm glad to have been with Elder Larona. Very obedient and sensitive to the Spirit. That's the only way to go!

On Friday, we met in Cauayan with the other 42 missionaries leaving to renew their visa. I pretty much stuck with Elder Peterson the whole time. On the plane ride to Manila, I had a quick glimpse of what it would be like when I go home. It was heart-wrenching. I love this place so much. I will be deeply sad when I have to leave it for the last time. When we got to Manila, we were taken back by the immensely different culture of the big city. Everyone was really good at English. We finished our paperwork early and then went to the largest mall in the Philippines, the Mall of Asia. It was really fun. I got to have a lot of American treats there... Subway, Jamba Juice, Wendy's, Pizza Hut... The best part was we had a big group and we all had a lot of fun together. Responsible fun. We ended up meeting a member family there who gave us a ride back to the hotel. We had slurpee's from 7-11 on the way back.

The next morning I had krispy kreme donuts for breakfast and we left on the next flight to Tuguegarao. It was a long bus ride back to Vizcaya, but I made it back alive and in time for church on Sunday.

This morning we went to Banaue. I was absolutely taken away by the beauty of that city. It is built straight into the mountains, accompanied by rice terraces built over centuries of Ifugao rice farmers hard at work. No description could do it justice. I'll need to get the pictures next week, I'm running short on time. I met some guys from London there who said they knew Mormons in the Leeds area. And I met a couple of Germans. They were all very nice.

Well, I have to close this. Sorry for the rush, we will be busy this transfer week! I know this Church is true, and that God loves us more than we could ever imagine. I've felt His love so abundantly this week as I've traveled this beautiful country and been struck in awe that I serve Jesus Christ, the Savior of us all. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Pictures from MLC in Cauayan

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 2, 2015-- Email #71

March 2, 2015
Bagabag, Philippines

Family. Hello.

Really, though, where has the time gone? The end of the cycle is almost here. When did that happen? You know what they say: Time flies when you're having fun. What a blessing to know that the only true fun is accompanied by hard work. Oh, and for your information, we didn't end up going to Banaue today. That will be next week.
So, I guess we'll take a look at some of the major events transpired.

Elder Larona and I have begun to incorporate a new part to our teaching method... Singing! We don't leave the house anymore without bringing a Primary Song Book. Cedrick, one of our fellowshippers, has a guitar as well, which we use when serenading those we teach with the beautiful music and lyrics in what I like to consider the 6th Standard Work of the Church (The 5th being the classic green Hymn book). It has really invited the Spirit strongly into our lessons. It's truly an answer to my prayers that I'd be able to implement my talents in a creative way to be able to serve God more. Here it is! No talents buried in the ground for this missionary!

I had the opportunity to go on splits with Elder Larson on Wednesday. It was an extremely fun day. We started out by visiting a member family with a less-active son, Vergo. He's been kind of our special project as of late; helping him decide to serve a mission has been of particular import. He has a strong testimony, and even enjoys sharing it, but influences from friends have turned his sharing into more of just words rather than action. For instance, he and his friend Mark (A non-member) didn't have school on Wednesday. So what did they stay at home doing all day? Having a Church-movie marathon. Particularly about missionaries. But did they come to church on Sunday? No. Ugh... Seriously. It was a great lesson, though. We shared about the story of Alma the Younger and emphasized that once someone is born again, similar to taking other sacred covenants, there are now places we cannot go, things we can no longer do, and things that we must sacrifice for. We have faith in the Atonement, which works repentance within us, with a brighter hope that no matter how we are today, we can change ourselves for the better. Sometimes it's difficult to teach investigators and help them make and keep commitments when their friends are less-active members. But once they both see and understand the necessity of a closer relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, by taking little steps of faith, they are able to enjoy the Holy Ghost as a companion, which teaches nothing but eternal truths to the hearts of men. It begins the conversion process for both the less-active member and the tentative investigator, and they end up strengthening Zion at both ends of the tent. We know God is working with us.

After feasting on some Mami soup and barbequed chicken intestines, we walked for ages through an enormous rice field and had some other really good lessons with less-active members and recent converts. Our last lesson of the night was at the Bagorio home. Vermond Bagorio is the only member in his family, and is slightly less-active. His wife in the past has been very hostile towards the missionaries but has recently started to cheer up. When we came to the house, Elder Larson noticed a chess board at the front. The Bagorio family is big on chess. One of their children has gone to Nationals for the Philippines in chess, and may be considered for the U.S. considering he lives there currently. They have five chess boards on a long table in the back of their house, complete with timers. Elder Larson is pretty good at chess himself, so had a game with Genver, their oldest son who is hardly ever at the house. It really helped them warm up to one another, and afterward we had a very touching lesson about how the Gospel blesses families, and how each family member should display Christ-like love to one another by simple acts of service. It was a great splits. Elder Larson's an awesome guy.

On Thursday we had a return appointment for a sister Ruth Paragas, someone Elder Baclea-an and I had met while on splits a few weeks ago. She opened up about a lot of family problems she had that had been difficult, and we assured her that although we couldn't help her problems personally, our message would. During the course of the lesson, we asked her what her expectations were for our meetings. She began crying, telling us that she had been drifting from God and her family for many years now, considering she had left the country for work for extended amounts of time, and really wanted to get closer to her Heavenly Father again. Talk about someone prepared to receive the message of the restoration! It was an extremely spiritually uplifting experience.

On Friday I got to know our fellowshipper, Cedrick, a little bit more. We have a lot of similar interests, especially when it comes to music. He's a drummer in a band and is also a fan of Muse, which we connected with right away. His family is from Manila, and his step-father is of German lineage working in Qatar. He told me that while he was in Manila, he was taught to play drums from his friend, Chris. He was only 14 years old but a very adept drummer. They were both members, and Chris had recently been sealed with his family. One day, after a ward talent show, Chris was mugged and murdered on his way home. The whole ward was shocked to know what had happened, but was blessed with the reassurance they had all been sealed for time and eternity in the House of the Lord. Cedrick is now currently in a band with fellow ward members in Manila, the name of their band being after their late friend, Chris.

I thought a lot about that this week in my personal study. The scripture I found related to many other accounts of sacrifice for just causes, and for the truth, was in Alma 56:47: "Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them." The underlined part applies to so many others who were so fearless in the face of death, knowing the cause for which they were engaged was of far more importance then their mortal lives. I think of Abinadi, being swallowed up in flames, condemning the wickedness of self-proclaimed priests and their cowardice King. I think of thousands of Saints crossing the plains in the dead of winter, bloody footprints on the snow-covered prairie floor, knowing that even if they couldn't make it to the West, they could die with their faces toward Zion. I think of four men, in the upper floor of a jail house, listening to someone sing "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief" as they clung to a copy of the Book of Mormon. Above all, I think of the great and last sacrifice. It can truly be said that everything to precede it and everything to come afterwards pointed to that great and last sacrifice, where the God of Israel, rejected by His own, gave His own life as a ransom for our sins, and conquered death itself. So, should we die before our journey's through, happy day! All is well! Christ has won the victory, and I do not fear death.

We do not fear death!

The Manuel family still hasn't been able to attend church, which is very frustrating because their so awesome! They keep saying that they'll come to church once our chapel, currently under construction in Bagabag, is finished. Right now, we meet in Lamut, which is very far away from their home. We keep emphasizing the importance of obedience to the commandments, regardless of the circumstances, but they still haven't made it out! I ask for your prayers in their behalf. 

On Saturday I had the privileged to baptize two of the investigators of the sisters in Bayombong (Which includes Sister Koncurat who is somehow related to me? Wha?). It was an excellent service. And they have a beautiful chapel there! We had a delicious lunch afterwards with blood pudding and graham-mango-cream layered cake (Not at the same time).

On Sunday, a lot of less-active members came to church, which was awesome! We had a very strange investigator come from the other Elders area, who stood up and testified (In a mix of broken English, Tagalog, and Visaya) that we could all become prophets for Yaweh. So that was fun. The testimonies were super good. Later that day we contacted another investigator and his father, Orlando and Junior. It was a great lesson. Both of them expressed a desire to be baptized afterwards. I feel so undeserving of all of these blessings! But I suppose whatever I am able to do, I'm still an unprofitable servant. The best I can do is be at the right place, at the right time, and invite others to come unto Christ. This is such an amazing work!

Thank you all for your support. I've been praying for you and I know God has answered my prayers. I love you all. I know the Church is true, and that the same organization which existed in the primitive church has been restored today, with proper Priesthood authority, that we may learn to make and keep sacred covenants with our Father in Heaven, and follow His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, as we await His coming in glory! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

P.S. New Language Discovered: Gaddang. Phrase: "Nanay Yu Ngannu?" which means "What's your name?" What a strange, wonderful place I live in.

The Solano Zone- Photo credit Sister Koncurat (4th person from the right) (She is from the same ward in Maryland as Karen Folkman...who is Jordan's aunt Ruth Kocherhans' sister. Follow that? :-)