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

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