Monday, June 15, 2015

June 15, 2015-- Email #85

June 15, 2015
Echague, Philippines

Naimbag nga Aldaw!

Our email time is earlier today so I hope I don't miss you! It's been a pretty eventful week, and even as I write this almost everything I was thinking of telling you is disappearing. I suppose that's how it always is. So, let me try my hand at the recap.

We left in the morning several days this week to work in the areas close to our apartment 'til lunch. We met a lot of interested people that we got to share with. On Saturday morning we worked in our farthest area, Pag-asa (which is Tagalog for "hope"). It was a long, bumpy ride to get there, but it was well worth it. Basically everyone we spoke with that day accepted us and seemed interested to learn more. The Spirit was very strong as we went from house to house in this little barangay, sharing about a loving Heavenly Father and families. We have a particular investigator there, named Amy, who has received an answer to her prayers about Joseph Smith and was eager to read the Book of Mormon we left her. The only immediate problem I perceive is that the wonderful people here are very far from the Church, but there are members that live here with vehicles and I think we'll be able to solve things well enough. God will prepare the way, through the Ward Council, missionaries, and faith. 

On Wednesday we had MLC and on Friday we had a Zone Conference, both of which were very informative. I felt so strongly the truthfulness of the Atonement in both instances. I've had a lot of shortcomings personally as of late, and I feel sometimes like I've been drifting, but I know that Christ is always there, as Jeffrey R. Holland so beautifully puts it, "like lighting in a summer storm", arms shooting out to grab us and lift us to safety. Whenever I see pictures of Jesus in Gethsemane, I am reminded how difficult the Atonement was for Him, even the God of Israel. I also remember how the Apostles He had called to watch with Him had fallen asleep. Some days, I feel like I have fallen asleep on the watch, recognizing that the "Spirit is indeed willing, but the flesh is weak", but I've learned a lot this week about not letting myself loose sight of my true potential. Just because I'm imperfect is no good reason to stop trying, and fall into complacency. Like Nephi so eloquently pours out his soul in 2 Nephi 4, I see that I'm surrounded by sins that "do so easily beset me", nevertheless, "I know in whom I have trusted". Why should I sell myself short of what God can make me, "because of my flesh?" Whilst on this mortal journey, and especially as one called of God, I've gotten to know the "enemy of my soul", and have gained greater and greater resolve, every day, because of my immense love for God, to "give place no more" for him, because he rewarded no good thing. Every day, I realize my heart changes more and I begin to "shake at the appearance of sin", because I realize how deep the Savior had to plummet into the darkest abyss to save my soul from that awful hell, and give me the opportunity to repent, and live again. It was not easy for Him, but He has accomplished all that He set out to do, conquering sin and death, and giving us the way to eternal life, so I owe it to Him to give my very best every day, and follow His commandments. 

On Saturday we had a really good experience in weekly planning. We were marveling with each other how we haven't had any baptisms, in the mission and in this area, in a very long time. Especially as leaders, it's been very frustrating and a test of patience. We discussed possible solutions, and then we pondered silently for a long time. After which, we had both received the confirmation that we needed to update the Area Book more thoroughly and consistently, and to focus on baptism earlier in the teaching of our new investigators. We put it on paper, prayed over it, and set out in accomplishing what the "Lord had commanded [us]". Consequentially, the next day we had a new investigator with a baptismal date, Miko! It was unexpected, and completely in the hand of God for giving us revelation and supporting us in achieving our goals. I'm excited for this coming cycle!

We had an area broadcast on Sunday where Elder Neil L. Anderson spoke along with some other authorities. They talked about a Filipino phrase in English that has often been spoken when helping others: "I will be the one", meaning "let me do it". They expressed great love for the Philippines and I felt the Spirit confirm to me that it was indeed a living Apostle speaking the will of the Lord to this wonderful country. I also had the opportunity to conduct a few baptismal interviews this week which were immensely spiritually uplifting experiences. I felt prompted on several occasions during those interviews to share specific testimony, advice, and scriptural support. They were some great young men being baptized this next weekend. It's been amazing to be shaped into who I am by my loving Heavenly Father. I'm so proud to be His son and to hold the power of the Priesthood to bless the lives of others. 

That's all I have this week. I love you all! I know this is all true, and leave it in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

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