Monday, July 6, 2015

July 6, 2015-- Email #88

July 6, 2015
Echague, Philippines

Top of the Mornin' to Ya!
(Irish Colloquialism, trans. "Good Morning")

There are few words in existence that can adequately describe this last week! It involves kidneys, thyroids, low-population islands in the pacific, old people hiding, Tongans throwing buckets of water, termites, and even a man named Robin. How could all of these things possibly be related to another? I can only attempt to expound. During the week, it felt exceptionally long and hard, but now that I look back, I think "Wow, that was fun!"

First of all, Elder Bautista is one of the calmest people I've ever known. Last week, President Rahlf called our phone and I answered. President explained that Elder Bautista's twin brother (yes, he has a twin brother) had been sent home early from his missionary service in the Philippines Cagayan de Oro Mission due to a sudden medical concern. After testing him in a hospital in Manila, they had found that both of his kidneys were failing, and that he needed a transplant soon. So, President informed me that they needed to send Elder Bautista home for up to 3 months in order to save his brother's life, he being the one most-likely to match his twin brother's needed kidney. When I heard that, I was thinking: "Wow, that's some serious news. How is Elder Bautista going to react to this?" I handed the phone to him after I had been informed, and when Elder Bautista heard the news, he simply looked up, gave a small sigh, and continued updating the area book. Wow! That's it? This is before I learned, the next week, that during the phone call, Elder Bautista was unaware that he would be able to live after the transplant, but still readily accepted to be his brother's donor. President later told us that he had burst into tears while on the phone when Elder Bautista asked him if he'd still be able to live. My companion has amazing faith, and doesn't have to flaunt it or let his emotions overflow. He just has a calm reassurance that whatever happens in his life is suppose to happen. What a great guy.

That brings us to Wednesday. Elder Bautista packed his bags that morning, and we went to Cauayan for his last day, and last MLC (Missionary Leadership Council). President and Sister Rahlf came about an hour late to the meeting, because they had just come from a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, to have Sister Rahlf's thyroid surgically removed. I forgot to tell you about that last week, so here it is! President's been out of the mission for the past week, but they came back just in the nick of time! They missed the mission so much while they were gone. The surgery went great, and it's as if they never left. Once they arrived, we continued the meeting, featuring a lot of really great spiritual experiences and some very funny jokes from Elder Espino. At the close, President related Elder Bautista's story and he gave his farewell testimony to us all. It was great. 

After that, we had to figure out who my new companion was going to be. Since the transfer isn't 'til July 15, it makes things difficult. President informed me, however, that he had a companion for me in mind and I'd probably just have to work something out as a tri-some with the other Elders in our apartment, Elder Teikauea and Elder Posadas, just for about 3 days. It has now been five days and I'm still with them. Heh. But they are the best! Elder Teikauea (pronounced "take-ah-way-ah) is batch with Elder Rebojo, and he's from a really small island in the pacific called Tuvalu. You've probably never heard of it. They say it's close to Fiji. Anyways, it has a total population of 12,000 and one small branch. Elder Teikauea is a rock solid guy, and he is outrageously funny. It's impossible to be down when he's around, which I've appreciated greatly, considering the amount of things that have been coming my way. Elder Posadas, his trainee, is from Cebu, and he is an equally chill guy. Wonderful missionaries. 

We've been working between the two of our areas the past week, which has been a bit of a juggle, but we've managed. We had a lot of rejection, including an old woman that would run back into her house from the front porch every time we walked by. I love it when people are frank and tell us honestly whether they are interested or not, rather than running and hiding like a lot of people do in this country. We also tried to talk with some people that were mainly Yogad speakers and knew little Tagalog. It became quite the barrier, especially when their hearts were closed as well. We had a really cool experience on Friday, however. We met a woman who had been a former investigator a few years back. We taught her with her neighbor at the front of their house and it was a super good lesson. We invited them to come to Church at the end. Usually, when someone wants to avoid being impolite when saying they can't come, they tell us "mahirap naman mangako, pero susubukan ko" or in other words "It's hard to promise, but I'll try". The woman, in response to our direct commitment for her to attend church, told us that this Sunday she'd be out of town, but that next Sunday she'd be back. It seemed like another indirect declination, so I made the mistake of making the invitation more indirect the second time, and told her she could try to come to church next Sunday. She shocked me with her response: "hindi ko susubukan, Elder. Gagawin ko talaga." or in other words, "I won't try, Elder. I will actually do it." It made my day. I wanted to give her a high five. Tender mercies!

We have a really awesome investigator named Glysa Mae. She is reading the Book of Mormon actively and texts us questions if she doesn't understand. She'd been promising to attend Church for quite some time, and she wasn't able to make it this Sunday as well. She had a reason, though. She was stuck in Cauayan city because of heavy rain and traffic. She'd been there for a few days collecting termites for her vet course in college. So that's pretty cool. You will hear more of this girl, she is awesome! I hope her family becomes open as well. 

Yesterday I got to work in our area with a few very helpful Priesthood brethren in our Ward who became my temporary companions for a few hours. Brother Robin and Brother Anton worked with me and we walked around in the rain for quite some time, facing a lot of fallen-through appointments and rejections. It was shocking, to be honest. I'm so grateful for Brother Robin's positive attitude, though. We talked for some time. He's an older man, but still isn't married, but he hasn't given up hope. I needed to gain greater hope this week, and I feel it's been coming little by little. We met up with Elders Teikauea and Posadas that night at a Family Home Evening at a members home, and ate some delicious food. I also sang the Philippines National Anthem for them, which luckily I memorized in my last area. 

This morning we had a really fun District activity with Elder Paea and others from the Zone. We played a series of games and the losers had to have a bucket of water thrown on them. So that was exciting. I'm still awaiting a new companion, but enjoying my time with the Elders I'm with right now. 

That's all I have to say. I love you all. I know the Church is true. I know Heavenly Father has a great story for us to tell others, if we let Him in and let Him shape us into what we can become, and what He intends us to become. I know that I'm becoming a new creature; painfully, slowly, and "joyfully marching to our home". I hope in that day when I can be permanently changed, through the power of Christ's Atonement, and until then, I'll continue repenting and working out my own salvation. I can't wait when all worldly ambition, fear, and pride will melt away, and I become someone new. I so dearly anticipate that day, with a heart full of feelings I can't describe, when I enter that Heavenly home, and I will be "no more a stranger, nor a guest, but like a child at home." In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

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