Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31, 2015-- Email #96

August 31, 2015
Echague, Philippines

Hello Family!

Nothing particularly exciting to report about this week. We just... worked in our area. How out-of-the-ordinary, right? It seems like I've been on splits this whole last month. Finally the time has come settle back down in good ol' Echague with my actual companion. 

We have three baptisms on September 12th: Joshua Dumaliang, and Irene and Monica Ibarra! We're finishing up their lessons this week and preparing them for their interview this Saturday. They've been attending Church and are continuing to keep their commitments. I just hope and pray for the Ward support to continue... That's probably the single greatest challenge in this country. Many of the recent converts in my past areas have not been attending Church due to a lack of association with the Ward members. Satan has a tendency to really pile on the temptation and hardship once a new member enters the Church, including keeping Ward members from fulfilling their duties to fellowship and strengthen new converts. Satan knows if he can keep the Ward from their responsibilities, and keep the recent convert feeling alone, they'll be far more prone to falling away and giving into temptation. I'm just helping them to build upon the "rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ", which is a sure foundation, and will never fall.

An Elder transferred into our Zone on Wednesday and came up to me with the unexpected statement "Elder Kocherhans, I know you!" I'd never met Elder Valdez before, and he was a pretty new missionary, so that was strange. He then went on to explain that while he was preparing for his mission, he and his mother had been searching online and came upon my blog. They started reading from it and he told me it really inspired him and helped him feel excited for the mission. It's so wonderful to have God on my side, helping me help others in ways I could hardly imagine. 

We had a really powerful lesson with one of our less-than-progressing investigators, Diana. She had been baptized in another religion and was asking us whether God thought it to be a sin to be baptized into another religion. We briefly reviewed the Restoration again, with emphasis on the Priesthood, and ended by showing our ecclesiastical licenses, signed by the Prophet. I felt the Spirit really powerfully as I explained to her that there was no way I would even consider going on a mission unless I knew I had been called of God and given the very same authority He gave to Prophets and Apostles of old in preaching the Gospel and administering in the ordinances thereof. She accepted to be baptized, saying she believed Joseph Smith was a true Prophet, but for one reason or another she wasn't able to attend Church on Sunday. We'll continue working with her. 

I never get tired of telling the story of Joseph Smith. The Philippines is probably one of the noisiest countries in the world, what with the loose animals, the 100-cc tricycles, random people yelling in Ilokano, etc... Yet every time I've recited that wonderfully sacred account the Prophet gives in his own words about the vision he saw in a grove of trees, you could hear a pin drop. The Spirit is so tangible in those simple words that, whatever language you read them in, captivate the listener. It's something no other religion founded by man could offer. It's not a sermon; it's a song full of truth and evidence that God is still that same God of the Bible, and is a God of miracles, and is the same God yesterday, today, and forever. It teaches us the nature of the Godhead in such simple terms that a child could understand. It creates an ultimatum for the listener; either this grand vision and the marvelous work and wonder that followed it is true, or it is not. Ask God, and decide for yourself. It's given me the unique opportunity to observe people, longing to believe, fall short on faith because of fear. It is so tragic. But I know that what we've testified is true, and that the truth is hard to accept. 

I've been feeling pretty sick this last weekend due to a surprise change in the weather. It's been colder than usual... I'm not looking forward to that when I get home. Ugh! I love the heat and the humidity so much more than the dry and the cold! I find it miraculous with as many times as I've been sick, God has always strengthened me to continue working throughout the sickness, and to recover quickly. That's a fulfillment of promises. 

If I can request, please pray for the members in the Philippines, everywhere. I can't do much once I've come home to help the individuals I've helped to come unto Christ, but the members here will always be nearby, and I hope they are willing and determined to help those individuals feel comfortable in their various Wards and continue in full activity in the Church. I know this is the Church of Jesus Christ Himself, and He will help us in our various responsibilities if we seek, ask, and knock. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

-Elder Kocherhans

Monday, August 24, 2015

August 24, 2015-- Email #95

August 24, 2015
Echague, Philippines

Hello Family!

The transfer list came today and now it is for sure that I'll be staying in Echague 'til I go home! What a happy place to die! I'm also really excited because there are a lot of baptisms lined up for the first weeks of September! Our investigators have been attending Church like crazy! I'm so excited for my last cycle. The main weakness we've been dealing with as of late is finding -- we've been letting discouragement get to us and consequentially we haven't been as faithful in talking to as many people as we can. We've been doing good, don't get me wrong,  but that's no excuse to not do better.

This week has also been a busy one with a lot of splits. I was in Dagupan on Tuesday with Elder Torio, also known as the Alicia 4th Ward. It is very far from the main city. You know what that means? Well, I guess it doesn't come as a surprise... We walked a lot, and saw a lot of rice. What's new? The members in that area are very nice and very active in supplying the investigators for the missionaries. Nice! It's also one of the many area's I've been to that has an enormous population of less-actives very near the Church, while the active members are the farthest ones from the Church. It just goes to show that distance never matters, and faith is very important. Elder Torio is a great missionary. We had fun.

On Wednesday we had splits with the Angadanan Elders. I stayed in Echague with Brother Dulnuan, a part-time missionary that was called to fill in the absence of an early-returning missionary. He's the son of the District President in Solano so I already know him and his family. They are the kindest people! The day was absolutely fantastic. We contacted a referral named Christina. Her family met the missionaries in the Angeles mission and recently moved up here to Region II. They've attended Church twice in Ward 1 so they were referred over to us in Ward 2, which is the area she lives in. She's been studying the Book of Mormon and is falling in love with the stories. Her whole family is interested in being baptized. Wow! Now that's what I call a referral! We had other really great lessons with part-member families the remainder of the day, and as we were walking home, Brother Dulnuan said to himself, "wow, this is the first time I've really felt like a missionary!" It was humbling to know we'd been a part of this wonderful work. Sometimes it's so hard, but it's so rewarding. I wouldn't be so happy without tasting bitterness every now and then. But now I know true happiness, and will continue discovering it throughout my life.

We went to Cauayan on Thursday for splits with the Assistants to the President. This time I was with Elder Monilla, the biggest nerd I know! Haha because he's awesome. Last time we were on splits was over a year ago in Santiago, when I was still companions with Elder Bautista and Elder Monilla had just entered the field, still a trainee! These kids just grow up so fast... We had a really busy day, as do most days go for the Assistants. Interviews, getting supplies, etc. But it was still a very spiritual work day. We had some great conversations, as we always do. We have discussed several times that we intend to accidentally meet each other in random places for the rest of our lives. It's fulfilled itself thus far in the mission, and I hope it continues!

On Friday I went to work with Elder Espanto, again. This time I went to Jones, their area about an hour away. They've been having a lot of troubles with various issues... The work day there was really awesome, however. There are some great people there that we got to meet, teach, and testify to. I feel very comfortable with my ability to go into a lesson and really focus on the investigator/less-active and their needs, and follow the Spirit in finding what I should say to them and what I should invite them to do. I ended up quoting Yoda to some of them, because when responding to commitments they said they would "try" to attend Church, or "try" to read. Do or do not; there is no try! I also had a really special connection with a returned member there who we discussed Priesthood with. He remembered the initial reason he had become less-active back in the day was because he was offended by the members, but after he learned to let it go, everything fell back into place. The members of the Church aren't perfect. The Church is like a big hospital: We're all sick, and we shouldn't expect to see cured people there. We're all going through the process of healing, and relying on the Savior's Atonement. I related the story of W.W. Phelps, who left the Church after loosing a great sum of money in the Church's first bank. He slandered the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Church for years, until he arrived at the point that he found his life was empty because it was full of hard feelings, grudges, and negativity. He wrote the Prophet a letter asking to forgive him and let him come back into the Church. The Prophet's response was essentially one of "we'd thought you'd never ask!" After Joseph Smith's martyrdom, W.W. Phelps went on to write a bold, powerful song, expressing praise and admiration for "the man who communed with Jehovah," to the tune of "Scotland the Brave". He would have never come back to the Church unless it truly was Jesus Christ's, and not one of man, and he'd come to that realization. He figured out he'd been imagining God in a different way than the actual, and accepted the mistakes of mortals without denouncing the power of God in His Restored Church. That's something to ponder.

Saturday and Sunday were quite difficult for me personally, but the work went on. God is so merciful. He just keeps stretching me and stretching me when I think I can't go any further, and there is more to come. We had some cool experiences. We taught a family of Jehovah's Witnesses and avoided a debate. Nice one! They were really nice and we were able to answer their questions. The Spirit was present, and it was just a contention-free experience. I was grateful for that, because some other religions here have been really annoying me lately... But contention will solve nothing. It's part of the Articles of Faith to "allow all men the same privilege" we have of "worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience". Debate will just circle you around the Bible over and over again, causing frustration and anger. That was one of the important parts of the Restoration, something about... "the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible." Yep. That's the one. Bible-bashing is bad, and pulls you away from Christ! Just testify, invite the Spirit, and be respectful! Everything will be worked out in the Millennium anyways...

Sometimes I've been asked how many days I have left. I don't count the days. I make them count. The mission doesn't end when I'm released. It's lifelong. It's so difficult, but if it wasn't, it wouldn't be worth it. I'll fall down, and pick myself up, and when I can't muster up the strength to pick myself up, an angel will pick me up and carry me a little further 'til I can get on my feet again. Cultivating talents, helping people along the way, accepting truth and living it, and following the Savior are all pathways with challenges and hurdles. The Son of Man has descended below all things, and He knows how to help us. Don't shy away from Him. Strip yourself of pride. Come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

 Panorama of some rice fields in Barangay Maligaya 

 Zone Leaders of the December 2013 Batch (Including my companion and two past companions, Elder Peterson and Elder Larona)

Elder Cantero, the victim of an object lesson for Zone Meeting. (with Elder Torio, Sister Glick, and Sister Morente)

Baptism in Echague Ward 1 (The Sister's area).

Monday, August 17, 2015

August 17, 2015-- Email #94

August 17, 2015
Echague, Philippines

Makasta Ya Fugab!
(trans. "Good Afternoon!" in Yogad)

Welcome, welcome, Sabbath morning! We saw ten brightly smiling investigator faces attend Church yesterday which was an incredible tender mercy! Some of them came with members, others came alone but soon found friends among the congregation; some were singing in the senior primary, others were in the Gospel Principles class; and everyone left with those same smiles on their faces, with some new things learned! We'll have to move Monica, Joshua, and Irene's baptisms to a few weeks later just because of some unfinished lessons and some Church attendance, but happy day, all is well!

It was a really weird week. I didn't teach a single lesson with my companion, because we were on splits every day! Here's how it started.

On Tuesday we had Zone Meeting. President and Sister Rahlf attended for the first 30 minutes, which made Elder Arorong super nervous, considering it's his first time teaching Zone Meeting. But it went great. We shared a lot from personal experiences about how we can rely on the Holy Ghost throughout our lives. After the meeting we had accounting with a companionship that was having a lot of problems. They were trash-talking each other throughout the process and we told them they needed to stop, that neither of them were really listening to the other, and their problems were being blown out of porportion. We had splits with them that day. At the beginning they were both saying that there was no hope for their companionship and that they wanted to call it quits for the rest of the cycle, but we consulted them that such a descision would lead to more problems, not only in the mission, but further into life. I related my experience about viewing the companionship as a marriage, and not giving up on each other just when things get a little bumpy. By the next day they had resolved their issues together and it was such a great thing to witness them listening to one another, openly, really communicating how they felt and both willing to change. Success! Success in so many ways.

On Wednesday we scheduled splits with another troublesome companionship, and I was reunited with my "son" in the mission, Elder Espanto. He's doing a lot better. I noticed that I had grown so much more patient with him than I had been in the past. It was a nice window in to see how much I've changed. Elder Arorong called on Thursday morning and said that he'd been hit with some severe toothaches and bowel problems, so he wasn't able to return back to Echague (they were working in Jones, about an hour away). That went on until Saturday... Talk about bowel movements... So I was with Elder Espanto in our area working until that day. We got along really well and we were laughing and recalling fun times we'd had back in the day. He got along well with our investigators as well and it was a successful week. On Saturday we went to Alicia to conduct a few baptismal interviews and then headed down to Jones to pick up Elder Arorong (who had now healed) and to attend their baptism; the first baptism in that area for over a year. It was a super awesome experience. He's an awesome guy.

That brings us back to the glorious Sabbath day I mused about earlier, and a successful work day in the farther Barangays of Dammang and Salay. We also got fed about three times that day, considering it was Fiesta season in Barangay Gucab, where a lot of members live and prepare lots of delicious food. Good times! 

I've been reviewing 1 Nephi recently and I'm always so astounded by Nephi's stalwart attitude. I've read that book over and over again and I still find something new every time. I love how Nephi knows what he wants and asks for it. Because of his obedience, often the answer the Lord gives him is in the affirmative and comes in large volume. That shows you really the blessings of consistent obedience to the commandments, and establishing trust with God that He will give you what you desire because He knows you'll use it well. I also love the vision he sees of the Restoration, and how it starts far before the boy Joseph prays in a grove of trees; it starts way back from the time of the Apostasy, and the Spirit works in the lives of so many individuals so that the circumstances were right for the restoration. If there had been no falling away, no protestant reformation, no pilgrimage to a new world, and no formation of a democratic republic that granted freedom of religion, there would be no Restoration of all things. This work is so much grander than we could ever imagine, and that's just talking about this world! Think about the Spirit world, and all of the things that must be going on there! 

Thank you all for your support. I love you all! I'm coming on my last 7 weeks! How weird is that! I can assure you I'm using every minute the best that I can. I fall short so often, but there always seems to be an angel picking me up, brushing me off and keeping me on the right track. A mighty change of heart does not come easily, but it's the only change of heart that will do. Press on! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

-Elder Kocherhans 


Special Bonus Material included in this week's email... 

Elder Jacob Packer, Elder Kocherhans' cousin, serving in England (and returning home this week!!), sent an email asking about whether Jordan knew a certain Elder who is also serving in the Philippines. I was fortunate enough to be forwarding and receiving the messages so I could enjoy this entertaining conversation between the missionary cousins. His inquiry came after receiving the "scriptural epistle" email... And "thus we see" the following exchange... :-)

From Elder Packer;  England Birmingham Mission, August 10, 2015

1) Now behold, I Elder Packer received an epistle from my beloved cousin, Elder Kocherhans. 

2) And it came to pass that I sent an epistle unto this Kocherhans, who is called Elder, asking whether or not he is acquainted with one Boshard, being called after the name of his father, who was thought to be preaching in the same part of the land. Nevertheless, it was not known concerning the location of this Elder Boshard. It being my desire, or rather the desire of my companion to know concerning these things.

3) And I send this epistle with full faith that it will reach Kocherhans, who is called Elder, who is my cousin. For behold, I am Elder Packer, the son of Lawrence who is the son of Boyd, 

Elder Jordan Kocherhans' reply; Philippines Cauayan Mission,  August 17, 2015

And it came to pass that they searched the land, and questioned the Elders of the land, concerning the location of this Elder Boshard

2 And it came to pass that their search did avail nothing, and he could not be found, neither was he known of among the inhabitants of the land.

3 And we must needs suppose that he was taken up by the Spirit, as was Moses. 

4 If not, we must needs suppose that he has been called of the Lord to preach to another people, not known by mine own people.

5 And thus I end my epistle to Jacob, who is called Elder Packer, the son of Lawrence, who was the son of Boyd, the Apostle of the Lord.

Thought I would throw in a few "throw back" pics to mark the occasion...

These two go wayyyy back!  Cousin-friends for life :-)

Kara's photo bomb is possibly my favorite part of the picture...:-D  

Serving on opposite ends of the the earth... finishing their missions within weeks of each other :-) 
Arriving in Salt Lake on Wednesday...Welcome Home Elder Packer!
Elder Kocherhans is a short 7 weeks away! 

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10, 2015-- Email #93

August 10, 2015
Echague, Philippines

Hello Family!

Well, we've been staying busier and busier and there's no better feeling than that! The weeks are going by so fast and I feel like in the next blink of an eye I'll be home. Although there are so many wonderful things here and I'm enjoying every second of it, I've come to accept the reality that I will be coming back soon and implementing the multitude of things I've learned for a lifetime of useful service to others. But man, do I love this place, and I probably don't realize yet fully how much I'll miss it. There have been so many tender mercies pouring in here and they just keep coming!

Monica has come to Church three times now, the darling! But Irene, her stepmother, has only come the one time thus far... She has a lot of really young children so it's been difficult for her to manage. It broke my heart that she couldn't join, because I know she wants to. We had some surprise investigators come as well, and the Spirit during sacrament and the classes was super strong. I hope they felt it as well! Joshua Dumaliang has come twice, but he had an activity for school on Sunday so he wasn't able to come this last time. He's still doing great, though. There were a lot of less-actives that came to Church, and the attendance in general is steadily increasing... and coming on time more often. Yes!

This computer shop is having random brown-outs and we had a hectic preparation day in general, hence the later hours, so I'll have to wrap this up. I've especially enjoyed the gift of music this week, and I got to sing a duet with Elder Teikauea at their baptism this last Saturday, singing "The Spirit of God". One of my favorite Hymns of the restoration. So powerful, and always makes me think of the Kirtland Temple Dedication, where there were said to be angels on the roof, helping along in the chorus. I believe it, and I think they still sing with us every time that Hymn is sung in our congregations. My other favorites this week were "Jesu, The Very Thought is Sweet" and "Angels from the Realms of Glory". My testimony of the Savior has so many layers now in ways I couldn't have imagined before but it's all become a part of my character. I highly appreciate the fast for help in leadership positions... There are a lot of Elders in this Zone right now that are struggling, and I've been feeling helpless at times trying to run back and forth helping them. But I know everything will turn out well, and that God will help me be a Christlike minister.

Thank you all for the support. My English is super bad, please forgive me. I know this is the true Church of Jesus Christ on earth and it's so great to be able to declare that nobly, boldly and independent! I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Monday, August 3, 2015

August 3, 2015-- Email #92

August 3, 2015 

Introduction-- by Teresa
On one of our family vacations to Jackson Hole Wyoming, September 2012...we stayed at a Condo for several days.  At the end of the stay, we noticed Jordan writing in the "visitors log" they had on the table for people to record their vacation experience.  Knowing his gift, we knew it was going to be good... When we read what he had written, we found a recap of our family vacation written in scriptural language that was both incredible & hysterical.  I mentioned to him this week that if he ever wanted to write one of his mission emails in his scriptural language style, it would be kind of fun to see if he's still got it...  I'm glad he took the request... 
He's still got it. :-)

Written by the hand of Kocherhans
Tapped upon tiles of plastic
And transmitted through the gift of God 
to the Great Inter of Net

Now it came to pass in the commencement of the ninety and second week of the ministry of Kocherhans, who was called Elder, having been ordained unto the office of his ministry, and having received power and authority to administer thereby; therefore in the ninety and second week of his ministry to the people of Luzon, in the northern parts of the Island nation, which was well noted for the many tongues which were spoken by the people thereof;
2 Yea, it was heard in one place, We speak the language of the Iloko, according to the traditions of our fathers. And in another place, it was heard, Yea, we speak the language of Ybanag, for there was much corn and rice in abundance in the land. And in another place, Gaddang; and again, in another, Itawis;
3 And it was the cause of much confusion among those who attempted to commune one with another, because of the great diversity of their tongues;
4 Nevertheless, after much tribulation and diligence, and according to the gifts of God, namely the speaking in various tongues and the interpretation thereof, this Elder Kocherhans was able to preach the gospel to the inhabitants of this land, in a tongue which was known as Tagalog.
5 And he was found in the land of Echague, by the borders of that great city of Santiago, which was the southernmost part of the land of Isabela. And he found that the people were called Yogad, according to the language and the records in their possession. 
6 And it came to pass that in the latter end of the seventh month, in the ninety and second week of his ministry, many of the hearts of the children of men in that land had grown hard, and their necks had been stiffened against the latter-day work of the Lord
7 For behold, they had been taught by their fathers many things, and that they should die in the faith they had been brought up in. Now this was the cause of much good in the land, according to their faith in Christ, but also the cause of much wickedness, according to the false traditions of their fathers
8 But the Spirit of the Lord was with this Elder, who is called Kocherhans, and also with his brethren of the Church in that land, and they labored diligently in bringing souls unto the true and living God, even in the heat of the day, yea, the sun did scorch with such fervent heat in that part of the land that it was heard by the inhabitants to say, Gani ra pa balada, mappato sawe, which is, being interpreted, Oh what indeed can this be, the heat today?. 
9 Nevertheless they did press forward, in the Hellish heat, and even in the tempest and the strong rains, both near and far, declaring the words of Christ unto the inhabitants of this land. And they did see many fruits from their labors, insomuch as they did continue with steadfastness in Christ.
10 And now behold, I must close this record soon, for the time comes that I must soon fly far above the earth, and over the oceans, to return to the lands of our fathers, but I exhort you to read these things, and ponder them in your hearts. And if there be mistakes they be the mistakes of men. Brethren, adeiu. 

Anyways, it was an exceptionally great week and was one worthy of scriptural language. I hope you get a kick out of this email. Maybe next time I'll do it in Tagalog, although you wouldn't understand a lick of it. My scriptural Tagalog is pretty good though, voice and everything :) Thank you for all of your support. This work is just the best. I know this is the true Church, and I feel it deep within my heart more and more every day. It's such a nice feeling to know you're having a deeply spiritual experience every day that you can draw from for the rest of your life. What a great time! In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

A few Pics of our Jackson/Yellowstone trip...September 2012
 Condo that contains the records of our people made in the days of our journeying in the wilderness...

 At least Jordan was consistently ruining every picture... on purpose.
We've missed that...:-/ 

Here's a good one :-)