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.