Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21, 2015-- Email #99

September 21, 2015
Echague, Philippines


Alright, to take care of business first... I haven't got a hold of my flight plans yet, but if I was to make a request for dinner it would be Japanese chicken curry. I'm hesitant to go straight back into American food; compounded with the shock of being back in the states, I have a feeling my stomach will be a little sensitive. I'll adjust my diet little by little. Rice and curry sounds like a delicious way to start. Also, I don't know if Brian is busy, but I would love for him to make some home-made tapioca pudding if it's not too much to request. Breakfast isn't much of a question. German pancakes, duh. 

It was a really fun week! One of the best parts is I've felt a very strong drive to stay obedient. Sometimes missionaries that are close to going home will let some rules slide, but I've been feeling the opposite, which is a blessing! Especially in the light of this week... Our investigators, recent converts, and even members have been going through some challenges. You know what that means? Satan is at work because he knows good things are ahead. We cannot falter just when we enter the fight! Less-active members have been progressing well as of late. A lot more are making the effort to attend Church meetings and activities. We have a big Family Week celebration in Echague this Saturday which is being stressed over by the leaders as they plan for it, so pray for its success! It will be a great opportunity for non-members to be introduced to the Church and hopefully there will be a lot of harvesting afterwards!

Speaking of harvesting, we have two new investigators with baptismal dates this last week! One of them, Princess, is in a part-member family with two recently activated less-actives. She's a 13-year-old girl and they say she's been rebellious in the past, but now she's been attending Church with her cousins and is definitely interested. She has some friends in the Youth program as well, which is a great start. For her first lesson we focused on explaining the Atonement and how she could come closer to Christ through the message of the restoration. I'm excited for her! The other one is another part-member youth who they had thought was baptized before but turns out he wasn't. Wups! Don't know how they missed that one... So we've begun teaching him and he's coming close to his baptism as well. I don't know if I'll still be seeing the next one go through on the 3rd due to some Church attendance problems.. But as long as the work goes forward, whether I'm still there or not, God's will be done.

On Wednesday Elder Arorong had an English speaking test in Cauayan. It's kind of like his final test for all of the language study he's been doing his whole mission. He was really nervous leading up to it, but we did all we could to practice English in the apartment so he could feel more comfortable. We uttered some fervent prayer on his behalf, and when the test results came he got an Intermediate High score! Super happy for him. Afterwards Elder and Sister Shorter gave us banana splits, and we got to chose our own toppings. I decorated mine very nicely :) It's been a long time since I've had one of those! Those are the blessings of language study, my friends!

I had splits with Elder Baclea-an on Thursday. This is the second time I've been his Zone Leader and it was so fun to work with him again! We had a blast finding new people to teach and following the Spirit. We talked to a lot of new people and the lessons went really well overall. When we were walking home we almost died from a flash rainstorm. The sky was blue and sunny, then suddenly a huge dark cloud came in from the northwest, and we saw a giant, visible wall of rain coming towards us fast. We outran it and got under cover in time, then I bought some very delicious juice that was bignay-calamansi flavored. You can't find anything like that in the U.S. Ah, I love this place. And I love being a missionary. 

On Sunday I ended up having to give a surprise lesson for the YSA class. They didn't have a teacher or a manual, so I had to muster something up quick. I ended up sharing a combo from my personal study and from a random D&C manual I found. I came across a few scriptures in 2 Nephi 9 that reminded me of some individuals I've met that drifted away from the gospel because of settling spiritual questions with the knowledge of men rather than the wisdom of God. When people take this approach of "well, I'll follow this commandment once I know for sure that it is true and I find tangible evidence for it", they find themselves unhappy, unsatisfied, still full of doubt, and frustration leads to further sin. Paul explains in Corinthians 2:14 "But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." It is further clarified in 2 Nephi 9:28-29, how Satan fills us with pride to try and find our own answers rather than finding them through obedience to God's law and revelation: "O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken notunto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish. But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God."

I know that is true, and if we humble ourselves like a little child, and "consider [ourselves] fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility" (2 Nephi 9:42), despite any worldly knowledge or expertise we have, we will not restrict ourselves from eternal truths that can only be discerned from a spiritual standpoint. Man cannot understand the mysteries of God if he is full of pride, and craves the tangible, and will certainly be prevented from returning to God's presence without stripping themselves of pride and other worldly passions first. It will unlock greater understanding and a stronger testimony. A camel can fit through the eye of a needle with God's help, but unless we ask sincerely, it's just as impossible as it seems to be. 

Thank you for all of your support, I will be seeing you soon! I leave this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

Banana splits

Walking in the bukid (rice feilds), white and ready to harvest.

My new bed sheets. Ha! Just kidding. But I do have a new Philippines Flag.

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