Monday, October 5, 2015

October 5, 2015-- Email #101-- Homeward Bound!

October 5, 2015
Echague, Philippines

My Dear Family,

This is the last email I'll be writing as a full-time missionary. What a sobering thought. I couldn't put the right words to how grateful I am no matter how hard I try. What an honor to have the name of the Lord Jesus Christ on my chest, inside and out, for two years. I have come to know Him well in this time, as I've gotten to know my brothers and sisters in the Philippines. I fell in love with this place since I first laid eyes on it. I can still remember vividly, two years ago, when we descended in our air plane through the cloud layer, and the wide vista of Region II opened before our eyes. I've never felt stronger in my life like I was where I'm suppose to be. That feeling continued as I got off the plane and arrived in my first area of Cabbarroguis. It was like there was a voice constantly repeating in my head, "I'm home! I'm home!" I couldn't wipe the smile off my face and I haven't been able to since, til this very day. I am eternally grateful. My heart is full of so much love for God's children that I've met in Cabbarroguis, Santiago, Tuguegarao, Bagabag, and Echague. It couldn't have been better. The Lord has been so merciful to me throughout these two years. 

I'm so grateful for the Priesthood power and authority I've been able to exercise. I have witnessed fulfillment of the prophecy in Mormon 9:24, "And these signs shall follow them that believe—in my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick and they shall recover..." I'm so grateful I've been able to help others along the way and to perform saving ordinances using that same authority and power that Christ established in all dispensations.

My knowledge of the gospel has expanded. Not in a way that my knowledge of deep doctrines increased or I memorized volumes of scriptures and facts, but in a way that I gained a firm determination to continue doing the simple things, like prayer, reading scriptures, and attending Church. The individuals I've had the honor of witnessing becoming members of the Church all followed a similar road: they read, they prayed, they acted, and the Spirit bore witness. That's where conversion comes from. And the road hasn't ended for me. It's just begun. I'm looking forward to continue doing the simple things to establish a firm foundation. 

I'm glad I've been able to bear powerful testimony of truth as guided by the Spirit. Those are moments I will never forget.

I cried like a baby when I said goodbye to the Ward. They sang "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" at the end of the short program they had prepared for me. I tried singing along with them but I only got as far as "Goh-", then I cradled my head in my hands and sobbed. I'm going to miss this place so much. 

I don't have much time left, and I'll be seeing you all on Thursday anyways so I'll end here. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the very same Church that Christ organized in ancient days, and that it was restored to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know he was a true prophet, seer, and revelator, and that the Church continues to be run by living prophets, seers, and revelators in our day. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I've come to know, undeniably, of the divinity of Christ through that book. It has changed my life and the lives of many others. I know we have a loving Heavenly Father who wants us to return to Him someday. We are children of God! He knows we can't make it alone, so He provided a Savior, even Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten of the Father. I know that He suffered for our pains, and sins, and all other things that death and sin have to offer. He broke the bands of death. He shattered the chains of sin. He died, was buried, and rose on the third day. He lives! He lives to this very day, on the right hand of God, and has shown us the evidence of His love in His latter-day work, that we all have the honor and privilege to participate in, as guided by the Holy Spirit, which will show us the truth of all things. I leave this my testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

-Elder Kocherhans

After the Family Week parade, outside of the chapel.

Shirts we made for the housemates

The Ward fed me VERY well :)

I'm going to miss Echague 2nd Ward.

Finally, before I get home, I got a picture on a karabaw!

The corn harvest is over, but the soul harvest has just begun!

This is Neneng (Yogad word for "woman") She was very dirty so we had to give her a bath before we rode her. 

Elder Paea, my favorite Tongan.

Another shot on the karabaw.