Monday, July 18, 2016

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

I apologise for the lack of emails lately. Here is a brief miracle we
had the other week:  We were biking in the freezing rain along bridge
road--it started hailing and it was so windy that we almost fell off
our bikes several times, and there were fallen tree branches all over
the road and sidewalks. We finally arrived at Joseph's house, a 21
year-old African investigator we found last week who lives in Brahma
Lodge. We pull up and he's sitting in his car, jamming to his music
(he produces Afrobeats music with his boys). He sees us and eventually
he invites us inside his house--we follow him into his cramped, messy
bedroom where we barely fit and we take a seat on his bed, all
uncomfortably squeezed together. We invited him to read the
Introduction to the Book of Mormon in our previous (first) lesson and
he hadn't, so we read it with him and explained a bit more.
At the end of the lesson we said, "Joseph, if you pray with us right
now and ask God if the Book of Mormon is true, we promise he will
answer you."
Joseph asks, "Right now?"
"Yes, right now."
"We promise you Heavenly Father will answer your question--pay special
attention to your thoughts and feelings as you pray, because that is
how the Holy Ghost speaks to us."
Joseph said a prayer and when he asked, "Heavenly Father, is the Book
of Mormon true?" we all felt the Spirit strongly and I was praying for
Joseph to feel it too.
After he said, "Amen," we sat there in silence for a few moments, and
then Joseph said, "It is true. It IS true...Why don't other people
believe it's true?"
We asked him how he knew it was true, and he told us he got an answer
"Because I really wanted to know." He told us he felt a warmth
inside--he felt the Spirit telling him it was right.
That experience with Joseph was one of the coolest experiences of my
mission. There have been times where I've questioned my testimony,
questioned the doctrines of the Church, questioned Joseph Smith,
questioned if what I'm teaching people is actually true, questioned if
God is even there at all. When we have those questions, we don't look
to the opinions of men or our own understanding--we seek truth from
the source of all truth: We seek truth from Heavenly Father, because
the Spirit will tell you everything.

Elder Koch

The missionaries in our flat--Paralowie elders and Brahma Lodge elders (us).

Our companionship: Elder Miller on the Left and Elder Wilkins on the right. Elder Miller is our new son from Utah.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

April 25, 2016: Australia Week 34

This week Shanara finally got baptised! She was pretty nervous about getting dunked under and having to hold her breath, as I imagine most kids are, but she made it through alive and is doing well. Shanara is loving primary and has been making strong friendships in the ward. The only obstacle is that her mom, Lisa, is still less active due to work on Sundays, but Shanara gets a ride every week from members.
In Brahma Lodge things have been going fantastic as usual--this week I had the chance to go on a trade-off with my MTC companion, Elder Baker.
We have an interesting member here who loves to tell stories that may or may not have happened, including his dreams. Last Sunday he said the closing prayer in Elders Quorum and at the end, instead of simply saying "in the name of Jesus Christ, amen", he said, "in the name of the Great I Am, the Prince of Peace, the Alpha and Omega, the Annointed One, the Messiah, the Double-Edged Sword, even Jesus Christ, amen." 
Other than that, things have been pretty normal--we found a few new Chinese investigators this week who are going to teach us Mandarin while we teach them English. We're also going to be starting an English class here soon.
Here are some photos:
1 and 3. Shanara's baptism
2. Us and the Rileys, Shanara's close friends in the Church.

April 21, 2016: Australia Week 33

This past week has been fantastic as usual. Shanara, our 9 year-old investigator who is the daughter of a less active member is getting baptised this Saturday. I also found out this week that one of the investigators I taught with Elder Duabe in Katherine got baptised recently. We have been teaching nonstop in this area, which I have been loving. We teach people from Nepal, Mayanmar/Burma, Cambodia, Taiwan, China, etc. etc. I'll keep you updated when they get baptised.
One of the different aspects of being a zone leader is ministering, which includes sitting down with contentious companionships and sorting things out. I'm not the best at emotional support so it's been great to have Elder Boyd around to lead the way with those kinds of situations. The things I once thought of as being gossip are now our business to know and discuss amongst the district leaders and assistants, so it's been quite a change.
1. From last week
2. Where we live--the view from our balcony.
3. The temple today.
4. Our son's first day at the Adelaide temple.
5.The temple

Friday, April 15, 2016

April 10, 2016: Australia Week 32

It seems like we have no time to do any proselyting in our area since we're constantly taking in bikes to be fixed (one missionary has broken his bike 3 times in the past week) and always going to meetings, but we've been blessed with people to teach every day. Right now we are teaching Shanara, a 9 year old daughter of a less active member. Shanara is getting baptised in two weeks. We do a lot of object lessons with her, such as making a boat out of alfoil (aluminium foil) and floating it in the pool to teach "Follow the Prophet" through the story of Noah's ark.
We are also teaching Shanty and Julie (Shanty is Maori and Julie is Cambodian), a couple with a baby daughter. We have a few more investigators as well. In the Brahma Lodge area there are heaps of international families from all over--African, Nepali, Indian, Cambodian, Vietnamese, etc.
Things are going fantastic here as usual. Here's a photo for you:

Our companionship: Elder Boyd, Elder Angelo, and me

April 3, 2016: Australia Week 31

Hey Mom, I'll try to respond to your email a bit at a time. Sorry I haven't gotten back to you as much recently. No mass email this week--not enough time.
Quick update for you: Our 3rd companion is Elder Angelo (the g is pronounced as an h), from the Philippines. His English is pretty solid for how long he's been out. Elder Boyd and I are teaching him as much as we can to help him become a solid missionary. Elder Boyd is the man and might as well be the father of 2 kids with the maturity level he has. I'm lucky to have him training me as a zone leader. Things are going great in Brahma Lodge, and we're smashing the work. 
1. What is something you feel the Lord is teaching you right now or since you've been on your mission?Probably humility and selflessness. Before my mission I remember always wanting myself to have the best day ever, making sure I was taken care of and having a good time. I've been doing my best to mature in that way though: doing simple things like washing my companion's dishes or making sure other missionaries' or members'/investigators' needs are a higher priority than my own. Also listening to the Spirit--you can't hear it if you don't listen for it.

 2. What do you feel has been your greatest area of growth since serving a mission?
Probably the next couple of transfers will be. I think the difference between me going in as a young missionary relying on others to tell me where to go, what to do, etc. and having stewardship over 23 other missionaries--helping them know where to go, what to do, giving trainings, etc.--is like the difference between teenagehood and adulthood. I hope to learn as much as I can from Elder Boyd since he's leaving in a couple months and I want to have the same level of confidence and competency that he does by the end of my mission.

 3. What has been the hardest thing about serving a mission/what do you find most challenging on a daily basis or overall?
Companions. Each companion is your friend and makes you laugh in a different way, but it's challenging to get along with them sometimes. In a way, a companionship is like an arranged marriage. One of my companions was extremely messy--he would spill food everywhere and walk away from it, he would never flush the toilet, etc. and I had to be his mom, teaching him basic life skills. It was extremely frustrating. But I think you learn something from every companion and you teach them something as well.

I'll answer a few more questions next time. I love you Mom!! Tell the rest of the family I love them too even though I didn't get a chance to respond to their emails this week.

March 28, 2016: Australia Week 30

This week we've had a lot of changes: I have been transferred out of Mt. Barker after being there for only 5 weeks, and I'm pretty cut. The members there are some of the best I've ever been around including a spot-on YSA. I've been transferred to Brahma Lodge, an area in the city (Adelaide). I will be serving as one of the Modbury zone leaders, and my fellow zone leader companion is Elder Boyd. He's 25 and is from Idaho and will be going home in a couple transfers. Elder Boyd is the man--he's a very knowledgeable and mature and relaxed missionary, so I will be learning as much as I can from him before he goes. We will be getting a third companion later on this week who we will both be training.
I'll keep you updated and give you some photos next week.
Spiritual thought for yous: When you hide from the truth, you hide from progression.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

March 22, 2016: Australia Week 28-29

Hello everyone, this week we had p-day on Thursday for our temple trip, so this email covers the last two weeks. This transfer is a 5 week transfer, so I may be getting a new companion in a few days.
I'm out of time now, so here are some pictures for you:
1. We found a nice chair on the side of the road so we took it home with us.
2. Adelaide Hills
3. Remember the Anzacs
4. Adelaide Hills
5. Service at the Christiesons
6-7. The Adelaide temple

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

March 15, 2016: Australia Week 27

Another week in Mount Barker:

This week we've been smashing the bikes--the other day we rode about 15 miles in total up and down winding hills to visit Hahndorf, a German town in our area. There are lots of Europeans around here for some reason--Scottish, German, French, etc. 

This week we taught Luke, a referral we received from talking to his brother on the street. Luke is a young man in his 20s and has a lot of deep questions about God, religion, the universe, etc. We taught him the Restoration and testified of the truthfulness of what we were teaching him--at one point we asked him, "What would it mean to you if you knew this message was true?" and Luke goes "I think your message is true" and later on he said, "You know, I've kind of always wanted to be baptised." My companion and I looked at each other like, Where did this guy come from? We will be teaching Luke again later this week so I'll keep you updated on how it goes. 

Lately we've really been working on testifying to everybody--on the street, in their homes, at the park, at every opportunity, because that is when people can feel the Spirit. One of the most frustrating things as a missionary is when you testify to someone and feel the Spirit as you do so and then that person hard-out rejects you. There will be times where you feel the spirit talking to someone on the street and you can tell they feel it too--you can see it in their face; and then there will be times when you feel the spirit when testifying to someone and you can tell they aren't feeling it because they harden their hearts and shut it out. 

As far as the members, the ward here is spot on. They have a pretty big YSA so it's even better. Here are some photos for you: 

1. Another day on the bikes, with some cows on the hill. There are cows and sheep everywhere here. 
2. A typical street in Mt. Barker. The whole place is hills, so we're getting pretty massive thighs from being on the bikes. 
3. An most honourable Elder in the aboriginal culture. 
4. The wetlands, a place we go contacting. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

March 7, 2016: Australia Week 26

This week we've been doing an insane amount of riding around on bikes and finding. I'm not sure if I mentioned it earlier, but the mission has reduced kilometer allotments significantly in an effort to encourage missionaries to ride their bikes and talk to people on the streets. Since we have a massive area it's been a challenge, but we've found a couple new investigators from it. 

Last week we found Daniel, a man walking on the street. We taught him a bit about the Restoration on the street and he invited us back. We've had a couple of lessons with him since then and he's super excited about the gospel--he says he feels greater happiness when we come around and when he understands the things we teach him, and he's always had a great respect for God and Jesus Christ but until now he's never had anybody to give him direction. We invited Daniel to be baptised and he accepted. One challenge we face with him (and many Australians) is that he is living with his girlfriend so he will need to be married before he can be baptised. Daniel is the man though, and I have confidence that he will be able to do it. 

This week I went on a trade off with Elder Kelese (from Samoa) from the Naracoorte area (5 hours south from here). We went finding on this one street and had a couple good conversations with people but no one was keen, so we were about to head back for dinner. I thought we should knock a couple more doors, so we started walking up the street when a random guy with a big black beard came out of his house and said, "Hey! Do you guys wanna come over for a barbecue?" Elder Kelese and I looked at each other like, Did he say what I think he said? The bearded man said, "You guys looked hungry, so I thought we should have you over for dinner". So Elder Kelese and I had dinner with him and his family and church friends (from a pentecostal faith), and they said we could come back again.  

A challenge we have in Australia is that so many people are atheists. I can't tell you how many people say, "If there was a God, then why do terrible people murder others and why do babies die, etc., etc." The foundation of Heavenly Father's plan was agency--the ability to choose good or evil, the ability to act for ourselves. The Atonement made it possible for everything to be made right in the end--no injustice we suffer will be left unjust in the end. Every trial, pain, and challenge we face offers an opportunity for growth and increased trust in the Atonement and Heavenly Father's plan. Mortality is meant to be imperfect. Ether 12:4-6 and Alma 60:13 helps us understand why this is. 

Another related spiritual thought:

People with no concept of how faith works say seeing is believing, but if you really understand God, believing is seeing.

Here are some photos for your enjoyment:
1. There are heaps of these birds in Australia--they're everywhere.
2. What our area looks like from above. 
3. The view of Adelaide from Mt. Lofty.
4. The Mount Barker area--our area isn't just one main city: we live in Nairne (pronounced "Nan"), but all of those highlighted places are little towns we go visit and see members in, so it's a very unique area.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

February 28, 2016: Australia Week 25

After being in Katherine for 3 months I was expecting to stay, but Elder Duabe is staying instead and I, along with a couple other missionaries from Darwin, flew across the continent again down to Adelaide. I'm now in Mount Barker, a massive area about 30 minutes outside of Adelaide. My companion is Elder Gaastra, from Auckland, New Zealand. 
Elder Gaastra is doing his second transfer so I am finishing his training. Our district has 3 generations in it, my dad (trainer) Elder Kendall, me, and my half son, Elder Gaastra. Since Elder Gaastra is in training we've been figuring out our area this week and have been doing more finding than I ever have in my mission, riding everywhere on bikes, talking to people in the parks, and knocking doors. 
Coming from Katherine where 60% of the populace is aboriginal, it's strange to see so many white people again. This area is very wealthy and prideful, but we've come across a few humble people as well. We haven't taught many lessons this week since we've been spending the majority of our time finding potential investigators. We have a ward here with about 150 active members and I hear the YSA is one of the best in South Australia. Our members are very strong and many of them are keen to come out and teach lessons with us which is awesome. 
It's very cool down here--such a nice change from Katherine. The Mt. Barker area is all hills with windy roads with lots of forest and open plains. If you can imagine living down in the lower areas around Mt. Charleston, that's what it feels like. 
We also attended an islander wedding this week--one of the Murray Bridge (where Elder Kendall and Elder Fitzpatrick are) investigators got married at the chapel. And on Sunday we had stake conference--one of the best meetings I've been to in awhile. 
Elder Kendall was bit by a spider a month ago on his forearm and had to have surgery on it, and a few days ago he got bit by another spider just inches away from the first bite. He had to have surgery for that one as well. Keep him in your prayers.
Thank you so much for all the packages and letters--I got the one from the ward a few weeks ago. I have some photos for you this week as well:

1. A spider we found at someone's house in Katherine.
2. Where we stayed in Katherine.
3. Last day in Darwin.
4. Elder Makai, me, and Elder Fitzpatrick getting ready to fly down to Adelaide.
5. Flight path.
6. The view from the plane
7. Mt. Barker area--my companion
8. A park in Mt. Barker where we go contacting often.
9. The plane flight down.

February 21, 2016: Australia Week 24

Hey Mom, how's it going? This week is transfer week so we only have a few minutes and we may or may not get a second chance to email later this week--if not, you'll hear from me next Monday. Elder Duabe is staying in Katherine even though he's already been there for 6 months...And I'm flying across the continent again to Adelaide. I'll be in Mount Barker, an outlying area outside of Adelaide. Mount Barker is a massive area with a lot of towns. From what I've heard, we drive all the time because the place is so spread out and we don't really have a central town to proselyte in--just heaps of towns we will go visit all the time. I'll also be training a Filipino Elder named Elder Gostra--I'll be doing the second half of his training. So wish me luck with the gift of tongues because I've heard he hardly speaks English.
I'll be in the same district as Elder Kendall (my trainer) and Elder Fitzpatrick, so p-days will be the best.
I'm pretty disappointed about leaving Darwin. I wish I would've stayed one more transfer in Katherine even though it's extremely hot and lonely at times. But I'll be going down to cooler weather and will almost never be riding bikes, so that will be fantastic. Anyway, I'll get some photos up either this week or next.
Love you Mom!

February 15, 2016: Australia Week 23

Hey everybody, I've got some photos this week. I know I haven't written a real email for you in awhile, so I'll do my best to do that next week. Once we email President and upload photos there's not too much time left, but I'll share some stories with you next time. 

Photos Link:

1. Brother Friday looking scholarly.
2. We found a new place to live. We occasionally go out to visit a less active member named Moses and his wife and kids and this is where he lives. 
3. Elder Duabe's birthday lunch. The Farrers are awesome: they always shout us steaks when they come down. (To "shout" means to pay for someone, usually in reference to food.)
4. One way to wash a car. 
5. If you look closely, every one of those black dots is a bat. There are heaps of bat-infested trees in Katherine.
6. Edith Falls. Sometimes a less active member will take us out to see some scenery, and it's always nice to go for a p-day hike. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February 8, 2016: Australia Week 22

Hey everyone, I don't have much time this week because I had to take care of some individual emails, but here are some pictures for yous. 

1. Brother Friday coming out with us to teach member-present lessons
2-3. We did heaps of service this week--everything from changing flat tires for people stuck on the side of the road, mowing lawns, and teaching Sister Farrer how to use Instagram. 
4. Dianne and Allen, a couple of our investigators.
5-6. Some kids out at the Kalano community doing backflips. 

February 1, 2016: Australia Week 21

This week we had a few interesting experiences. We have one investigator on date for baptism, Dianne. She is an older aboriginal woman who has been coming to church the past couple of weeks. Many of our aboriginal investigators in Katherine have a hard time reading so we teach them using the Book of Mormon Stories children's book, explaining the stories through pictures. We also teach the lessons in the pamphlets just using the pictures. This teaching style has been quite a challenge for me since I'm used to teaching lessons to people who can read scriptures and other things, but I'll be a master of FHE lessons when I come home. 

Probably one of the most difficult trials in Katherine is the heat. We ride our bikes all day and there's no escape from it. Many of the homes we visit only have fans, no air cons (AC). 

Wild story for you this week: we went to visit Brotha Friday, but he wasn't home, so we were just about to head off when we heard this man screaming and groaning. A man came out from behind the units with his shirt off, clutching his hand in his shirt, yelling at us, "CALL AN AMBULANCE!" I thought he was just drunk and going on a rampage, so I didn't do anything at first. He walked toward us and screamed at us, "CALL AN _____ AMBULANCE! MY FINGERS ARE CHOPPED OFF!" So I finally dialed 000 (Australia's 911) and told the operator about the situation. I still didn't really believe the screaming man, but I told the operator to send an ambulance and the man walked over to us and started talking to the operator on the phone. The man opened his uninjured hand, and there was one of his fingers, chopped clean off. He said someone had slammed the door on his hand and two of his fingers were amputated. I'm not sure if he lost the other one or what, but it didn't look too good. He walked over to the other side of the street and waited for the ambulance which rocked up about 10 minutes later.

We see fights all the time around here--some of them are crack up as and others are just sad. We were walking away from one of our appointments when a crowd gathered around the street and two men started going at it, until one of them knew he was going to lose and stormed off, screaming "Somebody call the police!" 

Besides those adventures, everything is going fairly normal around here. I've heard that transfers might be changing to 5 weeks instead of 6, so that will be interesting. 

Spiritual thought for yous: We are not human beings having spiritual experiences, we are spiritual beings having human experiences. 

The entire purpose of your existence is for a spiritual reason; worldly success is confined to your lifespan, but spiritual success extends into eternity. 


1. The train bridge above the Katherine River: CHRIST IS THE CONQUEROR 
3. Elder Duabe and Elder Makai passed out on the drive from Darwin to Katherine.
4. Elder Dietz (the new missionary) cooking us up a feed. 
5. Elder Seru (going home in a few weeks)
6. Elder Fitzpatrick and Seru at the Farrer's
7. Brotha Friday coming with us to teach a lesson to an Aboriginal investigator
8. Most of the aboriginal flats look like this.
9. A glorious day in Katherine. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

January 25, 2016: Australia Week 20

This week we've been in Darwin for a training and district conference, so we've had a fantastic week. We're heading back down to the promised land in about 10 minutes, so I'll write you something longer next week. Photos will also come next week as well. 
We've had a few changes in the mission recently: we have 5 assistants to the president (2 in Adelaide, 2 travelling assistants, and 1 in Darwin), weights are no longer allowed because missionaries have been getting too ripped, and there is no more morning sport either (getting together with other missionaries to play sport/exercise in the morning).
Elder Toi ("toy") is our new assistant in Darwin, from Melbourne/New Zealand. Elder Dietz is the new missionary up here from Canada, a tall blond white boy--I had the chance to go on a trade off with him and his companion, Elder Costales (from the Philippines, one of the funniest missionaries I know) and Elder Dietz is a solid missionary, very keen to do the work. Elder Fitzpatrick (Elder Fitzy) and his companion, Elder Seru ("say-roo") (big strong black boy from Fiji) is sadly going home in a few weeks
I'll give you some more updates about more interesting things next week, along with photos. 

January 18, 2016: Australia Week 19

Hello everybody, this week I'd like to take some time to answer some individual emails, so I'll just give you a bit of everyday terms people use here. 

Australian:                           American translation:
fizzy drink                             soda
cheers                                    thanks
bloke                                     guy
mob (aboriginal slang)         people
"that's alright"                      used in place of "you're welcome"
"no worries"                         also commonly used in place of "you're welcome"
ages                                      a long time (forever ago)

I'll add to the list as we go. Here are the photos:

1. Here's a tracting photo for the heck of it. I guess they don't like dogs.
2. A pig in a yard. 
3-5. Minigolf at Rotary Club (where we do service every week)
6. Reading the Book of Mormon with Brotha Friday.
7. The Second Coming in Katherine.
8. Houses on stilts and a big rain coming.
9. Second Coming part 2 
10. This is from ages ago, with Elder Costales and Elder Heindel (now in Alice Springs) in Darwin.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

January 11, 2016: Australia Week 18

Hey everyone, I don't have much time this week but I got my dropbox organised so you should be able to see heaps of photos and videos. I am staying in Katherine for another 6 weeks and so is my companion. So I am looking forward to eating rice for at least 84 more meals (lunch and dinner every day). Great times. 
Here is the link for the dropbox, Week 18:
Let me know if it doesn't work, but hopefully it should be good to go. 

1. Ashton is an 11 year old kid whose family is eternal investigators. He told us a story about how, "When I was 8 years old, I pretty much dated my entire classroom." Haha he's crack up. Funniest 11 year old kid I know. 
Also, crocs are approved in the NT since it's so humid. Anywhere else in the mission they'd be apostate, but we get lots of special privileges up here.
2. We went to Edith Falls which is part of Nitmiluk National park. My companion and I feat. Ashton. 
3. The bats hang out in the trees like this every day. 
4. Cooking sausages (Australians' version of the hot dog) and onions at Rotary Club, the preschool/young children's place we do service every week. 
5. My flash new bike (the spare one I get to use now that the pedal snapped off my first one).  
6. The Farrers (senior couple missionaries) took my companion and I out for dinner on my birthday.
7. Dessert
8. Another dead bat haha
9. Adobo, a Filipino dish my companion makes frequently
10. Jumping Croc video
11. Brotha Friday. He's the man. 

-Elder Koch

January 5, 2016: Australia Week 17

We didn't do anything too wild this week, so I'll just give you a better idea of the culture. 
Culture within the mission is largely influenced by New Zealanders because there are so many of them. Lots of missionaries from New Zealand serve in Australia, and heaps missionaries from Australia serve in New Zealand, so they just trade islands for 2 years. I reckon our mission is about 50% islanders (New Zealand, Fiji, Tahiti, etc.) about 35% white people (America, Canada, etc.) and about 15% Filipinos. Since our mission is so influenced by islanders, the food in the house disappears in several days when it should last a week, and the mentality of "what's yours is mine, and what's mine is also mine" is pretty prevalent hahaha. 
Culture in Katherine is pretty different from my last area. Most of the aboriginals live in the housing trust areas which are pretty run down (probably comparable to the ghetto in America). Some of them are more educated and speak clearer English, but that's pretty rare. The white Aussies are more educated and live in nicer homes but they're prideful as. I always tell my Filipino companion that I like visiting the Filipinos in Katherine best because they're humble--white people are ridiculously prideful.
The aboriginals are more humble than the white people but they have lots of Word of Wisdom issues and are not raised the way they deserve to be, so it's difficult to help them get to baptism. The alcohol seems to do something different to them.  We do have some solid aboriginals here though, like Brotha Friday.
This week we taught Jared and Sherry again. They were more open hearted this time; however, they are extremely nitpicky about wording in the Book of Mormon and they always smash us with something new, but we have been able to come back and answer all of their questions. For example, they'll say that Mormon 8:12 says the Book of Mormon has "imperfections" in it, and since we don't know which teachings are true and which are "imperfections", we shouldn't trust the Book of Mormon. Usually when they smash us they use something like that which shows their lack of understanding. My companion and I discussed with them Ether 12:23-27 to show them that "imperfections" are not imperfections in doctrine, but imperfections in writing. The prophets weren't perfect men and neither were they perfect writers, but the Book of Mormon is 100% true. 

Quick spiritual thought for yous: Prayer keeps a man from sin; sin keeps a man from prayer. Ain't that the truth. 
I have a second email with more photos. Since videos have been too large to send in the past, I'll probably make a drop box for them and send the link. 

-Elder Koch

1. Elder Holland is the man.
3. The typical bushland around Katherine
4. My companion always puts his head in the freezer when we come back to the flat for lunch. It's been soooo hot. 
5. An aboriginal painting on the main street. 

December 29, 2015: Australia Week 16

This week was a world of joy. I hope everyone had a fantastic Christmas and I hope you're having a wonderful last week of feasting before your New Year's resolutions begin. 
The highlight of my week was skyping my family on Christmas and seeing that nothing has changed except my brother's voice. We had a pretty quiet Christmas here in Katherine--some members (the Luccheses "Loo-cheese-eez") had us over for breakfast and we visited with our investigator John the rest of the day. 
Our Christmas present as the Darwin Zone was going to Jumping Crocs, a tour on the Adelaide River where the tour guides tease the Crocodiles with meat and they jump out of the water to snatch it. (Pictures and video below / in second email)
It was raining for several days straight last week so we had to stay in the flat since we don't have a car. You'll ride past a field on the way to an appointment and when you ride back, that field will be a lake. We've gotten caught in the rain several times this week and you end up wetter than if you had jumped into a swimming pool--people aren't too keen to welcome us into their homes on those days, so we spent the rainy days studying up on deep doctrine. 
Miracles in Katherine: we had a whopping 15 people at church last week (including us), a massive improvement from 2 the last Sunday we were here. We've had several families move in and it makes a huge difference. 
Miracle No. 2: we taught an aboriginal man, Frederick, the other day and committed him to baptism in the first lesson. There may be some Word of Wisdom issues, but we have confidence that he will be able to follow through if he really wants to.

I have heaps of photos so there will be a second email for sure, possible a third since there is a jumping croc video.

-Elder Koch

1. Darwin Zone
2. The wetlands near Adelaide River
3. The car park and surrounding bush land
4. They had a python at the Jumping Crocs tour
5. Elda Costales and I on the river
6. Adelaide River

December 21, 2015: Australia Week 15

This week has been great. I can't say we've been super productive though because we've been in Darwin all this weekend for the Christmas festivities. We have 10 missionaries in our zone, plus this weekend our mission president and his wife and the assistants came up, so it was a party. 
Wet season is coming full on. My companion and I have biked through the rain and floods a few times this week. We're probably getting a car soon though. That would be the best Christmas present ever. We always have thunder storms with the rain. The thunder here is so loud it literally sounds like a skyscraper is collapsing. Makes me jump higher than fire drills ever did. 
Anyway, we had another lesson with Jared and Sherry, the couple in their 30s with the young family. They are very open to talking about religious things with us and are huge fans of the bible. We showed them the Restoration video and I bore my testimony of Joseph Smith as powerfully as I could, and then Sherry just goes, "I don't doubt you when you say that this first vision actually happened, but it was probably the devil appearing to Joseph Smith as an angel of light." I was thinking, Mannn, seriously? So what you're saying is that the devil disguised himself as an angel of light and set in motion the events that would lead to the translation of the Book of Mormon which mentions God and Christ on basically every page and has been the means of bringing 15 million people to the knowledge that Jesus Christ is their Saviour? Was that Satan's ingenious plan? 
One of the most frustrating things as a missionary is seeing people's hard heartedness manifest in their blindness to the truth. We're going to smash them with the Spirit even harder next time. 
Anyway, this weekend has been the closest thing on my mission to past Thanksgiving and Christmas experiences with family. President Parker took all of us out to dinner at some Mexican restaurant, we watched our mission's new Christmas slideshow with pictures of all of us, and we had several massive meals at the Farrer's (senior missionary couple). Tomorrow we're going on a field trip to see some crocodiles. It feels like we've had 5 P-Days in a row. I have a heap of photos. I'm sorry if they're low quality. I wanted to send as many as possible. 

-Elder Koch

1. Some cool bush land surrounding the Cutta Cutta Caves. It looks like a setting in the Book of Mormon.
2. Check out this tan line 
4. For some reason they still have telephone booths in Australia. 
5. When flood season comes, the river rises above this bridge (the top of the photo). And flood season is coming very soon. Our house honestly might get flooded and I'll be pretty bummed if it does.
6. I saw Santa this year
7. The ocean from Darwin
8. The beaches at Darwin have these cool red/orange/yellow rock formations
9. Our zone plus the assistants and President and Sister Parker.
10. The assistants, Elder Matekohi and Elder Pitcher. Elder Matekohi isn't usually that high. They're both about to die (go home) soon. Sad day. We dem boyz. 
11. We decided to decorate our house this year. This guy wins awards for his lights.