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.