Monday, December 27, 2010

The Older You Get.

Maligayang Pasko at Bagong Taon!
The season is truly a bit different here in the Philippines. First, of course, it's hot and well... just different.

On Christmas eve we had a pleasant surprise with a Christmas Conference put on by our mission president for the mission. It was a great meeting and it really helped us all to remember the true meaning and sacrifices of Christmas. They also set up a really nice, catered lunch and we had a gift exchange as well. It was great to be able to see other missionaries and have a little of a break to celebrate.

Christmas here was a humbling experience. We have little kids come to our house singing carols every day for money. We try our best to feed them though and give them crackers and fruit. It breaks my heart to see them, the same kids that dig through our trash everyday for food. It helps me to recognize that there is so much that I have to be thankful for.

Christmas day was great to be able to talk to you. Elder Sewell made my companion, myself, and his companion a great breakfast for lunch and made banana pancakes and bacon; Elder Tengelsen and I in exchange made turon for everyone. Than after we were done working that night, we all got together, listened to some Christmas songs from Sister Squires, and had a really interesting dinner from things people gave us - popcorn, pickles, arroz caldo, and peach sparkling cider. It was the best and I was so lucky to be able to have great elders to celebrate with.

Christmas truly not only takes a different meaning I think in a third world country, but just being a little older as well. It seems that the older you get, the less you receive, the more you give, but the more you are happy. From going to innocent children excited to see presents under the tree, to excited adults wanting to give all - Christmas truly changes, I feel, as we change. I know that I, of little sacrifice, have realized how much I have to be thankful for and am proud to have a good family that has helped me to realize that.

I love you all so much, and hope your days are still merry and bright. As for the new year, the fireworks are already started and I know I'm going to have many stories to tell you about that!

Elder Corpuz

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Best Gift.

Maligayang Pasko sa inyong lahat!
'Di ko makapaniwala na Christmas time ngayon! It really doesn't seem like I've been away from home for almost six months.

Anyway, this past week hasn't been very eventful and I forgot my camera so I won't be able to send pictures either. I've been pretty sick so we've been spending a lot of time in the house together studying, cleaning, and well... playing games (what else can you do?). It's been good though. I think the only person that takes care of me better than Elder Tengelsen is mom. He is seriously probably going to end up being my favorite companion.

Last week we went to the palengke for the first time which was crazy! It's an open fish market and I've walked past them but never been through one. The fish are literally still alive... as in still jumping and flipping around on the table. It's so much fun. You go in and barter for all your groceries and get such good deals than in the super market. I recorded a video for you to see too!

Elder Tengelsen, as I mentioned before, is from Montana and is currently in his very last transfer of his mission. He's pretty much a typical person who you would expect from a state like that. What I like the most about Elder Tengelsen is his capability to love people. He loves everyone and finds the best in every situation. Every time he talks about someone it's how much he loves them. He never speaks ill of anybody. He's really, really energetic. When 6:30am hits, he shoots out of bed and screams good morning to everyone! You'll get to see him this week so I'm pretty excited for you to meet him. He also is one of the most sincere people I've ever met in my life. He's really good at Tagalog and is really smart. I've been learning more from him about how to be a good missionary than I have from any other companion. He's truly an amazing, amazing person.

This past week we got to sing for both of our wards for a special Christmas musical number. Elder Tengelsen was in choir and has a great voice and we do a really good job blending.Whenever we sing together he always smiles really big and puts his arm around my shoulder. So many people made a comment about that small act. The members said how much of a difference it makes when they see that we love and care one another and how much it makes them want to do the same. Sister Carroll, our Sunday school teacher said she was really touched so see our love for one another. She said just seeing us and imagining how much people will love one another in heaven gave her so much comfort and hope. It's really true, love is the greatest gift anyone can give.

As for now, I'm finally better so we'll get out to do a little work this week. Christmas will be different but I'm really excited to see how they celebrate here. Lots of kareoke I presume. Anyway, hope all is well back home. Miss you all and love you lots! Merry Christmas!

Elder Corpuz

Monday, December 13, 2010


Hey mom!
I only have three minutes so I'll have to make this really fast.

I'm still here in Bago Bantay and Quezon City for this next transfer and I'm really happy. I've really grown to love this area and the people. My new companion is the best companion ever! Can't even explain. We've been having the best time. Most importantly, he's extremely obedient and I've been able to see the changes I've wanted to see in the work here because of his obedience. He's truly helped me to see the mission in a different light and I've had the best days so far with him. His name is Elder Tengelsen, and this is unfortunately his last transfer. He's from Montana and attends BYU. He loves people so easy and is a great example to me. I'm sure I'll have lots of more stories to tell you in the future.

Well the only really amazing thing that's happened aside of the work completely turning around now with Elder Tengelsen was the ward Christmas party this past week. It was so much fun. I love the wards here. The Filipino culture is just so much closer than the American culture. You address everyone as mom, dad, brother, or sister. The party was seriously just like a family reunion of games and fun. We have a few people we were teaching there and they really enjoyed it and made good friends. Sister Jen almost made me cry because she peeled me shrimp to eat because I told her that I don't know how to peel shrimp because you always used to peel it for me and Jason mom. She's taking care of us so no worries!

Anyway, I'll have more to write this next week, promise! Hope all is well back home. Gotta run!

Ingat kayo,
Elder Corpuz

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Not Dependent on Outcomes.

Dear Mom,
This week has been crazy! It's felt like forever since I was able to write even though it's only been an extra two days. Anyway, not time to waste on fluff, let's get to it!

Had some funny experiences this past week. One of the people we're teaching's kid threw up on me after a lesson which was not very pleasant. All I could do was laugh and rush home and change. Luckily we have a person that comes to wash our clothes so I won't have to deal with that and she does a really good job. I also had some people come up to me while tracting the other day and ask for my autograph because they thought I was some Filipino superstar named "Jericho Rosales." Funny right?

Anyway, my week was well, long. It started with a slightly depressing note being at church. This past Sunday was pretty rough not seeing any of the people we are teaching come to church. I felt like somehow I was doing my best but still failing. It's not exactly like school where you put all you get and you get the satisfaction of having a good grade. It's hard, and all I could think of was all what I was doing wrong that I could fix.

In those times, I've found it's good to just remember the blessings. We had some great things happen this week too. On Monday we had the Pation family put together a family home evening to show the Aoalin family how to hold one. They put together great games and a great lesson. Somehow I seemed to lose at all the games though and ended up having to sing for everyone which was pretty embarassing. Maria's baptism was also this past Saturday which was a great blessing to see. To see all she's gone through and finally get to the finish was such a beautiful thing especially to see her father be able to baptize her. She's special to me because their family is also from Ilocos and she was the first lesson I ever taught here. Her mom made me karioka that night in thanks because she knows it's my favorite. It was really good and I couldn't have been more happier.

We also had an experience with a drunk, high, tattoo'd guy the other day. Here we are trying so hard to find people and this guy found us. We were walking and he saw us while he was on the trike and got off because he knew we could help him. He said he wanted to turn his life around so we couldn't complain. We'll be meeting with him and I'm excited to watch the gospel change his life and have him come back to where he needs to be. It reminded me of an experience Brother Doria in the MTC had teaching a drunk guy and then having him end up be one of his strongest converts.

One of the things that I just had to remember was something we learned at zone conference this past week. Sister Jafek gave a great lesson about conversion. She said as she was looking at our shoes outside the mission home, all she could think of was all the doors we've stood in front of and miles we've walked only to convert no one. We don't convert anyone, the Spirit does. We don't force anyone, the people have the choice and they choose. We just help and do the best we can.

I realized that all I can do is have faith. I heard a great story about a family who lost a loved one but said, "Our faith is in Jesus Christ, and is not dependent on outcomes." I knew that's what I had to realize and do. And when a member saw that we helped a couple new people come to church this past week, he put his arm around me and said quietly into my ear, "Good work Elder."

The worth of every soul is great in His eyes. This is truly a dream job.

Elder Corpuz

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Happy to Serve.

Magandang hapon po pamilya!
This past week has been well, not as crazy as the others. And probably for the first time here in the PI, I don't really have much to say.
Late on Monday we finally got our new companions. My new companion's name is Elder Realin from Pangasinan. He is Ilocano so he's been teaching me a little bit. I can understand enough, but found that I've been losing my Ilocano ever since I've been learning Tagalog. He's actually going home at the end of this transfer (next week) which is crazy. So I'll be "killing" him and getting another new companion next week. That's the mission for ya.
Tuesday we had "mission tour" which was a nice experience. We had Elder Teh of the First Quorum of the Seventy come and speak to us (for a really long time) and then had lunch with them and the mission presidency. It was a really spiritual experience and I was really impressed with his English accent.
This week otherwise wasn't anything out of the ordinary. We probably worked harder this week than I ever have though. I was so tired when we got home every night that I barely had enough energy to pour that bucket over my head to shower. Elder Realin has been really helping me learn Tagalog to which is great but not letting me speak any English. It's kind of nice to be in a country where people understand English as well here but doesn't help me learn the language.
Thanksgiving was well, just any other ordinary day. I'm actually glad they don't celebrate it here because that would have been really hard. We studied in the morning, worked, and then had two great dinners. The first was with Brother Jonathon and Sister Betty who are basically American. One is a banker and the other a business woman so they are very wealthy and take many trips abroad so they speak English really well. Of course there is no turkey here so they prepared pork instead which was really good. I also had salad for the first time since I've been here which was really, really good. I was really grateful for them and their willingness to prepare a Thanksgiving meal for a Filipino-American. I also explained to them the story behind the holiday and just the things every family does like wake up early to cook, watch the Macy's day parade, watch football, eat, and then prepare for Black Friday (definitely missed that). Afterwards, we went to Sister Jen's since they're basically family to me now, and had dinner with them as well. Sister Jen just happens to know all my favorite food now so she made sure to make a great meal. She even made a chicken Thanksgiving style which was really special to me. It wasn't home, but it was probably the best it could've been all the way across the world.
On Saturday we had the chance to help someone move and was a great opportunity for service. We were pretty tired afterwards but it was really nice to help them move into their new house.
Yesterday we had the opportunity to go on splits and I went with Brother Anton from Bago Bantay ward and is a returned missionary. It was pretty intimidating being with him because he was an "Assistant to the President" in his mission which is the highest leadership calling. Our last lesson we taught we also had Sister Grace join us who also served a mission so I was basically the green-new kid stuck with the experts. It was a lot of fun though and I learned a lot from them.
Anyway, that's really all for now. Transfer day is next week so I won't be able to email until Wednesday. I don't think I'll be transferred but we'll see. Regardless, like they say at the grocery store here:

Happy to serve!


Monday, November 22, 2010

Change is the Only Constant.

Maligayang Thanksgiving pamilya!
Well this email will probably be short, so my apologies in advance - tell you why in a second.

A second - so I'm experiencing my first "emergency transfer" today. Elder Jennings is out since he needed to have surgery and I'll be getting my new companion within the next hour. Everyday a surprise here in the mission.

Tomorrow we begin our "Mission Tour" with Elder Teh. Not really sure what it is or what it's about, so I'll tell you about that next week. All I know is that he's doing a surprise check up on apartments and I woke up early this morning to begin cleaning the house at 5:00am and we didn't finish until 10:00am. We literally scrubbed and more importantly bleached every part of the house today so it was quite the job and really tiring. It was definitely worth it though.

It's kind of weird having it be Thanksgiving week here. No one knows what Thanksgiving is and a lot of people ask me what's so special about it. I just tell them, you stay home and have a good dinner with your family... is there anything more special than that?

A couple funny stories also. First have I talked about umbrellas here? People are affectionately attached to their umbrellas because you have it open over your head rain or sun. You should see how they fold them too. It usually takes a person about 10 minutes to fold it (no exaggerating). Down to the crease.

Also, the other day we were tracting and stopped at a house and had a lesson with this woman. We asked for her last name and she replied "panty" so I replied that my name was "Elder Breifs"... she didn't get the joke though. Brother Doria gave me the idea from an experience he shared with us.

Anyway, this week has been short and not really eventful. I did have a pretty cool experience though.

Last Friday we were riding down the street on the jeepney and a man riding a bike got hit by a car. Everyone screamed so it was hard not to notice. What was even harder not to notice was the fact that no one was rushing to help him. I hesitated for a second, assuming someone would stop the jeep and go out and help or that at least the driver would go out and help but no one did so my lifeguard instincts kicked in. I yelled for the jeep to stop and not even thinking about my companion, ran out of the jeep and helped the man up with the driver still in the car. At that point, I was pretty much fuming. People may not be so nice in America but if someone gets hurt, everyone stops to help. Luckily he was okay; the driver still didn't leave his car. If I wasn't a missionary I would've given him a piece of my mind.

Well, I'll have to save some more stories for next week. We gotta rush back home to meet our new companions so I gotta run. Have a great Thanksgiving. Love you and miss you all.

Elder Corpuz

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

So Come What May.

Magandang hapon sa inyo pamilya!
It's a gorgeous, raining, humid day here in the Philippines. Got so much to share and so little time!
A few funny things I wrote down to share about the Philippines first.

Sunday was Pacquio fever, the whole nation was literally inside watching. It was a sweet victory for the Philippines!
Funerals are weird here, before the funeral they leave the casket open in front of the house until they're tired of seeing it; I was really creeped out by that.
Have I told you about toilet paper? Yep, don't have that here. Natives use their hands. Elder Corpuz uses baby wipes. The richer people have this hose thing, kind of like the ones you sometimes see at the sink to wash dishes to... I don't even know, use your imagination.
Mom, I learned the rice trick! How to measure water when you cook rice, Sister Jen taught me so I finally can do it with a pot that doesn't have lines.

The culture here is kind of weird. It's like what dad always says: you want what you can't have. In America, everyone wants to be skinny, tan, and have straight hair. Since people are naturally like that here, everyone wants to be fat, white, and with curly hair - seriously. Think about that image. I don't understand it, I like who I am - people just need to be what they're not I guess? It's actually a compliment to call someone fat here and an insult to call someone skinny or dark. Weird right?

Well, This week has been full of tests. We started out the week by going on exchanges with missionaries about to go out into the field from the Missionary Training Center here in the Philippines. I was terrifed. I was going to be alone, without my trainer, with two natives, navigating my area that I still don't know, and have them depend on me to know what to do.

I felt like this was kind of God's way of saying, "Well kid, show me what you've learned."

I really suprised myself.

Of course, we were blessed with rain and trials but we had a great day and I was surprised how much Tagalog I could understand and speak. I prayed hard for the Lord to help me before we got there and found comfort in a church hymn. If you remember, at my farewell, we sang a hymn called "I Believe in Christ" that Taylor Bryan picked out. There is one part of the hymn that says, "I believe in Christ; so come what may..." As I remembered this throughout the day, I got the strength I needed to speak Tagalog, find my way around (after at first getting lost) and teaching the missionaries about to head to Bagio and Caugayan. It was a great day and it really showed me what's possible if you just have a little faith.

Today was our temple day again and we had a great suprise seeing Bishop Angoluan and Sister Jen there with the kids. I was so happy to see them and it made our session really special. They've become our home here and we're having family home evening with them tonight so I'm really excited about that. The temple is really cool here, in the states you wear a shirt and tie inside but here you wear a traditional, cultural "Barong Tagalog" which is very formal. I thought that was just a cool sidenote.

We also have had many great spiritual experiences here with the Book of Mormon changing people, helping them, and giving them strength. Of course, we have Cecelia who is now to this day just beaming - always happy and smiling with a great attitude. Read the book and was about to quit smoking and have strength in all her trials. And now we have a kid about 18 years old named Angelo; he read the first two chapters and told us right away he wanted to be baptized. He says he's seen the change in him and loves coming to church. He's a great kid and owns a gym out here so maybe we'll get to work out with him. Last but not least, the Aoalin family. I don't know if I've talked to much about them already but they're very special to me. My very first lesson out in the field was at their house. They are also from Ilocos Norte and we share a lot in common. They are very poor and are a squatter family. Their house is very, very small and recently they haven't had much money. In fact, if four people stand up in the house, you can't move, that's how small it is. Anyway, that was kind of random, but this past week, Sister Josephine has been having a really rough time trying to feed her kids and find a way to pay the electric bill so they can run the electric fan at night because it's so hot. She said she started to read her scriptures again and has seen so many blessings. People have been stopping by giving them food, they've found work to pay for electricity, and everything just seems to be working out. It's so awesome for me to sit by and watch these things happen.

It's such a blessing to be out here but I'm sad I won't be home for the holidays. It kind of stinks listening to Christmas music, but you know I'd be there if I could. I promise I will be there every year from now on when I get home. My thoughts have really been with you this weekend thinking of Jason and his last band comp, I actually started crying for him (don't know if he did) and I'm glad to hear they did so well! Can't wait to see the show! I'm so proud of him and all he does. I was sitting in church that day thinking... "Yup they're performing now" and praying for you guys to do the best.

Anyway, that's my tidbit for this week, hope all is well in happy Summerlin. Miss you guys lots and look forward to hearing from you next week!

Mahal ko kayo,
Elder Corpuz

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Sorry for the Shortness

Magandang araw!
Sorry, this is going to be really, really short. My time has really run out because we've been so busy today. I'll make sure to include things that have happened this week in next week's email as well.

We knocked on a lot of doors this week and got most of them slammed in our face. It's humbling but at the same time still a good experience. We had a really funny experience with one lady. We were at the door and we could see her washing the dishes. We shouted "Tao po!" because thats what you do here instead of knock (it literally means "Person!") and she didn't respond. We were just like... jeez are you deaf? Finally she came to the door. She was really nice at first. When we started asking her questions, she started responding with really funny answers like:

Hey where are you from?

February 11... that's when I'll be 77.

After we left we both just laughed... she was deaf!

Another crazy "only-in-the-Philippines" experience. I was "showering" (dumping cold buckets of water on my head) the other day and while I was rinsing my hair, I felt something crawling in my hair! It was a centipede! So I screamed really loud and woke up everyone who wasn't awake yet and ran out of the shower. It was scary but really funny looking back.

Anyway, last week was really great. We had a special training and I got to see my MTC "batch" for this new program they are implementing. It was great to see my MTC companion again who is on the lonely island of Mindoro.

As the holiday season gets closer, it gets a little harder not to get homesick out here especially since they start playing Christmas music in September. They don't have a Thanksgiving here, but a gracious member came up to me the other day and told me he wanted to learn how to prepare a Thanksgiving meal and said he wanted to give my companion and I, who are both American, a Thanksgiving. I love the members here, they truly shine.

I had a great experience from a less active family that we are teaching right now from Ilocos Norte, where we're from. Sister Josephine is very poor. They have no money and can't afford food or anything for that matter. We stopped by one day and I really felt the impression of telling her about how much God really loves her. The next day we came, she was in tears when she saw me. She said elder, you are right. She said that night she prayed hard from her heart and read the Book of Mormon and our Heavenly Father took care of her the next day. Food came to her, money came to her, and somehow she was able to provide for her family for that day by the grace of the Lord. She came to church on Sunday for the first time in years and said it's the happiest she's ever been. I shared with her how much God trusts her with these trials and how much he doesn't trust me because my life is so easy. The members here are so humble, and more importantly, really strong in faith.

We're also going through a lot of changes. We weren't having much success so I prayed and remembered some stories and especially what Sister Squires told me about how Mat was utilizing his ward in Alaska before I came out. So I had a long conversation with my companion, and through a lot of faith, we decided to drop almost all of our investigators and focus on finding and using the ward for referrals and taking them out to help us find. We will see what blessings this will bring in the coming weeks. The wards are willing to work so I'm really excited.

Today we went bowling as a district which was really fun. It reminded me of when I was little in a bowling league and how I used to ask dad after every from "Which arrow dad?" and how you both always scolded me for not following through. My first score was a low 67 but my next score I got the feel back and creamed everyone with 125 (still low). It was a lot of fun, I hope you like the pictures.

Anyway, that's really all for now, I'll make sure to write more next week. Take care! Mahal ko kayo!

Elder Corpuz

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The First.

Magandang "All Saints Day" at "Halloween" sa inyong lahat! Mayroon akong maraming karanasan na nais kong magbahagi sa inyo! Unang-una, kumusta po ba kayo? Puwede po ba akong mag-ingles?

This week has been full of changes and surprises. We had a new addition to our house with the end of this transfer. Elder Ablog was transferred out, and Elder Arthur, a Tongan from New Zealand, was transferred in. It's been awesome with him around; the house is definitely a different place!

After I emailed you guys last Wednesday, we got to share the rest of the night with the Angoluan family for our dinner appointment. We had previously scheduled it with them because we thought that one of us might be transferred. But as the verdict goes, both of us were staying and they were really happy about that! We came in to a big surprise though. They had prepared some signs and cards for us that said "Til we meet again Elder Corpuz & Elder Jennings." The kids spent all day coloring and making it on Monday because of Barangay elections. Sister Jen was telling us that even though their hands were hurting, they still finished it for us. I was happy we weren't getting transferred because I would've cried really hard. I really love that family, they've become great friends to me and my companion. The best part is that the kids have really been opening up to us, especially little Ernest. And of course you know me and kids; for some reason they love me. Of course being a missionary it's kind of different, but we're still able to spend time with them and play games which is great. I guess I'm just everyone's big brother it seems. The other day Ernest was so happy to see us. He came out side and (in Tagalog) said "Elders! Over here! Come in, come in!" and then when he left he got really sad. As we were walking from their house he ran outside there house and shouted at the top of his little lungs "Bye-bye elders!" They're all great, and tonight we'll be having family home evening with them which will be awesome. Sister Jen will be preparing dinner and games as well as a spiritual lesson which I'm really excited for!

Saturday was a very special day: Sister Cecilia's baptism and the first time I was able to perform the ordinance. We started out the day by picking her up early and taking her to the Manila Philippines Temple Tour which was great. She loved it and we were able to take Mae-Mae, her great niece, with us as well. With Cecilia, there's a few things you must know. First, she takes care of a lot kids; Mae-Mae, her great nephew Mack-Mack, and many, many more kids. She has one older son who is very well off but they don't really keep in touch. Last night she was telling us how they don't really have a relationship and it hurts her, but its good that all these other kids look up to her. She is also very giving. She lives in a squatter like house, although she can afford to live in a nice house she chooses not to. She likes living simple. She also loves serving people. She loves spoiling her "alaga's" or ones she takes care of and helping them out. She said, with tears, there's nothing that makes her happier. When we were at the temple that day, Mae-Mae saw a set of scriptures that she really wanted. Mae-Mae is the only LDS member in her family at the age of 11 and she depends on Cecilia to take her to church every week. When Cecilia saw her looking at the scriptures, she asked her, "Mae-Mae, do you have one like that?" and she looked down and responded, "No, grandma, I don't have one." So Cecilia said, grab two, one for me and you, and go pay for it okay? It brought quiet tears to my eyes to see her loving care for Mae-Mae as well as all she gives to all the others she takes care of.

After we went to the temple, we went straight to the church to prepare for the baptism. The service was very, very amazing. We had great speakers and the women of the ward put together a special musical number just for Cecilia. As I performed the ordinance, I was so overwhelmed with emotion. I couldn't explain how happy I was to be able to bring Cecilia to Christ through baptism. As I said the prayer, I was able to look in her teary eyes and look out to a smiling congregation. She came out of the water with a huge smile; I couldn't ask for much more.

As for now, she's continuing forward through her trials. The ward as welcomed her smiling face and willingness to serve and I'm so thankful for her humble, soft heart.

Anyway, that's all for this week really, or rather the past few days. Hope all is well with you all, until next time!

Elder Corpuz

Walking on Water and Getting Stoned.

Kumusta po kayo!
This week has been CRAZY. This is not an email you're going to want to breeze through - just throwing that out there.

First! All the rave here is that Charice is on Glee! That's awesome! I'll never forget Glee. Winter Semester at BYU, all of the girls in my ward got together for this huge girl-watching party every week for Glee. Sarah Kron was like the leader I guess you can say. Anyway of course, if all the girls were there, my friend Mike Swindle (who I'll be living with) and I were there too because it was, well, a jackpot? Anyway we ended up liking the show so it's awesome that a Filipino super star is on there now!

Well, the week started out slow. My companion got sick with the weather change so we were in for two days. He couldn't even get out of bed. The typhoon came and went but we were okay. It was only a Signal 1 here in my area (of a scale to 3). It was a waste of two days but I got a lot of studying done and cleaned the house. The funny part is right when he got over his cold, I got one.

Heard of Dengue fever?

Wikipedia it.

It has to do with getting mosquito bites. The funniest part is that I didn't know I had it. At Bishop's on Friday, I told him all the symptoms and Sister Jen started getting really worried because she knew I had dengue. So she, being the our second mom here, gave me all the medication I needed and took care of me, thank goodness for Sister Jen!

This weekend we finally got back to work.

Monday, I think the typhoon like came back or something. As we were walking to our dinner appointment it started to rain... and then it started to RAIN. The drops were so thick and it just kept on coming down! By the time we got to our appointment, the water was up to our knees! I couldn't believe it! I just washed those pants! (Yeah, that's what I was thinking of, washing pants is hard work!) Luckily, they live on a hill so their house was dry. It was definitely an experience to walk through a flood. It died down and we somehow made it back to our apartment. Too bad we can't walk on water eh?

Yesterday was a really special day. Sister Cecilia, who I mentioned was able to stop smoking a few weeks back, had her interviews and is cleared for baptism. She will be my first baptism this Saturday that I get to be the baptizer. I am so honored. She has seriously been amazing and cares about us so much. This past Sunday she surprised my companion and I with her famous cassava cake. She's such a great person. Her grandson is a convert and helped her come to the church and was just so happy when he found out that she is now able to be baptized. She's so strong and she is breezing through the Book of Mormon; she will finish it before I do! I can't even explain how happy I am for her. After her interviews, she treated us all to lunch. When she put my food in front of me I got really teary-eyed because, as much as I tried to refuse to let her pay, she insisted. She is poor and lives in a squatter house. She can't afford much, but she wanted this much to be able to give back to us for changing her life she said. She will be baptized this Saturday as I said and the whole ward is excited. The mom's (adult-women-people) of the church love her a lot and are putting together a special musical number for her baptism. I can't wait to tell you all about it.

We also had a pretty crazy experience yesterday as well. We were of course, tracting, when a group of kids carrying wooden planks and rocks came towards us. They wanted to fight. They were about 14-15 years old and there were 18 of them... I counted. The best we could do was walk away, so we turned the opposite direction and began to walk. They of course, tried to provoke us by cussing at us and throwing rocks at us. It took every ounce of me to not turn around and beat the crap out of each one of them and use the karate which I learned so long ago, but I just had to practice patience and faith. My companion turned around when of the rocks hit me and yelled at them, but they just kept coming. All I could do was pray. Eventually they stopped and went away.

As we came to a corner we sat down and I shared a scripture from the the Book of Mormon with my companion. I've been studying patience this week and it was truly a trial of mine. I shared with him what dad wrote me the other week, how these kids don't know any better. We will go home after two years but for them this is home. We said a prayer in closing and carried on our day.

We had success and were blessed as we found new people to teach.

Anyway, my time is running really short so I'll have to end here. As for this transfer, Elder Jennings and I will stay together for another six weeks. I'll explain more of that on Monday. Hope you all are well. Miss you tons, pray for you always, love you tons.

Elder Corpuz

Monday, October 18, 2010

No Complaints.

Dear Family,
This past week has been AWESOME! There were so many great things that happened that I won't have time to touch on but I'll do my best. And hey, I'm finally starting to really love it here; imagine that!
Anyway, first just a funny experience. So my companion and I were sitting in Burger King the other day and he just started screaming and pointing at the TV screen. Remember that day a few years back that they filmed a bunch of people at the Burger King right next to our house and made a commercial out of it? Well they showed it here! All the way in the Philippines!
Wednesday was a really special day for us. We got to hear from a general authority in the church named Elder Jay E. Jensen of the Presidency of the Seventy. It was amazing that he could be here in the Philippines and talk to all the missionaries. It was also way amazing to be able to get to see all the missionaries in the mission in one place. I got to see all my good friends from the MTC and reunite with everyone so that was awesome. It's nice to hear their stories and know that they're going through the same things I'm going through as well.
The rest of the week was really a treat. The people we are teaching are really awesome and I love them a lot. One in particular that I'd like to talk about is Sister Jess Ampher. She's a squatter and lives (have I talked about her before?) a really rough life. She loves hearing from us though and enjoys our company. Her faith is really strong, and she's really inspiring to me. She does her best in being able to read the Book of Mormon but has a hard time because her vision isn't very strong and they can't afford glasses. I wish I could help but the most we can do is just share with them what the gospel has to offer.
Saturday we took one of our younger ones, Maria, to the temple with her mom. Their from Ilocos Norte too and love talking to me in Ilocano. This little girl is really something. First, she's special to me because she was the first lesson that I have ever taught and I will also have the privilege of being able to baptize her this coming Saturday. Her whole family is LDS but none of them go to church. And as a ten year old, she finds a way to pay for public transportation and make it to church every Sunday because she can feel the difference it makes in her life. Every time we show up to teach her she is so excited and always says, "I prayed so hard for you to come today and you did!" She loved the temple and it's beauty and was so happy to be there.
We also have had great opportunities to do service the past couple days. We were able to help a ward clean the chapel the other day and helped Sister Jen prepare food for members of the ward yesterday. It was hard work but man, is it awesome to be able to cook Filipino food! Yesterday was also the Primary (kids up to age 11 I think) program in church. They sang a bunch of songs and gave short speeches that brought the whole congregation to tears. I love the kids, they're strong and will be the change the Philippines need in the future.
This past week, I've been learning the true blessings of obedience. Sometimes the people around me are very heavily, selectively obedient and it's easy to see that in the way they carry themselves. There are so many blessings and safety brought with being obedient though and not convincing myself that I'm the exception to a rule. I've found that my days run so much better when I'm up on time, to bed on time, and doing everything right in between.
Well, I don't have many more crazy stories this week but I'm sure I will next week. I feel like this email has been kind of boring so I'll try to spice things up next week. As for now, I'm loving it here and the Tagalog is coming along really well! I wouldn't call it fluent yet but I can carry a good conversation now which is awesome. Anyway, hope all is well. Until next week!

Being the Example.

Dear family,
Well it's been awhile since I've heard how you're doing so I hope all is well. This week has flown by and has definitely been testing my character.

This past week we worked pretty hard but got a whole lot of no where. Out of the many, many, many appointments that we had, nearly every single one fell through and the people we've been teaching are slowly starting to not want to be taught anymore. Trying to find people has been rough too. We didn't have any good experiences last week and just got every door slammed in our face.

I could be negative - but that's too easy.

I've learned so much this past week about not letting my environment and my situation dictate who I am or how I'm going to act. People change, situations change, and circumstances change. There was a great quote I read from this past May's General Conference though that says that we never have to let our environment control who we are or the attitude that we have. The secret to life and getting through problems: be positive.

I also learned how much being an example really does affect people's opinions and choices. Last week I was fed up with living in a dump, so I decided, that even if I had to single-handedly clean or whole apartment, I was going to do it, and we were going to live in a clean environment. To my surprise, when everyone else woke up and saw me cleaning, they started cleaning too without saying a word, and together we cleaned, rearranged, and made our house a spotless place where we can feel the Spirit and carry on as missionaries in a good environment.

I got to go on splits with the zone leaders again for the last time on Wednesday and I learned a lot from Elder Castro. My Tagalog hasn't been getting much of anywhere because my companion never talks to me in Tagalog. When I was with Elder Castro though, he really pushed me and taught me about just having confidence and the difference that it makes. He taught me that God will help me if I'm confident and not dwelling in self-pity and he was right. I spoke the best Tagalog ever that day all because I just simple believed in myself.

He also brought up something that I thought was really funny about the Filipino table setting. In the Philippines the dad sits at the table with his wife directly to the left or right of him. The "bunso" or youngest kid always sits next to the mother and the "panganay" or eldest sits by themself. Sound familiar how we used to sit in Oklahoma?

Well, I also had my first experience with getting my wallet stolen here, but before you start to panic, read this whole paragraph first and you'll be happy mom.
So when we were walking home on Thursday night I looked at my companion and was like... my wallet isn't in my pocket any more elder. So we back tracked nearly our whole day since our last jeepney ride and concluded it was stolen. Here's the good news though. Since I've gotten here I've been doing pretty amazing (if I do say so myself) budgeting money. We get a total of 4,000 pesos each two weeks (43 pesos = 1 dollar). For that two weeks, I split it into two and use the following to budget my spending:

P1,000 on food
P245 on jeepney rides
P250 on taxi rides
P300 for squeeze emergency room
P200 set aside in an emergency fund

My wallet was stolen on Thursday night - it only had the left over money from that week in it and my mission card (unfortunately about P600). I carry my US ID and credit card in a different wallet locked at home so really, it was the best situation for that to happen and the week was about to start over on Friday anyway. I also follow mom's example, take receipts, and record my spending at the end of the day everyday. See mom, I did learn something about budgeting from you.

Today we had the great opportunity to go to the temple which was amazing. We're one of only two missions that has the temple in their mission and the opportunity to go to it regularly. The temple is gorgeous and it was awesome to be able to see it full of Filipinos.

I also attached some pictures for you to kind of see what life is like here. I recorded videos too but I'll have to trim them because they're too big! Most of them are of my district, our house, and the temple. I also made turon too! My companion and I made ten with three bananas so I stole grandma's trick. Also thanks for adding Sister Jen. She and bishop are like our family here. They are awesome and provide dinner for us and a home when we need one. They also feed us practically all day on Sundays out of their on free will and I'm so thankful for them here. Anyway times just about up. Hope you all are well and I'll talk to you soon!

Elder Corpuz

Monday, October 4, 2010

Snails, Anyone?

Hello po,
Well, I'm finally starting to get adjusted to this place - never thought I'd be saying that. It's a few steps away from home and a giant leap from American culture. I'd never say I'd live here but at the same time, I can't complain that I'm fitting in somewhere for the first time in my life.

Here's some fun PI culture facts that I've found out this past week for you:

-Apparently there's a song called "Pyramid" out right now which I have yet to hear because I'm in the Philippines and we didn't and aren't supposed to listen to the radio in the MTC. Anyway it's sung by a girl named Charise I think. She was extremely big here in the Philippines and before she hit it big in the U.S. She was a winner of the equivalent to American Idol here. She's a pinay!
-They still make the Toyota Previa here an it looks really awesome.
-They have 7/11's here.
-At Burger King here you get free back massages and shoe shines.
-It rains so hard that it goes through the umbrellas here.

I've also noticed some things we do in our family that I thought was exclusive to our family but actually isn't - it's exclusive to the Philippines. Here, parents call each other "mom" and "dad" too like we do at home. They also slap the crud out of each other when something is funny. So, well, we aren't unique there anymore.

Did I mention all the girls here are as loud as mom? And! I also had my first bowl of dinuguan here. Delish.

Anyway, hope something there made you smile.

This past week has been interesting - as if other weeks in my mission haven't been. It's been tough learning to work with my trainer. Although I'm aware that my best interest is at his hand, sometimes it's hard to see that. Sometimes he says things that aren't necessarily nice but I try not to take it that way. I know we're meant to be together for a reason so I just try to find the good in everything. It's really been teaching me patience and tolerance; it's especially taught me how to control my mouth.

We taught... a lot as usual. The work here is pretty intense because there are so many humble people who want to listen to anything that can bring them comfort.

On Thursday I had a really crazy experience. We went to a members house for dinner and as I sat down I noticed a bowl of shells. I looked at it and was like... "What's is this brother?" (yes, in Tagalog) and he looked at me and replied a word a didn't know. So I looked at my companion and he just replied, "Snails!" I felt like throwing up. Luckily there was barbecue there as well so I had a way out. So I just sat and minded my own business, eating my barbecue listening to my companion and Brother DeLeon slurp in their snails. I tried to avoid eye contact as best I could because I was not about to eat a snail... well that didn't last. It's first of all really amazing that members offer us food because most can barely feed their own families so when Brother DeLeon offered me one (because he noticed I didn't touch them) it was really hard to say no. He spent money on it, prepared it all for us. So I smiled a squeemish smile and took one. What you do is make a whole in the shell first with a spoon and then you blow in the end (to get rid of the sand) and then suck it out. So I did... but I didn't suck hard enough and as I pulled the shell out it was dangling from my mouth. I wanted to cry! I manned up and just ate the rest - which to my surprise - wasn't that bad! It tasted like chicken curry! One was enough for me though. I also walked by a cock fight yesterday! That was crazy.

Anyway my time is running out and I want to write to you about all 19 of the people we are teaching but that's just nonsense and we don't have that kind of time but I do want to talk about one sister in particular. Her name is Sister Cecelia and she makes the best "cassava" cake. She's about 60+ years old and all of her children and grandchildren are members of the LDS church except her. She has had trouble for a really long time with smoking and it's really made her life complicated. She is extremely nice though and very humble. Each week she has come to church she sits very attentively and wants to be there so badly. She loves her children and grandchildren so much and have seen how the church has raised them to be great children. Anyway, we've been going to her every other day to try to help her with her smoking. Every time we go and ask she replies, "Three sticks, one after every meal." I was getting worried because it wasn't getting any better. Finally yesterday we went to her and asked her and she was brought to tears when she said, "Wala na" which means "No more." She smoked one the day before and none that day (which was almost over). So we asked her how she finally got over and she said she just tells herself "Huwag na" or "Don't do it." She reads and draws strength from the Book of Mormon everyday she says and says that she feels it changing her life. We were all crying when she told us this story because after all theses years being controlled by her addiction, she was now controlling it.

We also have a little girl named Maria getting baptized this Saturday. She's 11 and she and her brother are the only ones that come to church. She is so motivated and excited though and can't wait. I know she will be strong as the church makes her strong.

It's been a trip here so far and I'm almost halfway through my first transfer. We had a zone activity today which was awesome to be able to get together and play games with all the Filipino elders and sisters. They're so much fun and for once I finally feel like I belong somewhere.

Hope you are all well - if you haven't had it yet, good luck at homecoming!

Elder Corpuz

P.S. - Yesterday was a crazy day at church - they announced a new temple scheduled to be built here in the Philippines!

Write Eric a Letter!

Here is the CORRECT address:

Elder Eric Ray Corpuz
Philippines Quezon City Mission
Ortigas Center, P.O. Box 13873
Emerald Avenue, Pasig City 1600
Metro Manilla, Philippines

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's raining, It's pouring.

Minamahal ang pamilya ko,
Well, it is what it is - the Philippines.

This past week it rained, and it rained, and it rained. And want to know the best part? Our ceiling leaks. No, the best part is it gets cooler outside for a short period of time. :)

I've gotten pretty dang good at handwashing clothes although it is a lot more work than just loading them into the dryer, and I'm so thankful you raised me knowing how to take a "shower" with a bucket and pot-thing. It's definitely still a bit of a culture shock.

I'm trying my best to work hard still though. I've kept a foot at the MTC with my friends and memories so I'm trying my best to remember that my loyalty is here now. It's been rough leaving them, but I know they're all doing well and am excited for their future. I'm so thankful that I was able to stay the full two months and wasn't transferred early like they had initially said or else I wouldn't have been able to meet the people I met.

This week I've had to learn a lot on self motivation.

We were really busy this week.

Last Monday went by pretty quick. I got my first haircut here by a bakla (cross-dresser) because I guess they're the only people that cut hair here. He/she cut my whole head with just a pair of scissors - to my surprise it came out really well! Other than the fact that I was extremely uncomfortable the whole time.

Tuesday we had nine appointments.

Wednesday I was able to go on splits with the zone leaders because my trainer had some kind of new training for a new teaching thing. It was awesome - our zone leaders are amazing and I learned so much from them. They definitely were called as zone leaders for a reason. They taught me so much in the day that I spent with them and I'll continue to go on splits with them for the next three weeks.

Thursday we had seven appointments.

Friday we had eight appointments.

Saturday we had a "temple tour" which was amazing. The Manila temple is actually in our mission, so exclusive to our mission, we get to take the people we are teaching there and the sister missionaries teach them about the temple and the things that go on inside the temple. We started by singing a hymn called "Lord, I will Follow Thee" which was absolutely beautiful. We had just the right amount of sisters and elders and poly's to pull of an amazing sound. By the time we were done singing, there wasn't a person in the room who wasn't crying. We had four more appointments that day.

Sunday we had church for six hours, six appointments, and a dinner appointment.

And well, now we're here.

This past week I've had to teach myself a lot about self-motivation.

My trainer is an amazing person, but this week I realized how much my progress was lacking. We would go and teach lessons and I wouldn't say a word because he assumed I didn't want to say anything and didn't have anything to say. I started to get offended because he thought I couldn't do it. He wasn't pushing me and it wasn't helping. To top it off, he speaks absolutely zero Tagalog to me. There was one lesson where I got really, really angry because I had so much to say, but he had his back to me the whole time. I could feel the anger speed my breathing and tense my hands and I realized that this contention would affect our teaching. So I prayed, hard. And then like a smack in the face, my thoughts started to race. I had no right to be mad at my trainer. He was just doing what we had been doing. I had never talked before so why would I expect him to think otherwise now. He's here to train me and of course, push me, but just because I don't feel like he is pushing me doesn't mean I can't push myself. I realized that this was just another trial for me. He's not perfect and neither am I, but I shouldn't need him to push me. I should push myself to speak Tagalog when he speaks to me. I should push myself to open my mouth when he's teaching and put my two cents in. I should push myself to be a better missionary and person everyday. I realized that you can't depend on someone else to be there, babying you the whole way. If I'm going to need someone to push me everytime I want to progress for the rest of my life, I'm not going to get much of anywhere.

So for now, I'm doing my best to be my best. It's still hard and people still mock me but I just use that as motivation. No matter how much I'm made fun of, I'm proud that I have the opportunity to live where I live and was raised the way I was.

Next week, I'll make sure to save time to tell you about the people we're teaching since I didn't this week or last week. I hope all is well with everyone. Be safe and I love you lots!


Monday, September 20, 2010

I get it.

Dear Mom & Dad,

I get it now.

This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life and probably will ever do. Everyday is hard. Life here is hard.

Everywhere I go I get made fun of. People hear me talk and ask me if it's a joke and if I'm really Filipino. They call me a disgrace; a mockery of their heritage. They make fun of my accent and no one takes me seriously - not even people in church. People think I'm an idiot and for the first time in my life - I'm not among the best at what I'm doing. Every experience is humiliating. Everyone looks at me like I'm not human. Everything is against me.

And here I am thousands of miles away, with no one else but my companion.

But who am I to say this is tough, these people know what is tough.

I've been here for nearly five days and I still can't believe some of the experiences I've had. The United States is truly paradise and I've set foot in a land where being there is nothing but a hopeless dream. I get it now, thank you for raising me and working hard to get us there.

The way people live here is very humbling - let me just start from the beginning.

I left Provo on Tuesday and got here on Thursday around noon which is about 10:00pm Provo time. We arrived in our suits and it was like we got hit by a wave. The humidity here is nearly triple the humidity of Florida or Hawaii. It's hot, really hot. We were picked up and driven to the mission home where we met our president, the assistant to the president missionaries, and our trainers. To my surprise and out of sheer-dumb-luck, my trainer is from Vegas! He went to Western and his name is Elder Jennings. He is awesome and I'm learning so much from him and I love him to death because I know that he cares about me. He's been in the Philippines for six months and is a tall, huge, white guy so I always feel safe. He's got my back always and I know he does. Here they call your trainer your "tatay" or "dad" and they call you their "anak" or "kid." We were fed really quick, left our suits, and went straight to work.

My trainer and his previous companion have been doing work and they have been really busy. I feel so inadequate to be here and replacing his previous companion. Everyone looks at me and tells me it's a waste that he left and I'm here now but I just assure them that I'll do my best to help.

We got to the apartment first and I put my stuff down and we left. These were my words when we got to the apartment though:
You've got to be kidding me.

I purposely won't take pictures of it so that you won't see what we live in, but after seeing how other people live, I realized our apartment is five star. You walk in and have a small living room and "kitchen." There's a room to handwash your clothes in the back (since they don't have washing machines here) and a bathroom with a faucet and a small sink. There are no showers or water heaters but that's okay because it's really hot. Our mirror is a broken piece of a mirror that's about as big as my fist. The toilet doesn't flush and they don't use toilet paper here so you can imagine what you have to do. To flush the toilet you have to fill a bucket with water and put it in the toilet to flush. Our room has two beds and two desks. The place where I put my clothes is a two drawer, plastic dresser and I can't fit nearly anything in it. Nights are hard to sleep because it's so hot and we don't have airconditioning so I just put my fan at the head of my bed and hope for the best. With my luck our first night we had a "brown-out" or blackout and our fans stopped so I got a piece of paper and fanned myself til I fell asleep and continued to do that until the brown-out was over.

My first day here we had four appointments.

My second day here we had five appointments.

Saturday we had four appointments and two baptisms.

Sunday we had six hours of church, three appointments, and a dinner appointment.

Whenever I refer to an appointment, it's a teaching appointment that usually lasts up to twenty minutes because we're so busy. The members here are too poor to provide us with dinner appointments here so we don't get fed at night, but that's okay because we don't have the time. We barely ever have time to eat - it's become a burden here. We usually have dinner around 9:00pm and I'm really lucky because Elder Jennings loves to cook.

We walk everywhere and sometimes take jeepneys. The drivers here are crazy, you weren't kidding. This is how the road is: imagine a busy street like Charleston. Now take out all the stop signs, stop lights, road markings, and make the road curve a bit. Now triple the traffic, and add about 10-15 people crossing every 20 feet. If I had a dime for every near accident I've been in I'd be rich. I'll take a video so you can see.

When it's hard, I just remember what Elder Olson wrote down in my journal in the MTC:
This mission is going to try and test you, strengthen you up and rip you to shreds. Drive you to your knees in tears and grief, and then build you up again to become stronger than you could have dreamed for.

There are so many times I've gotten discouraged and wanted to just stop and cry, but I refuse to give up. I will do my best to press forward.

I'm out of time now but I'll email you of our investigators next week, one hour is not enough to cover all the experiences I've had here.

I love you all,

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Last Week.

Pamilya ko!
AH! Grabe naman! Naniniwala kayo na aalis ako sa pilipinas bukas?! Hindi puwedeng maniwala ako. Talagang pinakamabilis ang horas dito. Kahit na hindi gusto ko itong lugar noong dumating ako sa MTC, mag-miss-na-miss ako ng lugar na ito. Parang BYU - mas maraming mga mabuting taong nagmamahal sa bawat isa sa mga tao. Pero ok lang. Excited naman ako para tatawag sa inyo bukas!

Well I have a lot to write about so we're going to stop with the Tagalog before I get a migraine. This week has been super eventful and spiritually exhausting. I don't even know where to begin!

First, my musical number went GREAT last week! It was such an honor to be selected to perform and the whole MTC presidency attended so it was a pretty big deal. They loved it and I'm so happy I had that opportunity.

We spent all of last Monday packing a week in advance and weighed our bags a billion times. Unfortunately, EVA airlines (our airline to Taiwan) is super strict with weight and our bags and carry-ons/personal are under ridiculous weight restrictions. So I'll be sending a pretty hefty package home. I figured that'd be better than the $500+ penalty. Good thing we figured all that out last week though. I just left everything packed so I'm pretty much ready to go now.

I got to host missionaries again this Wednesday. The two elders I got to bring in were pretty sad to leave their families, but that's expected. They were both great though, and seeing their drive really reminded me of how hard I need to keep on working to keep that drive. It was such a blessing to see my friend Shelly come in that day as well. I met her over Spring semester as one of the RA's. She's truly an amazing person and I'm so excited for her. I get to have meals with her so I get to talk to her every day. I love hearing all the things she has to share. She is working so hard here and is such an inspiration to me. She puts her heart into everything and loves everyone sincerely - the best part is that it really shows. I'm so excited for her - she's actually headed to Dallas, TX so maybe she'll bump into the Hinahons!

So funny Tagalog story real quick. On Wednesday we were practicing teaching and one of the elders was having trouble saying that "God has a body of FLESH and BONE." He tried the first time and said "God has a body of flesh and TREES" and tried again and said "God has a body of flesh and RICE CAKES" and then Brother Doria couldn't take it any more and told him the real word haha. So it will make sense for Jason:

trees - puno
rice cakes - (mga) puto
bone - buto

I was laughing really, really hard haha.

We had a strange experience Thursday when a cold front moved in and the temperature high was in the low 60s. I was so mad. Fortunately, it didn't last for long and is back up to 80s-ish again today. We also had our last teaching appointment on Thursday which went really well, but also reminded me how much work I have to do on my Tagalog still. The next day our teachers showed us what a day in the field would be like by making a mock-day for us. It was a lot of fun and got us all pumped to be out there in the Philippines.

Saturday was a sad day. We had class with Brother Doria for the last time. We've all become such a family and he is such a great teacher. He was more like an older brother to us. We performed our district musical number for him and his wife (who is a BYU soccer player!) and than said our goodbyes. We took some sweet pictures too. It was really hard but guess that's the mission for ya. You make the sacrifice of leaving people you love to find more people to love.

I had a big wake call on Saturday though with Brother Molina pulled me aside. He's one of the other teachers who is exactly like me. Convert to the church from Las Vegas, didn't learn Tagalog growing up, but sent to Quezon City. He basically told me that the next six months are going to be horrible for me. He told me that I'm going to get made fun of everyday because I am Filipino and I can't speak Tagalog. he said people would call him a disgrace to the culture and our heritage. So I started to get really scared, but he taught me a lot of ways to overcome it and assured me it will get easier as long as I study hard.

Well things have been great here. I have one last story to share. My companion and I have really gotten close to another companionship here that we met in the immunizations clinic. We didn't think anything of meeting them at first but then we literally started running into them EVERYWHERE. Naturally, we became the best of friends. Last night I was able to talk to one of them, Elder Olson, for awhile and I now understand why God put him into my life. We were able to help each other through so many things that we understood and he truly helped me so much in preparing to leave. It's funny how many miracles you see in your life everyday when you realize that you have a Father who loves you and takes care of you. Out of anyone I've met at the MTC, I will miss them the most. I'm so glad we met them. Yesterday Elder Olson was looking at our family picture and said that he can tell that he would love you guys already, especially mom. I told him I have the best mom ever and sometimes I wonder if she loves my friends more than me haha. Hopefully you'll get to meet them someday - they're awesome.

Anyway, time is come to an end here. I can't wait to talk to you guys tomorrow! Hope all is well.


Monday, September 6, 2010

Twentieth Birthday.

Tao po!
I know you haven't been to the Philippines in awhile but that's what you say when you knock on somone's door. For Jason, it litterally means "People!" so that they know its not just a joke. My teacher was telling us that most times people will respond "Walang tao" which means "there isn't any people here" so I thought that was funny because... well you put it together haha.

Thanks so much for the card and shirt! That was the best birthday present ever! I'm so glad that the band shirt came out great this year and I'll miss seeing the shows a lot. I did hear from Cara though and I heard you guys are doing great! She said it's been one of the smartest freshman classes she's ever been around (although she says that every year). I'm really excited to hear about your success; although it's been a couple years since I've graduated, I will always support Palo Verde. Once a panther, always a panther.

Speaking of which, isn't that weird to think about? Celebrating my twentieth birthday has sure been an eye opener. I'm growing up so fast even I can't believe it! I am glad to not have the "teenager" stigma anymore though. Anyway my birthday was great. We started off the day doing some service and then my district sang happy birthday to me in English and Tagalog so that was awesome. I didn't get to blow out any candles though so do light up a cake and make a wish for me.

This past week wasn't anything out of the ordinary. On Thursday night at our teaching appointment we did get a little surprise though. We had been preparing the whole week to teach Lesson 2 in Tagalog with our companions and then at the literal very last second, Brother Doria (our teacher) came in the room and switched up our companionships to do a mock "emergency transfer." I wasn't too happy with this to begin with because Elder Frost and I worked really hard in preparing this lesson so it all went down the drain but I guess that's how the mission is anyway. It actually ended up really well. I got to teach with Elder Probst from BYU and he's a really smart kid. The lesson was actually to my surprise, the best one I've had yet. Although it's just a mock lesson you could feel the Spirit so strong that you could almost grab it. It was truly awesome. The Tagalog really surprised me too. I can't believe how much I've learned. It's really hard for me to talk now without saying any Tagalog and just straight English. I even think in Tagalog now. Weird right? It's awesome though and I can't wait to talk to you next week!

Well I guess Friday was a pretty good day. We got out flight plans so I'll be sending you a copy today. We fly to LAX than to Taipe (however you spell that) and then to Manilla. I'll be calling home late at night next Tuesday, probably between nine and ten from LAX so be ready for that! I also have some pretty awesome news. On Thursday the week before, I auditioned for a special musical number. That's probably the thing I've missed the most up here - music. So I grabbed a really talented piano player, a sister from the other zone, and we put together this vocal solo called "I have not seen, but I believe." It's a beautiful song and I really enjoyed singing it. I had no high expectations though because I'm by no means a professional singer so I wasn't expecting to make it through. They audition over 70 people in the course of four hours with a few rooms going and they only pick five to be able to give musical numbers at special big meetings for the next week. I worked really hard on our song though and changed a few things how Cara taught me to and, well, I got a letter in the mail on Friday telling me that I had been picked as one of the five to give a musical number! So today I'll be performing that song and I'm way excited! I'll record it and send you a copy with the memory card. My accompanist was telling me that she really enjoyed accompanying me because I actually did something with the music and I just responded that it's because my band director in high school taught me how to be a real musician through her great example and leadership. I'm really looking forward to that.

One small story that mom will enjoy real quick. So I got my suit dry cleaned this week and to my surprise it came back missing a button, and my companion was like... well what are you going to do? And I just responded, "My mom gave me a mouth and taught me how to use it." So I let them know what's up, kindly of course, and we got it fixed haha.

Anyway hope you all are doing great and I look forward to hearing from you soon!


P.S. - What's esau in Ilocano? Also, I was wondering if you could send me a band shirt in XL, I'll explain later!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Another awesome week.

Kumusta na pamilya ko!
Naku! Hindi puwede akong maniwala na mayroon akong dalwang linggo lang dito sa United States! Loco loco naman! Maraming maraming salamat po para sa inyong mga sulat - parang regalo ng pasko yong mga sulat sa palagay ko. Talagang sobrang sobrang pinaka-napaka-excite-excited (yeah I know that's not right) naman ako para magsalita sa inyong lahat! Tatawag ako sa martes sa bati ni (ta)tay. Maghanda kayo para diyan!

Well this week has been AWESOME! It started out kind of sad though. We lost another district - or well not lost best let them go to the Philippines. It was really hard to watch them go because we were with them for so long but, like when the other district left, I'm just so excited for them that it doesn't matter. Although there were lots of tears from everyone, it was definitely a bittersweet experience. I can't believe that two weeks from tomorrow that's going to be me! I'm so excited!

The past few weeks it's been awesome to see some of my closest friends come in from BYU. Yeah, Matt Phillips came in a couple weeks back, and last week Addison came in. It's way awesome to have Addison here. We were bascially like brothers at BYU - we were literally with each other for every meal, between every class, hungout everynight, and never got tired of it. I got to have dinner with him when he came in on Wednesday and found out that he's actually staying in my building here at the MTC so I get to see him every night. I'm so glad he's here; it's almost like having a piece of home with me. He's been doing great and is picking up the Spanish fast. I'm really excited for him to be out there - he's going to be awesome. Also, today I had a great surprise when I was walking back from the temple I ran into Chandler! My old roommate from Spring semester! He got a job at the MTC so I'll be able to see him every now in then. Having Chandler and Adds here is the best thing ever. Chandler was seriously the best roommate I could ever ask for and was such a good example to me. To this day I still have yet to meet anyone that is as genuinely kind as that kid and hope he does well this next year at BYU. And for another great addition, Zach will be getting here on my birthday on Wednesday, so that will be awesome too!

For our TRC this past week, our mock lesson was teaching a Muslim which was really interesting. He asked us a bunch of questions and spoke really fast Tagalog. It was a great experience though and my teacher said my Tagalog was like night and day from last week. He told me that within a month in the field, if I keep progressing like I have been, I'll be fluent without a problem. Crazy right?

For next weeks TRC, the first part we have to give directions to the church and we've learned this funny song to the tune of "Do your ears hang low?" of the directions. Maybe you can teach Jason! Here's what it is:

Sa taas,
Sa ilalim,
Sa ibabaw ng,
Sa harap,
Sa likod,
Sa tabi ng,
Sa loob,
Sa labas,
Sa kabila na,
Huminto na!

That will be interesting.

Tagalog itself has been a trip. This week we made a pact to speak absolutely zero English from here on out and it is SO hard! But we're making progress quickly. We get our flight plans on Friday which is crazy so I'll fill you in on that next week! I'm basically becoming super Filipino here, isn't that weird? The most Tagalog I've ever spoken in my life is to a bunch of white kids! It's kind of funny too, we have a leftover line here with just leftovers and rice, and most days I just go get rice and eat it with a main meal like pasta or something... what is happening to me!

This past week we had a great opportunity to hear from an apostle in the church for devotional - his name is Jeffrey R. Holland. It's a really big honor and was really awesome to be able to hear him speak. He talked about obedience and not wasting our time, but cherishing it all. Also, yesterday before church, my companion and I got to watch "Music in the Spoken Word" which is a live performance from the Mormon Tabernacle Choir from Salt Lake. I hadn't heard good music like that in a really long time. It was amazing. They sang a song from "Fiddler on the Roof" called "Sunrise, Sunset" which was absolutely beautiful. It talks about a growing up of a child; I think you would've loved it mom. It made me think of a lot of things growing up but in particular my first day of middle school. Do you remember that mom? I was so scared that I made you walk inside with me and when you left I started crying. Gosh I was a baby, but it's crazy to see how much of grown since then. Being out in the world without you is really hard mom, but you taught me well. I'll make you proud I promise.

Well, it's time to get back to business. I hope to hear from you all soon. Jason - don't let band suck you in too much, I want to hear from you soon!



Kamusta na pamilya!
Maraming maraming salamat po para yong mga magandang korbata. Talagang nagpapasalamat po ako para sa inyong lahat. Nagsulat ako sa inyo sa viernes kaya tatangap kayo ng salut ko. Nag-attach ako ng memory card para sa inyo, sana ako na gusto po ninyo yan! Kamusta sa bahay nating? 'Naku nag-miss-na-miss ako sa inyong lahat! Nagkakaron ako tatlong linggo lang dito sa MTC! Excited naman ako! At Nay, bakit hindi naiinisip mo na makapagusap ako sa tagalog? Tunay talaga iyan! Kaya ko yan ngayon! Pero, hindi ko alam kung tamang itong grammer haha.

Well, it's been an experience this past week. I've been getting pretty good at beach volleyball here during gym time; it's so much fun! Although the sand never seems to be the right temperature; it's either way too hot or way too cold! This past week we went TWO whole days without speaking English! Grabe naman ito eh? It's hard but somehow we do it. What stunk though is we watched a Tagalog movie and we couldn't understand anything because they talk SO fast! It's alright though, we'll catch on soon.

I also heard you got the chance to talk to Brother Doria mom and I got your big hug from him! Thanks! He's an awesome teacher. Friday was his birthday and as a district we skipped lunch and put together a card and some gag gifts for him. Feel free if you have any questions to ask him about the Philippines or the MTC. I talked a little about that in the letter I just sent too.

Thanks again for the ties, can't have enough of those. I laughed when they were all black; listen, I know I'm dark okay? I actually ended up giving one of them to my friend Elder Johnson. He's from Oklahoma and he was telling me the other day how he could only afford to have a really small amount of ties. So I gave him one because I thought he could use it more than I could and he leaves to the Philippines today, I hope that's okay. Thank you though, it was nice to see dad's handwriting again.

So here's our funny Tagalog story of the week. We're not allowed to speak English at all in class pero okay lang sa "Tag-lish" - emphasis on the LISH. So they were discussing the "pop the top" rule for the letter "o" and on of the elders had a question about it. Basically, when you conjugate a verb and there's an "o" in the last syllable, it "pops it's top" and becomes a "u." Halimbawa - tulong becomes tulUngan. So one of the elders (who isn't really picking up the language) was like, "May tanong po ako: kailan nag-pop ang top kami dahil no ko know kapag to do yan." I thought it was funny haha maybe you had to be there though. Also, I never thought I'd see the day where "'Naku!" or "Grabe!" or "Sayang!" would come out of my mouth instead of "Oh my gosh!" or "Shoot!" I feel like grandma or something.

Speaking of Grandma Angela, could you tell her that all the missionaries are jealous of the quilt she made me? See, it's really, really cold in the rooms at night here and no one brings a blanket and we can't control the A/C. All they give us is this thing, cheap blanket but since I have grandma's quilt, I stay warm. Even the big Poly's get cold at night.

Also, yesterday, I was talking to Sister Vaipulu from New Zealand at the temple and she was telling me how she knew Elder Matt Stucki! Small world right? She's going to Bacolod, PI. She's a lot of fun and we have a good time in volleyball. Let Mrs. Stucki know if you see her!

Alright family, well it's time for me to get going. Time's running up here in the US and it will be weird not to hear any of your voices next Wednesday on my birthday but it's okay. Hope you're all doing well - be safe! Ingat po kayo!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Bawal Ingles.

Hey family!
Talagang jealous ako na pumunta kayo sa Six Flags. We never did that while I was there in band! Pero okay lang, napakaligaya akong nakapunta kayo.

Sa noong linggo, talagang mahirap kami dito sa MTC dahil hindi puwede kaming mag-ingles ngayon! Bago sa "linggo na bawal ingles" talagang "talkative" sa district ko pero kung hindi puwede silang mag-ingles, pinaka-silent sila. Nag-tatry ako pero mas mahirap naman kasi walang taong gusto nilang magsalita sa Tagalog.

Alright, that was bad and my head hurts now so I'm going to finish in English haha. Well I'm glad you all had fun there! That's so awesome that you were able to go and thank you for taking them. I'm sure they really appreciated and I'm proud to have such willing parents. I know you probably had a lot to do and it definitely meant a lot to Cara to have the help. Thank you for supporting them.

I'm so glad that you saw Matt last week! Thanks for telling me about that, I really miss that kid. I came in with Ryan on the same day here and I see him a lot. I'm glad that he saved you guys some money because I know I haven't been really helping. There's a lot of Tagalog things I've been needing here so I apologize for that. Also, food supply is a bit low and they only give us six dollars a week for the vending machines, and as you all know: I love to eat.

Well, I was released as district leader yesterday of district 3C. I was kind of sad but I know its what the Lord wants. They switch at the halfway point here at the MTC to give someone else a turn. Its kind of funny because they called Elder Kinikini who is a huge Tongan that plays football for the Univerisity of Hawaii; so they went from calling the smallest kid to the biggest in the district - and of course, we're the only two who aren't white with brown hair. I'm excited for Elder Kilikkilik though, he's really nice with a big heart. I'll send you a picture of us together that we took yesterday; you'll laugh really hard. I was also released as senior companion too so I'm just a regular missionary now with now other responsibilities other than myself for now. It's weird, but I'm adjusting well.

This past week was really tough because our class went to zero English. Our teacher marks on the board every time we talk in English as the number of "kasalanans" of our class and if we get over three we don't have story-time in English about the Philippines at the end of class. I've been doing really well but everyone else is dying. Wednesday we decided as a district that we weren't going to speak English at all, even outside of class so that was crazy. It really helped us a lot though and forced us to learn. This week we decided not to speak English at breakfast and lunch because our language evaluation scenario on Thursday is a meal setting. We're also starting to learn how to teach the first lesson in Tagalog too. We'll also be evaluated on that on Thursday as well. It's funny because now speaking English has become a treat to us and as we all discussed, whenever we speak English now, we feel like we're doing something we shouldn't be doing. It's actually becoming hard to speak in just English believe it or not. It's really hard for any of us to go a sentence or two without speaking Tagalog. The Lord is truly blessing us with learning the language at the MTC.

Well we have about four weeks from tomorrow until we leave until the Philippines and I'm getting really excited. I'm getting kind of tired of this place and anxious to go but I know it will come soon enough. Hope all is well for you all this week and I look forward to hearing from you soon! Mahal ko kayo!


Monday, August 9, 2010

First Goodbyes.

Hey Family!
Talagang mabalis ang noong lingo! Mayroong akong limang mga lingo lang dito sa MTC. Mabalis ng horas dito talaga!

Well, that may not all have been right but I don't have all day to figure out grammer to email with so I'll finish the rest of the email in English. Anyway, it's been a really, really, really fast week. We were so busy this past week. Thank you for your letters, time flew out of my hands before I could even think to write back. By the time I would've sent ya'll anything (everyone says ya'll here, it's starting to stick with me again) it would've been too late!

Anyway, this past week was really hard. We sent our oldest district in the zone to the Philippines and it was really hard to let them go. They were like our big brothers and sisters even though they were only here six weeks before I was. I really learned a lot from each of them; I especially got close to the zone leaders from being the district leader. They left for a nice long 20 hour trip at the beginning of last week; the Laoag missionaries left on Monday, and the Quezon City ones on Tuesday. There were lots of tears but we're really happy for them. I'm so glad they were here to set the example for us to follow and I can't wait to hear from them and see the Quezon City elders soon.

We got two new districts in our zone this past week and it's been really weird to have new people here. It's just not the same, but I guess that's how the mission is - ever changing and never the same. Elder Frost and I got two new people in our room who are pretty cool for the most part. I did have to set them straight on the temperature though because one of the elders insisted on cranking the AC down to 55 degrees and I was not having that - thanks to the big mouth mom gave me, I made sure to voice my opinion. Joke lang, I was mature about it but still, isn't 55 degrees a bit ridiculous? One of the elders is from Sanger California and he's pretty cool. I guess its been good to have new faces but its still been rough to see them replace the rooms of the old district. Regardless, it doesn't matter how much I complain, cry, kick, or scream, the past isn't coming back and I know I have to focus on the reason on why I'm out here and focus on the future.

Well Mom, I appreciated your letter in the mail and it was really cool to get that letter from the mission president, thanks for sending it ASAP and don't worry about opening it; feel free to open anything you'd like. So district leader? I'll try to explain that to you a bit better.

Each mission, whether in the MTC or out on the field, is typically comprised of about 8-11 zones and within those zones about 4-5 districts. Here at the MTC we have two zones of Tagalog speaking elders and 8 districts total. There is a companionship (two missionaries) called as zone leaders who are in charge of each zone and assist the district leaders with their duties. Mat is a zone leader in Alaska right now. As a district leader I am over about ten missionaries and here are the responsibilities as described to the MTC guidelines:

Lift, encourage, inspire and bless the members of the district.
Set an example of gospel living and devoted, selfless service.
Encourage the missionaires in the district to live a high standard of obedience. Remind them to keep the classroom and their residence rooms clean and orderly.
Promote speaking your language.
Receive an accounting during the last class on Friday from each senior companion.
Collect missionary weekly reports and submit them to the zone leader.
Report to the Branch president on the progress and concerns of missionaries in your district.
Attend and participate in weekly branch council meeting.
Plan and conduct district meetings (three times a day, six days a week).
Assign temporary companion exhchanges as needed.
Read weekly bulletin and keep missionaires in the district informed.
Pick up and distribute mail.

Basically, I'm the district's mom and the zone leaders are my mom. I'll actually get released this week though since it's halfway through our stay here and they will call a new district leader on Sunday. I'm relieved a little but I'll miss it. It's been a great experience.

Jason, good luck on band camp! I expect a full report, pictures, and stories! Don't forget, you're always a drum major to them and to me. Take care of that car and those kids k?

Dad, keeping being yourself. I miss ya.

Anyway, I think that's all I got for this week. I look forward to receiving your dearelders every week, they keep me goin'. And yeah mom, my companion is coming to Quezon with me; guy's a character, you'd love him. Oh and Preston got here this week too! Anyway, my time is about to run out, can't wait to hear from you guys soon. Don't worry about me here I'm doing fine. There's one thing I'd like to ask though, if you could look in my green hymnbook and learn and sing "Families Can Be Together Forever" every Sunday for me, that'd be awesome. It's a really powerful song that we sing here sometimes and I think you will like it. Well take care, I'll talk to you soon! Oh one last thing, I'm scheduled to leave here the 13th of September so plan on getting a call that night!


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Movin'.

Mom, Dad, & Jason!

Magandang umaga sa inyong lahat! Kumusta po ang lingo ninyo?! Mabuti naman para s'akin. Huwag kang magalala, naguusap ako sa tagalog marami heto sa MTC.

Anyway, time's been a-movin' here at the MTC. I realize I told you guys it was just the same old thing last week but I guess you don't really know what that is huh? I'll try to map out a week for you real quick.

The week starts on Friday because that's when we do all our weekly planning. As district leader, I lead the district in setting goals, evaluating last week, and evaluating our progress in all areas. It's a long grueling process that usually takes about two hours. We then set goals within a companionship and then for ourselves. Our teachers guide and moniter those goals every week. The goals are usually set to our weekly teaching appointment scenario that's evaluated on every Thursday night. This past Thursday night our TA went really well. The appointment was that we were supposed to get to know the person for seven minutes in only Tagalog and then we taught the first lesson in English. Next week the TA is that we are picking an "investigator" up for church, riding the jeepney to church, and then teaching the second lesson in English. Everything else is in Tagalog.

Saturdays are pretty much like any other day: eight hours of class, three hours of studying, one hour of "missionary directed time," three meals, and an hour for gym.

Sundays are pretty busy believe it or not. We have to be in the classroom for instruction by seven like any other regular day and then as a district leader we havea "branch meeting" (a branch is like a ward just smaller) that has all the leaders in the zone and the branch presidency: the three district leaders over each district in the zone, the two zone leaders over the zone, and the one coordinating sister. We talk about and evaluate problem areas in the district and see what we can do to make things better. Then we have priesthood meeting, and sacrament meeting like my farewell. Between the end of sacrament and dinner we all go for a temple walk which is where you'll see most of my pictures. Then we head back and shower because it's hot outside, and then go to dinner. After dinner we have what's called a "fireside" which is where a speaker comes and talks to all the missionaries in the MTC and then we go watch a church movie after. As always, everyday ends with planning and then we go to the residence hall and unravel.

Monday is our"preparation day" or better known as "p-day." We usually go to the temple really early, get our laundry done, email, study, write letters, and then go for a run. It ends around five and I have another zone coordinating meeting with the zone coordinator this time. Then we have class and well, that's Monday.

Tuesday's we have gym first so no one showers and we just have breakfast and then go play soccer usually. We usually play against the Spanish speaking elders which is funny because we strategize in Tagalog and they strategize in Spanish so we can't understand what the other team is doing. If we feel lazy during gym time we'll play frisbess, croquet, or ladder golf aka old people sports. We only have four hours of class on Tuesday because we have a "devotional" which is like a fireside just during the week. After the devotional we have a district devotinal review that I coordinate under a presiding authority.

Wednesdays start with service so we don't go to the cafeteria and just grab a sack breakfast instead. Our service is cleaning one of the residence halls so it kind of stinks (literally) but its a good way to start off the day. We usually spend the rest of the day preparing for the TA.

Thursday - no different, just no service.

And well, that's it!

Last week I got a haircut dad... and well, I don't really have any hair left. I told her to take just a little off the top and she just kept on cutting! Oh well, it's cooler that way I guess.

The Tagalog is coming really fast. Since we're not really allowed to speak in English its becoming embedded in my head. I have to make a conscience effort to say small things in English like "yes" or "no" or even "how are you?" or "really?" because by default now everything is "oo," "hindi," "kumusta?" or "talaga?" It's pretty funny. Most times I find myself talking in Tagalog without even meaning too. In a little over a month I'll be able to call you in the airport and you can hear it!

Speaking of which, the transfer for me to go early didn't really work out. There weren't enough missionaries coming back to replace so I'll be hear until the second Tuesday in September. It's all good, I know I'm supposed to be where I need to be.

Some of the kids in our zone this week (missionaries I should say, not kids) are leaving to Quezon this week. It's crazy. I'm really excited for them but I'm going to miss them a lot. That's the essence of a mission though, you sacrifice leaving people you love to find more people to love.

Anyway, that's all I have for this week. Thanks for your dearelders! They went through and I appreciate it! I wanted to send letters back but by the time you would've gotten them it would've been Monday already so sorry about that Jase but send me one this week and I'll get back to ya soon! Well, hope everything is good, by the way I'm jealous of that car! Good choice though! You'll have to send me a picture! Be careful kiddo, don't make stupid mistakes like me. Red lights are there for a reason and left turns are dangerous. Alright well take care and write me soon! Tell Auntie Liz to email or dearelder me too! I miss them! Ingat po kayo!


PS - Did get the package! Thanks!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Tao Po!

Mom, Dad, & Jason,
(Knock, knock) Tao po! Ayos! Bakit hindi nagsulat kayo sa akin sa Naghintay ako! Pero, okay lang.

Tagalog joke for the week:
"Oh kamusta na Elder Frost?" (my companion)
"May sakit siya" (me)
"Sakit? Hey, you just need to be a man and 'sak-it' up!" (Elder Kinikini aka Elder Kilikili)

This week went by really fast. The first few days were really long but after we got our schedule going, time really started to pick up. Everyday is just go, go, go from 6:30am to 10:30pm, even to the point where everyone's rushing to brush their teeth at 10:28pm to get in bed. It's starting to grow on me though and although it's had work, I'm loving every minute of it.

Being district leader has been really good for me. It helps me stay focused and less homesick because I have to worry about everyone else before myself. Class is going great. I find out today if they're going to put me up to the advanced class because I'm learning Tagalog so much faster than everyone else, but they don't know if it's going to work out with transfers so we'll see. I'll be happy where ever I go because I know that that is where the Lord will have me be.

We had our first "teaching appointment" last week which is where you get evaluated for everything you've learned that week. The task was to contact three people in 15 minutes speaking only Tagalog and then teach the first lesson for 35. A lot of people in the district had a hard time with it but my companion and I breezed through. I let him do most of the talking in Tagalog since he could use the practice and I just chimed in whenever he got stuck. Our lesson went amazing too; I don't think it could have gone any better. Our teachers were really proud of us and the work that we did.

Today we got up an hour earlier and made a trip to the temple which was awesome. It was a great way to start the week. Elder Frost and I then went to go get my pants hemmed because I think I shrunk coming up here, and then we did our laundry... I've never had to wash so many whites in my life.
Anyway, I hope all is well at home, I miss you guys a lot. Here's my address if you guys want to write me!

Elder Eric Ray Corpuz
MTC Mailbox #129
PHI-QUE 0916
2005 N 900 E
Provo, UT 84604

I'll try to remember more stuff to write next week! Love you and miss you guys lots!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Kumusta po kayo?

Hey Mom! (at sina dad & Jason)

Kumusta po kayo?! Mabuti naman ako. That's all I got right now haha.

Well its been a really long past few days away from you guys. It's been really hard to be away from home but its been really rewarding as well. I'll try to recap the past week to the best that I can remember it.

Wednesday was probably the longest day I've ever lived in my life. Everyone was staring at me through the whole terminal and flight; I think partially because I was wearing a suit and also because I was crying the whole time haha you know me already. The flight went by fast and we landed in Salt Lake City about 20 minutes early. Bishop Grant picked me up in baggage claim and we ran into a guy in my hall who was going into the MTC as well that day. So Bishop Grant took us all (me, Elder Young, and his sister - Sister Young) back to Provo and treated us to lunch at IHOP. Afterwards we drove to the MTC a bit early and, well, that was it. We were all really nervous because we didn't know what to expect but as you can see I'm still alive and surviving. They had other missionaries there waiting to pick us up who took our suitcases and showed us to our residence halls and classrooms. We started class right away that day and man, was it hard. I thought Calculus or PDBIO was hard but at least they were in English. From the moment I walked in the door "bawal ingles." Absolutely no English. I felt so sorry for all the other kids because at least I could understand a little bit; on the other hand everyone looked like they wanted to cry. The language is coming really fast though. Class went on forever that day. At dinner it was like almost eating at the cannon center all over again. I saw at least ten people from BYU at dinner alone that day. It was really nice because missing home kind of lessened up after seeing some familiar faces. After dinner we went to a workshop that was like a mock-lesson teaching with a bunch of other newbie missionaries. We met our Zone Leaders after that who then took us to our rooms for the night. My companion's name is Elder Frost and he's way cool. He's a kind of nerdy kid that says a bunch of really funny things but we get along great. We make jokes a lot between the two of us since he's "from the hood." Taga Conneticut siya at magmimisyon siya sa Quezon City tambien. Oops - that was Spanish. Funny because that's been what's hardest about the language here. Whenever I try to talk in class I speak in a mix of Tagalog, Ilocano, Spanish, and English and my teacher (Brother Doria ang pangalan niya) just looks at me funny. My companion starts speaking French when he gets frustrated so I don't know what's worse haha.

The days all kind of mesh together after that. Thursday was our first real day in the MTC. Our days are pretty much formatted like this:

6:30am - Wake up
Three hours of Class
Three hours of class
Three hours of class
Sleep - 10:30pm

We hard immunizations check on Thursday and guess what mom... I have all mine done already! My companion has to get a couple so I was relieved about that. Thursday was pretty much like another other day though. We've come up with a couple Tagalog jokes that I know you will find funny. So we were going over pronouns haling bawa ang - ako, siya, ikaw/ka, etc. And the teacher was telling us that the easiest way to remember each is by finding the similarities between the two. So when the teacher asked with similarity between "tayo" and "nating" was I shouted out "absolutely nating!" Atsaka everyone finds the number "siyete" really funny. We say when we go to the bathroom "Anong number?" like you know, number one or number two, and the response is "number siyete" haha. Its weird though, I wish you guys could come visit and see this place. I rarely hear English because everyone is speaking their own perspective languages. What was even weirder was coming here and having a bunch of white people speak better Tagalog than me. I'm starting to think I'm forgetting to speak in English too because everyone thing is Taglish here; I can't even remember the last time I said "yeah" or "yes." It's awesome though. I can't wait to call you guys before I go on the plane and show you how much I've learned.

Later that Thursday night I was called as district leader on only the second day here. I completely was not expecting that but it's been good for me. It's helped me to worry about the guys in my district and less about myself like Bishop Thomas said. Forgetting myself and doing His work has been a bit hard being homesick but that calling has made it a lot easier. The Branch President also said that there's a strong possibility that I'll be out of here in only three weeks since I'm picking up the language so fast. That would be crazy because all the guys in my district are here for nine which is just a little longer than Spring term. Saturday and Sunday were pretty much the same as the other couple of days.

I think what I've liked most about the language is the structure and how amazing it is. Tagalog is so beautiful becuase it marks the focus of each sentence. We were talking about our purpose the other day. The first part talks about "bringing others unto Christ." An activity our teacher did was to try to understand what was the focus of that sentence whether it be "coming" or "Christ." Tagalog perfectly marks it though, it marks "others" as the focus which is what missionary work is all about. It's about loving the people and not us.

Even though being away from home is really hard, I'm having a great time here. As Elders we're all looking out for eachother and lifting eachother up everyday. The food is great and even though the work is hard, it's worth it. I've been recording videos and taking lots of pictures for you guys so I hope you enjoy those.

I miss you guys a lot and hope you're doing well. Write me letters and send me stuff because that makes us feel special haha. I'll talk to you guys soon!

Mahal ko kayo,