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!