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