Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Hills.

Dear mom,
Well, it hasn't been that long since I last emailed you, but my life has changed so drastically in the past few days its crazy. I feel like my last email was just a tribute to Elder Tengelsen, so I'll try to go over the past week and everything that happened in a nutshell.

Monday was Elder Tengelsen's last day. The previous day in church, he let everyone know he was leaving and a few church members wanted to treat us out for lunch. So one member took us out to this really fancy Chinese restaurant called "Wan Chai" which isn't that expensive in the dollar conversion, but for the four of us, they spent a chunk for the economy here. I stuffed myself with the good food to the point where I couldn't eat anymore. It was so nice of them to treat us out. Afterwards, we went to these two old ladies, one at the age of 94, and the other in her seventies. When they found out the day before, Sister Garcia, the 94-year-old told Elder Tengelsen the same thing apparently. I didn't know. So we went on our way to that meal as well and although Elder Tengelsen had room, I had absolutely none. Her "house" was awesome. It was the top of this building and it was a "bahay kubo" our a house made out of bamboo. She said she had been praying the whole morning what to feed us and she came up with siopao and rotiserrie chicken - love both of those. Unfortunately, I didn't have any room. So Elder Tengelsen ate everything while I nibled and distracted Sister Garcia, and then when she wasn't looking, he ate my food too. Thank goodness, I love my companion. Afterwards, she asked us for a blessing of comfort because she was having a rough time. She was such a faith builder to me. Ninety-four years old and still so strong. Walking up stairs, sharp memory - everything. When she asked us how life was, she said hard... but nothing she couldn't handle because of the strong faith she had. She told us how hard it was without the church in the Philippines growing up and how shes so thankful for the strong missionaries now. She really touched my heart and made my day, she reminded me of nanang a lot because she's Ilocano too. It was hard to say bye, but with a few tears, we were off.

We spent the rest of the day working and then ended up at the Angoluan's because they put together this slideshow for Elder Tengelsen on his last night. It was a great night, and I hope Elder Tengelsen was able to have a good last day, even though it definitely wasn't as we planned.

Tuesday was long and very hard. I think I went over it last time, but we were up late the night before, and up early that morning packing. Saying goodbye of course was hard, but well, necessary. I'm pretty sure I went over everything else in the last email.

Wednesday - that night was really rough. After finally getting over Elder Tengelsen leaving, I had the night to go and say goodbye to all the members and people I taught. It was so, so hard. I love the people here so much. I'll miss the families so much. I was able to hold back tears until I got to the Aoalin family who you may remember. They're from Ilocos as well and we really worked hard to help them with their struggling life and to make it back to church. When I told Sister Aoalin I was leaving, she was really, really sad and made us all cry. She said that it was like they'll be something missing from her heart, but I guess we all know how that feels. Afterwards we headed to the Angoluan house. This was the hardest out of all the goodbyes.
They became my family here and it just didn't feel real that I was leaving them. Of course, Sister Jen put together this huge night for me and invited over Sister Kharrol, and Sister Cecelia, my convert if you remember, as well as their families. They made us dinner for the last time, and then we had a huge family home evening. We played this game, which was really, not a game. I was in the hot seat and the object of the game was to make me cry, and if I cry, I get baby powdered smacked on my face to become white (because that's what you want here), and if anyone else cries, they get likewise. So everyone went, one by one, and told me just really amazing things and said their goodbyes. Of course, I cried for about every person, Sister Cecelia, Sister Kharrol, and of course Sister Jen especially. The Angoluan family also made this huge sign for me that said "God Be W/You Elder Corpuz" and all had a present for me - missionary things of course: socks, bandannas (to wipe the sweat off my face), and ties. I'll never forget that night or any of those people. I sang them them, in return, the song I sang at the MTC and shared with them a few last thoughts to each person, and then well, it was off. Each of them said, hopefully you won't forget us.
I know, I'll never forget them.

Transfer day - full of surprises. My new companion is Elder Christensen. Elder Christensen was my zone leader in the MTC and is only one transfer ahead of me. We were really close friends in the MTC so it was such a relief to know that he was my new companion. He is exactly obedient and it makes the work so much better. My new area is in a place called "Kalookan City" very close to Quezon City. It's not far from my old area at all so it's quite a relief. It's city - not province, but the people are amazing. I love them already. We spent the day getting finger printed for visas and I was pretty happy to see all my batch from the MTC - Elder Frost, my companion finally came off of the province of Mindoro, and then Elder Kinikini, Elder Butler, and Elder Miller. I also caught up with Elder Hales, the missionary that Elder Tengelsen trained and we talked about Elder Tengelsen for a really long time.

My new ward that I'm covering is called "University Hills" and is a lot smaller than my last area and a lot less busy (thank goodness). We're having a lot of fun together so it's been good. The rest of the day I just spent meeting people and getting settled in.

Friday...was a good day out. Pretty funny story. After weekly planning we headed out and while teaching a lesson, we noticed it started to rain... hard. I always have an umbrella with me... always - except for that one time. So we stood outside of the house and just kind of looked at each other as the water started to rise in the small, polluted river in front of us. It was epic. We decided to just man it up and go straight through the pouring rain and make it home because it wasn't going to stop anytime soon. It was so much fun, minus the fact that we had to walk through this black, dirty water. On the way home, being hungry, we decided to see if they would let us in Jollibee to eat. They said yes, so we bought our food, drenched, and they assigned this guy to follow us around with a mop. It was awesome and so much fun.

I guess the rest of the week was pretty normal (running short on time). Saturday we had temple tour again and had a really great experience there as always. And then Sunday I got to attend the ward for the first time. My new ward is great as well as my new zone. Did I mention there's another Elder Corpuz in my zone now? Awesome right? Never thought I'd meet one of those! We're far and few between.

As for now, there's lots of work to be done here. On our text messages, Elder Christensen put "The Hills" as our signature. It is perfect though - real people, real drama. I love it.

And the new story begins.

Elder Corpuz

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Elder Tengelsen.

Dear mom,
Well, so much to email about. I have a few funny moments to share first though.

Last week was great. We got to work more than we have been able to all transfer. A few funny stories that I know you will like. While we were at a family's house that we're teaching, we asked the mother to pray for us and in the middle of her prayer she said, "Nagpapasalamat po ako para kina Elder...(nakalimutan niya)Itim and Elder Puti." Or for Jason, "I thankful for (grand pause) Elder Black and Elder White." It was pretty hard not to laugh but I was still thankful that she was grateful for our visit.

Than later on in the week we were riding in a taxi a night that we were running late to dinner with the Angoluans (of course) and I asked for the guy to stop at the "pilay." Elder Tengelsen just looked at me and smirked. One we got out of the car he was like... "Elder, what was the word you used for 'bridge?'" and I responded that I knew it sounded like "pilay" but knew it wasn't right. "Pilay" means a "crippled person," "tulay" means "bridge."

I've also gotten really good at sniffing out turon on the streets which is so good. It's just banana lumpia or bananas, wrapped in egg roll wrapper, and fried with brown sugar.

Finally, this one happened during our Christmas conference. We were practicing our special musical number in the chapel when I realized I was sweating an awful lot. I forgot to put on deodorant. So I grabbed my companion, told him it was "a crises" and when we ran out, I confessed that I just forgot to put on deodorant. He laughed at we made it to a small store where all they had was women's deodorant in a "sachet" which is basically a ketchup packet. When I walked in, my previous zone leader, Elder Sewell, was just like... it smells like you just stuffed apples in your armpits. Better than nothing right?

Well that's all for the funny moments. This week hasn't been all too funny though.

Can't remember the last time I cried this much - but I guess you know I'm a cry baby as it is already.

Elder Tengelsen and I parted ways yesterday morning. It was the hardest goodbye I can remember since I left home. Elder Tengelsen really not only saved my mission, but changed my life. He had so much patience and love for me and always was there for a shoulder to cry on when times were hard. We became the best of friends over this past transfer because we helped each other and loved one another. This morning at our district meeting we talked about miracles. And when we were asked about what miracles we felt happened this past transfer, I told them about the experience Elder Tengelsen and I had together. At the beginning of the transfer, we sat down, and expected so much. Elder Tengelsen is an amazing, amazing missionary, and I expected to see so much change and turn for the better. We expected to see miracles in the area.

If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plans.

We did see miracles, but not the ones we expected. We saw miracles in each other. Elder Tengelsen helped me to change from the impatient, quick to anger, egotistical big head I am, into something completely different. It's been hard, for both of us, but each trial brought us closer. He's helped me to see my faults and to do my best to change them. We didn't see the miracles we wanted, but I know that God saw what he wanted to see. I wish the transfer could have been better for him though. He will probably stand the test of time as my favorite companion. I cried and cried and cried on Tuesday when he left. The whole last week has been hard dreading that day. I guess you know me, terrible at goodbyes and always missing people way more than they miss me. I was a baby about it though and well, he didn't shed really tears because he was such in a rush to leave. It was the hardest thing to watch my companion drive away in a taxi, but I'm excited for his future and the future we'll have as friends back at BYU.

The whole rest of the day yesterday was just hard. The zone leaders came over because I was struggling so much and gave me a blessing of comfort. I got to talk to Elder Suelzel for awhile and it really helped so much. I'm glad that God calls the leaders who He needs to help us as missionaries. Even though it was really out of the way, they came when I didn't even ask. Then Bishop Angoluan came and picked me up because I had called Sister Jen in tears earlier that morning, and took me out to lunch. I lost my appetite to eat since my companion left, but Sister Jen won't let me not eat. Lunch and dinner yesterday they fed me and all we talked about, for the full hours we were together, was Elder Tengelsen. All the funny things that happened. How he was strictly obedient. Always happy, always loving. And so many other great things. Elder Robbins, the other kid from Vegas is my companion until tomorrow.

And another heart-breaking surprise.

I'm getting transferred.

We found out this morning. I wanted to stay, but it's time to leave. I know that it's revelation from our Father in heaven so I will sustain it because I know he will put me where I need to be. So again, today I'm all tears. I love this area so much and love the people in the ward and that we are teaching so, so much. They are so special to me, and I'll never forget my first area. I'll be packing for the rest of the day and saying bye to everyone. It was unexpected, because both of the missionaries will be new and not know anything, but I know it's all for a good reason. There are never really goodbyes in the gospel anyway, just God be with you until we meet again.

As for now, I'll do my best to keep my head on straight and love and remember the lessons Elder Tengelsen has taught me. I love you all so much, and will email you again really soon!

Elder Corpuz

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Kumusta na!

Well, I don't have much time because I spent a good twenty minutes reading Jason's awesome letter about Rome and London. He's so lucky and I'm so jealous but I guess I am in a foreign country too right now eh?
Well, it's the last week of the transfer and my last week with Elder Tengelsen. Words can't even describe how much I love that elder and he is truly the best companion I could ever have. I'm dreadfully counting the days until we have to separate for a little while, but I know I'm lucky to have had him as a companion. President DeLaMare told me to just focus on how lucky I was instead of how unlucky I am to have to watch him leave. There are no goodbyes in the gospel, just "God be with you 'til we meet again" like my MTC teacher Brother Mauzy used to say.

By this time next week, I will have eaten balut, so take note Sister Jen! I'm ready!
Well in short, we got a huge email last week about how our mission will be focusing on helping families this coming years and completing families in the church. It just makes so much sense because families are so important and having part-member families just tears a unit that needs to be together.
We had a couple great experiences yesterday night. We taught a family with about six teenagers that hasn't been to church in months. Jonathan, a member, asked us to come with him. My companion shared a great scripture from the Book of Mormon about how families are meant to love one another and serve one another; then we all shared our experiences with how important families are. I talked about you all a lot. How being a teenager sometimes you think that your friends are more important but they are not. Your family can be a group of your best friends. Some of the other sisters talked about how lucky they were to be so many and how this time is so fun when everyone is still living together and not married with their own families. I also talked about how I was really disappointed in myself that it took me a trip all the way across the world for two years to realize how important my family is to me. It shouldn't be like that - families of the least shouldn't be taken for granted.

We had another great experience with our Rachel who is also from Ilocos and will be baptized on Elder Tengelsen's last day. We shared with her about the Plan of Salvation and how important families are. Everyone was so touched and there were tears all around. Life has so more meaning when you know you can take your family with you past this life. It's so comforting to know that families can be together forever through the Lord's true church. Ednalynne, a member, told us a really sad story as well about her family how they used to be so active in the church when they were little. They used to go to church every Sunday and not fit in one jeepney, and now it's just her. But she knows that they'll come back someday and has a goal to strengthen them. We'll do our best to help her too. Rachel loved the lesson and Jonathon, her cousin who introduced her, said a lot of really touching things about how he sees so much good in her humble heart. She's amazing and I'm so happy for her. She's going to teach me how to pray in Ilocano tomorrow so I'm way excited.

I can't even describe how teaching about families is such a blessing and how it is the one thing that satan is trying to tear apart in this day. He is working so hard to attack the family because he knows thats where true happiness. I guess all we can do is hang on, trust God, and love one another. I'm so lucky to have you all and wouldn't be who I am today without you.

Sa totoo lang, ang mga pamilya ay pangwalang-hanggan.

Elder Corpuz

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Survived the War.

Maningong Bagong Taon!
Naku! Well, I survived (barely) my first New Year's here in the Philippines. I'll get to that in a second.
Last week was pretty good. We were able to do service for a naka-buntis (pregnant) sister in the ward and ripped out this huge vine from her house. It was a lot of fun to get out and help someone. Elder Tengelsen really enjoys helping the members and getting to know them and I'm really glad we had the opportunity. It was kind of rough because they don't have all the tools we have in the U.S. for making gardening (or anything for that matter) easy - like rakes or what have you. So all I was really left with was a pair of hedgers and my two hands with my companion. It was fun though and we had a great time.
New year's was CRAZY. I can't even explain. I almost died.
Fireworks are illegal here but everyone still has them and uses them, and they would be classified as super-illegal in the states. The little kids set them off and walking around that night was seriously like walking through a battlefield. Things blowing up left and right. If my companion wasn't with me, I probably would have gotten really hurt. We had dinner with Cecelia, one of our converts, and of course, Bishop Angoluan's family - our second home here. They both made really good meals. Sister Jen was even sick that day but still did her best to prepare a huge, great meal for us. We talked about all the Filipino superstitions like eating noodles for a long life and fruits in the shapes of balls, jumping at midnight to grow, and making it really loud at midnight to get rid of the bad spirits - just stuff like that. I explained how we did all that in the states as tradition, not as superstition. My companion really got a kick out of all of it. We had a taxi driver that day say how it's a New Year so everyone should change and we'll all be happy. We won't need police and we won't need laws if everyone was just good - too bad it's not that easy. When midnight struck, we couldn't sleep because it sounded like a war was going on outside. Things blowing up left and right in the sky and on the streets for hours. When I woke up the next morning, I could barely see outside because of all the smoke. It was insane! The sky was really lit up that night, and it was truly the craziest new year I've had so far.
Hope you were all safe! Miss you tons! Only have 30 seconds left so gotta run! Happy New Year!

Elder Corpuz