Monday, February 21, 2011

Record Numbers

Dear Mom,
This week has been hard, but also very rewarding. I've been sick pretty much the whole week, but we've still had some great experiences. It's really frustrating being sick on the mission though, you don't come out here to sit around a house all day and stare at your companion that's for sure.

Well, this past week, as the Caloocan Zone, we brought 36 people into the waters of baptism this past Saturday at our Stake Baptism. It was an amazing, amazing experiences. Three of those people were people we were teaching. One of them, Ritsel, is one of the ones I commented that has such strong faith and is living with only one eye. She was also married that morning, so it was a special day for her. When I saw her after and greeted her with congratulations, she just looked at me teary eyed and said, "I did it."

I also had a really great experience that reminded me of you mom. One of the kids who got baptized in our ward was baptized by his older brother. When it was his time to be baptized, his mom came and was trying to get in front saying, "Let me through that's my son!" When I saw her, I pulled her to the front so she could see. When he came up out of the water, she just put both of her hands over her heart and just described how proud she was as tears went down her face. Only a mom can love a child like that, I'm thankful to have a mother who loves me that much too.

It was truly a special day, and a record for the mission. I'll never forget it. Our zone has been breaking records left and right, the amount of people we're helping is in numbers the mission has never seen.

Yesterday I had a funny experience too. It was "Fiesta" day in Dagat-Dagatan and well, fiesta means everyone is drunk by 10:00am and outside smoking, gambling, and singing videoke. Needless to say it was pretty dangerous. While we were walking through, a drunk guy grabbed my companion and started dancing with him, so I helped him off of my companion and as we were walking away, he decided he wanted to "dance" with me instead. So he grabbed me, by my thumb, index, and middle finger, and twirked my arm in a somewhat painful way. When my companion saw, he came running back and got him off me. And then he grabbed me other arm and motioned that he was going to hit me, so all his buddies stepped in and helped us away from him. Crazy right? I guess that's what alcohol does to people. It changes them in scary ways. We just walked away laughing and made it back to the apartment to not encounter any more drunk guys wanting to dance.

Anyway, we're at the last week of our transfer, can you believe it? Hopefully we'll continue to see more miracles here. I hope you are all well, don't get sick like me! Love you and miss you tons!

Elder Corpuz

The End of Quezon City

[This email had to be withheld until it was officially annouced in church news.]

Dear Mom,
Well, I thought I went through a lot of change at the beginning of this transfer. If you can only imagine, my life is about to change even more. We just received really unexpected news in our emails from President DeLaMare today.

The highest baptizing mission in the Philippines and top five in the world, as well as the smallest mission in the world at 50 sq. mi., is being split.

On July 1, 2011 we will see the beginning of two new missions where the Philippines Quezon City Mission once was.

Breaking into two missions, the work will be nearly tripled with more than 200 additional missionaries added to the area we are currently covering. Double the mission presidents, double the missionaries, double everything. The mission will be split from east to west into the Philippines Quezon City North Mission and Philippines Quezon City mission. Missionaries will be spread out in all areas and then we will acquire about 16 missionaries from the Manila mission, and within the months after, 200+ to the two missions now. As of now, we will not know where we go until that day. There is a possibility that I will leave this mission, the leaders, and go into the brand new mission. If I stay in Kalookan, I will be in the brand new mission.

This will currently put the Philippines at 17 missions in exactly 50 years.

It will be hard, but it's what the Lord wants. Here in the Metro Manila area, the ratio is about one LDS member to 400 others whereas in the province it is one to 100. The work will go forward, people will be brought to Christ and at unbelievable rate, and lives will change for eternity. The next five months will be a huge anticipation but excitement. We'll see what the Lord has in store.

This past week, aside from all that excitement, has been exciting as it is. I've had a few more of those funny experiences to start off with.

Babies don't wear diapers here; in fact, they don't wear anything. They just walk around naked. And when they use the bathroom, its just like an animal: sit down and let it be. Well, while we were teaching a lesson this past week, this little boy at about three, butt-naked, straight up urinated on mine and Elder Christensen's shoes. Just a little gross, but it's all about the experience right!

We also had a fun experience to be able to see these monkeys at this Buddhist temple this past week and snakes as well. I was pretty obsessed with getting pictures of the monkeys so I got pretty close to the cage. Of course the whole time, the Spirit was telling me it was a bad idea. In punishment, while I was taking pictures, this other monkey snuck up on me and grabbed me tie through the cage. I, of course, screamed at the top of my lungs and had a tug-o-war with this strong monkey and my tie. Elder Christensen just died of laughter during the crises. You can't really see in the picture but the tie was really muddy. It was really funny though.

Otherwise, we had a great week. It didn't really go as planned though. We got punted and stood-up a lot, but the Lord really guided us to where he needed us. We were able to visit lots of families and this week, church attendance was a record high. The chapel was packed to the brim and we couldn't have been happier. Working together with the ward and visiting the people the Lord wanted us to visit we were able to bring these people back to church and all of them were so happy to be there.

One of the less-active families we visited was a sad story. Brother Pahunan was a pretty active member in the church until about November when he had a stroke. No one really knew about it though because they stopped coming. When we visited him he couldn't speak or talk but just stood in the chair. Everyone was unaware and we were pretty shocked to find out that happened to him. They hadn't been coming to church because his poor wife can't push him in a wheel chair that far but he was able to communicate that he wanted to go back. So we helped him get help to push him all the way to church the next morning. People were in tears to see him there.

We also had a really great experience with Sister Galoso who, I mentioned before, only has 6 toes and is really hard at walking. She felt really inspired and wanting to help the people we were teaching so we agreed in taking her to a person who we are teaching who was just admitted in the hospital for high blood. Although she could barely walk, she had such a strong faith and want to help. She was a great example to both of us.

For now, we'll just keep living although great changes are coming. We're doing our best here and having a great time. We were able to go through the temple today which as always, is a great way to lift us up. Sister Jen sent me some food today through Elders at the temple and a short letter and I couldn't have been more happy. (My English is getting really bad). I miss them tons and it's been hard without them but we do have people feeding us here.

Although our week and this mission haven't exactly gone as we expected, just another lesson learned: life knows nothing else except change.

Elder Corpuz

Sunday, February 20, 2011

In Eric's Mission - A Work in Progress

His basketball dreams almost didn't come true, but then Tyler Haws learned where hard work and dedication can lead.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Araw Ng Mga Puso

Magandang araw ng mga puso!
That's what they call Valentines Day here, "The Day of Hearts." Love is in the air here, as probably is there in the states. I was just telling my companion about how last year, me, Preston, and Nyal just spent Valentines day with you doing fondue at Auntie Liz's house. Can you believe that was already a year ago? My companion got me a huge heart sucker and I got him some flowers. We're also going out as a zone later today and getting facials and pedicures just to be funny. Can you imagine that? Sixteen missionaries getting facials and pedicures? Gotta love my zone of Ilokanos, Australians, and Americans!

Speaking of my zone. We had a great zone activity today. My zone is pretty much solid elders so it's way awesome - we're all pretty much like brothers too, we're way tight. We have two sisters in our zone, Sister Bonafe from Negros, PI and Sister Goud from India. We played lots of games today and got to play basketball which was way fun. I'm pretty much a pro after taking beginners basketball at BYU 'di ba? And then we just went inside and played some games. I love playing games with other Filipinos. I love the people here. Everyone just reminds me of you all, my family. They're all so fun and loud and it's always a great time. Everything is all laughs and smile all the time.

I heard from Elder Tengelsen today! Have you heard from him yet? I left him our number so he could call you and you could ask him questions about any experiences we had. It was really good to hear from him.

Well this past week, nothing really crazy has happened. Summer is starting and we're all really dreading it. We've been hearing all these horror stories about how it gets so hot that you sweat like you're crying. You sleep in just a pool of sweat every night, and even though a fan is on you, it just blows hot air. When you shower, the water is warm, and the moment it runs off you, you just start sweating again. It's crazy. I can't imagine it being that hot. It's been sunny for the past few days and it's like the sun is just a few feet away. It's so, so humid. Like nothing you can ever imagine. I've never missed air conditioning so much!

I've been learning lots and lots of Ilokano this past week, so hopefully I'll be able to talk when I get back with you too! Ana met ten!

Anyway, this past week has been pretty good. We're preparing two of the people we are teaching for baptisms this Saturday. As a zone we have about 40 people being baptized this coming week so it's going to be a great stake baptism.

For now, I'll keep you posted on any crazy events as they happen. We have a few Barangay fiestas coming up so it's going to get crazy around here. I miss you all tons, Happy Valentines Day!

Elder Corpuz

Monday, February 7, 2011

Visaya ka ba?

Hey family!
Well, this week has been short and fast. We've been working really hard and it kind of takes me back to senior year in high school - lots of hard, physically demanding work - except here I'm ensured a full night's worth of sleep. That's so awesome that you've both been here though! I'm sure it's a little bit different - 45 years is a pretty long time.

This past week, I've been asked a billion times if I'm Visayan. Kind of strange right? I never got it in my last area so I wasn't really expecting it here. The Visayas compose the middle part of the Philippines - Luzon the top, Visayas the middle, and Mindanao the south. Every time I ask, I get the same answer though. Apparently, it's the nice way of saying I don't speak Tagalog really well. They say that when they hear another Filipino speaking English, their first assumption is that their Visayan because they can't speak Tagalog, but speak English really well. So whenever someone tells me I have a Visayan "accent," I know I need to watch my Tagalog... or just not speak it.

The area is great, it's different, but great. It's a lot less busy than Quezon is and a little more rural. I don't have any huge streets that I need to cross, but instead I go through a bunch of sketchy alleyways and what not and somehow end up to where I need to be. It's kind of really, really dirty. There's mounds and mounds of trash everywhere and the water is pretty much black, but the people are still great.

The week flew by because we worked really hard. We came into the apartment everyday with sore feet and lazy eyes. Every night laying down to bed was just a huge blessing. Hard work is always followed by hard trials though. I would never dare say serving a mission is easy, especially starting over again. It's hard not to take the jokes about how bad my Tagalog is or go the whole day sometimes barely talking to anyone. Having people cuss at you as you walk by and make fun of you doesn't exactly make you feel good either - especially when they look at you like your not human. It's hard - but I've really grown to see that remembering the blessings helps.

I've seen so many people here that can barely walk on one leg - or like this member I met from Ilocos, has lost toes because of diabetes. Sometimes it's just a miracle to have a full body that works. Arms. Legs. Ten toes. Two eyes. I've seen it all. The things we take for granted everyday when we just focus on the things we lack.

For the next week, we'll keep working hard. I wish I had the time to tell you crazy stories or send pictures, but the truth is I ran out of time just a bit ago. The week has been great though, and I know it will continue to be that way. We'll keep working hard despite the trials, whatever they may be. Regardless, we'll continue on.

Forward, pressing forward.

Elder Corpuz