Monday, March 28, 2011

A Beautiful Baptism


Dear Mom,
Well, I'm still here in the Philippines and believe it or not, the weather hasn't been too bad. Usually, summer starts here around March and goes until June - the rest of the year is "rainy season" or the "winter" of the Philippines. We've been pretty lucky though. This year is supposed to be "La Nina" which means summer will only be one month long. The school year also has just ended since summer is beginning. Kind of weird to think of right? We think of summer as June until August. It's still been cloudy and pretty cool (as in you don't have to wipe the sweat out of your eyes but you still do sweat) but progressively getting warmer so I'm cherishing this time. It's crazy to think of people like Mat who are freezing their butts off right now. I'd give anything to be cold and use blankets when I sleep and not be sleeping in a pool of sweat.

I usually write down all the stuff that I want to tell you in my planner but... I forgot my planner at home. So hopefully I won't forget too much stuff!

This week has been short and good. We had a great baptism last Saturday, and well, to tell you the truth, despite some other crazy bad things that happened, that weighed out everything else. Baptisms are a little different here in the Philippines than they are in the states. People just wear jeans, shorts, flip flops, and just everyday clothes and everyone shows up really late. Needless to say, they are really underlooked. The mission has been going in a new direction to change that, so we did our best to make this baptism special.

One of the things that really touched my heart were the few members that wanted to give Nenita and Atalia skirts and nice shirts to use for the baptism since they couldn't afford nice clothes. All the clothes they're wearing in these pictures were donated by the members.

The whole week we spent inviting people to the baptism to make sure that it was packed and made arrangements for musical numbers and other things with the ward (like food of course) to make it all that much better. On the Saturday of, it's pretty typical to not do any set up and just set up some chairs for the baptism. We decided we weren't going to do that and spent the whole day setting up. I sent some pretty cool pictures; we were really proud of it. We got there and the room was just empty, but we had an idea of what we wanted it to look like. It took a long time because we had to carry everything else from the main building to that building. When we were finally finished, we were really proud of it. We even found a voice to use that sounded like an organ for the piano so it was just like being in the temple. The members were very impressed and said they felt the Spirit the first thing they walked in.

The service itself was very special. Although the water was green... everything else was flawless. If you can remember, Nenita was the old woman we were able to visit in the hospital when she had a heart attack; her and her daughter were the candidates for baptism. Rodora Lamoste, the bishop's daughter gave the first talk about family prayer and Regine David, a recent convert, gave a talk about chastity. They did a really great job.

I was pretty lucky to perform the ordinance and people really underestimated how extremely buff and ripped I am. Yeah. Why are you laughing? Everyone was like... "Will you be able to baptize Nenita?" and being the humble person I am, I just responded "Oo, siempre!" or in English, "Yeah, of course!" It, as always, is an overwhelming feeling being able to perform the ordinance. I always end up doing it in tears, usually because the candidate is always crying too. Afterwards they watched the movie "The Restoration," the story of Joseph Smith, while we were changing. Then finally, we ended by giving a special musical number that Elder Daly and I prepared, and welcoming remarks from the bishop.

The place itself was packed, and we were really happy about that. The sisters brought about ten of the people they are teaching, and they also had a great experience. I believe they are getting baptized on the 16th of April with three of our candidates as well.

After the baptism, we do what we do best here in the Philippines... eat! The relief society, or the kababaehan, put together a huge dinner with, of course, adobo, rice, fish (bangus fried and stuffed with onions and tomatoes), mango, and much more. I'll definitely miss that part in the states. All in all, it was a great experience.

Yesterday was back to work. We had a great time working with Sister Lamoste, the bishop's daughter who served in Baguio. She taught us a lot and is so funny. She commented about how on Sunday nights in the Philippines, there are three types of people: drunk people, people smoking, and people gossipping. She also commented how I'm a walking facebook which I thought was hilarious.

We were walking to a less active who is a recent convert to the church which is really sad. They have been having marriage problems as a younger couple. They were busy so we weren't able to share with them, so walking away from the house, I just said, "Come to church and your marriage problem will be solved!" And Sister Lamoste replied that I have a comment for everything and that I must have loved facebook at home. So for the rest of the night we pretended like we were facebooking. Everything I would say, Elder Daly would "like" and Sister Lamoste would "comment." It probably sounds pretty stupid but it was really funny.

I also stepped in a dog poo last night. It's good luck I heard. It's difficult here because dogs aren't impounded so theres dog poo like every three feet. Gotta love the city!

Anyway, I think that's all I got for now. I'll email whatever I forgot next week. Next week is the last week of the transfer! Can you believe it? I can't. The just keep going by faster and faster!

Elder Corpuz

P.S. - Way sick, I sent some pictures of me and my companion of these banana popsicles that they have here that you peel like bananas! Awesome right?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Kyiv Ukraine Temple - Youth Cultural Celebration

A very similar cultural celebration called the "Jubilee" will be put on by the youth in the church on April 30, 2011 for the prophet, President Thomas S. Monson in Elder Corpuz' mission, Philippines Quezon City for the 50th anniversary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Philippines.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


Dear Mom,
It has been another quick week. I can't believe we're already half-way through this transfer. It seems like nearly every other day is a p-day!

That's great to hear about Jason and that they're doing the "Step Above" article on him in the 89138 magazine. I'm really proud of him and all that he's done. You'll have to mail me a copy of the magazine so I can show it to everyone here. It just seems like the other day I was taking my picture when they did the article on me. Can you believe that was almost three years ago?

Also, way awesome to hear that BYU basketball is doing so well. I'm actually pretty close with Elder Haws, the BYU basketball player. We went to the temple this morning together and we keep in touch really well. He's awesome and really humble. Him and Elder Kessler (who was in my calculus lab at BYU), are like my best friends here. They also l love taking pictures together with me because I'm so tiny. Here's the picture I don't think I sent to you last Christmas and the one we took today. Mainly, because I look so ridiculous standing next to them.
Well last week was great, we had zone conference on Tuesday which was great. We always realize how humbled we are when we walk in the mission home and pretty much kiss the air conditioning, carpet, and toilets. I mean, we're not exactly living like Americans here that's for sure. We were taught about some of the new fundamentals of Preach My Gospel: teaching people and not lessons as well as revelation through church attendance. These new lessons that they're highlighting from Preach My Gospel are great because they eliminate the robot missionary and let us teach to meet needs. It was a fun and great experience. In the picture, to my left is the other Elder Corpuz in the mission.

The rest of the week went pretty fast. It's been a bit difficult, but fast. We were able to truck (jeepney) a bunch of the people we're teaching to the long awaited temple tour that hasn't happened since January. This time the temple was packed! We were there from nine until one in the afternoon which is insane. The tour that the sisters put on is only about 20 minutes and theres a 15 minute video presentation that they do before, so that can give you just a little idea of how long we were waiting with the heat. They're all awesome and they loved it though. Every time we bring new people to the temple, the first reaction is always, "I feel like I'm in heaven." The Philippines is very loud and dirty, so to walk into a place that is clean and quiet with beauty all around, is quite the culture shock to them. All the people in the picture I attached will either be baptized either on the 26th or on April 9th. We love them so much and are very excited for them!

I did have some cool experiences this week. We're teaching a few teenagers boys and one of their older sisters. They're really awesome and love coming to church. I got a text this week from one of them named Vince and it was probably the nicest thing I've heard my whole mission. He told me how he is so thankful for us and how he wouldn't know God without us. Every time we teach them, him and his cousin always say that in their prayers, it's always something that brings a smile to our faces.

We also are teaching this family that is all LDS except for their father. He's great and really funny. They're youngest is just over a year. He can't really talk aside of "Ma" or "Pa." And then while we were teaching, sister screamed while she was holding him. I assumed the baby pee'd on her or something because that's, well, what happens to me here. And she got teary eyed and said, "He spoke! He said, 'Elder.'" It was a moment, I'll definitely never forget.

After we went to the temple today, a gracious member took our whole zone out for lunch... yep all 16 of us! It was way nice of her, but she's way loaded for a Filipino. In conversion to dollars, she fed all of us at an all-you-can-eat buffet here for just over $100. Crazy right? Anyway, we're going bowling now with some of the elders so I'll be catching you all next week!

Elder Corpuz

Monday, March 14, 2011

Every Struggle.

Dear Mom,
It's great to hear from you every week. Getting emails from you all is like Christmas every Monday. Letters, emails, and pictures are like gold as a missionary.

This week has been really hard, if not harder than most. It's hard when people make choices that hurt you. I've tried my hardest to pray to know how to help them. It's really stressful and brings a lot of tears. But something I really like that one of the elders in my zone told me this morning is that every struggle you go through changes you. You choose how you want to handle it.

Something I really learned from my last companion, Elder Christensen, is to not judge people because we rarely know the full story. It's really important to remember that I think. No one is perfect, and shouldn't be expected to be.

Regardless, I've had some great experiences. It's been a busy week.

I'm just going to stop telling you about kids peeing on me or my shoes, but it happened again. This time we were teaching a lesson and a kid pee'd on my shoes from the second floor of the house. What luck?

We're teaching many people and are looking at helping eight of them to baptism on the 26th of March. I love them all so much and am changing with them. One of the people we're teaching I'd like to share with you is named Nenita with her daughter Atleya.

A few weeks back, Indi (Nenita's nickname), was confined in the hospital because of a heart attack due to high blood pressure - or something like that. We were able to visit her with other members of the church and since then she has really been changing. She comes to church every week and her, along with her 13 year old daughter, love listening to us. They drop whatever they're doing and we're able to sit outside in this little alley and teach them. Seeing the change in them has been such a blessing. Indi's given up smoking and Atleya is really starting to honor her parents. They love coming to church too and learn many, many things. Indi takes notes and loves making comments which is awesome. They will hopefully be one of the people getting baptized on the 26th.

Yesterday we got kind of worried though. She didn't come to church and people are required to come to church four times straight if they wish to be baptized. It's not easy bring people to baptism here. They really have to choose for themselves and show their desire. Anyway we went to visit her later on that day with some other sisters from the church and she was really, really happy to see us. She didn't come because she wasn't feeling well, which is totally reasonable. She said she got up on time but just could not handle coming to church. So she prayed and asked Heavenly Father to forgive her and asked Him to please send us to her that day. We don't usually go to her on Sundays because we work in the other side of the area but we just felt that we really had to see her. When we showed up she just smiled and said, "I prayed you would come and now look, you're here. It's true. God does answer our prayers."

It was a great experience and it was great to be able to be the answer to her needs. I'm really excited to see her continue to progress. She's awesome.

We were also able to take her to find work at the LDS Employment Resource Center. She was there for awhile so we went and had lunch with Elder Haws and Elder Suelzle. Elder Suelzle was my former zone leader, and well, everyone in the world knows about Elder Haws - starting basketball player for BYU as a freshman last year. They're both awesome though. Elder Haws is so unbelievably humble. We've actually gotten pretty close out here. We're only two transfers apart and he writes me pretty often through the pouch system here. I try to learn my best from him at how to just be humble and love life.

This week is going to be busy and great. We have zone conference tomorrow where me and my companion will be performing a musical number which is going to be great. He's very musical which I appreciate. I'll be singing the same song I was able to sing in the MTC. I'm way excited.

Saturday we'll also be taking our investigators to the temple which is always a great experience.

I hope all is well back home. Thanks for sending the pictures! Jason's car is awesome. I also attached a couple pictures too: one of the sunset walking home across a "Palengke" or open-fish market, and then a pretty cool picture of my "family," me, my trainer, and his trainer, or "son, father, and grandfather." Hope you like them!

Elder Corpuz

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Transfer 5 Transfer Meeting

Sister Salazar was in Eric's district who will be serving in the Oakland Temple mission in California.

Eric's "sister" - Sister Manlulu (born in the same part of the mission)

Elder Aquilena and Eric were in Quezon City together and is one of Eric's very good friends in the mission. He is also Ilocano.

Elder Baucom is one of the Assistant to the Presidents.

Eric's zone leader - the famous Australian Elder Spiller

The other AP - Elder Magusara 

Elder Corpuz & Elder Christensen

Monday, March 7, 2011


Dear Mom,
It's hard to believe I'm in my fifth transfer and fifth companion out here. The time has been flying - it seems like every other week is a transfer week.

Well, not even a few days and I've had another good experience. I'm glad you enjoyed my pictures of our facials with our zone leaders dad, I don't know if I'll ever do that again. That hurt so much! Anyway, last night, we were at dinner at Bishop Lamoste's house and their cat was getting into my bag. So I nudged the cat with my phone to get it off and it full-on dug its teeth and paws into my leg. I, of course, milked it far beyond what it was to make everyone laugh. Now, Sister DeLaMare has me on an antibiotic and I'll probably have to get another tetanus shot just to be safe. Wohoo. Aray ko talaga.

As for my companion, I bet you're really excited to hear all about him right? You should be! He's awesome. His name is Elder Daly, and guess what, he's almost just like me - a, what they call here, "Fil-Am." A Fil-Am is a, well, Filipino-American. Elder Daly is half Filipino, half white - his mom is from the Visayas. He looks more white than Filipino though so he's not expected, as much as I am, to speak fluently. He is also a music major and is an amazing pianist (but not first in the state of Nevada like Jason ;D). That's the first smiley I've ever used in an email. He is very talented musically so we have a lot to relate to there. He's very nice and we're getting along very well.

Elder Christensen has been called as a district leader, is training, and also opening up a new area. Can we say responsibility.

Not much really has happened in the past few days. I hope all is well back home! It's kind of been strange here and raining a lot with cool weather. Usually summer would have started already. Maybe it's the whole global warming thing? I don't know.

In closing, just wanted to leave you with a little scripture that I loved this morning and a quote from Elder Haws.

"If we just work as hard as we can, good things are going to happen."

Elder Corpuz

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Mahal ko ang Pilipinas!

Dear Mom,
Well, I'm going to apologize for how short this email is going to be in advance (as always I guess), but we really have to get home and pack so I'll try to give you a pretty quick play-by-play of last week. Sige? Game.

By the way, congratulations again to Jason for making it in to BYU! I can't wait to be there together if he chooses to go, there is no place in the world I'd rather be than with my little brother at that school.

We're at the end of another transfer. How? I'm not sure. Six weeks just seem to come and go faster than we can imagine. The news is that I'll be staying here in Caloocan and my companion, Elder Christensen, will be leaving. I was pretty sad to hear the news, but it was well expected and predicted. He's been the first companion that I've never got in even the slightest argument or disagreement with (I am kind of stubborn you know) and I've learned so much from him. He'll be journeying off to open a brand new area and train one of the new native Filipinos coming in tomorrow. As for me, I'll be here. But I'm really happy to be here. I'm not really a moving or change kind of person so it's nice to hear that I'll have at least six more weeks here.

This past week, I've really, really realized how much I love this place.

Just a quick side note - some kids taught me "Leron, Leron Sinta" the other day, remember when I used to play that on the piano back home? I can't wait to teach you the hand game the play here to that song.

Remember a few weeks back when I told you a baby, not wearing a diaper, pee'd on our shoes? Well, I got an even better story this week: a baby pee'd on me! You betcha. They say it's good luck. Whether or not I believe that is still in the air. So here's the story. Here we are just teaching a lesson to a young mother (seventeen years old to be exact), with her kid just running around on the floor. Since there wasn't enough chairs for everyone (as usual) we all just sat on the floor of this small "house," which in all reality, is just a room in the back of this alley. So anyway, while my companion was teaching and I was listening to him, Christian, one of our teenage recent converts, just stood up holding in a laugh and grabbed this rag and started wiping the ground, I didn't notice that I was all wet. I was really confused as to where this liquid had come from... and then I looked at the baby... just letting the good times roll right onto the ground looking straight at me. And when my companion saw -

"Elder Corpuz... why is your leg wet?"
"I'm going to smack you in the face."

Needless to say, it was gross, but it's all about the experience right? It was really, really funny in the end. I'm not sure really what it is about children peeing on me or my things. Hopefully that will discontinue.

And although some crazy things like this happen, we get doors slammed in our faces, it's hot and we sweat all day and all night, I've come to find that I really love it here.

I feel at home.

Yesterday we were able to go out with some of the young adult members to dinner, all around 20 years old, and I know you may have a hard time imagining this, but for the first time in a really long time, I felt like I fit in somewhere. Speaking Tagalog with them, laughing, telling jokes, Filipino culture and human just feel like so much a part of me. Maybe it's my "lahi" as they say. But just being with them yesterday and realizing how much I love these people and this place and how much I belong here, made me love the Philippines even more.

Yeah we have our hard days, but it's so worth it. I don't stick out here and people, although make fun of my Tagalog, accept me for who I am. I love this place so much. I love the mission so much.

Anyway, I'll be emailing again soon to let you know about transfers. Hope all is well back home. Hanggang sa muli!

Elder Corpuz