Monday, April 4, 2011

Miracles and a forty-day fast.

Dear Mom,
It's crazy to think we're in the last week of our transfer. I feel like somehow, someway each transfer gets shorter. My first transfer definitely felt like an eternity and it doesn't hardly feel like I'll be coming up on a year soon. We'll see where I end up next transfer. I really don't want to leave Caloocan, I've really, really grown to love this place. The work here is great and I have no complaints.

There's actually a lot I have to talk about this week! So brace yourself, this might be a long email but I'll try not to make it too long.

The other day in a lesson, one of the kids brought a snake in the room and was just playing with it like a normal pet. Gotta love the Philippines - a surprise everyday! No, no one urinated on me this week so sorry if I disappointed you there. I do have some great stories to tell though.

This transfer has been pretty hard. I haven't been out a year yet and I'm already starting to slowly slack off I feel. I get some emails forwarded to me by a couple moms from some of my missionary friends and it sounds like everyone is going through the same thing. We may not be completely disobedient, but the little things are really starting to get to us. I'd say that sounds about the same to me too.

I did really learn something from an email I had forwarded to me from a friend Mike Swindle that I was really close to at BYU; if things work out right, we'll probably be rooming together in Provo when we get back. We were in the same ward after I moved into my new hall at Merrill second semester and got pretty close. Anyway, his email was pretty much the same, but he decided to act. Likewise, my non-exact obedience, I felt, wasn't really helping the area. He decided he was going to do something about it and start a "forty day fast" like we used to do during Lent - give up bad habits for forty days and come out a better person; hopefully not to return to bad habits. I thought it was brilliant, so I decided to do the same thing. It's the menial things like waking up at 6:30am. Yeah sure, I wake up, but laying in bed for an hour is hardly productive and doesn't help me make it on time to personal study at 8:00am. So I made a list last Thursday night in my journal and officially started last Friday. I learned a lot from the experience in the past few days.

Lesson One - God blesses the obedient and doesn't wait or hold back.
The next day, we had probably the best day we had all transfer. I held to my end and did everything I could to be up, on time, and obedient to the most minute of rules, and it really effected our work. We were finding solid people to teach left and right through our members, and each of them was really interested. We didn't get punted, and the day just ended so well because I felt like I did it the way that Heavenly Father would have it done. There were many, many great things that happened in that day, so much that one email wouldn't be enough to go over it all.

Lesson Two - Old habits die hard.
This is something that Elder Christensen used to tell me. Yeah, day one was all great, but day two was rough. It really made me realize a lot of things though. The second day I pretty much failed at everything and was back to good old, comfortable and lazy, and well, you could see what effect that had on the work as well. We got stood up at every appointment all day and only taught one lesson.

So this is what I pondered: despite the fact that it is promised that we will be blessed when we choose to obey and not be blessed when we live incorrectly, why do we still choose to live incorrectly?

Lesson Three - Don't show Satan your weaknesses.
I learned in a religion class at BYU that Satan can't read your thoughts and only knows your actions. This made so much sense to me the more I thought about it. He can still tempt you and put thoughts in your mind, but only when he knows where to tempt you. If we don't commit in action, he won't tempt us in that area. Like for mom, your not a heavy smoker or drinker, therefore, you're not tempted to do either of those things to harm your body. For me, I'm not a video gamer, so I'm not tempted to play video games on my mission. But, I am a late person, I can be lazy, and I can be impatient (and so many other things). I thought of a lot of things I'm having trouble with right now and thought about how I never used to have a problem with them, but for some reason now I do. Because I tried to do those things and because I showed him my weaknesses.

Conclusion - If we choose to live correctly in the first place, we will not have problems in the future.

And we all thought God worked off of something complicated. I'm not perfect, but I am working on it.

This past weekend we had temple tour again which was a pretty stressful, rollercoaster-emotional-day. The day started out just crazy because from the get-go, I was sitting on fire because I was in charge of renting the jeep for about 25 people... and we couldn't find the jeep. Eventually things worked out, but there was a lot of drama along the way. We got stuck in traffic on the way to the temple and everyone was complaining because the driver could have taken a better route. I really got a chance to just look around and see how that affects the situation. People love to talk about other people here in the Philippines. They love to gossip. It's disgusting. Absolutely disgusting, in fact that might be the only thing I hate about Filipinos and am embarrassed to say that I am associated with. Something I've really learned is to just look at things like we looked at them in my Economics class at BYU. Me and Nyal's favorite phrase (remember Nyal?) "Sunken costs are irrelevant." The guy made a mistake; it's over. Let's just not stress about the past and work towards a better future. I felt like if the people would have just thought about it that way, the day would have been a whole lot less stressful.

The temple tour was great, and I got to say bye to Sister Salazar and Sister Tating who will be heading to the states today. I'm going to miss them but know they will do well! Sister Salazar was in my district with Elder Tengelsen and said she wanted to give you a call and talk to you mom so hopefully that's okay. She's amazing, you'll love her.
Afterwords, we helped a couple of our good friends and fellow elders in the zone with their baptism which was supposed to be really unattended. Since we've been focusing on baptisms so much in the mission and making them much more spiritual, we decided to help them out and went to help them set up and prepare. Here's a funny story real quick. The piano that we were playing on was an electric and "middle c," of all notes, was broken. So Elder Daly played while I awkwardly reached over his arms and pressed this little button where the middle c key is whenever there was an important c. I felt like a real percussionist. Anyway the baptism came out great and afterwords we got to play some ping pong together which was way fun. I actually got way good, can you imagine? It turned into this game with added volleyball moves and shoes for paddles. I don't know how, but it was awesome. I can't remember the last time I laughed so hard that my face hurt and I got a headache. I also got to talk to Elder Peterson, the red head, really extensively about our missions and some rough times we've been through. Sometimes the mission leaves you without friends, so to be able to just sit down and talk on the friend level and get things out helped a lot for us to be able to let go of the past and focus on the work. After lots of tears we were ready to go back to work.

Sunday we saw miracles (Man this email is getting really long). We were really scared to see who was at church because we didn't really get to invite anyone the previous week with the temple tour and other things that happened. When we walked in we were thrilled to see eight people at church, the highest we've seen all transfer. The prize, being brother Miljon.

I'll close by telling you a little about brother Miljon. Miljon is a father to five daughters, all under the age of 11. He works alone by driving a jeep around close to our house everyday and makes maybe $15 a day to support his family. His wife and his daughters above the age of eight all chose to be baptized almost two years ago, but he chose not to be. When I first got here, he wasn't be actively taught. I had just walked in the area and wasn't really afraid to sour relationships so I asked why and gave him a pretty bold answer. He said that so many missionaries have tried to teach him, but the message is the same and he's not interested. So I responded, "With all due respect, Elder Christensen and I are not all those other missionaries brother. Please sit down and give us a chance." Little by little, we gained his trust and taught him in and out (whenever he wasn't drunk) for about two months. In those two months, he never was able to attend church.

The past week, we were ready to drop him. Last Thursday, I nearly lost it with him. When we went to visit him, no one was home, which is a very rare thing because his family doesn't work and they are always at the house. After checking back nearly three times, we ran into Mona Lisa, his wife, with their five daughters. She told me they've been walking around because she and Miljon had gotten in a fight. She said the previous night, he didn't come home, and when she went to find him, she found him drinking with four other women. I wanted to cry for her. I couldn't believe it. She said she went up to him and told him that her and their daughters have been starving and could not believe that it was because of his addiction to alcohol. There's truly a reason why Heavenly Father has instructed us to abstain completely from alcohol.

On Sunday, we came in and saw their whole family sitting in church. I walked in and couldn't believe it. When I talked to him later he said to me, "It's my work, I need to find different work. I can't change there. I want to change. I want to be a good father." So we promised to help him. We came and visited them later on Sunday afternoon, and when we came by, he was reading from the Book of Mormon and had been that whole afternoon. He couldn't stop talking about the stories he was reading and was almost too excited about it. "And Nephi! And that guy the killed? And then that one guy, and his son?" It was great. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. We committed him to baptism and are doing the best we can to make sure he can enter into that covenant on May 7, 2011.

Well, this email is officially too long, so I'm going to stop here. I hope you are all well. Jason, I'm so proud of you and all you did at all-state. You will change the world with your music. Congratulations on everything and a happy late birthday! I hope you're well. I love you tons and miss you lots!

Elder Corpuz

P.S. The last pictures are of me and Elder Daly in what they call a "side-car" or "pedi-cab." Pretty much a little compartment attached to a bike that is not very big. It's a pretty common way to travel here!

P.P.S. Summer is now officially more than a month late! It's pouring rain still!