Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Oh Holy Week of Birthdays!

Dear Mom,
I will try to make this email as short and as concise as possible. I have so much to tell you!ell this week has been a week of birthdays! It seemed like every other house we went into, someone was celebrating a birthday! On Monday was Ice Marco's birthday. Sister Marco invited us over that day and we were pretty hesitant to go since it was p-day, but we went anyway and sacrificed grocery shopping to make it. It was me, Elder Iglupas, and a bunch of little kids and their parents. The Marco family was inactive for about two years when I came back into the area and we worked really hard in helping them back to church. They've become really special to us and Sister does her best to feed us every week and does her best to help us with clothes when they rip or buttons fall off. As we went to say bye, Sister Marco got a little teary-eyed and I was kind of confused. She graciously thanked us for coming and explained that it's been a couple years, but before, Ice always had missionaries over on his birthday since he was born. She said she was so happy we could be there again and that she will be happy for the day when Ice becomes the first Elder Marco of their family, ten years from today.

 The next few days we ran into a few more birthdays. One being the youngest daughter of Miljon's family. A quick update on Miljon, he's doing great! If you don't remember him, please reread my other emails. He is probably the most special to me of all my investigators here. He is doing great! Hasn't drank or smoked and has not missed a week of church. He sacrifices work on Sundays now just to come to church and loves it. Whenever we come over, even that day when their youngest daughter had their birthday, he stops everything and says, "It's time to listen to the Elders." Our first lessons he just wanted to Bible bash, now he is doing his best to invite everyone to listen and is inviting all his friends and family to listen to the missionaries because his life has changed so much. Yesterday, he was talking about how someday he's going to be become the Prophet (joking of course) and I made the comment "parang malakas yung hangin dito" which means "it's kind of like the wind is strong in here" which is a Filipino phrase for implying someone is being big-headed. His wife responded, "Hindi siya hangin - baguio 'yan" or "that's not wind, that's a typhoon." Again, probably one of those you had to be there things, but I thought it was hilarious! Maybe I'll stop sharing those experiences haha. It's also been great to have Elder Iglupas here since he is also from the Visayas so they just all go off in Visayan whenever we're there and I understand absolutely nothing.

That same day it was also Ashley Moran's birthday. Another family similar to the Marco family's story: an inactive family that we helped reactivate. She's crazy. That's all I'm going to say. She's only 11 but she is basically 18 and talks to you like she's older than you. Their family is really good at English and they usually feed us when we don't have any money which is awesome.

This week was also, yep you guessed it, Holy Week. It has changed since you've been here mom; it was a lot more reverent when you were here. For the whole week, they had these things called "Pabasa" which I'm still not quite sure what the meaning is. I know "basa" the root word, means "read." Anyway, I wanted to take pictures but I figured it wouldn't be very missionary-like so I'll have to try to describe these experiences to you. Well they had these Pabasa things about every 100ft - a tent, like the ones we use for shade during cross country meets, covered in palms and a karaoke box with a bunch of "Santo Nino" or "baby Jesus"statues which are kind of creepy. And, they just sit there all day and sing these songs. What's ironic is there will be one or two people singing in that tent, and then set up a tent literally right next to it, there will be about 50 people (no seriously) playing cards, gambling, and drinking (sometimes bingo too). You wouldn't believe it.

Funny story, on Palm Sunday, some random guy took a huge banana leaf to church, do you know how big those are?

Processions? Let me tell you. On Friday, Bishop Lamoste was working with us and we were riding a jeepney when it suddenly came to a stop... and didn't start again. So I looked at Bishop and he said that it was probably a procession. Sweet, it should pass in a couple minutes right? Even if its a bigger parish, how big can it be?


This procession was sidewalk to sidewalk on a four-lane-street with people pushed up against buildings for about 45 minutes - thousands, and thousands of people marching with a Mary Magdalene statue and their candles. We ended up walking through it and I was really scared and confused. So when we got to Sister Loida's house (who I'll be skyping you from on Mother's Day), she explained that on Good Friday, there is a procession where Mary Magdalene and Jesus separate and than Easter is the "Araw ng Pagsalubong" or the "Day of Meeting" where the procession ends and the two statues meet each other. I wonder who came up with that. Really interesting, but not really necessary to salvation. She also talked about how there is a statue of Jesus that is laid down like being put in a grave at the church and how people go and touch it and are miraculously healed. She said when she was little, before her family was LDS, they used to go and do that, but they all always just got sick because, well, all the sick people go and touch this statue! It was a crazy site.

Saturday was where all these pictures are from. We had a nation-wide service project where all the members of the church in the Philippines went out and served for two hours. Our ward and some others in the stake went and cleaned up a buckload of garbage. I've included a bunch of pictures with captions so hope you enjoy! It was awesome to be suited in the yellow vests and serving. There was one guy that passed us that I thought was pretty funny, he passed us and said..."Look, its the [insert bad word here] Mormons doing good again." Elder and I just looked at each other and laughed so hard. Hope you enjoy those pictures.

Bishop Lamoste getting ready for work!

The young women with their awesome sombreros.

Bishop's daughter and his son.

Bishop Lamoste and the bishop from Acacia Ward getting down and dirty!

She had my favorite sombrero on.

Can you say garbage? That's a river.

So here in Caloocan, there is no good massive garbage collection, so what do we do with the garbage? We burn it! Great for your lungs and the environment.

Even the older members cam to serve.

This is my favorite picture. Bishop is doing the "Guapo" pose or the "take a picture of me because I'm handsome" pose that's pretty famous here. I was just going around taking pictures and I looked up and Bishop was just waiting and posing for me. I laughed so hard. I feel like if I had the chance to know your dad mom, he would be just like Bishop Lamoste, he's like the grandpa I never had.

Me and Brother Sam, our ward mission leader.

So people were pretty surprised that I knew how to clean. Spoiled American? I think not! My dad taught me how to work!

This is our relief society president in our ward, Sister Grace.

Elder Iglupas and Bishop Lamoste.

Easter was great, they Easter egg hunt here for... REAL eggs! I didn't find any, so the members gave me one. Funny part? After they find them, everyone gets together and just chows down on the hard boiled eggs. I attached a picture of Miljon and his family as well. Enjoy!

This is Miljon, his wife Mona Lisa, and their five daughters.

Bishop's son Kian and his "future missionary" tag.

This is a great story. There is always a lady like this in every ward I've served in. This sister is 93 years old! She converted to the church when it first came to the Philippines. And guess what? She is just like Sister Garcia in my last ward: extremely strong. She climbs the stairs up to the church, still handwashes her clothes, and still cooks her meals. For about an hour on Sunday, she talked to us about how the Philippines was without the church and how if we follow the Word of Wisdom and not drink, smoke, and so forth, we'll be as old her someday too!

 As of now, the holy LDS population here is anxious for the coming weekend, the long-awaited Jubilee celebration! Fifty years in the making! The youth and primary in the church have been working for nearly four years putting together this program together of music and native dances. We'll be privileged to watch on Saturday and then hear from the Prophet on Sunday. What a time to be in the Philippines!

Elder Corpuz

P.S. - You are probably wondering what those other pictures are. (Did I tell you I tried "Mango-Apple" the other day?) (ADD) You'll be happy to know Sister Jen Angoluan still finds a way to feed us although in Quezon City. She cooks a bunch of food and then drops it off at a Toyota Branch here in Caloocan for us to pick up. She says she can stand the thought of me being hungry. Anyway, she gave us these things and we don't have a steamer, so I invented my own! I know, I'm pretty smart right? Yon, malakas yung hangin.