Monday, May 2, 2011

The Jubilee - One Heart, One mind.

Hey mom!
You are going to love this email. 
I will also have to keep this pretty concise as well, guess why? Yeah, you're right.
But you know concise with me... yeah I'll do my best! Let the games begin!

Well this week was the long awaited, fifty-years-in-the-making, Jubilee celebration and kick off. But before we get there, I'll tell you all about my week.

It's been a hard week. My companion and I butt heads quite a bit, but somehow we're getting through it. I think we've spent more time arguing than working this week, but it seems to be getting better. I've still have had some great experiences though.

One that I'd like to share really quick is about our Relief Society President here, Sister Grace Rosete. I could go on forever about how hard that calling is in the church, and as any other calling, it comes without pay. She is over all the sisters in the ward 18 and above and is in charge of making sure they are, well, happy. Sister Squires is actually our RS President back home and she's shared some stories about how hard the calling is. Sister Rosete is amazing though and I never, ever seen her not smiling. She has a rough life. Her husband is a drunk and is not active in any church and she has a kid that is probably the most makulit, or... (what's that in English?) he's just a really big handful. She works six days a week, making food by herself for a high school here and it is tough work. When she's not there, she runs a tindahan or a small store and sells things for a small profit. She makes maybe $30 a week. Sunday is the only day she has free, and on Sunday, she walks on foot with another sister and goes and tries to visit all the sisters she can and makes sure they are okay. Our ward boundaries are fairly small so it's not too bad, but for her only day of rest, she gives it to the Lord. Last week, I was put in charge of feeding all 16 missionaries in our zone after our Nation Jubilee Conference on Sunday. Me being a former stu/co kid, of course, just tried my best to delegate. So I asked the relief society if they could help us cook and texted Sister Rosete. It didn't take long, but she told me she would take care of it, as long as I provided the money. She said she herself, would wake up early and cook for all of us before the conference and just bring it to the church. When I asked her if there was anything we could do, she just replied, "No elder, it's okay. I'm just happy to serve you all." That really touched my heart. What an example she is. And here I am complaining about how hot it is, how hard the work is, how hard life is, and all she can think of, coming from her humble situation, is how happy it makes her to serve other people. That is a mark of the Law of Christ. (See Gal. 6:2)

Had another unique experience. We were walking the other day and this taxi was literally coming straight for me... like ready to come off the road. When it got closer, the window rolled down and it was two Americans! White people! Yeah! An older lady and man screaming at the top of their lungs, "ELDER!" When I looked, they snapped a picture of me and just screamed, "We love you!" I needed to hear that and have that that day. It really helped me realize that people are rooting for me, even some days when I feel alone.

And another small story that really made me smile last week. Before we went to our session last Tuesday at the temple, we walked by a father and a little boy, maybe around the age of 6, kneeling down in the grass in front of the temple just saying a prayer as a father and son. You could tell they didn't have much. They were very dirty and their clothes were... well they weren't clean. I wanted to cry when I saw how faithful they were. When I turned around, I just saw the dad hug his son and saw their smiling faces as he held his sons hand and looked towards the temple. Even in the most meager situations, the gospel can bring comfort and peace into any life.

Well now what you've been waiting for. The Jubilee. I've attached, tons, and tons, and tons of pictures. You're going to love it. The performance on Saturday night was amazing. I've tried to match up some good captions so you can see. We rose up and sang the national anthem of the Philippines, and although I didn't put my hand over my heart, I still sang it loud and proud and everyone was surprised. They were like... wait, you know this song? And all I could say was how proud I am of my heritage. I was teary eyed watching the youth, children, and young adults of the church perform songs and dances from the Philippines. I saw dances I heard you tell me about all my years growing up mom. And loved every bit of it. All I could think about was about how much you would have loved it - you, dad and Jason. 
What was really awesome was the broadcast before from Utah. The Mormon Tabernacle Choir every Sunday holds a short show called "Music and the Spoken Word." This past week, they did a special one, devoted to the Philippines 50th anniversary and invited the Madrigal choir from the University of the Philippines. I was able to talk to that 93 year old sister as we were watching it (I keep forgetting her name), and she just told me about how she's seen so much in the church since the 1960s. She's seen all the general authorities who have come to visit, the opening of temples, the growth, and many other things. The MoTab performance was great and man, the Madrigals were amazing!
Here are the pictures! Hope you like it! I took photos from the Jumbo-tron so they're not too clear.

This was the choir put together that sang hymns between every number.

I thought this dance was hilarious. I don't know why Filipinos have to make things so complicated! It's a boy and girl dance that's on a bench that you can barely fit two feet on... and then they stacked them on one another! A couple people fell, but it was just a good laugh. They did great!

Mom, I want you to know I was screaming when this dance came up. I just turned to the other missionaries and was like, "My mom! She did this dance growing up! She used to tell me about it all the time!"

Of course, gotta have tinikling! It's a classic!

This dance was funny, it was a bunch of young men with coconut shells all over their whole body and they just hit them with other... coconut shells!

They invited all the return missionaries to come down and sing the missionary hymn "Called to Serve"

Yeah mom, that's who you think it is! Behind him is my mission president, President DeLaMare.

This one was my favorite. All the dances from Luzon were really awesome and upbeat.

This was the primary choir composed of all the kids under 12 in 19 stakes! They sang the famous primary hymn, "I am a Child of God" in Ilocano, Cebuano, Tagalog, and English. I taped the Ilocano one for you!

The dances from Mindanao were strange. You could really see the Muslim influence though.

So this one was cool. The guys wore this kind of tube skirt thing and throughout the whole dance they did different things with it like wear it around their waist and then all of a sudden it was on their head.

These were the hosts dressed in very royal Filipino clothing. The brother, in a Barong Tagalog, and the sister, in a mild Filapinana. They are significant of royalty in the culture here. We actually wear what the brother is wearing in the temple here.

The best part about watching the primary was watching the funny stuff they did, like look up at the jumbotron. One little girl had taken off this poor little boys tie and was playing with it in the middle of the song. It was a great laugh!

Jason would have loved this. This is Arnis de Mano or the famous Filipino Stick Fighting.

This was the single adult number. We gave a lot of grief to the boys and how they danced here haha.

The single adults closing number to the famous Filipino anthem, "Ako ay Pilipino" or "I am Filipino"
The performance was amazing, and yeah mom! That was President Howard! You're old CEO! He'll be coming home soon in July. You would have loved it. There were over 3,000 participants and it was kick off to many celebrations starting all over the country! The next day, we had speakers from many high place in the church for a nationwide conference. Among the speakers were Elder Quentin L. Cook, of the twelve, President Boyd K. Packer, of the twelve, and Julie B. Beck, the General Relief Society President. The conference was great and the weekend was one I'll never forget.

I truly am so lucky to be here in this wonderful time in the church in the Philippines. What luck? My solid one year that I will devote to the Philippines is its jubilee years of all years. My dreams of coming here since I was a little boy have finally come true and I'm loving it!

This next week is going be awesome as well! We have mission tour by Elder Edwards, the new area authority over the Philippines on Wednesday and then we have our next stake baptism on Saturday! We have six candidates which is the most out of anyone in the stake! It's going to be great!

Can't wait to talk to you all on Sunday! Take care! Mabuhay!

Elder Corpuz