Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Off to Another Adventure

Dear Mom,
This week was the end to a lot of things. The transfer is over. Summer is over. Mat's mission is over along with three others from our zone. And last, but definitely not least, my time here in Caloocan is now... over. After three transfers here, I'll be leaving the "armpit" of the mission. In cleanliness, it may be true, but as far as my area is concerned, these people should definitely not be associated with the "armpit" of anything. I'm going to miss this area so much.

This past week, summer ended and rainy season started again. Lucky right?  As of last Wednesday, it has rained hard everyday. We definitely weren't expecting it. We left Wednesday in the middle of clear skies and then when we walked out of our last lesson for the day, it was pouring! Of course, we didn't think to bring an umbrella, so we got drenched; unfortunately along with my scriptures which got completely ruined. It's all about the experience though right? We got home that night only to find the other elders had the exact same problem. Summer is definitely over, and I'm really happy. Those last few nights I couldn't sleep because it was SO hot. I would wake up every hour just sweating and put my face in the fan which didn't help because it just blew hot air. Thank goodness it's over!

Thursday we got to go on exchanges with our zone leaders. It was an awesome, needed experience. I hadn't had a solid day of good work like that in a really long time. The best part was getting to be with Elder Izatt. I think I've talked about him before. I huge football player from Nephi, UT. We got to talk a lot the whole day and it really helped me. We talked about how everyone has problems. As in everyone. No matter how rich, how how happy, or how perfect someone's life may seem, no one is immune to receiving trials. And because of that, we just have no room to judge. No room to judge how they act. No room to judge the things they've done - because we never know the whole story. We talked about how people are inherently good and about the new Mormon Message, about how people just judge people left and right without giving them a chance - especially here in the Philippines. It was a big eye opener and helped me to change how I look at people a bit. We also told lots of stories about people's lives we've seen changed by the gospel, including people here and back home. He had some great stories of people he knew that completely messed up their lives, but pulled out somehow, someway, and came out on top - because of the gospel. It's a beautiful thing, especially when you experience it firsthand everyday.

Friday we also had a great experience. We met our bishop's daughter, an RM (return missionary), to come work with us for the night, but as soon as we got to her house, it started to pour and we didn't have any umbrellas. The worst part is, here in Caloocan, when it rains, it floods... everywhere. And you can't get your feet wet, because the water is so dirty. If you get your feet wet, you get really, really sick. So we prayed, and Sister Lamoste said, "Alright let's go." And my reaction was... shouldn't we just wait? To which she responded no, and that she knew that as soon as we walked out, the rain would stop. So we left, and the it still rained... but maybe for a minute. We walked to the end of their alley which was completely flooded, maybe about 6" high. And then, out of no where, a pedi-cab (one of those bikes with a cab attached) came to take us to the street. That never happens. Pedicabs never go in iskinitas, because they aren't allowed and it's really difficult to maneuver in them. But he came and took us to the street, where it was still really, really flooded. By then it had stopped raining though, but it was so flooded that we had to lift up our feet because the water came into the cab. We eventually made it though and it didn't rain on us for the rest of the night!

The weekend was good. Elder and I got stuck speaking at church was okay with me. We walked in that day (air/con now fixed that summer is over), and bishop frantically came up to us and asked us to speak. Fortunately, his wife had shared with me a great story in the Liahona about a girl who had been going to church by herself since she was 12 but because of firm leaders, she was strengthened and remained in the church - so that's what I shared as well and just expanded on it. It was also a good experience to get to bid farewell to the ward that I've really grown to love.

Just a funny experience to share that happened on Saturday night (Sorry this email is getting so long, it's been a week and a half alright?). So every Saturday, we get home a little early so I can clean the whole house so that our house is nice for Sunday. So that night I did what I always do: dust, sweep, mop, clean the bathroom, and clean the kitchen. After I got done cleaning, I heard the other elders come home and heard screaming and loud bangs coming from upstairs. I had no idea what was going on. So I got out and went to change, and my companion just says, "Hey, Elder Simbala wants to talk to you" and I was confused as to why. So I went down and brushed my teeth and waited for him. When he came down, I just smiled, and he yelled at me and said, "Mamaya" or "Later." His hand was bleeding. He took a shower and I just sat on my bed worrying and pondering what on earth I could have done to make him so upset. Finally when he opened the door from take a shower, he was all smiles, and commented how the bathroom smelled so nice. At this point, I was beyond confused. So he went upstairs, and came back down stairs laughing. Then, for the third time I asked, "Elder... what happened?" and he responded, "Nothing." So he sat down and started to explain. Apparently they had had a really bad day, and when they came home, they saw the light was on in their room and that it looked like someone had gone through their stuff. The begining of the conversation him and his companion had was really funny:

Elder Simbala: Ba't nakabukas yung ilaw?!
Elder Trono: Oo, nakabukas yata yung ilaw.

Elder Simbala: Is the light open? (The light is obviously on.)
Elder Trono: Yeah, the light might be on.

It's funnier in Tagalog.

The night before, I had commented that I was missing pillowcases, so Elder Simbala thought I just went through all their stuff and violated their privacy. On top of their bad day, he felt violated and it sent him off the edge so much that he started screaming and punched the wall (yeah walls are concrete here). Then when he was in the shower, he realized it was Saturday because the bathroom smelled so good. So he went upstairs and talked to his companion.

Elder Trono: Elder... ganyan naman yung mga gamit mo kanina no?
Elder Simbala: Oo nga...
Elder Trono: Nagplantsa ka ba yung mga damit natin?
Elder Simbala: Hindi...

Elder Trono: Elder... you left your stuff like that earlier right? (Drawers open and what not)
Elder Simbala: Oh yeah...
Elder Trono: Did you iron our clothes?
Elder Simbala: No...

So he finally realized what happened and came down and confessed that he thought I went through their stuff. It was a relief, and definitely something I'll never forget!

We also had a fireside with our mission president that night in our stake about missionary work. I put on a couple musical numbers which is always a great experience.

Monday we said bye to three missionaries in our zone: Elder Ablog (my first district leader), Elder Simbala (my second zone leader and current district leader), and Elder Henampas (we were kazone in Quezon City). We'll miss them a lot. That night we all slept in the same house and Elder Peterson pointed out how segregated we were. The Ilocanos slept in one corner, me and Elder Peterson, English-speaking, in the middle, and the Visayans on the other end. I guess you just bond with who you can talk naturally too.

The old "Bahay Kubo"
Tuesday we had a service project at the Tonsuya ward. We ripped down a bahay kubo, or little shack made out of bamboo, and made a new one. They're renovating their chapel, since it's really old, and the high school and college students won't have a place to have seminary or institute respectively, so the idea was that they would have it in this bahay kubo until the church is finished. I included a before picture... there is no after picture because we had no time to finish!

My trainer's trainer, Elder Gapusan playing with a praying mantis

And now today, and well last night, have been full of goodbyes. All the members anticipated me leaving, so everyone has been trying to feed us today. I've included some pictures and captions of who we've been able to see. Man, I'm really going to miss this place. (Don't mind my haircut again, it came out horribly.)

The pioneers of Caloocan: The Mercolita Family. In the "Hot" shirt is our second counselor of the bishopric in the ward. They have fed us so much in the past week (usually fried tilapia) and the past few days have been making great desserts like "Buko Pandan" for me and my companion. They are the only family in the ward with kids that were raised in the church. Sister and Brother on the left were baptized in the early 70s in Caloocan. All six of their children, girls and boys, have served missions. I'm going to miss them a lot, I tell Sister Mercolita a lot that she is like the grandma I never had here in the mission. She left me with great words to carry on and continue to being obedient.

This is James (right) and Dillon (left), Brother Sherman (in the "Hot" shirt)'s kids. This was pretty funny. I picked up this book  off the ground and they immediately trampled me to look through it. They loved the pictures. Dillon is six and for every picture he would say, "Elder, ano 'yan? (Elder what's that?) Creator?" meaning to say "Crater" because there were lots of pictures of craters. Dillon didn't really start opening up to me until recently. This day when we walked in he started screaming when I walked in and came up to me and said, "Ay elder, 'shake hands' tayo! (Let's shake hands!)" James is also really smart. He is an eight year old in Algebra already!

This family made me cry so much, especially because of the kids. Sister said she made sure they all got up early and showered today to say bye to me and be ready to take pictures. The kids were also sad that I wouldn't be at their birthday party on Friday, er well one of their birthdays. This is Brother and Sister Dalut. He has been doing great since his baptism. Sister said the alcohol is completely gone, he's gotten a new job, is excited to go through the temple, and even sets aside money for tithing everyday. I would have never, ever thought. Now their home is a different place and he makes sure to help around the house now and makes sure his daughter's help. I'm excited to go with them through the temple next year when they are sealed as a family for eternity.

This one was a really hard goodbye too. This is Sister Grace (to my left) our relief society president, in the tindahan that they run (small store). She told me to make sure to stop by that afternoon for a little snack. She actually cooked us pansit and went and bought us dessert which, yup, made me cry. Going to miss them tons too.
The dessert that Sister Grace bought for me.
This is a funny picture. My timer was almost up so I just sat down and ended up sitting on Kyle!

This is another one of those families that is so, so special to me: the Moran Family (from Ashley in the Pink, over to me). This is one of the families that we worked so hard to bring back to church and now they are active again. Their kids are awesome and I'm going to miss having family evenings with them. Brother said he is going to make sure they all serve missions and it was all tears saying bye to them as well. Kyle especially, I can't wait for you to meet that kid. He reminds me of me when I was his age, he even sounds like me! Sister is also about to have their next kid. I love this family so much.
I'll find out tomorrow where I'll be. I'll cut the email off here though. Tomorrow we will also find out what mission we will be in. It will probably be the last time our mission will be together. It's sad but exciting as well. Guess it's off to another adventure.

Elder Corpuz

P.S. - Mat get's home today! How crazy? Give him my love at his homecoming!