Monday, August 29, 2011

Dog poo.

Dear Mom,

It's been a short four days. It's hard to believe I'm coming to the end of this transfer already. The transfers seem to just keep getting shorter and shorter, then again, anything seems short after that last nine-week transfer!

Well the missions are starting to see some new, strange things as far as media and things they are allowing missionaries to now do. Missions around the world are now receiving one portable DVD player per companionship for training purposes which is great. The training DVDs have really made a difference as well as being able to watch church DVDs during study. Media is playing a big role nowadays in missionary work. Our mission now is really focusing on getting people to which seems to be making a pretty big difference. itself has changed dramatically, and we are excited to see the continuing progress. We've got these new pass-a-long cards that basically show the many faces of people in our religion around the world and the new reinforces that. It's going to be crazy to see what else missionary work will see in the next few years

It's been awhile since I had some good, funny experiences to share with you. Today, I definitely have a few!

Last week, I was able to go on exchanges with my district leader and zone leader which was a lot of fun. The first was with my district leader's companionship. I was with Elder Naraja in their area, Gen. T. Deleon. We got to go around and see the good work they've been doing. The best part was, Elder Aquielena, who I've been in the same zone with three times, has apparently been preparing all the investigators to get to know me and has been talking about me to them! Every house I walked into, they greeted me as "Am-Boy" which to me, sounded like "Ham-Boy." I was so confused until Elder Naraja finally explained it as a shortened "American-Boy." It was great, and they were all so nice! Even funnier, Elder Aquilena arranged a schedule so that I would see all the people that heard me sing at temple tour. So every lesson we went to, the people we taught forced me to sing. It is great, sharing music everyday kahit papano!

The next set of exchanges I went on was with Elder Crockett whose best friend is dating Emily Voyles, my treasurer in student council senior year! I had a couple great experiences with him that day in his area in Meycauayan, Bulacan province. First had to do with prayer. I've had a few cool experiences with prayer, but this one was definitely a really good one. So we were teaching in a typical "squatter" house with a tin roof, and because there is a typhoon coming through, it started to rain really, really hard. It's really loud on a tin rough when it rains, if you can imagine. Screaming sometimes still isn't sufficient. So while one of the sisters with us was teaching, I shut my eyes and said a short prayer, and as soon as I said amen, the rain stopped. Or at least it seemed to stop. The noise went away because there wasn't any drops hitting the roof, but one of the people we were teaching pointed out how strangely, outside looking at the window, we could see that it was still pouring. It was raining everywhere around the house, but not on the house we were in. Can you believe that? It was a great experience. And then, something happened that we really didn't expect. While I was teaching, every one just burst into laughter. I just thought that maybe my zipper was undone or something. I came to find out that the dog had apparently just laid a nice, fresh load of... crud right in front of me. Yup. Gotta love the Philippines!

And today. We got together as a district and played some games as we usually do. Today we played a game that I've never played before. You're going to love this.

So I walked outside, and I heard them talking about going home to get a "lata" which I was sure meant "can." It didn't make sense to me, so I thought maybe "lata" actually meant something else. Well, they actually did mean "can." The elders came back with a used sardines can and everyone just started jumping up and down. I was really confused being the only foreigner and just thought to myself... what on earth kind of game did us Filipinos make up with with a tin can? You gotta be kidding me right? Haha. So here's the deal.

First you have to see who, in English, is "it" or in Tagalog, "taya." So you play this game before the game and get in a circle. The person clanks the can in front of each person singing a song, until it lands on someone. That person is lucky and they are not "taya." Then every person after that has to try to flip the can and get it to land standing up. You keep going around the circle until each person has done it - as in flipped the can and stood it up. Then the last person is "it." I got way lucky on that part.

Now, the fun part. The game is played by putting the can a few feet away and then taking off one of your flip flops and trying to hit the can to free the people in jail. You get into jail by sacrificing yourself to knock the can over by throwing your flip flop. Even if you miss, you are still in jail. When you are in jail, you wait by your flip flop until someone either knocks the can over, or you decide to try to make an escape. As soon as you pick up your flip flop, you are subject to being caught, so its usually best to wait until the can is knocked over, because the guard can't chase anyone, until he puts the can back. Does that make sense? Haha, I'll just have to show you when I get home.

It sounds retarded, but it was WAY fun! I haven't laughed that much in a long time. It's a game that little kids play in the streets and here we are a bunch of 19 to 21 year-olds playing this game just like a bunch of little kids screaing at the top of our lungs. I always wondered what this game was because sometimes when the kids play it, you get hit by flying flip flops walking by. Now I know! We'll play it when I get home for sure!

On that same note, did I mention that a few weeks back, we played hide and go seek and two elders ended up getting injured because they ran into each other sliding for base? Jason and Ian? Yup. Good stuff!
Afterwards, we came back to our apartment and had lunch outside in our spacious terrace for my birthday on Thursday and Sister Lubrido's birthday on Friday. Sent a couple pictures to show!

Needless to say, this week may not have been the best at times, but I've really just focused on making it great. I've come to a point where I'm not going to let anyone or anything take my smile away now. I've learned that you really can change how you feel about things our people by changing the way you think about them. If you dwell on terrible thoughts - you bet it, you'll feel terrible. Focus on the good, and you have nothing to worry about. I feel like I've got the most power from this quote from President Thomas S. Monson:
Be of good cheer, the future is as bright as your faith.
Elder Corpuz

P.S. Really crazy thing I found out the other day. Our mission is only about twide. I'm about 10 miles from my last area, but with traffic here, it takes TWO HOURS to get there. Can you imagine that?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Elect Lady.

Dear Mom,
You know, it's been a longer week than usual, but not too much has happened. I feel like I say that every week, I'll stop saying that.

Moving out of the last apartment.
Well, we still aren't moved into our new apartment, so we're just squashed in like sardines in our little dink right now. It's a lot of fun though. Elder Aquilena and Elder Naraja are a lot of fun, and it's nice to be around other missionaries. I wouldn't mind spending the rest of the transfer there to tell you the truth.

This past week, since we've finally found an apartment, we've finally been able to focus on the area. No really crazy things have happened just yet, that will take some time. Heavenly Father has put a lot of trust in us to build up this area from the bottom right up. It's taken a lot of patience, and a lot of learning for me. I feel like like sometimes, this mission is more for me than for the other people. Seeing the change in me and the blessings I'm receiving in my life and in the change I see in me,  often seem too abundant. It's true that in helping others, you help yourself in turn.

This past week, I was surprised to be able to sing at temple tour. Sister Galvez, who has become like my big sister in the mission, gave me the opportunity to sing at the last station. We were together for my first three transfers in Quezon City. I sang a song called "I feel my Savior's Love" which is a song that they sing in primary. It was such a great opportunity. I got to see lots of familiar faces, people I've taught, and Elder Tropia, my last companion. It was so nice to see them and remember that I have actually done at least a little good out here. There was one person that said that I sounded like an angel, and another that said it felt like I was hugging her with my words, even though she couldn't understand. I really don't sing that well, I think it's just something for them to hear someone sing without a Filipino accent that's all haha. All in all, I was thankful for the opportunity. Maybe I'll actually take time to work on singing when I come home. It's blessed me a lot in the mission just that I can carry a tune and sound semi-ok. Sister Galvez goes home in a couple weeks, I'm going to miss her a lot.

Something that I've really studied a lot this past week is about the pioneers of the church and the faithfulness they had. I guess I don't really have time to go over the many things they had to go through, but in short, they went through a lot. They were driven from homes, killed, and were tormented and tortured because of what they chose to believe in. I don't know if I could ever have that kind of faith, but I'm thankful they did.

One of the people I really studied about this past week was Joseph Smith's wife, Emma Smith. She went through so much. From losing children, watching her husband get tar-and-feathered, and eventually endure his martyrdom. Yet through it all, she stayed strong. I've compared myself to Emma, and although I'm obviously not a girl, I've done my best to try to be like her. To be a little stronger and work a little harder. Something I really like that Emma said is this quote:

"No amount of sorrow can make things right, only the Lord's will can do that... If we let Him."

I've really learned that in the past five weeks with all that's happened. We can beat ourselves up all we want, but it's not going to make things any better. We are young, we make mistakes, but we must get back up and let go. Sometimes being strong, can be a very lonely thing, as Joseph Smith's mother says, but as Joseph Smith says, "If we are faithful, all of our losses will be made up." Being faithful even until death. Although that may never be what it comes down to for me, I really want to work to have that faith.

Today we got to go to the temple, and it was probably one of the best experiences I've had in the temple in a really long time. I took my burdens in with me, and left with nothing but a small piece of heaven. We're so lucky to be able to experience the gift of the peacefulness of the temple in our mission.

Anyway, I'll email you back again soon. Everything for now is well. I'll share with you a secret that a ward missionary here named Amy told me this week.

When she struggles or has really hard problems, she just looks in the mirror, smiles, and says to herself, "All is well."

It's worked miracles in my life this week, maybe it will work miracles in yours. Until Monday.

Elder Corpuz

We had surprise guests at our District Meeting yesterday: President and Sister Sperry!

The best zone in PQCNM.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's All About Love.

Dear Mom,
It's been a fast, short week. I guess all weeks are similar in length, but this one didn't really entail much. We have finally found an apartment, but we are suffering for a bit. This morning we moved out of our old apartment, and into the nearest one, with the other elders in our district for about a week until we can move into our new one next week. It's going to be a rough week. Just imagine the loft we have... now imagine four desks, four beds, a fridge, bathroom, and a place to wash clothes. Now add a dining table, kitchen, and luggages. That's what we're living in, like sardines for the next week. Oh well, nothing we can do right? It's all about the experience!

For now, we are finally getting started with our work here. It's been a long way in coming.

This past week, I've really thought about one thing - love. It's such a powerful thing, and it influences everything. I've thought about that Carrie Underwood song, over and over. "When you figure out love is all that matters after all, it sure makes everything else seem so small." I had personal revelation in the shower the other day while singing that, here is what I realized.

Carrie Underwood is a prophet-ess, and is right. Love is all that matters. Every decision is affected by what we love. When we love God the most, and put Him before everything else, our lives our set. But when we love ourselves, our desires, or, like in one of my favorite Fall Out Boy songs, our sins, that is where we can get in trouble. People do crazy things when they are in love - that's from Hercules. So in the past week, that's been my focus: learning to love God, our Heavenly Father Who has given us so much. We love Him, because He loved us first, and when we do that, our lives will go smooth. Carrie Underwood is truly a genius. Too bad she married a Canadian.

I guess that's really all for now. Hopefully we will have a more eventful week next week. Can't believe I'll be turning 21 already in just a few days...September 1st is coming up so fast! I'll miss you guys on that day, but I'll make sure to remember that next birthday, we can make up for the past two years.

Hope all is well at home, love you all and miss you tons.

Elder Corpuz

P.S. I have gotten to know so many more Corpuzes here! Kiel Corpuz, was baptized last Saturday in my last area, and I heard it went great. Also, in my new ward, a member of the bishopric is a Corpuz! Along with his family of course. We took a picture together and he said he would attach it to his family genealogy!

Monday, August 8, 2011

As You Like It.

Dear Mom,
Well, I'm back to me again. Good ol' quirky me. I know I haven't been myself the past few weeks.It's been evident here, and I know it's been evident in my emails, but I've decided, I'm just going to be myself, and let people judge me. As long as I know I'm doing what's right, I know I've got nothing to fear. Thank you for your love, support, and prayers; they've been really obvious to me here, even all the way across the world. And opening my email today and receiving the songs from Jason and the former Elder Tengelsen were just the ice cream on top. They put together this primary song that I had never heard about popcorn on some kind of tree, and rearranged it and put words that made me laugh, and then left a great message for me in the end. They also recorded some other hymns for me. It was truly the medicine that I needed to give me that last good bounce.

This past week has been a lot better. To be honest, it all started after my last email when I got a really good haircut. You know how that feels right? Somedays you walk into the hair-cut-place and walk out wishing you had never walked in, and sometimes, you walk out feeling like you need to go apply for the next big movie in Hollywood because you look so good! Am I right? After I got my haircut, it was just like a funny way of God saying to me, cheer up, things are going to start getting better.

I'll get over the recap of the week before I get to the things I really want to share.

This past week, we've been doing exactly what you were doing at home! Looking for a new place to live! Our contract for our apartment is up (thank goodness, it's a dump), and we have been burdened with looking for a new one. Unfortunately, the only way to look here is by getting on your feet, and walking around. No classified ads here or internet services that provide such convenience. We thought we had found an apartment and that all was settled, so we spent all of Thursday packing... then it turns out the contract didn't go through... at least they are still working on it. So we're just praying that it will go through, because after days, we still can't find one that is nice enough for the church to approve. These pictures were on Wednesday when our "Assistants to the President" came over to look at the apartments we had found. They ended up staying for dinner which was a lot of fun. We also to time and listened to all of the hymns Jason had arranged for me and they, like everyone else, were just blown away.

That was pretty much our week. We having been struggling a bit with the area, because the previous elders didn't leave a very good reputation, but hopefully we'll see that change... as soon as we are able to work when we find an apartment anyway!

If you're just skipping over the email, that's alright... 

but start reading here:

As much fun as looking for apartments was, getting through the past week has probably been the biggest learning experience I've had in a really long time. I find that with the hardest trials, we take time to just weep first, then when things start to settle down, and we have a level-head, we start to see the reasons why we need to learn what has happened. When what has to be has been, and what lessons had to be learned are learned, we come out to find ourselves refined. And although sometimes who we are hates who we have been, letting go and realizing that mistakes in the past don't define us, is probably the most important thing we must do.

This past week, I've thought about a lot. I guess it all started when I was able to talk to Sister Jen Angoluan for a split second. She put it into real plain view. It's all in the love I have for people. I don't have trouble loving people, in fact, most times more than not, I love immediately. And when I love people, I want to do everything in my power to help them. As much as through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, our weaknesses can be turned into our strenghths, through the cunning ways of Satan, our strengths can conversely, be changed into our weaknesses.

I was reading through my journal from a bit past a year ago. I really liked this girl named Erika Nash, who obviously didn't like me haha. But that didn't mean that I didn't stop trying to be her friend. (I'll have to tell you the story about when I gave her her "Care Bear" for Christmas a couple years ago, or you could just ask Elder Tengelsen, who you call "Jake" nowadays.) Anyway, she was really, really into Shakespeare, so naturally, I tried to be really, really into Shakespeare too. As difficult as it was to sit through the Shakespeare plays at BYU, I did take her, and the one I read about was to Shakespeare's "As You Like It," one of his more famous comedies. 

I don't remember what it was about, but there is one thing that I wrote in my journal that stuck out to me from the play. A line. A line that reads:

Can you have too much of a good thing?

More than a year ago, I concluded "no" in my journal. How can having too much of a good thing make sense? Now after going through what I have gone through in the past week, I have concluded that the answer is a definite "yes". You can absolutely have too much of a good thing. Even if a good thing is just wanting to love another person or wanting to be loved.

In fact, you can have too much of anything. Talking to our awesome mission president, we really went over this and he invited me to really study it. We talked about how everything must be done in order. Everything. He told me about how even over-studying the scriptures causes people to lose faith. Everything must be done in order, and excess, in anything, even in good things, will never produce a happy ending.

In my case, I have concluded that it does indeed, have to do with the love I have for people. When I love someone, I am willing to give anything and do anything to help that person - that is where it gets dangerous. This at times has clouded my judgment and lead me to justify things that just aren't justifiable, and cross the limits as set. Especially as a missionary, there are bounds - how much more in a country where people just pick out your weaknesses and feast on them. I've concluded that it's okay to love people, as long as it doesn't impair my vision and keep me from doing what I know is completely right.

Another lesson I've really learned and studied, is from a talk from Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, entitled Lessons from Liberty Jail. Here is the quote that has touched me the most:

When suffering, we may in fact be nearer to God than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. That knowledge can turn every such situation into a would-be temple. Regarding our earthly journey, the Lord has promised, “I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (D& 84:88). That is an everlasting declaration of God’s love and care for us, including—and perhaps especially—in times of trouble.

I know that that is true. Sometimes when we hurt, we are tempted to scream at the ceiling and demand to know if our prayers are heard, but I know that they are. Another thing that he mentions is this: if you are having a bad day, you’ve got a lot of company—very, very good company. The best company that has ever lived. In regarding the Savior, life would be so much worse and harder, had he not saved us. And as much as some days we wish we were someone else, we get the lives are given, and we are promised that He will be with us through it all. We've just got to hold on. In the end, the details aren't important. What matters is that we do our part, and as long as we do that, Christ will fix it, Christ will make it work.

So this is where I am, and these are the things I've learned. I wouldn't take back a second of it and I'm thankful for every second of pain I had to go through. I know that it will work out. And for now, I'm just going to embrace what I have, and focus on the work. Things are finally okay. The problem is over, and Enrique and I are in the best place we've been. I've heard from their Elders that Kiel Corpuz is getting baptized this Saturday! Elder Hand, (who was my very best friend from the MTC) said that I was his first choice to baptize him, but since that wasn't possible, he chose Enrique, since we always taught him together. I'm so proud of them both. Kiel is a great kid, and I know he will be strong in the church. And my prayers and brotherly-love will always be with Enrique. He has changed so much, and now he's seeing the fruit of his change by getting to perform his first baptism. Things are just working out.

Today was a great day. I have the best zone on the planet! We all got together this morning and played basketball and some games for some zone bonding. I have been in the zone with nearly every elder in the zone before either in Quezon, Caloocan, or Montalban. In fact this is the third time I've been in the same zone now as Elder Aquilena! I've finally found the silver lining to this cloud, and you know what that means, sunshine is just right around the corner.

I forgot what the name of this game is, but it was really painful. It's a mix of volleyball and hacky-sack pretty much. It was a riot!

Sister Mila is a riot! She was posing in front of my camera all day saying , "It's so hard to be a celebrity!" And then there's Elder Aquilena in the back - the elder I was with also in Quezon City a year ago and Caloocan a few months back.

The bigger, jolly looking Elder to the far right is my companion!

The Valenzuela Zone

Elder Corpuz

P.S. - This is my new favorite quote from Elder Holland:

"Everyone of us has times when we need to know that things will get better... That is precisely what the Gospel of Jesus Christ offers us, especially in times of need...Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. There is help and happiness ahead. Some blessings come soon. Some come late. And some don't come until heaven. But for those that embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ, they come. It will be alright in the end. Trust God, and believe in good things to come."

[Eric also asked me to attach these two videos where he got the talks from Elder Holland from.]

Monday, August 1, 2011

Fourth Area

Dear Mom,
This is going to be a short email. I don't have too much to say this week.

I am now in my fourth area with my eighth companion in Marulas, Valenzuela - right next to my second area and very far from the beautiful mountains of Montalban.

This has been the hardest change of my whole mission.

Leaving Ampid and San Mateo was so, so hard. We did have a good last night though with our ward missionaries. We all went out to eat at Mang Inasal and had a last great night of bonding for a few hours. I gave each of the  boys a tie and each of the girls a remembrance page. And then after dinner, each person went around and said a little personal goodbye. It was a nice way to end and leave the area. I was sad Enrique couldn't come because of the strong rain - his mom needed him to take care of the house just made up of a few nailed boards as you could see last week. He was able to send a few good texts though to say goodbye which were very touching. It was probably the saddest night of my whole mission. I will never forget that transfer, it was too good to be true. I miss everyone there so, so much.

Now, my new companion is Elder Oliva from Bikol. He's really funny and is really good at cooking. We are opening an area which means we are both brand new here, neither of us know anything about anyone or anywhere, and we are just starting from scratch. The ward has had bad experiences with missionaries in the past, so we will be working to gain their trust back. Our new zone is really fun, and it should be a good transfer.

I'm still having problems letting go of the problems. It hurts still so much, but I guess that's life. Keep the prayers coming, I as well as Enrique could use heaven on our side right now. Hope all is well back home. Love you and miss you all so, so much.

Elder Corpuz