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.]