Monday, September 19, 2011

Negative Results.

Dear Mom,
Yup, we all are getting old! Can't believe dad has finally hit the big 5-0! He shared with me some of the stuff that was on the card about how things were fifty years ago and I just couldn't stop laughing. Time really waits for no one, but rest assured, regardless of age, family stays the same and I'm glad that it will be that way for eternity.

This week has been a great week. We have worked our tails off. (I'd really like to research where that saying started.) I can't remember being this tired from working in a really long time. I love it. Every night it seems like I fall asleep before my head even hits my pillow. It's the best feeling ever, because I know we're doing missionary work right.

We started out the week with a great inspirational speaker during our zone meeting. It was a brother in our zone leaders' area that basically teaches people how to be rich. It's applicable though to anyone in any situation. His main point was that we all just need to learn how to master our minds.

He talked about something that is obvious and known by everyone, yet hardly practiced by anyone. He talked about how what we think creates what we are. And then he took us into some examples which really made it click for us. He talked about how we are missionaries. Why? Because a few years ago we thought of serving missions - and a lot of things that made sense that we just didn't realize.

I think the biggest thing that really reconfirmed a lot I've learned on the mission is how negative thoughts creative negative results. That's something my companion and I have really been focusing on - not giving way to the negative. We've been striving to nix anything negative in our lives, especially negative comments.

Assuming negative. Thinking negative. Being negative. That's the way that Satan loves it.

For example, instead of getting mad at a tricycle driver for trying to rip us off because we're American, we're trying to look at the deeper reason why - like maybe his family is really struggling to make ends meet and they have no food and need those few extra pesos to feed their family. Life looks a lot better when you don't look at it through a dirty window.

Just focusing on the good and thinking about the good has really taken a lot in changing how I live here. I thought about something yesterday in church. I thought about feeling and focusing on my imperfections - and when depression and loneliness - guilt and discourage all seemed to crown my hanging head, I thought about what the brother taught us the week before - negative beginnings create negative results. I thought that instead of focusing on my imperfections, it's better to focus on the things I do right. And if I amplify those things I do right - especially pertaining to obedience - than that will ultimately overtake whatever imperfections that seem to desire to define me.

Other than that, we've seen great things this past week, and not really had just a regular day. Yesterday we were guided in the middle of nowhere to find a less-active member in a house with a family of 10+ people who are just searching for a way to be happy. The other day, we helped a struggling kid at the age of 10, a member of the church who had been living on the streets, find a way home. So many other things that I wish I had time to mention. I think the best of all is seeing the growth in Emy that we've seen in just a week after her baptism. She has changed so much. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, she was determined to work with us and share the happiness she has just found with everyone around her. Everything she shares, even without any previous training, is dead on. Next week, she'll be called as a ward missionary. We're so proud of her. Seeing changes in people like her and how much the gospel has helped her makes every minute of the mission worth it.

And just a fun fact - Elder Holland, probably the most talked about in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, is flying out all the way to our mission to talk to the youth here about serving a mission. The fliers were made at church headquarters here in the Philippines and handed out to 20+ stakes here in Metro Manila. And guess who's picture is on that flyer?

Oh yeah.

Elder Corpuz

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Time to be Jolly.

Dear Mom,
This transfer, all few days of it, have been amazing so far. It's definitely been an answer to a lot of prayers. I don't have too much time so I'll try to do my best to include everything and keep it short. I really need to stop saying that.

Well, my new companion's name is Elder Jolley - probably going to be one of my favorite companions alongside Elder Tengelsen and Elder Tropia. Elder Jolley is a 19 year-old from San Diego, CA. He's about 6'4" and is your typical Cali boy for the most part - surfer, wicked accent, confidence, and all in between. One of the funnies thing is he uses words like "awesome" and "legit" sometimes even "ridiculous" when he prays - it's super funny. He was actually trained by Elder Haws which is pretty awesome. It took is all of five minutes for us to just click right away, which is definitely great, and you want to know what the turning point was? Under everything, Elder Jolley at heart, like me, is a band geek too! Marching band and all. Also did choir, so he's way musically inclined which I really appreciate. It was really funny when he mentioned it. I mean usually, saying you were in marching band isn't one of the first things you say when you talk to other people, but when you find out that you've met a fellow band-nerd, the riot begins. It was a perfect match.

And the match gets even better. Without going too much into detail, I thought about a letter that my friend Mike Swindle sent me about a month ago, who is on his mission in California right now. This was the time when everything had gone down hill with Enrique and I was having a really hard time, even though until today it still is difficult. Mike told me that I would understand why, and that everything was for a reason. I feel like I know why now. You're never going to believe it.

I know that you don't know exact details, and that's not really necessary. But this is what blows my mind - everything I went through in helping Enrique and then having things fall apart, all the hurt and pain - the whole package, everything I experienced, Elder Jolley had just experienced in his last area. Nearly the same situation, nearly the same details, but exactly the same pain. I would have never thought anyone would ever go through what I went through, but surprise, surprise little did I know. So we've been working through together. Helping one another, and building up one another. It's been really great my whole mission to see God's hand in paring me with the people I've been paired with. I'm excited to see what a great transfer this will be. It's truly been an answer to so many prayers.

On an even better note, we had a baptism last week that turned out great, although it started two hours late. That's Filipino time for ya. Emy is going to be one of my favorite converts. She right away recognizes how important the gospel was for her and is wanting to share it with everyone now. Elder Jolley was gracious enough to let me copy some of his pictures so at least you can share the memory with us.

Anyway, things seem to really be looking up for me here, plus I got a way great haircut today so I know it's going to be a good week. I hope all is well back home. Love you all and miss you tons.

Elder Corpuz

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

He knew.

Dear Mom,
Let me be the first to greet you MERRY CHRISTMAS! Yep, Christmas season officially began here on my birthday, good ol' September first! Decorations are up and the Christmas spirit is in the air! The Philippines celebrates Christmas longer than any other nation on the planet. But lets be real, any American knows that the Christmas season doesn't begin until you take out a grandma with a shopping cart at 4:00am on black Friday.

Anyway, mom, this week as been great! I don't even know where to begin. The beginning. Yeah that sounds good.

Well, we beat you on moving mom. We finally moved into our new mansion - probably one of the nicest apartments in the mission. Equipped with air conditioning and a water heater! It's just like home, except we don't use either because they are way too expensive.  It's a little too big for just two though. You'll see some pictures in it in a bit. It was finally nice to be out of the little dink apartment we were in. Now we have so much space we don't know what to do with it.

Anyway, after we moved out of the Elders apartment in Gen. T. Deleon, things got pretty lonely and quiet... just in time for my birthday on Thursday. Although we had a mini celebration early that Monday, it's still not the same to not celebrate your 21st birthday, of all birthdays, on your actual birthday. I woke up that day pretty sad. Got up at 5:00am to start hand-washing my clothes so I could be done by 8:00am for personal study. The morning was really quiet, and really lonely. After I got done studying, I just pulled out pictures of me and you mom and wished I was at home. It was depressing, and a bit painful. Ignorance for me was not bliss at this time.

My companion dragged me out of the house around noon and insisted we go... grocery shopping. I was pretty irritated. Then when we bought two chickens, and a cake at Goldilocks, I nearly lost it. He was just saying that me and him were going to party at the house alone, and I just insisted that it was unnecessary and I wasn't that hungry. So we made our way home after a couple hours in the pouring rain and I got soaking wet. Needless to say, I wasn't a happy fellow.

Anyway we finally made it home, and when I walked in the house to find my slippers, I noticed they were missing and noticed a line of about 14 pairs of shoes, I turned around, and my whole zone was in our apartment and had put together a surprise party for me! They decorated our apartment, cooked, and made a huge poster just for me. I was so surprised. I felt like Enrique on his birthday - absolutely speechless. It didn't take long for me to not be able to hold back the tears, and lost it while they creamed my face with icing while I said a blessing on the food. They are seriously the best. It turns out they had been planning this for awhile, and knew that I was planning to just have a lonely, sad birthday - my only birthday in the Philippines. They didn't forget. Man they didn't forget. On my card, they all wrote messages to me in their native dialects which was way awesome... except I don't understand any of them haha. I was so happy. It was the best birthday I had had in a really long time and the first surprise party every thrown for me for sure. The best part was the President Sperry was in on it too. He trusted my zone enough to let the sisters into our apartment to celebrate, which really meant a lot to me. They sang happy birthday to me, we ate, and then played some really fun games that I'll have to teach you when I get home. One involving getting marked up with lipstick haha. I hadn't laughed that much in a long time. I have the best zone ever and am so thankful that Heavenly Father assigned me here with them. It's too bad my camera got stolen, but the sisters emailed me some pictures so that I could at least show you what they did for me.  Everyone also burned cds of the pictures they had on their cameras so I'll post those next week when I get them.

I will never forget my birthday in the Philippines.

I also found out that all the youth in my last area, in Ampid, had made a huge card for me and all signed it. I'll probably be getting it tomorrow on mail run and I'm really excited. Not even my last area forgot about me!

The next day was Sister Lubrido's birthday! So we got to put on a little, mini-version of a celebration for her as well at their church. We didn't have too much time so we were only able to eat.... or at least me. While we were eating, icing started flying all over the place, but I didn't let it disrupt my  eating so I just kept on keeping on until I finished my food. You can also see my sorry attempt at trying to make a heart for Sister Lubrido out of balloons here. Just even more fun!

Just started eating.

Still eating.

Still eating.

Still eating.

On Saturday we had a baptism that I'll have to make sure I get pictures from from Elder Aquilena. This family is so special, the Feliciano family. They are actually in the Gen. T. area, but I got to meet them at temple tour and I also was able to work in their area and teach them. They made a special request for me to sing at their baptism, so I sang the Tagalog version of "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus" or "Tularan ko si Jesus" I think. It was such a special day for them, even just more smiles.

And well, not much more has happened since then. Transfer announcement? I'll be staying in Valenzuela and Elder Oliva will be transferring. There aren't many leaving from our zone so I'm really happy. Elder Aquilena will also be leaving, but he's had a good seven months here so he's pretty due. All in all, this week has been great. I would have never expected my birthday, or this transfer to turn out as great as it did.

I think what I have learned the most out of this transfer, is something I've constantly been learning my whole mission - God has a plan for us, and regardless of what our plans may be, His plans are always best. I'm so thankful I was assigned here in Marulas, where the work is starting to really pick up and the members are really warming up to us. Not to mention the great zone that pretty much saved me from myself. He knew that I would be loved here. He knew everything I needed was here. He knew that I would be happy here. Let's see what the next transfer has in store. And guess what? I'll be hitting my year mark in the Philippines.

All is well mom.

Elder Corpuz

P.S. Somehow even the Corpuz family in our ward found out was my birthday and made sure to greet me that day too!