Sunday, October 30, 2011

Worthy vs. Perfect

Dear Mom,
Somehow, we survived last week and made it out okay. I won't be seeing you until next summer.

These past four days have not been exactly the heavenly experience to say the least. I've been preparing all morning for my workshop for our zone tomorrow, and since that's all I can seem to think about, I'll share that with you too.

Tomorrow, the workshop will be on being worthy, versus being perfect. I'll be talking about ways that missionaries need to prepare to be able to handle Satan's storms when they come without warning, and his special tactics that he uses for missionaries, and in all honesty, regular people alike. This is my workshop - 

In order to be prepared for anything - if we can compare this to a natural disaster, we must know how the disaster works. We must study, assume outcomes, and prepare to provide for whatever the disaster has in store. So in beginning, let's discuss Satan's tactics for his missionaries.

Satan works through two ways on his missionaries- always circling back to the first. One, is straight, illogical disobedience. This is the more difficult of the two, because missionaries (I'll stop using missionaries and assume people) are aware that temptations for disobedience will come. So we are prepared for that. The latter, is something we don't consider. Where disobedience is straight against the law and is easy to combat, there is a back door where Satan can convince anyone, that disobedience is logical. He does this through mind games, by making ourselves enemies to ourselves. He persuades us to hate ourselves, and convinces us that we aren't good enough, that we are not perfect enough. This is something that most people don't consider, and then when they are caught in clouds of depression or pity, Satan pushes them to justify disobedience, denying blessings and heavenly protection. What a cunning plan.

In combating, it's important that we are prepared. When we feel ourselves in trouble, with - none-the-less - ourselves, we do have control, and we need to be aware of what's coming. Satan only attacks when we are vulnerable, so it's important that we recognize what makes us vulnerable. Here is something I've considered may help when we find ourselves stuck and blinded.

First, and foremost, pray. Everything starts with a prayer.
Second, increase obedience. Increase obedience, increase blessings, increase protection.
Third, be aware of weaknesses. Satan is going to attack the where you are vulnerable - things you have barely repented of, so it's necessary to be prepared to withstand temptation in that area.
Last, serve. Serve is the fastest way to love, and as Elder Tengelsen says, "There is no defense against love."

So in being aware and preparing, we become, as a people, preventors (if you will) instead of reactors. It's always better to be prepared, like you always say mom, instead of regretting that you weren't.

It's not exactly profound, but I feel like in simplicity we can find comfort. It's important that preparation and awareness are a part of our daily lives in wanting to do our best to live our best. 

I guess that's it in a nutshell - cutting out all the fluff I've decided to put in tomorrow. As for now - pressing forward with second chances seems to be the way. It's difficult, but it's handle-able. With great friends in the zone like Elder Posadas, great leaders, and great companions (not forgetting family of course), life is just that much easier. And in the end, yet again, all is well.

Elder Corpuz
Pictures from Elder Jolley's camera:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

One of God's Details - Elder Posadas.

Dear Mom,
Let's pick up right where we left off last week, with that awful end. And don't worry mom, I was completely aware that I looked like Mufasa with my hair - I got it cut immediately haha.

Let's go back to last week for a second - those pictures were mostly from our last day together as a zone - sad day. We all had lunch together and then got flooded on the way back home. We were all soaking wet on the pictures if you couldn't notice; it was just another adventure. We also celebrated Elder Jolley's birthday last week. If you remember from my previous emails about the lady at "Hungry Haven," she treated both of us with a free lunch. We tried to pay, but she was determined to treat us and touched our hearts. She said that she knew how we felt since we are so far away from family, and that we do it because we love our Father in Heaven. It was nice to know that someone actually understands.

Our brand new Pakistani sister - Sister Ajiz.

This transfer started out extremely rough from day one. The first day of the transfer was extremely depressing for all of us. I was a baby and cried because I missed everyone so much, and then we added a few more unfortunate events, and it made for an extremely trying week. The trials are new, and they are so much more harder, and now, my zone is completely different - the support I had is nearly gone.

But not all the way.

It seems we just move through phases in our life nearly daily. We have a routine that lasts for so long and then it completely changes. What seems to be consistent is that after painful goodbyes, new faces and friendships always seem to be concurrently found. 

I know it seems like nearly every other week I've found a person that "reminds me of me" or has become my "new best friend" - maybe it's just me getting over the fact that I'm surrounded by Filipinos just like me everywhere. This time is extremely different though - probably the most different it's ever been.

One thing I've learned to see on the mission is God in the details of my life. I know I may have used that cliche phrase before, but it's the truth. I've realized how God gives us every single, minute thing that we love, and how He shares His love for us through the people He sends us. I feel like God could see the hard times that I had ahead this week, and He gave me someone to help me through.

The past couple weeks, my companion and I have gotten extremely close to the elders assigned on the other side of our zone in Bocaue, Bulacan: Elder Hawkins & Elder Posadas. It's just a match in every sense of the word. We've spent a lot of time with them, and we've realized how much we all love and can relate to one another.
At our special stake conference with Elder Arden.
Elder Posadas and I, in particular, have gotten extremely close. This is so typical of me, but I can see every bit of me in him, as he can see every bit of him in me. He's like the twin brother I never had: same hobbies, same style, same problems, same worries, and for goodness sake, we even sit the same. He's a swimmer who loves music, and Filipino city boy, just like me. When we first started to get close, he told me about his first impressions of me that really struck me. He told me that his follow up trainer, Elder Cendana, really thought highly of me, and told Elder Posadas, that if we were ever companions, we would work really well together. It's difficult to think that some people think highly of you - as people I think it's normal for us to be our toughest critics. Yet he was right, and this week, we've gotten extremely close, and I've realized just how great God's love for me is, in His sending me this true brother and friend.

This week has without a doubt been the hardest of my whole mission. Situation-ally, my companion and I have been thrown into the gutter, and I've somehow found myself in a position where I may have to come home, even though responsibility for the situation doesn't lie completely, if even at all, on my shoulders. I've found about deaths and as a cherry on top, my companion has gotten really sick, so I've had to pretty much take it all on me - but you know, I'm okay with that. Yet there were times when it was too much - and whenever it was too much, this is when Elder Posadas came running.

I could count the people on one hand in my whole life that have cared about me as much as Elder Posadas does. This past week, when he found out I was having trouble, he and his companion came out of their way, with hours of travel, just to make sure that I was okay. They left me with blessings and prayers - Elder Posadas' first blessings for record. They've called nearly everyday, and texted most days just to let us know that they loved us and are here for us. Elder Posadas even made me this great card, that I wish I could show you. The front said "Our Goal is to make it home to God" or something along the lines of, and inside it had a beautiful picture that he hand drew of the temple and one of the most touching and comforting messages I've ever read. I felt so bad and cried for hours when I found out that I had somehow misplaced it, yet regardless, the thought still is worth a mark on my heart. His example of humility and service are like none that I've ever seen. He's one of the few people that I can doubtlessly say, has changed my life. I'm not afraid to say that I love this kid with all my heart.

This past week has helped me to appreciate and value the mission so much and all it gives. It's helped me to realize, and has helped me to meet people that I will hold dear to my heart for eternity. I know that God doesn't abandon His children, and that people along the way are completely necessary to help us make it through. People need people; it's just how it works. Loneliness was never in God's plan of happiness and I'll be forever thankful for the great people like Elder Posadas in my life that will never lose favor in my heart. I hope that I can stay here and that things will just work out - I just love the Philippines so, so much. In the end, I've come to lean that there's a point where everyone just needs God in their lives, because we don't have much else. Life is never easy, and will never be, but if you have God, it's possible. And it's not just possible, it's fulfilling.

Thank you for all your prayers,
With all the love in my heart,
Elder Corpuz

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

To Be Continued

Dear Mom,
I just read my last email and just laughed and laughed and laughed. What on earth was I trying to accomplish? It sounded like some kind of crazy paper that I put together on the morning of the due date. I'll just skip the flower and just give you me - that will be a lot better.

This has been a super long week and this P-day has been really long awaited. The verdict?

For the second time in my whole mission - there will be no change in the companionship or the area. Corpuz and Jolley shall continue to rock.


Man, when we found out, and then found out our best friends in the zone also were staying, it was all screams, laughs, and smiles (screams, of course, on my behalf). Although it will be really hard to say goodbye to Elder Montesclaros who has become a big brother to our whole zone, and the two sisters, change will be good. I'll miss the sisters especially. Sister Lubrido was like the big sister of the whole zone and always reminded me that I reminded her of her little brother, so she took care of me as one. Sister Mila is just always a riot. I feel like if I met mom about 20 years ago, I would meet Sister Mila - loud, funny, but the person that everyone loves so much. Valenzuela it is.

This week was fantastic, but super tiring. We were so lucky to have a baptism this week (that I'll have to make sure to steal pictures from Elder Jolley for next week), our favorite little, smart ten-year-old - John John. I love this kid so, so much. He's about maybe two feet tall... alright maybe taller than that, but not much past my hip, and we just... love him so much! He's become like our baby brother and the kid is extremely intelligent. He outdoes his older sister by far who is almost 13. On his day for his interview, while we were walking to pick him up at his house, we ran into him and he ran up to me smiling asking, "It's my interview today right Elder?" I responded yes and asked him, "Yep, are you ready?" and probably one of the most touching, simple experiences in my whole mission, he smiled and said, "Yeah Elder, I'm ready!" After his interview that night, he came out of the room running and gave me a big hug around me knees and said, "Elder, I passed, I passed!" It was definitely one of the times only tears could describe. His dad came and picked him up on his trike, and he turned around the whole ride back waving and screaming too us with a big smile, "Bye elders! See you tomorrow!" His baptism came out great, with full support of the ward and the other young men we are teaching. His mom, brothers and sisters, as well as myself and Elder Jolley are really proud of him.

This is going to be strange but I'm going to stop my email right here, and call a to be continued because we are chasing time right now.

BUT, I did make sure to attach pictures - tell you about them all next week!

Elder Corpuz

P.S. Thanks mom and dad for the new sweet camera! Hope you like the pictures - I've been getting carried away with the child-ish effects.