Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Love will find a way.

Dear Mom,
My heart is so full right now I feel like it's going to burst. Writing out my emails beforehand has proved to be one of the best decisions I have ever made.

New Year's was a great experience and probably one of the best, New Year's that I have ever had.

We had lot going on that day and had to be in early because of the fireworks (bombs) that start going off at dark. We were able to go to a wedding and attend the following baptism of people that I have been able to know and interview in the Batasan area of our district. It was very simple, but really touching. What a way for them to end that year and begin the next - fresh, with one another.

Afterwards, Bishop Tapan and his family, had us and our housemates over for dinner. We were surprised that night by late Christmas presents from a member in the Don Atonio Ward who got us matching tie clips. I was touched by the thought.

Our new tie clips

We made it home and bought some things to cook. New Year's was in the air in our subdivision and fireworks started as soon as dark came. We were all too excited to sleep, and with all the music blaring and bombs going off outside, it was impossible anyway. So we made a breakfast-for-dinner kind of meal around ten, and made banana pancakes and bought ice cream. Ice cream here is a really, really big deal because it's beyond expensive. So we decided that we should do something special for ourselves that night and treat ourselves to some ice cream. It was well worth it.

When eleven o'clock rolled around, I decided that I wanted to make the last hour of the year somewhat meaningful, so I decided to spend some time writing letters of thanks to people who have really touched me this year, like Elder Posadas, and many, many more while listening to the renditions of hymns that Jason has continued to make me. At about ten minutes till, I decided the best thing to do would be to end the year with a prayer of thanks, and kneeled down my bed and thanked God for all the blessings, and most importantly trials I've had this past year. When I realized all the things I've experienced this year, I couldn't believe how blessed I had been in 2011.

A few minutes later, I joined the others just outside the door watching the fireworks that our neighbors were setting off. The excitement was so thick that you could embrace it. As it got closer and closer to midnight, it seemed like the whole neighborhood was coming out of their houses and onto the streets. Our neighbors were blasting their sound system to my favorite Christian rock-artist - Chris Tomlin. It had been awhile since I had heard any music from him, but the particular song playing at the time was about love. I was so touched by the lyrics that talked about how love will find a way. It really set the tone for the New Year.

Then, it was like the sky roared and started to burn, families started screaming and jumping up and down, and smiles and laughs were just as bright as the fireworks in the sky. It was the New Year. At that moment, I felt like I was being embraced by love, seeing love all around me in the people and hearing it in the music. As I looked up into the lit sky, I felt like I could see the faces of the people I loved and cared about the most - mom, dad, Jason, Farah, family - the Squires, the Posadases - and shut my eyes, trying to hold back tears that were already streaming down my face, and wished you all a Happy New Year in my heart.

A modern art picture for Jason.

The Ragasa Family and some.
The next day, it seemed like everyone in the ward wanted to have us over to celebrate the New Year. We didn't have enough time to make it everywhere, but made it to the Ragasa family, another Ilocano family who was proud to have us over. They had prepared a great meal for us and invited other members over as well to celebrate. The family probably thought I was a little rude because I was so quiet, but I was literally speechless from their overwhelming kindness to my companion and I, as well as the other members there. Speechless because everything just seemed to be lining up.

Brother Ragasa and Elder Betita.

My surprise present from Elder Shumway's family.

For the New Year, I thought a lot about the song that played that night and how I felt like it was God's message to me for 2012. There was one line that really cut me that talked about how love is the answer and love will find a way.

Thinking about the anxiety coming from my mission coming to a close and changes that will come soon, I've thought about what exactly has me worried about leaving my mission and why saying goodbye to people is so hard. Is it worth it to get close to people and love people if we will inevitably always have to let go of them?

After a lot of searching, it all leveled down to one phrase repeated many times in 1 John in the New Testament: God is love.

 I've considered what that phrase means, and how it's true and makes sense. Everything good comes from God, and the most pure, good thing in the universe is love. I've thought about when I am the happiest, and it's when I feel loved or am able to share love for someone. I've thought about our family and best friends, and those I haven't seen in years, and the miracle being that I don't love them any less, and they don't love me any less regardless. What I have learned is that when we truly love someone, God is there, and that He is what binds those people. Love will keep people together. Love will always find a way, because God will always find a way.

Knowing that has brought me so much comfort to face this coming year. There are no goodbyes for those who truly love. Those relationships will endure and can be eternal if we choose to live according to the bounds the Gospel has set. My new favorite scripture is Proverbs 17:17: A friend loveth at all times. So my resolution for this year is to not be afraid to love because of goodbyes, but to just love and find more people to love, and although goodbyes will still be hard, maybe they won't be as hard in 2012.

Happy New Year.

Elder Corpuz