Sunday, February 26, 2012

Small and simple things.

Dear Mom,
It's crazy how much can happen in a matter of days. For you non-Tagalog speakers, (ehem Jason & Farah) "pa" means yet or still. So the subject of my last email literally means "Peaceful still." I thought it was a cool little jingle - mapayapa pa.

Elder Taulelei's last day was simple and a little sad. I was going to miss my big, friendly giant companion who couldn't hurt a fly. We were treated to bowling that day, and I didn't do so well haha. Marcie nearly creamed me, who has only bowled for the second time in his life. It was a nice way to end the transfer. 

Transfers came out really surprising, especially for the elders in my district. I felt like all my elders grew up that day. All my juniors became trainers and all my seniors became leaders. Elder Taulelei literally moved right across the street and is now training as a leader, still here in Fairview zone. My new companion's name is Elder Azuela from Bicol. He's a cartoonist and a really humble elder. He's always willing to help. The past few days have been really stressful, and I wear my emotions right on my sleeve. He'll ask me, "Elder, what's on your mind? What are you thinking about?" and of course my response is just to smile and say nothing, even though there obviously is something. Elder Azuela always jokingly responds back though, "Just think of your thoughts as a pizza. Let's half it. Tell me what your thinking about it and we can half it so I can think about it too and you don't have to think about all of it." I love that kid.

It was nice to see some familiar faces at transfer meeting. When I walked in the cultural hall after the meeting, Elder Posadas screamed my name and tracked me down. He had just gotten a small package from his family who sent a really cool shirt, same size as Elder Posadas, for me, from the "Sinulog" festival in Cebu, which apparently is a really big deal. Thank you couldn't describe my gratitude.

I also saw Sister Ajiz who is a bit of a miracle story. Sister Ajiz was in my zone at Valenzuela and is from Pakistan. Unlike the other foreigners, foreigners from Asia don't get the opportunity to learn Tagalog here in the Manila MTC, they are just expected to learn it all by themselves. Many of these missionaries give up quickly and go home. When I saw Sister Ajiz that day, I automatically assumed that I had to speak English to her, but she replied in straight Tagalog. And not even just a little, incorrect Tagalog, it was fluent, well-versed Tagalog. The last time I saw her about two months ago, she couldn't so much as speak let alone understand. I was nearly in tears seeing the progress she had made and the determination she has to learn the language to be able to help the people. She's an inspiration.

Saturday was an amazing day. It was Kuya Marcie's birthday and it was full of lots of activities, not just your ordinary church activities though.

I'm really impressed by this ward. The Philippines' area focus right now is saving the members who have left the church which right now, is over 500,000, mostly from lack of visiting from the members. Marcie and I talked about for awhile last week, and in response, he acted. He gathered the SA (single adults) on his birthday, and instead of having a normal party-like activity, he called the SA together to act, trained them, and sent them out to teach and find those families that had gone astray. We were able to attend and then took some of the SA with us to our lessons. It was a great help. Afterwards, we had some food at Marcie's house to celebrate his birthday. Elder Azuela and I also put together a very small, funny present for Marcie. I'm pretty sure he loved it.


Right after the activity, the sisters in the ward held an activity that night too. Another visiting activity as well. In efforts as well to strengthen less-active families, the sisters have decided that their activities as well will be devoted to strengthening families by holding a "family home evening" once every month at a different family's home. This evening was dedicated to the Failma Family.

Sister Ortiz in the green gave the lesson about families, she is also an Ilocana like nearly the rest of the ward.

One small piece of paper rips easily.
But a book, as a binded family, is very, very hard to rip.
This was our game - teamwork. Trying to stack matches on an RC bottle.

We lost haha.

One of the hardest weeks of my mission, yet bearable because of those around me. I've realized in the mission how much I value the "small and simple things" just as the scriptures tell us.

This week, I've received a lot of these small and simple things - straight from the heart. These things, are more important to me than gold, because of the love and thought behind them. To me, there is nothing that says I love you more, than an act that shows that someone took time out of their day to do something for you and just think of you, for even just a split second. Whether it be a shirt from a loving family, kind treats from my kuya's girlfriend, Rebisco crackers from kuya when I was hungry, a lollipop from my twin, when I was hurt. Notes from friends that come in greatest times of need. Hugs that comfort in times of despair. Simple things that make you feel special. Simple things that make you know that you aren't forgotten. Simple things that say I love you.

A small key chain Elder Posadas made of our favorite sayings.

 In Elder Posadas' father's last letter, he shared something that really touched me. He writes:

"Every person that we meet, does not come to us by accident. Every situation we meet along the way, will surely be moments of learning. And everyday, should not go to waste without us learning from whatever mistakes we make or good that we do."

I know that that's true. All these small and simple things - people, moments, mistakes, and good - all bring to pass great things in our lives if we let them. They show us that others love us. They show us that God loves us. They are the things that matter most - the thoughts and love that money can't buy. 

Elder Corpuz

Happy 24th Birthday to Kuya Marcie.

And without forgetting, a Happy 21st Birthday to my sister Farah.