Sunday, May 20, 2012

Thrown and tossed again.

Dear Mom,
I'm glad to just get your emails. I thought I wasn't going to hear from you again because it was so early! We went out to play volleyball early this morning so we've been out and about. And also congratulations dad on that job promotion! What good news to hear. I know dad you deserve it because you are the hardest working person I know. I'm so happy for you!

Last week was difficult. Not even halfway through email I got a phone call from one of the assistants telling me that  there had been a change last minute in transfers, and I would be leaving Plaridel, Bulacan for my last transfer. The shock took my appetite, energy, and smile for a significant amount of time.

So I spent the rest of the afternoon packing and wasn't really able to say goodbye to anyone. It was heart-tearing because we had a lot going for us, but I knew, deep down, that it was meant to be and that somehow, someway, things would be better in the end.

Last time I saw one of these was in my first area.

From my new bedroom window.

Weekly planning!

I am now in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan. Right in the middle of the mountains. Transfer meeting was very bittersweet. I walked in with a long shadow, but left with my smile that I had lost. My new companion's name is Elder Savage, from Utah (of course). And we are assigned in the Fransisco Homes Branch in the San Jose del Monte District. 

When I found out I would be coming to (what we call) the "SJDM" zone, I couldn't explain how happy I was, especially to be in the branch I'm in. My leaders are again, missionaries I've previously been companions with and been a part of their early training. Elder Tropia, my follow-up trainee from Montalban, is my zone leader here, and we were beyond excited to find out we'd be in the same zone again. I'm also with all of my favorite sisters again from Valenzuela again. It's been a great reunion, all I'm missing is Elder Jolley (who is now in Malolos!) and Elder Posadas.

The Floyds (far right) setting up our picnic yesterday.
We are also in the ward with one of the senior couples, and I love all the senior couples. I've gotten particularly close to the Floyds, who if you recall, came and spent my last night with me in Mapayapa. Now, we're in the same branch! Sister Floyd was so happy to hear that. She pulled me aside on transfer day and told me that she wanted to throw me a special picnic on Sunday to celebrate me coming into the ward. I was speechless in gratitude. She went out of her way, drove far places, and put together some sandwiches, a great cherry dessert, potato salad, and even bought some pretty expensive brownies just for me. She invited the other senior couple, the Larsons, to attend as well to make it even more special. I couldn't describe how thankful I was this past Sunday for their love and effort to welcome me here in SJDM.

Now, I've been thrown in and tossed around once again for my last transfer, after just getting my feet on the ground in Malolos. It's been hard, but I know it's going to be a good last test for me.
You told me exactly what I needed to hear for this week mom and dad. A couple weeks back, Sister Squires told me that I am a great missionary because the Corpuz family raised a great missionary, and I know that that is true. You have been the best parents I could ever ask for, and I will live exactly the way you have counseled me to do this last transfer. 

Be exactly obedient, as you said dad. Your absolutely right, that is the key and what brings the protection and happiness I need. And mom, I will continue to value and work hard for my short amount of time just like you said, not focusing on the things I will leave behind, but the story I will leave behind. I know you are right mom. It's so hard to focus on goodbyes, and nostalgically think of the past, but I will do as you say and not concentrate on leaving or even talk about it. I will push hard to the end, and be the missionary you raised me to be. Thank you for everything - you are both irreplaceable.

This Friday we will have an amazing opportunity to hear from an Apostle, Elder Russell M. Nelson. He arrived here in the Philippines last Thursday and is here to dedicate the brand new Missionary Training Center for Asia, here in Manila. It will be something we will all never forget.

Elder Corpuz

A cock-fight arena.


Dear Mom,
It was great to talk to you on Sunday, even though it was very late at night for you. Talking about the Philippines and your arrival here next month was way too exciting. You are finally going to be able to come home.

And that's great that you were able to support Daniel at his farewell this week. I'm sure he did great and I'm glad you enjoyed his talk. Thank you so much for going to support him. I know he will be such a great missionary in Germany. It's crazy to think that when he finally gets there, I'll almost be home.

Rainy season, to my observation, has definitely begun. It has rained everyday and has cooled off a lot in the past week. Thank goodness. It's definitely helped with my allergies to the green here that's for sure. It's also somehow awakened new animals and lots and lots of frogs. It's good to not have to have to put ice in my water to take showers now and be able to sleep at night.

The week is kind of a blur - it went by so fast that I don't remember much. Last Wednesday, Kuya Marcie came out to visit to see how I was doing since he was right by my area last week at the Manila Youth Conference. We were able to catch up and encourage one another in our separate doings. It was a good uplifting.

Random but today on our way back from Malolos from district meeting, a tire in our jeepney blew out. It was really scary. It was so loud that I thought we got shot or something.

Mother's day was great. The ward put together a program for the Mother's and each and every single one of the youth and primary children got to have a chance to go to the pulpit and tell their mothers how much they appreciated them. I don't think there was one person who didn't cry that hour. It was so great to see youth and children appreciate their mothers. Seeing so many broken families today and the rebellious youth of our time, it's great to see teenagers and children love and appreciate their parents - against the standard of the outer world and their friends. My companion and I were also made surprise speakers which, for me, made it the fourth time I've spoken on Mother's Day in a row, starting four years ago on Mat's farewell. I also failed as the ward pianist - let me tell you about that funny story real quick.

For the song the primary put together, they asked me to accompany them on the piano... since no one else knows how to play haha. So I started the song and apparently it was so slow that the children didn't recognize it, so they didn't start singing until the last verse when I sped it up. At the end of the last verse, I made a very obvious, movie-theater ending on the piano, and then... looked up and noticed that the kids were still singing! So I tried to catch up with them and made another great ending and looked up after... and they were STILL singing! So I played one more verse and finally they stopped. I also played the wrong closing hymn so they had to stop me and clarify the actual closing him - talk about failure!

And now, it's transfers again.

Transfer announcement is that I will be finishing my mission in Plaridel, Bulacan.

Now that homestretch has begun and I'm in my final transfer, my mind has been spinning nearly every hour of everyday thinking about way too much - mostly a string of nostalgic questions. 

Did I do my best? Could I have done better? What would have happened if I did just a little better? Did I do good enough? Have I changed? The list of what-could-have-been-wonders seems to be endless.

I've thought about high school competition in sports and measuring success. True, healthy competition, as my band director taught me, is where you measure yourself against yourself, beating yourself just a little bit and a little more everyday. It's very difficult to see how much you have progressed, and completely changing your nature is something, I've had to swallow, that doesn't happen in a short two years. It's hard to see how far you've come when you life with yourself everyday, but keeping in mind who you are and what your abilities are, and stretching as much as you can, just past what you did the day before, is what the focus should be on. 

Constant. Constant change is all that you can ask for when living in the present. Looking back then after long periods of time, we'll be able to see what actual change has really occurred. It took me awhile to be content with this, but something that's really helped today is a quote that Elder Calder shared with me who is going home this week, that talks about how Jesus Christ's sacrifice wasn't to just help bad men become good - it's for continual change everyday to help good men become better. It's about constant, continual application of the Atonement of Jesus Christ that truly helps us to turn away from human nature and become what heaven sees in us. So here we go again, for one last time. It's not over just yet. 

Elder Corpuz

This is how they get water in the province in some places. You take the bucket and stick it down where the tire is and it's your own little modern day well!
Malolos Zone.
Me and Sister Nunez.
Me and Elder Anderson.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Happy and full.

Dear Mom,
Either I'm really early or you guys are really late because I haven't heard from any of you yet! I'm sure you are all just having a great Sunday together. I'm really excited to get to talk to you all next Sunday - I feel like I was just calling you for Christmas! 

Since Wednesday not too much has happened. We had temple tour again on Saturday and I couldn't even explain how many people I saw. I was getting called left and right seeing families and faces that I haven't seen in a really long time from nearly every area I've been assigned in. I failed at taking pictures that day, these are the only two I got.

I was super surprised to see the former Elder Ogden at the temple. Brother Ogden was one of teachers at the MTC while I was there and I've been assigned in quite a few of his areas here. Each of his areas, to this day, still talk about him - mind you it's been about four years since he's been home now. Mapayapa was one of his areas as well as my very first area - Bago Bantay. It's hard to follow legacies like his and then try to leave yours as well. He, since coming home, has put together a non-profit organization that comes to the Philippines once a year and helps children with cleft lip and palate defects. My companion and I were just walking with our crowd around the temple and saw a bunch of Americans walking around and had quite the surprise. It was amazing to get to see them here along with other teachers I had in the MTC.

Something I've grown to love about the Filipino culture, my culture, is how thoughtful they are of one another and how gracious they are. People here in the Philippines act as one very large family, and they hate to think of their family and friends going hungry. Food is very important here and very valued. I was really touched on Saturday when our neighbor, who we took to temple tour, stopped by and brought by some bananas she had bought just to say thank you for taking her and her neice to Manila that morning. Such a simple thing. Such a powerful thing.

Filipinos are always thinking about ways to show their love and help one another by sharing their greatest gift of food with one another. My favorite thing to see is that when a Filipino has left over food from dinner, they will bring it to their neighbor's house and share it with them out of nothing but genuine sincerity. While on the other hand when an American has left over food from dinner, they put it in their refrigerator so that they can eat it themselves later. You will never leave a Filipino's house hungry, because it's custom to feed any visitor you have. The most touching, is when parents make only enough to make ends meet and feed their children and then smile at them saying, "I am happy and full, because you are happy and full." I've had people sacrifice just enough to be able to feed me out of just the love they have in their hearts and tell me just that. I love the Philippines and I love being Filipino.

Well, it's that time again. It's time for my final transfer announcement, and there will for sure be a transfer in my companionship. My companion, Elder Anderson, just found out that he will be training this morning and we're both really excited - or at least I am haha. He told me over breakfast this morning that it was my "fault" because he was companions with me haha. The very first day I was with him, I sat down with him and told him "Elder, get ready to train." Transfer after transfer, each one of my companions as well as districts I have been over have had the highest privileges in the mission to train and I'm so proud of each and every single one of them. I know Elder Anderson will be in for the time of his life the next twelve weeks and be an amazing trainer.

I'm excited to talk to you all on Mother's day, take care until then. 

Elder Corpuz

P.S. I forgot to upload these pictures awhile back. Enjoy!

Some companionship bonding.

Far from the city.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Simply complicated.

Dear Mom,
What a long stretch of a week. Sorry if it took me so long to email. It was my first temple day since January - enjoyable to say the least.

The heat went down this week a little. We've been getting a bit of rain the past few days which has cooled off the temperature a bit. Enough to actually sleep at night anyway. (For exchange, we lost water for about three days so I've been old fashion pumping water out of wells and hulling pails to the house - talk about an experience!) We've, on a brighter note, been getting fed a lot, just so you know mom and in case you were wondering if I'm eating out here. Although allergies will never grow on me, this area and the people sure are. Plaridel just might not be that bad.

Just a funny aside that my companion might kill me for. During one of our lessons, he really demonstrated his greeni-ness in the mission. He recited the most quoted scripture of all time "For God so loved the world..." and you know the rest, and then looked at me and was like... "Elder, where's that scripture again?" and recovered and said, "Oh yeah, James 1:5" to which I couldn't help but laugh and then give him the "You've gotta be kidding me" look that Elder Jolley remembers haha. Then I kindly shouted, "John 3:16! Are you serious?!" Oh man haha. It's okay to make mistakes.We're all learning and as long as we learn from them, laughing, moving on, and not repeating makes things like that okay. 

Something else that I kept forgetting to share is that a couple weeks back, I got a forwarded email from Mike Swindle, one of my very best friends who is probably getting of his plane and landing back home right now as I type. He told me that he ran into and talked to a little Mexican kid with some members and said that he served in my mission! It turned out to be Elder Esmerio! One of my very best friends! Mike made sure to tell me about it and gave me a lot of comfort helping me to remember that I'm still being thought of thousands of miles away. What a small world.
It was a pretty full week aside of that. We had mission tour again and Elder Adern of the Seventy from New Zealand came and talked to us. It was quite the kick! He and President Sperry had some great things prepared for us. They put on a little skit about how to dress properly and my world was shattered for about two minutes when President Sperry stood up with an unbuttoned shirt, loose tie, and rolled-up shirt sleeves. They talked a lot about details we need to realize as missionaries and about keeping good class. I really appreciated all of that. We were also invited as a zone to have dinner at our stake president, President Cunanan's daughters wedding who just returned from the Butuan mission right after, it was great!

Our famous Chinese Elder, Elder Wu! He's a celebrity to us!

That was pretty much it for that though, and then we just had a normal week.

Something I realized the other day while putting together a workshop for a district I was invited to teach (I thought me not being a leader anymore meant I wouldn't have to do things like this anymore!) is how simply complicated life is.

I can remember how frustrating T/F (true or false) tests were back home in high school. The sly phrases that tricked me and the days were I just didn't know the material and I just would guess and hope for the best. I've realized life is a lot like that. 

In Preach My Gospel, there is a bullet under developing Christ-like attributes that says that we become Christ-like in our daily doings - one decision at a time. We literally create our own destinies by doing things that lead to it - or not. It's frustrating to think of sometimes wondering why then, as humans, do we let ourselves sin? I guess it's just part of the blood that runs through our veins. When logically thought out though, it really is in our hands - liberty and eternal life, or captivity and death.

I've realized that there's just no room for darkness in my life and that I would keep that thought in my head in my daily doings. It's helped a lot. Just seeking for the good and remembering that God never asked me, or any of us, to go through anything on our own.

Today, I saw a little bit of Him reminding me that he's there for me again. At the temple, I ran into Kuya Marcie and was able to talk to him for a second which was a great lift. And also, I was really touched by the brother who helped me through into the final room in the temple session. He held my hand and helped me in and looked at me with tears in his eyes. He shook my hand tight and was so happy that I was where I was and that I made it where I made it. It made me think of how much more happy Heavenly Father will welcome me into heaven one day and how much more touching that will be to see this tears run down His eyes too. Right now, it's just about passing it through this test - simply and complicatedly choosing the right.

Elder Corpuz

P.S. An Elder Chapman just got here from Vegas! He's also just like me! I met him this morning, a Filipino who can't speak Tagalog - he just graduated in 2011 and went to Basic!

What I take a shower with! Not cold enough!