Week 5: It Feels Like Texas Desert

Family, Friends, and Fans,

Today marks my 1st month in the mission! 23 months na lang! Malapit na! I’m so excited to go home.

Thank you again for the e-mails. Mondays are the best part of the week because your e-mails are like my windows to the outside world. Sometimes it gets dark here in Lucena and I miss home, and then your e-mails just make everything bright. Lace, thanks for the worldly news! I’m trying to be a “consecrated missionary” but cut me some slack, okay? Thanks as well to my CDU friends. We’re gonna hang out A LOT in two years. See you soon.

I’d like to start by giving a brief message to the Cagadoc family. It’s truly a great blessing to send your son to a far, far away place to preach the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Now is a perfect time to feel like Mosiah (and his wife) when they sent out their four sons to preach the gospel to other people. Perhaps it was bittersweet for them to send their sons to their missions. I know that Elder Cagadoc will be like Ammon in Cagayan de Oro. I will pray that he will serve the Lord with all his heart, might, mind and strength in inviting people to come unto Christ. Please don’t worry about him. Heavenly Father is taking care of him more than you could possibly fathom. The MTC is the safest place for the missionary to be in. There he will be strengthened and prepared to meet and teach actual people in Cagayan.

My week hasn’t been really that great because of the challenges here in my mission. As I have told you, there’s like a huge percentage of less actives here in Lucena. We only have 2 investigators. We’re doing our best to find people. We spend more time knocking on doors (which is ironic because most houses here don’t have doors). On evenings most doors are locked because there’s been news of aswangs in town. Members are not really keen on giving referrals. Hearts of men are hardened. No ward missionaries are called and set apart to work with us which is a really huge problem.

As children of our Heavenly Father, we are all accountable to each other. We call each other brothers and sisters for a reason—it is because we share the same Heavenly Parents and the same plan of salvation. When we are in church, we shake hands because we recognize each other as sons and daughters of God. We nourish our spiritual countenance with the words of Christ. However, we unconsciously forget about our brethren who need help in nurturing themselves spiritually.

My main message is that we need to combine efforts—both coming from the members and the ward leaders—for reactivation and retention of our less actives and new converts. President Hinckley had said that a new convert needs 3 things: a friend, a calling, and affiliation to the Church. A new convert is like a sprouting seed. If the gardener forgets to tend and care for the seed, growth ceases. There will be no progress in the growth of the seed. It will not mature into a fruit bearing plant. If this continues, the seed will die.

We, as missionaries and official representatives of Jesus Christ, aim to bring people to the Church, by finding them, teaching them, baptizing them, and fellowshipping and strengthening them. However, we can’t do this alone. We need help from the ward members and leaders. We need your help.

We, missionaries, can’t always reserve our appointments on teaching recent converts and less actives. We need to focus on bringing more investigators to the Church. But the usual pattern is we baptize investigators, we strengthen them, and then they go inactive. This should not be how missionary conversion works. We need to change this. We need the help of ward missionaries and home and visiting teachers, to strengthen and nourish them spiritually. There is absolutely no point in doingmissionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort. Missionaries are useless if members don’t look after their fruits. Can we imagine how it would look like if every less active in our ward just come to church one Sunday? Imagine the view from the pulpit. We actually need to use more than half a loaf of bread for the sacrament.

Each convert is a precious soul brought back a step closer to God. They are so important and sacred, as important and sacred as our duties to lead them within the flock. Let us be like Ammon, who gathered King Lamoni’s flocks. We members are the shepherds and the new converts and less actives are of our fold. Let us guide them diligently.

I know and I’d want to emphasize again that we are all sons and daughters of Heavenly Father. This is my exhortation to take it upon ourselves our sacred duties and responsibilities on feeding each other spiritually. I know that as we act on these duties and responsibilities, we will be blessed for being accountable to each other. I want to close this letter with a declaration from our Prophet Joseph Smith: “Let the Saints remember that great things depend on their individual exertion, and that they arecalled to be co-workers with us and the Holy Spirit in accomplishing the great work of the last days.”

Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission
PS: Raissa, e-mail me back. I miss you.

Week 4: It Isn’t Like ‘The District’

Family, Friends, and Fans,

You’re the most wonderful for the e-mails you’ve sent me. I always look forward to reading them every Monday. I try to keep my weekly e-mails interesting because they’re my source of outlet here in this mission.

I’m actually better now. I feel like I owe you an apology for making you worried about me and my homesickness, and should resolve it through telling you positive things in the area. Those were only the few days. I think I have kind of adjusted with the place and the people around me. On my first Sunday as usual I was asked to introduce myself and bear my testimony to Lucena 1st Ward. The chapel is great we are actually in the stake center. It’s very large and has three buildings. But we need some work on the attendance. A big percentage of the ward members are inactive so we really need reactivation efforts in addition to conversion work. The problem is that we don’t have ward missionaries here. My first missionary coordination meeting I was like “Where are the ward missionaries?!” It isn’t like back home where ward missionaries are officially set apart to help us full-time missionaries in inviting other to come unto Christ. The ward really needs help and effort from the members and missionaries. But we missionaries can’t do it alone, that’s why we need ward missionaries.

The ward members are great! After I bore my testimony (to which I added parts of my homesickness) the Bishop told the ward to take care of me because the first 3 months of a missionary is the most crucial time of his mission— it’s either he stays or he goes home! Haha. I admit the first few days I was already counting my money to see if they’re enough to buy me bus tickets and a plane ticket back to Cebu. But the families took great care of me here. I’ve met great people. We do get dinner appointments here sometimes! Mostly they serve us pancit. Their pancit is different here; they call it “miki” or “chami” whatev. It’s thick and full of toyo. It’s either pancit or chicken.

On Thursday I went on exchanges with the elders in Pagbilao. It’s 45 minutes from Lucena and I like it better there. It’s kind of rural and the wind is cooler because it’s literally beside the mountains. I want to share one of the coolest experiences I had during the exchange. We went on a “skid” on our way to a part members house. Here are some pictures
 
 
 
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Basically a “skid” is like a cart made of wood and it’s placed on the classic railway from Manila to Lucena.
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Me and Elder Langi on a skid with the driver.
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The skid railway is of course a one-way so if two skids goes against each other, one skid has to step down.
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There’s no fixed price for a skid ride. But we gave 5 pesos for the fare.
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Another interesting thing especially for the missionaries. In the pamphlet The Restoration, the first page has a photo of a happy family. Well the family literally lives in Lucena and I met them yesterday. Here is a picture of me and the father in the picture. It was a Hollywood moment.

 

Well my missionary life isn’t what I expected it to be. It isn’t like The District where we live in a nice apartment, where we have a good teaching pool, or where we have plenty of referrals and investigators. My goal for this area is to completely clean and fix everything in the area book and help the ward stand on its own. It’s a great challenge for me but we are the missionaries and we are under the Lord’s service.

Please keep the letters and e-mails coming. They make me really happy weekly and the happiness lasts til the next Monday.

Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

PS: Mom, send me recipes with details. Foreigners can’t cook.

Arrival!

Dear Poblete Family,

We are delighted to have Elder Paolo Pangue Poblete with us in our mission.  He has a great spirit and we are looking forward to knowing him better.  He will be serving in Lucena 1a, Lucena for the next few months with Elder Elijah Waiapu Alex Puke Wanoa.

There are several things you could do to help keep him happy and successful during his mission:
*Send weekly letters.  News from home keeps spirits high and minimizes problems.  Mail and packages should be sent to the Alaminos address in the letterhead.  Please do not send packages to your missionary with another missionary going to the Manila MTC.  We are not able to get these packages.  Please send them directly to the Mission Alaminos address. Please do not send packages using FedEx as this incurs very expensive fees on delivery.  Priority Mail or LBC will works well.
*Try not to mention family problems that might worry him .
*Please do not visit or telephone him without approval of the mission president.

The Mission Office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 to 4:00 PM.  If you have concerns about the health or welfare of your missionary, please feel free to contact the Mission Office at 63-49-567-1330 or email us at 2012847@ldschurch.org.  If you have confidential matters, please contact President Mangum directly at  09189906251 (Mobile).

Thank you for preparing and sending us this fine missionary.  We will love and take care of him .

Faithfully, 

President Bart A. Mangum
Sister Renae J. Mangum
Philippines San Pablo Mission

 

 

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Week 3: Terrible Homesickness

Family and Friends,

Thanks for the e-mails. I didn’t get to send my weekly letter last week because it wasn’t scheduled at the MTC and we didn’t get to e-mail when we arrived at the mission home. I am now in Lucena. I’ve been totally homesick with all this new environment and new people. I literally cried when I opened your e-mails and saw your pictures because it was such a long period of time that I didn’t get to reach out to the outside world.
 

We left the MTC on Wednesday at 4 AM. I’ve got everything packed and ready so the bus left earlier than scheduled. There were 10 of us including the Provo missionaries. It’s supposed to be 11 but one of us was not permitted to get through the MTC because they want his heart enlargement fixed before they send him to the field, so he is expected to arrive next month instead. I really felt sorry for him. I gave him a hug and told him that we’re all gonna be waiting for him at the field. We arrived in San Pablo sometime at 7 and was greeted by President and Sister Mangum together with the Assistants and Office Elders at the mission home. We then had breakfast and lunch and orientation for the mission. We stayed the night at the hotel because we’re too many for the mission home to accommodate.

I think that the homesickness really started at the hotel. Everything was just TOO overwhelming, you know? It was just like on Monday we were still at the MTC with the devotional and enjoying our dinner, on Tuesday we started packing, and on Wednesday morning we were already leaving the MTC. Everything just happened too fast for me and I think I’m having trouble adjusting with all the different places and people. Like I was enjoying my time at the MTC, then the next minute we’re at the mission home still enjoying our time, and then the next minute I’m thrown out to this cardboard box apartment.

The first few days have been so rough for me. I’d wake up so horribly sad and want to go home asap. I can’t iron my clothes without getting a headache because everything is still spinning in my head. I’m living together with my companion and the zone leaders, and I don’t like talking to them because they’re too different from me. They’re too different with the people that I lived with at the MTC.

The place is different too. Lucena is like TOO urban for me. Think of a missionary living and serving at Colon Street. Looks wrong right?
 

What I’m experiencing right now really reminds me of when President Hinckley served his mission in England, and (maybe) like me, he was feeling terribly homesick and wanted to go home, to which his father reacted, “forget yourself and go to work”. How though? I think the most interesting part about being a missionary is the part where you have to forget about yourself. Forget myself. That sounds sad though? It’s sad how I would have to forget myself in order to serve other people.

I really don’t know though. I’ve been here for only 5 days and maybe I’m still getting used to the place. Don’t worry about me.

I don’t eat much here, but I feast upon the words of Christ.

Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

 
PS: LL1W, congrats on the choir performance. I knew you’d do great. Congrats Mom.
PS2: As I’m writing this letter, there’s an Elder beside me who’s checking his Facebook and playing DOTA.
PS3: Send me more letters please! Or DearElders.

Week 2: “Each Life That Touches Ours For Good” (MTC Departure)

Family and friends,

  1. Each life that touches ours for good
    Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord;
    Thou sendest blessings from above
    Thru words and deeds of those who love.
  2. What greater gift dost thou bestow,
    What greater goodness can we know
    Than Christlike friends, whose gentle ways
    Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.
  3. When such a friend from us departs,
    We hold forever in our hearts
    A sweet and hallowed memory,
    Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.

On Monday night, we had an emotional devotional for our departure on Wednesday. Some of us had the chance to bear our testimonies and I did. Everyone was really emotional and the Spirit was so strong when we were sharing our testimonies at the Joseph Smith Hall. It’s just that my stay at the MTC has been overwhelming and the best 2 weeks of my life. This place is great. I love this place. I met amazing people and great great friends. 12 days was too short for this and it’s really making me sad you know? And lonely too because I have to adjust again to another environment and different people. It’s pretty depressing if I think about it. Relating it to the hymn, President Beck mentioned that these friends will always remain for us, though we go to different missions, we are still following the same plan— the plan of happiness. Some of us will see each other again; some will depart from us to follow the paths they have prepared for themselves. And that’s just sad. That’s why I was prompted to put Hymn 293 with this e-mail, because it just totally describes everything about the Missionary Training Center.

Man I’ll miss the MTC. I’ll miss being the pianist. The workshops. The teachers. The districts. The hymns (I learned a lot of great hymns at the MTC). Singing “Called to Serve” and “Army of Helaman” with everyone tearing up. The intensity of the SPIRIT when we sing hymns. The leaders. The staff. Their devotion. 

Everything was perfect. The best 2 weeks of my life.

Elder Poblete

Philippines San Pablo Mission