Week 19: Merry Christmas (Not That Ready Yet), and Skype Instructions

Family, Friends, Fans, and Fellow Servants,

3 days til Christmas and I’m not THAT ready yet. Mom has not sent the Christmas package, no personal money to go Christmas shopping, and not really feeling that Christmas cheer! This week has been rushed because I wasn’t really sure how I should feel for Christmas this year. My first Christmas without my family!

A good news for everybody: I had my 3rd baptism yesterday! A completed family.

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This is the Gallinero family from Tanauan City! They’re surely the humblest family I have met in my mission thus far. The missionaries before us contacted this family by talking to their father while driving the tricycle. Subsequently, four of them were already baptized when I arrived in the area, and the goal with my companion was to baptize the eldest son who the previous elders had a hard teaching due to time constraints. Finally, we have sowed the fruits of our labour. At the baptismal service last night, the happy parents shared their testimonies and their message for the ward. I could see their heartfelt gratitude on their faces. For me and my companion, we had a hard time teaching Rael because he works on alternating shifts and he often times he doesn’t go home after work. Rael, whom I believe only finished high school, works and provides for his family along with his father; while their mother takes care of their humble home and children. Rolane and Regine is in high school and grade school, consecutively. The most special among these children for me is Daboy, who has this burning desire to someday serve a mission, that he is already saving up for it by putting peso coins into his tiny piggy bank.

This family gives me a reminder of the family of the sweet infant Jesus. When His earthly parents went up to Bethlehem to be taxed, they found no inn to give birth. Yet in a humble but dignified manner did our Heavenly Father find a way for the Lord of Israel to be born. For this humble Gallinero family, they found joy from the Light of Christ this Christmas season, as they witness their whole family to be baptized into the Church. On December 21, 2015, they will be sealed in the temple.
I have truly seen the hand in the Lord in the short yet prolonging course of my mission. I have witnessed miracles I have always sought since day one, and I still look forward for more.

SKYPE INSTRUCTION:

I will be available on Skype on Christmas Day at 1:00 PM. My Skype username is omgpaolo. I am thrilled and can’t wait to see you on Christmas day. See you all love you!
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 18: The Polar Express #ChristmasDevo

Family, Friends, Fans, and Fellow Servants,

Hey, how was your week? I pray that everyone is safe from the Typhoon Ruby. Storm was not as strong as expected in my area. No flood, no damages. I’m alive!
I hope everybody went to see the First Presidency’s Christmas Devotional last night. I was in Lipa, Batangas to watch with the stake and my fellow missionaries. I think it was a great devotional. The music was superb, the talks were inspired, and the temple ground was just beautiful. How truly blessed we are to have living prophets and appointed servants to remind us of the real essence of this yuletide season- the love and light of Christ on Christmas Day.
For me the highlights of the devotional were:
1) The MoTab’s rendition of O Come All Ye Faithful! Breathtakingly sung. My heart wanted to burst at the end of the song. Soooo good.
2) President Eyring’s concluding talk. What more can I say?
3) The choir and the congregation singing together the last verse of “Silent Night”. That was one sweet moment.
My family and close friends know that I am such a big fan of the Christmas season. It’s just a time for me to reflect on the love and light that Jesus Christ has given to us. We can only avail these blessings as we embrace his teachings and walk in His path. On the morn of His birth, he was not born in a comfortable setting. He was born in a manger, an example of humility. It is not only about the expensive things we wrap for our loved ones, the special Christmas TV episodes; but it is about the primary Christ-like attributes that He wants us to develop.
I have come to understand more of the Spirit of Christmas now when I am a missionary. This Christmas will be the first Christmas I will spend without my family. I’m going to miss opening presents with them and with my friends. I’m going to miss sitting by the Christmas tree and just listen to my favourite Christmas songs. I’m going to miss spending Christmas time with the people whom I loved. This Christmas will be special and bittersweet for me.
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson said it right.

As we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ this season, let us also celebrate all that His birth symbolizes, especially the love. When we see shepherds,may we remember to be humble. When we see wise men, may we remember to be generous. When we see the star, may we remember the Light of Christ, which gives life and light to all things. When we see a tiny y, may we remember to love unconditionally, with tenderness and compassion. May we open the doors of our hearts and reach out to those around us who are lonely, forgotten, or poor in spirit. As we contemplate the example and infinite sacrifice of the Savior, may we also consider how we can be more Christlike in our associations with family and friends, not just during this season but throughout the year.

May we remember these important things to truly feel the Christmas Spirit. I so pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 17: “Be of Good Cheer: I Have Overcome the World”

Family, Friends, Fans, and Fellow Servants,

I’m alive.

I’m still alive. I am currently writing down this e-mail at a computer shop “while the weather outside is frightful. The storm is projected to reach Tanauan City in a few hours at signal #3. Our mission president has already given us instructions on what to do during the typhoon and we are anxious to follow them. The ward members have already been counseled by their leaders to evacuate to the chapel when things don’t go as expected. We are expecting to experience the fullness of the storm any moment from now and we’ve been advised not to work.

I’m only going to send a short e-mail for now, because the time is far spent, there is little remaining, and the storm cometh by. I want you to not worry about me, but worry about the people of Batangas. Continue to pray for them. I will be fine.

“In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 16 : Charlie Brown Christmas

Family, Friends, Fans, and Fellow Servants,

8 Andtherewereinthesamecountryshepherdsabidinginthefield,keepingwatchovertheirflockbynight. 9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were soreafraid.

 10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

 12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

 14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

How is everybody? I started my e-mail with the scripture found in Luke recounting the story of Nativity. I hope everybody is as excited as me for Christmas, which will be in 24 days! College friends, I will miss drinking hot chocolate at Starbucks with you.

Nothing interesting really happened except I’ve been in so much pain recently! I’ve been troubled with headache, toothache, and the pain in the foot that isn’t really improving. I already told the mission president and the mission nurse about this and I’m off to the hospital in the afternoon today.

Don’t worry about me. I’ll probably be fine. Sometimes full-time missionaries get too caught up with the work that we forget to take care of ourselves. I remember when I was running a fever a few days ago, I missed home so much.

I miss watching Christmas movies with my family and friends. I miss sipping hot chocolate at Starbucks. I miss sitting by the Christmas tree at night.

I miss home.

“I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams.”

Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission