Week 33: Social Services

My beloved family, friends, and fellow servants,

Last week I mentioned about every missionary having this things-that-must-happen-in-your-mission list, and I declared that I have ticked off most of the items. The day after I arrived in Calamba safely, I faced a problem on my current balance of my mission support. I left Tanauan City on Thursday with only 250 pesos in hand, and the transportation cost tolled me at least 80 pesos. That leaves approximately 100 pesos for me to spend until Tuesday. Yes, 100 pesos. Obviously, after much chastisement, I called the office and asked for emergency money, to which I owe my survival at the present time. To go on with that list, I will probably break or strain my leg next week. Keep watch!
So the only new thing is that I am transferred and currently serving in Calamba 3rd Branch. I think I have to inform you that we have the best house in the mission. It’s in a subdivision, and is cozy and clean, and it almost feels like a summer house. The house is located in really nice subdivision, but it’s 1 hour away from our proselytizing area. Our area is the housing project of the government for people relocating from the riles and squatters area, and I hope you can imagine how “community”-ish the housings really are. I hope to send you pictures nextweek.
I was told beforehand that I would be serving in a newly opened branch, but no one told me it is a little branch whose meetinghouse is the residence of the branch president. Everything is so new to me! Last week I was serving in this huge ward; and now I get to serve in this tiny, humble branch which is full of service opportunities to offer to full-time missionaries. But the most important thing is that I quickly felt the Spirit when I met with the members of the branch. I can see in their eyes that they are willing to serve and love one to another. When I learned from my new companion, Elder Maglasang, that we would need to teach in various quorum and youth classes, I felt my heart burn because of the opportunities to serve, even more fully. The leadership organization is not fully staffed, and thus the search for who needs to be who immediately began. On my first Sunday together with them, I helped the branch president with his Family History, and soon we will help the whole branch get started with their Family History. We also have plans to set up the branch choir. Everything is burning here.
I encourage everybody to continue to visit my website elderpoblete.wordpress.com. Send me letters. For the easy system, send it through dearelder.com. My birthday is soon approaching. Get that package ready. I love you all. I truly do. Bless you.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 32: Soon to be Blessed, or Damned Forever?

My beloved family, friends, and fellow servants,

Where did March go? It’s about to end, and I’m broke. Lost all of my support. I don’t even know how. I would also like to tell you that I’ll be transferred to my third area—in Calamba, Laguna. Such a historical place, huh? Jose Rizal? National hero? Filipinos? Yes, I’ll be with another Filipino companion again (hint: culture gap). Third area, fifth companion. My mission life is very thrilling! I have almost experienced mostly everything—and I haven’t even hit my 1-year mark yet! Maybe soon I’ll literally break my leg, and that will be one crossed out from my things-that-must-happen-in-your-mission list.
I think I’m actually having mixed feelings about leaving. I’m happy because the Lord has given me another opportunity to grow mentally, physically (hopefully not fatter), emotionally, socially, and of course spiritually. I’m sad because I’ll be leaving a lot of people that I love, such as the ward members and also my favourite missionaries in my current district. To whose who are not well aware, missionaries usually stay in their 2nd area for a maximum time of 6 to 9 months. But being the person that I am, I could get really flaky and demand for a new companion and area already; although I promise you that I did not ask my mission president to get me transferred! I now finally understand how the missionaries in my home ward must feel upon leaving, to face a brighter day ahead with all the rejections, trials, and disappointments.
But I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I already packed my things two weeks before I even received my transfer call. There wasn’t any angelic manifestation announcing my transfer or divine messenger ministering unto me to help me pack my bags; I just had this feeling-slash-intuition that I will get transferred. My current companion, Elder Layugan, is so trunky I couldn’t bear it anymore (lol). I think this is the Lord’s way of sparing me from the influential powers of trunkiness that could affect my progress in the mission.
The reason for this weekly letter’s title is because I think I’m in a state of uncertainty whether in my mission the Lord has a plan for me or I am just being put into a test. We full-time missionaries are still young men and women in the mission, so life still feels like it’s a competition of who’s who and who’s what. During district and zone meetings you can hear a lot of elders and sisters asking, “Who’s training?” or “Who’s the new zone leader now?” or “Who’s in an inappropriate relationship with someone?” (just kidding). It’s really trickling within to see and watch other missionaries’ testimonies and knowledge shine so bright within and without them. And I always find myself wondering, “When will I get there? Will I ever get there?” I think it’s more of an issue of self-insecurity and lack of confidence. “Do I even shine like them right now?” I’m really bad at self-evaluation and seeing black and white. I see everything as fifty shades of grey.
Forgive me for such a weird weekly letter! I told you already: it’s the mixed feelings many missionaries have before their transfer day. But I assure you that I’m fine. I’m really fine. Or maybe I will be fine. I don’t know how I feel. It’s bittersweet. And I would like to remember and feel this feeling again when I’m an old brick.
I love you all, and I hoping to see all of you soon. Soon. Someday. Sometime. Somewhere.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission
PS: Mom, I exhort you to send me an e-mail that will tell me of improvement, changes, and good cheer every week. I love you. Keep it up.

Week 31: My Brother’s Keeper

My beloved family, friends, and fellow servants,

Today, please allow me to dedicate this week’s letter to my little brother, Eric. Happy birthday! Happy 16th birthday.

You are amazing. I wouldn’t be me without you as my younger brother. We grew up together, laughed together, and watched our parents grow older than us.

I watched you grow from this tiny piece of heaven to a soon-to-be instrument of God’s voice.

I watched you undergo through different tough moments of what we call life. I watched you made it with flying colours through them.

I watched you smile. I watched you cry.

I watched you glow in radiance and countenance.

I watched you recover through the sickness and pain.

I watched you know me. And we knew each other.

You were the answer to my prayers to our Father in Heaven when I was like 3 years old.

Although I may not be always at your side during the most difficult phases of your life, know that I am your keeper, and that I am your brother.

I love you, brother.

Elder Poblete

Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 30: Such a Time As This

My beloved family, friends, and fellow servants,

How is everybody doing? See that number up there? 30 weeks! I’m past halfway through my mission. It’s getting amazing. Older, perhaps wiser. And with that I want to share a video with all of you. Click here for the link.

This is the new Mormon Message on Courage. Its basic foundation was the courage of Queen Esther when she defied the king for his proclamation to annihilate all the Jewish people in his kingdom. But Queen Esther was Jewish, and her foster father Mordecai encouraged her to defy the king’s blind plot against her very own people. To approach the king uninvited was to risk persecution. From the Old Testament we read:

13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. 14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?

 15 ¶Then Esther bade them return Mordecai this answer,

 16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish.

Queen Esther’s courage has always inspired me to be better in making decisions for the better good. Along with the church materials I studied is the Relief Society’s 10th President Barbara B. Smith’s talk on courage. She said:

“A way of life can be designed to create saints, but it is difficult to measure their progress until a situation arises which reveals the inner person. C. S. Lewis gives an example of this kind of examination when he suggests that a crisis does not cause a person to be charitable or ill tempered; it simply reveals the ill-tempered or charitable person he is.

“We are continually preparing for such tests,great or small, planned or unintended, as the circumstances disclose our strengths or our shortcomings.”

Mom, your exemplary courage has inspired me a lot in my mission. You’re a wonderful mom, and I can’t wait to Skype with you again in May. I love you!

My brethren, I hope we will be wiser in making decisions. Face trials with courage.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 29: 50 Shades of Changes

My beloved family, friends, and fellow servants,

So it turns out my admonition in my previous weekly letter has been proven effective! You don’t have to make me feel sorry for doing that. That was totally my plan. I understand your circumstances wherein your lives and the world will still go on without me. Probably one of the highlights in your e-mails is Mary Rose excusing herself from being busy due to prenatal check-ups! Can’t wait for that baby!
Mom, Sister Cleo, and friends—I already received my late Christmas package. Mom, thanks for all the shirts, but you selected the wrong ones! I wanted my grey and blue shirts. And you missed to include some items I listed months earlier. I love you! Sister Cleo, your peanut butter has always been the best; I’m literally not sharing this with other missionaries in our apartment. CDU/USC friends, where is that care package you were talking about?!
Jimmy, our investigator, went to church for the second time today! I could totally see how Jimmy is progressing. He’s showing to our Heavenly Father that he’s truly repentant by coming to church and keeping his commitments. However he feels sad because his family didn’t go with him. We’re being positive that he will get baptized on the 21st of March and will need our mission president to interview him for his baptism. He’s been involved in serious crimes like pushing drugs and other else. But he’s repentant. And I’ve never seen such person who is truly repentant and willing to forsake all of his sins in order to bring his family back together and eventually live the gospel principles.
Miracles indeed happen in the mission, only when you let your eyes of faith see them.
How I’ve been feeling towards my own personal progress in my 6 months here in my mission has been different. Perspectives are being changed; nature is being reformed. Soon it will be May 2, my birthday. Older, perhaps not wiser. And I sit back and ask myself, what has happened in my life? Change is difficult, and often we deem it as something not worth welcoming with open arms. But change has to be painful. Just as a diamond becomes shinier due to friction in the ground, so does a person become changed and humbled in his heart and mind when challenges and trials arise. These are things as they really are.
See you in 18 months!
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission