Week 41: Sunburned (Winter Dreams)

My family, friends, and fellow servants,

Painful week. I got sunburned. My back hurts, and it stings!
Mom and family, I already received my birthday package this week. Thank you, I love you! You are most thoughtful for sending me trail mix—they are the best, and I think I might need a year supply of trail mix. Your trail mix only lasted for 2 days.
Last week I told you about my new calling as a district leader. On Wednesday I held my first district meeting ever, and my mission president and his wife were attending. I died mentally. I was helping the district of 8 missionaries set goals for the areas and helping them make the area progress, but I was nervous and shaky, and most of all I couldn’t deal with statistics and numbers! Crazy!
But the good thing is that I conducted my first district interviews as well! I enjoyed it. I enjoyed the guidance of the Spirit as I discerned the needs and concerns of my fellow missionaries. It’s ironic because I am the one who needs counsel and comfort, yet I sat in that chair giving counsel and instructions to these more experienced missionaries. Life is indeed ironic.
I shall again talk about the weather. It’s hot. Scorching hot. I tried to apply sunscreen, but it burned me even further. And my nylon mesh garments makes it worse even more.
This is how my area would look like, if only it snows here in Luzon.
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Another picture I would like to share. This is something I’d like to do with my stubborn companions if they prefer to drop dead asleep instead of planning despite of everythang! Just inspirational.
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Missionaries street contacting in Italy. Something I am really bad at! Can you imagine how better my pictures would be if we missionaries are allowed to use Instagram?
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I can only wish for a cold weather!
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission
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Week 40: Keeper of the Gate

My family, friends, and fellow servants,

I missed you! Week has gone by way too fast. Every moment is but a fleeting moment here in the mission field. Perhaps most of you have a variety of work to do, but our purpose here remains ever the same—to invite others to come unto Christ! But it’s fun and fulfilling.
Several weeks ago in my weekly letter I told you how I admire my fellow missionaries who are already reaping success from their labours and serving in various missionary leadership positions. I would say I was wading in insecurity and in self-doubt that I can never get to where they are right now.
Surprisingly on May 5th, just right before transfer day, my mission president called me on the phone and told me that the Lord wants me to be his district leader for this cycle. I’m surprised that the only words I could say were, “Wait, are you serious?” After no less negotiation I agreed to accept the calling.
District leaders are called to assist the mission president in carrying out the plans for the mission, delegating these tasks all the way to his two assistants, several zone leaders, then ultimately to us district leaders. Every zone has from 2-4 districts and each district has from 4-10 missionaries. District leaders have many responsibilities such as supervising, teaching and inspiring the missionaries in his district, planning and conducting weekly meetings, interviewing baptismal candidates and generally looking after the well being of the missionaries of his stewardship.
Throughout my mission life I have mostly been companions with district leaders, so after the call was extended I already have some ideas on how to get the work running. 
Perhaps one of the challenges about being the district leader is that you have to set a high standard of obedience and diligence in the work, though I’d like to think my mission president gave me this calling so I could stretch myself and expand to my full potentials. Another thing is having four sister missionaries in your district, which warrants me frequent travels to the Los Baños area to settle sister dramas. That causes me a lot of fare for travel.
I also love doing the Sunday Night Calls! At the end of the planning session every Sunday the missionaries under my district would have to send their numbers in to my phone and I would record them in my area book. It’s an opportunity for me to keep track of their progress and personal welfare and concerns to make sure that they are making the most of their time and spending energy in the work. Most of the time typical district leaders only call and follow up on them for only 5 to 10 minutes, but I’d love keeping the calls from 10 – 15 minutes. I love talking to my fellow missionaries and hearing their stories that have happened in the week. They inspire me to also follow their example from the outside in and to receive counsel from them as well.
On Friday last week I had my first baptismal interviews. It was for Los Baños sisters’ part-member investigators. Their names were Clyde and Hermione (cutest names) and they’re the smartest kids I have ever known. Although I was not totally sure of what to do, I let the Spirit guide me throughout their respective interviews. They answered the baptismal interview questions fairly well, and I couldn’t see any reason for me to fail them! The influence of the Spirit hit me to the bones, telling me that they are just as ready to get baptized! I hope to attend their baptism on Friday night this week.
Only then did I fully understand why a district leader is called “The Keeper of the Gate”.
I literally and honestly feel like I’m nearing towards the end of my mission. I simply couldn’t ask for more. But whether the Lord wants me to continue and finish the whole 24 months of my missionary service or not, I can only say that I have been giving my best to his divine demands in order to keep His work progress in the areas under my supervision as a district leader, and to make sure that every worthy and repentant souls can enter the gates of baptism and make solemn covenants with our Heavenly Father.
God grant that we may all press forward with steadfastness in Christ. I shall be home soon!
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission
PS: Enjoy the well written weekly letter. You all deserve it!

Week 39: When I Survey the Wondrous Cross

Family, friends, and fellow servants,

Thanks for joining me in Skype! I had a great experience talking with you again.
I’m out of words, so I’m just going to make this weekly e-mail short.
Thanks for the support. It’s been a great time serving as the Lord’s full-time missionary.
Thanks for the love, for the care when I was suffered some moments of homesickness. Thank you for realizing that you are always there for me.
No matter what happens, I am the Lord’s missionary, and always will be, even beyond the grave. I shall go and do whatever the Lord hath commanded me.
And whether I finish my mission or not, I shall rest and lay me down to sleep and look back on all these experiences. Even then I cannot deny that Jesus is the Christ, that He is my Saviour and Redeemer, and that I’m willing to sacrifice everything for Him.
And now I cry out with Isaac Watts, who in his amazing hymn he wrote:
  1. When I survey the wondrous cross
    On which the Prince of glory died,
    My richest gain I count but loss,
    And pour contempt on all my pride.
  2. Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast,
    Save in the death of Christ my God!
    All the vain things that charm me most,
    I sacrifice them to His blood.
  3. See from His head, His hands, His feet,
    Sorrow and love flow mingled down!
    Did e’er such love and sorrow meet,
    Or thorns compose so rich a crown?
  4. Were the whole realm of nature mine,
    That were a present far too small;
    Love so amazing, so divine,
    Demands my soul, my life, my all.
 
I love you all. I will see you soon.
 
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 38: Skyping from Africa

I lost count and sequence of my weekly letters. This letter is week 38.

Dear family, friends, and fellow servants,

I entitled this weekly letter “Skyping from Africa” because it’s literally Africa in here. It’s crazy hot! I think we reached 40 degrees Celsius some time last week. It’s so hot I think the soles of my shoes are burning. I definitely need to get an umbrella.
Anyways, thanks for the birthday greetings! It’s crazy. I’m 20 now, though I’d like to think I just turned 12. Thanks to my college friends for extending your birthday wishes, no matter how far (I love you to the moon and back.) I miss all of you so much, and seeing that next month will be the beginning of another school year, I am tempted to defer my mission and just finish college instead. It’s crazy! I love all of you. I am so old. I feel like I’m hitting the retirement age. Again, I feel so old. Crazy club 20s. I’m missing out so much on college stuff. But that’s okay, we will catch up on that some day.
Mom, thanks for taking thought of sending me a birthday package. But please don’t call me without my mission president’s permission. It’sbawal! We have to follow the mission rules, and that includes missionary parents and ward members too. I love you! And I hope they won’t lose the package; I think my landlord will take of it. This is my first birthday without my parents. It’s strange. When I woke up on my birthday morning I felt groggy and not wanting to get up because I’m so tired and old.
In spite of the hot weather, the work is good! My companion is getting transferred to Mindoro on Thursday, and obviously I’ll have another companion again. His name is Elder Garcia! It’s crazy because I’ve already been with an Elder Garcia way back in Lucena last year. I’ve never heard of him or seen him yet but I hope we’ll have a good cycle together.
Skype season is coming! I will be available on Skype on Monday, May 11th around 1 PM. My username is omgpaolo. Mom, I want lola to be in the Skype too.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission