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Week 50: Elder Unknown

Dear family and friends,

Yesterday I received the saddest call I’ve ever received in my whole life. The assistants called me on Sunday afternoon to tell me that I’m being transferred. I’ll be going to Pila, Santa Cruz—an area which I know nothing about. I heard it’s mostly provincial and it’s a branch unit. It saddens me because I thought I will still stay in the area for 3 more months after alel the hard work I’ve done and the baptisms I want to do. Another reason why my heart was broken is that the assistants and I still do not know who my companion is; the transfer list has been sent throughout the mission and there’s a blank space next to my name. Hence, this e-mail is entitled “Elder Unknown”.
Mom, thanks for the camera! But I feel something weird about this camera. It looks fake. But anyway, I love you and thank you! Maybe I’m just trying to get used to using a digital camera again. I just sent another e-mail with the pictures attached. I hope you enjoy them. Tita Cleo, thanks for the peanut butter.
Among all the great people I met in Calamba are these fellas. Their names are Francis and Jay. They just moved into and have been in the branch for a month now. They go to this Philippine-Japanese college in our area, so they speak Japanese;we speak in Japanese!
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Another great news is that the branch finally moved into the new meetinghouse. Historically speaking, I’m one of the first elders to ever step foot and worship in that newly built meetinghouse. When we arrived there I could see how they really happy were for their chapel.
In ending, I hope you enjoy seeing this happy and wonderful branch whom I served for 5 months. : )
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Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 49: Old Things and New Things

Dear family and friends,

Sweat… is dripping down my face as I’m writing this e-mail. Few weeks ago I was telling you how glad I was that rainy season has officially begun. I’m wrong. The North Pole has just turned into Africa… again.
(Forgive my weekly talk about the weather. Weather is just something we missionaries always complain about but we cannot do anything about it!)
I am happy to inform you that I am now a part of the branch history. Next Sunday we will be moving in to the new meeting house. I really enjoy working in this tiny branch of 40 members. I feel like a missionary pioneer, if there’s such a thing. I remember the first missionaries I’ve met in my home ward when it was then a branch, and I recall the memories of them proselyting in the streets. Now, it’s me walking along hot and dusty streets. And now it’s me from whom investigators hide in their houses.
The branch went to the temple this Saturday, and I think it’s their first time after so many years. Two of them received their endowments and most of our investigators enjoyed the outskirts of the temple. Great things are happening here!
I’m still the same! I don’t complain as much as I used to now; I only complain about the weather. I’m doing different things to make my mission more interesting and unique. I’m that person who is really flaky and stops doing whatever seems mundane to him.
I’m turning one year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You all need to send me a great anniversary package next month! And I will send you a scrapbook too. But of course I would still need a camera for that.
As for the camera, thanks for sending them mom! But I hope you got me a good camera.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 48: 75 Minutes Only

Dear family and friends,

How is everyone doing? Last week went really, really slow for me. I had exchanges on Tuesday, Mission Tour with Elder Ardern in Lipa on Wednesday, regular work day on Thursday, exchanges with the zone leaders on Friday, 2 baptismal interviews in Los Baños on Saturday, and then church and 4 baptismal interviews in Cabuyao on Sunday. Talk about traveling, and the money spent on it!
The rain has finally slowed down a little! It literally didn’t stop raining for a whole week, and it seems like it’s gonna shower a bit tonight. At the mission tour Elder and Sister Ardern was wet and it just kept pouring heavily throughout the meeting. The sacrament room was air conditioned and it was crazy cold in it. After lunch Elder Ardern asked the staff to turn off the AC because everybody was freezing. First world probs.
I think I’m no longer emotionally or mentally exhausted, just physically. I suggest to all those who are currently prepping to go on a mission to prepare themselves physically, because the demands of the work will really catch up with you. I’m not really sure whether I’m losing weight or gaining pounds in this area, but I’ve had some missionaries tell me at the mission tour that I appear to have shed some weight. It’s just crazy haha. Some days it feels like my shirt is just too tight, but some day it feels like it’s too loose for me.
We are already in the middle of July and in a month I will turn 1 year! I’m halfway through the show! Time flies way too quick in the mission field. (And yes, I’m aware I say that in every e-mail.) It will then be another rinse and repeat moment. I’m told by many missionaries that once you hit your 1 year mark everything just goes downhill speedily.
One final thing! I checked the ward directory on the church website and we’re back on getting sisters assigned in the ward again! I don’t know what happening over there but I hope you are supporting them in the missionary work. Keep giving them referrals. Members are the full-time finders, just as missionaries are the full-time teachers. That’s just how it works!
I love you all! I love the Lord. I love this Church. Please keep me up to date!
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 47: It Hasn’t Stopped Raining Yet

Dear family, friends, and fans,

Do you remember when I complained about how hot the weather is up here in Calamba? Well, I think rainy season has officially begun. It started raining on Sunday morning and even today it hasn’t stopped raining yet. That only means one thing: boots for missionaries!
I’ve said this many times before, but I love it when it rains. Most people would complain, but I disagree! Rain is just the most beautiful thing. I grew up loving the rain. And I remember sitting at home in the sofa while watching the pouring rain outside.
Speaking of rain and water, we finally baptized Althea this Saturday. My companion did the ordinance and I confirmed her at church the day after. It felt great. Who knew I would be able to find, teach, and baptize in one cycle? My ego is officially inflated.
On Wednesday, we had the zone interviews. I sat again with my mission president and he interviewed me. We talked about basic missionary stuff and he was following up on that “special zone training meeting” we had 3 weeks ago. It’s crazy. Among other things he said, he told me how there’s “a pretty good chance” that I will be transferred next cycle. Actually I’m not sure yet whether it’s me or my companion, but I really think it’s me. I’ve been here in the area for 5 months and I think I’ve done enough work here.
Fatima, sorry but I think I’ll just post the letter next week, if not in the next two weeks. I’ve been busy and I just can’t find time to travel to the city and deliver the letters through LBC. But you’ll get it eventually! Tell them CDU friends to e-mail me because I’ll be coming home in a year!
The weird thing about being a missionary is that time flies so insanely fast. I hit my 11th month this July, and will hit my 1-year mark next month August! One more year to go, haha. It’s so fast; I want to vomit. I want to do something special at my anniversary for me and especially for you. Keep up to date!
Please continue to support me. I see that you’ve begun in not sending me e-mails again. And that makes me sad. And sadness makes a good mix with the rain.
I love you all. I want to hear from all of you soon.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission
PS: Mom, thank you for sending cash. But I have additional thing to ask you. It’s in the other e-mail and I hope you read it.

Week 46: Japan

Dear family, friends, and fans,

This week has been great! Although it went slower compared to the previous weeks. It has been challenging as well, in the sense that we are now preparing for a baptismal service for Sister Althea which will be on this Saturday.
 
Please forgive me for not reporting about my investigators often! Sister Althea is the 10 year-old daughter of Sister Rhea and the brother of Brother Rodgler whom Elder Maglasang and I baptized in late March. When I arrived in the area, she wasn’t ready in getting baptized yet; she feared of leaving her reluctant father behind when she commits to do so. However, after much persuasion and waiting and loving, she finally agreed to receive our missionary lessons. As pertaining to her commitments, she enjoys going to church and participating in church activities. 
 
Preparing Sister Althea for baptism was not really easy nor difficult. In fact, it was challenging because she had a lot of questions regarding the gospel doctrines we teach her and the sectarian doctrines she learns from school. It took some time setting forth the doctrines which she must believe in order to gain eternal life. 
 
The advantage of teaching a child is that the situation allows you to teach simply and clearly, not that so everyone can understand but that everyone cannot misunderstand or leave room for doubt or question. In teaching Althea I was able to introspect and examine my teaching skills, which then caused me to focus more on reading Preach My Gospel as I have written in my previous weekly letter.
 
Another miracle is that the less actives whom we have been teaching attended church again. They just kept coming in! And it makes me feel as though I am on a spiritual high. When we get punted we resort to visiting the homes of these less actives and teach, and when they don’t have time we simply drop by and remind them to come to church or follow up on these commitments which we have extended. I have seen the miraculous fruits of such efforts.
 
And that leads me to district business. In the opening of this cycle’s first district meeting, I was inspired by the Holy Spirit to make “humility and pride” the theme of the meeting. In the previous district interviews which I have conducted, most of the concerns they expressed to me basically boil down to the sin of pride. Interestingly, the prior weeks before the aforementioned meeting, I was engaged in developing Christlikes attributes for myself. I listened to President Ezra Taft Benson’s classic general conference talk, “Beware of Pride”. After much prayer I decided to give to Sister Sianava, a sister missionary serving in my district, the assignment to deliver a talk on this topic. As she addressed the district on that Wednesday morning, we felt the Spirit which confirms that the Lord desires us to be humble in our missionary efforts; that we must beware of pride in companionships; and that we must be humble so pride will not hinder our progression.
 
That applies to me personally, too. With the present calling in which I serve, I have learned that pride can be a great stumbling block to any missionary leader. Once a leader ceases to listen to whisperings of the Spirit or to suggestions of his colleagues by gratifying his pride, the Spirit of the Lord is grieved, “and when it is grieved, Amen to the priesthood or authority of that man.”
 
I love this work. I love the Lord. His humbling grace is real and sufficient. I don’t lead this district; He does. And it’s completely up to me whether I look up to Him for guidance and give to Him the glory, or I turn inward and gratify my pride and thus fall.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission