Week 42: Looking Back

My family, friends, and fellow servants,

Please forgive me for the late e-mail. Yesterday the MyLDSMail website was down, so we couldn’t log in on our accounts. My fellow missionaries in my districts were flooding me with calls as to how should we handle the situation. Thankfully, we were able to ask permission from our mission president to e-mail today.

In this e-mail I wish to look back. It’s been almost 10 months since I left home and embarked on my mission. Soon, I will hit my one-year mark in August. Whether I can make it or not I do not know, but I feel that the memories I’ve had throughout these precious months have been overwhelming.

In my lonely hours I have contemplated everything I have done and been through in my mission. Good or bad memories it matters not. These are life-changing experiences which I will treasure to light up my path in my future years.

I remember when I first arrived in the mission home. We were in a 2-hour bus ride from Manila, and it was raining. A funny Chinese movie was playing in the bus television, and my fellow missionaries were laughing, at the same we irked just perhaps we were breaking a mission rule for the first time. After the long travel, it was still raining when we arrived at the mission home, and our mission president and his wife greeted us at the street. I remember them waving at me, a new missionary like me, who knew nothing although the burning desire to serve others was present in him.

After a great breakfast and after placing copies of The Book of Mormon in houses around the lake, we then met the missionaries who were called by the Lord to train us. It was the first time I met my trainer, Elder Wanoa, who is from New Zealand and was apparently very excited to train me (he had to wear his fake glasses, that’s what he said.)

I wish I had spent more quality time with my trainer, forgetting the stress and demands of missionary work and rather just getting along with each other as best friends. I should’ve done better.
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I remember arriving in Lucena City for the first time. Unsurprisingly I didn’t like our apartment—it was dusty and noisy from the jeepneys just outside. I met the great families who helped me adjust with the new environment and meet people whom I would serve for 3 months. I remember my first special missionary meeting in San Pablo City, Laguna, with Elder Bowen of the Quorum of the Seventy and his wife. Sister Bowen asked me how I’m doing with the adjustments and I told her I was homesick. Ha. Lucena Zone was great and I will never forget the convenience we had than the other missionaries, for the stake center was just right across our apartment.

I miss those times. We don’t see each other that often now, and I think of my first missionary friends most of the time.
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I was then transferred to Tanauan City in Batangas, where I had my follow up training with Elder Merril from Idaho. I learned a lot of missionary skills from him, and I can say it really influenced my teaching skills right now. When he got transferred after only a cycle with him, I was sad and almost convinced myself that I would never have a companion who will stay with me for more than 6 weeks. I had a loving district who understood my concerns, and every week I would look forward to Wednesdays. I remember my first Christmas without my family. I think that was the most bittersweet Christmas ever.

That zone Christmas party was great. I will never forget that night.
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So much has happened since then. After four and a half months in Tanauan City, I was moved to Calamba City. I was called to be a district leader, which is challenging and takes up most of my vacant time. Things are different, but I like to keep an eternal perspective for this. I love my current area, and the branch (which only has 30 active members) I am serving with.

This mission has been great. I laughed, I cried, and I prayed. Still, I will laugh, I will cry, and I will pray.

I love all of you. I really do….
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo MIssion

PS: I wish I could put in more pictures, but my camera is broken.
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