Week 95: “Closing Curtains”

Dear family and friends,

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Hey everyone, it’s Elder Poblete here. I was supposed to write a cheerful and lengthy e-mail for everybody today, but I received the news that my dogs died due to disease. I was hard for me to leave my dogs and had been excited to meeting them again at my homecoming. But that’s not going to happen anymore. I am still quite taken aback by this recent news and hoping that I will quickly recover from this devastating loss. Right now everything hasn’t sunk in yet and I hope it won’t crash that hard for me. I love my dogs and now pray they are in a better place.
This week has been pretty basic week. We still find lots of investigators, most of whom can only make it through the first lesson and fall through thereafter; meanwhile there are still those who progress and we always pray for them. The miracle for the week was this returning inactive member bearing his testimony on the pulpit this Sunday. He had been inactive for a lot of years now and my companion and I decided to meet with him in his house on my first day here in this area. My companion told me how he had been really tough to deal with. We taught him once again and I said something that struck him to the core. As inspired by an Elder Bednar conference talk, I said in effect, “Because you chose to be offended, you can no longer partake of the sacrament, attend the temple and receive its blessings, exercise the priesthood authority you were given, cut off yourself from service opportunities to your friends and fellow members, and deny these blessings to the generations and generations which will come after you.” He stopped for a while and I could tel he was confounded and now absorbing what I said. The day after he came to church, and has been consistently coming ever since.
There are many miracles that happen in the mission field, and I am blessed to be seated in front of this grand panorama of the restored gospel. Truly miracles are poured out without measure upon the faithful and to those who patiently wait.
I love you all and I can’t wait to be home soon. Imagining how meeting with all of you at the airport thrills me to the bones. I love you. I really do.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

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Week 94: Stay to the Very End

Dear family and friends,

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Water and dirt in a fancy bottle.
So it has been really humid lately. You may remember from my weekly letter that I said it’s been raining a lot; it still has, but this week’s been different. It’s crazy because it could rain really really hard but then right after it gets really really humid. There’s no burning heat from the sun as it’s covered by the gray clouds, yet the weather is totally humid for some reasons I can’t explain. I keep up with this kind of weather by taking breaks in 7/11 just as how I did in San Pablo when I was there at the beginning of the summer. Now that we are in the middle of the summer-rainfall transition everything’s going crazy. I have been complaining a lot to my companion about how hot and humid it has been but all is well. Evian water is a favourite treat.
In a similar note, I forgot to inform you that the Church has now revised missionary clothing guidelines. We elders are now allowed to wear sunglasses for protection from the sun. Of course, as you would expect, I have procured sunglasses because I easily get sunburned when it’s too hot and my eyes could sting really bad. Sisters are now also allowed to wear pants to protect against mosquito bites. We have not received official instructions from our mission president regarding these changes, but I asked my mission president’s wife for permission to wear glasses. There some instructions however that we should remove sunglasses when we are indoors and talking to people in the street, but so far that’s what we know for sunglasses.
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Burger King is my favourite now. I don’t even rice anymore.
It was stake conference season last weekend. We didn’t get to attend the Priesthood and Saturday session but we got to attend the general session yesterday. There were several inspiring speakers who gave really good talks on the pulpit, including my mission president and his wife and an Elder Villanueva from the Area Seventy. The Lipa Stake Center was definitely and staggeringly filled during the conference, as evidenced by the 5 overflowing rooms for people who didn’t make it to the good seats.
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There are only two zones in the mission which have easy access to Starbucks—one in Lucena and the other here in Lipa. You may remember how my last Christmas wasn’t complete because I didn’t get to have Starbucks for Christmas eve.
Transfer day will be this Thursday but I’m not transferred and I’m staying with the same companion. Next week would begin my last cycle here in the mission field, and I have felt mixed emotions and found that words are totally inadequate in expressing how I feel as I approach my walk down Parley Street. As the days drag on to my homecoming I realized that I have been losing my conviction in and becoming more complacent with the usual activities in missionary work. In spite of this unusual state, my desire to finish strong becomes firmer and firmer as I look to Christ and His example in finishing strong in his mortal ministry. Just as how the Israelites’ soles were wet before the Red Sea departed; much like how the Saints in Nauvoo made their first step into the snow to the unknown; in quite similarity to how Joseph Smith surrendered himself like a lamb to the slaughter—so are my feelings regarding going home in such a short time. The last 41 days are and should be the most important, and I don’t want to waste them by slacking off and doing nothing. In honor of my grandparents who faithfully served their couple mission together, I want to stay to the very end.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission
Sent from my iPad

Week 93: Flight PR 1849

Dear family and friends,

So we’re sorry for e-mailing late. We just had our district p-day today and it was so far so we arrived late in the apartment. We went to a park that gives a great view of the Taal Lake. I’ve been to the same park before in my mission last year when I was assigned here in Lipa Zone; the place is the same, but the place is different. So I’m trying to fast as type as I can and finish off this letter with quality imbued therein.

It has been raining a lot lately; and when it rains here, it pours heavily. It’s a relief after all the scorching heat throughout the whole summer. The only con is that I have to wear my missionary jacket every time we go out. The weather is also unpredictable. Sometimes I wake up with the weather really really cold but in the course of the day it gets hot. I had such experiences when I decided to wear my cotton garments for the day and it turned out to be so frigging hot. Haha. Never again.

Nothing much has been happening in the field. We still kept on finding. One thing I noticed is that I’m so used to rejection now; slammed doors and yells from people don’t even matter to me anymore. I just couldn’t care less about rejection and disappointment. However I feel concerned for my companion who’s only been in the field for 4 months and thus still not used to rejection and disappointment. As a missionary you can never please all people nor all members nor all bishops. You just need to be patient and get it over with.

By the way I just received my plane ticket from the mission office. I will be arriving at Mactan International Airport onJuly 13, 2016, Wednesday at 10:15 AM. I actually asked if I could have a night travel so I could just get to sleep when I get back to Cebu; but I think that’s a good thing as well so we could have a light lunch at home with friends and families. By the way I just need a light lunch upon arrival; that should mean just really light, mostly burger and chips and salad; please no rice because I haven’t been eating rice lately; and you need to be praying for me that I won’t get sick eating Mang Inasal with the zone every week. I don’t need trumpets and fanfares and if you want to bring a tarpaulin please just make it simple and never put my face on it because I’m still alive. I’ll add more instructions in my weekly letter next week.

Anyway to make this weekly letter fun I’m supposed to add pictures of fancy foods I’ve eaten this week, but I forgot my card reader and the guy in this internet shop is really rude to me.

Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission
Sent from my iPad

Week 90: NOT TRUNKY!

Dear family and friends,

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It was great Skyping with my mom on Saturday. We were supposed to Skype between Saturday and Monday but my companion and I decided to Skype on Saturday so we won’t be stuck in the vehicle and foot traffic in the city on Elections Day. The whole Philippines is just in commotion for the elections today but I wish not to be involved haha. Right now I’m e-mailing from the bayan because I don’t feel like going up to Lipa City; I just don’t want to risk it. We actually have a curfew at 5 PM today so we’re adjusting our schedule to have at least 3 hours of work today. Anyway the weather’s actually doing good for me as it’s starting to get windy and the heat is trying to tone down. It should start raining at the beginning of June; or rather it better start raining in June.
We only had minimal work this week because on Wednesday night we had to travel to Santo Thomas to sleepover for the district leader’s training meeting on Thursday morning in San Pablo. I actually told my mission president that I felt hesitant about going up to San Pablo again because first of all it’s so far and second I felt like I no longer needed any further training for this leadership assignment because I’ve had this assignment before haha. My president said it’s okay if I turn down the invitation but then I changed my mind last minute and decided to go up, but now mainly for the food and seeing my close friends haha. Honestly I’m grateful I went up to the meeting because I’ve learned some new things anyway.
Anyway I just want to announce that my request has been approved by the Area Presidency. I will be going home onJuly 14, 2016. That’s officially 66 days away to my last day in the mission field. My mission president sent in the request on Wednesday morning and received the approval on Thursday morning. The office couples are now preparing my plane ticket.I was literally crying I just can’t believe I’ll be home soon. I’ve been working on my homecoming talk soon so Bishop Shaun please sched me to give a talk in sacrament meeting on July 17, Sunday.
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission
Sent from my iPad

Week 89: 21

Dear family and friends,
Today I turn 21. I woke up this morning with my heart feeling heavy because I’m not really sure what just happened in such a short time. I am now 21 years old. I’m past 20 years of existence now, and everything is just so confusing. My new zone leaders intended that we hold our zone p-day on this day to celebrate my birthday. We just went to the zoo here in Lipa and had some wholesome fun.
Another thing that I would like to mention is that Skype season has come again for Mother’s Day. I will be available on Skype on May 9, 2016, Saturday, at 1:00 PM. Mom and dad, please make arrangements as soon as possible. There will be no other day on which I can Skype after that.
Lastly, I wish to conclude with some information I didn’t get to expound last week. I am now transferred here in San Jose, Batangas. I am follow-up training my new companion, Elder McLaughlin. He’s of Scottish descent but has been residing in New Zealand. He has a heavy accent which makes it quite hard for me to understand him but I do think that’s really cool. I have also sent in my request for an early release in July to my mission president. Because I requested to go home more than 30 days early, my request has to go through the Area Presidency. I’m hoping it will be granted in the next 2 weeks. On a quite similar note, the mission has sent out the departing and incoming list of missionaries, and my name is just right there on that list. I am so thrilled.
Thank you for loving me and supporting me. Each one of you is worth fighting for. I love you. And please love one another.

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This ostrich almost ate my hair.
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My companion on the right, and Elder Erickson (batch) and Sister Harding (batch) on the left side. My favourite people.
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That’s inside a tunnel. I almost lost consciousness.

Elder Poblete

Philippines San Pablo Mission
Sent from my iPad

Week 88: “All the Grown Folk Things Separation Brings”

Dear family and friends,

Transfer day was bittersweet. After the glorious spiritual manifestations I’ve received both in the celestial room of the holy temple and the healing quarters of the MRC, I went back to my area in San Pablo having to bid farewell to my cherished companion. I miss Elder Barrizo…. Being separated with him really broke my heart; it was as though I had Alzheimer’s the whole time and when I came to my senses it was already too late to mend things between us. After our final hug together I tried my best not to cry on the bus. I arrived in my new area with my heart aching and full of bitterness that I didn’t get to spend much time with him after my stay in the MRC. It really made me sad….
I just want to wrap up what happened during the rest of my stay there in Manila. Apparently I broke the indexing record made by an elder. In his 2 week stay in the MRC, he indexed 500 names; during my 5 day stay there, I indexed 600 names. That was so funny that they drew a picture of me on the whiteboard with a crown that says “INDEX KING”.
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The last few days there were very relaxing. We made aprons.
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Sister Moyes was really clever.
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My apron. Trying to be cute.
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My MRC companion’s apron.
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Then some pictures outside the kitchen!

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So much fun haha.
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Tuesday morning we went to Mabuhay which is like a home for all the kids with eye, lips, and feet differences. It’s not owned by the Church but it’s run by members of the Church. They have branches in Davao and Cebu as well, so if you know anybody who has those kind of problems, bring them there, and it’s totally free.
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My last Tuesday there I went through the temple again for the second time together with Elder Jazmines and Sister Parojinog and with the rest of the MRC fam. I met my mission’s April departing batch but our session was 2 hours after theirs. I spent much time again in the celestial room to receive revelations and encouragement from my Heavenly Father.

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I am now in San Jose, Batangas with my new companion, Elder McLaughlin. He’s from New Zealand and he’s British, so that’s something different! At first it was quite hard to understand him because he’s very nasal haha. I’m still district leader and I don’t even like it anymore because I’ve been a missionary leader for more than a year now. Whatever. Below is a picture of us planning during a blackout.

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The last thing I’m gonna say is that: it is super hot. While we’re at work I feel like I can always cry because the heat just gets through my shoes. I don’t have an umbrella yet but I don’t want to use one because it’s too heavy. #thirdworldprobs
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Week 87: Broken People

Dear family and friends,

Hey everyone I wonder if my mission president has informed my family and thus they informed you or not about the recent news about me. A lot of things have happened this cycle and I have been depressed hence I was not able to function fully and fulfill my missionary responsibilities for a long period of time. My mission president finally decided that I need emotional help so he had me sent to the Missionary Recovery Center adjacent to the Missionary Training Center and of course just right across the Manila Temple in Quezon City. He called me about the decision at 11:00 PM Friday and asked me to pack up so he could pick me up at 4:30 AM Saturday. We arrived here in Manila at 7:30 AM together with Elder Alos, who is my district leader in my zone. It’s funny, because both leaders are injured!
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I’ve already sat in 2 therapy sessions with Elder Garrett, the Area Mental Health Advisor, one of which was done an hour ago. We discussed a lot of things about myself and why and how I’m feeling this way and I’m proud to say that he’s really helping. : )
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I arrived here in the morning really hungry so they kindly made me rice and eggs and hot sauce. Just the comfort food that I need. I have with me 5 other missionaries who are called to serve in different missions in the Philippines. One of which is Sister Moyes who is serving in Cebu mission and she speaks Cebuano really well. Another sister is not with us as she is now going under the knife today. I’m on a trio companionship with Elder Alos and Elder Jasminez (serving in Davao). I got to get through the Manila temple on Saturday evening with Elder Alos and I must say that I have felt peace again which I have not really felt for a long time in the field.
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One thing I realized is that we are all broken people here, and the Lord loves broken things, because He can fix them. One time I woke up and got up from my bed early I went to the living room and just sat while the radio was playing instrumental of “Love One Another” and there was this big painting on the wall of the the great Samaritan helping the injured Jew and I felt the Spirit so strong within me and realized how grateful we are for the charity that the Lord Jesus Christ shows to each one of us and how we ought to share the same charity to other people around us.
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It could be kind of boring here but I’m trying to stop lurking in my room in the darkness by enjoying the sunlight more and talking to the people more. I try to spend most of my time indexing records for family history. If you currently can’t preach the gospel to the living, why not help it be preached to the dead?
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The piano and our room in the MRC.
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Laying on the couch when I’m tired and need relaxation is my favourite. However they don’t want missionaries to get the hang of relaxing way too often because it could get them really “off” with missionary work. Every night we do nightly devotionals, just some sharing time about how the MRC and the gospel are currently helping us heal and how the Savior’s atoning sacrifice could make us whole. And I wonder, how could the holes in His hands and wrists could make us whole?
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On Sunday we attended sacrament meeting in Quirino Ward 2, just 15 minutes away from the MRC. The ward was reverent and was spiritually uplifting, and I think there were like 10 missionaries there in that ward, including senior couples and MRC staff.
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It’s a 3 storey chapel with elevator!
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Van ride selfie with the MRC district. F-U-N
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Because the Savior has gone through all things, He can help us go through with whatever our problems are.
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This Monday I learned that I am now released as a zone leader and transferred back to Lipa zone as a regular missionary. My new companion is Elder McLaughlin who has only been out in the field for 3 months now. I’ll be his follow up trainer.
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Gratitude door.
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This sweet sentence gives a different meaning when you’re in trials.

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The MRC senior missionaries are out for dinner on Sunday night, but we weren’t left to ourselves. So they hired babysitters! And we played games like “scrambled words” and “name that tune”. Team Elders won against Team Sisters!
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Just before the babysitters leave.
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You see? I’m having fun here, and you don’t have to worry about me. I love you all. Keep the faith. Fight the good fight. I’ll be fine, and I’m on my way back now. I love you!
Elder Poblete
Philippines San Pablo Mission

Sent from my iPad