Sunday, December 27, 2015

Guess Who Got to Skype His Parents


Hope you all had an awesome Christmas and I hope you have a great New Year! This Christmas I got the chance to Skype my parents, and they said that they were impressed but I think they're just trying to strengthen my confidence.. Anyways, this Christmas was awesome. We were fed SO much food, it hurts my stomach just thinking about it. Christmas Day was also prime time for proselyting and sharing the message of the birth of Jesus Christ. This upcoming Saturday, I have the opportunity to baptize a young 12 year-old boy who has been investigating the Church. This kid is the best. It feels as though he's like my little brother. 

But this week I learned the importance of missionary work in its entirety. People here have been asking us a lot lately what missionaries REALLY do. Some think that we go around chastizing people, telling them to follow God or they'll go to hell. Um. No. That's not what we do. What we do as missionaries is strengthen the faith of others and help them come unto Christ by helping them receive the fullness of the restored gospel. Our end goal, of course, is baptism because we believe that it is the first saving ordinance that we must participate in in order to receive exaltation. But of course, people have their free agency to decide whether or not they accept the message we have to offer. But yeah. Other than that, we dedicate our lives, for two years, to service and representing Jesus Christ. Of course, we're not perfect. But we strive to do EXACTLY what Christ would do if he was in our shoes. I love this work. It's such a privilege and blessing to serve people in any way possible. For example, we have an activity planned next week to plant rice. LIKE WHAT. I GET TO HELP PEOPLE PLANT RICE. It's awesome. What a marvelous work this is. I wouldn't take these two years back for anything in the world. Love you all! Have a great New Year! 

-Elder Bondoc

I love my family. 

Note: My dad has now learned how to smile as wide as I do. :) 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

A Year Older, and Exactly 7 Months Since I've Left Home


So firstly... 


Really. Thank you all so much for the greetings and emails for my birthday. It really REALLY makes me miss home. My dad sent me all of the posts you all put on Facebook. You guys rock and motivate me so much to do my best while I'm here in the Philippines. So my birthday was alright. It didn't really feel like my birthday. We went to church, worked, and went home. But a lot of the members here in San Jose greeted me happy birthday which was nice. Anyways, regarding this week... This week was awesome. It rained a lot... AHA! Here's a funny thing that happened. So we keep all the windows in our apartment open at night so that it's not too hot. So when the bagyo (strong storm) came we figured we'd just keep our windows open. My bed is right next to the window so I was super ballsy to call that the bagyo would be pure wind. I was right!... at first... See what happened was that the wind started to become a slight drizzle around 2 am. You know how when you make a farting sound with your mouth, little particles of spit just fly everywhere? Well I woke up to something of that effect.. about 3 times. I would wake up, close the window, the rain would stop, I'd open the window and not 15 minutes later the drizzle would come back. What the heck... 

BUT anyways I've been on the face of this planet for 19 years and for seven months of that time, I've been in the Philippines. What can I say that I've learned in that time? Well I can't put it any more simply than this: The Journey of Life is so short but oh so sweet, if we choose to make it so. Let me explain. In 7 months of being here, I've encountered SO many challenges that, now looking back, seemed absolutely impossible to overcome. But I haven't let them bring my spirits down. The quality of our lives, I would say, is an attitude thing. I've met people whose spirits are as high as the clouds, even the means by which they live would seem a tad bit lacking. But yeah. I'm trying to copy those people. I have a quick example. There's a man that I've met here named Hino. He lives in a bamboo hut. No electricity. Hardly any money. A family to support. And no matter what happens, the biggest smile that I've ever seen on the face of this planet. But behind his bamboo hut, he has about half an acre of pure farm land. He plants vegetables and thus he and his family have food every day. "Der," he says, "Kahit wala kaming pera, der.. Kahit gaano kahirap ang buhay namin, laging masaya ako." Which roughly translates to "Even though we don't have any money, however hard life may be. I'm still happy." He always has food on the table and not a cent to his name. But to say he is content would be an understatement. And he then follows to pat his larger than life stomach. Life is as it is. We complain and we "think" we struggle. Maybe we allow ourselves to consider it as such. So I'm a now a 19 year old kid on the other side of the planet. I can say at least one thing at this point: I'm happy. I was happy when I got here, I'm still happy, and will be as happy as ever even when I go home. Missions are awesome. 

Anyways. Take care everyone! Thanks again for all the greetings. Now that I love you all so much and keep you in my prayers! Until next week! And of course.


-Elder Bondoc

A little background on the picture attached. So my parents sent me this t-shirt. The front translates to "Where is the [word used for when you forget the name of the actual thing you're trying to say]?"  On the back it says "Nandoon!" or "Over there!" I think it's hilarious.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Tropical Storm- Just a Reason to Shower Outside

Maray na aga!

Hello everyone! So you all might have heard that there is a tropical storm heading this way. Don't worry! We'll be fine. Though we might not be able to work, we'll be safe and make sure to help others that might need it. BUT this week was great. I can't begin to tell you how close I've gotten to the people here in San Jose in just a matter of 6 weeks. This week we did a lot of walking and teaching, just like any other week. But this week, I noticed the growth of my companion Elder Almario. When I arrived, he was timid and very nervous to take on the challenge of adjusting to a new companion and a new area. Now he's opened up like a... um.. Like a really excited flower that just wants to bloom? Yeah no clue. WHATEVER. He's grown so much. He smiles, laughs, and is always ready to go out to meet and teach new people. I love our companionship and can't wait to see where our companionship goes next. When I arrived we almost didn't talk at all. Now we're hardly ever quiet. OH! In our spare time we practice magic tricks to build trust with kids. Plus we're missionaries, so when there's free time, we really don't have much to do. Therefore we practice magic tricks. But yeah. This work is awesome. I finished the Book of Mormon again. This is the second time that I have read it in my six months here. To those who are reading this. I implore you all to do one thing..

Read it.
Pray about it.

Because when it comes down to it, there are only two possibilities. Either it's true or it's not. Either I'm doing the Lord's work here in the Philippines or I'm wasting two years of my life. But I testify to all of you who have taken time to read this that that book is from God. However, me saying that can only do so much. 

Anyways, that's all my preaching for this one. I do realize that it is kinda bold and kinda preachy, but hey. I am a missionary after all. Take care!! Thanks for all the emails! Have a great week! 

-Elder Bondoc

​"For the Beauty of the Earth." 

Sunday, December 6, 2015

First Week in San Jose

Hey Guys!

SO this first week in San Jose was a blast. My new trainee, Elder Almario, is awesome. We've learned so much from each other and I can't wait to learn so much more from him. 

Let me describe our location/area a little bit. So it's more provincial than my last area and super for away from where we live. So when it comes time to walk back home at night, it's about a 2 hour walk, depending where we're coming from. But yeah. The people here that I've met are absolutely amazing. I already love them so much and can't wake to work with them. But yeah. The ocean is in our area so that's pretty sweet. I mean we don't get to hang around it all that much, but at least I can say that I've been to the beach while on my mission. 

It's hard to describe what really went on this week, but to put it simply, I'm SO excited to help my trainee and this area. I can already see Elder Almario becoming such a great missionary.But yeah it's difficult meeting new people and adjusting again, but it's awesome and like any other experience, I can't wait to take it on. That's all for this week everyone. Take care! Thanks for all the emails!

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, November 29, 2015

My Second Area, San Jose

Hello Everyone!

So today I was transferred to my new area San Jose! I'm so excited to be here. So my new assignment here in San Jose is to finish the training of a new elder because his old companion is going to the office. So in other words, I'm training again for the next eight weeks! I'm so excited and can't wait to see what we learn together as a companionship.

So let me quickly expound on what I've heard about the area and what I've seen. So my area is more provincial than my old area, Bato. BUT we have the ocean in our area so in the coming weeks, hopefully, you'll get pictures of it. But yeah we have to walk about two hours to get to our area so... I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing? Good because I might be able to walk off all the weight I gained in my first area or bad because... well... I'll be walking.... a lot... HAY NAKU! I'll let yo know. I can't believe I'm training again. This is SUPER exciting. My companion, Elder Almario, is a little quiet but I think he'll open up once we get to know each other a bit better. Thanksgiving for us was a blast! we cooked a pot of rice and four cans of corned beef. It was awesome and I can't wait to experience that again. That is the best example of true missionary life here in the Philippines. Anyways, I'll update you all next week about how my new area is. Ingat po kayo palagi!

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, November 15, 2015

"Pagtututo" (Learning)

It's that time of the week again!

So this week was pretty awesome. Before I mention anything else, I just want to let you all know that I've been here in the Philippines for about six months now! WHAT THE HOLY OH MY. Yeah I'm surprised I've made it this far. Anyway this week was pretty cool. We were able to work with some of the YSA members here in Bato again and boy are they the best. We as missionaries are so thankful for them and their desire to help us. It was a pretty hard we again this week. Despite their help, we were punted a lot again from many of our appointments. But that's okay. I'm not letting that bring my spirits down. I just have to keep pressing forward.

So what have I learned this week? Well maybe that's what I'll talk about in this post. The power of learning. I'm currently reading a book that my parents sent me titled Standing for Something by Gordon B. Hinckley, a former president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The book is organized in 10 sections, each explaining the importance of a certain virtue that we all tend to neglect. One virtue that President Hinckley mentions that I cherish is learning. Every day here on the mission we get an hour to study. I mean, how can we teach if we don't even know the doctrine, right? So we study, discuss what we studied with our companion, and then we apply what we learned to the lives of those we teach and meet. That same principle applies outside of the mission. No matter what stage of life you are in, those who are going to study, are currently studying, or have finished your studies, I implore you to continue in your pursuance of knowledge. Find something that intrigues you and just search. Discover. I've found when I apply that mindset to my scripture study every day, it becomes much more meaningful to me.  I love this work and after the mission I can't wait to get right back to school. Maybe I should ask my parents to send me a textbook or something? That's all for this week everyone. Take care!

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, November 8, 2015

If You Want to Know How My Week Was, See the Attached Picture


So I couldn't think of a witty title for this week's post, so to effectively describe how my week was, just see the picture below.


ANYWAY, this week was awesome. This week we had the chance to work with some of the young single adult members of the branch here in Bato. It's an absolute privilege to work with members who have a desire to help us as missionaries. I'm so glad that some of them also have a desire to serve missions! Even though the work is physically trying at times, they didn't waiver. We trudged through rice fields as always and continued on with our appointments. I'm also very thankful for the members here who are kind enough to feed us when we don't have food or aren't as good as them at cooking. We are super lucky. My umbrella stayed in tact this week, too! 

So this week I a little something about humor and how important it is in my life. So a lot of the times when we teach, more often than not, the mood of our lessons becomes serious. I'm not saying by any means that that's a bad thing. But sometimes a little laugh or two helps invite the Spirit into our lives. I testify of that. A sense of trust is built when we share a laugh a two with a classmate or colleague, right? That same principle applies here. I love laughter and making others laugh. Maybe I'm obnoxious. Maybe I overdo it just a little (or way) too much. But as long as those who I associate myself with are happy, I too become just as happy. 

 "They won't notice a thing.."

If rice plants had faces, they would look like this. 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Hard Work and "Failure"


This week we were able to meet new people who seem very receptive and open to what we have to share with them. The people here are awesome. This week we had the chance to experience (partially) what they call here Ang Araw ng Mga Patay, or the Day of the Dead. They celebrate it on the day of Halloween, but it's not really like Halloween at all. On October 31st, people join together at the local cemetery to remember their loved ones who have passed away. Some even choose to sleep over at the cemetery. Houses lined on the streets have lit candles on their front porches or windows if they don't get the chance to go to the cemetery. It's amazing how different cultures in the world are. This week was also probably one of the most tiring weeks of my entire life. We worked as usual, but this week we literally pushed ourselves to the limit physically. This week we attempted to get to every potential appointment that we could. Obviously, things don't always go as planned. That's just how life goes. But we pushed through, walked about 5 billion miles and eventually went home to plop ourselves on our beds and restart the process the following day. But it was incredible week. 

Anyway, this week something that I've learned is the value of hard work and the even greater value of "failure" if we even choose to regard it as such. So we worked hard this week and we expended every ounce of energy to teach and share with people. It's hard when people blatantly don't want what we share and it's even harder when people deny us right before we can even get a single word out of our mouths. But despite that, I choose not to call situations like that failures. They're just attempts that ultimately end up differently than expected. At the end of the day, I can truly say that I did my best. I value that and will cherish every attempt that I have made. I can't say that it's the easiest of things to just get right back up and keep trudging on, but I can say that it is the most fulfilling feeling to actually do it. I love you all and can't wait to hear from you again next week! 

-Elder Bondoc

Sunsets are a cool thing. 

Sunday, October 25, 2015

'Tis a Gift to be Simple

So hello everyone!

This week was awesome. Elder Valdez and I are learning so much from each other every day. My umbrella has yet to break, it's been months seen cats have gotten into my bread, and our electricity went out in our apartment for only about two days. I am not being sarcastic when I say we were truly blessed this week. My feet kinda hurt from walking, but I mean hey, what should I expect, right? Ummmm.... Yeah, nothing new or exciting happened this week. The weather is going absolutely bonkers though. Yesterday it was pouring and actually kinda cold, but today took a complete 180 degree turn with unrelenting sunlight and scalding heat (I guess that's kind of an overstatement, but you get the point. It was cold and now it's hot.) Tagalog is coming very well now. I am very pleasantly surprised by that. It's awesome to be able to understand (most of the time) and be able to respond accordingly (hopefully). Of course there are times where I just open my mouth wide and absolutely nothing discernibly sensible comes out, but those times are actually the best. They're funny, and it's during those times that I learn the most.  

Which brings me to my topic of discussion and the reason for the title of this blogpost. Something that I learned this week was the importance of gratitude for the things we have rather than jealousy or remorse for things we don't have. This week we had the chance to teach lessons, and a common theme that I noticed from all the families that we taught was this: They were happy. Despite the lack of certain commodities that we, back at home, cherish and find an absolute necessity, the people here are content and quite happy actually. They find joy not in material things, but in being with their families and sharing time with each other. I love that. A lot and I think that's something I took for granted while I was back at home. So I invite all of you to take thought and pleasure in the simplest of things. I promise you that when you cherish those things, you'll find yourself 100% happier than you were before. 

Thanks for all the love and support as always. I truly feel the blessings of your prayers and am so thankful for your emails. Until next week!

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Mga Mag-Anak

Hello all!

So this week was probably one of the best weeks I've ever experienced and probably once of the most hilarious. Let me explain..

So for the time that I've been here on my mission, I've had a bit of a problem with umbrellas. Each umbrella that I've acquired has lasted shorter than the last. The last umbrella that I bought lasted not even two hours. So Elder Valdez and I were walking on what the call here the FC or flood control. It's essentially this big wall that protects the town from the lake when storms come.  When the sun isn't ridiculously hot, people of all ages hang out here. It offers us some great opportunities to talk and meet new people. Anyway, here we are walking. I had just bought a new umbrella earlier that afternoon, just beading with excitement to use it. As we walking, this huge gust of wind followed by super heavy rain just starts. Elder Valdez and I were so startled. We booked it. We ran down the flood control. He made it down alright. I on the other hand tripped and broke my umbrella. Dang it. It hadn't even lasted one day. So far I've gone through about four umbrellas here. I guess I should take more care of them.

But this week has been an incredible week. One of the harder ones, but I have truly seen what a blessing families are. Almost all our appointments this week were directed towards families. It was amazing to see what kind of impact parents have on their children and the even greater impact children have on their parents. When we went to these families, the parents told us about stories and struggles their families faced and how they overcame them through unity and faith in God. The picture below shows what a blessing it is to be part of a family and the support that they bring into our lives. 

So life here is still hard, but it's looking more promising than ever and I know that I'm growing because of it! I'm so thankful for all of you as always. Tomorrow, I will have been on my mission for five months! That absolutely blows my mind! See you all in the next post! Love you always!

-Elder Bondoc

​The Camposano Family

Sunday, October 11, 2015

To All the Mothers

Hello world!

It's me again. Thanks for the emails this week. It was so nice to hear from all of you. This week was spectacular. We met more people than ever this week and the coming weeks look very optimistic. We've made it a companionship goal to talk to as many people as we can to share. It's hot. I'm still kinda blind in my left eye, but that's okay. It could be worse right? This week, we had the chance to watch General Conference. To those of you who don't know what that is, let me explain. In the simplest of terms, members of the church worldwide congregate to watch and listen to the words of the leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for counsel and instruction for the progression of the faith of members. Before I left on my mission, some described General Conference to this effect: "It's essentially like TED Talks for Mormons." I cherish the few hours that we had. 

But one talk inspired me so much that it almost brought me to tears. It was a talk given by Jeffery R. Holland about that divine power of a mother's love. So let me start off with the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In Elder Holland's talk he says these four words:

"Bear, borne, carry, deliver." 

These are four words that we relate to Jesus Christ and His Atonement. He BORE our sins and DELIVERS us out of bondage. I don't mean to get preachy, but I am a missionary after all. So let me share this insight. Christ suffered for all people that have ever existed on Earth, that they might return to God's presence as an eternal family. He suffered. You know who else suffered for you? Your mother CARRIED you and because of that, you were BORNe. My mom sacrificed everything for me that I could become the young man that I am today. Every day, until now, in fact, she keeps up with me and loves me unconditionally. Despite my faults, despite my shortcomings, she's there. And for that I could not express enough how much I truly love her. Her love for me is the closest thing to Christ's love that we can comprehend on this earth. Christ gave up everything for us and so did our mothers, that we might have the happiest of lives on this earth. 

So this week everyone, even though Mother's Day is months away, express gratitude for your mom. She did everything for you, some things you might not even understand. To my own mother: Mom I love and miss you. But thank you. For everything. 

That's my week and what really stood out. I hope your week was absolutely wonderful. I can't wait to hear again from you all next week. 

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Back to the Daily Grind

Hello everyone!

So this week has been a pretty busy week. I got back from Manila on Wednesday, had a zone training on Friday, and then had a district community service project yesterday! Busy, busy, busy! To say that I'm tired would be an understatement! But I'm doing great, as always. Keeping my head up and continuing to press forward. So let me update you all on my eye. The doctor said that the swelling on my macula has reduced considerably and that I shouldn't have to worry. So that was very comforting to hear. My vision is still kinda messed up, but over the next couple of weeks I sure hope it will improve. Oh here's something you'll all absolutely LOVE to hear. We had air conditioning installed in the room that we sleep in, compliments of our SUPER nice landlord. Man, we're lucky. I think we're the only apartment in the whole Naga mission with air conditioning. It's been weird to adjust to, let me tell you. Every night, I've been sleeping next to an electric fan (which, don't get me wrong, is absolutely awesome.) But sleeping with cold air... whoa. 

So training my new companion has been an absolute blast. Elder Valdez is a stellar missionary. So two days ago we were both kinda sick with congestion and runny noses. But that didn't stop us from working. I know, we PROBABLY should have rested, but we're feeling great now! So don't worry! We know our limits, I promise. 

The reason we were sick, either the aircon or the weather. I'd put my money on the weather. Over these past couple of days, we had some pretty intense rain. Our electricity in our apartment went out for a night, so we didn't have the luxury of aircon or electric fans... But despite the really sweaty and sleepless nights, we've seen so many blessings come from the rain.All the families that we planned to teach were in their homes. So we were able to fulfill ALL of our appointments! WOW!  What a blessing it was to be able to teach. I am feeling a lot better now physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I can't wait to see where this next couple of months takes us. Thank you all for the emails! I hope to hear from you all! OH yeah I heard that BYU beat UConn in football! Go Cougs!!! Have a great week everyone!!! 

-Elder Bondoc

​Just because we're missionaries doesn't mean we can't be silly. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

First Week of Training and Manila! (For three days)

Hello hello hello everyone! SO let me explain briefly why the title of this blogpost is what it is. So As you all know, I got dengue fever a couple of weeks ago. I'm all better now except for one little, tiny, super super small thing... literally. After having dengue, the sixth or seventh day, the vision in the center of my eye went blind. NOW HOLD ON. DON'T PANIC ANYONE. I'm absolutely fine. I have medicine and my vision has improved considerably since then. But just to be safe, I'm getting my eye checked here in Manila.

So as far as this week goes, training has been absolutely incredible. Meet Elder Valdez. He's from the Philippines and let me tell you. This guy is pre-trained. I'm super lucky. He's super willing to work and do his part as a missionary. It's hard, sure. But he's willing to just take the mission head on. I know that I have a lot to learn from him and I will do my best to teach him everything that I know... which isn't much. I'm super excited and can't wait to see where these next three months will take us. This week was awesome, to say the least. I can't really say that anything new or exciting happened other than this whole training thing. I'll let you all know how this following week is. Take care as always! I am so thankful for everything you all have done for me! Until next week!

-Elder Bondoc

​Me and Elder Valdez!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Big News!


Hello hello hello! It's that time of the week again. How are you all? Good I'm hoping. So this week flew by once again. So I didn't trip down any muddy hills this week nor did I acquire nearly as many mosquito bites as I did in the past weeks. Let me tell you that I'm having a great time here. My trainer has been awesome and everyone that I've met here in Bato is absolutely amazing. So this week I finally began to feel comfortable. Everything is beginning to sink in and become routine. But then this morning we received a call from the zone leaders. Guess what everyone...


That's right! You read that correctly. Right after my training, I will become a trainer and train a missionary fresh out of the MTC for three months. Holy cow holy cow holy cow. I can't tell you how I'm feeling right now because honestly, I don't even know how I'm feeling. I'm excited, anxious, nervous, pumped... and whatever other synonym you can throw in there. 

Something that I am bound to learn from this experience: God knows things about us that we don't even know about ourselves. He knows we're strong even if we don't believe so ourselves. Honestly, that's how I'm feeling right now. I don't know if I can do it. But if Heavenly Father thinks I can, I have absolutely no reason to worry. I'm super excited to meet my trainee and show him the ropes.. like all three. I'm new here but I'll do my best. Time to take this challenge head on. There's no room to get comfortable. That's the nature of God, right? Right when we get comfortable, another challenge comes our way. He's testing us and trying us. He wants us to learn and grow from good and bad experiences. 

Well that's the exciting news for this week everyone. Hope your week was just as good as mine. I'm so thankful for all of you.

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Recovery and Right Back to Work!

Hello hello hello!

Thank you all so much for all your emails and support! I have all my energy now and am right back to work. Your emails definitely kept my hopes and spirits up. I truly felt the blessings of your prayers. I'm truly blessed! 

So this week was a great week. Yesterday it rained super hard again, so I pulled out my flip flops and tracted again just as I had a couple of weeks ago. Later we went to visit a recent convert family. As we were walking down the muddy path, I tripped and my butt was just covered in mud. It was absolutely hilarious. You should have heard me "wowoahoaogaohaoh." Not a single discernible word came out of my mouth. Just me sliding down this muddy hill on my butt. The best! After not being able to work for a whole week, we were able to go back to all the families that we hadn't visited the past week. It was so nice to see all of them and visit again. As a missionary, it's awful being stuck at home when all you can do is think about the people you're supposed to be visiting. 

So this upcoming week is my last week of my training. For the past three months since July 2, I've been trained by Elder Marquez, a missionary who's been here in the field for a whopping 22 months now! He's such a dedicated missionary, as I've mentioned in other emails. That's the highlight of this week. My trainer. He's shown me the ropes and taught me what it truly means to love the people we meet here on the mission. But that's all for this week. Training flew by and now it's time for another transfer next week. So I'll let you know if I'm transferred or if a new companion arrives in Bato.

 Anyway. Thank you so all so much again for all of your prayers. Getting sick stinks. But I'm glad I got to learn from that experience. But it's so nice to be working again. :) Love you all and I'll catch you again next week! 

So we wore our companionship ties yesterday. I thought it was pretty sweet, but it doesn't really take much to make a missionary happy, so... 

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Dengue It!

So remember last week, how I said I was super lucky that I hadn't gotten sick? Well my words caught up with me this past week and now I too am sick with none other than the viscous dengue fever. It's absolutely dreadful. Pray that you never get this disease because it just takes a huge toll on the body. Let me explain what my experience was and still continues to be. 

Well it all started Monday night. As I was lying in bed, I realized that I couldn't fall asleep. My body ached and I realized that I had a body temperature of 39.9 degrees Celsius, which is about 103 degrees Fahrenheit. So the fever continued for about 5-6 days. Just throw in excruciating joint pain, rashes on the palms of my hands and bottoms of my feet, and loss of appetite to top off the cake. I've drunk about 12 bottles of gatorade in the past 6 days to keep myself hydrated.

It's been awful. Really. I've never experienced something more dreadful in my entire life. But let me say this. President David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave great insight on this sort of matter. He said " and I have the power to choose how we will respond to an offensive or hurtful situation..." Though it may not directly apply, it still has some connection. There are two ways I can react to this sickness. A. I could lie down and give up. I could be angry and frustrated. or B. I could accept that it's happened, learn from it, and wait for it to pass. I would much rather prefer the second. We all have the choice to react to certain stimuli in different ways. So my take on the current situation, why get mad or angry? I mean I can't say that I haven't been frustrated a little bit, but I'm trying to learn and grow from this experience rather than dwell in self-pity. I know that this isn't my fault and I know that the Lord has placed this obstacle in my path for me to learn and grow from. This is probably one of the most trying times of my life and prayers from all of you sure would help. I can't wait to recuperate and get right back to serving the Lord. That's all for now everyone. Take care always :) 

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Mga Bata (Kids)


So what new things happened this past week? I feel like I was just here updating you all yesterday. Nothing new this week really. So after that huge storm last week, a lot of people here got sick. So my companion and I had the chance to visit the sick members. Even my companion got sick. Luckily, I didn't catch what's been going around. So we did work as usual. Oh! Mosquito bites have been at an all time high. I would say upwards of 5000 mosquito bites on my arms. Also I've been getting comments from members saying "Hoy Elder! Tumataba ka!" Translation- "Elder! You're getting fat!" That's what I get. Oh well. I have two years to lose it all and get fit, right?... Right? 

So the most memorable thing that happened this week is something that I've mentioned before in previous blogposts, but I'll mention it again because it's something that I hold really close to me. Kids. Every time we go proselyting, we get mobbed (and I mean MOBBED) by little kids, ages 3-8, who just crave for high fives. Missionaries here have a reputation here for giving perfect high fives. Every day we here the youthful voices of kids saying "Up here!" We then proceed to give as many high fives as we can while we continue walking. I love kids so much. Despite any challenges or problems, they always find something to smile about and to laugh about. They have a light about them that is just contagious. Nothing beats the feeling of getting a handful of smiles from kids. 

Kids are awesome. That's all for this week. I know it's a short update, but we haven't really had anything new happen. But yeah. Appreciate kids. We all were kids once and I know sometimes we all just want to return to those days. SO my advice for the upcoming week- Have fun! Smile! Be a kid again! Until next week everyone!

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Working Through Rain or Shine...but Mostly Rain

Hellllloooooo once again! Kumusta po kayong lahat? 

This week was awesome! It was super hard and super tiring, but man did I have a blast. So let me start with brownouts. This week we had an all time high of 9 brownouts. That's been exciting. Electricity is such a blessing so NEVER take it for granted. 

But this week was most memorable because of what happened on Saturday. So we started work on Saturday expecting it to be like any other day. We had heard news from members that there was going to be a bagyo (which is essentially this HUGE storm) headed for the Philippines. Thank goodness it wasn't really headed towards our area. Anyway, we started our day with a light drizzle in the air. So we arrived to our first appointment and began sharing our message. Then in the middle of the lesson it started pouring. Like POURING. The rain was so strong we couldn't hear each other speaking, despite the fact that we were all sitting about four feet from each other. So we finished the lesson in a yelling manner and waited a bit for the rain to stop. It didn't. We had other appointments and couldn't afford to miss them. So we walked, or I guess a better term would be trudged. So we got to our next appointment soaked or basang-basa as they say here. As we entered the house the rain stopped, which brought a glimmer of hope. We finished the lesson and set out again, hoping that the rain would and least pause for the rest of our evening. Alas, just as we walked out, down came the rain, even stronger than it had been earlier. So this pattern repeated for at least four lessons until we got home. We would enter a home and the rain would stop. Just as we would leave the home, the rain would begin again. Just our luck, huh? So after the second time I was just about fed up. My shoes and socks were absolutely drenched. So I took them off, put them in a plastic bag, rolled up my pants, and threw on a pair of flip flops.  It was awesome. I live for days like that. You wouldn't have been able to wipe the smile off my face. It was glorious. It was cold, wet, windy, and absolutely spectacular. 

So my message for the week, when rain comes down and it seems like all hope is lost. Smile for a second and understand that that's life. It's meant to be endured, yes, but even more importantly, enjoyed. 

Above is what I looked and felt like for the whole afternoon. Oh boy. Anyway. That's what's up in the world of Elder Bondoc! Love you all and talk to you again next week! 

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, August 16, 2015



It's that time again! BUT before I start anything, let me start by saying..


Hope it's the best!!!!! If any of you see this and then see my mom, please give her the biggest hug for me.

SO this week.. This week was challenging, to say the least. It was our first week tracting and working in the whole city of Bato as a companionship. We walked about twice as much and probably sweated about 40 times as much as we did before (at least that's what it seemed like.) Despite that, however, let me tell you how fulfilling it was to just work. We come home smelly and heavy eyed, but we both feel like we truly accomplished something. I am so blessed to be here. 

But the best experience I had this week occurred yesterday. We were teaching a family when all of the sudden out of the blue, one of the teenage sisters says to me (in Tagalog of course) "Hey! You don't have an American accent when you speak in Tagalog!" My mind was blown at that point. Absolutely blown. She had been absent for the past couple of lessons we had had so when she returned, she noticed progression that I hadn't. BUT HOLY SMOKES when she said that I smiled and couldn't stop smiling for at least thirty minutes. I know that God's hand is in this work. There's no way it isn't. 

Lastly, let me share this picture. Meet Francis, a kid we're teaching. In his hand is a toy car. Now this toy car is very significant, to me at least. Before I left for my mission, one of my mom's second grade students asked my mom to give me these toy cars. He then requested that I give them to kids here in the Philippines. So I've made it a goal of mine to give them to kids that mean a lot to me. Francis is amazing. He's funny, sweet, and absolutely wacky. He's one of the reasons why I'm here in the Philippines and why I strive every day to do what I'm called to do. 

Anyway, that's my week in a nutshell. Hope yours was spectacular. Thanks again for all the emails and support. It always, ALWAYS, means the world to me. 

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, August 9, 2015

A Big Challenge Ahead

So this week was the last week of my first transfer here in Bato. Let me tell you it was an absolute blast and I truly loved it. The people here are so amazing and I can't wait to continue the work here. This week we received word that an area in Bato was being closed and that for this upcoming transfer, the whole city will be the mine and Elder Marquez's responsibility. So during this transfer, Bato was divided in Bato A and Bato B, with two missionaries in each area. Now we have all of Bato. It's go time. I can't wait to see what's in store next. I can tell you it will be super difficult. Bato is HUGE. And we walk 99.76% of the time, so doubling our area with nothing but the two shoe express will definitely be challenging. But I'm so stoked. I can't tell you that I'm completely ready, but I'm ready as I'll ever be. And I know this will Bato progresses every week! 

Tagalog is coming more speedily now, I can finally understand and keep up somewhat of a conversation. We also had a zone community service project a couple of days ago also! We cleaned a local road.My legs were eaten alive by ants, but we still had a great time serving! Other than that, I can tell you that the most powerful thing that impressed on me this week was the reality of the gift of tongues. I can see God's hand in my learning of this language. It's been hard and still is hard no doubt, but I look back and I can see real progress. It can only go up from here! 

Most notable this week:
1. Only 5 ant bites on each of my legs
2. 2 brownouts instead of one every other day!
3. Community Service Project

​Iriga Zone CSP

Love you all! 

-Elder Bondoc

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sa Bundok Si Bondoc


So let me start of by saying this week has been an absolute blast. We had our zone conference, a baptism, and exchanges with other missionaries. We continue teaching and serving, and the area of Bato is progressing! It's still hard, but I slowly get more and more attached to this place, despite the difficulties I face. I love the families we teach. It's so comforting to know that the work we do here will change these families' lives forever. I'm also SUPER grateful for the other missionaries in our area. They are super supportive and caring for greenies (new missionaries) like me. Today we had our district activity! I had the chance to bond with a lot of them and sweat with a lot of them. We didn't really have a plan. We were in the city and figured that we should do something fun and wholesome. So our District Leader, Elder Hermosa, suggested that we climb this mountain on the other side of town. No one was against the idea, so off we went. We were at the bottom of this hill and didn't realize how hard the climb would be until it was too late to go back. It was muddy, I was only wearing flip flops, and I think I lost about half my body weight in sweat making my way up. But then we got to the top. The view was breathtaking. Green for miles and miles.At that moment, clouds hid the sun and a peaceful breeze overcame us. I felt peace and joy just from being with other missionaries who are here for the same purpose as my own. I'm not alone. I promise you at times, I've felt SO lonely here. But I know that there are thousands of other missionaries around the world experiencing the same thing. I am so happy to be a part of this work and to partake from it with others. I hope you know that I experience the blessings of your prayers every day. I need them! You're all a part of this work, as well! Anyway. I think that's all for this week. A cat didn't get into my bread, thank goodness and brownouts have been at an all-time low this week. We are so blessed! Love you all so much!

-Elder Bondoc

It truly doesn't get any better than this. 

Sunday, July 26, 2015


Hello, hello, hello! This week flew by as usual! Despite the challenges with everything here, this lifestyle is becoming a part of me. I am finally getting accustomed to lifestyle of a missionary. Take brownouts, for example. Brownouts are pretty commonplace now, so every few days the power goes out and it's like nothing happened. We continue whatever we were previously doing, but just with flashlights and without fans. One of A cat got into my bread again on Tuesday, so that was a real bummer (but honestly it was pretty hilarious considering it happened not even a week earlier). On Wednesday we took a two hour bus ride to Naga for a Trainers' training workshop. Let me tell you. That was probably one of the most uncomfortable experiences of my life. I had three boxes and a backpack on my lap for this two hour trip. It was awful. But on the bright side, two days ago, I was also engulfed in a HUGE group of 4-8 year-old kids, maybe 12 or 13 of them, who had the strongest urge to give us high fives and hug us. That happens frequently actually. Kids in the Philippines are SO nice, it kills me. The kids here are super funny. Earlier this week, we were sitting on the water front of the this dock. We heard a crowd of young voices approaching us. So my companion and I turned around to see about 15 young boys running to the lake. Not a minute later, they all jumped in and had a grand old time. Worry-free and full of joy. Oh what I would do to be a kid again.

This week I truly learned the importance of the role of families. Here in the Philippines, no matter who it is you're talking to, you call them by some family title, such as Tatay, Nanay, Ate, Kuya or in English, Dad, Mom, Older Sister, Older Brother. It's remarkable. Everyone here is family, even if they aren't truly related through blood. Embedded in this culture is family. My family is awesome. I can't express how thankful I am for them. Families were crucial in my upbringing, literally. I truly wouldn't be here if they were not here. They are your support system in times of need, struggle, and hope. I can honestly say that I took my family for granted at some points in my life, but never have I ever been more grateful for them until I started my mission. There are times here when I think to myself "Man. I am SO glad my parents taught me how to do this." Family is everything. Really. They are there for you when you fall and never fail to love you with every bit of their being. 

So that's all for this week everyone. I hope your week was fantastic! I love you all and I'll catch you next week! 

-Elder Bondoc

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Another Week Gone in the Blink of an Eye

So this week was just like any other week I guess. I seriously cannot believe how fast time goes by here. I feel like I was just writing you all yesterday, yet here I am again. This week has been challenging. Most of our appointments canceled, which kinda felt like a drag because all of their houses are so far from each other. I still have no reason to complain though. It is such a privilege to be serving every day. 

One experience this week that stood out to me was in the middle of the week. My companion and I were walking to an appointment and I was just feeling down. It was hot, we had been punted from most of our appointments, and ultimately the day felt like it just wasn't going to end. I was sure that I was going to melt in my own sweat and misery. But then Elder Marquez spoke to me. He always says this. "Kaya mo iyan," Translation- You can do it. So as simple as that phrase was, it wasn't what really impressed upon me. What really changed my attitude and lifted my spirits was the fact that he supported me in my time of need. 

What else, what else... Yeah nothing new really. Two small and I guess kinda funny things that happened this week:

1. I bought a loaf of bread. I went to bed. I woke up in the middle of the night to a cat snooping around our apartment. Woke up the next morning to my bread being absolutely torn apart. Conclusion: A cat ate my bread.
2. I showered by candlelight during a brownout. That was hilarious. Who would've thought, huh?

Just trudging along and enjoying myself right now. I love doing this stuff, man. I can't wait to see what's in store. I love you all and am so grateful for all your emails! It truly means the world to me. Until next time.

-Elder Bondoc

Didn't have any pictures this week so enjoy this picture of a cow we saw a couple of days ago. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Hilarity of a Language, the Diligence of a People, and the Beauty of the Sky

Hello Hello Hello!

This week has been an absolute blast. It just flew by. Hmmm... Where do I start? Let me start with a Tagalog tongue twister.

"Pitongput pitong puting platong pinagpatong-patong."

or in English

"77 white plates stacked on top of each other."

This week I've learned so much about the Tagalog language. I try every day to practice it with everyone we interact with. I've learned that as beautiful as learning a languages can, it can also be quite funny. Let me explain. There is a Tagalog word: "kwan" which is really just a word you use if you forget the actual word for something. For example If you wanted to say "His house is close to the restaurant" but forgot the word for restaurant you would say "Ang bahay niya ay malapit sa may kwan." I think this is absolutely hilarious, but maybe it's just me. I hear this every day and cannot help but crack up because people use it so often. So it's the little things like these that make learning the language less frustrating and more fun. Although my language skills might worse than that of an eight year-old here, I find joy in actually being able to ask an eight year-old for help with my Tagalog. It's such a humbling experience. 

So about the people. Yesterday the entire area of Bato experienced a blackout ,or what they call it in the Philippines, a brownout. Hilarious, I know. Anyway, we were in the middle of a lesson yesterday when one of these brownouts hit. It was about 7 pm so the sun had set. The only light that we were dependent on was a single LED lightbulb. So the power went out and all of the sudden everything went pitch black. Despite that, I pulled out my flashlight and we continued our lesson as if nothing had happened. After we finished the lesson, we left the home. To my surprise, I found that the people in this provincial city were working as if nothing had happened. They kept doing their regular tasks with flashlights and candles. The people of the Philippines, despite losing something as precious as electricity, found a way around an obstacle to press forward and not give up. That was incredible to see. 

One positive about not having any light in a provincial area is being able to see the stars. The stars here at night are absolutely beautiful. After teaching and finishing our nightly planning session, we went on top of the rough and just laid on our backs, looking at the vast number of glimmering lights in the sky. Holy smokes. That's all. Words cannot describe how beautiful it is to see stars from horizon to horizon covering the nighttime sky. I love it here. I truly do. There's something enchanting about the Lord's work. Every week, I learn to appreciate it so much more. Best wishes and I'll talk to you all again next week. 

-Elder Bondoc

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Welcome to Bato

It's that time again!

I'm finally in my FIRST area in the Naga mission. The name of the city where I'm serving is called Bato, or "Rock" in Tagalog. Over the first couple of days I've managed to experience so much of the Philippines. My Tagalog is still progressing. We are now living a completely new lifestyle here. No plumbing. No air conditioning. All we have are fans and thin sheets. I also really REALLY hate mosquitoes. If the devil were an insect, he would definitely be a mosquito. With regards to our daily schedule, we trudge through rice fields every day to get to investigators' homes. There are cows on the sides of the roads EVERYWHERE here. It's green. OH IT IS SO GREEN. This is truly an experience that I'm never going to be able to take back. Last night we walked about half a kilometer through a rice field. It was pitch black and all we had were two flash lights. We could hear the boisterous voices of hundreds,even thousands, of frogs croaking in the night. It was muddy, wet, and absolutely awesome.  We also walk up and down a railroad, along which many people live. Some would think that it's redundant and boring, but to me it's an opportunity for me to think, practice my Tagalog, and grow as a person. My new companion's name is Elder Marquez. He's been in the field for 20 months now. He's a great trainer. Without him, I don't know how I could get through these first couple of days. 

Something that I've learned in the past few days is how to deal with failure. Here in Bato, a majority of the people we have scheduled to teach are not home or are busy. "Matigas ang puso" they say, meaning "Their hearts are hard" which is fitting for a town called "Rock".  No one wants to talk with us some days and during others, we don't have a single appointment. So imagine this. We walk and walk and walk for about 5 hours without ANY appointments in hot and humid weather. It sure stinks, but every step is worth it. I'm happy. I'm doing my part here in the Philippines and I'm fulfilling my calling as a missionary. We still get appointments and we still get to serve. So despite any shortcomings, we still get the chance to teach and serve. And I truly do love having that chance. I can already tell that my time here is going to FLY by. Wishing you all the best in everything that you do. Love you all!

-Elder Bondoc

PS:The attached picture is a picture of this kid I met at a birthday party. He looks and acts EXACTLY like me when I was his age. Mom. Dad. This'll freak you out. 

PSS:Sorry for the grammatical errors. Sobrang pangit ang grammar ko. (My English grammar is so ugly.)
The bathroom

the neighborhood

trudging rice paddies

mini me

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Destination: Naga

Before I begin, let me start by saying HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD. I wish I could be there, but alas, I'm on the other side of the world. I hope it's the best and I hope you and mom do something super fun. 

Now friends and family, hello again. I don't know where to begin with this post. I never do. It's incredible how fast time flies here. I absolutely cannot believe that it has already been over a month since I left home. It feels like I just got to the airport last night. Anyway it's so nice to hear from all of you as you email me and update me on how you're doing. It makes me miss you all so much but drives me to push myself every day. All of your encouragement means the world to me.

This week has been an interesting week. Let me start with my experience proselyting in Makati, a part of the Manila mission. I went on exchanges with two other missionaries, Elder Laurel and Elder Cruz, 14 months in the field and 23 months in the field, respectively. We had planned four appointments and four back up appointments for the day. We walked up, down, around, through, and just about any other preposition you can think of, in tight spaces to get to our appointments. It was hot, I was sweaty, and was essentially an exhausted, human waterfall. After all that intensive walking, only one answered the door and allowed us in. Everyone else was either asleep or gone. So imagine that for a second. 2 hours straight of walking through humid, dank, hot air and only one appointment. I asked the elders how often that heppened. They said, "Every day. Every day it's like this." And that made me think... Holy smokes this is going to be hard. This is going to be so challenging. But let me tell you. I loved it. Despite the lack of people, I loved being there. It was so fulfilling. 

At the MTC I encountered a completely different challenge. My responsibility here as the zone leader is to make sure that all the other missionaries are doing what they are supposed to and that they don't get into any bad situations that would jeaporadize their missions. Anyway, on Wednesday night, we had gym at 8 pm. Two elders were getting a bit too physical and competitive as they played a game of basketball. At 9 pm gym ended and we all went to our residence rooms. One of the elders, a tall, built Samoan, was so fueled after the game that he put his fist on the other elder's face to intimidate him or something. It scared the living heck out of me. I'm tiny. I didn't know what to do. But I just stood up, split the two up and talked it through and everything worked out. The point of me telling you this story is this. We all get caught up in things and can get easily frustrated. I can tell you that this has happened to me multiple times here. I would get caught up in my own brain, thinking that I'm inadequate or not good enough. But then something clicked. In my head I thought "Get over yourself. This isn't about you." Right when that thought came across my mind, I realized that I shouldn't worry about how "well" I'm doing. It was never about that It's about how much I love the people here and how much I'm willing to do for them. Through faith in the Lord and remembering my purpose here as a missionary, I know things will work out. They always do. 

I know that's not a very exciting story, but that's all I have for this week. I'm still so happy to be here. I leave for Naga on Wednesday and couldn't be more pumped. Please give my dad a big hug if you see him and tell him happy birthday. And if you see my mom, please give her an even bigger hug. For what reason? Eh. I just love my mom a lot. I love you all a lot actually. I keep you all in my prayers and continue to hope for the best in everything that you do. Thank you for all your emails. It's so nice to hear about all your experiences at home. The next time you hear from me, I'll be in Naga! So get ready for that. Mahal ko kayo! 

-Elder Bondoc

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Power of Proselyting

Family and friends! Kumusta! This week was absolutely amazing. Along
with the usual learning for a bajillion hours a day, we had the
opportunity to proselyte in the Philippines. And let me tell you, it
was probably the best experience I've had here so far. Now let me tell
you why.

So we left the MTC and drove for about an hour and a half to the
Quezon City North Mission where we met up with other missionaries who
have already been serving in the field for awhile. So we went on
splits. I went with Elder Welch and my teacher Brother Aracena. So we
left the church and we just started walking. We took a Jeepney (If you
don't know what this is, look it up. It is the pinnacle of all
Filipino transportation.) about a kilometer or two down the road to
where we were supposed to teach. We got off and just started walking.
We entered into this neighborhood, if you can even call it that. This
place is poor. The houses left and right were nothing more than cement
walls and sheet metal roofs. Anyway, as we're walking through these
neighborhoods kids left and right are giving us all high fives. And at
that point, Brother Aracena commented, "You know? Did you ever think
about this? In the scriptures, children just flock to Jesus Christ. As
we walk through these streets, kids do the exact same thing." When he
said that, everything in my world just stopped for a moment. My heart
skipped a beat and I realized that he was right. And that made me more
excited than ever to just bring joy to people's lives. So we went to
an investigator's home and taught her a quick lesson. During the
lesson, it started to rain. It was so hard that we couldn't really
hear each other speak because the sound of the water dropping on the
roofs resonated not only in my eardrums, but in my thoughts as well.
So the lesson ended and guess what. We forgot umbrellas. So we wrapped
all our valuables in plastic bags and briskly walked to the nearest
T\tricycle (Look this up too. Tricycles are amazing) station which was
about a half a kilometere away. We were drenched. The rain fell so
hard. We walked and laughed and enjoyed every second of it. We finally
reached the tricycle station and fit three grown men (two and a half
if you don't consider me a full-grown man. I don't even consider
myself a grown man. I'm like the size of a twelve year-old.) We
finally got back to the church and went on our way back to the MTC.

What I learned while proselyting is this- In everything that you do,
in every circumstance that you experience, there is always joy to be
found. No matter what you do there's always something to smile about.
That's why I love being here. No matter how challenging it is, there's
always something to laugh about, something to smile about. These
people here in the Philippines, despite their lack of a majority of
the things we take for granted in America, can cump for joy when
there's rain. Little kids can find happiness in two young men wearing
white shirts and ties sharing a simple message. The work and service
that I'm about to embark on is amazing. Challenging? Yes. Fulfilling?
More so. Life-changing? Absolutely.

Anyway, I'm sorry if this email doesn't really have a specific topic.
Wishing you all the best and thank you so much for your emails! It's
so great to hear from you personally. And Happy Fathers Day to all the
dads out there, especially mine! I love you Dad and know that your
example has taught me so much here in the Philippines. You inspire me
every day. Wishing you all the best and please if anyone sees my Dad
in person, please hug him for me! (And perhaps a friendly punch or two
in the shoulder.)

-Elder Bondoc

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Week 3: Still Chugging Along


Sobrang pagod ako (I'm very tired), but that's okay! Everything goes well here at the MTC! The third week here has flown by! I can't believe it! It feels like it's been only a day. It's amazing how time flies here. Three more weeks at the MTC before I'm off to Naga. I just want to go. I just want to serve. With time, it'll come I guess. We haven't really done anything different, but the challenges with the language keep coming. It's like I memorize thirty words or so but then I find that I've forgotten them seconds later. I wish I could just SPEAK IT NOW. GAAAAH. 

Let's see, let's see..... OH! I'm a zone leader now! I'm essentially responsible for 26 Language Training Missionaries. Let me tell you, it is a VERY daunting task. I am the youngest one here. All the other missionaries are about 21 or older. I care about them a lot and want them to reach their potential for becoming the best missionaries! 

I wish I could type more and elaborate about some amazing adventures, but it's just the same thing here, which I do love. It helps me focus. I have been having some struggles, this week. But that's okay. It has taught me so much about the importance of patience. Patience is so key in anything that we do here and anything that you do wherever you are. I've learned that I have complete control over how I respond to certain events. I shouldn't be frustrated. I have absolutely no reason to be. It's not even about me in the first place. It's about those who I am soon to serve. When I have that perspective, EVERYTHING gets easier. I love learning here. It's helping me grow and become a better servant of the Lord. I wish you all the best! Three more weeks and these emails are going to get a lot more interesting, I promise. Anyway... Ingat ingat! (Take care!) 

-Elder Bondoc

PS: Mom, Dad, and Family. Please don't hate me because I'm not writing in Tagalog. Next week I'll use more Tagalog. I promise!

PSS: I apologize for the lack of pictures. I'll take some soon. So for now, enjoy this most recent picture of me as I write this email. Paalam! (Bye!)

Thursday, May 28, 2015

One More Picture

I'm Alive!

Family. Friends. Before I begin writing, I apologize in advance for
lack of formatting in this blogbost. The MTC Browser that we use for
email doesn't allow us to write in paragraphs. Now let me tell you
about my first week as a missionary. We flew for about 20 hours
straight before arriving to the Philippines. Let me tell you it was an
absolutely awful flight. It just felt like I was in the air FOREVER.
We then arrived to the Manila in the dead of night. A driver by the
name of Clem met me and another sister missionary. We walked outside
and were hit by a HUGE blast of humidity. I would say that the air
here is 90% water and 10% air. It was so humid that night that right
as I walked out the door that my glasses fogged up. So, after many
hours of flying we drove to a hotel. I tried sleeping that night, but
ultimately failed in doing so because... well because how could I? So
the following morning we woke up and drove to the Missionary Training
Center and started the missionary training process. We start our days
at 6 in the morning and end at 10 at night without any breaks. It may
seem exhausting, but really it's amazing. We get to completely devote
ourselves to learning the Tagalog language and serving others. I
really do love it. My companion's name is Elder Tonga. He is from
Tonga. He doesn't speak English very well and is quite a quiet person.
At times it is hard for me to even hear him. However, whenever he does
get something across that I can understand, it is so powerful and
thoughtful. His example has taught me the value of meekness and
humility. The food here at the MTC is...well.. I can't say that it's
the best, I can't say it's the worst and I DEFINITELY can't say it's
the healthiest. I do miss my parents' cooking. However, it IS food and
it's not like I hate it. So that's okay. Tagalog is coming along
nicely. I'm so thankful that I have SOME background in it. It has
really helped me progress in learning the language in just this first
week. It really is hard here. I don't really fit into a specific
group. I don't quite fit in with the Filipinos because I don't speak
Tagalog and I don't really fit in with the foreigners because I don't
really look like them. There's this huge expectation put on me. I feel
like I should fit in somewhere. But I never let that dishearten me. I
shouldn't. I want to be here and I love it. I absolutely love every
second of learning, growing, and serving. There's no point in me being
discouraged because I know things work out. I just know it. All the
progress and success that I may have must through diligence and
obedience. I miss all of you; hearing your voices and just being able
to communicate with you on a daily basis. You are all in my prayers
every day, even if those prayers are in broken Tagalog. I can't wait
to do more work and serve the people of Naga in June. I can't believe
a week has already past. I just FLEW by. My advice for the week: Never
get discouraged. It's hard to overcome that, but I promise that when
you do, you will be able to soar to unimaginable heights. Best wishes
and I'll talk to all of you soon! -Elder Bondoc (Attached is the only
picture that I can attach. Hopefully I can upload more soon.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

My Farewell (Also My First Post)

I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go.
Brothers and Sisters. Hello. My name is Ben Bondoc (soon to be Elder Bondoc) and, as you've probably heard, I have been called to serve a two-year mission in the Naga Philippines Mission. Before I begin, I would just like to thank my family members, mentors, and friends for coming to listen to me speak. It is an absolute blessing to have you here today. Each one of you has impacted my life, so much that I will take the lessons that I have learned from all of you and apply them not only on my mission, but for the rest of my life.
So I stand before you today as nothing but an eighteen year old who doesn't know what to do with his life. I'm not certain of what I want to do when I grow up(I feel like I'm allowed to say that), I don't know how taxes work, and I still call my dad whenever I need advice, even if it is girl advice, and even if my dad isn't the best at giving girl advice.  I hope you aren't expecting anything grand or wise from me because that's not what you are going to get. I'm neither eloquent nor deeply profound. Today, I want to share with you simply WHY I want to go on a mission.
It's weird. Growing up in the church you always think "A mission. Yeah. That's what I'm going to do." But you really don't think about why you want to serve a mission. And that was me. In the back of my head, I knew I was going to serve a mission, but I hadn't really set my heart on it yet or known why I wanted to serve in the first place.  It honestly wasn't until the first couple of weeks of college that I really put my soul into wanting to serve a mission. A lot of you might look at me and think "Gee. This kid is forgoing two years of his life. For what?" Well let me tell you. The answer is quite simple, really. Love. That's it. I want to follow Jesus Christ's example of pure and unweaning love. In John 13:34, Christ clearly emphasizes that loving others is a commandment. "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you." That idea to me is so appealing to me. I don't know what it is but going out and not thinking about me for once is amazing. I have the privilege to do good for others and completely forget about myself.
            Having finished my first year of college, I have learned so much. Every day of my two semesters spent at school I always pushed myself, but for my own personal gain. I would wake up, eat breakfast, go to class, eat lunch, study, go to dinner, sleep and then repeat the process all over again with minor adjustments that may have included spending time with friends and a little bit of slacking off. But ultimately, I felt like I was being a tiny bit selfish. Don't get me wrong, college is amazing and I can't wait to go back to finish. But as I have gotten older, I have realized that we sometimes forgotten to put others before ourselves. But I don't blame us. That's our nature. We want to succeed. But in as we strive to obtain that success, we put others by the wayside.  But that's not me. I want to serve.
            Service is something I've learned from my parents and that the gospel focuses on greatly. Story time. When I was in third or fourth grade I was waiting at an after-school program for my dad to pick me up. It was six o'clock, an hour and a half later than the usual four thirty when I was supposed to be picked up. My dad rushed in, signed me out and we left. As inquisitive as I was I asked my dad, "Dad, why were you late?" Here's what had happened. He was leaving work but encountered a homeless man. The homeless man asked my dad for money. My dad could have easily given the man spare change and left him on his way. But he didn't do that. He did more. He gave the man five dollars and a word of advice. He advised the man to take a bus to Catholic Charities and utilize their employment services. The man left, and that was it. My dad didn't expect anything more than for the man to waste that money away on something menial. Push forward six months. My dad was working as usual. It was a day just as any other.  A well-dressed man walked into the store asking for a "Ben." The man introduced himself as Derek.  My dad entered and talked to him. "I don't know if you remember who I am," Derek said, "but six months ago you gave me 5 dollars and said that I should go to Catholic Charities. That's exactly what I did. Now I have a job and an apartment. I just want thank you".  The man then reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a five dollar bill. My dad just gave the man a big hug.  Brothers and sisters, you don't know the kind of impact your kindness has on others. One simple act of service could change lives. My dad dedicates his life to doing just that. I get the honor of doing this for two years. I get to focus on helping others find real happiness in their lives.
            There's a documentary on BYUtv called Two Brothers. It follows the lives of two brothers as they go through adolescence, college and eventually as they both serve missions. I watched an episode of the series that focused on Luke, one of the two brothers. He was called to serve a mission in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Throughout his mission, he kept a video journal. I witnessed some of the struggles of a missionary. Man, I watched this guy hurt. He struggled learning the language, adjusting to the new foods, and just adapting to the culture. He looks at the camera, teary eyed. As I watched, I could tell that he was troubled. Weeping, he says, "I honestly just want to serve."  Despite all the trials this nineteen year-old faced, he wanted to serve.  He wanted to be the best missionary he could be for the people of Cambodia. That is the kind of mission that I want to serve.  
It's going to stink sometimes. Oh man I'm going to have the rainiest of days, in both the literal and metaphorical sense.  It would be a lie to tell you that it's going to be amazing 24/7 and that I'm going to learn some profound lesson every day. To be honest, I'm anxious because I don't know what to expect at all.  But I know that as long as my heart is set on helping the lives of others and bringing them closer to Heavenly Father by any means, it will all be worth it.  
            So I want to love others. That's it. I want to wake up every day as a representative of Jesus Christ and make someone happy. I want to share the gospel and the message of happiness it has to bring, that it has brought true happiness into my life and that it can bring others that same exact feeling. I want to be an instrument in God's hands to bring joy and comfort into others' lives. As long as I get the opportunity to serve. As long as I can say that I have done my best to love others, I will be able to say that I have fulfilled my calling as a missionary. I wish you all the best and once again express my sincere gratitude for each and every one of you. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.