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!)