NOTE FROM BLOGMEISTER MIKE
We got to speak with Jordan yesterday for Christmas. That was really exciting. We had a nice visit. He is doing well. During the “set up call” on Friday, Brad got on the phone and began speaking Tagalog to Jordan, who just paused when Brad was done and said: “Sorry, I’m not getting any of that.” It was funny. I have no doubt that it is not easy conversing on the phone in a language you have only been working on for three months. They did have a few exchanges in Tagalog on Christmas Day, but Jordan did much better when we just asked him to speak to us in the language. He sounds great. The Royal Christmas Eve Jordan mentions in his letter relates to a big family dinner/variety show we have annually at Mom and Dad’s house with the extended family in Las Vegas. It is something the kids have really enjoyed every year. Jordan always performed something - usually on the guitar. So, he admits to having struggled a bit as he thought about what the family would be doing (by going backwards 15 or so hours from his time to compute PST). Anyway, we love our missionary - and send our best to all missionaries and families who got to speak to each other over the Christmas weekend. That is a great time for all. Hope all had a wonderful weekend, and that we continue to enjoy the time we have together through the duration of the holidays. I am enclosing a couple pictures from the wedding reception referenced by Jordan in his letter. (The Adonis family posted them on Facebook, which makes it easier to get photos when Jordan forgets his camera .) Mike (Elder Royal's Dad/Blog Master)
P.S. We use "Elder Bear" as our family replacement for Jordan. He helped us with the entertainment at the family Christmas Eve dinner, with puppets. So, without knowing it, Jordan really did help out with the family show. Below are a couple pictures from the family gathering, followed by Elder Royal's letter.
|Elder Bear was all smiles as the family Christmas Eve dinner|
|Our Grandson Beckham borrowed Elder Bear's sunglasses Christmas Eve|
ELDER ROYAL'S LETTER
Well, this will be arriving VERY late for you guys over there. I'm sorry that you'll be asleep for this, but hey - we got to talk on the phone so it’s all good (which was awesome by the way). :) I'm happy that I was able to talk to all of you (except Jason, missed you bud, but Kelli says you're doing great :) ). I'm sure there was some stuff that I forgot to mention that you might want to know. I'm sorry, but I don't even remember it (haha). Perhaps some of it will come to me in the process of typing up this email. We’ll see.
|Jordan with Elder and Sister Bowcutt from St. George at zone conference|
I had my first zone conference on Tuesday, which was fun. It was the annual Christmas Conference. It was really awesome. There were five other zones there with us. All of the zones prepared some sort of skit or something to present to everyone at the zone conference. Ours was really funny and we had a great time doing it. At the beginning of our skit, we were all serious and one of the Elders was acting as a "choir director" leading us in singing "Silent Night." We finish the first verse and then he tells us that was good. He tells us to keep practicing and leaves. Then one of the other Elders says: "Walang Syia! [He’s gone!] This is so boring! We're going to put the audience asleep with that! May idea ba kayo? [Anyone have any ideas?]" Then the other Elder goes: "Yeah I do, everyone bring it in." Then we break out in a kind of Glee version of "Don't Stop Believing" where everyone sang their own verse they came up with about the mission. It was really funny and it was fun to perform it. Everyone loved it. I was able to buy myself some much needed Christmas presents. There's a guy who sells all this cool stuff for the missionaries every zone conference. I bought two Carabau belts (spelled that wrong, I’m sure) and two sweat rags (handy). Carebau (I'm just trying different ways to spell it now, hoping I’ll get it right at least once) is the national animal here in the Philippines. They're these giant black water buffalos and the belts are made from their horns or bones. I got a black one (horns) and a white one (bone). I've wanted one of them since I saw all of the MTC teachers wearing them. They're pretty awesome, not gonna lie. I was going to share some pictures of them and other gifts I got here, but I forgot my camera. Oh well. Next time. We also had our branch Christmas party on Wednesday. It was nice to see our investigators and less active members there.
|Jordan and Elder Declaro at the wedding reception|
Okay, funny story time. We went to a wedding reception of the Branch President's son on Friday. It was at a pretty nice place in Cabanatuan City. The waitors brought by a plate of cashew nuts for us to eat while we waited for the married couple to arrive. I started eating them, and they were actually pretty good, so I ate more. I then realized that, like Macadamia nuts, I'm allergic to them. My tongue started to burn and then the pain went from there to my stomach. I began to feel pretty nauseous - so much so that I couldn't eat the delicious food there. I felt better later that night, but it was still a bummer. They had a photo booth thing there. Elder Declaro and I stood infront of the camera while it counted down and took a picture. Unfortunately, I didn't know that I was too tall for the camera the first time. So my eyes up are cut off, but you can see my smile (haha). I had to bend down for the rest of pictures. We got copies of them on Sunday, and Elder Declaro gave me the copy that has my face cut off (haha). I'll keep that for awhile.
We had Christmas Eve dinner at the Garcia's home (member), and the food was just awesome. I really missed the grand annual Christmas Eve dinner at Grandma and Grandpa Royal's house, but being at that house kind've reminded me of it. They had a guitar there, and I was able to play for the first time since as a missionary. It felt weird to play again, and it also hurt, since I seem to have lost the callouses built up on my fingers (haha). We went to the Adonis's house later that night, but I couldn't eat anything. I was WAY too full to eat. Christmas was probably the hardest day of my mission so far. All throughout the day I kept thinking of what our family was doing right then. I would think things like: "They're probably eating Christmas Eve dinner right now,” or “They're probably having the talent show,” or “They're probably opening presents right now." I tried to dismiss all that stuff, because it made me really sad. It is kind of rough being away from the family at Christmas. I'm in a country on the other side of the world where I can barely speak or understand the language and my family is not with me, nor am I with them. I mean, I knew it was going to be a challenging day, but did not think it would be as tough as it was. However, we then went to a member of the Branch Presidency's house to chat and I began playing guitar again. As I played, all the sad feelings just floated away and I felt the kind of joy I should have been feeling all along. It was pretty fun being able to play guitar two days in a row. I have definitely missed that. The rest of the day was good. We went to the Adonis's house again for another attempt at dinner. We hadn't eaten since lunch, so we were able to eat a lot more this time. Brother Adonis is a great cook. He works as a chef for a cruise line, so eating at their house is always a treat.
|Jordan and Elder Declaro at the wedding reception|
As far as our investigators go, they're progressing. One of our most solid investigators, Erick Tan, is doing great and is very receptive. His only problem is the Word of Wisdom, but he's trying really hard to stop smoking and drinking. Eugine Loreno (18) is doing good as well and we'll hopefully have a baptismal goal date for him soon. Erick Padre has a baptismal goal date for the 7th of January, so we're pretty excited about that.
I think that's it as far as I know. My friends Michael Neff and Tanner Johns should be entering the MTC very soon. Michael and Tanner: You'll have a kind of love/hate relationship with the MTC - mostly love. It is the most spiritual place I have ever been. I loved all of it, except for the anxiousness of having to wait eight weeks before leaving for my assigned mission in the Philippines. So, you’ll love being there, love what you are learning, how you are feeling, but will also struggle with wanting to leave badly so you can be a missionary. My advice is to learn and do all you can. Just keep on trucking. To those of you preparing to leave for missions soon, prepare now. Do not wait until you get into the MTC to prepare. You'll be much better off and far more prepared than those who unwisely choose to delay their preparation. I never regretted one day of pre-MTC mission preparation. Everything I ever learned I have used in some way or another. Those of you in seminary, it's probably the greatest pre-mission training you'll get. It has truly been a blessing to me in my mission. I have a scripture mastery card that I keep with me to share some spiritual thoughts or look up scriptures that our investigators need at that time. It's early in my mission, and I have already reaped the blessings of seminary in many ways. Just stay with it and learn all you can. Don't take seminary for granted! To my family, it was great talking with you all. You all sound so wonderful and I am very happy to be serving as a missionary in the Philippines at this time of my life. Brad, I will be able to talk with you better in Tagalog when the Mother’s Day call comes around, so make sure you are available for that. Things are great. I know I said I was a bit down on Christmas Day, but that was expected. Not a big deal. We are doing great. I love doing the Lord’s work, being on His errand.
Well, I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas and will have a Happy New Year’s Eve next week. (I’m pretty sure we are going to have to get into our apartment early and stay put to steer clear of all the celebrating here, which includes all kinds of crazy things involving explosives.)
Mahal Ko Kayo.
Elder Jordan "Cashew Nuts Seriously Hate Me" Royal