Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Let the Mission Begin!

    I was set apart as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on Monday evening at my home by President Davie.  The evening was everything I had ever hoped for, and more.  Most importantly, I shall be known as Elder Jordan Royal for the next two years.  It is a very exciting time in my life right now.  Since I was very young I looked forward to the day when I would be wearing the very special name tag that reads: “Elder Royal” of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am very excited to be assigned to the Philippines Angeles Mission where Brad served, and where Mom and Dad visited at the conclusion of his mission.  I look forward to meeting people who knew Brad as Elder Royal and to serve them in that same capacity, as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I cannot begin to express how exciting that is for me!
The men setting me apart (from left, back row: Tyler Barlow, Bishop Mills, Bishop Olds, Dad, Steve Little, Pres. Davie, Uncle Greg.  Front from left: Jeff Flagg, Grandpa Royal, me and Anders Sorensen)

Here with Pres. Davie - our great stake president (and former home teacher)

Here with Bishop Olds and Tyler Barlow, two very important YM leaders in my life

With Grandma and Grandpa Royal - both in matching Royal blue (gotta love that)
In the "hot seat" ;)  before the setting apart, talking with Bro. Flagg

     I was in Provo with Mom and Dad over the weekend for my last BYU football game with the family until the 2013 season.  (We love BYU football!)  It was a Friday night game against UCF.  We were hoping BYU would help us put the memory of the bad loss to Utah from the week before behind us.  They did.  I sat with the family for the first half, then joined my BYU friends from summer term for the second half.  I found the family after the game so we could get some post game photos of the family all donned in our BYU blue.  (By the way, I learned on our flight to Provo Tuesday night that Dad has nearly 2,000 photos on his phone.  We looked through them on the flight from Las Vegas to Salt Lake City - and did not even get to 700 before landing.)

Royals in BYU blue, 09/23/11
The Royal Fab Four!

One last BYU blue hug with Mom (for now)

     Mom and Dad started some cool family traditions when Brad entered the mission field in September 2003, one of which was having a special dinner at Brick Oven in Provo (where Mom and Dad say they fell in love - while eating pizza).  They planned a luncheon for family and friends Saturday afternoon.  We were joined by: McKenna Ballard (friend, Salem, OR), Brody Barker (friend, Vegas), Kelsey Blickenstaff (friend, Vegas), Cody Bringham (cousin), Kimmy Foote (cousin), Jason Foote (cousin), Jenna Griffin (friend, Austin, TX), Seth Hartman (friend, Charlottesville, VA), Tanner Johns (friend, Seattle, WA), Alex Kimball (friend, Atlanta, GA), Bryce Krieger (friend, Camas, WA), Michael Neff (friend, Camas, WA), Steven Olson (cousin), and Chelsea Spencer (friend, Atlanta, GA), along with Mom, Dad, and Kelli (sister).  It was a blast!  Dad had the group sing: “Happy Mission” to the tune of “Happy Birthday” as Mom brought out a cake with the words: “Serve Well Elder Royal.”  We had some fun conversation and took lots of pictures.  Several of my friends have mission calls as well and will be following me into the MTC.  I love my family.  I love my friends.  I love my Savior, who is both family and friend.  There is so much comfort found within the arms of those who love and care for us.
The Brick Oven extravaganza was just plain awesome.  (Front row, from left: Dad, Chelsea Spencer, McKenna Ballard, Jenna Griffin, Alex Kimball, Kelsey Blickenstaff, Cody Bringham (behind the left hand), Kimberly Foote.  Back row, from left: Bryce Krieger, Michael Neff, Brody Barker, me, Seth Hartman, Steven Olson, Mom, Kelli and Jason Foote)

Some of my best BYU buddies

Loved the cake, Mom!

With some of my awesome cousins (from left: me, Steven, Cody (with no hand covering the face), Jason & Kimberly

It was a great time!
    On Sunday, our family gathered in Brad and Whitney’s ward for the blessing of my one and only nephew, Beckham.  It was a very special moment for our family, and I was blessed to be among the priesthood holders standing in the circle, along with Dad, my brothers Brad and David, cousin Cody, friends Brian Bollard and Gian Molina, and Brad’s father-in-law, Robert Horito, and his brother, Mike Horito.  That was my first experience with a baby blessing, and I am glad it was for Beckham.  He is a very cute baby.  We gathered at Brad and Whitney’s home for lunch and took more pictures (of course), including one last picture of the entire family before I entered the MTC.  Another tradition our family started years ago was to stand in the exact pose for at least one picture so we can easily compare how we have all grown.  (This was most important while we were all younger, so we could see who was catching up to Dad.  As of today (and I think we are all about done growing), I am the closest.)  We have continued that picture tradition as our family has expanded.  It is pretty cool.

Beckham in his blessing outfit

Cody in his blessing outfit

Here with Cody, Brad, Gian and David
    Another pre-mission tradition we started with Brad was to hold a special family devotional, complete with songs, family prayer, followed by expressions of love and testimony of Jesus Christ.  Mom and Dad wanted to make sure we all had ample opportunity to say everything to our departing brother, Brad, to hug him, cry at the anticipation of his two year absence, and wish him well before arriving at the MTC - so we would not have any regrets over things left unsaid or undone.  I have looked forward to such a family meeting held in my honor for years.  We did that on Sunday at Brad and Whitney’s house in the late afternoon, where each of us had an opportunity to speak.  We cried, hugged, and did all those things we have done before.  It felt so wonderful to be surrounded by such loving family.  I felt the spirit of the Lord so strongly during that meeting.  My excitement and confidence to serve the Lord increased.  Like everything else, it was all I hoped it would be, and more.  Mom and Dad wanted to get some pictures of me at the MTC before Wednesday, just in case they were unable to get any pictures at the “drop off.”  (Brad and David all entered the MTC when families were invited in and participated in a short devotional before missionaries and families were separated.  I attended those meetings and they were pretty cool.  But the MTC changed all that a couple years ago, and now just have families drop off their missionaries at curbside just within the gates of the MTC, with very limited time to take photos.  Like everything they do, Mom and Dad were prepared and took care of things well ahead of time.)
Brad entered the MTC eight years ago.  Now it's my turn.

I got lots of mommy hugs!

The MTC behind me will be my home for the next two months

By the way, Dad entered the MTC 32 years ago (1979)
     We returned home to Las Vegas early Monday morning so I could be set apart and Mom could help with the transfer conference as part of her responsibilities as mission secretary.  Something I should mention about the setting apart that occurred Monday evening that was very special.  There were some notable men of great influence in my life who participated with Pres. Davie, including: Dad, Tyler Barlow, Jeff Flagg, Steve Little, Bishop Mills, Bishop Olds, Greg Olson (uncle) Grandpa Royal, and Anders Sorensen.  Dad was recently called as a service missionary in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission and had just received his name tag that reads: “Elder Royal” on Monday (and Mom has one with “Sister Royal” for her mission calling).  One of the things mothers were allowed to do at the MTC when Brad and David entered was to place the name tag on their departing missionary sons and daughters.  That was a special moment.  We have pictures of Mom doing that for Brad and David.  Well, she got to do that for me, too.  Dad gave Mom his “Elder Royal” name tag and she placed it on me after I was set apart.  We even took pictures of the three of us, now all set apart as missionaries.  (How cool is that?)  I said my goodbyes to local family and friends on Monday and Tuesday before we returned to Provo, Utah, which included going to Silverado after school to see my volleyball coaches, Coach Drum and Coach Schwallie.  I spent Tuesday with Mom at the Nevada Las Vegas mission office for transfer conference.  Dad got off work early and joined us in the mid afternoon.  He brought his “Elder Royal” name tag and placed it in the front left pocket of my white shirt, saying: “You should wear this.  That’s who you are now.”  We rushed around getting some last minute things after leaving the mission office.

Mom here places the "Elder Royal" name tag on my jacket
. . . and seals it with a kiss

The Royal missionaries: "Go forth to serve well.  Return with honor."

Plates from 2004
    Oh, I nearly forgot another missionary tradition.  We had a Young Men’s Encampment in 2002 with a theme of “Lehi’s Camp,” where a very cool set of metal plates were placed within “Lehi’s Tent” and young men were given the opportunity to sign the plates as a covenant that they would serve a mission.  They were then asked to sign the plates at their mission departure and later upon their return, signifying a fulfillment of their covenant.  Dad had Brad and David (who both signed the plates in 2002), sign them at their departure and return - complete with photographs (naturally). 
Plates from 2009

I was given the opportunity to sign the plates in “Lehi’s Tent” at a Young Men’s Stake Encampment of 2004 and later at the Warm Springs Encampment of 2009.  Mom and Dad were a bit frantic that they had neglected to have me sign the plates and get pictures.  At first, they acted like it was no big deal.  But, Dad then started making phone calls and arranged for Pres. Burr to give us access to the plates so I could sign them and he could (yes, you guessed it) take pictures.  It was well worth the effort.

Signing the plates is a great tradition

Signing Lehi's Plates is an awesome experience
   Mom took me to In ‘N’ Out Burger for my final Las Vegas meal before our departure.  (I love that place!)  I stayed dressed in my suit for our flight to Provo from Las Vegas, and actually felt like a missionary.  It all kind of became very real to me at that point.  Kelli picked us up at the airport and we stayed at her home Tuesday night.  Our flight was late and we got to bed after midnight.  I was so tired.  On Wednesday, I got up by 6:30 a.m. and got busy with my scripture study.  (That is what I do now.  I’m a missionary!)  I got ready for the day. 
Waiting for the tram at McCarran Airport, LV
Headed for Gate C - McCarran Airport
SLC, here we come!

Little Royal is in there somewher
    Mom went to the doctor with Kelli for an ultrasound the morning of September 28th and we learned that she is going to be having a baby boy in February.  (Kelli and Jason have already picked out his name: Royal Chatterton Golightly.)  That was very exciting.  Everyone was happy with the news. While they were away, I made sure I had everything packed and ready.  I was feeling anxious to get to the MTC.  The waiting has been killing me.

   But, we had one more thing to do: a family luncheon at the Sky Room of the Wilkinson Center at BYU.  Everyone but Jason was able to make it.  That was great.  We laughed, enjoyed some good food, and I just kind of looked out the large windows that provided a great view of the area north of campus where the MTC is located.  I wanted to be there.  

The last Royal family pre-MTC meal

Headed downstairs after lunch (Cody seems very depressed, doesn't he?)

Can't pass up one more picture of the Royal Fab Four!  ;)

One more hug from Mom
   We finished lunch, took more pictures, and hugged everyone several times.  The only ones to actually take me to the MTC were Dad, Mom and Kelli.  We left just minutes after lunch.  Dad stopped the car at the curb, we got out, collected my bags, had more hugs and took more pictures.  My “MTC Host” was Elder King from Centerville, UT (who will be serving in Chile).  He took my bags and began escorting me to the MTC entrance.  I had said my goodbyes and planned on not looking back.  (Dad and I had talked earlier that morning and he told me how important it is to put my “hands to the plow and not look back.”)  However, I heard some commotion behind me, the sound of someone running.  It was my long time friend Elder Daniel Sorensen (called to serve in the Colombia Cali Mission), who had been
My first MTC host, Elder King
hoping to be my “MTC Host.”  He came up to me and said to Elder King, “I’ll take over from here.  This guy’s my friend.”  I gave Daniel a hug.  That was pretty exciting.  So, then I heard some more commotion.  It was Dad yelling at us, running towards us.  Dad said: “Wait!  Wait!  I have to get a picture of this!!”  He gave Elder Sorensen a big hug, thanked him for taking care of me, and took a picture of the two of us together.  I told Dad he ruined my “don’t look back” plan, but Dad said: “Well, you can still do that . . . starting right now.”)

One more Mom/Dad pic for the road

Walking away - here being the only missionary in a blue suit, above

My more permanent MTC Host: Elder Daniel Sorensen - which was a great surprise and pretty cool reunion

    So, that's it!  I am now a missionary.  I am now in the MTC, and my adventure has officially begun.  I am looking forward to writing all about it.  I love being known as “Elder Royal.”

My cousin Tyler Foote took this photo of me with the Sword of Truth firmly in hand.  It's in here because I just happen to think this is a very cool picture.  (Check Tyler out at http://www.templesbytyler.com/)

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