Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Language is Coming - The Spirit is Here

    I have to say that as I read this latest letter from Jordan, I got more than a little choked up.  We love our son soooo much, and it is beyond amazing to read of his mission experiences, to see the understanding he has of the spirit, and to feel of his testimony.  I had Brad type up my journal from 1978-85 back in 2003.  That was quite the chore.  But, Brad learned all about my life.  I recall taking Brad with me to have dinner at Applebee’s with a missionary with whom I served in the mission office in Tallahassee, Tim Perez.  When Brad was introduced to him (then Bishop Perez), he immediately recalled some things about Tim (then Elder Perez) from my journal.  I had Jordan type all my letters to the mission president (not nearly as big a job as the one Brad had, but then again, Brad made more money for his work).  It is rewarding to see that Jordan not only earned money from his given task, but that he got something else from it that is helping him now.  (I started Jordan typing my mission letters home, but he did not get very far.  David says he’s ready to take on that job.  Right, David?)  Jordan’s cousin Tyler Jenkins entered the MTC on Wednesday, headed for the New Hampshire Manchester Mission.  (Jordan references Tyler below.)  We are grateful today for eternal families, for the knowledge we have of the Lord’s Plan of Salvation and Happiness, and to feel the warmth of our Savior’s love as we all strive to acquire His attributes.  There is joy in life’s journey, regardless of where it takes us, when the Savior is our guide.  I’ll stop now!  Have a great weekend!

Jordan (back row far left) with his MTC District in front of the Provo Temple

    Wow.  I can't believe how fast this week went by.  I feel like I wrote an email like two days ago.  I guess that means we are working so hard that we can’t keep track of hours and days - and that is a great thing.  Well, I’ve been on my mission for one month today!  Pretty fast.  Only one more month until I leave for the Philippines.  I’m sure that time will go by faster than I want, as there is so much to learn.  But, at the same time, I really want to get the Philippines and would probably leave tomorrow if I could.  Alas, the language is preventing that.  (The spirit is willing but the language is weak.)  So, I only have one more month to get ready and prepare as much as I can.

    This week was pretty good.  We had a member of the Seventy come to the Devotional on Tuesday, but I forgot his name.  I know that probably sounds bad.  Sorry.  I was going to bring my journal with me while I wrote this, but I forgot.  So, I'm going to try as best as I can to write as much as I can remember in the limited time I have on the computer.  The Devotional was great!  He talked about how important our missions will be for our future families and for generations to come.  As he was talking, I thought about how Dad's mission and my brothers’ missions have impacted me.  They are pretty much the reason why I'm here.  My testimony has been strengthened because of their missions, their examples to me.  I thought about the good old days when I typed up Dad's letters that he wrote to his mission president when he was serving in the Florida Tallahassee Mission.  I learned a lot from reading of his experiences, because it's very similar to what I'm going through now.  I want to have the same impact on my children because of my mission.  I want my children to follow my example, and gain their own testimonies like I did, so they can serve missions with confidence and excitement.
From left: Elders Tavilala, Harrison, Brown, and Royal
    Gian, I read my teacher the note you sent for him, and he had a good laugh from it.  Brother Day had some pretty nice things to say about you.  A lot of the MTC teachers still talk about you when I see them.  All the teachers here are really awesome.  It’s getting a little colder here, but it’s not really bothering me, because the classrooms are super hot!

Elder Bear lives for Jordan's emails
    I had a really good day yesterday.  During our Language Instruction, I was able to understand some more of the Tagalog language, and managed to write my own sentences for our lesson later that night.  I don't know if I’ve ever mentioned TRC or not, but it's pretty much just teaching returned missionaries stuff that they already know.  It's more like home teaching.  They come to the MTC as volunteers and just meet with us, to converse in the Tagalog language.  By the way, for anyone fresh off their mission with some free time on their hands, I highly recommend doing a TRC.  They're just really awesome!  We get to talk about their missions, what they learned from their missions, and asked them what we could do to prepare for the Philippines.  So, last night during TRC, we taught two returned missionaries how they can receive revelation through prayer.  We taught them two lessons.  Both of them attend BYU.  I was able to remember everything that I was supposed to say in Tagalog.  The Spirit was so strong in the room, that I was able to add some more stuff that I didn't prepare for (the grammar was probably off, but that's not important right now).  I even choked up a bit while I was bearing my testimony in Tagalog.  The culture and language may be different, but the Church is true in any language.  Once I understood and accepted that, the Spirit just did the rest of the talking for me.  They were both really good lessons.  We taught them the importance of reading the Book of Mormon and praying in Tagalog everyday to keep the gift of tongues.  It's amazing what the gifts of the Spirit can do.  Those of you who are returned missionaries that have received the gift of tongues, don’t lose it.  Do everything you possibly can to always have it for the rest of your life.  You will be eternally blessed for it.  It was amazing when we told that to the missionaries.  I told them how blessed they really are for having the gift of tongues, because I don’t feel I have received it yet.  These returned missionaries said they gained a greater appreciation for the gift of tongues and how it can continue to bless them.  One of the comments that was given to us really touched us.  They said that our message was exactly what they needed, because they had been wondering for a couple of weeks whether to read the Book of Mormon in Tagalog or not.  We committed them to read and pray in Tagalog everyday.  It was a great experience.

Jordan's last pre-mission moment with nephew Beckham
    It's truly amazing what the Spirit can do.  The language is still hard to learn, but the Language of the Spirit is the most important things that we can gain as missionaries and members, because without the Spirit, we're commanded not to teach - because there can be no conversion without it.  We definitely had a mental breakdown with the language as a District on Tuesday or Wednesday, but all of us had awesome lessons yesterday.  It really boosted our confidence.  Going to the temple this morning really helped as well.

    Well Tyler entered the MTC on Wednesday, but I haven't seen him yet.  I'll continue to look for him.  Hopefully, I'll be able to see him before he leaves.  I hope that he's doing well and that he's enjoying his time here, because the MTC is awesome!   I sent the pictures yesterday, so hopefully they'll get there tomorrow maybe.  We're not allowed to email pictures, otherwise I'd do that.  Well, I hope that all is well with everyone.  Have a great week!  Doubt not.  Fear Not.  I love you all!

   Elder Jordan Royal

Jordan with what we think is his entire MTC District  (We have no idea what the guys in front are doing with their hands, except that maybe they have been playing paper football in their spare time and are practicing for a field goal attempt.)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Onward Mission Soldiers! Spiritual Boot Camp is Awesome.

    Week four, letter three . . . and all’s well.  Jordan has four more weeks in the Mission Training Center in Provo, UT before departing for the Philippines.  He sounds great.  We drove by the MTC this weekend during a visit to Provo and waved to him . . . from across the street.  (Well, we actually waved to the buildings and hoped Jordan could feel the family wave.)  Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the Seventy toured the Nevada Las Vegas Mission this week.  Maralea and I had the pleasure of meeting Elder and Sister Jensen, and spending some time with them.  That was really a great experience.  During a fireside in the mission home Wednesday evening, Elder Jensen asked us to relate a personal accomplishment that we have had in life that does not relate to our family (as we would all point to having and raising children).  I noted that I have maintained a journal since age 15 and kept journals for our four children, teaching them to do the same.  So, you can imagine how I felt when I read Jordan’s report of Elder Richard G. Scott’s remarks on that subject in his letter below.  (My favorite part: “Thanks Dad.”)  Last night, Maralea and I joined the entire Nevada Las Vegas Mission at the Temple View Chapel for a large gathering to be taught more by Elder Jensen.  It was a lot of fun being there with all those missionaries, Maralea and I both wearing our missionary name tags (Sister Royal, Elder Royal).  It is a remarkable feeling to be counted among “the Lord’s missionaries to bring the world His truth.”  (Quoting Army of Helaman.)  Elder Jensen taught us about the power of testifying as witnesses of Jesus Christ.  He recounted an experience from his mission in Germany when, as a very young missionary, he was called upon to address a Lutheran congregation when he knew little about the language or the gospel.  To that point in his life, Elder Jensen said he had never before shared his testimony because, in his words, “I felt I did not know.”  But, in the process of his testimony bearing, when he said the words: “I know” in German, he received a personal witness that forever changed his life.  Elder Jensen said: “I don’t know if anyone else in the congregation felt what I felt, but at that moment I knew the truth of what I had been taught, and of what we were teaching.”  So, it is a wonderful thing to testify of Christ, to see Him in all things.  Sorry, I got carried away.  Jordan’s letter is below.  Take it away . . . ELDER ROYAL!
Maralea and Sister Anderegg in the mission home kitchen for our Wednesday evening fireside with Elder Jensen

President and Sister Neider (left), Elder and Sister Jensen (right)

    Kumusta everyone!  Well, this week went by super fast!  I really can't believe how fast it went by!  For Tuesday's MTC Devotional, Elder Richard G. Scott spoke to us.  It was awesome!   It was my first experience hearing an apostle speak since I've been here.  He talked about the importance of keeping a journal and writing down our spiritual experiences and impressions that come to us.  I’m so glad that I've been doing that for years now.  Thanks Dad :).  He also talked about when we get off our missions to immediately search for our eternal companions and marry in the temple.  It did seem like kind of a weird topic to be talking about to new missionaries, but it's true.  He warned that some returned missionaries get lazy and don't get started with their lives and just sit around.  Oh, I saw Elder Ryan Moreno (from Vegas) and two other guys that I met at BYU this summer that just came into the MTC.  Elder Brandt Gessle and Elder Brenden Warner (I have no idea if their last names are spelled correctly.)  Anyway, things here at the MTC have been picking up.  I've been studying like crazy to memorize the First Vision in Tagalog (JSH 1:16-17).  You think memorizing that in English is hard?  Try doing that in a completely different language.  I've really been doing well with it, though.  I've almost got both verses memorized, so we'll see how that goes.  We're supposed to memorize it by Monday.  Oh boy. 

    So, I can’t think of much else that has happened here right now.  I love my district and get along well with everyone.  We've got some pretty awesome teachers, too (Sister Ball and Brother Day).  So, I hear that BYU football is doing a lot better now with Riley Nelson under center.  Good for him.  Hopefully they'll continue their little win streak they've got going on.  Sounds like the Oregon State game was a lot of fun.  I'm super jealous of David and Landon getting to go on the field with those All Access Passes and you guys being on TV.  (Ha.)
Here's what Jordan was talking about - David and Landon with All Access Passes at the BYU/OSU game (the Oregon State Trooper totally has their backs)

Remnants of Royals and Ainges at the BYU/OSU game (miss you Jordan!)

And, of course, we had to include proof of our two seconds of TV fame with :40 left in the BYU/OSU game!
The MTC is a really cool place, though.  This is where I want to be.  I've been writing letters like crazy today, so hopefully everyone gets their letters.  I wrote a letter to you guys and enclosed all the pictures I've taken, but I need a bigger envelope to send them in.  Hopefully I'll get those sent to you as well - soon.  Oh, and I got the package of cookies Mom sent me.  They were pretty good.  Thanks!  We got a new District in our Zone, because the older District left on Monday and Tuesday.  It was sad to see them go, including Elder Calinog.  He's a great missionary with an awesome conversion story.  I wish him the best.

    The language is getting a little better.  We've had to teach at least one lesson a day this week.  We went to TRC yesterday, which is like a place where you teach members and return missionaries.  We don't teach them anything new, we just try to help them come unto Christ.  They're actually really fun, because we get to talk and find out about the people.  They're mostly guys who just returned from the Philippines a couple of months ago who attend BYU.  I'm getting more comfortable in the language in our lessons, which helps me feel the Spirit a lot more.

    Well that's about all I can think of right now.  I hope everyone is doing well.  Mahal Kita!  Pagmamahal (I used that correctly, right Brad?  haha)

    Elder Jordan Royal

Friday, October 14, 2011

Gaining Momentum . . . and Weight

    Well this week has just been full of ups and downs, but more ups than downs.  I was really discouraged with the language earlier in the week.  (It is definitely a struggle.)  We had one activity in class where we would watch these videos by investigators about their lives, and then we would do some role playing and talk share with them a message that seemed important to share with them based on what they said and concerns expressed.  It was going great when we were doing it in English.  Then our teacher instructed us to do it in Tagalog.  I didn't know how to say anything.  I just sat there, frozen, trying to figure out what to say.  It was really embarrassing.  Then, to add salt into the wound, we had to teach our progressive investigator five minutes later.  So I was already down about not being able to say anything, and then we had to go teach someone again.  Elder Brown and I didn't really prepare much for getting into the door.  That was a mistake.  So, as a result, we could not even get in to teach because our door approach was so poor.  (No one else got in, either.)  And, once again, I couldn't think of anything to say.  Unfortunately, by that time our teacher's shift was over and he had to leave quickly.  So that made me feel even worse.  I was putting way too much pressure on myself.  I just kept thinking how I could ever invite others to come unto Christ if I can't even keep up a full conversation at the door?  I felt really down last night, and I prayed really long and hard for comfort.  I was starting to doubt why I was even trying to teach in Tagalog when I was so bad at it.  The adversary was definitely winning the battle.  When I was done praying, I walked out of the room for a bit, and then I heard Elder Brown come in.  He talked to me and assured me that it will all come in time.  It was a touching experience, because I realized when I went to bed that Elder Brown was a direct answer to my prayer.  I was in need of comfort and I know the Spirit told him to go comfort me.  What an awesome companion!  We're getting along great and I love Elder Brown.  Even though I'm still struggling in the language, I know that Elder Brown and Heavenly Father will help me through it.  The language barrier is starting to crumble a little bit more each day, so now I'm finally understanding.  I still have trouble writing sentences and spelling in Tagalog, but I'm working on that.  Oh and we have to memorize Joseph Smith History 1:16-17 in Tagalog by Monday.  None of us that I know of is even close.  I've memorized maybe three lines.  Oh well.  I just got to keep my faith and courage.

    Don't worry about me not eating here.  We eat a lot of food.  Feels like too much sometimes.  I eat a lot of healthy stuff....most of the time.  I've gained seven pounds since I've been here.  Ano biyan!?  (Might not be spelled correctly).  I could never gain weight no matter how much I tried when I was home.  The MTC makes gaining weight seem so easy, because it is!  I've been working out everyday though, so hopefully SOME of that is muscle. haha.  I've been playing lots of volleyball and basketball since I've been here.  If I want a really good work out, I go play basketball.  Volleyball is pretty fun, though.  I play with all of the Samoans, and I'm usually the only white kid there that can actually play and is better than all of the Samoans except for one.  One of the Samoans is a left handed hitter who started a volleyball club or something in Samoa.  He and Elder Tauilili are on the professional rugby team for Samoa, which is pretty intense because everyone in Samoa plays rugby, so I imagine it would be hard to get on the team.  I feel like I'm jumping a lot higher than I used to - by maybe an inch higher.  But hey, I'll take it.

Elder Bear, Jordan's temporary replacement, here enjoys a meal with us at Olive Garden, eating/gaining weight like Jordan
    What else has happened this week?  Not much.  We do the same thing pretty much everyday.  Oh, I did get Mom's packages in the mail a couple of days ago.  I absolutely loved it!  Thank you!!  I love you, Mom!  :)  The photo album is great.  I love having pictures of family and friends, especially pictures of baby Beckham.  :)  haha.  I love getting mail from home!  I would like to have some more letters from my friends, though (BYU friends, Las Vegas friends, basically anyone who wants to write me letters).  Sometimes we have Sir Elder Biggs read our letters out loud in his British accent.  It is especially entertaining when Elders Merrill and Kemmy get letters from their girlfriends.  Every night we gather in someone's room for "Story Time With Sir Elder Biggs."  It just makes the letters so much more enjoyable. 

    By the way Dad, I talked to some of the Elders in my District, and they would love to hear from you!  Well, I have to wrap this up before the computer shuts down on me.  Mahal Kita everyone!  I'm praying for you all!  And again I say....please write me! :)

    Elder Jordan Royal

Friday, October 7, 2011

My First Letter from the MTC and I'm Doing GREAT!

    Hey I'm so sorry you haven't heard from me in awhile.  Our P-Days are on Fridays, and we didn't get P-Day last week.  The MTC is great!  I absolutely love it!  The first week of the MTC went by incredibly slow.  I feel like I've been here for over two months.  Elder Brown is my companion.  He is from American Samoa.  We have two Samoan elders in our district, and it seems like that all of the Samoans go to the Philippines for their missions.  We have at least 10 of them going there.  Elder Brown is really cool.  He was really quiet with me for the first two days, but we're really close friends now.  He and Elder Tauilili are both in our district.  Four out of the 10 missionaries in our district are foreigners.  Elder Biggs, our District Leader, is from England, and he's the coolest guy from England I've ever met.  He doesn't mind that the sisters in our District (Sisters Sharpe and Ycmat are both from Utah) asked him to say certain words in his accent (like "particularly," Harry Potter spells, or Chronicles of Narnia battle cries).  He thinks that it's funny when I try to talk like a British man.  He says I sound nothing like one, even though I think it sounds pretty good.  Oh well, I guess he would know his accents better than I would.  Elder Palmer is from Canada, and he's a really cool guy, too.  He says certain words pretty weird, too.  Elder Kemmy is from Tennessee, Elder Merrill is from Utah, and Elder Harrison is from Ohio.  I feel like I've known these Elders and Sisters my whole life.  We get along so well, and we just love it.

    As for the language....it's coming, I guess.  We all still have some work to do.  It's stressing us all out.  We had to teach an investigator in Tagalog on Friday, on just our third day of the MTC.  That was really embarrassing!  I've been studying this language like crazy, and I hope it all pays off soon.  The investigators here aren't real, of course, and I can see why.  I don't think the MTC would send in real investigators to missionaries who have only been studying their language for two days.  (Ha.)  I have learned so much in just a week, though.  I know how to get to know someone, pray, bear my testimony, and teach a little bit in Tagalog.  The older Districts that have been here longer than us seem so much older and wiser, just because of how much of the language they know.  I'll be like that in about a month or so (hopefully).  I can’t wait for that day.  We taught the "investigator" four times this week, and each time I was able to understand more.  The first two lessons were mainly focused on how to say certain words without worrying about the investigator's needs.  As soon as we focused more on what would help the investigator more about the gospel, the language became a little easier, and I was able to understand more of their responses.  I felt really overwhelmed with the language yesterday.  I couldn't understand anything that was going on.  I started to feel really discouraged and depressed.  I prayed for comfort, because I really needed to focus more on the positive things.  We went to the temple today, and that blessing of comfort finally came to me.  I recognized that I need to be more patient and just wait for the Lord to bless me with the Gift of Tongues on His own due time.  It was an awesome experience, and I feel a lot more confident.

We think this fairly represents the look on Jordan's face when asked to teach a lesson in Tagalog two days into the MTC
Mommy's nine day wait for a letter was too long . . . .
     I've seen Elder Michael Escobedo (butchered that spelling probably) a lot lately.  He's not in my Zone, but he usually has the same gym time that I do, and we went into the same session at the temple today.  I've seen other Elders from Summer Term at BYU.  I saw Kevin Turek at the MTC bookstore yesterday, which was really random.  It was really cool to talk to him for a few seconds about David and the volleyball team they have up there.  Sounds like you guys are so good that you make other teams forfeit (haha).

    Thank you for all of the Dearelders everyday.  All of the missionaries are pretty jealous that my dad is willing to send pages of letters daily (haha).  Alam ko po na totoo ang Aklat ni Mormon.  Alam ko po na mahalaga ang pangalan.  Alam ko po na buhay si JesuCristo.  Mahal Kita pamiliya!

    Elder Jordan Royal