Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Safe and Sound in Angeles City, Philippines

We spoke with Jordan by phone during his layover at LAX Monday evening as he prepared for his long flight to the Philippines via Korea.  Jordan was upbeat, happy, excited, and quite talkative.  He knows there will be a brand new learning curve when it comes to picking up the language that will challenge him (they all go through it).  It was great to hear his voice and feel of his excitement to be serving as a missionary.

We received a call from Sister Deanie Martino, spouse of Pres. David Martino, Wednesday morning in which she announced Jordan's safe arrival.  She said all the missionaries arriving were both excited and tired.  They will be staying in the mission home for the night and then receiving assignments on Thursday.  Sister Martino was kind enough to send some pictures, which we LOVE and share below.  We are looking forward to Jordan's first letter from the mission field.  Until then, we will bask in the light of his smile from these wonderful pictures.

Jordan (far left) arrived with a headache and was given a Tylenol PM . . . so he looks pretty tired here.
The missionaries are all smiles as they prepare to EAT

This looks like a pretty good spread - missionaries always enjoy dinner
And . . . what would dinner be without dessert??!?
They all seem happier after dinner and dessert - go figure

Time to prepare for bed and get some MUCH needed sleep
Elder Biggs is all smiles as he prepares for "story time" before bed

Next up . . . Elder Royal's first assignment!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Goodbye MTC . . . Next Stop: Angeles City, Philippines

    We received Jordan’s last EVER letter as a missionary in the Provo MTC this morning.  He departs for the Philippines Monday evening.  (At least we think it’s Monday evening - based on a prior email.  He did not identify am/pm when he said what time he would be calling us from the airport on Monday.  Hopefully, it is in the evening.)  It is wonderful to feel Jordan’s enthusiasm and excitement.  His description of how he spent his first Thanksgiving Day away from home was pretty awesome and presents a great formula for us all: 1) Inspirational words of devotion; 2) service; 3) traditional meal; 4) more inspirational words of devotional.  Jordan has grown a great deal since entering the MTC.  We look forward to receiving his first email from the Philippines sometime next week (sooner the better).  We hope everyone is enjoying a wonderful Thanksgiving Weekend.  We are going to see the lights at Temple Square this evening.  Mike
(From Elder Royal)

Jordan and members of his MTC district at the Provo Temple
    Hey everyone!  Sorry that I'm writing my email so early.  We had Infield Orientation all day yesterday, so that's why I didn't have P-Day.  We have to do all of our laundry for the last time ever in the MTC early the morning (sniff).  My last week of the MTC was pretty sweet.  For Tuesday Devotional we had the privilege of hearing from Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Twelve Apostles.  I was in the MTC choir with Elders Brown, Tauiliili, and Merril.  We sang "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."  We got to sing my favorite hymn and listen to an Apostle of Jesus Christ at my last MTC devotional.  Pretty amazing.  Elder Chistofferson gave an awesome talk about how we should yield our hearts to God and doing His will before our own.  I just love when Apostles walk in, because all of the missionaries stand up in quiet reverence and the Spirit just surges into the room.  I love and admire how humble Apostles are.  They always talk about their weaknesses and tell us what they need to improve on.  His entire talk was about what he wished he did better on his mission and what he would do differently.  It was just a super powerful talk.  I loved it!

    Wednesday was pretty sad.  We had our last lesson with one of our teachers, Sister Ball.  We took pictures with both of our teachers after class.  I learned a lot from Sister Ball.  She has a really strong testimony and was definitely inspirational to me.  We still have one more lesson for Brother Day before we leave on Monday.  That will be pretty sad, too.  Brother Day has been a great teacher as well.  We've had great experiences with both of them that I hope I will never forget. 

    Thanksgiving Day was a lot better than I thought it was going to be.  We had a Thanksgiving Devotional in the morning where we heard from Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Twelve Apostles.  We lined up two hours early and were the first ones at the door.  We had great seats.  I was probably about twenty feet away from him.  The Spirit was definitely strong (of course).  Sister Ycmat from our district was chosen out of the whole MTC to be the first speaker in the Devotional.  She talked about the “tender mercies” of the Lord and the importance of making sure we thank God for the daily blessings that we receive.  Elder Nelson also talked about giving praise to God and providing service to people.  It was awesome being able to hear from two Apostles in one week!  After the devotional, we had our last Thanksgiving meal for the next 22 months.  It was a lot better than I expected.  We had all of Thanksgiving essentials: turkey, mashed potatoes, green beans, sweet potatoes, stuffing, rolls, and pumpkin pie.  It was pretty awesome.  Later that night, we did a service project in the lunch room.  They had to split the MTC in two sections, because they can't fit all of the missionaries in the same room doing the same thing.  We made a bunch of humanitarian first-aid kits.  (I think they're going to Somalia????  Maybe.  I forgot.  It was somewhere in Africa.)  Our zone was in charge of forming a giant assembly line and passing down all of the finished boxes to the other end.  They played like rocked out Primary songs over the speakers.  So that was my first experience with music with drums and guitar for a long time.  We were dancing and throwing the boxes to each other.  It was pretty awesome.  We then watched the movie, "17 Miracles."  It was the first time that I had seen that movie.  It was an amazing experience.  It follows the Willie Handcart Company from England to their trek across the plains in handcarts.  It was a pretty emotional movie.  I highly recommend it if you haven't seen it yet.  It was pretty much the greatest Thanksgiving that I've ever had away from my family (since this is the first one).  I heard an Apostle, ate a huge dinner, did service, and watched a great movie.

Jordan and his district at the Provo Temple, looking west toward the MTC (they're really in there somewhere)
    So tomorrow will be my last Sunday here in the MTC.  Oh yeah, Dad, you were wondering what we do on Sundays.  Well when we wake up, we go to our classroom for personal study, breakfast, personal study again, Priesthood meeting, District Meeting (Sunday School), lunch, Sacrament Meeting, Temple Walk, dinner, and fireside.  (They are still pretty busy.)  I'm really excited/nervous to leave for the Philippines in just two more days!  I will probably call home at about 9:00 from the LA Airport, so just a heads up.  I will send the rest of my pictures home today.  They're like a month old.  The camera Mom sent me works just fine, so thanks :). 

    Oh, and thank you Grandma Royal for the package! :)  I will be sure to use it in my apartment next week.  Well, I think that's about it.  I love all of you and pray for you always and appreciate your letters and love.  This is Elder Royal's last email until an unknown P-Day arrives in the Philippines.  Good luck.  I guess I can bare my testimony one last time in Tagalog for you all.  I'm sorry for any incorrect spelling.  I can't really spell in Tagalog yet.

   Nagpapasalamat po ako para sa aking pamilya.  Nagpapasalamat po ako para sa Ama sa Langit at Inyong Anak, na si Jesucirsto at para sa Pagbayad-Sala niya.  Nagpapasalamat po ako para sa Ebanghelyo ni Jesucristo.  Pinatotohannan ko na ang pag-ibig ng Ama sa Langit ay tunay.  Mahal ko Ang Aklat ni Mormon.  Sinasabi ko po ito, sa pangalan ni Jesucristo, Amen.

    [I'm grateful for my family. I'm grateful for my Heavenly Father and his Son, Jesus Christ and his atonement. I'm grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ. I testify that the love of Heavenly Father is real. I love the Book of Mormon and say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.]

    I know there's some possible errors with that.  You may not know it's wrong, but others who know the language (like Brad) certainly will.  (haha).  So, that's pretty much it.  The Church is true and is the greatest blessing that I have.

    Love, Elder Jordan Royal

Friday, November 18, 2011

10 More Days to the Philippines!

    Well, I am happy to announce that I only have 10 MORE DAYS LEFT IN THE MTC before departing with my district to the Philippines.  We received our travel plans yesterday, and I can't remember all the times of our departures, but I do know we leave Salt Lake City at about eight at night and land in LA at around 9:30 pm.  Then we fly all the way to South Korea, and then Manilla.  Wow.  What a crazy thought.  It has felt like I would be here forever, but time went by so much faster than I thought it would.  I'm just freaked out for when I land in the Philippines and I won't be able to communicate or understand anyone.  Great.  On the other hand, I'm super excited for it! 

    So, I guess I can tell you about my week.  Tyler left for the mission field on Monday.  I didn't see him, but I hope that he is doing well and that the Lord blesses him with success.  We had a devotional on Tuesday night by Elder Callister of the Seventy.  He spoke in General Conference last month about how the Bible and the Book of Mormon go hand in hand.  Anyway, he gave an awesome talk for our devotional.  He spoke on the Great Apostasy and how to teach it to our investigators, because if they don't believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ needed to be restored, then the First Vision of Joseph Smith was just a good story and that we're just another Christian church.  I learned a lot more about the Great Apostasy.  It's a hard subject to teach investigators about, because we think we might offend someone by leading them to the conclusion their church does not contain the fullness of the Savior’s gospel, with all His power and priesthood authority.  I think that I can comfortably talk about it now. 

    I was able to host the new missionaries that arrived on Wednesday.  All 700 of them.  Yeah that's pretty crazy.  It's probably because they're not having any missionaries come in during Thanksgiving, so they decided to cram all 700 in at once.  It was kind of a dream like moment for me.  I couldn't believe that I had reached this point of my mission, hosting new missionaries much like I was several weeks ago.  Some missionaries were scared or shy, but some of them were totally pumped and excited to arrive.  I thought back to the day when I came and was hosted by Daniel.  Was that really almost two months ago???  That's crazy!  I can see that Daniel is doing well from his emails and wish him the best.  Next week is our last full week here.  It's going to be crazy and sad leaving this wonderful place.  (By the way, I have P-Day on Saturday next week.)
Jordan depicted here on his arrival at the MTC on Sept. 28th, here helped by Elder King.  This week, he got to be a host!

Elder Harrison here illustrates what would happen if a gorilla meets a grizzly bear
    Okay funny story for you.  Elder Brown and I went to teach our progressing investigator on Tuesday.  She invited us into the room and there were two padded chairs for us to sit on.   These chairs are built very weird.  They're kind of like metal rocking chairs.  The metal on the bottom had been broken for awhile.  I went to sit and leaned back, at which point the chair just bent back all the way and I flew backwards and landed on the ground.  Everyone (including me) was just cracking up, because it was hilarious.  Our teacher told us to leave the room and come back when all of us stopped laughing.  We came back and gave a pretty good lesson.  That was pretty funny (haha).

    We had a really good spiritual experience yesterday.  Sister Sharp has had some problems with her leg for the past week.  After our discussion with our teacher, we were all pretty quiet, because the spirit was really strong in the room.  Then I had an impression for all of us to give Sister Sharp a blessing.  She was very grateful and asked me to give the blessing.  So, all eight of us formed the circle and I gave her a blessing.  I did not know that I was going to give the blessing and therefore had no idea what to say.  I just waited for the Spirit to take over and it did.  I can't write what I said, because I don't really remember anything of what I said.  All I know is that I wasn't the one talking.  It was the Spirit.  We sang a lot of hymns together and then we sat there and did Personal Study.  Brother Day just taught us that we need to spend some time doing some deep pondering.  So, I spent the next 20 minutes just thinking about what the Spirit just did through me.  Everyone else was crying before then, but then all of the sudden I began to cry a lot.  It was just an amazing experience for everyone in the room.  Earlier that day, Elder Holland's talk about the boy who was struck by lighting kept going through my head.  "Unexpectedly, lightning will strike (so to speak), and we must be worthy and ready to use our Priesthood."  (It's also a Mormon Message.  You should look it up.)  I had no idea why that message kept coming and coming into my mind all day.  I finally figured out why after I had given the blessing as I was pondering.  I'm so glad that I am worthy and ready to use this gift of the Priesthood that has been given me.

    Well, thank you for all who sent me letters this week.  Very much appreciated.  Thank you Mom for the packages.  And yes, I got everything.  Also a big thanks to Uncle Greg and Aunt Allison for the Family Tie.  When I wear it, I will always think of you all.  Oh, and a special shout out to Brennen Marshal for his mission call to the Baltic Mission speaking Russian.  That's seriously awesome!  I almost screamed when I read that (haha). 

    The next time I write I'll only have two days here.  That will go by incredibly fast.  I hope all is well with everyone here.  Mahal ko tayo!

    Elder Jordan Royal

    P.S.  I'm getting some pictures printed this week, so I should be sending them next week sometime.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Finally Feeling Older and Wiser

            Jordan is now less than three weeks away from the Philippines.  He will spend Thanksgiving in the MTC.  Since we’ll be in Provo, it’s like we get to spend Thanksgiving with him . . . in spirit.  Jordan seems to have been somewhat concerned with reaching the point of appearing older and wiser to new MTC arrivals.  He has apparently used that as a means of measuring his progress.  This got me singing from Sound of Music (with some revised words, of course, from the perspective of the newly arriving MTC missionaries):

            We need someone older and wiser,
            Telling us what to do.
            You are six weeks going on seven weeks,
            We all look up to you.
         We feel gratitude to our wonderful veterans this day, including our faithful fathers.  We also recognize veterans who have served in the Lord’s army of faith.  Have a great weekend (and . . . Go Cougs - beat the Aggies tonight (basketball) and the Vandals tomorrow (football)).


            This week seems to have gone by pretty fast.  Actually, I don't know, I'm still trying to decide if it went by fast or not (haha).  Anyway, we had a good devotional from Elder Eduardo Gavarret of the Seventy (I think that's his name).  He talked about the story of Christ instructing Peter and those with him where to put their nets when fishing in the Sea of Galilee and then, after doing as instructed by Christ, their nets were amazingly filled to the brim with fish.  (Awesome account in Luke 5.)  Elder Gavarret told us that we need to "Launch our nets into the deep."  I didn't really understand what that meant until later as we were bearing our testimonies as a District.  I came to understand it as being able to leave the shore and everything else behind to go out into the deep and dangerous waters to catch the fish and bring them back to shore to the Savior.  The Savior told Peter where to go and cast his net.  Peter did as the Savior commanded, and he was very successful.  So, that's what the Savior has done for me and all of the other missionaries in the world.  He tells us where to cast our nets, and then we launch our nets into the deep to bring in many fishes or souls.  I would not be a successful fisherman if choose to keep my boat at the dock and fish from the shore.  As missionaries, we are called upon to leave the comfort and safety of the shore.  The bigger fish are in the deeper waters, and there we must go to make the great catch.  So, that was my spiritual upliftment for the week.  (Just kidding - there's more.)
            Elder Brown and I taught our "investigator" this week, and we asked her to be baptized.   We just taught about the Atonement in the Plan of Salvation Lesson in Chapter 3.  I thought this would be a good time to ask her to be baptized.  I told her that she didn't have to decide right then, but I challenged her to pray about it right then and there (to ask Heavenly Father if the Book of Mormon is true and if all our other messages are true).  The next lesson we had with her, we asked her if she had a testimony of the Book of Mormon and everything else.  She claimed that she didn't know what a testimony was, so we committed her to read Alma 32 (the chapter on faith and testimony).  Anyway, we'll see how that goes.  I won’t say that getting dropped a week ago was a blessing, because it's never good to lose an investigator; however, since then, Elder Brown and I have been doing great with our lessons.  We're getting more and more serious with them and they usually turn out very well.  All of the missionaries started teaching each other last week as investigators.  Sometimes those turn out as well as the other lessons, but it is definitely good practice.  We are called upon to play the role of investigators also.  We were instructed to think of someone that we knew and pretend to be them.  It's been a pretty good experience so far.  
Jordan and Elder Harrison study the ways of the force

          I saw Tyler a couple of times this week.  It's usually after dinner that I see him.  We never have our cameras when we see each other, though.  (I'm sorry Aunt Kim!)  He's doing great though, and I can tell that he's changed a lot in these last couple of weeks.  He leaves on Monday, which I'm super jealous about.  Our roommates, four Spanish speaking missionaries called to serve in Pittsburgh and Texas, are leaving on Monday as well.  It is hard not to be a little jealous when I see other missionaries leaving.  : /.  Only 17 days left and counting!  I cannot wait for the 28th (my departure date).  Woo!  Well, I'm trying to think of what else has happened this week, but my mind is suddenly blank.  I love my District, and I'll be pretty sad when we leave each other in the Philippines.  Five of us will be serving in the Angeles Mission, so that's pretty cool.  We had 20 new missionaries come into our zone this week, so the classroom building is pretty crowded now.  There are at least 40 new missionaries that are going to the Philippines that arrived on Wednesday.  I just had to asked some of the new missionaries if we seemed much older and wiser than them (which was my immediate impression when I entered the MTC).  They all said that, yes, we do appear older and wiser.  So, that made us feel pretty good, old, and wiser, because we never thought we would reach that status.
Jordan - one week pre-MTC . . . wise, only . . . less wise
Jordan with Elder Brown 4 wks later: Definitely Wiser!

            The language is coming along a lot better than it did a few weeks ago.  I'm still not that great at it, but it'll come.  Happy 11/11/11!  Pretty awesome that I'm in the MTC for that day (haha).  Well I hope that everyone has a good day and week.  Pinatototohanan ko na totoo ebanghelyo ni Jesucristo.  Nagpapasalmat po ako para sa pamilya ko.  Miss you all!  Mahal ko tayo!

            Elder Jordan Royal

            P.S.  Dad:  Elder Harrison said that his Mom checked out my Facebook, blog, etc., and I was just wondering if you could check my Facebook and accept any friend requests, as some people have written and said they want to get my blog.  That would be great.  I love your letters and all of your updates.  And thank you Mom and Dad for the package (the one I haven’t received yet but you said is in the mail).  I’m excited to get it!  :) (Missionaries love letters and packages tons.)  Good luck with work and your callings as missionaries!  It’s awesome that we actually get to serve as missionaries together.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Overcoming Adversity: A Work In Progress

    I taught early/early seminary this morning (5:05 am) (as a substitute) and focused on overcoming adversity as we studied Joseph of Egypt (Gen. 37-41).  Jordan is having his own Joseph moments in the Mission Training Center, where he is learning to overcome disappointments and adversity.  Missions are wonderful!  Mike

Jordan with Elders Harrison, Tavilala and Brown at the Provo Temple

    Once again, I can't believe how incredibly fast this week went by!  It won’t be too long before I'm out of here and in the Philippines!  Woo hoo!  Well, it has been another roller coaster of emotions for me. 

    To start things off, Monday night was probably one of the most difficult experiences I've had to face on my mission emotionally so far.  Elder Brown and I taught our investigator that evening, and our lessons not been going well with him.  I'm usually quiet during the lessons, because my language abilities are very limited and it's hard to come up with a sentence in my head that I can use.  On the other hand, Elder Brown's Tagalog is awesome!  Learning Tagalog hasn’t been that difficult for him, or any of the Samoans in our group, because there are some similarities with Samoan and Tagalog.  Their vowels are both the same in the language, so they already know how to pronounce a lot of the words already with no problem.  All of the Samoans here are great with the Tagalog and already can speak it very well.  Anyway, back to the story.  I had decided that I wouldn’t talk much more during the lesson with our investigator, because I just did not have any confidence.  It didn’t go well at all.  A lot of what I did say probably didn't make any sense, and our message wasn't really powerful.  Our teacher stopped us, broke character, and instructed us on what we were trying to accomplish in the lesson.  We told him our lesson plan, which was the Introduction to the Book of Mormon.  He then told us that our investigator was no longer interested in our lessons, and dropped us.  Even though this is all role playing, I was really sad and discouraged.  Our teacher told us that it was good, because now we could start out fresh with new investigators.  He helped us see how we can have more success by focusing on teaching the investigator rather than teaching the lesson, along with other great suggestions.  However, the entire time he was talking I was thinking to myself: "I'm the worst missionary ever....why did I talk so much?.....It's all my fault...."  Wow, I allowed the adversary to really work me over, and felt terrible about myself.  (I had even forgotten to begin our lesson with a prayer!  Everything seemed to go wrong!  And I would not let it go.)  Instead of focusing on how to do better in the next less, I dwelt on the negative thoughts.  It was a really rough day.

Elders Tavilala, Merrill, Harrison and Kemmy
    I prayed that night a lot for comfort and peace, and that I would have the Spirit again.  I think the Lord was really testing my patience, because the next morning, I was feeling the same way.  We taught another investigator with our other teacher.  A similar thing happened during that lesson, but our teacher did not stop us.  We were teaching her the Plan of Salvation, and I was trying to ask her a question.  She didn't understand my question and kept asking me to repeat it.  I got frustrated and said to never mind.  I then asked Elder Brown to keep teaching.  I didn't even remember what the rest of the lesson was about, because I was still having really negative thoughts, which were really bringing me down.  I did not know how to stop them.

    I was reading in Alma 26 during Personal Study and came across verse 27, which reads:
"When our hearts depressed and we were about to turn back, the Lord comforted us and said:  Be patient with thine afflictions and I will give thee comfort."  This is when Ammon (pretty much the greatest missionary ever) was recounting the events from their missions and all that they endured.  They suffered a lot, but the Lord was able to bless them and they brought thousands of people to Christ.  I realized that if Ammon had just focused on the negatives the entire time, he wouldn't have been able to convert anyone, because negativity drives out the spirit.  I am coming to realize that through my own experiences.  I must've read that verse at least ten times, but it didn't really click until the Devotional later that evening by Elder Zwick of the Seventy.  He talked about the sincerity of prayer and how to receive comfort.  To my great surprise, he actually read outloud Alma 26:27 to the entire MTC.  I was immeditately filled with the Spirit, and all of the negative thoughts just seemed to disappear and were replaced by joy.  This was a great learning experience for me.  I have to learn not to get discouraged and blame myself when people reject the Gospel.  Don't get me wrong, in Elder Holland's words "[we] should be devastated when someone doesn't read the Book of Mormon [or accept the message]!  This is their salvation we're talking about!  We cannot be casual about it when someone doesn't read the Book of Mormon!"   Something along those lines.  Powerful, right?  If it wasn’t for Brother Ward, one of the teachers here, giving me his copy of the Book of Mormon to read when I needed comfort, the Devotional, or the letters I got from Dad and David that night about being patient (I don't remeber exactly what Dad said, but David helped me out by sharing that scripture in Mosiah about how the Lord chastens us to test our faith), the rest of my week may have been miserable.  The Lord has blessed me so much with great teachers and family members to comfort me when I need it (even when Dad and David didn't know that is what they were doing).  What a great blessing it is!
Jordan with Elders Harrison, Tauiliti and Brown

    The rest of the week went by so much better after that.  I was able to have the Spirit with me through out week.  My Tagalog got better once the negativity left and my understanding of the Gospel improved.  We taught our new investigator, and now that we know how to teach more effectively, the lesson went great, and the Spirit was definitely there!  We also had TRC again last night.  Elder Brown and I taught the same guy from last week.  He kept our commitments we gave him earlier in the week about reading and praying in Tagalog everyday.  (Did any of you RMs keep that commitment this week?  Brad???)  He said really felt the blessings of doing that and thanked us for the challenge.  We taught him about how we can receive revelation through church attendance.  We challenged him (and extend that to all of you right now) to come up with a question or problem that might be bothering him, and got to church with that in mind.  Then we challenged him to ask the Lord to help him and see if He answers his prayer during church.  I'll be tackling that challenge this weekend.  (Perfect weekend to do it, because of Fast Sunday!)

    Quick shout outs.  Thanks to my loving mother for the delicious brownies and cinnamon rolls you sent.  Awesome!  Also a thanks to Kelsey for sending me those cookies, and thanks to Whitney for the awesome looking cupcakes.  And to Elder Tyler Jenkins for mentioning me in his email.  (haha.)  I thought he would be like me when he first got here (nervous, scared, shy), but there was none of that in him!  I was super excited to see him, because I had been looking for him.  He looks confident and ready to serve.  Keep it up, Tyler!  I can learn a lot from you.

    I love you all so much and pray about you always.  Have a safe and awesome weekend!

    Mahal ko tayo!

    Elder Jordan Royal

Jordan with his district at the Provo Temple (we see them at the bottom somewhere in there)