Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Elder Royal's First Assignment: Bongabon, Nueva Ecija

     Where is Jordan's first assignment?  We received the following Facebook Message from Le Greta Mhayet “Pink” on December 3, 2011:

     TO the ROYAL HIGHNESS parents~ just an update...

     Just got back from church and the AP's (Assistants to the President) and Angeles Zone Leaders just approached me right before sacrament meeting and said Elder Royal sent regards for Sister Pink,,,that was awesome, though we haven't met yet..haha!  Well, I was told that he's assigned to Bongabon, Nueva Ecija (maybe about 3-4 hours travel from Angeles City, Pampanga) where the area is full of rice fields, no McDonald’s, no shopping mall,,,hehe..so it'll be a great first experience in the field for him...it's right near Aurora province near the Pacific Ocean ... so he can view some nice sea over there if he gets to Aurora, Baler area...he'll definitely enjoy the nature sight (",)  So this means it'll be quite long till we get to see him here in Angeles and hopefully he will be assigned in our ward before he finishes his entire mission ,,,till then! ~ --pink

     Thanks to Pink, we received a little heads up on where Jordan was assigned before we received his first email from the field.  (It is good to have so many Filipino friends!)  A day earlier, we received a video from Sister Martino, spouse to Pres. Martino, Jordan's mission president.  (The video with Jordan's explanation is below.  It appears to have taken place at a chapel in Cabanatuan City.)  Here are a few generic pictures from Jordan's first area.

It looks like Jordan is too far from the ocean for a visit.  We have been to San Jose (NW) and Cabanatuan City (West)

We suddenly feel like jogging in the Philippines! 

Awesome rice fields

This is a place we think Jordan will not get to visit (but we might someday)
     I know everyone's been incredibly anxious about my arrival and when I would write (aka Mom and Dad) (haha).  My P-Days are on Mondays, so you'll probably get this email sometime Sunday afternoon (maybe).  I begin by telling you about our plane ride and stuff. I have never flown in a plane for such a long period of time.  I fell asleep on our way to Korea, but it was only for about five or six hours.  That sounds pretty good, right?  But when I woke up, we were just halfway there.  There were plenty of things to kill the time. The Korean Airline was SO awesome!  They had those little TVs in front of us with a remote to control it.  They had a bunch of music on there, but I only listened to the Classical music and the "Relaxation Music" when I would go to sleep.  It was pretty relaxing (haha).  Anyway, we landed in Manila at about 11:30 am and got picked up by Brother Eduardo Valiente.  He says he knows Brad.  He is a really nice guy.  The Manila traffic is absolutely insane!  There were five lanes of traffic of a two-lane road.  It took forever to get out of Manila because of that.  We arrived at the mission home about two hours later.  President and Sister Martino are some of the nicest people I've ever met!  They're from Texas and both have southern accents.  After my interview with President Martino, he offered the prayer to end the meeting.  I did not expect him at all to say the entire prayer in Tagalog, but he did.  I didn't close my eyes for five seconds, because I just watched in amazement of how good his Tagalog was.  He served a mission in Italy and says that he still reads the Book of Mormon in Italian and says he's almost done reading it again.  I think that's really cool.

     The next morning, we met our Filipino batch of missionaries that were in the Manila MTC for only three weeks.  They are really cool missionaries, and we even spoke some Tagalog with them.  We had a few meetings with the President and his wife and then we met our trainers.  My companion is Elder Declaro and he's just an incredible trainer.  I'm in the Bongabon Zone and we're serving in the Kalikid area.  I guess there's another name for it?  I don't know.  It's about a fifteen or twenty minute drive from Cabanatuan.

     There's so much that has happened this week that I don't know where to start. When we got to our apartment that night and we went to the Adonis family for dinner. They're a great family, and Sister Adonis is really nice.  My first day of tracking and teaching was pretty interesting.  As you may have guessed, I have absolutely no idea what's going on (haha).  I just follow my companion around and talk with the random people that he talks to.  The only thing I can do really is introduce myself, say a quick greeting, bear my testimony, and pray.  That's pretty much it.  Whenever Elder Declaro is talking to someone I just sit there and try to listen and see if I can pick up any words.  That usually doesn't work very well.  I'm still confused no matter what (haha).  Almost everyone is poor here, but there are still like a different class of poor.  There's the middle class, poor, and very poor.  Some of these people just live in houses made of bamboo and have a tin roof over their heads to keep themselves dry from all the rain that comes.  They're poor, but what I've been hearing for years is how humble and happy these people are.  It's very true.  Some of the happiest people I've seen are the poorest.  It's very heart-warming.  We've taught a lot of people since I've been here and we have two investigators with baptismal dates.  One of our investigators, Nanay Martin, had to be interviewed by President Martino for baptism.  We went to a chapel in Cabanatuan for the interview.  Elder Declaro went into the interview to translate for President Martino, so that just left me with Sister Martino.  I told her how stressed I was about my investigators and the language.  There's a new program that the Church developed in July called the "First 12 Weeks in the Mission Field."  The trainer and trainee go through this program for 12 weeks and there are certain things that the new missionary (me) have to do each week.  This week, I had to invite our investigators to be baptized.  I had been practicing the baptismal commitment in Tagalog and I thought I had down pretty well.  I told Sister Martino that I was stressed about having to extend a baptismal invitation so early in the mission.  She told me to practice the invitation with her.  I did, but I struggled to say some of the words.  Sister Martino then said, "Now that you've spoken from the mind, try it again from the heart."  That kind of hit me hard, because I know that it wasn't from the heart and that no one will ever accept a baptismal invitation if the Spirit isn't there.  So I tried again, but took a different approach to it.  I bore my testimony of the importance of the commitment before I extended it.  She stopped me and said, "I have no idea what you're saying, but I feel the Spirit now when you talk."  That was a great confidence booster knowing that I can bear my testimony from the heart.  That's the most important thing to missionary work.  We have to be able to bear testimony to people and hope that the Spirit will touch the hearts of people to make them want to change.  So that's why Sister Martino made that video email.

     I think it was my second day in the area.  Since then, I've extended two baptismal invitations.  One on Saturday to a store owner named Nanay Deguzman and to a young couple yesterday.  They excepted both times, because the Spirit was in the room and my invitation was both bold and loving.  Even in the poorest conditions, we can feel the Spirit in every home that we walk in.  Even though I haven't been able to understand anything in any of the lessons, the Spirit is there.  Elder Declaro is such a great teacher and really knows how to touch the lives of the people here.  I don't know what I would do without him.

Elder Royal and his trainer, Elder Declaro - Called to Serve (and eat)
     So yesterday was pretty interesting. We went to sacrament meeting and they have a new branch presidency.  The people really love them.  The ward members are incredibly friendly and kind to me, even though I can't speak well in their language at all.  The Branch President called me up to bear my testimony during Testimony Meeting, and I bore my testimony to the best of my abilities.  We had a couple of investigators there, so I wanted to make sure that they felt the Spirit and that I gave a good testimony.  The Spirit was strong and I hope that our investigators felt that as well.  We taught some families the rest of the day, but the last investigator we went to was a couple.  Her brother walked in halfway through our visit drunk, even though I had no idea.  He would talk and then everyone would start laughing, and I had no idea why.  Once Elder Declaro finally told me that he was drunk, it was pretty funny after that.  Then I guess his wife came by looking for him and took him away.  It was pretty funny, but we still hadn't taught our lesson.  As soon as he left and we shared our Spiritual thought, the Spirit was back in the room.  We went to member's home for dinner that night.  They're dad isn't a member, but is getting baptized this week I think.  We had pork adobo and it was so good!  I've had rice, meat, noodles, and vegetables for every meal except breakfast.  They don't use knives here.  They eat with a spoon in their right hand and a fork in their left.  They scoop, cut, and eat with the spoon and just use the fork to help place the food in the spoon.  It was pretty hard at first, but I'm really good at it now  (haha).

     I've had some struggles lately, just because I want to know this language so bad!  I just want to be able to talk to and understand everyone that I talk to.  I know that it'll come through my patience and work, but sometimes it just bugs me.  I've had a lot of encouragement from my companion, the mission president and his wife, other missionaries, and most importantly my family.  Our District Leader, Elder Fearson, just finished the 12 week course and his Tagalog is great.  I'm working hard to become that good in the language after these 12 weeks.

     This week definitely went by slow, just because the work is hard and I can't understand anything.  I figure it's like the MTC, but I could be wrong.  In the MTC, the first four days are super long and torturous, but after the first Sunday, it just flew by so fast.  I hope it's like that here, but not too fast.  I want to be able to understand the language first.  I think I'll learn very quickly in these 12 weeks, though.

     Well, I guess that's it for me right now.  I hope that everyone is preparing well for the holidays.  Grandma Royal, you'll be happy to know that the Christmas Tree you sent me is prominently placed on our fridge. ;)  Definitely the hottest Christmas I'll ever experience!  (Oh, and everyone says this is the coldest time of the year. Great.)  I was dying from the heat the first couple days, but it's getting better.  I think I'm pretty much used to the humidity by now.  Hope everyone has a great week!  The gospel is true and I am grateful to be serving the Lord to share the message of Jesus Christ to the wonderful people here.

     Mahal ko kayo!
     Elder Jordan Royal

     P.S.  I received the Christmas package, Mom.  Thanks.  Sorry, but I didn't notice the "Don't Open Until Christmas" note until after I opened it.  Elder Declaro loves the tie and food you sent us.  He's going to wear the tie at our baptism this week (haha).

     (We told Jordan that is the ONLY Christmas box he will be getting so to . . . enjoy.)

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