Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

            I have to say that, for me at least, 2012 was the fastest year to have ever gone by in history of the world.  It's like time fast forwards while you are serving a mission.  I can't believe how much I've learned and grown this past year.  It seems like just yesterday when I spent New Year's Eve with my trainer, Elder Declaro, in Kalikid (December 31, 2011).  My testimony of our Savior Jesus Christ has grown so much since as Elder Jordan Royal!  I had so much time to read the scriptures before my mission, but I did not read them every day.  It was not a priority for me then.  Now, however, I have come to realize now just how much we need them, especially for our time right now, to nourish our souls daily.  Without them, we will become spiritually weak - just as we would become physically weak by not eating properly and regularly. 
At the Atchuela wedding reception with some young men and YSA
            Well, the Philippines is definitely prepared for the New Year.  People have been lighting fireworks since the month began, and there's plenty left for tonight.  I guess they might come up with a new fireworks control law next year, because of all of the accidents and injuries that happen from people that don't know how to light them.  Sadly, the accidents mostly involved children who lose parts of their fingers when they don't know what they're doing.  We have to be in our apartment by 6:00 pm today, so we pretty much have no work today, because six is when our Preparation Day ends and then we work.  I wonder if all of the missionaries in every mission have a New Year's Eve curfew.  Mom? 

            Anyway, I really enjoyed our online chat on Christmas, but was disappointed that the connection was so bad.  I just hope that I'm assigned in an area in May where the connection is decent so that if we can do it again, but if not, I'm good with just a phone call.  That would be a lot easier.  We had a fun Christmas this year, even though we practically had no lessons because everyone is either gone or busy. However, we were able to find three part-member families on Christmas Day, so I'm glad that some people were home.  We found one when a 13 year-old ran at us and asked if we were members of the Church, because her mom's a member and they didn't know where the church was.  Her name is Ana Sophia.  Ana said that her family has lived here for a year.  I pointed out to her that they actually live within walking distance of the chapel.  She was surprised to learn that the beautiful white church near their home is an LDS chapel.  Ana said that she is not yet a member, because she was really young when her mom was baptized and the she asked if she could be taught.  Ana is awesome.  We arranged to teach her at her home.  Ana participated a lot in the lessons and told us that she appreciated that we took time to listen and answer her questions.  That's the thing with teaching, or being a missionary - the lessons that we teach aren't for us, but for the investigators.  It's THEIR progression and salvation.  We can't force anyone to change or follow Jesus Christ (more on that later).  Ana will definitely become one of our new focuses this January.  We are very excited about that.

            James' baptism didn't happen this weekend.  We weren't able to teach him for over a week because he was never home, but they were also busy this week at the house.  His wife left last week and is now in Taiwan, so it's just him and their son at the house.  We haven't finished all of the lessons yet, so that's also another reason why.  He's always home now with no more distractions, so we'll be able to teach him all of the lessons in time for his new baptismal date (Jan 19).  James is an awesome guy and has really progressed a lot.  The only problem is that their son is a bit spoiled and doesn't like attending primary, and always wants to go home after sacrament meeting, which is frustrating since we want James to attend all three meetings.  (I guess I was a bit like that in my primary days, when I did not like to sit still and gave everyone fits.  I don't know.  You guys be the judge of that.  Thanks for tolerating me all those years.  Just think where I would be right now if you didn't ;) haha.)

            One of our less actives came to church for the first time yesterday after we taught her the day before and told her to come to church.  Her husband is not a member and is a severe alcoholic.  She said she is tired of him and his drinking and wants him to change.  She just yells at him and tells him to change, with of course no effect.  We told her that if we want to change a person or a person to change, then we have to change ourselves first and then they'll either recognize the change or the Lord will soften their heart and slowly change them or give opportunities to change.  She said that she prayed in another church for help, because it's closer to her house.  (I can’t begin to tell you how many times I've heard that excuse from less active members since I've been on my mission.)  We told her that if she wants her husband to change, then she must first change by returning to the Savior and following His commandments (which includes activity in the Church).  We ended the lesson thinking that we offended her, but she just said with a smile, "I'm coming tomorrow, and I'll be the first one there just like I was before."  Sure enough . . .  she was.  We also had a member bring their neighbor to church, so we'll also have another investigator to teach in the new year.  (The neighbor stayed for all three hours and was really interested.  That is always very exciting!)
        We attended another wedding in the ward on Friday.  It was for the Atchuela family.  We love them very much.  Their daughter, who was less active for awhile, married another less active, and they have been coming to church every week since they were engaged back in October and plan on getting sealed in the temple next year, so that's way awesome.

Brother & Sister Atchuela with their daughter, Carren
Atchuela wedding reception outside at the chapel
             Alright Brad, I gave the APs something this morning to give to the Angeles Zone Leaders to deliver to Sister Pink to give to you and Whitney.  (Did you get all that?)  The Zone Leaders have a conference tomorrow, so they'll get it then.  (Things I would like to send home to the family.)  Pres. Martino said that he does not want us to meet while you are here visiting with Whitney and Beckham, so I am sad to say that we will not be getting together during your January visit.  But, like Dad said, it’s not the end of the world and we will see each other soon enough.

            Thanks for the recent pictures from Pine Valley.  It looks like they got a lot of snow this year.  The sledding looks so fun!  But, I can’t imagine being in snow right now.  I’m afraid I’m going to be a real wimp when it comes to cold weather after my mission.  I’ve forgotten what that’s like.  (It’s so HOT here!)  Glad to hear you all had a good visit at the cabin.  Dad, I cannot remember the answer to those security questions for the BYU website.  Sorry.  (I guess I should have written those down somewhere.) 

            Alright.  I guess that'll be my final email for 2012.  I hope that you all enjoy the New Year and not go crazy.  (Eh, go ahead and do whatever you want - just stay healthy, happy, worthy and safe.  haha.)  Mahal na mahal ko kayo.  Ingat.

            Elder Jordan "Peace out 2012" Royal

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Family!

            Sorry for writing this so late.  We're in Tarlac, so of course we played basketball with some of the missionaries in the zone.  I never really liked playing basketball that much before my mission (because I just lost any skills I had once I stopped playing and moved on to a much better sport: volleyball), but I have played so much on my mission that I actually feel like I have improved.  (I know, that sounds funny.  I had to serve a mission to enjoy playing basketball.)  So, maybe I'll play some more basketball in my post mission life.  I had 25 emails in my inbox today, so I've been reading a lot today.  Thank you for sending me my friend's mission emails.  Steven and Dallin are pretty much the missionaries I always thought they'd be: studs and spiritual giants.  I have loved following the progress in my friends and cousins on missions, such as: Brennen, Jeffrey, Steven Olson, and so many others.  Missions change lives.  What can I say?  I know my life has changed.  In fact, I told one of our ward missionaries yesterday that serving a mission is one of the hardest, but most rewarding, life changing experiences I have had in my life.  I love Christmas and especially here in the Philippines.  There are nativity scenes EVERYWHERE!  The people here truly understand the true meaning of Christmas and I really do not notice any push back from atheists or other groups who want to publicly ban Christ from Christmas as we seem to see every year in the United States.
             Alright, so I have a lot to talk about this week, so I'll take it one day at a time.

            Tuesday: James and Flor got married!!! They texted us that morning and asked us to be witnesses for their wedding at the stake president's office that afternoon. Their papers were signed by the mayor, so they were good for the service. We only had five people attend the wedding (the bishop and his wife, James's mother, and us). I couldn't believe that our prayers were answered with THAT big of a miracle. I love Christmas miracles! Heavenly Father definitely gave us a huge blessing that day.
Jordan and Elder Rabino with Flors and James Guzman on the day they were married at the stake president's office
Jordan with Elders Nunn (Statue of Liberty) and Revilio
            Wednesday:  We attended our Mission Conference in Tarlac.  Everyone from my MTC batch was there (Elders Brown, Bell, Biggs, Palmer, Montierth, and Sister Sharp)!  It was the first time that we were all together since the mission conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson back in May.  The Mission Conference was awesome.  Every zone performed five minute skits.  Ours wasn't the best, but it was still pretty funny.  Then we were split into zones and decorated an Elder as a Christmas tree.  They told us to pick the smallest Elder to make it easier, but we decided to pick the biggest, Elder Nunn.  Instead of Christmas Tree (like everyone else, because we like to be different), we turned Elder Nunn into the Statue of Liberty with a white beard and instead of torch, we had him holding onto a Book of Mormon (haha).  Then we went out into the parking lot and threw "snow" in the air that Sister Martino somehow arranged to bring to us in a cooler.  (It was cold, fine, light, white icy stuff that we got all over each other, leaving us all looking like he had serious dandruff problems.)  I ate lunch with my MTC batch and we just went on and on talking about the Provo MTC and sharing mission experiences in the field.  I definitely miss my MTC district.  We received word that Sister Ycmat went home for medical reasons, so that's sad.  She was just three months away from finishing.  (I hope she is okay.)  Then, we watched some videos about the Savior and had some wonderful spiritual experiences.
The Christmas Tree activity described above
(Jordan is at center left, back to the camera)
            President Martino read the same story that he read last year at Christmas Conference called, "That Thine Alms May Be in Secret."   It is a great story.  I don't feel like summarizing it here.  Besides, it would spoil the fun next Christmas when I read the story to you and Grandma and Grandpa’s next Christmas Eve.  It is now officially one of my favorite Christmas stories ever.  I feel like President Martino just read that story to us a couple of weeks ago, because I still remembered it perfectly from last year.  Man.  I'm getting old (in the mission).  I will hit my 15 month mark this week!  How awesome it has all been!  At the end of the conference, we took some pictures and then we got our mail, which contained my Christmas packages!  (Speaking of that, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I have been forgetting to tell you for weeks that I ran out of multi-vitamins.  So, could you include that for my next package?  Sorry for the delay.)  There are few things more awesome than receiving packages (and mail) as a missionary.

Jordan and his MTC district reunite at teh December 2012 Chirstmas Conference
"Christmas Tree of Love" - at Ward Christmas Party
             Thursday: We had the open house at the new chapel, so we just stayed there all day talking with people and giving tours around the chapel and talking about each room.  We met some great people there, such as Beya.  However, after we taught her on Friday, she said that she will be moving to Manila in January, so we probably won't be able to teach her.  That is sad only if it means she will lose contact with the Church in Manila.  There are a lot of missionaries there who will likely find her (or she can find them), but I will hate not knowing what happens to her.  She is awesome.  Later, on Thursday night, was the ward Christmas party in the new building.  We had a lot of fun there and the members really enjoyed the party.  There were lots of games for the Primary, youth, and the other people.  There were also some performances by some of the YSA and youth.  Even Mak-Mak sang a song while someone played the guitar.  I was surprised that he can sing really well.  I guess I never told you that Mak-Mak's from my first area, or at least really close to Kalikid.  (Note to  Kalikid: Mak-Mak lives in Canto Bangad near the WWII memorial, just to make sure that my Kalikid friends are aware.  He'll go to church there in Kalikid if he ever stays there for a Sunday.  I told him to tell you all Kumusta!!)

The Dilim children were the first baptized in the new chapel
             Friday: The hard had its first baptism in the new building.  It was a ward baptism, so we didn't teach them.  One of the fathers was less active this year, though, and then came back into full activity so he was able to baptize his daughter.  That was very cool.  There were two children baptized, and they're both related.  (At least we know that the baptismal font works.  haha.)  Beya is related to them, so she was able to attend the baptism.  She really enjoyed it and said it was different from her religion.  She is Catholic and had a lot of great questions during our lesson (which I mentioned earlier).  Later that night, my dirty and old fan just gave out and broke, which was a real bummer, because it's so hot in the house!  I spent about an hour trying to fix it, and then after I had it running again, the blade went flying through the barrier and broke again as I tried to tenderly adjust it to face my bed.  There was no fixing it this time, so I had to sleep without a fan.  (I am not a fan of sleeping without a fan.)
The Dilim family - first baptism in new chapel
            Saturday: I paid our landlord for a new blade and they put the blade on my fan and cleaned it, so it works a LOT better than ever before.  It's actually powerful now and not a poor excuse of a dirty fan.  That was pretty much my big blessing for the day.  (I’ll take it!)

            Sunday: This was the first day for services in the new chapel.  We had over 218 people attend church today!!  That's the most I've EVER experienced my entire mission!  Every seat in the sacrament hall was full.  It also happened to be the Primary presentation, which brought back memories of Primary presentations from my days in Primary.  All of the kids memorized a phrase in English, which was really impressive.  The Primary theme this year is Choose the Right, so that's what the program was based on.  (I bet Kelli, as a Primary Chorister, would know that, right? ;) haha.)

            I think that's about it.  Oh about the Skype call.  I guess you could call our cell phone to tell me you want to Skype, or I'll just set a time with you right now.  The 26th (for me) at about 9 am which is about 5:00 pm Christmas Day there.  So yeah.  Hopefully we'll get it right.  And Dad, I don't really remember my BYU Net ID.  I guess you could somehow contact BYU to find out, or maybe we wrote it down somewhere in Mom's office.

             Thank you for everyone who sent me Christmas letters (including my own family :) ).  I love reading how much everyone has grown so much this year.  I love you all more than I can say and I hope you have a great, wonderful, merry Christmas tomorrow.  Also have fun at Grandma and Grandpa Royal's house for Christmas Eve.  (Adding a dance party at the end?  That should be interesting.  I’m jealous.)  Always a great tradition.  Maligayang Pasko Pamilia!!  Stay safe.

            Elder Jordan "Loves Christmas" Royal
"Snow in the Philippines!"
We could not find Jordan in this missionary snow flash mob, but assume he's in there somewhere

Monday, December 17, 2012

Nasa Victoria pa rin ako ni Elder Rabino!!

            I am still in Victoria with Elder Rabino for another transfer.  We had a really crazy Transfer Announcement Day at Tarlac on Wednesday.  Our Zone Leaders put a lot of work to make some fake announcements.  At first, they said that they were just going to be direct with us and that it wouldn't be crazy like last transfer, but no, it was worse.  They first just read the transfer announcements (the real one) that had Elder Rabino and I still in Victoria.  Then they told us that there was another transfer announcement, but they cut out the names and taped them to random places throughout the chapel and told us to find them.  We already accepted the first transfer announcement that they read, but the other missionaries found all of the sticky notes and we sorted them out.  It still had me in Victoria, but with a different companion.  Then all of the missionaries were arguing and telling the ZLs that the first one was true and that the second one was fake.  Then Elder Revillio opened his backpack and dumped out a poster board that was cut up into a puzzle with our announcements on it.  It was impossible to put together, so then they read ANOTHER list that had me being a Zone Leader in Sta. Ignacia (my last zone).  That one was a little wacky, so then they told us that the first one was the real one all along.  So, that's how messed up our ZLs are, but I'll give them props, it was really funny.
Here's a picture of Jordan's zone, similar to one posted last week, only not as crazy.  Imagine all these elders and sisters
on the real/fake transfer exercise.  (Back in my day, we received a call or letter, and had to quickly pack and get on a bus. But, when information is to be delivered through the missionaries, things just seem to get a wee more complicated.  Ha.) 
            Alright, this week was rough working-wise and very stressful.  James, the guy that we found out isn't married yet with his part-member girlfriend, told us about his marital status and that Sister was leaving for Taiwan in a week for three years to become a caretaker.  So that brought us to Operation: Rush Marriage.  At the beginning of the week, Sister said that her flight was on Sunday, so we were starting to think that this marriage wouldn't be possible and that James would have to wait for three years before he could get baptized.  Then I started thinking about more about Miracles in December and about faith.  My faith was weakened at that moment, so I just begged for Heavenly Father for just something that would give us hope that this marriage would happen.  The first prayer was answered when Sister's flight was delayed until the 19th, which opened the door for James and Flor to get some documents quickly.  They were able to get 2 out of the 3 that they needed, and they're supposed to get the marriage contract today.  We made some phone calls with Pres. Martino and said that he'll hopefully be available to do the ceremony if the stake president is busy.  It doesn't have to be fancy.  We just told them that we could do it at their house.  But the Bishop and the auxiliary have a meeting tomorrow at the new chapel, so we could do it there so that there will be more witnesses.  Oh yeah, yesterday was our last Sunday at the meeting house (finally) and we'll be having Sacrament Meeting in our new, giant, and beautiful chapel next Sunday!  We'll be having an open house Thursday morning for people to come in and tour inside the chapel and learn a little bit more about our Faith.  What an awesome opportunity to find new investigators!  The Ward Christmas Party is also on Thursday, so even more people will hopefully come.  There should be some awesome stuff happening this week with the work.

            I told you a dog story last week, right?  Well, I have another one.  We arrived at one of the recent converts in the ward to teach him and his son invited us in to wait, because the family was eating dinner.  I sat down and yelled (not loud), "Tao po!" (People!), which is how you tell someone that you're at their house rather than knocking or ringing a doorbell.  So I knew that their dog was pretty aggressive when people come to their house, almost like an attack dog, but I completely forgot about it.  I then heard the dog barking and running towards me.  The doorway had a curtain over it, so I couldn't see it coming.  I just thought he would run and bark at me like he usually does.  I was taken by surprise when he jumped on me and tried to bite my arm.  I quickly shoved him off and then their son grabbed it and hit its head as a punishment.  They came running in and wondered if I got bitten . . . luckily, no.  When we came back to teach them again a couple of days later, I was ready this time and was just really mad at this dog.  I just tried to scare it by pretending to pick up a rock and throw it at it, but I guess that just made it madder.  That usually works for all dogs here, but this one was pretty matapang (brave).  I guess I'll just have to be more careful when I go there, which is weird, because that was the first time that's happened, and we've been going there since I've been here. 
We do not have any actual dog attack pictures; however, Jordan, here with his district, demonstrates the way he addresses mean, aggressive, angry dogs, using his best known form of animal intimidation.

            We're in Tarlac right now, and we just finished practicing our skit for the Christmas Conference on Wednesday, so we're really excited for it.  This will be my last Christmas Conference in the mission.

            Mom, there's still room in my feet when I wear my shoes, but I don't know how the other ones fit so well.  I'm wearing them right now, so I'm trying to see if something happens, like if I get used to them or something.  Well.  I think that's about it for me this week.  I love you guys!  I can't wait to Skype you all next week!!  Ingat.  Be safe.

            Elder Jordan "loves Christmas pa" Royal

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

Statue of the Savior at Echo Park

            We had a pretty rough week.  But hey, at least it's December, right?  That's always something to be happy about.  Yeah, it was pretty challenging for us.  We were punted a lot (cancelled appointments), so we didn't get to teach as many people as we had hoped.  I did feel the Spirit, though, which always makes a week better.  Even if we did a lot of teaching, if it was accomplished without the spirit, walang kuwenta doon (no point).  Before I forget, I guess I should answer Mom's questions really quick.  No, I don't have the old shoes anymore.  If the older shoes were size 10, then the new ones should fit, but it looks like they changed the design of the shoe, because it’s different and really wide.  Maybe I just have to break them in or something.  I guess I'll just walk around in them around the house.  Hopefully, I'll get the Christmas package for Zone Conference and some other mail, just so it's masaya.  Speaking of Christmas Conference, I really hope that I don't transfer, because I want to be here for Christmas Conference so I can see all of my MTC district.  I'd rater be here than in Cabanatuan for Christmas.  But, whatever happens, happens.  We'll find out on Wednesday if I'm transferring.  I can't believe how fast this transfer went by.  It has been one of the fastest of my entire mission.  Missionaries tell me how much faster the time goes by when you hit your one year mark, and they're right.  Elder Dela Cruz, my ZL in Sta. Ignacia, is done with his mission and departs for home on Wednesday.  We've been in the same zone for seven months, so we got pretty close.  I can't believe how fast that went by.  I guess I just realize that my emails lately have been completely random and out of order, so I will try to fix that right now.
Jordan with (from left) Mak Mak, Hart and Elder Rabino
             Remember that "awesome" investigator (James) I told you about last week who's married to an active member of the Church and always keeps his commitments?  Well, it turns out that we heard that they're not actually married.  "No problem," I thought, "because they can get married and he'll be baptized at the end of month or in January."  So, I thought it was going to work out, but then Sister told us that she's moving to Taiwan for three years to be a care taker.  Ah great.  She's leaving before Christmas.  She told us to come by and give her a blessing before she goes, so we'll see how we can find out about any plans they have for getting married.  We found some pretty interesting families this week like the Capistrano family.  They're really nice and Brother Capistrano is really interested.  The only problem is that they're like living with their relatives in one house, and they have their own house somewhere else that we don't know how to get to, so sometimes they are there, and sometimes they are not.  We also began teaching two people that we found a long time ago and after a couple of visits, we stop visiting them, because they were never home or interested.  We were punted a lot one day, so we decided to go back and try them again.  We were able to teach them (Ruth and Lita) and it went really good.  They had a lot of good questions about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, but the one question that EVERYONE ALWAYS asks is: If Joseph Smith's name isn't written in the Bible, so how's a prophet?  I'm pretty sure EVERY missionary gets asked that question.  I came up with a good answer (I didn't tell them yet, because I was focusing on listening to them) : He's prophesied in the Bible by Isaiah and other prophets, even if it's not his name.  Also, Peter, James, John, Timothy, Andrew, Phillip, Paul, etc., were Apostles of Jesus Christ; yet, they are not mentioned by name in the Old Testament.  In fact, Jesus Christ is not even mentioned by name in the Old Testament.  There are, of course, scriptures that reference Him, but He is not specifically identified.  So, the Jews during the time of Christ were asking the very same kind of question about Him.  Yet, that did not mean He was not the very Son of God. 

            We went to Tarlac this morning to play basketball, so that's why I'm writing this a little late today.  I doubt you guys are awake right now, but if you are, thanks for reading so far haha.  We got brand new jerseys again, so now I have two (one from Sta. Ignacia Zone and one from Tarlac).  I keep forgetting to send you guys pictures of them, but they're pretty sick.  I'm sure I'll get around to it someday.

Jordan with his district, Elder Rabino and (from left) Reyes, Balota, Sharp and Martin
            I do have some sort of a funny story from this week.  We were leaving from a punted appointment when a very protective (and ugly) mother dog came and charged at me as if she was going to attack.  Usually I just scare them off, because the dogs are like that here, but it was a little unexpected, so I was pumped up full of adrenaline about to punch this dog straight in the face when a neighbor yelled at the dog and scared it away.  My heart was pounding after that.  I've had that happen to me a couple of times since I've been here, but haven't ever been bit.  I am always prepared for an aggressive dog, ready to fight to the death.  I guess I could carry the pepper spray with me, but I feel like I would be tempted to use that more for fun on annoying dogs than for my protection (haha).  Well, I guess that's about it for me this week.  I'm hoping that I won't be writing you next week from a different area, but I guess we'll see.  Ingat kayo and be safe.  Mahal Kayo.

            Elder Jordan "Air Mormon" Royal

Tarlac Zone, 12/04/12

Monday, December 3, 2012

One Year in the Philippines!

Jordan (aka Elder Royal) wearing a very good shirt at Echo Park
            Hello Everyone!  Man, it's been pretty hectic this morning.  I am sorry for sending this out so late, but at least you'll have something to read in the morning.  Yes Mom, I received the new shoes you sent.  The package arrived last Monday and forgot to email that great news.  I’m sorry for causing you to worry about that.  The only thing with the shoes is that I guess I'm really not a size 10, because those slip ons are really big and wide, so I can't really wear them comfortably.  Sister Martino told me I can't really return them in because I've already worn them once, so she told me to buy some Dr. Scholls or something.  They would be perfectly fine if I had wide duck feet, but I have really small and skinny feet.  Too bad.  (I know that news probably adds more worry, but don’t.  Everything is fine.)  To answer your other question, Mom, we have 11 zones in the mission, and they will be adding more in the future as the number of missionaries continues to grow.  Oh, and before I forget, THE MISSION HOME AND OFFICE WILL BE MOVING IN TARLAC ON DECEMBER 26th, so all mail that you'll send to the other mission home pretty soon will just sit there for years.  The name of the mission is still the same, which is good because it would sound really weird if it was the Philippines Tarlac Mission.  President Martino says that the new address can be found on LDS.org, so I guess you will need to find it, copy it, paste it, and more importantly (at least for those who don't write me) write me some letters because that would make you super awesome, and more importantly would make a missionary very happy :).  

            We have transfers on the 12th.  I am hoping I am not transferred from the area, especially because of what happened this week and what will happen this month.  Also, I really want to go to church at the brand new chapel, because it's really nice and beautiful inside.  I really want to be here for Christmas.  I'm pretty sure that I'll be here for another transfer, but - of course - I can never be sure.  We had a lot of good things happen this week.  We met a new investigator and his wife who recently just moved from Tarlac City.  The wife is a very active member, and her husband has been investigating the Church for awhile, so he knows a lot.  It's almost like he's a member, because they came to church on their own last week, so we thought they were less active members that we hadn't met before until he came and introduced himself to us and asked if we could teach him, because he wants to be baptized and sealed with his family in the temple.  If anyone out there wonders what missionaries dream about regularly . . . that about sums it up.  This was a dream come true.  James (investigator) is solid.  We set a baptismal date yesterday after our third lesson with him for the 29th of this month, so I really hope that I'll be here for it, especially at the new chapel!  The bishop announced yesterday at sacrament meeting that we will not be moving to the new chapel next week as planned, but next week.  (Ah man!  I was thinking that if I do get transferred that I would have at least one Sunday there, but now I would miss it by just one week!  How lame would that be!  There'll be one lucky missionary taking my place if that happens.  I suppose it is strange how preoccupied we can be with transfers.) 
Jordan trying on some hats in the gift shop at Echo Park with Sisters Jensen & Laude
            We had fast and testimony meeting yesterday, and I miss our Bermuda Ward Singing Tradition as ya'll mentioned to me, but our testimony meeting was still awesome.  Since it was the last testimony meeting of the year, there were a lot of members that bore there testimony, especially the young single adults who recently just came back from a YSA conference the day before.  Even our recent convert, Reymark (Mak-Mak), bore a very powerful testimony that had him in tears.  I couldn't believe the power that was present during our meeting.  Not only that, but I fasted for a miracle to happen to the ward on Sunday, because it's "Miracles in December" again, and I got one.  Our attendance went from 118 (last week) to 156.  We even had less actives there that I NEVER would have thought would EVER come back to church.  But, you get what you fast for, I guess. 

            The Spirit was incredible this week.  I started reading 3 Nephi 11 this week as part of our Book of Mormon challenge given to us by Sister Martino and I finished all of Third Nephi.  I absolutely love those chapters!  This challenge/activity has really changed my outlook on the Book of Mormon, because of so many times Christ is mentioned in it.  I'll most likely finish the Book of Mormon again by next week, so that'll be awesome.  After that, I'm really determine to read all of the it strictly in Tagalog without stopping.  I usually read the Book of Mormon in Tagalog for language study, but I kinda stopped reading it chapter by chapter and just read important chapters that we usually share to investigators.  But, now this is happening.  I'll hopefully finish reading it (and understand most of it) by the end of my mission.

            We had a lot of other stuff happen this week, but I'm almost out of time, so I guess that'll be for another time.  We went to Echo Park this morning for our zone activity, which is alright.  It's one of those places that you go once just to say that you've been there, but will never go back there.  It's really far away and it wasn't that amazing.  It's got a giant statue of the Savior, like in Rio, but not as big.  They also claim to have in a gold box, part of the cross that Christ was crucified on.  Someone brought a football, so we tossed that around in the park for a bit before we went home.

We found a second "Sword of Truth" photo that we just
had to use
            I guess that's about it for me for this week.  I'm really excited to see what will happen as we start week five of our transfer.  That went by super fast!  Elder Batingal's already been home for a month!  Where is all the time going?  Oh and by the way, I've now been in the Philippines for one year!  Also another accomplishment.  I hope that ya'lls will be safe this weekend and have fun with whatever comes at you, or make the most of it I guess.  The gospel of Jesus Christ is true.  He is real.  He lives.  He knows and loves us all, and wants us to return with Him to Heavenly Father.  I am grateful to be sharing that great message of faith, hope and love to the Filipino people.  Segi, lampas na ang oras ko.  Ingat kayo eh!

            Elder Jordan "always astig" Royal

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rough Start, Smooth Finish

              Hey Family!  Sorry I'm writing this so late.  I just finished with all of the monthly reporting for our area and the district, along with my weekly letter to President Martino.  It seems like a lot, but the zone leaders actually have to do several hours of reporting each week and a bunch of other stuff.  Anyway, as you can probably tell, we had a bumpy start to our week but things got a lot better by the end.  We had a ton of punted appointments this week (no call/no show), but I felt much happier this week and felt the Spirit more consistently regardless of the negative events.  We had a lot of good happen and I tried to focus on all that. 
Jordan with his companion and the ward missionaries who served with them this week 
            We received a referral from the bishop to teach his neighbor.  She's 15 and I guess we occasionally say hi to her as we walk by during the evenings, but I did not really recognize her.  She was really interested to hear from us.  The main question she said she wanted answered was whether Jesus Christ was really literally resurrected.  We told her we would teach her all about that during our later lessons, but we invited her to pray to God about our message and ask Him to reveal truth to her.  We promised that if she would do so, she would absolutely have answers to all her questions, and know for herself whether the things we teach her are true (including the Atonement, sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus Christ).  We have a similar investigator like her named Silvia, who is also 15, and they actually attend the same church together.  We've been teaching Silvia’s brother, Mark, for a long time.  In fact, Mark was my first lesson in this area.  We learned this week that Mark moved to Manila and is going abroad to work in another country.  That was a bummer, but Silvia is awesome.  She joined in one night as we were teaching Mark about the gospel of Jesus Christ (i.e. faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) and she became interest to learn more.  Silvia is really smart about the gospel, because she's super active in her own church.  She developed a desire to learn more and said she knew that the things we taught them are true.  We invited Silvia to read the Book of Mormon with Mark and to pray about it, asking Heavenly Father to reveal truth to her.  She told us yesterday that she prayed to God asking for a sign if the Book of Mormon was true.  She said in her prayer that if a Kaliglig (farm tractor) drove by her house then that meant that the Book of Mormon's true, but if none drove by, it's not.  So she said immediately after her prayer a kaliglig drove by her house, so she took that as a sign that the Book of Mormon's true.  (That is NOT the way Heavenly Father generally reveals truth to us, and we did not teach her to ask for signs other than to seek for answers through the peaceful feelings that come through the Comforter or Holy Ghost.)  When we went to teach Silvia yesterday, I realized that she hadn't been taught about the restoration yet, so we taught her all about the Great Apostasy and the Prophet Joseph Smith.  The Spirit was really powerful and she later told us at the end of the lesson that she was confused because she, like Joseph Smith, did not know exactly which church which was true now.  I just smiled and said, "Well, I guess you're in the same situation that Joseph Smith was in.  You now know what you need to do."  She accepted our invitation to pray about Joseph Smith and the answer to his prayer about truth that resulted in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth in its fulness (as it was during the Savior’s ministry).  We are excited to follow up with Silvia later this week.

Homemade Orange Julius is a rare treat
            We actually worked with the ward missionaries yesterday for the first time since I've been here.  We went on splits and had a lot of fun while teaching some very spiritual lessons.  I taught the lesson with Silvia yesterday with only the ward missionaries.  I wasn't really super close with the members here initially, but I am now so much closer with them.  The members I was with said that they noticed that I changed a lot yesterday (as a good thing).  There was a kind of bond established - just like that.  I really hope I am not transferred in three weeks.  I would love to be here for Christmas, because that would be awesome, and we are teaching some great people.  The new chapel that has been being renovated for over six months now is practically done, and we should be there this Sunday or next Sunday.  I want to go to church there at least once before I get transferred.  It's really nice and big.   I'm also going to finish Sister Martino's "Finding Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon" activity by the end of the transfer, so this will be my third time completing the Book of Mormon on my mission.  As Elder L. Tom Perry stated: "It's a great book!"

Jordan, wielding the Sword of Truth (when he should probably be taking out the trash)
            President Martino attended our District Meeting on Wednesday with a phone-call notice the night before, so I was worrying why (and thought I might be in trouble - ha), but it was actually awesome that he attended.  We had a great meeting with him.  He answered a lot of our questions of how to help our investigators out and stuff, so that was very cool.  He's such an inspiring man!  We have ZL/DLC again on Wednesday, so that's what I'll be doing on my 14th month mark.  (It is hard to believe that I have been serving for 14 months as a missionary.  I love it!)

            Wow.  I can't believe that you guys had Thanksgiving again (without me, too . . . [sniff, sniff]).  Thanks for the Thanksgiving Day pictures, Dad.  Those were awesome!!  Royal and Beckham are HUGE!  (Royal is getting fat :P - haha.  They are both so cute.)  I'll hit my one year mark in the Philippines on the 30th this week [first two months were in the Provo Mission Training Center], so that's a huge accomplishment.  I love all of ya'lls over there. ;)  Mahal ko kayo.  Accomplish great things.

            Elder Jordan "isang taon na ako sa Filipinas!" Royal

Speaking of the Sword of Truth . . . we figured this would be a great opportunity to enclose our favorite pre-mission picture of Jordan

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another email from your astig son

Since Jordan didn't send a picture this week, we thought we'd include this one from last year from the MTC

            We're in Victoria right now for our Preparation Day, but I really wish we were in Tarlac, because the internet here is reaaaaallllly slow.  Anyway, such is life. . . .  Wait a minute.  Life is too short for slow internet.  I’ll be right back.

            Okay, we just moved to the Cordato’s brand new internet shop with really nice computers and fast internet, so now we’re good.  (And by “good” I mean really good.)  Sorry, however, for not sending any new pictures.  I have not been good about taking pictures lately.  Speaking of, this nice new internet café, it is what Mak-Mak has been working on with his cousins for the past month and it's really nice here.  We came here last night to celebrate the grand by eating dinner.  Guess who gave the spiritual thought?  This guy.  Guess who also had to speak in sacrament meeting on the next day?  This guy.  (I love opportunities to teach and testify.)  I gave a talk about How to Raise a Righteous Generation.”  That is one of the Area Presidency's goals here in the Philippines, and I was given 20 minutes to prepare something before sacrament meeting.  I just said a quick prayer and began flipping through the Book of Mormon for some inspiration.  I began my talk with King Benjamin's counsel provided in Mosiah 2 when he teaches his people to raise their children to serve God and to eliminate contention in the home.  I then related what happened to that rising generation after King Benjamin, told in the later chapters of Mosiah.  It is interesting that Mormon provides a description of wayward children who could not understand or believe the words of King Benjamin.  I wondered why that would be.  Did their parents fail to them?  Did parents teach, but the children were more interested in following the enticings of the world?  We don’t know.  However, I am very glad that I was raised in a gospel centered family that taught those principles in the home, so I would know of Christ, His Atonement and the Father’s great Plan of Salvation for all mankind.  I know the purpose of life, where I came from, why I am here, and where I am going when this mortal life is over.  I am so grateful for that knowledge.  When our children have knowledge and are ever reminded of truth, they will not likely forget.

            Well, this week had the usual ups and downs.  What would you like first, the ups or the downs?  Let’s just start with the downs to get them out of the way.  I admit it.  Sometimes I get discouraged.  My faith and strength is tested when I allow bad decisions made by our investigators to bring me down.  I feel we teach by the Spirit, they understand (mostly), and they feel the Spirit, but they struggle putting the gospel principles into action (like something as simple as going to church).  It is hard at times not to feel like we are wasting our time with some of the people that we are teaching.  I know I can't control how other people exercise their agency.  But, I just don't understand why these people don't come to church when they know everything is true.  Even many of our less actives are like that.  It is just really depressing at times.  Like on Wednesday, we changed our schedule this week and went to one of the recent converts in the ward, Tatay Ben, to teach him and his non-member spouse.  When we got there, Tatay had been drinking and didn't know we were coming on that day.  He quickly got up and apologized to us and his wife told him that he was really tired from working, so that's why he drank.  That was disappointing.  (You know, there's a thing you can do to handle fatigue, it’s called sleep.)  I felt really bad for Tatay, though.  He's an awesome guy.  He's really smart in the gospel, but he doesn't go to church much.  We taught his wife on Saturday and we gave her a baptismal goal date, but she's been visiting with Inglecia ni Cristo members, so she's leaning towards joining that church.  She's felt the Spirit in every lesson we've taught, but (like so many of our investigators) doesn't listen to the Spirit.  I bore my testimony of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and all the priesthood authority.  I was very bold, and felt the spirit as I spoke.  But, sometimes that what we are called upon to do - teach, testify, invite, and then move on.  The moving on part is very difficult.

            On the brighter side, we have two investigators set for baptism: Jomer and Korin Lucas.  There are from part-member familes who a recently returned to church.  They have progressed really well.  They'll be baptized on December 29th.  I don't know if I'll be here for that.  The transfer ends on December 12th, so I could be in a new area for Christmas, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be here.   Elder Rabino and I are do well.  We are both pretty quiet, but we teach well together.
Wanna see a pretty Filipino rainbow?  There ya go!
             That's funny that Dad sent a note from Elder Brockbank’s father, because he's in my zone.  He's just as shell-shocked as I was back during my first transfer here.  He's a cool guy.  The Filipino members can't pronounce his name correctly, so it was pretty funny watching him trying to teach it to them.  He'll just have to get used to no one being able to pronounce his name correctly here in the Philippines.  Speaking of the Philippines, I've been here for almost a year now (Nov. 30)!  I can't believe how fast that went by.  Thanksgiving already?!?  I could've sworn I was just in the MTC for Thanksgiving.  Didn't one of my brothers break his wrist a year ago a year ago?  (Ha.)  Wow.  Christmas will be here quicker than I realize.  Speaking of Christmas, we've been celebrating Christmas since the first week of September.  The Filipinos really love Christmas here.

            Before I forget, I better answer Mom's question really quick.  No, I haven't received the shoes yet and Christmas Conference is on December 20.  Okay, that's it for me today.  I hope that you guys are doing awesome there.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Mahal Kayo!

            Elder Jordan "Dreaming of a Big, Juicy, Stuffed Turkey” Royal

Monday, November 12, 2012

Could This Be?

No pics from Jordan this week, so we've added this one we really like of
Mitt & Ann Romney

            Well, I know that you must have been, as many of us were, shocked, pained and disappointed when it was announced that Obama won a second term in office.  We were gathered together as a zone for lunch after DDM, when one of the elders received a text that Mitt Romney was winning the election.  We were extremely surprised, because all the reporting around here was that Obama was going to win.  But, our excitement ended quickly when they received another text announcing that Obama won.  That was such a hard day, and what made it worse was that I let it affect the Lord’s work.  I was just so sad, thinking of how this could have happened during some of the toughest economic times in America, when our very moral fiber is being tested.  But, like David's Devotional and what Dad said about the Book of Helaman, perhaps the Lord is waiting for the people to come to Him.  I just hope Mitt Romney has another shot in 2016.  Does he?  Oh well.  If not him, I hope it is someone inspired by God, willing to march with today’s Title of Liberty.  The election was just a really tough pill to swallow., especially when random guys would yell at me, "Hey Joe!  Who won the Election?"  Ugh.  Well, the First Presidency asked the members to always pray for the country regardless of our party affiliation or who is in office, so we'll follow the prophet and pray for a the right people to make righteous decisions designed to protect our precious liberties.

             Other than a rough Election Day, we had a really good week.  We went to Burgos on Monday as a zone for a service project.  Burgos is just like Mamonit, except with a lot less people.  It's in the mountains and it's just beautiful up there.  It's really far away from Tarlac City.  We got a ride from a member in one of the wards who owns a big truck thing, and then we headed on over.  Everyone was crammed in the back while Elder Carrasco and I were comfortably sitting in the front seat.  Elder Carasco is a really fun guy to talk to.  He's from LA.  He quoted something from Brian Regan during our conversation, so we just went on and on with Brian Regan quotes (haha).  Good times.  The service project was rough.  We went to this member's house to help them move some dirt and rocks at the bottom of this hill to where their pigs were so that they could build a stable or something for them.  The dirt and rocks were in piles on top of this hill and we carried that dirt in rice sacks all the way down this hill.  The walk was probably a good 40 yards up and downhill.  We were probably averaging 50 lbs a sack.  The other Elders had a contest to see who could carry the most weight down the hill.  Now I know my weaknesses, so I did not participate for good reasons: 1) I woke up at 5:15 that morning.  2) I didn’t want to be super sore later; and 3) I didn't want to trip and fall while carrying that sack.  We were all super sore the next day anyway, but at least it wasn't from carrying a 100 lbs sack of dirt down a hill.  Despite all of that, it was a pretty fun service project.  The clouds covered the sun AFTER we were all done, so that was just a bad luck with timing. 

            We had a really good day this Friday working with our Ward Mission Leader.  We don't work with him a lot, because he lives really far away, and we pay for his transportation home (about 35 pesos each), but when he does work with us, it's always helpful.  We showed him the ward directory that we used and asked other members where some less actives were, and we were able to find a lot of new less active families.  Almost every single new less active family that we met this week have non-members in them, which are great opportunities to teach.  We taught a lot of them this week.  Some of them have been living with their boyfriends for a couple of years and are not yet married, but we are happy to teach them.  We might as well help them to get married, right?  The marriage services in the Church are free, so money's not a problem with that. 

            We had an interesting experience at church yesterday.  One of the less actives that we met on Friday came to church with his entire family!  They missed the sacrament, but that was okay.  We were sitting in the back when they came in and sat by us.  The tatay didn't sit down for the longest time, and then he came up to me and told me without whispering, "I'm going to go outside and look for money Elder.  You and Elder Rabino are in charge of my family until I get back."  I was about to tell him to just sit through the rest of the meeting and they could leave afterwards, but he left before I could tell him that, so we were then just stuck caring for his family.  It was pretty bizarre when he was talking really loud to me while the other members were looking at us.  The good news is that his family stayed for all three hours, so . . . awesome.  Mak-Mak got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday during sacrament and gave the closing prayer.  The only bad thing was that the mic wasn't working, so we couldn't hear the prayer, or the sacrament prayers at all, so that was a bummer.  Mak-Mak was excited though, so I guess the prayer was good.  He also attended the CES Fireside last night, which was great.

            I think that'll do it for me this week.  Sorry for writing this so late.  I'm glad Grandpa Kelly’s burial was a spiritual experience for you guys.  I wish I was there.  Mom, I really don't know yet what I need or want in my Christmas box.  The ideas always come after me AFTER I get a package, so I'll just say put whatever you put in last Christmas and I'll be very happy with it. :)  Mahal kayo!  Ingat!

            Elder Jordan "Hoping I will still have a country to come home to” Royal
Ray Kelly family at his funeral on November 3, 2012 (minus a few, including missionaries Elders Jordan Royal and Jeffrey Stark)
Leona Kelly with her eight children at Veterans Cemetery in Fernley, NV