Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Seven Months and All's Well!

Editor's Note: We are putting a life sized cut out of Jordan together, but the actual picture we have of him apparently will not work.  So, we put a picture together of Jordan with his brother David's body, and one with his daddy's body.  Throughout Jordan's letter home, we are posting the three pictures.  See if you can identify WHO'S WHO.
Here's Where's Jordan Entry No. 1

            Yep...I have reached seven months here in the mission so far, and it's gone by pretty fast, or REALLY fast.  We're already halfway done with this transfer!  I don't know what's going to happen next transfer, but I'm most likely going to stay with Elder Timbas for his last transfer or one of us is transferring, but probably not.  I'm probably going to be here for four in a half months also.  I've already almost been here for month (May 5), which is crazy!  Well, I want to be the first one this week to wish David a happy birthday on Thursday soooo.....Happy Birthday Bro!  Hopefully I beat Kambria and the rest of the family by saying it to you first - haha.  I was going to wait till next week, but I just felt like giving you a special boost for the week.  What better present to get for your birthday than a wife, di ba?  I also saw your guys's latest pictures that Dad sent me.  You guys look great!  Wish I could be there.  Oh wait, I will be there, but a little bigger than the last time you saw me (if Dad uses the Photoshop copy of my head on his body haha).  Speaking of, I love the cut-out idea!  haha  I can't wait to see how that'll look in a couple of weeks.  Oh, and of course Mother's Day is in a few weeks also!  Yay!  Mom, I really didn't get any new information about the call, but I'm probably going to just going to use our phone and call you guys, or you call, or whatever.  I'm also thinking about doing Skype, because it might be cheaper to just do that at an Internet cafe, but you need a skype account to do that, di ba?  Well, I guess I should just tell you about the week now - haha.

Here's Where's Jordan Entry No. 2
            The work was....alright this week.  We're in a pretty hard area since it's far away from our house.  The area's big, and sad to say...no one's really progressing except for our children investigators.  Ugh!  Saya naman!  It's also hard to find people that are available in their homes and also not busy.  It's hard to be a missionary sometimes, but I still remember a quote from a speaker at one of my first devotionals at the MTC: "The mission is not supposed to be a perfect experience, but a perfect learning experience."  I've found that to be very true.  I came from an area where we had a lot of success with baptisms, less actives returning, members working with us, etc.  But here, it's a little different.  I guess I needed to become a little more humble.  We still have a little bit of success here, but it's still a challenge.  One of our investigators, who was living with a less active, has been coming to church for over seven months and they just had their wedding on Saturday, so now she is now ready for baptism!  She will hopefully be baptized this month.

            Even though we had a rough week with the work, my testimony has grown tremendously this week as I've read the Book of Mormon.  I read all of Third Nephi and will start the Book of Ether this week.  The Book of Mormon is just amazing.  It's not just a book.  It’s another testament of Jesus Christ and is evidence of the love that God has for us.  There are just so many great things in there.  Mormon prophesies that those who believe in the Bible will also believe in the Book of Mormon (Mormon 8?) and Moroni explains why the Book of Mormon was written in the Egyptian language, "that the Lord may provide a means for translation" (last chapter of Mormon).  The Book of Mormon is true.  Why wouldn't it be?  We had a discussion with one tatay about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, and he claims that revelation is gone and that there will be no more of it.  I think people don't pray about the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith is because well...they’re tamad (lazy). Pretty bold to say, but it's true.  For many, they have the Bible, and that is all they will consider.  They do not want more revelations, because that takes too much work to actually read something and pray about it.  I wish they would simply have a desire to ask God if he loves them and provides revelation on the Earth today through living prophets and has provided the means for people to return to him (Bible, Book of Mormon, D&C, PofG).  I don't know.  It's just hard to for some to feel the Spirit and understand how much God truly loves them.  God prepares people for us to teach, but some are more prepared than others.  But God has promised that everyone will have a chance to hear and accept His Gospel.  That's their choice.  Our job is to valiantly work to provide them with opportunities, and share truth by the Spirit.

Here's Where's Jordan Entry No. 3
            On the other hand, we had a good Priesthood/Relief Society meeting yesterday.  Oh that reminds me...no Mom I'm not playing the piano in the ward and I don't know who has a Facebook that they update regularly.  Sorry - haha. So you guys may have seen the video already called, "To Turn the Hearts" in your Priesthood/Relief Society meetings, but if you haven't, you should watch it.  It's so awesome!  It's about this stake in Springfield, IL that tries to get all the members to do family history work and attend the temple regularly.  It was awesome to see the change in the lives of the members who were effected by this work.  Just an awesome experience.  It made me think about the people we teach on our missions who who will go to the temple and be sealed as a family. 

            We had two CSPs this week (Community Service Projects) in Mayantoc.  The first one was on Wednesday.  We went to a member's house and shoveled up some dirt and stuff and moved it to another part of their house.  I don't know what it was for, but we did it for them - haha.  I was doing most of the shoveling with Elder Mora, and it was a really hot morning.  I was dripping sweat everywhere and my flip-flops got so soaked with sweat that I was slipping when I walked.  We then had another CSP on Saturday with the Mayantoc members at their elementary school.  We spent about five hours sweeping up and gathering up all the dead leaves and burning them.  That was also a very tiring project. 

Here's Where's Jordan Entry No. 4
            Now, to answer a few questions.  Yes, I am very excited to hear about my birthday box.  There are shoes that I can buy here for 300 pesos (some I just found this week), so I could maybe do that until then.  As for ankle braces, I have an ace badge thing, but there's nothing to keep in place...so I would most likely want my volleyball braces if you can send them.  Elder Timbas is great.  He helps me a lot with the language, which is awesome.

            Well....I think that just about wraps it up for me.  I hope that you all have a great week and have fun.  Mahal ko kayo!  ingat!

            Elder Jordan Royal

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Another Week Gone By

            Well I'm happy to say that this week definitely went by faster than last week, so that means I'm back on the "missionary schedule" (I guess that’s would you would call it).  This week went by fast, but it also felt like one big day, so to speak.  The area is doing alright.  We have practically no investigators besides kids...patay.  It's alright though, because we have two baptisms coming up next month, hopefully two.  One of them is for Jarom, a ten year old kid, and the other one is for a young girl living with her less active boyfriend.  They've been coming to church every week for about seven months, but they're just not married yet.  The bishop interviewed them last Sunday and said that once they get married then Grace can be baptized, which is what we're really trying to push for.  They've apparently scheduled a wedding for next month, so if all goes well, we'll have two baptisms in the ward next month.  Yay!  Other than that, the work has been pretty rough this week.  We weren't able to get any lessons with members this week, which is the first time that has happened to me since I've been on my mission, and we didn't visit any recent converts this week, either.  We've just been trying to get more less active lessons, which we did, but we should've had more.  We just had a lot of appointments fall through this week, which has not happend a lot to me so far on my mission.  Our area is very big, so it's hard to focus on all of our areas.  We have chosen an area near the chapel to focus on next week which we call the "circle of strength," just because we have really no one progressing in the far areas, so this plan makes sense for now.

            We received an awesome email from President Martino that said that Elder Russell M. Nelson will be visiting our mission on May 25th.  I'm so excited for that!  It will be the second time on my mission that I have been present to hear Elder Nelson speak (the first time being at the MTC)!  That'll be happening next transfer, so I'll probably still be here when it happens.

Elder Timbas displays no monkey fear
Jordan . . . on the other hand . . . seems to have monkey fear
            Okay, now for the funny stories of the week.  You know that monkey at the Bishop's house that I told you about?  Well, I finally got some pictures with it!  (haha)  It was really fun.  I have a video with it, but the last time I tried to send a video via email, it didn't work.  We’ll see.  I can put a check-mark on one goal for the area: pet and get a picture with a monkey.  We also had the longest brown-out (or "black out" in America) on Wednesday that lasted from 7am to 7pm.  That was absolutely the hottest day I think I've ever been through.  EVER!  April is the hottest month here, so to have that happen here was just torture.  There was no way to keep cool.  Well, maybe that wasn't a really funny story, but it might be for you.  During that day (I think), we were sitting at a Tindihan (a small store) and I noticed a "cigarette promo" by a company that was posted on the Tindihan.  It was like those promos you would see on the back of cereal boxes.  If you buy a certain amount cigarettes, you get prizes.  The lower prizes were like a lighter and stuff, but the one that was really funny was if you bought 10 packs you could get a fork, spoon, and a plate.  I can only imagine trying to get a Tatay to stop smoking in the future and asking him why he smoked 60 packs and have his answer be, "Sorry Elders, I had to get six plates, forks, and spoons for the family.  I have to smoke another 35 packs to get an umbrella and another 45 if I want to get that cool back-pack for my son to take to school."  Yeah, that might be a little hard.  (It would be a lot cheaper to just buy the fork, spoon and plate.)

            The cool thing about our chapel here is that there are ping-pong tables in the cultural hall.  I played ping-pong with Elder Timbas and another YM in the ward on Wednesday for the first time in probably over a year.  It reminded of so many good ping-pong memories back in the day.  Good times.

Okay . . . this appears to be a pretty scary monkey after all
            By the way, happy 29th anniversary, Mom and Dad.  That is awesome.  You guys are wonderful parents.  Well I hope that you are all doing well.  Mahal ko kayo!  I hope that everyone will have a great week.  After this week, the transfer's halfway over.  Wow.  bilis na.  Segi ingat kayo!

            Elder Jordan "Ayaw ko mga brown outs" Royal

Sunday, April 15, 2012

First week of transfers = soooo long

Elders Royal and Talento with Rose Marie Rabe (03/12/12)
            Wow.  What a relief it is to finally be writing to you guys.  It seems like forever since I've communicated with you all.  I'm sorry that I'm writing this a little bit late.  I'm trying to type this up as quick as possible so that you will read it tonight.  The reason why we're emailing so late is that we returned from our first zone activity of the transfer.  We went to a place near the Camaling River and it was really fun over there.  We took a lot of cool and fun pictures, so I should be sending those right now.  We had lunch over there and then all of the foreign missionaries (Elders McCormack, Phillips, Despain, and I) just hung out and talked under a kubo while the Filipino missionaries went to the banks of the river looking for fresh-water crabs.  They caught a couple and will eat them later.  I didn't even know there was such a thing as a fresh-water crab.  It's getting ridiculously hot here right now, because summer has now started.  The heat just drains out all our energy, and even with an umbrella, it's still burning hot.  (By the way, my umbrella broke.  Woo!). 

Jordan suddenly has fond memories of his red 2001 Windstar
            Maybe it's just because it was my first week here in Mamonit with a new companion, but the week seemed to drag on forever.  It was like that during my first full week in Kalikid as well, but I'm sure it will get better as I get used to all my new surroundings.  It was also a really frustrating week, because a lot of our appointments fell through.  Then we would have to continue walking in the brutally hot sun to our next appointment.  The nights here aren't really bad at all - at least not like Vegas Summer Nights.  As soon as the sun goes down it just instantly turns cooler (except for last night.  Sobrang init talaga).  The people that we were able to teach though were very good lessons. 

Jordan and Elder Talento with "March Madness"
           I attended my first sacrament meeting of the Mamonit Ward yesterday.  The members here are really awesome.  I was expecting a lot more members at church yesterday, because it's a ward and I was told that the attendance was usually high every week, but there weren't that many people there yesterday.  Which I guess was fine, because I had to introduce myself yesterday in what very little Tagalog I could (haha). 

            As for our investigators, we don't have many.  We have kids, but those don't really count unless we're teaching the whole family (and we're not, so that's a bummer).  But, one of the kids that we're teaching is a very fast learner.  I've only been able to teach him twice, but he always remembers what the missionaries had taught him before and keeps commitments.  His name is Jarom, and he has a baptismal date set for next month, so that should be exciting.
Elders Royal and Talento . . . ready to do the work!

            Well I have a couple of funny animal stories this week.  After one of our appointments, we had to cross a bridge over a river to reach our next appointment.  There's a river about seven feet below the bridge and below the bridge were about 100 ducks just swimming in the water.  As soon as I stood on the bridge, they just scrambled and swam in both directions, almost perfectly in half.  That's when I learned that I do have the authority to part the ducks in the sea (haha - yeah it was a pretty funny moment).  There's a monkey about 40 yards away from the bridge that's tied up and to some bamboo sticks, and he just hates me.  (Angry monkeys are scary.)  He's very shy or friendly to the Filipinos, but when he sees me, he attempts to lunge at me.  Good thing he was tied up (haha).  The bishop’s monkey is different.  It's not fierce, but he (or she) is shy around me.  Which I prefer.
Indiana Jordan, in seach of the Holy Mail

            We're not getting our mail until interviews next Friday, so it'll be awhile until I pick up my package.  Well...I think that might be it for me.  Again, sorry if this is late.  I hope that everyone is doing great over there.  Mahal na mahal ko kayo.  Ingat.  Totoong simbahan ito! 

            Elder Jordan "Moses" Royal

Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Area, New Companion, New Experience

Generic picture of the vicinity of where Jordan is in Tarlac (we think)
General area depicting Jordan's new area
Closer map of Jordan's new area

            Well I guess that you guys already know that I got transferred from Sister Adonis, but for those who don't know . . .  I got transferred (haha).  I'm now in the Sta. Ignacia Zone, which is about 10 miles from Tarlac City.  My new area is Mamonit with my new companion, Elder Timbas.  Elder Timbas only has two transfers left, so I could be his last companion before he goes home.  He's a really nice guy.  Sometimes he can be quiet, but he always asks me how I am and is trying his best to help me adjust here.  We share a house in Mayantoc with the Mayantoc Elders, and you won't believe who's in the house with me, and who is also our District Leader.  Yep, it's Elder Declaro.  It was pretty crazy to hear that I would once again be reunited with my trainer in the same house again.  His companion is Elder Mora, and they're awesome.  It's kinda fun living in the same house with two other missionaries.  Our area is about five miles away from our house, so we have to take a trike everyday to get there and back.  Our area is very beautiful.  It's right next to the mountains and everything is so green.  I would've taken pictures, but I forgot the camera, so probably next week.  I'm in a stake now, so there are a lot of members here in the area/zone. 
Jordan's district on Transfer Day . . . saying goodbye to Kalikid
            Transfer day was pretty sad, I had to leave everyone that I had gotten to know so well over the past four months, but hey...that's probably going to happen every time I leave a new area (haha).  Every companionship in Bongabon is new now, so everyone got moved around.  Elder McCormack is still my zone leader here in Sta. Ignacia, which was good news, because he's just an awesome guy.  On our way to Tarlac, we saw groups of people flogging themselves and carrying big crosses for Holy Week.  (No Dad, I didn't take pictures, because we were moving to fast for me to take out my camera.)  It's just a sad site to see. 
Jordan & Elder Talento with EJ (in red)

            I'm so grateful that I was able to watch General Conference this weekend for Easter.  What a blessing it was to hear our prophet, apostles, and other leaders of the Church speak to us!  Conference is just absolutely amazing on a mission.  I've watched two sessions of Conference now on my mission, and it just gets better and better each time.  They do General Conference differently in the Philippines though. They play it a week afterwards and most of the members only go to one session.  There were not a lot of people during the Saturday sessions, which was good, because it was quiet.  The Sunday Morning Session was probably the noisiest, because there were about 50 kids crying, screaming, and laughing all at once in one building.  We were sitting in the very front, so it wasn't that big of a problem.  I could go on and on about all of the awesome Conference talks that I heard, but I guess I'll just focus on one right now, which was Elder Bednar's talk about Priesthood Duties during the Priesthood Session.  He told the story of the conversion of his father, but before his conversion, he asked his son why the men in the ward weren't taking their Priesthood seriously if they truly believed in the sacred power they proclaimed to have.  In other wards, why they weren't performing their Priesthood Duties?  That really made me think.  The Priesthood is the power of God that He gave to man to use.  I loved President Uchtdorf’s talk in Priesthood Session about the "Why" in Priesthood.  Wow, Conference was just so great!  I encourage you all to continually ponder the words and messages given by our leaders of the Church.  They were inspired by God when they spoke.  I'm so grateful that I was able to spend Easter Sunday here.  What a privilege it was.
Jordan with Elders Talento and McCormic on Transfer Day

            We worked in the area this weekend and it was just really fun to meet all the people here.  On Friday during my first day of work, I experienced probably the worst rainstorm that I've ever been through here in the Philippines, and it's not even rainy season yet!  The rain just poured down.  We waited for about in hour for it to slow down, but it never did, so we walked to our other appointments.  The rain finally stopped during one our appointments at a recent convert’s house, but it was still really muddy outside.  The members here in the Mamonit Ward are super nice and friendly.  We visited the Bishop and his family later that night, and they have a pet monkey outside their front door.  Which was pretty awesome.  I would've gotten a picture with it, but the fear of getting bitten and rabies won out. I'll probably just end up doing later before I leave the area.  I mean I have to.  IT’S A MONKEY!
Jordan and Elder Talento say goodbye to Sister Adonis and her family

            Ok, well I think that's about it for me right now.  General Conference was awesome and the Church is true.  I've been seeing great progress in my language these past couple of weeks which will hopefully continue.  The Lord has provided me with great blessings, for which I am very grateful! Ingat!  Mahal na mahal ko kayo! 

            Elder Jordan "Lovin' Life" Royal

Celebrating Elder Talento's birthday just before Transfer Day

Monday, April 2, 2012

Happy April Fools!

The Bongabon and Cabanatuan Zones meet for a big Preparation Day basketball showdown on 04/01/12 . . . before play.
(Jordan is on the far right.  Notice the absence of ankle braces.  Oy.)
            Sorry it has taken me awhile to send this today.  We played basketball early this morning at Cabanatuan, so that's why.  We had a really fun game, though.  It was a big game between the Bongabon vs. Cabanatuan Zones.  The games were fairly even, so it was really fun.  Well, I have some bad news, good news, good news, and bad news.  The first bad news is that I rolled my ankle after shooting a three point shot.  The guy moved right where I was going to land.  I heard it my ankle pop and stuff, so yeah it hurt pretty bad.  The good news is that, in spite of my injury, I still made the shot :).  (I should have had a four point play.  You know what - let’s just say I made the foul shot so I can add some more good news here.)  The good news is that after walking on my ankle, getting it loose, and with adrenaline I was able to play again about an hour later.  The bad news is that the adrenaline later wore off and my ankle hurts again.  That would have to happen the week of transfers (haha).  I have ankle wrap and some ointments at home, so I should be good within a few days. 

A not so clear post-basketball photo.  (Notice Jordan bent over in ankle pain)
            This was a pretty fun week, I guess.  I'm kinda bummed that I didn't get to see General Conference this week like you guys, but I'm so excited to watch it!  I'll most likely be watching Conference in a new area this weekend, so we'll see how that goes.  I've been in Kalikid for four months now....yikes.  That was pretty fast.  I've been on my mission for over six months now and I still feel brand new in the mission field.  Man!  I don’t want to feel like I just got here (haha).  Anyway, I guess I should get started now about my week (haha).  Our investigators right now are either really progressing well or they are very far from progression.  EJ is doing well.  He is a great kid and we love working with him.  He has made quick connections and friendships with the youth and the rest of the ward members.  His faith in and understanding of the gospel are increasing.  I suppose all missionaries are faced with some investigators who keep commitments, others who keep only a few commitments, and still others who do not keep any commitments.  Not to focus too much on the negative, but it is really frustrating when great people, with so much potential, cannot keep the simplest of commitments.  If they do not read assignments given between lessons, we usually read with them or give them something shorter to read.  Right now, we have an investigator who is about 21 years old and doesn't know how to read.  We told him that the Book of Mormon has the power to help people learn how to read.  It's true!  Why wouldn't it be?  If God's prophets wrote the Book of Mormon and other scriptures, why wouldn't God give us the gift to read and understand what He has written?  I'm convinced that the Book of Mormon helped me learn how to read back when I was a little kid during our family scripture reading every night.  Some people limit their faith in scripture to just answering questions and problems by the revelations given to prophets from the Lord.  Certainly, they provide that.  We can pray for answers, and then find them in the scriptures. However, Heavenly Father also blesses us with other talents and gifts in the process of seeking Him and His word.  I can testify to that through my own personal experience.  Anyway, our investigator who cannot read . . . still cannot read.  His biggest problem is that he lacks faith to even try to learn to read.  That is frustrating.  But, we just keep working with him and others.  So long as there is a spark of faith, we try to fan it into a bright, warm flame (haha).

            So some more bad news; I lost March Madness on Saturday.  The series was tied 3-3 and we played the final game on Saturday.  It was the closest game we'd ever had.  Elder Talento beat me only by two, 12-10.  We've both won a series, so I don't think we're going to play a final series because of transfers on Wednesday.  So we're both winners :) (haha). 
Four months of "Dear Elders" stacked high
            Congrats to Steven Olson (Brazil Sao Paulo East) and Dallin Jenkins (Pennsylvania Philadelphia) for receiving mission calls this week!  I've been wondering where you two would be going for awhile now, but I'm glad you finally received your calls.  The Olson Family is now a Portuguese speaking family (haha).  Hayden and Ethan will need to go to Brazil now so that all the boys can speak together (haha). 

            Well, I hope I'm not forgetting anything.  I hope everyone enjoyed General Conference this weekend.  Apply what you learned!  They were inspired by God to tell you something that you needed to hear!  Learn it and love it!  magtatapos na ako....mahal ko kayo!  Be safe!

            Elder Jordan "Crippled Ankle (once again)" Royal

            P.S.  I'm trying to send more, but it's not letting me right now...so this will be good for this week, right?  Sorry.  I took a lot of pictures this week that I wanted to send, but it's not letting me do anything, so probably next week.

We pulled up this one from Homecoming 2010, Jordan here with Hannah Christensen
(Just because we found it and thought of him as our wee little one.)