Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Hey Family! I’m Out Eight Months!!

            Yep, today is my eight month mark in the mission.  I' have to say that it seems to go by faster and faster each week.  We just got back from Sta. Ignacia a couple of minutes ago from setting our monthly goals for June.  Wow.  The year's almost halfway over.  Well, I guess I'll start now.
Jordan's zone and their classy pastel shirts

            The work was still a little rough this week, but it was probably one of the best days of my mission so far.  The entire mission went to the Angeles Stake Center for a mission conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Twelve Apostles.  We arrived a couple of hours early so that we could talk and visit with all of the missionaries in the mission.  I was there for only about ten seconds before I was tackled by my MTC companion, Elder Brown.  It seemed like he got even bigger since I last saw him, but it was awesome.  Shortly thereafter, I met up with Elder Palmer, Sister Sharp, and Elder Biggs from the MTC, reunited again.  It was the first time I'd seen them in almost six months, so that was really cool.  We just talked about MTC experiences, our areas now, and shared other stories from the mission.  I'm really jealous of Elder Biggs right now, because he was about 5'10 or 5'11 when we got here, and now he's 6'1.  It was so weird seeing him so much taller - especially since I'm trying to get taller (ha).  But, Elder Biggs did it without even trying.  Lucky!!!!!  I visited other missionaries from my old zone and other missionaries I knew before we went inside to wait for Elder Nelson and President Martino to arrive.  We were instructed to read our scriptures before they arrived.  I decided to read Alma 5, because it's just an awesome chapter.  I forgot what verses they were, but a couple of them mention having "the image of God in [our] countenance."  I'd always read that in the past, without much understanding of what that meant.  After a couple of minutes of pondering, I had some ideas, but I still really wasn't sure.  My question, however, would soon be answered when I met Elder Russell M. Nelson.
Jordan (from left) and Elders Tuitama, Manalo and Philips
             We got seats in the back of chapel, which I thought was lame at first, because we were so far away from the pulpit.  However, my disappointment went away immediately when Elder Nelson came through the back door and we got to see him up close and personal.  We thought we heard a noise, so everyone's heads were turned to the door.  President and Sister Martino entered with Elder Nelson and a member of the Philippines Area Presidency.  So, the back row turned out to be awesome, because Elder Nelson walked right behind me, and I just felt such a powerful spirit.  He truly has “the image of God in [his] countenance.”  On the request of Elder Nelson, we all got to shake his hand.  Now, I didn't really see him do this to a lot of the missionaries, so I felt special/awesome when he said my name out loud as he shook my hand.  Seriously.  Having an Apostle of Jesus Christ look at you, shake your hand, and call you by name is pretty sweet.  That may be my only time I ever shake hands with an Apostle, so it was an incredible experience.  The member of the Philippines Area Presidency and his wife spoke before Elder Nelson.  They did great.  But, of course, Elder Nelson was just awesome. 

            Elder Nelson mostly talked about looking at the potential of our investigators, or the people that we meet, to be baptized and become like Heavenly Father.  Elder Nelson's knowledge of the scriptures is just incredible.  He started a Q&A with some of the missionaries, and the way he answered them were just simple but powerful.  He then said, "I know it hasn't been said, but there's a question that hasn't been asked yet, and that's concerning your families back home."  He then gave comfort to those missionaries who are the only members of the Church in their family and gave us the same promise that Christ did to Elder Thomas B. Marsh in the D&C.  I forgot the section, but it was about how are families will be protected and blessed from our service.  I just sat there amazed at how many missionaries’ prayers were just answered right there without them asking.  It's amazing how so in-tuned with the Spirit he really is.  I was just there to witness that power right in front of me. 
Lucky elders to eat at the Adonis home in Kalikid

            I've seen Elder Nelson two times now since I've been on mission and it's awesome.  I definitely left there with a different perspective about missionary work and my missionary service.  Wow.  O yeah.  Brad, I was able to meet Jojo and a couple of other members here that still remember you, so it was awesome meeting them.  The zone leaders in Angeles told me that there are still people here that talk about you, because one of the zone leaders is also from Vegas.  Apparently, one of your converts is the ward missionary leader there, so that's an awesome blessing from your service right there.  I don't know his name, but I can't wait to meet him one day.
Jordan's MTC District Reunited in Angeles
            Not a lot to say about the area right now.  It's rough, but at least we have a baptism at the end of June, so that's definitely something.  I think that's about it for me.  I hope I'm not forgetting anything.  Oh!  Happy late Birthday Kambria!  :)  I'm sure that it was great.  Congrats to Jesse on his return home from Brazil.  Hard to believe he’s back!  Wow.  Alright.  Well, mahal na mahal ko kayo.  ingatz to ya.

            Elder Jordan Royal

A Philippines Rainbow Connection

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Still in Mamonit

Bicycle built for two: Jordan here peaking over Elder Declaro's left shoulder in Kalikid
            We had transfer announcements on Tuesday and every companionship changed, except for ours.  So, I will be Elder Timbas's last companion before he goes home.  We got zone T-shirts that day as our last full day as a zone, and they're pretty sick.  Everyone got to pick the color they wanted for their shirt, and they turned out pretty well.  Oh yeah.  We do have a new companionship/area in the zone now.  Before, the Elders in Padapada were in over two wards, but now the area is split.  One of the missionaries is a part-time missionary, which pretty much means he's not really even a missionary.  We also have a foreigner in every companionship, so that's pretty cool.  Elder Declaro's new companion, Elder Shaffer, is from Pittsburgh and is very tall.  In fact, this is the first time that I've felt short since I've been here.  He's about 6'4, which is pretty much my dream height.  So it's like looking at myself in the future.  He's a pretty cool guy.  It's nice having another foreigner in the house that I can talk to about stuff.  I think that's about it for transfers, so I guess I'll move on to the week.

            Again, the work was pretty rough this week.  We tried combining two of our areas that we usually go to in one day to increase our lessons, but that just increased our walking distances....by a lot.  My legs were killing me this week from the walking.  Some days, we would walk from the beginning of our area all the way to the other side.  I know you can't control how others exercise their agency, but sometimes it just annoys me when people are just "too busy" to listen to us.  The same thing still happens when we're contacting and trying to find new people to teach.  (Ugh.)

Sis. Adonis in Kalikid with a list of missionaries (here we circled Elder Royal)
            On the other hand, we're making progress with our investigators, or our children investigators.  We were making great progress with Sheila this week.  She was reading the Book of Mormon everyday and even had a scripture pencil and stuff.  Our lessons had been going very well also.  Unfortunately, another challenge just surfaced.  She left to live in Tarlac with her Mom for awhile, and we don't know how long she's going to be gone.  (Sigh.)  We were only able to teach Jarom once this week, because we couldn't get a hold of him all week.  He had "sore eyes" all this week.  It was pretty gross to see, actually.  Both of his eyes were all red and just looked like he had black eyes.  We gave him a blessing after our lesson, which was pretty cool.  He didn't go to church yesterday, which was sad.  We're losing investigators once again with no one else to teach or find.  But, we just continue to do our very best.  I know I'm in this area for a reason.  Praying hard.  That's for sure.  Well, I guess that's about it for our work this week.

            Silverado loss in the State Championship in 5???  That sounds familiar.  I'm sad for them, but I'll be honest, it seems to be Silverado’s fate to get 2nd place in everything.  There's always next year, right?  I can relate to that situation right now as a missionary.  During my first area, I was having so much success with my companions.  We were baptizing and less actives were returning to church.  So, I went into my present area thinking that we would be doing the same thing (we still can), but then challenges have taught me the great value of humility.  (Well, I guess I just figured out my reason for being here now.  Definitely need that.)

            Well, I am sorry if this email is kind of a downer, but I'm just reporting what happened.  That does not mean I am not happy, nor does it mean I do not love the work.  It is all true. Adversity makes us all stronger, better.  You're all in my prayers.  God bless you.  Mahal ko kayo.  Ingat.

            Elder Jordan Royal

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day!

             Wow....it was awesome being able to SKYPE with you guys today.  Thanks for keeping me updated and everything.  You guys are the best.  Well, this email me be short, because I don't feel like writing down everything that I just said to you, but I guess that I will tell you a little bit more about what happened to us this week with the work.  We've been making progress with one of our knew investigators, Sheila, which is pretty awesome.  The only bad part about that is that we haven't met her father yet, because he's always working in the bukids.  Saya.  Hopefully we'll be able to meet him this week, so that we can maybe teach him, too.  She's friends with the less actives that we're teaching right now, so that's how she got interested.  She's gone to church twice in a row, so hopefully her dad knows that by now.  Since we've taught Jarome all of the lessons, we're just reading with him from the Book of Mormon and going over the lessons with him.  He's a pretty sharp kid.  It's fun to read the Book of Mormon with our investigators, because then we can explain to them concepts that might be hard for them to understand.  Elder Timbas gave our investigators and less actives one of those coloring things that you usually get in Primary that says, "I've Read the Book of Mormon" so that they could keep track of their reading.  It actually got them pretty excited to start reading, because it helps them accomplish a goal of coloring in the paper so that it is proof that they've read the Book of Mormon.  I remember getting those back in the day.  Good times.  We started teaching Juner about the Plan of Salvation, and he's a smart kid, too.  I was surprised by the questions he would ask, because they're usually questions that only older people would ask.  He hasn't really been coming to church, though, because he doesn't have a friend to go with.  He tried to go to church yesterday with his neighbor, who is also from a part-member family, but she didn't want to, so he didn't come.  It was sad, but we still had three investigators at church yesterday.
Jordan's life sized cut out was a tad taller than life, but still very cool
            It's mostly half rainy half hot season right now.  We've had mini typhoons that usually last about ten minutes, and then other days when it's just incredibly hot.  It's simple really.  If there's sunshine, it's hot.  If it's cloudy and rainy, it's not.  So, a little bit of halo-halo, but it's alright.  Well, I guess that's about it for the boring weather report.  Now for some stories....if I had one.

            Oh yeah.  The frogs.  I told this story to David, but since Mom didn't hear it, here we go.  We went to one our less actives yesterday to teach them, and we saw Tatay with a bag full of live frogs.  He was sitting down and just chopping off their heads one by one.  Then he would rip the skin off (like a sock), chop off the legs, and then put the body in a bowl.  He did this all in about 10 seconds with each frog.  It was pretty gross, but hey as long as it feeds their family I guess it’s great.

            Wow.  Well, now I can't really think of anything that happened this week.  Transfer announcements are tomorrow and I can't believe how fast this transfer has gone by!  I'll probably be here with Elder Timbas for his last transfer, or I might train.  Those are the possibilities that I'm seeing right now.  I guess we'll just have to find out tomorrow.

            O yeah, another thing.  I started doing these stretching exercises this week, because I saw a manual on Elder Timbas's desk entitled, "How You Can Still Grow, Even After You're 25."  I figured, "Hey I'm not tall enough yet.  I better give it a try."  It's all stretching exercises and it was pretty rough when I first started, because I have the flexibility of a wooden board, but I'm improving.  Even if I don't get taller, at least I'll be flexible.  It says that I should expect to grow an inch after six straight weeks of doing the exercises every night.  You may laugh and think that this is impossible, but don't be too surprised when you get an email with the subject, "I've grown an inch!" ;)
            I'm sad that I missed the wedding.  It sure sounded a lot of fun.  Welcome Kambria Royal into our family!  :)  Our family's just getting bigger and bigger now.  It was so great seeing baby Royal on Skype.  He is so cute!!  I love you all very, very much!
Skyping with Jordan made for a great Mother's Day all around
             Well, that about wraps it up for me.  Mahal ko kayo.  You'll see if I have a new companion next week.  Ingat.

            Elder Jordan "6'5 Hopeful" Royal

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Well Hey There Family!

Sad condition Jordan's last package at the time of arrival (ugh)
            Well, this week was full of ups and downs.  It was mostly "up" at the beginning of the week, so I guess I'll just start there.  On Tuesday, we had just finished with an appointment and were walking to our next one.  It started to rain, so we just wanted to get to our appointment quickly.  On our way, I was wondering how and when we would find someone new to teach, because our only strong investigator is 11 years old (Jarome).  As we were walking, I was just staring at some house as we were walking by.  I had distinct impression to go and talk to the woman outside her house.   Of course it was the Spirit, and of course I put the impression away, until it came the second time.  I really didn't feel like talking to her, but acted on the prompting anyway.  It turns out that she and her family had already been taught by the missionaries before and they were not interested.  It wasn’t really the result I was hoping for, but the important thing is that I listened to the Spirit.  Who knows?  Maybe in a few years, she and her family will accept the gospel and we just played a role in helping bring that about.  Perhaps the Spirit has been trying to talk to her for awhile, but maybe he's just sending one companionship of missionaries at a time.  Here in Mamonit, EVERYONE has heard of the missionaries.  That's not a joke, either.  It seems that about 99% of everyone we talked to thus far has said that either they, a sibling, parents, aunt, uncle, etc., have been taught by the missionaries before, and that they do not want to hear from us.  It's been like this since I first arrived.  We must've had some diligent missionaries here in the past, because everyone's been taught or attempted to be taught.  So, it has been a tad frustrating.  I guess I'm going back and forth with the good news and the bad news, so I'll go back to some good news.  But on the bright side, we are here doing our best, and may well be opening unknown doors for opportunities for spiritual conversion down the road.
Jordan and Elder Timbas visiting the Camaling River
             In other good news, on Wednesday I finished reading The Book of Mormon again for the second time on my mission.  I enjoy reading the Book of Mormon so much.  It gives me a little bit of a "confidence boost" for the day, because we're pretty much in the hardest area in the zone.  The challenges out here would be a lot a worse if I wasn't reading the Book of Mormon right now, but that and my prayers are keeping very close to Heavenly Father.  Some more good news: my ATM card finally works!  We took out our support money in Camaling this week, so I decided to test the ATM card again.  I was really happy to see a small amount of cash to come out.  Woo!

            In other bad news, Saturday or Friday (can't remember) we went to one of our investigator's homes (Juner, again 11 years old) to teach him, but his mom is now against it.  We've been trying to teach her, too, and I thought we were making progress there, but apparently not (or so it would seem - perhaps only a temporary set back).  He wasn't allowed to attend church yesterday, which is a shame because his house is literally right in front of the church.  However, we were able to teach him again yesterday.  His family was attending a funeral later in the day for a relative, so he wondered if he would ever see that relative again.  I told him that he would and that we would be teach the Plan of Salvation to him this week.  So, maybe that will put some life back into the fire.  (Hopefully so.)

             Okay, about Mother's Day.  I'm probably going to make the set-up call on Saturday or Friday here (so it'll be before David and Kambria's wedding).  Will David and Kambria still be there on Sunday for the call?  I'm planning on calling on Monday, so it'll be just like Christmas.  I'll have to use the calling card, so hopefully that'll work the first time, because I've heard missionaries have had problems with those in the past.  Should I Skype?  I can, but do I need a Skype account for that?  Oh well.  We'll figure it out later I guess.  I'll probably just call.
Jordan with his zone at the Camaling River

            Well, I think that might be it for this week.  We're starting week five of the transfer already.  Yeah, crazy.  I've been here for over a month already.  I'm a little sad that I'll be missing the wedding this week, but I'm sure I'll get plenty of details from it (and I can’t wait to see pictures of the life sized Jordan).  We're going to Tarlac to do some grocery shopping and also to get Elder Timbas's x-rays done, because he's going home.  So, we'll see if he has any mga bulati (intestinal worms - yay).

            Mahal ko kayo!  Ingat

            Elder Jordan Royal