Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Sunday, July 29, 2012

10 Months Down

            Wow.  I can't believe that 10 months of my mission have has already gone by.  It seems like yesterday that I entered the MTC.  That's the way I felt by the way as I read the new dearelders this week containing Elder Steven Jex's emails.  As I read his MTC experiences, they sounded exactly like mine.  Ah the good 'ol days at the MTC: learning simple Tagalog, three giant meals a day, gym everyday, going to the temple...Man - good times.  Steven’s been there over a month now, right?  I had some of the greatest experiences of my mission there.  Even though it seemed like I was there for an eternity (haha).  I also got a letter from my friend, Tanner Johns, from my BYU summer term, who is serving his mission in Mexico.  It was hand-written back in the beginning of June and I just received it (haha).  It's awesome having so many of my friends right now serving missions.  Special congrats to Dallin for going through the temple this week.  Awesome, right?  I loved going through for my first time.  We had our entire family together there for the first time.  That was almost a year ago.  Wow.
Jerome (left) was baptized by Oliver

            Well, the work wasn't too great at the beginning of the week, but it sure ended on a fantastic note!  Near the end of the week, we began teaching a new investigator that we met just a couple of weeks ago while I was on splits with Elder Greenwell.  She was over at member's house that we sometimes visit, and we wanted to share with her a short lesson (10 minutes).  She said that she really wasn't interested, but after talking for a little bit, we were able to convince her.  Our 10 min. lesson turned into 45 minutes as we talked about prophets, the Savior's Earthly Ministry, and the Great  Apostasy.  She turned out to be very interested in our lesson and we were able to answer a lot of her questions.  She still kinda thinks that there's really no religion that has the power to save us, but is still interested open to listen to us.  I'll take it.  As we continue to teach her, I'm sure she'll come to know that there is a Savior of the World who has saved all who choose to follow Him.

            I had the most powerful experience teaching the Plan of Salvation so far on my mission with our investigator, Bessie, yesterday during church.  We went through all of the questions of the soul: "Where did I come?" "What's my purpose in life?" and "Where do I go after this life?"  I also noticed that teaching the Plan of Salvation is soooo much easier to teach when I use that little wooden puzzle that I got at Missionary Mall, because it's an effective way for the investigator to see the Plan clearly.  We've been teaching her all month now, and she’s just awesome.  We extended the invitation for baptism and she accepted.  It was an awesome experience.  The Spirit was so strong that she and my companion were crying.  She'll be baptized (hopefully) on September 1st.  We also had a similar as we taught our investigators Rechelle and Ruben.  We also taught them the Plan of Salvation with the similar result, except they'll be baptized on August 25th.  So we were able to have three investigators with baptismal dates in just one day!  Woo!  It really is rewarding to watch these people make this change in their lives. 

            I have really enjoyed training.  Even though it's really hard sometimes, it's getting better.  We'll be having our transfer announcements next week, but am pretty sure I will stay because of the 12 week program.  Still, who knows?  It's happened before that trainers or trainees to get transferred halfway through the program.  But that's not likely to happen for me.  I plan on still being here until at least September.

            Glad to hear that everyone had a good week.  I hope that will continue.  I love you all and for all of your prayers and support.  Oh, before I forget . . . .  Welcome home Mike Flagg and Kylie Little!  Way to serve!  Now I think that's about it.

            Mahal ko kayo.  ingat.

            Elder Jordan "No Longer a 'Single Digit Missionary" Royal

Monday, July 23, 2012

Oy Hoy Hoy

            How about that?   I'm surprised my birthday letter so soon, Mom.  I'm just very happy that it arrived before your birthday.  I'll be be sure to wish you Happy Birthday again . . . in a couple weeks. ;) haha.  Well, our week wasn't quite to the level as last week, but it was still a pretty awesome.  It went by quickly.  It has rained almost every day here, so I always come home with wet shoes, socks, pants, shirt, and everything once we get home.  All in a day’s work, right?  I like the rain, though (most of the time).  It keeps things very cool here, which I much prefer than the humid heat. 
Jordan's favorite spider made another visit to the apartment this week.  They may have to add it to their list of investigators. 
            I'll begin with some details of our awesome lesson gone wrong with Hay Jhea on Tuesday night.  We had just taught her the entire Plan of Salvation and were about to end on a great note, with a prayer.  The Spirit had been strong throughout our discussion.  However, before we could do that, Hay Jhea's drunk step-father entered the room and began sharing his "testimony."  The Spirit said bye-bye at about that time.  We were teaching Hay Jhea outside and her step-father was around the corner drinking with his friends.  He was rambling on about how God only cares about Israel, that there are no prophets on the earth, and that there is no reason for God to give new revelation to mankind prior to the Second Coming.  (That summary actually wraps up all the man’s drunken words in a little nutshell.  It makes no sense.  But, then again, people never make sense when their drunk.)  None of us said a word during the drunken rant.  Hay Jhea was really embarrassed and apologized for his behavior.  We told her that we would come back some day and try to talk to him when he’s sober.  It would be really sad to lose her as an investigator, because she has a testimony of the Savior, the Book of Mormon and the Restoration, but the gospel is about bring families together.  We do not wish to create contention within the family.  So, we can't progress until Tatay will either agree to listen to us, or give his blessing for us to teach Hay Jhea.

            I actually had a couple other experiences talking with drunks this week, but they weren't like this one.  The other times were when we spoke with drunks on the street they didn't even know where their own house was.  At least they were in a cheerful mood.  The men who work in the bukids tell us that they have to drink to "relax" from their day's work.  And that seems to be the only way to relax for them.  That's pretty much their life every day.  Pretty sad.

            We also had several encounters with Jehovah's Witnesses this week.  There some kind of convention or something here for them, so that was interesting.  We walked past a group of them and they called us over to speak with us.  They handed us their magazine called, "Awake!" and wanted to share more.  We agreed to listen if they would listen to us.  We tried to give them one of our pamphlets, but they wouldn't even touch it.  They said it was "forbidden" for them to take it.  Bastos talaga sila.  So, that was about the end of our sharing time together.  Anyway, moving on.

            Because of the all day rain yesterday, we went from the highest attendance I'd seen at church to the lowest attendance I have seen.  The rain comes down hard and tends to keep people in their homes and away from travel (even to church).  The good news is that we had four investigators at church today.  One of our investigators, Bessie, is really progressing well and is starting to feel the influence of the Spirit in her life.  She is learning quickly.  Her boyfriend is a member in the ward.  I don't know if I talked about her last week, but if I didn’t, here's a little review.  She lives near Tarlac and only visits on Fridays and Sundays, so those are the only days we can teach her.  I think we're going to challenge her to be baptized next week, so hopefully that'll go well.  (Oh no. Ahhh!  We just had a brown-out and I thought I lost this email.  Whew.  Still there.  That would've been very frustrating.) 

            I guess I'll do a couple of shout-outs right now.  We had interviews with President Martino on Thursday, which was awesome, and I received all of the Dear Elders.  I also received a surprise package from Al Librojo.  Al, you’re right.  I do not really remember you visiting us that one time, but I'm very grateful for your package!  The hot chocolate and stuff came at a good time (haha).  That was such a nice, thoughtful thing for you to do!!!  Thank you!  Thank you!  Also, congrats Kai and Isaiah Nacua for your commitment to play football at BYU!  I know that announcement was about a month ago, but I just received a letter from Dad telling me about it.  That's awesome! 

Let the Pop-Tart grilling begin
            Oh, I almost forgot.  We don't have a toaster in our house that works, so I haven't really been eating the Pop-Tarts you sent me.  But, I solved that little problem.  I came up with the best thing ever!  I am grilling 'em.  That actually works great!  Grilled Pop-Tarts.  (Get ‘em while they’re hot!)  Guess what we’re going to be having for breakfast every day this week?  haha.

            I think that'll do for me right now.  Mahal ko kayo!  We're halfway done with our transfers already!  And I'll be hitting my 10th month mark this Saturday!  Fast!  I will no longer be a "single digit missionary."  There is something special about that.  It represents experience, confidence and increased ability to do the Lord’s work!  I am happily engaged - loving it all.  Ingatzzz.

            Elder Jordan "Pop-Tart Griller" Royal

This is what a grilled Pop-Tart looks like (although it seems Jordan could not resist taking a bit or two in the process).

Sunday, July 15, 2012

A Complete Turnaround!

            Wow.  I can't believe how much the area has changed in just one week.  I have A LOT to share with you guys this week, because it's been one of the best weeks of my mission so far.  I just did not think that it would ever happen here in Mamonit.  We worked with our Ward Mission Leader almost everyday this week teaching less active families and some new investigators.  We had our first lesson on Tuesday with Hay Jhae, who we met last week through street contacting.  It was the longest lesson I think I've ever taught as a missionary.  It's not really how I wanted it though, because usually if you teach long lessons, people become disinterested with the lesson and want you to leave.  We're just lucky and blessed to have found Hay Jhae.  She is very interested so far.  I thought that we were going to lose her at first, because of how long our lesson went (1hr 30mins), but she was with us the entire time.  Elder Dela Paz really likes to teach everything on a given subject, so that's pretty much why it went so long.  We taught all of Lesson 1 (Prophets-Holy Ghost) to her.  She had some really good questions about our lesson that we were able to answer, so that was also good news.  We also got another new investigator this week, Bessie, who is the girlfriend of one of the RMs in the ward.  We had another great first lesson with her as well.  She even came to church yesterday!  (But I'll talk about church and stuff later).  She also had some really great questions that we were able to answer.

From left: Jordan, Jerome, Oliver, Bro. Marvin, Elder Dela Paz, and Bro. Marvin
Jerome and Oliver
            Jerome's baptism was on Saturday! It was such an awesome day!  Unfortunately, the attendance was really low, but at least everyone who was supposed to participate in the program showed up.  Jerome's a funny kid.  After he was baptized, he quickly went back underwater, because the water felt good (haha).  The missionaries have been teaching him since March or something, so it felt good to see him be baptized.  It was the first baptism the ward has had since March.  After the baptism, we went to a less active's house to eat lunch.  One of the cats kept jumping on the chair to look at the food on the counter.  Every time I would try to scare him away, he never really moved.  I pretty much just pushed him off the chair until he went to the chair on the other side.  I tried to do the same thing, but he just wouldn't move.  I gave a gentle bump on the head like a Wak a Mole which made him hit his chin on the table and then he just looked up at the ceiling with closed eyes with a loud meow like, "Oowww.  Seriously?  Why did you do that, man?"  I couldn't stop laughing for at least a minute.  While I'm on the topic of animal cruelty, I'll share a quick story from a couple of days ago.  Back in Kalikid while I was with Elder Talento, whenever we would see frogs or toads in our path, we would run up and kick them.  A couple of days ago, we were walking when I saw a big frog in the middle of the road.  I ran up and kicked it.  It was a little dark, so I couldn't really see where it went, but I just heard it hit the branches of the tree next to us at least ten feet in the air and then heard it land on the ground.  (Yay for frog kicking.)  Later that day, we started Week 1 of our Ward Reactivation Plan.  Since it was the first week, I didn't really expect it to be well attended (like 
Jordan, Jerome, Oliver & Elder Dela Paz
the baptism earlier in the day), but I was shocked when at least 25-30 members showed up including the bishop and stake president.  We had to split up in four different groups because of all the people that showed up.  We had some really good visits with all of the less actives that we were able to visit.  Together with all of the four groups, we taught 13 lessons that day to less actives.  The fruits of our labors were answered yesterday when we had in increase of at least 40 people attend sacrament meeting.  Our attendance was 153 (110-115 during the other weeks).  We had less actives, recent converts, and an investigator all attend.  I couldn't believe what just happened.  I never dreamed of this EVER happening in this area even a couple of weeks ago.  The members are now finally stepping up to their callings and duties and are excited to do missionary work.  It was probably one of the best Sundays that I've ever had so far on my mission.  There's now a mission prep class in the ward for all of the ward missionaries which is pretty well attended.  Wow.  So the first two transfers of struggling in this area are now finally paying off.  Elder Dela Paz is great.  He is very liked by the members.  We had to leave after sacrament meeting yesterday to Padapada so that Elder Dela Paz could get his Patriarchal Blessing.  That was a neat experience.  It made me think about my Patriarchal Blessing that I received a year and a half ago and all of the blessings that have or will be fulfilled.
Jordan and co. with WML Bro. Julio
            The Lord continues to bless us with miracles in our area.  I'm eternally grateful for the work that the Lord has blessed us this week.  So hopefully, our Faith will bring more miracles in the upcoming weeks.

            Mom, I've only found one of the $20s so far in my box, I haven't opened up all of my boxes, so I'm sure (hope) they're still there.  Oh.  If you could send my little Preach My Gospel in my next package that would be great.  I figured that would be really helpful and easier to bring to Zone Conferences, interviews, or wherever.  I’m sending a few pictures of Jerome’s baptism - and one of a spider that visits me in the bathroom every couple days.  (We have become good friends.)

            Thank you for all of your prayers and support.  I felt them this week as we worked and probably had the best week’s worth of missionary work ever so far (38 lessons).  Mahal ko kayo!  I hope that you have a great week!  You're all awesome!

            Elder Jordan "Miracle Believer” Royal

This is the huge spider Jordan introduced us to today!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Package Received!!!

The Adonis family in Kalikid sends Elder Royal their love (and their request for chocolates from his big box from home)

The Royal Box Finally Made It!
Water logged

            I thought I would just answer Mom's question right away.  haha.  Yes I received it, but of course with my luck with packages....not in one piece.  It was fine when I saw it at the mission home and then they took it to the Zone Leader's house.  We went to Sta. Ignacia for DDM, so I was excited to finally get my long awaited package.  It had been raining really hard early during the week, so it got pretty flooded this week.  Well, when we went to the ZL's house, the front of their house got a bit flooded, but it wasn't much water, so I didn't think it could've entered in the house.  Wrong.  It did.  And of course, the box had to be on the floor right next to the door, so the bottom of the box got all wet.  Which is too bad, because I was going to use that box to send some stuff home.  Oh well.  Another thing: that box weighed a ton!  (I suppose getting soaked with water contributed to that.)  It's a good thing that I had good 'ol Tongan boxer Elder Tumassi lift the box for me by himself without any troubles at all.  It was still heavy for two people to carry that thing!  I guess that was the bad news of the box, but the good news is that because some of the boxed up things inside of the box got all wet, it was very easy to open them.  The contents inside all of the wet boxes didn't get wet, so that's good.  I guess I just don’t have great luck with packages.  (Oh, I forgot to mention that the jerky was all moldy.  Haha.  I had no idea that could actually happen.)  There's always three times a charm, di ba? ;) haha.  (In other words, don’t get discouraged.  Keep sending them.  The odds of a good delivery keep going up with volume.)

Most of the good stuff was intact

            This was another up and down week in Mamonit.  We did have some success this week.  I worked with our Zone Leader, Elder Greenwell, to get the baptismal interview done for Jarome (finally).  It's always fun to work with a foreigner (non-Filipino), because I can understand him.  He's been out for 20 months, so his Tagalog is already pretty good.  Yes!  Mamonit's finally going to have a baptism next week!  Woo!  Jarome's an awesome kid, so the members are pretty excited to have him as a member of the ward.  We did language study together, in which I learned something:  I don't know enough Tagalog.  That's okay though, because I'm still learning, right?  I read Chapter 7 of Preach My Gospel which is all about how to study the language.  We decided to just read one chapter from the Book of Mormon together in Tagalog, just because.  I realized that my Tagalog reading skills aren't the greatest in the world.  I have not been reading the scriptures in Tagalog that much, because I always just have others read the verses during lessons while I listen.  Preach My Gospel says to read the Book of Mormon in the mission language, which Elder Greenwell said helped him out a lot.  Based on his good Tagalog skills right now, I decided to listen to that council.  I would read the Book of Mormon in Tagalog sometimes back in the day, but I wouldn't really read it out loud, so my pronunciation was lagging.  I've decided to just do it.  And since I'm training, it's a good opportunity to learn from my companion.   Elder Dela Paz and I also speak English during our last hour of companionship study and language study.  His English is actually a lot better than he gives himself credit, so he should be proud of that. 

Mmmmmm  Moldy Jerky
            We had an OYM (Open Your Mouth . . . to share the gospel) go well pretty well this week.  We OYM’d a young 20ish year old girl at a tindihan, and she seemed really interested in what we had to say.  She was impressed that my Tagalog was good for only have been studying it for nine months.  I gave her a card of the Articles of Faith and told her why my Tagalog has improved over the past nine months (Articles of Faith #7, Right?).  We gave her a Restoration pamphlet and also a Plan of Salvation Pamphlet, because she had a brother who had recently passed away.  When we came back a couple of days later to teach her, she was busy and said that she gave her pamphlet to her dad (I think) who was interested in it.  Awesome.  We gave her another one and are supposed to start teaching her tomorrow.  Weird.  I always thought about going over there before just to buy some snacks or something, but never did until now.  The Lord works in very mysterious ways (like telling me to buy some delicious snacks for one piso at this tindihan).  We're hoping that this goes well.

            I think I mentioned last week that the Ward members finally want to help us out now, which has been a big boost in the work.  We went with our ward missionary leader and a couple of other ward missionaries to some new less actives' houses to invite them to come back to church.  This is what we did in Kalikid with success, so I think that this will have a positive impact here as well.

            Well, I think that's about it for me this week.  Hope y'all had an awesome Fourth of July!  Steven Jex, enjoy the MTC.  The time may seem to go by slow, but the MTC is awesome!  Enjoy it!  You'll be wanting to leave for Germany after a week of being there.  Not because you won't like it, but that's what the MTC does.  It just makes you so excited to leave for the mission field and go to work!

            Thank you all for your letters, prayers, and support.  Mahal ko kayo.  Keep the Faith.

            Elder Jordan "craving snacks and more boxes” Royal

            P.S.  David, Brad, and Dad: I ordered some awesome gifts for you guys that you'll probably get (hopefully) by Christmas.  I have to get them first and then send them home along with some other stuff that I want to send home.

Monday, July 2, 2012

I’m a Proud Papa!

EDITOR'S NOTE: We were thrilled to finally see that Jordan's birthday box (sent in March) arrived at the mission home on Tuesday.  It was quite the ordeal.  Big time thanks to Sister Adonis and her family (from Kalikid) who loved us enough to take a picture of the box and send it to us, which provided a measure of comfort.  ;)
Jordan's big box got rave reviews in the Angeles Mission Home . . . the Adonis family is hoping for some chocolates
            I’m training now!  Pretty awesome stuff.  My new companion, anak, is Elder Dela Paz from Dabaw City, Philippines.  Which is on that big island on the bottom of the Philippines - which also means that Tagalog isn't his first language.  It's not even his second language, but his third.  He speaks Bisaya, Cebuano, Tagalog, and English - all of which he's very good at.  Amazingly, Elder Dela Paz is only five years old . . . because his birthday is Feb. 29th.  (He likes to joke about that a lot.  haha.)  I was pretty nervous about training, but that all went away and I am super excited now.  Elder Dela Paz is a great guy, an excellent missionary, and I see us having a lot of success together.  More on how all that developed below, after I tell how things went from the beginning of the week.

            Since I was without a companion from Monday-Wednesday, I worked with Elders Declaro and Ilayat in Mayantoc.  That was pretty fun.  Working with Elder Declaro reminded me of when we were in Kalikid together just a short time ago.  And Elder Ilayat is just a missionary working and teaching machine.  He does not waste any time.  As a result, we taught a lot of lessons.  Since almost everyone here speaks Ilocano, communicating in Tagalog can be challenging.  Ilocano is really hard to understand - especially when Elder Ilayat and the other people they talk to each other while we're there.  I find I am able to pick up a couple of sentences and phrases in Ilocano here and there, but that's about it.  Elder Ilayat's first language is Ilocano, so he's the only one who understands them.  When he would teach people in Ilocano, Elder Declaro and I had absolutely no idea what was being said.  All we could do is just give an occasional thumbs up to indicate that what Elder Ilayat said is true.  (haha.)

            Anyway, now for the highlight of the week...transfer announcements.  Like last transfer, everyone was congratulating me on becoming a trainer before announcements were made (especially Elder Declaro).  I then just joked with him on how he would become a zone leader and would have to transfer.  Both of those predictions came true.  Elder Declaro became the zone leader in Tarlac Zone and I am now a trainer (tatay).  I was not initially excited about it.  First, I hate to see Elder Declaro go.  I really enjoy working with him.  Then, I questioned my readiness to be a trainer.  I also wondered about the kind of success we would have together in Mamonit, where the work has been so sadly difficult.  Finally, I still question my ability to speak the language well enough to lead other missionaries.  Nevertheless, I took it as an opportunity to improve my language and become closer to God than ever through very sincere, humble prayer.  I prayed for the courage and help that I needed to be excited to meet the new missionary (my son or anak ko). 

            I woke up 4:30 am on Thursday feeling a little better than I did the day before, just more tired.  Yeah, that was the second time this week I had to wake up before 5:00 a.m.  (Yay for lack of sleep!)  The three of us met up with the other future trainers at the Tarlac Chapel, and guess who else I saw?  Sister Sharp from my MTC District!  I totally called it.  Everyone in my district is or has trained already now except for Elder Brown.  Elder Bell, from my MTC batch, is also training.  We all met at the mission home tired, feeling inadequate, and scared to meet our mga anak.  Twelve new missionaries entered the field that day and none of them are foreigners.  Everyone that is training (except for one) are all foreigners.  We had a workshop with President Martino about our new responsibilities and then we went upstairs to meet everyone.  The trainers were on one side of the room, the new missionaries on the other.  My companionship with Elder Dela Paz was the first announced and all my fear and anxiety was immediately replaced with joy and excitement.  All of the worries and concerns that I had earlier that day just vanished.  While I still feel a little unprepared, that sudden change in emotion was very comforting.  We ate at the mission home, which is always awesome!  It seems that I was just there even though it's been seven months. 
Let's have another look at that wonderful big package . . . shall we?

            Oh!  So about my big package...I saw it.  So that's good.  I didn't want to carry it because it was too heavy and it would've taken up a lot of room on the way home.  Sister Martino said that they would drop it by this week, so I will just let them take care of that.  It's in Camaling right now, so they're supposed to bring it by today.....daw.  (I can hardly wait to write you about how much fun we had opening it.)

            My first day of working with Elder Dela Paz was really interesting and a pleasant surprise.  Our first lesson was with a less active member, so we just shared a spiritual thought and stuff.  When it was Elder Dela Paz's turn to speak, I thought he would nervously testify to her that our message was true (like my first day), but there was none of that.  When he started teaching, it seemed like he'd been out way over a year on his mission.  He showed absolute poise and courage when he taught, with no hesitation.  I was completely shocked.  I would not have expected that from a brand new missionary (Filipino or foreigner).  He even gave them a commitment to them to keep for our next visit.  Wow.  Talk about a well prepared new missionary!  Elder Dela Paz and I get along very well with each other.  He's pretty funny.  He really wants to learn Ilocano and always asks people how to say certain things.  Since Elder Timbas left, everyone in the ward just wants to help us all of the sudden - including our ward mission leader, who didn't work with us at all for over two months.  Sunday was a pretty good day.  During our PEC meeting, we came up with a less active reactivation plan that will hopefully work like it did Kalikid when I was there.  Elder Dela Paz is just an awesome guy.  We are going to have a great couple transfers together.

            I’m sorry for emailing you guys so late today.  We went to Tarlac this morning and played basketball against the Tarlac Zone.  Everyone in the zone is new now, so it was cool to meet everyone.  Elder Ilayat is still in Mayantoc and is leading the area after only one week, which would be next to impossible for me, but this guy is just awesome - very experienced and motivated.  This is his last transfer before he goes home, so he's definitely sprinting to the end.  (It is nice to watch a missionary sprinting to the end of his mission.  Elder Ilayat is a great example of diligence.)  We've become best friends, so it'll be sad to see Elder Ilayat go.  It's really funny to talk to him, especially in English (haha).  Elder McCormack transferred and stepped down as a zone leader and became a co-senior for his last transfer.  I saw him for the last time earlier in the week.  He'd been my zone leader since January, so we got really close, too. 

            Well, I think that will just about do it for me this week.  Hoping to receive my package today.  Mahal na mahal ko kayo!  Thanks for all of the emails and updates!

            Elder Jordan "Tatay" Royal