Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Monday, August 27, 2012

Good Times - Rash Decisions

            This was a really awesome week, even though I had pretty weird experience health wise.  I must have a food allergy that I don't know about, because I looked at myself and my upper-body was covered in a rash.  It didn't itch, but it was just pretty weird.  I wish I knew what caused it, but I guess I'll just keep eating until I figure it out.  I've never had that happen before, so that was interesting.  Anyway, I guess I’ll take the rash if that’s the price for the rest of our week.

            Our investigators, Ruben and Rechelle Odones, were baptized on Saturday and confirmed during sacrament meeting yesterday!  It was a great experience.  These two have come a long way since we started teaching them.  I actually remember teaching these two once or twice back in my days with Elder Timbas, but they were not progressing.  Honestly, I barely remember teaching them (which gives some indication of how long I have been serving in this area - ha), and they weren't baptized then.  They both bore their testimonies after the baptism.  Rechelle's testimony was very powerful.  All she said was: "I know that Jesus Christ lives and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet."  Boom.  That's probably one of the greatest things you could hear as a missionary.  A few short months ago, they didn't even know who Joseph Smith was, but now they know that he was used as the instrument by which Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ restored the fullness of the gospel to the earth in preparation for the Second Coming, that all the priesthood power and saving ordinances are again on the earth.  The baptism was very well attended.  The members clean the chapel every Saturday, so we just invited them to stay for the baptism.  Rechelle and Ruben have made some very close friends within the ward, especially Rechelle.  She's been very welcomed by the YW in the ward.  Her best friend is a member, the one who gave us the referral. 
Jordan with (from left) Rechelle, Ruben, Elder Dela Paz and Bro. Julio at the August 25, 2012 baptism
            Our other investigator, Bessie (who will be baptized this Saturday), attended the baptism as well, so she could feel the Spirit and know that what she's doing is right.  Bessie has grown tremendously.  When we set her baptismal date a month ago, Bessie thought she wouldn't be ready.  But, I wasn't the one who picked the date.  The Spirit selected the date, because Heavenly Father knew that she would be ready by then.  Here's where the testimony-builder part comes in.  The ward is having a temple trip on Sept. 8th.  Bessie said that she would love to go, even if it was just around the temple grounds.  That's when I realized that Sept 1st was really the day that she was supposed to be baptized.  I said: "You know...You can go to the temple and participate in the performance of sacred ordinances with the ward.  I think that's why Heavenly Father picked that date for you, so that you could attend the temple.  Do you believe that now?  Are you ready now?"  Her face lit up as she quickly said: “Yes!”  Wow.  The Lord really knows every soul that we are working with right now.   He knows what they can accomplish.  He knows who we can (and will) become.  He knows what is best for us.  If she attends the temple on September 8th, I think that will be one of the greatest blessings ever on my mission.  Baptisms are great, but when investigators take the next step by getting to the temple (especially right after baptism), it's just a real beautiful feeling.  It gives me such great joy to imagine Bessie in the temple in a couple weeks!  I am so happy right now.
Rofina (Rechelle's friend) here with Rechelle, Ruben and Elder Dela Paz

            Okay, now for a little funny/gross story.  We didn't have anything to cook one night, so we decided to cook the last box of that pasta cheese shell stuff.  Remember that I told you how my giant package got wet?  Well...I didn't take out the contents out of the box right away.  Some of the other stuff melted anyway.  Anyway, I grabbed the box, and it was all moldy inside.  So we grabbed the spaghetti.  Then we found that a couple of maggots got inside.  We checked the rest of the contents in the box to see if they had anything else.  When we picked up the box, there were maggots everywhere.  Ugh....That was really gross.  We got rid of all the maggots and threw away the box . . . but we still managed to save all of the stuff that didn't get maggot eaten (that we know of). 

            I can't believe that August is almost over!  I'll hit my 11th month mark tomorrow!  Crazy!  Almost one year has gone by already!  It is even crazier that football season is starting again.  I'm sure I'll get a lot of BYU football reports from Dad (keep them coming!).  That should be fun.  Steven Olson enters the MTC this week!?  Awesome!  Good luck, Cuz!  Enjoy the MTC.  It's an awesome place.  The Spirit is so incredibly strong there.  Just don't get discouraged with the language there.  You won't be fluent by the time you're done.  Trust me.  Even though I've been studying Tagalog for 11 months, it's still a little off sometimes, but it's getting a lot better.  Enjoy the food.  I did.  Good times.  I gained 10 pounds in the MTC, which I've now lost.  [Pappa Royal Note: Jordan’s cousin, Steven, is leaving for the Mission Training Center in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Tuesday.  So, he will actually not be going to the Provo MTC, although I’m sure the food will be good at the MTC in Brazil, too.]

            Anyway.  I guess that's all for this week.  Mahal ko kayo!  Enjoy your week!

            Elder Jordan "I Got Some Kind of Weird Allergies” Royal

P.S.     Mom.  Could you send some Traumil?  Not the correct spelling, but I think you'll get that.  Thanks!  And Dad, I mailed your thank you letter to the zone leaders in Camaling to give to the woman who found my wallet.  I also included a personal letter with it.  Hopefully, she'll receive it soon and the zone leaders will have a good experience.
Jordan included this wonderful picture of the insect activities from the care package sent weeks ago

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Looking Forward to the Future

Jordan at the Camaling River
            Wow.  This week went by really fast!  I can't believe that August will be done in two weeks.  Time is just flying by.  Ironically, we had a pretty slow start to the week, because we had a lot of appointments fall through.  There is a less active that we've been working really hard to bring back named Randy.  Randy has already returned, so we're now trying to encourage him to serve a mission.  The less active, Randy, is just an awesome guy.  He has a great sense of humor and is fun to be around.  We've been reading the Book of Mormon with him and have left him with specific assignments to read or look for during his reading.  He really has that desire, but he wants to finish reading the Book of Mormon to know if serving a mission is right for him.  So we've been working with him to read all of it before the end of the month.  He's only in Mosiah, so he might not finish it, but hopefully he'll be close.  We've been having a lot of fun with it. 

            We really had a great end to week on Saturday and Sunday.  We had another great turn out for our ward reactivation activity on Saturday, about 150.  Since we've been doing that, our attendance at church has not dropped lower than 120.  How awesome is that!?  We even had six (yes, six) investigators attend church yesterday!  Ruben and Rechelle have really been doing great.  They have a lot of support from the members and YM/YW since they're been coming to church and Mutual, so they're in good hands.  Their baptism is this Saturday.  (Woo hoo!)  They've been fun to teach.  They were really quiet at the beginning, but they eventually opened up to us.  Bessie's baptism will be on Sept. 1st.  It's cool to have back-to-back baptisms.  Bessie's really awesome, too.  Her boyfriend is one of the RMs in the ward, and he's really cool.  Maybe he'll ask him to marry him after she's baptized.  That's just a thought, so don't go spreading it (haha).  (It’s not our job to play matchmaker, but it’s fun sometimes.)

Miss this guy!
            I can't believe that I have been in Mamonit for 5½ months now.  When missionaries would tell me that they've been in a certain for six months, I always thought that was a long time.  And I guess it is, but I didn't think that it would go by as fast as this has.  The weeks feel like days and the months are weeks.  I guess that'll sum up how time flies on a mission right there.

            Now, here’s a funny story.  We went to a member's to teach an investigator and they handed me what I thought was a really big lime, but it turned out to be grapefruit.  I don't like grapefruit, but the Philippines somehow has really good grapefruits.  They watched me eat it to see what my reaction would be, because it was really sour.  But, since I would eat plain lemons when we would eat out back in the day, it didn't faze me at all.  They were really amazed that I ate half the grapefruit without any salt or sugar (haha).  Since Elder Witt came by, our lunches always have a lot of vegetables and a little bit of meat, which I really enjoy since I haven't eaten this many vegetables in a long time.  I'm also starting to cook again.  Elder Witt's really good at cooking.  It's not that I don't know how to cook, but I'm just lazy sometimes (haha).  We've been cooking some pretty bomb stuff lately.

            Well, I guess that's it for this week.  Strange.  I thought I had more to write, but I guess I don't anymore.  Oh Mom.  I forgot to mention this to you last week, but if you could send one or two journal books to use and a pair or two of earplugs, that would be great.  I'm sorry for not mentioning it last week, because you've sent the package already, but I guess that'll be in the next one :).  Dad.  Happy Birthday tomorrow!!!!!  52's a cool age.  You know . . . full of wisdom and awesome skills.  Thank you for all of the letters that I enjoy reading every week and for all of your love and support to me.

            Mahal ko kayo!  Inagat!  I hope that you all have a great week!!!

            Elder Jordan “Immune to Sour Fruit” Royal

Monday, August 13, 2012

The Rains Came Down and the Floods Came Up

A break in the clouds brings the beauty of rainbows in Mamonit
            I'm sure you're all aware of the terrible flooding that's been going on in Manila lately, but just to ease your worries, our area wasn't flooded.  It did rain really hard all week except for two days, so that was a little intense.  It started raining really hard on Tuesday night while we were working, which flooded the streets and area in about 10 minutes.  That's a pretty good description of how hard it's been raining here.  We're fine, though, except my shoes took about four days to dry, because there was no sun to dry them.  We saw the sun for the first time in over a week on Friday, which helped dry up the area a bit.  There were some other areas in the mission that got flooded, like Camaling (just next door to us), but other than that we were fine. 

            The good news is that I was able to work this week (and by that I mean I wasn’t sick), but the bad news is that our work was a bit slow.  It was good, but it fell short of our expectations.  Part of that may have been due to the weather, some to our circumstances.  Since Elder iLayat went home, we have had Elder Retaga work with us in our area.  It’s strange working in a three-some, but it worked out well.  Our ward mission leader worked with us, so we were able to split up for a bit during some of our street contacting.  We had our transfer announcements on Wednesday and I am still here in Mamonit training.  I'm going to ultimately be here for six months in September, which is a long time in just one area, but I am doing great.  We only had one Elder leave the zone, and received three new Elders in the zone.  Now that Elder iLayat has gone home and Elder Abrenillia has transferred, I am now the oldest in zone (been in the zone the longest).  Elder Retaga's companion is Elder Witt from Heber City, Utah.  He was also in Kalikid over a year ago (my first area), so he's now the fourth Elder that I've been with in the Mayantoc house that was once in Kalikid.  He only has two transfers left on his mission, which is about three months, so Elder Retaga will most likely be his last companion.  He's a cool guy.  He knows both Tagalog and English well.  We all get along great and have fun.  Elder Retaga has been teaching me some extra Tagalog, helping to improve my vocabulary, so that's good.  We played zone basketball at Sta. Ignacia this morning which was fun.  It was the first time that I'd played in a long time.  It felt like the layoff caused me to lose some of my great ball skills (haha).  Elder Witt's a big guy.  He's just a little taller than me, but . . . uh . . . a tad heavier.  It was pretty hard guarding him on defense.  It was much better when we played on the same team.  We had fun, but it's just really hot playing even when it's cloudy with no sun. 

            Wow, I got way off track there.  Let’s see.  Where was I?  Oh yeah, street contacting.  It's pretty hard to street contact here, especially when the people have been taught by the missionaries before and they don't want to be taught again.  I'm also still having some problems with shyness when it comes to street contacting.  It's hard for me to start the initial conversation, mostly because I still have that fear of rejection.  But, I learned a lot from my trainee about that this week.  He kept saying: "fear is the opposite of faith."   He doesn't know that I'm naturally shy, but he's right.  I watched as he would just start talking to random people after he said that, without hesitation.  I then just started to just do it and stop worrying about stumbling with my Tagalog or being rejected.  So that's something I'm still working on.  I'm still not the best at street contacting, but when the Spirit is there and I'm not timid, it goes a lot smoother (even when they reject us).  We had a couple of experiences with some drunk tatays (fathers) this week.  Sometimes you can tell from a mile away that they're drunk, but sometimes you don't know until you talk to them.  It's pretty funny sometimes.  One time, we asked a tatay where we were at that moment.  He said that we were in front of the elementary school, but in reality it wasn't anywhere near us.  Back in the day when we were teaching Hay Jhea, her drunken father came out and began debating with us.  I know I told you this already, but something he said was really funny: "Yeah.  I know all about you Mormons.  You come from the Utah Jazz."  It was a pretty serious moment at the time, but we were trying pretty hard not to laugh at his statement.  Some of the drunk tatays won't let go of my hand when they shake it and come closer to talk to me with their horrible smelling alcohol breath.  Yeah it's a real hoot.  We actually try to avoid the drunks, but they are everywhere.
Jordan, enjoying the sun just before the days of flooding

            We got to teach our investigators (Bessie, Rechelle, and Ruben) on Sunday about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity.  The three of them have problems right now with coffee, tea, and the occasional alcoholic drink, but since they know this gospel's true, they're willing to give them up.  That shows real conversion and progression when someone is willing right there and then to give up doing these things, even though it'll be hard.  Back in my first area when we were teaching Erick Tan, we were having the greatest lessons until we taught him the Word of Wisdom.  He refused to give up drinking and smoking, even though he knew the Gospel was true.  He read the Book of Mormon in three days; yet, he wouldn't give up those habits for the gospel or his family.  He was having some other issues at the time, but that's a different story.  So, we based these two lessons off of one theme: Our bodies are temples given to us by Heavenly Father.  The Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity both address the physical, mental, and spiritual dangers that can be avoided if we keep these commandments.  The pamphlets that we use for teaching had the scripture in 1 Cor. 16-17, where Paul writes that our bodies are a “temple of God.”  So, I used some examples that really helped.  The first example I used was about tattoos (which I believe also falls into the category of keeping our temples clean).  I told them to imagine someone painting their own artwork on the beautiful chapel.  While somewhat nice, we know that such artwork does ot belong on a sacred building.  The next example I used was to picture someone dumping a bunch of garbage inside the church building, making it a place where no one would want to enter, having a beautiful appearance on the outside, but having a sour, smelly stench on the inside.  I compared this to smoking, drinking, doing drugs, and even breaking the Law of Chastity.  When we see beer commercials on TV, for example, they only use good-looking people.  The adversary does not want us to see the reality of abuse.  That simply would not sell.  So, he persuades by deception, making those lacking in self control appearing to be happy.  I thought those up on the fly and they seemed to work pretty good.

            Oh, I have something to add to the lost wallet saga.  I need to tell how I found my temple recommend.  When I lost my wallet recently, I thought that I had also lost my temple recommend in there as well.  (It had been in my wallet for my entire mission.)  However, during our companion study, we were reading from the mission white handbook and I saw my temple recommend in the back of the book.  We hold companionship study everyday, but I never noticed until this week.  I then remembered that about two weeks before I lost my wallet, I had an impression to put my temple recommend in my white handbook.  I didn't know why, but I removed the recommend from my wallet and put it in the white handbook.  When I found it recently, I had the distinct impression that Heavenly Father knew that I was going to lose my wallet, so He warned me two weeks in advance to remove my temple recommend and place it into my white handbook.  I just felt the greatest peace come over me and I knew that I was being blessed by the Lord.  That was an amazing experience.  

            The gospel of Jesus Christ is awesome.  The Church is now and forever will be true.  This is the Lord's kingdom that has been fully restored to the earth in preparation of the Savior’s second coming.  It amazes me that even though some investigators I've taught say they believe that, they remain unwilling to give up destructive behaviors or make changes, excusing themselves because it is simply the way they were raised.  (It is like the Savior inviting them to “come follow me” and they look at Him and say: “No, thanks.”)  If they know that this Church are true, "what do [they] have against being baptized?" (quoting Mosiah 18:10).  So, I guess I will end here.  I hope that you all will stay safe over yander.  Mahal ko kayo!  Ingat!

            Elder Jordan "Super Soaked Shoes" Royal

Monday, August 6, 2012

Wallet Gone, But Miracles Abound

Somewhere out there in the vast Philippines horizon, a wallet was lost . . . but somehow key contents found and returned
            Well...I guess I don't have to tell you the story of how my wallet was found, but I'm glad that you found out earlier in the week than now.  I'll tell you the story anyway, but from my perspective.  After I emailed you guys again, I was really feeling down about it, so I went through a lot of praying and begging to Heavenly Father that someone honest would return my wallet and all of the contents.  I was surprised to get a text the next day from our zone leaders that said that my credit card and ATM card were found, but the wallet itself was gone.  I was just so relieved and grateful that I got those back, because I had very little money to last the rest of the month.  I guess the story is that a mother saw her child playing with my cards.  They ended up all the way in Camaling (a long way from where I left the wallet).  She took the cards from him and saw the American name on the cards and the only Americans she saw walking around were the missionaries, so she gave it to a member.  Then the member saw that my zone leaders were also at Camaling, so he gave the cards to them.  Not only am I grateful to Heavenly Father for having received my cards back, but that they were in fact found by an honest person.  Even though I lost my wallet with my cash and temple recommend :(, I'm so grateful that I was able to withdraw my support.  God really does watch over me.  Awesome miracle story of the week.  (There was only 400 pesos in the wallet, which translates to less than $10.00 US.)  (And Dad, I didn’t lose my driver’s license.  We turned those in at the mission home upon our arrival.  So, good news there.)

Jordan is grateful to have his debit/credit cards back
            Even though that was a great miracle, the rest of the week didn't go by so well.  It all started when we visited our good ol' recent convert, Jerome.  He was sick, so we gave him a blessing.  A couple of days later, I started having a really bad sore throat, which then turned into a cold.  I wasn't able to do much all this weekend (Friday, Saturday, Sunday).  It was really rough.  Our work in the beginning of the week wasn't going well either, so we weren't able to accomplish all that much this week :(.  Being sick and not being able to work is just a terrible feeling.  I kept thinking about our investigators that we were supposed to be teaching all weekend.  Ugh.  Felt helpless.  However, I went to church yesterday and stayed for all of the three hours, but then went home because I was feeling dizzy and had a slight fever.  We had a good sacrament meeting though and our lesson with Bessie still went great!  Even though my nose was all stuffed up.  Her Baptismal Goal Date (BGD) is scheduled for September 1, but she thinks that's a little soon.  True.  It does seem pretty fast, but I'm not the one who picked the date.  That was the Spirit all the way.  We told her that it's just a goal and that she doesn't have to be baptized right on that date, but we told her that she'll be ready by that date if she continues to do the things we ask her.  We're only able to teach her once a week, which might be a little bit of a disadvantage, but she's a strong investigator.  Our other investigators, Ruben and Rechelle, came to church as well.  They're BGD is a week before Bessie's, but we weren't able to teach them at all this week, because I was sick on the days on the only days that they're available.  But, I guess the moral of the story is that I'm better now and that the Church is/always will be true. 
Two things: 1) There's a hole in the shoe; 2) It needs shining

            It was Elder iLayat's last full week this week, which was a bitter-sweet moment.  We became really close this transfer.  All of us in our house were close.  Even though he was only here for one transfer, the Mayantoc members became really close to him, too.  They threw him a Farewell Party on Saturday.  Everyone really appreciated all of the work that Elder iLayat did.  I could definitely see that.  He is a dedicated, hard working missionary that is an inspiration to everyone around him.  I want to have that kind of lasting impact on the people that I serve.  I want them to always remember my name and think: "That Elder Royal sure helped out with the Ward" or "Elder Royal was a great missionary."  I hear things like that all the time from members talking about certain missionaries that were in their area a year ago or 10 years ago.  Missionaries should always strive to "leave the area better than [they] found it" (Preach My Gospel).  That reminds me of a lesson that our MTC teacher gave about Nehor and his evil affects on so many generations.  The acts of one person impacts generations.  Elder ilayat (and also Elder McCormack) gave great acts of service to everyone that they came in contact with.  They will be missed for sure. 

            Even though our transfer announcements aren't until Wednesday, I already know that I am being called to serve as the new District Leader here.  The President sent his weekly letter with all of the "newly called" on it.  Elder Biggs is also now a new zone leader.  (haha Typical Elder Biggs - always leading the way.)   That's awesome for him.  Unfortunately for him, that means he is being transferred from Baler - the most coveted area in the mission (by the ocean).  Poor guy.  He was only able to enjoy being in Baler for only one transfer (haha).  The good news for me is that I am guaranteed to be here for at least one more transfer, perhaps longer, so I will get to see some of the fruits of our labors.  I have really come to love it here.
From back left: Jordan , E. iLayat, E. Dela Paz, E. Retaga - with family that came to see E. iLayat before his departure
            Happy Birthday Mom!!!!!  Like I said, I'm glad you got my birthday letter already :).  I'm sure it was awesome!  I love you so much!!  :)  Mahal ko kayo lahat!  Ingat

            Elder Jordan "Masakit Noon" Royal