Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Monday, October 29, 2012

Time Continues to Fly

Tarlac Zone

            Time continues to fly.  This was probably the fastest transfer I've been through so far, and it's only going to get faster and faster.  And once again, I am sending a companion home at the completion of his mission.  Elder Batingal couldn't sleep last night (haha).  He was either nervous or excited to go home, but whatever.  He is one of my favorite companions.  We had a really fun and productive transfer together.  Elder Batingal and the other departing missionaries will be flying to their homes on Wednesday.  I'll be leading the area on Thursday when I get my new companion.  I'll be in Tarlac with one of the zone leaders until then, because his companion also went home today.  We were up at like 4:00 am today and got ready.  Life has been busy.  So here's how our last week went.
From left: Jordan, Mak-Mak, Bro. Nunn, and Elder Batingal at Mak-Mak's baptism
             This past week was a complete blur.  It was like one super long day.  We didn't have as successful as a week as the week before, but we still had some really good experiences.  The best day of the week was Saturday for Reymark's (Mak-Mak) baptism.  But before that, I conducted two interviews for one of the sisters in my district at the stake center.  The first one I interviewed had a strong testimony of the gospel and seemed to know a lot.  She'll be the only member in her family, which she said is challenging for her, but she has faithful friends in the Church to help her.  The second interview started out just like it, only....ended differently.  Unlike the first one, she comes fro a part-member family.  She had some rather unique issues that I had not encountered before and, for the first time, I had to excuse myself from the interview, have a discussion with the sisters, and call President Martino for some counsel.  He directed me to complete the interview and this anxious young woman received what she so desired.  I was extremely grateful for this experience and felt that the power of the Atonement as never before.  Once I received President Martino’s counsel, every ounce of anxiety and pain left me, replaced by excitement and joy.  That was passed along to the candidate as well.  This was a growing experience for me.  The Atonement, in ways we cannot begin to fully understand, cleanses our hearts, minds and souls.  Guilt that has so weighed us down can completely vanish if we choose to give it to Jesus Christ.  We say that all the time, but to actually experience it either in your own life or see it work within someone else is life changing.  The Atonement is beautiful, powerful, and real.
Jordan and Elder Batingal with Mak-Mak at his home

            Mak-Mak's baptism was well attended and such a spiritual experience.  After he was baptized, he gave a powerful testimony of the Savior and His gospel.  He told us a few days before that he was afraid of having a mental-block and not being able to speak, but he prayed the night before that he would be able to bare his testimony and, of course, he felt that prayer answered.  What a way to end the transfer/mission with a baptism!  We talked a lot to Mak-Mak about serving a mission a year from now and encouraged him to start his preparation.  He says he wants to, so we'll keep working on that.  It was a great last week for us.  The members became really close with Elder Batingal.  He'll definitely be missed. 

            I am very sorry to hear that Grandpa Kelly is not doing well and is expected to pass soon.  I have written a special letter to him.  Please do what you can to have someone read it to him.  I want Grandpa Kelly to know how much I appreciate, love and admire him for having lived such a wonderful life.  He has shown us all how to life a gospel centered life.  I am amazed at all the joy he has brought into the world through his leadership in the Kelly family.  The number of people blessed by his Christlike life is more than we could ever count.  I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation, to know the very purpose of life, and to have an understanding that death is merely a process, not the end, that we will all be reunited again as a family with our Heavenly Father - provided we are faithful to the end, as Grandpa Kelly.  Please send Grandpa my love.  He has been so influential in my life.  May the Lord bless and comfort you all at this difficult time.  I am praying for you everyday.  Mahal Ko kayo.  Ingat.

            Elder Jordan "Seasoned Missionary at 13 Months” Royal
Jordan here with his Grandpa and Grandma Kelly a few days before departing on his mission in September 2011

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Hey, How ARE YOU???

            Hey everyone!  This week went by so fast I couldn't believe it!  We're starting week five of the transfer already, so this will be Elder Batingal's last full week as a missionary.  Do I have the area memorized yet?  Medyo.  I'm getting there, though.  Hopefully, I'll have the area memorized by the time I get my new companion and don't have to tell him that I have no idea where we're going.  It'll be my first time leading an area right after my first transfer.  Elder Batingal and I will tear it up this week.
We saw this on an elevator sign in our South Bend, IN hotel and figured it belongs in Elder Royal's blog
             So I pretty much had the most spiritual day ever on my mission on Tuesday.  The Spirit was present in every lesson that we taught which is very rare as a missionary, because there are a lot of factors that you can't control where the Spirit will just be gone in an instant.  Anyway, so we taught one investigator, Marvie, with her grandma who decided to join in on the lesson.  Marvie also has a brother that we're teaching, Mark, but it's hard to get in contact with him sometimes, so we just teach Marvie when he's gone.  Their grandma was pretty funny.  She kept asking when Mark and Marvie would be baptized and told them that they need to go to church (haha).  Unfortunately, they didn't go to church yesterday :(.  We were on fire that day, because we would use the scriptures more and talked less.  It's much better when the scriptures (and the Spirit) answer people's questions, because it is too easy to accidently incorrect doctrine otherwise.  The scriptures are never wrong.  Bam.  Our investigators just asked their questions and we had an answer for every single one of them in the scriptures.  They weren't debate questions either, they were sincere questions that they had about the Book of Mormon or the Atonement of Jesus Christ.  Just an awesome experience.  We finally found some fellowshippers in our area!  One of them is 17 year-old Ruth from Camaling.  I actually met her back in Mayantoc back in the day when they came for Elder iLayat's farewell dinner back in July.  She's from Camaling, but she moved in with some family that live in Victoria.  Small world.  One of our investigators, Jeremey, just turned 18 a couple of weeks ago, so she's pretty much close to the same age.  Yes, Jeremey is a girl.  She also came to church with Ruth!  Ruth's only been here for about a month, but is very out-going.  Hopefully they'll become close friends. 

            A new bishopric was called in Victoria Ward yesterday!  The other bishop had been there for eight years.  A lot of less actives attended church yesterday to see who the new bishopric would be.  I already forgot his name, but he's awesome.  He was a former district president, so he's got some experience.  One of his new counselors is Brother Nunn, who is still a young RM (about Brad's age).  He’s so awesome!  We had PEC with the new bishopric after church yesterday, and it was incredible.  PECs with the other bishop pretty much had about the same effect as not having it at all, but the new bishop just said: "Don’t worry about all that stuff Elders, we'll help you out."  Such an awesome thing for a missionary to hear!  The work will go so much better now and a lot of less actives will return once they all know that there's a new bishop.  So Mak-Mak's baptism didn't happen this Saturday due to some issues we couldn't control, but it will for sure happen this Saturday.  Mak-Mak is an awesome guy.  He actually went to Manila last weekend and visited the temple with his cousins.  He told us yesterday that he want to get married in the Manila Temple (of course, after he serves a mission - haha).  We'll probably have a lot of part-member baptisms happening soon with the new bishop and the new chapel that will be done in November.  Really, the here work is so exciting!
When Jordan doesn't send pictures, we just insert ourselves, here in South Bend, IN (Notre Dame) in front of the BYU bus
             I conducted my first baptismal interview yesterday for the sisters in my district (Sister Sharp).  I was pretty nervous, because it was my first one and I didn't want to make any mistakes, but it was such an awesome experience for me.  Her name is Joy and she's 18 years old.  I really focused on the Book of Mormon and the Atonement to see if she really had a testimony of all that.  Of course, I asked all the questions, but in my opinion, they need to have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, because so many investigators and less actives who get baptized just don't have a testimony of the restoration and the Book of Mormon, which is really sad.  Joy is awesome, though.  She was able to bear her testimony with ease and told me that she reads the scriptures (including the Book of Mormon) everyday and prays before and after.  It was a really awesome first-time-interview for me.  She'll also be baptized this week.

            To answer your question Mom, yes I got the absentee ballot.  But, I haven't voted yet.  Ahhh!  I keep forgetting every week, but I have all the forms ready and will print and scan them, so hopefully no worries there.  (Go Mitt!)  Eh, I don't really care anymore that BYU lost again (to Notre Dame).  I guess I have severely lowered my expectations for the Cougars.  Poor Riley.  When will we get a decent quarterback?  Is Riley Nelson really the best BYU can do?  (Dad, thanks for whining for me. I feel your pain.)  Do you think that BYU will hire another coach anytime soon?  Isn’t Bronco’s contract up after next season?  (Ugh.  Sorry, I got a bit distracted.)

            I think that's about it for this email.  I hope that you guys have fun this week!  Be safe!  Mahal ko kayo.

            Elder Jordan "2nd kill on Monday" Royal

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Hello Po

            Well hello everyone!  What a week this turned out to be.  Not a lot happened during the middle of the week, except for a lot of punted appointments, but we did have some pretty good lessons.  When we get punted, a lot of the time we’ll do is look for new less actives from the ward directory.  It's a good excuse to go street contacting, because both of us are pretty new in the area, so we don't know everyone or where they live, so once we make a contact and that person tells us where to go, we introduce ourselves and tell them about our message.  Most of them are not interested, but that's okay.  We receive all sorts of random directions when we ask people where a certain person lives, but that just gives us more excuses to share our message until we finally locate the less active we are looking for.  One morning, we were street contacting some guys who were in a big garage sacking up some rice.  Elder Batingal reached into his bag to give one of them an Articles of Faith card when he grabbed the house key with it and fell out of his hands and into a tiny hole in the sidewalk.  Luckily, the guys were nice enough to help us get it back by bending long pieces of grass into hooks and fishing them out.  So that was a memorable experience.  We finally made contact with a less active named Fidel.  He’s a pretty cool Tatay who was baptized back in the 1990's and had all of these old Church books and stuff that he was most likely not reading.  We've been focusing a lot on the Book of Mormon with less actives.  If they were reading it, then the other reasons for leaving the Church would never happen (i.e. offended, live far away from church, gossip, tithing, Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, etc.).  The Book of Mormon changes people and makes people stronger.  Like me for instance.  I'm still doing Sister Martino's challenge of Finding Christ in the Book of Mormon, and I'm loving it.  I just finished the Isaiah chapters yesterday, so now I'm on 2 Nephi 25.  Yay.  We think it's been making an impact on the people we teach, if they choose to read it.  Most people who do not read the Book of Mormon use the excuse of being “too busy.”  Too busy to read just one verse?!  Elder Batingal and I sometimes get discouraged when people lie to us and make up silly excuses.  We wish they would just tell us they are not interested instead of wasting our time.  But, we just keep plugging along.  We are here to serve and share our testimonies of Jesus Christ.  Some will listen, some will not.  It is like the Parable of the Sower.  We sow seeds of Christ, recognizing that some seeds will fall on good ground and sprout.  Others will fall on hard ground and will not.
Jordan is all smiles as he receives letters and packages!!
             We did have success this week though, watching General Conference this weekend with two of our investigators, Mak-Mak and Jovani.  More details on that later.  We went to Tarlac first on Saturday morning to watch the General Priesthood Session.  There was a brownout in the city, so there was no power in the building.  Luckily, they had a gas-powered generator that we were able to use to watch the broadcast.  The only bad thing was that it was really hot because there was no air-conditioning and the generator ran out of the gas halfway through the session.  They put more gas in and we were able to watch the rest of the session.  (Awesome session by the way.)  I depicted the theme as courage and being valiant to act.  Awesome, awesome stuff.  We then went to the Cortado's house and watched the Saturday Morning Session with Mak-Mak and Jovani.  Mak-Mak didn't have a testimony or a knowledge yet that President Monson is a prophet, so we made sure that he watched General Conference.  Jovani didn't understand anything any of the speakers said, but that awesome nine year old kid told us that he felt the Spirit as President Monson spoke.  Poor Jovani.  His baptism was supposed to be next week, but his father won't let him be baptized yet, although he does allow him to attend church and be taught.  His Mom is a less active member who agreed, but both parents have to agree in order for him to be baptized.  He still reads the Book of Mormon and is happy, so that's good.  Anyway, Mak-Mak also felt the spirit and understood everything that was said, and loved General Conference so much that he wanted to watch the next session (which I haven't seen yet), but we had to work.  The next day, we went back to Tarlac for the Sunday Sessions at which Mak-Mak attended.  We had power (and A/C), so everyone was comfortable in the room.  We sat in the very front row of the chapel to avoid all the chit-chat and crying children in the back rows so that we could focus and feel the Spirit.  I was amazed how many people attended.  The entire stake center was full.  I guess I'm joining the band wagon, but I have to agree that Elder Holland's talk was my favorite.  Never in my life had I related the story of Peter and the Apostles like that before.  That gave me such a deeper meaning of the account of the Savior’s admonition to Peter (and us all): Feed my sheep.  I also enjoyed Elder David A. Bednar about the lamps of our testimony and the oil of our conversion.  The Apostles can explain doctrine so profoundly that it gives so much more meaning and ideas.  They are truly inspired of God.  I left my notes at home, so I can't go into detail with all of the talks, but be it known that I felt the Spirit greatly this weekend. 
Jordan and a host of other missionaries with Sister Martino
             Mak-Mak was interviewed at the end of the session by the Zone Leaders for baptism.  He passed, so hopefully nothing bad happens as we are planning for his baptism this Saturday.  After the Afternoon Session, we were hanging out and then all of the sudden the screen turned into the BYU vs. Oregon State game.  However, they only had it on for a few seconds before they shut it off.  (Darn.)  BYU was losing anyway, and I guess they did lose.  (Darn again.)  I'm going to guess before I read Dad's email that they should've destroyed them.  (Am I right?)  Aren't they playing Notre Dame or Georgia Tech soon?  Well, on the bright side, I guess I'm not missing much this year.  (Ha.)  I guess that'll just get me more focused on the work (until basketball season starts, haha - jk).

            Well, I hope that you guys are safe and having fun over there.  We're already halfway through the transfer!  I'll hit my one month mark here on Saturday :o!  Mahal ko kayo!  Ingat!

            Elder Jordan "General Conference Fanatic" Royal

Monday, October 8, 2012

Huwag kang mangkukulam

            Kumusta Family!  Sorry that I'm sending this so late.  I'm actually in Balibago right now in Angeles.  We went to the mission home in Angeles City so that Elder Batingal could take the CLS English Test to become a certified English speaker.  He said it was really hard, but I think he'll get a good score on it.  It took us awhile to get there, but it was nice to spend some time in the air-conditioned mission office for a bit.  We went to lunch at SM Clark, the mall, and I've never seen so many Joes here in the Philippines that weren't missionaries.  (A “Joe” is what they call an American male here, like: G.I. Joe.  So, as I walk along down a street, it is not uncommon to hear: “Hey, Joe!  What you know?”) I suppose that it has something to do with being so close to what was once Clark Air Force Base.  Anyway, it was kind of surprising to see.  We didn't really stop and talk to them, but it was really strange to hear an American accent again from a guy ordering in front of me.  It's also very hot here.  What else is new, right? 
Jordan here with Sister Sharp and Elder Palmer from his MTC district - in Angeles City for a leadership conference
             Well, just like last week, we taught a lot of lessons, but when it came to Sunday....nothing.  The attendance was only 97 this week, when it was over 200 just last month.  I really don't know what's happening here.  We're doing everything we can right now to get the work progressing, but the members seem to be struggling to work along side us.  A big part of that problem is the failure of so many to come to church.  Mahirap.  Grrr.  The bishopric told us that everything related to gospel teaching (investigators, recent converts, and less actives) is our sole responsibility, which is frustrating because we are here to teach with them, not for them.  It seems that too many members are waiting for the chapel renovation to be completed before returning to church.  We are told that the construction work may be done by the end of this month, but it will more likely be mid to late November.  At least we have one really cool investigator, Mak-Mak, who will have his baptismal interview this week (knock on wood). 

            We did not get to see General Conference yet.  That does not happen for us until this coming weekend.  So, President Monson announced that the missionary ages have changed to 18 for young men and 19 young women?  I totally thought that was some baseless rumor until this morning, when a sister returned missionary bore her testimony saying that her former mission president sent out an announcement about that.  We were really shocked by it, because that was the first we had heard of it.  Then, a bunch of future sister missionaries got up and expressed gratitude and joy for this latest revelation, something that we didn't even know was true at the time.  Man.  We were thinking, "What if it's just a rumor?  What will they do?"  But, thanks to all the spoilers of Conference (including your letters today), Sister Martino confirmed it this morning.  I guess that's cool, but I would think 18 year old Elders would have to be really mature to serve a mission, because I do not think I would have been as ready at 18.  (Of course, had I known I could go at 18, I may have focused more on mission preparation at an earlier point, so it may not have been a big deal.)  I am interested to see what kind of a difference this makes in the number of missionaries in the field.
Jordan with Elder Batingal at the mission office in Angeles

            I attended my first ZL/DLC (Zone Leader's/District Leader's Conference) on Wednesday, and it was great!  It's pretty much just like zone conference, except the zone leaders talk about the previous month's goals and the goals for the coming month, and the rest of the mission isn't invited.  Our main focus for this month is teaching the Book of Mormon.  Sister Martino gave brand new copies to all the missionaries in the mission and invited us to read it from cover to cover by Christmas Conference in December.  At first, I really didn't want to do it, because I was almost done reading through it again and did not want to start over.  But, but after thinking about it and watching Elder Holland's awesome talk back in '09 at conference about the Book of Mormon, I decided to start over.  Sister Martino wants us to focus on getting closer to the Savior by reading the Book of Mormon.  She gave all the missionaries two colored pens, red and blue.  We are to use the red marker to highlight every reference to Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.  With the blue marker, we are to make specific note of the Savior's words.  It reminded me of when we did this as a family back in the day.  I've already circled all of that in my scriptures, too.  I started over on Thursday (with the Introduction and Testimonies) and now I'm in 2 Nephi!   :)  Once I started, I didn't want to stop.  I just love reading the Book of Mormon, and even learned a few more things in 1st Nephi that I hadn't noticed before (and I thought I knew everything about 1st Nephi after reading it so many times). 
Jordan outside the mission office in Angeles City

            Elder Batingal and I are still doing good and having fun.  I'm learning a lot from him everyday.  I'm also glad to be getting my friend's mission emails and stuff.  (Thanks for forwarding all of that, Dad.)  It sounds like they're loving it.  It figures that Dallin would be driving a car in his fist area and eating steak.  Man, American missionaries are so spoiled (haha), but I guess we are spoiled a bit here, too - especially in Victoria.  Just like Kalikid, we have dinner appointments almost every night, so I hope to gain some weight back.  Both of the Steven's (Elder Olson and Elder Jex) sound like they are doing well, and Steven Olson sounds like he's been making a lot of improvement in the Sao Paulo MTC (or whatever that's called there) since the first time he wrote.  Seth and I are serving directly below each other in the Philippines.  I can confirm that yes, the bread is reaaaallllly masarap here.  I laugh every time I read Brennen Marshal's letters (haha).  He really knows how to write interesting emails home.  I am excited to hear about Chelsea’s mission call.  My guess is that she will come to the Philippines Angeles Mission, of course (the best).  Or, my second guess would be a historical sites mission in New York (which she would be great at).  I forgot to tell you guys that I met Sister Tesch (Garth Tesch’s daughter) on Wednesday and we talked a bit about the Church History trip and stuff.  Pretty cool.  (If you can let Bro. Tesch know his daughter is doing well, that would be great.  I’m sure he would love to know that through another source.)  Oh, and thanks, Mom, for getting me new shoes at the Missionary Mall.  (Thank goodness for that free replacement guarantee if you buy shoes there.  Hint, hint to future missionaries looking to purchase shoes.)

            I think I'm going to end here.  I hope that you had a great week and that this week will be even better!  Mom, I don't know what packages I was carrying in those pictures Sister Martino sent you, but it is very cool that she sent them.  The Martinos are wonderful people.  Ight.  Mahal ko kayo.  Ingat!

            Elder Jordan "Psyched to Watch General Conference" Royal