Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rough Start, Smooth Finish

              Hey Family!  Sorry I'm writing this so late.  I just finished with all of the monthly reporting for our area and the district, along with my weekly letter to President Martino.  It seems like a lot, but the zone leaders actually have to do several hours of reporting each week and a bunch of other stuff.  Anyway, as you can probably tell, we had a bumpy start to our week but things got a lot better by the end.  We had a ton of punted appointments this week (no call/no show), but I felt much happier this week and felt the Spirit more consistently regardless of the negative events.  We had a lot of good happen and I tried to focus on all that. 
Jordan with his companion and the ward missionaries who served with them this week 
            We received a referral from the bishop to teach his neighbor.  She's 15 and I guess we occasionally say hi to her as we walk by during the evenings, but I did not really recognize her.  She was really interested to hear from us.  The main question she said she wanted answered was whether Jesus Christ was really literally resurrected.  We told her we would teach her all about that during our later lessons, but we invited her to pray to God about our message and ask Him to reveal truth to her.  We promised that if she would do so, she would absolutely have answers to all her questions, and know for herself whether the things we teach her are true (including the Atonement, sacrifice, and resurrection of Jesus Christ).  We have a similar investigator like her named Silvia, who is also 15, and they actually attend the same church together.  We've been teaching Silvia’s brother, Mark, for a long time.  In fact, Mark was my first lesson in this area.  We learned this week that Mark moved to Manila and is going abroad to work in another country.  That was a bummer, but Silvia is awesome.  She joined in one night as we were teaching Mark about the gospel of Jesus Christ (i.e. faith, repentance, baptism, gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) and she became interest to learn more.  Silvia is really smart about the gospel, because she's super active in her own church.  She developed a desire to learn more and said she knew that the things we taught them are true.  We invited Silvia to read the Book of Mormon with Mark and to pray about it, asking Heavenly Father to reveal truth to her.  She told us yesterday that she prayed to God asking for a sign if the Book of Mormon was true.  She said in her prayer that if a Kaliglig (farm tractor) drove by her house then that meant that the Book of Mormon's true, but if none drove by, it's not.  So she said immediately after her prayer a kaliglig drove by her house, so she took that as a sign that the Book of Mormon's true.  (That is NOT the way Heavenly Father generally reveals truth to us, and we did not teach her to ask for signs other than to seek for answers through the peaceful feelings that come through the Comforter or Holy Ghost.)  When we went to teach Silvia yesterday, I realized that she hadn't been taught about the restoration yet, so we taught her all about the Great Apostasy and the Prophet Joseph Smith.  The Spirit was really powerful and she later told us at the end of the lesson that she was confused because she, like Joseph Smith, did not know exactly which church which was true now.  I just smiled and said, "Well, I guess you're in the same situation that Joseph Smith was in.  You now know what you need to do."  She accepted our invitation to pray about Joseph Smith and the answer to his prayer about truth that resulted in the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth in its fulness (as it was during the Savior’s ministry).  We are excited to follow up with Silvia later this week.

Homemade Orange Julius is a rare treat
            We actually worked with the ward missionaries yesterday for the first time since I've been here.  We went on splits and had a lot of fun while teaching some very spiritual lessons.  I taught the lesson with Silvia yesterday with only the ward missionaries.  I wasn't really super close with the members here initially, but I am now so much closer with them.  The members I was with said that they noticed that I changed a lot yesterday (as a good thing).  There was a kind of bond established - just like that.  I really hope I am not transferred in three weeks.  I would love to be here for Christmas, because that would be awesome, and we are teaching some great people.  The new chapel that has been being renovated for over six months now is practically done, and we should be there this Sunday or next Sunday.  I want to go to church there at least once before I get transferred.  It's really nice and big.   I'm also going to finish Sister Martino's "Finding Jesus Christ in the Book of Mormon" activity by the end of the transfer, so this will be my third time completing the Book of Mormon on my mission.  As Elder L. Tom Perry stated: "It's a great book!"

Jordan, wielding the Sword of Truth (when he should probably be taking out the trash)
            President Martino attended our District Meeting on Wednesday with a phone-call notice the night before, so I was worrying why (and thought I might be in trouble - ha), but it was actually awesome that he attended.  We had a great meeting with him.  He answered a lot of our questions of how to help our investigators out and stuff, so that was very cool.  He's such an inspiring man!  We have ZL/DLC again on Wednesday, so that's what I'll be doing on my 14th month mark.  (It is hard to believe that I have been serving for 14 months as a missionary.  I love it!)

            Wow.  I can't believe that you guys had Thanksgiving again (without me, too . . . [sniff, sniff]).  Thanks for the Thanksgiving Day pictures, Dad.  Those were awesome!!  Royal and Beckham are HUGE!  (Royal is getting fat :P - haha.  They are both so cute.)  I'll hit my one year mark in the Philippines on the 30th this week [first two months were in the Provo Mission Training Center], so that's a huge accomplishment.  I love all of ya'lls over there. ;)  Mahal ko kayo.  Accomplish great things.

            Elder Jordan "isang taon na ako sa Filipinas!" Royal

Speaking of the Sword of Truth . . . we figured this would be a great opportunity to enclose our favorite pre-mission picture of Jordan

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Another email from your astig son

Since Jordan didn't send a picture this week, we thought we'd include this one from last year from the MTC

            We're in Victoria right now for our Preparation Day, but I really wish we were in Tarlac, because the internet here is reaaaaallllly slow.  Anyway, such is life. . . .  Wait a minute.  Life is too short for slow internet.  I’ll be right back.

            Okay, we just moved to the Cordato’s brand new internet shop with really nice computers and fast internet, so now we’re good.  (And by “good” I mean really good.)  Sorry, however, for not sending any new pictures.  I have not been good about taking pictures lately.  Speaking of, this nice new internet café, it is what Mak-Mak has been working on with his cousins for the past month and it's really nice here.  We came here last night to celebrate the grand by eating dinner.  Guess who gave the spiritual thought?  This guy.  Guess who also had to speak in sacrament meeting on the next day?  This guy.  (I love opportunities to teach and testify.)  I gave a talk about How to Raise a Righteous Generation.”  That is one of the Area Presidency's goals here in the Philippines, and I was given 20 minutes to prepare something before sacrament meeting.  I just said a quick prayer and began flipping through the Book of Mormon for some inspiration.  I began my talk with King Benjamin's counsel provided in Mosiah 2 when he teaches his people to raise their children to serve God and to eliminate contention in the home.  I then related what happened to that rising generation after King Benjamin, told in the later chapters of Mosiah.  It is interesting that Mormon provides a description of wayward children who could not understand or believe the words of King Benjamin.  I wondered why that would be.  Did their parents fail to them?  Did parents teach, but the children were more interested in following the enticings of the world?  We don’t know.  However, I am very glad that I was raised in a gospel centered family that taught those principles in the home, so I would know of Christ, His Atonement and the Father’s great Plan of Salvation for all mankind.  I know the purpose of life, where I came from, why I am here, and where I am going when this mortal life is over.  I am so grateful for that knowledge.  When our children have knowledge and are ever reminded of truth, they will not likely forget.

            Well, this week had the usual ups and downs.  What would you like first, the ups or the downs?  Let’s just start with the downs to get them out of the way.  I admit it.  Sometimes I get discouraged.  My faith and strength is tested when I allow bad decisions made by our investigators to bring me down.  I feel we teach by the Spirit, they understand (mostly), and they feel the Spirit, but they struggle putting the gospel principles into action (like something as simple as going to church).  It is hard at times not to feel like we are wasting our time with some of the people that we are teaching.  I know I can't control how other people exercise their agency.  But, I just don't understand why these people don't come to church when they know everything is true.  Even many of our less actives are like that.  It is just really depressing at times.  Like on Wednesday, we changed our schedule this week and went to one of the recent converts in the ward, Tatay Ben, to teach him and his non-member spouse.  When we got there, Tatay had been drinking and didn't know we were coming on that day.  He quickly got up and apologized to us and his wife told him that he was really tired from working, so that's why he drank.  That was disappointing.  (You know, there's a thing you can do to handle fatigue, it’s called sleep.)  I felt really bad for Tatay, though.  He's an awesome guy.  He's really smart in the gospel, but he doesn't go to church much.  We taught his wife on Saturday and we gave her a baptismal goal date, but she's been visiting with Inglecia ni Cristo members, so she's leaning towards joining that church.  She's felt the Spirit in every lesson we've taught, but (like so many of our investigators) doesn't listen to the Spirit.  I bore my testimony of the restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and all the priesthood authority.  I was very bold, and felt the spirit as I spoke.  But, sometimes that what we are called upon to do - teach, testify, invite, and then move on.  The moving on part is very difficult.

            On the brighter side, we have two investigators set for baptism: Jomer and Korin Lucas.  There are from part-member familes who a recently returned to church.  They have progressed really well.  They'll be baptized on December 29th.  I don't know if I'll be here for that.  The transfer ends on December 12th, so I could be in a new area for Christmas, but I'm pretty sure I'm going to be here.   Elder Rabino and I are do well.  We are both pretty quiet, but we teach well together.
Wanna see a pretty Filipino rainbow?  There ya go!
             That's funny that Dad sent a note from Elder Brockbank’s father, because he's in my zone.  He's just as shell-shocked as I was back during my first transfer here.  He's a cool guy.  The Filipino members can't pronounce his name correctly, so it was pretty funny watching him trying to teach it to them.  He'll just have to get used to no one being able to pronounce his name correctly here in the Philippines.  Speaking of the Philippines, I've been here for almost a year now (Nov. 30)!  I can't believe how fast that went by.  Thanksgiving already?!?  I could've sworn I was just in the MTC for Thanksgiving.  Didn't one of my brothers break his wrist a year ago a year ago?  (Ha.)  Wow.  Christmas will be here quicker than I realize.  Speaking of Christmas, we've been celebrating Christmas since the first week of September.  The Filipinos really love Christmas here.

            Before I forget, I better answer Mom's question really quick.  No, I haven't received the shoes yet and Christmas Conference is on December 20.  Okay, that's it for me today.  I hope that you guys are doing awesome there.  Happy Thanksgiving!  Mahal Kayo!

            Elder Jordan "Dreaming of a Big, Juicy, Stuffed Turkey” Royal

Monday, November 12, 2012

Could This Be?

No pics from Jordan this week, so we've added this one we really like of
Mitt & Ann Romney

            Well, I know that you must have been, as many of us were, shocked, pained and disappointed when it was announced that Obama won a second term in office.  We were gathered together as a zone for lunch after DDM, when one of the elders received a text that Mitt Romney was winning the election.  We were extremely surprised, because all the reporting around here was that Obama was going to win.  But, our excitement ended quickly when they received another text announcing that Obama won.  That was such a hard day, and what made it worse was that I let it affect the Lord’s work.  I was just so sad, thinking of how this could have happened during some of the toughest economic times in America, when our very moral fiber is being tested.  But, like David's Devotional and what Dad said about the Book of Helaman, perhaps the Lord is waiting for the people to come to Him.  I just hope Mitt Romney has another shot in 2016.  Does he?  Oh well.  If not him, I hope it is someone inspired by God, willing to march with today’s Title of Liberty.  The election was just a really tough pill to swallow., especially when random guys would yell at me, "Hey Joe!  Who won the Election?"  Ugh.  Well, the First Presidency asked the members to always pray for the country regardless of our party affiliation or who is in office, so we'll follow the prophet and pray for a the right people to make righteous decisions designed to protect our precious liberties.

             Other than a rough Election Day, we had a really good week.  We went to Burgos on Monday as a zone for a service project.  Burgos is just like Mamonit, except with a lot less people.  It's in the mountains and it's just beautiful up there.  It's really far away from Tarlac City.  We got a ride from a member in one of the wards who owns a big truck thing, and then we headed on over.  Everyone was crammed in the back while Elder Carrasco and I were comfortably sitting in the front seat.  Elder Carasco is a really fun guy to talk to.  He's from LA.  He quoted something from Brian Regan during our conversation, so we just went on and on with Brian Regan quotes (haha).  Good times.  The service project was rough.  We went to this member's house to help them move some dirt and rocks at the bottom of this hill to where their pigs were so that they could build a stable or something for them.  The dirt and rocks were in piles on top of this hill and we carried that dirt in rice sacks all the way down this hill.  The walk was probably a good 40 yards up and downhill.  We were probably averaging 50 lbs a sack.  The other Elders had a contest to see who could carry the most weight down the hill.  Now I know my weaknesses, so I did not participate for good reasons: 1) I woke up at 5:15 that morning.  2) I didn’t want to be super sore later; and 3) I didn't want to trip and fall while carrying that sack.  We were all super sore the next day anyway, but at least it wasn't from carrying a 100 lbs sack of dirt down a hill.  Despite all of that, it was a pretty fun service project.  The clouds covered the sun AFTER we were all done, so that was just a bad luck with timing. 

            We had a really good day this Friday working with our Ward Mission Leader.  We don't work with him a lot, because he lives really far away, and we pay for his transportation home (about 35 pesos each), but when he does work with us, it's always helpful.  We showed him the ward directory that we used and asked other members where some less actives were, and we were able to find a lot of new less active families.  Almost every single new less active family that we met this week have non-members in them, which are great opportunities to teach.  We taught a lot of them this week.  Some of them have been living with their boyfriends for a couple of years and are not yet married, but we are happy to teach them.  We might as well help them to get married, right?  The marriage services in the Church are free, so money's not a problem with that. 

            We had an interesting experience at church yesterday.  One of the less actives that we met on Friday came to church with his entire family!  They missed the sacrament, but that was okay.  We were sitting in the back when they came in and sat by us.  The tatay didn't sit down for the longest time, and then he came up to me and told me without whispering, "I'm going to go outside and look for money Elder.  You and Elder Rabino are in charge of my family until I get back."  I was about to tell him to just sit through the rest of the meeting and they could leave afterwards, but he left before I could tell him that, so we were then just stuck caring for his family.  It was pretty bizarre when he was talking really loud to me while the other members were looking at us.  The good news is that his family stayed for all three hours, so . . . awesome.  Mak-Mak got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday during sacrament and gave the closing prayer.  The only bad thing was that the mic wasn't working, so we couldn't hear the prayer, or the sacrament prayers at all, so that was a bummer.  Mak-Mak was excited though, so I guess the prayer was good.  He also attended the CES Fireside last night, which was great.

            I think that'll do it for me this week.  Sorry for writing this so late.  I'm glad Grandpa Kelly’s burial was a spiritual experience for you guys.  I wish I was there.  Mom, I really don't know yet what I need or want in my Christmas box.  The ideas always come after me AFTER I get a package, so I'll just say put whatever you put in last Christmas and I'll be very happy with it. :)  Mahal kayo!  Ingat!

            Elder Jordan "Hoping I will still have a country to come home to” Royal
Ray Kelly family at his funeral on November 3, 2012 (minus a few, including missionaries Elders Jordan Royal and Jeffrey Stark)
Leona Kelly with her eight children at Veterans Cemetery in Fernley, NV

Monday, November 5, 2012

Rest in Peace Grandpa Kelly

Note from the Editor (Jordan's Pappy)            

Leona Kelly with her grandchildren WITH children
            We have had a challenging week with the passing of Maralea’s father, Howard Ray Kelly, on Monday afternoon.  Maralea arrived at her parents’ home in Reno Monday evening, while Kelli, Royal and I joined her Thursday evening.  My father-in-law, also known as Grandpa Kelly, was the epitome of what we should all strive to be in life.  I first met him on Christmas break, 1982, when I drove Maralea home to spend a few days with her family.  We were pretty serious by then, and after meeting her family, I knew I would ask her to marry me and hope for the best.  The best happened, and we are grandparents of two wonderful children nearly 30 years later.  Ray Kelly left mortality with 38 grandchildren and 16 great grandchildren, with four more on the way.  I am enclosing a picture of my mother-in-law, Leona Kelly, standing with her grandchildren who have children (taken at a family luncheon on Saturday).  I am also enclosing a picture of the Kelly family members who were able to make it to the funeral on Saturday.  It is a staggering legacy, a living testament to the good that comes from living a gospel centered life.  I am also enclosing a picture of Jordan with his grandparents, just before he left on his mission.  Our children are so incredibly blessed to have two wonderful sets of grandparents who have made our job as parents very easy.  I am grateful to know that in the Lord’s great Plan of Happiness and Salvation, families are intended to be forever.  These pictures remind me of what I am fighting for in the battle of good and evil in this life.  What will heaven be like?  In my mind, it will be like this great Kelly family photo, with numbers many times over.  What great joy we will have in that day.  May we all live with a desire to knit our hearts together as one with the Savior, Jesus Christ.
Kelly Family, picture taken November 3, 2012
            Here is Elder Royal's letter . . . . 


           President Martino called on Thursday to tell me about Grandpa Kelly's passing.  He told me that the letter I wrote to Grandpa Kelly was read to him before he passed away, so that made me feel really good.  Thanks so much for that.  I am sorry I could not be there for the funeral and burial service.  I am certainly there in spirit.  I prayed a lot for Grandpa and Grandma Kelly, you all, and the entire Kelly family a lot once I received that phone call from President Martino.  I hope everyone is okay.  Grandpa Kelly has set a great example of how to live a Christlike life by serving others daily.  I love him very much and will miss seeing him when I return home.  But, I am grateful to know of God’s Plan of Salvation, that families are intended to be tied together forever, and that we will be with Grandpa Kelly again in the next life if we will simply choose to follow the Savior Jesus Christ and receive His saving ordinances.  Thank you for giving me that gift of gospel understanding and power.  It sustains me daily.  I love you Grandpa! 

This is the last picture taken with Jordan and his Grandpa Kelly, September 11, 2011
             The work of saving souls moves ever onward.  This week went by fast.  (They all seem to blend together lately.)  We were only able to work in Victoria from Thursday-Sunday, because I was in Victoria all week with Elder Revillio until Transfer Day on Thursday.  I had a fun time working with him.  We had exchanges with the other companionship so I worked with Elder Despain in their area as well.  Elder Despain and I were in Sta. Ignacia Zone for two transfers and he's an awesome guy.  He was still pretty new at that time, so his Tagalog wasn't that great, but he's improved a lot in the past months.  I enjoyed working with him, too.  Our transfer announcements came Thursday and they were absolutely crazy.  Elder Revilio made up a fake transfer announcement that fooled everyone, even the former zone leaders that have done that in the past (haha).  He didn't mess with my transfer, but everyone else's was funny.  We had an area close and then other area with two new elders coming into the zone to open a new area.

            My new companion is Elder Rabino from Digus, Dabao.  He's my second companion from Dabao and my third Bisayan companion in a row.  I've only had two companions so far my entire mission whose first language was Tagalog.  They know all Tagalog anyway, so it's not like it's hard for them, even though they say it is.  He's in the same batch as Elder Dela Paz, so he's still pretty new in the mission as well.  He's quiet sometimes, but he's very good at teaching.  Anyway, I'll go back to Transfer Day and talk about what happened there.  Elder Rabino came from Cabanatuan City, so I had to wait at the Stake Center until about two for him to show up.  While I was waiting, we saw Elder Palmer who came from Angeles to help the Sisters with their bags and stuff, so that was awesome to see him again - especially since we had so much time to talk and hang out while we waited for our companions.  Sister Sharp was with us as well, so we just talked about MTC memories and shared other mission stories from our areas.  Once all of the traveling missionaries showed up, we also saw Elder Biggs and Elder Brown coming to meet up with their new companions.  It was really cool to see them both there since I hadn't seen them since the mission conference back in May.  We're having ZL/DC again at the end of the month, so I'll be able to see them again.  I met up with Elder Rabino and then we headed back to Victoria.  We got back late afternoon, so we didn't get to many appointments, but at least we got a dinner appointment that night (haha).  It's been hard with Elder Batingal gone.  Not only did I lose a close companion and have to start over with someone else, but now I'm getting lost in the area trying to find appointments.  Like one day, we pretty much traveled in a big circle trying to find Mark's house, but at least I was able to eventually find it.  Since I've been leading the area, I've figured out where a lot of things are, so that's good.  Even Elder Rabino's starting to get the area down.  Like when we were on our way to an appointment, I was about to turn down a street when he corrected me and told me it was the next street.  I thought, "Oh yeah" (haha).  We had some really good lessons and stuff with Mark and his siblings, but they still haven't come to church yet.  Mark knows the Gospel's true and it was restored by a prophet, but he's still active in another church.  (Sigh.)  Always next week, right?
Jordan shows off his zone basketball jersey

Back side of the zone basketball jersey
            Church was really good yesterday.  Our attendance is getting higher and higher every week.  There were only 97 people in church a couple of weeks ago, but yesterday there were 140.  Even some less actives that have been less active for years came to church, even though I don't know who they are.  One less active is actually Mak-Mak's cousin who lives with the Cortados (Hart).  He's 21 and has only been a member for three years.  He said he stopped coming because he's done some bad things in the past, but Mak-Mak really encouraged him to come to church again, and there he was.  We taught him yesterday with Mak-Mak and he taught me how to do that cool pen-spinning thing that I've seen people do before (like Gian).  I practiced it all last night before going to bed, and now I'm pretty good at it (haha).  I also learned a cool pen trick from Elder Batingal that I've been doing as well.  Well, since I'm on the subject of spinning things, I guess I can tell you that Elder Brown taught me how to spin notebooks, binders, and books on my finger like a basketball.  I haven't done that one in awhile, so I was a little bit out of practice when I did it yesterday while we waited for the bishopric to call us in for PEC meeting.  (Nice that I am learning all these valuable spinning skills.)  We taught Jovani again yesterday.  He was the only one of our investigators who came to church.  It's too bad that his dad won't let him be baptized right now, but he still comes to church and reads the Book of Mormon, so hopefully his dad's heart will change.  His dad's not from Victoria, so we can't really talk to him or teach him.  We have talked with him before while he visited, but that was it.

            I saw someone reading a newspaper on the bus this morning with a front page headline that read: "Obama Takes an Early Lead."  Nooooooooo.  Election Day's Tuesday, isn't it?  Oh gosh.  If Obama gets elected, I hope the world will just end in Dec. 2012. ;)

            Well, I think that'll do for this week.  Sorry no.  Maybe next week.  Hope you guys stay safe.  Please give my love to Grandma Kelly.  Mahal ko kayo.  Ingat.

            Elder Jordan "Help America Survive" Royal