Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas Family!

            Sorry for writing this so late.  We're in Tarlac, so of course we played basketball with some of the missionaries in the zone.  I never really liked playing basketball that much before my mission (because I just lost any skills I had once I stopped playing and moved on to a much better sport: volleyball), but I have played so much on my mission that I actually feel like I have improved.  (I know, that sounds funny.  I had to serve a mission to enjoy playing basketball.)  So, maybe I'll play some more basketball in my post mission life.  I had 25 emails in my inbox today, so I've been reading a lot today.  Thank you for sending me my friend's mission emails.  Steven and Dallin are pretty much the missionaries I always thought they'd be: studs and spiritual giants.  I have loved following the progress in my friends and cousins on missions, such as: Brennen, Jeffrey, Steven Olson, and so many others.  Missions change lives.  What can I say?  I know my life has changed.  In fact, I told one of our ward missionaries yesterday that serving a mission is one of the hardest, but most rewarding, life changing experiences I have had in my life.  I love Christmas and especially here in the Philippines.  There are nativity scenes EVERYWHERE!  The people here truly understand the true meaning of Christmas and I really do not notice any push back from atheists or other groups who want to publicly ban Christ from Christmas as we seem to see every year in the United States.
             Alright, so I have a lot to talk about this week, so I'll take it one day at a time.

            Tuesday: James and Flor got married!!! They texted us that morning and asked us to be witnesses for their wedding at the stake president's office that afternoon. Their papers were signed by the mayor, so they were good for the service. We only had five people attend the wedding (the bishop and his wife, James's mother, and us). I couldn't believe that our prayers were answered with THAT big of a miracle. I love Christmas miracles! Heavenly Father definitely gave us a huge blessing that day.
Jordan and Elder Rabino with Flors and James Guzman on the day they were married at the stake president's office
Jordan with Elders Nunn (Statue of Liberty) and Revilio
            Wednesday:  We attended our Mission Conference in Tarlac.  Everyone from my MTC batch was there (Elders Brown, Bell, Biggs, Palmer, Montierth, and Sister Sharp)!  It was the first time that we were all together since the mission conference with Elder Russell M. Nelson back in May.  The Mission Conference was awesome.  Every zone performed five minute skits.  Ours wasn't the best, but it was still pretty funny.  Then we were split into zones and decorated an Elder as a Christmas tree.  They told us to pick the smallest Elder to make it easier, but we decided to pick the biggest, Elder Nunn.  Instead of Christmas Tree (like everyone else, because we like to be different), we turned Elder Nunn into the Statue of Liberty with a white beard and instead of torch, we had him holding onto a Book of Mormon (haha).  Then we went out into the parking lot and threw "snow" in the air that Sister Martino somehow arranged to bring to us in a cooler.  (It was cold, fine, light, white icy stuff that we got all over each other, leaving us all looking like he had serious dandruff problems.)  I ate lunch with my MTC batch and we just went on and on talking about the Provo MTC and sharing mission experiences in the field.  I definitely miss my MTC district.  We received word that Sister Ycmat went home for medical reasons, so that's sad.  She was just three months away from finishing.  (I hope she is okay.)  Then, we watched some videos about the Savior and had some wonderful spiritual experiences.
The Christmas Tree activity described above
(Jordan is at center left, back to the camera)
            President Martino read the same story that he read last year at Christmas Conference called, "That Thine Alms May Be in Secret."   It is a great story.  I don't feel like summarizing it here.  Besides, it would spoil the fun next Christmas when I read the story to you and Grandma and Grandpa’s next Christmas Eve.  It is now officially one of my favorite Christmas stories ever.  I feel like President Martino just read that story to us a couple of weeks ago, because I still remembered it perfectly from last year.  Man.  I'm getting old (in the mission).  I will hit my 15 month mark this week!  How awesome it has all been!  At the end of the conference, we took some pictures and then we got our mail, which contained my Christmas packages!  (Speaking of that, and I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but I have been forgetting to tell you for weeks that I ran out of multi-vitamins.  So, could you include that for my next package?  Sorry for the delay.)  There are few things more awesome than receiving packages (and mail) as a missionary.

Jordan and his MTC district reunite at teh December 2012 Chirstmas Conference
"Christmas Tree of Love" - at Ward Christmas Party
             Thursday: We had the open house at the new chapel, so we just stayed there all day talking with people and giving tours around the chapel and talking about each room.  We met some great people there, such as Beya.  However, after we taught her on Friday, she said that she will be moving to Manila in January, so we probably won't be able to teach her.  That is sad only if it means she will lose contact with the Church in Manila.  There are a lot of missionaries there who will likely find her (or she can find them), but I will hate not knowing what happens to her.  She is awesome.  Later, on Thursday night, was the ward Christmas party in the new building.  We had a lot of fun there and the members really enjoyed the party.  There were lots of games for the Primary, youth, and the other people.  There were also some performances by some of the YSA and youth.  Even Mak-Mak sang a song while someone played the guitar.  I was surprised that he can sing really well.  I guess I never told you that Mak-Mak's from my first area, or at least really close to Kalikid.  (Note to  Kalikid: Mak-Mak lives in Canto Bangad near the WWII memorial, just to make sure that my Kalikid friends are aware.  He'll go to church there in Kalikid if he ever stays there for a Sunday.  I told him to tell you all Kumusta!!)

The Dilim children were the first baptized in the new chapel
             Friday: The hard had its first baptism in the new building.  It was a ward baptism, so we didn't teach them.  One of the fathers was less active this year, though, and then came back into full activity so he was able to baptize his daughter.  That was very cool.  There were two children baptized, and they're both related.  (At least we know that the baptismal font works.  haha.)  Beya is related to them, so she was able to attend the baptism.  She really enjoyed it and said it was different from her religion.  She is Catholic and had a lot of great questions during our lesson (which I mentioned earlier).  Later that night, my dirty and old fan just gave out and broke, which was a real bummer, because it's so hot in the house!  I spent about an hour trying to fix it, and then after I had it running again, the blade went flying through the barrier and broke again as I tried to tenderly adjust it to face my bed.  There was no fixing it this time, so I had to sleep without a fan.  (I am not a fan of sleeping without a fan.)
The Dilim family - first baptism in new chapel
            Saturday: I paid our landlord for a new blade and they put the blade on my fan and cleaned it, so it works a LOT better than ever before.  It's actually powerful now and not a poor excuse of a dirty fan.  That was pretty much my big blessing for the day.  (I’ll take it!)

            Sunday: This was the first day for services in the new chapel.  We had over 218 people attend church today!!  That's the most I've EVER experienced my entire mission!  Every seat in the sacrament hall was full.  It also happened to be the Primary presentation, which brought back memories of Primary presentations from my days in Primary.  All of the kids memorized a phrase in English, which was really impressive.  The Primary theme this year is Choose the Right, so that's what the program was based on.  (I bet Kelli, as a Primary Chorister, would know that, right? ;) haha.)

            I think that's about it.  Oh about the Skype call.  I guess you could call our cell phone to tell me you want to Skype, or I'll just set a time with you right now.  The 26th (for me) at about 9 am which is about 5:00 pm Christmas Day there.  So yeah.  Hopefully we'll get it right.  And Dad, I don't really remember my BYU Net ID.  I guess you could somehow contact BYU to find out, or maybe we wrote it down somewhere in Mom's office.

             Thank you for everyone who sent me Christmas letters (including my own family :) ).  I love reading how much everyone has grown so much this year.  I love you all more than I can say and I hope you have a great, wonderful, merry Christmas tomorrow.  Also have fun at Grandma and Grandpa Royal's house for Christmas Eve.  (Adding a dance party at the end?  That should be interesting.  I’m jealous.)  Always a great tradition.  Maligayang Pasko Pamilia!!  Stay safe.

            Elder Jordan "Loves Christmas" Royal
"Snow in the Philippines!"
We could not find Jordan in this missionary snow flash mob, but assume he's in there somewhere

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