Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Rumors Confirmed! Cabanatuan It Is!

            So the rumors were true after all.  I am now a zone leader in Cabanatuan, serving in Branch 8 with Elder Dadison.  Elder Dadison is an awesome guy.  We get along great.  We both go home at the same time.  Before I tell you all about Cabanatuan and transfers, I guess I'll start with the beginning when I left my beloved area of Victoria. 
While "real Jordan" was being transferred to Cabanatua, "fake Jordan" was hanging out with us
at Royal's 1st birthday party and sporting a mustache
            I had to say goodbye to a lot of people that I became so close with in Victoria.  For the last two days in Victoria, we had Jerimiah, a ward missionary, work all day with us.  He just turned in his mission papers, so he should be getting his call anytime soon now.  It was hard for me to say goodbye to James, Reymark, Leslie, and other people that I taught, baptized, or who will be baptized in a couple of weeks.  Korin and Jomer were supposed to be baptized this Saturday, so that probably happened.  I don't know, but I feel sure it did.  Victoria will continue to progress in the hands of Elder Rabino, so I'm not worried about that.  I really didn't want to leave, especially since I had to pack (haha).  Transfer announcements were crazy, even though we are not allowed to have "fake transfer announcements" anymore.  We played a game to get our transfer announcements and you couldn’t get your announcements until you won.  There were a lot of changes and a lot of people that got transferred.  Elder Carrasco stepped down and was sent to open an area with in another elder in the Camaling Zone, and Sister Sharp went there for her last transfer, too.  They will both end their missions there, so I won't see them again until I'm back in the States.  I kinda got the feeling I was going to get a new assignment when President Martino walked by, smiled, and said, "Elder Royal!  You ready to work?"  I just thought that was a typical "mission president" question, so I told him, "Yes, President....wait, what does that mean???"  He just laughed at me and said while walking away, "You'll find out."

Here, Kelli and Royal celebrate Royal's first birthday.  If you look carefully, you can see "fake Jordan" "blowing up"  the picture in the background (ha)

            The bus ride to Cabanatuan went by a lot faster than I thought it would.  I think it was only about an hour trip.  When I got to the Cabanatuan Stake Center (where I now attend church).  Oh, and gues what we have in the chapel here (. . . wait for it . . . wait for it . . . ) . . .  AIR CONDITIONING!!!  I saw a lot of familiar faces.  The first Elder I saw was my good 'ole trainer/tatay, Elder Declaro, who's still in San Isidro.  He showed me a picture he took on his camera when Brad and Whitney came to visit there, so that was both cool and a bummer (since I would have loved to have seen them, too).  I met two other elders that met Brad and Whitney: Elder Pangan from Balibago (who's now in my zone and in my house) and Elder Neemia from Cabiao.  Yeah, I’m a little jealous that all these other guys got to see my visiting family, but that's fine.  At least some people got to meet them and tell me about it.  I also saw Elder Talento again, who I swear has gained like 20 or 30 pounds since I last saw him.  He used to be pretty thin and buff, but now has gotten really chubby (haha).  He's still awesome, though.  I'll be seeing them both again tomorrow at ZL/DLC in Cabanatuan.  Elder Talento's still in Baler, so he's sleeping at our house tonight, because they're extremely far away.  Elder Dadison and I met up and moved into my new house, which is pretty close to the stake center and really close to the senior couple (Elder and Sister Lutz).  It's the same house where Elder and Sister Bowcutt lived, so I have a lot of good memories from that house.  It makes me miss the Bowcutts, though.  They were great missionaries and we became good friends.

Here are some pictures of Brad and Whitney's trip to Cabaio posted by Danica Patiag,
whose family Brad taught and baptized in 2003-04
Danica with Beckham at church in Cabaio last Sunday
            The work here in Cabanatuan is really good.  The entire zone is putting up good numbers that lead to success, especially in our branch.  Elder Dadison and his last companion found a part-member family (the Manuel Family) who have been very progressing and all of the children will be baptized on February 9 (Lovely, Thalia, Bless, and John Paul).  Their mom was less active for 25 years, but since Elder Dadison found them, she's now returned and is active again in the Church.  We also have another part member family getting baptized on Feb. 16 (The Arahan children and Sister Roquell).  I'm still new here, so I don't remember everyone's names, but it's getting better.  Elder Dadison and his companion were getting 11 investigators at sacrament meeting every week, which I thought was impossible, but I saw it.  We had nine investigators at sacrament meeting yesterday.  Elder Dadison and I are really excited to work with each other and see improvements in the area and with the members of our zone.  I still can't believe that Heavenly Father gave me this huge responsibility and has this much trust in me.  I want to do all I can to be worthy of this new challenge.  He's given me a great companion, Elder Dadison, who is from Jensen, Mindanao.  Although my heart still yearns for Victoria, and I miss my friends there, I am also very excited about what they future holds for us here.  I will make new friends, see hearts change with the light of Christ, and will form forever memories here, as I have in my other areas.  Life is very, very good.

            I was going to send you pictures this week, but I left my camera in our rat-infested house.   Saya.  (Yeah, we're trying to kill 'em.)  Oh well.  I guess I'll have to send you twice as many pictures next week.

            Thanks for the updates on everything.  Good luck on your mission, Chelsea!  I know you'll love it!  I hope that you all have a good week.  Today starts the nine week transfer, so I have a lot time to get to be with Elder Dison and become familiar with the area.  Ight.  Ingat everyone!  Mahal Kita!

            Elder Jordan "Zoolander” Royal
Since Jordan did not provide any pictures this week - we want to include another one from Royal's birthday!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Goodbye Victoria?

            Well, I may have just completed my last full week in Victoria.  Of course, I do not know that for certain, but I have been here for three transfers (over four months) and our next transfer is coming up this week.  You know how it is, as transfer day comes closer, missionaries talk about what changes will be coming.  The thought of leaving Victoria makes me very sad (so I should stop thinking about it, right?).  Whether I leave this transfer or the next, I am really going to miss it here - a lot.  Anyway, how specific do you think the transfer rumors get around here?  Well, I’ve actually been told where I will be transferred, with solids hints about my next companionship (possibly Elder Talento again, which would be incredibly awesome) and all that good stuff.  I have no idea how this information gets out and whether it is accurate at all.  Tell you what, I won’t give any more specifics about the rumors for now, but will leave you hanging until next week (at which time I will let you know how it all turned out).  Of course, I am very happy to serve wherever I am called and will give the Lord my very best. 
This is Jordan's District - the empty chair on the left belongs to Sister Martin, who is taking the picture
Front row: Elder Morgan; Middle row: Sisters Sharp, Stone and Reyes; Back row: Elders Ugdimon, Rabino & Royal
            Here is some non-speculation information.  The next transfer is going to be different.  The transfer periods will change six weeks to nine weeks.  We have new missionaries arriving during the sixth week of the transfer which will only involve those who will be training and other moves affected by that.  Then, the big transfer will occur on the ninth week.  There will be over 26 missionaries going home at the end of this next transfer, which include Elder Carrasco and Sister Sharp.  You will remember Sister Sharp from my MTC batch.  It blows me away that I am so close to being out 18 months in the mission (when Sister Sharp goes home).  I can't believe how fast time has flown by.  I keep telling Sister Sharp that she's either going to be assigned in Baler (as the first sister missionaries there) or in Kalikid (my first area that was turned into a sisters area just two transfers after I left).  Either one of those would be really cool.  (Actually, I have no idea, but you know how much fun we have speculating about transfers.  Ha.)

            We had exchanges with my District on Wednesday and then exchanges with the ZLs again on Friday.  After DDM on Wednesday, which was again attended by President Martino, I worked with Elder Ugdimon in their area in Tarlac Ward 5.  It was a pretty interesting day.  Elder Ugdimon's companion, Elder Morgan, forgot to leave the cell phone with Elder Ugdimon, so we didn't have a way to make a phone call (well, unless we borrowed a stranger’s phone).  I was to conduct a baptismal interview for Sisters Reyes and Stone in their area, but we did not know how to get there.  The sisters had given us instructions to their area, and we just hoped for the best as we rode in the jeepney.  The Lord definitely provides.  We sat next to nice people who told us where our stop was and then we waited for the sisters.  After a while, we thought that maybe we had gotten off on the wrong stop, so we walked around to see if we could find some clues or something to find out where we were.  As we were leaving, I just felt that we should go back and wait for the sisters.  Just as we had returned to the original jeepney stop, we were greeted by the sisters and they escorted us to house for the interview.  I forgot the family's last name, but this was the third member of the family that I have interviewed for baptism in the past three months.  The first one was back in October, a young woman, then later I interviewed their blind brother, who is awesome, and I interviewed their younger sister this time.  It's been cool to be somewhat familiar now with the family, this being my third visit to their home.  Even if I did not teach them, it is really fun interviewing people, feeling the Spirit and sharing to me what they've learned and their testimony. 
Jordan here with Elder Ugdimon and Sisters Reyes and Stone after the baptismal interview
            Well, after a spiritual interview and uplifting experience, the adversary seems to find a way of disrupting things.  That test came when we taught a young college student that Elders Ugdimon and Morgan met a couple of days ago.  There were two of them, and they were really cool guys when we talked with them, because one of them's really religious and knows the Bible very well, and even has memorized key verses in English.  (I should note that the memorized verses are generally those used to argue certain gospel principles.)  What started out to be a good lesson regressed quickly when this smart kid just started asking the most ridiculous questions that he either already knew the answer to or that didn't make any sense at all.  For example: "When, where, and what date did Jesus Christ establish his church?  Please prove it to me."  (He argued that the Savior never established an organization.)  He kept claiming that he wasn't debating with us, but he was definitely looking for a battle.  I asked him very boldly: "How are the questions that you're asking going to help you strengthen your faith in Christ?  Do you know what faith is?  Have you ever prayed to God for answers to questions or do you just rely on yourself?"  At that point, I was really frustrated with him and the situation.  But, that seemed to get him thinking and he finally committed to read (study) the Book of Mormon, the Restoration pamphlet we had left, and the Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  I asked the Elders earlier if they were able to teach that guy again since then, and they haven't yet.  I'm really interested to see what happens when he actually prays to God to know of truthfulness of the message that we shared to him.  (Hopefully, he will do that, because there is no way to find truth without going to Heavenly Father in sincere prayer.)

            We went on exchanges again on Friday with the ZLs.  I stayed here this time with Elder Carrasco and had such a great time with him.  He interviewed Koreen and Jomel for baptism, so they'll be baptized on Jan. 26th.  It's always fun being with Elder Carrasco.  I'll miss him once he goes home.  Speaking of missionaries going home, Elder Tuitama's at the mission home right now and will be back in Las Vegas on Wednesday.  So that leaves me as the only missionary from Las Vegas left in the mission.  Anyway, yesterday was James' baptism.  James looked good and was very excited.  Once he was dressed, he was anxious to take pictures so that the service could start.  It was such an awesome experience.  He told us that he wasn't able to sleep Saturday night, because he was just thinking about the wonderful event that just took place and now has a new life to live.
Baptism of James Guzmon (directly in front of Jordan - (Lesslie, referenced below, is standing on the far left)

Jordan and Elder Rabino with James Guzmon
            We had one of our investigators, Lesslie, attend James’ baptism and she also felt the Spirit during the service.  We taught Lseslie right after the baptism and she's just been awesome.  She told us when she was about the go to church, her husband asked her where she was going, to which she simply replied: "I'm going to the true church."   Boom.  We've been praying with her for her husband and her family to listen to us and also be baptized.  We felt to teach her about fasting this week to help her situation, so hopefully that will help.  We gave her a baptismal goal date of Feb. 9th, just two hours before the dedication of the new chapel by Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Area Presidency of the Philippines, who's also a General Authority, so that'll be good, because she'll have a lot of members attend the service.  We then thought it would be AWESOME if Elder Nielson confirmed her during the dedication, but he would probably prefer to have local priesthood leadership to do it.  I have not idea how we could arrange that or even if it is a good idea.  But, that would be seriously cool for Lesslie.
Danica Patiag with Beckham at church in Cabiao (Danica
was taught and baptized in 2003 when Brad was serving there)

            It sounds like Brad and Whitney are having a great trip here in the Philippines.  It would have been very cool to see them with Beckham here, but Brad and I will have plenty of chances to speak Tagalog together down the road.  I think will have to make that a goal in the future to come back here with my family - especially for the dedication of the Ordineta Temple in a couple of years, or at least to attend a session in the future.  The temple site's only an hour bus ride from my area, so that'll make it a lot easier here for the members.  I'm going to be really sad when the day comes to leave this area (if it is not this week), especially all of the people that I've taught.  Reymark "Mak-Mak" has become one of my strongest recent converts that I've taught or will ever teach.  It's like he's been a member his entire life.  We talked last night about his future plans for a mission, college, and a temple marriage.  I told him at New Year's that by the end of the year, he should already be a missionary celebrating New Year's in the mission field.  He is doing so well.  He's blessing the sacrament now and will be receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood at their upcoming Stake Conference.  There is nothing more wonderful than watching how the gospel changes hearts, minds and lives.  Being a very small part of that brings the greatest joy to my heart!

Jordan's buddy Mak-Mak
            The blessings of a mission are just indescribable.  It is so AWESOME to hear that Brett Dommer received his mission call to South Dakota!  He will be in the MTC in about six weeks!??!  Wow.  Brett, do all you can to prepare for that day, so that you'll enter the MTC with unshaken faith, even when the language is really challenging.  I would love to re-live the amazing experiences I had in the MTC.  It is definitely a powerful place.  Just enjoy it.  There is nothing like it.  I really cherish the time I had there.

            I guess that's about it for me this week.  I'll be sending pictures right now, so hopefully this computer won't be slow about it.  If it is, just be prepared to open all the pictures one at a time (haha).  Until next week, ingat and take luck. 

            Elder Jordan "Shouldn’t Be Speculating About Transfers” Royal

Monday, January 14, 2013

Gotta Love it, right?

            Sup family!?  (haha), I mean hello.  So, hopefully you guys can read this before you go to bed.  We're in Tarlac and just played some basketball with some of the zone.  Typical Prep Day, right?   Today's actually Elder Tuitama's last Prep Day here in the mission field.  I may have mentioned him before, but he's from North Las Vegas and went to Legacy High School, and we've become really good friends this transfer.  He'll be going home straight into the Vegas cold after being in nothing but heat and rain for two years (haha).  I hear it's pretty cold in Vegas right now, but I'm sure it'll be back to it's good old 40 degree self next week. 
We did not get pictures from Jordan this week, but did get a few from Brad and Whitney, who are visiting the Philippines
presently (Jordan's mission) - here with Edsel, who was baptized in September 2005 when went to pick up Brad.  (We rode a Jypneey from the baptism to a restaurant singing Beatles songs, parading into the restaurant singing "Hey Jude."  John Lennon would have been proud.)  Brad, Whitney & Beckham will not be seeing Jordan during their visit, however.
            We had a really good week.  We found a new investigator named Litu.  He's a really cool guy.  He came to church with us yesterday and even stayed all three hours.  We took him on a tour of the chapel before the meeting started and he really enjoyed the time he spent there.  He'll become an awesome investigator, hopefully.  We went on exchanges this week on Friday as part of a four-way exchange.  One of the zone leaders came here with Elder Rabino to interview James, and I worked with the other Zone Leader, Elder Carasco, in their area.  James will be baptized this week!  It's been a long, pleasant, and miraculous journey with him and has been nothing but progressive.  We're really excited for his baptism!  Our other young-part member investigators, Korin and Jomel, will be baptized the following week, so we have another interview planned out for them this week.  I had such an awesome time working with Elder Carasco.  He's from LA, and I've gotten really close to him, too.  I'd worked in their area before, so some of the people that I taught back in late October still remembered me.  I guess it's hard NOT to forget a tall-white American who speaks Tagalog (haha).  I also interviewed one of their investigators that day.  I was there back in October with that same family.  The husband's a recent convert and I interviewed his wife as she's becoming the second member of the family to join the Church.  It was an uplifting experience as she shared with me the blessings that came when her husband joined the Church which made her want to investigate the Church.  Her husband used to be really into drinking and smoking, but completely stopped when he became a member and is now a lot happier.  Leading others to realize the promise of eternal families is a humbling experience.  It really makes me grateful to have been raised by parents who were married in the temple so that we could grow up with the blessings of a forever family here on earth.  Got to love it, right?
It has been over seven years since we last saw Jojo, here holding Beckham with Whitney in the foreground.  (Brad wrote that Jojo teaches at a local university and invited Brad to speak to a marketing class on Monday.)
            We attended the Philippines Area Presidency broadcast on Saturday, and it was awesome!  The presidency reported back all of the miracles that happened during the Rescue Program of 2012.  The Philippines in 2012 called more missionaries than any other year in the history of the Church in the Philippines.  About 1,000 or more mission calls were received.  The number will double now with the age change.  I'm so grateful to be serving in the Philippines during the Rescue Program.  I love it!  The Rescue Program of 2013 will be even better.

            Since I've been reading the New Testament, I've been yearning to become a teacher more like the Savior.  He taught with love and patience.  I also noticed that whenever His apostles didn't understand something that He taught, the Savior always explained it again to them to make sure that they would understand.  I sometimes get frustrated when investigators and less actives always ask the same questions after I've explained it to them so many times, and they still don't understand.  Like they say, "Patience is a virtue", which was probably one of my biggest weaknesses before my mission.  My patience still isn't where I want it to be, but I think it's improved a little bit.  Even a little bit can be a lot, right?
Brad, Whitney and Beckham visit La Greta "Pink" at her bedside in Angeles.  (Get well soon, Pink!)
            So, Brad and Whitney made it safely here in the Philippines, eh?  Wish I could see them, but we know that won't happen :).  They visited Sister Pink?  Did they get the stuff that I sent her??????  (Hoping so.)  Anyway, I hope that everyone's doing great.  I love being in the Philippines.  I love being a missionary, serving here with all my heart.  Life is very good.  This is the last full week of the transfer, so we'll make it a good one, because I might be transferred :/. 

            Mahal na mahal ko kayo.  Ingat.

            Elder Jordan "sikat pa rin ako sa Tarlac Ward 2 hehe joke lang :p" Royal

Monday, January 7, 2013

My Very First Email of 2013

Jordan posing as "Easy Rider," Filipino style
            Well, the new year is once again here.  I have to say that 2012 was a pretty great year.  I learned a lot as a missionary - not just how to be a missionary, but how to come closer to my Savior.  And now, I have more than a half a year to perfect my finding and teaching skills and grow my testimony even more.  So, the mission home and office are now set up in Tarlac, and the Zone Leaders had Zone Leader's Council at the new mission home on New Year's.  I heard it's really nice, so I'm excited to see it one day.  The office is really nice, though.  When we went in during Christmas Conference, they'd just finished it, so nothing was moved in, but now everything's in place and it looks great.  The office is just connected to the Stake Center in Tarlac, just like the mission office in Las Vegas is connected to the Maryland/Serene building, so we can now receive mail and pouch practically once a week now.  I'll probably be transferring in a couple of weeks, so I probably won't be able to enjoy this blessing for much longer, but it'll be fun to take advantage of while I'm still here.  So we had Zone Training on Thursday all about asking inspiring questions (because President and Sister Martino said that's the mission's greatest weakness, failing to ask faith promoting questions), and seeking the Spirit while asking heaven-sent questions.  I didn't realize that I really need to focus on asking questions that come from the Spirit.  I am grateful to President Martino for providing such wonderful revelation.  I really worked on that during my teaching this week and we found it to be a lot more effective.  We got a new investigator because of it, so I believe it works.  Asking people questions not only helps people learn, but it gets people pondering about that certain question and how it applies to their relationship with Jesus Christ.  If we just ask "yes" and "no", the people don't really learn or understand the teaching.  Well, I guess it depends on the question, but either way, questions are better when they require thought and contemplation.  Sister Martino gave us another reading assignment this month about Jesus Christ, but now we're reading the Four Gospels in the New Testament to find out just how the Savior taught and what kind of questions He used.  I've really been enjoying that. 
Jordan and E. Rabino with a YSA group on New Year's Eve

            Alright, I don't know whether I mentioned this last week or not, but James Guzman, Korin, and Jomel Lucas have new baptismal dates this month that will happen on Jan. 19 (James) and Jan. 26 (Korin and Jomel).  We've planned all of our teaching appointments for the month with them, so we should be finished with all of the lessons before then.  James' interview is this Friday, so that's awesome.  No, it’s way beyond awesome! 

            On New Year's Day, one of the recent converts here in the area wanted us to change our schedule and come to her house that day to meet her daughter before she returns for work in Angeles.  So we decided to have an FHE there with some of the YSA and our Ward Mission Leader.  Bless Nanay Elsa (RC), she's great and wants all of her children accept the Gospel.  We had a really enjoyable FHE and her daughter enjoyed it, so hopefully that'll get her to contact the missionaries in that area.  I took a lot of pictures there, but they didn't come out good at all, but I guess you'll like them anyway.  One of the YSA brought a really old hymn book with her.  It was printed in the 1940s with all of the old hymns and stuff in there including, "Come thou Fount of Every Blessing," so I took a picture of that to show you guys.  It was the first time that I've seen an original hymn book that old.  I wasn't expecting to ever see one, especially not here, but it was pretty cool.  A lot of the song names in the old hymn book are different from the ones in our hymn books today.  There are even some in different keys.
Hymn Book Jordan refers to above

             Well, I think that's about it for now.  Oh, did we ever find out my BYUnetworkID?  Because I could get an interview with President Martino for my ecclesiastical endorsement for the application.  I'm really sorry that I can't remember the password, or the screen name, or the security question, so hopefully something will happen.  I'm glad that you guys had a really good week and hope that you enjoyed your New Year’s Eve/Day. 

            Oh, I met the Sister Missionaries earlier today from Kalikid, so thank you Nanay Adonis for saying hi :).  I hear that the area's going great.  I forgot the names of the Sisters, but one of them has been there for seven months now.  Lucky.  I would've loved another two transfers there, but it is what it is.  Unfortunately, they say that some of the people that we taught and baptized are already less active :_(, but at least some of them are active :).  The sisters said that they even baptized one of our former investigators there who didn't get baptized, because her husband didn't want her to come to church, but I guess the husband's good with it now, so that's awesome.  Like it says in Preach My Gospel, "No effort is wasted."  Well, I will email talk to you guys again next week. 
            Ingat.  Mahal kayo.

            Elder Jordan "Class of 2013" Royal