Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Monday, February 25, 2013

18 Months in the Mission?!!? What??

            I can't believe February will be done in just couple days.  This transfer has gone by incredibly fast.  Time is just flying by.  I can't believe it, but teaching incredible people and families has made it so incredibly rewarding.  I am sorry to be writing you guys a little late.  It's the last week of the month, so we have monthly zone reporting again.  (Sakit sa ulo talaga yung monthly reporting sa akin.  Pampihira.)  We also have Zone Leader's Conference tomorrow, so Elder Talento's now here with us and we'll travel to Tarlac together tomorrow.  We also have a Family Home Evening later tonight, so that should be really fun.

Jordan & Elder Dadizon with Sisters Balota and Olarte at Stake Conference, 02/24/13
            We accomplished a lot of great things this week.   We actually received a referral from our branch president that he received from the Referral Center in Manila (or something like that), so it was a very legit referral.   It meant that this person had already volunteered to listened to the missionary lessons.   So we immediately went to meet him. His name's John Jefferson (first and middle name) and is a college student at a college that's really close to the chapel.   He's 24 and a really smart kid who speaks English quite well.   We taught him all of Lesson 1 and ended with the Restoration through Joseph Smith.   He was very interested in what we were teaching and asked for a copy of an English Book of Mormon.   He even waited at the stake center for two hours after that to attend Institute.   If he comes to church every week this month, he should be baptized at the end of March.   What an awesome experience!   These kind of occasions are rare and must be cherished as the sweetest of the Lord's tender mercies.

Jordan says that this yellow watermelon is much better than what we grow in the U.S.
            We had a really powerful experience with our recent convert, Raquel (who was baptized last Saturday) a couple of days ago.   Even though she's newly baptized, she has still expressed some doubts.   We always give her reading assignments from the Book of Mormon and for her to pray to know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet.   (These are simple commitments that people just don't do most of the time.)   We taught her a lesson and then asked some questions (as she always tries to do to stump us or get us to answer a question incorrectly) and then after we answered her question, she got really silent (which is incredibly rare, because she's extremely hyper and can't seem to ever sit still).   After a few seconds she asked, "How are you guys able to answer all of my questions?   You even give me answers that I was either already thinking about, or opened up my understanding even more."   We then answered simply: "We're not the ones answering your questions.   In fact, we sometimes don't know the answers to your weird and ridiculous questions.   It's the Spirit that makes these things known unto us, because we study, ponder, and pray to know these things.   You would know these things, too if you ever tried to read the Book of Mormon or pray for once instead of asking us questions and then getting mad when we answer your questions" (something along those lines, although not really that mean . . . ).   She then got quiet again, and I even thought I saw her tear-up a bit.    Whatever happened, I know that the Spirit was definitely felt by everyone present.   After the lesson, Raquel just got up and went home without shaking our hands.   We thought that we had offended her, but we knew that what we said didn't come from us, but from the Spirit.   The next day, she worked with the missionaries for her first time.   I was on exchanges during that time, so I didn't see it, but she worked with us a couple of times this week, and Elder Dadizon and I were shocked at how well she can teach the gospel.   She still has doubts up until now, but I know she knows that what she's doing is right.   Doubts disappear the more we invest our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jordan and Elder Dadizon with a YSA group after stake conference, 02/24/13
            We did a lot of exploring this week by going to some parts of the area that we haven't been to yet.  We were able to meet some less active families and find non-members within those families, Gracia and Dinera (who even attended stake conference).  One of the less active families that we met hadn't been contacted by the missionaries in over 18 years until we came and found them.  They brought out their old Book of Mormon and showed us some pictures of the missionaries that taught them.  They're a cute older couple and are really funny.  We have been teaching one family, the Arahan Family, and we just love them.  They've been investigators for a year and a half now, but the missionaries haven't stopped visiting them.  They're children all want to be baptized, but the father is withholding permission for now, because he wants the family to be baptized together.  When they were first contacted, he didn't want anything to do with the Church, but his heart has since softened, and he has been taught for a few months.  He's also had some health problems for about a year, so it's difficult for him to attend church.  His daughter Kim, has been completely converted to the Gospel.  Even though she's not baptized yet, she probably has the strongest faith in her family, and perhaps even more than most members within the branch.  That's where we're having our FHE tonight.  We are very excited about it!

We finally figured out how Jordan is able
to use such flowery language when he writes

             We had another really awesome experience this week.  Elder Donald L. Hallstrom of the Presidency of the Seventy presided at our stake conference this weekend.  That may be the only time the people here will personally see a leader of the LDS Church in their lifetime, so he blessed the lives of everyone that attended.  I remember him speaking at the MTC when I was there and later in April 2012 General Conference.  I got to shake his hand, which was cool.  He's a very big man, about 6'4 and over 200 lbs.  When I shook his wife's hand, she asked: "How are you, Elder?"  I responded: "Great!"  And then she punched me in the arm and said: "That's great!"   That caught me a little off guard.  She's also very tall (about 5'10), so they probably have some very tall children.  Stake conference was great and the speakers (including Elder Hallstrom), did a very good job.  We loved it. 

            Well, I have to get busy with our Zone Monthly Reporting.  Wish me luck (and also that my head doesn't explode).  I love you all!  Mahal ko kayo!!  I'm glad that everyone had a great week.  It is always the best thing in the world to receive letters from you.  I am truly blessed with a wonderful family.  The Church is true, and I am blessed to be in a family that taught me so well.

            Elder Jordan "The Explorer” Royal

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Great Week!!

            Happy Birthday Kelli!!!  I know that it's only Sunday there, but it's your birthday here in the good 'ol Philippines (since we are 15 hours ahead of you), so how awesome that is to have two birthdays!  :)   I love you and Royal like crazy!!  I hope that your birthday is a special one and always know that you're a great sister to me :)).
Jordan, challenging the world to a Thumb War

            Let’s see, where to start?  Let’s begin with Zone interviews this with President Martino.  I had to give my first "interview workshop" as a zone leader, which turned out to be better than I thought it was going to be.  We'd spent a couple of hours the day before preparing for it, so I'm just glad that it turned out okay.  We're actually going to have a mini transfer on the 28th for just new trainers and possible emergency transfers.  So, I guess that'll be interesting to see what happens.  (That will be my 17th month mark.  Pretty crazy.)  I can't believe that my mission has gone by this fast!  Elder Dela Paz and his batch are now eight months in the mission.  That means that I trained eight months ago! What the heck??  Dylan Kirkland from Silverado Ward will be home from the Australia Melborne Mission just next next month!!  Now, that makes me feel pretty old in the mission.  Well, this has turned into a jumbled mess, let's get to the really important stuff.
Baptism of Raquel and Thalia.  Jordan here with Elders Dadizon (far left) and Cohen (far right)
            Saturday was a really busy day for us.  We painted again at the Manuel's place, but at the other building.  It went by a lot faster than last time, because we were more organized and actually knew what we were doing.  We then had to race home, because the sister missionaries also had a baptism that day and they didn't have any priesthood leaders to baptize their investigator.  We wondered how in the world that they could not find someone from their ward to baptize.  It was a good thing that the APs were scheduled to worked with us that day, because there was absolutely no way were going to be able to make it on time.  They went ahead to be one time for the baptism and we showed up later.  Elder Cohen, the AP, was the one who performed the baptism, so it all worked out.  We then went to teach Nanay Minchi and Reymark.  I don't know if I've told you about them.  Their situation is weird, but they're awesome and absolutely know that the Church is true.  Nanay is in her 60s, and Reymark doesn't know his age or his birthday, because he was separated from his parents when he was young.  He only knows his full name.  He's in his 20s probably, and he's living with this Nanay.  Yeah.  They're going to be married (hopefully).  I guess that just proves that love is boundless.  Seriously, that’s a HUGE age gap, but they're going to be married (if we can find Reymark's information before then).  So, now I have another wedding to plan.  Great.  Hopefully it's just as big, if not bigger, of a miracle than the last marriage we planned with James back in December.  We gave them a baptismal goal date for March, so hopefully they'll be married before then.  We then went back to the Manuel's to see if Thalia was ready to be baptized that day.  She was then saying she wasn't sure and that she wanted to wait and be baptized on the same day as Lovely.  Lovely's baptism isn't going to happen for a long time, because of her job and hasn't been to church for two weeks.  Even after she'd already asked her boss for days off on Sunday.  She works for her aunt and uncle, who won't give her Sundays off, but they go to church every week.  (Ugh.)  We're really praying that either she quits her job or that her bosses give her Sundays off.  Anyway, back to Thalia.  After some counsel, she finally decided to be baptized that night.  Her two friends that were there also came to the baptism.  One of them, Abby, had a good experience and asked us if she could be baptized, too.  While we couldn’t really do that, we set up an appointment to begin teaching her this week.  Thalia and Raquel's baptism went great.  Raquel is absolutely crazy funny.  She didn't want to bear her testimony after she was baptized, because she was nervous.  When she walked up to the pulpit, she like fell down and tried to hide.  Everyone thought that she'd fainted, but she was just on the ground laughing.  She got up and then bore a weird testimony, but she had a good experience, so whatever works.
Jordan & Elder Cohen chillin' after a busy Saturday

            Thalia and the Manuels were late to sacrament meeting for the first time ever, so Thalia wasn't confirmed.  Of all the days to be late.  Thalia's boyfriend, Nathan (who we've taught once), also came to church with her.  He's been telling the young men in the ward that he's going to marry Thalia in the temple, which would be an awesome thing to say if he was older.  But, they're only 16, so that won't happen for a while.  They’re young and all those plans could change in a couple of years - especially if he gets baptized and then goes on a mission.  I actually taught Gospel Principles class for my first time on my mission, and it was pretty fun.  The classroom was absolutely packed.  We had 10 investigators at church with some of the recent converts also in the classroom.  I enjoyed it a lot.

Poor diseased ridden vermin never saw it coming
            Oh right.  We finally caught and killed one of the rats in our apartment! We trapped it in a corner and then forced it into a big plastic container. We'd been trying to catch that thing for about a week now, so it was a good success.  It tried to jump out of the container a couple of times while we were trying to exterminate it.  Anyway, he’s gone all the way of the earth.  So that's one down, and at least two left.  We found another one the night afterwards, so he'll be our next target.  (These rats are going down!)

            So I guess that's it for this week.  I hope that everyone enjoyed “Araw ng maraming gastos" (day of spending a lot of money) or sometimes called "Valentine's Day" or "Single's Awareness Day" (only David will get that one).  Have a great week and be safe.  Mahal ko kayo.

            Elder Jordan "Astig pa rin" Royal

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Spiritual Feast

            A BIG HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHOUT OUT TO ROYAL!  I can't believe he's already a year old!  Crazy to think how fast time flies by! 
Jordan's nephew, Royal, turned one this week.  He will be ready to serve a mission in 17 more years
            We had really awesome experiences this week.  Elder Brent H. Nielson of the Quorum of the Seventy and Councilor of the Philippines Area Presidency conducted a mission tour here all week.  He visited three sides of the mission with our side being first on the first day.  All of the Zone Leaders from the Cabanatuan side of the mission had a little meeting with Elder Nielson about improving our leadership abilities and being "quick to observe" the missionaries in our zone and discerning needs or concerns.  (Mormon 1:2.)  After the meeting, we gathered with the rest of the missionaries in the chapel and the Zone Leaders were told to sit on the stand and "observe" our missionaries.  That was pretty difficult and takes a lot of practice to just look and listen to the Spirit to know whether a specific missionary needed help.  We then listened and received instruction from Elder and Sister Nielson, who gave great talks.  Elder Nielson talked about the "enabling power"  of the Atonement and used most of his talk from Elder Bednar's talk that we were to study before the conference.  It focuses on how the Atonement gives us strength to change our circumstances rather than changing our circumstances entirely without any work on our part.  And then my mind was blown away when Elder Nielson quoted from Elder Bednar about Agency.  Elder Bednar states that he listens to members of the Church who've been endowed, sealed in the temple, who are active in the Church tell him that they have their "agency" not to pay their tithing if that is their desire.  To these people, Elder Bednar responds: "No.  You've already spent your agency when you made a choice to covenant with your Heavenly Father to always follow him and keep his commandments."  Just a really interesting fact that our agency's spent once we covenant with God, because we have chosen to give our will to Him.
Jordan with former companions Elders Declaro (middle) and Talento
             The Baler Zone Leaders slept at our house from Tuesday night until Friday morning, because of the Mission Tour and we had Zone Leaders Council with all of the Zone Leaders in the mission at the mission home with Elder Nielson, so it would've been really hard for them to go all the way back to Baler back and forth.  That was fun, because Elder Talento is one of the Zone Leaders there, so he was at our house for half of the week.  Elder Talento worked with us for two days and we had a blast.  It was awesome to be able to teach again with Elder Talento 10 months later and talk about our days in Kalikid.  Friday afternoon, we left for Tarlac for ZLC (mentioned above).  The bus took forever to leave the terminal and there was a bunch of construction on the way, so the trip took about three hours when it should only take about an hour.  We were late arriving at the mission home, but we were there just in time for dinner.  The food was delicious (as it always is at the mission home).  I was able to see Elders Biggs, Bell, and Palmer there, so that was cool.  Our batch has the most Zone Leaders in the mission, which is awesome.  We then had another meeting with Elder Nielson, which was awesome.  Everyone shared what they'd learned from the mission tour and we had more great instruction from Elder Nielson and then retired for bed at the mission home.  I took my first hot shower in over 10 months, which was AAAmazing.

The Cabanatuan Zone
            We had a crazy weekend trying to plan for Thalia, Bless, and John Paul Manuel's baptism.  They couldn't do it on Saturday, so we planned it for Sunday at noon.  Awesome.  Set.  Then we realized that night after we left their house that we had an SMC (Stake Missionary Council) meeting with President Martino and the stake leaders at the same time, so we had to plan it all over again.  We contacted the Manuels the next day and set their baptism for 11:00 am.  Awesome.  Set.  Then we received a text saying that Thalia wouldn't be available, because of a school project she was doing.  Ughh.  So we reset it at 1:00 pm, just an hour before sacrament meeting started.  We then decided to check to see if anyone had started filling up the font.  No one had.  The font was not only dry, but incredibly dusty.  We went into the font and cleaned it up before we filled it up with water.  We cleaned it while we were in missionary attire, so it made for a memorable experience.  Sadly, I forgot to take any pictures.  Darn.  We had SMC with President Martino and then I quickly changed and got ready to baptize John Paul and Bless.  Thalia still came to church, but wasn't feeling well, so she said she would be baptized next Saturday (Feb. 16).  I had a good experience being able to baptize John Paul and Bless.  It was the first time I'd performed a baptism since my first area in Kalikid for Nanay Rose Marie Rabe, so it was a cool experience.  I performed the baptisms, got dressed, and John Paul and Bless gave awesome testimonies.  Once the closing prayer was over, it was about 1:50 pm.  Some of the members were confused when they arrived thinking that sacrament meeting had already started, but the baptism had just ended.  They were then confirmed during sacrament meeting. 
Jordan and Elder Dadizon with the Manuel family (from left: Bless, Thalia, John Paul, Nanay Manuel)
            Well, I think that's about it for me this week.  I really hope that I'm not forgetting anything.  Just continue to be safe and love life.  I'm grateful for all of the fun things you guys get to do.  Love you all and peace out.

             Elder Jordan "Hot Showers are Awesome!" Royal


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Expect the Unexpected

           Thanks for the late Super Bowl update, Dad.  I probably shouldn’t care that the 49ers lost but . . . Man!  I can't believe the 49ers lost! :(  How long has it been since they've won a super bowl? 18 years?  At least Dennis Pitta got a touchdown for the Ravens.  I didn't even know that he was actually playing, but I’ll take that as a nice little consolation prize that a BYU alum is now a Super Bowl champion.  Good for him. 

            Since I didn’t write to discuss a Super Bowl I will never see (and really don’t care all that much except . . . Man!  I can’t believe the 49ers lost!), I will get to the things in my life that really matter.
Jordan with his zone in Tarlac just before the last transfer
            I really enjoyed my experience at ZL/DLC with President Martino and the other ZLs on Tuesday.  It was a good experience but . . . wow, a lot of zones got chastised, corrected, or interrogated by President from some of the goals that were being set (yes, including ours).  Well, we'll know for next time, right?  There's been a real decline in the work here in the mission since December, which needs to be turned around.  We only reached 50% of our mission goals for January (James was one of those baptized. yes!).  The number of new investigators mission wide has been really down, so that's what Elder Dadizon and I planned to fix for our Zone Training the next day.  To have more investigators, you need to talk to people, but what exactly are the quality of our initial contacts?  A lot of times, and I'm guilty of this sometimes, street contacts are just really simple with not that much feeling.  We read from Finding section in Preach My Gospel that discusses testifying while contacting, and we felt that we needed to teach that.  That's something I can really improve on personally - testifying to everyone that I talk to about the Restoration or the Atonement.  We put together an awesome workshop that really helped us all out as a zone.  I tried it, and I noticed that the more I testified with every single street contact that I felt the Spirit always backing me up.  A lot of people completely changed as we talked to them and shared about the Gospel.  I don't know how many of those will become investigators, but I'm satisfied knowing that I did my best by testifying to everyone.
Jordan with Chris (right) and Jerimiah (left).  
Jerimiah recently turned in his mission papers
           We had a good week with our investigators, most notably the Manuel Family (the part-member family that I wrote about last week).  All of the four children are supposed to be baptized this week, except for the oldest, Lovely, who's now expressing doubt that she doesn't know enough, or doesn't want to leave her present church.  She likes everything about the LDS Church, but said she does not yet have a firm assurance of the Book of Mormon.  After thinking for a bit, I asked her: "Have you read the Book of Mormon with a real desire to know that it's true and have prayed to know?"  She said she hadn't.  I took her Book of Mormon and marked some scriptures to read that night and committed her to pray about whether the things she was reading are true.  (Moroni 10, 2 Nephi 33).  She wasn't interviewed on Sunday, but one of the APs is working with us tomorrow, so she could be interviewed tomorrow and be baptized on Saturday with her siblings if she chooses to do so, but we always assure her that there is no pressure.  The decision to follow Christ 
Jordan with Noreen Tadaya and Rey Noveda
visiting Nanay Elsa
through baptism is critical and must be made by a sincere exercise of agency.  I enjoy working with investigators like her who really want to know for themselves if what we are sharing is true instead of the others who always say, "yes" to everything we say.  It would really be special to have all four of them baptized on the same day, but that will be up to Lovely and her test of faith.  I'd rather her be baptized next year with a firm and unshaken testimony of the Gospel than for her to be baptized quickly with no testimony at all, only to fall away.  We’ll see what happens.

This is a picture of what Jordan's group painted
            We also had a service project at the Manuel's house to paint the grills on the second floor of their house.  We were supposed to have another set of elders join us so that it would go by faster, but it ended up only being the four us painting this massive grill thing.  (Grills are bars in front of windows, doors, or balconies to keep people from getting in the house.)  It took a couple of hours in the hot sun, but we got it done, and the bars (grill), look a lot better.  We were happy with how it looked afterwards.

Another view of the grill painting service project
            Interesting stories for the week:  We were teaching one family that lives in the same building as another family, but has a wall up for privacy, so it's two different homes.  Anyway, while we were teaching, we just heard screaming and commotion from next door.  Apparently, their 13 year old son came home completely drunk.  We all stopped during the lesson and kind of just listened as this was all going on.  The kid was crying and then shouted, "I'm going to kill myself!"  They thought he was joking, so they left the house as this kid was crying.  Then it all the sudden got really quiet, and then all the sudden there were people running to the house.  The kid tried to hang himself and almost succeeded, but luckily, there was someone still in the house who then told the parents.  The kid looked like he got knocked out from a fight as they took him to a pump-well and poured water all over him.  As we left and felt really bad for the kid, we saw the kid run into an alley and tried to hide.  We taught another lesson after that, but they were able to find the kid after the lesson we taught.  It was pretty scary. 
Jordan with Bro. Rey in a sugar cane field
             Another one:  Last night, we worked with some of the branch missionaries and ate dinner at the Branch President's house to close the night.  As we were about to leave, we heard a woman crying outside.  We looked outside and found no one.  We went back outside again and this drunk guy stands in front of Elder Dadizon and says, "What's your problem?  What are you guys watching?"  We thought this drunk guy was going to flip out, but luckily his other drunk friends stepped in between us and apologized to us for his behavior.  Pretty eventful week.  Hence, the title of my email

            We almost caught a rat this week, but it barely escaped out the window. Ah rats!  (Pun intended.)  Oh, and yes I did meet Nanay Adonis' mother yesterday at church. What a small world that we live in!  Oh, and Mom, I got the package you sent with Brad and the insoles are awesome!  I can actually now use the new shoes you sent me!  I also put the other extra insoles with the ones I was using before, so now they're extra comfortable.  Best gift EVER!
Jordan at the last dinner appointment he would have with the Tadaya family in Victoria
            I think that's about it for this week.  I hope that you enjoyed your week and that you guys will be safe.  I have my camera with me now, so I'll be sending some pics now from Victoria and also a couple from here.  Alright.  Ingat kayo. 

             Elder Jordan "A Disappointed 49er Fan But Not THAT Disappointed Because He Loves Sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ Way More Than Football” Royal