Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Angeles City: A Final Goodbye (October 31, 2013)

Say Goodbye to Angeles

We came bearing gifts for our Angeles friends.  Other than some cards, candy and Jerky, our gifts were not new, but old, tattered tokens of our friendship that cannot be purchased in a store
Nilo and Edsel go pogi, but Pink just stays normal
        Nilo drove us to the SM Mall at Clark so we could do some shopping.  We were joined by Pink and Edsel, who helped us find some pogi Filipino shirts and other items.  We went to the food court, where there was free wifi and sat at a table where we hoped to be joined by Jojo.  However, Jojo got held up and we were unable to see him today (insert sad face here).  I was checking for information from my family online.  By this time, Mom had been in surgery for nearly 12 hours.  So, we were on pins and needles.  There was no news about Mom by the time we left the mall.  It was such a welcome respite to be with Pink and Edsel.  Pink said: “We couldn’t resist” coming to the mall to gather with us one last time.  We had some special gifts for them.  I gave Pink my favorite BYU hat, one that I have about worn out (I have had it since 2005), and my prize Jimmer Fredette BYU shirt.  
We are teaching Pink how to Jimmer, beginning with a Jimmer shirt from his glory days at BYU, as Nilo displays his incredibly valuable "Y" sticker
Edsel holds the shirt I wore when we first met in
September 2005
        I gave Edsel the shirt I wore the day we first met the Angeles YSA group during our visit in 2005, and Maralea gave him her other “Y” back pack.  They were so funny and excited.  They asked us to sign some of the items (including my old hat) and we naturally got a few more pictures.  (I took more than 500 pictures on my I-Phone alone in the past 10 days.)  
Nilo holds the valuable BYU shirt I wore to watch BYU
lost to Florida State in 2010 (ha).  Hopefully, BYU will
have better luck with Nilo wearing it.

        We gave Nilo a BYU shirt that I have worn (and loved) for years.  It is  too big for him, but it says BYU on the left front chest and that is all that matters.  We also passed out some BYU decals, and Nilo put it on display on the left rear corner of his vehicle before we even pulled out of the mall.  (Awesome!)  We said our last goodbyes to Pink and Edsel, at least for this trip, and headed out.  
We just added some serious value to the car Nilo used to drive us around the mission this week
        We had one last stop before leaving for Manila - we had to buy some fake Ray Bans (50 pesos each, which is just over $1.00), by special request of Kelli and Ashley.  (That’s all they wanted!  So easy to please.)  I walked into a little tech booth and asked if they had any iPhone 5 cords/chargers.  I was advised they were selling them for 200 pesos (which is about 80% cheaper than the Apple Store at the SM Mall).  So, I bought three.  ( I mean, the guy said they come with a “a warranty” so how could I NOT buy them?)  I got in the car to tell Maralea about my great purchase (replacing the charger cord left on the plane that took us from Palawan to Manila), and she inquired: “Did you negotiate?”  Wow, the price was so good (and with a warranty, mind you), it did not even occur to me that I might be able to negotiate a better deal.  Maralea said (laughing): “You’re an attorney.  You negotiate all the time.”  Well, I’m on vacation.  It was a good enough deal.  (They came with “a warranty,” remember?)  Let’s just count our blessings and move on so I do not have to face my shame (ha).
Jordan signs the "Y" backpack for Edsel

            The drive to our hotel in Manila was slow going in the city.  The traffic is just crazy, packed, never ending, and totally nuts.  (If you ever come to Manila, do not rent a car.  Rent a driver instead.)  We had a goal of getting to our hotel early so we could just relax.  We were thinking 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm would be a nice time to arrive.  That did not quite work out, but we will take 6:00 pm.  We all just needed to relax, reflect, and prepare for the long journey home tomorrow.

I said goodbye to my blue Ralph Lauren tie.  (Wear it well Jojo!)
This is what we refer to  in America as: "You get what you pay for."  (Ha).
(Good thing it came with a warranty.)  On the bright side, it still works.
A Personal Note
This is what I experienced on August 19, 1981, returning home from a two year mission to a loving family.  I am grateful that Jordan will get to experience that as well these 32 years later.
            It has been quite the journey since our arrival, reconnecting with Jordan, followed by visits to his various areas.  When I completed my service in the Florida Tallahassee Mission in 1981, I just went home and was back in school at BYU in five days.  The thought of having my parents visit the areas where I served never occurred to me.  (Plus, the mission at that time was huge, taking in the entire Florida Panhandle (down to Ocala, FL), Southern GA and AL, and I served at the northern, eastern and western extremes of the mission.)  However, I am glad it occurred to me as a parent.
Visiting with the Moquia family in San Isidro, Philippines, with Brad in September 2005
Brad's return home from serving as Elder Royal in the Philippines in September 2005

David, the next Elder Royal, here with his beloved branch in Chachapoyas, Peru
David returning home from his mission in July 2010
Jordan receiving his call to the Philippines Angeles Mission in May 2011

Jordan's missionary setting apart in September 2011
Taken at the BYU Wilkinson Ctr. on September 28, 2011, about 30 min. before Jordan entered the MTC
Jordan hugging his brother, David, goodbye for two years
They will embrace again very soon
        The words from Sister Taruc from yesterday ring true for me personally today: “I feel like I’m dreaming.”  It has been a great trip, filled with wonderful moments that are now etched in the memories of our hearts and minds.  I was reluctant to make this trip because my mother had been diagnosed with a brain tumor just a few weeks before we were to depart.  When I talked about canceling the trip, Mom would not hear of it, stating: “This is your son’s time.  You need to be there for him.  I will be fine.  Go make some memories with your son.”  
My beautiful parents, here attending David's baptism in May 1997.  They have been gospel stalwarts!
        I thought Mom would not undergo her surgery before our return.  She had nothing scheduled.  However, she and Dad made their way to the UCLA Medical Center earlier in the week and the next thing we heard was that she was having surgery the next day.  We felt so helpless, being unable to return in time to see Mom before her surgery.  We visited via Skype the night before her surgery.  The family united in fasting and prayer.  We have been sending words of love and encouragement to Mom and Dad.  So, all of that has been on our minds and weighed heavily on our hearts.  Mom is just the sweetest soul.  She is not just our mother, but our ministering angel of loving light.  I did not sleep last night.  I was up past 1:00 am trying to get news about Mom and was engaged in that effort all day today.  The one thing we can do is pray fervently for Mom and Dad.  (I know Dad must be a wreck.  As a physician, Dad was allowed to be present during the entire surgery, so we were not able to get in touch with him.)  Heavenly Father can hear and answer our prayers from the Philippines as well as Las Vegas, so we have prayed for our lovely, wonderful parents.  Within a couple hours after arriving at our hotel in Manila, we received word that Mom was out of surgery and in recovery.  My sisters are going to Southern California in the morning to see her (and Dad).  We look forward to getting home to be with everyone at this important time.
This was the last time Jordan saw his Grandpa Kelly in this life, as he passed away a year ago, when Jordan had been serving for about one year.  Grandpa Kelly loved to hear Jordan play a very spirited version of "Called to Serve" on the piano.
        This is also a tender day for Maralea and her family, as it marks the one year anniversary of her father’s passing.  She and I were in Atlanta, GA when her father passed last year.  (Actually, I was in Atlanta, riding the train back to our hotel after having rushed Maralea to catch a flight to Reno.  Her father, Ray Kelly, passed away while Maralea was flying home.) 
Maralea and I have been blessed to serve as Elder and Sister Royal in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission with my parents also serving as Elder and Sister Royal while Jordan was serving.  So, we had three generations of Elder Royal serving simultaneously.  Life could not get much better than that!
        Our parents have left a great legacy of faith in this world and are, without question, among the most successful people to have walked the earth.  They have not only given us the gospel of Jesus Christ, but have lived it with unwavering faith.  They have led their children to the temple, sent them to serve as full time missionaries, and have supported their grandchildren in every righteous effort.  Presently, our parents collectively have six grandchildren serving full time missions (including Jordan).  They have had a collective total of 17 grandchildren who have served or are presently serving as full time missionaries, with many more yet to come.  That is what life is all about - raising our children to follow Christ and serve Him, so that they will then raise up a righteous posterity to Him.  That’s what our parents have done.  There is nothing in this world that would or could possibly mean more to me than to see our children and grandchildren walking in the light of Christ.  It is strange that, knowing the key to happiness lays within our willingness to follow and serve the Savior.  That is the sole purpose of life (to assist Heavenly Father in “bring[ing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.”  (Moses 1:39.)  Everything else is just a distraction (and it is so difficult in a world filled with loud noise and bright lights designed to lead us in another direction).

Jordan's cousin, Elder Jason Foote, returned home from his mission in El Salvador just as Jordan was entering the mission field in September 2011.  Jordan's cousin, Kimberly Foote (far right, in the awesome BYU Fully Invested shirt) is presently serving as Sister Foote in the Philippines Bacolod Mission
            This trip to the Philippines gave us an opportunity to reflect upon our blessings and the trials through which we walk are manageable when we remember the purpose of life and remain focused on the Savior.  The journey to Him is not easy.  It was never meant to be that way.  There are no guarantees for smooth sailing without powerful adverse winds, high waves and rain.  We are, however, guaranteed to achieve the ultimate prize of life by paying close attention to the chart that marks our course and the compass that directs us.  Jordan’s mission is not the end of his service to Christ.  To the contrary, it is just the beginning.  He is now armed with the tools to be a powerful instrument in the Lord’s hands, to be a worthy and faithful husband and father, who will teach his children to love and serve the Savior as he has been so taught.  No matter what adversity visits us in life, we can endure when we remember Christ, count our blessings, and maintain the kind of eternal perspective in life as He so exemplified during His earthly ministry.
Jordan's cousin Elder Cody Bringham returned home from the Iowa Des Moines Mission in March 2011
            I have enjoyed visiting with Jordan about things he has learned on his mission.  He has acquired so many funny little habits.  Jordan will sometimes catch himself saying or doing something, then stopping after noticing me observing him and saying: “It will probably take me a while to stop doing that.”  We look forward to Jordan being reunited with the rest of our family on our Friday arrival.  We have come full circle in the missionary experience, bringing our last son safely home.  Yes, it really is “like I am dreaming.”  Ingat po.

Soon, little Royal will be looking up to the real
Uncle Jordan, who will help lead him to grow up
and carry on the family legacy of serving  the Lord
Edsel's picture collage of our meeting at SM in Angeles today
Pink's picture collage of our Angeles meeting 
A random picture of Jordan at the beginning of his troop's 50 mile hike in August 2007.  A mission is like a long hike, where you just keep moving with faith in every footstep, with lessons learned along the way, in a trek filled with adventure, and an ending that leaves you feeling wonderful, excited to plan the next adventure

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