Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Cabanatuan: Our Last Area (October 30, 2013)

The Book of Mormon Jordan and Elder Dadizon delivered to the Taruc family in February 2013
slightly water damaged from Typhoon Santi
Dinera, Gracianah and Flor Taruc (left to right) were surprised
by our visit
We traveled to Jordan’s area of Cabanatuan, were he served as a zone leader for several months.  During our visits to Jordan’s areas, he was able to communicate with some members ahead of time via texting; however, he could not get in touch with others so we simply had to drop in.  We have missed a few people as a result.  However, we did not miss the Taruc family.  As Jordan walked to the front yard of the Taruc residence, the young women, Dinera and Gracianah, along with their mother, Flor, were very surprised to see us.  Sister Taruc welcomed us into their home and immediately served Jordan with chocolate treats, advising that there was “no limit” to the amount of scarfing he would be allowed to do (ha).
With the Taruc family as Nanay Taruc holds the scriptures delivered to her family by the missionaries
        Jordan advised that he and his companion, Elder Dadizon, found the Taruc family via the Rescue effort.  They contacted Sister Taruc, who was on the Church membership rolls, but who had been inactive for many years.  Through that contact, Jordan and Elder Dadizon began teaching Dinera and Gracianah, who were baptized in March 2013 and remain active in the Church.  Sister Taruc showed us a copy of the Book of Mormon that Jordan and Elder Dadizon had provided to the family in February 2013 (which they had signed and dated).  It was slightly damaged in the recent typhoon, but Sister Taruc held it to her heart as a keepsake.  I asked if we could also sign the inside portion of the book to add our testimonies.  Sister Taruc immediately handed us her scriptures, then instructed her daughters to retrieve their personal scriptures so we could write in them, too.  
Gracianah was happy to see the pages of her
scriptures again

        Gracianah said that she has a desire to serve a mission. Gracianah said that she loves reading the scriptures; however, she requires the help of her sister, Dinera, because she cannot see the pages clearly due to nearsightedness.  Immediately, Maralea and I reached into our things to find reading glasses, hoping to perhaps have a prescription that would help Gracianah see well enough to read.  Nilo offered his reading glasses to try first, followed by Maralea, then me.  It was a little like the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears.  Maralea’s were too strong, Nilo’s glasses were not helpful, but my 1.25 power reading glasses were just right.  When Gracianah put them on, she opened the Book of Mormon and read the introduction to First Nephi with a smile on her face and excitement.  She was thrilled at her ability to see the pages clearly. That was an amazing experience for us to help Gracianah in that way. 
We enjoyed meeting the Taruc family and look forward to reading about  Gracianah's mission
The Taruc family is a great example of how effective we can be
when reaching out to rescue our brothers and sisters
        Sister Taruc kept saying (in broken English): “I feel I am in a dream.”  It was an exciting moment for us all to be there with the Taruc family in their home, allowing Jordan to provide some gifts and say good bye.  In all such meetings, the most wonderful thing is to discover that those Jordan taught and helped lead into the Church are still active, as in the case of the Taruc family.
The Arahan young ladies, from left: Kim, Krisha & Devie
Our next stop was at the Arahan family to see Kim Arahan (who was baptized in March 2013) and her sisters (who are presently attending church and taking the missionary discussions).  We met initially with Brother Arahan, who led us through their front yard, which had some impressively organized stacks of wood, separated by sizes, which the family had cut and sorted when cleaning up after the typhoon.  (Kim later said that the family did a lot of cutting and chopping together to make those well organized wood piles.)  Kim is the Gospel Essentials instructor in the Cabanatuan Branch, which class is attended by her sisters, Devie and Krisha (who were present during our visit).  We briefly met Sister Arahan, who was just leaving to run an errand.  Jordan enjoyed interacting with Kim, who seems to have quite the sense of humor. 
Jordan prepares to feast on the great lunch
provided at the Arahan home

        There was a lot of Tagalog spoken followed by laughter.  Maralea and I mostly just sat there smiling, and Nilo would offer up translation occasionally.  (Jordan is not good at translation.  It’s not that he could not do it, but he was just too engaged to worry about all that.  Nilo was fantastic at quietly helping us follow conversations during these visits.)  The Arahan family provided lunch, which we were not expecting.  (We tried a little of everything.  I found the quail eggs to be kind of tasty.)  Jordan was very happy to see that Kim is doing so well, and that she is not only actively attending church with her sisters, but is also providing Sunday instruction.
This is what happens when right before a picture is taken someone says: "Wacky!"
Jordan said goodbye to Kim and Devie, wishing best of luck in their endeavors
(Kim wants to be an accountant, and Devie is preparing to attend law school)

The YSA group was anxious to visit the Jordan and
practice their English with Mommy and Daddy Roy-al
We next stopped at the church and Institute of Religion where the YSA group had just returned from a conference.  Jordan had worked with many members of the YSA members in the local missionary effort.  We met Raquel, who was baptized in February, and Abby, who was baptized in December 2012.  Again, Jordan was ecstatic to see that these people are still actively involved in the Church and doing well.  
YSA group from left (next to Jordan): Raquel, Riza, Jonathan, Abby and Arjay
        These YSA’s were quite the group - very excited about life.  Arjay said that he has been following Jordan’s mission blog faithfully and said he has drawn inspiration from it, as he prepares to serve a mission.  “We loved seeing our pictures, too,” he said with a laugh.  (We posted most of what Jordan sent to us each week with his very detailed emails.)  
The guys!  (From left): Jonathan, Jordan, Vincent, Joebert and Arjay
Abby was more than happy to promote
BYU by faithfully wearing this backpack
        Abby asked for Jordan’s BYU bag that he was using to deliver his American candy (which was always a big hit).  (It wasn’t really Jordan’s bag.  It was Maralea’s bag, which she uses mostly for attendance at BYU football games.  But, she was happy to have Jordan give it to Abby.)  Jordan gave his umbrella to Raquel, and temple pictures to others, with personal notes and signatures.  Maralea and I were asked to sign some of the cards and pictures, as well (and Maralea signed Abby’s BYU bag).  

Maralea even signed her bag, because
her handwriting is simply awesome
        These youth all seem very excited about life, were happy to be together (they laugh a lot) and enjoyed seeing Jordan again.  (Many commented to us that Jordan was a hard working, faithful missionary and that they learned a lot in their work with him.)  Again, it was fun for us to kind of step back and just watch Jordan interact with them.  (They all talk so fast in Tagalog.  However, some of them did pretty good at speaking English with us.)

I was trying to get some pictures of the group just conversing and acting normal (without acknowledging the camera), but that was simply NOT possible (ha)
The YSA ladies wanted a women only shot with Mommy Roy-al
Okay, fine, isa pa - one more picture of the entire group together (only because Arjay said they love seeing their pictures on the blog - ha), from Maralea left to right: Raquel, Abby, Riza,
Vincent, Arjay, Joebert & Jonathan
Our final stop in Cabanatuan was at the Manuel home.  This visit was one of those unexpected ones, because Jordan did not have a contact number.  As Nanay Manuel opened the door to see Jordan standing on the dark porch (it was in the evening), she expressed great surprise and immediately invited him in where we met her children Jon Paul, Lovely, Bless, and Thalia.  Jordan and Elder Dadizon had taught and baptized Jon Paul, Bless and Thalia in February 2013.  
The Manuel family (from left): Jon Paul, Lovely, Bless, Thalia and Nanay Manuel (between Jordan & Mar)
Jordan visits with Sister Manuel as Bless checks Facebook (ha)
        Many of our in home visits were rather casual in nature.  They did not really involve spiritual thoughts and prayers.  However, on this occasion, Jordan shared a message about the joyous reunion between Alma the Younger and the Sons of Mosiah, reading Alma 17:2-3 (in Tagalog).  Jordan emphasized the joy that those very close friends had when they came together after 14 years of separation and that they were not only thrilled to see one another, but to discover that they were all still strong, faithful brothers in Christ.  Jordan related the joy that he has experienced during his visits when he sees that those he taught the gospel are still faithful, stating that while he would be very happy to see them again in 20 years (for example), his joy would be even greater if at that time he learns that they have all progressed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and are living gospel centered lives (the only way to true, lasting happiness).  Jordan ended with his testimony, and left the Manuel family with a heartfelt prayer in Tagalog.  We could not understand the words spoken; however, Maralea and I could feel the spirit of the message and testimony Jordan delivered.  He truly loved the people he served, and in turn, they have loved him.  Jordan has grown in ways we simply cannot express adequately in writing.  Mostly, his heart has grown and his ability to love has expanded exponentially.  He has truly had a wonderful missionary experience.  It has been a thrill to share these few moments with Jordan in his areas.  We will miss the Philippines and one day hope to return.  However, if we never return, we will not forget our experiences here.
Jordan with the Manuel family
(Sister Manuel said: "Elder Royal knows everything about us.  There are no secrets.")
Jordan’s only disappointment in our Cabanatuan visit was being unable to see his former companion, Elder Leduna.  The elders were going to try to stop by one of our meeting places; however, they were too busy (as they should be).  (I felt a little bad about having to leave a tad earlier than planned, but we learned that my mother was going through surgery to remove a brain tumor, something we thought would not occur until next month, and we were very anxious to get back to our hotel to make contact with our family.  We had started our day with a family prayer for my mother and feel the power of our prayers reaching her from the Philippines, just as we felt the power of our prayers back home blessing Jordan during his missionary service, with so many wonderful people coming into his life.  As of this posting, Mom is through surgery and is in recovery.)  The gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful and true regardless of where we go in the world, and we are all brothers and sister in Christ.  We have felt that with each memorable experience we have had on our wonderful journey these past few days.

 (Because the YSA's had us take so many and wanted solos with Jordan - also, we wanted to post more pictures for Arjay)
Jordan and Abby
Jordan and Arjay
Jordan and Jonathan
Jordan and Raquel (who inherited Jordan's umbrella, something he will not need in Las Vegas) 
Jordan and Riza 
Jordan and Vincent
YSA Wacky!
YSA Wacky II  
YSA group from left (next to Jordan): Joebert, Jonathan, Raquel, Abby and Riza, with Nilo back center
(Jordan and Joebert are doing Wacky when this one was supposed to be Normal)
How about a little panorama picture for the Fab Five?
Abby reenacts her excitement at receiving the BYU bag
Manuel family gets Wacky!
Jordan and Kim share a few thoughts with Krisha in the background

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