Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kalikid: Where Jordan’s Journey Began (October 28, 2013)

Sister Adonis and Jordan by the incredibly awesome Kalikid "The Royals" Poster we will keep forever
            The first couple months out of the Mission Training Center are critical in the life of a young missionary - especially for one called to serve in a foreign land, who is learning a foreign language, and is expected to share the gospel effectively, all while embracing the culture and loving the people.  (The Lord’s mission call to the Sons of Mosiah comes to mind: “Go forth among the Lamanites, thy brethren, and establish my word; yet ye shall be patient in long-suffering and afflictions, that ye may show forth good examples unto them in me, and I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls.”  Alma 17:11.) 
Jordan exhibits the look he had on his face when he was
first asked to speak in the Kalikid Branch, while his mother was home praying for him
Jordan visits with Sister Rosa
             As parents, we plead with the Lord to bless our missionaries with good people in their lives, such as a wonderful mission president, a loving and faithful training companion, and an understanding, accepting and nurturing members of the Church.  Our prayers were answered when Jordan was assigned to Kalikid as a brand new missionary, fresh out of the Provo MTC.  Elder Declaro was as good a trainer as anyone could ever hope for, and the people in Kalikid were ministering angels to our young, tenderhearted son.  In Jordan’s letter home about his first day as a new missionary in Kalikid, he wrote the following:

            “When we got to our apartment that night we went to the home of the Adonis family for dinner. They're a great family, and Sister Adonis is really nice.  My first day of tracking and teaching was pretty interesting.  As you may have guessed, I have absolutely no idea what's going on (ha ha).  I just follow my companion around and talk with the random people that he talks to.  The only thing I can do really is introduce myself, say a quick greeting, bear my testimony, and pray.  That's pretty much it.  Whenever Elder Declaro is talking to someone I just sit there and try to listen and see if I can pick up any words.  That usually doesn't work very well.  I'm still confused no matter what (ha ha).”  (Journal of Elder Jordan Royal, December 4, 2011.)
Together with Sister Adonis, Mayo & Chelsea

        We were blessed to become Facebook Friends with Sister Adonis shortly after Jordan’s arrival in Kalikid and she regularly shared pictures taken of Jordan and his companion having dinner at her house.  We have stayed in touch with both Sister Adonis and the WML Bro. Al Abellera, from early into Jordan’s mission, which gave us great comfort.  Kalikid was an answer to prayer, and we were so grateful to have the opportunity to personally meet and thank the members of the Kalikid Branch.
Our wonderful ministering angels of the Kalikid Branch
Pres. Faust, here addressing Jordan during our
fireside gathering, thanked us for his service
            We arrived at the Kalikid chapel early and were met by Pres. Faust (1st counselor in the branch presidency) who let us into the building.  It is the identical floor plan of the building in Cabiao, where we attended church during our visit with Brad at the conclusion of his mission in September 2005.  Jordan’s first comment at surveying the parking lot was that the volleyball net was ruined from the recent typhoon.  (The building had a few problems, too (mostly from roof damage), but Jordan was mostly concerned about the volleyball net.)  I recognized the volleyball area from a video Sister Adonis posted on Facebook which depicted Jordan playing volleyball with the members.  Although Jordan could not speak much Tagalog as a new missionary at the time, one thing he could do very well was play volleyball, and he really enjoyed that.  (In the video, Jordan kept serving aces so the other members of his team just sat down as he served, since no one on the other side could return it.  David once said of Jordan about volleyball: “He only knows one speed - going all out.”  I guess that was at least still true for him as a young missionary.  It has probably changed a bit since then, because he took it pretty easy on Maralea and me when we played two on one volleyball with him last week in Palawan.)  Pres. Gurancho, the District President, who arrived a bit later, said that he enjoyed playing volleyball with Jordan, adding with a smile: “He is very good.”
Jordan visits with Sisters Curtis and De Guzman, and Sister Rosemary
            Sister Adonis arrived at the church with her daughter, Mayo, and granddaughter, Chelsea.  Of our early arrival, Sister Adonis said: “Filipinos are never on time - and are especially never early” (well, except Pres. Faust and Sister Adonis - ha).  Sister Rosemary Rabe, who Jordan taught with Elder Declaro, was baptized, and recently went through the Manila Temple with her missionaries (Jordan and Elder Declaro), arrived with Sister Rosa.  We were introduced and they huddled around Jordan to visit (all in Tagalog, of course).  Nilo and I helped Pres. Faust collect and set up some tables and chairs for the anticipated gathering (all at the instruction of Sister Adonis).
Jordan with Sister Rosemary Rabe (left) (recently endowed in the Manila Temple), and Sister Rosa (who will do anything to bless the lives of the fortunate missionaries assigned to Kalikid)

These sisters are all smiles all the time!
            Sisters Curtis and De Guzman, the full time missionaries presently assigned to Kalikid, stopped by for a visit.  Sister Curtis is from the area of Independence, MO, and is training her second new missionary in Sister De Guzman, who is from Naga City, Philippines (four days in the mission field).  The sisters left to go teach a lesson, then returned beaming as Sister De Guzman said that she gave her first baptismal challenge, which was accepted.  The sisters were very engaging - great to visit with.  (Note to Tom: Sister De Guzman was also with Elder Watkins in the MTC and said he is doing well.)
Jordan here with, from left: Mayo, Honey, Jon Jon,
Boogie, Mulong, Al & Lilian (Sis. Adonis)
        Sister Adonis made a couple of trips to bring food and other decorations, including an incredible poster she had made for Jordan.  It is awesome!  We helped mount the poster on the wall by the tables where the food was placed prior to the program.  Brother Al (Abellera) conducted the fireside, which was to begin and end 
Jordan accompanying on the piano as he did while
serving in Kalikid
with hymns (and prayers).  Sister Adonis told Jordan that he needed to accompany the members on the piano, as he used to do each Sunday when he was serving there.  (That was another talent Jordan offered the branch - music.)  Jordan did not argue - even though he had never played the opening hymn before on the piano (“Now Let Us Rejoice”).  (Clearly, when Sister Adonis speaks, Jordan listens.)  (The Kalikid Branch was exactly what I had in mind when I refused to let Jordan give up the piano, always referring to piano practice as Mission Preparation.)  (Click here for video of "Called to Serve" - Jordan accompanying the Kalikid Branch for the final time)
Al Abellera, WML while Jordan served,
with a few words to Jordan
Jordan loved being able to express love and
testimony to the Kalikid Branch in fluent Tagalog
        After an opening prayer, a microphone was passed around for members to share memories of and thoughts about Jordan (okay, Elder Royal).  Many thanked us for raising him to serve valiantly, commenting on Jordan’s warm, friendly nature along with his strong work ethic.  Even though the words spoken were mostly in Tagalog, we felt the warm spirit of all the love expressed.  It was such a pleasure and honor to be in that wonderful building with the Kalikid Branch.  Maralea and I were eventually given the microphone and asked to speak.  I did not expect to be so overcome with emotion, but at the moment I began to express my thanks to these blessed people, as Jordan’s father (one who pleaded with Heavenly Father to send people to love and care for our son), my heart overflowed with gratitude and joy.  I knew that I was present with those who so willing responded to the Father’s call to be the answers to our daily prayers.  Jordan was the final speaker, expressing his love and testimony to the members, in Tagalog.  Watching Jordan interact with these great members was one of those prized moments in life that will not be forgotten. 
Maralea shares her appreciation for the Kalikid members for taking such tender care of our missionary son
Jordan listens as Sister Esquendor
shares her love and testimony
             In a fitting and rather poignant moment, Jordan accompanied the members to “Called to Serve” - the hymn that once so challenged him when I assigned him to be the pianist for our Stake Missionary Preparation Class (where we sang that song each week).  It was as though Jordan’s journey from his first attempt at playing that song some four years ago (when he could not even keep up with the group by using one finger to play the melody) had come full circle.  After the closing prayer, the members gathered around Jordan and signed the poster (a valuable keepsake). 

Trick or Treat!  Jordan here as The Candy Man
        Jordan created quite a stir by pulling out a bag of candy, playing Trick or Treat.  (American candy always brings out so many smiles!)  We lingered outside the chapel in the darkness, looking over the lighted volleyball area where Jordan was slamming aces while playing full speed ahead (ha) nearly two years ago, and said our final goodbyes.  Sister Rosa said, as we left, “I hope we will see you again.”  We do not know if we will ever be back.  But, that’s what we thought in 2005 - and here we are!  Sister Adonis said: “Don’t forget us.”  That would be impossible!  If there is one thing the Royals do very well, it’s remembering to stay in touch with our family and friends.  We will see you on all Facebook!  (Ha.)  We went to sleep with incredibly grateful hearts.  We have so much love for the Philippines and the Filipino people, and have been richly blessed to have had two sons serve here as Special Witnesses of Jesus Christ.
Sister Rosemary signs The Royals poster with (left to right) Sister Adonis, Honey & Mayo, with
Pres. Durancho in the background (top) 
Jordan here with a showing of respect to Sister Rosa, with
Sister Rosemary standing to the lef
Jordan likewise showing respect to
Sister Rosemary
A Kalikid sunset, this taken from the west side of the chapel

Here with the Dilao family
(Both Brother and Sister Dilao served full time missions in the Philippines, which Sister Dilao said
is proof that "the harder you serve, the more beautiful wife you will have.")
In about every group picture we have had during our visit, we do one picture Normal, one Wacky, another with everyone Looking Up and one that is Pogi (good looking).  Here, the Kalikid members and Jordan demonstrate Pogi
Jordan found another use for Pogi in this semi-Selfie (ha)
Jordan visits outside the chapel with (from center to right) Jon Jon,
Honey, Sister Adonis & Mayo

Jordan still handing out more American Candy 

Maralea with Sister Rosemary

Mayo Adonis relates some Elder Royal memories 

A Few More Pictures
We saw a lot of this during our visit, remnants of Typhoon Santi
(This was taken at the memorial for the American servicemen
heroically rescued from the deadly Japanese POW camp in WWII)
Nilo (ace driver and interpreter) and me at the WWII memorial in

Cabanatuan earlier in the day
Local children here asked Jordan whether he is Americano,
and were impressed with his ability to speak their language.
Is it possible to post too many pictures with the full time missionaries?

Behind Maralea and Jordan is the infamous Kalikid Branch
volleyball court where Jordan loved to play his heat out

At the Cabanatuan WWI Memorial
One last picture for good measure before our Kalikid departure
     Thank you Kalikid Branch for taking such good care of Elder Royal during his tender first few months as a missionary!

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