Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Mamonit: A Rescue Story (October 27, 2013)

The Mission Office
We so appreciate Elder and Sister Tischner and their great service in the Philippines Angeles Mission!
            We stopped by the mission office before heading out to Mamonit.  Maralea had some candy/treats to deliver to Elder and Sister Tischner (from Salem, UT), who so kindly delivered our luggage to the Mocrotel in Tarlac earlier while we were en route from our visit to Palawan.  When we arrived, we were surprised to find a mission office filled with missionaries.  (The Tarlac Zone was present for monthly goal setting.) 
It was nice seeing so many missionaries milling around the mission
office when we stopped by for a brief visit
        We came to the Philippines bearing gifts for Sister Littlefield (Las Vegas, NV) and Elder Watkins (Alpine, UT) (from their parents), previously hand delivered to the mission office.  The second we walked through the doors, I saw a missionary seated on a couch with the name tag: “Elder Watkins.”  I went to him with the intention of delivering a big hug from his father.  But, since I remembered that Dustin Watkins (who I have never met) is half Filipino, and this Elder Watkins was clearly not, I inquired a little before shocking him.  Well, it turns out there are now two Elder Watkins in the Philippines Angeles Mission.

Elder Watkins was all smiles, even
after I told him he was the wrong Elder Watkins
        While I did not meet the Elder Dustin Watkins (sorry Tom), I was introduced to Sister Anderson from St. Louis, MO, who was in the MTC with Elder Dustin Watkins and told me he is doing very well, that he is getting the language quickly.  (There you go, Tom, it’s something.)  Sister Anderson is a Cardinals fan and asked about the status of the World Series.  She said: “My brother said we are up two to one.”  I told her the Red Sox had tied the series, which was not the best of news for her.  Sister Anderson, in the mission field four days, is clearly very excited to get to work.  We also met Sister Maricucci from Tampa, FL, who has a friend serving in the Nevada Las Vegas Mission.  (Maralea was on the lookout for Sister Maricucci so she could say hello from Elder Campbell.  Done.)
I failed to mention that Sister Anderson is an avid
Cougar fan, too, which makes her extra special

Maralea meets Sister Maricucci to say
hello from Elder Campbell in Las Vegas
        I was approached by Elder Olson, who asked if I am the one who keeps up Jordan’s mission blog.  When I confirmed that I am the very same, Elder Olson said: “Can I get a picture with you?  My dad follows your blog every week and tells me that I need to give him more specific information like Elder Royal gives about his mission.”  So, I got a picture with Elder Olson, as the Royal blog guy.  (It made me feel a little celebrity like.  Ha.) 
How could I NOT include a picture with Elder
Olson, one of my biggest fans (ha)

        Maralea had me make an announcement to all the missionaries present, that we had American candy for everyone.  (Happy Halloween!!)  Sisters got first choice, so the anxious elders had to wait their turn.  The missionaries were ecstatic to get some candy and were so appreciative.  What a great group! 

       The visit was fortuitous, as Jordan got to see a few more mission friends before leaving.  The Tischners do such a great job running the mission office.  The mission office in Las Vegas is super busy with a total of six full-time senior missionaries and one part-time senior missionary, with 280 missionaries (and about 120 vehicles, 140 apartments/homes).  There are 240 missionaries here, which leaves no shortage of things to do for the Tischners (who administer a great deal on their own).  They return home in January and will be sorely missed.  The need for full time senior missionaries is truly great, and the service is very rewarding.  Maralea and I look forward to the day when we can serve full time as Elder and Sister Royal.  (While Maralea has been doing that from home for the past two and a half years, as the mission office secretary, we want to get away to be absolutely, positively, no turning back senior missionaries for 18 months like the Tischners.  We look forward to that day/opportunity.)
A little "American candy" brought a lot of missionary smiles

        After hosting our little Trick or Treat at the mission office (ha), we ventured out to Jordan’s second area of his mission, Mamonit, which is close to the mountains with some absolutely beautiful landscape.  Our journey began at the chapel, where Jordan joined a group of young men meeting with their leaders as part of the Rescue effort.  As we entered the room, Jordan saw Ruben, who he taught and baptized while here.  Jordan took a seat in the back of the class and Ruben got up and went in the back to sit by Jordan.  
Jordan was happy to find that Ruben is doing well in Mamonit
        Jordan said he did not recognize most of the other young men present.  They were all new faces, part of a very successful ongoing effort to reach out to the less active, along with sharing the gospel.  Jordan provided some instruction to the young men and, after we took a few pictures, the group immediately set out to apply the instruction they had received by visiting and inviting others to come join them at Church activities.  (What great young men leaders!)  (Click here for a brief video of Jordan addressing the young men during our visit.)

Jordan teaches the young men at the Mamonit Ward about rescuing souls for Christ 
Jordan was thrilled to give the Mamonit young men a few words of encouragement and praise
Having been taught, the Mamonit young men were ready for action

The assignment for the young men was to invite others to attend a special Family Home Evening to be held later that evening - so off they go   
Jordan with Bro. Fiesta, who was running for office and
awaiting election results

Sister Fiesta was awaiting results, too
        Monday was Election Day, so there was a lot of civic activity everywhere.  As we walked to a nearby elementary school, we stayed a bit behind the group just to watch Jordan.  He is so relaxed and comfortable with the Filipino people.  Jordan introduced us to Bro. Fiesta, who was running for a political position, awaiting election results, along with his wife.  We also met others familiar with Jordan, such as Mike and Marvin Razalin, Sister Bumadilia, Bro. Dante, and Sis. Collado, as we stopped by the local elementary school where the elections were being held.
Jordan and Bro. Dante, who serves as the ward clerk
Jordan with Sister Bumadilia, Lolita Tomas (yellow shirt) and Marvin Razalin (far right)

Jordan with Bessie and Bishop Collado
        We walked to the home of Bro. Collado, a former bishop of the ward, and had a visit.  His son, Jason, was courting his new spouse Bessie, when Jordan was serving in Mamonit.  Jason and Bessie were married in the Manila Temple three days before our arrival.  Jordan, as one of the missionaries who taught and baptized Bessie, was blessed with the opportunity to attend their wedding.  Jason returned home from work about an hour before Bessie was to leave for work.  (They both work at call centers located in Tarlac.)
Jordan with Jason and Bessie (who just recently became Brother & Sister/Mr. & Mrs. Collado) 
               Jason, who served a mission in Tacloban, Philippines, related how he and Bessie began dating.  They both worked at the same call center and were going through training together.  She was not a member of the Church when he met her.  But, shortly after their introduction, Jason put his skills to work and began courting his sweet wife.  In time, Bessie began taking the missionary discussions.  Jason said that he would go over lessons with Bessie before Jordan and Elder Dela Paz taught her, giving her questions to ask the missionaries.  Bessie said that she gained a testimony of the Church very early into the process.  Bessie said that her family was not happy with her decision to be baptized, and Jason related the challenges associated with both the baptism and the wedding (they waited to be married until Bessie could go to the temple).  As for the challenges, they overcame them all, as Jason won the hearts of Bessie’s family.  They are a beautiful couple, with a sweet story of romance and gospel centered living.  Jordan was very blessed to have been involved in teaching Bessie and then returning to see how the gospel of Jesus Christ has enriched her life with Jason.  They showed us the area where they plan to erect a house, right next to the chapel, and start building their eternal family.  Jordan delivered a wedding gift for Jason and Bessie, which included two BYU shirts.  (The people here generally do not know or care about BYU sports.  How is that possible?  So, I got out my laptop to show them pictures of our family wearing BYU shirts and hats.  We are always working to build the Cougar fan base.)

Jordan was happy to see that Rechelle, Ruben's sister, is
doing well, too!
         Jordan took us to the home of the Odones family, which is located across a breathtakingly beautiful bukid landscape.  Jordan taught and baptized Ruben and Rechelle Odones.  Their parents are not Church members, but they clearly knew Jordan and welcomed us into their home.  (Their pack of guard dogs were not nearly as hospitable, however.  Jordan described them as “the most annoying dogs in the world.”)  Rechelle is studying animal science and has aspirations of becoming a veterinarian.  Jordan was very pleased to see that Ruben and Rechelle are both still very active in the Church.  Rechelle said that she is close to moving from meeting with the Young Women to Relief Society (although I got the impression she is a bit squeamish about making that transition).  While we were visiting, Jordan used the words “no reply” in a discussion with Rechelle about Facebook.  It was mostly in Tagalog, but the words “no reply” immediately got my mind to singing The Beatles song "No Reply."  As that song was running through my head, Nilo, our driver, began singing quietly: “This happened once before, I came to your door, no reply. . . .”  I turned to him with amazement: “Are you seriously singing No Reply by The Beatles?”  Nilo said: “As soon as Elder Royal said ‘no reply’ that song came into my head.  I don’t know why.”  Wow.  (Nilo is in my age range and clearly has an ear for good music.)  So, Nilo and I began singing “No Reply” together.  That was awesome!  We tried to get Jordan to join us, or to at least sing a solo for the Odones family (ha), to no avail.  Since Jordan does not know the words to “No Reply,” we all sang “I Am A Child Of God” for Rechelle’s parents.  Jordan delivered some gifts and we went to a Family Home Evening.  We brought flashlights with us on the trip, due to the blackout, but for reasons unknown to me, we did not use them to get from the Odones home back to our vehicle, and walked in total darkness past the crazy barking dogs.  (Seriously, those dogs really should have known us by that time and been a little kinder/gentler, more understanding - but, as we carefully made our way blindly along the sloped dirt path, Jordan offered the following words of inspiration: “See what I mean [about the dogs]?  Annoying.”)

With the Odones family
(It just occurred to me that perhaps it was our singing that got the dogs upset as we left)
Jordan with Sister Bumadilia earlier in the day
        We went to the home of Sister Bumadilia for a Family Home Evening with the youth, youth leaders and the full time missionaries.  There was an agenda that included an opening/closing hymn (directed by an assigned young man - all hymns sung in English), and I was asked to give the opening prayer.  Jordan received an assignment upon our arrival to teach a lesson.  Jordan, being so impressed with the Mamonit rescue effort, spoke to the group Alma the Younger’s conversation with the angel as provided in Alma 8:15, who instructed Alma to return to the City of Ammonihah after he had just been thrown out by the people.  On that occasion, after his return, Alma met Amulek, a less active church member who had been prepared to receive Alma.  The process of rescuing then began as Alma prepared Amulek for the missionary call they had ahead of them.  That account, Jordan said, is a powerful example of what he has seen in Mamonit, with a huge group of youth present for the Family Home Evening, many new faces since Jordan was here, participating simply because they had been invited to do so. 
Family Home Evening at the Bumadilia home

           Brother Paul was in charge of games.  He ran us through a series of group activities.  I wasn’t really very good at the games (and really tried to avoid the one where you get your face painted with charcoal if you lose).  We were on a team that won a competition where we all held hands, a number was given to the first member of the team, who is then to squeeze the hand of the teammate next to him/her a number of times representing the original number given.  That continues from one team member to the other until the last person receiving the information (by hand squeezing) reports the number.  The first team to answer correctly wins.  On the last time through (the championship round, mind you) the number was seven.  Maralea, who was in the middle of our group standing to my left, squeezed my hand six times.  So, I faithfully passed along six squeezes.  When it got to the end, the cute little girl (Sis. Bumadilia’s daughter) on our team yelled: “Seven!”  I thought we had it wrong and, therefore, lost.  But, to my amazement, that turned out to be the correct number.  (Go figure.)  So, we somehow stumbled into the winner’s circle.  (Funny.) 
The Mamonit ward youth did some serious inviting and had a big group together for the FHE
Bro. Paul asked me to tell the Errico family hello from
the Philippines.  (Aloha Erricos!)
       The game master, Brother Paul, asked where we are from.  When I said Las Vegas, he asked if I am familiar with Henderson.  When I said I am, Brother Paul then asked if I happen to know Bill Errico, whose son served in this mission.  When I advised that we have known the Errico family for about 22 years, Brother Paul was amazed.  He related that he accompanied the Erricos when they came to tour the mission with their son, Elder Errico, who served in Jordan’s areas of Mamonit, Victoria and in the city of Cabanatuan.  (Wow, talk about a small world!)  So, I took a picture with Bro. Paul and promised I would say hello to the Errico family for him.
We can debate whether Elder Kisor really
looks like Harry Potter.  But there's no
debate that he is a wizard with the Rubic's Cube.

        We met Elder Kisor from Cincinnati, who the members here call Harry Potter . . . “because he looks like Harry Potter” (ha). There were two different kinds of Rubic’s Cubs being passed around the group, and Elder Kisor was being challenged to solve them.  He would literally take the normal Rubic’s Cube and solve it in about 10 seconds without even looking.  It was crazy.  (There was another more complicated one that I did not think Elder Kisor would solve . . . but he did, with a little more effort.)  I was sitting by Bro. Paul, who looked at me while holding up the two solved cubes just delivered to him by Elder Kisor, and while looking at the cubes, then at Elder Kisor, then at me, said: “Nerd.”  (Ha.)  (I really wouldn’t mind being called a nerd for solving a Rubic’s Cube.  I think Elder Kisor took that as a great compliment.  Harry Potter was probably called a nerd a few times, and look how he turned out!)  Maralea, Jordan and I were all asked to share our testimonies with the group before the closing hymn/prayer.  That was a great opportunity for us to thank them for all the work they are doing to save souls, and for Maralea and I to express thanks to them for so loving our son.

Jordan with Hana Pal after the FHE
        Sister Bumadilia made Filipino spaghetti for everyone at the Family Home Evening.  (That was a lot of people to feed.)  We got some pictures and Jordan promised to become Facebook friends with several there.  (The members here seem to be very active on Facebook.)  As we were leaving, Jordan was excited to see Pablo, who operates a trike despite the fact that he has no use of his legs.  Jordan said that Pablo would find the elders each night and give them a ride home.  He also cut Jordan’s hair on several occasions.  Jordan was so happy to see Pablo before we left Mamonit.
Jordan was thrilled to see Pablo
as we were leaving
       What a great day!  We were exhausted by all the events (not to mention that it was probably the hottest, most humid day of our visit so far), but we were very happy for the moments Jordan had to express his feelings to these great people.  At every area, people have told us two things about Jordan: his Tagalog was exceptionally good, and he was a very dedicated and hard working missionary.  It has been fun for us to tag along with him.  His ability to communicate in Tagalog (along with the other North American missionaries we have met) is truly amazing.  Tomorrow we venture to Kalikid, Jordan's first area.  

                      JUST A FEW MORE
Jordan and Michael Razalin

Jordan visiting with Marvin, Sister Collado and
Sister Bumadilia at election headquarters
Jordan and Bessie
Jordan and Ruben earlier in the day

The Mamonit young men, who (like the Army of Helaman) are being taught in their youth

I like this group FHE picture without a flash (and without me)

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