Elder Jordan Royal

Elder Jordan Royal
Jordan hugs big sister Kelli

Friday, November 1, 2013

Final Mission Moments (November 1, 2013)

        I have not written since October 6th due to Typhoon Santi, which knocked out power in our area which remained out when my parents arrived on the 22nd.  Dad has pretty much served as the mission historian since that time (ha).  However, I thought I would fill in some of the gaps at least from the typhoon to our visit to Palawan. 

The Gapan elders woke up to find a huge mess all over their area due to Typhoon Santi
        Obviously, I survived Typhoon Santi which was a great way to end the mission (not really), with no power and water for a week in our apartment.  The typhoon was absolutely terrifying for those awake. I somehow managed to sleep through the whole thing.  I don’t know how I did that with the 150 mph winds outside, but I did.  We walked outside the next day and everything was destroyed.  Trees were uprooted from the ground, power poles snapped in two, power lines severed, and floods everywhere.  It was a sad sight to see, but it didn't seem to change the attitudes of the people.  

The streets were flooded everywhere in the Gapan area

Fallen trees were everywhere

Jordan's missionary apartment took on water as Jordan slept soundly 
Elder Armatage doing his part to help clean up
       Elder Armatage and I laughed out loud when we were still getting called,   "Joe."  (There's a massive tree in the middle of the road and everything else around you is destroyed, but you still call us "Joe"?  Ha.)  So, we spent all week conducting community service projects (CSP’s) and trying to help as many people as we could.  Some members took shelter at the chapel, because their houses were flooded or de-roofed.  The greatest thing I witnessed through it all, however, was the attitude of these people after a storm.  When they saw everything destroyed, everyone just went right to work repairing their houses and cleaning the streets.  These are such wonderful people!  I loved serving the people here in the Philippines (even though I almost chopped my thumb off doing it.  I'll explain later)!  Just the greatest people I have ever seen.

With Jordan's sliced thumb wrapped up, he was good to go 

          One of our service projects was going to the Marcelino's house to chop up their giant mango tree that fell down.  We took some machetes and went to work.  About three hours into our little project, I was chopping some wood when I accidentally chopped my thumb.  It didn't really hurt, but it was a deep cut and it bled a lot.  I just looked at Elder Armatage and said, "Yeah I cut myself."   He thought I was joking until he saw my hand covered in blood.  We got it cleaned up and stuff, and it's all good now.  (I guess I took Ammon's example of service too seriously.  Except I cut my own thumb and not the arms of other guys trying to do harm.)  Such is the life of a missionary.  We had more CSP's after that, but my ability to do as much physical work was limited after I chopped my thumb.  I still helped in anyway that I could.
Jordan got one last haircut in Gapan before leaving for Tarlac
Jason and Bessie, married forever!
        I had the great privilege of going to the temple with Elder Zaballero to attend the wedding of Bessi Guzman and her husband, Jason, on October 18th.  We taught and baptized Bessi back in Mamonit on September 1, 2012.  However, thanks to the slowest buses in the world and the wonderful world of Manila traffic (insert sarcastic tone and emotion here), we were two hours late to the sealing and weren't able to attend.  We arrived just in time to see them taking pictures and to have lunch with them along with some of the other members from Mamonit.  It was a major bummer, but at least we were able to see them and share in part of the experience, and know that they are now sealed in the temple for all eternity.  Hopefully we'll be able to see them once we go to Mamonit with Mom and Dad.  Elder Zaballero and I just ended up doing a session and then going home.  The temple is an awesome place.  
Jordan and Elder Zaballero with Jason and Bessie at the Manila Temple four days before
Jordan's departure
Jordan with Jona Galang
          I attended church at the San Vicente Ward for the last time, and then got on a bus with Elder Nunn to go to Cabanatuan to get picked up by the APs.  Once we arrived in Cabanatuan, we met up at the  stake center, and I was able to meet with the members from Branch 8 from my previous area.  Once all of the missionaries going home arrived, we went to the mission home for our Career Workshop until the day the Mom and Dad arrived the next day at the mission home. 
Jordan and Elder Hernandez with Nanay Galang and
 Ila at the San Vincente Ward

        Mom and Dad came during the workshop with Kimmey Talento (former companion).  Because there were two other families coming (Elder Bell's Family and Elder Johnson's Family), we were asked by President Martino not to get up during the workshop if any parents arrived (so we could just continue without interruption).  Of course, Mom and Dad were the first ones to arrive, and everyone was looking at me as they walked in, but I just slouched in my seat as they came in, trying to avoid being seen, because I would've been tempted to get up and go hug them and wanted to be obedient.  It's a good thing they left shortly afterwards, though, so that I could refocus and calm my nerves.  Mom and Dad returned later with Elder Bell's parents right as we closed the workshop.  Elder Bell and I were just standing in front of the door as nervous as could be as we waited for our parents to arrive.  One of the elders opened the door and forced us to go outside and meet our parents.  Mom was the first one I hugged, then Dad.  It was the first time I'd seen them in person for over two years and now I finally got to hug them!  We had lunch at the mission home for the last time and then I went with my batch and parents to the temple to do a session.  Despite the problems we had with my passport for a couple of days, it was great being in the temple with my parents, my batch, my trainer (Elder Declaro), and my first zone leader (Elder Manalo).  
Departing missionaries gather in the mission home for final training
        We later stayed at the Manila Airport Hotel with my batch, and it was pretty nice.  (Well, Mom and Dad didn't think it was so great, but being able to have my first hot water shower in months, I'd say it was pretty awesome).  I also saw Elders Harrison and Merril at the hotel for the first time since the MTC.  That was pretty awesome.  The next morning, everyone had to get up super early for their flights except for Elder Hawikirangi and me, so we said goodbye to the departing missionaries and then went back to sleep.  We met Mom and Dad for breakfast, and I said goodbye to Elder Hawikirangi.  We then left for the airport to go to Palawan for a little vacation at a beach resort.  Our flight was delayed for two hours, but we finally arrived later that afternoon.  The resort was really fun.  I spent most of the time with Mom and Dad and translating for them when needed, but we had a great time relaxing at the beach.  (I still had fun even though I could not go swimming either in the ocean or the pool.)  

        As for the rest of our journey from the Philippines to Las Vegas, to be honest, I am pretty tired and just want to relax and soak it all in.   Dad has done a great job of covering the details on the blog.  Dad and Mom just sat back, let me say my goodbyes, and Dad documented everything (as he does so well).  In fact, I don’t think I took a single picture since they arrived, because I know Dad’s got it covered.  So, I have been able to focus on all the good stuff, which has been really nice.  

Jordan, on the shuttle en route to the Manila airport

          Now, to fulfill my Mom's last wishes for me from when I was supposed to do my last email by writing my testimony, I'll take that opportunity to do it now.  It has been a great privilege to serve as a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ and His Church.  I still remember a speaker from the MTC who said: "Missions aren't a perfect experience, but a perfect learning experience."  I've come to know the truthfulness of that now more than ever before.  My mission was definitely not the easiest thing I've ever done, but I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity to become closer with my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ than any other thing in this world.  Nothing else could've brought me so much happiness and joy.  My mission has changed the way I view life and what I'm supposed to be doing right now in my life.  This has been the greatest two years I've ever experienced in my entire life and I couldn't have been more happy with the results.  I've definitely seen the fruits of my labors and will continue to see them for the rest of my life and through all eternity.  I love reading the Book of Mormon and all of the standard works of the Church.  I know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God and Jesus Christ restored His Church through him.  I know there are living prophets on the earth today who will continue to receive revelation for our benefit.  What a wonderful time to be living on this earth to experience the joys of the power of the priesthood and eternal families!  I know that missionary work is true and that The Lord guides His work. I hope to apply all that I've learned from my mission for the next responsibility The Lord will give me.
Full Circle: Jordan arrives at the Manila airport in
November 2011 here with (from left)
Elders Palmer, Biggs & Harrison

          I love you all and I love this Gospel.  Thank you to all of those who have sent me letters of encouragement and have been reading my letters since the beginning of my mission.  Thank you for all of your support to my family who continually strives to live the Gospel everyday and to teach their children to do the same.  To all of you reading, I'll say goodbye, until we see each other once more face-to-face.  I can't wait to see you all so that I can share with you my experiences.  Once again, I love you all and hope to see you soon.

          Elder Jordan "for the last time" Royal

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