Monday, June 18, 2018

WEEK 96 - June 18, 2018 (Santa Ana, Cagayan Valley, Philippines)

Hello Everyone,

Happy Father's Day, pops! You're a great Dad and great example for us all :).  By the way, I feel so bad because I totally forgot that it was Father's Day yesterday and didn't do anything special for the fathers in the branch. On Mother's Day I bought all the moms chocolate and candy bars, and yesterday nothing happened haha. oops. But I'm pretty sure none of the fathers knew that it was Father's Day either. Still feel bad though. 

This week was a really fun one. On Wednesday, we had the final Zone Conference with President and Sister Andrada. We had the conference that afternoon, then had a going away dinner/party that night at Hotel Dian in Aparri. We were informed a couple weeks before that we should prepare some kind of presentation, and we had totally forgotten about it until like 2 days before. They wanted us four in Santa Ana to do a dance presentation, but we didn't know what do to. We ended up throwing together a little Irish jig dance. Gave everybody a real good laugh when we presented it haha. Because of lack of preparation, ended up looking like 4 drunk guys running around doing a little Irish jig. Was so much fun though. Definitely will miss the Andradas when they are gone. (They have finished their three year service as the mission president and will be heading back to Manila.)

With some of the office elders

With the  President & Sister Andrada 
& Elder Abarabar (Ryan's comp)

post-jig pic

So believe it or not, this Sunday was even better than last Sunday. It wasn't looking too good at 8:55 when there were only like 60 people at church, but I learn more and more that these people just love their filipino time. At about 9:10, the room was absolutely full with some people sitting outside just watching through the window because it was so packed (and extremely hot). We ended up having 121 attendance!! I was sooo happy. And because one of the people assigned to speak didn't show up and the other 2 talks were kinda short, I got the opportunity to speak to all of them for 20 minutes. It was such a happy, spiritual meeting. 

Other good news in the branch... the other day, President Andrada gave me the mission call of the member in our branch. He will be opening the call later tonight. There are a good number of members that are interested in serving missions here, so we started up a Missionary Preparation class last week. Every Sunday we hold the class and I get to teach it. I love teaching the class, gives me good memories of being in the MTC and also preparing to serve a mission. Brings back some good memories. Other good news is that our investigator, Kyle, will be baptized this Saturday. Her dad works in Manila, but he had a week vacation here in Santa Ana, so we had the opportunity to talk to him and ask him if he is okay with his daughter being baptized. He approved, and actually kinda wants his whole family to also, but only Kyle is ready at the time. We are way excited. Also, that family that I talked about last week all came to church again, and their 3 kids that haven't been baptized yet will be baptized on July 7. Everything is going weeeellll here in Santa Ana. Love it! 

making ice cream at an Elder's Quorum activity

Another week down and I have definitely seen The Lord's hand in our work. He continues to guide us through The Spirit and revelation. His guidance has brought us much success and happiness. I testify once again that the way to success is through Obedience, Faith, and Diligence. He knows us, loves us, and will continue to guide us. 

Love you all, have a nice week :)

-Elder Jenkins

Sunday, June 10, 2018

WEEK 95 - June 10, 2018 (Santa Ana, Cagayan Valley, Philippines)

Hello Everybody!

WooHoo!! This was a greeeat week. It has been smoking hot and raining off and on, but we are really really happy, and so are the people here. Right now is the Santa Ana Festival, so there are tons of events going on here in Centro. This is the only time of the year that there is a "night life" here in Santa Ana. People will go out at night and stay at the perya (fair) until midnight. They just eat, enjoy the rides, gamble, and go watch little events and performances in the gym. They love it so much. There were also rumors that Coco Martin (big celebrity here) would be coming. Not sure however if it's true or not haha. And then just this last week there was an international beach volleyball tournament. So there are lots of people here and a lot of fun happening. 

So on Tuesday, we got a text from one of the members to stop by at her house for a minute and have a snack. When we got there however, to my surprise there was a huge feast set up and a bunch of people saying "Happy Birthday". It was so much fun, I was so happy. Also I didn't have to spend a bunch of money and buy a bunch of food for other people, so that was nice. (Here in the Phils, when it's your birthday, you buy everybody else food). Was a great Birthday surprise! 

On Saturday evening, we had 3 baptisms. One of them was our investigator, Tatay Rodolfo. He has absolutely quit smoking and decided to be baptized. Lots of people attended, including Tatay's family. So we did the quick program at the church, then walked over to the beach to do the baptism. The weather was great. Overcast, not too windy and not too hot. However, when we reached the sand and got a look at the ocean, the waves were huge. So the baptism took a little more effort on our part to fight the waves and time it perfectly, but it worked out great. Also because of the volleyball tournament on the beach, we had a lot of extra spectators. 

Sunday was an incredible day. Tatay was so excited to be confirmed that he was at the gate at 7:45am waiting for us to open up the church. Just before the meeting was about to start, people started piling into the meeting house. The place was getting so full, we almost had to open up the overflow. We had a total of 110 people at church! The members were so happy to see the place so full, and it was a really good spiritual service. 

Wow, after all the success we've been having here, I look back and see how much The Lord has guided our work. The other day while thinking about a less active family and how we could help them come back, I felt prompted to draw out a  picture on a little scratch paper. It was a kinda drawn out map or timeline of the steps that the family has made in their lives to draw closer to The Savior. And then the steps that they took that brought them down and further away from Him. Then, the other night as we were teaching them about the Atonement, I decided to pull it out and show it to them. I showed it first to the Father and explained it to him, and then the Mother said she wanted to see it. She looked at it, and decided right then that they will go to church on Sunday and begin their comeback to church. On Sunday morning, as I stood up to begin the meeting, all 8 of them walked in and sat down in Sacrament Meeting together for the first time in 5 years. I felt so happy, and felt the Spirit real strong. I know for a fact the the Lord communicates to His children through revelation and will use us, if we let him, as instruments to help others come unto Him.

Love  you all, have a nice week!

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, June 4, 2018

WEEK 94 - June 4, 2018 (Santa Ana, Cagayan Valley, Philippines)

Hello Everybody!

First of all, congratulations to Mark Griffitts! Called to the best mission in the world. If you want to start you preparations, start taking cold showers and don't use toilet paper... but if I were you, I would cherish taking hot showers and using paper until the day you enter the field haha. (Mark is a member of our home ward who just got his call to Ryan's mission. They'll miss each other by one week!)

Well this week was a real eventful week. One of the members in our Branch is a fisherman, and lately he's been catching tons of lobster and crab. So we have been fed real well this week. Even though we live on the beach, seafood is sooo expensive here. They jack up the prices because of all the rich Chinese people (vacationers) here that buy seafood. So it is always a treat when we get fed a nice seafood meal. 

So one of our investigators, Rodolfo, is progressing well towards baptism. He has been doing a good job at throwing out the coffee and cigarettes and has attended church for 5 weeks straight. Even though he is 64 years old, he still works almost every day in the rice field. We felt bad for him because he says he works alone out there and has nobody to talk to, so we told him we would hit the bukid (farm) with him on Wednesday morning. So Wednesday morning, we woke up at the break of dawn, grabbed our knives, and went to work with Tatay Rodolfo. He was soo happy to have somebody to work with him. But I'll be honest, I never want to have to work in the rice fields again haha. It is soooo hot and humid and just wore me out. But we were able to have a good time with Tatay. He will be baptized this Saturday. 

Sunday was a really good day. We got to the church early, at about 7:30 to get everything set up and ready to go, and to my surprise, lots of people started showing up at around 8, and before the start at 9, we almost had a full room. Ended up being a really good service and had 98 attendance. We are working real hard to get that up to a consistent 100 before July. (Right now they meet in a rented building. If there is consistantly a large congregation attending weekly, a new building will be built for them in Santa Ana. This is a BIG deal!)

Saturday, however, was not such a good day. To start it off, I woke up with a bad fever and diarrhea. I got up in the morning and tried to work through it, but ended up just heading back home. I slept for about 4 hours then woke up and felt like we needed to go visit one of our investigators named Ronnie. So I mustered up the strength to get dressed and go out again to go visit this man. When we arrived at his house, to our surprise, we found him lying in a casket. He had died the day before from a sudden illness. He left behind his wife and 7 children, 3 of them still being pretty young. He had come to church 3 times now and was planning to be baptized this month. My already sick stomach and weak body just about gave out after that, so we headed back home. We were sooo sad, and I went back to sleep in sadness. When I woke up however, I all of the sudden felt happy. The knowledge I have about the Plan of Salvation shot through my mind and I knew that God's plan really is a plan of happiness. Oh how hard and scary death would be if we had no knowledge of the God's plan for us. I'm so happy for the testimony that I have. 

Love you all, have a nice week!! Happy Birthday to me :)   

- Elder Jenkins

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

WEEK 93 - May 29, 2018 (Santa Ana, Cagayan Valley, Philippines)

Hello Everybody!

Fun fact for the day... did you guys know that they have yellow and purple watermelons here? The outside is the same color, but you never know what you're gonna get on the inside haha. The other day we found somebody that was selling some and there was a huge one - 17 kilos (37.5 pounds). So we bought it and split it open for a nice snack after the baptism on Friday. Was wondering if it was gonna be yellow or purple... it was red.

Exciting news for the week is about one of the members in our branch who applied for his mission last year. I check every once in a while to see where his papers are, and when I checked the other day, he had an assignment made, and his call is on the way! Also there are 2 or 3 others in the Branch that are getting ready to serve. So the branch is way excited for them. 

On Saturday, we had a District YSA (young single adult) activity here in Santa Ana. The plan was that we would meet at a certain time and they would pick us up with all our YSA, then we would head up to Buacag Falls. So we were there at the meeting place on time. Ended up waiting 2 hours until they picked us up haha. filipino time. But the activity turned out fun. Lots of people came and went swimming in a little hidden river in the crevice of a mountain that also had some waterfalls and some place to cliff jump. 

Sunday was a good day. It started out a little strange however. We got to the meetinghouse early to open everything up and get ready. But when people started arriving, everybody was coughing because it was so smoky. We looked around and somebody was burning their trash right next to the church, which was blowing tons of smoke right into the church. (There is no garbage man here to pick up your trash, so everybody just burns it right outside their house). Before I could go out and talk to the person and ask them to put it out, our other neighbor was already over there chewing her out. She was mad because she had just washed her clothes and hung them up, and now the smoke was making them smell bad. So they were out yelling at each other and making a ruckus right before Sacrament was supposed to start haha. We ended up getting her to put out the fire, and started Sacrament Meeting. We had a good meeting with 94 attendance, including 14 investigators. We had a full gospel principles class. The old Ilokano Tatay (Rodolfo) and his two granddaughters came to church. We are preparing for them to be baptized in a few weeks. 

Even though sometimes I am disappointed with people failing to be obedient and committed, there are many times where I am overwhelmed with joy to see members with tough circumstances continue to be loyal and converted to the Lord. There was a member here who was robbed this last week and had 8000 pesos (about 152 US dollars) stolen from her. She has been working for almost a year now, trying to get enough money so she could go back to school and finish. She was so sad and discouraged. But on Sunday, she came to church and paid her tithing. Other members, even though their life is hard, they stop everything they are doing on Sunday and give time to the Lord. I have learned so many things from the filipinos, but one thing that will always stick with me is that  when we put The Lord first in our lives, He will always provide for us. 

Love you all, have a nice week!

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, May 21, 2018

WEEK 92 - May 21, 2018 (Santa Ana, Cagayan Valley, Philippines)

Hello Everybody,

Well last week was Election day, so the people here have been pretty politically excited here. It's funny how the politics work here. In every city here in the Philippines, there are areas within the cities called Barangays. In every Barangay, there is a leader, the Kapitan, and other leaders of smaller ranks, Kagawads. Every 3 years they have elections for all these positions, and last Monday was the election day. Before election day people print out pictures of the person they want to win, and they place them all around the Barangay, anywhere. On trees, buildings, tricycles, pretty much anywhere you walk you will see one. And then these people running for these position will go house to house in that Barangay and talk to every single person about voting for them. So we saw a lot of that the last week. And then on Tuesday when there was a winner, he held a huge party at his house and everybody could go and eat with him. So we stopped by :)

(from last week, but now we understand what it is)

Besides that, this week consisted of not much but working with Less Actives. Us four elders got together and wrote down every single less active in the Santa Ana Branch, there's about 350, and made a plan to go find and visit them all. Some of these visits are so sad when they tell us they don't have any interest in coming back to church. Most of them say that they are too busy because they are a fisherman. Others say that they are too busy working at the Casino. Some just say that they are straight up lazy and have no desire to go to church. The great, exciting part of working with less actives is when you find the ones that have just been waiting for somebody to invite them to come back. There have been so many people that I have seen active in the church back in the day, then go less active and their life just goes downhill. Makes me more and more understand the importance of the Gospel.

Elders Jenkins & Abarabar with a couple from the Santa Ana Branch

On Saturday, we had a big young men/young women mutual activity at a place called Dumasag. We piled into the van of one of the members (we fit 18) and headed up a bumpy, dirt road up through the mountain. After about a 20 minute drive, we had arrived at a nice, quiet place up next to a river. We had a nice little program and the kids had a fun time swimming and bonding with the other ym/ym. 

Well, church wasn't as successful as it was last week. A lot of the Less Actives we worked with showed up, but the problem was a lot of the people that regularly come to church didn't show up. Sundays are emotional rollercoasters. I see a less active or two walk in to Sacrament Meeting, which just makes me so happy, but then one of the speakers doesn't show up, which disappoints. Sometimes I wanna jump on the roof because of happiness and excitement, and other times I wanna just go sit in my office and shed a few tears. Nothing has ever made me learn or grow more than the things that I face here in Santa Ana. The Lord has always been there every step of the way, guiding me and picking me up when I'm feeling down. I am so thankful for the love that He has for me and the motivation He gives me every single day. I could never turn away from the great plan that He has for me.

Love you all, talk to ya next week!

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, May 14, 2018

WEEK 91 - May 14, 2018 (Santa Ana, Cagayan Valley, Philippines)

Hello Everybody!

Happy Mother's Day Mom!! Love you so much, you are my hero :)

This week was straight success. Full of happy moments and lots of good opportunities here in Santa Ana. 

The not so cool part, first of all, is the fact that the power has gone out here like three times in the past week. Which leaves us without electricity all day. Which means no electric fans, and some of our food going bad. It also results in our American housemate shouting, "Only 6 weeks then I won't have to deal with a power outage longer than 5 mintues again!! haha"

So the other day, we decided to have lunch at a kind of higher end restaurant/hotel here in Santa Ana. Didn't turn out being as expensive as we thought it would, and we very much enjoyed. When we started heading out, a big white van pulled up to us and opened the side door. To our surprise, a  huge American Marine sat there, and asked if he could sit down and interview us about the Mormon religion. We happily accepted and headed back to the nice restaurant with him to have a talk. He said it was a miracle that he found us, because just earlier that day, his boss was giving him an earful for not talking to people about their non-government organizations. So he was stoked to see a couple of American guys on the street that he could talk to. He was trying to gather info because he was putting together a big production that would be shown to hundreds of people, so we were way excited. We had a real good talk with him about what we do to help the people here in the Philippines. Got to talk a lot about Mormon Helping Hands, and he said he was pretty surprised by how much good we do without getting paid. Said when he gets home he's gonna look for the Elders and learn more. Really cool opportunity for us to open our mouths.

A not so cool experience was on Tuesday. Elder Ivie and I went on exchanges in his area, and if you could see our planners, there was nothing but Less Actives planned for the day. I don't get the opportunity to work in their area very much, so I wanted to visit as many members as I could. So we ended up going to an area that is about 15 kilometers away out in the middle of nowhere. We worked there and visited some less actives until about 12pm, then waited for a tricy. Well, a tricy didn't show up, so we decided to start walking, expecting that a tricy would show up. We had been walking for about 1 hour in the blazing heat, and couldn't believe there wasn't a tricy yet. We were pretty thirsty and saw a little store in the middle of nowhere, so we stopped off to get a drink... and of course, right when we turn our backs, a tricy drives by -_-  Turns out that was the last tricy of the day, and we ended up walking the next 12 kilometers back to the main road. We couldn't believe it... what a day.

the long walk home

exchanges with Elder Ivie

Yesterday at church was another big step for the Branch. We got the attendance up to 100!! The members were so happy to see the room pretty full again. Was a great Sacrament Meeting with the speaker's topics about mothers day. There were lots of tears shed, which is always expected here in the Phils. These people love their mothers:)  All the Nanays were also pretty happy when we handed out candy bars to them with a "Happy Mother's Day" note on it. Was a good day. Our strength right now in the Branch is the youth. They just got back from their youth conference, we set up another big activity for them this week, so they are real excited. Things are going good here in Santa Ana.

Zone Conference

One of the best parts of this week was on Friday. We had our zone conference in Aparri so I was able to see a lot of friends. But the best part was after the conference when I walked out the doors of the chapel to see the DEL ROSARIO FAMILY WAITING FOR ME!! (see pics & video below) Oh man, that was a happy reunion. They ran up to me screaming and grabbed my hands, the two little boys, CJ and Jerico gave me a big hug. Was so much fun to see how good the family was doing. Chris had a brand new tricy and said they haven't missed a day of church ever since I transferred. They also talked about how excited they are to be sealed in the temple. They all just looked so good and happy. I think I was the happiest one there though :) Shyrine and her younger sister have changed sooo much. They used to be so shy around people, but now they are so outgoing. Shyrine is working with the missionaries all the time and preparing to serve a mission. That was such a great moment to be able to meet and talk with them again. Oh, how glad I am that Elder Reyes and I worked like horses back in the day. The Lord used us to change a family's lives forever! 

Love you all. Happy Mother's Day!

-Elder Jenkins