Monday, November 13, 2017

WEEK 65 - November 13, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everybody,

Well, it has only been 4 days since the last time I wrote, so I don't have too much to update you all on. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we were able to focus full on the work in our area which was nice. It really seems right now that things are going really, really good in our area. We have tons of progressing investigators and have been experiencing a lot of success in the work. Yesterday we had 9 investigators attend Sacrament Meeting. One of them is named Len Len, she will be baptized this Saturday. We are really looking forward to December and baptizing a lot right before Christmas. 

The Family that we have been teaching came to church again last week. Actually a really cool experience. Last Sunday, E.Holmes, Basa and I fasted together for that family, because the thing that was keeping them from getting baptized is that they are not yet married. After we fasted for them, we went to teach them at their house. They then opened up to us and told us that the reason they haven't gotten married yet is because Mhylez (wife) was married before to a different person. And here in the Philippines it costs a ton in order to get your marriage annulled, so her and her current husband haven't been able to get married yet because they don't have that kind of money. Her and her current "husband" have been together for 9 years now. We found out that in a special case like that, they don't need to get married before baptism. They were so happy when they heard that and said they want to be baptized on Dec 9. So they and their kids are progressing real well.

Everything has really just been working out in our work. We have found a few people that told us they want to go to church before we are even able to teach them. One lady was just touched by our testimony about the Plan of Salvation when we opened our mouth and talked to her. The Lord is giving us such success. We are so grateful. 

So this next week is going to be really really busy. We will be driving out to Cagayan on Monday, having Zone Conference on Tuesday, and driving back Tuesday night. Hopefully on Wednesday I will have a few minutes to email you, but that will also be our only opportunity to work in our area because Thursday we have a Zone Conference in Batac and Vigan, and then Friday we have  the Laoag Zone Conference. Saturday we have Stake Conference and then transfer texts that night.  So if I don't get to email, just know that that's why haha.  

Love you all, have a great week! :)

Elder Jenkins

-don't have any pics for you this week sorry :(  I'll take some this week!

Friday, November 10, 2017

WEEK 64 - November 10, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everybody!!

Well after a couple rainy days over the weekend, I was hoping it would start to cool down and the Philippines "winter" would kick in. But, that didn't happen and it has been blazing hot these past couple days. So I'm just sweating more and getting skinnier haha, but I'm lovin' life!

wishing for "winter" weather

So to update you on what happened on Nov 1, I actually still don't know what happened. All I know is that everybody was at the Cemetery, and I mean everybody... I was on exchanges with the zone leaders that day, and we walked up and down the streets, trying to find people to teach or even a person just to talk to. Nothing. I wanted to go to the cemetery to see what everyone was up to, but it's out of our area, so we weren't able to go. So yea, I still have no idea what everybody does at the cemetery on Nov. 1.  But it must be a good time, because everyone attends. 

This week was filled with exchanges with the Zone Leaders. We had some Zone Leaders come in from Batac, Ballesteros and Santa Ana to do some exchanges with us. It's really a sacrifice for some of these missionaries to come in and do exchanges, because for example, Santa Ana ZLs have to take a 10 hour bus ride into Laoag, and then after our exchanges take a 10 hour bus ride back to their area. So we really try to do our best to show them a good example of how missionary work should be going on in their zone, and try to give them some ideas on what they need to do to improve in their area. I really enjoy these exchanges though. I learn a lot from these other elders and have definitely enjoyed getting to know these leaders really well. 
on exchanges with Elder Petty

On Monday we had our monthly MLC (mission leadership council), and us APs did our monthly reporting on the KIs. This last month we once again reaching 100+ baptisms, so that makes 2 months straight. We also talked about Christmas Conference and planned a little for what is gonna be happening. On Dec. 21 all the missionaries in the whole mission will be coming in and celebrating Christmas, then having a Conference. We are excited for that next month. 

polka-dot sisters & matching tie elders with Sister Andrada

large, medium, and small :)

As of our investigators, we had 7 at Sacrament Meeting last Sunday... should've been 10+, but it rained pretty hard, so some investigators weren't able to make it. Our family that we found last month is still progressing and we are looking forward to a lot of success in December and November.

I have really enjoyed the Spirit I have felt this last week while teaching. This past month I have really seen a change in the way I teach, and have seen the investigators understand the message a lot better. And no doubt it's because of the Spirit that gives authority and power to my words when I am speaking. It is just so satisfying when after the lesson, the person fully understood what you were teaching. I am sooo thankful for the guidance that I am given in this work and the help that the Savior gives me every single day. 

Love you all, have a nice week :)

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, October 30, 2017

WEEK 63 - October 30, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everybody,

First of all, CONGRATS MARY ANNA!! So surprising and exciting! Nobody even told me you were going on a mission until last week. (Cousin Mary Anna received a call to serve in the Singapore Mission, speaking Mandarin Chinese. YAY!!)

Happy Halloween! People here celebrate Halloween a little bit weird. This is my first Halloween in the Philippines so I'll tell you a little about it. I'm pretty sure their tradition or celebration is just about the same in the Spanish parts of the world. First of all there is little or none of the dressing up and giving out candy. If there is a pumpkin, they chop it up and eat it. So no jack-o-lanterns. Actually Oct. 31 isn't really the big celebration. The Holiday is November 1, Saints day. On October 30th and 31st, everybody goes to the graveyard and starts setting up (idk what they are setting up, that's just what everybody says they are doing "Setting up" or "Getting ready"). Honestly I don't know much about what will be happening. All I know is that tons of people are at the graveyard, and on Nov 1st, almost everybody will be there. I guess I'll find out on Tuesday what it's like.

aka: small, medium, and large :)

So this last week was a really good, busy one. But busy in a good way. We weren't in meetings all week or orienting all the new missionaries. We actually were out on the streets going to work. Finding, teaching, reactivating, contacting. It was really nice. After splitting our area last week, we had a lot of work to do in finding and adding people to our teaching pool. So on Wednesday and Thursday we took advantage of being on exchanges with the ZLs in our area, and being able to split, and just went to work.

On Wednesday we found a lady out barbecuing in the front of her home, selling what she was cooking (lots of people do this). We talked to her and she told us to come back on Saturday. When we came back on Saturday, she told us to come in and sat us down, then called in her husband and family to listen to us. We taught The Restoration to them, and the spirit was really strong. The best part was how close they were listening and understanding. Out of the year I have been in the Philippines, they understood the Restoration better than anybody I have ever taught. They understood the Priesthood Authority, Apostasy and the Restoration. Then they realized that this is the only church on earth that had the Authority of God. They understood immediately that their baptism in another church was not valid because it wasn't done with the proper priesthood authority, and then asked "What time is your church service tomorrow?" Sooo receptive. There is a member that lives close to them and we told them that they will drop by before church so they can go together. On Sunday morning, this family was the one who went to the member's house and picked them up haha. The husband wasn't able to make it because of work, but when I talked to wife at church she said, "I'm telling my whole family that Sunday is rest day and we will all go to church from now on."  We and the ward are very excited for them and their progression. 

These last few weeks I have been studying Ilokano really hard, trying to get a hold of the language. It's a lot of fun seeing progress in a whole 'nother language again, not to mention, the people love it when I speak Ilokano to them. It just shocks them, first of all that an American can speak Tagalog, and then also speak some Ilokano. It's their mother tongue, so it's what they want to speak. I'm glad I've started to learn it too, because there are some people and some of our investigators that kinda struggle to speak Tagalog and would really rather speak Ilokano. 

One thing that I realized I will definitely miss after the mission are the Carinderias here. A carinderia is a little eatery that you can find in almost every Barangay (neighborhood). The meal you can order is always rice and then you can choose from like 3 or 4 different ulams (sides) and then there's some gulay (vegetable) too. The best part about it is that I can get full off of 50 pesos eating there. Haha there is no where in American where I can get full on a dollar. I will definitely miss that.

Well after a good week of work, I am so thankful and humbled by the power of the spirit. We can do our absolute best at teaching, but when there is no spirit, the people will not understand. I am also so grateful for how much the Lord has prepared the people we teach, even before we have taught them. And more than anything I am so grateful for the Atonement and how merciful the Savior is. What a blessing it is to be able to repent and not be in a cloud of darkness all our lives. It is such a blessing to live in a time where the Gospel has been Restored!

Love you all, have a good week! :)

-Elder Jenkins

ps. won't be emailing again til next Wednesday. (MLC, Exchanges)

name that tune...

APs and office elders after a Stake baptism

moving day (a couple of weeks ago)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

WEEK 62 - October 23, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everyone!

Well, another 1st week of the cycle down, which means all the departing missionaries made it back to their homes, and all the new missionaries are settled into their new areas with their nanay and tatays. And us APs are exhausted haha. After the last meeting and training on Friday, President said, "Welp, we did it. Another batch down... now it's hibernating time for a day." haha

So actually we heard on Tuesday that the incoming Americans might not be able to make the flight on Wednesday night. Apparently because of a "Commute Strike" in Manila, they weren't able to get their fingerprinting done on Tuesday like they are supposed to. And if they didn't get it done and get to the airport in time for the last flight to Laoag, they would be taking a bus. So Wednesday night we waited outside the airport, not knowing if they got to take the plane or not (President didn't tell us - wanted it to be a surprise hah). But sure enough, out came the 9 Americans with the 6 filipinos. We were glad. If they had taken a bus we would've had to get up at 3am and pick them up. It's always fun for me to see the reactions of the foreigners their first few days in Laoag. Some are scared, some really excited, some fearless.

We were at Robinsons (big shopping area) Thursday night after the new missionary trainings, and I handed some pass along cards to some of the trainees who were with me. I challenged them to place just 1 pass a long card. Some were too scared and wouldn't even try, but some of them had no fear. One of them went straight up to one of the workers, and in his best Tagalog tried to explain the reason for Christmas. What he said made absolutely no sense at all and at one point I was questioning if he was even speaking Tagalog, but he ended up giving the card and it was a nice experience for him. 

training meeting at the mission home

treating the newly arrived missionaries to dinner

So yeah, we were busy all week with the incoming/departing missionaries and only got to work Saturday, so we have lots of work to do in the area. Also, we have 2 added missionaries to our ward, so we had to split our area with another companionship. Which means our area is kinda small right now. So this week we are gonna be working to get the area in good shape and have some investigators to prepare for Baptism. Also, pray for Joyce. Her Parents are still pretty mad that she got baptized and they want her to stop going to church/institute.

Yesterday when I walked into sacrament meeting, I saw a row of very familiar faces... It was some members from Bangui (first mission area)! They had district conference in Pauquin Sunday morning and decided to come visit and say hi. It was real good to see them and actually be able to talk/understand them. More than all it was nice to see that they are still active members.

members of the Bangui Branch

This past week I have really been good at reading from the Book of Mormon every night before bed, and I have felt the added power of the spirit in my life! President Monson's promise to us from last April is so true. The Book of Mormon will give us strength to resist temptation, to be more receptive to the spirit and to do what is right. The Book of Mormon is the key to success and happiness in our lives. These everyday experiences I have of being strengthened by the BOM just add to my desire of wanting to flood Laoag City with the Book. It is the answer to all our questions, and the way to learn, grow and become more like our Savior. 

Love you, have a good week! :)

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, October 16, 2017

WEEK 61 - October 16, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everybody!

This week was soo busy, and this next one is gonna be even more busy. As some of you know, this week was week 6 of the transfer, so it was the last week. We are now beginning week 1, which means all the new missionaries will be heading in. Favorite week of the month!

So last Tuesday and Wednesday we had exchanges with some of the Zone Leaders. This was the first time in a transfer that we were actually able to fit in exchanges with every single one of the Zone leaders, so we are glad we accomplished that. Quick story. On Tuesday morning I was coming out of the bathroom, and all the sudden I heard a errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. I ran and looked out the window, and all I heard was somebody say "Ah patay na" (Oh, she's dead). And saw a guy carrying an old lady off to the side of the road, put her in a triC, and to the hospital. So there was another death I witnessed. Kinda regular here I guess. This time at least the police showed up and investigated it. 

Quick cultural thing. So at the start of September, Christmas was already starting to be celebrated, but now, in October, it literally feels like December haha. Christmas lights, Christmas trees. In the store earlier the Christmas music was already blasting. It kinda makes me mad, cuz I used to not like to start celebrating Christmas until the start of December. But here, since there's no Thanksgiving, and Halloween isn't that big, I don't mind starting the celebration a little early.

So on Thursday, we loaded up the truck with lots of supplies (electric fans, stoves, etc.) and we hit the road to Cagayan. Stopped by a lot of the apartments on the way and dropped off supplies. Then when we got to Cagayan area, it just started pouring down. Big ol rainstorm which slowed us down a bit. We finally made to Aparri at about 7. We texted President and told him that we were there and he replied "Elders, go ahead and eat dinner at the restaurant and charge it to the room." We were happy to hear that. haha We made sure not to put too much on the bill though. The workers were laughing because I ordered a nice American meal (burger and fries), and Elder Basa went with the pure filipino food. The next day we had our Zone Conference with the Aparri, Ballesteros and Gonzaga Zones. After that, we hit the road back to Laoag, and ended up making it back before midnight.

(zone conference matching...again)

So Sunday morning we opened up the transfer board, and to our surprise, Elder Basa is staying another transfer! haha That will make 9 months for him as an AP. Also, we are now in a trisome again. Elder Holmes was called as an AP. He's such a nice guy from St. George. We are very excited. Also, there were 2 more office elders called. And one of them is my trainee, Elder Reyes! hahaha That will be a lot of fun. There were tons of transfers made, so we took a while to get the travel instructions all put together. We will see tomorrow if they were explained clearly. On Wednesday, we will be receiving 15 new missionaries! Seven of them are foreigners. So we will orient all of them on Thursday, and they will meet their trainers on Friday. It's weird that this is my third time doing this. Time is going real fast.

(with Elders Reyes & Maharry)

Our investigator, Joyce, called us on Tuesday and asked if we could meet with her for a bit. We met her at the institute building, and talked to her. She expressed that her mom is real mad at her for deciding to get baptized. She told her that if she gets baptized on Saturday, she will for sure not attend the baptism, she will not attend her graduation, and won't even attend her wedding. So Joyce was struggling a bit, as you can imagine. But even with all this anger towards her, no support from her parents, and lots of trials she could be facing in the future, she said she still wants to be baptized. So on Saturday afternoon, she was baptized. She has such a strong testimony and is just a leader. I'm excited to see her progression in the church and to see the windows of heaven opened up to her because of her desire to follow the Savior. 

(with Joyce & others at the Institute Building)

Love you all, have a great week!

-Elder Jenkins

random food pics

Monday, October 9, 2017

WEEK 60 - October 9, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

General Conference Sunday

Hello Everyone!

Well this week I got sick. Not like throwing up sick, but the sore throat, cough and stuffy nose kinda sick. That's the kind of sick that you never want when you will be speaking in front of lots of people haha. But yeah, Elder Basa had the same kind of sickness last week, and it's kinda hard to avoid him when we are walking side by side everywhere. So I caught the sickness. But I'm doing better now.

So everybody in the leadership positions (ZL, STL) seems to be pretty motivated. At our last MLC, we all set goals for baptisms in the month of October. President said that if we reach our goals, he will take us on a road trip again, but this time to Vigan!! So everybody is working hard for their goals with a trip to Vigan in the back of our minds. 

We had the Laoag and Bangui Zone Conference this last Friday. I struggled to talk a bit because of my cough, but it turned out really good. 

twinning at Zone Conference

After the zone conf, President took the Office/AP elders out to dinner. We ate at a Chinese place that I've been wanting to eat at for a while, and it was heavenly. Nothing like Panda Express, but it was still nice. Their specialty was chicken feet. Really weird, but tasted real good. 

Last week, we remodeled out apartment. Finally got some bed frames for our beds, some cabinets (closets?) and a few couches. So our apartment is now really clean and looking a lot better. A few weeks ago, President surprise visited us at our apartment. haha  Long story short, he told us we should remodel the place and that our apartment should be the Celestial apartment in the whole mission. So we got to work. 

On Saturday and Sunday, we got to watch General Conference!! It was what we have been looking forward to all week, and it didn't let us down. I was impressed again by how even though no topics are assigned, they all seem to relate to each other and point to the same topic/principle. I feel like the all around topic this year was to be a tool in God's hands and to bless other people's lives. Lots of stuff about faith, trust, repentance. But I love that God's main message to us is that we need to stop focusing on ourselves so much, and to turn outward and help others. As missionaries, that's what its all about. Forgetting yourself and getting lost in the work of helping others. Two talks that stuck out to me were Elder Hollands talk and Elder Hallstrom's. Elder Holland just reminded me that my debt to the Lord is impossible to pay back. It's far too much and absolutely impossible to fully repay Him. Our way of repaying him is by using His atonement every single day, so that we will be able to return to Him and live in His presence. Use the gift of the atonement that He has given to us. Loved Elder Hallstrom's talk about faith and miracle. On a mission, you just want to see miracles. Every day you want to see a miracle. Honestly, I have seen miracles on my mission. But I look back and realize that those miracles only came during those times that my faith and trust was fully in the Lord. That I had actually accepted His will and was at peace with what would happen. The key is to always have that high faith and trust in Him. To be completely humble and submissive to His will. It's hard to have these Christlike attributes every single day. His talk really inspired me and gave me motivation. It also gave me something to work on. 

After Conference yesterday, we were teaching one of our investigators, who is getting baptized this Saturday. After the lesson, we asked her who she wants us to share our message with. She broke down in tears, and expressed how much she wants her family to know what she knows and feel what she feels. And how she wants to be with her family forever. I know for sure that families are central to God's plan. In General Conference, the one Brazilian of The Seventy (Elder Koch) talked about unified families. I know that having a unified, gospel centered family is God's plan for us. It is the best way to live, and the way our Father in Heaven wants us to live.

Love you all :)

-Elder Jenkins

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

WEEK 59 - October 4, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hey everybody :)

Man we were real busy this last week, so the time really flew by. Also all last week we were looking forward to our planned MLC trip to Pagudpud. So this last week was really a memorable one. 

One of the days that I really enjoyed from this last week was when I got to go on exchanges with one of the Zone Leaders, Elder Reynolds. He's a straight surfer out of Hawaii, and just a good guy to be with. Such a good missionary. We just buckled up and went to work. Taught some great lessons, found some new investigators, and just talked to tons of people. I really enjoy going on exchanges with other foreigners. Two white guys going street to street speaking Tagalog and spitting out some Ilocano, preaching the gospel. Such a fun time. Also just learning from each other in the language. Every foreigner is different in speaking the language and they have different strengths and weaknesses with the language. We learn from each other and improve. So that was a fun day. And now I have somebody to show me to the big waves when we go to Hawaii :)

The members have been helping a lot lately in our work. The other day, one of the young women in our ward invited 4 of her friends to the institute building, which gave us an opportunity to teach them. Towards the end of the lessons, these guys were asking questions like "What do I need to do to get baptized?" "What do I need to do to go on a mission like you?" haha these guys were solid. Such a blessing that the members are so willing to help with the missionary work. Speaking of new investigators, elder Reynolds and I were finding the other day, and we found a lady who quickly invited us into her home. She went on to say that all 8 of her siblings are members, and she's the only one who isn't, but that she wants to listen to us. Then we found out that her house is actually filled with college students, renting out a room for the year. She said she wants to introduce them all to us and have us teach them haha. Such a blessing, lots of potential there.

So on Sunday night, all of the Zone Leaders and STLs traveled into Laoag like they always do on the first Sunday of the month. But this time instead of preparing for Mission Leadership Conference the next day, we were all getting ready for a road trip! So on Monday morning we hit the road early, heading to the tourist spots in Ilocos. We had three total vans of people. President drove one, we rented one, and then I drove one. So that was probably the most careful I have ever driven in my life, besides maybe the time grandpa let me drive his corvette. (Not saying I didn't drive safe back home before the mission hah). First we all headed to the Lighthouse in Burgos and took lots of pictures, then went on the Kapurpuruan. This was my second time to both those places, so it was nice to go back again. After that, we headed to the Bangui windmills. That was one of the parts I enjoyed the most since Bangui was my first area. Our next destination was to Hannah's beach, where we had our lunch. This was my 3rd time there, so I kinda became the tour guide, but it was a lot of fun. Got sunburned pretty good, but we took tons of pictures. Our last destination was Patapat Bridge. Just a stop by, to get a quick picture. Then we headed home back to Laoag in time for the Birthday of President and Sister Andrada's youngest son, Nathaniel. 

So about halfway through Nat's bday party, we had to leave and take one of the missionaries that just finished his mission to the airport. Elder Basa, the office elders, and I took off. We ended up getting there a little late, not too late, still 35 minutes or so before his flight. So he passed through the security and then one of the people told us that the elder couldn't go, because we were too late, which didn't make sense to me because the plane wasn't taking off for another 30 minutes. Then the elder, standing at the counter looked back at us through the window and shook his head, saying they weren't gonna let him on. At this point I was a bit angered and frustrated. I felt prompted to pass through the security and talk to the people. As I was walking to them, I wasn't quite sure how I was gonna convince them to let him on the plane. If it was gonna take a 1000 pesos under the table, or if I was gonna yell at em. I wasn't sure. But I walked up and saw the kinda worried face of the elder. I opened my mouth and started talking to the people at the counter. As I talked, words were just being put in my mouth with what I needed to say to them. Words were just flowing through my mind, without a doubt coming from my closest companion. Little by little, they began to give in. And although it did take a little arguing with them at the end, our elder was able to get on the plane and head home to see his family. As I walked out of the airport, the elders outside were a bit shocked. They were asking how I did it, what I said to them, how I got them to give in. I just walked in silence, thinking about how that happened, so humbled and feeling so blessed that the Lord was there to guide me. There is nothing more special to me than the gift of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. What a blessing it is to be guided by our Savior in any aspect of our lives.

Love you all, have a good one!

-Elder Jenkins