Monday, September 18, 2017

WEEK 57 - September 18, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello everybody!

First off, loved seeing the pictures of Hailey and Matthew heading into the field. Excited to get their letters and read their experiences. Also, we don’t get much news here about anything in the U.S., so when we do get some it usually means it's pretty big. While we were eating at some carinderia, the TV was on and we were seeing the news about the huge hurricane in Florida. I think this was actually like two weeks ago. But anyway, they were making it sound like it was gonna be a huuugeee storm. So whenever I was talking to anybody, they would always ask me if I'm from Florida.

So on Monday we had our MLC (mission leadership council). All the Zone Leaders and STLs (sister training leaders) come in for this monthly meeting. After taking care of business, President announced that on Oct 2 we will be taking a road trip through Bangui and Pagudpud!! We are gonna go to all the tourist spots and just have a nice P-day. So everybody is pumped for that. This will be my second time to visit all those areas, so I'm excited to go back. 

Our work has been going pretty well in our area. We have two investigators getting baptized this Saturday: Lawrence and Chloe. Their guardian right now is an RM (returned missionary), so he's been a big help in getting them to church. We have another investigator, Joyce, who is just about ready to be baptized. The thing is that she is taking her board exam next week, so she hasn't been able to come to church the past couple weeks because of review. But she is solid. 

On Tuesday, I got to go on exchanges with Elder Seegmiller. He is also in my batch of missionaries. We spent a lot of time finding, and honestly it seemed like nobody would accept us. We were feeling like as soon as people saw two Americans walking down the street, they thought they would have to speak English, so they would run in and close the door haha. But we had a goal set to just find one family we could share to. It seemed like nothing was happening, but I was just praying we could hit this goal. Finally, we saw an opportunity. There was a nanay (mother) out selling some street foods. So we bought some from her and she welcomed us in to sit down. That led to us being able to get to know them and get them to laugh and be comfortable, then we were able to share a message with them.

Later that night, I reflected on this experience and asked myself what the formula was to being able to just find 1 person or family when we were struggling to get anybody to talk to us. I realized that what it really took was a solid goal, humble prayer, and faith until the end. That seems to be the way to move forward not only in missionary work, but in any aspect of our lives. One thing I did this week was really evaluate myself, in many different ways. I then wrote down the things that I think I am doing well, and also the things that need improvement. I pondered these things and then set well thought out, solid goals for myself. I've been praying tons for the strength to be able to reach these goals I've set. Day by day I've really been seeing the Lord's help as I persistently pursue these goals. All the Lord requires of us is a willing, humble heart and nonstop faith in Him. He will then provide and help us grow to become more like Him. 

Love you all, have a great week!:)

-Elder Jenkins

PS I asked him about halo-halo. His response:

Halo halo is alright. You are right when you say it looks like a lot of weird things in there... I think it contains of some corn, other fruits, ice, chocolate, and like anything else they have in their fridge hahaha. I think of it as if Grandma Jenkins wanted to make a cold nic nac soup... just add anything you want and then mix! Halo halo actually translates to "mix mix". But it's a nice little treat on a hot day. 

Friday, September 15, 2017

WEEK 56+ - September 15, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

with Elder Basa and new elders

Hello everybody,

Sorry that this letter is coming in so late. We had MLC (mission leadership council) on Monday and exchanges on Tuesday, so we were planning on emailing on Wednesday. Then some things came up and now here I am emailing on Friday haha. Since I will be writing to all of you again in three days, I think this letter will just include everything that happened last week. Then on Monday I'll update you up to this past week, so at least you will have something to read on Monday.

(Monday's MLC...twinning)

Week 9/4 - 9/10

So this week has got to be my favorite week. When it is the first week of the transfer, Elder Basa and I are fully involved with the going home missionaries, and also the incoming missionaries. Tuesday seems to be the busiest day. We travel to the bus station and make sure everybody is there that is supposed to be (all of the transferring missionaries - those moving from one area to another to serve). Then we make sure the luggage gets taken care of properly. It's kind of shocking seeing some of the missionaries so careless with their luggage. They just give it to the guy and assume it will go on the right bus. So we watch every bag and double, triple check with the conductor that it will be in the right spot. This is where we see the results of our travel instructions that we put together on Sunday. We see if everybody understood them and if they were correct. If they aren't right and or hard to understand, we get tons of phone calls from confused missionaries. But, it seems we did a good job on the instructions, because we didn't have too many problems. 

After all of that in the morning, we took the departing missionaries to the airport and sent them home. It's weird seeing these missionaries expressions before they head home. Some are really excited, some are a bit nervous, and some are in a bit of shock. Then President Andrada gives that hug goodbye and they realize that this is the end. That's when the tears start coming.  

After we drop them off, we speed back to the mission home, because that's where all the trainers are waiting. We then give our training to the trainers. I really enjoy this part, and love giving a good training to them, because really the trainer has got to be the most important calling in the mission. It's sad that some missionaries don't take the calling seriously and give their trainee a hard first 6 weeks. So we are pretty bold and direct with them in that meeting. But for the most part, the room is filled with excitement. They are all excited to meet their trainee. (These trainers are paired up to work with missionaries serving in the Laoag area until they meet their trainees on Friday.)

On Wednesday, the two office elders, President, Elder Basa and I all headed to the airport at about 8:45 pm to pick up the 19 incoming missionaries. Well, their flight was delayed and they didn't get in until about 10:00, but it was a lot of fun to see all 19 of them. Haha, especially the 15 non-filipinos and hearing them try and mutter out some Tagalog. We took them directly to McDonalds and fed them, and then got back at about 11:00 and sent them to bed. So we got a solid 7 hours of sleep in before the full day of orientations, training, and food on Thursday. One of my favorite parts of the week was after dinner on Thursday, we all went to a big shopping mall, Robinsons, so that the new missionaries could withdraw money and buy anything they needed. There were 19 of them, so elder Basa and I split up. I took all the Americans and Basa took all the Pinos. So inside these malls were are tons of people and there we were, about 15 white Americans walking around in a herd. Hah! The looks on these peoples' faces were hilarious. There was not one person who wasn't staring at us when we walked in. Then while the missionaries were buying stuff, I tried to make them talk to some people and open their mouths. They struggled to get a few words out, but were good sports about it. Then they just looked at me and told me to talk haha. One thing that never gets old for me is the reaction of the people when I start speaking Tagalog or Ilocano with them. They are always amazed, and then start testing to see how much I know. It's a lot of fun, both for them and for me. 

The new missionaries with Pres & Sister Andrada

Friday is the day that they have been waiting for. The day the trainee meets their trainer. So we managed to pack 40+ people into President and Sister Andrada's living room and have that meeting. The room is filled with excitement and when they all open their letters to see who their companion is and where they are assigned everybody goes crazy. They search to see who their comp is and start taking pictures. Then we send them off to their assigned areas. After that, everything seems to be quiet and calm. 

So yeah, that's what our week consisted of. For sure the busiest week of the month (this will happen every six weeks). One thing I have been doing this last week is studying a lot of Ilokano. Elder Basa is pretty good, so he helps me a lot with it. I enjoy the challenge of trying to master Tagalog and try to be able to speak Ilokano as well. Gives me satisfaction in my speaking :)

Saw the hand of God in our work this week. Even though our proselyting hours were so limited, we were praying that our investigators would keep their commitments and make it to church. On Sunday, we had 8 investigators there. Our prayers were answered and we are continuing to have success because of God's love for His children. 

Love you all, talk to you soon! :)

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, September 4, 2017

WEEK 55 - September 4, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

on the road from Laoag to Aparri (Cagayan)
Hello Everyone!

This week was sooo busy, but sooo much fun as well... It was the last week of the transfer, so we had lots of things to get done before the start of the new cycle (one cycle = six weeks). Also, Elder Cuadra heads home on Tuesday :(  so it will be me and Elder Basa going to work this cycle.

First of all, this was probably the fastest cycle of my mission so far. It flew by sooo fast. Probably because 1- we are sooo busy, and 2- we are just having so much fun. It will be a good week this week with 19 new missionaries coming in, so I am very excited and happy :) 

So this past week was a great one. On Tuesday, we had exchanges with Elder Earnest!! It was nice to get to spend a day with this guy. We always wanted to be comps, but at least we got 1 day of work together. He goes home on Tuesday, so this was his last week here in the mission.

with Elders Cuadra and Earnest - both finishing their missions this week

On Wednesday, we spent just about all day preparing for our trip to Cagayan. We loaded boxes and boxes of supplies into out truck, prepared all the sound system equipment, got our training all ready to go, and on Thursday morning we hit the road. It's about a 6 hour drive (depends who is the driver), but we stopped by and did some surprise visits on some of the apartments, so we didn't make it in until about 4pm. 

We were laughing thinking that we might be sharing a room with President because Sister Andrada wasn't going to be making the trip. Then we got a text from President saying "Elders, I booked a room for you, go ahead and check in when you're ready." So President booked a room for us at "Hotel Dian"... one of the better hotels in the area, but compares to like a Motel 6 back home hahaha. But it was incredible for us. We were all exhausted and just passed out in the nice air conditioned room. I went ahead and took a nice warm shower that afternoon and then again at night. Then President texted us again and invited us down for dinner. The food was incredible and I ate a ton. The only time I felt so full was after eating a $12 burger at ESPN Zone hahaha.

The next day we went early to the church and set up everything for the conference. When we got there, one of our RC's (recent converts), Jacky was there!! He said goodbye cuz he's heading to Manila for school. T'was good to see him again. Conference was a lot of fun. There were three zones, so there were tons of people, which always makes it better. Our training went well and everybody seemed to laugh at our Christmas ties. I was hoping we'd get to stay another night at the hotel, but we had to get a visa-waiter to the airport on Saturday, so we hit the road that night. I took the night shift and made the drive while the others snoozed. 

Saturday we prepared and waited for President to reveal the transfer board to us, but we didn't end up getting it until Sunday morning. Since then, we have been real busy creating the travel instructions for everybody and making sure they know what they are doing. On Sunday night, the members actually put together a huuuuggge dinner for the departing missionaries who served in the Laoag 3rd Ward. So we feasted last night. We were at the office late, finishing up all the travel instructions. So the Nelsons came by and dropped off food and cake for us. We are soooo thankful for them.

Our work is going good in our area right now because of the members. They are bringing their friends to church, activities, etc. I talked to them and thanked them for being so good with missionary work, and they expressed how much they enjoy it and enjoy bringing others unto Christ. Sometimes I wish I woulda been a little better with talking to my friends about the gospel back home. There are lots of blessing we can enjoy from missionary work even when we don't have a name tag on. We just gotta open our mouths :) 

Love you all, have a great week!!

Elder Jenkins

Monday, August 28, 2017

WEEK 54 - August 28, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello everybody,

This week was another busy one with President out of town. We had the duty of sending one of the departing missionaries home. We thought we would be dropping him off at the airport, but all a sudden a HUGE rainstorm came in and just started pouring down on us. It ended up being a signal 2 storm, and it was a big one. So all the flights were canceled and the poor guy had to take a bus all the way back to Manila haha. So that is what our Tuesday consisted of.

One thing about when it is pouring here... what you usually see is pretty much nobody on the street except the triC drivers and naked little kids running around in the rain. The TriC drivers put on their full body water proof gear and drive around searching for people to pick up. Everybody else is inside their homes, cooking up some sinagang - one of my favorites (editor: a Filipino soup or stew characterized by its sour and savoury taste most often associated with tamarind), and trying to "stay warm" even though it's still 80 degrees out haha. Speaking of foods that I have come to love... Bagnet (editora deep fried crispy pork belly dish) has got to be my favorite thing so far. It's not cheap, but it's real good. Also chop suey here is incredible. I'm starting to realize how much I'm gonna miss some of the foods here.

(editor: I think that is the fat chunks he used to think were potatoes.)


filipino chop suey

One thing that I have really enjoyed this past transfer is the presence of the Nelsons in our area (editor: A senior missionary couple from Alpine, Utah). They are nothing but a blessing to us and to the mission. They will just sometimes drop by the mission office with a cake, or some cookies, they are awesome. Not to mention the work they are doing here in the mission to strengthen different wards and branches. To top it off, the other night they texted us and told us to meet them at a nice burger place for dinner. Elder Nelson pressured me into buying a massive burger that I wasn't even able to finish, but it tasted somewhat similar to an American burger, which was a nice taste. So that is what the picture is about.

blurry - but there's the burger

This week was a fun week of work because we went on exchanges with some zone leaders. One of them was with Elder Nichols, one of the elders from my MTC batch. It was a lot of fun working with each other and seeing each other's progression in the language, teaching, etc. That is one thing I do really enjoy about my calling right now, being able to work with other missionaries so often. The nice thing is that all of the Zone Leaders will travel to our area to do exchanges. Last month, the Mission Department had a meeting about different callings and what is supposed to be happening in each calling. They talked about how the APs should be the absolute best proselyting missionaries in the mission, and that their area should be the complete model area for everyone. So they said that the leaders should be traveling to the AP's area every cycle for exchanges. All that being said, it does put a little pressure on us sometimes, but now we aren't having to travel so much every month. 

Exchanges with Elder Nichols

We had 9 investigators at church this Sunday. A lot of progression is going on in our area even though we aren't getting to work as much as we would like to. We are being blessed with receptive investigators and people that are willing to listen. 

Of course the highlight of the week was Keem's baptism. On Saturday evening, we joined with 2 other wards in our baptismal service. There were 5 people baptized and a large attendance of members. It was a good turnout and a very great, spiritual time. After the baptism, Keem was just so happy. I loved how he kept expressing to us too, how happy and thankful he was that we taught the gospel to him. On Sunday, he was wearing his long sleeve, and I told him "All you're missing is a name tag." And he said that he's gonna serve a mission in the future. He is a true convert to the Gospel. Another witness to me that the gospel truly changes people.  

I love this gospel and seeing the change it causes in people. I cannot deny of its truthfulness. Being here in Laoag and spreading the happiness it gives to different people is nothing but a blessing. 

-Elder Jenkins

Ps. This weekend is gonna be real busy with all the transfers, and next week is even busier. So I don't know when i will be emailing again :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

WEEK 53 - August 21, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello everybody!!

First of all, HAPPY BIRTHDAY to my very loving, wonderful, beautiful mother! I couldn't count how many times I have thought to myself "Wow I am so lucky to have such a good mom". You are the best and I love ya so much!!

So this week has got to be the hottest week I have ever spend here so far. I'm not kidding, I heard it got up to 109 degrees, plus the humidity is just brutal. When we go to sleep at night, all we have is an electric fan. And honestly it just feels like a heater, blowing hot air. It's no use at all. Sleeping is pretty difficult. I don't know how many times this week I woke up and just went and stuck my head in the freezer for a good 5 minutes to try and cool down. And then again, like today, a typhoon comes in out of nowhere, and it's gonna be raining for the next few days. Weather is crazy here and so unpredictable. 

The weather isn't the only unpredictable thing right now... my daily schedule  is pretty unpredictable too. We will think it's just gonna be a regular day of work, and then we find out we have to go pick somebody up at the bus station, get him some food, and take him to the airport. Or that we need to go pick somebody up and take them to the hospital. And I think we are gonna be loaded with stuff like that even more this next week. President and Sister Andrada are heading to Manila right now. Sister Andrada is having an operation done, so pray for her. President kinda told us that we are in charge of everything this week. So we will be holding down the fort haha. 

The exciting news is that we have a baptism this week. Our investigator, Kem, is getting baptized on Saturday! We are combining with the whole stake for a baptismal service, so it will be a very good day. 

We also have two other progressing investigators that have been attending seminary class. It's awesome because there is an institute/seminary building in our area, where anybody can go attend. They have a ping pong table, free Wifi, AC, etc. So lots of people come just for the wifi, and then they end up in class and really enjoy it. So we are enjoying that way of finding investigators.

Our investigator at McDonalds 

This week we were invited to have Family Home Evening with two different families. Both of the FHE's were really good and enjoyable, and the food was especially good.

Family Home Evening #1

Family Home Evening #2

The one thing I noticed during these gatherings is how important and helpful FHEs can really be. Before the mission, I of course felt like it was a burden putting my Monday Night Football game on pause and joining the family in a discussion for an hour or so. I felt like it was a waste of time. Now I realize how important that short hour or so really is with your family. It is one time in the week set aside specifically to spiritually uplift each other and bond as a family. I have no doubt in my mind that a Gospel-centered, unified family all starts with weekly Family Home Evening. I'm soooo thankful for parents that made FHE a priority in our lives. This is one of many lessons I have learned on the mission that can very much benefit me and my future family.... Serving a mission is such a blessing. Where else could I go or what else could I do to learn and spiritually grow as much as I already have so far on my mission. And I still have 1 year to go :)

Love you all so much!!

-Elder Jenkins

with a Filipino pioneer

Monday, August 14, 2017

WEEK 52 - August 14, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Paoay Church 
Roman Catholic church founded in 1686 & completed in 1710

Hello Everyone!

This week has been a rather exciting one in all sorts of ways. But first just to help you get a better vision of my environment right now, I'm currently sitting in a computer shop absolutely filled with little 10-12 year olds, screaming and yelling English curse words while playing little video games on the computers during their lunch break. It bugs me soooo much. The one next to me keeps cursing every 5 seconds. I just looked him in the eyes and asked "Alam mo ba yung ibig sabihin dyan?" (Do you know what that means?)  Then he shriveled up and said "Hindi po" (not sure). Then "huwag mo ulitin" (do not repeat). So that's what kinda chaos we deal with every Monday. 

So the exciting news is that I got my license this week!! We had to go to the filipino DMV, and I was really hoping that the DMV would be different in waiting time here in the phils vs the US. But unfortunately, it is about the same. Lots of waiting. The worst part is, no AC. I didn't have to take a test or anything, but for some reason they thought it was illegal for me to convert my American license to a filipino license. The woman showed me an office memo that said "You cannot get a license if you are staff of an American Secrecy Agency" or something like that. When she saw the word "American" she wanted to completely deny us. haha We sat there and talked to her for a good 20 minutes, arguing about what the memo means. Eventually she called some guy and he approved us. It was all a big hassle, but it worked out. But yeah, now I'm driving and it's a lot of fun to be honest. Mom, you really don't need to worry, because honestly it's probably more safe to be driving here than at home. Everybody respects the size of our car and moves out of our way haha. 

Celebration after getting our drivers licenses (Thanks Elder and Sister Nelson)

The member here are really great. We have 4 or 5 dinner appointments a week, so I'm loving that. Also, absolutely loving my companions. We have so much fun together. Gonna be sad when Elder Cuadra hits the road next month.

Some of the members

Elders Cuadra, Jenkins, Basa

On Thursday we had the first of 3 Zone Conferences. This one was in Laoag. I got to train for the first time in Zone Conference and it went great. I actually enjoy getting up there in front of everybody and training. The food was also real good, so I definitely enjoy the Zone Confs. On Friday, President invited us to attend a devotional that he was speaking in. So we went to that and set up all the audio for him. Then after the devotional, he gave us a call and told us to meet them at a nice restaurant in centro. It was an absolute feast. I love the benefits of being able to work closely with President. He definitely takes care of his assistants.  

Laoag Zone

Zone Conference ... all three of us wore our Christmas ties, so people laughed at that. 

During my interview with President, we were able to open the scriptures and discuss different principles. Any question I had, it was able to be answered by a scripture. The Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants especially are such a blessing in our lives. Through diligent reading and study, you really can come to know the mysteries of God. To increase our knowledge, we need to simply read. What a blessing that is.

Love you all, have a great week :)

-Elder Jenkins

Editor: Video works fine on web version, but doesn't seem to want to work on the mobile version. Sorry. Makes me laugh - his written English is getting worse...and so is his spoken. Zach's friend, whose parents are from the Philippines, was here when we opened the video and he said, "He sounds like a Filipino speaking English!"  :)


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

WEEK 51 - August 7, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello everybody!!

Wow, I cannot believe Mitch is heading home this week haha time is seriously flying by (cousin finishing his two years serving in Perth Australia). Actually, today marks my 1 year to go mark. That freaks me out a little bit. 

This week, the rain was off and on. Sometimes it's just blazing hot and then the clouds come in and it starts pouring down on us. That makes for fun proselyting haha. Yes, we have a car, but we don't use it when we are out working. So usually when the rain starts coming down really hard, we have to find a member's house to take shelter in. 

This week was another pretty busy one. On Wednesday, we loaded up our truck with tons of furniture, a refrigerator, mattresses, etc., and headed to Santa Praxedes. It's a new area that was just opened, so we went and moved the elders into their new apartment. This was the first time for me to drive through Ilocos and Cagayan (provinces) not in a bus. So I was actually able to see how beautiful the drive is. Was about 8 hours of driving, there and back. Driving here is so different. Not really any rules at all. If you are the bigger car, you are in charge. I'll be getting my license this week, so I'll get to experience that a bit. 

Although we didn't have too much time to work, we were able to get four investigators to church. One of them is named Kem. He is a 20 year old guy who works at McDonalds. He is sooo receptive. When we teach him, the knowledge just flows into his mind and he seems to understand it immediately. He also goes to institute (adult Bible/Book of Mormon study class) almost every day. His baptism is scheduled for the last week in August.

So this last weekend we were also preparing for our Missionary Leadership Council on Monday. All of the Zone leaders and Sister Training Leaders come in to Laoag and we have a big council. It was a lot of fun to see some of the elders and a sister from my batch (same MTC group) who are now ZLs and STL. 

batch pic

This was also my first MLC, so it was quite the learning experience. Getting up in front of a bunch of people who have been leaders for a long time and training them on how to become better leaders is not the easiest thing to do, me being the new guy haha. But no doubt, the Spirit was with me and provided me with the words to say. It went great. 


As I was sitting there in the meeting, listening to president's council and training, I began to ponder some of the lessons I have learned on my mission. And then popped into my head my purpose in this life. I began to have an overview in my head what my purpose is in my life and what needs to be done, and the Spirit confirmed to me that it is true. Then during President Andrada's presentation, a scripture came onto the screen. I began to ponder and understand, and really felt, for the first time ever, like I can understand scripture so purely. I wondered why, and then a few words from my patriarchal blessing came into my head. Without a doubt, I know that the Spirit testifies of truth. I know that we can only receive pure knowledge and confirmation of the truthfulness of this gospel through that member of the Godhead.

Love you all!!

-Elder Jenkins

with comps in the mission office