Monday, February 19, 2018

WEEK 79 - February 19, 2018 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everybody!

Well I found out on Sunday morning that I will be transferring! I'll be going all the way up to the top of the Philippines to Santa Ana. It feels weird to think that I'm leaving Laoag. I've been here for 7 and a half months now so it will be a big change going back into the depths of Cagayan, but I am very excited. My companion over there is a pretty new missionary from Idaho named Elder Young. A really nice guy, I remember picking them up from the airport and training his batch of missionaries.  Santa Ana is a really beautiful place, but sooo far away haha, about 9 hour bus ride... This will be my first time going there. I'm so excited to be heading to me 4th and last (?) area. Only 5 and a half months to go!

So this last week was a very quick, but good week. We had the baptisms of Lili and Lola Felicitas on Saturday. Lola, 88 years old, struggled a little at first to bend her knees and get under the water, but it all turned out great. Right when she arrived at the church on Saturday afternoon, she yelled, "I'm happy to receive Jesus!" She was an excited old woman. Another great thing about the baptism is that we got 4 investigators to attend. The work is looking good for the future. 

So the Baptism was the good news for the week. The bad news was on Saturday night, I got a baaaad fever. The weather was soooo hot outside. So I was sweating real bad, then going in and out of a fully air conditioned chapel. I think that's what messed me up a bit. That night I when the sickness started kicking in, I was shivering, and burning up at the same time. I couldn't tell if I was freezing cold or on fire. Feeling my head though, that had to be the highest my temp has ever been. I took some of the medicine Dad sent me with and tried to sleep, but had no success. It was a very very long night, but now I'm feeling a lot better. Now that I look back on it, I haven't really gotten a bad fever ever since I was in my first area. So I have been very fortunate. 

So just a quick story that has to do with the spiritual experience I had in Sacrament Meeting last week. One of the people that was on my mind was a recent convert whose family are not members. In fact, her mom has always not liked us and has been angry with us ever since her daughter got baptized. She always avoided us, didn't want to talk to us or have anything to do with us. But because of the spiritual impression, we decided to go and try to visit with this family. When we got there, to our surprise, we were let into the house. As we talked to her, got her to laugh a little bit and just got to know her more, she became real open to us and we were able to share a message to her and her family. Now I think she is willing to listen to us and maybe even try coming to church in the near future. Very exciting for such a great experience.

Well these last 7 and a half months have been some of the best of my life. I've never learned so much, grown so much, and had so much fun at the same time. I've made some friends and some memories here in Laoag that will stick with me forever. It was such a great opportunity to serve as an assistant. It kicked me out of the comfort zone at times and pushed me to grow and become a better servant of the Lord. What a blessing my mission has been so far, I couldn't thank the Lord enough. Now, I'm excited to put my head down and go to work for these last few months in a new area. 

Love you all :)

-Elder Jenkins

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

WEEK 78 - February 14, 2018 (Laoag, Philippines)

balut is back

Hello Everybody and Happy Valentines Day!

Hopefully this will be my last Valentines Day without a date :) haha. Well this week flew by real quick, but it was another great, uplifting spiritual week.

So last Thursday we finished off the last Zone Conference of the cycle with the Laoag and Bangui zone conf. Everything went real well and a video that we made for Sister Andrada's training seemed to put a smile on everybody's faces. After the conference, President invited us three and also all the office elders out to eat at Java. From what I remembered from last time I ate there, the food was incredible and the Mango smoothie is a favorite. So I was waaaayy looking forward to this dinner again. But this time, that wasn't the highlight of the night. When we were almost done eating 3 guys (2 with guitars, and 1 with a huge cello like thing) came out and performed for us. Sort of like a Mariachi Band. They were so fun to listen to, and they took requests. So we got them to play Hotel California for us, and it was soo entertaining and fun. I got a video of that, I'll try to send it. Was a very fun, unforgettable night. President and Sister Andrada are so kind and generous to us. 

On Monday, we brought all the District Leaders of the whole mission into Laoag for a special District Leaders Conference. We haven't had one of these for a while, so it was time again to get all these Elders together and give them a good training. There were 23 of them brought in, and we were able to have a really good, helpful meeting where we were able to council together and better strengthen the leaders of the mission.

So the work has been going really well lately. On Sunday we had 10 investigators come to church and about 8 of those are being prepared for baptism. This Saturday, we will have the Baptism of Lili and Lola (88yrs old). I'm wondering if it is some kind of record for baptizing somebody that old. I haven't even met very many filipinos that live to that age, and when they are that old, they usually have Roman Catholic glued to their hearts. But Lola has been to church many times now, and even though she can't hear everything that is being said, she said she feels and knows it's true. We had another really good lesson with the 3 college students that we are teaching. They have been to church 4 times now and are seriously investigating the church. They are the kind of investigators that I will never get tired of teaching. So receptive to our teaching and willing to experiment on the word. Yesterday, they all explained how they have all received answers to their prayers that the Book of Mormon is true. Each of the ways they came to know was a different, unique, spiritual way that was fit perfect for them. But the thing that was in common is that they all felt the promptings of the spirit. They now all want to be baptized :)

This last week I have had my prayers answered and have felt myself grow spiritually. I had another great experience while I was sitting in Sacrament Meeting the other day. For the past month, I have really been trying to make Sacrament Meeting a more spiritual, meaningful time for me where my thoughts are directed to the Savior. After partaking of the bread and water, I said a silent prayer that the Lord would guide us in the work this week and help us know where we need to go. A few minutes after this silent prayers, a name popped into my mind, and then another one, and then one more. I started to think of this and ponder in my mind why these names just all of the sudden popped into my head. Without a doubt, I knew that that was the Lord's way  of guiding me to where we needed to go. I wrote these names down, and the next day while planning, wrote them down as people we would go visit. One of the names, at first, we were a little hesitant to go to because of the big time rejection we had experienced in the past with this family. But we went to this individual's family anyway, and to our surprise we were let into the house. This member rejoiced as we were finally able to teach her family, who was never open to us before this time, and were able to plant a seed in their hearts. I know that God is a God of Miracles. I've seen so many in my mission, how could I ever deny that. I love the Savior and the mercy he has on me every day. He loves and wants to guide us all to happiness.

Love you all, have a nice week!

-Elder Jenkins

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

WEEK 77 - February 7, 2018 (Laoag, Philippines)

Mission Leadership Meeting 
(Thank you Sister Andrada ... no pics from Ryan this week. Ugh!
UPDATE: pics wouldn't download yesterday, but they're here now. Yay!)

Hello Everybody!

First of all, Congrats to Becca Hammond!! Another cousin heading on the mission, so excited for ya! Good luck with the Portuguese haha. (editor: Brazil Porto Alegre South Mission)

Well, 2 Super Bowls down, and it feels good to think that I will be back for the next one. Now just gotta get through March Madness, The Masters and 1 more NBA Finals :) But still enjoying every moment I have out here. I've got a lot to write about since it has been over a week since I last wrote. Lots has happened. 

So last week, we headed out to Aparri for the Cagayan Zone Conference. This is always a well anticipated trip. Always love going back to Aparri.


This time, we arrived pretty early, so we decided to head over to the Church and see if there was anybody there. Luckily, some of the youth were there getting ready for seminary. I got to see some people that I haven't seen in 6 months, including some of my RCs (recent converts). Was so much fun. Then we were asked to teach Seminary haha.

The Zone Conference the next day went real well, but we decided to just travel back to Laoag the next day instead of that same night. We wanted to stay at one of the Elders' apartment about 30 minutes away, because we heard that they just got a new apartment and that it was nice. So we get there, and when we get in and see this apartment, it was incredible! These 2 elders were living at the top floor of an absolute mansion haha. It was like a 5 room, 4 bathroom apartment with an incredible view from the top balcony. We were pretty shocked. So we were able to get a nice night of sleep before driving back the next day.

Aparri Empanada
(editor: the empanadas that made him so happy in his first area when he was struggling to enjoy the food)

The work is still going really well and is progressing. On Sunday we had 9 investigators at church who are progressing really well. Sister Lili and her 88 year old mother will be baptized on the 17th. While we are having all this progression we are still having success in finding. The other day we were at the institute building teaching our investigators, and after the lesson we were planning on going to another appointment with our fellowshipper. So while we were waiting for our fellowshipper to pick us up in his tric, we decided to go out and talk to all the guys playing basketball. There were probably 15 of them out there just sitting, resting, all nonmembers. So we started taking to them, just getting to know them, talking to them about who we are, what we do, and why we decided to serve a mission, all that stuff. And while talking to them I was just dribbling the ball, chucking up some shots. While we were talking, another guy walked from the street onto the court, all decked out in his nice bball gear, and wanted to play me 1v1. I told him I'd play a short game with him. All the guys were on the sidelines laughing because it just looked funny. Me in my full proselyting attire, going up against a full baller. But what made them laugh even harder was when I schooled the guy and beat him 7-2 haha. It turned out being a really good finding opportunity. Got to know a lot of those guys and invite them to go inside the institute building and attend class and also to come to church. 

Well tomorrow is February 8th, which marks 6 months to go in the mission. Now entering the 4th quarter where it counts most. Some missionaries I've seen with 6 months left just slow down and "run out of gas". But for me this is the most important part of my whole mission. I want nothing more that to go all out this last quarter of my mission and head home worn out, knowing I went all in. The mission is such a blessing the Lord has given to me and I would hate to waste a minute of it. I am so blessed with how merciful the Lord has been to me. All the opportunities I have been given to grow and become better. I am so thankful. I know that our Father is a God of Miracles and that He loves all of His children so much. I am so thankful to be an actual representative of the Lord, Jesus Christ.

Love you all, talk to ya next week!

-Elder Jenkins

The Office Elders, APs, and Andradas

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

WEEK 76 - January 29, 2018 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everybody,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO LULU AND GRANDMA JENKINS, love you two so much!!! haha Jessica's 16 now?? The roads just became a little more treacherous. 

Well, another week down and now we are heading into February. The time just seems to be flying by. We've been really busy, but been having a lot of fun. This whole last week we have been preparing for the wedding and baptism of our investigator Charina. She has been an investigator for like 3 years, so we were really focused on finally getting this wedding set up. We ended up taking lots of trips to and from city hall getting all the paperwork figured out, but we finally had it all set up and ready by Friday night. So Saturday was just a really great, special day. The wedding was an easy, simple program, with lots of members attending and made it a very special time for Charina and her husband. After the wedding, she switched the dress out for some baptismal clothes, and we had the baptism of her and one other investigator in Ward 3. Then we all headed downstairs, feasted and celebrated. Was a really happy day for them and a lot of the members in the ward. 

On Thursday, we had our first Zone Conference of the week. It was the Batac and Vigan Zone Conference, so we headed down to Paoay for that. It all went well, however is was weird giving a training without Basa. After the Conference, President and Sister Andrada took us out to eat to celebrate Elder Morehu's Birthday. We love President and Sister Andrada. This week we will be heading back to Cagayan for the zone conference over there. Elder Morehu and I are excited to go back to Aparri again. (We lived in the same apartment there back in the day). So it will be another real busy week with a lot of traveling. It rained real hard earlier this morning so hopefully we don't run into the rain this week.

So yesterday, not as many investigators came to church as last time, but we still managed to have 7 attend. The good news is that these 7 are progressing real well and are looking to be baptized in February. 88 year old Lola came to church again! She came for the whole 3 hours too. She said even though she can't really hear anything anybody is saying during the classes, she really enjoys it. Funny story about her. So she has always drank coffee and smoked. But last week we taught about the Word of Wisdom and she committed to stop doing both. So the other day we were following up with her and asked her if she drank coffee. She then replied, "Opo". We were all disappointed and told her how sad we were. Well, then one of her grandchildren said, "Elder, she didn't even drink coffee, she's drinking hot chocolate, that's all!!" So we looked back at Lola and asked her again if she drank coffee, and she just shrugged her shoulders and said she didn't know. Turns out she couldn't tell the difference between coffee and hot chocolate, and drinks whatever her grandchildren make for her. haha But the other good news is that she has totally stopped smoking. And she has read all the huge 65 pt font chapters of the Book of Mormon that we have given to her. So she is progressing real well towards baptism.

I love being a part of this great work and I know that this is where God wants me to be. It's incredible to me how well He knows me. I love being a tool in His hands and witnessing the change in people's lives through the Gospel. It's amazing how God uses us missionaries to teach people and help them change their lives and become happy, and at the same time us missionaries are changing and are being molded into the people that we need to be. 

Love you all so much! :)

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, January 22, 2018

WEEK 75 - January 22, 2018 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everybody!

So two weeks after the taking off of my big toenail, and I can start to feel a little stump of the nail growing back. So that is good news. By the time I get home, it should be almost fully grown in... hopefully haha. So here in Laoag right now, almost everybody has put an end to the Christmas season. They finally took down the big Christmas tree in centro, but the lights are all still out. But everybody is now getting ready for the Fiesta! Apparently it is a pretty big deal here in Laoag. I think it starts on February 10 and goes for a week or so. So that's the next celebration coming up.

wonder if those decorations are still up on the mission home
 (this was taken at the beginning of January)    :)

This week we had a ton of success in our area. First off, we had two sets of exchanges, so we got tons of work done, found lots of new people to teach. Yesterday at church, we had 13 of our investigators attend church. The other two elders in the ward had 10, so we had 23 investigators at church. The members were pretty stoked about that and that got them pretty excited about the work in the ward. So we are really looking forward to February. Lots of baptizing. This Saturday we are hoping to finally have the wedding of one of our investigators and then her baptism. The whole Juan Family made it to church this week. The members have been a huge help with them. We asked a few of the the YSA (young single adults) to join us in the lesson with them on Saturday night, and then they told us they would go and take the family to church the next day. One of the YSA in our ward invited 3 of her friends to come to institute (mid-week religion class) and then church, and all 3 of them really enjoyed. So we are looking at a lot of success for the future. 

The other day we were doing some finding. We went to meet a family, but weren't sure what their name was. So the name that was on the top of my head was "Martinez Family". And when we asked this old lady if she knew where the Martinez family lived, she said "That's us!"  The three  of us missionaries just looked at each other and started laughing. She then let us in and we were able to teach them a lesson. It's a funny story, but I don't think it was just a coincidence that that's the name that popped up into my head.

So these past couple weeks, I've been doing the invitation from President Nelson and studying several verses about the Lord, Jesus Christ. Just going through the Topical Guide, reading verse after verse, pondering, cross-referencing, and learning more about the Savior. The impact that this studying has had on my life after just 2 weeks is incredible. I have no doubt come to know my Savior better just from reading through these verses in the Bible, Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants. This studying of the Lord has brought even more light into my life and my testimony and love for Him has grown deeper. I know that He is the Savior of the World.

Love you all, have a nice week. Sorry I've kinda been slacking with the pics lately. I'll try to do better this week. 

-Elder Jenkins

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

WEEK 74 - January 15, 2018 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everybody!!

Well another transfer week has gone by, and for some reason this one just wore me down. Not sure if it was because Basa hit the road or if it's because of the toe, but I was real tired at the end of the week. But at the same time it was another real fun week. 

As usual, on Tuesday we took all the departing elders to the airport. I guess the people are starting to get a little more strict with who is allowed to go into the airport with the going home missionaries. Back then we were all allowed to go in and help them with the luggage and then say goodbye, but they are starting to crack down on that I guess. Luckily I was able to go in, but all the Office elders and my companions weren't able to. So I was happy I got to give a final goodbye to Elder Basa - saying bye was sad, but I don't think anybody shed any tears. After that we headed back to the mission home and gave a training to all the trainers. The next night, all the new missionaries came in. There were only 5 of them and they were all Filipino, so it was a little batch. For the next two days, we handled the orientation and training with the new missionaries and then with their companions on Friday, then sent em all off to their areas. 

with Elder Holmes & Elder Morehu

The hard thing about transfer week is we don't get to work too much in our area for the week. So for that week, our area suffers a bit. But we were still able to get some investigators to come to church who will be baptized in the coming weeks. We did have one cool experience this week. So, at the house of one of the investigators that we have been teaching they have a really old grandma. She's like 85 years old. She's always sat in on the lessons, but has never really expressed interest. She did, however want to read the Book of Mormon, but wasn't able to because she couldn't read the small font. So we printed out the first chapter of Nephi in size 75 font and gave it to her the other day. Once we gave it to her, she refused to put it down. She finished the chapter that night and the next day could tell us everything that happened in the it. She said she wants to read all of it, and she came to church again yesterday. So as of now, we are trying to prepare her for baptism. She has changed a lot. When we first met her and were on a topic about revoltos (idols), she was ticked and did not want to get rid of her revulto. But now she wants to go to church every week and read the Book of Mormon. 

We had another spiritual experience the other day. We entered into the house of one of our investigators and it was just absolute chaos. They were all real busy and one of the kids was on the ground throwing a fit, screaming and crying. They sat us down though and we told them that we are going to bring peace into the house. Before we started we felt prompted to sing a song first. (Elder Morehu has an incredible voice btw.) So Elders Morehu, Holmes and I sang "Love One Another". And all the sudden the kid stopped crying and calmed down, and everything just felt better. We could absolutely feel the spirit enter into the room and we were able to teach a very nice, spiritual lesson. Because of this experience, the investigators totally realized something different about us and our message and they realized that we carry the spirit with us. They asked us to keep coming back everyday. Im so grateful for the spirit and the impact it can have on one person's life. Especially the impact it has had on my life. 

Love you all, have a good week! :)

-Elder Jenkins

My toe is doing fine, just still walking around in flip flops haha. I feel like all I'm missin is a Lava-lavaI told the doctor plenty of time that they don't take off the whole nail in America, so why is that what happens here? He just kept saying that taking off the nail is the best option wherever in the world. Even the mission medical department didn't want them to take off the whole nail. Sister Andrada and I talked to the doc for a bit but he insisted on taking the whole nail off, and didn't want to do it any other way. So oh well. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

WEEK 73 - January 8, 2018 (Laoag, Philippines)

and then there were 9 toenails ... again   :(

Hello Everybody!

So this week was full of good news and bad news. I'll start with the bad, painful news. So remember about 6 months ago, back in July when I had to get my toenail ripped off because of the ingrown/infection. Well my toe has been doing great since then. Actually had almost grown all the way back. Well, while walking around the other day, I started to notice a sharp pain in the same spot of my toe. At the end of the day, I took off my shoe, and sure enough my toe was looking red, swollen and not normal. The next day I went to the hospital to get it checked out, and the doctor put me on some antibiotic, but told me if it doesn't improve by the end of the week, they were gonna have to take off the toenail. Fast forward to Saturday morning, the infection had gotten a little bit better, but the sharp pain of the ingrown cutting into my skin was still there. So again, I was laid down into a hospital bed and the memories from Aparri came right back. This time for sure though hurt wayyy more. I cringe every time I think about the doctor inserting the anesthetics in my toe. At one point I questioned if it would hurt less if he skipped the "sinking a needle 5 times into my toe" and rather just ripped the ol' nail off right away. The anesthetics weren't as effective as they were either when I had the operation done 6 months ago. So I was a bit surprised by the pain of the removing of the toenail this time. When he got it off, I thought it was over, but then he started scraping off the dead skin or something. Actually I'm still not sure what he was scraping at, but it was absolute torture! So I am glad that all that is over. I left the hospital really hoping to never have to get an operation done here again. But the good thing is that my toe is feeling better now. I'll probably be in flip flops for a couple weeks again, but I bought a nice comfy pair, so I'll be fine. So there's that. Hope you guys enjoyed that story haha. 

MLC missionaries

So the good news is that Cassandra and Kim were baptized yesterday! We had been really busy all week with MLC (Mission Leadership Council) stuff and being at the hospital, so if we had time, we were over helping them get prepared for the big step in their life. They're the first ones to be baptized in their family, but we have committed their sister and their aunt to be baptized on the 20th. My goal is to have their whole family baptized before I get transferred. Hopefully I never get transferred, I love the area so much, we are having so much success. 

Speaking of transfers, transfer texts were on Saturday night. Of course with Elder Basa going home, we weren't sure if we would be getting another companion and be in a trisome again or if it would just be me and Elder Holmes. Well we found out that we will be getting a new companion and will be in a trisome again! Our new companion is Elder Morehu! Maybe you remember him from Aparri? We lived in the same apartment for 3 months. Such a stud, one of my best friends in the mission. So we are wayy excited.

celebrating Elder Basa before he heads home

So even though this last week was rather painful when I look back at it, it was also a spiritual one. I actually had a nice experience while we were in the hospital. So I didn't mention this, but in the hospital we were waiting in the waiting room for about 3 hours before they started my operation. During this 3 hour wait, the anticipation was brutal. I had the operation before, so I knew the pain that was coming. Of course during this time I was feeling a little stressed and had some discomfort. So I went ahead and said a silent prayer in my heart asking for comfort. After that, my thoughts went to the Savior, and the anticipation before he suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane. He knew what He would suffer, and it was far much worse than a toenail operation. He knew that he would not only have to suffer, but die. All of this to overcome the sins of the world, to overcome death, and to complete His mission here on earth. Knowing that the Lord has suffered every pain, sickness, temptation or anything that we go through in life gives us hope and comfort. He did all of that for us. In that hospital waiting room, I felt my Saviors love. 
Alma 7:11-12.

Love you all, have a nice week :)

-Elder Jenkins

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.

12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people in their infirmities.

art by J. Kirk Richards 
from the book This Is Jesus