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

Monday, July 31, 2017

WEEK 50 - July 31, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello everybody!

So this week a huge storm came into Laoag. It was raining constantly for 3 days and there was flooding on the road and in some of the missionaries' apartments. So that made things a little difficult this week. But this week was probably the most busy I have ever been.

First, I'll tell you a bit about my companions and living conditions. I am in a threesome right now with Elder Basa and Elder Cuadra. Elder Basa is a short little elder from Tacloban, and has been in the mission for about 19 months. Elder Cuadra is from Manila, and goes home next transfer. They are real fun to be with, great guys. We have fun together and work together well. We live with the 2 office elders as well, in an apartment right next to the mission office. So there are 5 of us in the house. No hot water. No AC. But we do have running water.

With comps: Elder Cuadra & Elder Basa
Was cold enough to put on a sweater. Also excited for Christmas. 
(editor: haha- Broke out the Christmas tie we sent him.) 

On Monday, we arrived in Laoag, and the APs came and picked me up and welcomed me in. From that time it was nothing but business. We were picking people up from places, dropping them off, helping them with their luggage, getting them settled into their new apartments etc. On Tuesday, we got to help take all the departing missionaries to the airport and send them off. That was a fun experience. I think I'll have the opportunity of doing that many times before I am the one walking onto the plane haha. Then the next day, we had a training for all the missionaries that are trainers. We went and picked up all the newly arriving missionaries and had an orientation with them. Then we gave another training to the new missionaries. Transfer week is definitely the busiest week of the month, but it is a lot of fun too. Also we get fed by President Andrada a few times during that week, so there are definitely benefits.

My son and my grandson
(editor: Ryan trained Elder Reyes and now Elder Reyes is training Elder Maharry.)

We didn't get to work in our area for very long this week, but I did get to meet some of the members. Actually yesterday not many people were able to come to church because the storm was sooo bad. But the members here are sooo kind, and I'm real excited to work with them, especially our Bishop. He's a really good guy, RM (returned missionary). 

Having the opportunity of serving in this calling has been nothing but a blessing. Although it is sooo busy and a bit stressful at times, I definitely enjoy it and am so thankful. This first transfer in this position will for sure be a learning experience. I've already learned a ton and definitely have changed a bit just from this last week. It is definitely a humbling experience. Without the Lord's help, I am literally nothing. While we were giving trainings, there were times that I thought to myself "I have no idea what I'm doing, I've never done this before", and then when we get up there to train these missionaries and as I open my mouth, things really just start to flow and it all of the sudden feels familiar to me. It's such a blessing to be able to serve. I've never experienced such joy as I am experiencing right now just from serving people everyday.

Love you all, have a great week!

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, July 24, 2017

WEEK 49 - July 24, 2017 (Aparri, Cagayan, Philippines)

Hello everybody,

So this is going to be kind of a quick letter. I’ll explain why...

On Saturday night, we received a text that I would be transferring. It was kinda sad saying goodbye to all of the members and all the people I’ve come to know, but I have been here for a while, so I was kind of expecting it. Then on Sunday night, we got a call from President Andrada. First he talked to Elder Reyes, and told him that he would be training a new missionary! And then he wanted to talk to me. He then went on to tell me that he would like me to be his assistant...wasn't really expecting that, and I was speechless for a bit. But of course I happily accepted the calling. So later today we will be traveling to Laoag :)

This last week has got to be one of the best ones I've had so far in the mission. We went to Dodan (about 4 miles from Aparri) every day to prepare the Del Rosario family for baptism. One quick funny story. At the end of one of the lessons, we all kneeled down to pray. The 8 yr old, Jerico, was saying the closing prayer. You can imagine the sweet little prayer of the young boy, humble and sincere. And then he went on to end it "In the name of Joseph Smith, Amen!" hahaha Everybody started busting up laughing. They are a fun family to be with. Then of course on Saturday, they were baptized as a family:) Such a great and rewarding experience. Baptizing them one by one – first the kids and then the mom and then having the fully converted father join me in the water. What a blessing. It all filled my soul with joy. All the stress and hard work, traveling to their house everyday, has paid off :) They showed up to church early the next day, excited to be confirmed. I took lots of pictures.

I have been so blessed with being assigned in this area where people are prepared to receive the Gospel, and the Lord blessed us with success. I’m very excited for this new calling in my mission. It will change me into a better person. 

I love you all, have a good week :)

Elder Jenkins

PS from the editor... I asked and, no, he did not eat the lizard from last week...but he wanted to. Oh, my boy!

Monday, July 17, 2017

WEEK 48 - July 17, 2017 (Aparri, Cagayan, Philippines)

(editor: Dinner??? He doesn't say...but I'm really hoping NOT!)
Hello everybody.

There have been rumors of a typhoon coming in, but nothing has happened yet. It's still so dang hot, some rain sounds nice right now. Wow, today marks 11 months in the mission. Time is going pretty fast.

So this week was a pretty fun week. On Tuesday, we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders. So I got to have an American companion which is always fun. You get to talk in English all day, feels weird. It's fun though especially when you come across a group of people, and they are a little shocked to see 2 Americans walking around. Then we start speaking in Ilokano and Ibanag and they really freak out hahaha. They love it though and they want to take pictures with us and just talk with us, it's a lot of fun. It also gives us a chance to open our mouths and talk about the gospel a bit.

The thing that wasn't so fun is what happened later that night. So while I was sleeping, I had 2 electric fans facing me. Usually only 1, but the 2 elders that live with us had to head to Laoag, so it is just me and Elder Reyes in the house right now. So one of the electric fans doesn't have a cage on the front. And while I was sleeping, I rolled over and my messed up toe went right into the fan blades. I've never woken up so quickly in my life haha. I was in big time pain, and hobbled downstairs to wrap it up and stop the bleeding. But I was sooo tired, so I just went back to bed, trying to fall back asleep, but ended up laying there for about 30 minutes cuz it hurt so bad. So that was quite the setback for my toe. To make it worse, the other day we were visiting Jerick's family and when Jerick noticed my toe wrapped up in bandage, he decided he wanted to stomp on it. That triggered the bleeding again and made it difficult to walk the rest of the day. But it is starting to heal and the toenail is growing back, so it's doing fine. 

So we have been going to Dodan every day to prepare Shyrine and Geraldine for baptism, and also to prepare the Del Rosario family for their baptisms next week. We had the girls' baptism on Saturday and it went great. The Del Rosario family was also able to attend :) After the baptism, Shyrine and Geraldine had a chance to bear their testimonies, and they both have real strong testimonies. They are true converts. Seeing them getting baptized and bear their testimonies brought joy to my soul. Seeing success in the work of the Lord brings pure happiness to my life, and makes all the stress, hard work, pain, and sacrifice worth it. On Sunday, we got a bit nervous when they hadn't shown up by the start of sacrament meeting, and the stress was running high. But they managed to walk in at the last second before the blessing and passing of the sacrament and they were confirmed :)

I feel the Spirit every day, but just from Saturday the spirit confirmed to me over and over again that this is the work of the Lord. There is no greater work right now. I love participating in the work of the Lord. Bringing souls to Christ. Seeing other people change because of the gospel is such a blessing :)

Love you all, have a good week!

-Elder Jenkins

it's horrible...really!!

Monday, July 10, 2017

WEEK 47 - July 10, 2017 (Aparri, Cagayan, Philippines)

Hello Everybody.

The work seems to just get better and better every week. And I seem to become a happier missionary every week as well. Although I'm hobbling around with 9 toenails, the work is very enjoyable haha.

So actually I was at the hospital earlier today (editor: this explains why his letter was late getting to us), but this time is wasn't for me. One of the other missionaries here in Aparri got a real bad fever. He’s a new missionary from Australia, so his stomach isn’t fully adjusted to the food and water. He went into the hospital on Saturday and is still in there. So I was in there with him for a good 3 hours while his companion went and had his interview with president (we had interviews earlier). It felt nice being in an air conditioned room, so I got a nice nappy in. Feeling good right now.

This week was another week filled with success. We are working hard to prepare our investigators for baptisms this week and on July 22. Actually, the other day while we were working in Dodan, we were at an appointment and got a text from our progressing investigators. They said that the some other missionaries were at their house (from another denomination) & wondered if we'd come. We quickly started walking toward the road and it seemed like a triC pulled up and picked us up right as we got to the road. He sped us over to their house, and we walked up. There was a granny and a couple of others preaching to our investigators. They noticed us walking up and kind of stopped teaching, and one of them asked us who the people were that we are going to teach. Before I could answer his question, granny, probably 75 to 80 years old, got up into my face, stuck a finger into my chest and asked “Who is Jesus Christ!?” I answered “He is our Savior, the Redeemer of the world!” Not satisfied with my answer, she asked “But what is his name?” I answered, “Jehovah” with a friendly smile on my face. That ticked them off (because of different beliefs) and they started getting angry at us, saying that Jesus is not a God and granny started saying some other things to us. After a few minutes of talking, they just got up and left. We ended up having a real good lesson with the family :)

So we have two baptisms on Saturday, Shyrine and Geraldine. We are working hard to prepare them for their big day. They are very excited, as are we. Yesterday, President and Sister Andrada actually attended our sacrament meeting. We had several investigators present, and as President got up to speak, I was just praying that his words would speak directly to our investigators, and that the Spirit would have an impression on their hearts. After the meeting, one of our investigators mentioned that he learned so much from President's talk, and that his words really spoke to him. That was one prayer answered, right there. And later that night, we got a text saying that he wants to be baptized. How great the effect the Spirit can have on a person and the words of a leader chosen from God unto helping somebody make that big decision to take the next step in his life toward eternal happiness. This work is incredible. And taking part in this work, as an instrument in God’s hands, is nothing but a blessing.

As a missionary in this work, you learn many many lessons. Some that will help you for your whole life, some that will help the lives of others. As I look back on the lessons I have learned so far on my mission, and the effect it has had on changing me into a more Christlike person, I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. At the end of my interview with President earlier, he said “Well Elder Jenkins, you are definitely a different Elder Jenkins than you were when we first met :)” Not that I was a bad elder back then or anything like that haha, but it is true. Through all the lessons and challenges, you change. Walking miles and miles everyday with a missing toenail on the big toe is a challenge to say the least. But then you remember Jesus and what he sacrificed. He bled from every pore, I’m just sweating. He carried a cross, I’m just carrying a proselyting bag. That's when I remember the promise we make, “To always remember him”. That promise helps us in life and helps us to grow.

Love you all, have a great week :)

-Elder Jenkins


Monday, July 3, 2017

WEEK 46 - July 3, 2017 (Aparri, Cagayan, Philippines)

94 year old lady wanted a picture

Hello everyone,

First off, good luck to Dallan, heading into the MTC on Wednesday. I remember my last few days at home... filled with excitement, anxiety, and not knowing what to expect, but this is the good life. 

So I'm sure some of you heard that Pacquiao took a loss. So the people here are a little salty about that. Some didn't end up making it to church because the fight started at 1, and church starts at 1:30. I was praying for a first round knockout haha. 

Gonna miss a good 4th of July celebration. Not sure where I'm gonna fine a nice burger here. Jollibee doesn't quite do it for me. 

So earlier today I had quite the experience at the hospital. Last week I bashed my toe on some furniture in our apartment and messed up the toenail pretty bad. It ended up turning into an ingrown and this morning it was looking a bit infected. So I headed to the hospital to get it checked out, and to my surprise, they decided the best option was to rip the whole big toenail out. I was a bit surprised by that decision haha. I thought maybe they would just slice out the part that was causing the infection, give me some medicine and send me on my way. But it ended up with lying down in the chair while they injected anesthetics into my big toe. The only thing separating me from other patients was a curtain haha. Then the surgeon came in, grabbed some pliers, and gave it a big yank. So now, I'm walking around in flip flops because my bandaged toe can't fit into a shoe.

Speaking of gross things, I'm not sure how many times I've witnessed it now, but yesterday while we were walking down the road, a dog got smoked by a motorcycle that was speeding. Of course, the motorcycle just sped off and got away as fast as he could, so he wouldn't have to deal with it. But right after it happened, the thing died immediately, and someone came out and grabbed the dog, and took it to their back yard. I was wondering why they seemed to be in such a hurry to take it, then I realized what they were doing with it. Different culture for real. Whatever it takes to put food on the table. 

Besides that, this last week was really good. We are having tons of success. The Lord is absolutely preparing the people we are teaching to receive the gospel. We have people committing to go to church before we even invite them haha, investigators giving us referrals to people they want us to teach, it's incredible. We are being blessed with success. We actually had 10 investigators at church yesterday!! It was an amazing Sabbath Day. 

Had a really good lesson with the Del Rosario family last week. We taught about baptism and why it's so important and then extended a baptism date to them. We have been trying to get them on date for a while but the hadn't yet accepted. But this time they did accept. Bro Del Rosario said if he comes to know that the Book of Mormon is true, he will get baptized. That was music to my ears. He's reading it everyday, so there is no doubt in my mind he will come to know it is true. Funny story... after they accepted the baptism date and all, I think Elder Reyes got a little excited and when Chris got up to go get a drink of water, Elder Reyes gave him a friendly slap on the butt hahaha. Not sure if Chris appreciated it too much from the surprised look on his face. I was laughing pretty hard though. The trainee getting a little over excited.

Speaking of funny experiences with the training, there was a guy just sitting on the curb the other day while we were finding, and I told Elder Reyes to go teach him. So he goes and sits down next to him and tries to talk to him, and mid conversation, the old man just gets up and walks away hahahah. We laughed pretty hard about that. Straight rejection. I love training, it's a lot of fun. 

I am loving seeing the progression in our area as we fully put our trust in the Lord. We do our best to teach for their understanding and invite them to keep commitments, but after that, after we leave their home, it's up to them to keep those commitments. So we just fully rely on the Lord to help them with those things and help them progress. It's all about prayer, fasting and faith. It is amazing to see and feel my spiritual growth as I focus fully on other people. My focus is on helping other people grow spiritually, but really at the same time, I am the one growing and becoming better. The mission is amazing, I am loving life right now. 

-Elder Jenkins 

Members treated us to dinner at one of the best restaurants here in Aparri.

the district