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

Monday, September 25, 2017

WEEK 58 - September 25, 2017 (Laoag, Philippines)

Hello Everyone,

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BUCK! You are getting biiiiiggg. Still laughing about how much your voice had changed last time we skyped. Next thing you know you'll have a few armpit hairs!

So this week we had dinner appointments on every single day. Last week in our meeting with Bishop, I told him how back in our ward at home we would pass around a calendar and the members would sign up for a day to feed the missionaries. We decided to give it a try, and we got a couple weeks filled up! Gives us a chance to talk with different families about doing missionary work and also connects us closer to the members. So we have really been enjoying that. I'll send some pics of some of the food we ate.

We had lots of exchanges this last week with some of the Zone Leaders. The exchanges are really helping us out in our area. We get a lot of work done in just a couple days, because we are able to split, and at the same time we help the Zone Leaders to get a better vision for what they want in their area. I love working with the different missionaries every week and learning from their teaching styles and proselyting skills. One thing I do enjoy about my calling is being able to get to know a lot of different missionaries.

On Saturday, we had the Baptisms of Lawrence and Chloe. Our Zone Leaders actually put together a stake baptism. So there were a total of 11 people getting baptized in the stake. Tons of members attended and supported, so it was a successful day. One of our progressing investigators, Joyce, took the Board exam on Sunday. Before her test she actually asked for a priesthood blessing. She is progressing well and her baptism will be in 2 or 3 weeks. 

So on Saturday, we began the celebration of Family Week. Our ward put a program together and we all got together for a party. Honestly, this was the most fun ward activity I have ever been to. I've never laughed so much during a ward get together. Hopefully you can find a video on Facebook or something of some of the games we played. Ward 3 is just filled with fun, happy members. I'm glad I will probably be here for a while, because I am really enjoying becoming good friends with the members here. Then they had a slideshow of different pictures of the families in the ward. And at the end, they included my family and Elder Basa's family. It was a fun night.

This week I realized many times the affect of the Spirit in our teaching. An idea will just pop up in my head, and I know immediately that that is what I need to say at the moment. Teaching can be so simple and easy when the Spirit is leading. When the Spirit is not leading, it becomes difficult and confusing. The investigator won't seem to understand and everything will just seem out of order. A quote popped into my head this week. "Choose the harder right instead of the easier left."** Sometimes it seems hard to live in a way that the Spirit will always be with you. Sometimes it seems easier just to live life slothful, and do things your own way. Then the scripture John 8:12 came into my head. If we live life differently than the way our Father in Heaven wants us to, we will walk in darkness. Things will seem out of order and we will struggle to know what is right for us. But if we have the "light of life", our mind will be so much clearer, and we will know the choices we need to make. Life will seem more in order, and we will be more satisfied. All we have to do is follow Him, and He will lead us to the light.  

Love you all, have a nice week :)

-Elder Jenkins

** Quote is actually: "Choose the harder right instead of the easier wrong."

John 8:12
Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

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