Friday, September 30, 2016

WEEK 6 - September 29, 0216 (Provo, UT) - Careful what you wish for :)

Remember in the past few letters how I talked about how much I love it here and that I wish time would slow down a bit?? Well, I guess somebody was listening haha 

So this week has been pretty crazy. I’ll just jump into it and let you all know what’s happening.... So about three weeks ago, I noticed that my pinkie and ring finger were feeling a little numb on my right hand. I didn't really think anything of it because it really didn't bug me at all. Didn't cause any pain. Just was a little numb and had that tingling feeling. (Like when your foot falls asleep). But it didn't really go away, so I decided I would go into the clinic and see what they thought. I talked to the doctor, and he thought it was just inflammation in my wrist that could be causing the nerve to be pinched a little bit. So he gave me some medicine and told me to come back on Tuesday, and if it wasn't healed yet, that he would need to delay me. A couple days passed, and there was no healing happening. Monday morning I kind of realized that I was probably going to be delayed. So when he told me on Tuesday that I would be staying back, it didn't surprise me too much. The doc put me on more medicine, and set up a couple appointments for me this week. I have a nerve conduction study today, and then I meet with a neurologist on Friday. Hopefully I come out of those with good news. 

Yesterday was probably the hardest day of my mission so far. Seeing everybody that I came in here with pack all of their stuff up and leave was very difficult. Especially knowing that I probably won't see very many of them again. I didn't really realize how different it would be without all of them until I was sitting at dinner and realized that 40 of my best friends from the past 6 weeks just left. That hit me and kind of put me in a terrible mood. I went to class and sat down with a different district and 2 new teachers that I didn't really know. That was probably the loneliest I have ever felt. I sat there and wondered why I am still here. Then my new teacher met with me 1 on 1 to get to know me a bit. We sat down and she immediately started talking about how she knows I am here in this new district for a reason. She talked about how my new companion had been struggling in the trio he was in before I joined him. And how the district kind of lacks in leadership. That really changed how I was feeling. I realized something that I'm sure I will realize plenty of times on my mission. That I am not here for myself, but to help others. I knew that this is the purpose of a mission all along, but sometimes I just need a reminder. So although I have been delayed two weeks, I am looking forward to really helping this district learn and grow. I also see this as an opportunity to work as hard as I can to learn more about the language before I'm in the Philippines.

Elders Armstrong and Jenkins

I had another humbling experience on Friday night. We were all sitting in class that night, kind of exhausted from infield orientation. Infield orientation is when you sit in a big room for 8 hours, listening to people talk to you about preparing for the field. This day was especially kind of rough for me, knowing that I might not even be leaving. Anyways, I sat there in class selfishly feeling bad for myself. Our teacher then started telling us a story about a teenage boy in the Philippines that she taught. His life was so hard. His dad died when he was a little boy, and his mom just died a year or so ago. She talked about how even though all of this was happening in his life, he had the strongest testimony and stood strong. There wasn't a dry eye in that room, everybody was so touched. I sat there and realized how pathetic it was that I was feeling bad for myself. And how fortunate I am in life. I am so grateful for the teachers I had the past 6 weeks. Through them teaching by the spirit, I have already learned a lot of valuable lessons that will help me in the future.  

So although I will be here for longer than expected, I am very excited that I get to be here for General Conference. A little frustrating knowing I could've been in the choir though!! haha This will also give me a chance to finish all the food I have. By the way mom, thanks for the cookies. Not sure why there was a piece of bread in there, but that tasted good too I guess (editor: I wish I had a picture of the little baggie of bread that said, “not to eat, just to keeps cookies soft”). I apologize that it will take a few more weeks for my emails to get exciting haha. 

I miss and love you all!! Glad to be here another couple weeks:) Have a good week!

Elder Jenkins
(editor: look who got to take Ryan to his these boys of mine!)

Thursday, September 22, 2016

WEEK 5 - Sept 22, 2016 (Provo, UT) - 1 month down

Aunt Britt, thanks for the tie. I can now participate in Floral Fridays :)

I was astonished to hear that most you guys didn’t think that looked like Matt Damon. I've seen him almost every day and I still double take every time.

Hey Happy early B-Day Buck!! Finally in your teens! Don't spend all your bday money on video games. All you cousins that went to LP HoCo looked great. Kajsa, is he a senior?? lolol

Well this week went by extremely fast. I cannot believe I have been here 5 weeks. Time is absolutely flying. I don't have much to talk about from this week but I’ll give a quick rundown of my week. 

So last Thursday after Pday was over, we got to do a lesson over Skype. So we skyped a Filipino lady and talked to her for a while, trying to understand what she was saying. We were almost at the end of our lesson and were about to bear testimony and close, when I accidentally pulled the plug out of the wall with my foot haha. It was sad because I’m pretty sure she thought I did it on purpose. I was looking at the camera trying to think of what to say and then the computer just shut off haha... So I guess I’ll get another try at it tonight. 

On Friday, we got our flight plans. We leave on Wednesday Sept. 28. We fly out of Salt Lake to LA at 7pm. Then we have a 5 hour layover in LA. 16 hours later we land in Hong Kong. Then from there we fly to Manila. I guess we stay in the Manila MTC for 5 days and then make a loooong bus ride to Laoag (editor: pretty sure they fly from Manila to Laoag...time will tell). So I am way excited for that. Saturday was a pretty regular day. On Sunday we were sitting in sacrament meeting when all of the sudden, while announcing the program, we hear "And then we will be pleased to hear a special musical number from district F." (That’s our district) We all sit up and look at each other in a panic. Then we remember how the Sunday before that, Pres. Delamare asked if we wanted to sing in Sacrament Meeting, We accepted and he said he would talk to us Tuesday night if we still wanted to do it. Well, he never talked to us about it, so we all forgot about it. Luckily, we have a few musical geniuses in our district. So with about 5 minutes of preparation time, we planned to sing Nearer My God to Thee. One of the elders that has an incredible voice was sitting 10 rows ahead of us and had no idea what was going on. So as the intro was being played on the piano, one of the elders whispered to him "Hey you are singing a solo for the first 2 lines" and about 5 seconds later he sang it like an angel, and it sounded like we had been preparing for weeks haha.  

I've talked a lot in my past letters about how much I enjoy the MTC. I’m very much looking forward to Wednesday, but it will also be a little sad. Leaving the comfort of the place I’ve been living for the past month or so will be weird. It seems like everybody around me cannot stand the MTC and just wants to get out of here, but I have loved it haha. Not only because of the pickup basketball I get to play every morning, but just the comfort of feeling the spirit in the classroom and in the devotionals. Also, I make new friends everyday, and know how to say "hi" in like seven different languages haha. I learn something new everyday, but I'm sure I'll learn even more when I can't understand what people are saying and I'm making hundreds of mistakes a day when trying to talk to people.

With Elder Penney (from our ward)  
going to the Philippines Bacolod Mission on Oct 19th

I've had so many great testimony building experiences while I’ve been here. I was teaching a lesson the other day, when I realized a certain thing or pattern that kept occurring. While I am teaching, I think of the word I want to say in English, and then say it in tagalong. Well, sometimes I’ll be trying to think of a certain word that I know I have memorized but it won't come to my head. And for a split second I question myself and wonder "Is the spirit with me right now?" And this has happened to me a few times. Immediately after I think this to myself, the word seems to pop into my head. And that reassures me that the spirit is there. It’s so comforting to know that I am not going on this journey alone and that I will have help with me all the way. 

Sorry my letters are a bit boring right now. I promise that they will get better starting next week.

Miss all of you so much!! Was so nice to see Kenzi and Aunt Robin yesterday, made me miss the family a bit though haha. Talk to you all next week, love ya:)


Friday, September 16, 2016

WEEK 4 - September 15, 2016 (Provo, UT) - I MET MATT DAMON

Hellooooo everybody... If that header didn't grab your attention, I really don't know what will. But it is true, Matt Damon was at the MTC. So here's what happened. We were sitting down eating some lunch in the cafeteria when all of the sudden one of the kids in my district says "Woah, look it's Jason Bourne!!" I look up and there he is sitting across from us. The Martian, sitting there, eating a burger.  OK, so it isn't actually him... But if there was a competition for a Matt Damon look alike, he would win. So I had to grab a picture.

(Editor: What Ryan sent...)

(...what we expected!)

 Well this week was great and it went by soooo fast. I really want to get out to the Philippines but I almost wish time would slow down here at the MTC because I really enjoy it here. So this week hasn't been too eventful, but there are a few things I can write you about. So we had the privelege to hear from two Apostles in our devotionals. On Sunday, Elder Ballard came and spoke to us. Talked a lot about valuing the time you are on your mission. I feel like that has been talked about a lot in the devotionals while I've been here. Elder Cook spoke to us on Tuesday. He based his talk on 3 things: loving the Lord, loving the People, loving your companion. Then he also said something that I found very interesting. He said when he is receiving revelation about assigning mission calls, it doesn't always come as a location of where the missionary needs to go. But it often comes as the Mission President that they need to be sent to. And then he talked about how important it is to build a strong bond with your mission pres. So I'm really excited to meet my mission pres, and come close to him. Ok, so also on Tuesday when Elder Cook spoke to us, the choir sang a song. I was in the perfect position to get on camera hahaha.. So I was trying to focus on the choir director the whole time and sing like an angel and all that, but out of the corner of my eye, I can see the camera zooming in on me, and I can't resist. I look up and there I am, being broadcasted to 7 other MTCs around the world hahah... So if anybody can find that devotional online, look for me, and send me a screenshot or something haha. 

So since I don't have too much to say, I'll share a pretty good spiritual experience I had earlier this week. My comp and I were in a lesson with one of our "Investigators" (who is also my teacher) talking about baptism. She asked a question, and I thought about it for a second and really didn't know what to say. I sat in silence for a few seconds, and then all of the sudden words started popping in my head in Tagalog. I started speaking, probably not in the right sentence structure, but was doing my best. Words kept on flowing out of my mouth as tears filled my eyes. The way my teacher/investigator was looking at me I could tell that she knew I was teaching directly from the spirit. It was such an amazing experience. 

I become more and more excited to go to the Philippines every day. Our Tagalog teachers always share stories about their missions and when they do, it makes me want to get out of here and fly off into Laoag. But at the same time I love it here. And love the experiences I'm having here. One thing I've learned this past week is how much obeying one little rule can change your day. Before this week I would usually not be in bed until 10:45 or so. So I decided just to try and get to bed on time this week. When I did that, I woke up feeling so well rested, and felt so motivated to learn something new. My whole day would change. Hearing Apostles come and speak to us about obedience has really helped me understand the importance. I'm glad that I figured that out so early in my mission.

Every new day here I feel like my testimony is growing stronger and that I am progressing in the language as well. It's so nice being able to be in a place where you can feel the spirit so strong every day. I miss all of you so much, but absolutely love it here. Can't wait to write ya next week :)

(This came a little later...too good not to share - ENJOY!)
I forgot to write you about something. So this one elder in my district, Elder Phillips, is a musical of the kindest kids I've met, and he loves college football. He's from bama. But for some reason one day I was humming "Santa Fe" from Newsies, and he bursts into the room and starts singing the song beautifully!!! hahah He was like, "Elder Jenkins, you like musicals?!?!" I said "I mean, I like Newsies" haha We absolutely love each other now and sing Newsies songs together. Then later he asked "So have you seen Les Mis?" I was like "Uhhhhh yeah kinda" hahahahah he's one of my favorites for sure. (Editor note: Let's just say that Ryan chose to sit out the last half of Les Mis in SF in the bathroom...)

Thursday, September 8, 2016

WEEK 3 - September 8, 2016 (Provo, UT)

MTC District - only Ryan and his companion (Elder Wineberg, front 2nd from left) are going to Laoag. All others are going to San Pablo (south of Manila). 

Okay, well that week flew by. It does not feel like I've been here 3 weeks. I'm now officially one of the "Older Guys". Yesterday was a pretty sad day. All the guys that welcomed us into the zone when we got here, hit the road. I was really good friends with a lot of them, so it was tough to see them leave. BYU winning made my day when I found that out. My comp is from AZ, so that saddened him a bit.

Sending Elder Anufe (center) off - the rest of them still have three more weeks.

Alright so I'll talk about the week a little bit. So getting bed bugs was pretty annoying, but there were some sisters that got it worse than us. One morning, one of them woke up to a bat nesting in her hair!!! Turns out, there was a nest of them living in a dorm somehow.. crazy gross. So they had to pack up their stuff and move, but also had to stay in the MTC an extra week and get a rabies shot.... so basically the MTC is infested with all kinds of things.

Sunday I had the privilege to pray during Sacrament Meeting, in front of like 100 people, in Tagalog. The Branch Pres said he was very impressed though, so that gave me a boost of confidence. On Sunday night, Chad Lewis spoke (previous BYU/NFL football player). It was soooooo cool. He's a really good speaker and taught a good lesson about valuing your time as a missionary. I really enjoyed that. So on Monday, I saw Kenzie (cousin, currently teaching Portuguese at the MTC)!! haha it was sooooo good to see some fam in the MTC. I think I'll probably see her a few more times. And then for dinner, Chick-fil-A catered. Best meal I've had here yet, by far. 

Tuesday was a really good day. I had no idea who was speaking to us for our devotional, and then D. Todd Christofferson walks in. I was stoked. Never been to General Conference or anything so this was the first time I would see an Apostle speak in person. Prior to Elder Christofferson speaking, the choir was going to sing. And I heard that this was going to be broadcast to all the other MTC's across the world. So I definitely wanted to get on the camera haha. While we were singing, I looked up and the camera was roaming.. It literally pointed at the guy sitting to my left, and then switched to a different that frustrated me a bit. I calmed down though and listened to the great talk Elder Christofferson gave. Talked a lot about the importance of teaching repentance. The Spirit was way strong the whole time, it was incredible. So yesterday I volunteered to host a new missionary. Luckily this guy got out of the car, said a quick goodbye to his brother and sister, and didn't even shed a tear haha. Well, even though I've been here for 3 weeks, I accidentally took him the wrong way and we ended up walking a half mile with all his luggage. My arms were begging for a rest, but I couldn't show him that I, his host, was weak. So I carried on. Got to his building just to find out that his room was on the 4th floor. Hauled his luggage 4 floors up and collapsed on his bed to rest haha. My forearms are in such pain hahah. But after that I had some free time, and I remembered that Aunt Robin helps here on Wednesdays.. so I went searching for her, but didn't find her. So can somebody figure out for me what day Aunt Robin will be here (note: she's on vacation this week...but will be back next Wednesday for Ryan to "run into").  Welcome, Kyle Penney (friend from our ward - also going to the Philippines - different mission), to the MTC!! I've see him a lot already, and he seems to be fitting right in.

So one night while eating dinner, I realized that the food seems to get worse and worse. I remembered all of the people telling me how incredible the food was here. And then I just realized that everybody that had ever told me that, were only in the MTC for 3 weeks! haha So I guess it gets worse from here. I'm sure I'll miss it though when I'm eating a few grains of rice off of a leaf in the jungle. Well I wish I had some cool stories to tell ya, but I am still in the MTC haha, so there's not too much that goes on. 

I'm learning to love the Lord more day by day, it's so cool. I'm also learning to love the language so much.. It's incredible, sometimes somebody will ask me a yes or no question and without me even trying I'll just spit out the answer in Tagalog. Its usually simple like "Hindi" or "opo" or "hindi ko alam" haha but it's cool how my brain is starting to think in Tagalog a little bit. I really am surprised by how well the language is coming along. I ask in prayer every night for my tongue to be loosened and for help to understand the language, and I can truly see how I am being blessed. It just takes hard work and faith. Sorry this letter isn't too exciting, I'll try to have something cool to write ya'll about next week. Love you all!!!

-Elder Jenkins
Spare time...push ups - can you tell?

Thursday, September 1, 2016

WEEK 2 - September 1, 2016 (Provo, Utah)

Hey everybody.. so today has been a crazzzzyyy day.. I'm just gonna jump right into it. A couple days ago I started noticing these little itchy bug bites on me. They didnt bug me too much so I didn't think anything of it. Well I got a few more and wasn't sure what they were from, so I went to change my sheets and I lift up the mattress and.... BED BUGS. I freaked out and told everyone to check their beds.. my comp checked his and he had them too, then somebody on the opposite side of the building checked his and found some. This was at like 10:45 everybody is angry, screaming and running around HAHA.. I pick up the  "Emergency only" Phone on my floor and tell the guy what's going on. He simply says "Sorry, there's nothing we can do about that until tomorrow, just sleep with the bugs" hahaha yeah okay, no. So I went down to where all the fresh sheets are, found about 12 thick blankets, and went ahead and made myself a bed in the hall along with 5 other guys. Problem is, the lights in the hall don't turn off, and 3 of the 5 others snore worse than Uncle Sam. Last night was a loooooong night.. luckily its pday (preparation day) today. But, we didn't get to go to the Temple this morning because we had to go to the Medical clinic :(   I just finished taking EVERYTHING out of our rooms, washing every single piece of clothing I have, and spraying everything I own with some bed bug repellent stuff. The upside is I got FREE dry cleaning on all of my ties, pants, and suit coat :) And now we are moving into a different room. Apparently we are only the second ones this whole summer to get bed bugs (Or people just don't check their beds).

Besides that, it has been a pretty regular week... Lots of class, lots of teaching, lots of reading. On Tuesday night, Richard J. Maynes of the Presidency of the Seventy spoke to us. He gave a realllly good talk on how one missionary can change so many people's lives. Oh and also, our whole zone sings in the choir haha.. I didn't think I'd like it that much, but I love it.. The choir director is really good and funny, makes it pretty enjoyable. So on Sunday, we had some changes made in our Branch Presidency. We now have 3 counselors because there are so many people in our zone. I think there's 94 or something. I love Sundays though. It's so nice to have a day of no class where I can just not worry about the language for the day.

Lets see, I don't have much to talk about.. I heard music coming from Lavelle Edwards stadium the other night and got a little sad I'd be missing 2 seasons of Football. But then I thought about how much Mitch loved CFB (editor's note: college football...yes, I had to google it!) and how hurt he must be missing his second season. I didn't feel too sad after that.

View of Lavelle Edwards Stadium
(editor: oh, it's right there...what doesn't kill him will make him stronger!)

Oh, the other day at lunch I spotted one of Matthew's good friends Kento.. Got a picture with him real quick. I see him around a lot.. I think he's got two weeks left here. Hey Rio and Nelson, I enjoyed the email, thank you guys :)

With Elder Kento

Well I can't believe its already been two weeks here. Also can't believe I still have another 4 weeks haha, but I love it here and love all the guys here. Although sometimes I feel like Satan is tempting me to punch somebody in the face, I love them all. I miss you guys and love all of you, but wouldn't want to be anywhere else, except maybe the Philippines. The gospel is true. It is confirmed to me by the spirit every day that it is true. And I love the language of Tagalog. Talk to you all next week :)

-Elder Jenkins

Answers to questions Gary asked last week:
1) Q - What does your typical day look like?
     A - Typical day is: awaken at 6:30, go and get a sack breakfast (you have to put on a white shirt and tie to go in the cafeteria), come back, go play basketball for an hour, then we study for 3 hours, go to lunch, then go to class for 3 hours, go to dinner, then go to class for another 3 hours. So yeah that's our basic day. I loveee Tuesdays - only 3 hours of class because of devotional that night.

2) Q - What missionary routine or rule has been the hardest for you to adapt to?
     A - Definitely being to bed by 10:30.

3) Q - What has been your greatest spiritual experience so far?
     A - So far it has been the story I told in the last letter about going into the lesson without a script and trusting in the spirit.

4) Q - What class, activity (not Pday), or meeting do you look forward to the most?
     A - I really look forward to the days when we have lessons with our "Investigator".. really helps me progress with the language.

5) Q - What has frustrated you the most about being a missionary?
     A - The most frustrating thing is probably feeling like you should be able to speak the language better. But then you realize you have only been in here 2 weeks.

"District Goals: Memorize BYU schedule, predict which games they will win/lose"
(editor note: Good to know that my boy is still my boy!)
(another note: for you Spanish speakers out there, 
say the Tagalog word for "lucky" printed on the board. 
Hoping his two years of HS Spanish are a bit helpful!)