Monday, November 28, 2016

WEEK 15 - November 27, 2016 (Bangui, Philippines)

Ryan is serving in the top, left corner - Bangui

Happy late Thanksgiving every one. I hope you all enjoyed a nice turkey dinner and some football while I picked away at a chicken thigh and some rice. But yeah I definitely missed a big Thanksgiving feast at Grandma’s house. One Thanksgiving down, one more to go.

But wow, has it really only been a week? Haha This week went by a bit slow. I’m guessing that’s how it will be for a few months though until I am able to speak with people a little bit. As of now, pretty much all I can do is bear testimony to them still. I can’t understand a word of what they say, so I can’t really ask them questions. It’s pretty frustrating. I have all these things I want to say to them but I can’t. But it will all be worth it when I’m able to speak fluently with them.

The one thing I love about being a missionary here is how many discussions we get to teach. We taught like 40 or so this last week. It’s so nice having a full day of work, traveling from house to house teaching people and sharing the Book of Mormon. People are so nice here, they will rarely reject you. If you ask them if you can share a message, they will almost always happily let you in. And they will feed you what they have, even though they pretty much have nothing. And then they will try to speak to me and I have to say “Pasensya, konte lang ang alam ko na tagalog” which means, “Sorry I only know a little Tagalog.” I have that phrase so memorized haha. But the people here are soooo nice.

The weather here is pretty crazy right now. A big storm started Saturday night and hasn’t stopped. We had a 1 hour bus ride this morning that ended up taking 4 hours because there were 3 landslides ahead of us. It’s still pouring rain, and like everything is becoming flooded.

So I have been downing the food and water like its nothing, and began to wonder why I haven’t gotten sick yet. Well on Saturday night I became pretty ill. We were hiking up a mountain in the pouring rain to go teach a less active when I began to lose all strength.  By the time I made it back to the house, I could barely crawl in bed. I was in such man down mode. I had like a 38.5 degree fever - not sure what that is Fahrenheit (editor: 101.3). I woke up Sunday morning and still wasn’t well. So we had to stay home from church, which isn’t good, because Elder Costales is the Branch President haha. But it all worked out. I slept for 8 hours yesterday and the 1st counselor had everything under control at church.

I don’t have much to talk about investigator wise. We have like 43 people we are teaching, so we stay busy. And it seems like we get 2 or 3 new investigators every day. We have a lot on date for baptism, but they just need to come to church.

About me though, I’m doing good. Learning a little bit every day: about Tagalog, about Ilocano, and about the gospel. I think I will be heading into Laoag sometime this week to finally meet my mission president. (editor: President & Sister Andrada’s son was killed in an accident the same day that Ryan arrived to the mission. We don’t know any details. But for obvious reasons, they were not at the mission home when Ryan arrived.) That’s the only place to buy peanut butter out here, so I’m very excited for that. PB is my favorite right now. When I’m in need of a late night snack and can’t eat another bite of rice, a little peanut butter sandwich is incredible. Oh, and the eggs here are good too. AND I managed to find a hidden treasure in the church – a roll of TP!! (editor: google “tabo” if interested in knowing why this was such a great find for him.)

Alright sorry my letter isn’t as good as usual. I don’t have much time to write. Love you all. Have a good week.

-Elder Jenkins

(editor: Something went wrong with the sd card reader for his camera – he promised good pics, but we will have to wait. I’ve included a couple that we had from last week.)











Monday, November 21, 2016

WEEK 14 - November 21, 2016 (Bangui, Philippines)

  

WOWWWW, well it is a whole different world over here haha. And it has been a crazy week. I'll try to explain as much I can in the little time I have.

So I flew out of SLC to LA at about 7 pm on Monday night. And from LA to Hong Kong after that. That might have been the longest 16 hours of my life haha. So my seat was in between two Chinese ladies who spoke no English and didn't quite understand what personal space is. To top it off, the lady to my left had a young baby with her that desired to cry often. And sitting in front of me was a little Chinese girl who was probably like 5. And she loved to turn around and touch my TV screen. Most of the time it didn't bug me because I wasn't using it. But this one time I was doing a Sudoku puzzle, and it was taking me a really long time because she would not stop touching the screen and messing it up haha. I started to get frustrated and told her to turn around. She did not understand a word and she would just laugh. And her parents did not care at all. But yeah, that flight was looong. 

Alright, so I'm sure you mostly want to hear about the Philippines, so I'll try to explain it. I got off the plane and started sweating, and have not really stopped sweating since. Oh yeah so first off, when I got off the plane in Manila, there was nobody there to pick me up haha. I wandered around for a bit, using the Tagalog I know, asking questions. Luckily some one spoke English and I was able to use his phone.

Manila

The traffic is CRAZY in Manila. There are freeways with the speed limit at like 60 and no lanes. It's just a big open road, people weaving around other cars. So dangerous haha. I stayed in the Manila MTC for two days. It was really nice. I got to sleep for like 15 hours straight because of jet lag. I ate some weird food and I also got to go to the Temple. It's a beautiful temple and very very small. 

MTC food

 Manila Temple

So my flight to Laoag was on Friday. I was supposed to leave at 4, but didn't end up leaving until 7. Was at the airport or 6 hours.. that was brutal. But eventually we landed in Laoag at the airport... It did not seem like an airport though haha. It was like the size of church building... an American church building. Fortunately, there were people to pick me up. 

at the mission home in Laoag

So I was assigned to serve in the Bangui area. It is sooo beautiful here. So many big rice fields and it's right next to the ocean. And it is known or these huge windmills. Most of the people here speak Ilocano, but they all understand Tagalog. All transportation is from Trics or people have their own little motorcycle. Not really any cars though.
famous windmills
tric

People's houses are mostly either made out of some cinder block or bamboo. It's crazy how little these people have.



Fortunately our apartment is pretty nice. Besides the fact that you pour a bucket of cold water on yourself for a shower. I don't know if I will ever get used to that haha. It's like jumping in the pool, no matter how many times you have done it, you still hesitate to do it. Most of the time I have to pump myself up to pour the cold water on me. And we usually take 2-3 showers a day, because we sweat so much. Even though it's so hot outside, it does not feel good. After like 10 scoops though, it kind of feels good. But those first 10 scoops are killer. The thing I hopefully will get used to is the fact that they do not use toilet paper here. Sorry if that is TMI, but it's an important fact. People make fun of you if you buy toilet paper hahaha. My comp says he will burn it if I buy any hahaha. (Editor: not sure what he uses...good question for next week. YIKES!) My comp, Elder Costales, is awesome. He is from Manila and speaks really good Tagalog, and really good English. So he is helping me out a lot with the language.

with Elder Costales

Honestly, I have never been so frustrated not being able to speak to people and mostly understand people. If I could understand what they are saying, I could probably work up some response with the small vocab I know. But I am learning a lot every day. I have gotten good at calming myself down when I get frustrated with the language haha. I absolutely looooove the people though. They are easy to love because they are so kind. And I love the kids - the little mga anak are soooooo cute. And they will always run up to me and yell "up here" and high five me. A high five from a white person makes their day. People stare at me everywhere I go because I am white haha. I'm the ONLY white person in town, it's so weird. There are stray dogs and cats everywhere here. And stray chickens. Yesterday we went to go teach a lesson to a girl and her mother. The journey there was awesome. We were literally walking though little rain forests, went over a little river, and through a rice field or two. And then we had a good lesson, I think. I couldn't understand much, but Costales said it went well. 


Oh, another thing I'm going to have to get used to are mothers openly breast feeding their babies. Haha I seem to flinch every single time it happens. My comp said I will get used to it. Said it took him a while. 

Yesterday we took an hour bus ride to church because it was a district conference. Four long hours of understanding absolutely nothing haha. Mostly because it was in Ilocano (native dialect).

 

I have eaten SOOOO much rice. Literally breakfast, lunch and dinner is rice. I just went out and bought a bunch of eggs though. I realized that is one thing that probably tastes the same here as it does in America. We will see. I have liked the food so far though. The meat I've had has been really good. Not sure what kind of meat, could be dog, but it was good. 

So the other night, I was sitting in my bed, about to go to sleep. And I looked up and saw myself in the mirror, all sweaty and worn out. And I started chuckling a bit because I was finally in my mission. I'm so happy to be here and there is no place I would rather be. And even though I can't speak very much and can't really teach anybody yet, I can bear a strong testimony and that is what is most important. 

Well, it is hot out here and I'm sweating like a hog, but I absolutely love it. I took a few pictures. I'll take some better ones this week. Most of them are from the bus ride, so they aren't very good. Alright, talk to you next week, Love you :)

-Elder Jenkins
(Editor: He didn't say anything, but I think this makes him VERY happy!)



Monday, November 14, 2016

WEEK 13 - November 14, 2016 (West Haven, Utah) - Goodbye America

Well, the time has finally come. I am just about finished with all my packing, and I'm ready to ship off. After 6 weeks here in Ogden, I'm headed to the Philippines tonight. I am sooo excited and nervous at the same time. But I am absolutely ready. So I'll tell you how my week went really quick.

So, I think there was a reason I was put on a bike for my last week. I was soooo out of shape haha. We hopped on our bikes on Tuesday and had like a 5 mile ride to get to an appointment. It was soooo frustrating because Elder Stoner was cruising by me and I just could not catch up. I was going as hard as I could and it didn't look like he was even peddling that hard. That frustration continued for another day until I checked my back tire and realized that the break was rubbing up against the tire this whole time haha. I fixed it and immediately saw the difference. Stoner was shocked the next time we started riding because I was hauling past him haha. But at the end of the week I had lost 5 lbs so that was nice. But honestly it was kind of nice being on bikes. For the first time on my mission I would come home absolutely exhausted, just wanting to crawl in bed, with saddle soreness like none other.

This week was really nice, because I got to go to the temple twice. We went on Tuesday as a zone, and I got to go again on Friday with all the departing missionaries. Probably the last time I will be attending for the next 20 months or so.


So investigator wise and finding people to teach, it was a pretty slow week honestly. We biked all around West Haven knocking doors and just couldn't find anyone to teach. We weren't able to get into the Jenkins home this week because Mike is in Japan. The rest of the family didn't make it to church either. Kody, however did make it to church. His wife had to be up running the primary program and she needed him to take care of the kids. But he was there, so that was good. I'll really be hoping to get an email from Elder Stoner sometime next month telling me he's getting baptized.

We finally put Miley on date for baptism… but it isn't until January 12th. They said they are just too busy during the holidays and that’s the next time that it can happen. 

Sorry this letter was really, really short (based on Ryan standards). I don't have much time to write today. I'm gonna run out and get one more haircut real quick before I leave. But I just want to express my thanks to Uncle Sam and Aunt Melissa. They helped me soooo much while I was here. Nourished my elbow back to health and loosened my wrist up too. Not only that, but they also took me out to lunch a few times and took me golfing haha. The Jenkins family owes you big time. Between me and Davis, we are gonna run you guys broke hahaha. Thanks for being so generous and loving to me. 


Alright, well the next time I write you, hopefully I will have some cool stories and some incredible pictures. But don't expect the long letters anymore haha. I don't think I'll have quite enough time for those. Okay, I love you all. Farewell America :)

-Elder Jenkins

Waffle eating contest with the youth. Who do you think won? Haha






Monday, November 7, 2016

WEEK 12 - November 11, 2016 (West Haven, Utah)

Elder Kim from South Korea

Happy Monday everyone,

This week was a pretty slow week, so surprisingly, I don't have too much to talk about today. First of all, I received news that I fly out 1 week from today at 7pm. Pretty sure I will be flying all alone haha. I am soooo excited though. And pretty nervous at the same time. I know I will probably regret saying this, but I am sooo happy that I will be getting out of this cold weather. I'm sure my first week there, I will be wishing I was back in the cold though.

So sadly, the battle that I was hyping up last week did not happen. She texted us and said her husband did not want anything to do with us haha. We might stop by and try to talk with her at her doorstep for a bit anyway.

Some more bad news - we no longer have a car :( A few other elders that cover a larger area need it. So we have been abandoned with two bikes in frigid weather. That's not the worst of my worries though. The thing is, I get really bad helmet hair. And there is no way anybody could take me seriously when I look like a rabid animal. So I don't know what I'm going to do about that. Only thing I can think of is shaving my head. But I don't know if anybody would take me serious looking like that either haha. Tell me what you think:)

Ok so great new - the Jenkins family was at church again on Sunday. The bad news is that we went by to teach them on Wednesday night and nobody was home. So we still need to teach them a few lessons. But the fact that they go to church every Sunday shows that they are committed. The kids went to primary, so hopefully they made some friends.  I really love this family and I'm a bit sad that I won't get to see Maddy and Monica get baptized.

So last Tuesday was our best day this week. First, we went over to a less active member’s home for dinner. They have a 9 year old daughter, Miley, so we were looking forward to talking to her and teaching her. We taught her the restoration and she really loved it and said how she wanted to be baptized. So that was great. And the family is totally supportive of that. We are going back again for dinner on Tuesday to teach her. That was exciting to have somebody new to teach.

We met with Kody again on Tuesday night. We taught him the gospel of Jesus Christ, and really tried to understand where he's at and what's holding him back. As we were talking, I just started talking to him like I'm his friend, not a teacher. We began to relate on so many things. Out of all the people we have taught, I feel like he has been the one I have connected with the most and come the closest to. So that kind of helped me realize that you really need to become friends with people first, and kind of gain their trust so that they are more open to you and willing to talk. It might take Kody a while for him to realize that this is all true, but there is definitely a seed planted.

The Musical Fireside last night was incredible. The whole Tabernacle was absolutely filled with investigators, less actives, members, and some family:) Everything went sooo well. The spirit was so strong there, especially during the final song. While we were all singing, I could hear a few elders behind me and next to me, struggling to sing because they trying to hold back tears. I couldn't help it and my eyes began to misty up a bit. After the song, I turned around and almost everyone was tearing up, it was awesome. It was soooo nice to see grandma and grandpa again. And the DeLong fam was there to support, and they brought along Davis and his friend. Apparently we received a ton of referrals too. Over 200 or something. It was a great turn out.


So honestly this last week was pretty hard mentally for me. Going around trying to find people to connect with and teach, knowing that you are leaving in like a week is kinda tough. Because deep down you are thinking, "Okay I'm probably never going to see these people again, what's the point of trying to make a connection with them." But then I realized that that's not at all what it is about. No matter who ends up teaching them, they are still receiving the restored gospel. Sometimes you just have to be the one to plant that seed and get them going.

I loveee being a missionary and love the gospel. I cannot wait to do the work over in a different country and different language. Love you all, have a great week. :)

-Elder Jenkins




Tuesday, November 1, 2016

WEEK 11 - October 31, 2016 (West Haven, Utah)


Hello everybody, Happy Halloween,

It has been yet another great week. I'll apologize in advance because this letter is a little long, like the last one. I guess some of you like them being shorter I hear? I heard there was some complaining about the length of the letter back home?? Davo?.. but anyways I'll tell ya how things went this week.

I've counted it up and it looks like we had a total of 23 hours of meetings this week. On Tuesday we had greenie training. Which was a lot of sitting there and listening to people talk to us. Then after that we had choir practice for the musical fireside. The mission is putting on a huge musical fireside thing on Nov. 6th in the Ogden Tabernacle. It's supposed to be really good and I guess there's gonna be a ton of people there. The choir director is crazy hahah. I mean, I've played sports a long time with a lot of different coaches, but this guy doesn't compare. He gets SOOO angry if people aren't singing. He literally will stop the music and begin yelling and screaming at you hahaha. If people are looking down at their music and not watching him he gets furious!! It's comical, I love it.

This is Elder Sangsuwan.. he's from Thailand and he's hilarious haha I love him.

So anyway our next long meeting was on Wednesday and it was zone conference. I learned a lot in that meeting from Pres Jaggi. And I had the opportunity to bear my testimony, since I was one of the departing missionaries. The next day was awesome. We got to meet with two elders of the Sevent: Elder Christensen, and Elder Natress. They both spoke at General Conference if you can remember them. So at the beginning, we are all gathered around in a big circle to shake their hands and meet them. When Elder Christenson makes his was over to me, he asks me "Elder Jenkins, how long have you been out?" I say "3 weeks"... he then looks at me with a big smile on his face, puts both his heavy hands on my shoulders, looks at me in the eye and asks "are you doing okay." Hahaha I replied with a yes, and he was happy to hear that, and moved on to the next person. Then when it came time for them to speak, they each talked for about an hour. And they both talked a lot about personal revelation. And also a lot about the spirit. It was awesome to hear from these two men  that recieve loads of revelation. And to hear from them explaining to us how to recieve it and how to be so in tune with the spirit so that you can receive this revelation. What it comes down to are a few things.. asking in sincere prayer, and studying your scriptures with real intent. But what you really need is the spirit.

So I'll give a quick update on all our investigators. We weren't able to meet and have a lesson with the Jenkins because they are so dang busy. But they were at Sacrament Meeting yesterday which was amazing. We meet with them again on Wednesday. Hopefully they don't need to cancel.

Last Monday we had another lesson with Alex the Russian. Unfortunately, our translator couldn't make it. So honestly the lesson was a bit unproductive. But we did get a bunch of Russian pamphlets and stuff for him to read and study. We just need him to come to church.

Same deal with Nikolai the fake Russian and his friend Brayden.. we just need them to come to church. They always say they will, but never do. They say they are afraid of the people at church. 

We met with Kody on Tuesday. He is the one whose wife is in the primary presidency. We taught him the plan of salvation and he really enjoyed it. He knows more about the gospel then he thinks he does. But the good thing is he understands everything we teach pretty well. It should be easier for him to start coming to church because his wife and kids always go. So we're hoping he'll make it this Sunday.

So we knocked on a ton of doors this week. One day for about 2 hours we knocked on just about every door in an apartment complex. Sadly, no one said they would be interested. But we did knock on one door that opened up to us. She said "I would really like to meet with you guys, but I don't think you want to meet with me." We asked why, she said "have you guys ever met with people that are going to try and convert you to their church?" And then she kept talking and basically said that if we do meet with her, we are going to bash. However, we did tell her that we want to meet with her still. So we are absolutely preparing for battle haha. We are going to try our hardest not to bash. So there is something you all can look forward to in the next letter. I'll let you know how that went.

Funny story... so during zone conference the other day, either president or somebody else, I can't remember who, but they told all of us the daylight savings was on October 30th. So we switch our clocks on Saturday night an hour back.. well we wake up the next morning, get ready and head over to ward council, which starts at 7:30. We walk in, and Bishop says "Elders, is there anything you need to add before we close." We were a bit confused and say, "Close? Didn't we just start 2 and a half minutes ago?" They all start chuckling and go, "No, we started at 7:30." Now we were even more confused because I look at my watch and it says 7:33. Then we realized what had happened haha. Just about everybody in the zone made the same mistake, so we weren't the only ones. 

So another "first" happened for me today. For the first time ever, when I went shopping for something, I walked out of the store with more money than I came in with. A nice older lady not only paid for our groceries, but she gave us $20 cash back haha. People here are so dang nice. 

So in our zone conference we talked a lot about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  And we went deep into details about the translation, about Oliver Cowdery, Martin Harris, and David Whitmer. And with President Jaggi testifying of all these things we were talking about and testifying about some deeper stuff we went in to. I was really tempted just to take his word for it, he being one of the greatest, most spiritual men I've met, you really just want to believe the words he's saying. But right after those thoughts went through my head, he stood up and said, "and all of you better not just simply believe the words I'm saying. You all need to get on your knees and ask to know for yourself if these things are true. I don't want you to take my word for it."

The past week I've gained a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon. I've known that is it true for a while now, but my testimony runs deeper deeper every time I pray and ask if something I learned about it is true. 

Obviously, the feelings from the spirit that you receive while reading the Book of Mormon is the most important thing. But some facts about things that went on during the translation can really strengthen your testimony as well. I just want to go through a few of them that mean a lot to me.

• Joseph was pulled out of is home by an angry mob in the middle of the night from his two newborn kids and wife, had his clothes torn off of him, was brutally beaten and then had boiling tar poured all over his body. His friends had to painfully tear the tar off of his skin little by little. And the very next morning, Joseph, all bruised up, with scabs covering his body, went out and taught the people forgiveness. 

•And then Joseph and Hyrum in Carthage, eventually being killed defending the church. Leaving behind fatherless children and a widowed wives because they knew the gospel they were defending was true and they could not deny that.

It really angers and frustrates me when people call Joseph a fraud. No man would go through all of this and literally die over a made up church. 

• And then the witnesses: Oliver, Martin, and David all fell away from the church. But none of them denied that they had seen the plates. They never went back on their testimonies of the Book because they knew it was true.

All though all of these details can strengthen your testimony about Joseph being a prophet and about the Book of Mormon, the important thing is having the spirit confirm to you that the book is true. Through reading it.

Alright I love you all, and will talk to ya next week:) 

- Elder Jenkins