Monday, January 30, 2017

WEEK 24 - January 30, 2017 (Bangui, Philippines)

Hello everybody, 

It was such a fast week this week, which means it was another good week. The big news for us is that Elder Bednar is coming to Laoag in a few weeks!!! We are all so stoked for that. 

This week every morning has been really cold - and by really cold I mean like 60 degrees haha. But that is all everybody was talking about "Sobrung Malamig sa labas" (editor: something like “it is so cold outside”). Everybody was pulling out their winter coats, it was hilarious. The weather has been awesome, not too hot not, too cold. But it is starting to heat up again. And I hear in the springtime it just gets brutal. 

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write about this week, so I decided to tell you what my everyday life is routine.

So we always wake up to the sound of someone doing karaoke. It’s ridiculous to me that the first thing some of these people do in the morning is start up the karaoke machine. I don’t even feel like talking at 6:30 in the morning, and these people are singing haha. And most of the time the voices are just awful – it’s hilarious. But anyway, after we wake up, sometimes we will run over to the market and I’ll usually buy some bread at the bakery for breakfast. The bread is pretty good here. And the people at the bakery all know my name. We’re good friends. Then we will head back home and do our studies. At around 12, we head out, usually to the church first because we have the ward to take care of. Then we will head out and work. Most our travel is done by tric. If it’s further, by bus. We walk if it’s close, but most our areas aren’t very close. I love walking around here though - everybody is so friendly. It’s nothing like America. When people see us they say "Brotheeerrrrrr!" And they love it when we give them a high five or just say hi to them. Lately, when we have been walking, I’ll see a food that I want to try, and we’ll just stop and eat real quick. The other day I had chicken head and intestines. It was actually really good. The marinade was incredible. But anyways, we work for the rest of the day, and head home around 8:30. Then we get home, and usually take another shower because we sweat a ton, make some food, and then head to bed. 

Looks like chow mien, but it isn't. haha

We had good success this week. We had 7 investigators show up to church, and they are all from Burgos, which is about 20 minutes away from the church. Our Sacrament Meeting attendance yesterday was bigger than it has been since I’ve been here. And the best part about that is that our District President was there, and he saw how cramped it was in the small little meeting house. So, we will be moving to a bigger meeting house soon. But man, I cannot express how frustrated I’ve been with what time these people show up to church. You know how they say "Hispanic time is 20 minutes late?" I’m not kidding you, Filipino time is like 1 hour late. It is sooooo frustrating. Even members of our branch presidency don’t show up until 9:20 and we start at 8:30. It’s just the culture I guess. I don’t know. (editor: this little rant coming from the child who always said, "If you're not early, you're late.")

So I’ll just leave you with a spiritual thought for the week. I was studying Elder Ballard’s talk "To Whom Shall We Go", and read through the story about Christ and his apostles a few times. I have a strong testimony of the happiness that comes from this gospel. If we did leave it, where would we go to find the same happiness? There is nowhere else to find the joy and the blessings that come from this gospel. And Christ is the only master that can lead us to victory and eternal happiness. 

Well time is absolutely flying. In my next letter I will know if I am being transferred or not. Love you all, have a great week!!!

-Elder Jenkins

Youth Activity.  This is Melchi... he is in the YM presidency

Monday, January 23, 2017

WEEK 23 - January 23, 2017 (Bangui, Philippines)

Hello everybody!!!

This week was very, very busy as usual. I’ll tell you a quick story of how I started off the week. 

On Tuesdays we go up to Burgos for the day. It’s about a 20 minute bus ride.  On the way back we got on the bus and I went and found a seat and I could see this girl staring at me and staring and staring. So I decided to turn around and start talking to her. haha  We had a solid conversation and then I went back to my seat. Well like a minute later, I felt a tap on my shoulder. And it was her, giving me a mango. My FIRST mango in the Philippines!! I was so excited. By the way, it’s almost mango season, so I’m very excited for that. But anyway she said if she saw me on the bus again, she would give me another mango. It was delicious. 

I love finding people to teach here. Everybody is so welcoming to us, and they usually will always let us teach them. The problem sometimes is that they are so nice that they pretend like they are interested even though they are not. And we teach them several times, but really they don’t care. So that is a little difficult. But honestly all the lessons whether they care or not are helping me with the language. It’s a lot of practice with the discussions which is nice. But for the most part here, the people are sooo nice to us and always want to feed us. 

working with Brother Dick from the Branch

Another funny story that I forgot to tell from a few weeks ago. So here in Bangui, we are always traveling. And most of the time we travel on Triciclyes. This one time, we needed to fit 5 on the tricycle because we had some other people with us. So we stuffed 2 in the side car, 2 on the motorcycle, and then I was the wainer off the side haha. If you don’t know what waining is, you can ask King Louie (cousin Matthew).  All of the sudden, President and Sister Andrada drive by and stop the car!! What are the odds? Sister Andrada was kind of mad, but in the background, we could see President just chuckling hahaha. We saw them both later that week at the Zone Conference. And President Andrada brought up the situation, and we all just started laughing. I love President and Sister Andrada, they are so fun. But don’t worry mom, it’s not that dangerous. (Editor: Apparently, waining is hanging off the side, barely holding on. Turns out that word was used a lot while tubing with cousins at Powell last summer.)

So this last week I studied the language soooo hard. It’s the hardest I have ever studied anything in my life. And yes, I know Dad is going to say something like "That’s not saying much" but I actually did study hard. And I have seen big improvement. Especially in understanding people. I love seeing progress in the language. Especially when it helps our investigators learn and actually understand what I’m saying. 

On Saturday I had the privilege of baptizing one of the sister missionaries’ converts. His name is Erick, he’s a great guy and has such a strong testimony. After the baptism I just felt soooo happy and blessed. I could feel the spirit very strong for about 10 minutes, and I just felt sooo blessed to be here. Mitch’s words in his skype video (from Christmas) are perfect. Being here on this mission has been absolutely nothing but a blessing to me. I love all the experiences I’m having out here and the spirit I am feeling every day. Although waking up at 6:30 every morning and pouring a cold bucket of water on my head for a shower is difficult, and there is all the frustration that comes from not knowing the language, it is all such a blessing. 

I am grateful that I have learned somewhat early on my mission how great of a blessing it is to be here. It makes it so I don’t want to waste a single minute. I have a testimony that God blesses those who do not waste his time. I absolutely love it out here, it is such a blessing. 

Love all of you so much, have a great week :)

- Elder Jenkins

That food is rice, longanasia (Philippino sausage?), and hot dog.  We didn't have enough plates, so we just used a banana leave and our hands haha

Monday, January 16, 2017

WEEK 22 - January 16, 2017 (Bangui, Philippines)

Pday means Relaxatiiioonnnn.
Hannah's resort- Popular tourist spot here in Ilocos Norte 

Hello everybody.

This week was alright. It went by pretty fast. Nothing too eventful though.

So on Monday we traveled to Laoag because we had zone conference the next day. One of the American elders insisted on taking us to a Mexican food place in Laoag. I was pretty excited, cuz we were paying a good amount for this food, so I was expecting it to be pretty good... haha Well, let’s just say it tasted like Pilipino food in a tortilla. Very disappointing. But the worst part is I woke up in the morning pretty sick.. I probably went to the bathroom 15 times throughout the day. The bus ride home, that was the worst. Being on a bumpy bus for 2 hours was very difficult. Right when I got off the bus I threw up a few times. So never again will I have "Mexican food" here. Lesson learned. But yeah, I was sick for a few days this week. And we had a few Branch president meetings. Lots and lots of traveling. 

None of our investigators came to church again this week, so that was sad. We have a lot of promising investigators though. We are determined to get them to church. 

I’m slowly getting better at the language. It is just taking a lot of patience. I constantly see God’s hand in helping me though. When I’m talking, sometimes a random word that I forgot about will pop into my head. The gift of tongues is very real, it just takes a lot of fasting and prayer to obtain it and to have the spirit with you constantly. 

I’m sorry this letter is so short. I really don’t have much to talk about from this week. I love you all. Will be a better letter next week :)

-Elder Jenkins 

This kid reminds me of buck (Zach). He does the crazy mr. krabs laugh haha

(had to include this make-shift sidecar...rebar and boards)

Monday, January 9, 2017

WEEK 21 - January 9, 2017 (Bangui, Philippines)

Woah, we went to work this week. It was a gooood week all around. Lots and Lots of teaching and finding this week. We found 17 new people to teach. And if the reason is because I’m white and they want to be friends with me, that’s fine, because we can change the reason after a few lessons haha... But wow, it is hot here. I’ve been sweating all day every day. 

So my first week leading the area was kinda nice. I like being able to choose where we are going and when. And being able to make sure we aren’t wasting any time. We didn’t get lost, so I’m proud of myself for that haha. 

(Elder Costales leaving Bangui)

But yeah, we have been teaching a lot of people and we have tons of investigators. The problem is getting them to church. A lot of them work on Sunday, some can’t afford the transportation. So that is one of the more difficult things. 

(in front of the church building)

Honestly, I’m starting to find a few foods that I like. I’ve had the empanadas before and I never really liked them. But then I figured out that there is a special kind of empanada. So I asked for the special and they put eggs and meat in it and it was incredible!!! All I had to do was ask for the special and pay a few extra pesos…what a find!

The language is getting a little better. I’m starting to understand a little better, and I’m okay at teaching, but conversational stuff is really tough for me right now. So it is really hard for me to build trust and friendship with people, when I struggle to even talk to them. That is one of the more frustrating things for me right now. 

I don’t have much more time to write because we have to head to Laoag for Zone Conference tomorrow, but I want to share a few good experiences I had this week.

First I want to share about a really cool dream I had the other night. In this dream, I don’t know where I was, but I looked to my right and I saw Jesus descending to the Earth. I began to run toward Him, and some others did too. But there were some people who were hiding themselves, and some running away. I got closer to him, and all of the sudden He came to me and gave me a big hug. Then we just started walking and talking like we were best friends. He knew my interests, my weaknesses, my life. He knew everything about me.  When I woke up, I knew for a fact that Jesus knows me! I began to write all of this down in my journal while it was fresh in my mind. And while I was writing I was feeling the spirit strong. That confirmed to me that this wasn’t just a random dream, but that it was to remind me that God knows us. Christ knows us. 

Just yesterday while partaking of the sacrament, I was pondering in my mind what I should bear my testimony about. I was listening to the spirit as close as I could, and I felt prompted to testify of the Atonement. So I did, and I said what I knew how to say in Tagalog. Well later, we were at an investigator’s house (one of the missionary sister’s investigators) and I could not understand everything that this man was saying, but he was talking about the atonement in his life. And while he was talking, I really felt like my testimony impacted him a little. 

So, I’m not kidding, I woke up this morning and Christmas music was still playing in Centro Bangui. I don’t think it will ever stop honestly. 

(editor: we got these this week from a member of his branch - so they are a little old...
but I couldn't help myself. Ah, Christmas.)

Love you all, have a great week. I will try to send pictures but I don’t know if they will work. This computer is really, really bad.

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, January 2, 2017

WEEK 20 - January 2, 2017 (Bangui, Philippines)

Hello everyone... 

Another great week with a lot of changes. First of all, the Christmas celebration is still going strong here in Bangui. Seriously, everybody is still playing the Christmas music. There were like 3 Christmas parties the other day, even though Christmas is over. And the new year celebration was ridiculous. All missionaries had to be inside by 6 pm because the fireworks are so crazy hahah.. and it’s not even like the fireworks look cool. They are just so loud. Sounded like WW2 outside. And the firework party continued until about 2 am. Somebody literally right outside my window was blasting them off all night haha. He had a big cannon that he kept on launching.  Sooo loud and annoying. 

So this last week I was in a trisome with Elder Costales and my new comp, Elder Cervantes. He is a true Ilicano, so people love him here. He’s really great. He only has 3 transfers left in his mission, so this will be his last area. And he wants to go out with a bang, so I’m very excited for this next transfer. We both are super motivated to work hard. I’m happy. We have a lot in common, including getting up every morning and going to the beach to work out/ play basketball. 
with Elder Cervantes

where we work out/play ball in the morning

So the frustrating thing most recently for me is realizing that in this area, we are having to focus on reactivation. Obviously as a new missionary, you just want to baptize as much as you can. But we sat down and just talked about how we are really going to focus on reactivating this cycle because there are sooo many less actives and inactives in this branch. 

Funny thing, we ate with a family the other day and they made ham. It looked soooo good, and then I took a bite, and it tasted sooo weird ... almost tasted like a cupcake. Another thing, the other day we woke up to the sound of a screaming dog. And we go outside and someone was slaughtering it right by our front porch. SO that was pretty sad. Pretty sure I’ve eaten dog a few times though, and it isn’t too bad. 

Well I don’t have too much else to say, but I would like to share something that I learned that helped me this week, and can help all of us. I was reading Devn Cornish's General Conference talk the other day. A really, really good talk. And one of my favorite parts of it is when he talks about how we need to stop comparing ourselves to other people. We need to  stop caring what other people think of us. God is the only one who we should care what he thinks of us. That helped me a lot because being a young missionary, and a competitive one, I am always comparing myself to other missionaries - on their progression in the language and stuff. I’m always wanting to be better than them. Yeah, it sounds selfish, but it’s true, and it was the same back home. But this past week I’ve really tried not to compare myself at all to the others. And it is sooo much less stressful when we stop comparing ourselves to them, and just try to better ourselves humbly. So you should all go read his talk, it was really great. (link to copy & paste:

Alright, that’s all for this week. Love you all talk to you soon, Happy New Year!!!

-Elder Jenkins

(we asked for pics of his house...
looks like a place that should have toilet paper and hot water, right?!)