Monday, February 27, 2017

WEEK 28 - February 27, 2017 (Bangui, Philippines)

Hello everybody 😊 Another week down. First of all, congrats to Dallan (friend from home) getting called to France!! What an exciting call. Can't wait to hear about that. He’s gonna kill it in the field. 

This week was a weird week because of the weather. It was sooooo hot for most of the week, and then this weekend it cooled down big time. This caused both my comp and I to get sick. It messed me up pretty good. Had the chills and my whole body was aching. I struggled through the 3 hours of church and then got home and slept for a good 4 hours. When I woke up, I was sweating like an animal, and my eyes were almost swollen shut. Then a bunch of the members from the branch came to our house and insisted that I come outside. They brought us dinner because we were both sick. I was suffering from some kind of migraine too. So I put on the eye mask and sat in silence haha. (editor: When Ryan is sick he just wants to be left alone. Well-meaning Branch members would not have known this.)  So about that picture (below), no I don’t have an eye disease (editor: an "eye bug" as the one member wrote me).  It’s just really bad allergies.  My eyes were messed up. It really looked like I had taken a couple punches, it was awful. They are still kinda bad today, looks like I have black eyes, except they aren’t really black. But anyway, yeah, it’s getting really hot.

I’m actually kind of afraid for the summer because people say it just gets so brutally hot here. Right now we are taking at least 3 showers a day because we are sweating so much. It’s craziness. The nights are pretty good though, it gets a little cooler.

A couple of days ago we had splits with the District Leaders again and I was with Elder Lewis. It’s so fun walking around, two Americans. Everybody stares at us and are just amazed. Then they become more amazed when we speak the language haha. We went to an investigator’s house that night, she’s a teenage girl. She had a bunch of her friends over and they were all loud and crazy, there was no way we were going to be able to teach them. But I saw a guitar in her house. So I asked if I could play it, and she gladly handed it to me. I started playing and they loved it - they all gathered around and watched. Luckily I knew a few songs that they knew, and we were able to play and sing together for a bit.  It was a good time. Found like 4 more people to teach through that experience. It’s always good to be creative in your finding techniques haha.

So I’ll tell you about the culture here when eating dinner or any meal. First of all, they always tell you to eat first, and that’s what everyone does. Sometimes nobody will go first because they don’t want to, and we will just stand there telling people to go first for like 5 minutes. But then once you start getting food, they watch and make sure you try everything. And if you don’t take something, they ask “ayawmo? ayawmo?” which means like “you don’t want?” or “you don’t like?” and they want you to take some so bad. It troubles me sometimes when I know that it’s a dish that I don’t really like, and I try to sneak by without taking any, and I always get called out haha. So yeah, I guess I’m still adjusting to the culture a bit here. It’s different, to say the least in a lot of different ways.

I had a great experience last week. I was doing language study and I was starting to get so frustrated and mad at myself because I just could not understand one thing I was trying to learn. And I was just beating myself up so bad for it. And then I felt prompted to open up my notebook that had all of my General Conference notes in it from last October. And when I did, I opened to Mark Bassett’s talk. And I read the words “Don’t worry about the things you don’t understand, search the scriptures.” There are no words that could’ve been more comforting then those words, honestly. So, I stopped what I was doing and went straight to the scriptures. And I felt calm again and peaceful. Little things like that remind me that God is always there. I see God’s hand in my life every single day, it’s amazing.

 Love you all, have a great week,

-Elder Jenkins

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

WEEK 27 - February 20, 2017 (Bangui, Philippines)

Hello everybody. Well this week was great. Especially this weekend. Elder Bednar came to Laoag this week and spoke to the mission. I’ll talk about that a lot more later on in the letter.

First of all, the weather absolutely changed this week. It was pretty hot and really humid again. I liked the cold a lot better. But apparently it’s going to get a lot worse in the next few months haha. I’ll be back to sweating every second of the day, just like it was when I first got here.

So honestly this week made me realize that I have never been this busy in my entire life, which honestly is good. Time definitely flies by when you are busy all day and don’t even have time to think about anything other than the work here or the Branch business.  Every Sunday I realize more and more how different the church is over here than it is in America. Obviously, the Doctrine and teachings are all the same, but it is just a lot different. The culture changes everything.  For example, I never thought I would be preparing the sacrament, blessing the sacrament, giving a talk, and teaching a class all in the same day haha. Sunday for us is definitely the busiest day of the week. Since Cervantes is Branch President, and I am Branch Clerk, we have tons to do on Sunday. But I do enjoy being busy.

Haha so I have a few funny stories to tell from this week. So the people that live next to us sometimes like to drink and do Karaoke at night.  And the other night I was out hanging up my laundry for it to dry, and one of them walks buy. He gives the usual “Brotherrrrr” hello and stumbles by. But then he turns around and walks back to me and says to me in is best drunk English “Does you want to join with us, brother?” Hahaha even the drunk people here are so kind - asking me if I want to share a meal with him.

The other day I was on splits with a single adult from our branch, who’s preparing for a mission. We went to go teach an olddd nanay that we found last week. She is 85 and she only speaks in Ilicano. She absolutely refuses to speak in Tagalog. So Jonathan, my comp at the time, had to translate everything for me.  We asked her how she was and if she was able to pray about our message. I had no idea what she was saying, but because of the way my comp reacted to her response, I begged him to tell me what she was saying. Apparently she said that she had a dream last night that she was walking down the street and there were a lot of different churches on each side of the road. And then she said Joseph Smith walked out of one of them and came and talked to her. She said she knows that the church that Joseph smith was in is the true one. So I mean, she might be going crazy and she could have made that up, but that is a pretty cool experience if it was true. We tried to pick her up for church yesterday though and she said she wasn’t feeling good. SO we will see what happens with her.

(editor: sadly I can't get the video to load correctly. But here she is - use your imagination.) 

All right so now I want to talk about Saturday when elder Bednar came. First of all, I got a text on Thursday, that told me a will be giving the opening prayer at the David A. Bednar Conference. I was sooooo stoked about that. A little nervous, but mostly excited. So on Saturday, we were all packed into a chapel in Laoag. And when he walked in, it was just incredible. The spirit filled the room, chills shot up my spine and watered my eyes a bit. Never felt anything like it. And let me just tell you, this guy is funny haha. Everybody expects these apostles to be so different that us and act like perfect human beings, but he was just awesome. The prayer went good. I think I did a decent job at inviting the spirit. The first thing Elder Bednar said to all of us is to not take notes on anything he says. He said, “Strictly take notes on what you feel from the spirit, and not from me.” And the second thing is that he said he was not going to give a talk, and that we are going to do most of the talking. I was excited about that part, I wanted to speak with an apostle haha. And I guess the Filipinos get sort of nervous speaking English because they don't want to mess up, so I had plenty of opportunities to speak. But honestly my favorite part about him is just how straight up he was with us. He used the phrase “Just stop worrying about it!” like 3 or 4 times, and he was just so bold and real with us. We talked a lot about faith and being doers of the word, not just hearers. But my favorite part, by far, was his testimony. I’ve never heard and felt such a powerful testimony in my life. He testified of the godhead and so specifically about the three separate members. All of us could just feel without a doubt that he knows Christ. At the end we all got to shake hands with him, and when we shook hands I could just feel the spirit in him. He firmly grasped my hand and looked me in the eye and said, “Thank you.”

(post-conference trip to McDonald's??)

So having Elder Bednar come to our mission is an experience I will definitely never forget. It was a highlight of my mission so far. He gave us all motivation to work harder and to come closer to Christ. I know without a doubt that the Apostles are called of God and that they receive revelation from on high.

Love you all, talk to ya next week!!

 -Elder Jenkins 


(bwah-ha-ha...crocs with socks)

Monday, February 13, 2017

WEEK 26 - February 13, 2017 (Bangui, Philippines)

Hellloooo family and friends. It was another "cold" week here in Bangui. Everybody is pulling out their winter coats and bundling up like it’s below freezing haha. But anyway, I don’t have too much time, so I’ll give ya a quick rundown of my week.

So this week we were able to teach a lot of lessons and found ourselves 20 new investigators. I want to write you guys about the times we ran into a pastor. We greet this guy at his home and he says he’s a missionary just like us. But we had already noticed the pulpit in his back yard so we knew he was a pastor. He told us to sit down so we could have a discussion, and at this time, Elder Cervantes and I knew how this was going to turn out. He just wanted to straight bash with us. So we played a long for a bit and answered his questions. I’m glad Cervantes is good in Bible knowledge, because to be honest, I’m not the greatest in that area. But anyways, while this was going on, I thought back to one of Mitch's letters. I remember him saying "The spirit was telling me to confound this man!!" and I could have sworn the spirit was telling me the same thing and I was about to go big silverback on this man, but then I realized that it was just my adrenalin. Then for real, the thought popped into my head “just tell him we have a lot of people to teach that are prepared to hear our message, and that we won’t waste any more time here and to leave”. So we left and went on our way. 

Then, the next day, we were inside an investigator’s house, teaching a mother of two girls who we were also teaching. Well the pastor of the church that these girls attend (different pastor from the first) happened to walk in while we were there. He sat down and we got to know each other for a bit. After he told us how he had been a pastor for 7 years and that his Bible knowledge is incredible, Elder Cervantes got a phone call and kind of left the room. So it was just me and this pastor. He started telling me that we could not teach this family anymore and that we should never come back. Oh, and I don’t know why, but these pastors love to speak in English. They are the only ones here that do, and I’m glad they do. But anyway, I responded to him and then Elder Cervantes came back in, and the pastor said the same thing to him. And the thing that surprised him the most, was that what Cervantes responded to him was the exact same thing that I had said. The words were almost identical. Then I felt the prompting from the spirit, not to confound, but to speak with boldness. And the spirit was soooo strong when I began to speak, I was so grateful. 

So that was kind of the big parts of my week. Also a funny story - we were tracting in Burgos, and we found this old lady, she was like in her late 80's. And then in walks her mother!!! hahaha 105 years old!! I could not believe the fact that, not only was she alive, but she could walk!!! She asked me the same question 7 times, and only speaks Ilocano, but it was pretty cool. 

Also, I am surprised more and more every day at how kind and generous these people are. We were in Burgos late, like 9 and were waiting for a bus home. And all the sudden this big white van stops and tells us he can give us a ride. Well obviously you would never do this in America haha, but we hopped in and this guy gave us a ride home for free. And then when we arrived back to our apartment, we noticed our broken bikes were gone. We thought for sure that someone had stolen them!! We went searching, and then somebody came out and told us that his brother was fixing them for us. And then they invited us in to eat. These people are soooo nice, it’s amazing.

Man, I love this mission so much. But one of the things that I realized that I need to do this week in order to improve my work, is absolutely give up my heart and soul for this work. Yeah, obviously I’m already giving up 2 years of my time and being obedient to all the rules, but if I do this and my heart and mind are not in the right place, it doesn’t mean much. I guess what I’m saying is that I need to want to serve the Lord right now more than I want to be at Sand Hollow golfing, or at Lake Powell with the family. And I’m gonna be honest, it’s not easy to do haha. But I’ve realized that as I try to do this, my love for the Lord grows stronger, and my desire to do good and serve the Lord grows.

Love you all, Happy Valentines Day ;)  have a great week :)))

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, February 6, 2017

WEEK 25 - February 6, 2017 (Bangui, Philippines)

Hello everybody. Wow I can’t believe its already February. Wait, today is superbowl Sunday, so that means that it was Jessica's Birthday haha!! Happy Bday, Trop. And happy birthday to Grandma Jenkins :)

So, I’m staying here in Bangui for another transfer:) Pres Andrada announced the other day that they are closing 8 areas because there aren’t very many missionaries here right now. Only 6 new ones coming in and like 15 going home. So we are low on missionaries right now. But I am very happy to be staying here in Bangui for one more transfer. 

At a youth activity. Yeah, we have a lot of fun with the members haha.

Everybody gathering for a baptism (Erick's daughter).

This week was probably the busiest week so far on my mission. We were traveling sooooo much. We had to travel to Burgos (about 20-30 minutes away) five times this week, mostly for Branch business. We also traveled into Laoag for a Missionary Broadcast which was great. I seem to learn something new about this place every day. While we were traveling to Burgos, we traveled in a Jeepney. And I didn’t know this at the time, but all the Jeepney's are racing each other to get to Laoag so they can be the first to pick up all the people and take them back. So, we arrived at our destination, and apparently you are supposed to get out as quickly as you can so they can drive away. Well, I didn’t know this and I was kinda just taking my time to get out, and I turn around and my comp had already hopped out of the jeep, and the driver was driving away and refused to stop haha. So I ended up having to leap out while it was going like 10mph. It was wild. I will never make that mistake again.  

basketball tourney in Burgos

I always love when we get to travel to Laoag because when we go there, that means we are going to McDonalds!! haha We had Mcdo for dinner and then for breakfast the next morning. It doesn’t taste exactly the same as in America, but it is pretty close. 

And funny story, on the way back home, that girl that gave me a mango a few weeks ago was on the bus with us, and yes, she offered me another mango haha. I got a pic with her I’ll send. 

So on Friday I got to go on exchanges with Elder Lewis again. We traveled up to Burgos without Elder Cervantes for the first time since I’ve been here and I was forced to have to do the talking and start the lessons and stuff. It was absolutely a confidence booster. I was able to communicate with people pretty well and teach them and all that. I’ve seen big progression in the language this week. I’m beginning to be able to communicate and listen better and better every day. I’m starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. All the frustration from these first 3 months in the Philippines is starting to pay off. I still have a lot to learn though. 

This week we were able to have two Sacrament Meetings. One in Bangui of course, and then we had one in Burgos at a member’s house. There are a good amount of members in Burgos, but they don’t want to travel to Bangui every Sunday, so they don’t come to church. We had about 30 people attend. We had a short fast and testimony meeting and it was awesome. The spirit was sooooo strong in that little house with 30 people packed into it. 

Well it’s crazy that I’m heading into my fourth month here in the Philippines. Doesn’t feel like it’s been that long, but wow, I’ve learned so much. I was in an interview with Pres Andrada the other day and he asked me about my time so far on my mission. I told him that I can honestly say that I have changed. Not only have I learned so much about the gospel, but I have been changed by the gospel. And I know that I will continue to see changes throughout my mission and from all the trials and challenges that I will have. I am so blessed to be here. 

Love you all and miss you.

-Elder Jenkins

(Editor: I learned that those big, scary spiders from last week's post are not super common in his area, and, according to him, are not dangerous.  ICK!)