Monday, April 24, 2017

WEEK 36 - April 24, 2017 (Aparri, Philippines)

view from the top of the moving rice truck

So this week flew by. I wish I had as much stuff to tell you as last week, but this week wasn't quite as crazy. First off, I’ll tell you about the weather. It is scorching here. But I have actually started to adjust pretty well to it. The heat doesn't affect me as much as when I first got here, but I’m still sweating sooo much. I’ve never had to do so much laundry in my life haha. 

Speaking of the weather, while we were proselyting in an area that’s away from the city, it started down pouring. Man, it felt incredible. Problem was, there was no transportation at all. So we sat on the side of the road in the rain, just waiting for a Tric. Then I saw this hugeee truck carrying loads of rice, and I waved it down haha Didn't think they would stop, but when people see an American out here, they are always willing to help out. So one of the workers heaved me up on the top of this load of rice, and we drove back to the city. I have a good video of it, I’ll send it so you can get a better understanding of what I’m talking about. It was a lot of fun. (editor: Can't get the video to load correctly - but the top pic pretty much sums it up!)

I’ve been thinking of some of the questions you guys might have for me. Maybe you're wondering what I eat at the apartment. I don't have too much money to spend, so I buy pretty cheap stuff usually. I always buy ramen noodles, and 5 cans of tuna. Also a loaf of bread or 2, and sometimes some peanut butter. Oh, also a big bag of oatmeal for breakfast. But yeah, that's about it. We try to eat with the members as much as possible, or just buy some food off the street. Trying to stay away from Jollibee cuz that place is just emptying my wallet. Recently I’ve been eating tons of fish. I never enjoyed fish that much, but I’m really starting to like it. And of course rice. We eat a lotttt of rice. 

emptying his wallet...again

So this last week we had Zone Conference. Got to see a lot of friends that I haven't seen in a while. Also got to meet Elder and Sister Nelson, from Alpine (editor: same stake as Ryan’s Uncle Ken & Aunt Robin). They are such great people. So loving. They bore strong testimonies and I can tell they will be a big help to the mission. Every Zone Conference, President Andrada goes over the numbers from the last month, and how we did. And while he was talking at this conference, my competitive nature kicked in like none other haha. I got kinda angry at how low some of the stats were. That is one advantage I have out here. I'm a bit competitive and want to reach all the goals we set. So I left that meeting fully motivated and pumped to work hard. 

This last Sunday, we had 3 of our investigators show up to church. Mae came to church again, and so did her cousin, CJ. And one of their friends, Sandoval, came to church as well. The Elders Quorum president and a member of the Branch Presidency spoke. So it turned out being a really good meeting. CJ is way interested. He has investigated a lot of churches in the past, so he really enjoys learning more. Hopefully they all felt the spirit and will want to come back next week. 

(Jerick - see last week's letter)

The other day we were out finding on the Pier, and there were tons of people. And then a big group of people ran up to me and started grabbing onto me and they were all yelling "ahhh picture tayo, Selfie Tayo!!" It doesn't happen very often, but to some people, if you are American, you are a celebrity haha. This one grandma gave me a big hug and wouldn't let go, it’s quite hilarious. But yeah, if you see some random pics of me on Facebook, that's the story. 

Well my testimony has grown a bit this week, like it does every week. I testify that if you pray with full intent to see others the way Christ would, even just a little bit, your prayer will be answered. How great would it be if we could all see people the way Christ does. It reminds me of Pres. Eyring's talk about when he was able to see a man how Christ would. It is a lot easier for us to see the good in people as we strive to be as Christlike as we can. So that is the challenge for us. To try to be Christlike in our everyday lives. 

Love you all.  Next week is transfer week, but I’m pretty sure I'm staying here... I sure hope so. Have a good week :)

-Elder Jenkins 
surprise visit from one of the members from Bangui

Monday, April 17, 2017

WEEK 35 - April 17, 2017 (Aparri, Philippines)

Eric from Bangui!! He was on his way to Santa Ana and stopped by to say hi. Love that guy. 

Hello everyone, 

This week was wild. I’ve got some good stories to tell.

First of all, this week was "Holy Week". Here in the Philippines, they celebrate Easter all week. Thursday is called "Holy Thursday", Friday is "Good Friday". That is the biggg celebration. On Friday everything was shut down, not a single store was open. We ran out of water to drink and when we went to the water store, it was all closed. Everybody was inside, watching the Catholic Holy week movies. It was like a ghost town. Even difficult to find transportation. And then on Friday, everyone was lined up at the huge Catholic church. Seriously around 1000 people lined up to go in. Longer than any Disneyland line I’ve ever seen. 

So we were at one of the member’s house, they were having a Good Friday party. Tons of food and a karaoke. The members were begging me to sing a song. So I looked through the book of songs and one caught my eye: "Reminiscing" -Little River Band.  Everybody was a little confused why I chose that because they had never heard that song and they like it when you pick songs they all know. So they didn't enjoy it much, but I had a good time haha. 

Another interesting experience from this week - I was sitting in the sidecar of a triC, waiting for our triC driver to get going, and all of the sudden this truck, carrying a trailor, bashed the sidecar that I was in. I was expecting to get out and see the two exchanging insurance info or something like that, but all I saw was a cloud of smoke and this guy sped away as fast as possible haha. I couldn't believe it. My first instinct was to chase after the guy, but everybody else was just standing around like nothing happened. Like it is an everyday occurrence. Nobody cared, including our TriC driver. All he said was "ayyy mobilis yung takbo" (wow he ran fast). Things like this remind me how different it is here than in the U.S. There is an elementary school, and on the other side of the wall is a Prison!! 

and another cultural difference

Alright, about the food. One of the members called us up on Thursday telling us they just slaughtered a pig and wanted us to come feast with them. We were stoked. We got there and they had all kinds of different Ulams (main dishes) some lechoned pig (whole roasted pig - see pic below), some BBQ, some sweet and sour, some kind of tray that involved the pig’s blood, and also the liver. That’s one thing that I’ve never really enjoyed - the liver, not a big fan. But man, it was sooo good. 

Also, I am starting to love balut more and more. After every baptism, I treat some of the members to balut. It’s really good, but the pictures I took will probably gross you out a bit. When I’m back in America I’ll have to find a Filipino restaurant and get you guys to try some. 

post baptism balut for everyone
I've got some goooood pictures of balut to send to you guys. You are gonna be grossed out, but honestly I love it. It's such a delicacy. I ate like 5 just last week. Mom will gag when she sees one of the pics haha (yep - I'm avoiding looking at them).
Funny story. There is a "special" boy in our Branch named Jerrick. During sacrament meeting he likes to come and sit with us. But he’s not a quiet boy haha. He’s a big boy who runs around yelling. Last week he came up to me during sacrament and started yelling "ALLERGY" while pointing at the acne on my cheek hahaha, and he kept yelling it over and over. Then went to my comp and started yelling even louder. Before we knew it, everyone was looking back at us just cracking up. A bit embarrassing, but pretty hilarious. 

So yes, we had 3 baptisms on Saturday, and it was great. Leny was the only one in her family who hadn't been baptized yet, so we were really happy for her and her family.  Jacky, the 17 year old boy is best friends with our Branch President's son. Jacky's mom doesn't really support him in doing all this church stuff, so it was a long journey for him to finally get baptized. It was a very spiritual meeting when he bore his testimony and told his story about his parents not supporting him. Our Branch President bore his testimony and had the same type of story as Jacky when he was a kid, and he related to him. It was just a good spiritual meeting. Jordan, 30 years old - so when the missionaries first met this man, he was constantly getting drunk. But wow this man has changed. He has found a whole new purpose in life. The Gospel has absolutely changed his life. So about the baptisms. The faucet in the font decided to kinda stop working, so the water was only up to my knees. Baptizing Leny and Jacky was ok. They are Filipino size, so it wasn't a problem. But Jordan, he is taller than me. And to add on to that, he has really bad knee problems, can’t really bend his knees. So you can imagine the difficulty of fully immersing this man in the water. The first time I dunked him in, I thought it was good and I pulled him up. As I pulled this heavy man up with all my strength, my hammy decided to tweak. I never thought I would obtain an injury in the waters of baptism haha. And we had to re-do it because he wasn't all the way under apparently. Let’s just say it wasn't the most smooth baptism. I had to put him as far as I could into the water and hold him in for a couple seconds to make sure everything was immersed. The next day at church, he came up to me and said, "Elder, I think we should go to the ocean and re-do the baptism, just to be sure." haha he's hilarious. I love the guy. 

Earlier this week, we went to a member’s house. He's 40 years old, has 4 kids. He just got back from doctor appointments and treatment in Manila. He has stage 4 cancer, and has been suffering for a couple months now. I had never met him before, and when we walked into his room, he was just lying there, crying. I just wanted to sit there and cry with him, I felt so bad for this man. While my comp was talking to him, I sat there and pondered what I was going to say to this man. I then began to testify of God’s love for us and his plan for us, and about the Atonement. He sat up and started to listen. It seemed like he started to feel comfort and peace. 

I know, for a fact, that God has a Plan for us to return to him. And that His plan for us is centered around the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Through His pain and suffering in the garden of Gethsemane, He prepared a way for us to return to our father. D&C 19:18-19

Mahal ko kayo (I love you all), have a great week! :)

-Elder Jenkins 

D&C 19:18-19
18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—
19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

Monday, April 10, 2017

WEEK 34 - April 10, 2107 (Aparri, Philippines)

Hello everyone!! 

We are heading through April and it is scorching hot here haha. It’s the hottest it’s been for me so far in the Philippines. And it’s just gonna keep heating up. At night I set up 2 electric fans next to my bed and turn them on full blast. Still manage to wake up doused in sweat. It makes the freezing cold showers not as bad though:)

This morning we woke up at 5 to go play basketball at the church before the sun was beaming on us. But wow, it doesn't matter what time of the day it is, it is sooooo dang hot. The flies are constantly landing on my arms and shoulders, trying to get a drink. I'm a walking pond during proselyting hours haha.

So this week was a good one. Our investigators are progressing for the most part, and God is blessing us with success and more people to teach. We will have 3 baptisms this Saturday if everything goes as planned. One of the guys that is getting baptized this Saturday is named Jack. He often talks about how he wants to serve a mission in the future. He’s 17 years old right now. But he constantly is taking us to his friends house to teach them. We met one of his friends, Mae, and began to teach her. The spirit was soooo strong as we testified to her the truth of The Book of Mormon. She could feel it too and felt just from that experience that our message was true. She is eager to receive an answer for herself. She attended church this week and really has interest in the church and its teachings. Later, she introduced us to her cousin, CJ, who also wants to learn about the church. So we are being absolutely blessed with the referrals and finding people who are ready to learn. 

The language improved soooo much this week.  I've been carrying around a little piece of paper with 15 new words on it that I memorize every day. By the end of the week, 90 words. At night, I go through the dictionary and just find 15 more words I wanna learn. It's a great routine. Definitely helping me understand people too. Feeling and noticing improvement in the language is such a confidence booster. And when the language improves, so does the teaching. Now that I’m starting to get more and more comfortable with speaking Tagalog, I’m trying to get better at Ilicano. The people love it when we speak Ilicano to them. It’s a really difficult language though. Speaking of things the people love, we were having dinner with a family the other night, and they asked if I like Balut. I responded, "Siempre (of course)", and he immediately went and fetched two of them for me. I cracked em open and slurped em both down haha and they loved it. They thought that it was incredible that I liked it. I never thought I would enjoy a half developed duck fetus. But it’s quite the treat.

(editor: I was going to include a picture of balut right here...but looking at them made me queasy. Feel free to google for yourselves though.)

All right, so General Conference.... I loved it. And so did all the members, especially when President Monson announced the new temple here in the Phils. People loved that and are very excited. Half of them didn't understand what he said at first, but eventually everybody got the memo. So I’ll talk about a few of my favorites.

Elder Rasband's talk: I think his talk last year was one of my favorites too. He’s a great speaker. His topic was perfect for a missionary, "Responding to promptings of the spirit". I loved how he said we need to wake up in the morning and tell God that we are ready to receive these promptings, and that we will act on them. For me, I have realized that the harder I work and as I am improving in the language, I can feel those promptings of the spirit easier and more obvious. Then, the more we act on those promptings and have experiences with them, the more often we will recognize them.

I also loved Elder Sabin's talk, especially the phrase "When you get tired of walking, RUN!" He also constantly said the words "Go all in". This was also just a great talk for missionaries. We have no time to rest. I remember the words of Elder Bednar at the mission conference last month. He said to us, "This work is too important to take a break."  It’s so true. This work I’m doing right now is some of the most important work I will ever do in my life. It needs to be taken seriously every second of the day. When will I ever have another opportunity in my life to focus on this one work and not worry about anything else? Never again. This is some important work.

Of course, I also loved what President Monson spoke about Sunday morning. The Book of Mormon. He could only talk for 2 or 3 minutes and he chose to speak about the importance of reading The Book of Mormon. That goes to show what we need to be doing every day in order to live our lives how our Heavenly Father wants us to.

Love you all, have a great week:)

Monday, April 3, 2017

WEEK 33 - April 3, 2017 (Aparri, Philippines)

Hello everyone,

Happy General Conference weekend. I don’t get to watch until next weekend, so I’m sooo stoked for that. Especially because I heard there will be a new temple here in the Philippines!! People are going to love that announcement. Also, Happy Bday to LITTLE KENNY!! Even when you aren’t little anymore, we will still call you little kenny. 

First of all, yesterday was freezing. I loved it. Everybody had their thick winter coats on, shivering and huddling around fires haha. We are in the middle of a storm right now. Haven't seen the sun in a few days. I love this weather. I don’t sweat very much and it just feels nice. (editor: I looked up yesterday’s weather – it was a low of 72 degress with 85% humidity. Haha is right.)

As I’m writing this right now there is a little filipino boy leaning up against me asking for pesos to play on the computers haha. I’ll send a pic.  His name is Pacquiao. That’s kinda how it is around here… a bunch of kids running around in the computer shops, skipping class so they can play World of Warcraft. 

So a few quick stories for you. This morning I went to get a haircut here in Aparri, and the guy was excited to cut my hair. Said it was his first time to cut an American’s hair and that he was going to put my picture on the wall after the cut. So that’ll be fun to go back and see my pic on his wall, hanging for everyone to see. 

The other night, we had just got back from working, and I had to go to the bathroom soooooo bad. Problem was, we had no water. None at all. And our neighbor (we usually can get water from her) was asleep. She goes to bed at like 7. So I was in quite a difficult situation. So we decided that Jollibee (fast food restaurant) was our only option. We raced over there right as they were closing. Luckily, they let us in. But man, life is tough when you have no water. None of the dishes get done, sometimes you have to go to bed smelly and sweaty. Hopefully the water will get fixed soon. 

(editor: Gary mentioned that this kitchen looks pretty nasty. Ryan's response, "It smells worse!")

So this week was really good, we are having success here in Aparri. Right now we have 4 investigators that will be baptized on April 15. They all want to do it in the ocean, but we have a nice font that our Branch Pres wants us to use. We are all sooo stoked for that. One of the little towns in our area is about 15 minutes away from the city. It’s a big flat land right next to the ocean. I’ll send some pics. We have some solid investigators over there and a good family that picks them all up for church on Sunday. Their transportation is a small triC, but they fit like 10 people on it. I’ll send a picture of that too, it’s pretty hilarious. They are all related somehow and they seem to just keep building the branch over there, little by little. 

But yeah, our whole area has tons of potential. I’m excited to work here the next few months or however long I’m here. I especially love becoming good friends with the members and especially with the youth that will come out and work with us.

Branch Youth Activity

Well my testimony has grown more this week, as it seems to every week. And as I study personally every day, I seem to always learn something new or have something inspire or motivate me to work hard that day. And when I study PMG (Preach My Gospel), I always seem to find something that I need to work on to become better. A better missionary, a better teacher, and a better all around person. And lately I’ve been studying the Christ-like attributes. How amazing would our lives be if we all just mastered those attributes, haha. If we all had perfect Charity and Patience. Perfect Humility and Diligence. But then we think to Either 12:27 

And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them....

If we pray and earnestly try to obtain these attributes and work towards becoming better, weak things will become strong. 

Also as I study PMG (Preach My Gospel) I always think to some of my friends that are preparing for missions… Matthew, Dallan. I’ll give a quick bit of advice to you guys. Study the PMG. Especially the discussions you will be teaching. I was blessed to be able to serve in Utah for a cycle and become familiar with teaching these lessons before I had to teach them in different languages. 

Love you guys, have a great week:)

-Elder Jenkins 

A few questions answered on the side...
* Do the sister missionaries have hot water in their apartments?
No, the sisters don't have hot water... there is no hot water here haha. I got to stay in a decent hotel in Laoag in December for the Christmas conference, and there was no hot water there either.
*What kinds of service opportunities do you have?
We haven't done any service yet. Nobody will accept it haha. They won't even let me put away my chair after a lesson. They are so kind it's amazing.
*Tell us about Jollibee's
Jollibee is alright... the burgers aren't very good, but I found an item on the menu that I like... the chili cheese dog. It tastes pretty good. So I get that and some fries most the time.