Monday, May 29, 2017

WEEK 41 - May 29, 2017 (Aparri, Cagayan, Philippines)

Hello everybody!! 

Happy Labor Day weekend (editor: hahaha...wonder what he'll say in September?!). Unfortunately they don’t really celebrate that here which is too bad because we could really use some labor. There is trash all over that place. I don’t know if I ever told you, but when people have trash, they just throw it on the ground. It's part of the culture. Pretty sure littering isn't illegal here haha. The problem is, there aren't many trash cans, and the city does a terrible job at collecting trash. So if you are responsible, you gather all your trash and go burn it somewhere. If not, after you’re done drinking your coke or eating your bag of chips, you just drop it. So there's your cultural fact for the day.

But anyway, this was a pretty good week. It rained almost every day this week, which is kinda nice, but at the same time I don't like it very much. Makes the work a little more difficult because everybody just goes inside and sleeps. The other day it was blazing hot in the morning and there wasn't a cloud in sight, so I left the umbrella at the apartment. We went and worked in Dodan, and all the sudden the biggest storm drifted in. We simply waited on the side of the road for a vehicle to come by that we could bum a ride home on, but there was nothing. Finally, a little trailer was slowly driving by with like 15 people packed into it. Luckily 13 out of the 15 were teenage girls and had no problem deciding if they would let us hitch a ride or not hahaha. There were all headed to a wedding, dressed nice, and all the sudden it started down pouring again. I’ve never experienced rain like this in my life. It literally felt like I was taking a shower. The raindrops were so big they kinda hurt a bit. Everybody was soaked - it was hilarious. And this vehicle could only go like 15 mph because we had so many people in it. Turned out to be like a 20 minute ride in a complete hurricane.  

Speaking of Dodan, our solid investigating family in Dodan is doing good. They expressed that they feel happiness when they read and pray, and committed to going to church on Sunday. Well we went to visit them Saturday morning, and their TriC got a flat tire, and they told us they weren’t going to be able to make it. I could tell though that  they were a bit sad and really want to go, so that's good. They should be able to attend next week. 

So I'm guessing some of you have heard about the Martial law that is going on in Mindanao (editor: the southern most island in the Philippines where, last Tuesday, "deadly clashes erupted between Filipino government troops and Islamist militants"). As of now, it hasn't effected us here at all. Just a lot of people talking about it. Some people are worried, but it hasn't really effected us at all. 

So another kind of funny experience. Yesterday, we went on splits, and I was working with a couple of the young men. We were walking to a less active's house, when somebody from behind us started yelling “Elders, Elders!!” It was a member of the church who was attending a Christening party. There were like 20 people there and they all started yelling at us, telling us to come and eat. I thought they were just being polite, so I told them we were heading to an appointment. But then they kept telling us to come and eat over and over again. So we accepted and they had TONS of food. I took a picture of some of the food - it was incredible. And most the people there were teachers. So they all started speaking English with me while we were feasting. I took a look over at the 2 young men, and they had big smiles on their faces, chowing down haha. After we left, I asked them, “You boys wanna serve missions?” With big smiles on their faces and full stomachs they answered “Oh yeahh” haha. But yeah, we had lunch at a Catholic’s Baptism party. People are so nice here.

So I have got to say, the work is good, and I love the missionary life.But man I have noticed this week how tiring missionary work really is haha. It's hard to relax sometimes because you are always thinking about the people you are going to teach that day, and all your investigators. What you are going to teach them, how to resolve their concerns, and how to get them to church. It's so stressful honestly. Sometimes I wonder why I am so happy, because I am just so tired all of the time. But even though I am sometimes tired and stressed, I am very, very happy. Can’t deny that.

Honestly every time I either feel like this work is too much to handle, or I get a bit discouraged, I immediately feel the comfort of the Lord. I have a strong testimony that if He calls you to the work, He is always gonna be there helping you along the way. Through the big things and the small things. If the mission has done nothing else for me, it has brought me closer to Him.

Love you all so much, have a good week:)

-Elder Jenkins

WARNING... Stop scrolling if you are in any way squeamish!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

WEEK 40 - May 22, 2017 (Aparri, Cagayan, Philippines)

Hello everybody,

First of all, CONGRATS HAILEY!! haha You and King will be in the MTC at the same time, that'll be fun. Looks like all of us will be coming back with a weird accent. (Cousin Hailey called to Oklahoma City entering the MTC the same day as cousin Matthew, who will be serving in Tennessee.)

This week was a good one. We had no meetings or anything, so we were able to work all week without any distractions. So we went to work and found 45 new investigators haha. We are hoping and praying that just one of those 45 will be receptive to us and show interest, because honestly the work hasn’t been to successful lately. We have been searching for families to teach. Last week we looked at all our investigators and realized that a lot of them are teenage girls that want us to talk to them and share the message, but probably don’t have much of an interest in the gospel haha. We’re really trying to find a solid family. Its hard though, because families are rarely all together at once here. Either the husband or the wife is always working from morning until night with sometimes no days off. Its pretty sad.

So the weather this week was rainy for the most part. Yesterday it was pouring rain and we both forgot our umbrellas, so we were drenched, walking through flooded streets, wet from head to toe. It’s a decent strategy though, because people will see us and feel bad for us, so they will let us in. The work is tough when it's raining, because everybody goes inside and closes the door, and usually goes to sleep. When it's sunny outside, everybody is out in the streets talking with each other, which makes finding a lot easier.

So on Tuesday, we found a group of about 30 houses in the middle of a big rice field. Turns out that all those houses were built for people whose houses were destroyed in a hurricane. So we decided to go tract all of those houses. Well it was pouring rain, and this “neighborhood” is built on a rice field, so it was soooo muddy. We were walking around with 5 lbs of mud on each foot, drenched, going door to door. But we were rewarded and found tons of new investigators and some families that we will be able to teach.

On Wednesday, I got to go on exchanges with Elder Morehu. We live in the same apartment, and he is also a trainee, struggling to learn the language like all the foreigners in their first few months. Being comps with him for the day brought back a lot of memories of my first few transfers. The frustration and struggling with the language, which made me realize that I’ve come a loooong way. But I love helping him, giving him tips and advice. Makes me feel like I'm incredible at the language haha.

Alright, one funny story for you guys… So we were assigned to give talks yesterday in sacrament meeting. So we were sitting on the stand, while announcements were being made. And out of the corner of my eye, I see Jerick walk in the door. He starts searching for us to see where we were sitting, and notices us at the front. He begins to fully sprint toward us. And his running is not graceful one bit. Its somewhat of a bull in a china closet sprint. He’s bashing into people and finally makes it up to us and takes a seat on my lap. The whole congregation lets out a “awwww”. And then his mom came up and grabbed him and he started screaming bad words in Ilicano. He’s a crazy kid haha.

So our one potential family that we are teaching right now is the Del Rosario family. They are cousins with some members, but have never found interest in the church. They investigated another church in the past, but never joined. But ever since we have introduced the Book of Mormon to them, they have shown great interest. In our last message with them, they were asking some questions about the book while kinda skimming through the introduction. And while I was answering their questions, I’m not sure if they were even listening haha, because they were just reading and reading, and couldn’t put the book down. If they continue to find that much interest in the book and keep reading, there is no doubt that they will come to know it is true. Excited to see their progression. 

Man, the Book of Mormon is powerful. My testimony about the Book of Mormon has grown sooo much. It is the truest and most correct book on the earth. No doubt in my mind. I love using and teaching about the Book. Its so powerful and the spirit will softly testify to you that it is true words of God. 

Love you all, have a good week :)

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, May 15, 2017

WEEK 39 - May 15, 2017 (Aparri, Cagayan, Philippines)

Hellooooo lahat (all),

Just got off skyping with my family, sooo good to see them. Wish the connection was better, but it was good enough. Only 7 months till the next skype haha. 

We headed into Laoag again on Wednesday for our mission tour. A mission tour is when a member of the Seventy or an Apostle comes and speaks to the whole mission. Elder Bowen came and spoke to us. The mission was split into two meetings, so we had ours on Thursday. After the meetings with these church leaders the missionaries always come out feeling pretty motivated. The bus ride home was pretty rough again though. You have to choose between riding in a van and having no leg room or any space, but getting there quicker, or taking a bus and having leg room and all, but it takes longer to get there. I usually choose the "comfort" of the bus. 

So sometimes when it is around 6:00 and we don’t have any appointments planned, we head over to the Pier and start talking to people, giving out pamphlets and what not, trying to talk to as many people as we can. We have had good success doing this. I read Daniel’s (friend serving in Atlanta) emails about heading to Wal Mart and talking to people at night trying to find less actives and all. And it’s true, that you need to be creative in work sometimes. Be creative in finding. Find where the most people are on a Saturday night and start opening your mouth.

Ever since I have been here in Aparri, I have been searching for Ilocos style empanadas, but have not been able to find any. But last week, we finally found this hut that sells them. Might be the only place in Cagayan, and it is incredible. Brought back good memories of Bangui haha. So that’s what those pictures are about. 

The work right now is good. I’m absolutely enjoying life. I love training. My comp is such a good guy, we love working together. When you and your comp both love working, life is good. 

So, got some bad news last night. Our progressing investigator, CJ, told us he is heading back to Manila this week and probably won’t be coming back. So I guess we will just refer him to the missionaries over there and they will work with him. He is sooooo ready. His cousin, Mae, is progressing and is set to get baptized on May 27.

We also found a solid family this week. They had investigated Jehovah Witness before so had lots of questions for us. We taught them about the Restoration, and as I was testifying of the Book of Mormon, the Spirit strongly confirmed to me that the Book is true. I seem to receive that witness very often. I just pray that the person we are teaching can feel that same witness as well. 

So as I hung up my skype call earlier, I felt nothing but joy, which was different than my last call. After my video chat in December, I honestly wasn't feeling that great. The difference that I realized is that I am soooo happy right now. Never been this happy in my life, honestly. And although I miss my family, there is absolutely no place I would rather be!!! The missionary life is incredible, at least once you are able to speak the language. 

Love you all, have a great week :)

-Elder Jenkins

Monday, May 8, 2017

WEEK 38 - May 8, 2017 (Aparri, Phlilppines)

Hello everybody,

Congratulations King Louie!!! I am soooo excited to read his letters. Whoever gets to train him is a lucky guy. (Cousin Matthew got his call to serve in the Knoxville, Tennessee Mission.)

We are one week away from Mother's Day, which means we get to skype soon!! Very, very excited for that. Seems like it wasn’t long ago that I was skyping on Christmas, time is really flying. Well this week was crazy busy, and life has changed a bit.

Last Monday, we got to Laoag at about 7pm after a 6 hour bus ride. It was pretty terrible. The driving wasn't too good, so I was feeling a bit road sick the whole time, and there were tons of people packed into a kind of small bus. On Tuesday, all of the trainers met with President for a meeting. And when I got there, I was surprised to see Elder Costales (my trainer) there!! Haha He’s training one more time before he goes home. So fun to see him. We were called on plenty of times during the meeting to give experiences and advice since he trained me and we could both give feedback on each other. It was a lot of fun.

in Laoag with Elder Nelson (From Alpine)
district meeting in Laoag

We actually didn’t get to meet our trainees until Friday, so everybody got paired up with some elders in Laoag to work with for 3 days. I was lucky to get paired with the ZL's. It was a good time and I learned a ton from them. When we didn’t have an appointment, we would go find, in creative ways. We saw a house where they had a ton of coconuts. So we all bought a coconut and ate/drank it while talking to them. That’s how you gotta do it here if you want to find tons of people. Just gotta be creative. 

Honestly, I don't enjoy being in Laoag. I spend sooo much money whenever I am there. There’s so many good restaurants that I want to eat at because I have no idea when I will be back in the city. So I end up spending and spending. There is a place called Mang Inasal. it is unlimited rice. There’s McDonald’s, there’s Chowking. Tons of good places haha. If I get assigned there, my wallet is going to be empty within 2 weeks. Luckily, Justine (member in Laoag) treated us to McDonalds on Wednesday. Sooo kind.

So my trainee is Elder Reyes!! He's from Tarlac, which is actually part Ilicano. So he knows a little of Ilocano. He's awesome! I love being comps with him. We work hard!!! He had blisters on his feet from walking so much and passed out in is proselyting clothes at the end of the day haha. I love being with someone that wants to work hard. 

with Elder Reyes
with Elder Costales (center) & their trainees

We have been finding tons of new investigators. Our pool of investigators is huge. We have lots of people to teach which keeps us so busy. We had 3 investigators at church yesterday. They are great investigators, hopefully we can keep them going strong. These trips to Loaog are a bit annoying because we miss full days of work. But after this next one, we should be free of any meetings for a while. 

Saturday night we all went out to get balut again. Seems like the group is growing bigger and bigger every week. Might need to switch it to a monthly occasion instead of weekly. They love it though, and we are getting new investigators because of it. 

We are heading back into Laoag on Wednesday for our mission conference. Elder Bowen will be meeting with all the missionaries. Excited to hear from him, not so excited for the travel. Another 6 hours there, 6 back. 

I have noticed in our teaching lately the Spirit has been strong. When the Spirit is strong, the investigators understand better and they feel and realize that our message is special. There is nothing better than the feeling of the Spirit in our lives. That is why I love this work so much. I get to go into people’s homes, and help them feel and recognize the Spirit. What a privilege it is.

 Love you all. Have a great week:)

 -Elder Jenkins

Monday, May 1, 2017

WEEK 37 - May 1, 2017 (Aparri, Philippines)

Hello everybody,

First of all, we found out on Saturday that Elder Montojo will be transferred. And then I received a call last night from President that he wants me to train!!  So I will get to train a new missionary, excited about that. The thing I’m not too excited about in the 5 hour bus ride we will take to Laoag later.  We will have a training for all the trainers on Tuesday, and then we stay there until Friday. Not too happy about that, not being able to work in our area for a week, but very excited to meet my "son".

So quick update on our investigators. Mae and CJ were not able to attend church this Sunday but promised that they would be there next Sunday. One thing that was awesome is earlier in the week, CJ texted us and told us he wants us to teach his girlfriend too. We met her and she is really interested as well. CJ is a great guy, and he's expressed many times that he wants to serve a mission. We need to get him baptized first haha. We have a lot of other great investigators and a lot of new ones too. Tons of potential.

Today is the start of the 10 day festival party here in Aparri. Tons of parades, loud music that wakes you up at 4am, lots of carnival games. People are having a good time here. Kinda disappointed that I’m gonna miss the first 4 days of it. 

Treated our investigators to balut again haha. That’s a new tradition now I guess… every Saturday night we rally up the investigators and buy them some balut. They absolutely love it. 

Speaking of food, we went to the best restaurant here in Aparri. It’s at a nice hotel called "Hotel Dian". I ordered some pancakes and was sooo excited.... then they handed them to me, and they were filipino size - soo small. I’ll send a picture. Man, I was disappointed. The bacon was good though. And the Jazz/Clippers game was on haha, so it was a good morning. 

Starting to understand the Book of Mormon in Tagalog, so I read a lot of that this week. I promise you, your day changes for the better the instant you read the book. If you want to have a good day, simply read. I know for a fact that The Book of Mormon is true. 

Alright, sorry for the short letter, don't have much time. I’ll introduce you to my anak (son) next week. I’m also way excited to hear about where Matthew will be sent (editor: cousin – mission papers have been submitted). My guess is Venezuela. Love you, have a good week!! 

-Elder Jenkins 

INTERNET INFO ABOUT FESTIVALS: The Municipality of Aparri will celebrate its 337th Patronal Town Fiesta and 7th Aramang Festival on May 1-11, 2017.

The traditional annual festivities is in honor of St. Peter Thelmo - the municipality's Patron Saint whose feast day is May 11. It was on May 11, 1680 when the Parish of Aparri was established by the Spanish authorities from Nueva Segovia (Lallo). On the same day, Aparri was separated from its mother towns of Camalaniugan and Buguey and was created as a pueblo (town).

The Aramang Festival was launched in 2008 to recognize invaluable role of "aramang" a soft shelled shrimp specie endemic to Aparri and the fishing industry in the livelihood of the people and in the progress and development of Aparri. The event also features a fluvial parade of more than a hundred fishing boats showcasing the fishermen's way of life.

Jollibees again (with some members)