Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Week 7

Dear Friends and Family,

How is everyone? Thanks for the emails and letters! I feel bad, my comp doesn't really get mail at all and few emails. But he keeps his spirits up nonetheless. So last Monday we walked down our usual 2nd Street downtown where we have a few investigators, making little progress, but we still like to stop by now and again. We walked down the dirty streets, almost everyone was outside on there porches to watch the action as the ambulances and cop cars pulled up to one of the rowhouses. We don't know what happened exactly, but cops were searching. As we walked away later that night around 830, we heard gunshots in the near distance....soooo we hastened our pace a bit. But all is well i can assure you. On Thursday we were getting cheap deep fried cheese steaks on the same street, again at the corner, there were 8 cop cars doing a major drug bust just in the middle of the day this time.

Our investigator, Jim, had a stroke about 4 years ago and is a bit slower. He mentioned to us how hard it is to get caught up on his words. He is having a tough time with his wife right now, and we didn't really know that before we had dinner with them at a nearby member's home. So we gave her a Book of Mormon for the first time, she was a little skeptical and had been scared that God had left her earlier in life. We hope they both come around, but they may need to time to figure some things out. We powerwashed Jim's house the other day and he showed a little disinterest in moving forward. He doesn't see the need for much of God and/or the Book of Mormon. It was kind of heartbreaking bc we know the gospel is the only thing that can truly help him. We will continue to friendship him, but the baptismal date we were hoping to set with him will obviously be postponed. 

Latisha is moving out of our area because she was evicted this week. She saw us on the street and in tears told us she had prayed and read the BOM, but hadn't felt anything and wondered if God even cared. I read aloud to her Matthew 11:28-30. "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." I sure felt the Spirit, and I'm pretty sure she did, even though it's hard when we are outside on a busy street with loud traffic. She kind of turned away after I prayed for her there. Then went off cussing at a few people. So we don't exactly know how to help her at this point, especially if she doesn't answer her phone and is out of our area. 

Another guy we met, named Xavier, reads the Book of Mormon and loves the feeling he gets when he reads it. He knows he needs to be baptized and is progressing after his drug addiction therapy. But we invited him to church sunday, went with a member to pick him up, and knocked anxiously on his door, praying in faith that he would be there. And he wasn't. I was heartbroken. I prayed, wanting to know why all my efforts and faith had been in vein. Then I realized that these people are God's responsibility, not mine. He will be prepared by God, not me. So that helped me get through. God is in control of the details of our lives.

I came upon 3 Nephi 17:7-9..."your faith is sufficient" I Love that bc I know I don't have perfect faith, but what I offer to Christ is enough. He can heal each of us of whatever we are struggling with. Just ACT in faith. It's that simple. 
More thunder and lightning right now. 

Love you all,

Elder Jacob Robins

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Week 6

Dear Friends and Family,

Happy belated Father's day by the way! I have some incredible father figures in my life and am eternally grateful for their influence in my life, especially Dad and grandpas. So this week was awesome, but soo exhausting. To finish off that story from last week: Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Pres. of the 70 visited Moore, OK and talked to a little girl named Torrie Sorelle (sp?). She shared her survival experience during the tornado. The principal got on the loud speaker and told the elem. school students to get in tornado position. So she ran to the bathroom with a few of her girlfriends and went into a stall. They huddled together and put their hands over their heads. It got dark all the sudden, the wind was blowing hard. Then the roof was gone, then the walls that separated each stall. After it had all died down about a minute later, she looked up and there was a stop sign on top of her. She knew there were no stop signs on school grounds...When Elder
Rasband heard the story he asked Torrie if she would like a Priesthood blessing. I have always felt strongly about Priesthood blessings, maybe because they have literally saved my own life before. Anyways, I don't know how much I'm allowed or supposed to tell, but in the blessing, he told her that Heavenly Father was watching over her and had angels all around her to protect her. I don't care what "God" or religion you believe in, that is powerful. That is evidence that we have a loving Father in Heaven who does indeed watch over and protect us. Yes some innocent lives are lost in such disasters and we won't always know the reasons, but trusting in God's will and exercising faith in Him is really all we can do.

Speaking of tornadoes, a week ago we were driving home from Newark which is 20 minutes south of us from a P-day activity. We got out to our cars and there were legit rivers in the church parking lot. Driving down the road was like driving a jet ski, pretty fun. glad i got to drive..:) Then we got downtown to stop at a bike shop for the Spanish Elders who were with us. They came back out to the car and had seen on the tv inside that there were Tornado warnings for the Newark Wilmington area...didn't know the east coast got tornadoes...but alright. So we got in the car, driving cautiously because it was pouring rivers outside. I kind of wanted to see the tornado, but it did touch down in Newark as we were driving through, we just didn't see it. The streets were flooded with over six inches of brown water that had a nice stench to it, for the sewers had erupted downtown. It was nice to drive through all that muck. 

On Thursday we had Zone Conference in Dover, DE. President and Sister Schaefermeyer gave  beautiful, powerful closing talks as they are going home next weds or thursday. Sister S. told us that happiness is a choice. I love that. You can be in the most dire of circumstances, like many people we teach, and still CHOOSE to be happy. We also learned that "faith is not only a feeling, but a decision" a decision to act upon the things we believe. That makes me want to exercise more faith. Agency is a beautiful gift from our Heavenly Father. I have come to appreciate how our investigator Nikki is using her agency lately.

She took herself to a mental institution to help overcome her bipolarism. And she took her Book of Mormon with her. So we didn't teach her for about a week while she was there, but she just seems happy and organized and ready to move forward with her life. She said she no longer drinks every day. And when she does, it is not to get drunk. It is sooo cool to see the Spirit working through her bit by bit and slowly, but surely changing her as a person. She may not get baptized for another 6 months or so, who knows? But progress is progress. Latisha said she would come to our Bishop's granddaughters baptism this last saturday and she was excited about her own baptism and wanted her girls to be baptized. We don't know how drunk she was when she told us that, it's always hard to tell. But I am seriously hoping and praying so hard for her. She is humble and seems so ready to learn and grow, then she didn't show up for the baptism. Saturday was rough after
that. No one wanted to talk, a little bit of rain, a man bashing the Book of Mormon and all organized religion. And a headache and hurting feet to top it off. 

The beauty of Saturday came as Elder Taylor and I were walking home. We were on Union Street which is lined with trees and house on one side. As we were walking, I was kind of praying about the day and its difficulties, then I saw a spark of light fly in front of me. Here and there it would pop up and the small yellow light made my day. I felt God's love and kind of the Spirit wash over me  as I held a firefly in my hand and thought of how much God cares about each of us. I knew then that my efforts, my faith, and my prayers had not been in vein. They are never in vein for any of us. God is always listening. He is always mindful of our needs and that light that shines within each of us is not meant to stay hidden, but to shine. I love it, sometimes my light flickers, but exercising faith in His will will pull me through. 

Members in the area are finally beginning to realize that we need help, that street contacting is more of a last resort to find people. We saw a bunch of less active members this past week, and watching the flame of their testimonies being slowly rekindled is a moving experience. They may not get back to church right away, but it is the friendships that are created that are important in the long run. 

I love the Book of Mormon so much. If you have not read it and prayed about it yet, please, please do so. I wish the whole world could feel the same joy that it brings me and so many who have done the same thing. 

Congratulations to Randy and Alycia! So exciting!


Elder Jacob Robins

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Week 5- Transvestites

Dear Family and Friends,

From transvestites to general authorities, this week has been prettty crazy! On Tuesday we drove about an hour and a half down to Dover, DE for Golden Retraining. In other words, we greenie missionaries met with President and the Assistants to discuss issues we had or companion problems, etc. I have been learning a lot of patience with Elder Taylor, his way of teaching is obviously different than mine and we talked about how I could add more emotion and be more personable in my teaching. It's important, as we learned, that we do not forget our 3rd companion, the Holy Ghost. Elder Taylor and I could try as hard as we want, but we have noticed that if the person is arguing Bible doctrines or other stuff that we are not scholars on, then the Spirit will often leave the discussion and nothing will be learned. So we are taught to bear simple testimony and walk away. But we must be worthy of the Spirit in our own lives and create that Spiritual Vision for our investigators in our minds. 

We also watched a video of an MTC talk by Elder Holland. It was powerful as he asked us as missionaries if our message is in our hearts. "You are God's answer to the problems of the world. YOU are the Hope of Israel." It was beautiful. I love knowing that we are that hope. Dover is a beautiful city with antique buildings, they almost look like Disneyland they're so ornate and decorated. Beautiful towering trees line the cobblestone streets. Statues, a pond or river or something. It's a really pretty and old looking city. 

Elder Taylor and I have been working to contact less active members from a list from our bishop. We rang a few door bells at the bottom of an apartment building. After ringing one, a person opened the door and I had to do a double take. "Is this real life?" I had to ask myself. This man was wearing a light brown wig with the hair done over,  blue eye shadow and eye makeup stuff, bright red lipstick, a low cut cardigan or something...which was nasty cause his chest was like hairy. Then he had a dress and heels on. Had a deep man's voice, but spoke like a woman. So nasty. It took me a second to realize that it wasn't Halloween, that this guy was for real...so weird. But,,,, he is a Child of God. We didn't try teaching him though because he was pretty impatient.

We stopped at another semi-investigator's house, Xavier, who wasn't home but his uncle was. The uncle, Steve, had met with missionaries a year or 2 ago so we got talking about that. He told us that the bruises and cut marks and the broken pinky were a result of being mugged by a gang like two streets over a few nights ago. It's sad that a kind guy like him can't even bring his groceries to the car without getting beat up and robbed by selfish others. He and his girlfriend showed a lot of interest in learning, but as with almost all of downtown Wilmington on Saturday and Sunday nights, they had been drinking and were pretty smashed. it's sad to say that the majority of the people we teach on Saturdays won't remember anything we taught them the next day. 

Latisha, mother of 5 lost her job and was pretty down. She accepted the invitation to be baptized in July and the next week she found a job and things have been getting better. It's awesome to see the Lord perform His miracles as we exercise faith in Him and in our prayers. Transfers will happen in two weeks, then we will get the new mission Pres. Idk if I will stay, it's every six weeks that we're transferred.

"Obedience brings blessings; exact obedience brings Miracles."

Oh and Elder Rasband from the Presdiency of the 70 came and spoke at a Stake Conference then requested to meet with the missionaries. He shook each of our hands and allowed us to ask him questions cause he only had an hour with us. Elder Bednar had been up in Scranton, but we had the entire missionary force in the mission there except for the Scranton zone. So powerful were the messages he gave us. He told us that last Friday he was assigned to go to Oklahoma. As he got off the airplane, the airport was closed and the Bishop picking him up hurried him to the car because another tornado was on the way. They saw the vortex forming behind them in the car. This was 2 weeks ago Friday. He visited with a mother in Moore, OK and talked to her 5th grade daughter. I will have to make that story of her experience in the Moore Elementary school as the tornado hit a cliffhanger. Sorry:(

oh and Bishop Causse (presiding bishopric counselor) has a son in this mission and I met him yesterday at the meeting with Elder Rasband. 

Love you all, stay strong, the Lord will not forsake those who believe in Him. I only say that out of experience.

Elder Robins

3 Nep 12:14-16

P.S. Amy Jackson in the 2nd Ward, her brother is in my ward here in DE. Kinda cool.

June 4, 2013

Hi Ya'll! 
It's been a great week and it seems like a lot happened, but my short term memory loss is kicking in so of course I don't remember it. I have grown a lot spiritually as Elder Taylor and I have noticed we need to put more into our study time. So I started praying more specifically before morning study, then I would feel impressed to study a certain topic and get to it. One of the main topics I studied was the Pure Love of Christ. It is such a beautiful concept, especially  as a missionary, because almost every day we get the chance to serve, or to try to serve as the Savior Himself would. I had studied charity the day before and Desire the day after. Then on Saturday, Elder Taylor and I got to serve at a soup kitchen downtown that serves lunch to the homeless or needy. As we prepared and served, I was praying to feel the love that the Savior feels for these individuals. Then I made eye contact with a few of them. The eyes, not to be cheesy, truly are the
gateway to the soul. I'm not going to say I saw their souls, but I felt of their spirits, and their needs. I was touched as I thought about the Savior and His love for each of those individuals. I thought of those moments He spent in the Garden of Gethsemane, praying for and suffering for each of us. And all He asks us to do is to reach out and rescue those who are lost. I was so happy that I was blessed with such an experience after putting forth the effort to study and grow closer to the Lord. 

On Friday we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders (pretty much missionary leaders over a stake-sized areas). My comp was Elder Fennel, no joke he is 6'10", red-head, skinny, but slightly intimidating considering he is a full story taller than most of the population. He reminds me of Jared, quiet until you get to know him. But insightful and a good missionary. A member from his ward drove us around to different houses to stop by, all of which but 2 were not home. We went to a trailer park in the Newark area. And being a trailerpark, it was already  pretty sketch, but the member we were with said that he didn't have a good feeling about the place. The person we were looking for, of course wasn't home, so we left quickly. Later I asked him why it was such a creepy place. He explained that with his last comp, they had an investigator (gator) there who was really into it all until one day they returned and something about him had changed. He had been
reading a book and was pretty much possessed and verbally attacking them. Needless to say, they left in a jiffy and had to get help from a Priesthood leader. This may seem irrelevant, but I have realized the importance of recognizing that Satan is very real. He is out there and like Prophets have said, he is well seasoned and has practiced and knows our every weakness. I love this quote though, "Satan trembles when even the weakest person gets on their knees to pray." A simple prayer weakens him immensely. I love it, I love knowing that we can work together to wage an "all out war against Satan" and who will win? God and His people. Love it. 

On a lighter note, we went to teach Frank,  our miraculous investigator on Saturday and taught him the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was amazing to see his understanding grow through the Spirit. We explain that we are not perfect teachers, but that as he pays attention to those feelings from God and as he asks questions, we would be able to help him understand. We had invited him to keep the word of wisdom and he did! for two days.. but two days is better than nothing. He has gone 8 months before, so we know he can do it. Before we left, I invited him to be baptized and he said "Yes, absolutely! Im going to need a bit more time, but Yes!" Words cannot describe the joy that fills your heart when someone accepts that invitation. And yes we recognize the challenges that lie ahead in getting him prepared and hopefully teaching his wife as well, but I know that if it is God's will, there WILL be a way. 

We were told by our Zone Leaders at Zone training last Thursday that we Elders are not allowed to teach women alone even if it is in public, on their front porch with other males a few feet away. There has to be adult males in the conversation with us. So that makes teach lessons a lot more difficult for us, but if members are present or non member males, then there is more fellowshipping and a chance at potential investigators. I apologize for all this missionary lingo, it's kinda boring sounding and confusing, but it's hard to get around. We were also asked by President to pray to be guided to God's elect, or those whom He has specifically prepared to hear and receive the gospel, then act in faith to find those individuals and hopefully families.

We were walking back from a lesson to our car, along the dirty (like cigarettes, urine, trash, glass, everything kind of dirty) streets of Wilmington and we passed the Afro-American version of the Hulk. He nodded at us as we said hi. Then we got to our car a minute or two later and he walked towards us. Elder Taylor rolled down the passenger window and the man asked to talk to us and if we could do so in the car. We promptly said, No we'll get out and talk on the street. So we did. He asked us what we're all about, and told us to give him our shpeal. We taught him the Restoration then he lectured us about seeming to tense. I mean what would you do if a black man twice your size with guns the size of cannons was telling you to relax. Then he told us his situation and yet we still didnt get what he wanted. $13 for a train ride to another city. I agreed to pay because he had been drinking, didn't want him to kill me and I told him i wanted to help him not
by giving him money, but by teaching him the gospel and helping him change his life. He agreed, I slipped him a 20 and off we went with a return appointment. Elder Taylor was sooo shook up by it. Almost in tears. I was a little scared, but I don't know, I just shook it off. 

Other than that, the ward is doing better, helping out more here and there. Hope all is well at home. How's the writing coming dad? Is work pretty slow mom? Does Tyler ride his bike nonstop? Miss that kid. Actually all of you. But I am more than happy to be doing what I am doing. Changing this city one person at a time. I pray for you all. Recognize the miracles God puts in your lives. 

Alma 5:26--> "Have ye felt to sing the song of Redeeming Love?" Have you been touched by the love of the Savior and felt a desire to share that with those around you? "Can you feel so now?" 
What are you doing each day to grow closer to the Savior and strengthen your testimony?

Love you all, 

Elder Robins