Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week 12 & more pictures, La Vida Loca

Hi ya'll,

A lot of kind of crazy stuff happened this week. First of all, we brought Brother Martin from the ward to visit Tamara with us. We met her at a McDonald's in sketch street (not a real street, but it's sketchy) Wilmington. She loooovves to talk. Chatty Cathy to the MAX. And it's usually all on topic, she just takes 12 years to say it. And I may sound impatient, but I feel like Enos in that I "desire for the welfare of my brethren." (Enos 1:9) So we listened to her and this member is just an awesome guy. He reminds me of Brother Lewis in his mannerisms and personality. He's funny, whitty, just awesome. So Speaking of...the Lewis' moving? Yeah I heard that, but ahhh! No! Hey but at least Utah is a pretty easy spot to stop in and visit.:) Back to the story, she was talking about how she prayed that it would rain so she wouldn't have to walk to meet us at McDonalds. Then it didn't rain until after the lesson. God has a good sense of humor. She said she is having to make a decision of whether or not to move back to NY to be a scanty, promiscuous model (she needs the $$) or to drop the possible career and follow God. She knows the path she needs to take and her Mormon mom keeps prodding her to. But...she didn't make it to church nor did she return our phone calls, soo still trying to figure out where she's at. 

Xavier has ADD so whenever we go to his house, he sits us down in the front room, then we wait 10-15 minutes while he talks to his family and just dawdles around the house. Kind of rude. So last time he did that, we just got up and left, told him we had a curfew (earliest curfew on the block...oh wait, Wilmington, curfew? yeah right.) So he doesn't focus well during the lessons once he finally does sit down. He has been smoking also. And he doesn't wake up in time for the door knock that comes when his ride is there to get him. So his baptismal date keeps getting pushed further out. It's frustrating. He wants it and knows it's true and knows he needs it, but gahhh! Laziness gets the best of him. 

My roommate's brother, James Dalton, and his wife Katie are in my ward. Such a weird coincidence. Sean talked about his family all the time. And we see them all over the place on Sundays. Really down to earth, fun couple just starting out their marriage here in Wilmington of all places. 

Newsflash: as missionaries, we are like the last people to find out about anything going on like the plane crash in SF or dress standards for missionaries being changed....you think we would have been told a little sooner about that last one. Khaki pants and it looks like suits are now allowed for missionaries. And the Brethren do not want missionaries using backpacks anymore because it looks like we're going off to war (but we are!! spiritual war that is.) So only shoulder bags, business looking now. So I will need one in the near future mom, but President Anderson isn't requiring it for a while. My mission is also piloting more technology starting next transfer.

Our ward mission leader got on the Sister that was asked to do the missionary meals. So finally we have meals set up for 5 days this week. Plus there are a few members who will give us several bags of groceries every few weeks...there are perks to serving stateside. It's a miracle when we get to spend time with the members. We had a shocking experience with that same Brother Martin yesterday and afterwards he just said he loved us and that he was proud of us. It's wonderful to see the members building their trust in you as a missionary. On Wednesday we did district exchanges, so I went with Elder Shepherd to the Wilmington 1st area. We rode the bus, walked, and biked. I haven't biked at all yet on the mission, so those 10 miles of biking up and down hills were a blast for me. And the exchange made me love my area even more. Thursday, we had a very revelatory district meeting at the church. There's only 4 Elders in the district right now, but they're awesome. 

Elder Taylor shared a wonderful scripture with me yesterday. 2 Nephi 4:16-35. Nephi's psalm. My Book of Mormon teacher at BYU-I had us do an assignment where we wrote out our own psalm after reading and studying Nephi's. It can be a very personal, satisfying experience if you really take the time to write how you feel. So I would invite you to try it out. Be honest with yourself and with God. You'll learn stuff about yourself that you never knew.

Love you all,

Elder Jacob Robins 

Elder Taylor in front of our apartment

Our Wilmington English speaking district

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Elder Taylor

Sunset down the streets of Wilmington, my district. 

The house is a member in our ward in Hockessin. That's the caliber of houses out there..

Week 11

Hola Family and Friends!
I've had some pretty interesting experiences this week and feel blessed to know that we have a loving Father in Heaven who knows all that is going on with our lives. First of all, we met our new ward mission leader, Marcus Stevens. He is a little soft spoken, and felt overwhelmed at the call at first, but boy is fired up. His wife is expecting and he owns a trash company, yet he seems willing to put in the necessary time to make missionary work in the Wilmington 2nd Ward most effective.  There was an older man in Newport on a street we felt we needed to tract who was getting in his car. I got the feeling that we needed to talk to him, so I ignored it the first time...Something we humans are too good at. Then we said a quick prayer before getting out to tract. He had driven off and pulled up again as we got out. So I said to myself, "Alright, I get it, we'll talk to him." So we did. And I tend to be pretty overbearing...surprise, surprise...and I just like to get a gospel principle in there, see if they'll bite the bait, and ditch if they don't. He didn't seem interested, but Elder Taylor saved it when he asked about the huge RV in his driveway. So we got talking and talking and talking. Found out he is 88, fire chief and director over like the state of Delaware for a while. He's pretty high up in the rankings. Married for 66 years then caught his wife last year sneaking out around 2 am with another man just last year. Really? 66 years...clearly she doesn't understand the whole enduring to the end concept...amidst other things. Anyways, really nice guy, practicing Quaker...kinda shocked me. I have met my first Quaker. Wanted to ask him for some oatmeal. We have a return appt this week, so we'll see where that goes.
I also met my first pretty legit false, or anti-christ this week. A man called us over to him. Pretty drunk, but he was saying that he is a prophet and that he is God and Christ. There is no Christ, all this bologna. (Thank you Oscar Mayer for teaching me how to spell that correctly). So it was a little frightening, but we quickly turned and went to the car and drove off.
I believe I mentioned Knicoma and Tamara last week, but we were teaching them last Monday and at the end of the lesson, Tamara was like, yeah I'll read and stuff and be ready for my baptism on September 16th...I paused, jaw dropped, and had to clarify what I heard. Miracles do occur. Missionary's dream to hear an investigator set their own baptismal date without even being invited yet. She knows so much about the church b/c her mom is a member in the other ward. It's awesome to see her teach. She and Knicoma got in a tiff yesterday after Knicoma got home from church, and they aren't talking for now...so we don't know how that'll all turned out. But God is a God of Miracles. So..I don't doubt that they will both come around.
Xavier didn't make it to church today and was supposed to be interviewed this week for baptism. So, despite our best efforts his date will have to be pushed out. But I'd rather him really be ready than jumping into the water with no idea what he's getting into. I agreed with him that this can all be overwhelming at times, but Christ is with us every step of the way. I hope and pray like nothing else that he takes this leap of faith. He knows it's true. He knows he needs it, but apathy, laziness all that take a toll on these people. I have really come to love the guy though. He has a special spirit about him.
We also helped clean up a less active member's house. He moved into a four story like 6 bed room house that had to be fumagated for bed bugs this week. I wanted to take pictures, but that would have been kind of rude with him there. It was sad. We swept, pine sol'd, bleached, threw out, cleaned and you still would not want to live there. The basement is dark, wet, moldy, dingey (sp?) and literally all the trash and clothes and baby car seats were wet and moldy. Probably should have been wearing masks...but it was fun anyway. He has two sets of twins and a ten year old. The twins are like 1 and 4. The mom is kind of MIA, not interested and lazy. But it was heart warming to see 8 or 9 priesthood holders working together to better this brother's life a little. We were also told by a former investigator that a guy got shot point blank in the head on Read Street where we park our car when we work at the soup kitchen's on wednesday. So that's fun.
But all is well. I am learning and growing and changing "line upon line, precept upon precept." Sister Cynthia Gutierrez gave a testimony that has always stuck with me and I shared it with members last night. There is space between the atoms that make up the cells of our bodies. When we are following the Spirit, making and keeping covenants, living a Christ-like life, then that space can literally, physically be filled with the light of God. That indeed may be why some people have a "glow"about their countenance. This relates to 3 Nep. 12:14-16. Let your light so shine. Don't hide it. THe world needs it.
Love you all,

Elder Robins

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 10- Be of Good Cheer

Family and Friends,

I have had many awesome experiences this week. Probably the highlight of the week was getting our investigator Xavier to church again. He stood awake the whole time this week. And didn't even take a smoke break! He is down to one cigarette per day and is trying hard to stop. He stopped drinking tea once we taught him the word of wisdom, showing his faith and desire to follow Jesus Christ. I love it. Last week, the Elder's Quorum President asked for volunteers to fast, one elder per day for the week. So there were 7 volunteers and they all fasted last week. Then this week we reported on the miracles we had seen and he asked again for more volunteers. Xavier's hand shot up and he asked if he could fast. We were all smiling and I was so happy to see his faith in a principle we had taught him no more than 3 days before. The Lord is blessing him abundantly with His Spirit and it is helping me to increase my faith in the Lord's ability to perform miracles. 

One of the miracles we saw, probably as a result of faith and fasting, was that on Saturday we came in contact with a few long lost investigators. One of them was a man named Knicoma (Nih-kom-uh) whom Elder Taylor and I had prayed to find. We felt one day that there was someone prepared, so we prayed, both looked up and saw the sign that said W 8th St. So we walked down it and found Knicoma playing a keyboard on somebody's steps. Long story short, he had been wondering when we would return. So on Saturday, we felt to stop by his house and I said a quick prayer that he would be home. He was and he had plenty of questions. Especially about the authority of the Priesthood, held only in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It made sense to him that God would authorize His servants to act in His name. 
We invited him to come to church the next day. He didn't make it, but we stopped by after church with a beloved ward missionary, Brother Hooper, and taught him and his girlfriend Tamara and friend Rei-rei. Tamara was very attentive, asking questions, then at the end testified simply of the Spirit she had felt during the lesson. She saw the reasoning behind why we ask people to be rebaptized if they;ve already been baptized. It was a miracle. They all want to come to church and read. Who knows how far they'll progress, Knicoma said he is on anti-psychotic drugs or something....soo..we'll see about that, but it strengthens my faith in God and in the power of fervent prayer and fasting. 

We also met a man named "Mikey Blue-eyes" (his Vietnam war name) and he asked us to sit down with us on his porch. His dog was shedding pounds upon pounds of fur over our pressed pants...but, ya gotta love the guy. He has a straight up mullet, business in the front, party in the back. The exact words he said. He's a good Christian too, a little nuts. A lot nuts actually. We thought he'd be a good candidate to teach. But we retured back yesterday....and he got talking again. The kinda guy that says the whole "Jesus is my Lord and Savior" like every two minutes. Then he told us about the hooker that had just left his house and he invited us to join the Christian Gentlemen's Club he is starting. My mouth just about dropped open when he said that. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't that just about a perfect paradox. Christian...gentlemen's club. Needless to say, he is still a child of God, just maybe not quite ready to hear a message about the restored gospel...I'm so grateful that i have the gospel of Jesus Christ as a solid foundation in my life. 

Bishop Condie called a new Ward Mission Leader...which we are stoked about. Our old WML was MIA way too frequently to be effective. And it is just refreshing to have ward members fast and to see their faith in rescuing their brothers and sisters around them. Miracles happen all around us if we choose to recognize them. They may not be what we want them to be, but with faith, they do indeed come.

Scouts and all, have fun at Whitney, and boy, don't think we're not goin on another hike when i get back Dallin, Jared, and...yes you Tyler. 
 Mormon 8:38, ask yourself, are you ashamed to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Why? You shouldn't be> As a missionary, I get to wear His name on my badge and love it. But we can all wear His name if we strive to have His image in our countenance.

Love you all, Be of GOOD cheer,

Elder Robins

PS will you send the book "The Power of Everyday Missionaries" President Anderson wants us to use the ideas that Clayton Christensen states in that book. And dad, could I get a copy of my Priesthood line of authority?

PPS Jess and Wil, did I tell you Doug Busse (*Beus) was in a video as a missionary on one of the church websites?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week 9

Happy 4th of July everyone!

We had the opportunity this week to spend a lot more time with members in the ward and it has been so beneficial. We as missionaries can work day and night to find people ready to listen, but there was a statistic, (might be a little off) that said 1 in 15,000 doors knocked results in a lasting conversion of the individual. President Anderson has also been emphasizing the need for missionaries working hand in hand with the members. The morning of the 4th, we were at Xavier's house and heard a loud crack, bang, boom. We looked across the street to see a few teenagers lauging at the firecracker bomb they had just set off. Kinda shook the neighborhood...classic wilmington.

So for the 4th of July, we went out to Hockessin, DE which is kind of like the Blackhawk or Danville of the Bay area. Wilmington would be the Oakland, etc. Hockessin is a rural community that has a greater sense of that unity that makes a town feel like home. It has beautiful rolling hills and lush green trees with huge  3 story houses and mansions. It reminds me of home. The reason we haven't gotten out there much is because we are limited to 900 driving miles per month and it's 20 miles round trip with additional driving around miles. So Elder Taylor and I have decided we will do a car fast one day a week where we drive no more than 5 miles total on that day. Doable, if we knock on doors and visit the not-so-stable investigators in Wilmington. Hockessin has an annual parade during the day, and it was awesome to see so many members from the stake at a community event, not in Utah (haha). It was a solid parade with lots of candy and free water bottles. An excellent opportunity to talk to people and it was a lot of fun. Several members invited us to their house for dinner. So we went to about 3 houses, around the same area. A family in our ward invites the ward over every year to sit on their front lawn and watch fireworks on the fourth. So we showed up, talked to some members, some less active members and got a few names to visit. It was a lot of fun and I got my first ice cream cone in a whopping 2 months! 

I have found that the more service we do for members (such as installing molding in the basement) and the more time we spend with them, the easier it is to ask them to help us. With this recent worldwide training from the leaders of the church, our ward is starting to get fired up. Bishop Condie just called a new ward mission leader (partially upon our request) and is fired up about teaching the members how to talk to their friends and bring people close to Christ. Mom, props for the courage you had in talking to the Chromy's, it is not easy, but look at the lives that have been eternally blessed by your planting that seed. I am really coming to love this ward, the members, the area (especially Hockessin) and the work. Elder Taylor is so patient with me and willing to help me overcome my weaknesses and we are striving to work each day by the Spirit. I wouldn't have been friends with him at home, but being in this circumstance I've grown to love the guy for who he is, I'm learning to see past people's often irritating idiosyncrasies. (sorry..had to use that word.)

Cool facts about the area:
-VP Joe Biden owns a house in Hockessin
-the great grandson of Albert Einstein is in our ward, no i haven't met him
-the mission president of the UTah Salt lake City mission, Bruce and Nancy Winn, just returned home from our ward and invited several of us missionaries over for dinner at their mansion last night. He really wants to work with us and help us be successful in this ward. 

In terms of investigators...we are hoping that working more closely with the members will soon pay off. One family in particular had been on my mind, so I challenged them to pray to find that individual or family that they know that has been prepared to receive our message. A cop stopped us on 2nd street in Wilmington last week and talked to us for a few minutes, telling us we were brave to walk up and down these streets. He commended us for our service and jokingly asked what we did wrong to get sent here. A few days later, we saw him and his 10 year old daughter walking their dog. He invited us to his house for cold water and A/C. He lived in a nicer part of Wilmington with a decent rowhouse. He grew up in So Cal with a bunch of Mormons and says that the church is the most practical he has come upon and since he and his wife have been feeling around for a solid church, we hope something will come of his curiosity.  Oh how I would love to find a family!

I have come to love the apostle Paul for his many sermons and beautiful epistles. Romans 8 is one of my new favorites because we really can't do much at all without the Savior. Rom. 8:37, "We are more than conquerors through him that loved us." Simple, indeed. Powerful, of course. Trials do come our way, many come to missionaries, but through Christ we are not just conquering our trials or overcoming the pains that come our way. We are becoming "joint-heirs" with Christ.  Everything that the Father has can be ours. We can inherit eternal life, making us more than conquerors.I love that. I love knowing that I will never have to go through anything alone because of Him. 

Hope all is well for everyone. You are in my prayers frequently.

Love much,

Elder Robins

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Week 8

Hello everyone!

Oh what a week it has been! I feel like I say that every week though. I have noticed that the mission days and hours and transfers just become blurs and you have no sense of timing. It's bizarre, but everything goes by so fast. So yesterday we had the chance to meet our new mission president, President Gary Anderson and his wife Pam. They are both outstanding people, come from Hyrum, UT with 3 kids and 11 grandkids. When they walked into the chapel to meet the Dover and Wilmington DE zones, I had been playing prelude music on the piano. 
After the opening hymn, Sister Anderson got up and thanked me for the prelude music. I had improvised on "I am a Child of God" and she got choked up because it reminded her that she has a loving Heavenly Father, always watching over her. I felt so blessed to be an instrument in the Lord's hands by bringing the Spirit through my music. I love it. I think there's a reason I was sent to a land of many pianos and the world's largest pipe organs :)
Anyway, President Anderson emphasized that he wants to do all he can to help us be successful, work with the members and have NO REGRETS on our mission. I love that. I do not want to go home thinking I could have done more to help the people of this mission. Gah, that would just eat me alive. I am excited that he is excited and ready to work and they both just seem so loving and full of testimony. 

Elder Taylor and I have been looking for opportunities to serve in the community because our Bishop doesn't want us tracting more than 6-8 hours per week. So with the Spanish Elders, we met a man named Carlos who works at the local Latin American Community Center. Super nice guy whose brother is actually a returned missionary in Ecuador. His sister is now taking lessons. Carlos help set us up as teachers at a local church for the LACC. So my comp and I teach English as a Second Language (ESL) once a week friday mornings. I absolutely love it. I don't know why, but teaching is so rewarding, dad now I can see why you taught Koreans. It is so awesome to see their faces light up when they begin to understand more and more english. One woman named Brenda (from Mexico) wrote down her goals in a few short paragraphs. Here is a little excerpt:
                 "My goals is work of teacher and have a big family to be happy living in the United States...I want learn to drive. My husband says You Can. My life is beautiful with my husband." 

For some reason, the Spirit washed over me and I just smiled as I read this sweet, humble page. It was humbling to know that in a small way, I was an instrument in helping her find greater happiness in this country and hopefully find Christ. Ahh, it was such a beautiful moment. 

We had record amounts of rain in June and another tornado warning last week. Don't think it touched down, bummer. Today after we went by the post office, I got the distinct impression to go see Frank, who we were pretty sure dropped off the face of the earth for a while. So we walked a few blocks up to his house and knocked on his door. Miraculously after about 4 weeks of not seeing him, he was home. So we stopped by and said, "Ya know what, you guys stoppin by, makes me want to quit smokin again. I'm gonna do it this time." So hopefully he will get back on track and continue to draw closer to Christ.

On another note, can't remember if I mentioned Xavier last week. He is a black young man in his 20's who has been looking into the church, taking lessons and stuff for a few months. We set his baptismal date!!! August 4th, and he seems most serious and gung ho out of all the people who are progressing, which is a whopping 3. But 3 is better than none. Xavier made it to church this past Sunday and loved it. He was dozing off the entire time but would not his head every time he recognized principles being taught. So  his eyes were closed, but he loved it and his faith grew. Between Priesthood and Sunday School we lost him, only to find out that he had gone outside for a smoke break. Classic. Made me laugh. Gotta love the guy. Sacrament meeting is last for us, kind of a drag for everyone, and he had to go before that, but at least he made it and the members were very welcoming and friendly to him. He continues reading and praying and increasing my faith that the Atonement of Jesus Christ changes people

 I was reading in 3 Nephi 27 and in verse 14 we are told that Christ wants to "draw all men unto" him. By "all men" He does not mean, just the Mormons, just the Jews, just the Catholics, yada yada. He means all of God's Children. He sacrificed His life for each of you individually. I know the Atonement is real only because I have used it in my own life. I love helping people come closer to Christ through service because I could be doing anything from securing fiberglass insulation underneath a member's house to teaching english as a second language at a church. We are helping people know they have a Heavenly Father who is aware of them and loves them.
I love you all and appreciate your love and support. Thanks for the people you are and the influence you have had in my life.


Elder Robins