Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Week 15- more pictures!

Wonderful Family and Friends,
How's it going? Good. Well it's going great here. A lot has happened and continues to happen every day. But that is just part of the beauty of God's Plan of Happiness for His children. Each day is a new opportunity to learn a little bit more, to make mistakes and experience, and to allow the Atonement of Jesus Christ to change our lives and change US. And I think that is the greatest miracle I witnessed this week.
So I mentioned Steve last week I believe. He is the neighbor to a less active in Elsmere. He came to church on Sunday and Brent, the less active, didn't. So we joked that Steve should bring his "member" friend to church with him next week...haha, ya had to be there. In our first real lesson with Steve about 2 weeks ago, he just seemed depressed and he cried his eyes out as he described his situation. Without going into details, in and out of prison, drugs, the works. He has a cute 6-year-old, rambunxious as Tyler son also named Steven (the mother left them). He is living with his disabled mom, dad, grandpa and sister. He wants to change and he sees what Christ and the Atonement can do for him and has thus found peace in knowing that we are here to help him come unto Christ. He reads the scripture assignments we give him, he's been praying and at church he felt shy, but he was well-received and welcomed by the ward members. During the Sacrament, babies were crying up the wazzoo (sp?) and I was praying hard that he would still be able to feel the Spirit. Later last night after church, we stopped by and met with him and his mom. He told us he enjoyed church and he just seemed happy. So it has been amazing seeing the Atonement of Jesus Christ take root in his life and change his very countenance in a matter of a week or two.
And one thing I've realized this week is that my faith is not dormant. Though I struggle and have to fight to push myself to keep going sometimes, I am still able to do it. And it's only because I do in fact have the faith that I never thought I had. So I prayed that Steve would get to church, recognizing my faith in the will of God, but also recognizing that these people have agency. I can't force them to choose to follow Christ. I can help guide them toward that decision, and show them how it has blessed my life though.
We met with a former investigator named Enock (from Kenya) on Friday with my old roommates brother, James Dalton. Enock is quieter, but seems sincere about wanting to come closer to God. And I know I felt the Spirit as we taught and testified of the Doctrine of Christ being able to change him. After the lesson, we walked down Franklin St from the park we were at to his house one street down. Believe or not, another black woman in a black car pulled up and gave us another safety warning. "Ya'll parked around here? 'Cause there's a knife fight goin on right down the street. You best get out of here soon." It's probably not a good thing when I'm not shocked at such encounters anymore. Just evidence of the Lord protecting His servants though.
Oh, we were tracting around the church on Dickinson Ln and we knocked on a door and an older woman answered. We got talking and found out that she was from So Cal. So as usual, I prodded to figure out what part, being somewhat familiar with the region. She said, oh "Huntington Beach and Palos Verdes." It took my brain like 5 seconds to process the info...must have short term memory loss...then I responded, " What?! My dad grew up there and I lived there for two year." So she hadn't heard of Finecrest, but she lived on a street called Oceanford St if that sounds familiar? and Jim Bohn is her dad's name. Cool Miracle. But the best part was when I had the chance to testify of the Book of Mormon. She didn't see the need for it AND the Bible. Perfectly logical question. I felt to open up to 2 Nep. 29:8-10. (READ IT!) After reading it, I told her that, "Yes, it is blunt, but it is true. Two nations or two people testifying of the same God is better than one right?"
So I simply testified that God had told me by the power of the Holy Ghost, that the Book of Mormon is indeed true. And that along with the Bible, we can find answers to know how to get back to our Father in Heaven. With misty eyes, she thanked me for the testimony and we said goodbye. I don't know if she'll ever accept the gospel in this life, but I hope that she at least felt her Heavenly Father's love for her a little more.
And we met with Sheena again with a member this time. She is very intellectual and needs to see and understand things in her mind. The premortal existence concept is what kept her from getting baptized 20 years ago...which is interesting. But at the end of the lesson, I testified of the Plan of Salvation and the peace it brings to my life. I know that God has given us this plan because, believe it or not, He wants us to be HAPPY. He has given us the Bible to learn of Christ. And the Book of Mormon to learn more about Christ and about His plan for us. He loves each one of us. "God wants you to come home."
The Spirit bore witness to her heart that my words were true. A tear fell from her eye and she commented" That was so sweet, I'm going to cry."
That night I thanked my Heavenly Father for the power of His Spirit, leaving His thumbprint on her heart (as Sheena put it). I want you all to know that this is true. I know it, I live it, I love it.
Elder Jacob Robins
 The world needs more signs like these

A Buddha Ball statue in the business part of downtown, me trying to high five an inanimate object

 Franklin St. knife fight. Idk if anyone was actually hurt, just little kids running around screaming things about it. Right after a spiritual lesson. Welcome back to the world Elders, your peaceful half hour has come to an end

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week 14- Transfers and pictures

Hey Friends and Family!
Hope all is going well on the home front! The battles in this war can be pretty gruesome some days, but as the song says "Onward Christian Soldiers, marching as to war. With the cross of Jesus going on before."
On Monday, Elder Taylor and I had dinner with my roommate's brother and his wife, first pic, and then we drove around saying his goodbyes to members. Tuesday morning we woke up early to finish laundry and packing and P-day stuff we weren't able to do. Then we headed to Broomall, PA which is about a half hour drive from here with no traffic. Transfers are at 10 am and we got to the stake center/mission office at about 8:30. Surprisingly, there were at least 10 other missionaries already there. The hallways got crowded and filled with joy and laughter. It's such a blast being with tons of other missionaries...outside the MTC. They pulled us into the cultural hall to actually do the transfers. So we sang the mission song which is "We are as the Army of Helaman" with PPM lyrics. A tad bit cheesy, but with an army of missionaries, it is powerful. The Spirit was so strong even though nerves were a bit riled up for transfers.
So the AP's lined us up with the missionaries staying in their areas on one side and those leaving on the other. They told us this was the biggest transfer PPM has ever had, kinda exciting to be part of that. Then they had a slide show with the missionary pictures pulled up and paired with your new comp and the area you would be serving in. I am in the Wilmington 2nd ward, Wilmington zone, and unfortunately, they went alphabetically, soo..I had the sweet pleasure of being the last missionary out of nearly 100 of us. But 15 new areas were created, there are over 20 companionships that had to be threesomes this transfer because we just don't have enough areas or apartments yet for all the missionaries coming in. President said that 90 new missionaries have arrived in the space of 3 transfers and a net gain of 20 this next transfer. 270+ missionaries. That is exciting. I guess most missions will be pushing that soon if not already. I love it though!
So...my new companion is....Elder Timmerman, second pic. He's from....take a guess...Draper, UT. But he is the man. We get along well and have a similar sense of humor, so he actually laughs at my pathetic jokes. And we laugh at our embarrassing mishaps...which occur rather frequently. I love the kid though. He's motivated, hard working, and fun and ready to baptize this area. It was tough to see him get discouraged after the first few days because Wilmington is quite a bit different than Cambridge, MD. Elder Taylor got transferred to Atlantic City, NJ.
That brings me to the area. Boy oh boy, Wilmington. We have found ourselves praying for the area and the people to be humbled, and willing to listen to our message. Ps, the 3rd pic is a sign Drug Free Zone in one of the sketchier parts of town, near where Xavier lives. I saw it and laughed. Drug Free, my eye. There probably isn't a house down there without drugs. Speaking of Xavier, I have been a little frustrated with his situation. He told us Thursday that he loves it when we stop by and feels better when we do, then doesn't keep the next appt. We don't have the time or miles to keep "checking in" to see if he's home. He told us he "likes smoking" and is not in a good place right now. He's trying to figure out his life. I decided to be blunt so I said " I can promise you Xavier, there will NEVER be a convenient time or a good time to follow the Lord by being baptized. There will always be some excuse or some obstacle that you will have to overcome." I told him if he was serious, to make the decision and go for it. I guess he's not that serious. I think he may come around in the future when he matures a bit, as for now though all we can do is pray for him.
My miracle this week actually happened with a member. On Friday during our nightly planning session ( which you do after getting home between 9 and 10) I felt the need to see this outgoing, semi-active in the past active now, funny member named Solomon. He's black and tall with white hair and when he grows out his white stash, legit. So Saturday morning we get a text from another member and he asks us to stop by Solomon to see if he was going to go to the temple. I got another prompting to go to his house and not his mom's where he usually stays. We caught him in the knick of time. And I don't know why, but that was just a faith building experience for me.
Mosiah 4 hit me this week as I pondered on my relationship with my Heavenly Father more as a dad than some Zeus character who shoots lightening bolts at people. I would invite you to read about it and ponder your relationship with God.
Congrats Katie and Carl, wish I could be there, hope all goes well. Proud of you Wil and Jess for that baptism. And happy birthday to my wonderful sister Jessica! Love you all!
Elder Jacob Robins

 "Thrusting in our sickles" with actual sickles...Elders Taylor and Rich

Driving in the car on P-day. Red toyota Corolla. I'd be jealous.

Elder Taylor and I had dinner with my roommate's brother and his wife

Cicada bug (sick-ay-duh) each species lies dormant for 7-17 years then comes out for the summer, mates and dies. Loudest bugs you'll ever hear. They try to sing you to sleep at night, not too good at it.

"Drug Free zone" in Wilmington, My eye. 

Elder Timmerman & Elder Robins

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Week 13- Prayer is Vocalized Faith

Hola Familia y Amigos!?
I started reading the Book of Mormon in Spanish, so decided to greet the same. But I feel blessed to not be speaking spanish. The Elders in the mission that speak spanish are not working with the same stalwart, wonderful, generous members that English speakers work with.
Starting back on Tuesday, we got a call from the Zone Leaders in Dover asking us to give a blessing to a member friend that was in a hospital in our area. The directions were kind of unclear, but after dinner at a member's home, we went out with the father to the nearby A.I. duPont Children's hospital. This hospital receives grants and is the go to children's hospital in the region, above Philly. The duPont family actually started the hospital because they inter-married so much that their kids started having deformities....sooo. Now they've got this great hospital. duPont makes everything btw. Like from the plasticish covering that goes on the outside of houses to gun powder in the past. It's headquarter's is in my area.
Back to the story. We met the mom down stairs, had our pics taken, and went up to the room. I didn't know what to expect, but we saw a little baby sitting up in this caged crib with a bunch of toys around her. She coughed and wheezed as she reached her arms out to her mom and brother walking in the room. So after chatting a little, I did the anointing of the oil and Elder Taylor gave her the blessing. She started screaming half way through, but before she screamed, I got the strongest impression that this sweet little daughter of God, Ashley, only 10 months old with curly black hair, would be just fine. I hope the mom felt it as well. She grew up Mormon, but is now just non-denominational Christian. Believes in the power of Priesthood blessings though. We said our goodbyes and the mom walked out of the room with us. She informed us that Ashley had been admitted to AI for pneumonia, then several tests later, they concluded that she actually has neuroblastoma and the malignant tumor on her spine has been pressing on her lungs and causing the discomfort and coughing. She will most likely need chemo and radiation, but I felt that all will be alright and that she'd get through it as well as her mother. She is in God's hands. It was a wonderful experience.
On Thursday, we had Zone Training in Newark, DE. Much of the time was spent introducing new "key indicators" we would be keeping track of. So the Philly mission is currently skyrocketing in terms of numbers among the North easter missions...but we've been couting them wrong. So President Anderson came in and changed pretty much everything about the way we keep track of our numbers. For example, our "other lessons taught" do not count if they are first time visits on the street, only for returning, committed investigators. So we saw a bunch of big "0"'s this week. They also checked our area binders and officially announced that we will be getting iPads this transfer. Elder Perry and Packer have said that the laptop was invented for missionaries, so we are kind of seeing the fulfillment of that technological prophecy.
We currently have no progressing investigators...which is awesome. Knicoma moved or was evicted or something, and doesnt' have a phone. So he disappeared into thin air. Xavier is never home when we stop by and isn't keeping commitments. It makes me sad, but I realize that maybe we need to spend our time elsewhere. I have felt the need to give the downtown part of Wilmington a break this transfer. We have been knocking on doors more in Newport, with little success, so this week will be interesting. We are hoping and praying we find new people.
Elder Taylor is getting transferred and we'll find out tomorrow where he's going. Yesterday at church, the testimonies were just wonderful and many were geared towards "Hastening the Work of Salvation" and I just got a wonderful feeling inside. I had read Mosiah 18:21-22 earlier in the week and it came back to me in Sacrament Meeting yesterday. This is what Zion is supposed to feel like, "hearts knit together in unity and in love one toward another." Later in the evening, we stopped by the Anderson family in our ward. They were going on a family walk and invited us to join them. I was hesitant, feeling it would be a waste of time. But right after I had had the thought to turn back and go to the car, we walked into a guy that Bro. Anderson knew. He is a young lawyer with a daughter and wife and seemed open to maybe hearing a message in the future. Sister Anderson has also had some wonderful missionary experiences and I love that the family as a whole is working together to find God's elect. Near the end of the walk, we walked into some "asian-looking people" who were very friendly and talkative. Ellen and Stanley King (sounds Chinese right?) came from China to Michigan and then to DE. They knew many Mormons in Michigan and actually asked about the temple in DC. So we told them about the temple being built in Philly and that families can be sealed together forever. She had a question, but with a simple answer, I think the Spirit of Elijah touched their hearts. And then I felt to bring up Family History, and got them interested in coming to our local Family History Center. So we shall see. Little Miracles. God teaching us how to serve His children and how to obey that "still, small voice" when it does come to you.
"Prayer is vocalized FAITH"
Fact of the Day: Wilmington is on the nations top 10 of most unfriendly cities and has the highest violent crime rate per capita in the nation. Pretty cool...keep it up guys! And on Friday a black woman rolled up in her big Chrysler and asked us if we were preachers. We responded in the affirmative, and she said "Well ya best be gettin' cause a man over there is going to jump and there gona be some ugly shootin goin on. Soo...we stuck around, bought some popcorn and waited for the show. Nah, not really. Kinda wanted to, just to have a cool story. But...we figured God was telling us to get off Xavier's wonderfully "safe" street and go visit some members instead. So we did. And the members made us happy as they are already doing their own missionary work. Gotta love it. Idk what im forgetting, but hope all is well on the homefront. Brothers and dad, don't die on Whitney. Just pretend I'm out there Gracing you with my presence! ha Miracles are all around us if we but look for them!
Elder Robins