Monday, October 28, 2013

Caterpillars and Red Cups

Hi Friends and Family!
I've had a great week and love all the emails and letters of support and I know we are blessed to live in this day and age with such communication technology. We had a fun little trunk or treat in the church parking lot on Saturday from 7-9pm. It was rather fact, I think several little kids went home sleeping zombies. We didn't really dress up, but I put this weird alligator toy in my pocket so people couldn't say I didn't have a costume on. It was a fun little get together.
Last night, Elder Rabe and I joined the youth at BYD at Bishop Deutsch's request. We did a few activities where the youth acted out how they would handle encounters with church related questions. The theme was "Hastening the Work of Salvation" which is really just inspired in general. WE aren't just bringing people the chance to have this joy and happiness, but we are rekindling the fires of those who once had it already. Bishop told the youth that the Smyrna ward is currently at 28%  weekly attendance, with nearly 450 people on the roster. I'm sure every ward has it's struggles, but that just seems a little daunting. So we and the youth and leaders will be visiting people on the list who's names we don't know. This ward is like a big metal ball at the top of a free fall ride. Tons of potential energy there, we just need to release the doubts and gates and turn it all into kinetic energy. (thank you high school physics for teaching me intelligent sounding vocabulary-ha).
I know this is chronologically way out of order, but Wednesday we knocked on a former potential investigator's door. She answered and after a minute we learned that she plays the organ for her church. I perked up immediately and told her I play too and that we need another organist for our congregation. We then gave her a Book of Mormon and she seemed more than willing to read and pray about it. Our apartment has a little dinker organ...why a missionary apt has an organ?...I'll never know. But nonetheless (I've started speaking in scripture terminology) I love having a little something to toink around on. Pedal board doesn't work, but I like it for the buttons. Such a tactile person.
Saturday was just off. It felt like we were driving and knocking doors for hours on end. So I was praying that we would be put in the path of someone who needed the gospel. As we were getting back in the car after the thousandth visit of the day, I saw a young man, about 16 walking past across the street. It felt like the Spirit almost dragged me across the street to this young man, then before I knew it I opened my mouth and asked, "Do you ever wonder why we're here on earth?" "Yes!" He replied. I continued explaining and asking as guided by the Spirit and set up an appt to meet with him this week. The miracles that God can do through us if we but open our mouths or simply ACT!
We have had trouble getting investigators to get to church. Zack keeps saying he will come, but since he's gotten this new job, he's always tired bc of the night shift hours. Antonio told us yesterday that he has been reading the Book of Mormon with his son. Elder Rabe and I noticed a dramatic change in his countenance since the first time we met with him. The light of Christ and the gospel is filling his life. It's such a miracle to see.
I want to gain charity more than almost anything. I just want to be filled with that pure love. Moroni explains "Charity suffereth long, and is kind...rejoiceth in truth...Charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever."(Moroni 7:45-47). I can be so sarcastic and rude, and have always wanted to change, but never really knew how I guess. Yesterday, the theme at church and for the day was charity, and compassion and the pure love of Christ. Stories were told that pierced me to the core. Gah I can't describe how wonderful it felt. I'm not a whole lot more charitable or loving today than I was yesterday, but just like conversion it's a daily process. So what are we doing each day to have that charity,  that pure love that changes hearts?
Love you all, help someone else feel loved today,
Elder Jake Robins
Caterpillar I caught cause it looked cool. I didn't know they actually eat leaves, but it did. (thank you disney movies)

The ward trunk or treat, inside part, i noticed I'm not good about taking pics of myself..sorry!

Just the opposite of what the world needs to hear, but hey. Kinda funny

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Latest

Dearest Family and Friends,
Oh the joys that come from the chance to serve the Savior full-time. So much happens each week it's hard to remember the details, but just knowing that I am making progress and helping others to make progress towards their Savior is comforting. So we successfully got rid of the bed bugs and I still came away with no bites. We went back to Jackie's yesterday and found MORE bedbugs crawling on her couch. So we slyly and politely killed them while she was talking. Her kind of pretty couch is now covered in the black spots and streaks that the little buggers leave. She has had many neighbors and family members question her decision to become a Mormon. But she said the more she prays about it, the more she feels this is the direction the Lord is leading her, so it's amazing to see how her faith is being strengthened.
I went on exchanges in Dover for the third week in a row on Wednesday, this time was with Elder Tolbert from our district. He is black and he's from right outside Atlanta Georgia. Loves deep fried food and he is just awesome. We had some good conversations and just a good exchange. After giving away 3 copies of the Book of Mormon to these fairly humble, slightly drunk women, we encountered another black man, lighter than Elder Tolbert. The man right off started asking why a black person like Elder Tolbert would be a Mormon if the Book of Mormon says God cursed the Lamanites with dark skin. yadada. All he wanted to do was bash. The Bible this, Bible that. We tried to testify simply and powerfully several times, to no avail. He would just spout off, well how do you know that. We ended up walking away flustered and slightly angry that our simple testimonies weren't able to "confound the wise" but the Lord moves in mysterious ways.
We bought new pillows that night as a caution for the bedbugs. I think I can sleep a little tighter now. Ashley and Ryan (Ryan we miraculously met last week after not having met missionaries for close to a year) took us to a nice Hibachi grill in Dover a day after we helped them moved from a trailer park to her mom's house (temporarily). The real miracle was that in the car ride home, we got Ryan talking about religion and how he doesn't feel like the church they've been going to is the right one for them. We told both of them that this would bless them and their two little boys more than anything else in the world. So we are hoping and praying that their hearts will continue to be softened to the message of the gospel.
Interesting tidbit about Smyrna or this area, we actually have Menenite colonies, I guess you would say, that live in Clayton, Dover, and parts of Maryland, still in our area. So it's not just up in PA like I had originally thought. Elder Brayden Prestwich serving in this mission wrote an article in this month's New Era on missionary work and technology, should have a picture of a tablet on it.
The other night, we met with one of our truly amazing members, Sister Guessford, at Will and Morgan's house. The first half hour of the lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ was just a train wreck. Will was in and out of the house smoking. Friends and family were all over the house, people were eating and making food and noise. Morgan was sitting across from me at the table looking half dead of boredom as we went over repentance. It was a small nightmare. I said a quick prayer that Will would pay attention and that the Spirit would help us.
An amazing thing happened. Not more than 3 minutes later, Will sat down we read 2 Nep 31 and he got up to get a highlighter bc he liked one of the verses so much. Sister Guessford shared her miraculous story of conversion and the Spirit just settled in the room. A feeling of peace came and Will's wife Pam joined us (and she never does) and Sister Guessford talked to her about forgiving her father and the peace that can come. I still don't know how it all happened, and Will can't get baptized for a while because of legal issues. But I promised him that if he moved forward with faith, the Lord would provide a way. He is a God of Miracles. That's for sure.
Another man we found in a trailer park in Townsend, north of Smyrna, literally got out of prison a few weeks ago. So like fresh out of prison. And he has a very humble demeanor which we are hoping will last and bring him to accept the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I found myself loving him a whole lot more than judging him. I saw him more through the lens of Christ, as what he has the potential to become. Zack told us he would have trouble giving up weed in order to get baptized. He argued that God told us in the Bible that we can use all the plants and herbs of the earth. And he says he feels closer to God when he's smoking it. I don't know what weed's like. Don't need to. But I do know that it is not men who sets the commandments. It is God who gives us the commandments. Weed may seem beneficial in the moment and even healthy, but let's be real. Who do we trust. God or some high up doctors.(not to bash doctors)? Doctors right? We told him we would help him increase faith in God, we don't know the reasons for all things, but God does. So let us exercise faith in Him.
I missed Sacrament meeting two weeks in a row because of Stake and General Conference. Makes you grateful for the strength that comes from taking the Sacrament each week. I opened up to Moroni 9:25 this Sunday and I was impressed with the wording in the verse. "Be faithful in Christ...may Christ lift the up...and the hope of his glory and of eternal life, rest in your mind forever." Why are we here on earth? We want to return to God, eternal life. I want such thoughts to always be on my mind. Love you all. Have a wonderful week.
Elder Jacob Robins
Legislative Hall @ night(Dover State Capitol)

Taking pictures at zone training. I don't think we had enough cameras

Senility Prayer @ a member's house- so funny

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite!

Hi Family and Friends,
So I always loved it when mom or dad would tuck me in and say "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite!" Cute little bedtime rhyme right? mmmm, not so much when the bed bugs actually do bite. Elder Rabe woke up Sunday and Monday with these small little bites on his arms and legs; some formed small triangles, some form straight lines. And he recognized them as bed bug bites. And so the nightmare begins!  So we take allllll the blankets in the apt, all the bedding, our clothes, everything to the laundromat and wash it. Just as you would for a lice treatment. They get in the seams and small cracks of fabric, so you have to wash and dry it all to kill them. Then we used permethrin and a special Raid to spray all the bedding and furniture in the apartment. It ate up most of our day. I luckily didn't get bitten, but I feel bad Elder Rabe was the one to get bitten.
We visited with Jackie in the afternoon  yesterday and found that an exterminator was there spraying for bed bugs....Alas, we found the source! So we talked to Bill and Jackie as we waited for the man to leave. I looked down at the seat cushions of the kitchen table chairs and found a little something crawling. These cushions had over a dozen full-sized bugs on them. They're hard to squish and kill cause they're so flat, but we got most of them and then helped her put the cushions in the dryer. So that's that. We're still looking out for them.
Jackie came to Stake Conference on Sunday in Dover. They talked about the temple and keeping covenants there and missionary work. Soo it was a great meeting for members, but I had to do a lot of explaining to her. She is still working on getting an answer as to whether or not she feels this is true, so we are being patient with her and giving her time to read and pray about it all.
Last Wednesday I went on exchanges with Elder Spackman (Zone Leader) in Dover. We walked up to this college-aged young man and started a conversation with him. We asked if he knew anything about the church to which he responded, "Yeah, you worship Lucifer, right?" I did my famous eye roll and laughed, thinking he was joking. His facial expression did not change though...Really? Where in the world did you hear that? He had talked to some friends and consulted the always trusty and reliable internet. Gotta love google. But he was touched by our testimonies and the Book of Mormon and the Zone Leaders have since said that he seems willing to get baptized. It felt awesome to be an instrument in the Lord's hands in not only clearing up misconceptions, but testifying of the truth we do have. 
For dinner that night, I got to go "on base" at Dover AFB to a member's home. Cute little family. We have also been visiting a bunch of less actives who literally live in Timbuktu. The boonies of Delaware, I know, I didn't think DE was big enough to have boonies either. Yesterday I saw a Menenite family in Walmart dressed up in their dresses and bonnets and aprons. It's cool to be in a part of the country where so many different cultures live so close together. It helps to recognize the fact that we are ALL children of the same God. No matter our beliefs or our backgrounds. No matter the mistakes we've made in the past. No matter the color of our skin. We are all  children of a loving Heavenly Father. It's taken me effort to recognize that and see people as such, but my perspective is changing as I help others come closer to that God who gave them life.
CHAPTER 2-sure does seem like it
We met a John and Rebecca, sweet little family and John had gone to temple square a few weeks ago, church found out that he was baptized when he was 12, has since gone inactive and so we got a referral for us to visit him. So we did and they are just the nicest people. He told us he was moving to Seattle, but before i got a chance to ask he said, "yeah we're looking at a house in Renton." I jumped out of my seat and told him I have an aunt and uncle in Renton!! They'd be more than willing to have you (and the missionaries haa) over for dinner when you get there. Hope you're ok with that Brian and Pattie! Ha, but that would be awesome if you guys got to meet them.
We set several people with Baptismal dates, the most solid so far is Steven, the son of a ward member. He is 14 and knows more about the church and the gospel than a lot of 14 year old members. He is gung ho about getting baptized and reads the Book of Mormon faster than I do, So we are excited for him.
In my interview with President Anderson on Saturday, he asked me what I do about stress and the burdens of missionary work. I told him I try to do exactly as the Savior asks us, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest." We talked about how exhausting it is when people choose not to accept the truth or when things just don't go as planned. We put our hearts into this and I have felt like the Sons of Mosiah " That salvation should be declared to every creature...could not bear that any human soul should perish." (Mos. 28:3) And that's really all we can do. Be obedient, act in faith, and rely upon the Lord to do the rest. I hope all is well with everyone. Remember to Smile, the world needs it=)
Elder Jake Robins 

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Treasures of Life

Hi family and friends!

Oh what a wonderful week it has been. I feel so blessed to be a missionary for our Savior at this momentous time. With General Conference, investigators taking steps toward baptism and several other uplifting experiences, I feel the Lord has a way with blessing each of us with the experiences necessary to grow and learn in this life. So last Monday after p-day, we went to the Hengst's home for haircuts and dinner. It took quiiitttee a bit longer than we expected, but it's hard to complain when you're getting a free haircut. She has a mini salon right off her kitchen and several customers come monthly. So she's the rill dill. Then she found out I'm an organ nut, so she opened up and turned on their $70,000.00 that's right, seventy thousand dollar Lowrey theatre organ. It's got every little bell and whistle imaginable. And the best one in that family plays the organ....ummmm. No comment. So of course., I sat down to tink around on it. Granted, "I Need Thee Every Hour" sounds a little on a theatre organ, still pretty cool. We will do some gardening this week to repay them for their kindness. (PS they bought the organ much cheaper off a friend.)

On another organ note, between conference sessions I opened up the little toaster organ (that's what the ward organist calls it)'s about the quality of a toaster...but that's alright! She found out I'm musical and asked me to sing and play in Sacrament Meeting and Stake Conference like the second time  she talked to me. But hey, President Schaefermeyer encouraged me to "be creative and use my talents to bring people to the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ." So such opportunities are a blessing. 

I got on Facebook last Tuesday and saw a picture of Enock, Elder Timmerman, and others in white clothing. Tears came to my eyes as I thanked my Heavenly Father for Enock's decision to follow Jesus Christ and to be able to see the fruits of my  labors. What a miracle it was that Enock first sought us out to come closer to Christ. The power of the Spirit in conversion is truly the answer to his decision. Love it

We had a lesson with Jackie and Sister Guessford on Wednesday. She picked up the remote and seemed to be pressing "talk" and then put the tv remote up to her ear. We laughed as she realized that there was no one talking on the other might help if it was actually a phone. We set a baptismal date for her and asked her to pray about her decision.

Zack, son of a less active, showed up to the first session of conference which was the absolutely perfect session for him. Every message had something in it for him, just another sign that the Lord is in this work and helping consecrate our efforts. I'm sorry, we have Zone Unity down in Seaford,DE  and have to start heading now, so this will be cut short. I'm sure you're all fine that I didn't have time for my weekly novel. Nor pictures. I absolutely loved every bit of conference and agree with President Monson that this was one of the most uplifting and inspiring conferences yet. As my dad said in an email, "The pace of preparation is quickening" the Lord is hastening His work and we have the choice to choose whether or not we are going to be a part of it. D & C 84:85 promises that if we "treasure up in our minds continually the words of life" we will be given the inspiration to know what to say and how to help people. How true that is. I love you all have a wonderful week, and  SMILE, you are a Child of God!


Elder Robins

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

After the Manner of Happiness

Friends and Family,
How are you all doing!? Thanks for the email and love, support, and prayers. Much needed and appreciated. This has been perhaps the slowest week on my mission so far, yet so much happened that I can barely remember. Short term memory loss, I swear. Today we are in Dover for P-day. Dover is just a beautiful city, with older colonial, but new-looking buildings. I was going to send a picture of the oldest capitol in the nation, Dover, DE, but we did emails before I could take a pic, so next week. The car is getting an oil change as I type, this is the Zone Leader's area, so they drove us to the library. It is nearly impossible to go site-seeing or do fun things on P-day with all the driving around and stuff, it just seems like much more effort than it's worth, especially for an hour or so of fun.  Later, Sister Hengst from the ward will cut our hair and said she would feed us dinner, "if we were good boys...." We get dinner about 4-5 times a week, which I think is perfect. 15 days in a row in Wilmington was just too much. We like a break every once in a while. The members are awesome here though. I really am coming to love this area and the experiences this past week definitely helped.
On Wednesday, we planned to go out to Maryland to visit some less-actives and a former investigator. We didn't plan too well and it ended up eating up quite a bit of miles, but it was a good day. The Smyrna Ward was one huge area til they split it 3 transfers ago. It goes from eastern DE to the Eastern shore of Maryland. I thought Wilmington was a big area. The former investigator we stopped by had moved 3 years ago, so we decided to 5x5 (knock 5 to the left, 5 across, 5 to the right). The only neighbor across the street was a big cornfield, and we didn't think those "ears" would listen too well, so we went to the right. As we were walking, I rhetorically posed the question to Elder Rabe, "Is the Lord waiting for me to show unwavering faith in knocking doors to bless me with someone to teach? or will we just eventually find someone?"
Literally the next door, a woman comes out from around the back and says "Can I help you?" We told here who we were looking for. Learned that her name was Marsha and began telling her what we do. She had been praying for nearly 6 months to increase her faith and felt that the baptist, methodist and other churches she had gone to just didn't "click" for her. My mouth must have been wide open because I was so excited...and in shock after the question I had asked 20 seconds before. Does the Lord listen to us? I think yes. Anyways, she seemed very interested, I testified of the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and she thanked me sincerely. We got her contact info and left. Excited. Very excited.
Come Sunday (yesterday) we call her to set up an appt for this week. She tells us that she read it..ish.. and "researched" the church. And We all know thegreat stuff the internet has about the Mormons! She feels drawn toward the baptist church, which is totally acceptable and we  respect her decision, but we asked her to pray again to know which way she should go, not influenced by the world, but by God.
There is a cricket, or maybe a family of crickets in the apartment. It was Monday night when we really noticed it. So we pulled out the phone and played the cricket chirp ring tone and the real cricket would respond. Poor thing just wanted a friend...or mate..either way, all he's going to find is dust bunnies.
We are teaching the sister of a recent convert named Ashley. She can be rude, or so she says, to people, but I really like her and she has a very genuine Spirit. We taught her the Restoration with Bro. Langenstein (whom I met and prayed with in the VA hospital in Wilmington). She said it was the most powerful lesson she's had yet, and she's been meeting with missionaries for a while. So she must have felt the Spirit. She has two little youngsters, some of the wildest kids yet. The 6 year old is just a ball of energy.
Bill and Jackie, they call eachother husband and wife, but she also mentioned he was her uncle, so we are like...umm, which one is it? We have no idea, and it feels a little weird to ask. But Jackie came to church on Sunday, Fast and Testimony meeting, and she just loved loved loved it. Sister Guessford picked her up for church and they were laughing and talking like they had always been the best of friends. She felt welcome and we are hoping she knows at this point what the Spirit feels like. She is awesome, Bill won't come to church because he doesn't want to look grungy and church clothes are too much of a hassle to put on. But they both read and love the Book of Mormon.
Oh by the way, while out in Maryland, we stopped by a members home. 200+ acres of inherited farmland and a ton of hens and chickens and pigs and all sorts of animals. So beautiful out there. A little different than Wilmington...I wanted to ask them how they like their neighbors..4 miles down the road. Instead of mountains like Idaho, it's all surrounded by towering trees. Made for a spectacular sunset which my Barbie digital camera was sadly not able to catch.
There is a sister in our ward who was baptized as a teenager, her mom just died a year and a half after joining the church. The mom was anti-mormon before joining, but came around as she saw how the gospel was changing her daughters life. She passed the Friday before I came into the area, so I never met her but she sounds like quite the Spiritual Giant.
At the apartment, we have normal food that college kids might strike that, that's a lie. We eat better than I did in college. Much better, but that's cause we have great members and a set amount of money per month, so if I budget, I can usually buy the food that I want. Yes I have had several Philly cheese steak sandwiches, the best one being on the Riverfront in Wilmington so far. None from downtown Philadelphia though.
So I had a rough day last week and things just weren't working out, so I got on my knees to pray and felt to open the Book of Mormon. I picked up where I left off in 2 Nep. 5 where the Nephites are separating from the Lamanites, living the gospel and being led by Nephi. Then I read verse 27
                      "And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of HAPPINESS."
Tears came to my eyes as I read Nephi's inspired words. We live in a tough world with suffering and pains and tests that none of us want to go through. Some may curse God and turn away from Him when trials come, but I have seen many sides of the spectrum of happiness. Can I just echo prophets and apostles and the scriptures, there is NO other way to true happiness than through the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Think about it, every worldly outlet to peace and happiness just ends in eventual darkness and misery. Momentary pleasure or happiness, never lasting. I feel happy living this gospel. I just love it and know it to be the most true thing mankind can hold onto. And at the center is Jesus Christ Himself. Please, if you are not really happy, consider what this gospel might do for you.
I love you all and really want the best for you all. That comes from a love of my Savior and His desire to bring us all home.
"In our lives, are we priortizing the things of Eternity?"    -Sister Shahan from the ward
Love much,
Elder Jake Robins

little froggy, from Barbie digital's eyes
(Jake has a really junky and cheap camera like little girls get for fun,
so we always teased him about his "Barbie digital" camera)

"Preaching the gospel to every creature" (Mormon 9:22)

Driving in Maryland