Monday, November 25, 2013

What's in a Name?

Happy Thanksgiving Family and Friends! Oh and, remember to actually give thanks. A member in church said November on Facebook is great because for 30 days out of the year, people stop complaining about their lives and will actually show some gratitude for the blessings they have been given.
So this week, I was tracing my nametag onto a sheet of paper with colored pencil. Then I did something I hadn't really done before, though I've had the nametag for 7 months now. I looked at my last name, and for some reason, I was overcome with this joy and reassurance that I am making my mark as part of a marvelous legacy. What does a name carry or entail? R-O-B-I-N-S. Nothing out of the ordinary(besides the fact that the majority of those with the same last name out there insist on spelling it with 2 "b's" instead of the proper, one. hehe) But I thought about all my ancestors that I don't really know, and those that I do. I thought about the incredible men and women they were and are and the impact they had in this world. We may not be utterly famous, but we are strong and I feel I have much reason to be proud of the name I carry. It is my hope that I will add to the legacy and the impact that my eternal family has so beautifully left.
This week was kind of tough in terms of being able to contact and teach investigators and finding new people. It was just slow. And the bitterly cold wind didn't help. One night in particular, we had been to Cardin's house 2x because he loves to annoy us by not answering his phone (I know, I know, I'm not the best at it either..) So we were just trying to contact him. The last time we knocked, for some reason I just couldn't take it anymore. As we walked down the steps and to the car, I kind of screamed and Gahhhhhh!!! and let it out. I think I had just had so much pent up frustration and everyone says there's a breaking point on your mission where you just kind of well, break. And it's at that moment that you really turn yourself over to the Lord. Well I don't know that I was quite there per se, but yeah I was not a happy camper. We got in the car and I was thinking, "Ugh, let's just go get a f'real>" But wanting to be diligent and continue to work hard for another hour before going in, I didn't say anything. Then Elder Rabe said "I'm almost thinking, let's just go get f'real's" (really good milkshakes that come in a plastic cup and you blend at the gas station store where they're sold). Almost in disbelief of the non-"coincidence" I responded "That's exactly what I was thinking." "I'll buy" he said. "Deal."
I don't know what it was about that ice cream or just the whole scene, but I felt the love of my Savior in the moment. This work is so demanding and exhausting and there are times when the natural man in me just wants to give up and give in. Just go home early. We're not going to find anyone anyway. It's too cold. yada yada yada. All that stored up negativety. So healthy! Right? Let's be real. Satan's potentially most powerful tool against us is discouragement. he will do all in his limited power to bring us to the "gulf of misery and endless wo" (aka despair and discouragement and sin) hel 5:12. And I'm sure we've all been there, or perhaps we are there. I just want to say There is a way out. Jesus Christ, no ordinary man. but the Savior and Redeemer of the World. I know this to be true because I have felt His power in my life. Turn to Him and the doubts and fears of this world can melt away. No your trials may not disappear, but as I experienced this week, we can be strengthened in times of need.
Last Monday, before we went over to have Sister Hengst cut our hair, she texted us saying "Do you want me to cook you up some pancakes and fried pot?" So we were like....ummm, Sister Hengst? Do we need to have a lesson on the Word of Wisdom? Her phone had auto corrected to pot for potatoes. Guess ya had to be there. So we saw Zack once this past week which was kind of tough because that gives the adversary quite a bit of time to move in on people. Which sounds weird, but we have to work so hard to help keep these beloved children of God moving toward their Savior and not the opposite direction. He has to work over time til after the holidays because the Amazon warehouse is in its peak season. Which is great that he's making money, but he gets home on sunday morning at like 3 am and would have to stay up til 10 am to make it to church. So you see the dilemma. Similar problem with other investigators. But the Lord is truly blessing us with miracles. We helped John and Rebecca get ready to move to Seattle earlier this morning and will go to their house for dinner in a bout 10 minutes. Such a good family, I hope and pray that the Lord will prepare their hearts and lives to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ so that they can feel the joy of being an eternal family.
We had Zone Conference on Friday and it was beautifully uplifting and there seems to be an incredible Spirit, it's like an army of missionaries going to battle with the sword of the Spirit. The thing that really struck me was when the assistants had everyone in the chapel be completely still. No clicking of pens or rustling or anything. Just being still. Words can't really describe how I felt. Immense peace and joy, and my thoughts went to the Savior, gentle and loving and kind. Always there to comfort us. And what is His motive. I love Mosiah 28:3 Charity is our motive. Thanksgiving won't be a filipino feast afterall because they cancelled, so we will just have top ramen and toast. It'll be fine. no Im kidding. We'll be fed. Love you all and remember to give thanks always. Alma 7:23 Think to thank. Always. We have so much to be grateful for. And I'm grateful for all of you.
Love always,
Elder Robins

Monday, November 18, 2013

Stand Fast in This Liberty

Hey Family & Friends!
Hope you are all doing well. We had a bit of a slower week, at least in terms of investigators. We did a lot of work, like a lot. But last Monday, Bishop Deutsch took Elder Rabe and I out to dinner at....don't get too excited...SMYRNA Diner. It's a normal sized restaurant with pretty normal food. But I was looking at the seafood items and saw flounder which, to my knowledge, I had not tried before so...thought I'd give it a whirl. For what I thought was the fat yellow fish in the Little Mermaid (what is up with all these Disney references lately?..must be craving it.) it was pretty good fish. And Bishop is a truly inspired man, former inactive member, reactivated and has since reactivated and helped many youth and adults here in the ward.
So on Tuesday night, we stopped by to see Will, Pam, and Morgan. Will and Pam aren't married but have an adorable 2 month old daughter. Morgan is/was a tenant/friend. And it seems like every other time we go over there we meet a new tenant and person to teach. So we've taught the Restoration now I think 3 times in that house. On Tuesday however, Pam opened the door and said, "Sorry guys, Will is passed out up stairs and Morgan is drunk and crying in the basement. They both started drinking this morning." So obviously, we didn't teach them, but that night Morgan started drunk texting us. I was like, dude, you're texting to Mormon Missionaries, kind of funny that we were the ones he was texting. He was telling us things like "I'm a prophet and I'm from the Nepheliem blood line that comes from Moses' wives. I was born with poliydactlisity (extra digits)." ...Right..."Alright, you have a good night Morgan, try to get some sleep."
I find it incredibly sad how easily Satan can use alcohol and drugs and physical enticements to drag people slowly down to hell. And the world will justify it. Oh, just one bottle, I had a bad day, everyone else is doing it, there is no harm in just one smoke. "Oh that I were an angel and ...could...cry repentance unto this people." Alma 20:1. It's heartbreaking how the world thinks that is the only outlet to true happiness. But we admonished him to come unto Christ, really to turn his life over to Christ and actually be changed. For good. I love the people in my life who did exactly that and whose lives are so much more meaningful and happy because of it.
We also stopped by John and Rebecca, the couple that is moving to Renton, WA and he had just gotten in from a business trip and she was bathing the kids. But after about 10 minutes of just chit chat, we got into a spiritually edifying conversation. Rebecca asked plenty of intelligent and thoughtful questions about covenants and the temple and "Why Mormons and not other religions?" So we explained the Restoration of Priesthood Authority and I just love talking about the temple. I explained how civil marriages say "Til death do you part" and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in marriage for "time and all eternity." And what a glorious promise that is. The Spirit was there and hopefully testified to their hearts of the truth of what we were discussing. I know this is true not because mommy and daddy dragged me to Sunday School every week, or velcroed me to the pughs (sp?) in Sacrament meeting or teachers bribing us with food. I'd be dumb to waste 2 years of my life if I didn't know without a doubt that the full gospel and Church of Jesus Christ himself have been restored. I know it. I strive to live it. And boy do I love it.
I got to go on an Oreo Exchange with two black Elders serving in Dover. They are so awesome, E. Tolbert is from Atlanta, and Elder Hamilton is from Jamaica (yah mon!). We did like 5 hours of service with moving some investigators and helping some members etc. Jackie was in the hospital last week for some diabetic problems and is now recovering in a nursing home, but still her joking and sarcastic self. She can be a little flirty sometimes, so we have to take males with us.
Zack and Cardin did not make it to church, but both still want to progress. It just won't be on my time table, which I admit, is really tough. The sooner they get baptized the better, in my mind. That's not always true. The Lord knows what's best, and of course they have their agency. Today the exterminators came and sprayed our apartment with a synthetic fossil dust that actually cuts up the bed bugs and flushes them out. So hopefully members won't act like we have the plague anymore since that's been done.
I am out of time, so I'll send pics next week, but we went with Sister Kemer to St. Andrew's school in Middletown, De, where they filmed the Dead Poet Society. I played a dinky little, but cool old pipe organ. I love you all. Mos. 23 is the script ref.
Elder Jake Robins

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Clay in the Potter's Hands

Dear Fam and Friends,
Yikes it got cold fast! Today we woke up to a very wet snow flurry and I had to remind myself that winter happens on the east coast, not just Rexburg, ID. Nothing like Rexburg snow though. It melts before it even hits the ground, but still comes down in snow form..if that makes anyyy sense. The leaves are falling and skies are getting gray, but hard work we do each day. Had to finish the rhyme.
So we had a great lesson with Zack and Sister Guessford last Tuesday and she is a convert to the church. Wonderful story, hers is. But she was a perfect fellowshipper for him. We talked about the need to stop drinking and other word of wisdom issues. Not to be blunt, but he loves his weed. That will be hard for him to give up. I laughed whenI looked at his shirt as we talked about the W.O.W. An adidas shirt but the symbol was a marijuana leaf and the brand caption was Cannabis. Soo funny. and ironic. We realize that he won't likely quit all that stuff on our time frame, but as long as he has the desire and faith, the Lord will help him. His life is changing so much. And he came to church on Sunday!! We met him in the parking lot and he walked into the chapel sportin' his black cargo pants, baseball cap, and Dale Earnhardt jersey with a scruffy go-tee. But what does dress matter, as long as he is there and feeling the Spirit. Which he did, and he enjoyed it all. He didn't trust us until the 3rd lesson, and now we just have this awesome friendship with him and he told us he'll be devastated if we leave. That's what member friends are for!
Christine is a thinker and talks a million and a half miles per hour, but we love her. And when we stopped by on  Saturday, I got another feeling that Satan had been working on her. Sure enough, her first words were "Yeah hey guys, I don't think I'm going to do this whole LDS, book of mormon thing. I just don't feel like God would add to what's already in the Bible." My hear dropped as I thought we had already tried to resolve this concern in the last lesson. But I think the adversary knows that this sweet woman has great potential as a daughter of God, and he just wants to thwart that potential. Gahh! Satan, you are the devil! Ha, I've found myself saying that recently. We really are waging an all out war against Satan and boy do we have to be vigilant. So we invited her to keep reading and try us out at church. Come, join with us as Pres. Uchtdorf so wonderfully stated.
Miracle on Main Street...aka the library. We went to work and find on Facebook as we usually do in the morning. I sat down next to a man that looked to be about in his 20's. He was unfamiliar with the library and computers and how it all worked, so he asked several questions and I gladly helped him work it all out. Several minutes later, he glanced at my nametag and asked, "So what kind of salesmen are ya'll?"
We're not salesmen actually, we're missionaries. But what we have we are giving for free and it is more valuable than anything money can buy. He perked up as I pulled up a copy of the Book of Mormon. We taught him a quick little lesson there, then set up and appt to teach later.
Fast forward to friday, we taught him and his wife the Restoration and asked about their religious backgrounds. Cardin studied Islam, and his wife, Tynequah, grew up Baptist. They expressed an interest in finding a solid middleground religion to raise their two adorable children up in. I grinned at the prospect of having a wonderful family join with us. The miracle is that Cardin had not planned to go to the library that day, but he got a feeling that he needed to go for some reason. He also didn't usually talk to people, but he opened his mouth and talked to me. So it was touching to me to see these two wonderful people brought to us by the hand of the Lord. They accepted our invitation to be baptized that first lesson and Elder Rabe and I left the lesson just beaming with joy. Such people and occurrences make it all worth it.
I have been interacting, discoursing if you will, with many different types of people. Some recently have been very learned and intelligent. And I feel dumb or insufficient in knowledge to talk with them. Then the Spirit reminds me, "Just testify Elder." And you can't deny a pure and simple testimony. Why are  different people put in our lives?
I think Jeremiah 18:1-6 has an answer. Christ talks about the broken vessels, which all of us are. He wants to take our lives and reshape and mold them into what He knows they can be. I find so much comfort in knowing that as I try my hardest to live the Gospel of Jesus Christ, He can make me what HE needs me to be. Same is true with all of us, if we just let Him. Ponder what you can do to let Him shape you each day of your life, and you will feel a greater sense of purpose. Just as Zack does, just as Jackie does when she prays, or me or anyone who submits to His will. Let us be clay in the great potters hands.
Love you all so much, have a wonderful week,
Elder Jake Robins

Monday, November 4, 2013


think anyone lives here?

Ceremonial "burning of the tie" for my 6 months mark...don't worry, it's not a Mr. Mac tie.

Blurry me and miguel.  So Miguel owns chicken houses. I was excited before I saw it, but this was just a jaw dropper. So he has one one story building, and a newer two story. Each level holds 95,000 chickens X3=240,000 chickens. That's a lot of feathers! He raises them to four months then another dealer takes them. 25 tons of feed in 3 days. a huge semi full of chicken droppings filled in 2-3 days. Like, it's nuts. Miguel is just the bomb too. Such a nice man and so patient with my terrible spanglish.  Feathers flying everywhere when we would walk by, the chickens would freak out and start quacking like maniacs.

Jake's Latest

Family and Friends!
How's it going? Oh what a week it has been! And I am ever grateful to be part of this work, rarely is it easy, but it is always worth it. Many experiences with members and non-members made me think of something Sister Shaia (who just left our district) said. Too many people see our name badges and start vomiting their life stories on us like we're paid, professional psychiatrists. We are not psychiatrists people! This badge simply means we are representatives of Jesus Christ and full-time stalkers. Just trying to find people to bring closer to Christ! Really have to take everything with a "grain of salt" never really got that until the mission.
We got Sister Bradshaw in the ward and had ward coorelation on Wednesday. She is just on fire and wants to do all she can to help the ward and it's contagious. The ward needs a LOT of work. By the ward, I mean the members. Which can be discouraging. We aren't in charge of their conversion, they are. And as she asked about the ward, I brought up a particular family...little did  I know that I was opening a can of anacondas (not just worms). Everyone just erupted over this nasty divorce going on and the ward is split. Literal nightmare. But never underestimate the power of the Atonement in changing situations and changing lives. We also met with Steven that night and it just felt off from the beginning. It was like pulling teeth to get him to say two words about why he was so down and wouldn't talk. He told us he wasn't ready to get baptized. This is the son of an active member. So it was disheartening, and we don't know exactly what's going on, but trust that the Lord will continue to prepare him.
Wednesday night (oct.30) is known as "mischief night" really only in the greater Philadelphia region, so we were cautioned to be safe, but didn't see anything. We visited Sherissa and her 4 year old son, Wayne, wasn't at the door so I found myself saying, "Where's Lil' Wayne" then I realized...oh..great nickname for a 4 year old, with a rapper as a role model. As we were saying goodbye Brother Collins who was with us that night, he said, "Remember who you are, just don't get too down about it." He can be a punk, but he's funny.
Thursday was an entertaining district meeting. We have an oreo tripanionship with two big black elders and a white elder. Soo funny when they got put together. Including me, there are 3 Jacob's in the district. Not a very popular name. President Anderson asked us to be in by 6 pm on Halloween, but we didn't see a single trick-or-treater! We were even prepped with our 3 fun sized m&m's bags!
On Friday, we took a trip out to Leipsic (I thought it was Lipe-sick, it's actually lip-sick, so I just call it Lipstick) Delaware. It's about 10 miles away, so we do have to plan for it, but it's not like to mars and back. We tried contacting a referral who wasn't home. Then we decided to knock a few doors in the 10-street town. Many houses boarded up or abandoned. The town lies right near the large Delaware river with an offshoot, Leipsic River, running through it. For some reason, I was kind of drawn toward the water. And we got to the water front with fishing boats and small docks and knocked a few doors. Then a man in his truck backed up to the dock. He got out and said, "What, are you salesmen?"
"Nope" I replied, " We aren't selling, we are actually giving away."
 "Oh really?" he said skeptically. "Everything in the world today costs money."
"Well, what we have is worth more than anything in the world. You cannot buy it." Then I held up the Book of Mormon and we taught a mini-restoration lesson on a fishing dock. After that we transitioned into asking what he does. So his name is Boe, he "works the water" as they say and his dad did as well. Humble man with a small family, lived in Leipsic his whole life. He is currently "conking" or fishing for conch's (he said conk's). He showed us a small conch and the traps they use. The town used to be bustling, but has since died with the drop in local seafood i guess. Anyway, he was just the nicest man and accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. He is always on the water, so he may be hard to catch, but I trust the Lord will work something out. It made the whole trip out there worth it. And cameras simply cannot capture the gorgeous scenery out here. California is beautiful in the fall, but there is just something about the trees out here. The colors are vibrant and bright against the soft blue sky. And Delaware gets magnificent sunsets. Gah! I love it!
Yesterday, Jackie made it to church with Sister Guessford. We sat next to her in the very back row of the chapel. It was fast and testimony meeting and one member got up and was talking about how he used to be a Baptist, when Jackie heard that she shot a youthful fist bump into the air and whispered, "Yes!" Then in the middle of a particularly poignant testimony about Christ's ability to help and heal us amidst the deepest trials, Jackie yelled "Amen!" from the back row, right next to me. The congregation bursted out laughing and the speaker said, " I have always wanted that to happen to me!" Sister Collins came up to Jackie afterwards and introduced herself and said she's always welcome back at church. It's refreshing to have a little baptist zest in the meetings every once in a while!
After the meeting I talked to the Dover Stake President, Howard Long, and after telling him I am from CA, he said he is from Modesto. I asked him if he knew any Stone's...Temple president in Tahiti..His son is my stake President in Danville..He said oh, Jared Stone, and his dad is Tom? Kinda cool connection there, shout out to the wonderful Stone family!
Miracle of the Week: So a few weeks ago we contacted a Spanish speaking referral named Miguel. Then just last week we called him back and actually set up an appt with him for sunday. Then we asked Brother Cherriman from the ward (who speaks spanish) to go with us. He willingly,giddily agreed, excited at the prospect of using his spanish. So we went out to Millington Maryland, to this address that didn't seem to exist. After a mile long dirt road, we found this run down trailer house, so we knocked on the door. A man opened it and said, "Hermanos!" He let us in and we had a wonderful conversation that Elder Rabe and I weren't able to participate in! That was sweet. Ha, but I was able to pick out parts of it and get the gist of the conversations. We asked how he got in contact with the church and he went to his closet and brought back a dozen pictures of his newlywed daughter in front of the Mexico City temple. The Spirit washed over us as I thought of the prospect of this humble man being sealed to his family for time and all eternity. He is pretty much the only non-member in his family. He is the only one, besides a son, here in the US. He already had a "Libro de Mormon" I mean.. this man is prepared. So we taught the Restoration and I opened my mouth and the Spirit filled it with Spanish words and I was able to read from the pamphlet and add to the lesson, then Brother Cherriman would clarify. It was so amazing to feel the Spirit working through me. No way I would have been able to speak without Him. Working with a God of miracles.
In Moroni chapter 6, (please don't tune out for the spiritual note) we learn about the purposes of going to church. After baptism, we are "wrought upon and cleansed by the power of the Holy Ghost...and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who is the author and the finisher of their faith." I am really having to learn a lot about the concept of faith, so this brings great comfort in knowing that Christ starts our faith and is the very reason we keep going. He refines us and puts the "finishing touches" on us. Why go through life without Him? I marvel that people want to do it on their own, but some merely need an invitation. Which I am willing to give.
Love you all, stay safe and strong.
Elder Robins
In front of the quaint little Lipstick sign

The magic conch shell...don't watch Spongebob, it's bad for your brain.

The dock in Leipsic where we met Boe. Gorgeous day outside, thank heaven's for nature...oh wait, it hasn't snowed yet.