Monday, December 29, 2014

The Rx that Saves Us All

Hey Family and friends!

Oh what a week it has been! Christmas was just wonderful and I
realized it's going to be weird next year not jumping around from
house to house with a set agenda. I loved it and I loved most of all
talking to my family. I was explaining to mom and dad that it is not a
sin to be excited to go home from your mission. That doesn't mean
you're trunky! Trunky missionaries stop working effectively and lose
the desire to serve, in most cases. There is so much more for me to do
in the 4 months ago exactly as of yesterday that I have left. Happy
Birthday Katie, btw!

At our Christmas Zone Conference on Tuesday, there were about 90
missionaries from 4 zones which made for a fun get-together. It's
probably not supposed to be called a get together. Whoops. They held a
talent show with some pretty creative numbers. Perhaps my favorite was
Elder Milligan, an African American Elder who did several skits
depicting the kind of people they come in contact with in North
Philly. It was pretty humorous because naturally he did a good job
mimicking the people off the streets of Philly. But he got to the last
skit and we saw him turn toward the stage away from the missionaries
to situate his du-rag on his head and put his grillz in. Grillz are
the bling bling that people put on their teeth as a flashy crown. In
philly there are bus advertisements with grillz for sale at some
business. Kinda funny. Anyway, he got up there, his comp acted as the
missionary. It started off pretty funny with the thug, crips Elder
Milligan acting pretty standoffish toward his missionary companion.

But as the skit went on, it turned unexpectedly spiritual and solemn.
Most thugs and people on the street aren't going to want to hear about
some Jesus Christ. Or so we'd think. Such was the case with Elder
Milligan. He bore powerful testimony of the power we carry as
emissaries of the truth. He was living that life when the missionaries
stopped and talked to him on the street. His life changed forever.
That was just about 2 years ago. I felt bad for all those people I've
judged to be "a thing of naught," just assuming they'd rather us just
keep walking. I bet those missionaries wouldn't have guessed that a
random kid on the street would one day be a powerful representative of
Jesus Christ.

So that kind of set the Christmas Spirit, then the next day on
Christmas Eve we had a few people to visit. The most beautiful
experience, however,  was in a hospital room, at the bedside of a
member who had the whole Ward worried and praying about his life and
well-being. I had met him not a week before, and here he was with
tubes out the wazoo and cords and monitors, and all sorts of machines.
Perhaps I second guessed my desire to go into medicine....ha jk.
Brother Harsh's wife and a nurse soon entered the room where we had
been waiting just a minute. They talked for several minutes, then we
asked if we could sing them a song. I swear the nurse was Mormon!
Sometimes they just have that look, Ya know? We sang our guitar/vocal
rendition of Away in a Manger. Sister Harsh sat down as we began and
before the first verse had ended, she put her face in her hands and
began to cry. She felt so hopeless, helpless and distraught as her
husband lay unconscious on a hospital bed. She knew Christmas would be
very different this year. So hearing the sweet words of the Gentle
Christ filled her with enough hope and strength to get through. I'm
making a narrative out of an otherwise speechless exchange.

Barry Harsh tried to open his eyes as we softly said his name and
lightly touched his hand. What a joy it is being on the Lord's errand,
being an instrument in His Hands and having the opportunity to feel
the sweet Christmas Spirit as I did that night.

Christmas was simple and beautiful as well. We decorated our apt and
opened presents here. I tried something different this year, perhaps I
was already in an emotional mood, but I opened to Luke 2 and read the
account of the Savior's birth between presents. It was just a sacred
experience, a tradition that I'd like to start when I have my own
family. Some may say that I'm too spiritual or a "Peter Priesthood"
but raising kids half heartedly in the gospel in this world just ain't
going to work. We had 7 appts but were only able to make it to 6. I
was so happy to finally meet my niece Averi! Love her already!

At MLC, there was a brief testimony meeting and one of the Elders got
up and bore a powerful testimony of Christ and His ability to heal and
comfort and provide any source of strength and peace that we could
ever need. "That He may know according to the flesh how succor His
people according to their infirmities." -Alma 7:11-13

Because He suffered all he knows how to heal all. Some may say, how
could you possibly believe in the healing powers of someone you can't
even see? To which I say, TRY IT. Try His fruit. Trust that He, as the
Great Physician, has the perfect prescription for you. The
prescription that saves us all. I'm so grateful for the members here
that truly made my Christmas a memorable one.

Love you and Happy New Year! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Go and Do Thou Likewise

Hey Everyone!

Merry Merry Christmas! This really is such a good time of year to be
alive! It's a joy seeing the world around us come together to remember
one person, or at least come together for some sort of common. My new
comp, Elder Eldredge got an email from his dad where he said "I hope
you have a very good non-denominational holiday season this week."
Sounds about right. But why not rejoice in the Love and peace and hope
that ONLY the Savior of all mankind could bring. He who is love and
peace and hope personified came in the most humble of circumstances
perhaps to know what it is like to be me or you or anyone who has ever

I thought leaving Philadelphia would be really difficult, and don't
get me wrong it was so hard to say goodbye to the people and city I
had come to love. Last Monday night Elder Parker and I took the Subway
to Center City where we met probably 40 other missionaries and a bunch
of members and a few non-members at the Philly Temple Site. There was
hot chocolate and cookies and a short devotional by the Stake
President, and we went out caroling in center city. It was soo much
fun. I don't know what it was, there was just an excitement in the
city that night that was contagious and wearing His name and sharing
His joy in song just felt so good! We went to LOVE park where that
famous love sign is and sang there. People stopped to listen to us and
we handed out He is the Gift pass along cards. It was just powerful to
see the simple smiles that came to their faces as we shared our
message of a Savior.

That night I barely slept, as I rarely do when I'm getting
transferred...maybe I'm just nuts. I'll miss Elder Parker, but when we
got to transfers, we soon enough found out that I would not be going
far. Valley Forge West Zone with Elder Eldredge! His comp Elder Cottle
went with Elder Parker, so we literally just did a companion swap.
We'll see each other at stake meetings and Zone Conference tomorrow. I
was really worried about going from city to rural, because the last
few times have been hard for me to transition from the go go go
mentality, to driving and a bit slower. We are in a driving area for
sure and it's far stretched out, but such was not the case. I was
welcomed by the members and President's reassurance that I would love
my new area was fulfilled quickly. We had meal appts. frequently last
week, and some days we had 3+ members feed us in the same day. So the
member support is great out here. And we saw some crazy miracles with
member missionary work.

I'm in the Valley Forge 1st Ward btw, and I am about 5 minutes away
from Valley Forge National Park where that well known picture of
George Washington and the Prayer at Valley Forge took place. I love
the zone and the missionaries here. We had a fast week and we're on
our way to a members home for a Christmas get together with a few
families, but here are a few highlights.

Yesterday after church, a sister from the 2nd Ward came up to me and
told me she felt like I should talk to this young Chinese sister who
just returned home from her mission last week. We got talking and I
soon found out that she had served in the California Oakland/San
Francisco Mission. I told her I'm from Danville, and she was like "No
way! I served in Alamo for 6 months and loved it!" She talked about
President Stone and Bishop Greg Smyth and how much she loved them.
Then right before parting, I thought to ask her about Shirlee Clyde.
So I did and she got a huge smile on her face and said "Oh my, she is
just the sweetest little lady. We visited her almost every week." I
informed her of Grandma Clyde's passing and she just had this sad face
about her, but there is hope in the life to come. So that was neat,
small world. Oh and our Elder's Quorum President grew up in Danville
til he was 16.

We are teaching a lady named Anastasia who was referred by her friend
in NY. She is sweet and really wants the truth and she reads her Book
of Mormon and loves the member family who has since fellowshipped her.
It's a good Ward and I've enjoyed it here so far. We are also working
with a young medical student named Varsha. Both her parents are Indian
and she comes from a fairly devout Hindu background, but in our lesson
she felt an incredible peace as we explained with Brother Rothey, the
need for a Savior and Redeemer. It made sense to her, and she seems to
believe it. But giving up or rather, adding on to an entire tradition
and way of life is understandably not easy in the least. So we are
patient, and rely heavily on the Spirit.

This Christmas season has been special as I've felt a Spirit of peace
and the Spirit of Christ like I've never felt before. It's simple, but
beautiful. I love the account in 3 Nephi of the Nephites praying to
the Lord for fear of being put to death because of their belief in the
coming of Christ. The Lord comforts them and says "Lift up your head
and be of good cheer; for behold, the time is at hand, and on this
night shall the sign be given, and on the morrow come I into the
world" 3 Nephi 1:13. I think the greatest joy we can experience comes
from following the example He set though. In Luke 10 he tells the
parable of the Good Samaritan and in doing so, I'd say He expected us
to live and apply it just as much as the the people in those days.
This year and always may we learn of Christ and His example and "Go
and do thou likewise" in that sense, we can celebrate Christmas all
year round. Love you all, have a blessed Christmas.

Monday, December 15, 2014

"If You Let Him..."

Dear Family and Friends,

Isn't the Christmas season just wonderful? I hope you've all gotten
the chance to watch that video the church put out called "He is the
Gift". I've seen it touch many hearts. This is the perfect time of year
to let go of our fears and just bless others.

Friday night came, and we got transfer calls. Elder Parker and I had
been joking the past week and a half that one of us would be getting
transferred. He kept denying it though. We both really wanted to and
planned on staying one more transfer. This transfer was only 5 weeks
too! Well, 10 days before Christmas, less than that, and the Lord has
need of me elsewhere. At first, Elder Parker was pretty disappointed
and frustrated. We have been doing great work and getting along as if
we've been friends since childhood. "It seems like whenever
missionaries have companions that they get along with, they get
transferred right as things are really picking up! What is this?!"

I feel bad thinking that way because it shows a little lack of faith
in the Lord and in His will and in His timing. So I don't know where I
will be for Christmas but I trust that I will be with my Savior in
Spirit. We have continued to see many miracles here in this area and
many people whose hearts are turning to Christ. Yesterday as I said my
goodbyes, my heart was filled and I realized I don't know how soon I will
see some of these people, if ever again in this life. I have come to
love more as the Savior loves, looking beyond what the common man would
see in his brother. The African clothing, the tokens of love and
appreciation, the pictures, the hugs and handshakes are all great and
I will remember them fondly. But nothing means more to me than the
relationships that have been forged, the hearts that have been
touched, and the experiences that have helped me and others come unto

Yesterday we woke up a little early to ride the trolley to church with
our investigator Musa. He is such a sweet and humble man whom Elder Parker and I felt to talk to on our very first day together. He recently
lost his wife to Ebola in Africa, and his son. So the plan of
salvation has been meaningful to him. He was with us from 8 am to
about 3 pm....that's a long time at church for a first time
investigator. Luckily I had some little morsels of food to give to him
to keep him going. We just had meetings and things to do. Plus
Sacrament meeting was combined with the Phila 4th Ward so it was
filled to the back of the cultural hall. Sacrament took about half an
hour and then the stake choir performed several segments of Handel's
Messiah. It was kind of cool, with a small orchestra as well. Musa
just soaked up church and loved it.

While waiting at the 40th st trolley stop, I said, Musa, I'm leaving
the area. I won't be here anymore! I had to repeat it in different
phrases for him to understand fully. He just looked at me with almost
a pout, a tiny little quiver in the lip. My heart kind of melted. In a
matter of 4 1/2 short weeks, he and I had grown close and he was like
"No, they not supposed to do dat to you."

And then, we knocked on Agatha's door late last night, she came out
with a forlorn look on her face as I had previously texted her to let
her know. She left us at the door for a minute and went back in her
room to get the "little token" she had for me. She came out with lined
paper folded up, put it in my hands then walked away again to get my
"soup"...oh boy! Not the kind of soup you're thinking of. While she
was away, I saw that she had enclosed a decent sum of money in the
makeshift envelope. Again my heart broke as I thought of the
sacrifices these african refugees make to get here and then just to
survive. They are scraping every day just to get by. It almost put me
in tears. Of course I couldn't take the money, but I was touched just
by that token of appreciation. She has felt God's love as she's
embraced this gospel and strived constantly to share it.

God will fill you with His love, 'if you let Him.'

Ed sat us down Monday night at his usual dining room table and made it
quite apparent that he was in a bit of pain and just plain not in a
good mood. I knew we were in for it. So I immediately started pleading
for the Spirit's guidance. Right after the prayer he said, "Alright,
looky here boys. I'm fine with y'all comin' over, I just don't want
you to waste your time because I'm not planning on joinin your church
or nothin'. I'm just going to stick with my church down the way." first thought, natural man in me, 'Satan you are the devil!!!'
He makes so much more work for us that we have to do just to keep our
investigators in the light of Christ. He splattered on about this and
that, and we listened. But I boldly and simply bore my testimony of
God's love for Him. He calmed down and the Spirit gave way to the
Lesson we had planned. We had talked about family history the time
before. So we pulled out the My Family booklet, but he wanted to jump
right to

I kid you not, by the time we left he was just about jumpin up and
down in excitement because of the Spirit and the thrill that he felt
as he began doing family history. He felt a link, he felt the love,
the memories flowing, and the sweet and real Spirit of Elijah. His
whole countenance changed right before our eyes, the room got brighter
and we were both just ecstatic about all that was taking place. "This
is really great guys! I like this, this feels good." All we did was
create an account and add his deceased father to his tree. That was
all he needed.

The Spirit will enter in and permeate your life 'if you let Him.'

Wherever I go next, it's not likely that it will be anything like this
area. A sprinting area. We found ourselves again sprinting for a
trolley that we ended up almost missing until Elder Parker kicked it
into gear and sprinted like a pack of wild wolves was after him
towards that trolley. What would I do for my God. And what would He do
for me. I'd sure hope I'd do anything for Him, and I know He'd do the
same for me. That's if we put in our own effort to keep His
commandments. Just let that "seed of faith" stir and grow with in you
and watch the miracles come. Alma 32:27

Love you all, spread some Christmas spirit this week!

Elder Jacob Robins

Monday, December 1, 2014

"I'll take over here"

 Hey Everyone,

Again, happy Thanksgiving! Hope y'all got your fair share of
triptephan (spelling?) aka the chemical in turkey that actually makes
you sleepy. We had an interesting thanksgiving day, which started out
with a nice breakfast for the Philadelphia district, which is about 12
missionaries. The senior couple, Elder and sister Wrigley, serving in
both wards, put the breakfast on. It was a sweet moment when we went
around the table and said things that we are all grateful for. Sister
Wrigley was the last to go and attested to the wonderful experience
they've had already in the 4 months of their mission so far. We
thanked them for their selfless decision to leave family and
grandchildren and hobbies behind, to come serve alongside us. I love
love love senior couples!

We had interviews Saturday night and haha, it barely felt like an
interview. Well it felt like I was having a spiritual discussion with
Sister Anderson, then with President it just felt like I was talking
to grandpa or an old friend. It felt a lot less formal which was kind
of refreshing for me. And he pulled out my embarrassing moment of the
week to end the interview.

So on Wednesday mornings, the whole mission calls in to a conference
call number and we are trained by president or the assistants or
someone else he assigns on different things. Every week we get on, and
you can hear all the little beeps of people signing on and different
beeps for people signing off, and president starts off by reminding us
all to mute our phones. There's a reason for that. I was in our area
on exchanges with a spanish missionary from s. Philly, Elder Leach.
Well Short story long, President Nye from the mission presidency ended
his training on family history about 15 minutes early, then he turned
the time back over to the assistants. After several tries, they
weren't responding. And there were a few moments of silence.

Well, as I sometimes do, I picked up the phone and put it up to my
mouth and decided to say something to make Elder Leach laugh. No one
was talking, so I jokingly said, "Alright, I'll take over here. We're
just going to end with a prayer Nah, just kidding we'll just
cut it." And then one person logged off, then another and another and
another, then dozens right in a row. The beeps got annoying, so we
logged off and thought nothing more of it.

Elder Leach and I got to district meeting at the S. Philly building
and the other Elders started talking about how the assistants just
didn't say anything, maybe their phone was muted or whatever, and then
Elder Pead was like "Yeah and then someone just got on and said 'I'll
take over here.." Then Elder Leach and I looked at each other and back
at the other elders, and he yells out "What!?!? You didn't mute the
phone?!?!?" I must have turned as red as a tomato. We just started
cracking up and kept on randomly laughing throughout district meeting.
Every time I've been around other missionaries they'll come and be
like, " So Elder Robins we heard you're taking over" or nah, we'll
just cut it. #missionlegendforallthewrongreasons

We had a bit of a slower week with mission leadership council and
Elder Parker had the flu, although we were joking it was Ebola.
Probably not funny. Whoops. There was a man for whom we received a
media referral and he has been in and out of prison, lived a rough
life, was muslim but just didn't find the peace in the religion that
he was looking for. Well we showed up to the given address, planning
to just give the Bible maybe a short lesson and hit the road...aka go
teach other people. We found that he was living at a homeless shelter,
but the liaison gave us a little side room for the three of us to sit
down. It turned out to be one of the most powerful lessons I've had by
far in this area. The Priesthood authority made sense to him, and the
Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith felt right to him and at one point he
even said "This is the most truth I've ever heard in my life." It made
me realize how much we really take such things for granted. Like, the

We had a good lesson with Vince the other day about temples, he has
been commenting a lot on how the Philadelphia temple will enhance the
community and add life and culture to the community. He has an
interesting family situation, but I think he was touched as we talked
about the temple and how families CAN be sealed together for time and
all eternity.

I ran/walked in a suit up and down the rocky steps today! And took a
picture with Rocky. Will send next week. Ponsford and his son Justford
are doing well, we switch to 12 o'clock church in January so it will
conflict with his work schedule. But the Lord will provide a way. We
also taught his wife Justina who has been wondering why there are so
many churches. So we shall see.

Well hey, I was going to share a scripture...nah, we'll just cut it!
Hah but I was thinking about Alma 34:38 and how we should live in
thanksgiving daily and not just on thanksgiving day. Every day brings
things for which we can be grateful.

Love you all,

Elder Jacob Robins

Ma! Look at how much weight I lost! haha or i just found some huge elder's old pants in the apt.

Auntie Katie and Uncle're never going to believe this!! I was sitting in mutual with some of the young men this past tuesday and the YM leaders were doing slideshows of their missions. Brother Pimentil, YM president pulled up pictures of his mission in England and all the sudden got to this one slide and I saw a familiar face with blonde hair....and I was like couldn't be. Then I remembered, and I yelled out in excitement (in the chapel of all places) " WHAT? That guy is my uncle!! He married my aunt (well hello captain obvious..guess that's what adrenaline does to you...cuts off the logic portion of the brain.) Ha but yeah, so our YM president was Elder Adams trainer! He says hi btw, it's a small world after all! 

Our Thanksgiving Breakfast at the church
Here's the view of the field we played our Mission Turkey bowl at right in the city. It was somewhat cold, but bearable. A few zones were there.
up close and blurry
SOO...on of our assistants, Elder Tarry was running toward me and in my mind I thought to move and thought he would do the same. He's not a small guy, and neither of us moved. So my nose came in full force contact with his shoulder and immediately started gushing. I chose to send this picture...a little less graphic than a few of the other pics i have. 
Layers are nice! (I'm guessing this is before the nose incident)

Elder Smilanich and his most prized possession and that which he is most grateful for in hand...BACON. Love that kid!

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Seamless Fabric of Society

Welcome to the Himalaya's!! Yes that was an allusion to Monster's Inc.
inspired at large by the bitter cold weather we had last week. Holy
freezing! Scarves and sweaters and all the winter garb. Poor Africans
just aren't used to it. But we survive. And then good ol' east coast
gives us 72 degrees today and balmy. It rained this morning, but wow
Mother Nature is not on her A game this year. We've had a few snow
flakes one day, while the rest of the east coast is getting pummeled
by Jack Frost.

Anyway, we had a very interesting series of events this week. We
started the week out by going on an exchange with the Drexel Hill
Elders in which it was more or less a double -in to our area. So both
companionships worked in our area, the purpose of this was to
transition them in to taking over Darby. It was a good portion of our
teaching pool and members, but we trust that it was an inspired
decision. And although it's hard to hand over people and the area, we
know the  Lord has so much more in store.

On Thursday Elder Parker and I sat in the mission with Elder Jones,
the "car czar" aka vehicle coordinator. The number of missionaries is
decreasing, so the mission closed 5 areas and had 5 cars to give away.
This is one of two Zone Leader areas without a car...and it is tough
to get to zone and mission meetings on Septa, doable, but
inconvenient. So we were offered this spare car, but after prayerfully
considering the circumstances, we felt to give the car to those same
Drexel Hill Elders because they would need it more than us, covering
much more in terms of rural neighborhoods.

We were walking down the street in what felt like the top of Nepal and
saw some people with a pile of groceries that they needed to take
inside. Ha I'm laughing at the fact that we looked like Eskimos that
day and today we're sweating a bit because it's a little warm and
humid...what is this? But hey I'm not complaining! I love it! So we
took a good portion of their groceries upstairs and found out the
three of them are from Benin...we were like, where in the world is
that? Mr. Hoover surely didn't teach us about tHaT country! It's in
west Africa I believe, happens to be the first person I've met from
there. Oh and I don't know if I mentioned that a few weeks ago I met
and ate the food of a recent convert from Nepal...speaking of
Himalayas. They speak French and so there was obviously a language
barrier. But I love doing the seemingly inconsequential acts of
kindness like that because it makes me feel just a little better, a
little kinder, and a little more like Christ.

Perhaps the mighty change of heart we so earnestly seek and pray for
is not a one time event, but rather a fabric or web of actions and
events that over time change us.

Elder Parker and I helped Vince move two hefty, old TVs to his car and
then to a hazardous waste center in south Phila and he was just so
appreciative of that small act of kindness. We discussed in our lesson
beforehand the concept of overcoming sin and temptation. The best way
to do that is to not only stamp out all the bad, but to fill our lives
with good. He said or quoted that those little acts of goodness,
reading scriptures, being friendly to our neighbors, or going to the
temple or smiling at someone. Our individual actions contribute to the
whole fabric of good of society. Likewise, being a little too casual
about the covenants we've made or are about to make or saying a mean
thing to someone or those seemingly harmless acts of less good. So ha
I'm kind of just thinking out loud. But these things contribute to
that seamless fabric, or we can contribute to the holes in the fabric.
Vince has his quirks as do we all, but he is a very bright man, deep
thinker, that's where I get a lot of these ideas.

"We need to learn how to live so that a weakness that is mortal will
not prevent us from achieving the goal that is eternal." - Dallin H.

Yesterday at church one of the members who is a doctor, gave a
combined Sunday School Lesson on health and hygiene in the wake of
this Ebola scare. She tactfully addresses some legitimate concerns and
scares regarding member families whose loved ones have come to America
from they have Ebola? Are we going to catch it? Lions and
tigers and bears, oh my! She assured us all that the likelihood here
in America of catching and spreading the disease is next to nil.  The
best thing we can do to help each other out and comfort those who have
lost loved ones is to be as the Good Samaritan. Look for opportunities
to lift and brighten and strengthen others.

During one of our sprints between stop bys and appts we got on the
trolley and I ate a handful of Frosted flakes from a bag in my pocket.
I looked to Elder Parker and said, "Frosted flakes, they're more than
good, they're dinner!" Haha it was funny cause that's our life. Guess
you had to be there. But on Saturday we got a call from a member of
the mission presidency telling us we would be having Stake
Coordination meeting with the Valley Forge stake and the mission
presidencies and that they would like us to put together our reports
indicating the involvement of the members with our missionaries. Holy
talito, we had the numbers but were not ready with all the names and
what not. We were scrambling and yet able to get it done just in time
to miss curfew by two and a half hours...we didn't get in until 11:20
Saturday night. That was a blast. But the meeting was great and I love
learning from so many wonderful leaders.

In such meetings, we focus on blessing lives and lifting others and I
think of patrick and Lilian who have been without heat. They can't pay
their bills and so the landlord turned off the heat right as Mother
Nature decided to give us a little taste of mt. Everest. They still
love the gospel and the Book of Mormon, but their financial situation
has been quite the impediment. Lilian came from Belize not more than 3
months ago and has been having a rough rough time with this cold
weather. But one of our kind members lent a space heater to them which
was another stitch in the fabric. Our Liberian members make such good
missionaries and I really think they stay warm because their spirits
are warmed by the light of the gospel.

"And he commanded them that there should be no contention one with
another, but that they should look forward with one eye, having one
faith and one baptism, having their hearts knit together in unity and
in love one towards another.22 And thus he commanded them to preach.
And thus they became the children of God."
Mosiah 18:21-22

It is my testimony that reaching out to the lost, the cold, the hungry
and weary that our hearts will indeed be knit together as one, all
children of the same God.

Love you all,

Elder Jake Robins

Ps mom who do I have for Christmas?