Monday, January 27, 2014

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is for YOU!

Dear Family and Friends,

We had a rough start last week as Elder Allred began throwing up shortly after emails and had a bad migraine. So we stayed in the remainder of P-day. The next morning the clouds were dark and ominous and a storm was a brewin'. After about an hour and close to an inch of snow here in lower DE, we got a call from the Zone Leaders that the whole mission had to park the cars for the day to keep us from any snow accidents. But it was another recovery day for Elder Allred, so I used some of the time to study, update the Area Book, clean the apartment (which had been done sooo well by Elders in the past..)etc. 

Transfers ended up being on Thursday and Elder Rabe got transferred to Reading, PA. The mission theme for this year is "Look unto me in every thought, doubt not, FEAR NOT" or the Year of No Fear. At the end of the transfer slideshow was a beautiful, peaceful picture of Christ with that scripture caption at the bottom. I was filled with renewed strength as I thought of doing missionary work not as I want to do, but walking hand in hand with the Lord, serving as he would have me be. 

And the missionary drought we've been experiencing is slowly but surely being cured! We received a promising referral from church Headquarters which we had been praying for for weeks. Her name is Rachel, from Ghana living with her brother and his family here in Smyrna. She had Mormon  friends in Africa that she'd go to church with and they'd ask her when she was going to join the church. Her response was always "I'll do it on my own time!" Well she sought us out and when we taught her and her niece the Restoration, the Spirit was there and prepared her to accept our invitation to be baptized. We're so excited with the prospect of bringing that family unto Christ! What's interesting is the sisters serving in Smyrna had been praying to bring more African American families into the ward... and here we are!

The other success story so far is the Gibson family that was baptized here in Smyrna in 2010. Then they moved to NC and lived there until moving back in september. But they hadn't been coming to church until we sought them out a few weeks ago. They have 5 teenage daughters that could not look more different. The oldest is 18 down to 13 and then they have 2 8-year old twin boys who have not been baptized....This family is golden. But there's more. A family friend from Liberia is living with them now, non-member, and has come to church twice with them now. He took one of the teaching manuals home and was just reading out of it...who does that? Most members don't even do that. But we visited them on Friday after district meeting and dinner with a wonderful senior couple. We asked Joseph what he thought of church and he said "I loved it, I want to be a full member of the church!" We were stoked. And he is just eating it up. So our efforts and less-active work have not been in vain. Our God truly is a God of miracles. "Inasmuch as ye shall put your trust in God even so much ye shall be delivered out of your trials and your troubles...and be lifted up at the last day." Alma 38:5 I know this to be true as I have seen it in my life and just this past week. Just trust Him!

Elder Jake Robins 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Jake's Latest

Hey Friends and Family! 

Well it's been a crazy week yet again. All I can say is I'm glad this is the Lord's work and not my own. Because I would utterly fail day after day if it was. But I know my God strengthens me day by day. Like when we had an awesome meeting with Karen, the activities director at the Pinnacle rehab where Jackie's at. She was almost in tears she was so happy that such young guys loved the Lord and devoted their lives to preach His word. We started with a prayer and got to talking, then E. Allred mentioned that we needed a responsible male in the large room with us. There were male residents there, but it needs to be a responsible male. So we rescheduled for later in the week. Then we said hi to Jackie and asked if she'd come to church.

Long story short, Karen called us Weds. and told us that we should just stick to visiting Jackie b/c they wouldn't be able to accommodate our need for another male. Which was discouraging because we have been looking all over for service opportunities that keep us from knocking doors. Knocking is just so ineffective, especially in the earlier hours of the day. So service is fun and more effective in getting out into the community. The next day Karen called again and told us Jackie had told the administrator that we'd been pressuring her to get baptized...which we hadn't mentioned for weeks. She asked us that we would not come to Pinnacle at all anymore. The natural man in me wanted to blow up at her, but I waited til we hung up. Ha. This transfer has been one of much refinement. Lost all of our investigators except Miguel, who's not really keeping commitments.

So Yes  I am staying another transfer, E. Rabe is getting transferred. Elder Allred and I will be doing some compromising as we have different, very different styles of doing missionary work. He makes things fun, but it's been an adjustment. 

We had a less active family that got baptized in 2011 then moved to NC for a few years come to church. They moved back in September, the attendance jumped by 10 in one week because they have 7 kids and some friends. It was so awesome to see waves of this wonderful Liberian family fill up the chairs in the chapel. And a less active named Albert came to church for the second week and even brought his ex-wife who hangs out with her boyfriend at Albert's house...yeah I know..what? Weird situation, but they were loved and welcomed at church which is just like getting a baptism. I'm learning to love working with less-actives because they already know! They just need a little booster shot! (Which bruise the arm for a week, but in the long run does you good)

However, we visited a less active family who owns a dry cleaning shop in Newcastle, DE. They warmly welcomed us in. We chatted for a solid 20 minutes then left a spiritual message. E. Allred talked about Alma 47 and how Satan slowly but surely entices us to come down off the top of the mountain to lower grounds. This couple is sealed in the temple, he's an RM they have two kids, been less active for only two years. But they were almost disgusted at our question of what they could do to get back to the top of the mountain (the temple). They expressed their beliefs that they didn't need church to teach their kids good values. Then the RM said "I don't need Christ." 

So I'm fine with people slamming the door whatever, but when a returned missionary, sealed in the temple man says that he does not need the SAVIOR and REDEEMER of the world, it was like a stab to the heart. He has his agency, I can't control that. All we can do is invite. And it was awkward, probably one of the more awkward moments of my mission. And there's all these coulda shoulda woulda's that came to mind after the fact. But we invited them to come again unto Christ. And I just love the youth theme this year.

"Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him" (Mor. 10:32)All it is is an invitation. God cannot force us to come to His Son, He can force us to be at peace or to feel His love or to receive sweet forgiveness. Why not come unto the Savior of the world? I love Him more and more every day as I feel His loving arms and embrace. This is hard work, but I know I am benefiting perhaps more than those I'm serving. I know Christ lives. and He can make us whole. 

Love always,

Elder Robins
Eating balot, a Filipino specialty: it's duck egg a few days before it hatches. So you're eating beaks and feathers and bones and eyes. Hope you're not eating! It was pretty...umm... good? I guess. Ha

Haitian Feast at the Riche's from the ward. Second dinner appt that night, i just about had to get rolled to the car.

Yumilicious purple and white sweet potatoes from a less active who works at a DelState Farm where they do genetics tests like that. Tastes normal, color throws you off though

Monday, January 13, 2014

Polar Bear Blast

Friends and Family,
What a blessing good weather really is! I feel like I have so often taken the mild, pleasant weather at home for granted. This week was just nutty weather wise. And for your meteorologist report: Tuesday a high of 8 degrees...oh but there's going to be a light breeze of 35 mph to make it a brisk -14 degrees. AKA, perfect tracting weather...if we want our hands to fall off after the first knock. Needless to say, we weren't outside much at all that day. It was just miserably cold. And New York even broke a 118 year record that's cold. Hey but we were able to stay warm. We actually taught our soon to be 91 year old (Happy Birthday Grandma Clyde!) investigator Bill the Plan of Salvation using my wooden puzzle. The visual helped him grasp the whole layout. And the scriptures in the Bible outline the different degrees of glory in Heaven. A lot of times he just expresses his loneliness now that Jackie is gone, and he just waits for the Lord to take him.
Other than that, we had a mutual "Drop talk" with our investigator Cardin yesterday. He hasn't been reading or coming to church and he made it sound like he just wants to learn more. Ofttimes we have to help people understand that -this is more than 'Bible Study' this is a life changing process. This is Eternal Life. If only we could just impart that understanding to others that this is so much more than the eye or mind can behold. But, there is order in all things. And I have learned to trust that the Lord is taking care of His people. Whether they drop us or not. So we planted the seed and welcomed him to still come to church and basketball on saturday.
Speaking of, with Elder Allred here, we started  basketball at the church on a carpet gym with a half court, but it was still fun and we had a good turn out. And believe it or not, I made a few shots! My teammates were just surprised as I was, guess the Lord can give us a hand in sports too if we're humble enough! Sure wasn't me! Right after basketball at 8am on Saturday, we did service with our ward mission leader, Brother McVicker who volunteers at the Smyrna Historical Museum downtown on Main St. It just involved moving wood and junk from the basement to trucks outside. And we have been seeking to do a lot more service for members and non members and all over the community. It's a much more effective way of getting the name of the church and the name of Jesus Christ out there. I mean, as much as I lovvvveee knocking doors, I think I'd prefer service any day. So no we haven't done much service yet, but we're waiting for applications at a local hospital and Rehab Center, etc. At the museum I got to play my first pump organ, with the two foot pedals that pivot up and down to blow air like an accordion through the pipes housed in the piano looking console. It was quite the multi-tasker's delight! Props to organists in the olden days who had to create their own air! We get off easy Sister Carsten!
In the mean time, we have spent more time with less active members, especially one man named Bro Churchill. We found him on the roster several months ago and began visiting. Got him a home teacher and taught him a few lessons. Then yesterday, I saw him walk through the church doors. And seeing a less active member walk through those doors is just as exciting and heartwarming as a baptism. Because it's a lost sheep coming back to the fold of God! I love it, and we knew that our efforts the past few weeks have not been in vain. Although we have no progressing investigators right now, we know that the Lord is preparing people. Ha, I may not see the fruits of my labors...but, the seeds have been planted. Well we have an investigator, Miguel (Spanish Speaker in Millington with the chickens)  But he's not really progressing because he's not keeping commitments like coming to church and reading. And we don't have them do it for us. It's all to help them come unto Christ and learn for themselves whether or not this is God's restored true church.!
We spent some time inside this week because I've had a cold and was coughing, then E. Allred kind of caught it and it was just a little rough. My companions had to force me to stay in because I'm stubborn like that, but as I thought about it, the passage in Mosiah 4:27 came to mind. "It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." I liked to think that missionaries were invincible, because we're "on the Lord's errand" which we are. BUT, we're still mortal/human/subject to all manner of afflictions. Soooo, I learned my lesson. I like to work myself to the ground, and I'm sure you can all atest to that. But..the Lord taught me in a personal way, that I need to take care of myself first so that He can make me a more powerful instrument in His hands. "And it is expedient that he should be diligent [but not crazy] that thereby he might WIN THE PRIZE {eternal life}." I love you all and pray for you and feel your prayers as well. The Lord sustain those who love and follow Him. Have a wonderful week and know that someone in Delaware loves you!
Elder Jake Robins
And this is why we love knocking so much!

Can't remember what it's called, but it's a 400 year old desk that was used to hide Bibles because it was against the Law for people to have or read the Bible

Perfect surfing weather, a balmy 8 degrees.

Monday, January 6, 2014

A New Year, A New Life

Happy New Year Everyone! Let's make 2014 the best yet!
We had a fun New Year's Eve get together at the Hengst's with some of their in-laws and what not. They had tons of food and desserts and unfortunately I just wasn't that hungry that night. Neither were my companions. It was weird, probably the least food I've eaten on New Year's Eve since birth...ehhh,,, probably not. But you get the point. The in-laws were visiting from AZ and asked each of us what sports we played in high school. I was last and as usual told the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth...So I told 'em I was starting quarterback in High school. Then out of the blue Brother Hengst (quieter 60 year old man) blurted out, "Elder Robins? Yeah right! You were probably the waterboy!" Wow thanks pops! We all got a chuckle out of that as we all know I made it onto the BYU football team for my mad skills. So now I'm nicknamed the waterboy. Good. Great reputation to leave.
After the Hengst's we went to the Poquita's (Filippino family in the ward who are awesome member missionaries!) and there was even more food that we kind of just looked at and nibbled. I was disappointed that I just didn't have an appetite. That night I woke up at 12 am and was like, "Huh that worked out nicely. Automatic alarm clock!" Then within the minute there was dozens of gunshots going off outside and geese and ducks scurrying all over the sky. Not the typical California pots and pans and illegal firecrackers I'm used to.
New Year's Day we spent the day in Maryland, wanting to get all the way out to the Chesepeake Bay (partially because we just wanted to say we got out there) But we did spend some time in Millington, having prayed to Heavenly Father that we were going to find a family. A family that doesn't just say yeah come back, and then stand us up.A family that is ready for Christ to really be a part of their lives. So we went searching. And knocking. We visited Miguel (Spanish speaker from Mexico with the family that's all members, ps I talked in spanglish to his pretty daughter on the phone and she is waiting for a mission call, which is awesome for all of them!) and he showed us the chicken farm again because Elder Allred hadn't seen it. I'll send a few more pics. Came out covered in chicken dust. Could have deep fried me and called it Southern cookin. He's busy working the machines a lot, which is his excuse for not coming to church or reading the Book of Mormon. But we are patient with him and hopefully helped him see the need for the Book of Mormon.
We did find a man named Bernie in the nicer, main housing development in Millington. He immediately let us in and we talked for a few minutes. He readily accepted the Book of Mormon and invited us to come back on Sunday. (which we did and it was a no show appt). But he has seen the corruption in so many other churches and showed an interest and said he would have his family listen in as well. Then we went up to Galena MD (which is about 8 miles NE of Millington) to scavenger hunt for a less active. The neighbor couple gave us their address and we got so excited, like we just got a 4.0 or something. Galena is even smaller than Millington and I guess i must've blinked because I definitely missed it the first time through. Elder Allred is a huge hunter. He is just loving the geese and all these hunters we're working with. So he's in heaven and the couple liked that he was a hunter and invited us to come back anytime.
We finished New Year's Day with a very formal chinese dinner at a member's home. They bought take out and made the whole set up really fancy. The Christian family lives in a decent mansion on 3 or 4 acres and their kids are just awesome. Noah Christian actually met or knew Grant Ganschow as he was leaving the Colorado Springs Mission and Grant was coming in. PS, has anyone seen The Saratov Approach? The movie about the missionaries in Russia that got kidnapped? Sister Christian headed the only playing of that movie on the east coast in Middletown, DE. So that was a big deal out here.
Thursday we went to Zone Training in Dover, which can be boring or fun depending on what they plan...this time was so so. Then we weekly plan right after zone training. Ick. I am not a fan of weekly planning, but I do it because the Lord asks us to and I know He can work with and modify the plans we make to bring people closer to Christ. It usually takes 2-3 hours out of our thursdays. Then we'll take a late lunch. So we usually don't start proselyting til about 4 on thursdays. But we saw Bill (Jackie's husband) who lives alone because Jackie is back at Pinnacle, probably for good. He loves it when we stop by. We picked up the dog crap on the side yard and after talking to him for a bit, he was in tears as he said, "You are true friends." It was a touching moment. But I've never seen someone get upset or tearful like he did when he said " After all these years, I still can't believe they did that to my Lord." I was struck by His reverence and awe at the sacrifice and Atonement of our Savior, Jesus Christ.
And the storm started that night. I wasn't expecting much, being in good ol' Delaware. But it started coming down hard and it just kept coming and coming. I was peaking through the windows and opening the door to see the snow. My comps from Utah were both laughing at me and making fun of me, acting like a Californian that had never seen snow before. They give me some flack for being from CA just because the wonderful reputation the state has. We had actually gotten told by the Zone Leaders that President Anderson wanted the whole mission to be in by 6 pm because of the storm. So though I really wanted to stay out in it, we were told otherwise. Trusting he knew what was best. We got about 8 inches here in Smyrna which is a ton for this area. that means the Northern part of the mission got close to 2 feet. And...the next morning we were told on our weekly wednesday Mission wide conference call that only senior companions can drive now because there were like 11 accidents in the mission in the past 3 weeks or something. Ridiculous. Needless to say, I was a little ticked. But.. got over it.
Almost done. Friday morning we get a call from a man in Wilmington whose sister's car spun off the road. REally long story super short. We get there in Townsend and we had been told that a 4x4 truck and all that jazz would be needed to get her out. We laughed when we saw the scene. We gave it a few shoves as she stepped on the gas and she got right out. Ummm, what? It was just an unnecessarily long ordeal, but hey, gotta love the service opportunities! Then E. Allred and I went to Dover on exchanges with a very trunky jamaican Elder who goes home to get married in 2 weeks. Not the most productive day of my mission, I'll say that much.
So I love the Book of Mormon. I love the sweet Spirit that quietly, subtley (sp?) speaks truth to my heart. I've read it several times before, but never has the Book of Mormon made so much sense or felt so true in my life. Please take time to read it, even if a verse every day. It will change your life. I say that only out of experience. No I'm not going to come home being gandhi or father theresa. But I'm becoming a better man. A better priesthood holder. Future father and husband and so much of it can be attributed to the spiritual experiences I have with the Scriptures, especially the Book of Mormon. I love what Ammon says in Alma 27:17 about being "Swallowed up in the joy of his God." If we let it, the Atonement and Christ will work to swallow up all that sorrow and misery. All the unfairness and pain in life. We can have peace and joy. Just let HIM in.
Love always,
Elder Jake Robins
Got chickin?

Once there was a snowman...that eventually melted