Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Circle of Life

Well it's been another wonderful week in the life of a disciple of
Jesus Christ! How true this work is! Every day it seems that I gain
more testimony and understanding of how this really is the ONE true
church on the earth. And working with our Boss investigator Benito, I
realized even more how blessed we are to have the truth we have.
Benito is in his 50's and has been on the streets and lived the street
life and has since been trying to overcome some things, but he
recognizes that we have what he needs TO overcome.

He is progressing like no other I've had on my mission. Within four
days of receiving his copy of the Book of Mormon, he read up to 1
Nephi 14, he studies the Joseph Fielding Smith RS/ Priesthood manual
along with the pamphlets. He was talking to his dad on the phone about
our invitation to him to get baptized. When we explained that all
other churches have good intentions, but lack God's authority to
baptize, he said it totally made sense and he'd be fine with being
rebaptized by the priesthood. He was the most active in both the
classes that we taught at church Sunday school and RS/
Priesthood...the class consisted of 6 including us, but we had good

So it felt like the earlier hours of each of the days this past week
were super slow and I swear we would just walk and walk and walk up
and down AC like the pioneers...of sin city. Talking to people,
picking up change on the ground, and telling stories along the way.
But last week on pday we were walking on part of the AC
boardwalk...don't worry it's not thaaaat warm yet...and a lady named
Jesusette walked up to me and started asking what role Jesus Christ
plays in getting to God. We went with Elder & Sister Johnson later in
the week to teach her and it was an amazing lesson. The Spirit was so
strong and her understanding grew as we discussed the divine role of
our Savior. It's a blessing to have the iPad and be able to pull up
the videos that so powerfully bring the Spirit into the lessons. We
really do get to go teaching with the apostles!

Another awesome miracle this week as we scheduled time to go up to
Brigantine which is a disconnected island just north of AC. It's about
40% year round residents...so we run into a lot of summer homes and
rentals until June or so. There was a less active that we were trying
to contact. The house was completely vacant so we tried next door. We
met a young man named Kelvin from Ghana, he let us right in and we
taught the Restoration. The Spirit was present and he was prepared to
accept the baptismal date we set for him in early June. "The worth of
souls is great in the sight of God...how great shall be your joy if
you bring many souls unto me." D&C 18:10-16. I want more than anything
now to help someone Come unto Christ all the way to baptism and
confirmation. Because I know it is true, I have that desire to share

Pam is also progressing well and she just eats up the Book of Mormon
and loves how it clarifies and helps her understand the Bible. What a
powerful spirit that woman has. Yesterday for pday we went to the Cape
May County Zoo with the Spanish elders. The one lion they had, which I
named Mufasa, had arthritis and all this medical jazz, he's on his way
out. I wanted to start singing the Circle of Life.

So where are you in that Circle of Life? Are you making your short
time here on earth count? I promise that Christ is the answer to all
the unfairness, all the sorrow and pain, everything that we'll ever go
through. He is the answer. And how great shall be our joy if we come
unto Him. I love you all and thank you sincerely for your support.

Fun facts:
-it is illegal to buy/sell alcohol on the island of ocean city.
-AC has the highest human trafficking rate in the nation

"No matter what circumstances we are in, our success is determined by
our commitment to JESUS CHRIST."

Elder Jake Robins

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Because of Him

Happy Easter and Happy Spring Family & Friends!

We had quite an awesome week here in Atlantic City. I was bummed to
say goodbye to Elder Facuri last week, but The Lord needed him
elsewhere. The day of transfers, President Perez (Branch President)
picked us up and drove us the hour and a half to the mission office.
It was lightly drizzling on the way there, kind of like the mists of
darkness. It's cool, sometimes it's pretty foggy in AC and it'll make
the tall casinos look like they're floating in the fog...aka "great
and spacious buildings"...oh wait, Lehi's dream was real. Probably saw
AC 2600 years in the future. Ha.anyways....

I get so nervous for transfers, don't know why, guess it's just my
personality. But once it's over I'm fine. President told me before
transfers started that he was sending me a strong, hard working Elder
so that we can really work this area, which was reassuring. So my new
companion is....Elder Seeley!!! He's from Cedar Hills, UT. He's a good
kid, hard working. He's got an older and younger sister and good
parents. ..funny story I replaced him in Smyrna and he replaced me in
Wilmington..so we've got some things in common. We had a bomb week
this past week and I felt like a lot of prayers regarding the area
were answered through miracles we witnessed.

With our 3 Burmese families, we're getting to the point where we don't
really know how to keep them progressing in the gospel. I mean, we are
going day by day step by step with these families. This is kind of an
unprecedented adventure here. How do you gain a testimony of the a
Book of Mormon when you can't even read it because it's not translated
into your language yet? It's a challenge and I don't know what we'd do
without the Dun's (Burmese member couple) up in Cherry Hill. I trust
in the Lord's will, and where there's a Will, there's a way. We love
them though. Such good hearts and such good people. Book of Mormon
Stories is good though because it gives them more of a visual. More
next week on our Burmesians!

We spent a good amount of time walking and contacting and just getting
to know each other. I love the first week or transfers because it's
new it's a change. Routine is the enemy to revelation! Which we saw
this week. Elder Seeley had a few ideas that led us to find new
investigators or just a different perspective on the area is good.
Nevertheless, we can see the miracles and hand of God manifest in our
lives if we have the willingness and choose to be obedient.

Miracle #1
Because I'd only been in the area a transfer before taking over the
area, we decided to try by a bunch of people whom I had not yet met.
One such was at the very north end of the AC island( ps, did I mention
that the Monopoly game board is based off of streets in Atlantic
City??...no biggie. I'll take pictures if you don't believe me.)
anyways, we showed our licenses to get into an apartment
building...judging not to be the nicest housing in the city. As we
came off the elevator, we were approached by a man name Benito who
immediately asked if we had any literature. So we introduced the Book
of Mormon and asked if we could set up a return appt. "Can you come up
to my room right now?" He asked excitedly. I wanted to say, "No, we're
pretty booked, we've gotta keep knocking doors...of course we can come
up!" ...but didn't want to give in to the natural man hehe. Sarcasm is
a disease, I swear.

Anyways, gosh I'm good at tangents. So we went up to his room on the
eleventh floor of this apt building. The view from his small porch
caught our eye so we spent a few minutes marveling at the gorgeous
sunset on the warm spring evening while getting to know each other.
He's from Puerto Rico but grew up in Brooklyn. In and out of drugs and
the works, he's been lost and looking for the truth at many churches,
but just still being confused. As we showed him the picture of Jesus
Christ holding a little lamb, tears came to his eyes, and as I've
never heard anyone say before, "That's me. I'm that little lamb." He
felt overcome with the Spirit as we testified of God's love for him.
He told us that he felt he had found the truth. No coincidence that we
were there at that moment outside the elevator. We had not planned to
be there at that point in the day.

We finished the Restoration and he was asking the perfect questions
like " Do we have a prophet today? And so the Book of Mormon clarifies
the Bible, right?" It felt surreal to be in that lesson. He gladly
accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon and said he'd love to get
baptized on May 25th. Pray that he makes that date. He is so prepared
and I do not doubt that The Lord will bring forth His mighty miracles
in Atlantic City. We walked home hopping up and down we were so
excited for Benito. He has a powerful spirit and when he came to
church this past Easter Sunday, he leaned over to us and said "This is
what I've been looking for for 40 years. This is the place." We love
him already.

We had another powerful lesson with Pam and Elder and Sister Johnson
about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Elder Seeley and I work well
together and are finding our groove in teaching and finding. President
knew this area needed two missionaries willing to work hard. Joe
Ruple, benito and Klawmey all came to church on Sunday and it was the
largest English congregation I've seen here, I think we had 15. It was
exciting. I got to play a musical number, Our Savior's Love. I thought
about the Savior's gentle invitation to each of us, pleading, "Return
unto me...that I may heal you...come unto me [and] ye shall have
eternal life." Because of Him, we CAN have eternal life.

Sorry for the novel. It's kinda therapeutic for me to write like this.
we were soo busy yesterday I didn't even get to send the email! I
guess that's a good thing though!
Love always,

Elder Jake Robins

Ps mom and dad, more letters and stuff will come. Thanks again for the
wonderful birthday box. And packages!

Monday, April 14, 2014

One Year Older...And Hopefully Wiser

Happy Easter Family and friends!

What an awesome time of year it is. The trees and flowers are in bloom
after a long, dreary winter. AC isn't quite up with the times,
spring's a little behind, but that's ok. It's in the near future.
Actually, strike that, I saw a few Cherry blossoms and smiled today.
Almost as good as the wonderful birthday letters and gifts from family
and friends!

I can't tell you how much it made me smile and tear up a bit just
reading the letters and thoughtful gifts from my cousins aunts and
uncles, siblings and my outstanding parents. Public shout out to Glen
and Laurie for being the dynamic duo and best parents I really could
ever ask for! With all sincerity they are truly some of God's choicest
and I thank My Heavenly Father often for them. So thank you mom and
dad. It has been a wonderful birthday and never would've guessed that
I'd celebrate a birthday in NJ....hehe but my companion and others
have made it fun. The Johnson's, senior couple down in Cape May drove
up and took us out to lunch because I turn 20 (Alli did a good job of
making me feel ancient...halfway to 40...geez. Ha) and Elder Facuri is
getting transferred tomorrow!!!! What?!? I didn't see it coming, but
he is needed elsewhere. I'm going to miss him and his happy go lucky
state of being that so frequently cheered me up and kept me going this
last transfer.

I've probably learned the most with him so far and I got similar
advice in a few letters, and that is to just be myself. Why would
people want what I have if I'm being anything other than myself. There
was a quote by President Uchtdorf that Dallin sent in his letter that
says, "While the Atonement is mean to help us all become more like
Christ, it is not meant to make us all the same." How true that is!
I've had the chance to witness that changing firsthand in my own life
and in the lives of those we are working with.

Joe Ruple for example, (husband of a spanish member...who speaks
english and attends the english branch) is a very confident, pretty
successful hard working guy who is actually a former pro wrestler and
current fitness body building guru. He has posed this question in a
more polite, inquisitive manner than I"ll make it sound, "Why would
someone successful and happy like me need anything more (the gospel)
in my life?" He's not the typical guy that we meet on the street who
NEEDS the church, but rather the Church NEEDS him and his Christlike
service and love. Clayton M. Christensen talks about that in his Power
of Everyday Missionaries book; when the winds of prosperity blow,
people want to feel needed. And slowly but surely I think Joe is
coming to understand that with the gospel in his life, he can do so
much more good than he's already doing. How could it possibly hurt to
have the Son of God as your personal guide through the windy "Klamath
Rivers" of life...#highadventure. This next transfer we will set a
date for him to get baptized. He's pretty ready, just doesn't know it.

I went on 2 exchanges with Elders in the district this past week,
Elder Self on Thursday name Elder El-Bakri on Friday. Back to back
exchanges are exhausting, especially when you're trying to figure out
how to help the missionaries and their areas. But The Lord sustains
us. Elder Self was here in AC and we taught Joe Hicks a great lesson
on receiving revelation for himself. He tells us this is the church
that he's been searching for much of his 81 years of life. But he
needs that reassuring witness. So we used Elder Bednars video
describing Patterns of Light and the Spirit of Revelation to help him
understand how his answers will come. He described his situation as
being at the edge of a cliff and he has to jump across the river to
the other side. He knows he's going to do it and the fire coming
behind him is coming quickly, he can feel the heat. But he's still
just got to ACT and jump! The leap of faith is often the hardest part.
I'll admit it must be tough for them coming into the church, seeing a
support group of about5-6 active English speaking members...when they
could go to another church in AC with a congregation of 200+. But if
the truth is worth it to them..

Elder El-Bakri is from Utah but his grandpa is from Baghdad, Iraq.
Kinda rare! He's a good elder with a great work ethic. And we have a
similar sarcastic sense of humor. We taught a lesson or two in Spanish
and I loved how the Spirit helped me to speak the words that I needed
to speak. Nope, I wasn't called to speak another language, but why not
help The Lord further His work by developing and using that gift?!

As Facebook missionaries, we're called to teach, find and help others
come unto Christ using the digital resources we've been given to
fulfill our purpose. Some of you may have noticed that I'm now friends
with my parents on FB. We can be friends with parents and siblings now
for the sole purpose of their helping our investigators build and
strengthen their testimonies. And the church has launched the
pre-Easter #BecauseofHim initiative to tell the world that we have
hope and light and joy because of our Risen Savior, Jesus Christ. And
they can have that too.

I know that as we all work together to bring this light to our
brothers and sisters, we will surely fulfill the promises that Alma
made to the people at the waters of Mormon. Our hearts will be "knit
together in unity and in love one towards another." Mosiah 18:21

Go out this week and find the ONE. Find the one, who will find the
one, who will find the one. And one by one, we will fulfill our
Savior's commission to spread His gospel and truth and bring God's
children home. 10 "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight
of God; "(D&C 18:10) so what will you do this Easter to remember our

Well I feel ancient now. 20 already? Hope that doesn't make you
feel...actually ancient mom and dad...no you're not that old...yet.
Have a great week!

Love always,

Elder Jake Robins

Sent from my iPad

Ps when we were out with the senior couple a little old black lady,
nicely dressed came up to me and asked if it was my birthday, bc she
heard them singing Happy Birthday. I said yes and she started singing
to me. And told me she was on Broadway....but wouldn't tell me her
name. Probably won't ever get that again! Former broadway

Monday, April 7, 2014

Rock of Our Redeemer

Hey Family and Friends!

Sorry about the kind of heart stopper last week.! I had no intentions
or plans to do any sort of prank until I was writing the weekly email
and the thought came to mind. Glad it worked out though! Nope, I'm not
coming home. And Happy Graduation Jess and Wil!!

First of all, is it just me or does General Conference just keep
getting better and better?!? I guess it makes sense since we are
getting closer and closer to the Second Coming of the Savior. It is an
exciting time to live! We had a Zone Training on Thursday and part of
the time, the  Cherry Hill Sister Training Leaders talked about family
history work. I'll be honest, usually in the past, I would tune out
whenever someone talked about indexing or Family History Work or
genealogy...it's all for grandma and grandpa anyways, right?? Nope,
someone needs to help em out! Show them how to use a computer...hehe.
Love ya gramps! But I felt the powerful Spirit of Elijah as we
discussed how this work is the very work that will link us to
generations past and future. And living. The church must be true. Why
else would be doing all of this? Just for fun?

A man drove up next to us when we were walking on the street south of
AC in Margate, NJ( still on the island). I was so sure he'd just start
bashing us or telling us that soliciting is illegal. But he rolled
down the window with his shades on, looking a bit swag, but in his mid
50's. He asked if we were Mormons, "Yeah, we are!" we exclaimed. "How
can we help you?"
"Well a lady from the FBI called me recently and told me I'd find my
answers in Utah. Mormons are in Utah, right?"
"Yeah that's where church headquarters is located...but what answers
are you looking for?" Intrigued by his unusual introduction, no name
given initially.
"Well, my dad was adopted and I have no idea who my grandparents are
because my dad was part of the CIA so there are absolutely no records
that I've found past him. Can you guys help me out?"

Naturally..we told him about family history. And why he would have
been directed to Utah. Then he got intrigued when we told him we'd
love to help him find his family( wanted to quote the not at all
cheesy youth song "Find our Cousins"...but I refrained). So he kept
talking about how he might be related to a prophet, etc. So we'll see
what we can find. The Spirit of Elijah could most definitely touch his
heart in all this.

We had great lessons with Pam and Joe this past week, both with
members. Pam is a "chatty kathy" if you will...she goes on the longest
and most irrelevant tangents. But she's got a heart of gold and a
yearning for the truth. We are trying to help her have a personal
experience with the Atonement, so she'll feel it for herself. She's
got some family trials going on, so extra prayers in her behalf would
be helpful! Francis Reh, the oldest of one of the Burmese families,
came and watched General Conference with us on the iPad yesterday. The
members reached out to him and he was smiling the whole time. We are
going to start teaching the families basic English with some materials
the church provided.

This past Wednesday, Elder Facuri and I took an hour and a half bus
ride to Cape May where Elder and Sister Johnson( incredible senior
couple in the district). They drove us to an appt with a disabled less
active sister, who was so grateful for our visit that just lifted her
spirits. We went onto the Cape May Coast Guard Base with special name
tags and everything to deliver some copies of the Book of Mormon for
some who had been interested in learning more. We also participated in
a Book of Mormon study class that the sisters have been doing for
investigators and members. It was so cool to hear the growing
testimonies of some of their investigators. The light just filled
their eyes as we discussed the truths of the gospel. It was a fun,
productive, but very very long day.

In my interview with President Anderson, he actually asked if we had
gone down to Cape May to help the sisters out with the booming
missionary work they have to do. We also talked about the district and
my area. He gave me some sound advice and just listened, which I
needed. We are meeting with the Atlantic County director of Family and
Social services to look into service opportunities at food banks,
helping with food stamps, soup kitchens, etc. They have been more than
helpful in aiding us as we look for volunteer opportunities. Good way
to get in to the community.

So a theme that I got out of all of this marvelous General Conference
was that of courage amidst  persecution. Many of the apostles made
spoke in a way that warned us of more frequent and intense persecution
for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and it's members.
Nope, I haven't had mashed potatoes thrown in my face, but we've
gotten our fair share. So what is all for? Just a good church with
good members? That doesn't seem like reason enough to me. This is
something we fight for. Why? Because we have a common faith in our
Heavenly Father. We have felt His love. We know that as we build our
"foundation upon the rock of our Redeemer who is Christ, the Son of
God" we CANNOT FALL (Hel. 5:12).  I love being part of this hastening
of he work of salvation in the way that I am. It really has been the
toughest experience of my life. But I have felt the sweet assurance
from my Savior that this will all be worth it. Even if it doesn't seem
so in the moment. If you are wavering in testimony or conviction, if
you fear sharing and living your faith, get on your knees tonight and
pray. Seek His hand in your life. I promise it will come. This church
and gospel is true. I know it.

Love you all so much,

Elder Jake Robins

Our "Christ-like love will change the world." Jeffrey R. Holland

No caption for this one. Another great blurry pictures thanks to his "Barbie Digital"

Elder Facuri snoozing? No caption again. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Fishers of Men

Dear Family and friends,

Well, I've had a rough week and really it's been a rough experience
all together. I'm going to talk to President about coming home early.
I think I've had enough.

April Fool's!! Ha no in all reality it was a pretty tough week, lots
more rain and winds of adversity. What's with this east coast weather?
Or really everywhere's weather. Signs of the times, I'm tellin' ya. We
had a day or two where we were walking around most of the day just
soaking wet. Cold. Not too happy, but still willing to work hard.  But
we powered through it. Christ went through so much more for each of
us, can't we endure what little personal Gethsemane's come our way? It
was a tough week but a great week in terms of the work.

On our way home from North AC one night, the same day the shooting
happened earlier downtown...awkward...no mom, I didn't get shot. Yes
we were walking home, but no we probably weren't in any danger.
Anyways, while we were walking a lady walking in front of us turned
and asked if we were Mormons, so we replied in the affirmative and
walked away. No, ha we jumped on the opportunity to talk and invite!
Another lady and her 10 year old daughter named Dayanna were walking
near her too, and the daughter asked "what is a missionary!?!" So when
we told her, she started jumping up and down and said " I wanna hear a
message about Jesus!" So we set up a day and time for this week to
meet with her and her mom Diane.

Klawmey Meh (clue-may), the mom of one of the Burmese families, came
to church again this Sunday. She said her husband and kids didn't feel
well and that's why they weren't there. But she is such a trooper, she
can't understand a lick of English, let alone the Spanish that is
being thrown around in top of that at church. We really are taking
this one step at a time, with a small branch presidency that's willing
to help and fellowship, but just as lost in terms of how to
communicate! The members that we skype in to our lessons also
translate for GC, so we showed her one of the 5 or 6 talks from last
conference that was translated in Burmese. We're all exhausted by the
end of church. We had invited and confirmed that about 10 of our
investigators and one less active would be showing up. Only Klawmey
came....but that's how it goes.
I want so badly for these people to progress so that they can be truly
happy in the gospel. But it seems that my timing is rarely the Lords
timing. Our other investigators are doing well and we have a busy week
ahead of us teaching, doubling in to Cape May sisters area, etc.

We had a powerful lesson with a woman named Pam whom Elder Facuri
found on exchanges. We walked in with Elder and Sister Johnson (who
work in Cape May) and sat down on Pam's floor, about 10 minutes later,
half way through the plan of Salvation, Pam's friend Derrick walked in
and gladly sat in on the lesson. We had a great discussion about the
purpose of life and how a relationship with Jesus Christ will bring us
happiness. Pam had said that right as we walked in she just got this
good feeling, so she knew that what we were saying was true. It was
amazing to see how the Spirit prepared her to accept the invitation
that I extended to her to be baptized in May. But I want more than
anything for these dates that we set to be more than just a date that
passes with nothing happening, more than just a statistic. These are
GOD'S CHILDREN.!! They all deserve a chance to come unto Christ.

Christ taught His apostles apostles that if they truly wanted to
follow Him, they would have to "leave their nets" and then He could
make them fishers of men. So much joy can come from being in the
service of God and Jesus Christ, but we can be doing it just half way,
or only part of the time. Leave your nets may mean to drop anything
that is keeping you from being a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ,
could be doubts, sin, worldly pleasures, there really are more
important things out there. I realized this week that I shouldn't just
obey the many rules of the mission because I have to. I should obey
because I love Him. Come, follow ME. And do it because you love ME.

18 ¶And Jesus, walking by the sea of Galilee, saw two brethren, Simon
called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea: for
they were fishers.19 And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will
make you fishers of men. 20 And they straightway left their nets, and
followed him.
(Matthew 4:18-22)

Love always,

Elder Jake Robins

Ps: Mom, blue or khaki, thanks. Happy Birthday Dallin! Big 18!!! And
happy GOLDEN birthday Ty! Eat lots of cake for me!