Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Looking Back and Moving Forward- Jake's 1 year mark!

 Nice view of AC from Ventnor (South) Short sleeve weather finally!!!

We went surfing today for P-day..only allowed if you're with an investigator, Right?

 Ripley's Believe it or not place right on the Boardwalk

One of the casinos that Donald Trump owns called Taj Mahal.

Enough Said

Is it bad that this sign made me think of our investigators.?

Hey Everyone!

Can you believe it's been a year already? It seems like just yesterday
that I drove through the MTC gates in g & g's van, shaking like a dog
doing the Macarena, mom crying her eyes out and saying goodbye for 2
years. But I still remember the powerful feeling that I got as I
walked through registration and a kind lady looked me in the eye, and
as she placed my nametag bearing His name she said, "Thank you Elder
Robins, for choosing to serve our Savior." In that moment I realized
the gravity of my calling as His representative.

Naturally, I did a bit of reflecting on the past year and it's nuts to
think it's been a year. But so many people and experiences flood my
mind. Some good, some amazing, some could be better, but all have
contributed to the Servant and disciple I am today. And I've learned
that I cannot go back and change the past and do better what I now
know how to do better. But that's part of mortality, learning from the
past and moving forward.

And so this week we got a nice dose of the joys and the burdens of
discipleship to The Lord Jesus Christ. Last Wednesday was...quite a
day! It felt like the return of Hurricane Sandy and yep we're in a
walking area. I may not be in the jungle blazing my trails with a
machete, but we do get some nutty weather. You know it's windy when 3
inch deep puddles have white caps..So Elder Seeley and I rode our one
speed matching bikes the mile, mile and a half up to North AC to
contact some potentials in the area.  We weren't able to contact
anyone and Benito's appt fell through because he was lying in bed
overcome with pain. But as we rode the the 45+ mph winds rocked us
from side to side and gave a delightful headwind. I thought of all the
disciples throughout history who have had enormous headwinds usually
more figurative, that test and try their faith. How has my faith
grown? Well I am more sure than ever before that God's promises are
sure because He has always followed through in some/way or another.

So to continue the winds of adversity that blew, we parked our bikes
in a conspicuous area in the rear of a housing authority apt.
building. Then we went up into the building, knocked on the door with
no success, and as we were waiting for the elevator to come back up,
Elder Seeley exclaimed as he looked through the window at where we had
just parked our bikes, "Are you kidding me? Our bikes aren't there
anymore." I didn't believe him until I looked through the window
myself. Goodness people, are we that desperate?

We get outside, check out the situation and they're no where to be
found, nor are the nice helmets. So we walk a few yards and I suggest
that we pray, surely God will help us find our bikes. I told God our
pathetic situation, and as soon as we lifted our heads at the end of
the prayer, we see this larger black man ride by casually on one of
the bikes (clearly visible by its red handles). Both our heads turn in
silence as we watch this..man ride away...  ...and he's gone. "You've
got to admit, God does have a pretty good sense of humor." Long story
short, we eventually found and confronted the man and he gave us back
the bike, claiming that he needed the scrap metal, but that he didn't
know where the other bike was. I chuckled at the whole situation as we
walked toward the bus stop with one bike. Elder Seeley looked like he
was about to blow a gasket. hehe

One of the many joys of discipleship however, is teaching. I love
teaching so much. I love seeing the light of the Gospel just fill
these individuals eyes and lives. That same night Par Lwin and Mya Poe
Tah let us right in with smiles. This Burmese family is so kind and
they just soak it all up. Little kids were running around as we
discussed the Plan of Salvation in broken English and translated
Karenni/Burmese. I love teaching because of the Spirit that testifies
not only to their hearts, but reaffirms the truths to my own. So after
this long day of...fun...the Lord did NOT leave us comfortless.

Speaking of the Burmese families, we had a great lesson with the Reh
family last night, talking about prophets. They strongly believe in
Jesus Christ and go to a nearby Catholic Church in English, but had
never heard of our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, or of Joseph
Smith. And they committed to pray as a family and individually to know
if there was a prophet on the earth. The younger kids, Francis and
Monica (15 and 12 respectively) understand the gospel better in
english. Francis came to church for the last two hours including
Sacrament meeting. The members we do have were really good at
fellowshipping and making him feel welcome.

We walked into their house and Elizabeth Reh was cooking...we had no
idea they would be feeding us. Thai food. Thai food is pretty spicy.
Doesn't help when you're companion dumps chili powder all over your
noodles..but I guess I did the same thing. It was you know, hot but
not unbearable. They just laughed at us, stupid Americans, ha crying
and sniffling with their staple spice. Then Francis brings out this
deceiving little pepperthat looks like a green bean. "Try it" ...
...don't give into peer pressure! I bit just the end off and chewed a
bit. Tasted fine...for about 10 seconds. Then it kicked in. Straight
up blow torch on the mouth. The hottest thing ive ever eaten. My eyes
were watering, mouth was on fire and my entire face started going
numb. Not the most pleasant feeling in the world, but Elizabeth handed
me a plate of cut up mangoes. Probably the sweetest, just the best
mangoes I've ever had (perhaps because the sun had just blown up in my

Benito is such an incredible man and he has truly been prepared by The
Lord. In our powerful lesson with him and Elder and Sister Johnson on
Friday, we talked about how baptism and the Holy Ghost are essential
to God's whole plan of Happiness. "Awesome!" He would cheerfully
exclaim. "So what do I need to do? When can I get baptized?" We
assured him that if continued keeping his commitments then he would be
able to get baptized at the end of May. He already has a powerful
testimony and on Sunday committed to stop smoking and live the word of
wisdom. I just feel an enormous amount of love for him when I see him,
it's almost like the Savior's love working through me, and I get to be
a participant.

With all these experiences I've come to realize that there is so much
heartache and sin and confusion out in the world and so many "mouths
on fire" if you will from the deadly sting of sin. The one and only
complete, fully effective antidote to all of this is the Gospel of
Jesus Christ. That fruit so sweet in my/mouth, was nothing in
comparison to the eternal sweetness and joy that Christ can bring into
our lives. We occasionally slip up, Pam doesn't make it to church,
Benito misses a lesson, Joe Hicks is the busiest 80 year old in New
Jersey, I'm a running ball of stress. But, but, God provided His Son.
And through Him, we can move forward. As I look back on my 20 years of
life, I desire with all that I have and am to Move Forward with faith
in His gospel and His power to change the world. To change ME. "Press
forward with a steadfastness in Christ...if ye shall press
forward...and endure to the end...Ye shall have ETERNAL LIFE." 2 Nephi
31:20 I would venture to guess that there is no fruit sweeter than
that of eternal life. So keep on going. Seek Christ and you will find
Him. I know this to be true!

Love always,

Elder Jake Robins

Me, Elder Seeley, Brother and Sister Dun (Burmese members who Skype into our lessons) and a Burmese young woman that lives up North and wants to get baptized. This was at our Burmese FHE get together last Monday. Boy is their food Spicy!
Some cute little animal at the Cape May Zoo last week..eating cookie dough...at least he's got a good diet

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