Tuesday, June 17, 2014

I Am What I Am

Hey Everyone!

Wednesday through Friday were about 100% humidity here. Which makes
for a muggy, soupy mess. Luckily it didn't get a whole lot warmer than
75-80°. And thank heavens for AC! Meaning...air conditioning.

We had some awesome miracles yesterday as our investigators had shown
an interest in coming to church. Dotty ended up driving herself! We
were kind of worried about that because she's older and didn't know
how good of a driver she'd be. She called in the middle of our first
class and said she had gotten lost. I chuckled a bit and redirected
her to be able to get to the church. And she made it there in one
piece! Benito ended up picking up Al and they were welcomed and well
received by the members. It was soo exciting to have more
investigators than members in our Sunday school class.

On Tuesday, the zone leaders knocked on our door in the middle of
studies. I answered the door with a bit of a shocked look on my face,
not knowing exactly why they were there. "Hey we're doubling in
today!" Ha oh sweet. It was good to be able to talk to a mission
leader for a bit. Elder Marse and I walked and sweated and talked as
we went. These Zone Leaders drive a Dodge Grand Caravan, so I call
them the soccer moms. Sweet soccer practice today! I'm good at picking
grass! Ha..too real. But he and I drove the van up to Brigantine and
tried contacting some less actives there.

Brigantine Beach/island got hit hard by Sandy. Much of it you can't
see anymore because they've done a lot of reconstruction. But one less
actives house had been flooded and torn apart  by the hurricane. So
they were able to get it fixed and were ready to move back in. 3 days
before the move in, the house caught fire and is now boarded up and
uninhabitable. Other homes were abandoned, and still others remained,
beautiful and huge and elegant in their CA beachy appointment.  You
often wonder, how could a loving God put good people through so much
misery and heartache? Or why is it that Benito wants so bad to
overcome smoking, but for some reason his body just can't give it up.
Or why  Here is an awesome Mormon message that I may have sent in the
past, but I feel to link it now to the email. Please take a few
minutes and watch this powerful video.

You can get through all things with Christ.

We hadn't seen Benito in a few days, so we decided to ride our bikes
to the shop where he works. It's this sketchy hole in the ground where
they store these carts. Workers will rent out the carts and then push
people around on the boardwalk (for a price). So it's pretty much a
stroller for adults. But..the rides aren't free! So Benito signs those
carts in and out, just a part time job that's not even official, just
to keep him busy and help out the friend that owns the business. He
was telling us about cart pushers slashing each other's tires to get
ahead of others, among other dishonest and pathetic things they do. So
we shared Ether 12:26-27 where The Lord simply promises that we can be
given the power to change and become better. All we have to do is be
humble and take our weaknesses to Him. That's where Paul's advice
comes in.

10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was
bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than
they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1
Corinthians 15:10)

I think Benito understood, and I do now that I am what I am. But by
and through His grace we have the power and strength to CHANGE! When
we met with Kelvin this week, we talked about how the scriptures guide
us to answers to our prayers. Edward has been going through a rough
time this week. He's living with his girlfriend and she ain't the
nicest tool in the shed. So we're hoping to work with him more his
week. The Burmese families were busy last week and we haven't been
able to teach them for a while. I really don't want to drop them
because they are still God's children and deserve to hear the truth.
Pam lost her aunt yesterday so hopes to be able to meet with us again.
Joe and Magaly are back from Mexico and we will see them Thursday.
Other than that we are still working hard, learning the ways of good
communication (marriage prep 101!!)

I love you all and can't wait to hear more from you. There is an event
going on on Facebook among the 28 online missions. Follow this link
and invite as many as you can or feel inspired to. I promise that the
Book of Mormon was written for our day and it will change the world if
we do our part to share it!

Love always,

Elder Jacob Robins

Me and Benito with Elder and Sister Johnson in the background. this was at the bbq we had at Hermano Marco's house last week

when Sandy first hit, the water level was up to the bottom of this stop sign in Brigantine

A cool picture of the Boardwalk at night while riding home from Benito's shop.

The Atlantic City Branch Soccer team at the first game of the Stake tournament! Go USA!!
some of the ice cream we eat at the Amandy's. Sweet corn with corn bits. it's interesting.

Found this in Brigantine and had to get a picture. TRIBUTE to my HAGEN heritage!!

This is the home of the less active we were looking for in Brigantine whose house was flooded and then caught on fire.

Benito's shop under the Boardwalk. He's a trooper. 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

With All Diligence

Dear Family and friends,

Humidity is kicking in and the brutal winter kind of helped me forget
how uncomfortable sweating in missionary attire really can be. hehe.
no fun. Sorry for you Filipino missionaries!! I remember my first
bishop out here commenting that he knew I was a greenie because my
shirt collars were completely white and well pressed. Not so anymore.
A nice golden brown.

The Amandy (Filippino member family) fed all four of us missionaries
last week. They had us make the halo halo this time. Sweet Corn ice
cream, the week before it was purple yam ice cream with cheese bits in
it....how's that for a Food Network specialty? Their son Pyke is less
active, is married to a non member named Leah and they have a spaz
menot 4 year old son named "Batchoy" which in Tagalog means fat boy.
He's a chubby one. Literally a tornado on wheels. Mr. Destructo, nice
ice cream hand prints on my white shirts from him. But he's fun. So we
painted their porch and stuff a week or two ago and try to have weekly
contact with them because we want to work with Pyke. He would be a
great Priesthood holder if we could get him actively coming again. He
told us his wife wasn't interested, but she's still friendly. So we
shall see. But i Love Filipino people!

On Wednesday we played volleyball with a less active named Michell (no
e at the end). She was baptized several years ago, but work (as it
always seems to do around here) keeps her from coming to church. We
played on the street side of the boardwalk in some nice sand pit
volleyball courts. Right in between two huge casinos. No we didn't get
all the way in the water. just up to our necks. Just kidding! We had
nice 30+ mph winds headed away from the beach, so when ever I served
it made me look like i was just pounding the ball. Which was sweet.
Then we switched sides....But We met Michell's boyfriend and some
other friends, nice guys that we'd just need to be around more
often/and maybe they'll want to learn more!

Zone Training was in Vineland on Thursday and they talked a lot about
finding through the members which is always an awkward subject for the
AC English elders...cause we have like 4 active members!! And we're
working with the Branch and stake Presidencies and President Anderson
to figure out if this area is ready for more missionaries. We won't
get more until the stake assigns more members to go here. We need more
member support. It will all work out, but it has definitely been a
struggle figuring out how we would support 10 new converts, if and
when our investigators are baptized.

We talked with Dotty on the phone, she is just such a Saint, such a
wonderful pleasant lady. She is surrounded by Jewish people, but is
not afraid to live and show her faith in Christ. And like prophets
have recently emphasized religious freedom is so key in this country
and around the world. We are ALL children of the same God at the end
of the day. Whether His name is Allah, or Jehovah or Heavenly Father,
He is the same loving, merciful being. She gets that. But she feels
the Spirit as she reads the Book of Mormon and she said she grew up
just knowing that Christ couldn't just have visited the America's. So
it all is making sense to her. Dotty told me on the phone "You are
just some of the nicest people I have ever met. I know I'm learning
slow, but please don't give up on me. I really feel like I want to do
this." Gahhh! More Dotty's please!

I had an interview with President Anderson on Friday, which went well.
On the way out he put his hand on my shoulder and paused for a second
then proceeded, "Elder Robins, when I die" (umm Pres, are you planning
on kicking the bucket soon?...i thought) "Will you play the piano at
my funeral? Your music is just so soothing to my soul." I chuckled and
told him he has to come to my wedding first.

The Cherry Hill Stake is holding a soccer tournament this coming
Saturday, so this past Sat, we went out to Northfield with four other
elders and played with the other guys that will make up the Atlantic
City team. AC has never gotten higher than 4th place....so, we're
going to change that this year. Francis Reh wants to join us as well
as our investigator Kelvin (Ghana...aka bomb at soccer) so we're
trying to work it out so they can make it.

Later that day, we had this awesome hispanic get together, bbq,
whatever you want to call it at Hermano Marco's house (1st counselor
Branch presidency). Bunch of people were there and the Johnsons
brought us and Benito, who was invited by Marco himself. Benito loved
it and seriously just fit in like another member of the church. We had
a good time and tried some grilled  plantains and tamarindo juice.
Benito has been doing good, he didn't come to church because he went
to help out his friend at the shop instead. But slowly and surely he's
waning himself off the cigs. cancer sticks.

The Burmese families...we are just going lesson by lesson. I hate to
say we have no idea..but, it's kind of like what Elder Bednar describe
as the Spirit guiding us in the fog. Just enough light to take the
next step or two, but not much beyond that. In thinking about my
calling as a missionary, I've considered what it means to magnify my
calling. Jacob 1:19 "We did magnify our office unto The Lord, taking
upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our
own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence;
wherefore [we labor] with our might." IN teaching these families
although the language barrier is discouraging at times, we have to try
our hardest. Just keep going. I really do feel that God will bring
about miracles, but as Brother Swan suggested it may start with them
learning english. So we will spend more time doing that.

My hope is that when I go home I will continue to diligently labor in
building the Kingdom of God on earth. With all diligence I know that
this work will roll forward, even though things slow down at times, we
have the Creator of the Universe on our side. Who could possibly be
against us and prevail. Just trust HIM!

I love you all and hope this finds you all well!

Elder Jake Robins

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

A Legacy of Love

Dearest Family and friends,

My heart goes out to my wonderful family in this time of loss. Grandma
Clyde played such a big role in my childhood and in who I am today. My
ward mission leader in Smyrna commented on my Facebook post with the
picture of the Resurrected Savior and he said "Grandma's are special
they effect you spirituality like no one else. I am sure yous was the
greatest.  I am sure you are the man you are today in part because of
her. Thanks to our Father in Heaven for the plan of salvation we shall
live together as families again." -Ken McVicker He's such a kind
hearted man.
But it's true. My grandparents, both sets, and Grandma Clyde helped
raise me. They have played such an integral role in my spiritual and
temporal development. I have so many good memories with Grandma Clyde
like her teaching me how to sew....good skill to have! I will miss her
much but know she is in a better place with her eternal companion. But
I think just like Grandpa Clyde, she left a legacy of love. Her smile,
her testimony, her generosity and kindness, and her favorite song that
I would play for her was "I'm Trying to be Like Jesus" which I felt
she was a good example of. Christ-like love will change the world. One
person at a time.

We had a slow week and we weren't able to teach nearly as much as we
have been. But we still saw some miracles! Joe Ruple and his wife
Magaly did a gnarly race called the Spartan Race up in NY so we didn't
see them. Pam with work and her cousins church and everything was not
able to line up with us. But she misses seeing us and wants to stop
smoking, which is right on board! We weren't able to teach Benito
until he came to church yesterday. He loved church but he was in soo
much pain sitting for 3 hours. And this smoking thing is still killin
him. But he did a lot better this week staying busy. His baptism may
be a little further off than we had hoped. But wed rather him be
prepared and stick with it than rush in and fall off the map.

So an awesome thing about working on Facebook, is we get a lot of
friend requests from non members who know mormons. So we'll send them
messages telling them what we do and asking if they'd be interested in
learning more. There was one such who said she doesn't speak english.
Well let's just say there is a reason we have google translate on our
iPads. Her name is Pendore, she speaks French and she lives in Pointe
Noire, Congo....never thought I'd be teaching someone in Africa! Her
family was actually baptized by the missionary son of an awesome
family in Wilmington, DE. So we've taught her the Restoration using
google translate both ways to read and respond to her messages. I
think The Lord is hastening His work..

Later in the week we met with Francis at the church and skyped in the
Dun's. We talked about baptism and confirmation, and invited him to be
baptized. He kind of said yeah, but he wanted to think and pray about
it. The next day he messaged us on Facebook and told us he talked to
his parents Oo and Elizabeth Reh and they said no to him getting
baptized. Soo we were just a little shocked, we were pretty sure it
would all work out. He stills reads a bit, but we just want to read
with the family so that they can feel the Spirit and you can't deny
what you feel. Or if you do, it's your loss. We're praying that
they'll come around.

One night, after a long day, we had decided to go get some real ice
cream with a McDonald's Mcflurry....oh wait. Ha. But it was 9 somethin
pm and we were walking through the parking lot that connects to a gas
station and McYuck's. And we hear this nice, but kind of sketchy
sounding voice coming from somewhere near the dumpsters we walked by.
I think we both got a distinct impression to keep walking, but
curiosity killed the cat, so of course we went looking for the man. He
was perched up on some cement thing with a nice tall can of beer and a
cig in hand. "You're the Mormons, right? Multiple wives?" "Yeah i have
23 brothers and sisters!" I wanted to say. We cleared that up. Then he
just kept spouting off these things about Joseph Smith and all that
jazz. It was pathetic and just felt dark. Elder Seeley was beginning
to argue and I kind of just cut in and said "Okay we gotta go, have a
nice night." "Oh of course you have to go! One more question for you."
Then he asked about Heavenly Father being married. A little too much
at that point. As we walked away he began spouting off these horrible
obscenities at us and about Joseph Smith and our Fake Religion,
calling us white nazi's and some other pretty naughty stuff. "How
could you believe such a load of crap?" Go wash your mouth out mister.
If you can't say nothin nice, don't say nothing at all. But nope.
Alcohol got the best of him. So we walked away and reaffirmed that we
had done our part in bearing testimony of truth. The joyful burden of

On the other hand, we called Dotty, not being able to contact her
until Sunday. She was soo glad we called and said she just loves us
and the Spirit we bring. She has been in and out of the hospital and
will soon go in for surgery. We will give her a priesthood blessing
before she goes in. She is in 2 Nephi in the Book of Mormon and just
soaks it up. It is all making sense to her. Such a sweet lady.

President Sikahema Stake President came to Sacrament meeting and met
with the Branch Presidency. He told them that its likely that the
Johnson's or another senior couple will be put in or near AC to help
us out. President Anderson also asked me what I thought about putting
another English set in AC. The work is going well but I want to see
how long it can be sustained before there's 8 missionaries in a branch
of 45 active members. But President Sikahema is one of the best member
missionaries Ive ever met. He is a news anchor for Philadelphia's NBC
news so people often recognize him. The missionaries now teach someone
he met at a restaurant that just wanted a picture with him. And the
Amandy's, Filipino members who feed us every week, invited a friend
over and introduced her to us. So we should hopefully start teaching
her tonight. Her name is Rose. Member missionary work and
fellowshipping is the way to go. And what President Sikahema and the
Amandy's and other successful missionaries have in common is their
deep and abiding love for the Savior and brothers and sisters all
around them. I'm trying hard to gain that love, but I feel that love
is the ultimate motive for everything good and right in this world and
in the eternities.

I want to leave that kind of legacy of love everywhere I go. Where
people will remember me for the love I exhibited through word and
deed. I think of the stalwart Moroni in the Book of Mormon who left so
well his legacy of love. He worked with a lot of stubborn people, but
he pressed forward loved God and loved His people. And what's even
cooler is that he was seeing our day when he was writing much of this.
He saw our challenges and struggles. The Book of Mormon is written
specifically for us. That's a legacy worth being a part of. 35 Behold,
I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But
behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.
(Mormon 8:35)

You're in my thoughts and prayers, love you all,

Elder Jake Robins