Monday, August 25, 2014

"In West Philadelphia, born and raised..."

Hey ya'll!

I had to start out by quoting the good ol' Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
Thank you Will Smith! So I'm in Philly! West Philly and Darby and
University City. University of Pennsylvania (ivy league...just learned
that last week) is in our area as well as many law schools, etc. Fun
Fact: Philadelphia alone has close to 80 colleges and universities,
giving it one of the densest concentration spots or colleges in the
country. Not to mention, the birthplace of the nation. We are in the
Valley Forge PA stake, east zone which covers all of south and west
Philly. At transfers I got the clammy hands, but felt that The Lord
had something good in store for me. I am so stoked to be here though,
I love it! City life is hectic and crazy,  but fun. And it's amazing
to see how The Lord prepares different children in different areas of
the world to receive the truth.

At transfers, one of my favorite Elders, an assistant, elder Tarry
came up to me and said, "Hey brothuh, you are going to love it there!
You're going to "mini Africa!" And boy I had no clue what he was
talking about until I got here. Walking down the streets, I soon
realized we were a tiny minority in this part of the city. Just for
the record, I'm not being racist by saying that, just describing local
demographics. The majority in this area is probably Liberian, west
Africans. Some of God's children who came here seeking light and
truth, and freedom. Unfortunately, they may not be getting all that
they ever thought the American Dream entailed, but from what I've
learned, current circumstances are far above what they experienced in
their home countries.

We've had the opportunity already to work with one such refugee named
Agatha. One of the sweetest, strongest women I've met on my mission.
Oh she is such a joy. The first time I met her, she came out of her
one room apt and unlocked the gate for us. I smiled as we shook hands
and greeted each other. Near the beginning of our conversation, she
gave me a name that Liberians say in their tribes, "Korle" (Kor-lay,
soft r) which means little man that goes around teaching the people.
Agatha came from Liberia several years ago to escape the oppression.
Some horrible things happened to her there, out of her control and yet
almost part of the war torn country. The civil war in the 90's left a
lot of innocent people like her negatively effected by the evil
actions of others. But with Elder and Sister Wrigley, a new senior
couple, fresh to the area and culture, we testified of the power of
the Atonement of Jesus Christ to heal all wounds. It was a sacred
experience and I love her already. She loves the church and is ready
to pay tithing and live the commandments and her baptisms not for
another 2 weeks!

OH! My companion's name is Elder Roberts! He's a stud, he's in the
Marine Reserves and did basic training and all that before coming out.
He's from Eugene, Oregon and he's been out just over a year. We're
stoked to be here together. The Lord already has blessed us to be put
in the path of humble people who are ready to receive His truth. We
missed the trolley one night, despite running like mad men with
satchels after it. And a man stopped his car and yelled "Y'all doin
The will of God?" We responded in the affirmative. Long story short,
he gave us a ride near our next destination and we set up a time to
meet with him because he was looking for a church he could raise his
family in.

I am serving in the Philadelphia 1st ward, meets in the building on
39th and Chestnut. I remember uncle Dan emailed me about a ward he
went to in Philly on a business trip. I think this is the closest
building to center city as of now, so I'd imagine he went here. Oh and
small world, a lady came up to me at church and asked if I was Jessi
Bangerters brother. I said yes and she said, Hey your sister married
my cousin Wil! So Sally Duffin is her name, super nice, but she's in
Philly 4th ward! Alright love you all, got an appt to go to! Have a
great week. "Charity never failteth." Moroni 7:43-48

Love always,

Elder Jake Robins

Sent from my iPad

PS, dearest mother, I did not forget your birthday! I am in the
process of sending something! Happy Birthday, love you:)

New address:7701 Lindburgh Blvd. apt. 1913
                    Philadelphia, PA 19153

Monday, August 18, 2014

Too Short, Too Soon

Hey everyone!!

After a short 6 weeks in Salisbury, I've been called to another land!
Elder Prestwich (district leader) called Friday night and said
"Alrighty, one of you is leaving." We both were pretty sure we were
staying, we got along and got work done this transfer. "The one
leaving has an "R" in his name" we both looked at each other and
rolled our eyes. Tryon and Robins..of course they both have "R's." He
continued, " He also has an O and an "i" shock we
were yelling and talking like mad men. Ha not really, but it was totally unexpected for both of us.

The next day, Saturday at Brother Twining's funeral, it hit me that this transfer was too short and the call came too soon. hah, but I totally trust in the Lord's timing and understand that He has plans that I don't presently see! Which makes life kind of exciting (or nerve racking..that, I am trying to overcome..) Telling the members I had come to love already was tough! They and we were all hoping I had more time here, but I am needed in another land...I make it sound like I'm going to Zimbabwe or something. One of the members came up to me and said, "Well Elder Robins, you made a nice 'footnote' here in Salisbury." I guess alluding to the fact that my stay here was short..? It was funny, guess ya had to be there.

The funeral was a wonderful service and a worthy tribute to the great man our Ward Mission Leader was. The day he passed, he had been helping his son with a move and on the way to delivering the truck back, he went into cardiac arrest...just learned that that's a. Heart attack. He had been with some Georgia missionaries who were helping with the move, telling them about his missionaries back home in MD. And with this calling he had become missionary minded. So his family felt it fitting to have the four of us speak at the service. So we gave a simple explanation of the Plan of Salvation. The Spirit was strong and the whole thing was moving. Still surreal to see a man we had talked to not two weeks before just lying there. 

He left a legend of charity and Christ like service in the ward and stake and among all who knew him. I felt love for the members as I've served here in Salisbury. And have felt their love as well. They love our investigators, especially Mary and Sylvio and have been so willing to help out with all they can. We taught Mary AND Sylvio the Gospel of Jesus Christ this week and Sylvio got so excited when we handed him his own copy of the Book of Mormon in French. I was able to write a short note and testimony at the back of it. 

I'm kinda bummed I won't get to see the progression of them and Diatra and Patricia and Jeanel and their family, but I know they are "in the hands of The Lord of the harvest" (Alma 26:7). Diatra is really struggling with her family being totally opposed to the church, but she knows it's her own life and won't give up the fight. I know that this is the Lords work and that if we "press forward with steadfast faith in Christ... And endure to the end...we can have eternal life."(2 Nephi 31:20. That is our ultimate go. I love you all and pray for you often. Look up and you will see the good in life! 

Love always,

Elder Robins

Monday, August 11, 2014

This is NOT the End

Hey Family and Friends!

Crazy to think I've been out for just over 15 months already! Time
flies! We had some interesting experiences this week, some were great
and joyful others were hard and tested my faith. Just to clarify,
Elder Tryon got finished being trained when I got him, so I am
refining him. Goldens are new missionaries and gold needs a little
refining to become I'm helping him become more pure..haha.
He's a super hard worker and we work pretty well together, but really
have no idea what will happen when we find out about transfers on
Friday. I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of this week of uncertainty
before transfers. But this time around I don't really mind what

We had a lot of appointments fall through and several of our solid
investigators dear John'd us. I guess a few of them actually have met
with Jehovah's Witnesses before though. Good to get different
perspectives. But Orlando walked up the street on Friday I think it
was, with a beer in hand wearing an orange baseball cap. We were
stoked to see him because we hadn't been able to contact him for a
week or two. He almost immediately said, "I'm not in the mood for
company tonight" as he walked to his door and unlocked it. I felt to
prod a little more, not to be rude, but just to survey the situation.
I asked how he felt about continuing to meet with us and learning
more. He said he went back to his Holiness church and didn't want to
meet anymore. I didn't want to be pushy, but I reminded him of the
sweet Spirit he had felt during the church tour and when we gave him a
blessing after his sister died and when he talked to his friends
excitedly about receiving the Priesthood. But he kind just put his
head down and said no thank you. We were heart broken, but agency
plays a key role in God's plan for His children. Hopefully Orlando and
others I've come to know and love will eventually come around to the

Diatra has been getting so much flack from her husband about meeting
with us and getting baptized that she canceled our two set appts last
week. Again, stab to the heart. But all we can do really is pray. When
she prayed about baptism I think she knew this might be an issue, but
not exactly how stubborn he would be. I swear it's always the spouses!
If only they could see and feel that this IS the one path to eternal
peace and happiness!

Throughout the week, we kept our eyes open for service opportunities
and people in need. We got to help move a less active lady named
Sister Shupe on Saturday. Her less active brother and active father
were also there. I worked with the brother organizing boxes in the
truck while Elder Tryon was carrying the boxes out. You could tell
there was no EQ involved as it was fairly disorganized, but the
brother knew what he was doing. Just the nicest people who all have
their own stories and lives. I thank my Heavenly Father for this
experience even just for the chance to MEET people. I love getting to
know others. When I'm communicating with others and learning about
their lives is when I forget myself and I'm truly happy. President
Monson has said that a lot , "To find real happiness, we must seek for
it in a focus outside ourselves." Definitely one thing I know to be
true, but have not mastered. Hehe. I feel so much better when I just
stop bugging The Lord about all my petty little issues and start
caring about, praying for, and loving others. Those are the sweetest
moments when I feel I am truly an instrument in the Lords hands.

Such an occasion came as Elder Tryon and I were walking in "the
neighborhood" kinda the not bestest parts of Salisbury (but not
anywhere near as bad as Wilmington or AC.) In AC I got out of the
habit of talking to everyone because so many people were drunk or
high, they wouldn't even know what we were saying, so...we'd just keep
walking. Elder Tryon is helping me get back in the habit. And here's
the thing, I'm not superstitious per se, but yeah ...I kind of
am...whenever I email home about the successes we have had or the
miracles we've seen, it seems that everything just turns around and
heads south soon after. Those people who we thought were solid end up
dropping or avoiding us...even though we see them through the blinds
when they peak through...or my favorite, we knocked the door of an
investigator and someone on the other side of the closed door yelled
"No one's here!" A little puzzled...I scratched my head and said
Hmmm...they must have a voice recorder like Ferris Bueller or

I'll do it anyway for your benefit! We walked up to a lady sitting on
her front steps. After talking to her for a few minutes, we found out
her name is Shirley and we felt the love the Savior has for her. She
doesn't feel much love from the people around her and she just seemed
lonely and destitute, but not homeless. I testified of our Heavenly
Fathers deep and abiding love for her and she was in tears as she
welcomed the prospect of hearing more at a later day. So we went back
and she loved the lesson! But she can't read because she can't afford
glasses right that presents an issue, but it'll all work out.

Mary has been trying on some of the sisters dresses from the ward and
we're working on setting up a time to go to the courthouse with them
to get a marriage license. In Maryland, you don't even need ID to get
married, you just write your name on a piece of paper and pay $35. So
that is in the works. She has such a strong testimony already.

So our investigators are doing fairly well as far as we know, we're
kind of getting a new bunch of people as several past people just
won't respond to our trying to contact them.

On a sad note, we got a call from Brother Webster, the EQ President,
at 10:20 pm on Saturday. He asked us if we had heard the news about
Brother Twining, our ward mission leader. I told him no and he
proceeded to tell me that he was in the car driving in Atlanta, GA
helping his son move when he suddenly stopped breathing. He went into
cardiac arrest and despite being shocked with paddles and CPR and what
not at the hospital, he was not able to be resuscitated. So our
beloved ward mission leader, kind of a quieter, gentle fellow, passed
away Saturday night. He was, well still is in spirit, a wonderful man,
valiant in his testimony of Christ. It still feels surreal because we
had talked to him just a few days before and would have had our weekly
meeting had he not been helping his son. And now he's gone. We still
don't have a bishop the ward is kind of in limbo, being
run by the rest of the ward council and bishopric counselors. But its
helping us get to know the rest of them better.

As I pondered that all a distinct thought came to mind, "This is not
the end." Brother Twining lives on, Grandma Clyde lives on, all of our
loved ones still exist and live and are in better places. What a joy
it is to know we will be able to see them again.

At Zone Conference on Thursday we had training on several important
things pertaining to missionary work of course. One thing that stood
out though was Sister Anderson's comments about prayer. She used the
letters PPM(Pennsylvania Philadelphia Mission) to teach us the need to
Pray, Ponder and Meditate. So often we get ready for bed and we're so
beat that we either fall asleep shortly after addressing Heavenly
Father or we say a quick 1-2 minuter to make sure we wake up the next
morning. Is that really the purpose of prayer though? I've thought
about the time I give my Heavenly Father to talk to ME.  "Counsel with
the Lord in all thy doings, and he will direct thee for good."Alma
I know prayer is our vehicle of communication with God and His Spirit
is how He speaks to us.

Love always,

Elder Jake Robins

Monday, August 4, 2014

Operation Haitian

Hey everyone! I was hesitant to put that subject line because it seems
like whenever I tell of successes I jinx it and it all backfires.
Superstition, man I'm telling you it's real! Ha jk, not really. But I
was so happy yesterday as these wonderful people we have been working
with we're able to make it to church. Mary and Sylvio brought their 3
grandkids, Jeanel and his son Patrick came, Jacques (whom we found
last week) and they are all Haitian. Some of the nicest people you'll
meet. It's a very different culture, but I love it. Sister Philoma an
RM from Haiti was able to translate for them during Sunday school and
what not.

Mary and Sylvio met with Bishop Hoppes from Salisbury 2nd ward about
him marrying them. We are in limbo right now as the bishop of our ward
is in Colorado and they have yet to call a new bishop. They will just
need to go to the courthouse to get a marriage license then we're
pretty sure they're good to go! So we are working with a few families
and individuals from Haiti that feel truth of the gospel message we
share. Seriously there could be a Haitian branch here, hence why we
were so enthralled by operation Haitian being in full swing. Such good
people, I love em.

At zone training in Dover on Thursday, we talked a lot about the
culture of our mission, like what the overall mindset of the mission
is. Are we just here to baptize people and get them to join our
church, that is not our driving motive. Unfortunately there are some
people out there who see this work as bigoted and the personification
of everything evil. To all those who contest, this is the work of God.
Not of man. I know that this work is divine. Too many times I have
felt the Spirit testify to my heart of the message that I bear. I'm
far from perfect, but when we speak truth, the Spirit can touch the
humble hearts.

Our investigator Orlando met us outside his apartment for our lesson.
Then he rode his bike and followed us the 2 miles or so to the church.
He was cruising pretty slow, but it was close to 90 degrees and humid
as a steam room. I felt bad, here we were in a cool car, while he's
huffing and puffing to blow the house down all the way to the church.
I wanted to throw him a tow rope. But we gave him a church tour and it
was just the right environment to teach and testify. The Spirit was
strong and he talked about how he had told others about him joining
the church. He's had quite a bit of opposition, but he understands the
need for the priesthood and has felt the Spirit as we've taught.

I've always wondered how a missionary or anyone can be truly diligent
yet not be stressed. I thought of my journey in coming to know my
Savior. It has been no easy task, just as he said in D&C 88:63,"Seek
me diligently and ye shall find me." I know that to be true. Christ is
there for everyone, whether they want Him or not. I love that and I
know that He lives and loves each of us.

Love always,

Elder Jake Robins