Monday, October 27, 2014

You Can Bet Your "Bottom Dollar"

Dear Family and friends,

Just in case you're wondering, yes! I am working with primarily
Liberians and Sierra Leonians...aka Ebola breakout station. It's been
interesting being in this location, mourning with those who have lost
loved ones to this deadly disease, it makes it that much more real. We
had a member whose daughter, son in law and grandkids came here from
Liberia just 2 or 3 days ago. But before coming to Phila., they were
quarantined in Chicago for 10 days. They're fine and all but it's
crazy that it's all here. Signs of the times. I'm  just surprised it
hasn't hit Philadelphia yet! That's a good thing.

Last Monday, feeling a little sheepish, I got on the trolley with
Elder Roberts and we went to the store to buy groceries. Well we went
to a budget grocery store called Bottom Dollar right near our apt. And
I was at the "bottom dollar" of my MSF account for the month,
literally. So I was just a little peeved and wallowing in my own self
pity. We got to the checkout stand and as Elder Roberts put his stuff
on the belt, i ran back to grab salad or something. When I returned, I
found that a lady had put her stuff on and kind of cut in front of me.
She looked back and apologized and I half heartedly said, "Oh no,
you're fine." Then I just felt terrible for being so impatient with
her. A young pregnant woman, relying on food stamps to buy her next
meals. Here I am practically tapping my foot because I'm worried we're
gonna burn for not being done with p-day stuff by 6 pm on the DOT. I
prayed then for charity and felt more compassion for her.

Then a miracle occurred. As I finished my transaction and what not,
Elder Roberts quickly became aware of a lady in need. She had several
bags of groceries and had to transition from a power wheelchair to her
crutches. So Elder Roberts offered to take her groceries for her and I
again felt bad for not recognizing the opportunity to serve. But it's
no use beating ourselves up, because these things are all for our
experience and learning. As we carried the groceries out to her car
she began thanking us in a very sincere manner. We got to her car and
put the groceries in and she said " I seriously cannot thank you
enough. I've had a terrible day and to top it off I just didn't know
how I'd get those groceries to my car. You truly were a Godsend in a
moment of need. Thank you sooo much." She then told us how she had met
with missionaries in years past but the timing just wasn't right and
she wasn't ready for it. We learned that Kelly Ann loves Mormons
because they do their best to truly live their religion. I was
grateful for that small act of service we had just performed. It cost
us nothing, but it truly did soften my heart and I felt immense
gratitude for the opportunity to be an instrument in His hands.
Needless to say, she gave us her information and gladly invited us to
teach her more.

Yesterday, we had the sweet privilege of helping 2 more of our friends
make covenants with their Heavenly Father. I love that these people
are beginning to understand the need for covenant making and keeping
in the Kingdom of God. Jimmy Daniel and Solomon Kofa took upon
themselves the name of Christ yesterday as they entered the water and
were baptized. Jimmy was smiling and Solomon kept saying beforehand,
"My brothers, I am ready for my marriage to Christ!" An interesting
way to put it, but a covenant IS a binding contract that links two or
more people together. It was a great service and both of Jimmy's
parents were there. Joseph could have been ready, but he and Florence
need to get married first. So there is a potential for a whole family
soon entering the fold.

We have seen many miracles this past week and feel that there are just
so many prepared children of God here. Sometimes I feel inadequate for
the tasks ahead of us, sometimes I'm happy and satisfied with the work
we've done, but the overall feeling reflects that of Alma in Alma
26:12" Yea, I know that I am nothing, as to my strength I am weak;
therefore I will not boast of myself but I will boast of my God, for
in HIS strength I can do all things...many mighty miracles have we
wrought in the land for which we will praise His name forever." I know
that I'm able to get through the thick and thin of life and missionary
work because of Christ. His perfect grace strengthens me. For that I
am forever grateful.

Love always,

Elder Jake Robins

Jimmy & Solomon: I was reaching over to try to get Jimmy to smile!

Monday, October 20, 2014

A Slice of Pizza

Hey Everyone,

Hope the subject line doesn't make you hungry! Holy talito, where to
begin. Sorting through thoughts is sometimes like finding that one
needle in a haystack. And the haystack I always think of is the size
of the huge pile in the Disney movie "Aristocats"...that's pretty big.
So finding those few ideas to talk about or in terms of my weaknesses.
Where do I start in overcoming them! Some days I wake up and just feel
like an epic failure at everything. My companion is so good at lifting
people up and helping me see the good in everything, whether I want to
or not. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ for that very reason, I may
be impatient with the seemingly imperceptible rate of change, but
Christ is pleased with those baby steps.

Paye and Rachel are taking those steps towards baptism. They came to
church and enjoy the sweet Spirit that can be felt there, not to
mention half the congregation is from their home country. In one of
our lessons, Paye was like "That church is just amazing! I thought
it'd be all white people! It's going to explode with Africans!" It is
a very diverse Ward which is helping me truly learn slowly that God
loves ALL of His children. White, black, male, female, young, and old.
We are all born into different circumstances with different trials and
challenges unique to our eternal progression. Some ask, why does God
allow suffering to occur, why is God letting all these good people die
from Ebola in Africa. You can imagine the feelings of our Ward
members, worrying about and mourning over the loss of loved ones.

I've thought a good amount about whether or not I'm doing enough to
help the poor and the needy, the broken hearted and down trodden.
Perhaps I'm too caught up in my own little problems that I completely
neglect to even pray for those poor in spirit whose plights are
seemingly insurmountable. So I loved walking in Center City last week
with Elders Farrer and Castro because we saw all types of people, but
what stood out to me was a simple pizza shop on 11th and Chestnut
called Rosa's. We walked in and there were several hundred post its on
the walls in the shop. My initial thought was, "Hmm, that's a little
tacky...but okay." (Just go on judging why don't we!) Then I learned
what they are all for. Customers can buy a slice of good thin crust
cheese pizza for a dollar and if they pay another dollar they can put
a "Rosa" on the wall. That "Rosa" post it acts as a coupon for a free
slice of pizza for the homeless and hungry. They can walk in, grab one
off the wall and get a meal to hold them over. It's simple. And no It
doesn't solve ALL of their problems. But it helps. And I think that is
what the Savior intended us to do. Help out as much as we can.

Elder Beatty came to our area on exchanges on Tuesday and Wednesday
and we had a great time together. He's hard working but fun and out
going, so it was a good exchange. Later in the week, I went on
exchanges for a few hours with Elder Tarry, one of the AP's. Love that
kid, down to earth and great missionary, but he's a lot of fun too. I
learned a lot about striving to see and vocalize the good in others.
Our recent convert Francis came out teaching with us and boldly
testified of the need to read the Book of Mormon. It was a powerful

Jimmy Daniel is getting ready to join, he's got such a good, pure
heart and sincere desire to know and live the truth. And we have been
trying to meet and teach his mom, Joseph's fiancée Florence for quite
a while. Well it finally worked out that she was able to sit in on a
lesson and she really seemed to like it. Joseph and Florence have 5
kids together and are working on getting married. There's a catch that
often makes it more difficult for people to get married in W. African
cultures. Each spouse has to get permission from their side of the
family before they can get legally married. Kind of an interesting
tradition that we respect, kind of just threw a wrench in the plans.
But all in God's time. Vince came to church and loved it, despite a
rather dramatic fall an older member had coming down from the stand
during sacrament meeting. This Ward beautifully comes together to
serve each other, and just like that one slice of pizza that can be a
meal for the starving, "by small and simple things are great things
brought to pass." How true that is. Now I just gotta practice what I
preach! Isn't that the test for us all though?

I love you all, thank you for your prayers, love and support.

Elder Jacob Robins

Monday, October 13, 2014

If I Listen With My Heart

Hey Everyone! 

Yes! I got to see "Meet the Mormons" and yes it was...well just go see it for yourself if you haven't already. I love being part of this true church. People can say what they want to say about us, but truth be known, at the end of the day it's entirely up to individuals to find out for themselves if what we share is true! Just like President Uchtdorf said in General Conference, the most majestic creator of the entire universe loves each one of us and will readily answer any questions or sincere quests for truth.

Such sincere searching is what led Paye and Rachel from Liberia to Philly where God knew they would be placed in our path. They continue to get ridiculous opposition as they embark on this new journey as future members. They have immense faith, but I felt to tell them that their path would not be easy. God so often puts His elect through the "Refiner's Fire" so that they can come out something smoother, and better, and purer. Something, or someONE ready for heaven. This process is painful as I experienced a bit of this week, but I love being able to look back in gratitude. "Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down." -D. Todd Christofferson. I prayed for patience this past week, guess I shoulda known I was in for a doozy! Ha

I woke up Saturday just feeling heavy, like a thick malaise that I just couldn't seem to shake. I prayed, I sang and hummed hymns, but I just didn't want to talk, really just wanted to sleep. Have you ever felt that way. I can't and couldn't describe what it was or where in the world the feeling came from, but what I noticed about half way through the day was that it caused me to rely wholly upon God for strength to get through. It was cloudy, overcast and drizzly and just plain gloomy and gray all day. Appointment after appointment fell through, probably around 8 in all. Everything fell through. I started thinking it was my fault. We did end up teaching Raheem and he came to church Sunday and loved it! 

But when I got home Saturday night, I prayed and inquired about the day. Why did I need to go through that? Was is really necessary? Surely it didn't bring me and my comp closer together. Then the simple words of a gorgeous hymn we heard this past conference came to mind. "I feel the Holy Spirit as he teaches truth and right. He comforts me in times of need, He testifies of Christ. He speaks to me in quiet ways that fill my soul with peace, and  if I listen with my heart I can hear the Savior's voice." 
 How true that is. We have need for that still small voice. I felt that this day, as tough as it was, it brought me that much closer to my Savior. So at a spur of the moment Zone Conference last week, we watched "Meet the Mormons" and I was particularly touched by the last segment with the missionary mom. And I'm sure she had experiences where she had no where else to turn BUT to Christ. 

The assistants had asked me to play the organ at Zone Conference, which is always fun. We also had a lesson with Ed who has trouble believing in the concept of the Godhead, but we've taken a member named Bro Bustard over there, who converted from Catholicism. They get along super well and enjoy each other's company, but because we weren't able to take him with us to Ed's, we decided to watch Elder Bednar's most recent General Conference talk Come and See. He just loved it and realized that perhaps he has been just a little resistant to the Spirit's quiet promptings and testifying of the truth. It is slow going, but I feel to not give up on him!

I went on exchanges with Elder Farrer in the Drexel Hill area and had a neat experience teaching a couple from ..i Want to say Mainland China. They know just a little bit of english, so we took a Mandarin speaking member and had a great lesson. It's interesting teaching an entire religion from square one to people who barely have any concept of Deity. But with the Spirit, their hearts can be taught. I had the chance to teach the wife to pray, I thought of future children and how I will help them learn to pray, and I did exactly that with her. Very simple, but heartfelt. Children's prayers surely just melt our Father's heart. So innocent and pure. 

And then there are some few, who perhaps aren't so pure and innocent. We boarded the trolley to go home yesterday after church and went to about the middle of the trolley and sat down about 5 rows up from the very back. We heard a man almost immediately starting his monologue to the Mormons. I wanted to crack up, but tried to maintain a sense of professionalism, ya know. 

He said all this loud enough for everyone in the back of the trolley to hear, but was kind of talking to a girl next to him: "Oh boy, the _________ Mormon missionaries just got on the trolley...(then they started taunting us saying) Elder, Elder, Elder...Elder means older and wiser doesn't it? I beggeth you Elder, come converse with me. There's an empty seat back here, come convert me. Impart some of your wisdom and knowledge to me. And show me one of your black Mormons. (obviously he hasn't been to our ward...half african...)" It's just funny to hear very misinformed people try to tear us down. Luckily we really dont get much persecution at all, but Its all part of the experience!

Well, I wish I could write even a small fraction of what has been going on, but suffice it to say I don't doubt that this work isn't only about saving others. It's about preparing US and refining us for what surely lies ahead. That's one major thing I got out of Conference, we MUST have faith in Christ and in His living prophets. Soon enough, that faith will be tested and the choice will be ours as to whether or not we heed his counsel. If we truly seek to love Him though, that relationship will come. 
"That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us."Acts 17:27

Elder Jake Robins

PS CONGRATS Dallin!! You will make such an incredible missionary in Japan! The people are just going to love you. And you'll probably stick out like a sore thumb with blonde hair, but hey! All the more fun. I told President Anderson (who served full time in Japan) and he just about jumped out of his seat he was so excited for you. He said you're going to have cold cold winters down in Sendai. So have fun with that! Whooee, and you'll get there in the dead of winter. See ya in a few years! But really I love you Dal, thanks for your example to us all!

Monday, October 6, 2014

I Don't Know What I'm Doing Here!

Hey family and friends and loved ones!

Can I just start by saying how much I loved General Conference! It's
my hope that all of my friends and family, members and non-members
will one day all accept and willingly live the restored gospel of
Jesus Christ. Just as Elder Bednar said, the reason we are so
relentless and avid about sharing the gospel with EVERYONE is because
of the fruits of the gospel that make us so happy that we just have to
share it, just like mom and the delicious new recipes from allrecipes
or what not, she wants to share it!

I don't even know where to start in talking about last week, so much
happened that it all seems like a blur. This past week was transfers
so we had 3 elders who stayed at our apt for the night on Tuesday. We
went on mini exchanges and along the way Eleder Wilkes and I invited
many people to General Conference. I wish I could help people see and
feel why it's so crucial to have and listen to and follow a living
prophet. After they left the next morning, We went on with our day.
When going to contact a potential in a certain area we walked straight
into a famous philly block party. Not being racist, but we were the
only two white guys on the entire street. There were probably close to
200 people barbecuing, smoking, drinking and having a good ol' time.
Needless to say, we felt very out of place. Got a few looks and wide
eyes. Pretty funny.

That night we got a call from Elders in Delaware telling us to call
one of their members who was in labor at Children's Hospital of
Philadelphia. So we called her and just by the tremor in her voice,
this young mom was anxious for sure. We found out on the phone that
she would have the baby in about 20 minutes and she wanted a blessing
because the baby would need heart surgery soon after. We were a solid
40 minutes away, but going by the Spirit, we decided to head up there.
She was already in the delivery room by the time our sprint to the
rescue ended. We met her husband Nolan, super nice, ex marine who was
dressed up in what looked like a spacesuit, getting ready for lift
off? I wanted to say...or birth I guess. We waited for a while and
talked to her mom Lori who shared her life story with us. It was in
these moments, hungry, tired, headache that I realized that these
experiences are shaping me to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. Not
just for my mission, but for life.

As we placed our hands on her shaking head, I felt gratitude for the
Melchizedek Priesthood and the chance to be the hands of the Savior
for just a little bit. Yesterday, between conference sessions, we met
with the Wrigley's and our investigators Paye and Rachel, both from
Liberia. Paye had asked me before the lesson started when was the
soonest he could get baptized and become a full member of the church.
With a smile on my face, I told him that we had more to teach, but as
soon as he was ready. The lesson was powerful and their questions
about that very same priesthood and the Book of Mormon. It was so
exciting. After the session, Rachel informed us that during the
session she was getting almost non stop calls from family and friends
and texts telling her to stop doing what she's doing, that the Mormon
church is all wrong. She just expressed that all she wants to do is
follow God.

I think sometimes we feel like we don't know what we're doing here on
earth. Like Rachel, we may know what we hope for or want, but our path
may seem blocked or dark in front of us. We may feel to cry out, as I
recently have in my heart and mind as if to the Savior Himself, "I
don't know what I'm doing here!" He might lovingly respond, "Perfect.
That's just what I need!" Someone who will rely wholly upon Him. I
love Him. 26 "And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach
of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our
prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look
for a remission of their sins."
2 Nephi 25:26

I know Christ lives and we can trust His living prophets. We must if
we're to get through this.


Elder Jake Robins

Ps congrats Dallin!!!