Monday, January 26, 2015

Truth Has But One Author

Howdy Y'all!

Ya know I've tried adopting a few different accents throughout my
mission, and it has just been an epic failure. I should just focus on
speaking proper English. Yikes. My academia is going to be a mess for
a while haha. No me speak good English no more. But crikey, what a
wonderful week we had!

I just loved reading Dallin's email. Kind of a similar perspective I
had in the MTC. A firehose to the face. Honestly Dal, that's not
really going to stop once you get into the field. Ha but you'll learn
that soon enough. And ok yeah, it will slow down a bit. But I wouldn't
trade this experience for anything. I am so grateful to be in a
mission that has been authorized to use Facebook for quite some time.
This past week I had a cool miracle with an investigator who I have
been teaching over Facebook for quite some time now. Her name is
Pendore Louzolo and she lives in Congo Africa. She's in her teens and
has family members who have been baptized, but for various reasons she
chose not to be baptized at the same time. So I have been working with
her on and off. We hadn't talked for several months and one night
Elder Eldredge and I were at the church and we pulled up our Facebook
app. All of a sudden she messaged me out of the blue, and she asked me
why hard things happen in life or why do bad things happen to
good people? She told me that she recently lost her father, and that
she and her mom were taking it especially hard. I sent my condolences and
then using Google translate from French to English and back again, I
shared scriptures from Alma and a simple testimony. It was a powerful
experience to just be typing my testimony and being able to feel the
spirit. She was uplifted and very grateful for my simple words and I
was grateful that I was ready to respond. What a miracle it is modern
technology allows us to talk with our brothers and sisters halfway
across the world. The Lord truly is hastening his work.

Went on exchanges with Elder Child who serves in Broomall and we
discussed what it takes to have a fulfilling mission experience. And
really what it comes down to is whether or not you put your heart into
it. I've been trying to work on that a lot lately. We had a wonderful
lesson with our investigator Vicky and she loved the plan of salvation
and loves what she read in the Book of Mormon. Our investigator
Anastasia also made a very important decision to get baptized this
weekend. Her family and friends came all the way from New York, about a 4 hour drive. They all seemed to really enjoy the baptismal service
and Anastasia was in tears afterwards. I was filled with the spirit as
I realized that I have been commissioned by Jesus Christ to bring my
brothers and sisters home. Most of the people I work with, I would
never have guessed  would play such an integral part in my life. But I
feel changed and blessed because of their influence and because of the
opportunities to work with them.

Oh hey! Guess what! The whole Yi family came to church yesterday! We
were busy filling the font and running around like 5 year olds with
lollipops from the bishop's office, so we weren't really looking for
anyone. But we had invited them a night or two before. And so i looked
down the hallway and see not just Shiela, but all four of the younger
kids too! She just about didn't come because the 12 year old Kyle was
fussing. But she got em all in the car and they made it. Oh we were
just so excited. We set the oldest daughter Kiwi with a baptismal date
for the middle of March. And then they came back several hours after
church to Anastasia's baptism and Kyle told us he wanted to get
baptized too! A family. We were just in shock. Still kind of are. Now
surely the hurdles and obstacles will come, but they were looking for
the gospel when the Spirit prompted us to stop by two less active
young men in the ward. So Shiela and the four kids are all nonmembers,
but she has two older sons who are less active. She was active for
four years but didn't get baptized. Oh it's all falling into place,
just in the Lords timing.

We also met a kid named Nick who is Alli's age. Good heavens, he must
be Einstien's great grandson. The kid's a wizard of knowledge.
Definitely put the two of us to shame just in our doorstep
conversation. His mom was nice but as  of now doesn't want us in the
home teaching, the dad lives elsewhere and is less active and wants
nothing to do with the church. He wasn't as nice on  the phone as the
lady we called a few weeks ago who knew nothing about the referral we
had gotten. I swear, I have no clue how the church gets all this info
with the individuals knowing nothing about it. They hire CIA
investigators then call the missionaries to be professional stalkers.
And if we can't get you at your door, we'll FACEBOOK stalk you! Ha too
real. But we do get some not so fun experiences, as well as some good,
like those with Nick, from referrals or visiting members that we
haven't yet met.

On Saturday Varsha came with us to the Fulop's house for a cheesecake
dessert. Can't go wrong with Cheesecake Factory. The Fulop's both have
incredibly moving conversion stories. One coming from Christian
scientists and the other from a rock bottom plummet into worldliness
and sin. The Spirit was strong and after talking about the Joseph
Smith story, we talked about truth and how man can't just make up
truth. There is no such thing as moral relativism. Truth has but one
author. And whether or not man believes in that author or the truth He
reveals, the truth and its accompanying laws and principles remain. I
love that. I love that we have absolute truth in this church. And how
do we know, the Holy Ghost. "And by the power of the Holy Ghost, ye
may know the truth of ALL things." Not just some. "Believe in God;
believe that He is and that he created all things." Mosiah 4:9
believe, ask, and you can know. How true that is. Varsha walked away
feeling strengthened in her resolve to find and act upon truth.

Love you all, make someone smile every day!

Elder Jake Robins

Monday, January 19, 2015

On the Rock

Happy Monday everyone!

Missionary weeks just seem to be packed full of action, sweat,
tears, and fun. I often just don't know where to begin. I am proud of
my comp who is sitting down at the Organ and teaching himself how to
play. My first companion who actually has an interest in the organ.
He's boss at guitar and has tried to teach me, perhaps I'm just too
impatient, I think piano is so much easier. But remembering back to
when I was seven, that probably was not the case. It has been fun to
be in a musical companionship. This past Friday at zone conference in
Broomall, there were six zones and about 160 missionaries in
attendance. I have been asked to play the organ for the conference,
but I felt to put a little more practice into it this time around. Our
mission hymn is to the tune of "We'll Bring the World His Truth" with
the first line being "We have been called to Pennsylvania, to New
Jersey, Delaware, Maryland too. Thrusting our sickle and preaching the
word, we won't go home until everyone's heard." I love it, so I spent
some time doing my infamous Jake Robins frills and jazzed up
arrangements. Oh, there goes Jake pullin out all the stops again, just
blow our ear drums why don't Ya!? Well president for some reason likes
it when I play so I spent some time on this hymn, being the closing
hymn for zone conference. It turned out to be a very spiritual
experience and with the key change and everything that I put in, I was
able to feel the Spirit as I played. Several departing missionaries
were in tears. Im not attributing that to myself, I was just happy to
be there and be a part of it. I am so grateful for the way music
touches lives and so powerfully invites the Spirit.

The mission has an interesting set of goals this year and with the
recent change in the rules for missionary attendance to the temple in
the northeast area, Pres. has set the goal for each missionary to get
to the temple once a month in the year 2015 with a recent convert or
returning members. I just think that is so inspired and we are working
hard to get that started with Anastasia right off the bat. So on
Saturday, remit off with Anastasia and the Koch's who drove us to
Philadelphia, where we got lunch at the Reading terminal market and
then went to the temple site for pictures and a lesson. It was a
wonderful experience for Anastasia to feel the spirit and to learn
about sacred covenants and prepare for exaltation. She is excited for her
baptism and so are we and she is preparing names to take to the temple
for baptisms for the dead.

Later on that evening, we met our Indian investigator at
the halls house. Sis. Hall is a stake Relief Society president and
both she and her husband made just awesome fellowshippers for Varsha.
They were in tears as they bore their testimonies and shared
experiences that they have had with staying true to the gospel of
Jesus Christ. Sister Hall is a white lady from South Africa and has
many incredible stories about her life there, so she and Varsha
clicked especially. For sure (there are a lot of spelling and grammar errors in this email, not sure what he means here) comes from a Hindu background her parents
are not actively living in but they still believe, so she is
struggling to find her way when she does want more troops in her life.
After dinner with the Halls we sat down and talked about how
revelation comes and how far should I need to act in order to see a
change and to know the truth for herself. She is a 21-year-old student
who has gotten into med school but is deciding which school to go to.
She is actually looking at some med school in Florida called nova
something something. Very brilliant girl who I know will go far in

Exchanges with Elder Clark who is serving in Westchester. While we
were on exchanges in my area, our companions knocked on the door of a
celebrity named Bam Margera who is the star in Viva la Bam and another
show which I won't mention here. They actually didn't knock on his
door because his house was gated, but they ring in to his house and
talk to him on the phone just as awkward missionaries were due. He
answered and before Elder Eldredge finished saying The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bam hung up. But Elder Eldredge got his
fill. They got it on video to prove it too. A lot of the shows that he
does are filmed in Westchester, PA. So no, Elder Clark and I did not
meet any celebrities, but we saw some incredible miracles. One such was
when we knocked on the trailer door of a recent convert and his semi
investigator wife. Robert and Teresa are very nice people but are just
living in humble circumstances and struggling quite a bit. So our
timing that day, Wednesday, was impeccable and Rob felt that every
time we come, it's when he needs us most. I had thought to talk about
repentance and then near the end of our lesson he asked a specific
question about whether or not we need to repent every day or if it's
more of an occasional thing. He's very sincere and wants to go to
church but has not been able to get a ride lately.

Yesterday we got in her car, well before we got in her car, other
Eldridge was carrying a box to the trash and I looked back and warned
him that the walkway was slippery. No more than two seconds later I
hear him crash on the ground with papers and stuff flying out of the
box. I went back and see him laughing on the ground looking like he
had posed for a picture. Too bad I didn't get it on video. So I woke
up yesterday morning and the roads were dry and everything from what I
saw at the window. But when we got out there it was fuhreeeeeezing and
everything was iced over and rainy and wet. I remembered aunt Deb
telling me about the ice storms that the East Coast gets, but until
yesterday I hadn't really experienced one. It's bizarre; you think it
should be snow but it comes down as rain and then freezes and so it's
almost more slippery than snow. I bet you can guess who was driving.
So we get to church, Eldridge had brushed himself off and we helped
our beloved sister bird up the steps into the building. We walked in
the chapel to see no more than five people there. One of the bishopric
members came up  to us and told us that they had just texted the rest
of the board to tell him that church was canceled for the day. Well
apparently not everyone got that text because we had about 30 members
still show up, minus the organist so I got to play again. We also had
five of our faithful investigators show up to church on the worst
weather day of the year so far. A little ironic in my opinion. But it
was a joy to see them there nonetheless. Varsha included.

Included in that group that came to church is a middle-aged woman
named Vicky. Now brace yourself for the story, it's a good one. Elder
Eldridge prayed one morning that he would find a solid investigator
who would accept the Gospel. This was about two months ago. Later that
day an appointment with our investigator, Kevin, fell through, so as
they were dragging their feet and disappointment to their car,
they noticed a woman who was getting groceries from her trunk. So
naturally being the diligent missionaries we're asked to be, they went
up to her and asked if they could help her carry her groceries. She
looked at them a little funny, thought about it, and then agreed to
let them help. She handed Elder Cottle a wooden box and said "careful,
those are my son's ashes." In shock, he carefully took the box and they learned that she had just come back from Texas where she
had attended her son's funeral. She was obviously distressed and in
need of comfort and help. What better time for the missionaries to
stop by?

What I love about this story is that the missionaries and their planning
had nothing to do with it, but they were in tune with the Spirit and
were in the right place at the right time. So this past week, Elder
Eldridge and I went back to Vicky's with Brother and Sister Swenson
from the ward. We talked about the Restoration, this being the first
time we could pin down a time to teach her. As we discussed the
principles of the Restoration, and watched the Restoration video clip
she was filled with the spirit and at one point she even said that
what she watched felt like déjà vu. She was able to except the point
that we have living prophet and apostles on the earth today. She said
"I always knew existed on the earth I just didn't know how to prove it
but here you guys are telling me that they do live."  I sat there a bit
dumbfounded at the simplicity and beauty and miracle of the situation.
She loved what she heard and has been looking for a church that isn't
corrupted by their own endeavors and ideas. So she readily
accepted the invite to be baptized some time in March. We haven't
fully pinned down the day. She loved church and was well fellowshipped

At the temple site visitors center with Anastasia, we turned some time
over to the couple who have been construction directors on site for
the temple. They have a whole little demo they do where they talk
about the foundation of the temple. They built an underground parking
garage, so they dug 35 or so feet deep and hit solid granite about
halfway down. Under the granite runs some water from the DE and
Schullykill rivers, making possibly unsteady. Long story short, he
talked about how the temple is literally built on the rock and that is
exactly how the Savior asks us to pattern our lives. "O remember,
remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer who is Christ, the
son of God that Ye must build your foundation...a foundation whereon,
if men build, they cannot fall." Helaman 5:12

I know I've used that same scripture multiple times, but it has become
so real for me. Especially as I help others solidify their foundations
on Christ. And especially because the winds and rains of the earth and
hell are going to come. Holy long email! Well there would be more, but
your eyes probably hurt and I'm going to go bowling so that when Tyler
and I play again, I can actually beat him...too real.

Love you all, get on the rock, and stay there.

Elder Jake Robins

The temple site

Monday, January 12, 2015

They Pray and They Go

Dear Family and Friends,

Time flies when you're serving the Lord! I'm sure I'll say that again in about 3 1/2 months. Don't want to talk about it. The only thing I have to do is to just keep working. Giving it my all. I have really come to love it here. The members are so kind and generous and missionary minded. They don't get offended or frustrated when we bring up member missionary work or ask them about their 2015 family mission plans and goals. Btw, I would encourage all of you to sit down together and make a plan to invite someone to learn about the restored gospel. Gospel conversations are good and important, but they won't go anywhere until an invitation is made. Do what Clayton M. Christensen does and decouple your friendship or what not from the invitation. I promise if you take these goals and plans to the Lord, He will use you to bring souls unto Christ this year.

Elder Eldredge and I were feeling much better this week, just my usual lingering cough. But we kept working and saw some miracles this week. Several weeks ago just before Christmas we stopped by the Yi family in the Ward. When we were planning one night, I was scrolling through the list of members and for some reason their name stuck out to me. So I just put it in for the next day. Well we stopped by last week for the second time and The mom, Sheila told us that the day before we came last time she and her daughter had been talking about how the daughter wanted to find direction in her life. The mom suggested they go to church, as they hadn't been in years. The very next day we knocked on their door. I love how God knows what He's doing. He's just got us all mapped out. Some may go astray, but fear not, He's provided a way for them too to come back to the fold. 

So Sheila has two sons that were baptized years ago in Valley Forge 2nd Ward, but she was never baptized because she's living with their father and they're not married. And she has a few more younger kids that are over the age of 8 and not baptized. They really just seemed thrilled that we were there. And I mean, we'll see where we go with this. But there is so much potential here with this family. And they are looking for the light of the gospel! 

Anastasia is progressing beautifully towards her baptism on the 25th. She asks great questions and is practically Mormon already. She wants a calling in primary. She is doing work on to get names ready for baptisms for the dead right after her baptism (we can now go with recent converts to the temple to do baptisms for the dead to Manhattan or D.C. Her parents and a sister and friend and others are all coming from NY for her baptism. Her friend Jessica, who referred her to the missionaries is just so excited. Oh we are stoked for her! 

So Elder Eldredge and I were just walking through the mall in King of Prussia and we walked by one of those small vendors in the big corridors and there were these pillows where the case was made of bamboo fibers or something. So me, being the very tactile, touchy person I am had to get my cushiony fill for the day. I pushed my hand in the pillow and the young lady sales rep started trying to sell it to us. She assumed we worked somewhere in the mall because of our nametags, so she offered a discount. I was sold! $150 pillow! Thanks mom and dad! Jk but she asked where we worked so we gave our shpeel and found out she is a Christian in a Muslim family. She is LIBERIAN and lives right off 67th street in my last area in Philly! So crazy. So I took her info, and gave her Elder Parker and Elder Cottle's info (both our last companions) and talked for a minute about the plan of salvation. She's had questions and sounded interested in learning more. Gotta love missionary work. 

The week before last we had a zone training on Thursday we talked about fulfilling our purpose successfully as missionaries. We also talked about Alma 7:13-16 and how important it is to just let go of our petty little sins or our fears. Sometimes we just need to let go of our past. Not doing so keeps the Atonement from having its full effect in our lives. And it's hard and painful. But it needs to happen. Elder Eldredge had done this before, so we bought a white helium-filled balloon for each missionary in the zone and provided sharpies for each of them to write things that they want to let go of. So they pray in their hearts and then they go. Go on with their lives growing and learning and becoming all that they're meant to become.

Then we walked outside and on the count of three we let our balloons go. A few sisters were in tears because of the spiritual experience with a simple white balloon, symbolizing the laying aside of our sins. It was a miraculous moment. Bright sunny day too. I felt the power of Christ's a Atonement and I hope we were all strengthened by that. I know this work is true. If you don't believe me, muster up the humility to get on your knees and ask. Try God. See if He will hold to His promises. He has for me. I love you all, have a wonderful week!

Elder Jacob Robins
Now I have to include my first name. Congrats Dallin! Start strong, finish strong.

Monday, January 5, 2015

A chill in my bones and a long stay at home

Hey Family and Friends!

So much for a good rhyme, that subject line was a stretch. But it's sticking, so get used to it. Elder Eldredge and I spent some time in Valley Forge National Park today and holy talito, I thought I was in Rexburg! It must have been -2 outside with wind chill...or I just forgot my beanie at home. Either way, it was a beautiful clear sunny day, but not pleasant for a stroll in the park. We drove around and saw the sites and spent time reading the signs and what not. It's interesting how the very park itself feels like sacred ground. No real battles were fought there, but   That terrible winter the continental Army spent in 1777 is what makes the Valley so significant. 

Last P-day was rough and I think I covered pretty well. I had started feeling a cold coming on last Saturday during MLC, then Sunday at church was just miserable. Monday I could barely think straight and I realized it wasn't just a cold but the flu. I don't remember ever getting it this bad. I had the chills and a fever and the whole nose thing going on, body aches like someone had mugged me with 2 tons of bricks, headaches, oh it was nothing short of miserable. And I'm not one to just sit still, so staying in all day Tuesday was rough business. But Elder and Sister Jones from the mission office gave us an A on our apt inspection then took us out to ice cream...which was soo good, but not for the whole sinus thing.

I wanted so badly to just teach! But we didn't want to plague anyone with death (aka being practically bed ridden). So I got a good amount of studying in while my body if it had run 3 back to back marathons. I just didn't understand how doing absolutely nothing could make me so incredibly exhausted. Well before I recognized that it was the flu (yes I did get my flu shot this year btw), we went to a members home Monday night for dinner and a lesson with his two high school boys and his non member wife, Shari. I felt so bad, my nose was dripping like Niagara Falls, I was making all these weird throat noises to keep myself from coughing and my mind was just out of it, and I wasn't even on flu drugs! But the Spirit carried me through the lesson and she just loves family history. She and brother Bradley were married about 3 years ago and she's been meeting with us for a few months now. She seems to love the Book of Mormon.

The members here are pretty awesome about bringing their friends to church and making those important invitations. I'd invite you all to do the same. I want to be the best member missionary I can be, fearless and loving. On Friday night we went to the Koch's house to teach Anastasia, the three of them are just the best of friends already. We barely had to facilitate it. So perfect. We were feeling a bit better Friday, then it hit Elder Eldredge Saturday and Sunday. So we missed church yesterday. But no we aren't going inactive. That would be dumb. Anastasia is doing well, loving church and the gospel. She too is a member referral from her friend in NY. 

The assistants, Elders Watt and Pitt came to our place weds afternoon for an exchange. I went with Elder Watt back to philly, the area I just came from actually. The AP's cover YSA which is the whole stake. So I taught a young man named Julius whom Elder Roberts and I were actually teaching back in September before we handed him off. Nice guy...just doesn't seem to get the gravity of the whole baptism thing. We don't just baptize to baptize. We don't just do it for fun or to get more members. We do it because it's the way home to God. And boy do I know that to be true. And props to Dallin for going across the world to share that same truth. My prayers are with you bud!

I also went on exchanges with Elder Skeen in Downingtown. It's on the western border of the mission. If we were to drive 20 minutes west we'd be in Lancaster. But even in Coatesville there are horse and buggy stalls in the local grocery store parking lots. Yay for Amish culture! He is a good Elder who actually served in Philippines for just under a year but was reassigned here after some medical complications. He's a bit bummed, but we're trying to help him see the grandeur of this mission, without being haughty or boastful of course. Just want him to enjoy his mission.

I've thought a lot, especially while being sick his week about whether or not I'm doing ALL  I can to cry repentance. To let others know this is the only way. "And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God.
Moroni 9:6

I want to be diligent and faithful in bringing others to the truth. I think the best indication of that is whether or not we actually have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. That alone, will give us hope for a day of peace and rest. And an eternal stay at home. 

Love you all,

Elder Robins (last email that I'll be the only one...that I know of!)