Monday, April 20, 2015

The Pursuit of Happyness

Dearest Family and Friends,

Can you believe it?! Two years has come and gone just like that. It's so surreal. And I've been around many "dying" missionaries throughout my mission, but it's different when it's actually your turn. There is a whole slew of emotions and thoughts and what not that really bog me down if I'm not careful. I've found the key is to frequently and consciously let my mind be clear and settled. That brings me inner peace, as hard as it is to do. 

Thank you all for the thoughtful birthday gifts and wishes, including the "Happy Socks" mom. Those are just a pleasure to wear.  Our car needed an oil change, so we did that first thing in the morning on Tuesday. We hadn't finished planning the night before for various administrative we kinda did that while waiting. Elder Bergman suggested going to Downingtown to visit a struggling companionship. Selfishly, I was like "Come on! On my birthday?" Then I thought about how selfish I was sounding or thinking and I realized that it could be a blessing to the elders and for us to be able to minister to them. So we get there around 12, call them to see where they were at and they were on their way home for lunch. Our intent was to do a surprise double-in for a few hours so we could see how much they had actually planned, not just to look good for the zl's. We went walking around in Coatesville and found the elders a new potential investigator. We drove a few minutes to their apt and knocked on the door. They were a little shocked to see us standing at their door, but I think their apartment was a little more shocked. Perhaps a tornado touched down the day before. It was not pretty. So we spent close to an hour just cleaning it with them. Three bags of trash and a couple of squirts of febreeze later, it was again inhabitable. I then spent a few hours with Elder Rychlik and set goals to help him get back on track. I left feeling like I had done some good. 

We went to the Concoba's home for dinner on the and ya just had to be there, but it was pretty funny. She is from Portugal and he is from Guatemala and they have two kids. And they usually cook us up some of their native food which is wonderful. But she felt so bad because she had been running behind and resorted to feeding us pasta. Which wasn't a bad thing, they were just used to feeding the missionaries better. She had no idea it was my birthday and I wasn't about to pull the tacky card and tell them. I'd been taught better than that. (Though we all have our tacky tonight where I put in the wrong address for dinner and we're half an hour late...yeah, not classy.) but we can't beat ourselves up over the little things or we'll never be happy. Eventually just out of the blue their little daughter asked if it was her birthday because of the cake she saw. Sister Concoba double checked to make sure it wasn't anyone's birthday, then Elder Bergman pointed to me. Sister Concoba just about had a heart arrack. She felt so bad. I really didn't mind I was fine just being there, but it was funny to watch their reactions. It was fun to just enjoy the moment.

We all have those moments or days or things we coulda shoulda woulda done better. Good heavens, it seems like I have them every 5 minutes! And if you're like me, you let them get to you.  Don't do that! Keep calm and carry on. Simple, cliche, but wise. I'm slowly learning to just let go and not be so tied up with every action , every word. Repent, move on, and change. Is that not the essence of the gospel? Kyle Newton is a good example of that. He feels bad that even after his baptism he just keeps doing things that don't make his mom happy. He feels like he keeps messing up. I have testified multiple times to him of the gift and power of repentance. And really as cheesy as it may sound, the gospel is the key to happiness. 

The moments that have been some of the sweetest are when the Spirit bears witness to my heart and the hearts of those I'm teaching that my testimony is true. They feel the light and happiness that can come, and if their heads are screwed on straight, they'll want more of it. 

Well I've thought and learned a lot about what makes us as humans happy. I think of the time and I've probably quoted this before, when the Nephites officially break off from the Lamanites. Lamanites were being naughty and rebellious, not listening to their mamas, or really anyone BuT the natural man. The Nephites led simple lives, with their eyes focused on what matters most. And for this cause, Nephi was able to simply declare "And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness." 2 Nephi 5:27

Let's be real, Nephi probably didn't have a Liahona show up under his pillow every night, nor was he blissfully communing with the Spirit day in and day out. But it's the little day to day things that we do in living the gospel that truly make us happy. Now I could be better at practicing what I preach, I'm still figuring it out. This life though really is just a pursuit ofHappyness. Happiness is what we humans long for. I have my life ahead of me and who knows what it will bring, but I pray that every moment will find me living the gospel of Jesus Christ as if He were standing right beside me, being anxiously engaged in a good cause. "Each day we decide the degree of our discipleship." Neal A. Maxwell

I will end with an example of a living wonderful disciple of Christ. Sister Tina Byrd. I've talked about her before. She is from Cambodia and she speaks rough English. She's been a member for over a decade. She has one of the sweetest and simplest testimonies I've ever heard. She knows God loves her. She loves Jesus Christ. She knows members of her Ward love and care for her. And although she still has mountains to bed bugs, and what not, she is on the road of happiness and fulfillment. Pure and simple and beautiful. 

Thank you all for your love, support and testimonies. I hope something of the novels I've written has touched some one of you. Thanks for reading. I love you all and will see you so soon. 


Elder Jacob M. Robins

Had a grill off with Caleb Coe and thought I'd just get a picture with the Coe family. Wonderful last pday. 

Some African food we ate at the Adewole's in our Ward with adorable Olayomade on the other side of the table. Mom and dad, get ready to eat this!

Monday, April 13, 2015

"My Savior to My Aid Will Come"

Hey Everyone!

Spring is here! And it's supposed to rain tomorrow :(...but April
showers bring May flowers! Just wish we could send some to CA. I hope
Tyler and Jared both had enjoyable, non-pouty birthdays filled with
gratitude for life and for mom and dad and for all they do for us.
Elder Bergman and I spent a good amount of time at the beginning of
last week preparing for my very last zone training! So weird. I still
remember my first like it was yesterday. This prideful little
golden/greenie, something in Japanese or whatever you want to call it,
thinking he knew the ins and outs of missionary work. Boy was I in for
a kick in the pants! Sometimes literally. My trainer was great for me
and set me on the course for a good mission.

There have been many humbling moments that have caused me to suck up
my pride and just pray. Just work. Just love. And just serve. For
example, after sister Burton's powerful talk in General Conference
last weekend, I found myself this past week in many circumstances
where her self evaluation was put to the test. Pride is a vicious sin
and I think we all struggle with some form of it or another. Major
props to those who successfully overcome it in this life or even get
close. But there was a disagreement I had with my companion about how
to end zone training. I of course, felt that my way was best and vice
versa. And I feel like especially with men there's this unspoken
complex of "I need to be right all the time or I'm not a man." Men
won't say it, but let's be honest, it's pretty true in many guys. Not
all, but many. So I just did my usual scoff and walk away and pretend
like I don't care when really I'm boiling inside thing. Then I thought
of her talk. Am I choosing to be happy, or am I insisting that I am
invariably right? Gahhh! It is such a struggle that few of us are
willing to openly admit we have. But in that moment, no not in that
moment, but in reflecting on that moment, I've come to learn that our
relationships with others are in the process of becoming eternal. The
decision we are arguing over will be irrelevant or not really matter
within a few minutes or hours or days or months.

Christ asked us, And me, to love everyone. We were talking with Sheila
yesterday, and the kids and she said, how on earth can one love God or
say they love God if they don't love the people around them? I think
that in those moments when we so desperately want to be right or feel
that we are, if instead of lashing out irrationally we were to plead
in silent prayer for help and perhaps forgiveness, then the Savior
will come to our aid. #kingofrunonsentences.

I was on exchanges with Elder Smilanich this past Friday and Saturday.
He's the same Elder that i dragged around Philly in the pouring rain
on his first transfer out. He's in my zone again and boy is he a goon!
But we love him. On exchanges everything fell through. It was
drizzling rain and just one of those depressing days and nothing held.
We went through all of our back ups and still had left over time. It
was hard not to get discouraged, especially as the leader who should
be setting the "almost perfect" example. Jk. So that was frustrating,
but throughout the day I was praying and I remembered the words to a
beloved hymn "My Savior to my aid will come when sought in secret
prayer." -Hymns, 144

So I saw the little tender mercies of the Lord that kept me going. At
the end of the night, both our appts had fallen through so we prayed
to know what to do. The name of a woman living in a nursing home about
10 miles away came to mind. Sister Ellis. I'd only met her once with
Elder Eldredge, but she loved it and I felt good about it this time.
So we went and she needed a priesthood blessing. It's always a
pleasure to be able to minister to God's children and to be led to
them without you even having known beforehand that they were in need.
Earlier in the day we were walking in Norristown about the time when
kids were getting out of school. I look across the street to an
African American young woman who looked to be in high school. She was
just smiling with the biggest grin. I looked back and she was still
smiling at me, and again the third time. I thought. This is fishy, she
either wants to join our church or...yeah.

So like any giddy missionary would do when they get a solid smile and
hello, I beckoned her to cross the street. We started talking, I found
out she's in 7th grade and younger sister is older than
this girl. This is weird. So we showed her the Easter video on my
iPad, and whilst watching the video, she looked up momentarily at my
name tag and said "Elder Robison" then after the video was done she
looked up and smiled, said thank you, gave me a half hug without my
consent and without so much as a head nod or any recognition of Elder
Smilanich, she turned and walked off. My jaw dropped.

Another time was when we knocked on the door of an old potential, a
little kid looked through the window, knocked on it and smiled with
the cutest smile, looked back towards the dark inside, then back at us
and through the window he yelled "My dad says Go Away!" Ha a little
blunt, but we had to laugh because he was so cute about it.

I know Christ will come to our aid, perhaps especially when we need
Him most. "I will be merciful unto them...if they will repent and come
unto me." 2 Nephi 28:32

Have a joyous week. Love always,

Elder Jacob Robins

Monday, April 6, 2015

Nothing is Forever Lost

Dear Family & Friends,

Happy Easter! I don't know about you, but this was an awesome weekend.
I hope you all felt the same. This Easter, like this past Christmas,
felt different than past Easter holidays. In the past all I wanted to
do was avoid the hard boiled eggs and rot my teeth with peeps and
jelly beans. Yeah sure we talked about Jesus, but it hasn't sunk in
until now. There was something special about this General Conference
that really just hit me. A lot was said about families and marriage
and young single adults and returned missionaries staying strong and
faithful...take a hint Elder! Ha.

We were able to watch the first session with the Yi's at their house,
chimichangas in hand (courtesy of Sheila). The kids actually weren't
too bad for the two hours. Derek was so restless he looked like he had
ants in his pants, but they all stayed put and thoroughly enjoyed
listening to living prophets. We are working with especially Kyle and
Derek to be a little more responsible and organized in their
schoolwork and in helping out around home. We talked to them about
cutting back on video games and giving their mom the help she really

Our teaching pool is all new investigators and recent converts. It has
been quite a struggle to get people to just keep their appointments
and progress. We are seeing success with some less active members or
active members who need a little help getting on the road to the
temple. We had Zone Conference last week and talked about how
missionaries are called not just to baptize, but really we are
"full-purpose" missionaries in that we help with retention,
reactivation, teaching the gospel, member missionary work and temple
and family history work. It makes sense to have us more fully
involved. So currently we don't have a whole lot to report on our
teaching pool. Oh except there's this couple we met that lives on the
site of an old airline hangar. William and Nancy, kind people who
showed an interest in learning a little more. William is a family
history fanatic and we heard from his daughter last night that he'll
bring like 47 pages worth of family history info and what not to
family reunions. So the Spirit of Elijah is active amongst the
inhabitants of the earth. So we're working with them and helping them
feel the power and Spirit of the Book of Mormon.

Right now I'm driving home from center city Philadelphia with Caleb
Coe. We are professional mooches and he was willing to take us. He's
fun to hang out with and I like it here in philly. Oh last Sunday,
Palm Sunday, Elder Bergman and I were invited to attend a Presbyterian
church service with two young women we met at Zwahlen's the week
before. So we made a deal with them that if we came to their church
they would come to ours. So it was a deal. And we made it! Just to
find out that the whole service was in Spanish. Poor Elder Bergman
doesn't understand a lick of Spanish.  Well he understands and knows
like como esta and what not. So we're sitting there with blasting
music which neither of us understand, waving our Palm leaves for Palm
Sunday, and I was feeling very grateful for the truth and for prophets
who teach us how to worship. But at the same time I was also grateful
for faithful people who were coming to worship the best they knew how.

Something I was impressed with this conference was Elder Holland's
talk on Christ and the Atonement. I'm sure we've all felt those
moments when we're slipping off the edge and we reach just a little
further to find the heaven sent help we so desperately needed. When
the great apostasy occurred, God knew that His children living on the
earth would be lost and confused because there really wasn't much to
give them solid direction in life. But He called another prophet to
let His children know that indeed they were not lost. Such is the case
with each of us, if we follow the counsel of one of my dad's favorite

20 "And now, my beloved brethren, seeing that our merciful God has
given us so great knowledge concerning these things, let us remember
him, and lay aside our sins, and not hang down our heads, for we are
not cast off; nevertheless, we have been driven out of the land of our
inheritance; but we have been led to a better land."
2 Nephi 10:20

We are never lost if we reach out to Him. Love you all, have a springy week!

Elder Jake Robins