Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Baptism and Transfer Day

28 March 2016

Whew a lot went down this week.  First we taught a lot, which was amazing.  I am talking more in lessons and I'm really comfortable with the language, I can joke with people and they actually understand my jokes! (I love the PI, here I'm actually funny!  That or they just laugh at my accent...)  I find it easier to speak from the heart about how the gospel has changed my life.  Elfie, our investigator, got baptized last Saturday too!  It was awesome, we also had two other baptisms along with his, Emerald and Hanisa.  I got called to speak last minute which went well even though I wasn't expecting it.

We also got a new bunk bed frame this week so our room is actually a room instead of two beds side by side!  This week is the end of my two cycle training (a cycle is about 6 weeks) which means I'll get a new companion!  4 of us elders live in Cabbaroguis and the other two are new, we all thought my companion would be transferred to a new area because he is the oldest here.  But today we found out that I'm actually going to be transferred and one of the other guys who got here at the same time as me!  Its unusual because I just got done with training but I am super excited!  But I wont be able to use the new bed frame come Wednesday...  oh well, I'm super stoked!   

We also had this awesome Pinoy traditional dinner where we just eat off a banana leaf... it was so cool.

Anyway, I love you all, thanks for the support!

Elder TJ

Life is good

A Fresh Start and Astig Falls

21 March 2016

This morning we went to the falls in Bagiou Village!  It was a blast, I love it here!  I also got to eat a pig's eye this week (poor pig) and pump water for the first time.  Buko juice (as usual) was freshly cut yesterday at our dear member's house (the Deranchang family).  But in the midst of all the astig (cool) things we got done, we did work too!

This week I prayed a lot for Elpie, our 15 year old investigator who really wants to join to church and for Amie (as you can tell those are our most progressing investigators).  Elpie had his baptismal interview this week which went smoothly!  I was a little worried when we went to have his guardian sign the consent form but it went well (my companion is super good with people so props to him!).  Elpie will get baptized next Saturday if everything goes well!  He is so excited to get his fresh start, when we explain baptism we tell them about how strong the spirit is at the baptism and about how they become new, all their sins are washed away.  He is super excited for that.  And Amie started to actually take notes during our lesson, which I thought was awesome because she sometimes doesn't seam like she wants to pay attention.  But we didn't ask her to take notes, she just did, which made us super excited!  

Personally I've been working on a lot too, mostly being as obedient to the mission rules as possible and becoming as self-less as possible.  I started doing the dishes more (which I hate doing) and looking outside myself more which so far is going well!  

Thanks for all the support, I love you guys a ton.

Elder Taylor-Jenson

"The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.  So watch your step."

Monday, March 28, 2016

Spiders and doing what is right...

14 March 2016

This week was a blast, we went on a hike up this hill and cut down some small trees to help this guy build an extension to his house!  Then when we were done we went to this grandmas house and I climbed a 30 foot tree (I mean it was 10 feet mom...) to get the buko (coconuts) down.  That is my favorite thing here, being able to cut open a fresh buko and have some fresh buko juice.  We also caught some little spiders  on our walks home.  I use to be a little scared of spiders to be honest but here even the kids play with them.  And this morning of course I owned up some basketball with the little Filipinos!  They make me laugh so much, I don't think i can play basketball without speaking Tagalog! 

As for spiritually, I relearned a lesson this week that my dad taught me!  (I'm half a world away and my dad is still taking me to class...)  Ever since I was little my dad has taught me "don't sweat the small stuff" and that is so true.  There is an infinitely vast plan set out for us.  Every experience we have gives us an opportunity to learn and be better and work to perfect ourselves as people.  I was in this van on the way to stake conference this weekend and we drove past a church with a cross.  I thought about why our church doesn't have a cross as its symbol.  Our symbol is "the church of Jesus Christ of latter day saints" with the name of Jesus in big letters.  I think the reason for that is because this plan for our whole lives, this gospel and this church is all centered on Christ.  Thats why our symbol is his name.  And as I thought about it I realized how much the gospel has changed me a lot.  How I wouldn't be me if I wasn't a "mormon".  To me it is the Gospel of Jesus Christ for Keanan Taylor-Jenson.  It is personally and directly related to me and who I am.  So maybe that is why it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  

I miss you guys so much, again I thank you for your time and support. You have all touched me at some point in my life.  

Your Average American in the Philippines,
Elder Taylor-Jenson

"feel the fear and do it anyway"

Progressing Investigators

6 March 2016

Sorry  I missed last week!  I had no time but heres what happened.  We taught a bunch of lessons and contacted a lot and went on splits which was fun!  I got to go to this other area called Zamora and we had a good time, i liked my companions teaching style.  I love the language so much, I can really use it well now!  Its like in the movie "best two years" when Elder Calhoun finally can speak the language.  Anyways we also had some fun!  We went to the Bukid which is like the jungle where the rice farmers farm and we went there for Edsa which is a holiday about the sacrifice world war two soldiers made.  There I got to ride a caribou!  That is my single favorite thing here in the Philippines.  I also got to climb a coconut tree and fish a little, we had a blast!

This week we went to this sick waterfall place this morning, its just called Madella falls, it was so gorgeous.  I had one of those, "where even am I right now" moments!  I get those daily where I notice "wow Im in the Philippines." And life is just good!  Im still enjoying the life here, don't worry I'm alive haha.  Just trying to stay fit, the people here feed me so much, its so nice!  Sometimes we ask to have some buko juice (coconut juice) and they'll just pick some for us!  Its so awesome. 

We've also been teaching Amy and Artemio.  Artemio is awesome, he is only 15 and he really wants to get baptized even though no one in his family is a member.  I love teaching him because he has really good questions and really wants to know the truth!  I love sharing something so near and dear to me, most of the time we get denied but when we teach interested people its way worth all the let downs.   

Whew ok so spiritual thought of the week... we visit a lot of less actives because here people get baptized a lot and then kinda let their fire sputter out.  So this week I shared Helaman 5:12 which is very well known and often used but very true too.  It talks about how if we build our lives on the foundation of Christ we cannot fail, no matter what!

As usual, thanks for the support!

Elder Taylor-Jenson

Philippines Proverb, "Emulate the rice stalk, the more grains it has the lower it bows."

Riding a caribou!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Filipino Fun

21 Feb 2016

This week was a little difficult, we didn't get to much done because my companion was sick for some of the week...  so throughout this week I found myself looking for motivation, why am I really here?  Of course the gospel is awesome but why?  We finally got out of the house one day and our investigator wasn't there but we decided to keep walking around rather than go home.  So we walked and saw a less active driving home and decided to go talk to him, we talked about the importance of church and the sacrament and he asked us if he could be re baptized which was a weird request but we explained the repentance process to him.  He told us he loved the feeling of being clean.  And looking back I think that is why I'm here.  Because I have felt the gospel help me feel clean and I love it!  It's a good feeling having nothing looming over you, no guilt holding you down.  So that's my motivation, I need to be out there as much as possible, being as obedient as possible so that the Lord can work through me as much as possible.

So besides the ok hair cut I got today, this week was great!  We've been walking a lot to save money and contact which has been fun.  I finally got over my fear of talking to people!  I use to get scared that I wouldn't understand them but its not to bad anymore.  We had a lot of dinner appointments too so that was nice!  The members love having us over here for dinner and family home evening.  After we eat we usually share a message and the one I had prepared this week was about humility!  Something I've been working on is remembering that the Lord gave us everything we have.  I would be a very different person if it weren't for his atonement and sometimes I need to remember that I owe it all to him.  I think a lot about who I want to be too and humble is one of those traits that I want to develop.

The language barrier can get weird between me and my companion sometimes.  In Tagalog when you ask a question you just say the statement that you are trying to ask and add "ba" so for example, "Are you going to the store?" would be (in English) "You are going to the store" and you would throw "ba" in there.  So when he talks to me in English sometimes its very straight forward and comes off rude.  So not taking offense is one flaw I have been working on.

As usual, I love your support.  Thanks for your open ears and hearts.  Until next week. Again I miss you all so much, thank you for your support,
I love you all! Elder Taylor-Jenson

"He who takes offense when none is intended is a fool. He who takes offense when offense is intended is a greater fool." - Brigham Young



The Beautiful Philippines!

14 Feb 2016

This week I'm great!  Chillin as usual, in the gorgeous Philippines!  Today we went to the grocery store and there was a rat runnin around, your typical Philippines scene. We also were in this little store with like second hand clothes and I saw a bunch of American brands like Old Navy and Izod and Banana Republic and Tommy Bahama... I have no idea how they get those out here.   Ummm this week we taught Amy, she's chill.  She's 20 and her husband is a member and she seems to like the material we taught her, she's gunna be baptized soon so that's fun! Life was easy this week, we got this challenge to read the whole Book of Mormon in a month so I'm working on that in addition to my usual study and I'm going to read through it with the question "what lack I yet" in mind so I can better myself with what I learn.  I just read in Mosiah about a ton of battles that happened and thats pretty fun.  And in church we read about Howard W. Hunter and he was really into kindness. He says that true greatness comes from consistently giving little acts of kindness which is something I will be trying to work on.

I also finally finished my first cycle (6 week period) and you can potentially get transferred each cycle.  Anyway, I have like 12 more to go or something... yaaaaaaaay!  Haha people say it goes by fast but I kinda hope it doesn't, its so pretty here!  Plus the food is awesome, I found out today I love Bikol Express which is a little spicy but I guess my taste buds are changing!

Oh and I got a package from my family!  

Til next week,

Elder Taylor-Jenson

Silver Linings

1 Feb 2016

Ok sorry this is a longer letter but I also had a crazy experience this week.  We got invited out of the blue to go to this funeral.  This little 7 year old boy died in an accident and we went to go speak (I have no idea why they asked me) and we got into this tiny cement house (like all the houses) and there were some friends around in a circle and the little boy was in his casket and I looked at him.  Now I have only seen one dead person in my life and that was my grandmother when I was like 13.  

For some reason I wasn't that sad so I thought that I didn't get sad at funerals.  But as I looked at this boy I felt so deeply for him and his mother.  Then I started thinking about what I would say.  As I got up I flipped to Moroni 8:8 which among other things talks about little kids and how they cannot commit sin.  I explained that I have a sister about Mark's age (his name is Mark) and I talked about how children have an innocence and a light about them.  Then I talked about how this should not happen, the parents should never have to see their kids die.  And as I said that I was overcome with this wave of emotion in my head and I could feel it spread through me, I have come to know that as one way I feel the spirit.  In the scriptures we learn that the spirit comforts and brings joy but as I felt it on Saturday I was so sad, I was embarrassed because I cried in front of everyone and my voice began to give way as I shared my mom's favorite scripture which is Alma 7:11-13.  I told her that it says Christ suffered "pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind" and that she must be feeling such pain and anger.  That is why he suffered ALL pains and afflictions because there are times when we feel alone and we feel like no one can relate to us.  He did that so we don't have to be alone ever.  Then I explained the plan of salvation to her, I told her we know exactly where we came from and where we are going and why we are here in this life.  I told her I know she will see her son after this life and that is the beauty of the plan He has for us. 

As I thought about it later I realized that the spirit had helped me "mourn with those who mourn" because that is our job as Latter Day Saints. That is why I was sad and feeling the spirit.  

I love you all thanks for the support! 
Elder Taylor-Jenson
Progress not Perfection.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Jan 25, 2016

Keanan had an exciting week that culminated with a Baptism!  From Keanan:

This week was a lot of fun!  We went to a wedding and i had my first baptism!  I got to baptize Jeffery Serato Agraan and it was really cool seeing him take all the lessons and change!  He was the one getting married too, his wife is already a member thats why he started taking the lessons.  The spirit was so thick at the baptism, i just felt calm!  not scared at all even though it was my first time!  I loved it!  I also gave my first blessing and i had the same feelings.  I really love it here!  I'm lucky i got sent somewhere with lots of nature because it is so gorgeous here, Im so lucky!

Ok spiritual thought for the week, I read two scriptures i really liked, Jacob 4:6-9 and D&C 133:53.  I really like reading (which i didn't use to...) there is a calm in the scriptures for me.  In Jacob it talks about the power of words, which to me is really true because we can feel them when someone says something mean or nice to us.  It makes sense that God's power is manifest in words, especially because the important things that happen in our church all are dependent on the words we say.  The scripture in D&C talks about how He will carry us, which i know to be true.  I pondered a lot this week about why at some of the hardest times in my life i didn't feel like he carried me and i realized that my hard times all ended when I re-centered my life on Christ.  :) 

Elder Taylor-Jenson

Rise and Rise again, until lambs become lions.

Wedding Bells
1st Baptism

The Force is strong with this one!

Monday, January 18, 2016


Jan 18, 2016

Keanan was able to spend a bit more time typing an email this week. whew p day again sweet. ok so this week we found some new investigators, which is awesome of course! We found Margarie and Gloria. They both seemed super interested but sometimes its hard to tell if people really care or if they invite you in just to be polite... but the lessons go well. We taught Margarie and her bakla (gay) roomate sat down and started listening too! wait i lied that was two weeks ago. this week we went back and taught just Margarie because she was the only one home. we brought some members too and it was nice, she is just shy. with Gloria we contacted her and found out she already has a book of mormon and is reading it! she had been contacted earlier. shes older and seemed really interested. she said she would be at church but she didnt show up, maybe thats how God feels when i mess up... haha.

I have a lot of experiences where i feel like God says "thats you!" we were at a dinner appointment and there were two little boys, the one kept getting distracted and was loud and would spill a lot, in my head i said "its ok hes just learning" and i heard in my head "you're still learning too,its ok" and i really needed that.

I found my new favorite scripture! Before my mission i didnt like reading that much but now i cant get enough.  I found Mosiah 15, the whole chapter is good but specifically up until verse 12 because it explains how the atonement works (verse 9) and talks a lot about His sacrafice. And it says that when Christ suffered, He saw "His seed" which is amazing when you think about it because we are all His seed, so as He suffered, He saw every person. Well I'm alive and well despite the pig intestine (which isnt to bad) and the liver (which is super dry) that i ate this week. I think i can say i am no longer a picky eater. because if i was i would starve. Im having a great time and thank you all for your love and support, i miss you all!
Elder Taylor-Jenson

Short Update

Jan 11, 2016 Keanan's week was harried so his email was short. He stated that the language was tough and weather was really hot. Regardless, he said he loves it there and seeing the people how God sees them. In his haste, Keanan shared 2 scripture that had special meaning to him this week:

1) Alma 7:11-13 - Christ and his physical empathy of our human ailments and experiences through the Atonement; and

2) D&C 6:34-37 - Trust in the Lord for he is our solid foundation in life. v36: Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Arrival in the Philippines Cauayan Mission!!

Dec 30, 2015

Keanan arrived in the Philippines Cauayan Mission today.  He was greeted by the Mission President Rahlf and his wife and was assigned his first Mission Companion, Elder Busilac.  Not much to say today, as there was no P-day (preparation day) due to his transfer to this area.

President Rahlf and his wife

Me and Elder Busilac

First update from the Philippines (PI) - Manila MTC

Dec 17, 2105 -
Keanan's weekly email was moving and inspiring.  We are so happy to be able to share this experience vicariously through him.

Being here is awesome.  Man there is so much to talk about, I can't fully describe everything that happened this week.  The plane ride was long and boring, we aren't allowed to watch TV or anything so that was terrible but I got some good sleep time in!  Finally getting to Manila and driving on the bus was crazy.  There is traffic all the time, the cars drive wherever they want, and its just a free for all!  After that I just spent time in the Manila MTC and after a little we got to go to the Immigration office.  So we are driving to the office and this time its day, so I can see so much better.  As we drove through the streets I saw homeless people everywhere. They build shacks against the buildings and kids play in the streets.  I've seen places like this in pictures but actually being in the middle of it is so different.  As we waiting in line to go to the immigration office, I saw three little girls who were homeless and I talked to them in Tagalog a little.  They were only 10 10 and 8 and they had on rags.  The thing I noticed first about them was that they smiled constantly. and as we drove back to the MTC I noticed that, people here smile a lot.  They are so happy despite their lack of worldly things.

Just yesterday we went on MTC exchanges with missionaries here. I thought we would be street contacting but we went to an inactive members house. I was with one elder from here and another from new Zealand. to get to this members house we took a tricycle which is just a motorcycle with a side cart attached.  As we cut through cars and drove on the wrong side of the road I began to wonder why there were no seatbelts in this thing... it was crazy. as I exited the tricycle I found myself in the poorest area I've been in my life.  there were stray dogs everywhere, houses on houses on houses, and everything looked like it was struggling to live. We weaved through an ally or two to get to the members house and as we walked I saw a man sleeping on the ground between two buildings. One of my companions pointed to him and said "That's one of our members, he lives there" and I couldn't believe what he was telling me. I was truly humbled. After walking a ways we got to the house. outside there was some sort of washing machine that had the hose hooked up to it. right behind that was the door and above the door there were a couple giant umbrellas, the kind you would bring to the beach. And as I entered I took off my shoes at the door of the house, which was smaller than the size of my living room. The woman we were visiting greeted us as her daughter darted upstairs. I tried to pick out what Tagalog I knew as she talked to my native companion. She invited us to sit on her couch/ bench which had been made by her husband I presumed. before we began, we sang a hymn, which I've never done when on splits in the states.  as we sang silent night though we were quite off key I felt the spirit so strongly.  during the song the daughter came back down and joined us.  after the song one of my companions turned to me and said "well what message do you have for us today?" I was caught off guard but I was able to pick out a scripture i had been reading this past week and it went well. I read 1 Nephi 19:9 which talks about how the whole have no need for a physician but the sick do. and how he came to call not the righteous but the sinners to repentance.  I talked about how the gospel is for everyone on the earth and how we should share it. as we concluded and left the house I felt so humbled.

I know I've only been here under a week but I love it, its so amazing how loving and receptive the people are, we set up an appointment with the Tricycle driver on the way back to the church!  I'm so lucky to have the opportunity to be here.  

I love you all so much, don't forget it!  

Elder Taylor-Jenson

Manila Temple

Dec 24, 2015 -
Keanan was able to call us on Christmas Eve (his Christmas Day)-the best Christmas gift to all of us! He was enthusiastic to start the work, and had fun things to tell us.  He lovingly and jokingly said "I am one of the tallest ones here!  Everyone else comes up to my chin!"  He is enjoying his "super sized" status.

First Update Since Leaving For The MTC - Provo, UT

Due to Keanan's quick mission call, followed by the holiday routine, which included Keanan leaving the country, we have been delinquent in posting.  But New Year, new start!  Here's a quick "catch up" and then we will post more regularly.

Nov 11, 2015 - Keanan arrived at the Provo, Utah Missionary Training Center (MTC)
Drop Off:
Sarah, NaVia and Loraya drove Keanan out to Utah, and enjoyed last minute family time and all those emotions that go into sending your favorite son/brother on a mission!
While he was there, we were able to communicate rather regularly with Keanan through DearElder.com.  Keanan really liked this since he would get hard copy messages on the same, or next day from those who wrote him.  He got a little lonely, but figured out how to push through those feelings via prayer, scripture study, and the letters everyone sent him.

Keanan was able to pick up on the Tagalog language rather quickly, and even served as a language tutor for the other missionaries not as familiar with the language.  For those who do not know, Keanan took 4 years of Tagalog in High School, so he was well prepared for his mission call to the Philippines!

Here is his email from the Provo, MTC:

It's amazing to be here!  I have had a ton of fun at the MTC and its crazy that I've only been here a couple weeks!  I leave really early on the 10th for the Philippines and I am so excited!  It'll be super hot so I'm trying to enjoy the cool weather here. Also, with all the tagalog, i have been having trouble spelling english words because they are way harder... but i have started saying all my prayers in tagalog!

This week we had a blast as usual!  Elder Morris took 1500 mg of a laxative because everyone gave him a dollar so that was fun.  Sister Fivas put one of those airplane pillows in her hair and i totally got a picture of that!  We also had a ton of fun in the choir, we practice twice a week and its so much fun.

On a more serious note, I started the book of mormon over again and I was reading in 2 Nephi at the beginning when Lehi is about to die and he says "Awake, my sons; put on the armor of righteousness.  Shake off the chains with which ye are bound, and come forth out of obscurity, and arise from the dust." (2Nephi 1: 23)  I was really touched by that i feel like it should be in an inspirational video or something.  I also decided which scripture to put on my plaque, 1 Nephi 19:9 which reads, "And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it.  Yea, they spit upon him, and he suffereth it,because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men."

If anyone wants to be on the email list that isn't just shoot me an email with their address!  Thank you all for being there for me, I miss you all a ton!  All the packages and emails and just love in general means a lot to me, so thank you.

Elder Taylor-Jenson

Dec 10, 2015 - Keanan leaves the MTC in Provo, UT, and flies to the Manila, Philippines MTC.
Keanan flew to the Manila MTC for further missionary training before assignment to his first Mission Area - Cauayan, Philippines.  He flew from Salt Lake City, UT, to Los Angeles (LAX).  While in Lax we got to speak with him on the phone.  He sounded happy, healthy and excited to start his mission.  He flew from LAX, had a short layover in Hong Kong, and onto Manila.

At this MTC, Keanan started going out on Missionary splits with missionaries who were native to the Philippines. Here is his email:

Hey I just got to the Philippines last night around 12 our time!  It is so warm and fun and fast here!  I already love it, the people are awesome!  As we drove to the MTC the cars were all ridiculously close to each other.  I love it here!  

Well I only have a couple seconds to emai so I'll keep it short.  The more I talk to people about missions the more they say that you'll look back on your missions your whole life.  That makes me a little nervous but as long as I do all I can, I know the Lord will help me.

Again thank you all for being there for me.

Mahal kita,
Elder Taylor-Jenson