Languages and Lessons

Dear friends and family,

My companion and I celebrated his 5th month as a missionary and my 1st month this past week. We had a can of tuna and some lettuce for dinner to commemorate this big event. Haha. I can't believe I've been gone for a month. Where has the time gone? 

It was a mix emotion of a week. We started out super busy and excited for all the plans and appointments we were privileged to have, but as the week played out, it was cancellation after cancellation. Bummer, so we spent a lot of time this week biking, I almost got hit by a car...twice. Elder Mo'o swerved narrowly missing a car from hitting him head on. Crazy California drivers! 

Last Friday my companion and I taught seminary. Tomorrow I am doing a training on How to Begin Teaching to the district. The following week I am giving a training on baptismal invites and promptings of the Holy Ghost to the zone. Lots of teaching and training to members/missionaries out here. I love it! 

This past Sunday one of the bishopric asked me what I liked to do back home and I said that I love MMA and tennis. He later announces on the pulpit that "Elder Jalla is a cage fighter and has dominated everyone he has ever fought, including Bruce Lee" So now everyone in the ward is asking me all these ridiculous questions--- its entertaining and embarrassing. 

So you know how I was bummed out about not going foreign speaking? Well, there are 101 languages in the valley. Yes, 101... Peachwood ward is the exclusive ASL ward for the entire mission. I now know how to start a conversation and introduce myself as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ in ASL, Hmong, and Spanish. Elder Mo'o and I are going to teach the Restoration in sign tomorrow and two Sundays from now we are doing a special musical number in sacrament all in sign. Crazy right? 

Every night Elder Mo'o and I bike home and sometimes we're like 5-10 minutes early so we go to this park right next to our house. We take time to unwind and reflect on our day. Sometimes we talk about our family and home, other times we crack jokes about all the craziness of that day, but almost every time we talk about the blessings that Heavenly Father has given us. It is my favorite part of the day because most nights are clear skies and there is usually a baseball game that we can watch as we bond about everything and anything.

1. Lady came into church and asked to meet with us. She said she is looking for a church and this is it. Someone gave her a Book of Mormon and she said it felt that it was right. She stayed for the whole 3 hours. We begin teaching her tonight.
2. We visited our street contact and as I shared the First Vision we both teared up. He afterwards said, "that was the most powerful thing I have ever heard" We set a date for him to be baptized three weeks from now and he said yes. 
3. Met with a less-active family and I had no clue what to share so I offered a prayer of the heart and words and scriptures came pouring out. She held my hand for the longest time as we left and said, "How did you know? You answered the questions that have kept me away for so long. Thank you."
4. After 3 hours of biking and getting chewed out, cussed at, and have things thrown at us a random passerby stops us and gives us some of the most encouraging words. One thing he mentioned was, "Looking at me you probably thought that I was going to yell at you, but I am a member of the Church you represent. Christ did not give up on me, neither will you give up on those that seem as if they are not in need of what you have to offer. You are doing good, stay courageous, change lives." We talked for a bit longer and said our farewells. I needed that and Heavenly Father knew it. 

Sometimes our lives get so busy or we get so distracted, focusing on all that bad that COULD happen or have happened that we miss out on the blessings that WILL happen and are constantly happening around us. 

Sorry this e-mail is a bit all over the place. I miss and love you all!

Your eternal friend, brother, and fellow missionary,

Elder Jalla


A Mighty Change of Heart

Dear family and friends,

I can't possibly explain this "mighty change of heart" that I have had the privilege of experiencing every single day. I lay my head on my pillow every night in wonder and amazement at all that Heavenly Father has given me. In complete awe, I look back at all that had transpired in the span of 24 hours and my mind is completely blown! Heavenly Father is truly in the details of our lives, every little action results in a miracle, every street contact is another person coming just a little bit closer to true and everlasting happiness, every missionary that I talk to has become my closest friend and brother, and each and every day I come to know and understand the Atonement more in my own life. I've never been this close to my Savior--- I feel His love. 

If there is one thing that I fully expected, took time to recognize, and now embrace wholeheartedly is the concept that missionary work is HARD WORK. I'll be honest there are some days when I want to throw in the towel. Your testimony is constantly being attacked and you do get worn down. Sometimes you don't know what to say when the person in front of you is, although not directly, pleading for help. Other times you spend an entire day riding your bicycle and for hours no one would listen to you or your companion. 

In moments like these I am reminded of the words, "Nevertheless--not my will but thine be done" I am an instrument in His hands, I made a promise to Him one day when I was biking that despite how disheartened I can get, despite the tears and the inadequacies, despite the people who "know not what they do" I WILL not give up! Someone out there has been waiting their whole life to come to know that they are loved, that they are not forgotten. That Heavenly Father is waiting to hear from them just so He can whisper in their hearts that He loves them and He has ALWAYS been there. That Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer and he has died and suffered for them, his arms are outstretched. As I've looked into the eyes of those who know him not I see in their hearts a yearning to be embraced by the One who is mighty to save. We as missionaries bring the most important message to those that "are kept from the truth, only because they know not where to find it". 

A mighty change of heart--- as I've thought deeply about this phrase I came to realize that as a missionary your heart is broken each day for the people you serve. I feel the smallest fraction of what Christ must have felt for each of us as he suffered in Gethsemane. He felt our pains, sorrows, burdens, trails, tribulations, all that we would ever suffer through in this life---- why? Because He would not allow us to go through it alone. Because if the Gospel teaches you anything--- it is that EVERYTHING that Jesus Christ has done has always been out of love. I can never comprehend just how much he loved me personally but as I bike and walk around the streets of California I see his love evident in the lives of those I serve. It is truly a wonderful time to be a missionary!

My dear friends--all those that are preparing for or have even the slightest desire to serve-- DO IT! You will bless lives, you will change yours, you will feel the Savior's love. Your heart is broken each day because it allows Christ to mend it and build it back up stronger than ever before. It truly is a mighty change of heart because it is not the same heart-- you begin to see and feel and love as the Savior does.

I sincerely and wholeheartedly love you all.

Your eternal brother, friend, and fellow missionary
Elder Jalla

p.s. We have a time limit on e-mailing so I am answering your personal e-mails through mail. Please supply me your address. I have letters to send but no addresses to send them to!


Elder Jalla Versus the Missing Lunch

Elder Jalla sent me these pictures with the title: "my trainer. my study quarters. my lunch." 

Except, there's no third picture. Where's his lunch? Free postage stamps to those of you who could find it. (^_~)

Elder Mo'o, the Trainer 

Study quarters in good ol' Clovis, CA. 

Fresno, California--- Home of the...

...crazy dirty air quality. 

Hello friends and family,

Elder Jalla reporting in for my first week here in California! The Mission President sent you (Claire, Dad, Mom) a video of me meeting my trainer, yeah? I want to see it. I was so nervous.

I'll be serving in Clovis, California for 12 weeks. It's a small town--sort of. Reminds me of Rockford to be honest except there are a lot more people on the streets. My trainer/companion's name is Elder Mo'o. He is Tahitian/Maori from Syracuse, Utah. He is 19 years old, laid back and yet loves to be active. He reminds me a lot of Kuya TJ. He has been out on the field for 4 months and has served in Clovis for that duration. So when he is done training me he would have been in the same area for 1/4th of his mission. He really likes it here though and he has expressed his desire to serve in Clovis for his last transfer.

Yesterday we were walking up to a recent converts home and a plane was flying over us. He asked me, "Elder Jalla--- How far is that plane?" I shrugged. He answered, "24 months Elder, 24 months." I fell for that one. We had a good laugh about it. 

My mission president is so flipping awesome! His picture on my call packet does not reflect his sincerity and love that he has for his missionaries. I feel safe and comforted under his direction. He is like a giant teddy bear. There are two main concepts we follow out here in the California Fresno Mission

1. We are COMPLETE missionaries
"obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings about miracles"
2. We serve because we LOVE the Savior. 

We also recite our missionary purpose every week as a zone. It's a little different towards the end. It goes like this, "As a missionary of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints my purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end---and in the California Fresno Mission--We BAPTIZE! (first pump)" And that's how it is. Haha

And baptize we do. Our mission is the second highest baptizing mission in the world. Some place in Utah is first, but we have a goal of 1,000 baptisms this year, something that has never been done before (if you don't count Book of Mormon days, of course) The mission might actually exceed that with how many baptisms all the missionaries out here are doing. I know numbers don't matter, and it's true they do not-- but we need a goal or else we aren't moving forward. The work here is booming, every missionary out here is dedicated to the work.

There are a couple mission rules that are unique to this mission.
1. Every Elder needs a part in his hair. An apostle came to this area and said that if every Elder parted his hair the work in Fresno would double. And so every Elder here does it. It is an outward expression of an inward commitment. Parting our hair is symbolic of setting ourselves 'apart' from the world.
2. Wake up at 6am. Not 630. (Pretty self-explanatory)
3. Run 3 miles every morning (except SundayPlank for 2 minutes
4. Talk to every single person, no exceptions.

The first day in the mission all the new missionaries had to do an "Open Your Mouth" seminar-- Not even 30 minutes in the field I found myself tossed out in a college campus talking to every single person about the gospel. Here's the catch--we had to invite every single person to be baptized. I almost died of a panic/anxiety attack. On the bright side--I gave away 3 Books of Mormon, a stack of pass-a-along cards, and had 2 people say yes to the baptism question. 

I struggle with mission rule 3 and 4. My trainer can run--so despite all the running I did pre-mission I can't keep up with him. I feel terrible, but a year of doing this will change all that. Talking to every single person... I am doing a lot better each and every time I do it.

When I went to our area of Clovis my trainer and I put my bags in our house and then we grabbed our bikes and off to proselyting! We bike from 1pm to 930pm every day. Lots of biking. I've met very nice people and lots of very not nice people. It feels so surreal, I'm actually out biking with a helmet and a name tag. I'm a missionary-- I know it, I love it, I live it!

I have had complete strangers cuss and yell at me...one person tried to "curse" me with a demon, and I've already had a death threat. I came close to a couple bike crashes. One lady said that my testimony was the most insincere thing she's ever heard in her life. I've had a full day of dropped appointments with full expectations and preparedness of teaching amazing lessons. A full day of biking where people shun, spit, yell, cuss, laugh and threaten you. It can get overwhelming at times and at the end of the day I tell myself that today--was a great day. I don't know why my first week has been as hard as it has been, but I know that I was called to this work--and there is someone waiting for what I have to share. No amount of negativity or naysayers can dissuade me from my purpose as a missionary of One who has done infinitely more for me and you and for the people of Fresno. 

Alma 26:29-30 [My joy of the possibility of saving some soul will always outweigh the tribulations and afflictions of the day]

 29 And we have entered into their houses and taught them, and we have taught them in their streets; yea, and we have taught them upon their hills; and we have also entered into their temples and their synagogues and taught them; and we have been cast out, and mocked, and spit upon, and smote upon our cheeks; and we have been stoned, and taken and bound with strong cords, and cast into prison; and through the power and wisdom of God we have been delivered again.
30 And we have suffered all manner of afflictions, and all this, that perhaps we might be the means of saving some soul; and we supposed that our joy would be full if perhaps we could be the means of saving some.
Also, if you haven't seen it already. Spread the word and watch "Meet the Mormons" Our zone had special permission to watch it. Here's a trailer video. It is so inspiring. Made me feel the spirit so strongly.


The One With Elder Mo'o and President and Sister Clark

We received an email from Elder Jalla's Mission President and Mission President's wife --- President and Sister Clark--- today.

It contained reassuring words and spirit. You could tell they love Elder Jalla and have great hopes for him as a missionary laboring in California Fresno Mission.

The email included pictures of Elder Jalla with President and Sister Clark. There is also a picture of Elder Jalla with his trainer---Elder Mo'o. We look forward to hearing more about their experiences together. Stay tuned! He emails on Monday. (^_^)

Enjoy the pictures!

Keep writing!

PS: The California Fresno Mission also has a wonderful blog. Check it out!  http://fresnomission.blogspot.com/

PPS: We sent him a care package today. Because of what he wrote in his last email, it contained about two dozen white handkerchiefs. 


Hello, Fresno!

Elder Jalla arrived in Fresno, California today. Here's what he has to say about Cali thus far:

"...My P-Days are Mondays so that's when I can e-mail and or reply back. I love you all! Fresno is awesome! I am super stoked to be here. It is HOT. I sweat like no other and I don't have handkerchiefs."


My Last Day at the MTC

 Two weeks ago I walked into the Missionary Training Center completely oblivious to how truly life-changing this entire experience would be. Indeed I can say with a surety that a mighty change of heart has taken place within me. 

Every single waking moment and second that passes by, the Carlo that I thought I knew is disappearing... Elder Jalla is becoming. 

Two weeks ago I could not open my mouth to share a single doctrine in front of just six people. Now I can get in front of an entire zone with just 5 minutes of preparation and teach an entire lesson. I knock on "mock" investigator's doors and actual investigator doors with faith, hope, and charity, knowing full well that the Lord is on my side. I've waxed bold in my speech and feel as if my body will be consumed by the spirit. I've learned to love people whom I just barely met with real sincere love. I can recite scripture as if I have just read them. I know the doctrine of Christ. I know my purpose as a missionary to invite all others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I feel my Savior's love. 

I know full well that as to my own strength I am nothing, but through Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ all things are made possible. No unhallowed hand can halt or impede this work. It will move forward, ever onward. 

I am the very last missionary from our zone to leave. I can almost feel what Moroni and Ether must have felt. I am surrounded by fellow missionaries, but this district leader without a district feels very much alone. Yesterday I said goodbye to my companion at 4AM and it felt like my best friend was dying (yes that sounds very dramatic) but honestly I never realized how much capacity to love I had and how meaningful companionship was until I asked him to lead us in prayer. As the Elders in our zone huddled all 7 of us with arms around each others shoulders, I could truly feel the love we all had for another. I went back to the residence room with the other two Elder's in my district unable to go back to sleep. Today I said goodbye to those two Elders, our prayer huddle was down to 5. Now I sit here e-mailing with the final 2 Elders in my zone who are set to leave today. Tonight will be very difficult to endure. I was the fist one to arrive in this zone and personally welcomed all 12 members in our zone: I've watched them grow, learn, and become the missionaries they are today, I've led and taught them principles and important missionary conduct, I've heard and felt their powerful testimonies, I've shed tears with them, laughed and sang beautiful hymns, encouraged and loved each one deeply. How blessed I am to have been in the company of these missionaries! I truly consider them my eternal friends, brothers and sisters. How ironic is it that I am the first to arrive and the last to leave, it is a bittersweet thing.

To end this e-mail I wanted to share something I wrote in my personal journal. It goes without saying, that as each missionary under my care left I added and edited the following phrase:

"Sometimes we wait far too long for the "perfect moment" to show our gratitude or express our love --insomuch that the very moment just passes us by and we would plead and beg and would have given everything for even the worse yet relevant circumstance when we could have said, "thank you" or "I love you". Stop waiting for a pillar of fire or a chorus of angels to SHOW you what you already know in your heart that you must do. Faith is not in seeing but believing. For indeed "ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith" Trust in the Lord-- Don't Let The Moment Pass You By. Trust in God. Believe in good things to come."

Alright peeps, family, friends, brothers, sisters, loved ones, acquaintances...I love you. 

Until we meet again, this is Elder Jalla signing off for the last time at the Provo Missionary Training Center.

Your eternal brother and friend, 

Elder Jalla 

The One with All the MTC Pictures

Elder Jalla Versus the Random Room Inspection

3 October 2014

I share my residence room with my district brothers. And we got a perfect in our random room inspection. The other Elders in our zone did not do so well. Haha! Also they are all from the pacific so every night I'm blessed to hear some awesome Tongan, Samoan, Fijian Elders singing. It's like I'm in the tropics, it's so beautiful. I am going to videotape all of us singing and send it to you. 


P-Day Fridays

Pre-script from the Sister: For those of you planning to send letters to Elder Jalla this weekend or next week, please bear in mind that he will be in Fresno by October 8. His Fresno address is on the column on the right side of this post. Thank you for all your love and support! Happy letter writing! 

Bula! (Hello!)

        My dear friends and family, Elder Jalla reporting for the second time. It has been precisely 10 days since I have left home and entered the amazing halls of the MTC! Time is flying by so fast. At first it seemed like the days would never end but now I want to hold on to every single second, moment, and memory. I don't want to leave this place but I know that there is no one for me to teach here and the Lord is preparing people for me out in Fresno, California. 

        This past week has been an absolute spiritual roller coaster ride. I've had tons of low points and incredible high points. Being a district leader and also a teacher to my Fijian companion has put a lot of responsibilities on me. Along with my own studies, I am also teaching my companion English, helping my district with various gospel topics, reporting to the ZLs, and taking the lead in all investigator lessons. As district leader you also have to set the example by being the first to rise in the morning and the last to sleep so you make sure every missionary in your care being obedient. During my entire stay at the MTC there hasn't been one morning where I've had the opportunity to wake up at 630am, its always much earlier... But guess what? I LOVE IT!

          I've never been pushed to work this hard and to dedicate my everything to such a righteous purpose! I am stretched and put into situations that are just plain uncomfortable, down-right nerve racking, and overall frightening. I've learned more than ever to trust in the Lord. I am not the teacher, the spirit is. My goal is to know the doctrine and to continually study and live by its principles so that Heavenly Father can place in my heart the words that He would like His children to hear. "Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then if you desire, you shall have my spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men." (D&C 11:21) I have strengthened my testimony of that, especially as I have had the opportunity to teach investigators here in the MTC. 

        We have an investigator named Carla. Just a quick overview: She is Muslim, which means she believes that Jesus Christ was just a prophet, she agreed to meet with missionaries on the basis that it would appease all her Mormon friends that badger her to take the lessons, she is a law student (so she is very educated) and she could care less about missionaries....

        Alrighty then, so here comes two inexperienced missionaries and one that barely knows English to teach her about the restored gospel and invite her to come unto Christ. Needless to say our first lesson was a complete disaster. She was on her cellphone the entire time, asked questions that completely tore me down, and at the end of our lesson she made it clear that she did NOT believe our testimonies. I came out of that room with tear streaked eyes cast on the floor wondering to myself, "Can I really do this?" "Was I really called to this work?" 
         I don't think I've ever prayed as hard as I did that night.

         The second lesson was different. I prayed fervently because well, I had no idea what to say or teach. I was really scared to come back and tell her what I knew to be true and have her completely tear down what was dear to my heart. My companion was asleep on his desk despite my many attempts and pleadings to help me with this lesson. I asked Heavenly Father to please help my companion and I. I read and re-read the Restoration pamphlet and lesson in PMG. 

The time came, "Knock Knock"

        We sat there and I apologized for the previous lesson. I made it clear that we were just learning to teach together and that we were nervous--as she could already assume. And then I told her, "Carla... my companion and I have only been in the MTC for 4 days, we are still learning how to teach. We may not be able to string beautiful eloquent words together that does justice to the important message we have to share with you, but I know that what we have to offer you is true. It is the most important message that we have here on earth and that you will ever hear and hopefully come to know of. Our message to you is that Jesus is the Christ and that because of Him you can come to know of yourself that we have been sent here to invite you to come unto Him through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, so that we can all endure to the end."

           We then taught the Restoration. Shared with her Joseph Smith's vision. Committed her to pray to know if these things are true. And she accepted to do it all.

           Yesterday was our last lesson with her. She soaked up everything we had to share. And at the very end said, "I was wrong about you two. I want to know more, I wish I can come to know as you know." Oh how I wanted to leap off of the couch and hug her at that very moment! Here was someone who hardened her heart until Heavenly Father humbled mine to teach in His way so that she can experience His love! She exclaimed that she had never prayed with missionaries here but as we left she offered the closing prayer and blessed us and asked sincerely to know if she can come to know of the divinity and truthfulness that is the Gospel.

         My dear brothers and sisters, this is truly a sacred and miraculous work that I am so blessed to be a part of. You are all missionaries whether you wear a tag or not. You can all touch hearts and change lives. Study the gospel, learn the principles, and then live it! Oh how wonderful will the experiences be when you share what you've come to know is true! For that very moment when it happens when you treasure up his words in your heart than "it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted to every man." D&C 84:85. I love you all. 

Your eternal friend and brother,

Elder Jalla

p.s. This is my last e-mail in the MTC. Our P-Days are on Friday. Weird right?
p.p.s. Claire I've received the letters, thank you so much!
p.p.p.s. I'm sorry I haven't replied to everyone, we only have an hour of e-mail time here and I have just enough time to write this e-mail and read all of yours. I LOVE YOUR E-Mails, I promise to reply back on my P-Day out on the field where we wont be so restricted with time. Love you all!