Friday, September 27, 2013

MTC Week Two: Gift of Tongues, Apostolic Promise, and Rain

Hey family!

Bear with me with all the grammatical/spelling errors and what not, but I try to type fast so I can get more info in, so that's why it's like this. Don't worry, I'm not stupid :) [Besides, I know Mom will make any corrections before posting my letters on the blog haha].

So this week has been much better. I'm adjusting well and getting used to the demanding schedule. I was quite shocked to learn that many of our study times are actually not teacher led. It is also purpose centered. They'll teach a grammar set and then we have like 3 hours to study. But we don't study just to learn Tagalog. We study for our purpose which is to bring others unto Christ. Tagalog is merely a tool to achieve the purpose. So when I study, I don't study practical words that'll help me with speaking with everyone (at least not yet). How I choose to study is as follows - my companion and I evaluate the needs of our investigator. So for example, we will teach Lucilla Casalan tonight. She is super poor and doesn't think that God loves her and all that kind of stuff. So we prepare something faith related and then study words and phrases focused on that need or concern. So if someone came to talk to me about everyday life in Tagalog I would have a hard time. But the Gift of Tongues is so real. I can now nearly do a whole lesson in Tagalog without a script or notes. But it's crazy cause going in I'm nervous about the words I'm going to say and grammar, but when I go in the words come. And although it is very poor semantics they can at least understand what's going on and at least I think they understand mostly what message I am trying to convey.

My companion is a stud. He is working hard and getting better. he is still struggling but the district is very helpful and encouraging to him, so he gets help all the time. I quiz him on words as we walk around the building and he is doing better. He can now say a prayer with just notes, which is a long way from last week...This week's goal is to get his pronunciation down. Every morning and night this week I'm going to have him recite the entire alphabet through the vowels. So AEIOU, he'll say BA BE BI BO BU then DA DE etc and I'm hoping that extra coaching will help him get the pronunciation down. Also with the language lesson we saw a video of Elder Holland promising that if we read the Book of Mormon alongside our language we will have enhanced learning. And so a promise from an apostle is something that I will definitely be following up on.

Funny of the week - I was making some announcements to our district. One of the announcements was that we had dinner clean up this week. The 2 New Zealanders at the same time said, "Dayummm" and all the sisters started like crying. I was doing my best not to laugh and try to make it seem serious, but it was hilarious. It is a common word apparently in New Zealand, but I'm not sure. I thought it was funny at least.

Food is good. We get rice every day. We had cereal once and pizza once, but besides that it is rice every meal. One day we got handed a straight fish! Head, fins, scales, eyes and all! It actually was super good! The weather is crazy. I've seen the sun I think twice? Maybe? It is raining all day and if it's not raining, clouds are every where. So it's not too hot but it's super humid; just walking around is moist.

 I'm getting better at gym time to be less competitive. We aren't allowed to keep score haha. So now I just shoot around with the sisters ;) jk...I'm focused on purpose :) although it was kinda funny, the RTM missionaries (the natives) left this Wednesday and like a bunch asked for my email ;) gonna be mailing a bunch of Filipinas! ha jk jk don't worry fam, all is well :)

I'm loving it here and miss you guys but I'm not very homesick (I miss Mom more than anyone). It's just a good miss :)

Love you all! Mahal kita!

-Elder Watkins

Friday, September 20, 2013

Companions, Blessings, Fish, and Basketball

Hey Dad!

Pday is Friday in the MTC, so expect that. We aren't allowed to take pic in the MTC, only at specified times which is 3 times in the whole stay so you prolly [probably] won't get any pics for a while. However, I have been using the recorder, but I probably sound non-enthusiastic; it's just because I am tired. But I'll try to figure out how to work it and start sending those :)

So first...first day we had a meeting with the MTC president. That night I was made district leader...Wow! wasn't expecting that. I got a lot of extra things to do now because of that. It's kinda funny because everyone is older than me, but literally they ask me every 2 seconds where, what, and how and everything they're supposed to be doing! They think like I have extra information but thankfully I occasionally get specific promptings from the Spirit that help them that I know didn't come from me. Being the leader here is pretty sweet though; I'm liking controlling what's going on

My companion is Elder Howlett from Delta, Utah. He is 22 raised on a farm and is a cowboy. Super shy and really sincere and tries his best to learn stuff. It's actually hilarious to listen to him talk cause he talks like a western cowboy saying all the weird sounds - it's hilarious But he honestly reminds me of Grandpa Watkins. His is always forgetting and asking for permission and always saying he understands but then forgets. But he's so sincere and tries hard. I love him a lot and pray for him all the time, he's a great guy just trying to improve. He has really opened up to me. The other two roommates are Elder Finau and Elder Latu. They are from New Zealand and are awesome, huge, funny guys. But I guess "da**" isn't a swear word there and they both said it once in our district meeting and all the sisters started like crying...hahaha I was dying... anyways we have a good time with them.

The days are packed. Peoply who say the MTC goes by fast maybe the time does but the days are superrr long. Like I expect it to be 4 o'clock and it's just noon!! Every second you have places to be. It's kind interesting thought that a lot of time we learn by ourselves and with our companions. They teach us 1 principle of the gospel and grammar a day but the rest is you and your companion. We've been teaching our investigator and it's been hard cause I do the lesson and he says the prayer and maybe 1 thing the whole time. I asked our investigator to be baptized once and she said yes. I asked him what he thought and he didn't realize that I asked her to commit to baptism. Most of the study time I explain the doctrine we're teaching then translate it, then help him to write it out. It's ok though because it's just making me learn faster...also I love him because he is putting in a lot of work and I've already seen tons of improvement in one week.

Most spiritual part of the week was giving blessings. A few sisters have asked me to give them blessings and I have no clue what they need to hear, but when I start things come to mind and they are always like bawling after and they are things that are just weird. Like one was - you would be able to start eating the food and the next day we got a whole cooked fish on our plates, and she ate it! Yes, a whole fish - head, bones, and all! But being able to be a tool for the Lord to help His daughters is always a very spiritual experience and a highlight.

Speaking of the food, the whole time we have been here there have been only 2 meals without rice :) I love it! hahaha It's great.

Ya, we play basketball and I think I talk about it on the recording, but I've been owning. This tall kid plays at SUU and asked me to be on his team, instead of roommates' team. I said "Nah" and we wasted him hahaha. He's like 6'9" and take it super serious so it's nice to smash him a bit ;)

I love being here at the MTC, I love everything about it. We are doing tough things but it's just teaching me to rely on the Lord more and increasing my testimony. I love this opportunity to serve the Lord and bring people unto Him and share the happiness and knowledge I have for myself...what a blessing!

Elder Watkins

Thursday, September 12, 2013

First email from the MTC!

Philippines time is fourteen hours ahead of Utah time.
After a long day of flying, Elder Watkins arrived in Manila around midnight. He and his traveling companions - two other elders and a sister missionary - were taken to a nearby hotel to spend the night. Elder Watkins and his companions arrived at the Philipines MTC around 6:30 am Friday, September 13. Within a couple of hours of being in the MTC, Tom and I received the following email:

I just got to the MTC, got a haircut and now I get to email you guys. They say just to say that I got here safely so I don't have much time. It's funny - most teachers are Pilipino (Filipino) and first speak Tagalog to me, but after my vacant expression they go back to English haha. Not much to report on. We drove through Manila to get here and the the Manila temple. It is right across the street and looks amazing. Hopefully we get to go soon. My companion is Elder Howlette. He's from Delta, Utah and is a farm boy raised on a farm. Pretty quiet but I'm pretty open when we have met other people so it's ok. I met a few elders from New Zealand and they are all pretty smooth. One is huge and they are all way nice. One is like my size but weighs like 75 pounds more than me, says he wants to play for the Jazz when I told him I'm from Utah (he's kidding). So nothing much else happened in the first 2 hours being here but I love you guys and I know this is the place I'm supposed to be. Serving Christ because of all he has done for me. I can finally serve Him and pay a little bit of that debt I owe him. I'm feeling excited and ready to start learning some Tagalog! Love you guys. I still don't know which day is my pday yet but I'll be sure to let you know when I find out.
Tell Mariah I love her and all is well.

Elder Watkins :)

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Day Before and Day Of Departure

At the Timpanogos Temple
Today was a difficult day. We finished last minute packing. In the afternoon, Tom, Dustin, Mariah, and I went to temple. Later that evening we had a family gathering and dinner; Dustin requested steak and mashed potatoes. At 8:00 PM, President Craig Miller came to our home to set Dustin apart as a Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Elder Watkins received some amazing blessings and promises.

Elder Watkins is excited to serve!

This is our Before Mission Family Circle picture. When Elder Watkins returns, we will take an After Mission Family Circle picture. My niece Alex, who was visiting from Missouri, took the pic for us. Thanks, Alex!

We did the same thing when Daniel went on his mission.
Daniel, Tom, Elder Watkins, and Mariah at the airport

September 11
Saying goodbye to her big brother is so difficult
Elder Watkins loves and admires his big brother
Saying goodbye to Elder Watkins for 2 years is a hard thing to do, but we wouldn't want him to be anywhere else!

Mariah's Facebook post - Saying goodbye to my coach, mentor, best friend, and big brother... Love you Dustin, you will do great things on your mission! I'll miss you like crazy. Have fun in the land of our people ;) the people of the Philippines are so lucky :) See you in 2 :) @turkthegorilla
Elder Watkins smiling at his family before going through security. Before disappearing into the crowd, he turned to wave his last goodbye smiling and holding up two fingers - meaning "see you in two!"
 Our friend and neighbor Sue Sherwin was on the same flight to Detroit! She was sweetheart and took a pic with Elder Watkins and sent it to me; we were still driving home from the airport when I received it.  I am grateful for angels like her who are about the Lord's work delivering tender mercies! Thank you, Sue!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Elder Watkins' Farewell Address

Elder Watkins addresses the Lone Peak Ward

 The digital recorder was with us in the audience, along with the whole family. So needless to say, all the sounds and happenings around us are audible on the recording.

The first part of the recording is Ryan Stephan's (Elder Watkins' friend) beautiful rendition of  "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" on the piano. This is Elder Watkins' favorite song; it also happens to be his mother's favorite, too!

Elder Watkins's address begins around 6:02.