Although this blog is about Elder Watkins' work in the Philippines, many have asked how he is doing after the recent earthquake and typhoon; many prayers have been offered in his behalf. We have a deep appreciation for your love and faith. I felt it was appropriate to provide the following update on Elder Watkins and my feelings about his mission...
As you may have heard, one of the most powerful storms ever recorded typhoon Haiyan hit central Philippines last Thursday. This is just couple of weeks after a 7.1 magnitude earthquake rocked the same area. We have had many inquiries about Elder Watkins, as well as prayers in his behalf. Our family is grateful for your concern and especially for your prayers. Elder Watkins is in Cabanatuan, which is about 600 miles north of where Haiyan hit the Philippines. President and Sister Martino (Elder Watkins' Mission President) posted that Angeles Mission would not be in Haiyan's path. We heard from Elder Watkins last night via email that he was doing well, except the bug bites. He continues to serve faithfully.
Some of you who are not familiar with our faith or sending a young son or daughter on a mission might wonder, "Why would you choose to send your child away for two years when the only contact you have with them is a weekly email and a phone call on Mother's Day and Christmas? Why would you allow someone you don't know to choose the place your child will spend two years of his life? Why would you allow your child to stay in a place filled danger, poverty, and human suffering?" First of all, this was not my choice as a parent to send him on a mission; this was Elder Watkins' choice to serve a mission. My choice is to support him. "Why?" you may ask. My answer is simple - Faith. Faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Faith in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Faith in Elder Watkins' testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his eagerness to share the glad message! His missionary scripture is Alma 29:1-2 "O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people! Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth."
I also have faith in the 'someone' who chose where Elder Watkins would serve. Even I don't know him personally, I know he is a chosen servant of Jesus Christ, ordained with the priesthood of God. When I sustained him during General Conference, that means I support him in his calling as prophet, seer, and revelator. By supporting him in this calling, I support the mission call he extended to my son. I know the Lord had a reason to send my son to the Philippines.
Oh, how I love my missionary! And I do miss him, and worry about him, and I cry a lot (especially lately). My tears are a mixture of joy, relief and the strengthening of my faith. Joy in the sanctifying work Elder Watkins is doing which strengthens me and our family. I would not want him to be any where else other than where he is right now. This is what keeps me going; this is what keeps me strong. I'm not saying this is not difficult, because it is. The refiner's fire always is. I try to look at the eternal perspective and know that the work Elder Watkins' is doing will help others, maybe some family members living and deceased, to embrace the Gospel. Just yesterday I emailed a friend who just sent out her first missionary, "...being a missionary mom comes with a great peace. I think Heavenly Father gives us this tender mercy because he knows what it is like to send a son on a mission. I especially rely on my faith and this tender mercy to be at peace when I hear about what is happening in the Philippines the past couple of weeks. I know that Dustin is in His hands, and He will not drop him."
While Elder Watkins' is safe, I am still worried about my mom's family. They live in the area that was hit by the earthquake and the typhoon. My mom has not been able to contact them since the earthquake. We are hoping to hear something soon. Your prayers are as always welcome. Thank you for your love and concern.