Sunday, December 29, 2013

Week 16: Skype with Elder Watkins, Christmas Pictures!, and Sis Francisco's Baptism

This week's communication was mostly pictures and messaging back and forth. Since it takes a long time for Elder Watkins' pictures to upload and send, he spent most of his time doing that and messaging with us. We have had many miracles and tender mercies from Heaven. One of the first tender mercies was as Elder Watkins was leaving the Salt Lake Airport. He had gone through security and was gone from our site. On the long drive home, I received a text message from a sister in our ward - Sue Sherwin. It was a picture of Dustin and Sue! (you can see the pic on the Sept 11 post). She and her husband Bob were on the same flight to Detroit! 

We had sent Elder Watkins package before he left in September for the MTC and another a couple weeks later. He hadn't received them until after he left the MTC and was in his first area, about 11 weeks after he left the States. We were concerned that if we sent him packages for his birthday and Christmas, he would not receive them in time. The decision was made not to send any packages for his birthday or Christmas and that if he found something he liked or needed he could buy it and we would put money in his account. No Christmas package? What kind of mother does he have?!  Well, Bob and Sue Sherwin again provide a tender mercy and a Christmas miracle! The week before Thanksgiving they would be traveling to Manila! They offered to carry a package with them for Elder Watkins and mail it from Manila to him! I jumped at the chance, considering carefully what I could put in a package that would bring Christmas to Elder Watkins from home. I assumed the package the Sherwins offered to carry was about the size of a small shoe box. Mariah went to the Sherwin's home to pick up the bag they were going to carry Christmas was a ginormous duffle bag! My mind wend crazy! What should I send? hmmm, if I put nothing else in, I could probably fit me in there!!! I decided against that idea and went with regular Christmas gifts a missionary might want.  Thank you Bob and Sue!!! They are definitely angels to our family. 

Elder Watkins in his apartment with a Christmas tree from home :)
Best Christmas present ever! Skyping with Elder Watkins 

Elder Watkins at a Ward Christmas Party. He said that when Filipinos see a picture being taken, they want to join in! That's where photo bombing originated...

Elder Watkins stayed up until 2:30 to set up stockings. He was so excited to do this for his companion and roomies!

Elder Watkins under the Christmas tree

Elder Gomez

Elder Bausing

Elder Gordon

Elder Watkins

Elder Gomez, Sister Francisco, Elder Watkins December 29, 2013 Sister Noela Francisco's Baptism Day

Elder Watkins and Sister Noela Francisco on her Baptism Day December 29, 2014

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Week 14: Cold Weather, Purifying Ourselves, and Testimony of Prayer


How is it in the cold weather out there? As for me, it is winter as well in the Pino Islands, but it is a brisk mid 70s at night and a cool mid to high 80s during the day. Even the locals recognize how cold it is here and wear hoodies during this time of the year ;)

Anyways, this week was fun and trying...We went to a member's house a few weeks ago to pick her up so she could work with us. She wasn't home but we met her younger sister  Nela. She is 22 and very shy. We taught her cleansed from sin through Christ, and it was an amazing lesson. She was baptized when she was 8 but never went to Church or knew anything about the Church. From the lesson we taught she gained such a strong desire to come to Church. She has attended four straight weeks! Last week we gave her an assignment to read 1 Nephi 1; Nela read to 1 Nephi 13! She apologized and said, "I just like reading the Book of Mormon so much!" We looked up her record and for some reason she was baptized when she was 7. So we need to rebaptize her, which is no problem. Unfortunately, some members heard about it and were teasing her. She texted us crying about how she is really trying to do the right things, but why are people being rude to her for following Christ? It made me so sad. It also made me realize we must clean the inner vessel first; in this case, the ward. But on a personal level we must sanctify, or purify, ourselves to become better. We can't expect to be in the service of God without first being clean ourselves (and, yes, we are all His servants!).  I am really re-evaluating myself these coming months to look for way to improve my obedience and be a better and more proficient laborer in the Lord's vineyard. As I do so, I will be able to be more spiritually sensitive to opportunities to serve, and help others come to Christ. I pray we all can do the same that we will take this special time of year to evaluate ourselves and look for ways to better serve our family, neighbors, work associates, and even strangers. I know as we pray for way to improve the Lord will tell us what needs to be done and provide a means for it to be accomplished - 1 Nephi 3:7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way fro them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

 I also want to testify of the power of prayer. This week I got really sick. I finished the day of work but it was difficult and interrupted by frequent hurling and bathroom visits...without toilet paper... Anyways, I was in really bad pain all night and tried to go to sleep around 9:30. At around 4 am I still hadn't been able to fall asleep; and as you may know, I fall asleep like it's nothing. I was just rolling in bed because my stomach hurt so bad. I decided to pray. This time on aloud and on my knees. I first thanked him for the opportunity to be on a mission and serve. I explained my desire to serve and fulfill my purpose here in the Philippines. I then expressed my thought on how this sickness would prevent me from working and serving Him. I even stated that I am entitled to help as I am on His errand as promised in D&C. I ended the prayer and fell asleep with no pain in less than 5 minutes. It was amazing to go from severe pain to peace so fast. I know that our prayers are heard and that He cares for us.

I love you guys and hope you are able to listen to the Christmas devotional. It was awesome! But take to heart the Prophet's message "Remember and celebrate Him who gave us purpose to live" - Russell M. Nelson

Love you all and send my warmest Christmas wishes through this email!!!
Hopefully we'll all figure out Skype haha :)

-Elder Watkins

Monday, December 2, 2013

Week 12: First Baptism!, Exact Obedience and the Lord's Help

What's up everyone!

So, first I got 2 packages from you, and thanks so much! I was so excited! I didn't find much use for the Halloween decorations as it is nearly Christmas...but thanks Mom :) My favorite thing that was in the package was no doubt the picture album. I loved all the pictures and talking with the other Elders about my family. Ah, you all are the best!!

This week was quite exciting. We had our first baptism on Saturday! It's been the first baptism here in a very long time. Elder Gomez has been here now 4 months and that was his first also And before that, the only baptism was a 8 year old member family. So no convert baptisms in over 6 months! Miracles are happening ad it's awesome. We just try to be obedient to the best of our ability to qualify for the Lord's help. In the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Moses:6, we learn about Enoch. He was called as a missionary but didn't believe he was qualified. He said the people hate me, I am but a lad, and am slow of speech. He followed the Lord's commandments with exactness, however, and became such a powerful servant of the Lord that i verse 34 the Lord says he will justify everything Enoch says. "The very mountains will flee before you, and the rivers will turn their course."  Even though Elder Gomez and I are lads, me barely 19 and him 19 as well, we can accomplish great things if we obey with exactness and exercise faith in the Lord.

Actually this week I had some proof of that. The Lord promises that we "will not be confounded before men." Well, I went on exchanges with the zone leader Elder Leduna this week, and asked if we could work in my area. I was excited to lead the area to kin of see where I was at  and learn a lot. Well, in one of the lessons we were teaching Brother Gaspar. He is 50 or 60, and was a Methodist Pastor. He has a much more extensive knowledge of the Bible than me of course, but not necessarily correct understanding. But he knows more verses and everything than me. We got into a sort of debate, mainly about being born again and if we were children of God or not. Interestingly enough, the day before I studied Baptism and learned about being born again and studied the verse he kept referring to in John 3...verse 6 I believe; but anyways I didn't quite fully understand it when I was studying, but it clicked while teaching. He would pose questions and I had answers. Not only answers, but answers that caused him to think and question himself. Elder Laduna had a scripture pop into his head that he though would really help explain that we are children of God. We both didn't know where in the Bible it exactly was, or even what book for that matter. So I just opened up my Bible to a random page and BOOM! Romans 8:16! haha I was shocked! "The Spirit beareth witness that...we are the children of God" I was amazed and knew the Lord helps his servants. After the lesson Elder Leduna said that was the best Tagalog I had spoken. The Lord qualifies us in our time of need. He calls the unlearned to teach the wise. Same with Joseph Smith. I have often wondered 'Wow! a 14 year old boy' But there is no better age! Innocent yet not too young. He wasn't well educated. Just had the basics. He was perfect for the job to restore the Church. I know that even though I'm young and look younger than I am, the Lord will help me and qualify the things I say.

Anyways, have a great week fam! Thanks again for all the support.
Mahal ko kayo!!
-Elder Watkins