Monday, December 22, 2014

Week 66: Elder Delante, Becoming Celestial, and Conversion and Faith

Best Friends,

I do mean best friends, I cherish the relationships I share with each of you and love you all so very dearly.

So much good is happening and it is all happening so fast.

I'll start by informing you about my new companion. His name is Elder Delante. He was born in Cebu, then moved to Dubai. He continued residence in Dubai for 5 years, age 2-7 years old. English became his first language and upon returning to the islands he had to learn Tagalog and Cebuano. His dad to this day continues his occupation of computer technician in Dubai. The whole Delante family are members and Elder Delante is the eldest of two children. His is 1 transfer ahead of me in the mission and I'd say his most striking Christlike attribute is Kindness. He also just received the call to be Zone Leader so I am fortunate to have him as a companion and to train him. I believe we will do grand things together. He is just such a lovable person :)

This Saturday, 3 of my spiritual brothers and sisters will become selestiyal (I forgot how to spell it in English) candidates. Ninay Lolita, Jesus Tolentino and Abigail Ong. Each of them have inspiring conversion stories, and motivate me to be better.

Ninay Lolita is a widow. She only completed 1 year of high school. She has a hard time remembering things due to her old delicate age. Upon meeting us, she confessed she did not know how to read We explained how God looks into her heart for faith. Well she attended church the next day after meeting the missionaries and showed her faith She attended the Gospel Principles class and was called upon to read a selected scripture fro the Book of Mormon. I glanced at her daughter and her husband to see nervous countenances...We wanted to spare Ninay Lolita the embarrassment. She grasped the holy text handed to her by the instructor and stared at the page for a few moments. With awe evident in our expressions and joy beaming from Ninay Lolita, she began slowly reading. She now can read, and due to her humble nature "boasts of her God's strength."

Abigail Ong has taught me about conversion and repentance through working with her these past few months. Earlier today, she completed her interview with President Clark. After the interview President called us into the room. After a moment of silence he said, "Elders, that is a very impressive woman. That will become an eternal family." I could go on and on about the Ong faily and even the Tolentinos, but I will refrain for now.

I am so excited to skype with you all this Wednesday :) I wish you all Merry Christmas and happy holidays :)

Elder Watkins

Abish My favorite baby in the Philippines.
Youngest child of the Ongs. She speaks English.

This is a picture of a family home evening hosted by the Ong family.
Elder Birth and Elder Daylosan tagged along as they were staying at our house that night. 
Sister Abigail Ong's baptism is the saturday :) 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Week 65: Preparing for Baptism, Meet the Mormons, and Elder Monroe

Hello Family :)

Well this week has been full of greatness in the making. It also ended with a sadness.

This week Brother Jesus (Jes) Tolentino and Cathy Victorio got married! We have been working with Bro. Jes for quite some time and he has been very diligent and faithful in preparing for his baptism. The last step in completing the repentance and preparation process was the seal of matrimony. the marriage was held at our stake center and a bishop from Ward 5 did the honors of marrying the couple for their time on earth. Both Jes and Cathy understood that their marriage would terminate with either of their passing. They have their eyes and hearts now fixed upon White Plains Manila, where the nearest temple of the Lord resides. They will continue to make preparations so that they can be sealed as a family for time and eternity 1 year from December 27. Cathy is already a member who has now returned to activity in the church. Her husband Jes, is a Roman Catholic but is now prepared to be baptized on December 27, 2014. Of their 3 children, 2 are baptized and active in the church (11 & 13 years old), while their youngest "TanTan" is nearly 2 years old. It is great to witness and be a part of the happiness they are experiencing. Their faith and dedication strengthen me.

We also hosted "Meet the Mormons" Stake Activity at the Stake Center. We had nearly 300 investigators from all of Tarlac Stake attend! It was a great turnout. Me and my companion were quite stressed out, but it turned out to be fruitful. Elder Monroe and I were delegated many duties...We assigned the AP's, ourselves, and the 2 Office Elders to present The Restoration, Plan of Salvation, and Book of Mormon, respectively. They were all a success. Sister Teresa who was baptized last week brought a friend to the event and approached us after and asked if she could read the Book of Mormon and if we could begin teaching her. I responded in the affirmative :)

That was part of the good news :)

The sad part is my companion has now returned to America. This morning I dropped hom off at the mission office. After some inside jokes and last hugs I walked away with Elder Birth and Elder Daylosan as my temporary companions. While walking away, I shed a few tears. I condescended to buying depression food - a  salted caramel soft serve ice cream cone. One for myself and one for each of my 2 new companions. I have been spending the rest of the day trying to keep my mind occupied. Elder Monroe was an extraordinary companion. He is a very unique missionary and I was very fortunate to be companions with him. I learned a deal from him.

I am not sure if you were able to watch the splendid "Christmas Devotional" but it was delightful. While Elder D. Todd Christofferson was  speaking, I was taught important truths, and brought to realizations. I invite you to read or watch the devotional. There was marvelous music and spiritual speakers.

Here is a link to a brief video the Church has come out with as a theme for this Christmas season, titled "He is the Gift." My companion and I used this video in a presentation to the Stake and I think it would be beneficial for all of us or just search YouTube "He is the Gift"

Well family, here are some answers to some questions that may be circulating in your minds:

Transfers are this Thursday and (...). I still do not know who my new companion will be (...)

Yes I have some pictures I will be sending them in a separate email :)

The attached picture is Brother Jes and Sister Cathy after their wedding. Yes, my pants are oddly proportioned...blasted tailors here in the Islands ;)

Mom - I am happy, not sick, and I weigh 147 lbs. I actually have recommitted myself to working out. I have lost 4 lbs since my new workout routines. I got pretty chubby here in this area due to all the dinner appointments.

Last question - Where are the recordings?! There will be more next week. I'm sorry. I'll repent, forgive me. I'll do better next week

In concluding remarks I would like to again express my love to each of you, but also testify to you that I know Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior. I love him, and I love my Father in Heaven. I hope ad pray I can become more humble and that my will becomes one with his.

Merry Christmas :)

Elder Watkins

Bro Jes and Sis Cathy after their wedding.
This is Teresa who was baptized on the 6th :)
Super awesome convert :) She will do great things for the ward

Christmas tree, Nativity, and Elder Christmas Stockings

"O Holy Night" Banner

Elder Watkins and Elder Birth 

Last picture of Elder Monroe and Elder Watkins

Monday, December 8, 2014

Week 64: Gratitude for Eternal Families, for the Spirit of Discernment, and for Answers to Prayers

No coincidences: Tom has been going to physical therapy for the last few weeks for his shoulder. Seth, the therapist, has worked with Tom, Dustin, and Mariah over the years. Wednesday, Seth went home sick and Tom worked with another physical therapist he had never met before. Conversation eventually turned to missionaries. The therapist has a cousin from Washington serving in the Philippines, Angeles Mission...Elder Monroe!!! Elder Watkins' companion!! Not a coincidence :)

Hey family :)

Just want to start off with sharing my love for each of you. You are all special to me and infinitely more special to our Father in Heaven. I will be eternally grateful that I was born at the time I was with the parents and siblings that I have.

I feel like I have been our of connection with the family for quite some time now! I apologize and hope you will forgive me :)

I will just give a day by day update so you can see what happened.

Tuesday: Mission Leaders Council. Met at the mission home at 7:30 AM with the other Zone Leaders from the mission. I met up with some good friends that I have made over the mission, namely Elder Gordon and Elder Wilson. Elder Gordon and I cooked the chocolate chip pancakes then we proceeded to a full day of discussion. It was a very revelatory experience and I received many spiritual insights ad ideas. The spirit was very strong and I have a firm testimony of revelation.

Wednesday: Continuation of MLC for the morning. It was a very important meeting as we decided the number of baptisms we as a mission would goal for 2015. We decided on 1800 baptisms. We prayed to ask Heavenly Father if it was right and we felt it was true. Later that day I went on exchanges with Elder Roberts, Zone Leader from Angeles in my area. He was really sick. But after persuasion and long suffering, he agreed to work :) We had a good day haha.

Thursday: Went on exchanges again...but this time with Elder Webster from Provo, UT. He is just approaching 3 months in the mission. On our exchanges I was brought back to memories of my own training and my adjustments to the mission. I cannot believe how much I've grown (no height unfortunately) but my paradigm of the world and those that surround me. I have grown to really love the gospel. One thing that I have realized is how much more I need to improve myself. I feel like the more I learn and internalize the Atonement and the Plan of Salvation, the more humble I get. I find weaknesses and try to recognize that I need the Savior to over come them.

Side note: Even with the amount of love our Father in Heaven has for us, we still experience hardships. Satan spreads false doctrine. Whether it is about self-worth, guilt, or anything but truth. He will tell us we cannot accomplish our goals and will try to make us miserable. Happened to me this week and I was very spiritually distraught on the inside. No one really noticed but me. But then one of my good friends in the zone, Elder Birth, was thankfully able to discern or listen to the Spirit and recognize that I was not the same. He shook my hand and asked, "What's different about you?" We talked for a long time and I was filled again with light rather than doubts and other things in my mind that were lingering before. Two points: 1. Satan always lies, 2. Be the person that God can use to answer one of his children's prayers.

Saturday: Baptism of Sister Teresa Espinoza! I can't get my card to upload these pictures...I'm not sure what the problem is but I really want to send some pictures home as it has been a long time since the last I have emailed...Sorry! :) But Sis. Teresa was baptized and she bore an awesome testimony after the baptism! That night we also taught Jes and Cathy! Their marriage is next Wednesday at 2PM!! Followed by Jes's baptism on Saturday :) It is so different to be working with families. The most likely to stay active and remain strong in the church. It makes it all the better when they have their eyes on the temple :) Again, I am grateful to be born into the gospel and be sealed to each of you :)

Well, I thought I could fit in all the days and I am out of time...again. I love you all and wish you all the best week :)

Elder Watkins

Monday, December 1, 2014

Week 63: American Thanksgiving

So the first and last weeks of the months Zone Leaders spend lots of time on reports. Elder Watkins did not have time to write a letter home, even though he was in the computer shop for 5 hours!!

Elder Watkins and his companion, Elder Monroe, were treated to Pizza Hut on Thanksgiving by an elder in their zone. Actually, by the elder's parents haha! Thank you to the elder's parents who treated our missionaries to pizza on Thanksgiving!! They figured Pizza Hut was as American as they were going to get.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Week 62: How old am I?

Unfortunately, no family letter this week :(

I asked Elder Watkins if he felt different now that he was 20. This is his reply:
"Umm not really... Haha feel pretty much the same. I got asked the other day how old I was and I said 18. Oh, wait 19... Then I looked at Elder Monroe; wait, I'm 20, right?"

Oh, Elder Watkins haha

Monday, November 10, 2014

Week 60: Turning 20 with only 9 months left, Following Promptings of the Holy Ghost, Reality of Satan

Hey Fam! and new homie Tyson!!!

So smooth! I now have a Filipino family member! (Mom and Mariah... ehh. medyo na lang...;) He looks like a stud :) so excited :):) (the bits of Tagalog in the letter are to Tyson so he learns Tagalog)

So there seems to be some confusion with the emailing situation. Haha So I just can't live chat. I can still definitely read and email you guys no probs :) I can and will still be recording so no issues there. I have just been crazyyy busy the last two weeks so I haven't had much time to email...Ask Elder Bitters if you don't believe me haha

Thank you everyone for the great birthday wishes :) you are all the best :) and in return happy birthday to Mariah who is now 17... what the heck  haha... oo nga pa la I received the package!! Thanks so much!!!

Last Monday we had a Family Home Evening with Jes and his family. He's the one who is getting married to get baptized, to get sealed in the temple :) they really enjoyed the Sour Patch Kids :) And I took the ENORMOUS pants to the tailor and got them fixed up haha :) I actually am sportin' a pair as I type this message :) so thank you very much :) I will be sending the pics I am sure to take to you all next week... :) ang sarap ng pagkain d2 xa Pilipinas Tyson...napakasuwerte na man tayong dalasa ;)

As for me I am doing wonderful haha. I love the live of a missionary... It's sad to thin I only have 9 months left... To you that may seem like a long time still, but to me it looks really short. I can't elieve how fast the mission is going and pretty soon I won't be a missionary anymore :(  Don't know why that thought came into my head. Maybe cause I'm listening to Dad's recording about the hotels and stuff hahaha

Cool story for the week. We have been working with Brother Steven Ong, a returned missionary and his non-member wife Abigail. Abigail is a super receptive and INTELLIGENT investigator but is super busy... kaya it is hard to find time to teach her. Last night, after a whole week of not being able to get a hold of them, we randomly felt prompted we should go visit her at  7:30. We had other appointments and were about 15 minutes or so away from her house. It would also be pretty expensive to get there based on where we were currently at. We decided to follow the prompting. We got there and long story shot it was the perfect moment to get there. Any earlier and they would not have been there and any later they would have been gone again heading to Manila. Because we listened to the Spirit and were able to visit her. She shared with us she had finally decided that she WILL BE BAPTIZED!!! The question she said now is "When". Next week is when, is what I told her haha. But I know our Heavenly Father is aware of us and wants us to succeed. I also know he communicates with us through the Holy Ghost. We just gotta listen :)

Maybe an interesting thing to be testifying to you about this week but I see it happening in the lives of the people here. But I know that Satan is real. He works for our destruction and misery. I know that no degree of sin can lead to any true or lasting happiness. I also know that any negative thought about ourselves or others is not coming from our loving Heavenly Father who loves each of us with perfect love. When we feel we are not adequate or feel hopeless, it comes from Satan. God wants us to be happy and all happiness derives from Him. Always remember that God is more interested in where we are willing to go and become, rather than who we are at the moment.

Love you all soooo much:):):):)
Have a great week!
Elder Watkins

This is Harvey

This is myself and elder moral on exchanges. Eating... chicken feet adobo.

This is the whole Tarlac zone after the transfer announcement.
 We had a super good meal catered for us at the church for our last zone activity :)

The posterity from right to left
E. Monroe a midst the few, the proud, the brave. 
He begat E. Gomez, who hails from the land of Ilo Ilo, 
and paved the way for E. Watkins who leaves legends in his wake,
gave birth to E. Choresca, who will claim the birthright to the kingdom, 
and begat E. Jacobson, who will (sana) continue the posterity to prosperity.

Elder Gordon and Elder Watkins are backkk!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Week 59: Missionary Firesides and Training, Baptismal Goal Date, and Testimony of the Book of Mormon

Hey Everyone!

First super sorry that I wasn't able to email or chat with you last week. The last week of every month is super hectic for email. We are in the computer shop for 4 hours doing reports. And it was my first time doing it so I wasn't uber fast haha... But I am also sad to inform you (Mom, Dad, Mindy, and Mariah) that I will no longer be chatting every Monday. I guess it was not allowed. And I guess most of the mission was doing it, and our Mission Leader Council meeting last week, President Clark reminded us that it was not ok. So I was being disobedient in ignorance but now that I know that it is not in harmony with the Missionary Handbook. I will be following :( but this may mean an increase in recordings.

Also no recordings this week because I epicly failed haha. So this morning I was recording then after what felt like 15-20 minutes, I checked the time and realized the recorder was off. So I turned it on again and recorded; this time I checked after about 3-5 minutes of recording and the battery had died...So I was outside talking to myself for about 25 minutes... It was great LOL

But this week was another fantastic week.

Friday: We had the Tarlac side of the mission, (the half I am on) attend a missionary fireside where Bishop Causse of the Presiding Bishopric come and teach us. It was cool. He just walked around and talked with us instead of giving a talk. Also on Sunday was the Philippines wide broadcast. We listened to our Area President Ian S Arden who is a BOSS! and then 2 other general authorities and Elder Oaks. I love being able to listen to so many General Authorities. I am learning a lot from them and their example.

Friday evening /all of Saturday: MLC or Mission Leader Council. This was held at the mission home and it was awesome. Working with Pres. Clark and just discussing the mission and what direction we are going to take was amazing. He named that MLC a "Red Flag" Day where we will be either be making huge gains in our mission or stay the same. This is due to the new changes we are making in the mission. I'll probably talk about those in a recording to give you more details. It changes the way we proselyte and how we teach. Unfortunately, we will not be receiving iPads or iPhones... not yet at least... ;)

Sunday was a great Sabbath full of meetings. We were at the church from  10am-730pm. It was crazy. My companion and I presented the changes of our mission to the stake president and his councilors, the bishops and all their councilors. The majority seem very excited; there, of course, are a few who are skeptical, but the stake president is really backing us up and what is to implemented this week so we will see how it goes.

We had 45 minutes after church before our next meeting and we were blessed with a new investigator. A less active in our ward brought her friend to church, who also happens to be the cousin of our Ward mission leader. So we were able to teach her and she accepted a baptismal goal date of December 13! It was great.

Highlight of the week however was finally returning and teaching Steven and Abigail Ong! They were a golden family a while ago. So Steven is an RM and his wife is a non member. They have the 2 cutest Filipina girls ever!!! They are 3 and 1 years old. They are such a cool family. and the 3 year old speaks English! haha. Anyways Abigail is super receptive and understanding but has not been able to a accept a Baptismal Goal date. Well we assigned her 2 Nephi 31. She read it and said while she was reading she felt like she was with Joseph Smith watching him translate the Book of Mormon. She felt that there was no way he could write/translate this unless God helped him. She told us she now believed the Book of Mormon to be true. We continued teaching a lesson about the Plan of Salvation. When we got to the Atonement I felt prompted to invite her to be baptized. I extended the invitation and she just started smiling and said, "Yes, I'm ready." I'll pray if November 29 is the right day for me. It was so cool! and they came to church again yesterday. and the 2 weeks while they were in Manila, they went to church there too!!! It was awesome :)

Just love you all so much and I know that the Book of Mormon changes lives. Read it.
Have a superb week!
Elder Watkins

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Week 54:

Hey Fam!

haha sooooo... you are likely curious as to where I transferred, who is my new companion, kabahays, all that good stuff...soo...Imma make you wait till the end :)

Anyways, so I hope you all enjoyed the stories of the crazy drunk dude and stuff from last week, but it doesn't stop there. So, yes, another crazy story this week... may not as crazy as last week, but good nonetheless...sorry Mom.

So it's like 2:30 AM and the phone rings. I think it's an alarm and am like who has a meeting at this time? I think I don't have anything going on. The ringing stops and I cease thought and start falling asleep, when suddenly again the phone rings! I realize it is my phone! I look at it ans see a member named Roselle is calling. I thin in my head, "Roselle, why the blazes are you calling at this hour???..." I answer groggily, "This is Elder Watkinssssss...zzz..." All I hear back is a frantic voice and bawling. I can barely understand anything she is saying. So Roselle is 17, was baptized in July, works at a burger machine right next to our apartment. The burger machine is similar to the Waffle Love truck in Utah, except it is open 24 hours. All I understood from her gibberish was "You need to come down... gun... money... man..." I'm like, "What the heck?!!" So I wake my companion up, we go down and she is just bawling out of control... So I guess since 8:00 PM two guys had been spying on her, and that at about 2:00ish they came up and put a gun to her and said don't scream or we'll shoot you. She gave them all the money and then drove off. We just tried calming her down. We gave her a priesthood blessing of comfort, then called her manager. And the dude was like, "How much money did they take?" LOL really??!! So we ended up staying there until 5:30. She cooked us some hamburgers and then was ok :) there is always exciting stuff going on in Arayat...  :)

Anyways, so now on to the news about transfers.... I packed my bags, and I'm.......(drum rolll.....)....staying in Arayat! hahahaha ya I even have my same companion! The only change is that Elder Drake was transferred :( which I was super sad about :( but I was way happy to stay with Elder Ofiana in this area!! Most people here say I'm going to be here until Christmas... haha so I actually don't have any changes to report to you guys about! :/ Our new kabahay is Elder Dejino from Visayas. He is in my batch, which means we arrived in the mission at the same time. So 3/4 of the missionaries in our house are batch haha. Also 3.5 Filipinos living in the same house...We'll see how this goes haha  :)

Well maybe some of you are online right now! so we can chat :)
Love you all :)
Elder Watkins
Have a great Conference weekend!

Elder Watkins 

A member of the ward drew this 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Week 53: In the Hollow of His Hands, Holy Ghost, and Tatay Nestor's Gratitude

The story that Elder Watkins refers to happened on the way home from celebrating Daniella's birthday (the little girl in the first picture) with a spaghetti dinner and Family Home Evening. Elder Watkins, Elder Ofiana, their room mates, and others traveling with them stopped to aid a blood-covered man they thought was injured in an accident. It turns out, the blood wasn't his, he was drunk and carrying a gun, and threatened to shoot Elder Watkins. Fortunately, none in their group was hurt, and the man was escorted home. He did not remember their encounter the next day. I am grateful for a loving Heavenly Father who hold His missionaries in the hollow of his hands. 

Hey Family :)

So this week was a superrr exciting week! I'm sure Mom and Dad have shared the story with you about the crazy dude already, so I'll just skip that  :) but it was a way good experience for the memories and journal entry haha. How many people can say they have been asked, "if they've wanted to be shot?"  probably not very many :)

Anyways this week is transfers... So this Wednesday I will find out where I am going and then Thursday I will either be staying the same or traveling somewhere new in the Philippines! I am really sad to leave if I do.. I really am close to the people here, and especially a lot of the investigators and people we've baptized... I'm going to miss them a ton regardless of leaving this week or in 6 more...

One story that was a cool experience for me:
So we have been teaching Robin for like 3 months now! and the first 1 1/2 months his wife Jeraldine would always leave and go hide in a different room when we came over...she is crazy shy. I could never even get to the point of shaking her hand. One day randomly she started listening and letting us teach her, and now we are like best friends and she came to church yesterday! She even let us know of her desire to be married and baptized... Well, yesterday at church in class, the lesson was the Holy Ghost. She was asked by another Elder who was teaching the class is she has ever felt the Holy Ghost in her life. She responded yes, and shared her experience. She was say how she was super shy and whenever Elder Ofiana and I would come over, she would always listen in the next room over. She said, "every time they came over, something told me to listen to them. I was scared to join them in the room, but I would just listen. I knew what they were teaching wasn't bad, because when they taught I felt good about what they were teaching. I finally got the courage to talk to them and now it has changed me. And now here I am at your church."

Yesterday, as well, we went to Tatay Nestor's house after he attended church. We had a lesson on daily scripture study. At the end of the lesson I asked if he had any questions, and he said no, just something to say. He went off and cried about how grateful he is that we teach him. He said I see your efforts coming to my house even when it is flooded or rainy. You came even when I couldn't come to church. He then talked about how he is praying for his health to get better so he can go to church and be baptized...

I think the Lord may be revealing stories like these to me because I may be leaving the area this week...The more I think about it, the more I want to stay...The more I think about missing the people, it just makes me more sad, but I will go where He wants me to go.

I am so grateful to be a missionary and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with the people of the Philippines. I am a first had witness that it changes lives. I love being a missionary.

Love you all,
Elder Watkins

Celebrating Daniella's birthday with a spaghetti dinner and
Family Home Evening. 

This is me and a grandma that we taught.

This is what part of our area looked like after the storm. The area flooded and those
are trees submerged in water...It's like 10- 15 feet deep.

This is Robin and his family after going to church. In a letter to me, he wrote
that he wants his whole family to be baptized and go to the temple.
Super cool family! Love them to bits :)

This is Tatay Nestor and some of his grandkids. He is prolly one of the cooler people
I have met in the mission. In this little city, I'm like the barkada leader of all the little kids.
Barkada is like a gang haha. All the kids here know me :)

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Week 52: Little Acts of Service, Acting on Promptings, and Preparing to Receive Blessings

Hello Everyone!

I am now officially over my year mark and it was great :) I received the package and than you very much :) My kabahay (roommates) and I have already plowed through the M&Ms, Sour Patch, 2 bags of jerky, 1 mixed berry jam, and a jar of Biscoff :) You could say life is sweet :) On my year mark we made some bomb french toast, and topped it with the jam, Biscoff, and of course syrup. Everyone was a big fan :) Thanks Mom and fam! You're the best! Speaking of food, I learned how cook chicken curry this week. It was the bomb. This week I'm learning how to cook sweet and sour chicken and tinola. I'm pretty pumped! Elder Drake and I are into cooking and learning new dishes now :)

I just want to tell you how much little acts of service mean to people. Specifically me. Sometimes you wake up and it is not under ideal circumstances. Sometimes you feel like poop and are not in the best mood haha. Well, I had one of those days this morning. I went to work out and when I came back, my companion made my bed and cleaned the kitchen! I came back in and just could not continue my mood! I was instantly happy! I'm not sure if he know that I woke up not happy or what, but he served me and now it totally changed my whole day. He probably to this second doesn't even know he changed my mood for the entire day :) He's a great companion.

The Lord always has blessings for us. Most of the time he tries us before they come. As a missionary, your blessings are way different. Blessings are new people to teach, when others read the Book of Mormon or go to church. It is really cool as a missionary that much of your happiness is derived from others living the Gospel. Anyways, one day this week we had been walking for who seriously know how long without even talking to a single person or teaching anyone. It was absolutely pouring rain and since my umbrella broke, we were sharing my companion's...We were SOAKED. It's very difficult here to find people to talk to in the rain because, of course, everyone is inside. It would have been really easy to say, "Oh let's just take a break and wait out he storm under that pavilion" or some kind of excuse, but we just kept walking. Not really knowing where to go, we decided we would go to a less active family that is never home...  Turns out they were home and actually let us in to teach them! We taught a lesson on love, then at the end I felt prompted to apply what I read earlier in my personal study "Ask everyone for referrals" So I asked. Turns out they said they would look and get back to us on Thursday. Well, we returned and boom! They had two super prepared investigators who were ready to receive the Gospel. Even yesterday they came to church, and then invited us over to teach them at their house after church again. Way cool.

I just think what if we took a break, and didn't continue? or we didn't ask for a referral? The Lord always has countless blessing for us, but we need to ready ourselves to receive them.

Love you all! Hope you have a great week!
Elder Watkins

This is Barangay Santiago!! haha family!

Elder Ofiana and me after a rainy day

Elder Ofiana and Elder Watkins enjoying some Hump Day french toast.
Elder Watkins is holding an adorable camel that makes a hilarious noise.

Elder Drake and Elder Watkins 

Jhan Jhan and Elder Watkins doing work

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Week 51: Year Mark!, Reflections, and Testimony of the Book of Mormon

Well, first a shout out to Mindy for her birthday!! And again I'm not in town to celebrate it with ya... :( sorry. I swear I am always gone when it happens :( But I'm sure you had a good one :)

Also secondly, I just received the package this morning! I'll be opening it later tonight :) So thank you very much!

What is going on in the Philippines...Well, this week, September 13, I will hit my true year mark!! What?! That is so fast! I only have 10 months left...  :( I like the way Dan put it earlier in my mission... "Only 10 months left to change people's lives" So true. As I reflect over that time, I can't help but think how much I've grown. I am still a solid 5' 8", I've actually lost weight and still don't look a day over 16...(and I turn 20 in 2 months LOL). I have grown so much in other ways. Learning to speak to people how to teach how to study, how to work hard, clean, money living on my own, getting along with others, integrity, love and patience, the lost could go on and on...But of all these thinks I am most grateful for my spiritual growth and growing closer to my Savior. What a blessing it's been and is and will be. I am also so grateful for each of you. Without you, I wouldn't be on my mission. Specifically Mom and Dad. Thank you so much for the support you are giving to me. I feel your prayers and love. Thank you for raising me in this church and teaching me correct principles and letting me govern myself. Thanks to your teaching and example, and of course I wasn't perfect, but I was able to avoid the big pitfalls of high school and be here on a mission :) Thank you.

These past months my testimony of the Book of Mormon has been growing and growing I have always had a testimony of the divinity of this book, but I am experiencing more spiritual growth than ever because of it. I just think back to before the mission where I would maybe read the BoM on a Sunday and that's about it...I always used excuses such as busy, tired, entertainment, the list goes on. Sometime it didn't even cross my mind to read it. Now that I am here in the mission the 1 hour of personal study a day is not enough time! I am truly feeling changes in my life and seeing it in the life of the people I teach. The people who don't understand or don't go to church are the same people who don't read the BoM. On the contrary, the people who read are progressing and gain a desire to learn and overall become more happy. The Book of Mormon is the way to peace and joy in this life and the next. By reading, pondering, and applying the principles learned we come closer to Christ and become happy. When I face trials or hardships, where do I go for comfort or help? Internet? Friends? Family? Though these may be good sources, why not go to the best source? He, who understands us more intimately than we even know ourselves. I just wanted to share my testimony of the Book of Mormon with you all because I am a witness of how much it is helping me in my life right now. I love you all so much and want that same thing for you! I know that as we keep reading the Book of Mormon we will be blessed and guided in a that we do :) What a great promise in  2 Nephi 32:5

Again, love you all. Have a great week :)

Elder Watkins

Feeding a caribou and her baby

Mount Arayat

Elder Watkins "next to some river"

Companions!! Elder Ofiana and Elder Watkins

Caribou friends :)

Left to Right: Bryan, Jhann-Jhann, Elder Watkins, Irish, Elder Ofiana, Bryce
Front row: Newton, Sis Buan

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Week 50: "Ting Ting Hevi and Gratitude", Trials of Faith, A Loving Heavenly Father

Hellooo Family :)

You are so great and I love each of you more than I could ever explain. I'm just amazed that I had to travel to the other side of the world to find out what is really important in my life.  

This week was a week of pondering and realization for  a lot of things. First you may read the title of my email and be like 'ting ting hevi' what the heck? So first just say those words out loud and see what it sounds like. There is this island by Fiji and they use broken English as part of their laguage. The word for pondering there is 'ting ting hevi' or in regular English 'think think heavy.' One thing I have leaned to absolutely love in the Mission is time to ponder. Ponder the scriptures, the lives of people I teach, my relationships with others, my own life, and my relationship with my Father in Heaven. This week I was really brought to my knees and humbled, as I was 'ting ting hevi-ing' about how lucky I am.

 ***this next part is edited: I have mentioned this family who has embraced the Gospel and is experiencing trials of faith. Their father has died and their mother lives in another country for work. The oldest son is 18 and moved to another city for work. Money is scarce. They eat rice for breakfast; flavored with vinegar or soy sauce if they have extra money. They usually don't have lunch and eat dinner if neighbors have left overs. One day I was there, I watched the two youngest, ages 9 and 2, making a fire to cook their last bit of rice. They realized they were definitely lacking fire wood to cook their meal. One of the boys picked up a machete and started to chop a wood post that holds up their house. I almost cried at the sight.***

As I went to sleep that night I couldn't help to think, Why am I so lucky? Why do I ever complain about my 'trials'? How can I not take my many blessings for granted?

At this time I was really having a hard week, one of the harder weeks of the mission. Now I am looking at my difficulties much differently. Instead of asking 'why me?' I'm striving to accept my trials as blessings and lessons from a loving Heavenly Father who wants to teach me something for my own benefit. I strongly believe God will never give us a trial that will impede our eternal progression. Everything that happens is our benefit.

I know that the scripture Ether 12:6, 12 is true "Ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith." I love each of you so much and I couldn't have been blessed with a better family. Have a great week :)

Elder Watkins

Cool pic from a while back in the archives:
Elder Cancel, Elder Drake, Elder Soberano, Elder Watkins

Elder Drake and Elder Watkins
 "Harvesting  Scrumptious Adobo and BBQ Fried Chicken"

Dinner appointment at our Branch President's house

Bryce, Elder Watkins, Jhann Rai

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Week 45: More Baptisms!!!, Finding Families, and Future Missionaries

It feels like the past weeks I haven't had much communication with everyone! Everyone is on vacation, busy and things are going on. And when we chat, it is always bad timing or for a short duration of time :(  But I have been slacking a bit on my part so I apologize :( Paki patawad mo ako :( (please forgive me)

So the past few weeks have been sweet with the work! Last weeks we had 4 baptisms! and it was unreal! They were all so happy and I was able to baptize Joe Henson. He is 16 and the little brother of JonJon. Before we were about to go into the font, he said, "My heart is pounding so hard, but I'm not scared...I haven't felt like this before!" They all did a fantastic job on their testimonies as well :) Then last week there were 3 more baptisms! 1 child of record, 1 in our area, and then in Arayat B's area. Jayson was baptized and he is the twin of Jaycee who was baptized last month. Then Roselle from the neighboring area. She's the one that I referred to the Elders because she was in their area. She's already making plans to serve a mission... She said to me when you go home I will be turning in my papers! She is super excited!!

So now that all those people just got baptized... it is time to start finding new people again! And yesterday we were led to a family! We made it a goal on Friday to find a new family to teach...Well on Saturday night we bought some bread and then talked with the lady who owns the place. Turns out she was married in a Mormon church and baptized but her husband was not. She said she had been living here for 15 years and no missionaries had taught her and her family of  7 kids and invited us back. Then on Sunday we received a referral and taught this family of 6! So in two days we were blessed with 2 new families that we can start teaching! Hopefully they progress :)

So the work has been great. My companion and I are great and we are way good buds. With transfers coming up on August 14th, I am interested to see what happens. I'm not going to even make a guess because I literally have no clue what is going to happen.

I admit I am super pale...I always imagined I'd be black! But the reason is my face rarely sees sun. In the summer you just walk under an umbrella cause it's too blazing hot and in the rainy season you don't see the sun too much... and I'm usually inside places a lot of the day anyway! but I don't think I look skinny...I think I'm the same, if not a little bigger haha :)

Anyways, I'm grateful for my family, you all mean the world to me. I see so many people (everyone) who is less fortunate than I. Not just the circumstances I was born into, but the family I was born into. You are truly the best!!!

I love you all sooooo much and wish you the best!!!
Elder Watkins

Elder Watkins with Joe Henson and JonJon

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Week 44: Baptisms!!!, Dancing in the Rain, and 1 Year Celebration!!!

Hey! I'm guessing you guys are on the plane or something..but thanks for all the emails and recordings this week. Sorry I wasn't able to do recordings this week. It was a super busy week which included 4 baptisms!!! But then Sunday came and tons of stuff in the branch happened. I've been basically typing a novel to President Clark about what happened and that's where I spent most of my time today.

Also thanks a ton for the pics and piano guys! I'm glad you like them, Dad. They sound good, right?! haha thanks for all the effort. And I look forward to listening to the recordings. I've also made up my mind about going home July 17th and getting surgery. But I'm also not sure what to do with schooling and that part yet... as far as timing goes.

Hopefully you enjoyed your tripS...Wow, so jealous haha. But sounds and looks like it was amazing. Glad you are all having a good time. And don't worry about the typhoon. It was tiny. There are like 20 a  year here so don't worry about it. I'm in good hands (hopefully you got the AllState joke there. Oh, and that's President Palmer from 24, right?). Anyways, love you all.

Dad in one of your next recordings could you hit me with some current events, like what's going on in the world? who's invading whom, who is North Korea threatening to bomb now? All that good stuff :) or anything interesting going on in America as well :) Thanks.

Love you all :)

It as raining super hard so we decided to take pics in the rain.
I removed my tie cause I didn't want it to get wet!
He gets his jumps from his Mom :)  
Elder Ofiana, Elder Watkins, Elder Salado, Elder Drake
1 Year Celebration!!

Companions! Elder Watkins and Elder Ofiana

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Week 43: A Pic of Companions, and Friends :)

So, not much from Elder Watkins this week. Highlight - this adorable pic of Elder Watkins and Elder Ofiana with some friends they are teaching :)

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Week 42: Pics!!! Saying Goodbye to President Martino, A New Companion, and a Friend From Back Home

Last pic of Elder Watkins and President Martino.
Thank you President Martino for your service, your example, and your faith!!
Companions! Elder Ofiana and Elder Watkins

Elder Bean and Elder Watkins.
We were math partners at Lone Peak.
He is Cameron's cousin. 

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Week 37: Start of the Rainy Season, a Random Dinner, and God's Mysterious Ways

Hey Fam! :)

Sorry I most likely won't be able to chat today. But I got some pics to send and stuff so hopefully you are satisfied... Actually, I know dad will not be, because there are also no recording this week. I wasn't able to withdraw any money yet due to the breakdown of the 1 ATM in all Arayat... So I haven't bought any batteries... Sorry.

Anyways, this was a fun week! First, yesterday was the start of the rainy season and it came in with a bang! The day started off blazing hot; then at 4 in the afternoon it felt like it was noon... Unbelievable...but then within an hour it went from virtually no clouds to immense dark clouds covering the whole sky. It was absolutely pouring... We were on splits and I was with Joel, the blind Ward Mission Leader and some others. We couldn't stay dry so we just walked around without umbrellas and it was so fun haha. Then we had to ride a trike and there was no more space so I just held on the outside and I should've just jumped in a pool for how wet I was... It was a great time, good memories. Also the lightning here at night is absolutely crazy... It literally goes off like every 5-10 seconds and illuminates the entire sky. It is so beautiful.

So cool story for the week :) This actually happened last week but I forgot to tell you guys about it :) So I was in Angeles on exchanges with Elder Wilson. We were leaving SM Clark (the American Mall here in the Philippines) when a random white dude says "Elders!" We start talking and he isn't a member but his wife is. Then he said, "You guys seem nice, let me treat you to dinner!"  We had just eaten burritos and Krispy Kreme donuts (so good btw) but we felt we should say yes (free food...of course :) ). So we obliged and he took us to Shakey's Pizza. His wife showed up and we ended up staying for a little over an hour and a half. While we were eating, a huge thunderstorm went through but we didn't think much of it. Right when we decided to leave, the rain stopped. We rode home and it was dark, but the road to Elder Wilson's apartment is kind of in the middle of nowhere. As we were riding we saw there were enormous uprooted trees along the highway. We later saw that a few jeepneys had been smashed by the trees injuring some people and a few people had died. I was so grateful that a random white guy in the Philippines was able to take us out to eat so that we could be safe during the storm. God knows all and works in mysterious ways... But I think he sent those kind people to us to keep us safe. I know God is aware of all of us and especially his missionaries. He protects them and comforts them :)

Love you all :) Have a great week :)
Elder Watkins

Elder Watkins and Joel, the Ward Mission Leader.
They were in the rain haha

Elder Watkins and his companion Elder Soberano from Ilo Ilo.
He goes home in 14 days...crazy!

Elder Drake from California and Elder Cancel from Cavite.
They are Elder Watkins' and Elder Soberano's  housemates. 

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Week 36: Split Area, a New Companion and Housemates, and Two Sad Situations

What is up everyone? :) Miss you all :)

So this week was transfers and I am taking my talents to .... Arayat. I'm staying here :) That is Lebron's quote by the way. So I got a new companion Elder Soberano. He is Filipino from Ilo Ilo which is where my trainer Elder Gomez is from. I am his 14th companion which is a ton and this is his 9th area! That is so many! So he leaves in 3 weeks, so I will be the one to kill him (send him home). He isn't trunky at all and is really excited to work hard for his last transfer. I get along well with him and he is super into deep doctrine and stuff. That's what he love to do - read.

We also got 2 new elders in Arayat! So we split our area. The two new elders are Elder Cancel and Elder Drake. Cancel is batch with me and he is from Cavite. He is an amazing cook so I plan on taking advantage of that... I may get fat in the weeks while he is here :) also he is training Elder Drake who is from Sacramento and is a cool dude. He played football so that's cool :) The 3 football players in the mission are all in the same zone. Hopefully we will play sometime. I really enjoy having 4 in the apartment. It make things a lot more fun and interesting.

As for me, I'm doing well. No sickness or anything, and I'm having fun :) One unfortunate thing that happened this weeks was that Charlot ran away. She was supposed to be baptized 2 days ago but she was getting persecution from her family about becoming Mormon and then she ran away and changed her phone and sad.

I'm sure you may be curious about Ariel. So I found out some more about him. I don't know where his parents are but his grandparents live here. So he begs for money and would go to his grandpa's house. If he didn't bring home enough money, his grandpa would beat him. So Ariel doesn't go back there anymore and just sleeps in the burger truck. He attended church again last week and is becoming friends with all the primary and members :) He kissed my feet at church and it was awkward lol...

But, again I'm doing great :) loving the mission life and having a blast. Time is truly flying, close to 9 months. Bitters next month is at a year! What?! Crazy :)

Love you all. My prayers are with you and especially with Dan and Kim right now.

Have a great week :)

Elder Watkins

Monday, May 19, 2014

Week 35: Pictures!, and Ariel's Story

This week we received pictures and recordings this week! Dustin told us about his friend Ariel and part of his story. There were still some questions we had and hope that we will get some answers.

In his recording, Dustin told us about Ariel whom he met a while ago. Ariel is eight years old and basically lives on the streets. The family who owns a burger truck in the area lets Ariel sleep in the truck at night and they pay him to do some jobs on the truck. Ariel is a very friendly, happy little boy :) Dustin invited Ariel to go to church. The next Sunday, Dustin arrived and a member told him that his friend was looking for him but had left. Dustin went outside and saw Ariel across the street. When Ariel saw him, he smiled and joined Dustin. He was wearing a tattered shirt (which was too big for him) and tattered shorts, and had no shoes. Regardless, he was happy to be there. He stayed for all three meetings, and got a little sleepy at the end (haha, don't we all!)

Later that day, some of the sisters in the Ward brought some clothes for Ariel. Charity Never Faileth :) Relief Society sisters have the same heart where ever they are in the world. I love them!

As I was listening to Dustin's recording about Ariel, I wondered if he would ask if he could bring Ariel home with him...

Elder Watkins with some big artillery at Clark Air Force Base.
(Isn't he adorable?)
More of Elder Watkins at Clark

Elder Watkins' friend Ariel and a Ward member