Sunday, February 23, 2014

Week 24: Satisfying Work, Trainer Growth, and Strengthened Testimony

What's Goooood family?! How's it goin? :) 

I'm doing just great here in the Pino Islands! Had a fun week once again and good news is I still love missionary work. Even though our baptisms got moved and we had zero for February, I still feel so satisfied. The reason is I can honestly look in the mirror and say that I tried my best every day. That's all that is asked of me, and of all of us. To strive to be our best. I still feel successful as a missionary and am even more excited to work harder in March :)

Looking back over this last month and a half or so is crazy. From January 17th picking up my brand new baby (trainee), to now finishing his first transfer. I hope he is learning a lot from me because I have grown so much this transfer. I have improved tremendously I feel like. I now have the knowledge and the assurance that I can do this work without someone older telling me how to do things. I just rely on the Lord and we can get things done. I love it! So much has changed as I think back. My whole attitude about the mission is different. And I feel much more involved. Even though as a trainee we worked hard together, I always felt like what I did had to be approved by someone. Now I just strive for spiritual confirmation and it works out better! Again I love the mission :) 

So I guess President said one area in our zone is getting 'white washed' meaning that both elders will be transferred. Our area has been under 'white wash alert' for quite some time now and I hope that we don't leave. I'm really connecting with some of the people here and I'd like to see them progress more. Last transfer I thought to myself that if I left this area I wouldn't miss it too much. But now if I were to leave I'd be so sad! Even though the work is difficult in this area I love the people here and really believe I have made some close friends here. 

I love my free time to just think. It's rare but when I can just think for 15 minutes it's great. And the more I think, the more this Gospel makes sense. Nothing about it is confusing, nothing about it is sad, nothing about it isn't perfect, it just makes sense. I love it and everything it does for us. It provides answers to anything we could possibly face in life. It gives peace and perspective. Everything is put into perspective and I realize what is important to me. What truly is important. And I'm so grateful for this mission to help me learn all these things. I have become more deeply rooted in this gospel because of this mission. "How great shall be your joy if you bring but one soul unto me?" That one soul is our own. But if we truly understand that happiness and joy, we will want to do everything we can to share it with others so they can experience the same feeling we have. I'm grateful again for the short time I have now to share what I have learned and know to be true with my fellow Pino homies :)

Elder Choresca and me with Jodelle Gaspar before he moved away
Love you all! have a great week!
Elder Watkins

This is me and Elder Choresca on Valentine's Day with our red ties haha

This is my tilapia fish that I cooked this week :) Super good :)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Week 23: A New Investigator, the Gospel Changing Her Life, and the Gospel Has Something to Offer Everyone

While we gathered as a family in Bear Lake this past weekend, we played some games as we often do. One we play frequently is a card game called Scum, which Dustin mentions in his letter...Just before we received his email, I had just won the first hand and was The President!!! We continued to play while emailing him and the very next hand I became the Bottom Scum. What can I say?! I was distracted because I would rather email my missionary than maintain my position as The President. 

Well as you are all together having a good time playing scum and stuff I would like to remind you that I AM THE ALL TIME KING of Scum... that is all :)

So this week was pretty good! ha the highlight/funny news of the week is our new investigator Rochelle. She's super loud and hilarious. She swears all the time in Tagalog cause her kids disturb her while we are teaching. It is hilarious... we'll be teaching then randomly "J&HSK*&^%&^%^(*%" ok sorry what were you saying?" But the thing is she is super excited. She has come to church and reads the Book of Mormon and has questions. She also is really honest. She said she prayed to ask if the Church was true. The first time she tried listening after she prayed, but the kids were too loud. She said 'SHUT UP! I'M TALKING TO GOD!" lol... so she said she couldn't hear any answer. So the next day she prayed after she put them to sleep. It was dark and quiet but she said she prayed but was scared. She was scared that a litle squeaky voice would say "that's true!" and then after she prayed she said she had to go to the bathroom but was too scared that an angel would appear while she was going to the bathroom. But we have already noticed a huge change and she has as well. We've had 3 visits and during the third one she said she notices her temper is way better. She says when she reads she doesn't feel like yelling or saying bad things. She says she likes the peaceful feeling when she reads. She then asked how to become a member of the Church! 

The point is the gospel is for everyone and has something to offer no matter the circumstances. I'm so happy that she is already noticing a change in her life just from reading a book and going to church. The Spirit is really able to work in people when they have a sincere desire to search for truth. It's just helping people realize that they are seeking for something more. And this is what it is. I love the bible story of Jesus teaching the Samaritan woman how if you drink the water of the well you will feel satisfied, but you will need to return and continue to drink. Christ gives a well of water that never runs dry and that you will never have thirst again.

Loving the work and miss you all tons... I looked at the pictures of our family last night and actually for the first time in awhile felt a little homesick... but I'm alright now back to the work :) 
Have a great week and time in Bear Lake :)

Elder Watkins
Elder Watkins walking across a bridge...or a plank that
happened to fall over this body of water...or...
maybe a mother just doesn't want to know...

This reminded me of Jurassic Park. This is me and Elder Gordon on exchanges.
And we cooked some mean chicken adobo... like it was delicious...
watch out mom... you better start practicing... ;)

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week 22: Pictures! Talavera Ward Missionary Fireside, Companions, and Trapped!!!

Okay, so we seem to have a trend - One week a family letter, the next week pictures. I am not complaining since we are able to chat. They are working on strengthening the Talavera Ward so there is a strong foundation to build upon. I love this! 

Missionary Fireside for Talavera Ward. 

Elder Bausing, Elder Watkins, Elder Gordon, Elder Choresca

Elder Watkins in a rice field.

This is an enormous lizard that got caught in our RAT trap, not a mouse trap.
This trap is huge, like 4 mouse traps put together. So this lizard was still
alive when we found it...I felt bad :(

Glad this picture came after last week's story about lizard soup! haha I mean ewwwww! 

I think i just threw up in my mouth a little...

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week 21: Saving Families, Preparing Future Missionaries, and Lizard Soup

Hi! :) 

All is well here with me. Had a great week actually!

So this week and last week Elder Choresca and I really are focusing on finding new investigators. We were blessed with many. Before this week we had 8 investigators with Baptismal Goal Dates but many have had them since me and Elder Gomez. They aren't really progressing and aren't coming to church. So we have been really diligent in searching for new people and specifically families.This week we found 8 new people to accept the invitation to be baptized. And what made it better was that we had 9 investigators at church!! what?! That's a ton! So we are really hoping to have a lot of miracles and baptisms in march. As they are all set in March so that they will be adequately prepared for baptism :) It's great when you receive revelation to stop seeing certain people and then have faith that you will be able to find and teach new people who are prepared to receive the gospel. My hopes are really high for March right now. Hey March... don't let me down.... :)

One of the families we taught this week was the De los Ama family. The father, brother Rick is very interested in the gospel. After he enthusiastically accepted the invitation to be baptized, he turned to each of his family members and said 'susundin tayong lahat, ang halimbawa ni jesu cristo' or we will all follow the example of Jesus Christ. After we had some 'meryenda' or snacks. We were talking about the mission. He asked about serving a mission and what are the requirements. After we told him Young Men can serve a mission at 18 years old, he looked at his son and said 'in 7 years you can become like them!" I'm really excited to continue teaching them and hope they will be baptized in March and then continue the conversion process. The Lord truly prepares people to receive the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Update on me. I'm still doing well as a trainer I believe. The stress has gone down significantly and I feel normal now. Elder Choresca and I get along really well and his shyness is starting to go away, or at least he's becoming less and less :) We're working really hard to improve the ward here and genuinely help people because we know what this church can give them. 

As for me personally I cooked adobo this week with Elder Gordon! It actually wasn't too bad for 2 Americans and one of them being a red head... It was a little to soy saucy... and the sauce was too oily... so we are trying again this week and I'm really excited to try it out again. Health wise I have not been sick for awhile (knock on wood) the only thing is I have a nasty foot fungus. I thought they were bug bites because every morning I'd have tons of tiny red bumps on my feet and they would itch like nobody's business!! come to find out that most foreigners get this fungus because of the humidity... so hopefully that goes away soon... and I think you guys jinxed me with me weight loss.... I think I'm gaining it all back.... great... thanks a lot haha.... 

But overall I'm really feeling better about being a missionary. I no longer feel like the newbie or that I'm always sure what to do. Now I feel much more confident. I also feel like I've been in the Pino Islands for a long time. It isn't a shock and everything is pretty much normal now. Like yesterday I had this mystery soup and it tasted really good. I asked what meat it was and they responded lizard. I said 'grabe... masarap po siya talaga!' wow that's really tasty! but then they said it wasn't and just tried to scare me :) but remember in Mexico the bugs? ya bugs here no problem anymore... except cockroaches... I absolutely hate those things.... I'm still scared of them... 

Im lovin the mission life and lovin the work. Thanks for all the love and support from each of you! Thank you for your prayers! I pray for each of you all the time :) Love you all! have a great week 

Elder Watkins