Sunday, April 27, 2014

Week 32: New Area, New Companion, and A New Challenge

Unfortunately, no letter or pictures this week. He was having trouble downloading his recordings, so none of those this week either :(

Here is a summary of what we chatted about:

He loves the new area!! It is definitely more challenging that the last area because the lack of investigators or progressing investigators.

The Arayat Branch is considered a subdivision and is at the base of Mt Arayat. There is lots of farm land around the area. The Branch is great; the meeting house is right in front of our apartment which is really convenient. His partner is a great elder and super fun. The members are really nice and like to work with them just about everyday, especially the Mission Leader. They work with the youth a lot. Church attendance varies quite a bit from week to week. This week it was 62 which is really high; the week before it was 42.

Travel is a mix of walking and trikes.

The weather is about the same as in Cabanatuan - HOT!!  He uses an umbrella because it is just too hot to walk around in the sun. Dustin says he is a little more tan, but still light haha

We look forward to Skyping with Dustin on Mother's Day!!!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Week 31: Transferred to Arayat Branch, Challenging Work, and District Leader

Hey guys!

First off sorry to you all that I am on so late and not able to chat with you guys. It sounds like your trip to CA was an absolute blast and I pray you all make it home safely :)

So yes this week I transferred to a new area in Angeles zone. It is about 2 hours from the city in a beautiful 'bukid' or farm area, but to to me it looks like a kinda jungle :) We are at the base of a gorgeous mountain that looks like a volcano. It is not near the size of the ones back home but it is magnificent to look at with all the flat space and trees surrounding it. I look forward to hiking it in the coming weeks :)

First my new companion is Elder Gaudiano. He is from Visayas, and has 3 transfers left in his mission. He is easily the funniest missionary I have met on the mission. He is a very good teacher and definitely knows his stuff! I have progressed quite noticeably in the short time we have been companions concerning Tagalog. We speak on a regular basis and it is starting to become natural to speak about other things besides the gospel. I'm super excited to keep working with him :)

Our area is a challenging one. In terms of work. The average lessons per week is 25 when it should be closer to 40. We only have 3 Investigators w/ Baptismal dates and 2 are quite tentative. But the members here in the branch are quite amazing. Our ward mission leader is blind but he works with us every day! He loves missionary work and is super enthusiastic! I love the guy. So the members are pumped and I'm pumped to work with them along with Elder Gaudiano. I'm hoping to see some miracles happening here :)

I also got called to be the District Leader here. LOL of me and my companion!! Our district used to be comprised of other Elders but apparently there was an emergency transfer and their area was dissolved. President plans on having more missionaries out here next transfer... but they were supposed to be here this transfer so who knows :) I'm just excited to have some extra work and responsibility. It'll help me grow and learn to render more Christlike service :)

One sad experience from this week was Friday morning. Although I was sad to leave my last area, I was very excited! But Friday morning was our first companionship study. To start the study we obviously begin with prayer and reciting a few things, followed by reading 3 pages of the Missionary Hand Book. We started where I had left off and it happened to be "Communicating w/ Converts" I just started bawling my eyes out when I read it. I was just so sad to leave them. It didn't hit me until that moment that they were gone, or rather I had left them... Even though it will be hard and I will continue to miss them. I know the Lord has need of me in other places and I am so happy to continue serving wherever he may call me. I love His work, and it is going by too fast... I cannot believe I am going on 8 months... 1/3 of the way through... only 16 more months to change peoples lives... Gotta get busy :) love you all again have a fantastic week!

Your missionary,
Elder Watkins :)

Elder Gaudiano (Dustin's new companion) and Elder Watkins and
Mt. Arayat(an extinct volcano) in the background.
Elder Watkins is all kinds of adorable!!!  

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Week 30: Saying Goodbye, Lehi's Vision, and Gratitude for My Family

Hey everyone! :)

This has been a sad week for me. I've been saying good bye to most of the people that I teach. You truly don't know how much you'll miss someone till they are gone... It's been sad but I have loved all the experiences and memories that we have shared together. There was a farewell lunch after church and we all ate then it was kinda awkward/sad but I sat in the middle and then people around the room just said their goodbyes. What I mean be awkward is that on the 1% chance that I stay in this area, I return to church after all the goodbyes and say, 'I'm back!' hahah I think it would be funny.

Anyways I had been really worried with leaving the area with something to build on. As 4 of our investigators became Recent Converts, it left our teaching pool for potential baptisms on low. We really focused the past few weeks on finding new people to teach. For the past 3 weeks we have had over 7 new investigators every week! and a lot of them have baptismal dates for May. So I am pretty excited about that. The work will hopefully continue to grow here in Talavera Ward. It's interesting but the work in terms of baptisms is basically doubling every new companionship. Before me there was 1, then Gomez and I 2, then Choresca and I 5, and hopefully Choresca and his new companion get 10! :) The work is starting to pick up in the area and I'm excited for it.

As I was going to teach my favorite person I've met here, sister Nela, I had no idea what to share with her, as it would be our last teaching appointment. We got there and I still didn't know what to teach. So we had the opening prayer and I thought to teach Lehi's vision. I had no idea why but as I started it I realized that it was totally her story, as with most people. Lehi starts in a state of confusion then prays and the Lord shows him a tree off in the distance that would make him happy. No coincidence that the tree was inferebly far away. The Lord requires us to work and show faith to him to receive his blessings. I really thought this was Nela, she was in a state of confusion in her life when we met her. We showed her a way out, the tree. Not only did she eventually partake of the fruit, she sprinted to it. We then went on to enduring to the end and holding to the rod. But that lesson was so powerful and I could just feel the spirit so strongly. It goes on how when Lehi partook of the fruit he desired it for his family.

On a slight tangent from that, I'm still in touch with my friends that are on missions and a few that are at home, and I am so happy to be where I am today. I was reading my Patriarchal blessing last night, and the first thing is how blessed I am to be born into the family that I have. It's so true. I see so much sadness here and hear about others back home. And it is most always due to family problems. Everything starts with family and I am so happy with the one that I was born into. I love you all so much and am so grateful for the great examples you are to me. I couldn't be here if it were not for each of you.
I hope you all have a fantastic week :0
Love you all 
Elder Watkins

Most of the Benedicto Family

Family Home Evening hosted by Sister Maan. She is on the right, Rochelle is on the left.

Elder Watkins with Javen before he moved.

Elder Watkins with Sister Balangatan and family. She gave a talk at Rochelle's baptism.

Dustin loves caribous!!!

Sipping on a drink Sister Nela made...yum :)

Dinner at Sister Nela's!
my groupies... after my lovely singing...  lol jk this is jus after the missionary musical fireside :)

Elder Watkins with some elders from The Zone
Elder Watkins with the dude that cuts his hair (in the black shirt),
Elder Choresca, and  another stylist at the salon.