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.