Monday, March 16, 2015

Week 75: Transfer Week aka Organized Chaos, Missionary Recovery Center, and Overcoming Addictions with the Atonement

Hey Family!

Sorry about last week and no family email! :(

Well, we survived. It was transfer week and it is actually quite amazing to see over 250 missionaries spread out through the Philippines receive instruction on Wednesday and then travel Thursday morning by bus, jeepey, or tryke and arrive in their new area and get to work! It's pretty crazy to think about. Of those 250, probably half are foreigners from 18-20 or so years old, and traveling around the Philippines to places they have never been  and no one gets lost! It's crazy but it happens. It is the Lord's work.

With this transfer over and the new one starting, we now shift our gaze to prepare for MLC again and uh oh, zone interviews...All 11 zones. So from March 31 - April 14 we will hit all 11 zones and have an MLC in the middle. It is going to be a super busy and exciting time! We have started to prepare for interviews. And we are all really excited for our training. We are trying to shift this transfer to focus on application. The past have been more on instructions and us teaching, but now we are really going to dig in and involve everyone. We are coming up with some cool ideas for our workshops of how to get everyone involved and make it a super interactive experience. Actually, I don't know if any of you care about this... I just realized this is probably boring to you, but it gets me excited haha

But last week my companion Elder Mabalot got sick and had to go to the emergency room. He had some serious stomach pain. Well, it was just a result of lack of sleep due to stress. The past few months he hasn't been able to sleep and his body has been suffering because of it... :/ So after that he got sent down to Manila to the MRC or Missionary Recovery Center for 2 days. He came back and is doing better. I am lucky to have him for 6 more weeks. He is such a work horse and the most humble person. I wish you could meet him. He may move to Idaho with his aunt. It's funny like it's not very common to go to America, but of my companions that I have had Elder Gomez, Elder Choresca, Elder Delante, and Elder Mabalot all have chances and hopes of moving to America!

While Elder Mabalot was in Manila I was able to work with the Office Elders in their area. We actually had a really cool teaching experience. We were reviewing the  plan for the day and on the list of people to teach was a lady named Gina. I asked about her story - she was a long time investigator, about 50 years old and has been coming to church for almost 6 months now. She wants really badly to get baptized. Her concern is that she is a big time smoker. They said she used to smoke about 20 sticks a day, but is now at around 8-10 a day, which is improvement but she can't seem to drop any lower. They asked what should we teach?! I asked if they had used Chapter 10 'Teaching Skills' in Preach My Gospel in helping people overcome addictions. They said no. We went there and read together the doctrine and principles and some application ideas. We together chose one that we felt could help Sister Gina. We went to the lesson and upon teaching we found out she had started smoking when she was 11 and became heavily addicted and has been ever since. She has NEVER gone without smoking - amazing. Anyways we asked how many she had smoked that day and she said 8. We talked to her about what smoking is causing her to miss now and what it will cause her to iss in the future. We talked about her desire to be baptized and why she wanted to be baptized. We then committed her to stop smoking. She then said Ok I will try "unti unti" or little by little. We said no, now, tomorrow you will not like a single cigarette She said she had never done it tomorrow but said she felt inspired to do so The next day, the Elder followed up and reported back to me (because we are roommates) that she smoked ZERO cigarettes!! The next day they reported again that she still had not smoked a single cigarette!! They said in her house where the usual packs of smokes were, are barren! All that remains are the pictures of Jesus Christ we put in those places where the packs were and where she feels tempted to smoke! We also put one in her wallet so that when she feels like she should buy some, there is one more reminder for her. It's awesome! Hopefully she can continue to keep it up and get baptized this April! :) It's so great to see the Gospel and the Atonement of Jesus Christ help people break free and obtain joy in their lives :) I love this church!

Well family I hope all is well with you...You mean so much to me.

Love you,
Elder Watkins

Friday, March 13, 2015

Week 74: Elder Bitters in Lake Tahoe, Hypnobirthing, and Sister Jones in The Batch

This week Elder Watkins did not have time to write a family email.  He did respond to a personal email from his mother :) Elder Watkins mentioned that his companion was having health problems :( and that he was a bit jealous that Elder Bitters was going to be spending time with us in Lake Tahoe at a lacrosse tournament in June...

I don't believe in coincidences...This week was super busy for me. Four nights in a row with no prospects of being on call. Plus I had a student in tow, which often means that I would have only one patient at a time. But on Thursday night, my fourth of four nights in a row, I had no such luck. I started the shift with two, yes two, 1:1 patients. I know that doesn't make any sense. I had one patient laboring unmedicated, and my other was not happy that she had to wait all day before coming in at 6 pm to be induced. My student isn't independent so I basically had to manage my two patients and my student. Not the best situation to start a shift, but I had decided to make the best of the situation.

My first patient who delivered that night was having her first baby. I really can't provide much detail but she was hypnobirthing, and did incredible. I think hers was the most amazing unmedicated delivery I have attended, especially for a first time mom. After baby was born, her mother who is Filipina, and other visitors were in the room. The mom tried speaking to me in Tagalog haha. I told her that I didn't speak the language. She pointed to my patient's friend and said that she was born and raised here too, but she speaks Tagalog fluently. She learned it while living in Angeles on a church mission...

I asked Sister Jones if she knew my Elder Watkins (there were two Elder Watkinses from Utah in the Angeles Mission at the same time). She said that they were in the same batch! They even flew to the Philippines on the same plane! We talked for a bit and took pics to send to Elder Watkins. Oh the sweet tender mercies of the Lord :)

Me (Elder Watkins' mom) and Sister Jones!!
(haha yes this is what I look like on the fourth night
of four night shifts in a row - a first for me!)
Meeting this sweet Sister Jones is a treat!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Week 73: Countless Blessings for the Faithful, Big Fish, and Missionary Leaders Council

Hey family love you all tons!

So this week was awesome. I was able to go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders here in Tarlac and we went to visit one of my recent converts, Sister Abigail Ong, along with her whole family. Of course, I get to see their family every Sunday at church, but it is different being able to sit with them and have a discussion about the Gospel and how it applies to their life. Anyways last time I was able to meet with them at their home was early January, only a few weeks following her baptism. She had expressed some deep concern to Elder Delante and I about how her life is getting so much more difficult after she got baptized and started paying tithing. She said she didn't doubt she had made the right choice in joining the church, she said God made known unto her the truth, but she was looking for those promised blessings desperately. And that was back in January. Now fast forward to this week. We went and visited the Ong family, I was with both Zone Leaders of Tarlac and I was just observing basically the lesson as they taught faith and repentance. When they looked at me indicating it was my turn to share, I didn't have much to add because they had spoken a lot and covered the material extensively. So I just asked Sister Ong if the things they were saying were true. "Has faith in Jesus Christ and sincere repentance brought the increased peace and joy you are looking for?" I was listening intently for her answer because last I had checked, she and her family had been struggling. She looked down at the floor and seemed to be pondering. I saw a tear flow and fall to the floor as she nodded her head in the affirmative, after another pause she explained how she and her family have been the recipients of countless blessings. She started crying again as she explained that God was blessing them so much that she didn't feel like they even deserved. She even went on to say how trials are actually getting more difficult and things are still not improving financially, but they feel at peace in putting their faith in God. Knowing he will provide if they stay faithful.

Moments like that just melt your heart as a missionary. I wouldn't trade that feeling of joy for anything. Not a touchdown, state championship, or money. Can't wait for those of you who are coming to meet the Ong family. Also this last Sunday Bother Jesus Tolentino was able to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood!! How amazing is that!! Baptisms that go through and receive the Melchizedek Priesthood are what we call "Big Fish." He has now arranged his working schedule so that he can attend all three meetings at church. Since October, he has not missed a single Sacrament meeting. His wife, Sister Tolentino, who has fully returned to activity, was called to the Relief Society 2nd Counselor and bore a powerful testimony yesterday about how the church is changing the direction of their entire family. I also saw ninay Lolita and Carlos at church again this week! They never miss!!! Ninay keeps telling me she she's getting smarter as she reads the Book of Mormon daily. Sister Teresa was also there, another recent convert who was baptized in December. She always attends but she was fellow shipping an investigator! We show up to church ad she was sitting next to an investigator who attended church for the time. She was talking to her about the hymns and sacrament and what we do for fast and testimony, it was way cool!!! It is way hard to get member to to fellowship even when you ask them, but Sister Teresa was all over it and she is just a brand new member!

This coming week will be the busiest of the entire transfer...Tuesday we have a 12 hour training session (MLC) at the Mission Home. We will be training all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders. After which, Wednesday we interview all the Zone Leaders and discuss the work in each zone. Thursday we have 4 training sessions of 2 hours each training Trainers and Trainees, and also all the District Leaders. After which Friday we have exchanges up in Baler. I'll be going on exchanges with Elder Gordon so that will be cool. Then Wednesday the new arriving missionaries come, and that is a full day of training; then Thursday is the transfer day which is chaos at the office haha... So it is a loaded week filled with opportunities to serve, work, and learn. Super exciting.

Well, I love each of you and I love this work. I love being a missionary, and serving my Father in Heaven and my Master, Jesus Christ. They live and love us.

Elder Watkins

This was just a view I thought was beautiful. The picture didn't do the scene justice...

My companion Elder Mabalot and Me

This is me at the temple with the sisters who were in my district at the MTC!
They are going home now so I was able to take them to the temple for their last visit.