Monday, December 20, 2010

THE WEATHER OUTSIDE IS FRIGHTFUL, BUT THE WORK IS SO DELIGHTFUL

THIS IS MY OLD ZONE WESTWOOD
THIS PICTURE IS FROM OUR THANKSGIVING TURKEY BOWL WITH MY NEW ZONE TEAM MARINA!

President,

Another good week. The weather has really slowed us down, but we are still try hard to visit people. Elder Deleon is a good missionary. He is excited to do the work and has a good knowledge of the Gospel. He and Elder Doh are pretty quiet during lessons, but they are getting better. We are doing role plays during companionship study so they get more comfortable teaching. Elder Deleon loves this mission, and we are trying hard to train him well so he can be a great missionary when he goes to Brazil. He and Elder Doh will be speaking in Sacrament meeting next week. Our area is doing well. We have quite a few progressing investigators, but none of them came to church this week. It was disappointing, but we will keep trying. hard to get them to church. The family has quite a few Word of Wisdom problems, so we are going to push their baptismal date back a few weeks. We won't end up having any baptisms this month, but they will be happening in the near future. All is well in Zion (Hawthorne). We have been finding some good success in getting some less actives from the Tongan ward back to church. Our area is full of less active members, so we have spent a good deal of time trying to get them to come back to church. One of the families we are working with is a part member family, and there is always a nonmember who sits in and listens, so we are hoping to start teaching the non-members and invite them the best we can.

Family,

I have never seen weather like this in my life! It has been raining for 4 days straight! It rains all day long! We are soaked everywhere we go because we are on bikes. Aparently this is pretty crazy weather for Los Angeles! I can't believe how much it has rained! We haven't even seen the sun since last thursday! But the work keeps on going. We are working hard and trying to do our best.

Yesterday wasn't a very good day at chruch. Nobody came again. But they are doing fairly well in other aspects. An investigator seems to be gaining a stronger testimony. We went over to his house last week and he was pretty drunk. We tried teaching him, but it didn't do much good. So we came back another couple of times so we could teach him while he could think straight. He has a lot of doubts, and he says he doesn't want to live a few of the commandments, but he is gaining a testimony. A few weeks ago we left him with the Restoration DVD, and he told us he watched it 26 times since then! He really likes it, and he shares it with his family! But we have a few kinks to work out before he can get baptized. And we found out that he is only on probation until February! So we will work on that. He is probably about 27 years old, and he lives at home, and he is an Americanized Latino. Pray for him so that he will come to church. A really cool black lady, didn't come to church this week either. She had a pretty good excuse with a 10 minute story to go along with it though. Then We found out about some Word of Wisdom problems that we will have to work out before they can get baptized. Plus one is on probation until this summer, so he will have to wait for that to finish up before he can get baptized.

Hey mom, I had a small accident on my bike and I ripped a hole in my slacks, so I sewed them up this morning!

Elder Deleon is a neat guy. He is my new trainee! He is from Atlanta Georgia. He is waiting on his visa to go to Brazil, so he could leave within a few days, or it could be a few months. We are just waiting for the phone call. He is a good hard worker. He is pretty quiet, but he will break out of it soon.

Thank you for the packages! I got a lot of letters and packages this past week! Mom! I really like the Christmas tree! It put all of the pictures up! And I will work on the tinsel and snow later. Thanks for the package from the Merrell Grandparents! I really really like it! Those socks will be a really good addition to all my socks with holes! The food is all good too! And I really liked the pictures you sent. I have to admit, I got a little emotional when I saw all the pictures of family and everything. I'm really excited to call home this week! One of my companions will probably call Friday night and set up a time to call for Saturday. I will call Grandpa's phone first, and if that doesn't work I will call dad's! I can't wait to hear everybody's voices again! I sound more like a man now. Hey mom, I haven't opened the presents yet. That's some good self-control that I didn't have before! Remember when I used to always find the presents way before Christmas? Not this year.

I love going to peoples' homes and sharing our Christmas message. Christmas time is the best time of year. My companion, Elder Doh, is from Burma. In his country most of the people a Buddists,and don't believe in Christ, but they still celebrate Christmas. Everybody recoginizes this Holiday. Some don't know why they celebrate it, but we do. This is a great time to remember Christ. A time when we can mention His name everywhere we go. And everybody can talk about Him, and it's "politically correct". We shout out "Merry Christmas" in all our acts as missionaries. We talk about Him, testify of Him, and invite others to come unto Him. Merry Christmas to everybody. I hope it is a good one.

I love you all!,

Elder Ross Watkins

Monday, December 13, 2010

Greetings From Sunny California!

President,

This week went really well in our area. Out of our six people with baptismal dates, five of them came to church! And one of them brought a friend! It was a really rewarding Sunday. I was happy to be able to speak in Sacrament while they were there as well. We have one investigator who has been progressing pretty well, but we found out he is on probation for the next three years. It is kind of a let-down, but we will try to get him active in church, so when the three years are up he can get baptized. We also found out about some Word of Wisdom and other problems we will have to work out with the family before they can get baptized. This family has been through a lot of trials in their lives, and on top of that, the mother is a single mother. So it really helps to have a member there to help keep things in order during the lessons, because the family is more attentive with a member present.

I'm really excited about the call to train a visa waiter. Being in a trio will be good, and we will all work hard together. Sorry I can't help him out with his Portuguese, but maybe I can taint his mind with some Spanish. We are working hard and the Lord is blessing us for our efforts.

Elder Watkins

So there's my report to president that I send to him.

Things have been going great. Our investigators are progressing! We have a few things to work out before they can get baptized, but at least they are on their way there! I'm happy to hear dad will be teaching the teens in church! That will be good. I got my package from G-ma and G-pa in Missouri! It is full of really really good food! Grandma made a big tin full of a tasty treat thing, and it's really addictive! I haven't received the package from home yet, but I should get it by this friday I think.

President called me last night and asked me if I would train an Elder who is waiting for a visa to go to Brazil! The MTC sends lots of visa waiters to this mission! So I will find out who he is tomorrow when I go up to the mission home, and we will be in a trio for the rest of the transfer! We will have a full house! This will be my third trio!

Today I went to a choir practice for our mission-wide Christmas devotional. The whole mission will be getting together on Christmas morning, and we will have a whole bunch of musical performances. I think we will be doing a service project as a zone on Christmas, but we don't know for sure right now.

The weather is HOT here. Yesterday was a really warm day! Wow! There are lots of Christmas lights and decorations all over the place too! I love telling people that we go up in the mountains every Thanksgiving and we cut down a pine tree, and drag it back to the truck in the snow. They all think that is pretty awesome. A lot of people here have real trees, but they are all store-bought.

Yesterday the ward choir sang in the Tongan ward. WOW! I've never heard such a beautiful ward choir! It was like half of the congregation was up on the stand, and they sang an amazing song, and it sounded like the Mo-tab! Of course, I didn't understand a single word they sang, but it was really loud and pretty! Tongans are really awesome people. They are really powerful in the gospel. The bishop of the English ward is a Tongan too. My talk in Sacrament Meeting went pretty well. I used the example of my first job, when we would dig the holes and pack the dirt for the foundations of houses. I remember when mom said that would be a good example to use in a talk, so I did it! Remember that mom?

I'm really excited to call home (or wherever I'll be calling)! I need grandpa's phone number! I hope this turns out to be an awesome Christmas for everybody! It's really nice being on a mission and not worrying about getting presents or anything, and just serving others. It helps me to focus on what is really important. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and this is His time of year. I love the Savior, and I am really grateful for God's plan for us. Let me know if there is anything I can do for anybody at home. Keep strong in the gospel, and everything will work out. I like to tell the people that we teach that the gospel is really simple-- we can keep the commandments and be happy, or we can break the commandments and be sad. It really is as simple as that. Those who keep the commandments are "blessed both spiritually and temporally" according to Mosiah 2:41. I love you all and I wish the best for you.

Love, your son, friend, brother, relative, napkin(alesha), and fellow servant of the Lord,

ELDER ROSS WATKINS

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Best and Worst Week

Family,
As you can tell, this past week was awesome/terrible! I couldn't believe that none of our investigators came to church! They all backed out! On Saturday 6 of our 8 appointments backed out or weren't home. Then yesterday after church we had appointments from 3pm to 6pm, but none of them were home! Then we had our dinner appointment, and our appointment after that wasn't home! It is really frustrating when we ride our bikes to people's homes, and they aren't there when we have an appointment with them. And on top of that, it was raining last night. I was way excited to set seven baptismal dates this past week! But it was devestating that none of them came to church. We will try as hard as we can to get them to church this next week. Yesterday an investigator called me and said that he had been reading his Book of Mormon a lot! I was really happy to hear that. His is on 1 Nephi 7 now! He said that his family was trying to get him to drink alcohol with them, but he said he remembered reading about temptation in the Book of Mormon, so he had the strength to resist! The Book of Mormon has POWER!
Guess what!? I ate HORSE MEAT last night! We ate with a Tongan family and they made really good horse meat for us! It reminded me of elk meat. It was kind of tough and gamey tasting, but it was pretty good. Apparently it was a horse from Utah! The Tongans get their horse meat from Utah!
This is the most trunky time of year! I really like the picture of you all in the mountains in the snow! I wish I could be there, but I have a work to do. The weather is really nice here. It is still warm enough to wear shorts and a t-shirt during the daytime. It gets kind of cool at night, but not enough to wear a winter coat.
My new zone is really awesome. We played dodgeball today for a p-day activity. Our zone is really successful right now, and we are finding lots of people to baptize.
I am making a big map of our area right now. You know how I love maps! I'm a map guy. And I'm planning on marking where all the members, less-active members, investigators, and potential investigators live. Maybe I'll send a picture after I'm finished.
I hope December is going really well for everybody! It sounds like you are going to have a ton of fun in Missouri. (Hey, while you are there, you should think about reserving a part of grandma and grandpa's backyard so we can build our house there when the saints are called to gather in Missouri). FIRE IN THE HOLE! Send me pictures! And Marty and Christy's family will be there too! Tell Sam and Jake Hi! Or maybe I'll just tell them hi when I call on Christmas! Send me grandpa's phone number. We will probably be calling in the evening, because we have free minutes after six I think. But I will find out.
Mom, Dad, I am working really hard! We are trying so hard to do this work, but it has been really really hard lately. We are having a hard time finding people at home and having set appointments. But we won't give up. Because I know that God has a work for me to do, and I will do it, no matter how hard it is at times. I know that Jesus is the Christ. God's plan is perfect. Hey guess what? I'm speaking about temples in Sacrament meeting next week. I'm excited. I really hope our investigators can be there next week.
I love you all. It was really good to hear from Emily and Lindsey this past week! Lindsey always has really funny letters! And that is awesome that Emily is so consistent in going to the Temple. She will be blessed a ton for that. It is really great to hear for dad too. I CAN'T BELIEVE AMANDA IS GETTING MARRIED! I got a wedding announcement from them. That is crazy! She will have a kid by the time I get home! She is too young. Oh well. That's life. I'm really glad she's getting married in the temple! That will be really awesome! Are you planning on going to that? I would. I'm glad to hear that the whole family is doing so well! I love you all. Keep working hard and doing the Lord's will, because it is so worth it! I had an experience with the Holy Ghost that I want to share! This past week we got a phone call to go give a blessing. So I grabbed my oil, and got ready to ride of on our bikes, but then I felt like I should grab my backpack. I didn't want to, so I ignored the feeling. Then Elder Doh, said that I should grab my backpack. But I ignored him. Then I felt impressed a third time to grab my backpack. So I went inside and put my backpack on, then left. We got to their house, and I got my oil out of my pocket to give the blesssing, and it was empty! Thankfully, I had an extra vile of oil in my backpack! It was awesome! I love you all! Bye!
Love, Elder Ross Watkins

Monday, November 29, 2010

HELLO FROM HAWTHORNE!



This is Jaime's baptism!


Where to start???!! This past week has been CRAZY! Wow! On Wednesday I got transfered down to Hawthorne. It is just south of Inglewood. I really like it a lot down here! I'm probably a 15 minute drive from my old area, but it is pretty different down here! I'm still on a bike. We have part of the LA International Airport in our area, and another, smaller airport as well. There are so many airplanes!! I'm going to fly airplanes when I grow up. We cover two wards! One of them is Centinela 1st ward, which is the English ward. And the other is Centinela 2nd ward, WHICH IS A TONGAN WARD!!!! It is really awesome! We have tons of Polynesians in our area! It is awesome! The Tongan ward is really awesome! They have an interpreter that sits in the front of the chapel, and she speaks into a headset, and we put on headphones and listen to the service in English, while the speakers speak Tongan. The Tongans are really good at singing too! The sing the hymns so loud! Most of the people speak English too, so it makes it easy for the missionaries. So each Sunday we go to the English ward, then the Tongan ward right after that. Also, Tongans feed us really well! I've eaten so much food since Wednesday! I've had octopus, raw fish, and all kinds of other stuff! I don't remember what country I'm in anymore!
My new companion is a whole other story! He is Asian! He is a refugee from the country Myanmar (formerly known as Burma). He speaks Burmese, Karen, and a little bit of Thai. He came to Utah as a refugee because Myanmar is so dangerous. He came to Utah about 3 years ago, and he was baptized there about a year and a half ago. He has an "American Family" that helps take care of him, and they are the ones that are paying for his mission. He is really awesome! He's a pretty funny guy, and a really hard worker. His name is Elder Doh. He has been on the news in Utah because he has an amazing story! His name is Hser Doh, but he went by Chapter Doh in Utah. Look him up on the Deseret News, or just search his name on the internet, and he says you will find something about him. His language is crazy. I think he said that only 8 million people speak Karen, which is his first language. He doesn't have contact with his family in Myanmar because it is so bad over there. But he stays in contact with his American Family. This is only his second transfer in the field, so I'm "greeny breaking" him.
My new district is really fun, and multi-cultural. We have 3 white boys from Utah, 2 Polynesians, 1 Latino, 1 Brasilian, 2 Japanese, and 1 from Myanmar (my companion).
As you read in my president's letter, this area is really dry right now. We hardly have any investigators. It won't be easy, but we will find some people to bring unto Christ. We are teaching a lot of less-actives. But I really want to find some new investigators. We have a really awesome family we are teaching. We just taught the Restoration last night, but their mom is really skeptical about our religion. Please pray for them. We are also teaching a really nice black woman. She tells us lots of neat things, but she is really hard to keep focused. She goes off on crazy tangents for 15 minutes, and it's hard to stop her. But she is good, and we are hoping to bring her to the church for a Relief Society activity this Wednesday.
I'm kind of sad about the English switch, but I get to speak Spanish every once in a while as we do door contacts and things. I'll keep studying too, and maybe I'll be a Spanish Elder again someday. But for now, I will "Lift where I stand", which is good enough for me.
Oh, and we will be doing e-mails on Mondays in this area.
Mom, I got the Thanksgiving package! Thank you! It is really yummy! And thanks for the e-mail Tania! When is Alesha graduating? I'll be she's really excited!
I love you all, and thank you for your support! The Lord's work is going forth. Maybe in a different way now, but it is still the same work. I know this church is true with all my heart. Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior and redeemer. The gospel has been Restored to the earth in it's fullness. God is our Father, and I love him. I love you all. Stay strong and keep doing the right thing, because it is way worth it!
Love, Elder R. Watkins

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I'LL GO WHERE YOU WANT ME TO GO

So the baptisms were really awesome this past sunday! I had the pleasure of baptizing . We had to commit him a few times before he was serious about it. I've seen him change a lot! We have been teaching him since I was with Elder Hopoate I think! But now their family seems so awesome! The have two little boys who will be awesome missionaries some day! It is really awesome to help families come together. And now they will have a strong family in the gospel, because three of their daughters are preparing for baptism, one in this area, and two in Mexico! There were actually a couple times where the missionaries were teaching their daughters in Mexico at the exact same time we were visiting Lilia here with her husband!
Hey mom, thanks for Cory's address! Thanks for the packages too! YUM! I made some really good smores! I got a package from G-ma and G-pa! Lots of candy and goodies! Thank you a whole bunch!
Ahora, tengo malas/buenas noticias. Now, I have good/bad news. Transfers are tomorrow, and I'm about to see a lot of change. I have to leave Jefferson Park! NOOOO! The Lord is sending me down to Hawthorn. I don't know much about Hawthorn, but it's south of Inglewood. And I will be breaking, which means I'm getting an elder who was just barely trained. I will be the senior companion, and I think I'm staying on bike. But, here's the worst part.........THEY ARE SENDING ME TO AN ENGLISH WARD!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm not too excited about that. I have been working so hard to speak Spanish, and now I'm going to be an English Elder. I do take comfort in knowing that it is what the Lord wants, though. But, I'm sure it will all turn out just fine. I felt like Spanish was really clicking lately. The Lord has blessed me a lot. During Priesthood this past sunday, they had me stand up and explain the gift of tongues, and I was able to explain, and share a short experience about learning Spanish, in the Spanish language. Hopefully they will put me in a Spanish area sometime in the future. But for now, I will do the best that I can in English.
Hey, I knew Elder Lakip! We talked about Chris a little bit. That is really nice of him to mention me to Chris!
Mom, you wanted to know the difference between Latino, Hispanic, and Chicano. Latino and Hispanic are the same thing. A Chicano is a person who was born in the USA, from parents who are Latino. My companion is kinda, partly Chicano, because his mom was born in Texas, but her parents are Mexicans. There are billions of Chicanos here. Basically all the kids our ward are Chicanos.
Happy Birthday mom! It sounds like you had a really good one! Oh yeah, I haven't received the Thanksgiving package yet, but I got the one before it just last week. I think we're a little behind on mail. Hey, I would like some international and regular stamps for Christmas. Boring, I know. Thanks for everything mom.
Emily, that is awesome that you are doing baptisms every tuesday! Keep doing that, and the Lord will bless you. That is awesome that Tyler is training! Lindsey, I'm sorry to hear about b-ball, but you will be the best manager that team has ever seen! Oh yeah, and brush your teeth so you don't get dentures some day! hahaha! I wish I could help cut down the tree this week, but I'll be busy doing the Lord's Work! Dad, sounds like the baptism was awesome. Can't wait to hear that story some day! Alesha, you are awesome!
Sorry, I don't have any time left! This church is true! Keep going forward!
Love, Elder Ross Watkins

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Last week of transfer #5

WOOO! Hey, I really liked the e-mail from Tania! But I have some good news for her! We are allowed to anybody in our family now! The old rule is gone! So Tania, feel free to send me e-mails, and I will respond! That includes the rest of the family too!
So we have this new thing we are doing in our mission. We are now supposed to write our letters to President through e-mail from now on. Sooo, since we don't get eternities on the computer, I will, from now on, give my report to president in my e-mails home, and I will just copy and paste it to his e-mail. That way I can let you all know at the same time. But, don't fret, I will write you all more than just my president's report. Sooooo, here goes the president's report:

I can't believe G-ma and G-pa are going on another mission! Maybe I didn't get that letter yet mom? I don't know. But that is pretty awesome! They can come work in the geneology center next to the temple here! That would be awesome! That would be sad if they left before I came home. But I'll go visit them wherever they are anyway!
Hey dad. Guess what. I've been doing 200 push-ups every morning! I'm going to be the toughest guy ever when I come home! I can almost feel my muscles breaking through my skin because they are growing so fast. You won't have a chance in an arm wrestle by the time I get back.
Happy Birthday mom! Is there anything I can send you? I think we are going to have a baptism on your birthday! So that will be awesome! Hey, mom, what is Cory's address? I haven't heard from him since he was in the MTC. How old are you going to be mom? You asked if Latinos celebrate Thanksgiving. Apparently they do. We are having a big Thanksgiving dinner this Friday night, and we are allowed to go if we bring investigators. Otherwise we can't. I miss your cooking mom. The food here is great, but nothing is like home.
Alesha is about to gradatate isn't she? I wonder if she learned anything in college. probably yes probably no.
Hey, for Christmas I get to talk on the phone for an hour, I think. That would be good to give me G-pas phone # so I can call you in Missouri. Hey mom, for Christmas I need some socks. I'm starting to wear holes in all of mine. Maybe a couple ties.
On Sunday we got back from church, and we tried to go visit some people, but nobody was home. So we ended up tracting for about 4 hours, with almost no success. People really didn't want to listen. But, in the last half hour, we found two people that accepted return appointments! The new problem we are running into, is trying to find Spanish speakers. We've tracted a lot of the Latino areas to death! But we are still trying. Last night we talked with a couple really drunk guys. They stopped us and wanted us to come over and teach them sometime. They were nice guys, just a little out of it.
Yesterday we had a big combined-zone activity behind the visitor's center. There is a big field back there, and we had the "Turkey Bowl". It was fun to be around a bunch of missionaries and play some good American football.
Family, the church is true. And it always will be! The Lord's work is going forth at a fast pace. I know Jesus Christ is our Savior. Testifying of Christ brings the Spirit. I love you all. Keep working hard, and the Lord will bless you for your efforts. Cuidense!
Con amor,
Elder Ross Watkins

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

ANOTHER BAPTISM, HIKE, AND LIZARD

Me and a lizard!
Me above the Hollywood sign. Buildings to the left are downtown L.A. and the hill to the right on the horizon is the south end of my mission. So this picture is my entire mission!
Elder Karnes, me, Efrain Juarez, and Elder Cruz at Efrain's baptism!


It has been another great week here in Jefferson Park. Efrain Juarez got baptized on Sunday! It was pretty awesome! The baptism was nice. His sister and his kids were there for it too. are hoping that his sister will get baptized this Saturday! She is the one that is visiting from Oaxaca, Mexico, and she wants to get baptized while she is up here. So we will be working hard with her. Elder Cruz came up for the baptism. It is good to see him again.

We just got back from Zone Conference. It was long. Our mission is going through a lot of changes lately because of our new president, President Baker. He is taking out many of the old, specific, "law of Moses" type of rules, and we will be following the rules in a different way. We focused a lot on the white handbook and following the Spirit. It will be a lot better than the old rule book we used to follow. Many of the same rules will stay, but we will be expected to follow them out of a desire to have the Spirit, instead of getting lost in a pool of rules like the people in Moses's time. Zone Conference was from 8 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon! I had a pretty big headache when we were done, but a learned a wnole lot. Also, starting on friday, texting will be activated on all of our phones so we can use it for missionary purposes. We are going HIGH TECH haha! President is asking the whole mission to read the Book of Mormon all the way through before the end of the year. We all got our own copies of the paperback Book of Mormon, and he wants us to mark every time we read Jesus's name. Sounds fun! Hopefully I can read fast enough to finish it! Elder Haslem was at our Zone Conference. He seems like he's doing really well! It is really neat to serve with a friend from high school!

The work is going well in our area. We are working hard and finding people. There is definitely no substitute for hard work. Some missionaries try to get around it. But hard work, with the Spirit, is the best way to do missionary work. I'm starting to find more and more joy serving a mission. At times it is really easy to get discouraged and sad, but that is not the way it is meant to be. Hard work with the Spirit tends to fix that. The other day I got sick! I woke up in the morning, and I didn't want to do anything. I just wanted to sleep in and "rest" so I could work better the rest of the day. But instead, I just went to work. I got up, got ready, studied, and went out to work. My nose was really really runny, and it dripped all the way to appointments as we rode our bikes. But it was well worth it! It ended up being a pretty fun day! Satan has cute little ways of trying to distract us, but we know better than he does. The best medicine for a sick Elder, is to go out and work (unless it's fatal, then a doctor would be a fancy choice). Elder Karnes and I have been busy fixing plenty of flat tires. Our area is covered in thorns, broken glass, and all kinds of other stuff, so we're experts with flat tires now.

On Sunday we were missing a few of our investigators at church. That was a bummer. Hopefully they will make it this next week, because it is hard to progress when they don't come to church.

Hey, guess what Grandpa Watkins!? I saw Catalina Island yesterday! In fact, I saw just about our entire mission, all at once (plus a few other missions)! Yesterday was a strangely clear day in Los Angeles! It rained early in the morning, and we hiked to the Hollywood sign again for p-day. There was almost no smog! It was a miracle! And that was when I realized how small our mission is. We looked out over Los Angeles, and we could see all the way down to the ocean, and Catalina Island, and some large ships! The Hollywood sign is just about the very northern tip of our mission, and we could see the very southern tip, and further! We could see the tall buildings down in Long Beach! It was pretty neat! And it was nice to get some fresh air! I caught a lizard too! I'll bet all the little cousin boys will think that is pretty neat!

Well, this church is still true! I'm really grateful for this opportunity I have to be out here! No matter where we are, the work still goes forth. We are working with lots of people, trying to help them recieve what God wants to give them. It is an adventure, and I've learned a lot so far. But there is still a whole lot more to do! There are people out there who are waiting for the greatest thing ever, but they don't know where to get it. We are a really blessed people. And God expects a lot from us.

Thanks for all of the support from everybody! Hey dad, that picture of our house is awesome! There are so many trees! I can't wait to see it! Thanks for the letters too! I pray for you all the time family! Keep working hard and being happy! I love you!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

BAPTISM, GRASSHOPPERS, AND AWESOME PEOPLE

This is at a ward activity, we had a El Dia de Espandid (Hispanic Day), it was a big ward party with losts of tables set up representing the different countries in our ward (Peru, Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala,Hondouras) We set up a table for the missionaries with a bunch of missionary and church materials. Missionaries don't usually get to go to these things but we were there for a missionary purpose, and we could stay if we had people there. This is were I met Lilia, Julio's wife, and she is getting baptized this month!

A dinner appointment with Julio and Lilia.


Me, with a chapoline in my mouth.



These are chapolines (grasshoppers), they are really tasty!




HELLO! Hi! It's me again! haha! We've had a super week again! WOOO I don't even know where to start. First off, I finally feel like Spanish is really clicking in my brain! About time eh? Haha! We have been working hard and speaking lots of Spanish, so that helps a lot!
We have been working hard with him for the past couple months. He was supposed to be baptized this past Sunday, but he couldn't get work off, so we will be holding the service this next Sunday! He is a super guy with really strong faith. He has had TONS of BIG trials in his life, but now the Lord has guided him to the correct path of eternal happiness! Awesome! wife is in the USA for a little while to visit. It turns out that she has been meeting with the missionaries down in Mexico! She will be here for a while, and she wants us to baptize her!!!!!!! WOW! She seems like a really awesome lady with really strong faith. She accepted to be baptized on the 21st of this month! We were att their house last night, and his wife made us a really good soup, and then they brought out a plate of CHAPOLINES!!!!! Remember when I was telling you about the grasshopper things they eat in Mexico?? Well, the brought a whole plate of them, and I ate many! mmmmm! Apparently they are more healthy than fish. But that's not found in the scriptures anywhere, so I'm not sure if it's true. But they are pretty tasty! You can eat their legs and everything! I'll try to attach pictures of them so you can see how delictable they look. Julio and she gave us a bag of them to take home as a special treat!
Well, today was another great temple p-day! It's super nice to be able to attend the temple! It is definitely the most peaceful place on earth. The L.A. temple Celestial Room is really really nice! It's like you walk into a dream! We are really blessed in this mission to be able to do work for the living and the dead. That is why I'm e-mailing on wednesday, because we postponed p-day for today for the temple. Hey mom, thanks for sending Elder Larsen's e-mails to me! It sure is good to hear from him! Also, I think Elder Seitz fell of the face of the earth. I haven't heard from him in eons. Hey mom, can you find out what Cody Walker's mission address is? Maybe the Larsens know???
It's really exciting to hear about the house! I can't wait to see it some day! (you should send pictures) We have been blessed a lot as a family! I really like seeing how our faith as a family has blessed us so much!
I'm really starting to love the Latino people. They are so awesome! For the most part, they are really nice, and willing to help other people out. I really want to go study abroad in a Spanish speaking country sometime after my mission. But that is too far away to talk about for now.
I saw Elder Jordan Haslem today at the temple! He has a companion from Chile, and he's really awesome! Elder Haslem has been in the same area for more than the whole time I've been here! He told me he spoke in his Spanish ward this past Sunday! It sounds like he's doing pretty well!
We have this investigator . We have been working really hard with her! The other day we had the most intense lesson I've had on my whole mission with her! She has gone to other churches, and was baptized in another church, and she has some really really deep questions. But the best way to answer deep questions is with simple answers. We are hoping she will recieve a testimony of this church by her prayers. Please pray for her so she can progress! She could be an awesome member someday! She has had lots of trials in her life, but we know that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can fix anything.
It is really awesome to think of how the Lord's work is going forth across the whole world! I love thinking about my friends in their missions all over the world, and we're all doing the same thing, inviting others to come unto Christ. I know this church is true with all my heart. Alesha, your testimony in your e-mail helped to strengthen my testimony as well. We are preparing the way of the Lord, and nothing can stop this work from going forth! I'M ENLISTED IN THE MOST POWERFUL ARMY ON EARTH! What a blessing! I'm so grateful for this opportunity the Lord has given me! I love you all and pray for you!
Love,
Elder R. Watkins

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

ANOTHER GOOD WEEK IN L.A. !

Our district from last transfer




Richards baptism
My companion Elder Karnes



Hi! We had another good week in L.A.! We have been working with the ward mission leader and the other missionaries in our ward, and we set up a big Family Home Evening for investigators and recent converts! It was good! We held it outside a member's house! And we watched a short movie, then we had the ward missionaries give short talks, then we had a recent convert share her testimony and conversion story. Then we had TONS of refreshments. Wow! If you ask Latinos to bring food, there will be lots! Mom, you asked some questions. We eat with members from our ward almost every night. Sometimes it makes for some long bike rides, but it is good! There are lots of members who are willing to feed the missionaries! Sometimes our investigators feed us too! I think that is how Latinos show their love for people. And if you don't eat all the food, or you don't want some of it, they get offended! So I eat TONS of food. I haven't been gaining much weight. I'm only about 10 pounds heavier than when I entered the MTC, but my clothes are getting tighter. I am a man! On Halloween we aren't allowed to work after 6 p.m. I really miss carving pumpkins! The weather is cooling off, but it doesn't get cold here. There are some trees that lose some of their leaves, but for the most part everything is green. It will be really weird when winter comes and there isn't any snow!
Hey! I need the new Bishop's information, our new address, our new ward, and stake information and everything because the mission home needs to know about all changes like that. It is really neat to hear about the new home! It sounds REALLY AWESOME! It is neat to hear that you are going "unplugged" for a little while! That sounds like a really good idea! You can feel like a missionary for a little while! We always have to ask people to turn off their TVs when we go over to their houses, unless they turn it off themselves. Sometimes we teach lessons when there are tons of distractions! It is really hard to focus! The worst is when we teach lessons outside and there are helicopters flying around and cars driving back and forth and sirens going off! This is a loud place! It still amazes me how big this city is. You can drive forever and ever and never get out of the city! Just straight buildings and houses! We have been meeting tons of homeless people lately. They ask us for food and money a lot because they think we are rich. We never give them money, but we do offer to buy them food (I learned that from uncle Weldon). The other day this woman wanted 50 cents, and I told her "no", but that I would buy her a sandwich instead. I asked her why she wanted the money and she said it was because she wanted to buy a beer. I offered to still buy her a sandwich, but she didn't accept because she just wanted money for a beer!
Hey! Do you have Cory's new mission address?? He is way over on the other side of the world now and I want to write him a letter!
Well, I don't have much time today! We need to hop on our bikes and blaze down to a dinner appointment a few miles away. I know this church is true! It has power to change lives! I'm really grateful for my awesome family! I wouldn't be here if it weren't for you! I love you all, Mom, Dad, Alesha, Andrew, Emily, and Lindsey! Stay happy and strong in the gospel! Because nothing else will last forever!
Muchy love!,
Elder R. Watkins

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

I'M SENIOR COMPANTION,SAME AREA

Seasons greetings! 'Tis the season to preach the gospel!!! I just started my fifth transfer last wednesday! I'm still in the same area, Jefferson Park. My new companion is from Tucson, Arizona, and his name is Elder Karnes. He's a good guy. We get along pretty well. He is half Mexican, but was born in Arizona, so he is learning Spanish along with me. His dad is in the Air Force, so he lived in England for a year before he came out on his mission, so he's technically an "international missionary". We've been working hard together. They made me the senior companion! It is good. We've been finding lots of people to teach. We were tracting last week and we knocked on a woman's door and we asked if we could teach her out on her porch. So we taught her the Restoration, and we found out that some of her relatives are members of the church. We will be going back on Saturday to teach her and her husband together. And she accepted to go to church on Sunday! The Lord is definitely helping us find those who are ready!

Mom, you asked some questions. Yes, many many of the people here are illegal haha! It actually comes up a lot in conversations. There are thousands of illegal immigrants here. But they are really nice people. Sometimes we hear stories about family members getting deported and things like that. It is really hard on families. I talked to one man who walked and swam for 3 MONTHS from Peru to get to Los Angeles! Some of them like it here, but many of them like there home countries better, and they are just here for work.

I can't believe everything about the new house! What a blessing! I I'm excited to see the pictures! Dad, a cow would be awesome! Trees, streams, stars at night, open land, fresh air, deer, no nearby neighbors, and the canyon sound super awesome! Woo! When I come home I'm going to be a sheperd, and I will raise sheep on our property. I'm not going to college. I would rather tend to the animals. haha just kidding! But that sounds like a dream land!

The weather has been cooling off a lot lately. There has been a lot of light rain lately, and I heard it's going to be cool all week. I really like the weather right now!

I got a letter from Elder Larsen, and he sent me a picture of his city Crato! It looks way nice! He wrote me some Portuguese, and it is really similar to Spanish! I haven't heard from Elder Seitz from the Baltic mission yet though. I'll bet it takes forever for mail to get over here. I didn't get Elder Larsen's letter until 3 weeks after he sent it. I got a really nice package from the Horton family! They sent me a bunch of treats and a card! It was really good to hear from them!

Yesterday for p-day we had a zone activity, then afterward some of us got together and played some street soccer on an outdoor basketball court! It was really really fun! Definitely one of my favorite p-days! I feel like an old man today because I haven't played soccer in such a long time. My huge muscles are pretty sore.

We have been teaching some pretty awesome people here! It amazes me every day that we continue to find so many people who are willing to listen to us! Our investigator is progressing really well! He is going to get baptized on the 31st! He is a really awesome guy from Oaxaca, Mexico, and he has a really good fellowshipper! Pedro is doing well too! He is trying to quit drinking coffee so he can get baptized! But he is going back to El Salvador next week, and he won't be back until December. So we hope we will be able to help him get baptized when he gets back! This past Sunday was a really good day! We had so many people come to church!! Lots of the recent converts and less-actives we are working with came to church. We also have a new investigator. Her husband recently left her to go to Mexico, and she is looking for some happiness. She came to church on Sunday, and we will be meeting with her tonight! We hope everything goes well!

We are planning a big FHE activity for all the recent converts and investigators in our ward! We have three companionships that work in our ward, and we are having them invite their recent converts and investigators to a member's house, and we will have a big lesson, and activity, and some refreshments. We're hoping it will be good for new members and investigators to meet eachother and have a good time!

Guess what?! I found a Krispy Kream Doughnuts in our area!

I love you family! I pray for you every day! It's always good to hear from you! Estoy muy agradecido por su apoyo por mi, y la obra del Senor. Les agradezco por todo que me han dado! Mi mision no seria posible sin su ayuda. Cada dia yo doy gracias al Senor por ustedes. Les quiero mucho! Mi ruedo es que puedan seguir adelante en lo que el Senor nos ha establecido, lo qual es Su evangelio. Se que por medio sus ensenanzas, podemos vivir para siempre jamas en los cielos con nuestro Padre Celestial. Vayan con Dios! I love you all a ton! I know this church is true! I'm really glad you are all doing so well.

Love,
Elder R. Watkins

P.S.- If you send a package in the future, I would really like some regular "conservative" ties, they are nice. Dad, I wear your brown tie you wore on you mission! I wear it all the time and tell people my dad wore it on his mission! Orale pues, tengo que irme, andale! I also don't have my camera right now! I'll try to send some pics next week!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

BAPTISM, SLEEP TALKING,& FLAT TIRE!


hELLO! First BIG NEWS! RICHARD SOSTRE GOT BAPTIZED ON SATURDAY!!!!!! It was really really awesome! We've been working really hard with him since June or July, and now he has finally entered the waters of baptism. It has been amazing to see him find comfort in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a gospel of repentance and CHANGE! And he has changed a lot for the better. We set his baptismal date for this past sunday, and we had the baptismal service organized and everything, WOO! Sure makes me glad to be a missionary for our Lord!

Transfers are tomorrow! I think I'm staying in my area for at least one more transfer, which is a good thing because we have so many good people to teach right now! Elder Cruz has been called to go be a trainer next transfer, so he'll be leaving tomorrow and I'll get a new companion. I've learned a lot from Elder Cruz; lots of Spanish, teaching skills, and how to work well with the ward. So now, thanks to him, I'm a better missionary.

Funny stories! The other day Elder Cruz told me that I sat up during my sleep and started quoting a scripture!!! Also, I've started dreaming in Spanish! I hear that is a good sign! And, the other night, I was having a dream, and Cory Seitz said something really funny, and I laughed so hard that I woke myself up!!! I didn't even know that was possible!!

Elder Cruz and I were riding our bikes last week, and I rode over some weeds that were growing on the sidewalk. Then I heard a sound as I was riding, so I looked down, and saw that my front tire was covered in THORNS! I started laughing, then we stopped and looked at my tires and they were COVERED IN HUNDREDS OF THORNS! Both my tires were caked in little pokies! So we scraped all the thorns off, and I heard lots of air coming out of my back tire, so we blazed back home! I was riding on the rim by the time we arrived at our apartment. I took the tube out and I found six holes (which is a miracle, because there were TONS of thorns). The tube already had 5 patches in it from previous flats too! We didn't have enough patches, but then I found another tube in our apartment which only had one hole in it. So I patched up that tube and we were off again! Amazingly, my front tire survived with only minor injuries.

So that is all the crazy stories I can think of.

I don't have my camera today, so I won't be able to send pictures. oops. I'm pretty sure you remember what I look like. If you forgot already, fear not, I will send pictures next week.

I'm excited to hear that you are moving this week!!!!!! I really want to see pictures of the house! Dry Fork! We will have lots of fun up there! (Dad, we are building a potato gun when I get home)

Hey mom, remember how you said that I would use my music skills here. Guess what? You were right! Again. I get to play for sacrament meeting each week, and for lots of other church meetings! It is great! And guess what? I'm learning new hymns. So MAYBE I'll be better than you when I get home.

How good are Alesha's hearing aids? I'll bet she could hear Jordan yell "DIRT" from Vernal. Mom, you asked what the majority of the culture is here. It really just depends on the area. In my area we have lots of people from El Salvador and Guatemala and Mexico. There are also people from Belize. And many other places too. And yes, there are tons of stores where we can buy Latino food!

Well, it has been an awesome week in Los Angeles. The work is going really well. We are finding and teaching lots! We are doing our best to find the people that have been prepared for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are lots of ready people, it's just up to us to find them and help them find the fullness of the Gospel. I know that this Church is true. It has the power to take a regular person and transform them into a servant of God. I'm grateful God has given me the opportunity to serve as a missionary so I can help others and grow personally at the same time. Jesus is the Christ. We have living revelation. And we are all part of this great and last harvest. I have all the reason in the world to be the happiest man on earth! I love you all, and I pray for you. I'm glad the family is doing well. I'm really glad to have a family based in the Gospel. Keep doing good and stay strong, and the Lord will bless you. Good luck moving. I wish I could help, but I have something more awesome to do haha! May God be with you and guide you where you should go!

Love,

Your loving son, friend, relative, or mere aquantiance,

Elder R. Watkins



Tuesday, October 5, 2010

HI, IT'S ME AGAIN!

This is a huge graffiti mural a couple blocks from our apartment.



Hello! This past week was a really good one! First off, it rained yesterday! WOOOO! It was the most moisture we have received since I got here! We were riding our bikes in the rain yesterday evening and it felt really really nice! The weather has cooled down a lot since last week. GENERAL CONFERENCE WAS WAY AWESOME! They just keep getting better and better. I really really liked Priesthood sesson! It was super good. I saw Ammon Flake in the MTC choir during Priesthood sesson! The talks were all really really good. I watched the first session in Spanish! Elder Christofferson did the Spanish voice for his talk, and he has really nice Spanish! Elder Richard G. Scott does the Spanish translation for his talks too! I watched the rest of the sessions in a different room in the Chapel where they had a TV in English. Needless to say, it made a lot more sense in English.

Oh, hey mom. Since you're moving and everything, I have a request. It's kinda crazy...... But you should definitely keep the microwave! It is a relic of our family heritage, and if you get rid of it, things just wouldn't be the same. And also, you need to plant rhubarb at the new house. Thank you for the letters from Tyler and Cory's e-mails. It's always really nice to read about how they are doing. Hey, I've heard about Bodey's conversion a little bit, but I want to know the story! Cory said it was really good in his e-mail you sent me!

I got a letter from Grandma and Grandpa Watkins! They are clear over on the east coast! I'll bet they are having a nice time over there. It's always nice to hear from family!

We have been teaching this guy . He is a Mexican from Mexico (haha), and he is really awesome! He has met with missionaries before, but he had never accepted baptism. He was at church one day with his friend (who is a recent convert), and we set up an appointment with him. He is great! He reads, prays, goes to church, and he is preparing for baptism this month! He has been prepared for us, and now he is about to make his first step!

Hey, I have a question. How many missionaries are in Vernal? There are tons and tons of missionaries here. We have 3 companionships in our ward. But I only remember seeing missionaries ever once-in-awhile back at home. Missionary work here is way different from Utah though. I heard that the missionaries in Utah just go to referrals all day and they never tract. I think Alesha and Andrew and Dad could answer that one.

We just got in from a couple hours of tracting just barely. Not much success though. We ran into a couple people who had talked to missionaries before. And we got a referral for the missionaries in Palmdale, CA.

Transfers are coming up next week! Who knows what will happen! I'm guessing I will stay. I talked to Elder Jordan Haslem the other day. He was at our stake center to watch General Conference. He has been with the same companion since before I got here! 5 transfers! That is a really long time! I would like to stay here for 1 or 2 more. I found out that they can switch us between Spanish and English programs because I was called "bilingual". So they could send me English. But I will do what the Lord wants.



I love you all! I hope everything is going well at home. It was kind of sad missing out on crepes for conference! But that means they will taste that much better when I come home! Hey mom, feel free to send me packages with warm chicken pinwheels. I pray for you all, and I know the Lord has blessed us a lot!

I know this church is true! I know we have a living prophet! I really liked the emphasis on faith in the living prophets during conference. There are a lot of people that have a really hard time believing that there are living prophets today. We are really blessed to live during these times of the fullness of the gospel! I know that Jesus is the Christ, and we can become clean through His atonement. Have a super good week!

Love, Elder R. Watkins



Tuesday, September 28, 2010

HOT, HOT HOT!

This is the mission home, you can see the temple in the background. It is going to be demolished and rebuilt soon.
Elder Cruz and Elder Watkins


This is me first thing in the morning!


First off, thanks for the package and letters! The elderberry jelly is really really tasty! And the rhurbarb jam is as good as ever! They will be all gone really soon. And thanks for the camera charger! I can take pictures again! YAY! I'll try to attach some pictures to this e-mail.

The weather has gotten REALLY hot lately! I don't know where it came from! It was nice and cool last week, but then on Sunday the temperature went way up. I heard yesterday was supposed to be 106! We would ride our bikes to appointments and once we got inside, my whole body would start leaking sweat! The worst part is that most of the apartments and houses here weren't built with air conditioning. For some reason they all have heaters, but no AC. Our apartment was super hot last night. I took a cold shower before bed because I was really sweaty, but then I just started sweating once I got out. Hot! But it's all good because we're doing the work of the Lord! I'm sure this weather is nothing compared to Tyler's mission though!

Things have been going pretty well in our area. We have been really busy with appointments, riding our bikes all over the area. last week I went on splits with one of the zone leaders, Elder Ortiz, in my area. We found this old man , and we started teaching him. Elder Ortiz was really bold with him,. But now he is progressing and doing really well! He started reading the Book of Mormon, and he says he believes everything we teach him! He is planning on attending church next sunday! He accepted the baptismal committment, so we are planning on baptizing him in the near future! He is a really humble man. I really like teaching humble people. They are a whole lot easier to meet with.

I really liked all the letters from the cousins and aunts and uncles! I can't believe Drew got knee surgery! I liked the picture of him and Keaton running in the parade. I liked all the burned letters too! I would have done the same thing if I was there! I liked all the pictures grandma put in the packet. It's nice to see and hear how everybody is doing! I'm really grateful for our awesome family! We are really blessed to have such a united family! I don't know what I would do without them.

Mom and Dad! You are online right now! That is super craZy! This is the closest I'll get to talking to you until Christmas! hahah! By the way, I am serious. I want a Christmas tree for Christmas. 8 ft tall. Short needles. Maybe some snow too.

Elder Cruz and I are doing really well together. I'm betting that I stay in this area for at least one more transfer. President wants everybody to start staying in their areas for longer periods of time now. He wants us to stay for 5 or 6 transfers, which is a really long time, because a transfer is a month and a half long! That means I could end up only having four areas my whole mission! But whatever the Lord wants is fine with me.

Mom, have you ever heard of Arroz con Leche (Rice with Milk)? It is a really good desert that the latinas make. I'm trying to get the recipe from a recent convert, and I'll send it to you.

We are teaching a guy . He is the husband of our recent convert . WE have been trying to get him baptized, but he is a tough cookie. He has a testimony, but he wants time before he gets baptized. We don't want him to procrastinate his repentance, so we will work hard with him! Pray for him so they can have a family of members!

I love you all, and I thank you for your prayers and support. I pray for you, and I'm really glad everything is going so well at home! Keep working hard and the Lord will bless you! I know the true gospel has been restored to the earth. I'm very grateful for it's influence in my life.

Love, Elder Watkins

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Bike Wreck, Grasshopper and a Fireside


First off, thanks for all the letters and everything! It is really helpful to hear from everybody so often! And secondly, I'M SUPER EXCITED ABOUT THE HOUSE! I can't believe it! We're going to be Dry-Forkians! Nature! Wooooooo! If I weren't in a library I would probably jump for joy! That is really really good news. Plus, we will be close to the Larsen family! Wooooo! I know the Lord has heard our prayers.

This past week was full of really really good stuff hahaha! Elder Cruz had a little encounter with a car the other day! Haha! We were riding in a parking lot, and Elder Cruz turned around to tell me something, and right as he turned around a car pulled in front of him and he hit it straight on! Hahahaha! I didn't even have time to tell him to watch out! I just said WOAH, then he smacked into it, and it knocked him off his bike! He hit his head on the car (luckily he had a helmet on), and his handlebars got twisted. The man got out of his car and asked him if he was OK, and while he was doing that, I looked at the car and saw that the car was worse off than Elder Cruz hahaha! It had a nice dent in the front left fender and a few scratches. Elder Cruz was fine though. He straightened his handlebars, and we were off doing missionary work.

We just barely got back from the woman's house. She is a less-active woman who the Bishop asked us to go see. We first met with her about two weeks ago, and we found out that she had lost her job and had to move because she couldn't pay the rent. We've been meeting with her lately because things have been really hard for her, and she has been coming to church again. She will be moving up to Utah in the near future to look for a job. She hardly has any money at all. It is just her and her son who live in the house. They barely have any food at all, and most of their furniture is gone. But she is really nice, and she really wanted to feed us. So she, with her daughter's help, prepared a nice lunch for us today. It was amazing to see a woman with so little, prepare such a great meal for a couple of missionaries. We sat in the living room, with boxes as tables, and she fed us really good carne asada that she cooked outside on a little grill. The people here are very humble and loving.

The other day we were at (our recent convert), and we were sitting at the table eating bread and hot chocolate (it's super good the way they make it). And there was a bug on the table, and she started telling us that the bug was called chapolin, and her son Bryan picked it up and ate it!!!!! AH! She told us that in Oaxaca, Mexico, they eat these chapolin bugs. Chapolin is Spanish for grasshopper!!!! Haha! Her mother sent a whole bag of them from Mexico because they don't sell them here. So the brought out the bag and asked us if we wanted any. I TRIED ONE! It was kind of salty and weird, but not too bad. It was just kind of gross because we were eating hot chocolate and sweet-bread. Grasshopper. That, so far, is the weirdest thing I've eaten on my mission....so far.

Oh yeah, just to settle the argument: Yes, I did whitewash the "U". Emily, mom is always right. It's not even worth fighting it any more.

On Sunday we had a really good experience! Elder Cruz, our ward mission leader, and a bunch of us other missionaries have been organizing a fireside about missionary work! We have been working on it for a few weeks. We got together four special musical numbers and three speakers and it was amazing! I got to sing in 3 of the musical numbers! And an Elder and a Sister sang an awesome duet for the other one! Elder Cruz was one of the speakers, and he gave a really good talk. And we had a returned missionary speak, and a member of the stake presidency. It was a really awesome meeting. I got to play the organ for the opening and closing hymns too! Wooo! It was really uplifting and we had a good turnout too!

Sunday was also stake conference. There were soooo many people there! It went way back to the stage!

This past week we had an interesting situation with a man. He is the guy that got married a little while back so he could get baptized. His probation ends next month, so we are really excited for his baptism. But last week he was having some serious financial/work issues. We were working in our area, and I had the idea to call. So I called him and asked how he was doing, and he gave a really sad "not too good" answer. So we went straight home and made some cookies really fast, then we took them over to their house. When we showed up, he was standing outside their apartment, on the verge of tears. Things weren't looking too good for his family, and they were going to have to move because they wouldn't be able to pay the rent. So we came back a couple days later and he had gotten a job at another place! It was a miracle! He seemed 100% happier. We explained that the Lord blesses us when we keep His commandments. Their family hadn't been coming to church, and he hadn't been reading his scriptures or praying. So we comitted them to start reading, praying, and coming to church. They seem to be doing much better now!

I'm glad to hear that things are going so well at home! It's weird to think of all the changes that are happening while I am over here. Going home will be a whole new adventure, but that's forever away! haha. Mom, you asked if there is anything I want for Christmas. Well, I would like an 8 foot tall pine tree. Preferably short needles. And ornaments. Not a fake tree. Live. That is all.

How is school and work going? Is Emily the Homecoming Queen?? If not, she is still the same awesome sister that I love! I'm really happy to hear about the house! That will be a really fun change! We might need to equip our cars with brushguards so we can protect them from all those deer who play frogger on the roads up there.

I love all so much! I am very glad for this gospel in our lives! I know that we have been blessed a lot. This restored gospel is true. Nobody could persuade me otherwise. I know that Jesus is the Christ. I love you all! Have an awesome week!

Love,

Elder Ross Watkins





Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Beans Made By A Gringo!


We had another good week in Jefferson Park. We have some great people we are working with. How is everything at home?? I haven't heard from anybody except for Emily and Tyler for a while. It sounds like Emily is having a ton of fun at UHS! Woo! Those were some good years! I'm glad to hear she is doing super well! School will probably be a little more relaxing without Student Council and Drill Team too. Enjoy relaxing in high school while you can! But still work super hard! What is the news on our house? Is it selling? How are Cory's parents? It must be weird for them to have their oldest child gone for good! He sounds like he is doing really well in the MTC, so that is good to hear. How is work for mom and dad? Is Lindsey liking school?

This past week was a super fast one! Time is going by fast fast fast! Haha I have a funny story! I've been trying to make beans lately, because they are really yummy when the Latinos make them. I have already failed making them once, but I decided to try again on Sunday. The first step for making beans is to soak them in water for 24 hours. So I did that. Then the second step is to slow cook them for a couple hours. So I tried doing that. I turned the burner on a low temperature, then we left the apartment. About 2 hours later I thought "oh no! I left the beans on the burner! Our house is going to be on fire when we get back home! There will be smoke everywhere! I'm going to get kicked out of this mission! I need to go back home and check the beans!", so about a half hour later we arrived at the house. We could smell the beans from the street outside our apartment. I said "I can smell burnt beans!", so I rushed inside. Thankfully there wasn't any smoke. But I found a pot of dried, burnt, stinky beans. And the pot sprayed brown bean-juice all over the oventop! It made the house smell like coffee! And our apartment still stinks! It turned out that I didn't put enough water in the beans, and I left them on the burner too long, so it made for a really crispy mess! Gringos aren't meant to make beans, but I'm determined to get it right next time!


My mission is going really well. It seems to get better and better! Elder Cruz is a good companion. I'm thinking I'll probably stay in this area maybe one more transfer. But this might be my last here. I don't know really haha I just like to speculate.

Ooooohhh! Try saying this word: PARANGARICUTIRIMICUARO. It is the longest Spanish word I know! Spanish is starting to get better and better. It definitely helps having a Spanish speaking companion. He has a different accent than the Latinos here though, because his parents are from the islands.

Another funny story. Yesterday we bought chips and cheese to make nachos like we make them at home in Vernal. My companion is a Latino, and he has never had nachos the way we make them. HE LOVES THEM! He will probably eat them every meal until they are all gone. And, about 2 weeks ago, I showed my companion how to make Ramen the way I like it. He fell in love with Ramen, and he ate it every day until it was all gone!

Last week we had interviews with President Baker. He is awesome! He is a really good man. He used to swim for the BYU swim team too! He is a really smart guy.

I fixed another flat tire yesterday, and I had to buy another tire because my tread got a hole through it and the tube would poke through. I'm trying to not use my money from my home card, but we aren't allowed to use the mission money for stuff like bikes and personal things. We can use it just for food, hygene, and cleaning stuff.

I got to confirm Adriana in church on Sunday! It was pretty neat. It was in Spanish and everything! This past Sunday was kind of a let-down. Not very many of our people came to church, and appointments fell through. Sunday on the mission is either the best day of the week, or it's the worst day of the week. But the day ended up being pretty good, because we went up to the Visitor's Center with a recent convert and his wife. She is a new investigator. Elder Hopoate and I taught her a while back, but she wasn't very interested. Elder Cruz and I think there might be some potential though. We haven't been able to get her to church yet. Her husband really wants her to join the church and he really wants to have an eternal family. He has a strong testimony, and he shares it a lot. She just needs to find out for herself if the church is true, and that is what we are there for.

Our investigator should be getting baptized next month! He is the one that got married last month. His probation will end in October, so I'm really excited for that. He has recently missed a lot of church though because of work. But he is trying to find another job so he can go to church on Sundays. I wish we could just have a bus so we could pick up everybody for church on Sundays! Sometimes that is the hardest thing, getting people to church! Lots of people work, or they don't have a car, or they don't try hard enough to get there. Yeah. Mission busses. But, part of God's Plan is agency, and if they don't choose to go to church, then they don't want salvation bad enough. Or they just don't understand how important church is. Oh well. I still like the mission bus idea.

I know this church is true. This life is just a brief moment, and if we endure it well, there are many blessings that await us! I love you family! I'm so glad we can one day be eternal! I know that Jesus Christ's gospel has been fully restored in these latter days! I'm very grateful for the knowledge I have of this awesome plan!

Have a suuuuuuuuuuuper week.

Love, Elder Ross Watkins



Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Baptism!

This is the Coliseum at USC, we ride by sometimes.

Hello, hello, hello again! HAAAAAAPPPPPYYYY BIRTHDAAAAAYY TOOOOO LINDESEEEEEYY! WOOOOO IT'S YOUR BIRTHDAY LINDSEY! THAT IS A VERY GOOD THING! IT MEANS YOU ARE ONE STEP CLOSER TO HAVEING GRAY HAIR! WOOO! I HOPE YOU HAVE THE BEST BIRTHDAY IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD!!!
everything is going really well. Alesha, your trip to D.R. sounds way awesome! You made my companion trunky (miss home) with the pictures you sent. It looks like a really nice place. Wooo! speaking of vacations, I'm here in the best mission ever! Things are going really well. our zone went through a bunch of changes this past week. They put a whole bunch of sister missionaries in our zone. We have about 10-12 sisters in our zone now. Some of them work at the Visitor's Center. We've been trying to take as many people to the visitor's center as possible, because it helps investigators and recent converts a whole lot. The visitor's center and the Temple are both in our zone, so they aren't very far away. But we don't have a car, so we get rides from recent converts, investigators, or we take the bus (the bus is really awesome because there are all KINDS of people in there).
So on Sunday we had an awesome baptism! It was really amazing! She brought her husband and both her kids to church too. It was the frist time her husband had been to church. We are going to work hard with him to try to get him baptized too. The baptismal service was really nice, and we did a couple of musical numbers. Elder Johnson and I sang "I Stand All Amazed" in Spanish and it invited the spirit really well. Then Elder Cruz and I sang "Te Hallare mi Amigo", which is a song about missionaries finding their friends and teaching them the Gospel. It was a really nice service.
I have a good story! So on Saturday, Elder Cruz and I rode our bikes from our chapel to our house, which is only about 3 miles. We decided to count all the churches along the road. WE COUNTED 30 CHURCHES IN 3 MILES! And they were all different churches, and only one of them was completely true (ours). And that was just one road. There are TONS of others all throughout our area. The End
Dad, I really want to hear some of your mission stories, and what your mission was like. Andrew too. I'll bet you had some awesome experiences!
Mom, thanks so much for the package! MMMMMMMMmmmmm! you definitely know what kind of stuff I like. That orange-chocolate stuff almost put me in a coma because it was so good. And apricot jam is a reaalllyy good choice. It was a relief to have some doughnuts too. Doughnuts are like medicine. I can't go too long without them or else I start losing my focus and I go cross-eyed. So thanks a bunch.
It is cloudy today! WOOO! I really miss overcast days. The clouds almost always go away around midday here, and it rarely rains. It has not rained all summer. I love you all a whole bunch. I know this church is true with all my heart, and I know it changes peoples lives. That is one of the best things of the whole thing, is watching people change into happier people. Since his baptism and confirmation, he has turned into a different person. He seems so much happier and more kind now. It is amazing. Keep working hard. I love you all! have a super week!
Lover, Elder Watkins

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Flat Tires and Great Experiences

The work is going really really well. We couldn't be blessed more. We have seen so many blessings and miracles lately, it is truly amazing. Elder Cruz and I are working well together. Transfer #4 starts on Wednesday, and Elder Cruz and I will be staying together in Jefferson Park. I am glad I'm not moving. I love this area and the people here. Our ward is doing really well too. Spanish is still a big hurdle to leap, but I'm trying hard to leap over it! I try to spend a lot of time reading the Spanish Book of Mormon, because I know there are promised blessings for those who read it in a foreign language. All I can do is work hard, and I know the Lord will make up for what I can't do. Hey mom, I finally finished Jesus the Christ! It is probably the biggest book I've ever read! But I've never learned so much from a book in my whole life! I really enjoyed reading out of it each morning! My testimony has grown so much of Jesus Christ! I know that he lives and that he is my personal Savior. God's plan is perfect. I am so grateful for the knowledge I have of His Plan of Happiness. And I am very grateful that I can have an Eternal Family.
Yesterday at Church I had a really good experience. It all started on Saturday night. We stopped by a member's house, but the member wasn't there, so we talked with his inactive son. His name is Luciano. He hadn't been to church in over 5 years! So we invited him to come to church with us. He wasn't too certain, so we said we would come by in the morning before church and pick him up, then we would all ride bikes to church together. So the next morning we went by his house and we all rode to church together. After we got there, we saw his mom there. You should have seen her when she saw her son at church! She went up and hugged him and said "I love you", and it made my day! She was so happy to see her son at church for the first time in 5 years! Then later that day, we went to the Visitors' Center with his mom and dad and a friend they have. We are going to start teaching their friend this week! WOOO!
We had another really good experience the other day! We got a referral from Church Headquarters for a guy who lives in our area. So we went over to his house and we started talking to him. His name is Mario. He works with an LDS man who referred him to the church. He has already read some of the Book of Mormon, he has read the Joseph Smith History, he reads the Bible, he has already seen "Finding Faith in Christ", and he reads "Jesus the Christ"! And he told us he feels that it is true! He already has a testimony! I was amazed while we were talking with him! He is a very nice guy too. We talked about how families are really important to the Church. Then we set up an appointment with him so his whole family could be there for the lesson! I'm excited to go back and visit him!
Today has been a really good p-day! We had a zone activity at the Stake Center and we all played volleyball and basketball, then we ate some really good Guatemaltecan food that a member prepared for us! I had a blast playing volleyball! I'm thinking about coming home and trying out for BYU if they don't draft me in haha! Then most of the zone went and hiked up to the Hollywood sign, but we stayed here with our District Leader.
We have been having lots of flat tires lately haha! We've spent a lot of time patching up tubes, buying new tubes/tires, and going to the gas station to fill them up! This area has a lot of junk and thorns on the roads, so the Elders here get tons of flats! By the time I get home my tire will be pure patches, with no parts of the original tube showing. Y asi es la obra misional.
Did you get the pictures last week?? I hope so. The computer was acting really weird, so I don't think they went through.
So Cory and Cody are both in the MTC! I've heard from both of them in the past couple weeks. Cory sounds like he is a pro at Russian, and Cody says Samoan is pretty crazy! It's going to be really weird when we all come together, because we are all learning different languages. Tyler and David are both Portuguese. Cory is Russian. Cody is Samoan. I'm Spanish. Hopefully they don't forget English, or we'll be in real trouble.
So how is everybody at home? Is school going well? I'm excited to find out when things work out with the house! That will be a good day! I'll bet everybody is really busy with school and everything! I can't believe Alesha and Andrew are both taking 18 credits! That is insane! I could never do that! They are both going to have grey hairs in no-time! Oh yeah, and how was their trip to the Dominican Republic? Did they learn any Spanish? DR Spanish is really different from Central American Spanish. They have a different accent and different slang too. My companion speaks with a DR accent because his mom is from there. I'm excited for Emily and her Senior year! That is pretty awesome! Is Lindsey going to play indoor soccer this year? Is dad tearing up the pavement on his two-wheeled terror machine? By the way, I really want to drive that when I get home. And how is mom? Mom if you ever get bored, feel free to send tons of homemade jam. The bad part about the jam is that my companions like it too. So it disappears a little faster than I would like. NEED JAM haha, the store-made stuff just doesn't cut it. Oh yeah, Dad, when I get home I'm going to BEAT you in an armwrestle. Left hand or right hand, you pick. And if I beat you, that means Andrew goes down too. That will be a nice day hahahaha!
Life seems better than it has ever been before. I'm happy and doing well. Thank you so much for your prayers. I hope everything at home is well too. I love you all. I'm grateful for this opportunity I have to serve the Lord, full-time, for two years. I know this gospel is true. Jesus is the Christ. There is no doubt in my mind that he is our Savior. Through him, we can have eternal happiness, and there is nothing greater than that. Let me know if there is anything you want or need. Pictures of certain things, or weird stories, or anything. Elder Cruz and I will keep working hard to invite others to come unto Christ. Have a SUPER week! I love you all.
Love,
Elder Ross Watkins

Thursday, August 26, 2010

6 Full Months of Service!

Hello! Today is my official 6 month mark! It has gone by really fast! It is weird to think that I was just starting fall semester this time last year! I was talking to a USC student yesterday when we were at a bike shop, and he said school started yesterday. Our area is really close to USC. And the chapel we go to is across the street from campus. I also talked to a student from Taiwan, oooooh neat!
I tried attaching some pictures to this e-mail, but I'm not sure if they will send. So if they don't come, it's the thought that counts. Thanks for the pictures from Alesha! It sounds like she had a really good birthday. She is getting really really old, and is almost a woman haha. Oh mom, you wanted to know where I am in Los Angeles. I'm not in any of those areas you listed, I am right in the middle of "Los Angeles". From my area we can see the tall buildings of downtown to the east, and we can see the Hollywood sign straight to the north, and we can see the tall buildings in Santa Monica to the west. So I am in the middle of L.A. Oh, and thanks for the letters from Tyler's and Cory's blogs! It is good to hear how they are doing! You asked if I see Jordan Haslem. I've seen him a lot! This mission is so small that we get to see other missionaries all the time. I actually just saw him yesterday at Zone Conference!
This past week has been a really different week. We spent 24 hours in training meetings! We had four 6 hour meetings from Tuesday to Friday last week! They have a new way of teaching investigators that they just introduced at the MTCs, so they spent the past week trying to catch us up on the new stuff. It is super awesome! The new way of teaching involves a lot of "Inspired Questions" and listening to them to find out their needs. It really works well! And then yesterday we had Zone conference from 8 until 3, and Boyd K. Packer's son, Elder Packer from the First Quorom of the 70 came and spoke to us. It was a pretty neat experience. We all got to shake his hand too!
We had a baptism Sunday! Bryan Aquino, who is the son of our recent convert, Gema Aquino, got baptized. It was an interesting situation. The elders before us started teaching him, so when we got to the area we started teaching him, but we found more potential in his mom, so we started teaching her, and she got baptized. Then Bryan went out of town to live with his uncle for awhile. Then when he came back we started teaching him and we set a baptismal date with him. But he didn't seem to be progressing, so we dropped him. Then we were at their house last week to teach a lesson to their friend, and Bryan asked us if he could still get baptized! So we set up an interview for him, and he got baptized on Sunday! He has some mental problems we didn't know about, so we almost let him slip away from us. But his mom told us about his situation, so how he is baptized! He is a rebelious kid, and is a HUGE handful. You should have seen him at the baptism though. He was wearing a 3 piece suit and everything! Haha it was pretty neat. When we got in the water for the baptism, it was pretty cold. He didn't want to get in haha! I had to persuade him to get into the water. He got in really slow, and then we did the ordinance. I'll try to send pictures next week!
Also, on Sunday, Tania and Milthon were confirmed! It was nice. Afterword I went over and asked Milthon how he felt. He could explain how he felt. He said he felt good and that his skin felt like it had goosebumps or something. He couldn't really explain it. It was a good experience. Also, we found a really awesome family last week! We have been seeing some great miracles in our area lately! We went to go check a member, but they weren't home, so we started tracting the road. Elder Cruz asked me what way the Spirit was telling me we should go, so I said we should go right. We were just about finished tracting, then Elder Cruz started walking across the road to a random house. We went and knocked on the door, and a young woman told us her mom wouldn't be back for about an hour. Elder Cruz had a good feeling about it, so we went back after an hour. We knocked on the door, and we talked with the mom. It turns out that her husband just left her a little while back, and she has six kids at home! We will be going back on Thursday for our appointment! We pray things will work out well!

I hope things are going well at home! Good luck with school this year! Emily is going to love her senior year! And Lindsey will have fun at Junior High! Thank you all so much for all that you do. I am so grateful for our family and all the blessings we have! Thank you for your prayers. I pray that everything works out with the house too! I know this church is true with all my heart. I know that Joseph Smith is the prophet of the Restoration of Christ's Church, and we have the fullness of the gospel, and modern day revelation to guide us! I love you all!
Love,
Elder Ross Watkins


Monday, August 16, 2010

Baptism, wedding, soccer, waahoo!

This week has been really really great! We have been so blessed in Jefferson Park! Yesterday Tania and Milthon Hernandez got baptized! They are a small family we found when we were tracting about a month ago. Tracting really works! Tania is 28 and she is from Mexico, and her son, Milthon is 9 years old. They are both really quiet, kind of shy people. The baptismal service was really nice. We had two different musical numbers that invited the Spirit, and there were a bunch of people who came to support. Tania and Milthon don't really know anybody in the ward, so that will be the next step. Also, Richard got married yesterday!!!!!!!!! It was a good day. We went from a baptismal service, to a wedding, then we went to the visitor's center. Richard has been living with a less active member, Araceli, for quite a while. The Elders before us found them, but didn't get to teach much. So when we came into the area we were sure to commit them to get married. I think I've already told the story about how we made them dinner and he proposed to her, but I will attach some pictures of it for you in the future, because I can't get the picture thing to work today. It was really nice. It was a short wedding in the Relief Society room. Then after the service Richard said something really awesome he said "now I only have to wait two more months and I can get baptized". He is sooooo ready to get baptized. He comes to church every week, and they read and pray together and everything! We just have to wait for some things befire he can get baptized in October. He has made so many changes in his life! He overcame addictions and was wanting to take a different path in his life before we even met him. We just helped guide him to the path of true joy. I'm excited for the day when he will get baptized in October.
Elder Hopoate left us this morning. He is out visiting people he taught in the past with one of the other Elders who is going home with him. They will stay up at the mission home apartments until Wednesday, then he is out of here! Elder Cruz and I are going to work hard together in our area. Elder Cruz is a good teacher and he has tons of Spanish scriptures memorized. He is fluent in Spanish and English, so he will be able to help me out a lot.
Today we had a zone activity and we went down to The Jungle and we played soccer! It was SUPER FUN to play soccer again. I had a really really really really good time!
I got grandma and grandpa's package this week! Thank you so much for everything in it! I really like the big picture of the family, and it's hanging up with my other picures. A lot of Elders have pictures of girls on their walls, but I know that my family can be eternal, and only one girl can be eternal, so I don't even bother with pictures of girls (I don't have any anyway). I also got a letter from the Brundige family too!!! It is really good to hear from them! It sounds like they are all doing really well!
Well, I love you all and I pray for you. Keep doing well! I pray that the situation with the house goes well! That would be an amazing blessing! I'm glad the summer has gone so well for everybody! I know this gospel is true with all my heart. I have been so blessed in my life, and I owe everything I have to the Lord, because He has blessed me so much! There is nothing better in the world than the work of the Lord. And I am grateful for this opportunity I have to take part in this work. Have a super week!
Love,
Your son, grandson, cousin, nephew, brother, friend, acquantiance, colleague, and servant of the Lord,
Elder Watkins