Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hello Family and Friends

Hello family and friends! I hope everybody is doing well. Mom, thank you so much for the piano music! I can't wait to go practice it! And thank you Emily and Lindsey and Mom for the letters. That was very nice of you. I really liked them! I'm still waiting for a letter from Alesha and Andrew though!!!! I would like to hear from other people too. But I understand. It is a really busy time of year. I hope everybody is ready to finish school and have a good summer. I love summertime! Emily is going to be a big senior next year!! She is going to love that!
Today we had Temple P-day, and that's why I'm e-mailing on Wednesday instead of Monday. We drove through the city part of Beverly Hills on our way to the Temple, and it seems like a nice place. The Los Angeles Temple is really pretty! It is so huge! The inside of it is amazing. The walls are painted with really pretty scenery and it is beautiful! Our zone got to go do a session, and then afterward we went and played some football by the mission home. We get to go to the temple every other transfer, so about every 3 months. It is a blessing to have a temple in our mission! The Spirit was very strong in the temple, and I know that we can receive answers to our prayers there.
Monday was my 1-month mark! I've made it this far!!!! Time is already going by pretty fast!
The average weight gain in this mission is 40 pounds!!!!!!!! Can you believe that??!! So far I've lost weight since I've been here! Just a few pounds. The Latinos make some pretty good food, and aparently it's the tortillas that pack on the weight. But it doesn't seem to have an effect on me! Yesterday we had some homemade brown horchata, it was a pretty crazy drink. The Latinos are really nice. Sometimes they make meals just for us, and they watch us eat. Yesterday, a couple from our Spanish ward made us some food, and they came and dropped it off in our area because we are on bikes. They are very thoughtful. Sometimes they feed us so much that it feels like my stomach is going to blow up!
We have a couple we are teaching who have been waiting to get baptized since last year. But the sister is waiting for her divorce papers from her husband in Central America, and she lives with her boyfriend right now. The boyfriend is a member, and they come to church every week. They even to scripture study together! She is very ready to get baptized, but she can't get married until she can get divorced and then get married to her boyfriend. Her papers are supposed to be coming soon. And she will get married right after, then she will get baptized later that week!!! We are hoping for the 17th of July!!! We are hoping to get another couple married whom we are teaching. They are really nice people, and they have 2 kids. But they aren't married! So we are trying to help them realize that marriage is the right thing to do. But they are afraid they are too young, and they said they might get married in January. But that's too far away. We can only pray and to our best, and hopefully things will turn out alright. We are having a hard time trying to find people to teach. There are a lot of people who say they will listen to us, but then we can't contact them after that, or we start teaching them and they aren't committed or something like that. So we are still in the developing stages of our area. But it will all turn out in the end.
Spanish is still a roadblock for me. I don't think my mouth and brain were meant to function in another language haha. My companion says I'm behind where I should be with my Spanish, so I'm going to work harder on it.
Dad, you need to come here someday! There are so many beautiful plants and flowers. I know you would love it! Just about all kinds of fruits grow here. I saw some banana trees by the mission home today. And we have an avacado tree outside our apartment. My companion thinks I'm weird because I'm still amazed by the palm trees. But he's from Tonga, and palm trees are normal for him. There are tons of different types of palm trees. You should try to plant one at home and see what happens. Just don't let it get snowed on! And mom and sisters would really like all the stores here. There are thousands! And Alesha would like all the different types of people here. And Andrew would definitely enjoy the fire departments here. I hear firetrucks all day long! But I wouldn't ever live here. I prefer the small city in the mountains.
Well, "that's all folks"! If there are any questions you want me to answer feel free to ask! And feel free to send e-mails to this address! Good luck finishing school. And good luck to Alesha with summer "coolage"! I love you all very much! I pray for you! Thanks for letters and support, you are the best!!!!!! I know for sure that this Church is true. I know that it has been restored through a modern day prophet, and we continue to sustain the Church of Jesus Christ today! We are so blessed to live in these times. When times are hard, it helps to think of the pre-existence. We knew, before we even came here, that we would be able to do what would be asked of us. There is nothing we can't do if it is right and we have God on our side! Keep working hard and keep being awesome, and keep smiling!

With love,
Elder R.M. Watkins

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Sweet Frijoles

I'm about half-way finished with my first transfer in the mission field!!!!!! It's going by really fast now. Definitely faster than the MTC. Wow. I got a few e-mails from people this week, THANK YOU MUCH!!!! But I still haven't heard from Alesha!!! AHHH!!!! HAHAHA I just received a particularly hilarious e-mail from Cory Seitz (the bass), and it was really really really really funny!!!! I thoroughly thoroughly thoroughly enjoyed it. Also, dad, I got those pictures of great-grandpa. He was a sharp lookin' fella. What happened to you??? Haha I joke, I joke. Dad, I am very happy to hear about your arm wrestling competition with Andrew. Be prepared for an even greater challenge when I come home.
Today we had crepes for a p-day activity. WOW I LOVE CREPES!!! THEY ARE THE BEST!!! It reminded me of when we would eat them each General Conference. I am not gaining a single pound out here, and I don't know why. I look fatter, I feel fatter. I think my huge muscles are turning into mush. That's a shame.
The mission field is a HUGE growing experience. This is definitely the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. It is a very good thing too. We just had ZONE CONFERENCE this past week and it was very awesome. Our President is such an awesome man!!!!! Definitely a man of God. There are going to be some changes made in this mission pretty soon. They are changing it from a bilingual mission, and they will be splitting it up between Spanish and English Elders. But we won't find out about how that will work out until we get our new mission president in June or July. They are also demolishing the mission home, and they are going to finish up the visitor's center, and the mission offices will be in the bottom of the visitor's center. NEXT WEEK WE GET TO GO TO THE TEMPLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I am so excited to go to this Temple. It is so HUGE!!!! It doesn't look very big in the pictures, but it is a monster. We have a baptism coming up this week!!!!! But we might have to push it back to next week so we can have more time to finish teaching the lessons. He is from Guatamala. He hardlly knows any English. He has been going to church with his friend, and he wanted to get baptized even before we met him!!!! WOW!!!!!! We have another sister who we are preparing for baptism within the next month. We just need to get her to church and help her keep her committments!!!!! The work is going forth.
There are a TON of churches here in L.A. Down the road there is an Ethiopian church, and there is a really big Korean church too. And there are a million other little churches along the road. My area is full of religious people. And a lot of them know a lot about the Bible. And some of them just want to bash. But bashing doesn't get you anywhere. I have never seen so many churches in one place. Most people we talk to are religious. Tons of them are Catholic. I have started a list of the different countries of people I have met out here so far: Liberia, Belize, Egypt, Nicaragua, El Salvador, Mexico, Chile, Tonga (my companion haha) Guatamala, Nigeria, Australia, Argentina, and Iran. There are probably lots of others too.
I know this church is true. There is no doubt about that. If this church weren't true, I would come home and do something else. I think it's First Nephi chapter 15 or 14 that talks about our church and the great and abominable church. It talks about how the Lord's church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) will be small, but that it will cover the entire world. While the great and abominable church will be great and all over the world as well. And that the Lord's church will be persecuted by the church of the devil. We see this happening in the world today. It is amazing to me that Nephi was allowed to see so much of the future. And the fact that we have this information in the Book of Mormon is tangible proof that the church is true. I love this gospel, and I'm glad I get to serve the Lord for 2 years. I feel so lucky to be here on Earth with the gospel, and the ability to serve a mission. We are truly a blessed people. I am grateful for all that Joseph Smith did for this church. He was a strong man of God. I am grateful for the Plan of Salvation, and for my family. I am grateful for the ability to make choices and become a better person, and to have the opportunity to become like God someday. That's what it's all about. To become like, and live with God with our families. I'll bet eternal life is pretty great. I know these things are true, and I say them in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
Good luck with everything you do. Have fun finishing school for this year!!!! Keep working hard. Thank you for the letters and encouragement. You are all GREAT! Always remember to keep doing the little things each day that keep us close to God, without them we are weak. I love you all so much!!!! Nos vemos! Hasta luego! Adios! Cuidense! Buena suerte con todas cosas! Voy a la obra de Dios! And keep smiling!

Monday, May 10, 2010


First off, it was really good talking to you on the phone yesterday!!!! It is great to hear from everybody at home and hear how they are doing. I hope you had the greatest Mother's Day ever!!!! It is Preparation Day again, so we get time to do our laundry, write people, clean, and play sports. I want to play some soccer, but most of the Elders here are basketball fans, and I'm no good at basketball, but I still play. Elder Hopoate and I have been working to find people to teach. Yesterday was a good day. I found a young man at church who has been coming to church with a friend, and he WANTS TO GET BAPTIZED!!!! We are going to start the lessons with him tomorrow, and hopefully we'll set a baptismal date tomorrow too. The work is hard right now, but my companion says it gets easier after a few weeks. It is especially hard in our area because we were "flushed in", which means we are both new to the area. But hopefully we'll start to have some success within the next couple of weeks.
Cinco de Mayo.... what is that? haha just kidding. There wasn't much celebration for Cince de Mayo. In fact, I didn't see anything about Cinco de Mayo. haha of course, I'm an Elder, and Elders can't go to parties and such.
Last night my companion and I had a really interesting experience. We were over at a member's house because her husband has a drinking problem. While we were over there, we started talking to her daughter, who is a college graduate. We found out that she was now inactive. It was devastating to listen to somebody who had fallen completely away from the Church. We ended up speaking with her for about an hour, trying to help her come back to the truth. The most powerful thing we can do in situations like that is to bear STRONG testimony. The Spirit speaks louder than any voice can yell. The Spirit was strong. We committed her to think about the things we talked about, and we committed her to pray about it. SHE SAID SHE WOULD PRAY!!! It was so cool to see her change, at least a little bit, during our impromptu lesson. My companion asked her to say the closing prayer of the lesson, and she did!!!! It was soooo cool!!!! We asked her a few times if she would listen to the lessons again, but she wouldn't accept. All we have to do now is wait. I really hope she has the desire to come back to church. I know it would bless her life a ton!!!!
We talk to people from all over the world here. We have met people from all over Central America, Korea, Liberia, Ghana, and who knows where else. It is cool.
I went through Hollywood on Saturday.
ANDREW IS THE MAN!!!! Mom told me he helped save a woman's life the other day. At least he's doing something good in the world, while Alesha just sits around and watches haha. Mom told me that Alesha is going to school over the summer!!! Woooo!!!! That sounds way cool. I just hope she doesn't get too burned out!!!! Alesha, just remember to eat your prunes each day, and you will be well on your way to a successful life haha :) Oh yeah, Emily: keep the tradition of throwing food in the kitchen (it helps keep the house lively). And Lindsey, you had better be better at soccer than I am when I get home. It's going down. Mom, keep being awesome! You are the best mom in the world!!! And Dad, I'm expecting to see a garage in the backyard with that old chevy truck in the making haha just kidding, but that would be pretty cool.
So I have this awesome quote that I want to tell you. I don't have it memorized perfectely, so I will paraphrase: "if our lives are centered on Jesus Christ, nothing can ever go permanently wrong. But if our lives aren't centered on Christ and His teachings, nothing in our lives can ever go permanently right." -Elder Dallin H. Oaks.
I love this quote!!!! It basically sets the foundation of our faith. The world we live in is CRAZY!!!! I'm in the center of Babylon, and I see so many people who need the gospel, and are completely lost. Some people think they have happiness, but they aren't centered on Christ, so their happiness is only temporary. But then we go into the houses of members, and there is a different feeling. People who have the Restored Gospel of Christ still have problems and worries, but the problems are only temporary, and the promised blessings are eternal. By having our lives centered on the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, we have the hope of being able to live with our Father in Heaven, with our Families for Eternity, and to become like God! There is no greater thing in the whole world. We are so blessed to have this knowledge! I love this Gospel, and I am so grateful to know that I can speak with my Father in Heaven and receive answers. This Plan of Salvation is perfect.
So I hope all the family is doing well. I hope the ward is doing well, and that my friends are all doing well. It is great to hear from you all (My mom and Tonya are the winners for this week haha). Alesha, I had better hear from you by this Friday (when mail is passed out), or there will be serious consequences. (I'm still angry about the "bee in the flower incident", "and the poisonous mushroom prank", I KNOW IT WAS YOU!!!!!!)
I love you all, and good luck with all you do! Keep pressing forward to bring about this "great and marvelous work"! It will be so worth it!!! And, as Elder Larsen puts it, "keep smiling" :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Last night 5/8/10, Elder Hopoate called to set up an appointment for Ross to call today. Elder Hopoate is his companion. So, at 3:00 Utah time Ross called and we were able to talk for an hour. We are starting to hear the beginnings of an accent. He loves his trainer and they are busy getting to know the area. He played the organ and piano in the Spanish ward today and has being given the ok from his mission president to have his mother send him church prelude, arranged hymns, and sacred music. No one in the branch plays the organ or piano. He took an organ performance class at BYU this past fall and will now be putting it to good use. Our family celebrates Cinco de Mayo in a big way every year, so we assumed Ross would really be celebrating the holiday in L.A. He said there was no mention of the holiday and no celebrations at all! He is doing well, loves the Lord, and we loved hearing his voice. A truly wonderful Mother's Day :)


WOW!!!! This is nothing like I expected!!! Los Angeles is pretty crazy!!!! It has been the most crazy few days of my life!!!! We left small-town Salt Lake City Wednesday morning and landed in the biggest stretch of CITY I have ever seen in my life!!!!!!! THIS PLACE IS HUGE!!!! haha So we got off the plane and our mission president, President Blackburn, and his wife were waiting for us. They took us over to a chapel, and assigned us to go tracting for a couple hours with temporary companions. haha one of my first doors I knocked on, the guy said "who is it?" and I said "we're missionaries" and he said "GO AWAY" hahaha! And I saw a Rolls Royce in that area we were tracting haha it was sooo nice! Then we went back to the mission home and we had an orientation, and we had driving tests and later we got assigned to our trainers!!!! Mine is way awesome!!! He is actually the Elder I went tracting with. His name is Elder Hopoate, and he's from Tonga. He is a former Assistant to the President, and I hear he is a really good missionary!!!! So that night we went to our apartment. We have a cool area. We are flushing our area, which means we are both new to the area, so we are working to get to know the ward members and find investigators to teach. We went out that night and street contacted, and we found a lady and taught her a lot of the First Lesson on the sidewalk, and now she has a baptismal date!!!!!! And we are going tonight to teach her for the third time!!!! We didn't have power in our apartment for two or three nights so we had to use candles and a flashlight to see haha! But now we have power so it's all good.
This area is pretty crazy! We have a super small area, and we are on bikes. I went and bought a used bike for $90, and it is in pretty good shape, and it is orange, so that means it is cool. I am definitely a minority in my area. I don't see white people very often. It is like I have been sent to a land where all the Latinos in the whole world have gathered with black people and Koreans hahaha! Part of Korea town is in my area!!!! There are actually Korean speaking missionaries in Los Angeles because there are so many Koreans. They even have a Korean Ward in one of our buildings. We cover two wards: one is English speaking and the other is Spanish speaking! Most of the people we talk to only speak a little English and mostly Spanish. It is amazing. There are so many people who have lived here for 10 years and they barely speak English. Because the Latino population is so big, they don't need to speak English. And the Latino people are sooooo nice!!! Wow, they are way more kind than white people!! They are really respectful and they actually listen to us haha!
I got a letter from Elder Tyler Larsen!!!! Wooo!!!! It is soooo good to hear from him!!!!
It is Preparation Day, and we come to the library every week to write e-mails home. We receive letters on Fridays. Oh yeah, I need to know the contact information for Brother Feltch because he is the new Bishop of our home ward, and the office needs to know that. And also, if you write letters, be sure to address them with my full name, first and last. And feel free to e-mail me too, I'm not allowed to e-mail anybody except immediate family thought. But anyone can e-mail me if that is easier.
I like the humidity. It's not very much, but it is pretty nice. It is soooo cool to see palm trees all over the place too, and orange trees, and lemon trees hahaha it is really weird for somebody who has lived in the mountains his whole life!!!! But the pollution is NASTY!!! It is a clear day today, with no clouds, but when I look at the tall buildings downtown, they are hazy because the smog is so bad haha. And I can see the HOLLYWOOD sign from my area! It is pretty cool. But I heard they are tearing it down so they can build houses there. That is the last thing Los Angeles needs, more houses. I can't believe how many people live here!!!! It is crazy!!!! But there are sooo many people to teach, and so many people that need the gospel. The missionary force is really strong here. We have almost 200 missionaries in the third smallest mission in the world!!! But there are about 5 million people to teach the gospel to!!!! We will work hard to bring people to the waters of baptism.
I hope everybody is doing well back in the village, or city of Vernal haha. From now on I will refer to Vernal as The Village, because it is tiny. haha I love Vernal, so I can say that. I hope school is going well for everybody, and that soccer is going well for Lindsey, and that Emily is fighting off the villains of UHS, and that Alesha is working hard, and that Andrew is saving lives. I am grateful to have the best family in the entire world!!! I love you all sooo much!!!! I am so grateful to be part of the Dispensation of the Fullness of Times!!!! This is the best time to live!!! We are sooooooo blessed to be part of this "great and marvelous work", or "una obra maravillosa"! I will keep you all in my prayers, and I hope you all stay close to the Lord, and I will do likewise!!!! Good luck with all you do!!!! This work is moving forward, and nothing in the entire world can stop it. The Lord simply won't permit it. Keep working hard!!!! And always be happy! I have noticed that being happy is just a matter of changing your mind when you are in a bad mood. It is hard to do, but it makes life soo much more enjoyable. As Elder Tyler Larsen would say it "Keep Smiling"!!!! I love you all soooooooo much!!!!!!!!!! Para Siempre Dios este con vos. Nos vemos mi famia!!