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.
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!
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!
Your son, grandson, cousin, nephew, brother, friend, acquantiance, colleague, and servant of the Lord,
Elder Watkins

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Brand new visitor's center, temple service, and sleep talking!

Elder Hopoate's planners compared to mine. He goes home next week.

The brand new Visitor's Center just opened on Saturday! IT IS SO AWESOME!!!!!! If you ever come to Los Angeles you need to go to the Visitor's Center, because it is the best attraction out here! It is like the Superbowl of church attraction. It is right behind the L.A. Temple. It has been closed for a couple years, and they finally finished it and it is full of state-of-the-art technology and fancy things like that! I felt like a kid at a carnival when I was there. It has a really nice Christus statue with an ocean background, and it has all kinds of video presentations. And it has this really cool room with two glass walls so you can see into it, but you can push some buttons and the glass is no longer see-through! I don't know how it works, but it's basically a miracle! Anyway, we have gone there twice so far, once with an investigator and his family, and again with a recent convert. It is really awesome! The Visitor's Center is so awesome that I talked about it in my sleep. Elder Cruz said he heard me say "The visitors center is so cool" in my sleep the other night haha! And guess what else??? I spoke Spanish in my sleep the night before that!
In front of the brand new visitor's center

Ricardo, an investigator, and his family at the visitor's center.

Things have been going well with the work this past week. We had a bunch of people at church on Sunday! But we're afraid that one of our families might be dropping us. We haven't been able to contact them for a little while, and they weren't at church on Sunday, but we will keep trying. We have a couple of investigators who have been progressing pretty well, and we are hoping they will be baptized this coming Sunday. They were at church on Sunday, but they didn't stay the whole time. Their names are Tania and Milton. Tania is from Mexico and barely speaks English, and is the single mother of Milton, who is 10 years old. We found them tracting one day, and we found that she has a few family members who are members of the Church! We will be seeing them tomorrow, so we will pray for the best. We have one other baptismal date, but it is a very unstable date. His name is Bryan, and he is the son of our recent convert Gema. He is a very difficult investigator because he has been involved in drugs and he doesn't completely understand why he needs to be baptized. It is sad because I know it is what he needs, but he doesn't seem to have any faith. But he really likes going to church and having the missionaries over, but we can't seem to help him enough.
Yesterday for p-day we had the opportunity to clean the temple!!!!!! It was very awesome! The temple is temporarily closed for the biannual cleaning, and our zone got to spend 4 or 5 hours cleaning it! Most of the missionaries got to help on the inside, but our group cleaned in the gardens. We helped to prune a TON of Birds of Paradise plants. The grounds at the L.A. temple are sooooo big and it takes a lot of people to take care of it. The other Elders were on the inside doing different jobs. The temple isn't too far from our area so we have been down there quite a few times. Actually our area is right in the middle between Downtown and Santa Monica, and you can see both of them from where we work.
Behind the Los Angeles Temple

I love you all! I really appreciated the letter from Emily and from home! It's really nice getting letters! I hope everything is going well. It sounds like the Merrell Camp was a blast! You should sent me some fish in a refrigerated package haha! I love you all so much and I pray for you! Thanks for sending me Tyler's e-mail mom! It is a lot easier to do it that way, so thank you a bunch! I know this Gospel is true. Stay firm and strong and the blessings will be amazing! Have an awesome week!
Love, Elder Ross Watkins

Friday, August 6, 2010

Second Baptism

I love doughnuts, and found a tasty place to get them. I am told this shop was in a movie.
This is Gema, my 2nd baptism. She is from Mexico and is a very humble, kind person.

HELLO HELLO HELLO!!!!! Things are going SUPER FANTASTIC out here in Los Angeles. It has been a fairly cool summer. It doesn't get too hot, and the evenings are perfect--every day! It was really good to hear from Alesha in her e-mail. It sounds like things are going really well in Spanish Fork. I'm excited to hear her Dominican Republic stories, that sounds like lots of fun.
This past Sunday was the best Sunday we've had so far! We had 7 or 8 investigators at church!!!!!! It was really awesome to see them there! One of the requirements for baptism is to go to church at least 3 times, so they are making good progress. Richard and Araceli are getting married on the 15th of this month! Then we will wait until October for Richard's baptism because we have some things to work out, but he is doing SOOOO well! 2 of our investigators finally came who we have been trying for 2 or 3 weeks to get them there, so it was really good to see them. We were in a lesson yesterday with a family who is investigating the church, and we found out that the mom and dad aren't married yet......that seems to happen a lot. So we are going to try to work with them and get them married so they can get baptized. But they have a daughter, Aixa, who will be able to be baptized. We committed them to pray to know the truth, so we'll se how they are doing when we go back! I'm really starting to love my area. The people here are awesome! There are so many cultures in our boundaries! In the southern part we have a lot of black people, then in the middle there is a mixture of blacks, Latinos, and one or two white people, then everywhere else is full of Latinos. There are a lot of people from El Salvador, Mexico, Hondurous, and Guatemala in our area. It is fun to learn about the different cultures in their countries. And the black people are super nice and way cool to the missionaries! They are really funny people too. We certainly see a lot of crazy things happen hahaha, remind me to tell you the stories in the back of my journal when I come home hahaha! Oh yeah, and today we had Temple P-Day! I love when we get to go to the temple! We are so blessed in this mission to be able to go to the temple every other transfer (every 3 months). The L.A. temple is really really really really pretty on the inside, but the smog is so bad outside that you can't see very far into the distance haha. We ate at a pizza place near the temple in Santa Monica and I met a man from Isreal who speaks Hebrew! It is amazing all the different kinds of people here! It is interesting to drive down the different streets and see so many different languages on signs and stores! So since we went to the temple today we didn't have p-day on Monday, so this e-mail is a little late.
I bought a little gadget today that I'm hoping can put pictures on the computer from my camera card.
Thanks for setting up a blog thing for me! That is really neat! I wish I could see it, but our computer access is pretty limited (e-mail and lds.org), but now that I can send pictures I'll try to keep them flowing. I really liked Alesha's pictures! Especially the cannibal one haha! Oh and Grandma and Grandpa Watkins sent me an awesome package of goodies and grandma's blackberry jam! I LOVE JAM! As soon as I buy some more bread it will all be gone! I'm sorry to hear that mom is sick. She will get better soon though. I really like the scripture in D&C 20:39 which says "For it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter, they could not know the sweet." If we were never sick or in pain, we could never know what it is like to be healthy and happy! What a cool concept!!!!!! I hope everybody else is doing well and is happy. I pray and hope the best for you!
I'm starting to love the people here. They are so nice! Elder Hopoate and Elder Cruz talk about home all the time, but I'm pretty content staying here for another year and a half! I definitely miss home, but I wouldn't go home early unless it were a commandment from Church Headquarters! The work is too sweet, and the time is too short. Thank you so much for all your prayers. I'm very grateful for family and friends and for the help of the Lord in this work. I know this gospel is true, and I know the Spirit can be very powerful in our lives.
love you all very much, Cuidense!!!!!
Love, Elder Watkins