Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas!

Christmas morning in front of the "fake back drop" we sent him.
Ross with the Elders he came out with from the MTC, all going home February 29th.

Baptism of kids from his first area, got to go back and see them baptized.

Christmas went really well! We did some caroling for service and had a nice Christmas day. The Christmas Eve mission devotional went really well! There were lots of really nice musical numbers, and Elder Maddox and I were able to pull off a nice organ/piano duet. We knocked their socks off!
Today we played basketball as a zone. I'm still not very good at that sport, but it sure is fun!
I received nice packages from both grandparents Watkins and Merrell! Thank you!
Thanks for all the food and stuff! Just remember mom, you can't blame it ALL on me if I have a zillion cavities when I get home. But I try to brush at least once a month haha jkjk. I brush daily. And I floss. You would be proud of my good hygienically advanced habits I have developed as a missionary! But no matter how much I wash my hair, it continues falling out. It's inevitable. I'm going bald.
We are moving in to a new month, which means a new zone goal! This past month wasn't as successful as we were hoping for a a zone, but that will hopefully change next month! We will be meeting with the District Leaders tomorrow to put it together. Elder Oroczo and I set some goals this morning for our area for next month. We are shooting for 5 baptisms in our area! It's a really high goal, but we think we can reach it with some help from heaven!
Also, I got a call from Jefferson Park telling me that Marisol's kids were going to get baptized! So I got to go down again to watch the baptism! I attached a picture!
I am very grateful for this restored church! I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God! I'm about to finish it, and 3 Nephi never ceases to amaze me! The ministry of Christ amongst the Nephites is an amazing record, and I feel the Spirit every time I read it! I love you! Have a great week!
Elder Watkins

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 21st Temple P-day

Just Ross.
Family Home Evening with investigators and members.

In front of the L.A. temple after a session.

As you may have guessed, we had temple p-day this week! Which is why I'm e-mailing on Wednesday. We have had a super crazy week!! I don't think I can fit it all in an e-mail! We have been working really hard with our two investigators this past week! They are going to get baptized on Christmas!!!! What a great gift right? They came to the Christmas fireside at the Hollywood chapel on Sunday and really liked it. We also invited them to come to a Family Home Evening with another family in the ward and we had a really nice lesson about baptism and confirmation. They are doing really well with their Book of Mormon reading too! We are super excited about them!! She invited us to have dinner this thursday, and she's going to make us some Salvadorian food! It is always a good sign when investigators feed their missionaries. We are expecting lots of Salvadorian, Guatemalan, and Mexican tamales this Christmas too!
Hey guess what? Elder Maddox and I have been preparing an Organ/Piano duet for the mission Christmas fireside this Saturday. It is super awesome. I will have to play it with aunt Ronda when I come home.
Also, I will be calling around 8pm, Utah time. I'm excited to talk to you! It's been a long time. When we tell investigators that we only call home twice a year they think we are really weird. So I try to avoid that conversation. But it is an exciting time for missionaries! Chrismas and Christmas Eve are normal working days for us. We won't be coming in early this year like we did last year, so we will be out visiting people and maybe some knocking doors. Christmas is the best time of year for missionary work. People are a little more accepting to our message around this time.

Monday, December 12, 2011

AWESOME WEEK!

Los Angeles Temple
New Companion, Elder Orozco

AWESOME WEEK! We have been working super hard! Guess what!? I have a new companion, because my last companion is busy hanging out with his family haha. My new companion is Elder Orozco from Michuacan, Mexico! If you don't remember, I came out with him to the field! I have a Mexican companion, and it's pretty awesome. He has an awesome Mexican accent, and I'm starting to pick it up a little. The Mexicans speak pretty different spanish from the rest of the Latin world. We have been really busy with the zone, transfers, and our area. We found 5 new investigators last week! It was a blast. We are spending lots of time on the streets contacting people and teaching. He will be here for one transfer after me, because he only went to the MCT for 3 weeks, because he already speaks the language. He is perfectly fluent in Spanish and English.
We had a miracle yesterday! Wanna hear it? So we have been banking on our investigators coming to church this week. She missed last week because of work, so we were really excited for this week. But then we got a text from her on Sunday morning saying that she had to work and wouldn't be able to make it to church. Saddness entered our souls and our excitement got smacked to the floor. Just before we left the apartment to go to church, Elder Orozco said a prayer and asked God to bless her to be able to go to church even though she had to work. So we got to church and saddly sat down on one of the half soft benches, then about 5 minutes in to the meeting, lo and behold, theywere at the door!!! I couldn't believe it! They came to sit by us, and they enjoyed the whole meeting. We later went to their house with a member, and had a lesson for the first time in 2 weeks! They have been doing really well, and are still reading the Book of Mormon. Her testimony is awesome! Then we asked about how she got to church, and she told us that she was on her way to work and she felt impressed to turn and go to church. She followed the impression and ended up being about an hour late for work, but she said that her boss didn't mind! And thus we see that if the Lord gives us a commandment, He will surely provide a way for His children to keep that commandment! Wow. This church is true. I love my mission. Love, Elder Watkins
P.S- I am fully aware that my e-mails are getting gradually shorter as my mission rolls on. It is by no means a sign of my love for you. It must just mean that I'm too caught up in the work. I love you!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Zone Trainings

Elder Jacobberger, Elder Watkins and investigators at the Los Angeles Temple Visitor Center

Ross and Elder Haslem, also from Vernal.


HELLO! Things are going great! We have had a really crazy week! We planned and executed a couple of trainings for our zone and the Metro zone, which is Elder Haslem's zone. We got to train in the same meeting! He is leaving this week! I can't believe it. My companion is leaving this week as well. I don't know who my new companion will be yet. I'm definitely staying in the area though. We had the departing missionary fireside last night. Elder Haslem and Elder Jacobberger along with all the other dying missionaries, gave their final testimonies. I got to play the piano for a couple musical numbers in it. I've become a "designated mission pianist". I find my name on the programs to play the piano for all the meetings we go to. They don't even ask anymore, they just put my name down. It forces me to learn more hymns, which is good, since I had a hard time practicing hymns at home because they put me to sleep after a couple minutes. We announced our zone goal for December today. We are focusing on increasing our faith to boost miracles. The goal is to baptize 10 people as a zone in the month of December. Our zone has been struggling with baptisms lately, and we hope to reverse that!
I'm really excited for Christmas! That means TAMALES and sweet bread with hot chocolate! I'm excited to eat a ton! I feel like a pig lately. The people here give us sooooo much food. We had a really good mexican dish called Pollo Barabacoa. It is really good. If you ever go to a mexican restaurant, get the Barbacoa.
Sadly, we didn't get a chance to meet with our investigators this week. She has been super busy with work all week, and she works crazy hours, so we've kept in contact by phone. She got called in to work this week too. Bummer. But we hope to meet with her this week. We will see...
Hey mom, thanks for sending the package! I can't believe that Christmas tree!!! How did you do that?! It's even MORE awesome than last year's!!! I'm excited to put it up.
Welp, I love you all and thank you publicly (through private e-mail) for all of your goodness and niceness and love. I know that this church is true! Have a great week!!!
Love, Elder Watkins

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving and Investigators

Annual Turkey Bowl, wearing the shirt we brought him back from New York.

Wow! We had an awesome week! I don't know if I will have enough time to tell it all!!! We met with a lady and her son about 5 or 6 times this week! They are doing really really well! He loves the Book of Mormon! They are both progressing really well. They came to the Visitors' Center on Saturday! The lights at the temple are awesome! The day before we went to the VC, we invited them to pray and ask God if they should get baptized on December 18th and if the church is true. While we were at the VC, he told us that he prayed and that God told him he should get baptized. Then his mom told us about an amazing spiritual experience she had with her prayer! She said she felt a burning inside her chest that made her cry. She said it was a feeling she had never before felt, but that it felt really good! WOOOOHOOOO! That's what it's all about! We were sooo excited! They are set for baptism on December 18th! They came to church yesterday too! He loved it! She was really bored in the last hour because they talked all about being sealed in the temple, and she didn't understand anything that was going on, but at least she was there! We are really excited for them. Please pray for them so that nothing gets in the way of them being baptized in God's church!
On Thursday, we were walking down the sidewalk and talked to a lady that was walking her dog. She is from Chile, and she used to meet with the missionaries and go to church, but she never got baptized! We will be going back this week to find how interested she is. She seemed really interested.
Thanksgiving! We had an awesome Thanksgiving dinner as a ward! We had a couple investigators come and they loved it! Then on Thanksgiving day we ate with a Mexican family who is investigating the church. They didn't make turkey, but that's ok. Chicken is just as good.
No more time! I love you!
Elder WAtkins

Monday, November 21, 2011

Investigator to church

Buildings in L.A. , one is Church of Scientology

Beautiful California sunset



WE GOT AN INVESTIGATOR TO CHURCH THIS WEEK! It was the first investigator we had gotten to church since I came in to the area. Her daughter is a recent convert. We have been working hard with her to help her get a testimony. We had a really intense lesson with a member and her about the Book of Mormon. Her husband tries to pick out everything wrong about our beliefs during the lessons, but she is a little more sincere. At first she told us that she couldn't come to church, but then we pushed a little harder, and she said yes! She came for Sacrament meeting and liked it, but then had to leave. But at least she came!
We will be going to the Visitors' Center tonight with our bishop and his family and a couple of new investigators! We are excited. They tried dropping us yesterday, but then we explained that they couldn't drop us until they did a little more searching. The love the Book of Mormon, but obviously don't understand it well enough. Pray for them!

We were able to provide service to a lady in our ward this past week. We helped move all her furniture around her apartment while the carpet guys re-carpeted the place. If missionaries ever offer to provide service, tell them yes! Missionaries LOVE doing service projects.
People in LA are super busy. That is one of the biggest trials we have with investigators, being too busy.
We have the turkey bowl today in Santa Monica! We are excited to play some non-contact football and get all our manly energy that has built up for the past year out on the field.
We went on exchanges with one of the companionships in our zone. The elder I took to my area didnt' speak any Spanish, so I did all the teaching by myself for one day. It made me really grateful to have a companion to help me out. Missionary work is impossible alone.
Welp, I love you all and pray for you. I hope everything is going well at home. Keep being good, it's worth it! This is God's true church! It has been restored! That is some good news!
Love, Elder Watkins

Monday, November 14, 2011

Clean Apartment, New Zone

Winners of the clean apartment awards! Ross' mom is amazed.
New zone, the Griffeth Zone.

Map of the new zone changes.

Wow! We had an awesome week! We started off with a really good Zone Conference! Elder Jacobberger and I got to do some trainings, and President Baker just blew us all away with his trainings! It was really good and inspiring!
We have been finding some awesome new people to work with! We received a referral from the San Diego Temple for an awesome couple in our area. They have been progressing really well, and we are really excited about them. They come from a different religious background, but are really interested in our religion and especially the Book of Mormon. We dropped by their house yesterday and we caught him reading his Book of Mormon! Woohoo!!! They were out of town yesterday so they couldn't come to church, but they are coming to a class we are teaching at the church tomorrow evening! We have another lady that we found tracting. She is awesome! We went over yesterday for a follow-up lesson, and she had already read the pamphlet that we left with her, and she had tons of questions for us. She has an uncle in central America who is a member of the church, and she called him and asked him tons of questions, and he told her just to go to the church to find out for herself. She will be coming next week! And, we found out that she works in the house of a super famous/rich moviestar during the week. You will have to ask me about that one when I come home, and I'll tell you who it is. Hollywood...who would'a thought?
I got permission to go back to Barrio Sexto to do a confirmation yesterday! J L finally got baptized, and she wanted me to do the confirmation since I couldn't come to the confirmation the week before. It was awesome! She had been investigating the church for some 10 years, and she was finally able to get married and baptized! Her family is doing really well, and it was a privledge for me to do the confirmation. I got to see tons of the people I worked with in Jefferson Park while I was there. It was really fun!
Welp, I love you all and thank you for all the support! Hopefully I'll have some good news about people coming to church next week! I know that this is God's true church. I know that this is His work. Love you!
Elder Watkins

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Teaching in Hollywood

Helloooooo!!! We had a good week! We have been working really hard to find new people to build up our teaching pool. We have been doing lots of street contacting and asking for referrals. If any of you know anybody that lives in Hollywood and speaks Spanish, feel free to e-mail me their address, and we will go teach them as soon as we can. Thank you.
We found a neato person the other day while we were tracting. She is from El Salvador. We will be going back next week to talk to her. She seemed pretty interested. We have a new investigator . He has been through a lot of crazy stuff in his life, so pray for him. We taught him last night, and a member came with us. We are teaching him again tonight! yay!
We had a "golden investigator" we taught last week! He had read most of the Book of Mormon while he was in jail in Utah! He loved the book, and kept reading it after he got out. He seemed really interested. But when we went back for the return appointment, his wife answered the door and told us they had been talking about the church, and they decided that he wouldn't be meeting with us anymore. BUMMER! Must have been fools gold. Or maybe right now just isn't his time. Other than that, we are just trying to find people to listen to us haha. it is good. The work is going well. The ward is great, and the church is still true! That's good news! Elder Jacobberger and I are doing a training this week in Zone conference! I'm excited! Zone Conference will be down at the church building I went to when I was in Hawthorne! I'm pretty excited to go back down there!
Hey mom, you were wondering about my release date: it will be on February 29th, 2012. LEAP YEAR! Welp, I love you all and hope you have a super week! I know that this is the Lord's work, and that this is His restored church.
Love,
Elder Watkins

Monday, October 31, 2011

Busy

Pictures are from his new area. From the rooftop of his apartment.

Below is Korea town.



This has been a super crazy week for me! We have been doing lots of trainings and meetings, so it has taken a lot of time out of our area, which is a bummer. We take every chance we have to talk to people. Our teaching pool is kind of small right now, so we are in the finding stage. My new area "Los Feliz" is really neat! We have the church building in our area, so it is really nice. We are in the eastern part of Hollywood, so it's not quite as corrupt as the west side. We have Thai Town and Little Armenia in our area, and lots of Phillipino people. The are tons of Spanish speakers though, so lots of potential. Our area is right next to where the Hollywood sign is. The top part of our area is Hollywood Hills, and those are super ultra rich poeple, so we don't go up there very much (never). Our ward is awesome! It is called Barrio Cuarto (Fourth Ward) and the members are great! We have eaten with a few of them this past week, and they are all really willing to help with missionary work.
Elder Jacobberger is an awesome companion! This is his last transfer, so I will be his death companion. He is awesome! We get along well and work hard. He is from Medford, Oregon, and is planning on being a firefighter! We teach really well together too.
Soooo, today is Halloween. Halloween is not a good day for missionary work, so they are having all the missionaries retire from work at 5. But since today is p-day and p-day goes till 6, we won't get to go out and work today. Our zone will be having an activity in the LA Stake Center tonight. We are presenting the zone goal for the month of November. Then we will play games and sports in the gym until 7:30, then all the missionaries have to go back to their apartments and be locked in until all the wickedness of the world ends the next day. It should be really fun. We are having everybody in the zone bring food, so we will have a feast too!
Welp, things are going really well, but please pray for success in our area. We need more people to teach.
Try to say this phrase really fast "Cuento cuentos y cuenta cuantos cuentos cuentas." Then say this one "El mono le lame la mano a la mona y la mona camina comiendo mani." Then try to conquer this one "Siclopejico parasimpaticolitico de fosfato sodico de meta meta sona de motina de magiato con closferinomina."
I love you all and I know that this church is true! Take lots of luck! Hasta la vista!
Elder Watkins

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Big News



This has been one of the most interesting weeks of my whole mission! We worked hard and "M" got baptized!!!! It was a really nice baptism! Elder Reichman performed the ordinance! It was his first baptism! It was really awesome because we street contacted her in Elder Reichman's first week in the field! So we got to see the tasty fruits of our labors! She is doing really really well. She loves the church, and she hasn't missed church since we started teaching her.
Yesterday before church I got a phone call from the assistants to the president. They asked me to go to a meeting at 5pm at a chapel in the middle of the mission. So Elder Reichman hopped on the freeway after the baptism and headed down to see what the meeting was all about. The meeting was composed of a bunch of the missionary leadership and a few future leaders. Then President Baker started telling us about some big changes that would be happening in the mission. We currenty have 7 zones, but the zones have been getting really big because of the increasing amount of companionships in the mission. So as of Wednesday (transfers) there will be two brand new zones, the Griffith zone (which is composed of Hollywood, Downtown, and surrounding areas) and the Athens zone (which is the "ghetto zone", made up of Watts, Compton, Inglewood, Lynwood, and surrounding areas). Then President held a few interviews after the meeting. He assigned me to be a zone leader in the Griffith zone with Elder Jacobberger! I was really excited! Elder Jacobberger has been my zone leader for about 4 months, and now I get to be his companion. That also means that I will be serving in the city of HOLLYWOOD!!! Don't worry, it is still a Spanish area. They have a really good Spanish ward up there, and I'm really excited to go and serve! But that means I will be leaving Jefferson Park...and Elder Reichman will be left to fend for himself and try to find his way around the streets haha! But it sounds like this will be my fate for the rest of my mission. I will most likely spend my last 3 transfers in this area. The area is called "Los Feliz". I'll let you know how it is next week!
I was really grateful to have such a great last week in this area. In total I have spent about a year in this ward! I will miss the people, members, investigators, and the food. But the work will keep moving forward. This area won't be in Griffith zone, so I probably won't be seeing Elder Reichman around very often. But now I will be able to write the recent converts in this area.
I'm really grateful for the Lord's work. I know that this is God's kingdom on earth. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of god, and that this is THE restored church. And most of all, that we can be saved through the atoning sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. That's some pretty good news! I love you all! Have an awesome week!
Elder Watkins

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Temple Day

This morning at the temple.


L.A. Temple before sunrise this morning!


Ross making a "Zillion Pound" hamberger.


Wow! Crazy Week!!!!!!!! We had an awesome weeek! We have been doing tons of finding, and we have been finding lots of success! Since we have p-day today instead of Monday, we went out and had a regular work Monday. And it ended up being the best Monday of my mission!!! We went out and taught lessons all day and found a whopping 6 new investigators!!!! It was crazy! I couldn't believe it! The Lord blessed us all day long, and we were wiped out by the end of the day! Missionary work is really tiring.
I wish I could tell you everything that happened all week, but there is not enough time. We had a nice FHE with our investigator and we had her come over to a recent convert's house for the FHE. It went really nice. She loves coming to church. We found out about her coffee addiction, but that shouldn't slow her down. Pray for her! We also had really good food this past week. Some rooster soup, and tons of pupusas! J L should be getting married this weekend, which means she will be baptized the following, on the 23rd! We found out that she has been investigating for a total of 10 years!!! And we are the lucky missionaries that get to hold the baptismal service. She is super strong. This next week we are going to focus on setting baptismal dates. We have a huge teaching pool right now, and we just need to teach them all and help them keep commitments so they can be baptized.
A couple nights ago we had a nice experience with a new family who is investigating. We went to the door for our appointment, and the two ladies inside invited us in. We had to explain to them that we can't be in the home with them unless there was another adult male wtih us. So one of the women went out into the yard and grabbed her husband and had him come in for the lesson. The lesson turned out being focused on the husband because he enede up being the most interested of them all. And he didn't even hesitate when we asked him to offer the closing prayer. He offered a nice prayer, and the Spirit was definitely there! I guess that's what we get for following mission rules!
My companion is doing really well. He is picking up Spanish really fast. He is really obedient and smart. It is good for me because I always forget things, and he remembers EVERYTHING! He is like a walking computer! Hey dad, I made a zillion pound hamburger for lunch yesterday, and I've been making fish for lunch too. I AM A MAN! And my receeding hairline is getting more defined, and I'm proud of it!
Welp, I love you all and thank you for your prayers! May God be with you and bless you! I know this church is true!
Love, Elder Watkins
The temple pictures are from this morning before the sun even rose! We got to do the 7:30am session!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Time just seems to be flying faster each week. We had a great week. We got to go to all the sessions of General Conference. I loved Priesthood Session! Saddly, we didn't have time to go to ice-cream afterwards. But after the first session a bunch of us missionaries went to a Mexican place called "La Barca" and ate massive burritos (which were very Americanized). I took tons of notes and stayed awake the whole time. It was really good. I really liked the message that Elder Callister shared about the Book of Mormon! We have been trying to hand out a Book of Mormon each day this past week. The Book of Mormon is TRUE!!!! That is some good news. It's old news, but not everybody knows about it yet, which is why we are out here. Our new investigator came to the Sunday morning session!!! It was the perfect session for investigators! It was really clear, simple, and bold. Perfect. She is doing really well! She has a baptismal date for October 23rd! Please pray for her. She is running solo on this one. Her husband isn't interested. We are trying to involve members a lot in her conversion. We are having her over to a member's home for FHE this week so that she can get to know the members and feel of their good spirit and happy families. We also set a couple "iffy" baptismal dates with some new investigators.
We had a neat experience the other day. We were on 5th avenue checking a house, but the person we were looking for wasn't home. We were about to drive off to another part of the area, but then I had the impression to knock a couple doors just down on the other street. We knocked the first door. Nobody home. Then we went to the second house and walked in the front gate. A few people were outside, so we started talking to them. Then the mother of the home told us to wait as she went inside to get somebody she wanted to talk to us. Then somebody walked out and saw us, then ran back inside like he was scared of us haha! So the mother invited us in, and we started talking to the guy that ran back inside and his fiancee. It turned out that the man was baptized a few years back when he was a kid! His fiancee turned to him and said "you didn't tell me you were MORMON!" haha! The mother wanted us to talk to them because they are going through really bad relationship problems, and they are planning on getting married in December, and they have a baby on the way. They were really nice. They talked to us like we were marriage counselors, but we would respond like missionaries. Theyseemed really interested in coming to church! And said he would be happy to return back. It felt like another miracle finding! God definitely guides us where He wants us to go.
Today we went to In-N-Out for a district activity. As we were waiting outside for some of the missionaries to show up, a man from Turkey started talking to us. He explained that he was Muslim. He was really interested in learning about what we believe. At one point there were six of us missionaries standing in a half-circle talking to this man as he ate his burger and fries! There were a bunch of people staring at us through the glass of In-N-Out, and one lady took a picture as she laughed. It was a funny looking scene. But it felt good to be preaching the gospel, even on our "p-day".
Welp, that's all for this week. Lots of other things happened, but you'll just have to read my journal to get it all. Adios until next week. The church is true. No doubt about that! I love the scriptures and the organization of God's true church. Be good, it's worth it!
Elder Watkins

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Great Week!

Ross took a picture of these signs, he says there are many crazy, confusing parking signs all over L.A.


Hello!!!! We had an awesome week! Lots of good things happened! I have three of my companions sitting by me right now! Elder Doh, Elder Gonzalez, and Elder Reichman are all doing e-mail here at the family history center at the visitors' center. It's like a reunion!
I'm happy to hear about Rachael's wedding. I got a wedding announcement from them. Did you say they are our neighbors?? That is pretty awesome! How far do they live from us?



Welp, we have some sad news. Our main investigator didn't make it to church. He's not very interested anymore. But the good news is that we had tons of recent converts at church, and a few investigators! Woo! It was a good Sunday. We found a new family to teach, and the mom and her kids came to the classes, but they missed sacrament meeting. It is pretty neat because the mom is from El Salvador, and the father is from Hondouras, and he is black! So the kids are black and they speak spanish! It is really weird to see black people that speak spanish, but really neat.
We had a neat experience last night with prayer! We were on the streets at about 7:30, and we couldn't figure out what to do next, and we were all out of ideas. So I suggested that we say a prayer. So when there weren't any cars we said a prayer on the corner of 36th street and 7th avenue, then we waited to feel an answer. We thought for a second, then one of our investigators came to mind. Her name is G, from El Salvador. Her husband is a member, and she has been investigating the church for a couple years, but hasn't been able to get baptized due to some legal issues. So we went over, and they told us that it was really good that we showed up because they were having a hard time. So we sat down and read a little out of Mosiah 18 and talked about baptism. Then we set a baptismal date for the end of March!! I won't be here to see the baptism, but it was really good to set that goal with them!
Guess what? We are going to have a Family Home Evening with two of our members and Bishop's family tonight! Awesome!!! I love it when the ward works with us!!! Hey mom and dad, you should invite somebody over for a family home evening sometime (preferably somebody that isn't active or that isn't a member, or that is a part-member family). We are trying to have the members host FHEs for investigators and recent converts. eet ees beddy goot (say that with a Chinese accent and it sounds really funny).
We had a good experience with a man and his wife this past week! He got baptized last year when I was in this area, and a little while after he got baptized he got a good job on Sundays, and quickly went less-active. But then we got him to come back to church this year, and he got the Priesthood and everything, and his wife finally came back to church this past week! So we went over on Tuesday and talked to both of them, and they have been going through a really hard time. Then they told us about how they were going through a super hard time earlier this year, and they were thinking about divorce, but then they recieved a letter I had written to them while I was in Lynwood, and she said that helped them out a lot and helped keep them together! It was amazing to hear that a little letter went such a long way!
Guess what?! I'm SUPER EXCITED FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE!!! General Conference is the capitan of all church meetings. It is like Christmas for missionaries! This will be my last General Conference as a missionary. Maybe they will predict the earthquake in California. I know exactly where my 72 our kit is, just in case.
Thanks for the CD! I listen to it every day in the car! It is a really nice one. Very missionary-appropriate.
Welp, I love you all! I hope you have an awesome week! I know this church is true!
Love, Elder Watkins

Monday, September 19, 2011

Training a New Companion

My new companion, Elder Reichman from Broomfield, Colorado.

So, mom and dad, you got to know about transfers before I could tell you. Another new companion! It was a CRAZY week! We have been running all over the place dropping of and picking up missionaries, trainings, meetings, stake conference, and best of all MISSIONARY WORK!!!!!!!!! We didn't get very much time in our area last week because we were so busy. But the time that we did get was a huge blessing! We found some awesome people! Elder Reichman's first door contact we found a new investigator!!! We set a goal during weekly planning to talk to at least 10 other people evey day. So we had a little bit of extra time yesterday, so we left our car and started contacting. We had contacted about 7 people when a lady talked to us from her porch and asked us what we do. We explained to her what missionaries do and she started getting really interested. She told us that she needed a church in her life, and that she would like to talk to us another time. So we will be going back this next week. We set a baptismal date with a guy, But then he didn't go to church. Bummer. We are having a really hard time getting people to go to church. Dad, will you buy us a bus so we can have somebody from the ward come and pick all these people up???? For some reason, coming to church is always the hardest commitment. The P family didn't make it either. They are really hard to contact, but they have soooo much potential!!!
W went and did baptisms for the dead too!!! That was really awesome! She just got baptized 2 months ago, and now she is already going to the temple! We are going to have an FHE with her and her whole family tonight. Pray for her husband. We really want him to come to church with her.
My district changed a whole bunch! My whole district is made up of english speaking missionaries except for my companion and I, which makes splits a lot harder, because I have a Spanish area, and their areas are English areas. So either my poor companion who is learning spanish will be abandoned in the area with a non-spanish-speaker companion, or I will attempt to train other missionaries in a language they don't understand if I bring them to the area with me. I'll figure it out somehow.
Thank you for sending me my friends' e-mails! It's always good to hear from them. Tyler and David are almost done! Will they be back before Christmas?
I'm really upset about the whole Utah, BYU thing. I don't want to talk about it. I haven't heard anything about it here. Most latino people aren't into college football (actually nobody is into it).
Yesterday we had stake conference. This was my 3rd stake conference in this stake. You know what I realized today? I have been in this stake my whole mission except for the 1 transfer when I was in Hawthorne. It is an all-spanish stake. I want to go to our spanish branch when I go home and work with the missionaries there. Do you think that would be a good idea?
Welp, I want you to know that we are working super hard and doing our best at being super obedient. Missions are awesome. I'm really grateful that God has given me a chance to do this great work. The blessings are amazing. I know the church is true and God has a perfect plan for us! Love you!
Elder Watkins

Monday, September 12, 2011

Sunny California

This is my district!
This is a banana tree in front of our apartment.

Hello! It is a beautiful sunny day here in southern California. The other day it was cloudy for about half the day, but that's just about the biggest change in the weather we've had in the past 4 or 5 months. It is really nice, but I do miss rain, snow, clouds, and seasons in general. But it sure does make missionary work nice. We spend a lot of time walking and contacting on the streets and knocking on doors. Our area is sooo small, and for some reason they give us 1,000 miles each month to use on our car. We've never even got close to that. I would much rather spend time on the sidewalk.
Guess what?! We had been having a really rough week trying to teach people, but we continued working really hard, and we got a couple miracles from our hard work! Two random investigators just showed up at church yesterday!!! They were people we've never even met before! One of them is from Oaxaca, Mexico! We set up an appointment with her. A member brought her to church! Yay members!!! The other one came with some family that were visiting from Arizona. But both of them live in our area! Yay!!! Woohoo! An investigator also came to church. Her baptismal process is going to take a few months, but she is doing really well, and has a strong testimony.
We are planning on having some of our recent converts go to baptisms for the dead this week with the ward!!! That should be really awesome!
We are going to have a couple FHEs tonight with recent converts!!! Woooo. Being a missionary is awesome!
Transfers will be this Wednesday. This past transfer went by uber fast. Elder Gonzalez is a really great missionary! We are working super hard, and finding some great success.
The most delicious thing I ate this past week was actually a plate of rice, beans, and eggs. Seriously, it was delicious! The Salvadorians have this really good cream that they put on beans and rice. It's like a mix between sharp cheddar cheese and sour cream. I love it. I hope I can find it in Vernal. You would like it. All the Latin people think it's really weird that I like beans so much. They don't think white people like rice and beans. I tell them that my mother makes it too. The Latin people think that us white people only eat hotdogs and hambugers and sandwiches. Then I tell them about the delicious food that my mother makes. They have like a zillion different ways of making rice, beans, and chicken. But not much variety other than that. I really like Chile Relleno. I had a new vegetable called "Chayote". It is like a mix between a potato and a squash. It's really good. I like all vegetables now mom. I won't complain anymore when you make things with peppers, onions, and tomatoes. I even like squash. I think my tastebuds have matured. But now I like really spicy foods. So that weak sauce I used to eat at home (the green and red bottles) isn't going to cut it hahaha.
Something happened that made me miss Utah this past week... We were at the church building (which is just across the street from UCS), and I started seeing all these people wearing UofU apparel. The scouts were selling parking spots for all the cars that were going to the big football game! I got to talk to a few people from Utah. I met a man from Heber too. We were at the church because we were going to meet an investigator there, but the investigator never came. One man from Utah offered to buy us tickets to the game haha, but we kindly denied the offer. But it felt really weird to be around all of that! Utah is such a great place!
Welp, that's all for now. I love you all. Thanks for everything! The church is definetly true. Nothing else makes sense. The authority of God has been restored, and so has the other testament of Jesus Christ, the Book of Mormon. It's true. That's for sure! I love the scriptures. And most of all, I'm really grateful for the Savior. Have an awesome week!
Love, Elder Watkins

Monday, September 5, 2011

Slow computers but a great week!

All trying to e-mail home on really slow computers!

Hello family! I'm on a really slow computer this week. I think it
was made before the church was restored. There couldn't have been any
revelation on the earth when this computer was made, because it is
much too slow and behind the rest of the world. So my e-mail won't be
very long, but I'm trying to attach pictures.
We had an awesome week. Our lessons with President went well. I
think he's been going out with all of the district leaders to a few
lessons, just to see how they work in when they teach. We had a really
spiritual lesson with a couple new investigators, but they aren't
ready to accept the gospel for the moment.
An investigator and his mom came to sacrament meeting yesterday!!! They
loved it!!! The spirit was really strong, and the testimonies seemed
to be directed towards them. There was one 20 year old man that got up
and talked about coming to church for his first time when he was 13
years old, and now he is getting ready to go on a mission. Our investigator is 13
years old as well! He and his mom sat on the front row, and they
looked like they loved it. I really hope they can get baptized this
month. We had an awesome lesson with him the other day. He felt the
spirit really strong, and he wants to be baptized!!! We hope to set a
baptismal date with them this week. Saddly, our other investigator didn't make it to
church. We took a member to his house last night for our lesson, but
he was sleeping, so it didn't work out. Please pray for him ! But
other than that, we are working really hard and finding tons of people
to teach!!! We have been focused on trying to teach more lessons each
week and finding new people to teach, and the Lord has been blessing
us!
How is everything at home?? Mom said we are going to build a rock
wall! Cool! That sounds awesome. The weather has been cooling down a
little here. It's really nice. We are still waiting for rain
though...we might have to wait until December for that though.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY LINDSEY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are becoming so
ripe! I will eat you up when I get home. Dad says you are a good
driver. Better than me?????????????????????? We will race hot-wheels
when I get home to see who is the better driver. I love you! Mom said
you made your first goal too!!! That is way cool!! You should e-mail
me and tell me about it!
Oh yeah, my companion and I taught the Book of Mormon class this
past Wednesday. It went really well.
Welp, I hope you all have an awesome week! I love you all! I know
that the church is true, and that Jesus Christ is our Saviour. The
Book of Mormon is true and really awesome!!! Bye!
Love, Elder Watkins

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

18 months, Baptism,and a Flat Tire

Ross has now met the 18 months mark of his mission.


Baptism of a contact in his former area.


Changing the flat.


What a crazy week!!! I've never been so busy in my whole life!!! We lost a missionary in my district due to sickness, so they added a new companionship to our district, and they are in a trio with the elder that was left over. We have also been going to tons of trainings and meetings. Yikes! It has taken us out of our area a lot, so we are always really excited to be back in our area working. We have been doing fundamental trainings for my trainee, and they are 6 hours long!!! We had two of them this past week, on top of 2 other leadership meetings with president. Yikes!! But it is helping us out a lot. President is going to come with us to a couple of lessons this week! I'm nervous/excited. It should be a good experience.
Guess what?! I got a phone call from Elder Carver from North Lynwood, telling me that a lady I found and started teaching was going to be baptized!!! We found her street contacting! So I got to go down and see her baptism yesterday!!! It was awesome. When I saw her going into the water it made me think of when we first talked to her. She was washing her car, and she was really excited to talk with us. Very awesome!!!
We got a massive screw in our tire the other day, and the air was slowly leaking out, so Elder Gonzalez and I had to put on the spare before church yesterday. Then we went to Pep Boys and got the flat fixed today. Good experience.
We are going to start teaching a Book of Mormon class on Wednesday nights! I'm really excited! I got the idea from the Zone Leaders. They are doing it in their ward, and they have had some success from it. We hope the same.
Welllllllp, I'm just about out of time. I love you all and pray for you at least every 24 hours. I'm so grateful for such a happy family! I'm really grateful for the gospel and the impact it has had on our lives. Jesus is our Saviour, and His church is restored. Awesome huh! Love, Elder Watkins

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Awesome week

This is the Westwood Zone, with the visiting authority Elder Duncan ( front and middle), Ross is behind him. Click on the picture to make it larger.
This is a picture of the new trainers in the mission, Ross is on the back row.

We had an awesome week! I went on exchanges with 3 different Elders in our district this past week, so it had been really busy! It is always fun to go to different areas and see different things going on.
Hey, remember we had an investigator from last year? We helped him get married and baptized last year. After I left the area he went less-active because he got a job working on Sundays. But after coming back to the area, he has been free on Sundays, and he is active in the church again! And guess whaaaattt?!!? He got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday!!! It was awesome! He is happier than ever before, and now he is focused on having an eternal family! It is truly a blessing to be back in Jefferson Park!
Another awesome thing: There was a family in our area last year that had family in the ward, but they were the only ones that weren't members, and we tried working with them last year, but they were never interested. But we have been focusing on them lately, and trying to show them how the Gospel blesses families, and we got them to church yesterday!!!!! It was the first time the husband had ever been to church. The wife had been a few times before, because it is her family that are members. We are excited to go back and help them progress.
We have been doing lots of finding lately. Lots of tracting and street contacting. We have been finding some good people. Even though we have a car, I really like walking. We try to spend as much time out of the car as possible. They give us 1000 miles a month, but I don't think we could ever reach that! We have a pretty small area, so we don't need very many miles.
An investigator got confirmed yesterday!!! Her family is doing really well. Her mom was inactive before, but now she goes with her daughters, each week!
I know this church is true. All these people out here with anti-mormon stuff have only helped my testimony grow. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I know that we have a modern day prophet! This is God's true Church!!! Awesome!
Love, Elder Watkins

Friday, August 19, 2011

A Crazy Awesome Week

Ross with companion, Elder Gonzalas
This is a chili manzana, hotter than a habanaro!
This is a rare scene, the Los Angeles Temple with no grass!

Wow, what an awesome week!!! First off, it sounds like you had an awesome weekend. I miss the family. Best regards and such to all. I really liked the pictures that were sent to me! It's good to see what everybody looks like! Hey dad, I had a dream the other night that you and I were wading in lake and fishing together. Awesome huh?
But seriously, we have seen a lot of miracles this week. We have been trying to boost our faith so that we can boost the miracles. And it works! We got a referral last week for an 11 year old young man in our area. We went over and contacted him and he ended up being really interested. We invited the mother to listen too. We taught them the Restoration and set baptismal dates for them on the 11th of September! After we invited him to be baptized he got really excited and wanted to know how we baptize people, and he asked us "after I get baptized, does that make me a mormon?" haha he has family that are members of the church, so he's heard a lot about the church. His mother felt the spirit soooo strong that she started crying. Now the next step is for the father!! They are from Honduras. Very nice. Please pray for them!
The other day we were doing tons of street contacting and knocking doors to try to find some new investigators. We had been walking for about 2 and a half or 3 hours and I wanted to get in the car and go somewhere else because I was pretty tired and we had had some good success. But the the Spirit prompted me to keep walking and finding on that street. So we kept going. As we were walking down the sidewalk we saw a bald latino man talking to somebody in a car, so we quietly gave him a card and moved on. We turned the corned and started knocking doors. After about the 5th door we saw the bald man come around the corner and call us back! We approached him and he started telling us that he wanted us to teach him!! We asked if we could go back to his house and sit down with him and talk, and he gladly accepted! It was sooo awesome! . He is from Guatemala. Very nice. Please pray for him so he can come to church.
"W" got confirmed this past Sunday! She is very happy to be on the right track. Her only support at home is her mother. Her husband isn't too excited about her decision. Please pray for her family. We tried teaching her little brother, but he just wants to argue and bring up anti-mormon things. Pray for him too. He has lots of potential.
You are probably wondering why I'm writing on Tuesday instead of Monday. We had an awesome Zone Conference yesterday instead of p-day. Elder Kevin R. Duncan from the Seventy came and held an 8 hour meeting with us! It was awesome! I learned so many good things. He talked about boosting our faith because the bounds are infinite for those with faith. He also talked about loving the people we meet with even more. I'm starting to learn that love is key in missionary work. Sometimes it's hard to love people when they just want to bash, or if they treat others poorly, or they live inappropriate lifestyles. But if we look at people how God sees them, our missionary work and our charity will increase! Awesome huh? I liked it a lot.
Hey guess what?? I've broken 180! I weigh just over 180! That's a new record in my life. All those pupusas are really starting to build up. We got up early this morning to go run before regular exercizes. Your son will be a tank by the time he comes home. Look out Dad and ANdrew!!!
We got to do temple service last week!! It was awesome! They are tearing out allll of the grass in the lawns! It looks terrible! Apparently they do it every 7 years and they re-plant it so it always looks nice and thick (like the hair on my head before my mission). But we got to do service inside while everybody else labored in the heat outside. My companion and I got to clean chandeliers. We got on ladders and took tons of little crystals off chandeliers and cleaned them in a solution, then put them back up. It was really tedious and took a long time. Kinda scary too. It was amazing to see how clean they keep temples! The clean every little crack! We wiped down marble and air conditioning vents after that, then we got to clean some glass. It was neat to see how many rooms there are in the temple that most people don't get to see usually. That temple is gigantic!!!
So that was our week. REally awesome! God has given us some great blessings, and we keep working harder and harder so we can give back to Him. Thank you for your prayers! I love you tons! I know this is God's work. His plan is perfect! I know the Book of Mormon is true, and Jesus Christ is our Saviour! Love, Elder Watkins

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A great loss and two Baptisms


Ross lost a good friend Friday, August 5. Sgt. Daniel Gurr, a U.S. Marine was killed in Afghanistan. Ross played soccer at Uintah High School with Daniel for 3 years. He said, "Daniel was one of the best soccer defenders in the state, and he died defending freedoms for those who do not have them. He was a great man, and will be missed. I am so sad to hear of his death." We hope all will remember the Gurr family at this time of loss, our prayers go out to them.

OK, other than the first week in the field, this has been the craziest week of my mission. We have been all over the place. First off, my companion Elder Jung passed on to the real world. He finished his mission with honor. His parents came and picked him up. He stayed in Los Angeles until today. He was at our baptisms yesterday! Then, on Wednesday I got my new companion! His name is Elder Gonzalez. He was born in White Plains, New York, but has been living in Orlando, Florida since he was 12, and he was baptized while in Florida when he was 13. He is a Latino!!! His parents are Colombians, so he speaks Spanish with a really different accent. He is really good at basketball, and he is a super teacher! REally hard worker. We have been doing really well. He is so good that I don't even feel like I'm training him! And he's helping me with my Spanish! It's awesome.
Soooooo, the most important part of the week: Sunday. It went really well!!! Two of our investigators were both baptized!!! It was awesome! Elder Jung was there with his parents, and he baptized one, and I got to baptize the other. It was a lot of hard work to get to that point, but they are both super strong. One of them had been going through a lot of opposition this past week. Satan stroke 3 times to try to stop her from getting bapitzed! The first time, we were in a lesson with , and we got a phone call from her uncle telling us that she wasn't going to get baptized on Sunday. So we ran over to her house after the lesson to clear everything up. Her grandma tried convincing us that she should wait to be baptized, but we persuaded her otherwise. Then we got a text from her a couple days later telling us that she was having some health issues and that she wouldn't be able to be baptized. So I called her that night and talked her out of it. Then, a half hour before her baptism, her boyfriend called and told her to not get baptized!!! I couldn't believe it! She went into the bathroom and cried as she had a really loud conversation with her boyfriend on the phone. By that point, everybody was set and waiting for the baptism to start. So we sent a member of the relief society presidency to go talk to her in the bathroom. Then she went and talked to the bishop, and he helped her through it. By that time, eveybody in the baptismal room had been waiting for about 35 minutes for her to come in. Finally, she walked in with teary eyes, but ready to be baptized!!! It was a miracle!!! They both entered into the fold yesterday, and they are both really happy!
Sooo, I have a lot of other things I could tell you, but I'm out of time!!! I love you a ton. I hope everything is fine and dandy at home. Thanks for all your support. And thanks for the candy mom! I love that Austrailian Liccorice. Yum!! The church is true, there's no doubt about that.
Love,
Elder Watkins

Monday, August 1, 2011

Trainer and District Leader


Dearest family! This past week was super crazy! We have been working so hard and teaching tons of people! Guess what!? An investigator got baptized!!!!! It was awesome! We have been working really hard with another investigator, and she has a baptismal date for next Sunday. She was going to be baptized yesterday, but we ran in to some minor difficulties with the husband. But everything will be alright. Another is still waiting on divorce papers from Guatemala, so her baptism will be a little bit down the road. But she is super solid. Also, "V", she is waiting on her baptism because she wants to be sure she is making the right decision. She will have to make some big changes in order to make that covenant with God. But pray for her, and things will work out. After seeing her sister get baptized she has a true desire to change and be baptized as well. The baptism also helped their mom come back to church! She has been away from the church for many eons, and now she's back!!! She will be an awesome member of the church. She already has friends and everything in the ward.
Yesterday was a really nerveracking Sunday. It always feels like you're standing on the edge of a cliff looking down at the lake before jumping in. You never know for sure who is going to make it to church. Sometimes it hurts when you hit, and sometimes you go in the water nice and smooth. Yesterday was a tall cliff, and it only slapped a little when I hit the water because we had about half of our people come to church. My companion spoke in church. He has really good Spanish! It was a great talk. Then I got to play the "We Thank Thee oh God for a Prophet" piano arrangement after his talk. My companion said people cried. Probably because of all the wrong notes I hit! Haaha it's been a long time since I've performed a piano solo. I also got to play the organ for the hymns! It was awesome! I knew that organ class would come in handy. Hey mom, remember how you always told me I would use my music skills on my mission. Well, you could call that prophecy coming true. It's great. Then we had the baptism. I'm the official pianist for baptismal services. I played an arrangement of "When I am Baptized" from the childrens' song book, and my companion sang to it. It was really nice. Then my companion performed the baptism. Then we went to the "Departing Missionary Fireside" for my companion. Since our mission is so small, we have all the departing missionaries meet in a chapel, and they invite all their recent converts, investigators, and people they worked with, to come listen to their last testimony. My poor companion is dying tomorrow. He has already started dying. "Some say he stinketh, but to me he doth not stink". He has been an awesome companion! Super hard worker. And he's going out with a BAM! His parents are coming to pick him up, and he will stay for a week. So he's going to be here for our baptisms next Sunday!
So I just had an interview with president. I have some exciting news! I get to train next transfer! I get a fresh new missionary!!! He also asked me to be a district leader. Which means I'm keeping the car. I will be staying in Jefferson Park. We will baptize. I love changes. Really fun. Welp, I love you so much! Thanks for all the candy and dinero. I'm excited for the drink mixes! Thanks for Cory's letter too! It's always good to hear from him. And thanks for your letter mom! I love you! Have an awesome week. I testify that this church is God's true church. Jesus Christ is our Savior!
Love, Elder Watkins

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Great Week!

Elder Jung, my companion, eating a chicken heart.
A beautiful California sunset.

Wow. Crazy week! Saddly, there weren't any fireworks yesterday. But we had an awesome Sunday!!! It was one of the best Sundays of my whole mission! Our 5 investigators all came to church!!! It was amazing!!! Four of them have baptismal dates for next Sunday!!! That is sooooo exciting! We have been working our tails off out here trying to get these people baptized! We went up to the Visitors' Center with two of them and had a nice time up there. Then afterward they went back home and there was a huge argument!! We were at our dinner appointment with a member, and we got a phonecall from their uncle, and there were people screaming and yelling in the background. Their uncle asked us to come fix things. So we quickly finished eating and asked the member to excuse us, and we rushed over to their house. When we arrived everybody was yelling and people were crying. We sat everybody down and conducted a "family counsel" and shared a message with them. And guess what? It worked! The Spirit was very strong, and God had our back. Then they came to church yesterday, including their mom, who hadn't been to church in over 8 years!! It was a miracle!
We also took two others to the Visitors' Center. It was the answer to our prayers! They had been struggling a lot with opposition and their family. They had read anti-Mormon material, and they had lots of doubts in their heads. Then they felt the Spirit so strong at the VC that they decided to come to church! We went on a walk around the temple, and invited them to be baptized. Then we went over to their house and had a nice lesson with them, and one of their sons came in with the anti-Mormon material. So we took our sword of righteousness and smote them with doctrine. We told them that they can't judge the Book of Mormon until they read it and pray about it with a sincere desire to know the truth of it. It was another intense moment at their home, but it turned out alright. Then afterward, she gave us some delicious Empenadas de carne that she had made. Latinas are great.
Please continue praying for these women who are trying to make the best decision of their lives so far! They are making great changes, and your prayers would really be appreciated. Thank you!
I HAVE AN AWESOME STORY FOR YOU!!! So, remember last year when we baptized "L", from Oaxaca Mexico? She here in LA visiting her husband for about 2 months last year, and we taught and baptized her while her daughters in Mexico were being taught and baptized by the Elders down there. Well, a little after being baptized, she went back to Mexico and remained active with her daughters. Here's the crazy news: She's back up here, and I'm back in my old area! We showed up at her husband's apartment, and she was there with one of their daughters from Mexico! It was like a grand reunion again! I thought I would never see her again! They brought me a couple souvenirs from Oaxaca! It felt like a HUGE blessing! But the happiest part for me was to hear that she was still active in the church with her daughters, and she is planning on getting sealed to her husband when she has been a member for a year and is able to enter the temple!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is nothing sweeter to a missionary's ears than to hear that a convert is planning on going through the temple! I hope I will be able to go with them! She will be up here for a month or two, so I'll get to see her for a while. She came to church yesterday with her family. Her daughter, is also active and going to church here. We started teaching her last year, and she got baptized after I had left the area! There are soooo many crazy blessings I'm seeing a year later. It is good to be back in Jefferson Park.
Well, there is a little slice of what happened this week. hey mom, I had pupusas last night ! Yum! I'm really grateful for all of your prayers and support. I got a nice package from Gma and Gpa Watkins this past week. She makes really good snicker-doodles! Thanks! I love you all very much, and pray for you daily. Have a super week!
Elder Watkins

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Another sunny day in L.A.

Ross and a friend from high school that is in the same mission. Elder Haslem, and a couple of others who jumped in.
This is a nicer part of L.A. Ross rarely visits this part of the city.
Dearest family. I had a good week. We worked real hard!
We got a couple investigators to church yesterday!! We have been working really hard with them to help them be baptized on the 31st of this month. They are 17 and 14, and all their family is members. Their mom is inactive, but their grandma is active, so they have been coming with her. They are fun to work with, and it helps a lot having their grandma to help them feel comfortable at church. Saddly, we didn't get anybody else to church. Our other baptismal date, didn't make it. She is otherwise really good at coming to church. She has a date for the 31st as well.
Yesterday we taught some awesome new investigators about the Restoration and there was a really loud, live mariachi band playing at the neighbor's house during the whole lesson. Those Mexicans can play trumpets really loud. But we were still able to have a powerful lesson with them. They are two men. It's really nice teaching men because we can go inside. When we teach women we can't go inside their house unless there is another man present, so we teach a lot of women on thier porches so we can be obedient to the rules.
We are still working really hard with two other investigators. They have been worrying a lot about polygamy, so we have had a couple intense lessons with them lately. We had a really spiritual experience when I rebuked her son because he was bringing anti-Mormon material into the home and ruining their progress. It was really intense. I'll have to read you my journal entry later. She tried telling us that she was done trying to read the Book of Mormon. She almost gave up on us! We couldn't take that as an answer. So we made sure she understood that she NEEDS to read it and pray about it before she gives up. We told her that that is the only way to know that this church is true.
We also had a really intense lesson with a gangster yesterday. He had gotten into a fight the night before and he could barely move when we were teaching him. He is a less active member. It was amazing to see such a tough, proud man break down into tears and tell us how bad he feels that he is hurting his family. He told us that all the punches and cuts and bullet marks weren't the things that really hurt him, but his suffering family. He has two daughters and a nice wife. We are going to work with him so they can all get active. Ask to see that journal entry too.
Well, Los Angeles is as beautiful as ever. We went over to a nice part of Los Angeles today to see the "La Brea Tar Pits" where there are natural tar pits where animals used to get stuck a long long time ago. It is a musuem now. But the most interesting part for me was all the white people walking around! I haven't seen that many white people since the MTC, and that's no lie! It is honestly really weird to see white people now.
The church is true. I love it with all my heart. I'm so grateful for a loving Father in Heaven that has everything in control. I'll attach some pictures, since I haven't sent any in a long time! I love you all. Keep being good, it's worth it!
Love,
Elder Watkins

Monday, July 11, 2011

CLAM (California Los Angeles Mission)

This is an older picture when Ross had his bike stolen during an appointment. They came out and it was gone; the situation is a typical missionary moment.

Welp, here we are again! 5 days later! We had a good week. Saddly, we had quite a few investigators miss out on church this past week, but we still had 2 of them there. J, who is waiting for paperwork from Guatemala to get married, is doing really well. She has been going to church for years with her "husband" (not married), and is basically a member. It's just a waiting process, and we are trying to push them to hurry up so she can get baptized! We also had an investigator show up who hasn't been to church in a long time! He is a man from Panama. I remember seeing him last year! Maybe he'll make some progress this time. We'll do our part to invite him to do so. But everybody else bailed out. But that's ok, we will just do better next week!
We had a tragedy happen with a couple of our investigators! We took them to the ward activity and they had a really bad experience! Yikes! They come from a different religious background, and they were shocked by some of the things that happened at the ward party. In the church they come from music and dancing isn't allowed, and the ward had a dance after the dinner. We didn't stick around for the whole thing because we don't dance, and we had to be back at the apartment, but please pray for them. Her children were also showing her some anti-mormon material on the internet. She has an enormous testimony, and satan can obviously see that she would be a great addition to God's church, and he will do everything he can to stop her from getting baptized. Please pray for them. That would mean a lot to us and them.
On a nicer note, I got to go on splits to a really awesome area! It's an area called "The Jungle", and it covers the geographical area of "Baldwin Hills". It was a crazy area! There are a lot of hills. The area is about 75% black and probably 24% Latino, 1% white, and probably the other 1% would be classified as "other". It is a crazy area! Lots of activity, people, and streets lined with palm trees. I had fun riding a bike around again! We taught some nice lessons, and I got the chance to work with a different companion.
So, I had forgotten how interesting this ward was. Ask for stories after I come home.
I'm about to finish the BoM again! That book is SUPER TRUE! I love the stories and the doctrine. During my time here I have learned the importance of this book. It really is the key of our religion. I'm really grateful for all the men who dedicated their lives to bringing this book to us in these last days. Each time I read it I get new insites, or something new sticks out to me. WOOHOO! Good book. I'll give it a 10. And two thumbs up. And a testimony that it is the word of God. Amen!
Well, sorry to say it, but I don't have any really crazy stories or anything for you this week. But I will leave you with my testimony. The Sacrament is true. It is like being baptized each week, and the spirit is strong. I'm grateful for the concept of repentance and the simplicity of the gospel. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. We can be saved with our families through Him, He just asks us to do our part. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
I love you!
Elder Ross Watkins from the CLAM!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

JOSE CAN YOU SEE?

In front of a cool building.
Jose can you see, by the dawn's early light, what so proudly we hailed... We had an awesome 4th of July! President Baker had us go out at 8 am to start working, and he had us come back at 6pm because of the craziness of this city. So we did studies in the evening instead of the morning. My companion and I hailed our country by teaching a bunch of lessons, street contacting, eating some hot dogs at Weinerschnitzel and watching the fireworks from our apartment roof before bedtime. AERIAL FIREWORKS IN UTAH IS GOOD NEWS! I've been waiting for that law to pass all my life! Everybody here had them. I'm pretty sure they are illegal here. We live in a duplex with Elders that live next to us, so we all got on the roof in the evening and watched the zillions of shows going on throughout all of LA. I can honestly say I have never seen so many fireworks in my whole life. USC was going crazy! Saddly, we couldn't go to any shows or light anything ourselves, but we made the best of what we had. And don't worry, we got to bed on time. I thought a lot of home. I couldn't believe how many people had their personal firework shows. I think the cops just gave up! It was insane! Everywhere we looked there was a giant firework flying through the sky. I felt like I was really in a war, and it reminded me of the purpose of Independance Day. It was one of the greatest days of my mission! We found some awesome new investigators too.
You may be wondering why I'm e-mailing on Wednesday. I forgot to tell you last week that we were going to have temple p-day this week. So we went out and worked on Monday, and today is our p-day. The temple is so pretty. I say the same thing every time, that it is the most sacred thing in Los Angeles, and when you leave the temple it's like walking back into Babylon. But with that extra Spiritual strength, it makes Babylon a little more bearable. But, according to the prophets, Zion is where the saints are gathered, so my companion and I carry Zion around our little section of Babylon, which is called Jefferson Park.
We confirmed the two kids that got baptized the week before. I had the opportunity to confirm the girl. And Elder Jung confirmed the boy. They are twin 12 year olds. Their dad got baptized the week before them, and their mom was already a member, and now they are on their way towards the temple. That is an awesome thing! I get to be part of bringing somebody to the temple. Of course, that will be a year away, but it's still really awesome. We went over and had breakfast with them on Sunday morning, and we taught them how to fast, and we all fasted together on Sunday. I love the line in "Praise to the Man" that says "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven". I know that line is true. God notices and blesses us for all of our sacrifices, both big and small.
Missionary work is beautiful in a car. I now arrive to lessons without helmet hair and sweaty backpack straps. It feels really different, but it's really effective time-wise. The splits have begun. My companion is the District leader, so we go on splits with the other Elders in our district all the time. It is a great learning experience. Yesterday I went on splits in the USC area and I saw a bike rider get hit by a car! It is a crazy area! The campus is beautiful, but since it is a private school, missionaries aren't allowed to proselyte on-campus. But once you cross the street from campus, it's back into dirty LA. Some guy told us it costs 84,000 per semester to go to USC, but I'm not sure I can believe that. But the area is awesome. There are tons of people from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Mexico.
I want you all to know that the work is going awesome out here! Thank you so much for all your prayers! I miss good ole Vernal. I always brag about how Vernal is the greatest city in the world. Sometimes people don't believe me, or they just act like they believe me, but at least I believe what I'm saying. Say what they may, Vernal is the promised land! Welp, I know this church is true. I feel it every day. I know the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion, and we couldn't do without it. Thank you for your prayers! Keep being good, it's worth it!
Love, Elder Ross Watkins