CHRISTMAS AT THE VISITORS CENTER
This has been a good transfer for me. I have learned a lot in my new area. The people we are working with are great, but they still need some extra preparation before they can be baptized. We are planning on 6 baptisms in the month of January if all works out well. We are working hard and trying to help people receive baptism and the fulness of the Gospel. I have been trying really hard to finish the Book of Mormon before the end of the year like you challenged us to do. I have felt my testimony grow a lot. This morning I was reading in 3 Nephi, in Christ's words, and as I shared about what I learned to my companions, I really felt my testimony grow, and I felt the Spirit testify of true doctrine. Thanks for that commitment. We have had a hard time trying to get people to church lately, so we decided we are going to focus on teaching the Sabbath Day this week to our progressing investigators. Things have been really busy for investigators lately because of the holidays, so we are hoping things will settle down soon so we can get people to come to church.
IT WAS SO GOOD TO TALK TO YOU ALL ON CHRISTMAS! Wow! It is nice to hear from you! It sounds like everybody is doing really well! I wish we were allowed to talk for more that 40 minutes! I wanted to say a whole lot more, but we'll just have to wait for Mothers' Day! Dad, I'll be starting my intensive workouts really soon, so you and Andrew will need to be prepared when I come home. I'm glad to hear that Emily is so determined to learn Spanish! Maybe she will serve a Spanish speaking mission some day. I never heard from Grandma and Grandpa on the phone, but I hope they are doing well too. If you haven't driven home yet, I hope you travel safely.
I wanted to thank everybody for making my Christmas such a nice one. Thank you for the gifts and cards and letters. I didn't feel too far from home this Christmas (probably because I'm really not that far anyway hahaha). But it was really nice. Mom, the tree will be staying up for a while. I'm wearing the green tie that g-ma and g-pa Watkins sent me. I really like it. And I wore the tie that mom sent me to church yesterday.
Funny story: Elder Deleon tends to aquaint himself with the pavement a lot when he rides bikes. And last night he was riding on the sidewalk while Elder Doh and I were riding on the road, and he tried riding his bike without hands and he wrecked into somebody's Christmas decorations in their front yard haha!
Today has been a good p-day so far. We went and played soccer as a zone on a really muddy field! It was really messy, but it's always really nice to play soccer! I miss running around and getting real exercise.
Transfers are coming up on Wednesday. I'll probably be staying.
On Saturday we found out that a couple of our investigators weren't going to make it to church. We kept calling and trying to get a family to come to church. We called Sunday morning to wake them up, but only the mom ended up coming because the kids wanted to sleep. But it was good to have her at church. She has a pretty bad smoking problem. We are working hard with them so they can be baptized in January. She has wanted to quit smoking for a long time, and she is finally going to do it. We commited her to not smoke on Christmas. She almost made it. She smoked half a cigarette. Which is a serious upgrade from what she has been doing. Blake is having a hard time giving up smoking. He is only 16, and he has been exposed to all kinds of things. His little sister, , is quitting smoking too. She is 15, and she gave us her lighter! She wasn't as heavy into smoking the mom though. But the whole family is staring to notice a difference in their lives. They know what is right and what is wrong, and they want to do to right thing. They have been reading a little as a family, and their mom is trying to set a good example for the kids. Yesterday we went over to a lady'shouse. She is starting to notice a difference in how she feels when we come over. She is starting to make better decisions, and she is discovering the power of prayer. Our visits are helping her to resist temptation. She lives in the more ghetto part of our area, and she is surrounded by evil things. She has been through many things in her life, and she needs the gospel more than ever. She hasn't come to church in a couple weeks, and she hasn't been reading her Book of Mormon, so we need to help her keep these commitments before she can make a baptismal covenant with God.
Another investigator has been doing pretty well lately. He has found lots of strength in the Book of Mormon, and he is really far in his reading. We just need to get him to church!!!! Missionaries have been teaching him on and off since last February and he has never been to church! That's why the missionaries before us stopped teaching him. But we WILL get him to church. He really wants to go, but something always comes up.
I love you all a lot. It is always really nice to hear from you. Thank you for your prayers. I pray for you as well. God has blessed us so much. I am grateful for this opportunity I have to be a missionary. The work is hard, and really really really really worth it. I know the Book of Mormon is true, and that God has restored the gospel in it's fulness. Thomas Monson is a prophet of God, as well as his counselors and the 12 Apostles. I love you all! Cuidense!
Elder Ross M. Watkins
P.S. Feliz Navidad! From the bottom of my heart!