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!
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


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