Monday, March 5, 2012

He is home!

This is the final post on Elder Watkins mission blog. It was such a tender moment seeing him come down the escalator, no words can describe the feeling a mother has seeing her son return from his 2 year mission. It was one of the top five "best days ever". The first pictures posted here were taken at the mission home before leaving Los Angeles. The other two pictures are from the Salt Lake airport. Thanks to all of your for your love and support.

Monday, February 27, 2012

La Ultima Carta

Leadership of the Los Angeles Mission, Assistants, Zone Leaders, District Leaders and Sister Trainers. Ross is third row from the front, 2nd missionary over in yellow tie.

Ross, Julio, Lilia, after the farewell fireside.
Hiking to the Hollywood sign as a zone today, Monday, February 27.
Ross and his companion Elder Hernandez.

Welp, it's all coming to an end. I feel really weird. I'm really excited, and really nervous, and really sad at the same time. It is weird to wrap up a mission.
This past week was pretty normal. We have been out working and teaching and knocking doors. We got to teach a really nice part member family on Monday. On Tuesday I got to do a baptismal interview for an investigator in Elder Maddox's area. He was baptized yesterday. On Thursday we taught two investigators who should be baptized next month. We taught them the Word of Wisdom, and she just about fainted when we told her she couldn't drink green tea hahahaha! It was hilarious! She was pretty bummed when we told her coffee wasn't part of the diet either. As of yesterday she is still doing well! Then on Thursday we got to do some good old fashioned tracting. It felt really nice to tract again. We have been spending most of our down time on the streets, doing contacts. Doors are a little more fun than that. Then on Friday I went on splits over in the West Hollywood area! It was crazy! We went to contact a referral up in the hills (meaning with the rich people), and the first door we knocked on we had to explain about our stand on gay marriage because it was one of the first things they asked us. Typical Hollywood. Then we went up to contact a potential investigator on the top of Mt. Olympus, which is the richest part of all Hollywood. The houses were HUGE! Then we went back down off the hills and traffic was really bad because of the Acadamy Awards, or something like that.
Funny story: The other night I woke up at 12:30 am to the sound of my companion stomping on the ground. He turned on the lights and I looked over and saw a huge cockroach on the ground! Elder Hernandez told me that he woke up because the cockroach was crawling on his FACE! NASTY! I'll show you pictures of the cockroach later because I don't want to defile my last e-mail.
Now for the news on our last investigator. Sadly things didn't work out this week for him. He had an eye surgery, so we were only able to meet with him once. He has quite a bit to learn still. He wasn't able to come to church yesterday because of his eye. But the good news is that he still really wants to get baptized! He also wanted to go to the Visitors' Center once more, so we will be going to the VC with him tomorrow, then after that I will go downstairs to the mission office and have my final interview with President Baker. So I'm pretty excited for that!
Today we hiked up to the Hollywood sign as a zone activity. It was nice to look over the city one more time.
Yesterday was the Departing Missionary Fireside!!! It was awesome! I got to participate in a few of the musical numbers for it, and then I got to share my testimony, along with the other missionaries that are leaving on Wednesday. Afterward, I got to talk with some people that I invited. Guess what?! Lilia and Julio Agustin will be getting sealed next month! They invited me to come to it! They aren't sure about a date, but they said they would let me know. Hopefully I will be able to come back! That would be an amazing experience.
I'm not sure what else to say. I'll tell you everything later this week! These two years have been amazing. I've learned a lot about people, churches, cultures, city life, Spanish, leadership, church organization, teaching, bikes, scriptures, companions, patience, and hard work. But I think the most valuable thing I've learned is how to follow the spirit and how to have the spirit. I'm so grateful for the spirit. I'm grateful for my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that He lives. I know that He died for all of us. I know that the fulness of the gospel has been restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I know that God loves each one of us. I know that this is God's work. I will always be grateful for this opportunity He has given me to serve in his vinyard for a couple years. The good thing is that I'll be back one of these days when I'm older to work in the vinyard. There's lots of work to be done, and somebody has to do it! God's children are waiting for the message, and they don't even know it yet. I know that I was called of God by one of His prophets. I know that this is where I was meant to serve. There is no doubt in my mind about that. I love you all, and I'm really excited to see you in a couple days. Mom told me she gets the first hug, so I'll aim for her first.
Love you!
Elder Watkins

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

WOO HOO! A great week!

Baptism! WOO HOO!

At the visitor's center.

Ross has learned how to make lentil soup!

Holy smokes! This is my second to last e-mail on my mission! We had a jam packed week! Tons of things are going on right now! Our area just EXPLODED with work! We had 6 investigators come to church yesterday!
Earlier this week we had a mission leadership meeting with president. It was really nice and we learned lots of things we can improve on. Those are very humbling and motivating meetings. President Baker is really good at making us feel like we aren't doing enough, then he boosts us up and gets us excited to continue working hard. Then, last Wednesday, us departing missionaries had a "Departing Missionary Training" with President and Sister Baker. We talked about setting goals and keeping the mission spirit with us after the mission. They gave us lots of homework too! I'm currently working on my "90 Day Plan" for after I go home. We have to set really specific goals of things we are going to do when we go home in order to stay spiritually strong. President Baker is a genius. Then after that we went through the temple with President and Sister Baker, and we had a special chapel session with a member of the temple presidency, and I did my last session in the Los Angeles Temple during my mission. Then on Friday I went on exchanges with the Assistants. I went to their area, and we talked to a bunch of different kinds of people. They work in Santa Monica, fairly close to cousin Andrea's place! I looked for her name in their ward directory, but I believe she is in another ward. I was in Santa Monica 1st ward, and I think Andrea is in Santa Monica 2nd ward. It was the closest I have been to the beach since beach p-day last year!
On Thursday we had a lesson with a couple! They are doing great! The Lord has really been working miracles in him, because he told me that when I come back to visit Los Angeles he wants me to baptize him! We couldn't believe our ears! He used to bash with us and try to argue with us, and now he wants to be baptized! But wait, it only gets better! We went to the Visitors' Center with them and had a really nice tour by the sister missionaries. During the whole thing I wanted to invite him to be baptized on the 26th. So I finally invited him, and he said "No, wait just a minute. I will let you know when I'm ready to make that step." I didn't know what to say, because everybody was just watching us, waiting to see what he would say next. Then Elder Hernandez shared a little, and then one of the sister missionaries shared the conversion story of her father, and the Spirit came in and did something, because when we left the room, heturned to us and said "I'm getting baptized on the 26th, you have my word", then we shook on it! We couldn't believe it! He came to church again yesterday and loved it! His wife was also confirmed yesterday and she is as happy as ever.
We also went to the Visitors' Center yesterday with some young investigators and their family. They both came to church. Their but their mother is becoming active in the church again. The sisters took us on a tour around the temple and their mother really liked it. They won't be baptized this week, but we think one will be baptized very soon next transfer. The sad part is that I won't be here to see it, but at least it's going to happen.
Welp, that was our week. We have been finding some good new people to teach, so it looks like the elders will have a nice teaching pool next transfer. Thank you for all your prayers! They are really working! I hope you have a great week!
Love, Elder Watkins

Monday, February 13, 2012


Dear Family and anybody else who stumbles across these words,
WE HAD AN AWESOME WEEK! Our investigator was baptized yesterday!! WOOOOHOOOOO!!!!!!! It was awesome! She asked me to perform the ordinance. It was a really good service. Hey mom, remember the "We thank Thee, oh God, For a Prophet" piano solo? I played it at her service! It was awesome! She shared her experience about how she came in contact with the church and her testimony during the service! It was nice to hear her talk about how she would always see the missionaries walk by her apartment complex, and she wanted to go to their church. I had walked by her apartment complex a zillion times without ever talking to her before because there is no way to get into the complex. So she told her husband she wanted to go to our church, wherever it was. Then they looked it up in a phone directory and called the Los Angeles Stake Center and got in contact with some missionaries. The missionaries then called us and told us that their was a person in our area that wanted to go to church. So we called her that morning (this all happened Sunday morning on December 18th) and got her a ride to church with one of the members that lives nearby. Then it was all downhill from there! We hit a few rough spots because of some family situations she has at home, but that didn't stop her. Now she is baptized and really really happy! She said she never wants to leave this church! That's pretty nice to hear coming from a new convert!
Guess what?! I'm an official "man" now! 21 years old, and at least 21 less hairs on the front of my scalp. But that's ok, because I think the hairs are migrating from my scalp to my facial hair. I'm ok with that. You can always buy a toupee, but you can't buy facial hair! Sadly, my birthiday wasn't exactly "fun". I got pretty sick the night before and I spent all day trying to keep my nose from flooding Los Angeles, and we had to come in about an hour early at night because my body wouldn't keep going. But, the good news is that we bought doughnuts to celebrate! Woohoo! I got an apple fritter. Dad, I remember you saying that apple fritters are your favorite. I think I'll have to join you on that one. I guess it's a rite of passage into manhood to like apple fritters more than the youthful "filled doughnuts and cake doughnuts". The manly change has already begun. So I ate my doughnut and we planned, then I knocked out for the night. Kind of a downer b-day, but we had a nice lesson with a less-active family! And they bought us some chinese food for dinner. That is a plus!
Funny story: Right after our investigator came out of the water at her baptism, a little kid from the primary said out loud "Se ahogo?", which means "did she drown?", and everybody laughed. It was bien chistoso.
I can't believe how fast things are going by now! Honestly, it is kind of scary. I don't know how to be a normal person anymore. All I know is missionary work. That's all I've done for 2 years! They need a returned missionary training center. That would be nice. This week we have a departing missionary training for all the missionaries leaving this transfer, then we will do a session in the temple afterward! I'm excited! It will be my last time going through the Los Angeles temple for a good while. We will also be getting songs ready for the Departing Missionary Fireside, which will take place on February 26th. I have been calling to invite past investigators to it.
Tonight we will be visiting two investigators, who are the daughters of a member. They weren't able to make it to church on Sunday because one was sick. We will be teaching them the Plan of Salvation and we are going to invite them to the Visitors' Center. We will also be going to the Visitors' Center this Saturday with a couple. Please pray for her husband! He has been challenging to work with, and we hope that he will join his wife in getting baptized sometime soon.
Bummer. I can't seem to get the usb thing to work on this computer, so I don't think I'll be able to send pictures this week. It's always a gamble with these public computers. You'll just have to see the pictures live in a couple weeks I guess.
I love you all! Thanks for the gifts from mom and dad, Grandma and Grandpa Merrell and Watkins. Thank you for your support. I'm very grateful for this work. I'm grateful that the church has been restored to the earth. I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God. Thank you for your great example and for all you have taught me!
Love, Elder Watkins

Monday, February 6, 2012

Sunny California

HELLO from sunny California. The weather feels like it is almost summer. It definitely makes tracting and street contacting really nice.
We had a week full of miracles! We set a baptismal date with a sister! she is set and ready for this sunday, the 12th! Dad, we will be baptizing for your birthday! We taught her in the church twice this past week. The second time her husband came, and participated a lot in the lesson. He is a Seventh Day Adventist, and likes to "discuss"
doctrine. But something chnaged in his heart this week, and he decided to come to church for the first time! They both stayed for all the services! They stayed for a child baptism after church and they both cried! It was awesome! He has some serious potential! I was amazed when I saw him come into the church! He tells us that he loves the Book of Mormon! I think he reads more than his wife. She will have her baptismal interview tomorrow, so pray for her.
Two teen investigators also made it to church with their less-active mother. We got to teach them a couple times this past week. If they do their part, they should be baptized before the end of the month!
That's some good news!
We have a couple other investigators that the English Elders in the Hollywood ward were teaching, but the investigtors decided they want to go to the Spanish ward instead because it is easier for the mother. They made it to church as well!!! She is from Nicaragua, and her son, was born in the USA. She came to the Book of Mormon class on Tuesday, and nobody else showed up, so we ended up teaching just her. She really wants to be baptized soon. She already knows a lot about the church. She is dating a member in east LA. That's a plus!
Other than that, things are still going well. My companion and I did some trainings in Zone Conference on Tuesday and had a good time.
Tomorrow I will be going on splits with one of our District Leaders, Elder Maddox! He was one of my companions in the MTC! Should be fun!
I love the church and am really grateful for this work. Love you Elder Watkins

Monday, January 30, 2012

Teaching Like Crazy

This has been an awesome week! We have been teaching like crazy this week! About time! The people we have been finding and contacting are finally working out! And it looks like we may baptize next month!!! We are really excited about next month!
I have been praying for a miracle lately, and it looks like God has answered my prayers! We have been trying for weeks to contact and set up an appointment with a less-active sister in our ward, because she has two daughters that aren't members. Things kept falling through, but finally we had a lesson with her! We taught her one of the lessons and invited her to come to church and bring her daughters. Guess what? THEY CAME!!! They had the chance to go to Disneyland with their dad, but they came to church instead! One of them came to the USA less than a year ago from Guatemala, so she doesn't speak much English. They both really liked church. The best part is that the mother is really supportive. So it looks like some good news in the future. We are going over tonight with a member that is from Guatemala, and we are going to teach them and invite them to be baptized next month. Pray for them!
Tomorrow we will have Zone Conference at the LA Stake Center. Elder Hernandez and I will be giving a training for the zones in the breakout meetings.
I love you all and hope you have a great week! I love the gospel and am really grateful for the blessings it has brought us!
Elder Watkins

Monday, January 23, 2012


Hello family! Transfer calls came in..............and.............I'm staying and training a new zone leader! This is my last transfer, and I will be staying in the same area "Los Feliz". I'm glad I get to stay. My new companion's name is Elder Hernandez. He is from El Salvador! He is pretty good at English because he has been out for about 18 months. And, of course, he is helping me a lot with my Spanish. It is funny because most of the people in our area are from El Salvador. So every time we talk to somebody my companion goes off talking about where the person is from. There have been a couple times where they know some of the same people from El Salvador. Elder Hernandez even went to the same school as one guy. People just kinda brush off the gringo though. They aren't very interested in where I'm from haha.
We have been working super hard this week! Lots of hours out on the streets contacting people. We found a couple people that we thought were "golden", but then they turned out to be a little more bronze than anything. But we are still on the lookout for that golden investigator! It will happen this transfer, I know it will! We have been meeting with an investigator. She was going to come to church on Sunday, but is seems like something got in the way. Pray for them please!
Our bishop texted us the other day asking for me to play the piano at a funeral. We showed up Friday morning, and they told us that we were going to perform a special musical number too... Yikes! So I volunteered my companion to sing a solo while I played the piano for him, and it ended up turning out pretty nice. He has a really good voice, so he wasn't too scared.
Yesterday we had stake conference! It was really awesome because I have spent my whole mission, except one transfer, in this stake. So I got to see a bunch of people from South Gate ward and Sexto Ward! They are all doing well. That is music to a missionary's ears!!!! Wow! It was a huge boost to see all those people there! WOOHOO!
Since it is my last transfer I get to start inviting people to my Departing Missionary Fireside, which is held down in Torrance. It is a farewell for all the missionaries leaving this transfer. They do it each transfer for the departing missionaries. So they allow us to call people from our old areas and invite them to it! It will be the last Sunday of the transfer, just before we leave. So I'm pretty excited to start calling people and invite them to come!
I love the gospel, and I'm very grateful for the Savior and all that He does for us. This is all possible because of Him.
Love, Elder Watkins

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fire, Ups and Downs

The new mission home up in flames Saturday night.

The new living quarters of the mission president was basically unharmed.
A few of us from the Griffith Zone.
A great family!

Helloooooooooo!!! It is good to hear from yall in form of printed text. It sounds like things are going well. I'm glad to hear there is snow on the ground. Winter in Vernal isn't the same without snow and frozen windshield wipers.
This week has been a really up-down week! By that I mean really good and really hard. We had a couple rough days, but they seemed to end up in miracles! On Saturday all our appointments ended up falling through with our solid investigators, so we were stuck on the streets. So we went to work. We walked and tried talking to people. Knocked some doors. Thought a lot about where to go. Wondered when dinner was going to come around. Then BAM! New investigator!! We had decided to track a certain apartment complex near our apartment and we found a woman crying because her day wasn't going too well. We sat on some chairs by the porch and taught her a little. We found that she had stopped going to church when her mother died, and her family was falling apart. We taught her a little about the Plan of Salvation and she happily accepted a return appointment! It was a success! It showed us that sometimes God waits to see how faithful we are before He pours out the blessings. But when the blessings come, it makes all the hard work worth it! Then Sunday rolled around and we were expecting our investigator to show up for church. We called her before the services and she told us that she wouldn't be coming and that she had some things she needed to talk to us about. YIKES! That is the last thing a missionary wants to hear. She had a baptismal date for this next Sunday, but we will see tonight when we go over to answer her questions. Her husband seems to be questioning the credibility of our teaching. We think he might be playing a part in her doubts. She has a strong testimony though. PRAY FOR HER!! She needs it. Pray for us too. We need it! Then, after church we got to see one of the nicest baptismal services I've seen on my mission! A sister from Mexico was baptized! The elders in the area next to us have been teaching her. Her family from Mexico came up to see the service. Her grandson baptized her, and her son-in-law confirmed her. The second she came out of the water she starting crying "gracias, gracias!" because she was so happy to have finally joined God's fold. She bore her testimony to the group afterward, and she is a truly converted person. Wow! All the women (and some men) were crying. It was great. I think my eye-ducts have gone dry. I haven't worked up a tear in a while. Maybe all the smog has glogged the glands that create the tears. Who knows.
Welp. That's just a sliver of what happened this past week. If you want the exhaustive story you will have to read my journal. My brain can't remember all the good things that happen every day, and it chooses not to remember the bad things that happen. Life is great. The mission is awesome! I'm starting to get nervous for my last transfer. I'll let you know next week what's going to happen. I hope I get to train! I love you all and thank you for your support. Hope you have a good week shoveling snow while I get a farmer's tan!
Elder Watkins

Monday, January 9, 2012

Wallet stolen and Korean BBQ

This is the sort of thing that terrifies a mother of a missionary!
Assessing the damage.
Ross says this restaurant has great food, it looks a little sketchy to me.
Eating lunch today at a Korean BBQ Restaurant.

What a crazy week! I'll start with the most exciting/crazy part. The wallet. The story goes something like this:
So on Wednesday morning we were in our apartment talking about parking tickets we needed to pay. Then we realized that we would need to get one of the tickets out of our car so that we could send it to the mission office. So we stepped outside and enjoyed the beautiful weather all the way to our car. Then when we arrived at the car we noticed that we had parked in a "no parking zone" for Wednesday, and we had a big fat ticket on our windshield. We were pretty bummed about that. Then my companion said, "Hey, somebody broke into our car." I looked over and saw that somebody had bashed in the front right window of the car!!! They had gotten into the car and shuffled through all the stuff in the dash and the glove box! We were pretty startled about it all, and decided to call it into the mission office to inform them. Ticket in hand, we made the walk back to our apartment in the beautiful California sun. I turned to my companion and said "Well, the good thing is that our day can only get better from now on." We got back to the apartment and I realized that things weren't about to get much better when I checked my backpack to get my wallet out and realized that I had left it in the car the night before!!! We went straight back to the car to find that my wallet had been stolen!! I immediately called the financial missionaries in the mission office to make sure my mission credit card as well as my home credit cards got canceled before it was too late. The robber had already made 5 hits on my mission credit card and spent over $100! But the worst part is that my drivers license was in my wallet. I called President Baker to inform him. I don't have driving privileges anymore, and my companion hasn't had driving privileges for a long time. So we found ourselves in a pickle. A big, fat, juicy pickle. Because in the zone leader areas we are required to have a car. We didn't spend too much time mourning the loss, and just went out to work old fashion style, on foot. We had splits arranged with the Korean missionaries, so we ended up doing that the rest of the day. Then the next day we walked, and had a pretty good day with a new investigator! Then we got the long awaited phone call from President telling us what would happen with our handicapped companionship. He assigned a new missionary to come in with us for a couple weeks, until the end of the transfer, to drive for us! Haha he calls himself the "Zone Leader Chauffeur"! Things are going well. We have had some great success the past few days, and the work keeps going, no matter what tries to get in the way. Chances are pretty good that I will get sent to a new area next transfer to fix the situation haha. The only thing I'm worried about is getting some ID. As of right now I have nothing to prove that I am me. We'll see what happens. We got the car fixed, so all is well with that.
So that is the wallet story. I am a poor man now. But all is good. The work is the same. We set a baptismal date for Saturday! We have another baptismal date for January 22nd! (and her tough I love you all!
Elder Watkins

Monday, January 2, 2012


This is his new look for the new year, same ole Ross!
These are the Watts Towers, missionaries like to take pictures of them.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Wow that is pretty crazy! This past year went by SUPER fast! It was a really good year. Lots of hard work and sweat, and some awesome people that entered the waters of baptism. These next two months will be full of miracles! We are working hard and finding some really great people. Yesterday was a real letdown though. Nobody showed up to church! We were expecting 4 people. Next week will be better. A couple of investigators have been going downhill a little due to all the fiestas and busy things going on. But we are meeting with them tonight, and we hope to set a baptismal date! We talked with one last week and asked her to pray about the 22nd for baptism and she responded "do I have to wait that long?". Haha! We told her to pray about the 15th instead. We have another lady with a baptismal date for the 22nd. We taught her yesterday and have another lesson today! We asked her to pray about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon last night, and we are expecting a positive result today.
We had a really nice New Years devotional with President Baker! He is awesome! We went over the new standards of excellence for the year. They are super good! But I won't go into much detail because that is the kind of thing that makes only missionaries excited, and isn't too interesting for normal people (referring to anybody that hasn't been set apart by somebody holding the proper authority to be a full-time missionary of God).
Guess what?! It is smoking hot out here! It feels like the middle of summer! I'm sweating as I type! This time last year was really rainy. But this year it has been pure sun for weeks! I just wanted to make you folks in Vernal feel a little jealous.
Today we had a district activity for p-day. We went to downtown LA and checked out "Little Tokyo". I felt like I stepped outside the USA for a little while. The only thing that made me feel like I was in LA was the reassuring sound of people speaking Spanish in a couple of the shops. But even then, that is still a little foreign. But it made me feel a little more comfortable.
On New Years Eve all the missionaries got with their zones and had an activity in a church. We went and played volleyball in the LA Stake Center. It was really fun! Then we went to bed at 10:30 and I totally forgot that it was New Years Eve until I woke up to the screaming and booming of fireworks at midnight haha! It is funny how we tend to forget about holidays as missionaries. We had a really nice church meeting. The Bishopric spoke and gave some really nice words about a new year. We have an awesome bishopric.
Welp, have an awesome week! I'm really grateful for my mission. It continues to change me a lot. I just had the chance to finish the Book of Mormon this past week, and my testimony still stands firm that the Book of Mormon is definitely the word of God. I testify that it can bring us closer to God each time we read it, if we read with an open heart and real intent. I love you all!
Elder Watkins