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