Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Week 6

This week has been up and down.

We have been meeting with D~ a lot and really cranking down on helping him see the difference between worldly happiness and spiritual happiness. We taught D~ to repent and the lesson was pretty solid. Alcohol is no doubt his demon, and we can see the effects that it has on him while we visit. He is in a really tough spot, and we are doing what we can to help him and we are making sure he has the desire to quit for himself. He has improved a ton since we first started meeting with him. We had a lesson with him on Friday and we made a commitment that he would not drink alcohol between then and Sunday, we also helped him find ways to be productive with his time so he doesn't have time to think about drinking. We taught him how important it is that we read, pray and go to church. We've taught him these so many times but I think it's finally setting in.
This Sunday D~ came to all 3 hours of church! There are a lot of semi-recent converts in our ward and they got along great with him. Most of the converts have very similar backgrounds and stories on alcohol addiction. During our last session of church, (Elders Quorum) a recent concert gave the lesson on keeping the commandments. It was crazy, the lesson applied perfectly to D~ in every aspect. One of the members shared that when we don't keep the commandments not only does it do harm to use, but it also harms those we love and are close to like our friends and our grandma (which was really weird because, that was D~'s exact living situation, all he has left is his grandma and one friend). After the lesson, D~ told us how much he enjoyed church and that he wants to come back again! We are going to meet with him later today.
On the down side of the week, we found out that one of our Investigators that we'd set a baptismal date with has a few problems, and might not be getting baptised anytime soon...
I'm not going to mention their name for confidentiality purposes. Our investigator was staying with one of the members in our ward because of their previous family condition, and is currently struggling to get their kid back because of it. Until this Thursday we didn't know there was anything holding them from baptism. It turns out this person has been stealing money from the member who sheltered them and was caught selling drugs behind the house. It's really sad and we don't know much more than that. We are hoping that everything gets resolved peacefully.

Besides that and me getting sick, this week has been awesome, and life is good. We entered our names into the ward chili cook off this Wednesday, and our recipe is unbeatable (3 cans of chili from Walmart and 3 mild sauce packets from Taco Bell... don't tell anyone it's secret).
Sincerely, Elder Watkins

Monday, October 21, 2013

Bible Study (week 5)

Bible Study by Desert Noises on Grooveshark 
This week has been crazy. I don't know where to start.

Early in the week (I can't remember what day... all the days seem to mush into one), me and my companion were knocking on doors in the far south part of town. Me and my companion were listening to the promptings of the spirit and making the other knock the door to start the conversation. In The Oklahoma Mission we have a tracting method called "The Gift of Prayer" where we ask the resident if we can offer a gift of prayer to their family and home. I asked my companion to knock a door, and no one answered. He then asked me knock the door of a pink house that he "felt prompted" for me to knock. I went up and knocked on the door. I heard big footsteps and the door swung open. Low and behold stood a stout man, maybe it was the Tennessee football jacket or his rough complexion, but he reminded me of a football coach. I introduced myself and told him we were representatives of Jesus Christ. I asked him if we could offer a prayer with him to his home and family. with a loud booming voice he said we were just about to have prayer come on in. I was surprised and had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. My companion and I walked in to the living room to see 3 ladies sitting in the room, one of which was 95. The man introduced us to the ladies and explained that we were missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and that we were serving two year missions where we leave behind our families and previous lives to serve the Lord. I was shocked how much he knew about us. It appeared that we had come to their house the very day and hour they had bible study. The man talked to us about the Rapture and asked us kindly about our faith. All of the people in the room seamed to have gathered from different faiths to pray and read the Bible. One of the ladies said it was hard to go to certain churches because they taught things that didn't feel right. I shared with her part of Joesph Smith History and told her about Joseph seeking for truth. We really didn't get to teach them a full lesson, but we had a really cool bible discussion.

After an hour of talking, I offered a prayer. As I began to offer the prayer they started to moan and loudly say "mmMmmm, Praise Jesus!" "Yes he does!" and, "Glory to him!" It was very distracting, and I tried not to grin. Overall it was a crazy experience.

Things have been going really well with D~. He has kinda stopped drinking (he says if he stops cold turkey he will die). We taught him the Plan of Salvation, and he loved it. I have never seen him more attentive. We showed him the lay out with laminated pieces of the Plan, and it made complete sense to him. He was so happy to know where his grandmother (the one taking care of him) was going after this life. We set a baptismal date with him for the 16th of November.

This Sunday D~ came with us to church, but we had to drive him home at the very end of sacrament meeting because he was feeling really sick. His health is really poor because of his drinking, but he is doing much better, considering that he made it to church.

We have a new investigator this week named J~, who has similar problems as D~. He has bad depression and  is also an alcoholic and smokes. We have known J~ for awhile, but it was hard to meet with him and teach him a full lesson. He grew up knowing a very nice LDS family that treated him very well. Since they moved 10 years back, he hasn't heard from them. He has a really strong desire to become a member of the church, but he is scared that he won't be accepted because he and his girlfriend are living together and aren't married yet. We taught him the Restoration and The Word of Wisdom. He is striving to become better. We set a baptismal date with him for the 30th of November.

Last Saturday, we went to the Buckley's property to do service. We helped move fire wood and made a bonfire with huge branches of oak and pine. We had a lot of fun. I've noticed something about the people here in OK - they all have at least one dog, and in most cases they have four. They had some beautiful Irish and Australian Shepherds. Also, check out this legit donkey.

Things are going well and the members down here are awesome at feeding us (we basically get fed every night). I'm gaining weight or at least I'm trying to...

It's starting to get too cold to bike, so that will most likely help my efforts.
Sincerely, Elder Watkins

Monday, October 14, 2013

Braum's (week 4)

Hello from Oklahoma! Things are going swell!

This week I was able to go on exchanges to Seminal, OK which is just East of Shawnee. My exchange companion was Elder Linam from Lehi UT, we both haven't been out in the field very long. It was a pretty rough exchange for knocking on doors, no one really answered. We did get to pray with a couple of non-member families, though, which was good. Out here in Oklahoma it gets pretty dead around 8 o'clock-especially in Seminal where there isn't a main street or condensed commercial property. We got to the apartment around 8:10 and we had nothing to do.
Bodacious Wall Mural Outside the Town Hall on Main Street

Maybe it was the Spirit, or maybe it was my stomach, but I felt prompted that we should walk down the street to Braum's to get ice cream. We walked the mile walk to Braum's and got ice cream cones. As we were walking out, a girl caught my eye (not like that). She was a Braum's employee and she was crying. We walked over to her and asked what was wrong, she explained that the person she had been living with for a year had just told her that he never loved her. We comforted her and found out she was an inactive member, in fact she had been the last door we knocked on... it was a spiritually inspired trip for ice cream. We talked to her for a while, and set her up with an appointment with the sister missionaries.

D~ has been doing good. We had a lesson with him and really cracked down on quitting alcohol. We read Alma chapter 34 with him and talked to him about prayer.and how it will help him in the process of giving up alcohol. Afterward we gave him a blessing. Elder Bushman sealed it and I anointed it. The spirit was so strong in the room and I knew D~ could feel it. We told him about the Book of Mormon class that we would be teaching on Thursday, and asked if he would like a ride and he said yes.

Later on Thursday we gave the Book of Mormon class, and connected the Book of Mormon with the Bible. We answered two big questions off the 50 frequently asked questions list. Why should we pray? and How can I know that the Book of Mormon is true? We taught a really solid lesson and addressed a lot of questions and concerns. I think it was really good for D~ to be there for the lesson and he got a lot out of it, he also made some new friends. D~ didn't come to church this week but we think he was visiting his dad so we will meet with him again this week and teach him the Plan of Salvation.

Fred the Toad

Thank you for your letters, they mean alot.

Sincerely, Elder Watkins

Monday, October 7, 2013

N~ and D~ (Week 3)

Well I've left the MTC and now I'm in the field. Only five people from my branch left to Oklahoma, so it was a little sad saying goodbye to the other elders and sisters in our branch.

MTC Branch 159
It was pretty awesome on the airplane from Dallas to Oklahoma, I was able to sit next to a young African American woman and talk to her about the gospel. When I first sat next to her I noticed she was playing Ruzzle on her iPhone. I told her that I was terrible at that game and we quickly started to talk. She told me that she once had a Mormon boyfriend, but she dumped him because he was "crazy" (he was pushy on baptism and marriage in the temple). She asked me a lot of questions about the LDS church, and I did the best I could at answering them. At one point she asked me, "Well, if you never met me, what would you teach me first?" After that point I went into the first discussion and taught her the Restoration. After that she said, "In our church we know that we are from heaven, but after we die we still aren't sure." From there I gave her a brief summary of the plan of salvation. When our 55-minute flight was over I was privileged to hand her a Book of Mormon and invited her to find out for herself if what I taught her was true. It was a pretty cool experience.

Me and my bro Skippy/Elder Corbin
My first area that I've been assigned to is a town called Shawnee which is located south of OKC. I cover the southern part of the town which is a little ghetto, but the people here are awesome. Me and my companion Elder Bushman have one of the nicest cars in the zone, but we have been biking quite a bit the past couple of days. Shawnee feels like a town off the coast of the Mississippi river. It's like I'm living in a Mark Twain book, and it's awesome. Everything here is Bible themed. It's crazy, Shawnee has every christian denomination you can think of.

Last Friday me and my companion felt prompted to visit one of our recent converts in the area. N~ was recently baptized and is a recovering alcoholic. We met with his family and talked about some of the things that he'd recently read in the Book of Mormon. After we finished our lesson we felt prompted to ask if N~ would like to come with us to our next appointment with a young man named D~. We explained to N~ that D~ was also a struggling alcoholic and was close to death and becoming homeless. N~ said yes and we left to D~'s.
N~'s dogs

N~ wasn't sure what to talk to D~ about and we told him to just listen to the promptings of the Spirit. When we got to D~'s house, and when we met him he was shirtless and depressed at the door. He invited us in and we sat in the living room. D~ and N~ hit it off so well that me and my companion didn't say anything until 25 minutes into the visit. N~ shared his story of being homeless growing up and going through divorce, alcoholism, and other difficult challenges.

He bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon and how it helped him with his challenges and to become closer to God. The Spirit was so strong and I could tell D~ could feel it too. We told D~ that we loved him and that are there to help him over come his struggles. He thanked us and N~ then invited him to church! It was awesome we barely did anything haha. D~ said yes and N~ offered to give him a ride. I know this gospel is true and that the love it brings can change our lives.
I'd love to hear from more of you! Please e-mail me at: russell.watkins@myldsmail.net 
Thank you for all of you that have written me it means a lot. Anyways, me and my district are leaving to go play basketball inside a Baptist church. Praise the Lord! Amen!

Tuesday, October 1, 2013