Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas (Week 14)

What a wonderful time of the year where we get to celebrate our Savior's birth and the life He lived here on earth for us. Christmas is becoming more and more commercialized each year, and being a missionary separated from the world, I can now see how far we have moved from the true meaning of
Christmas. God gave us His most divine gift, His only begotten son’s life. The Savior gave freely to everyone out of pure love. He came here to set the perfect example for us to live righteously. He sacrificed everything for us to live with our Father in heaven again. The least we can do to give back to our Savior this Christmas is to serve those in need. The best way to give and serve is to do it anonymously, without seeking recognition.

Things are going well here in Shawnee. Elder Bushman got transferred to Wichita Falls TX, and Elder Jenkins is my new companion who left from Wichita Falls TX. Elder Jenkins and I are focusing on
growing the ward down here in Shawnee, and creating ward unity. The ward can't grow until the ward is unified and seeking to do missionary work. We are starting to set up Family Home Evenings with different families in the ward and inviting less active members and investigators, to create ward unity and fellowship. Home Teaching and missionary work are so important in a ward to bring less active and recent converts to church. Fellowship is everything. This will help our investigators and less actives come to church.

We have begun to find more solid people to teach and we have been digging though the area book
looking at old contacts and seeing if any of the people would be good to teach again. W~ is still struggling with coming to church but her testimony is growing each time we visit. Also we are visitingthe A~ family who live out in Bethel. We visited them yesterday and talked about the spirit of Christmas and read the story of Christ's birth in the Book of Mormon (3 Nephi 1). They are a solid family looking for the gospel, it’s hard to meet with them but we are going to try to visit with them more.

We are not going to be able to do too much on Christmas, because we can only visit those with set appointments and so far we don’t have very many. I'm looking forward to calling home and talking to you guys. 

I love you all and Merry Christmas.

Sincerely, Elder Watkins

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

PB&J (Week 13)

This week has been historical. Elder Moore has never had a peanut butter sandwich in his life and this week at his 22 month mark in his mission, he has finally taken the courage to try one. We give Elder Moore a hard time for how picky he is about food and trying new things. Last Friday Elder Moore went on exchanges to Midwest city and took his companion's (Elder Cutler) bike to use on the exchange. At the end off the night we got a call from Elder Moore telling us he had bad news. They were at a member's house for 10 minutes and someone had taken wire cutters and broke their bike lock and stole Elder Cutler's bike. Elder Moore told Elder Cutler that he would do anything to make it up to him, and he said "If you eat a PB&J sandwich your debt will be paid." The next Saturday Elder Moore ate a chunky peanut butter and jelly sandwich and it was indeed historical. Next week he will try ranch dressing. :)

Our investigator W is going through some changes. L no longer lives with her because it turned out she was doing drugs, not getting into too many details, W needed her out. This has made it easier on W and now she is finally giving up smoking and coming to church. She is really starting push herself for a date for baptism. One of our investigators P is also finally going to quit smoking and push for a date. His family is now supporting him more than ever, its gonna happen! Our investigators are pulling through and things are looking good for next week. Right now the ward needs a lot of help focusing on missionary work and bonding together in unity. This week we are gathering multiple families together and having conjoined family home evenings, to work on ward unity.
I found out yesterday I'm getting a new companion Elder Jenkins who is coming up from Wichita Falls, Texas. Elder Bushman and him are basically switching places. The leadership in our district has become a little faulty, so Elder Jenkins is going to be our new district leader, which means I'll be going on tons of exchanges. Ah, yeah.

Elder Martin

This holiday season has been legit over here in Shawnee and it's only just begun. I have new film photos but I forgot to get them put on a CD :P

Sincerely, Elder Watkins

Monday, December 9, 2013

Ice Storms (Week 12)

The weather this week has been crazy over here in "Okie"land. On Thursday we got hit with an "moderate" ice storm and we were stuck inside for awhile. Once the sleet eased up we weren't able to drive due to the road conditions (they don't plow or salt the roads here), so we set out on foot. On Friday we woke up to 4 inches of snow. It wasn't all that bad though, because it helped us get into people's houses.
We got a couple of good investigators this week one of which was J~, we met him when we stopped by to visit one of our other investigators, A~ and her son M~. He is another member of their household and he invited us in because of the cold weather. He was a really awesome guy and was very open to our message. We shared with him a Book of Mormon and explained to him that it was an ancient record of his ancestors from 600 BC to 400 AD. He was really happy when we gave it to him and explained that he has read a lot of books on Christianity. We shared with him the plan of salvation and the lesson went fairly well. He had a lot of input himself on the doctrine that he has picked up from other faiths over the years, but we did our best to show him the restored truth. We hope to teach him again sometime this week.
Recently we were able to teach W~ and her sister L~. W~ has been meeting with the missionaries for awhile and just recently has her sister L~ begun to participate. W~ has had a problem with smoking for a long time and so we decided to teach her and L~ the Word of Wisdom together. It was a little awkward at first because when we first came in L~ was smoking. The Word of Wisdom can be a difficult commandment to teach. We explain to W~ and L~ the 5 substances that the Lord doesn't want us to take into our bodies. We taught them that the Lord has commanded us to abstain from these substances because they delude the body and and spirit. The spirit was strong but I could sense contention coming from L~. 

We had an awesome member with us for the lesson, Bro. R, and he bore an excellent testimony on the Lord's commandments and the promised blessings that come when we obey them. L~ wasn't ready to follow the Word of Wisdom so I committed her to pray to know if it is a commandment from God. And her response was, "I don't". Me and my companion were alittle confused by her answer. We got the impression that she doesn't pray. The only way someone can become converted is if they have daily communication to their Father in Heaven. When we meet with her next we will be addressing her concerns with prayer and teaching her its importance.
This week's forecast for salvation looks good and the snow is starting to melt. I love the letters I've received from all of you and hearing about what's up. Keep me posted.
Sincerely, Elder Watkins 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! (week 11)

Time is starting to fly. This week has been pretty good; we have done a lot of exploring in the boondocks/sticks (finding inactive members in the middle of nowhere). We had some pretty funny experiences; you can tell a lot of the people live in the boons to get away from civilization. Literally, the first house we pulled up to there was a guy sitting in his tractor that asked us what we wanted. We told him if he knew where so and so was and he glared at us and said, "Well she's gotta live somewhere in the world." We asked him again if he knew her and he told us it was time for us to go, we awkwardly said "Okay, have a nice day."

There was another house that we tried to visit that had a large open front yard, and towards the house about 20 feet from the porch lay a rather large dog with a chain linked to his collar. We gradually walked towards the porch. As we got closer I started to notice the many Beware of Dog signs placed around the yard. Elder Bushman, quite unaware of the situation, led the way to the door. The dog that was once laying down, now stood staring me down. We got about 10-15 feet from the door and the dog bolted at me. I quickly ran back toward the car. The dog's leash was a lot longer then it looked from afar. The dog wasn't fast enough to catch me. 

Now Elder Bushman stood on the porch knocking on the door with me awkwardly standing 40 feet from the door. The dog still didn't notice Elder Bushman standing on the porch. Finally when no one answered the door after two knocks, he started to very slowly make his way off the porch with the dog lying back in its original place. Elder Bushman beckoned me to make some noise to distract the dog, so I moved the leaves on the ground with my foot while he stepped off the porch. As soon as he reached the last step the dog saw him and bolted at him. Elder Bushman who was speed walking, realized that the dog was faster than he thought. The large dog came within a foot from biting him. He ran around the telephone post and he barely got away. I could not stop laughing, I seriously thought the dog was getting Thanksgiving ham early. We had a good laugh about it once we got back in the car.

 A cool fishing pond in the boons.

We had Thanksgiving dinner at J~'s house, who is a recent convert that was baptized about year ago. She had her entire family over from Blackwell and Ada. We had a wonderful dinner and had a really good conversation with J~'s step dad who is a Baptist minister (kinda). We shared our similar beliefs with him and we eventually got to talk to him about the Book of Mormon and explain where it came from. We were even able to give him a copy to read for himself. We explained to him that the Book of Mormon and the Bible go hand in hand and support each other. He was really grateful for the Book of Mormon and he said he'll read it. We left their family by having everyone go around and say what they are most grateful for. It was a really good Thanksgiving. I'm grateful to be able to be here in Oklahoma and to share this gospel that I know to be true and that has blessed my life so much in so many ways. I'm grateful for Christ's atonement and to be able to know that he died for my sins so I am able to return to my Father in Heaven through repentance. We are so blessed!

One of our investigators is getting really close to baptism. We have been teaching W~ for quite some time now and we are really pushing her to find out if this is the right one for her. W~ is in her early 70’s and lives with her sister in a 1920’s manor. It is the coolest house and is in pretty good condition. Recently, her sister L~ has started coming to the Book of Mormon classes and is now interested in hearing from the missionaries. She is a pretty depressed lady but we are helping her see the greater joy in this life and God's plan for us. We are so excited to start teaching her. Good things are going to happen. All W~ needs to do is quit smoking and come to church (she is worried that she smells like smoke) but we explained to her that everyone at church loves her and have been through similar struggles, they are there to encourage her.

Next week looks promising!

Sincerely, Elder Watkins