Monday, July 28, 2014

Transfers! (Week 45)

This week has been pretty good. We haven't really been able to meet with to many of our investigators but we have been really successful with our less actives. Ever since the start of this new transfer it seems like everyone has started to open their doors. We've probably gotten inside with more less-active families in the past three days then in the pass two weeks.

Me and my new companion Elder Staheli are rocking it, and this weekend has been full of miracles. I was a little worried about taking over our big condensed area, because I've only met with half the members on our roster. It was stressful but we have relied on the Lord to guide us in all that we do. Saturday and Sunday was all about making quick decisions. It was amazing how everything worked out for us to visit with so many people that were in need. It seemed that everything worked out
perfectly. When we have faith and are obedient as we serve the Lord all of our impressions and ideas will come from God.

Yesterday we were honored to join the ward in ward council. We discussed members that were struggling and needed help. Later that day impressions came into our minds to change and a line things in our plans so that we could visit those families. We ended up getting a phone call from one less active/recent convert family, saying that sister P~ needed a priesthood blessing for a medical procedure that would be happening the following day. We quickly put them into our plans and pushed things around. After the blessing I felt inspired to have the member take us back to our apartment early so we could see a different less-active/recent convert family. He asked if we wanted him to join us in the visit but for some reason I felt that we should visit the family on our own. We got dropped off and went to the T's house. The visit went really well. It was a miracle that they were even home. During our visit sister T~ (recent convert) opened up and told us about a situation she had where she was recently offended by a member (things that she probably wouldn't have told us if a member was with us). I then felt inspired to read to her Matt 18:21-35, something that I had studied the day before. It can be some scary scriptures to read to someone who needs to forgive. The spirit touched her and softened her heart. She knows what she needs to do and now she just has to forgive. Both families told us that they would be coming to church and that they wanted to have a us over for dinner. we didn't even have to ask.

It amazes me how many times in the scriptures it is said: "Remember, Remember". Your out on your mission for almost a year and it feels like your brain is mush. I've notice where Satan catches us in his snare. It's in forgetting. We forget the miracles. We forget our blessings. We forget our purpose. We forget who loves us. We forget what's most important. We must not allow ourselves to forget what God has given to us. It all comes from him. Why is it a commandment to read the scriptures? Why do the prophets tell us to keep a record of our lives? Because Satan is always trying to get us to forget. The armor of God is strong and will protect us but only if we put it on.

The work can be a struggle but everyday is a victory.

Sincerely, Elder Watkins


Elder Staheli and the Hulk

Pioneer Day BBQ

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Power of Faith (Week 44)

This week was really hard, but it has taught me a lot. I've really been pondering over the principle of agency and how it works in God's plan and how it ties in with faith. This life is for us to find joy and to live our lives in harmony with God's teachings so we can learn to become like him. I've learned so much about patience and true desire this week. I've pondered a lot on who I am and what I want to become.

Yesterday was really eye opening for me. After a late lunch me and my companion decided to go out tracting (knocking doors). We biked a mile south to a neighborhood we had spent little time in. We knocked doors and said a few prayers with people, but we didn't run into anyone with sincere interest. The time reached 5:36 and we had dinner at 6:00 with a member back towards our apartment. My companion felt like we should just head back because we wouldn't finish the street (He's a little OCD). I was loving the work and for some reason I just felt like we should just keep knocking and get the other side of the street done. We continued to knock and no one answered, until we reached the last house with the time being 5:50. We knocked it and waited. The door opened and a middle age couple stood in the door, we told them who we were and that we were representatives of Jesus Christ, and that we have come to their house today to offer a prayer over their family and home. They glanced at each other and let us right into their home. They gave us water and we talked with them for awhile and got to know them. They told us about their family and began to tell us the miracles that they saw in their lives and how the Lord lead them to find each other.

Towards the middle of the conversation we handed them a pamphlet on the restoration of the gospel. Marie told us that she had read the Book of Mormon once. She suddenly got emotional. She took a minute to gather herself,  and then told us that missionaries had helped her through a really hard depressing time in her life 12 years ago. My heart began to burn and my eyes started to water, I knew that we needed to be here and that the Lord had lead us here. We said a prayer to bless her daughter that was far from home in the military, and we set up a return appointment. We left their home with a peaceful feeling. I think the experience also helped my companion open his eyes too.

It was really interesting to think about it afterward. Would we have ever found that family if we did decide to leave early? Would we have knocked their door later when they weren't home. How long would it be after that for them to find the missionaries? I know the Lord works in mysterious ways and we can't always understand how he does it. This is his work and his glory. We are his servants here upon the earth. He stands with and guides those that have faith and trust in him.

I'm grateful for all of my friends and family and for all that they have given me. Keep me posted I love you all!

Sincerely, Elder Watkins

P.S. This Wednesday I'm getting a new companion Elder Stalehi, an Elder that came out with me. It's going to be an awesome transfer.

Remodeling Rodney's 5 star bathroom is going well!

The District

Finished kinda...
Bikes

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rodney's Baptism (Week 43)

This week was great! Rodney got baptized on Saturday the 12th, and confirmed in sacrament meeting on the 13th.

It was one powerful baptism. There was at least 40 people there. His mother and bother (who are non-members) came, and Sister B~'s mother and sibling came down from Salt Lake to see the baptism. There has been so much love and support in getting Rodney to baptism. He truly has found his home. Rodney had Brother Richen's baptize him. It was amazing. Later on Sunday Rodney told us about what he experienced. He said he had an out of body experience. He saw himself in third person. He saw as he was lowered under the water, demons were washed out of his body and as he was raised they could not grasp him. Pretty cool stuff. He is a new person, never have I seen a happier man. Completely clean from his past ready to move on and follow Christ. While he was getting dried off and changed we passed around cards and envelopes for people to write their testimonies on. I was amazed how reverent and peaceful the whole service went. On Sunday Brother Snodgrass preformed the confirmation (his first time). Rodney is going to make such a strong member of the church. There is nothing greater than seeing someone brought into the fold of God.

This week we have been doing a lot of less-active work and tracting, and we have seen miracles in our contacting. We have been finding members lost members left and right. We are working hard at finding new investigators from tracting and getting referrals from members. The work is hard but it pays off.

Thank you for all of your letters/emails and love, Sorry this email is so short again. Keep me posted I love you all!

Sincerely, Elder Watkins

Me, Elder Garner, Rodney, Brother Richens, Elder Bolan

P-Days

Bowling with the crew

Priceless

Monday, July 7, 2014

Independence Day! (Week 42)

Happy 4th of July! This week has been great and we have seen a ton of miracles!

For the Fourth of July our mission president gave us permission to stay out until 11pm. We went to 2 BBQs back to back, I've never been so full of food in my life haha. The first BBQ we got invited to by a less-active member at her mother’s house. She ended up being an hour late so we showed up and ended up being the only members there haha. It was a little awkward at first but the people opened up to us and we socialized with everyone. It was awesome. Later we went to the 2nd BBQ at a member’s house. We visited and launched fireworks. Oklahoma is crazy about their freedom and country, it’s awesome and a little dangerous. People literally run around with roman candles in their hands and throwing firecrackers at each other. It’s crazy.

Later that night around 10pm we went with a family in the ward to Mustang to watch the fireworks at the park (one of the three cities in OKC where fireworks are legal). To give you an idea of what it was like imagine one third of all the people in salt lake valley all gathered within 12 square miles all of them launching aerial fireworks add in alcohol and rednecks to the equation and you have Mustang on the Fourth of July. We walked through the park with fireworks going off every which way. It was nuts! I don't think I’ve seen that many fireworks in my whole life. Don't worry no one died... that we know of.

A couple of weeks ago we knocked into an older Vietnamese gentleman. He spoke very little English but he invited us right into his home. He gave us some Hawaiian Punch to drink while we sat with him on his couch and listened to him as he struggled to speak English. Eventually I asked him if he had an iPad, he left and came back with two. We used Google translate to talk to him. We told him our purpose and he expressed his struggles with learning English and adjusting to the country. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and that Jesus Christ's pure gospel has been restored in it fullness. We used YouTube and showed him Mormon Messages about the family and the gospel and turned the Vietnamese captions on. He watched intently and we could tell he felt the spirit.

We came back a week later and gave him a Vietnamese Book of Mormon and the idea sparked in my mind to also give him an English Book of Mormon. We promised him that if he read the Vietnamese Book of Mormon side by side with the English Book of Mormon he would learn to read and speak English. After we handed him the Book of Mormon he looked up and quietly thanked God. My heart swelled with joy as I watched him smile with his eyes closed. He thanked us and we left.

On Friday me and Elder Bues went over and visited him on exchanges. Surprisingly he was speaking better English. He showed us all of the progress he had made in learning the language by showing us his notebook. We helped him pronounce the words he struggled with. Then he showed us the two Book of Mormon’s that he had been bouncing between and reading scriptures. I may be on a state side mission, but I can still serve the foreign.

AH I’m running out of time! One more thing we are having a baptism this Saturday for R~. He is so excited and ready. Even though I have only been here half of the time he has met with the missionaries, I've still seen him change so much. He has such a big heart and is going to make an amazing disciple of Jesus Christ. I'll tell you how it goes next week. I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Sincerely, Elder Watkins


Me during fireworks

Me, Elder Garner, R~ and Sister Bennet

Firecrackers!

The Plan of Salvation (unfinished)

Mustang 1st Missionaries
Me, Elder Garner, Sister Young and Sister Chevalier

video
Slow motion video of Roman Candles