Contact Elder Watson

Jacob will be unable to read this blog during his mission. If you wish to contact him, please use the information below.
He may not be able to respond directly to each letter or e-mail, so check back weekly to learn of his progress!

Adriatic South Mission
P.O. Box 2984
Bulevardi "Gjergj Fishta"
Qendra "ALPAS", Shkalla NR. 5,
Apartamenti NR. 14
Tirana 10000, Albania

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

19 February 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Week 3, already??  Wow. Thank you so much for the letters this week! I am very grateful to receive them. Letters are a nice little pick me up for when times are tough. Oh, and if you use Dear Elder, can you date the letters? Otherwise they don't say when they are from.  It's nice to hear about others in the ward, send them my love.

As a missionary, it's business all day everyday. I didn't even realize it was Valentine's Day until someone told me! The same with President's Day, I had no idea until someone mentioned it at the end of the day. On Sunday nights they play some videos for us like General Conference talks, or Church produced films. And we also have an opportunity to watch Bible Videos and Mormon Messages. They are so powerful and refreshing! If you haven't seen any lately, I would encourage you to do so! Our Sunday meetings are very different than at home. Our schedule is broken up so we don't have the 3 hour block. We have meetings throughout the day. In sacrament meeting they call up two missionaries from the congregation to speak without prior notice, but they give you an outline of what the message is. I haven't had to speak yet, but I have played piano for Priesthood meeting once already

My teaching skills have improved a bit over the past week. Elder Bangerter and I are teaching about 8 lessons a week. Our teachers pose as investigators, so we currently have 3 progressing investigators. Then we teach returned missionaries who come to the MTC once a week. Even though we get a lot of practice, my skills have a LONG way to go yet! It gets a little discouraging when you can't understand what someone is saying, even when they slow down and repeat it several times. Yes, Albanian is VERY difficult to learn, because it has many different verb conjugations and noun declensions and all of those depend on what part of speech that word is in a sentence. There is just so much to learn about grammar, and sentence structure, and vocabulary.

I have had some great experiences this past week too! In one of my lessons, I was able to recite the First Vision in Albanian. And in another lesson I was able to say two sentences in a row without really thinking about them (I think they made sense too). I was able to recite my Purpose in Albanian in my head one night as I was laying in bed, and I didn't have to think about it too much! I am making progress, and I can feel it. For some reason, I tend to focus on the negatives of myself before focusing on the positives. I am glad that you enjoy my testimonies! I would really like to hear all of yours as well. When we share testimonies our testimony increases and the testimony of those who hear it increases too!

I learned a lot about humility and faith this week. I would highly encourage you to read Alma 32! It is amazing. I felt much like the Zoramites. Trying to learn Albanian truly has humbled me and I know that I can't do this on my own. I love praying to my Heavenly Father and He hears and answers my prayers! (Oh, by the way, I'm getting really comfortable with praying in Albanian). I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and I know that we can learn a lot from it's lessons. I know that life is full of rough patches, but I know that without those rough patches, we wouldn't know when things were going smooth. I love you all and I pray for you each night. I hope all is well and I love hearing from you.

Love, Elder Watson

The picture of Ben E. Rich: doesn't he look like Tom Branson from Downton Abbey?

My Name Tag
Provo Temple
Elder Bangerter and Myself Outside the Temple
Elders From My District Outside the Temple
My Desk
My Classroom Desk

Title Page of an Albanian Book of Mormon

Sunday, February 16, 2014

12 February 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week was MUCH better than my first. I am feeling a lot more confident in the abilities the Lord has given me. It is still a lot of very hard work, but I feel like the Lord is helping me a lot. Trying to learn Albanian is extremely humbling. That has also been a blessing to me. I have realized that there is no possible way on Earth for me to learn Albanian. So I have prayed a lot in the past two weeks. This past week I have felt a lot of peace and comfort even when things are overwhelming. I am relying heavily on God.

TWO WEEKS??! Time does not make sense any more. It feels like I've been here for a couple days but also a year. It also seems like two years is forever in the future, but at the same time it's no time at all. I don't think that made any sense to you, but I think the only way that you can understand it is by experiencing it. When I read that Orcrist's Scabbard came this past week I thought, "Wow. It came really early. It wasn't supposed to get here until the middle of February. Wait... It IS the middle of February!" I can't express how warped time seems! 

Even though I have felt peace this last week, I haven't been feeling the best, health-wise. I had a sore throat for a couple days and then I was congested and coughing for the next couple days after that. But I bought some cold medicine from the bookstore and I am starting to feel better now.

Elder Bangerter and I have been praying a lot together in Albanian. We say every meal prayer in Albanian and every companionship prayer in the morning and night. It's getting to the point where it feels strange to pray in English. I'm pretty sure I'm saying a lot of things wrong in the prayer, but Heavenly Father knows what is in our hearts. Thank you so much for teaching me how to work hard. There are some Elders in my district that don't seem to understand the concept of work. I am very blessed to have learned this trait from you. Thank you so much for the Plan of Salvation puzzle! I haven't had an opportunity to use it in a lesson yet, but I'm looking forward to it! The other Elders that I have shown it to are really jealous. Some of them said that they were going to ask their parents to send them one! So thank you again! 

I really like p-days. Not only because we get part of the day off, but because we get to go to the temple. We get to go do work in the temple every Wednesday morning. I am extremely grateful to have a temple so close! We also get a break on Sundays to go walk around the temple grounds. The food here is... okay. It's very similar to the Cannon Center at BYU, but there isn't as much variety or quality. The food is edible but it's not the best. The food combined with being sick has had strange effects on my body. I think my body is finally starting to adjust to MTC life.

Montenegro was once part of the Adriatic South Mission, but not anymore. There is a word in Albanian for "Elder" but it translates to "Old Man" so the Church doesn't use that. The Church uses "Elder", but there isn't a "W" in the Albanian alphabet. So when I get to the mission field, my name tag will say "Elder Uatson: Kisha e Jezu Krishtit e Shenjtorëve të Ditëve të Mëvonshme" (El-dare Oo-aht-son: key-sha eh yea-zoo kree-shteet eh shen-ya-tor-vay tuh deet-uhvay tuh muh-vohn-shmay) That's as close as I can get to writing the pronunciation. We have firesides on Sundays and Tuesdays from various religious leaders. We haven't had an Apostle come, yet, but we have heard from members of the seventy. I have learned a lot from their words.

Elder Bangerter and I have been teaching a lot in Albanian. Our lessons seem to be rough because we don't know what our investigator is saying! But I have felt more and more comfortable teaching in Albanian with each lesson. I still can't say a lot, but I'm working on it. I have set some language goals that will help me. One goal I have, that I don't know if I'll be able to complete, is to speak nothing but Albanian after March 1. It will force me to become comfortable in Albanian and it will help me identify things I want to know how to say. I'll just have to use a LOT of hand gestures to get my message across. I have been making flashcards like crazy and I've been memorizing them. I think the pile of verbs that I know how to say is about 130. However, Albanian has cases. So depending on who is doing the action and when the action took place the verb can take on over 15 different forms called conjugations. I don't have all the conjugations memorized yet. So thinking through who is doing the action and conjugating the verb on the spot is VERY difficult and frustrating. Most the time I will be thinking through the conjugation and I can't figure it out so I'll just say some form of the word, which actually makes the sentence useless. 

Man, there is just so much to talk about, but not nearly enough time to say it! A couple big things happened this week. We had a sister go home. She was engaged prior to coming on her mission and that was very difficult for her. She prayed about it a lot, and she got an answer that the place for her wasn't at the MTC right now. She has a lot of faith and it took a lot of courage for her to go home, but she is doing what the Lord wanted her to do. Also, another missionary in our group was feeling very discouraged. I told him about my feelings and how I received peace and comfort to help me through this really rough time. He then asked me for a blessing. So I gave him a blessing and the Spirit was very strong! I could feel God's love for this Elder and it strengthened my testimony of this Gospel and the reality of Priesthood power. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. I know that God hears our prayers and He loves us and answers them in His own time. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that we can come to know of God's love by reading it with the Bible. I love this Gospel and I know that God wants me to serve Him here and now. We will see each other soon enough in two years.


Elder Watson

PS- I was going to send pictures but I don't have any time! I will send some next week I promise! Thank you so much for your love and prayers. I can feel the peace and comfort they bring. Thank you again and I love you all very much!
5 February 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

My flight was good, and I got to the MTC just fine. When I got there, they had tons of missionaries waiting to help us sign in and get situated.  Everyone here is really nice, and they truly care about you.  I got all my books, my nametag, and my room in probably 10 minutes. I was the first one to arrive at the MTC from my class. When I walked into the classroom, my teacher Motra (Sister) Atkin only spoke Albanian (Shqip [sh-cheep]). It actually translates to the language of the eagles. She used a lot of hand signals to help me understand what was going on. I felt extremely lost! Other Elders and Motra showed up over time and they were just as lost as I was.

I met my companion, Elder Bangerter, and we get along great! Do you remember Elder Tubbs? Well Elder Bangerter went to high school with him! Isn't that crazy? Elder Bangerter seems to have gone to high school with nearly half of the missionaries at the MTC. And the other half our his cousins or other family members.

On the second day of class we were already teaching a new investigator, Mihal. Mihal is really a returned missionary pretending to be an investigator, so he understands what we are going through. He only spoke Shqip and we were both very lost. I could only bear an extremely simple testimony in very broken Shqip. But on Tuesday night we taught him again. This time I was able to speak more, still in broken Shqip, but I spoke more and I understood very little. The Shqip is coming slow to me. I keep wanting to use German words instead.

Our district is 6 Elders and 2 Sisters, and there is one more district of 6 Elders. All of us leave for Albania on April 1, 2014. We are here at the MTC for 9 weeks. The Elders and Sisters in our district are from all over! Many are from Utah and the rest of the states, but Elder Waters is from New Zealand, and Elder Asler from Croatia. Both of our Sisters are from Canada. We have some strong testimonies in our mission. We had a lot of testimony meetings with our mission and the Spirit is just so strong.

My P-days are on Wednesdays. On Tuesdays the missionaries leave, and on Wednesdays the new missionaries come in. It's really weird to think that I've been here a whole week already! Time is really weird here at the MTC. Days feel like weeks, and weeks feel like days. Time moves as slow as molasses in class, and everywhere else (residence hall, gym, cafeteria) time moves too quick! I don't think I've had a single day where I accomplished everything that I wanted to get done.

I know that I will grow very much as long as I rely on Christ. My testimony has grown very much since getting here. I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior. I know that God wants me to serve Him as a full-time missionary. He has called me to go to a part of the world where they speak an extremely difficult language. I know that God lives and He loves me. I know that He answers prayers. I know that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are true and will bring us closer to God if we apply their teachings. I don't know why, but God has faith in me.

I love you all very much!

Elder Watson