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, March 26, 2014

26 March 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

This is my last email from the United States!! That's so weird, awesome, exciting, and scary at the same time! I really want to thank you for the letters and encouragement that you give me. It is always comforting to know that there are people back at home who are thinking about you and are praying for your success. I have felt the love of those at home and it has given me strength when things are tough. Send my love to the rest of the family, the ward, and everyone else! Thank you so much for the support you give me!

How much snow do you have at home still? I haven't seen snow in so long, it's kinda' weird. We have a map of Albania in our classroom and we've all been thinking about where we will be starting our missions in Albania. I figured that I'll be going to Prishtina, Kosovo, or to Shkodër, Albania, because they speak a different dialect than the rest of Albania. (That's just my luck). But we'll find out soon! I also hope that things are coming together for Phil. I've been praying about this situation a lot, and I hope everything goes well and according to the Lord's Will. Tell Aunt Janet congratulations or "urime"! That is so awesome!

I will be leaving for Tirana, Albania (Tiranë, Shqipëria) in 6 days! I'll be leaving on Tuesday, April 1, early in the morning, and I'll be getting there on Wednesday, April 2 in the afternoon. I got my flight plans last week and I'm so excited! I'll be flying from Salt Lake City, Utah, to Chicago, Illinois; Chicago, Illinois, to Vienna, Austria; and Vienna, Austria, to Tirana, Albania. We did the math and we figured that we will be in the air for 24 hours total, and that's not counting layovers at every airport.

Wow, I have been at the MTC for a long time and I have seen a lot of growth in my ability to speak, teach, and love others. This past week we got 18 new Hungarian missionaries in our zone. Elder Bangerter and I had the responsibility to welcome them and get them acquainted with the MTC on their first day. It was an awesome experience because just a few minutes after meeting them I truly loved them and I wanted the best for them. It's really difficult to describe, but I think it was a little taste of the love that God has for us. I've also learned to focus on what I know and not get discouraged with what I don't know. When you get discouraged and overwhelmed with everything, you can't do anything because you're so occupied with yourself. I've realized how stupid that is! Yes, times will be tough and things will be hard, but when those thoughts occupy your mind focus on the things you do well. You will be happier and life will go smoother for you. I've also found out that when you are feeling like things are really tough for you, reach out and serve someone else. It takes your mind off you, and you refocus your mind on what a mission is about: helping others. Serving others is the best cure for selfish thoughts.

I want to talk to you a little bit about the missionaries I've been with for the past two months. First I'll list out every missionary (with their companion) and then I'll talk more about them later as I'm out of time now. Elder Dahl (New Mexico) and Elder Penrod (Arizona); Elder Simons (all over the world) and Elder Waters (New Zealand); Elder Temple (Pennsylvania), Elder Squire (Utah), and Elder Anderson (Kentucky); Elder Smoot (Utah) and Elder Myers (Arizona); Elder Schramm (New Mexico) and Elder Asler (Croatia); Elder Bangerter (Utah), Elder Outsen (Utah), and me; and Motra (Sister) Vermunt (Alberta, Canada). I have learned so much from these missionaries! They have all taught me things that I couldn't learn elsewhere! We all get along really well and we all are super excited to go to Albania.

I love you all very much! Thank you for your support!

Elder Uacën

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

19 March 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Si jeni sot? Jam shumë mirë! Si ishte këtë javë kaluar?

Thank you so much for the packages! Thank you so much for the Easter Candy too! We don't want to take a bunch of stuff with us to Albania, so we are always trying to eat as much as we possibly can. Thank you so much for the support you have been giving me! I really appreciate it. Rachel, I am really happy that you chose the trombone! It really is the best instrument in the world! Don't listen to what the trumpets have to say, they don't know anything. That's why they play trumpet. Haha. You will do great with the trombone! I haven't seen snow since about...February 15, so it's nice to hear about the weather back home. I hope that spring will come before summer this year!

This past week we lost the Hungarian missionaries! They are all in Hungary right now, and today we just got a new batch of Hungarians! As zone leaders, Elder Bangerter and I will be welcoming them later today and helping them get ready to adjust to missionary life. In Hungarian "Sister" or "Elder" comes after the name. So now we have Elder Watson (me) and Watson Elder! I'm really excited to meet the new Hungarians. I absolutely love going to the temple. P-days are very hectic, so going to the temple in the morning is a great way to start off those days.

It's so hard to believe that I've been here for seven weeks! I'll be in Albania in two more! That's so crazy! I can't speak fluently yet (which is to be expected) which is giving me the most anxiety. On the first day in Tirana, I'll have to speak to Albanians one on one. But I just need to focus on the things that I can do instead of the things that I lack.

This next week is going to be crazy! We are in "Consecration Week" from today until next Wednesday. In consecration week all the missionaries going to Albania are speaking ONLY Albanian. And our class has decided to go a little beyond that by making specific goals to show our devotion to the Lord. Everyone gives up two years, so we want to show the Lord that we are extra dedicated to serving Him. I hope that the Lord will see my efforts and bless me for them. I love the Lord and I love the opportunity to serve Him. I love the Book of Mormon and I know that it is true. I know that the Gifts of the Spirit are real! I know that there is no other way that I could learn Albanian this fast other than through the power of God. I'm not perfect in the language, but after just seven hectic weeks I can have a conversation and know what's going on (kinda). I have seen so many miracles in my life in the past few days! I would suggest that you pray and ask God to see a miracle tomorrow. If you ask He will bless you! I have done this and I have seen miracles. I know that you can experience these miracles too. Just ask God and trust that He will. I think that's the best attitude we can ever have. Ask and trust. I love this Gospel and I know that it is true.
I love you all and I appreciate your support so much! I can feel your love all the way out here.


Elder Uacën

PS- I realized that "Uacën" is more phonetic and easier to say than "Uatson".

Friday, March 14, 2014

11 March 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

I am very happy to hear that everything is going great at home! Mom, Dad, and Rachel, thank you for sending the family stories, they were really cool! Now, I just have to figure out how to tell them in Albanian. I'm so excited that Debbie got baptized!! That is an amazing step for her and I know that it will continue to bring blessings into her life! Send her my congratulations. Also, send my love to the rest of the ward. I have been thinking a lot about them and how they have impacted my life. I have learned so much from them, and I have been thinking about them and praying for them quite a bit recently. Our district has made a goal to bear our testimonies three times a day to different people. Speaking Albanian to someone who only knows English is really easy. It's probably the most confident I've been in the language so far. There is still a lot to learn!! I'm kinda' freaking out because in three weeks I'll be in Albania. It is a very scary thought, but I just need to trust in the Lord.

I have learned a lot about trust this week. Last Tuesday night (4 Mar) we had a devotional with Elder Aidukaitis (spelling subject to change). He taught us a lot about promises to missionaries that are contained in the scriptures. He taught us that when we do everything that the Lord asks, He WILL bless us with that promise. Since his talk, I have felt more peace and comfort. I feel more comfortable speaking Albanian and I understand a lot more. I can understand most everything my investigators say if I focus my entire attention on them. Focusing your entire attention is difficult, because in Albanian, you can't just make up what you want to say, when you want to say it. You have to be thinking and planning out your sentences two or three sentences ahead. It's really tricky and I have not mastered that yet. But I know that the Lord will help me with this call, He will help me to learn Albanian if I put my trust in Him. 

At the MTC it's the same thing every day. I spend most of my time in the classroom studying, and when I'm not studying I'm teaching. The days blend together and most of it is class or study time. I've been trying really hard to study and to improve my study habits. I'm giving it my all and I'm doing what the Lord would want me to do. I'm doing my best and that's all I can do, but I feel that I need to be doing more.

I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior and I know that through the Atonement, I can be forgiven of my sins. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God to be a prophet, and through Joseph Smith the Gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the Earth. I love my Savior and I would do anything for Him. I know that He wants me here on this mission and I know that when I am feeling down I can turn to Him and He will pick up where I fall short. I love this Gospel, and I love all of you.

Thank you so much for your love and support, I couldn't do this without you.


Elder Watson

PS- Do you remember the movie Ephriam's Rescue? Do you remember the boy from Ireland that was very ungrateful? He's at the MTC! I saw him in the lunch room the other day and I couldn't believe it!

Elder Watson, Elder Outson, Elder Bangerter

Elder Outson is an addition to our companionship. He is an amazing missionary, and he has a very 
strong testimony of the Gospel. He loves to share his testimony with anyone and everyone!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

5 March 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Përshëndetje! Si jeni? (Hi, how are you?) Thank you so much for the letters. It is really exciting when I get a letter. It's a little bit of news from the outside world. I have no idea what has been going on in the past month! I've been too busy studying the Gospel and Albanian! It is a weird feeling, but it is also really nice to just focus on one thing and not be bombarded with tons of other stuff. We had testimony meeting this last Sunday. It is like testimony meeting at home, except EVERYONE wants to give their testimony! This last testimony meeting felt a little different though. In our "zone" we have missionaries going to Albania, Hungary, and Finland, and it was the Hungarian's and the Albanian's last testimony meeting together, so it was pretty busy! OH! Albania has some exciting news! This Sunday, the first stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be officially organized! All of us Albanians and our teachers are really excited!

It's so exciting that Debi Pinke is getting baptized! When I read that letter, I said, "Oh, sa mirë!" (oh, how good!) out loud. Tell her congratulations, and send her my love. Kate had her baby?? Tell Kate and Matt congratulations from me! That is wonderful!

My branch presidency got reorganized a couple weeks ago. It was strange, because I had only known them for about two weeks, but it was hard to say goodbye. I had truly gained a love for them! My old branch president (President Anderson) was amazing, and my new branch president (President Hutchings) is amazing too! They have two very different personalities, but they both have a strong love of the Gospel and they have a strong love for each one of us. President Hutchings drives us to keep improving, to never be complacent. He does so in a very loving way and he has inspired me to be the best missionary that I could possibly be! But I do miss President Anderson.

Elder Bangerter and I set the goal to speak only Albanian after March 1st, and we have been doing it. But it is so hard! Then on top of this difficult goal, I became senior companion in our companionship. So now I have more responsibility to make sure Elder Bangerter and I are progressing and preparing for our investigators. And then Elder Bangerter and I had an interview with Brother Garr, a member of the branch presidency. It was our half-way interview and he was asking us about how we got along and how things were going. Then he told us to teach him the Joseph Smith story in about 4 minutes. Teaching in English is super easy! Brother Garr said we did exceptionally well, and then he called Elder Bangerter and me to be the new Zone Leaders. So let's recap: I have spoken nearly all Albanian for the past 5 days, I have more responsibility and leadership in our companionship, and then I was given a large responsibility over 30 some missionaries... I enjoy reading from the Book of Enos. Most of the strong spiritual experiences I have had in life have been through prayer! I can definitely feel the power of prayer in my life, especially now that I'm on my mission. I prayed to ask the Lord to help me. Now I feel more confident in my language abilities. I feel peace and comfort, and I know that God will help me. He has called me to go to Albania and He will help me to understand Albanian and He will help me to fulfill all of my responsibilities. I am grateful for the trust that the Lord has in me, and I need to return that trust as well. Just like Nephi said, "I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandment unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them" (1 Nephi 3:7). I know that God has given me this commandment to preach His Gospel, and I know that He will help me do it.

Thank you so much for the love and support!


Elder Watson

Monday, March 3, 2014

3 March 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

I can't believe the weather you are having in MN! That's so crazy how much snow you have! There is zero snow here, except on the peaks of a couple mountains. On Sunday when we went on a walk to the Temple, I was roasting alive in my suit. It is very warm here! It's like Albania, but Albania is much more humid. I hope we don't have to wear suit coats there!

So, about Albanian culture. The biggest change is they shake their heads the opposite way! Left to right is yes and up and down is no. It's hard to explain, but they will click their tongues to say no and suck in air (audibly and quickly) to say yes. Albanians are very blunt, as well, so that will be interesting. If you are close to someone, you shake hands (like Uncle Rob), pulling the other person close to you, and touch temples together. One crazy thing is Albanians always carry things in bags. If you are carrying something in your hands, they will tell you to put it in a bag. Even if it is just one book, they will carry it in a plastic bag. Albanians also litter all the time. One of my teachers said once a branch did a garbage clean up service project, and when they finished they had ice cream treats. All the members dropped their garbage on the ground! Albanians don't really understand littering. I'm very excited to go to Albania, but also a little scared about the language.

The language is definitely a confidence roller coaster! The first TRC was not a good experience. (I can't remember what TRC stands for, but it's where we teach returned missionaries who pretend to be investigators.) But the next one was amazing! I felt very confident after that lesson. One of the missionaries shook my hand and we touched temples, so I felt a lot better after he did that. Chase Adams, one of the returned missionaries, knows the Junckers and said that Sister Juncker is a great cook! I also had an opportunity to meet Tyler Brown in one of the lessons. It was nice to meet him in person. (Editorial note:  Jacob e-mailed Tyler a couple of times from home to find out a little information about Albania before he left.)

There isn't enough time in the day to do everything! I am being extremely obedient, so I know that God will bless me for that. I have seen God's help in my life, and I just need to trust.

I love you very much and I want to serve this mission. I know that God lives and He loves me, and He loves you. I know that I need to trust in Him and He will help me. I know that The Book of Mormon is the word of God and that we can come to know the Savior's love by applying the doctrines it teaches.


Elder Watson

Saturday, March 1, 2014

26 February 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for the letters you write me! I truly love hearing about how things are going for you. I have grown a lot in the past week! Mom, Dad, and Rachel, on one of the first letters you wrote me, you translated something to Albanian. I looked back at that sentence this past week and now I know that Google translate is horrible! I can guess what the sentence said, but the spellings and conjugations made absolutely zero sense.

This past week has been a confidence roller coaster! I have had my worst language experience yet! Elder Bangerter and I were teaching a lesson to Jonist, one of our investigators. Jonist loved going to church and reading the Book of Mormon and he wanted to be baptized! It was so great! But I could hardly talk. I took extremely long pauses and I couldn't remember ANY words! I felt really discouraged after that lesson. But I prayed and told God that I would be relying on Him heavily in my next lesson, and the next lesson went great! I was confident in the abilities that God gave me. Then at TRC we teach returned missionaries. Last week I didn't have a good experience at TRC but this week was great. We talked about prayer and I am extremely comfortable talking about prayer! In one of our TRC lessons, I asked a question in Albanian and I guess the structure of the question was perfect and it was an advanced conjugation. They freaked out because of that sentence! After that lesson they said that they were intimidated with my speaking ability only after 3 weeks. 

Uncle Jerry and Aunt Karen sent me a package last week full of food! I have tons of food and so does every Elder on the floor so we go around and trade treats quite a bit. That's awesome that you heard from the McCardells! Send them my love! 

I have been learning a lot about Albanian culture in class, but I don't have much more time on email. I'll try to talk more about it next week. 

Well, I'm out of time so I just want you to know that I love you all very much! I love this Gospel very much and I know that it is true! I'm sorry this letter is very short, but I'll write more next week. I love you and don't ever forget to pray!!


Elder Watson