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

Monday, April 21, 2014

20 April 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Easter in Albania is a little different. You can actually say "Happy Easter" to people in public and they won't get offended. From our apartment we can see a big banner that says, "Gezuar Pashket" (Happy Easter) that stretches across the street. There are signs all around town wishing you a happy Easter. It's really nice how you can be openly religious here and not have people freak out about it. We went over to our branch president's apartment for a while last night to share an Easter message with him and his wife. Whenever you go into an Albanian's home, they always give you a drink and a small snack. It's a tradition that every Albanian practices. However, since it was Easter they gave us a special treat. We talked with them for a while and we shared a message from Helaman 14:17 and talked about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and what that means for us. Elder Clawson made me give the thought last night and I was kinda nervous, but everything went well. Another thing that Albanians do on Easter is they dye hard boiled eggs red, then when they have dried, each person takes an egg and you hit two of them together on the tips to see who has the strongest egg.

That's awesome that you had Stake Conference this last week. I always enjoy stake conference, and I'm looking forward to going to Stake Conference in Albania! They've only had one Stake Conference here in Albania because they've only had a stake since the beginning of the month. This week, the youth were having an activity at the church building in Lushnjë and we met the Stake President there. He speaks English very well! That's so awesome to hear how the Princeton Ward was represented at Stake Conference! {Members of our ward were called upon to bear testimony, play piano, and say a closing prayer.} That's so awesome to hear about Spencer, Grant, and Mikey. That makes me so happy! (A few of Jacob's friends who will be receiving the Melchizedek Priesthood.) Also, say, "Përshendetje!" to the Jensen Family for me when you get the chance. {Friends who sent well wishes who also have a daughter on a mission to Salt Lake City, UT, right now.}

Yeah, The Palace isn't best situated for four missionaries, but that will be changing on Tuesday. Elder Clawson and I have spent a lot of time looking for an apartment in the past couple weeks and we finally found one that is perfect for us! However, it just wasn't meant to be. On Sunday night we received a call from our Mission President, President Ford, and the area that Elder Clawson and I have been working in is being closed and we will be reopening an area in Durrës this Tuesday. Now there will only be four missionaries in Lushnjë (two elders, and two sisters) and there will be six missionaries in Durrës (six elders). Durrës is a coastal city in the middle of Albania, and is much larger than Lushnjë, so there will be more work for us there. I've only been in Lushnjë for 18 days, so this is very soon. Usually transfers in Albania last for 13 weeks, but I guess that it is needed for Elder Clawson and I to go to Durrës right away. Elder Clawson is very excited to go to Durrës because that's the city he was born in.

Okay, Elder Clawson wasn't literally born in Durrës, he was born in Idaho, but we have a bunch of mission language that I'll explain really quick. The area where you are trained, or first start you mission, is where you were born, and the area where you finish your mission is where you die. And missionaries that have finished their missions are referred to as "dead." If you serve with a missionary who is "dying" in that transfer, you kill that missionary. Your trainer is your father or your mother for elders and sisters respectively, and the rest of family relations branch out from there. So my father is Elder Clawson, my grandfather is Elder Foster, and I have a brother Elder Eliason. Elder Clawson showed me a family tree that follows our line back to 1995. It's pretty awesome!

Lushnjë is pretty small so there isn't a whole lot of public transportation. A lot of people like to own their own vehicles, so traffic gets pretty bad. But in the larger cities, there are buses that go around the city. But mainly people walk, bike, or drive. We have tried a lot of candy and sweets. There are a lot of things that are sold in Albania that aren't sold in America because they're too high in sugar or fat, like Fanta Exotic. Fanta Exotic is a drink that taste like someone liquefied a bag of gummy bears. There is a lot of good chocolate like Kinder, Milka, or Lion. There is something called Nucrem. It's like nutella, but it comes in a giant bucket and it has chocolate and vanilla flavors. The food here is so amazing and I've only scratched the surface.

Wow, the weather in Minnesota is so crazy! {Last Wednesday we received 20" of snow and schools were closed; but by Sunday, the temperature was in the high 60s!} We've had a cold snap (as far as Albanian weather goes) this last week. It's been kinda' chilly and rainy for the last week. When it rains, it puts a damper on the work because people don't like to go outside at all. The weather in Albania is pretty bipolar, but not as bipolar as the weather in Minnesota. For example, this morning was chilly and rainy again, but now it's very warm! I'm not looking forward to the summer here, it sounds like it's just as humid as Minnesota, but much hotter.

Wow, that is surprising! Dad, you'll be more familiar with technology than I will by the time I return! {Dad showed Rachel how to use a feature on the TV remote.} That's so awesome to hear that Elder Dobbins came back! Wow, I remember going teaching with him about this time of year, two years ago! Time is flying by! I can't believe that April is almost over already! I can't believe that I've been in Albania for almost three weeks! Wow, that's amazing!

It will be a little different being in Durrës because we won't be living with the zone leaders and we won't be able to take advantage of their automobile privileges. Like today, we went to Vlorë for P-day. We met up with the other missionaries in Vlorë for lunch today. After lunch we went to the beach and drove up to a castle ruin on the top of a mountain overlooking Vlorë. It was so calm and peaceful on top of the mountain, and the view was absolutely beautiful! I'll definitely miss P-days with Elder Palmer and Elder Bilodeau. We've had some great P-days together!

I've become a little more confident in my language this past week. I've been put in more situations where I have to use my language on my own. For example, on Tuesday this last week Elder Clawson had District Leader training in Tirana, so he and Elder Price, from Vlorë, went to Tirana and Elder Penrod came up to Lushnjë for the day. Elder Penrod and I were in the same MTC group, so neither of us knows the language very well yet. However, we were able to talk to a lot of people and we actually got a couple phone numbers from people who seemed interested. It was a difficult experience, but it was good for Elder Penrod and me. We could see that the very limited Albanian that we know, and the even more limited Albanian that we understand, could be used to do missionary work. Up until that point, both of us relied more on our companion to do most of the work, but I think both of us had a confidence boost from that day. Also, I've been sharing more of the spiritual thoughts in the English class we teach and at youth activities. I'm getting there little by little. "A rock upon a rock becomes a wall; A wall upon a wall becomes a castle."

My testimony of revelation has grown this last week. I've been thinking a lot about my Patriarchal Blessing and the blessing I received when I was set apart as a missionary, and I have seen the blessings and promises becoming real! I know that God still speaks today. I know that He has restored His Priesthood to the Earth again. I know that through the power of the priesthood, He directs this Church today. I know that He calls worthy men to be priesthood leaders, such as: prophets, apostles, bishops, branch presidents, stake presidents, mission presidents, and so on. I know that these men can receive revelation from God for us. With how well I've adjusted to Albanian culture and food, and how my mission has gone so far, I can see revelation from God through priesthood leaders being fulfilled. I love the chance that I have to serve here in Albania, and I can't think of anywhere else in the world I'd rather be! I know that Jesus is the Christ, and the Savior of the world. I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the church that He directs today. I love this Gospel and I know that it's true. I know that everyone can come to know that this is the Lord's Church through sincere prayer. We truly are very blessed.

Thank you for your support and encouragement!


Elder Watson

                                                          Photos from Vlorë

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