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

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

26 May 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for your emails. I always look forward to reading your emails on P-days! I'm glad to hear that Dad and Rachel had a great time at Long Lake. I'm glad to hear that Rachel likes canoeing. Canoeing is a lot of fun! Yeah, I have to agree with you, a compound bow is a lot easier than a recurve, and a longbow is much harder than any of them. I'm really glad to hear that you had fun. Dad, I don't remember the beds being really hard, but I've had a couple beds here in Albania that could contest for the hardest bed in the world. My bed right now is a little harder than a rock, but most nights I'm just so exhausted that I don't really care. 

I think the biggest issue with our house is that our AC unit leaks after it's been on for a while, so we have to keep turning it on and off. I am so thankful for air conditioning!! It's starting to get hot in Albania, and it's not even to the hottest part of the year yet. Oh joy... And all of the Albanians are walking around in long-sleeves and jackets and stuff like that. I don't know how they can take it! I'm dying in a short-sleeve white shirt! I think a nice comfortable day for them is about 90 degrees F with 85% humidity. They are definitely a different kind of people!

Wow, tell Tyler congratulations! (Jacob's cousin who returned from his mission last year is getting married in August. He transferred to BYU in January and proposed to his fiance on Mother's Day. Tyler's mom says everything fell into place as a blessing from having served a mission!) That's awesome! That is pretty fast, but that's not the fastest engagement story that I've ever heard. I have definitely seen that it is a blessing to serve a mission! And the best part of it is that I'm having fun while being blessed!

We've been street contacting quite a bit here in Durrës and we have quite a variety of people that we talk to. There's one xhaxhi ("xh" in Albanian makes a "j" sound, like in English) that is really interested in talking with me. We talked for quite a while one day a couple weeks ago. He's not really interested in the Gospel, he's more interested in me. Things have gotten a little weird a couple of times. When he saw me one day he said, "O Elder, si jeni?" and then he kissed me... on the neck... and it was really wet. It was the weirdest experience of my life so far! I didn't know what to do so I was just polite and talked to him a bit. It was really weird, so now whenever we see him in the road we'll do our best to avoid him. Yeah, it's kinda' weird, but without things like that missionary work would get pretty boring.

Today, for P-day, we had a great adventure! We went to the town of Berat. There are a couple members in Berat, but there isn't a congregation there yet, but we were able to go there on a trip today. We had to take a bus from where we got dropped off to the center of the city, and that was the most crowded bus I've ever been on before. We were CRAMMED inside of that thing! I would have taken a picture, but there wasn't enough room for me to get the camera out of my pocket, and no that's not an exaggeration! We went to the castle of Berat, which is a big attraction there. We started off the day by going to a Greek Orthodox Church which was absolutely beautiful! After that we went to a xhami, or a mosque. It was really interesting to see the inside of a mosque. That's the first one that I've ever been inside. There was a man there that was really impressed that we were learning Albanian, and so he taught us a little bit about what goes on inside. It was pretty interesting, and he was a great guy! After visiting the xhami, we hiked up the mountain to the castle. It turned out to be about 400 degrees today, so all of us nearly died. It was so hot today, but we had a lot of fun playing around the castle ruins. We were climbing around the castle ruins on the top of the mountain, and yet we were much more safe than when we were traveling to and from Berat in the frigon. The road was in horrible condition and our driver was absolutely crazy! I had to stop looking out the window because all of the near misses were starting to freak me out a bit.

Elder Clawson and I have been teaching a family here in Durrës, and they are absolutely amazing! They have very strong faith in Jesus Christ and the Bible already, which is great! We actually don't see a whole lot of that in Albania which is a miracle in itself. After our first lesson, we extended the invitation to be baptized and they accepted. They have already been baptized in another church, but they said if they had to be baptized again it wasn't an issue. They are progressing very well! Right now their baptism is scheduled for 14 June. They are always really excited to meet with us. They are a wonderful family! It was a testimony builder to see how they've already been prepared to receive the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that God is working with the people in Albania and I know that He has prepared many people here to receive the Gospel. All we have to do is introduce them to it. It's such a blessing to see God blessing the people here and making it possible for them to come closer to Him. I'm so grateful for the ability that I have to help these people come closer to God. I love these people and I love being able to help them in whatever way that I can!

Thank you so much for your love and support! I couldn't do this without support from home!


Elder Uacën

View of the mountain (in background) where the castle is located.
District Elders climbing the mountain.
Looking over Berat from the castle ruins.
Sitting on the edge of the castle wall.
Inside the Greek Orthodox church.
Inside of the xhami.
A gravestone outside of the xhami.
20 May 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for your email! It really means a lot to me to hear from home! So yesterday, Monday (Sunday night), there was an earthquake here in Albania. I slept through the entire thing, I heard about it from the other missionaries in Durrës. Earthquakes aren't uncommon here, but they're never extremely powerful. It woke up a couple of the other elders, and they said that their beds were shaking and stuff was sliding around in the other room, but Elder Clawson and I slept through it. I think it was something relating to the earthquake, but we lost power in Durrës for most of Monday. We had power right away in the morning, but around 10:00 AM we lost power, which kinda' put a damper on our P-day plans, but we still had a good day. Since the power was out, we decided to just start working earlier on Monday so we could take some time out of today to finish up our P-day.

The Wadena Branch in MN, is about the same size as the Lushnjë Branch that I served in. I really liked serving in Lushnjë! Occasionally, Elder Clawson and I will get a phone call from one of the youth in Lushnjë, Juxhin. We got along really well, but when I was in Lushnjë I had to keep asking him to repeat himself and speak slower. When he called us this last week, I was able to talk with him on the phone and I didn't need to ask him to repeat himself, it was a confidence booster that I needed. You can't really see your improvement in the language on a day-to-day basis, but every once in a while you'll be able to see your improvement over a longer span of time

When I was in Tirana for my meetings this last week, I met a senior missionary couple named the Winders. They actually were having their farewell party when I met them, so they're home now, but they were so awesome to hang out with for an evening. From all the other missionaries, I've only heard good things about the Winders. They talked about how awesome it was to be missionaries as a senior couple, they encouraged us all to motivate our parents to serve a mission when they get the chance. They only had good things to say about serving a mission. They also said that it was awesome to be able to work with so many young missionaries and do see what their kids did when they were on their missions many years ago. I would encourage you to start thinking of serving a mission is in your future. Being a missionary, regardless of age, brings so many blessings to many different people! It's something worth considering.

This last week we had our half-way training meeting with all of the new missionaries and their trainers. It was really nice to see everyone in my MTC group again. The meeting that we had was really great! President and Sister Ford are so awesome! We talked a lot about being consecrated as missionaries, about how we can give ALL of our time and thoughts toward serving here in Albania. It was a really great meeting. It's weird to think that I've been here for seven weeks already! It's crazy to think about how fast June is coming up! Wow, time is flying by, and it seems to be flying by faster and faster! Older missionaries have been telling me that serving a mission is like climbing up a latter to a slide. The first year of your mission is climbing up the latter, and the second year is the slide. If time is moving this fast already, I can't imagine how fast time will go in the future!

Last night, Monday night, we had an awesome lesson with some new investigators. They already had strong faith in Jesus Christ and they knew the Bible very well, which is something we don't see in Albania too often. We taught this family the message of the Restoration of the Gospel and they accepted everything that we had to say. Everything seemed to make sense to them and they wanted to know more. It was so awesome to see how they were so ready to hear the Gospel already. At the end of the lesson, we extended the invitation for them to be baptized and they said, "Po. Pa tjetër?" which means, "Yes, of course." It was a super awesome lesson and we think that they will progress quickly. They are an awesome family and we have high hopes for them! This lesson was the high point of our week. The rest of the week was pretty average, a lot of hard work without getting a lot of new investigators. We also had a couple people decide that they don't want to learn from us anymore, which was really discouraging, but everyone has the ability to choose for themselves. I've seen that the Lord will give us a really awesome experience when we've had a lot of discouraging moments in a week. I've seen that the Lord really does love us and He's thinking about us constantly. He knows what we need in order to be happy, and since He is our Father in Heaven, He wants us to be happy. The Lord loves us and He's just looking for excuses to bless us. I know that if we do our best to keep the commandments of the Lord and we do our best to follow His example, He will bless us beyond our imagination. The Lord really loves us. Don't forget that!

Thank you for your love and your support. I couldn't do this without support from home! Thank you!


Elder Uacën

This is the Lana in Tirana. It's a big river that flows through the city. The bridge we are on is called the bouncy bridge, because when you jump on it it bounces. We got it bouncing so much one night where I tried standing still, but the bridge kept throwing me up in the air. It's not really that safe, but all of the missionaries love it!

My new name tag without the letter "W"!

We found a lizard outside of the Seminary building in Durrës.

Monday, May 12, 2014

12 May 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

So today, I'm in Tirana. It's really weird being in other cities. I have no idea where anything is in Tirana, which is a HUGE city, so I'm relying heavily on the other missionaries today. I'm staying with Elder Squire and Elder Baker in Tirana for today and tomorrow. Elder Squire is from my MTC group. He's from Magna, Utah and he is insanely good at basketball. Before his mission, a bunch of schools were looking at him to come and play college ball. At the MTC when we played basketball, he always played left handed, so he wouldn't just destroy us. He destroyed us anyways. He's really good at basketball!

Our P-day in Tirana was pretty good. Since we had an appointment at the embassy, it kinda' ate up a chunk of our day. But it's all good. We found this really awesome store! It's a US Military Store where they sell TONS of awesome stuff! They have tons of cool gadgets and gizmos. I bought a watch there, but it's a watch that can take pictures in 14 Megapixels and HD Video in 1080p! Isn't that awesome! The watch itself actually looks pretty cool too! Elder Squire bought one too, so we've been playing around with them today. That store also sold a ton of other cool stuff. We couldn't stay there much longer, otherwise we would've spent more money. It was really weird to speak to other Americans again, on American soil (because it was the US Embassy, it's technically considered American soil). I saw a bunch of other missionaries from my MTC group, so it was really nice to see them again. I'll be seeing the rest of my MTC group tomorrow, because we have our halfway training. All of us will be in Tirana to have some meetings, because we've made it halfway through the training program! That's six weeks. I've been in Albania for six weeks already! Wow!! Time is really flying by!

I want to talk a little about a person we met this week. One day this last week we were doing some finding with another set of elders, Elder Gray (Morgan, Utah) and Elder Stewart (Canada), and we had been street contacting together for several hours. We were all really tired and we needed a little break. There is this really nice place to buy crepes in Durrës that we love, we give them a LOT of business. They always smile when we walk in the door. We were sitting outside just about to start eating our crepes, and this man walked up to us. He said, "Hey Elders, how are you doing?" (In Albanian, of course). We started talking and he told us about talking with missionaries like us about fifteen years ago. Then he pulled a picture out of his briefcase of him and four other elders. He was talking about how impressed he was with them and how much respect he had for them. We talked a little bit more, and he gave us his phone number. He said that he would be willing to meet with us and that his name was Beni. We called him later that night and we set up an appointment to meet with him the next day. We met him near the crepe place and he showed us his office that was near-by. He works in a shipping company and he works some days in his office and he works other days down at the Port of Durrës. He then took us back to his house where we met his wife Linda. They are a very kind and sweet couple. We shared a spiritual message with them, and they were very willing to listen and to learn more. We wondered why they hadn't been more interested in the Church with the other elders. We found out that they were the landlords for the other missionaries, and missionaries don't really want to share the Gospel with their landlords, because they're afraid of offending them and then not having a place to live anymore. But these people were very kind and sweet, and they wanted to learn more. They were telling us how much they loved us and how much they wanted us to come back. They made us promise that we'd come back soon.

This was a real testimony to me of how the Lord is working with people and preparing them to receive the Gospel. These people had contact with missionaries before and through the example of previous missionaries they had been prepared to hear the Gospel. I truly believe that Beni and Linda have been prepared by the Lord to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's amazing to see how much the Lord is working with other people. We don't always see His workings, but every once in a while we have an experience like with Beni and Linda, and we know that the Lord is always working, and He's working overtime! It's so amazing to know that the Lord is helping us in doing this missionary work. I'm very grateful to be here and to serve these wonderful people. I know that God lives and He loves all of us. He loves us more than we can comprehend! I know that EVERYONE can learn of God's personal love for them through the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

Thank you so much for your love and support! It's really nice to have support from many people at home!

Zoti ju bekoftë dhe javë të mbarë!


Elder Uacën
5 May 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for your email and your support. Being a missionary is a lot of tough work, and it really helps to know that others are thinking about and praying for you. 

Darn, I can't believe that Psych ended. That's so weird to think that, but yeah I agree that some of the plots were getting weird. It's so weird to think of all the things that will happen in the next two years that I'll miss. At times it can be hard because we'll be walking down the street and we'll hear a song playing and then we think of all the music we've missed in the past few months. But that stuff can wait for a while. It'll still be there when I get home. Speaking of months, I've been in Albania for a whole month already! çne!?! ("çne" = "What the heck?") Time is going by so fast! I've been on my mission for three months already, that's a quarter of a year! Time is flying! Wow.

Elder Clawson and I don't have an entire house. Here in Albania, no one really has a private house in the city. They only have small private houses in the villages. There are three floors to our building: The first floor is a pastry shop and a machine shop; the second floor is where we live; and the third floor is where our landlord lives. The first floor of every building is usually a shop of some kind and then the rest of the building above it is apartments. There are tons of large apartment buildings that are built, but the insides aren't finished. That's one thing that was really difficult for Elder Clawson and I when we were looking for a place in Lushnjë. The building where we live is entirely furnished, so moving in was really easy. It's a really nice place, I can't complain. On our windows, we have something called shields. They're very similar to storm shutters, but they block out EVERYTHING. We compare them to blast doors from Star Wars frequently. We can make our place pitch black in the middle of the afternoon. One other crazy thing about Albania is that everything shuts down in the middle of the day for a couple hours. In the summer, it is very hot and very humid so people will go home and sleep during that time of day, so the entire city shuts down. School lets out for a couple hours and then starts again later in the afternoon. Businesses close and reopen the same way. So we get a two hour break for lunch and an hour of study time after that in the middle of the day when everyone is at home sleeping, and then we work from then until the end of the day. 

I haven't taken a picture with the John Lennon statue, yet, but it's right here in Durrës near the Vulga. The Vulga is right along the sea coast and it's essentially a constant fair. There are thrill rides and games, and it's a very beautiful part of the city. There are TONS of people on the Vulga in the evening, so we have contacted there quite a bit. Speaking of people who are popular in Albania, did you know that Mother Theresa was Albanian? I didn't know that until this week! Crazy! Also, Jim Belushi is Albanian as well! His parents are from a city called Korçë. I found that out a couple weeks ago, but it slipped my mind. People here absolutely LOVE Jim Belushi! Elder Clawson told me this one story of an investigator he had and one time in his prayer he prayed for the safety of Jim Belushi. People here have a lot of pride in Jim Belushi.

I don't have my new name tag yet. The name tags are here in Albania, but they're in Tiranë and you have to get them in person. I'll be going to Tiranë the Monday and Tuesday after Mother's Day for an appointment at the US Embassy and for our half-way training. Wow, I'm already at the half-way point of my training! That's kinda' scary to think that I'll be done with the training program in six weeks. Elder Clawson said that after the training program you usually serve with someone from your MTC group. That's a scary thought! I've been talking with a lot of the missionaries from my group and most of us feel like we don't understand anything that's going on. But if we trust in the Lord, He will help us grow and improve.

Wow, it's weird to think that there's still ice on Mille Lacs Lake. The temperature here has been about 20 C, which is a really comfortable temperature. It's rained a lot here this last week too! There was one day that it down poured nearly all day, and the roads were starting to flood over! Some of the side roads turned to streams. This last week I was really grateful for waterproof shoes and an umbrella! It sounds like things are going on like normal at home. It's nice to hear that things are getting done little by little. I feel the same way right now, I'm growing little by little and one day I hope to be finished and happy with the results! Just remember these profound words, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't slow down and look around once in a while, you just might miss it". -Ferris Beuller

This past week has been really interesting. It started off really great! Elder Clawson and I set a goal to speak Albanian with each other more often to help improve our language. We just left our house one morning and we were walking down the road and I said to him, "Ai ka një ari. çne??" He looked at me really weird because I said, "He has a bear. What the heck??" He thought that I was just being weird and random, but then he looked over and he saw a man walking a bear down the street on a leash. We both got really excited and we asked the guy if we could take a picture with the bear. He said yes and he handed the leash to us. We got pictures with a bear!! We were so excited that we forgot about our goal to speak Albanian with each other more. We can all improve in something. But, anyways, we got pictures taken with a bear! A pretty decent sized bear too! That was so awesome! Also, Elder Clawson has been giving me more opportunities where I have to rely more on my own abilities. He's made me speak on the phone with Albanians a lot this week. It's really difficult because I don't really understand them when I'm speaking to them face-to-face, so when you add in the static and the background noise of a phone call, it gets even harder! But some of the other elders in my district listened to me during my first phone call and they said that they were really impressed, so maybe my language is a little better than I give myself credit for. The elders here in Durrës are very kind and they help me to improve! The week started off on a really high because we contacted some people who seemed really interested in learning more, so we set up lessons with them. However, when the time for the lessons came, they didn't show up and they wouldn't answer our phone calls. So right now we don't have any investigators. It's been really tough on us. At times it's been really discouraging because we've been seeing the other elders have tons of success and we're just contacting all of the time with pretty much no results.

However, I know that if we are patient when things aren't going the way we want, then we will find success. Trusting in the Lord is key whenever we are going through hard times, whether it's not having success finding investigators, or if it's a time when nothing seems to be going right for you even when you are doing everything right. Trusting in the Lord is essential when we go through trials. Even when we aren't going through trials, we must continue to put our trust in the Lord. When we think that we can do this on our own, the Lord will let us. Imagine this, the Being that created the Universe, that has all power and all knowledge, that is perfect in the very definition of the word, can and will help us with anything if we let Him. It's our choice. Either we can trust that He will help us with our problems, or we can rely only on ourselves. He loves us and he wants us to be happy right now, but each one of us has to make that decision for himself or herself. I don't know about you, but I'd want to have help from God in everything that I do. I want that help in my life, so what will I do? I'll trust in Him. When things go bad, I still want that help so I'll continue to trust in God. If I ever stop trusting in God, then it'll be like I'm saying, "I don't want anymore help". As long as I trust in the Lord, the Lord will help me. I know that the Lord will help EVERYONE that puts their trust in Him. Do you want help from God in everything that you do? If you do, then what should you do? Trust. I challenge each of you to trust more in the Lord this next week and see the blessings that come from it.

Say hello to Grandma and Grandpa Hawkins, the guys at work, and the Princeton Ward! Send them my love! Thank you for all of the love and support you give to me, I couldn't do this without you!


Elder Jakob Andru Uacën

Jacob and the Bear
Essentially churros soaked in high fructose corn syrup!  They are amazing!!
20 lb. bucket of Nutella-like product.
Wow!  It smells so good!!