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

Thursday, July 31, 2014

28 July 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

It's so awesome to hear from you each week. It's amazing how we can communicate so easily when we are half a world away. Modern technology is amazing! We go to an internet place every week to send emails. It's really nice because everything is already set up at the business and it's really cheap to use. It's a really nice set up.

Today I do have more time to write. Today is actually Bajram. Bajram is essentially the Muslim equivalent of Christmas. Bajram signifies the end of Ramazan, so people are celebrating with their families. So the city is dead. Shops aren't open. Restaurants are closed, except for the Chinese place. It's a miracle that we found an internet place open. But anyway, essentially email is the only thing open that we can do today.

Wow, I can't believe that Mikey graduated from high school! Tell him "Urime!" from me! It's crazy, time is flying by like crazy! Yeah, I've been a missionary for 6 months! Wow. Tomorrow is the actual day that I hit my 6 month mark. Wow. It has gone by so fast. I can't believe it! It seems just like yesterday I was at home preparing to go on a mission and now it's nearly August! Wow. I'm in awe every single week.

Rachel, that's awesome that you lost a tooth! How many baby teeth do you have left? I can imagine that you mainly have adult teeth now. How are you adjusting to your braces? It can be tough at times, but just remember that it will be worth it in the long run. It sounds like you had a fun time at the fair. I hope that you enjoyed working at the booth there. That pizza sounded really good too!

That's awesome that you got to meet with the missionaries so often this week! Wait, has Elder Betz been in Princeton for over 6 months? That's crazy! I really hope that one day Sister Topi will serve in Princeton. She's a missionary from Tirana. I haven't met her family, but I think that would be really awesome if you got to meet an Albanian while I'm here! I hope all of the missionaries back home are enjoying their missions. Send them my regards! 

This week has been pretty interesting. We had a lesson with a man named Shpend. We've met with him once or twice before. We hadn't been able to meet with him for quite a while, so we stopped by his house one evening. We stopped by and stared talking. He started telling us that he's really busy with work an he doesn't really have time to keep learning. We asked if we could just share a quick spiritual thought with him, but he wouldn't let us start off with a prayer or anything. So we continued to small talk for a few minutes. We talked about his family and what they're up to. I felt prompted to talk to him about family history. We started talking to him about it and he got out his laptop. We introduced him to and had him create a profile. He started adding in his parents and started filling in his family tree. At the end of the lesson, we asked him if we could end with a prayer. He agreed and he was very thankful as we left his house. It was a wonderful lesson! I was afraid that he was going to tell us that he wasn't interested and he didn't want to meet again. But at the end he was a lot more open to the Gospel. It was a miracle in our day. I was very grateful for that prompting from the Spirit to talk about family history. Because I followed that prompting, he opened up his heart a little bit more to hear about the Gospel. I'm so very grateful for that miracle!

After that lesson, I felt a lot more interested in family history. I pulled out the family history stories that I have and I've been looking at them quite a bit over the past few days. If you come across any other family history stories or interesting facts about them, can you pass them on to me? I know that when we talk about the importance of families, we gain more love and respect for our own family. From that lesson with Shpend, I've been thinking a lot about the people that came before me and the stories that they hold. It's interesting to learn about them. I know that the family is the most important thing that we have in this life. In our families, we grow and learn in a house filled with love. When our families are stronger, we become stronger as individuals!

This week we also had a visit from the new Mission President. President Weidmann and Sister Weidmann came up to Prishtina this week. They met with us in our homes and we just talked and got to know each other. It was a very wonderful experience to get to know him better. Every week we have the opportunity to write a letter to him on P-day, and every week he responds. This week he sent me an email. We were talking about agency in our emails and he told me, "remember what the uncle told Spiderman, 'with great power comes great responsibility'". That made my day! He's an amazing man, and I'm really excited to get to know him even better as I work with him.

Yesterday we got a call from President Weidmann. We were planning and we get a call from a number in Albania. We answer and it's President Weidmann on the other end. President Weidmann gave us transfer calls last night. I'll be staying in Prishtina, but Elder Bangerter will be going to Vlorë in Albania. Elder Bangerter's a little sad to leave, but he'll have a great time in Vlorë. I've been there once on P-day, and it's a really nice city! In Vlorë, he'll be serving with Elder Penrod, another missionary from our MTC group. I'll be staying up here in Prishtina and my new companion will be Elder Roberts. Elder Roberts is a great missionary. He just got released from being assistant to the president. He's served a lot in Prishtina, and he's really excited to come back up here. He's close to finishing his mission. He has about 2 months left. I'm really looking forward to serving with him. One of the other elders from Prishtina will be leaving as well. Elder Austin will be going to Durrës. And the elder that will be coming up here is... Elder Clawson! I'm really excited to see him again! It'll be a little weird not serving with him, but it'll be really good to serve around him again. President Weidmann has also called me to be the District Leader here in Prishtina as well. It's a lot to take in, but as long as I rely on the Lord I'll be fine. I know that He'll help me out in this work. It'll be sad to say goodbye to the missionaries I've come to know, but it's also exciting to welcome the other missionaries here!

I'm very thankful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary here in this mission. At times it's difficult, but it's always super rewarding. The time goes by so fast, so I hope that I'm doing everything that I can to use this time most effectively! Thank you so much for the love and the support that you give to me. I couldn't do it without you! Thank you so much!

Zoti ju bekoftë! Ju dua shumë!


Elder Uacën

Photos this week again courtesy of Elder Bangerter.

Elder Watson and Elder Bangerter in a NICE elevator.

Elder Watson on the boulevard.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

21 July 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for your email! It's always great to hear from you and to hear about how things are going at home! It's always a joy to read your letters on P-day.

Dad, I'm glad that you were able to use some of my words in your talk. I hope it went well! I actually don't know when I'll be able to go to Tirana again. When you are up in Kosovo, you are kinda' forgotten by the rest of the mission. The North Zone (Kosovo and Macedonia) don't really interact much with the rest of the mission. But oh well, one day I'll be back there. Rachel, I'm glad you started reading the Harry Potter books! They're a really good story. Actually, I've never read all the books. I read some and watched the movies for others, but the books I have read are really great! I hope you enjoy them. This last week, Elder Bangerter and I went to a book store here in Prishtina during lunch one day and we saw that they had the entire Harry Potter series translated in Albanian! So I started looking for "Zoti i Unazëve" and "Hobbitti" (the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit), but I couldn't find them at that book store. I found them in English, so I asked the lady if they had a translation of it in Albanian and she told me that she believes that she's seen it before, but she doesn't know for sure. I think having some books in Albanian would be a great way to keep up my language after my mission.

Yes, about the 10kg bucket of Nutella. Elder Clawson and I didn't put a huge dent in it as we thought we would, so there was quite a lot left. Elder Clawson and I didn't want to haul it around with us because we both had a long way to travel, so we left it at the Durrës house. The missionary group that is in that house now is actually my grandfather, Elder Foster, and his trainee, my uncle. Elder Clawson and I signed the bucket so all the missionaries afterward will know of its origin. I hope the other missionaries there are enjoying it.

As a missionary, lessons with members have been some of the greatest lessons of my mission! We love working with the members so much! We want to help strengthen them in any way possible. Just because we're active in the Church doesn't mean that we don't have need of spiritual enlightenment. Everyone needs spiritual enlightenment! We need to "treasure up in [our] minds continually the words of life" (Doctrine and Covenants 84:85). Also, having a lesson with an active family is really refreshing. Some days are really hard and we get really discouraged. We've been standing out in the sun all day, people haven't been talking to us, no one is answering their phone, lessons are being cancelled left and right, and we just want to teach someone. Having days go by without a lesson get really discouraging, but when a member lets us in and lest us share a message it's a great blessing for us! It's a blessing for the family as well, because everyone has a spiritual experience in those lessons. Some days missionaries are super busy and it's humbling to know they took time out of their schedule to stop by. And other days, they're just looking for a way to help others strengthen their faith in Christ. Lessons with members are a great blessing for us missionaries!

I wish I had time to write more, but we were in Peja, another city in Kosovo, today for P-day, and our bus got back kinda' late so I don't have time to write more. I hope that you have a great week and that you can see the blessings of the Lord in your lives every day! Look for those miracles, and you'll see them! Thank you so much for your love and support and everything you do for me!

Ju dua shumë! Zoti ju bekoftë!


Elder Uacën

Photos this week are courtesy of Elder Bangerter!

Elder Bangerter and Elder Watson sad and then happy!

Beautiful mountains of Peja.

After a hot day in Peja.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

14 July 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

I really enjoyed getting your email this week! Thank you so much for sending an email each week! I really appreciate it!

Wow, it's already that time of year? I can't believe that you're at Izaty's already. (Family is on vacation at a resort named Izatys.) Guess what? Today I actually wore my Izaty's shirt for P-day. The other missionaries in my district were asking about it. I didn't realize that you're up there already! It was chilly there too? The past couple days it's been a little chilly here. It's a very welcome change! It's been raining quite a bit here too, so that's been keeping it cool. Otherwise it's been hot and humid every day! I'm really grateful for this break in the temperature. Hopefully things warm up just a bit for you, and the fish start biting! Tell Brother Thomas, the Elder, "Gëzuar Ditëlindje" for me! It sounds like that party was pretty fun. Yeah, I've enjoyed getting to know President Bodell and his family. I'm glad that I get the opportunity to work with him! Rachel, I'm glad that you had the opportunity to be in the parade! (Rachel got to carry a banner in the local Isanti Rodeo Days Parade.) It sounds like that was a lot of fun! I hope you enjoyed it, and that you get to do it again next year.

Yeah, so we have been able to do some traveling and sight seeing. So today we went to Podujevë. It's a small city north of Prishtina. We decided to go there because we meet TONS of people from there. We were curious, so we went up there this P-day. We had a good time exploring the city and just hanging out as a district. Wow! Mom, I can't believe that you've been so involved in Facebook! (Mom is not a Facebook aficionado but actually posted a couple of comments.) Next I'm going to find out that you have an Instagram, Twitter, Vine, and any other social media that has come out in the past five months! Haha. So about that Toblerone, President Weidmann said that you can only get those big ones in Switzerland, so don't worry. Haha. After zone conference, I was cleaning up and I grabbed the box. Because the meeting was in Prishtina, I had home-field advantage. I took the box and hid it in the kitchen until Elder Bangerter and I went back to our apartment. It was a victory for us!

So yeah, those "kids" we taught last week. In Albania and Kosovo, no one looks their age. So these people look like they are about 15 or 16, and I guess it gets easy to forget their real age every now and then. No, neither of us are 20 yet. I'm the closest out of Elder Bangerter and I.

Dad, I enjoy fasting so much, which doesn't really make sense at times because I also love food! I was studying about fasting before and I found a really awesome scripture that I really like. It's in Doctrine and Covenants 59: 13-14. D&C 59 is an amazing section about church and why it's very important to us today. But especially those two verses talking about fasting. These two verses teach us that fasting is a joyful experience. Verse 14: "Verily, this is fasting and prayer, or in other words, rejoicing and prayer". I always think of this verse in this way:

fasting and prayer = rejoicing and prayer
Therefore, fasting = rejoicing.

I think this is an amazing section! Please look at the whole section because it promises us many blessings from fasting. I do have a very special testimony of fasting. It is because of fasting that I'm here on a mission. Before my mission I had a lot of questions about the Church, the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and a bunch of other things. I knew that I needed to gain a testimony of these things for myself in order to decide if I should go on a mission. I learned from Alma 17:2 that one of the reasons why the sons of Mosiah had such a strong testimony was because they fasted and prayed often. So I figured that if I wanted an answer I needed to fast. I believed, I had faith, that if I fasted, studied, and prayed that I would receive an answer. I had been doing all these things for such a long time and I was feeling frustrated that I wasn't receiving an answer. However, I still had faith that I would receive an answer about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, the Church, and if I should serve a mission. I believe that it was because of my fasting that I received my answer to these questions. The answer came in a different way than I expected. I was sitting on the couch holding a copy of the Book of Mormon in my hands. I had been praying fervently to know if I should go on a mission. After my prayer I was just sitting there thinking. I looked down at the Book of Mormon in my hands. The way I was holding the book, my thumbs were covering the word "Mormon" on the cover. However, my thumbs left two letters exposed. They left the letters "RM" visible. I took this as my answer. I started my mission papers, one thing led to another, and now I'm here in Prishtina, Kosovo telling you of this powerful experience in my life. I truly believe that it was because of my fasting that I received this answer! Fasting truly has led to rejoicing in my life! I have a very strong testimony of fasting and the blessings that it brings. I know that when we obey the law of the fast, we receive special blessings from our Heavenly Father! I hope this gives you some ideas with your talk.

Thank you so much for your love and support from home. I really feel your love for me all the way over here in Kosovo! I hope you have a great, fun, safe week at Izaty's! Play a game of golf for me!

Zoti ju bekoftë! Javë të mbarë! Ju dua shumë!


Elder Watson

Saturday, July 12, 2014

7 July 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for your email this week! I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much for the pictures from the Fourth of July. I hope that you had a wonderful time at Grandma and Grandpa's house! It's really nice to get pictures every now and then. It was really good to see pictures of the whole family! What's up with you, Vance? The way you say "what's up" in Albanian is "ç'kemi" (ch-kem-ee). It literally means "What have we?" They don't say it as much in Kosovo, but it's used all the time in Albania.

Wow, it sounds like you've had a pretty busy week with everything going on! That sounds like quite the experience with picking up Mirtha and Genesis from the bus station! {Mom had the key fob in her purse; so when she got out of the car at the bus station, the car started to shut itself down. Fortunately, Dad was able to get the car of the busy downtown Minneapolis traffic--in morning rush hour, no less!} But I'm glad everything worked out in the end! Don't worry about Ramadan, I'll be just fine. So interesting fact, in Albanian they call it "Ramazan" but the real Aribic word is "Ramadan" and there are tons of men with the first name "Ramadan" in Kosovo. In fact, we're teaching about three or four people with the name "Ramadan". I hope you understood that. So I'll try to use "Ramazan" when I talk about the Islamic Holiday, and I'll use "Ramadan" when I'm referring to a person. Okay. So Ramazan has been posing some challenges with our work here in Prishtina. First off, no one is out on the streets because they're all inside resting. Just when the streets start livening up at night is when we have to go inside. So that's been frustrating. Also, people don't want to meet with us during Ramazan. That's the biggest excuse I've heard since I've been here. When we ask people when is it better for them to meet, most of them say "After Ramazan". So things have been going a little slower. We're just a little more careful when people start arguing with us. We are very respectful and we just try to end it as quickly, and peacefully, as possible. But things are going okay, don't worry about Ramazan.

So I think I told you about some of the differences between Albania and Kosovo last week. If I could sum it up quickly, I'd say that Kosovo is comparable to the United States, and Albania is similar to Mexico. It's a vast difference between the two countries! So here in Prishtina, they love America so much that they celebrate the Fourth of July, too! They had a huge concert out on the boulevard (a large pedestrian walkway with shops and restaurants) and they had fireworks at night. In fact, we had a party at our church, too. We thought that it would be a great opportunity to invite people to come see our church and learn more about it. We invited everyone that we could think of. We called our investigators and challenged the members to invite a friend. We also ran into some Americans while we were out and about during the week, so we invited them too. There was one man, named Granite, and he was super excited to come! He was born in Kosovo, but he moved to the United States when he was very young. Currently, he lives in Wisconsin near the boarder of Illinois. I think he said he was from Janesville. He comes back in the summer to visit family out here. He was really bummed that he's missed the Fourth of July for the past four years, so he was super pumped to come. He came and he brought a friend, named Atdhe (but he goes by Al). Al was born in Prishtina, but when he was four he moved to London, and that's where he's lived since. We was back here visiting family and studying at a local university. So yeah, we had a British man at our Fourth of July party. How ironic! I'm so glad that Granite came. He was the life of the party! He's not a member of the Church, but he had a great time hanging out with us and celebrating the Fourth of July. We also bumped into a man (early 20s) named Joe, who is also from southeastern Wisconsin. He's out here doing an internship with a law company. And he brought a friend from Rochester, Minnesota. Small world isn't it? It was a really great party and we had a lot of fun! It was a great activity for everyone, and everyone said that they had a great time! I had quite a memorable Fourth of July this year. Elder Bangerter and I went out to have some celebratory Fourth of July burgers at a restaurant that was showing a game of cricket, we talked to a BUNCH of British people, had a man quote a passage to me from the Ku'ran in Arabic, and I got told that I was deceived and I need to convert to Islam. It was definitely one for the record books.

This week we had our first zone conference with President Weidmann. It was a wonderful opportunity to meet him and his wife. They speak English almost with an American accent. He has actually lived in Washington state for several years. When he introduced himself and his wife he brought out a HUGE Toblerone bar. He said that every time they sent out a missionary from their family they'd buy one and they've never been able to finish one. However, in the Tirana zone conference they made quick work of it. He said he was surprised beyond belief that they could finish it! We also made pretty quick work of it. He is very motivated to have us become the best missionaries that we can become! He really wanted us to refocus our efforts on being exactly obedient in every single aspect. He's very motivated and loving. He's a wonderful man and I'm excited for the opportunity to work more with him. I'm excited to get to know him more as well. Since he's in Tirana and I'm in Prishtina, I don't know how much contact I'll have with him. However, I think we'll have some opportunities to become better acquainted when he travels around the country a little bit more.

This week we have had some really awesome experiences with teaching. We met two kids, around the age of 20, and taught them about the Restoration. They were really interested to learn more, but they were only in Prishtina for another day. So we had another lesson with them the next day, right before they left to go back home to their village. We gave them a challenge to read from the Book of Mormon before we met. When we met, they told us that they read all of Alma 32 and the Restoration and Plan of Salvation pamphlets. That really surprised us! We had a really awesome lesson about faith and we also talked about having living prophets. They were really surprised about that and they wanted to learn more about them. We gave them a talk from President Thomas S. Monson and told them about and how they can read more about him. It was really awesome to teach them because they were so sincere and they really had a great desire to learn more. It was such an awesome experience to teach them and to see them progress so quickly. I know that the Lord is working with the people here in Kosovo, and I know that He's already preparing people to learn about the Gospel. In a place where 99% of the people are Muslim, it can get kinda' discouraging at times, but having experiences like this really lift you up! Those kids are far away from Prishtina right now, so we can't teach them. However, I have faith that the Lord will continue working with them while we can't. I pray that, when they return to Prishtina this fall, we will be able to meet again and help them partake of the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we can be blessed beyond belief! I have seen great blessings in my life and the lives of others while through the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. Anyone who wishes to find peace, happiness, and true joy can find it through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon is true.If we have questions or doubts about the Book of Mormon we need to read Alma 32 and pay attention to the comparison of faith and a seed. If we really study this and apply it in our lives, we WILL receive that answer that the Book of Mormon is true! I know it, because I've done it. Now it's your turn to try.

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

Zoti ju bekoftë! Javë të mbarë!


Elder Uacën
Road Trip with Elder Price

Our Apartment Building Starts on Floor -1

The "Newborn" Monument in Prishtina

President and Sister Weidmann at Whiteboard
with Elder Tulli (front right)

Elder Bangerter and I got the HUGE Toblerone box. . .

. . .and mounted it in our apartment.

4th of July Celebration in Prishtina

More Celebrating!

Granite, Elder Watson, Sister Curtis, Sister White

Elder Watson, Granite, Elder Bangerter