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, November 27, 2014

24 November 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your emails! I really look forward to reading them each P-day! I'm glad to hear that you've been able to go and help out the missionaries! We're always very happy when members are able to help us out with a lesson. So I know how happy the sisters must have been to have you help out. I'm glad you got to go to Feed My Starving Children! I had a lot of fun with it when I've went before, so I hope you had a good time. This weekend should be pretty interesting for us. We have the Thanksgiving Mission Conference on Thursday, and then on Saturday, there is going to be a baptism in Durrës. It's not an investigator from one of the companionships here, but it's a group of investigators from Lushnjë who wanted to use the Durrës building for their service. It will be super exciting because 5 people will be baptized on Saturday! It's already going to be a great birthday! I'm super excited for it. I'll send you a picture of the white out next week. This last week we had a lesson with the Mema family. They're actually among the first baptisms in Albania about 20 years ago, and now he's the President of the Stake here. He's married to a woman he met at University in America, and they've lived all around the world. Sister Mema is from Ohio, so when we met this last week she was telling us about all the snow that hit the northwest United States. It blew my mind! I thought getting two feet in one storm was pretty crazy. So how much snow do you have left if a lot of it has melted away?

This last week was filled with some awesome experiences. So first off, we have to go back 6 months when I was in Durrës with Elder Clawson. One night, we stopped by the bakery across the street from our house like we did many times before. We order our byrek like we normally do and we are talking with the girl that works there. There are two guys standing near us and I think I hear them talking about us, so I turn to one guy and say hi. We started a conversation and I learned that he had lived in England and Italy for a while, and that he had actually met the missionaries before. He talked about how they would play soccer together every once in a while. We continued talking to him and his friend and we ended up getting their number. Unfortunately, we never got an opportunity to meet with them. Okay, fast-forward to two weeks ago. Elder Keck and I were out talking to people in the road. When all of a sudden, I see these two guys walking along the sidewalk towards us. I said hi to them and they stopped. We started a conversation and one of them was interested in getting a picture of Jesus for his house. I told him that we could help him out and we got in touch. We were able to meet and have a lesson and explain a bit about the church. It was a pretty good lesson. We also invited them to play soccer with us and they came! They had a blast and they're willing to meet with us again. It's kinda' cool sometimes to think about why you are placed where you are. Sometimes you wonder why you were placed in a specific place at a specific time. I think that this could be one of the reasons why I came back to Durrës at this time. Because no one else would have recognized these two guys.

Also this week, we had a lesson with a less active member that we normally meet with about once a week. I talked about him last week in my letter. His name is Vëllai Shkreta (vëllai = brother). We really enjoy our meetings with each other. We had a really great lesson about hope and how hope and faith are related to each other. It was a really great lesson. Okay rewind again... At Mission Conference a couple weeks ago, President Dykes taught us how to make little origami white shirts. He told us that he encouraged his missionaries to make these, and write thank you notes on the opposite side and give them to investigators, members, and others. So he taught us how to make them and encouraged us to use them in our missionary work. So fast-forward again to our lesson with Vëllai Shkreta. At the end of our lesson we told him that we had something for him. We gave him the little white shirt, on which we had drawn a little missionary nametag and tie, with a thank you note on the back. He got the biggest kick our of it!! He laughed and laughed! He loved it! He said that he could keep it in a special place and protect it. It's amazing how something so small as a little piece of paper folded into the shape of a shirt with a little ink on it, can have such a large impact on someone. It was one way that I learned that even the littlest of things count.

There's one last awesome experience I'd like to share with you in this letter. So this morning, we decided to gather together as missionaries to play frisbee for our morning exercise. We were playing and in the course of the game, I ended up getting hit in the left eye pretty hard with the frisbee (Mom, don't freak out, just keep reading). I got a little scratch on my eyelid. It bled a little, but not anything to be concerned about. It was fine. When I got back to the house I cleaned it up and put some ice on it. Nothing major, just very simple first aid. So the morning continues and, during my personal study, I notice that my left eye was pretty blurry. When I closed my right eye it was kinda' hard to read things. I could make them out, but my vision was drastically different than that of my right eye. It was really bugging me, and I was starting to get kinda' nervous about it. I tried doing different things to maybe clear out any tears that might be blurring my vision, but nothing I did yielded any results. I thought that I'll just have to see if it stays or goes away. Anyway I continued to study, but my eye kept bothering me. So I sat there and the thought came into my head about Jesus Christ. When He was here on the Earth, He did many miracles. He healed the blind, raised the dead, cured the sick, and many more things. I thought, "If He could do that then, why can't He do it now?" So I bowed my head and prayed. I explained the situation to my Father in Heaven. I explained that I knew that faith in Christ can bring blessings and even miracles in our lives. I prayed for a while expressing my thanks, and then I asked God if He could fix my vision. I explained that I didn't need it right at that second, but I said that I would accept it in His own time. I closed my prayer. I didn't feel any different. However, I felt that I should close my right eye and just see if anything happened. I closed my right eye, and the vision of my left eye was perfect! It wasn't blurry anymore! It didn't bother me at all! And it hasn't bothered me since! A miracle happened! Because of a simple prayer of faith, God was able to perform a miracle in my life. Some people might try and explain it away as just clearing up on its own, but that's not what happened at all. From that experience, my faith in Jesus Christ grew. I was grateful that He cared enough about me to show His love for me by causing a miracle to happen in my life! In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Mormon taught that God still does miracles, even today! "And now, O all ye that have imagined up unto yourselves a god who can do no miracles, I would ask of you, have all these things passed, of which I have spoken? Has the end come yet? Behold I say unto you, Nay; and God has not ceased to be a God of miracles" (Mormon 9:15). God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has done miracles in the past, He does them today, and He will yet do them in the future. Some people will say that miracles have stopped with the scriptures. About this, Mormon said, "And the reason why he ceaseth to do miracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should trust" (Mormon9:20). So we learn that miracles our dependent on our faith. If we don't have faith, we won't be able to experience miracles, but if we have faith in Jesus Christ we can experience miracles in our lives. I am very grateful that we have a loving God of Miracles. I know that if we have faith, we can experience miracles in our lives as well. I've experienced one this morning, and I know that you can experience them too!

Thank you for all of the love and support that you give to me. Thank you for your love and prayers. Ju dua shumë! Javë të mbarë. Kalofshit bukur!

Me dashuri, 

Elder Watson

From a recent convert named Sister Dragoti.  One of her daughters is on a mission
in England right now and will be returning in February.  When we left her house this
week, she gave us a bag that had two pair of socks and two Snickers bars in it!
We were super excited to say the least!!
When the Elders eat lunch together, we split everything we have in sixths . . .
and we eat it all . . . including a whole batch of Rice Krispie bars!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

17 November 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for the emails that you send me each week! I look forward to reading your emails every P-day! Wow! That's crazy! You got a TON of snow this week! I was telling some of the Albanians about how much snow we were getting at home and they couldn't believe it. They were telling me that snow fell in Durrës about four years ago. It was only like a centimeter, but everything was shut down because the snow never falls here. Before I forget, wish Grandma a happy birthday from me! This morning I was writing the date and I realized that it looked quite familiar, and then I realized that it was her birthday. Give her my fala (regards). Say hi to Wes and Becky for me when you see them this week. Also, say hi to Phil when you get the chance. Have you heard any more news about anyone else in the ward preparing for a mission? So this week, we'll be restarting our English Course. We use English as a finding tool, so every once in a while we'll end our course and we'll have a break and restart. It's a way that we can get different people into the course so we can find investigators to teach. So we'll be starting that up again this week.

This last week was kinda' crazy. I had conducted an exchange with Elder Muncy, and that was pretty sweet. We had a lot of fun together. Also, this week we had Mission Conference in Durrës. It was a little different because the meeting took place in Durrës, when the meetings normally happen in Tirana. It was also a little different because we had a guest come. Elder Timothy Dykes from the Quorum of the Seventy came and spoke to us. So because we were the missionaries in Durrës, we had to do some last minute things to get the church ready for the conference. I had the exchange with Elder Muncy the day before the conference, so we had a lot of fun running around getting things ready for the conference. It was a wonderful conference! We learned a lot about strengthening our faith in Jesus Christ and what we can do to develop stronger, more meaningful prayers. We learned a lot about becoming a master teacher to help those we teach come closer to God through our meetings. It was a really great conference! Also, because it was a mission conference, I was able to see all of the missionaries in the mission. It was really great to talk with Elder Clawson again. I was really happy to hear that Nezir got baptized. I'm super happy about that! I also got to talk with all the other missionaries I've had the opportunity to be around. And in a couple weeks we'll be having yet another mission conference! We'll have a special Thanksgiving Mission Conference. I'm really excited for that one as well!

This week I also had the chance to go on another exchange with the Zone Leaders. So a District Leader does exchanges with all of the missionaries in his district, and the Zone Leaders do exchanges with the District Leaders. So this week I got to go with Elder Price in Lushnjë. Yeah, Elder Price and I still get to go on exchanges. It's super awesome! I was so excited to go to Lushnjë again! I loved being back in my hometown and again in the house I was born in. It was wonderful to see all of the members I knew from the last time. I really enjoyed my time in Lushnjë this week. I had the opportunity to teach some of the families that Elder Price is working with. They are wonderful! Some of them are nearly ready for baptism. In fact, they had a baptism in Lushnjë just this last weekend. I also got your package this last week. Thank you so much! Thank you so much for sending it. It means a lot to get something in the mail every once in a while!

About once every week, we meet with a less-active member here in Durrës. We just saw his name in our Area Book and we decided to go try and visit him one day, and we've been able to meet about weekly for the last month. It's been really great! We've found out that he had a very strong testimony that the Gospel is true. He just has some family issues that are keeping him from coming regularly. However, I've seen a big change in him since we've begun meeting with him regularly. We meet in his shop because he said it's a better environment than his house to talk about the Gospel. So we go to his shop and we have a chance to sit and talk about the Gospel for about half an hour. One of the first times we met with him, we asked him about his personal reading from the Book of Mormon. He went over to a cabinet and opened it. He rummaged around in it for a bit and pulled out a copy of the Book of Mormon. It looked like he hadn't touched it in quite a while. However, when we went back and met with him last time, he had it out in the open, and he had papers in it containing notes he'd written about what he read! Also, when he lifted it up, I noticed that there was a hymnbook open underneath it. I was really happy to see that! As we were leaving, he told us that our weekly meetings were a miracle for him and he has felt that a fire had been reignited inside him again! I'm so very grateful for the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the opportunity we have to repent. Sometimes we think of repentance as a painful word that only means bad things. However, repentance is when we change doing something so that we can follow the teachings of Jesus Christ more exactly in our lives. I'm grateful for the blessings of happiness and peace that come and replace those feelings of shame and guilt. I'm grateful for the repentance I've seen in this man, and I know that it's blessing his life in many ways. I'm also grateful for the blessings that I have in my life that have come through repentance and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. I know that if we all humble ourselves and we repent of our sins, if we change how we're living, we'll have much more happiness, peace, comfort, hope, and many other great blessings from the Lord!

Thank you for the love and support you give to me. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! They are heard! Ju dua shumë! Kalofshit bukur! Paçi siguri në bor!!

Love, Elder Watson

Buying all of the drinks for the Mission Conference.
                                  Back in Lushnjë with Teja . . .
. . . and Juxhin.  Awesome Lushnjar members!

"And in the morning . . . I'm making waffles!"
Well, we went to a place and had waffles for P-day.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

10 November 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for your emails! I always look forward to reading your emails each P-day. It sounds like you had quite the week! It sounds like your Stake Conference was pretty good! I always enjoyed going to stake conference. We haven't had a stake conference here since I've arrived, so I don't know what it's like here in Albania quite yet. This week in sacrament, I actually had to play piano. I never thought I'd have to do that in Durrës. I found out I was playing two minutes before the meeting started, and I'm not good enough to have all the hymns down, so it was interesting. I was glad when it was over. Dad, I'm glad that you got to go out hunting. I'm sorry to hear that you didn't get the chance to shoot at anything. I hope you'll get to go out hunting again and have some more luck! Seeing those pictures of snow was really good! I miss snow so much, and it's kinda' sad thinking that I won't get to see snow for a long time yet. Hopefully I'll get a chance to go up north again and have a chance to see some snow. 

 The snow begins.

And now--20 inches!
So no, we don't really have any restrictions for cold weather or snow. From receiving emails from other friends on missions in different parts of the world, it doesn't really sound like we have many restrictions like they do. I've heard of a lot of missionaries not being able to leave their apartment for different reasons, and I haven't heard of any experiences like that here in this mission. Rachel, you're going to be in a play! That's awesome! What play will you be doing? What part will you be playing? You'll have to tell me more about it! I hope everything goes well with getting your braces changed around. Just remember that after it's all finished, all the pain and annoying things that come with it is totally worth it!

I'll tell you a bit about the missionaries in Durrës. I'll start with Elder Keck. Elder Keck is from Layton, UT. He is the youngest of 3 kids. He is a huge Ultimate Frisbee fan. He played on a club team in high school. So today, we went and played Ultimate at the stadium here in Durrës. When I say stadium, don't think that we actually got to play in a nice facility. We played in a sandlot next to the big futboll stadium here in Durrës. He's also a big Football (American) fan. You'll never guess who his favorite team is. The Packers. Yeah, crazy huh? He's super awesome and I'm glad to have the chance to serve with him. So I've already told you about Elder Dahl, he's in my MTC group, but he's from New Mexico. He actually went to BYU for a while before his mission as well. He played tennis in high school and he also plays clarinet. He's also super awesome and a great missionary. Elder Muncy is from California. He was actually supposed to be in my group, but a couple days before reporting to the MTC he got in a car accident and had to wait 3 months to report to the MTC. When I found that out, it blew my mind! I couldn't believe it! He's super awesome, as well! He's my Uncle. (He was trained by Elder Foster, my grandpa.) So that's always interesting to bring up. Elder Rasband is from Brigham City, UT. He's a super strong missionary. Elder Rasband and Elder Muncy are in the same MTC group (one after me). Before his mission, he was actually in an alternative rock band. He has some pretty awesome stories about that! Elder Matson is from Alabama. He's the oldest one out of all of us. He'll be ending his mission this coming April. He loves being a missionary and working hard. He's a strength to the Durrës district! All of these elders are super great! It's such a great opportunity to be their district leader and serve them. We're all working super hard and we're enjoying our time as missionaries!

This last week was kinda' slow, as it has been going for the past few weeks. Our investigator pool has kinda' dried up, and we have only a couple people who we meet with, and even sometimes it's very difficult to meet with them. So this has probably been the least number of times I've taught a lesson in a week, just because we don't really have anyone established to meet with. Things have been going like this for the past couple weeks; however, this week I felt a lot different. In weeks past, it kinda' weighed down on me and I wondered why we weren't having success. Things didn't seem to make sense to me. However, last Friday President Weidmann shared a scripture with me in our interview. He shared a scripture from Alma. And at this time, Alma has just been rejected from the land of Ammonihah. He had been having great success on his mission, but the people of Ammonihah were so hardened in their hearts that they cast him out of the city. He was walking away being weighed down with all these feeling and wondering what he did wrong. In Alma 8:15 an angel appears to him and says, "Blessed art thou, Alma; therefore, lift up thy head and rejoice, for thou hast great cause to rejoice; for thou hast been faithful in keeping the commandments of God from the time which thou receivedst thy first message from him. Behold, I am he that delivered it unto you." President Weidmann then taught me about the "great cause" that Alma could rejoice over. This "great cause to rejoice" was Alma's obedience to the commandments of God. A lot of time I think we can fall into an idea that success as missionaries is measured by the number of baptisms or investigators that came to church. However, we learn from this scripture (as well as others) that success as a missionary is measured by your commitment to obeying the commandments of God. If we obey the commandments of God, we too will have this "great cause to rejoice." We also learn from Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21 that when we receive a blessing from God it's due to our obedience to a specific commandment. I really love the talk from Elder Klebingat from the October 2014 General Conference. He has a quote that says, "Selective obedience brings selective blessings." So if we want blessings, we should obey the commandments. If we want a "great cause to rejoice," we should obey the commandments. I know that obedience to the commandments of God brings blessings in our lives. I know that the commandments that God gives to us is for our benefit and happiness. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and I know that His Church has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that even though things are going slow with investigators, I still have a "great cause to rejoice" in my life. I love being a missionary!

Thank you for all of your love and support! I couldn't do it without you! Ju dua shumë! Javë të mbarë! Paçit qef në bor. E dua shumë dhe uroj që ne mund të kishim bor këtu në Durrës, por çfarë të bëjmë.

Me dashuri, Elder Watson

Shadow on the Institute Center door in Durrës.
The sea has been a lot more wavy and crazy the past couple of weeks.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

3 November 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your emails, especially this week! I really enjoy hearing about how things are going back at home. It sounds like you had quite the week! Which did Rachel like better, being Kili or a nerd for Halloween? Yeah, it looks like you've been doing a lot of work around the house! No one will recognize the house when they come to it for Christmas because it'll look so different!

As for your questions about elections. Yes, they do have elections here, but I'm not sure how they work. I don't think that they are around this time of year, I believe that they are in the summer. Also, I won't know if they are similar to the way they campaign for elections in America, just because I won't be seeing them on TV or anything like that. Dad, I hope that you have a chance to get out hunting and I hope that you'll be able to get a deer! A lot of the time we'll make pasta for lunch, and we found a place that we feel comfortable buying meat from, so we'll have pasta with meat sauce. The meat just isn't as good as that venison hamburger that we have at home. That's one thing I miss quite a bit. 

No, Elder Rasband isn't related to the general authority. {Jacob was on splits with Elder Rasband last week.} That was one of the first questions I asked him. He said he gets that a lot. No way!! Josh {Woodruff, a Facebook friend} is getting married?? That's awesome! I actually bumped into Josh at the MTC twice. He works there as a German teacher. Wow, that's awesome to hear that. Thanks for letting me know. Haha, Juxhin is awesome! {He sent Jacob a Facebook message. Can you tell that Mom just checked Jacob's Facebook account?} In fact, Esmeralda (the girl that got baptized a couple weeks ago) is Juxhin's cousin. So I was really hoping that Juxhin would be able to come to her baptism, but he wasn't able to make it. I was really bummed about that.

This week was pretty good. Probably the highlight of this week for me was Friday when we had interviews with President Weidmann. I love President Weidmann so much! I especially love when I get the chance to see him. At first I was really intimidated by him. When he just arrived in the mission (several months ago) he had an interview with all of the missionaries in their homes. It was kinda' a get to know you interview. He asked me to share with him my favorite scripture. I said the reference and we read it together, then he proceeded to ask me a bunch of in depth questions about it. I wasn't able to answer all of the questions, so after the interview I felt like I "failed" it (if you could fail a get to know you interview). However, now that I've had the opportunity to meet with him several more times, we are a lot closer and I'm not intimidated by him. I really enjoy his company. So I always look forward to meeting with him, or being able to talk with him at any chance I get. We spoke just about missionary work and how things had been going. I expressed to him some difficulties we had been having and he gave some counsel of how we can improve those areas. I really enjoyed the interview with him! After interviews, we had the ward Halloween party at the church. It was a lot of fun. The young men and young women were very excited about it and they spent a lot of time preparing and decorating and they put a lot of work into it! A lot of people showed up and they had a lot of fun! Everyone was really excited and most people dressed up in different costumes.

This week we were able to get a couple new investigators! This is a huge blessing for us. Things had been going really slow for us for the past couple of weeks, so getting just a few people to accept a return appointment has been a great blessing for us. Thank you for all of your thoughts and prayers, they paid off a lot! I know that when we are united in prayer together that we can accomplish great things. I could feel a special power with us this week as we were working. Don't get me wrong, this week still had its fair share of challenges and set backs, but I attribute this success in finding new investigators to be due to your prayers. I know that many great blessings come into our lives from prayer and I know that we can cause blessings to come into the lives of others through our prayers of faith. It happened this week. I know that many blessings come into our lives from prayer because I've experienced many of them in my life. There is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that talks about prayer:

"Therefore ye must always pray unto the Father in my name;
And whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, which is right, believing that ye shall receive, behold it shall be given unto you.
Pray in your families unto the Father, always in my name, that your wives and your children may be blessed." 
-- 3 Nephi 18:19-21

In this scripture we understand that if we pray to our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ and we seek good things, they will be given to us according to our faith. One great way that we can help share the Gospel of Jesus Christ is by praying for opportunities to share it. I know that if we will pray for opportunities to share the Gospel with others that the Lord will give us the opportunity. Then it's up to us to act on that prompting and share the Gospel in the way we feel prompted. I know that through this way, we will be showing our faith to our Father in Heaven and we're also showing our willingness and desire to share His Gospel and the happiness that comes from it. I know that as we pray for these experiences the Lord will give them to us and we will grow from them.

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers! Jeni nish! Ju dua shumë. Javë të mbarë! Zoti ju bekoftë!

Me dashuri, Elder Watson

Here's a picture from the Halloween Party. This is Elder Keck and I
(we dressed up as each other) with an awesome investigator, Leridon,
who also dressed up as a missionary! He should be getting baptized this month!
Today for P-day we went to go explore a castle. The drive was pretty nice--
we just needed to look out for sheep!
It was a bit of a hike, but it was a lot of fun.
It was right on the edge of the sea. Apparently, it was one of Skëndëbej's castles.
But everyone says that every little ruin is one of his castles.