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!

jwatson@myldsmail.net

Adriatic South Mission
P.O. Box 2984
Bulevardi "Gjergj Fishta"
Qendra "ALPAS", Shkalla NR. 5,
Apartamenti NR. 14
Tirana 10000, Albania

Thursday, December 25, 2014

25 December 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Yeah, it was really awesome to see and talk with my family today! I really enjoyed it. It's kinda' sad that we didn't get a chance to talk for longer, but it was still really good to talk for the little bit that we had. I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas, and I hope that you'll have a wonderful New Year! I hope you have safe travels to relatives' houses this time of year. Give them my regards!

This last week was really good. We met a man this week named Loni. We just talked to him in the road about He is the Gift, and invited him to watch it. He had time right then, so we went and we watched the film together. After the film, we talked a little bit more about the Gospel, and he has an amazing knowledge of the Bible. As it turns out, we found out that he had met Mormon missionaries in Fier (another town in Albania) a few years ago. We talked some more and he was really interested to learn more about our beliefs. We ended up having another lesson with him about three days later. As with all our investigators, we asked what he had read. He said that it started talking about Nephi and his family. We said that was right, and I felt like I should ask him if he read anything else. I asked and he said, "yeah, Nephi's brothers complained a lot. They didn't like hard work. They had to go back to Jerusalem to get a book." So I knew he had read the first couple chapters of 1 Nephi. I asked again if he read anything else. He said, "Yeah, Nephi got help from God and they built a boat and went to America. And after a little while, Lehi blessed his kids and died." I was blown away! He had read all the way until 2 Nephi! I felt like I should ask him again. He said, "Yeah, then after that I read something about them working in a vineyard." Immediately Jacob Chapter 5 entered into my mind. However, I didn't think that he read that far, so I was racking my brain, and I couldn't think of any other reference to a vineyard. So just to confirm with him, I opened up the Book of Mormon to Jacob 5 and I asked him if he had read that far. He said that he had, and he continued, "The last thing that I read was about a king named Benjamin." Loni had read from the beginning of the Book of Mormon until Mosiah!! I was blown away! That's over 150 pages in three days! I couldn't believe it, but he was able to tell me in considerable detail what had happened during that period of time. It blew my mind! He then expressed to us how he felt that the Book of Mormon was true. We invited him to be baptized and he accepted, so on the 24th of January, he should get baptized. It's amazing to meet some of these people whom the Lord has prepared to accept His restored Gospel. There are some people that only need to find it. It was an amazing experience! I always love meeting with Loni!

We've also been working with one of our investigators preparing her for her baptism this Saturday. Her name is Besa, and she's actually been learning from missionaries for quite a while. I think she's been learning from the missionaries, on and off, for about two years now. However, we saw her name in our Area Book and we called her up and asked if she wanted to start learning again. This time around she's been completely on board and now she's really excited for her baptism! About a month ago, she was hospitalized for a sickness and she had been pretty weak from that. In our first lesson after she got out of the hospital, she said that she really felt the love of God for her when she was in the hospital. She said that if God didn't want her to live, she'd be dead right now, but He allowed everything to happen how it did so that she could have a better perspective in her life. After that, she has been very excited about the Gospel and now she's getting baptized in two days! It should be a wonderful thing! I'm really excited for her and her decision to get baptized. It was a testimony builder for me about using the Area Book. Some times we don't want to use it because it's paper work, but it is so very important that we have records like that. If we didn't, we probably never would have met Besa, and she probably wouldn't be getting baptized this weekend. It's amazing to see the Hand of the Lord in this great work!

We had a ward Christmas Party on the 24th here in Durrës. It was really cool to see all of the effort that the youth and the primary put into it. It was a really cool experience! The Spirit was very strong at that activity. I really loved being there and feeling the wonderful Spirit that the members brought into the activity. I really love being a missionary at this time of year! I think this year has been the first time I've been this focused on the True Meaning of Christmas, which is Jesus Christ the Lord. Every single day since Thanksgiving, I've had the wonderful opportunity to talk with people about the importance of Christmas. I think this year has been the first year in my life when I've been entirely focused on Christ for this season. I think in years past, I'd get excited about presents and family gatherings (don't get me wrong, they're still wonderful things!) but this Christmas Season it has been quite wonderful focusing every thought on the birth of Christ. I'm so very grateful for this and I give my testimony of God's love for us! I know that God loves us so much that our little, finite minds can't comprehend it! I know that Jesus Christ came into this world to give us the opportunity to be forgiven of our sins. I know that Christ lives and that He truly is the Gift of the First Christmas, many years ago.

Thank you for all the many blessings, prayers, and the support that you give me! I couldn't do this without you! Ju dua shumë! Gëzuar Krishtlindjen! Ju uroj një Viti të ri të mbarë! Kalofshi bukur!

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watston

Some New Year's Lights . . .
yes, here they are called New Year's Lights.










Christmas in Durrës

Sunday, December 21, 2014

15 December 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your emails you send me every week! I really enjoy reading them every week. Sounds like you had a fun filled week! It's a little different being a missionary for Christmas, but I love it a ton! This time of year, there are so many miracles and things happening that it's super exciting to be a missionary. We've been working really hard, and we've been really busy so it blew my mind that Christmas is already next week! Crazy! So our P-day is moving to Christmas Day next week, so I won't be emailing anyone on Monday. But I'll get to Skype with my family on Christmas, so that'll be exciting! I hope you had fun at the various Christmas parties you've gone to this past week. The Hobbit 3 is coming out this week?? Wow, you will have to not tell me too much about it, otherwise, I'll be thinking about it a bit too much. I'll get to see it soon enough. Wow, I can't believe the Sisters in your ward are getting transferred this close to Christmas! That must be rough! I couldn't imagine that. Our transfers fall on the week following Christmas, so that's kinda' nice.

This week was really awesome. We actually had the opportunity to go to a Stake Priesthood Meeting this last Saturday. It happened at the church here in Durrës, so that was super convenient! There were a ton of amazing talks! I don't know why, but for that meeting, I was a able to have really strong focus, so I was able to understand nearly everything that went on. It's still hard to understand when people give talks in church, but if I really put all my focus forward, I can get stuff out of it. However, if I'm not completely focused, I'll just zone out and I won't get anything out of it. So I was super happy with how much I was able to focus on Saturday. There were a TON of amazing talks. I really enjoyed it! Also that night, we were blessed to have a baptism! Two in fact! Two people named Anxhela and Ledion got baptized and confirmed this last weekend. It was super amazing! They were very excited and very happy about their decision! They will be amazing members of the Church! If everything goes well, we should be having another baptism before the end of the month. She has a really strong desire to be baptized! She's learned from the missionaries in the past, but she had stopped meeting with the missionaries for various reasons, but now she is excited and ready for baptism! It should be really awesome! We also had a couple people who we think would be ready for the 27th of December; however, they think it's a little fast. We want them to feel comfortable with the decision to get baptized, so we're not shooting for that day with them. However, I'm certain that they will get baptized before the end of January, and they'll be awesome members of the Church as well!

This week, and the past couple of weeks really, we've been experiencing a lot of miracles and blessings in our work! We've been working with He is the Gift a lot, and we've been seeing a lot of blessings from it. There have been a couple times where we've been able to invited people into the center from off the street to watch the "He is the Gift" film, and they have had sincere interest to learn more about the Church.

video

It's an amazing time of year to be a missionary, and I'm super glad that I have the chance to be a missionary here in Albania at this time. I can't think of any other place I'd rather be. I love the Gospel, and I love that I get to focus on the Gospel 24/7! I absolutely love missionary work, and I know that we get blessed greatly when we do missionary work. Rachel, I'm glad that you've been inviting tons of friends to come to church with you! That's super amazing! You're doing great missionary work already! I know that we truly are blessed abundantly when we obey the Lord's Commandments. I've seen many wonderful blessings come into my life from the Gospel and I know that the Gospel has the ability to bless the lives of everyone who accepts it!

Thank you so much for the love and support you give to me! Ju dua shumë! Javë të mbarë. Kaloni bukur! Gëzuar Krishtlindjen. Jam shumë i gëzuar për të folur me ju javën të ardhshme.

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson

Down by the coast there is a portion of the city decorated
with lights.  Pretty cool!!
Decorating the Christmas tree at Church.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

8 December 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your emails! I love the opportunity I have to read your emails every P-day. So the hat in those birthday pictures from last week is actually one of the other elder's hat that his family sent him for his birthday. He let me wear it for that day, and then they made me a bow tie mustache out of it. Yeah, so one of the groups of elders found a place that printed T-shirts, and we decided to get some made. However, sizes here are really different. I got an XXL, but its probably the size of an adult S in America. So that was an interesting surprise. 

That's awesome that you were able to Skype with Grandma and Grandpa! This time around will be a little different than Mother's Day. We are only allotted 40 minutes for Skype. So we won't be able to talk as much as we did before, but at least we'll be able to talk a little bit. Wow, sounds like you'll have a full house for a few days with all of the Grandkids. I know one thing you could do for Christmas Eve! You could try making Salep as a family. Salep is a drink here that is amazing! It literally tastes like Christmas in a cup. I don't really know how to explain it, but it totally tastes like Christmas! I love it a ton. I don't know if you have the right stuff to make it over there, but you could give it a shot.

I don't know if we'll get the chance to watch the First Presidency Devotional. Maybe we might be able to download it and watch it some day during lunch, but I haven't heard anything about it. So for Christmas and New Years, those days have turned into P-days for us. So we'll probably just be hanging out together as a district. We might play some card games, or might go and do something fun, but we haven't decided that quite yet. We'll be having a Christmas party at the Church here in Durrës on Christmas Eve, so that should be a lot of fun! 

This week was an amazing week here in Durrës! We were blessed very much this last week. I know that God was helping us out a ton! All of the missionaries are working super hard during this month to complete a large mission goal. For the year of 2014 the Adriatic South Mission has a goal of 300 convert baptisms. We're super close, but we need to work super hard and we need to work effectively if we want to accomplish this goal. We're thinking that the last Saturday of the year, the 27th of December, will be a huge baptism day! We have two individuals who have committed to that date for their baptism as well! We're really excited to see how all of that turns out. One of them is one of Esmeralda's sisters. She's super prepared and super excited for her baptism! This just goes to show that working through members is one of the best ways to find people to invite to learn about the Gospel. I know that we can all do missionary work by inviting our friends and family members to learn about the Gospel! It has worked out amazingly for us!!

This time of year is an amazing time to be a missionary! There is a special Spirit in the air. More people are willing to listen to us! We also have a wonderful opportunity to talk with people about He is the Gift! It's such a wonderful short film. It's very powerful! Each time I see it, I feel the Spirit very strong! I know that Christ is the Son of God and I know that only through Him we can be saved. I am so very grateful that we have a loving Heavenly Father that gave us His Only Begotten Son so that we can know what we need to do in order to return to live with Him one day. We've been talking to many people about "He is the Gift" and it is an amazing experience we have to talk so much about the true meaning of Christmas! I'm very grateful for this time of year that I have to be a missionary, to talk with people about the many great, and wonderful, blessings that our loving Heavenly Father has given us! This Christmas season is a wonderful time to reflect on the life of Jesus Christ! I know that Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and that a loving Heavenly Father gave Him to us so that we can gain eternal life!

Thank you for all of your love, support, and prayers! Ju dua shumë! Javë të mbarë. U bekofshit në këtë kohë të bukur!

Me dashuri të madhe, 

Elder Watson

This is our whole mission at the Mission Conference we had
with President Dyches in Durrës a few weeks ago.
It has been raining a lot, and this happens quite often.
We have to dry out when we get home!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

1 December 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for everything!! Thank you for your emails each week, thank you Mom, Dad and Rachel for the birthday package, and thank you for your thoughts and prayers! Let me start off by reassuring you that my eye is fine. Don't worry about it. I haven't had any issues with it since that experience I shared last week. It's like nothing ever happened with it. There's only a tiny little mark that's only visible if you really look for it. Earlier in the week it was a little more noticeable, so a lot of members asked me what happened. It was kinda' difficult to explain because a lot of people don't understand the concept of frisbee here. There are a lot of games and things we do in America that don't get understood here. They only have soccer, so when you suggest doing something else, they don't understand it at all. It's a different mentality here.

This week was really good! This week was a special week with a ton of stuff in it! Monday was P-day, Wednesday I had an exchange with an elder in my district, Thursday was Thanksgiving/Mission Conference, Friday was Albanian Independence Day, and Saturday was Albanian Liberation Day/My Birthday/Baptisms!! It was a packed week! Okay, so the Albanian Holidays weren't as eventful as you would think. No one really celebrated them. I think I celebrated more than most Albanians. I wore a red tie with my black suit on Independence Day, and I wore my Albanian flag hoodie for soccer on Saturday morning. That's really all that happened. We talked with some people in the street and some members and asked what they were doing for the holiday. All of them said nothing, they'd go to work, go home, and eat. It's really different how they celebrate, or lack of it... Anyways, it was good because it didn't hurt missionary work. Everything continued on as normal.

It was really cool to have Thanksgiving here! We had Mission Conference in Tirana all day. We had a special training, and then we had an amazing Turkey dinner prepared by the senior couples and afterwards we had a talent show. The talent show was awesome! It was super funny! There are a ton of super funny missionaries in this mission. It was a great time! Unfortunately, my camera died about halfway through it, so I couldn't get all of it on video. Oh well, it was still really awesome!  I made peanut butter bars for the dessert contest. However, I put a little too much graham cracker and they turned out a little crumbly. Oh well, I thought they were still good.

My birthday was really awesome as well. Here in Durrës, we play soccer with the young men and investigators on Saturday morning. It's a way to find other people to teach. It works out pretty well, because the investigators get to see that the missionaries are normal people too. So we started out the morning with soccer. Then on the way home, we got a call from the ward mission leader wanting to have our coordination meeting. So we hurried home, cleaned up, and had that meeting with him. Afterwards, the district threw me a surprise birthday party. It was a lot of fun. After that we went to the church to see the baptisms! It was an awesome experience!! It was awesome to see 5 people get baptized! It was a Lushnjë baptism, so I got to see the Elders from Lushnjë as well as some of the members. It was awesome! I was really pleased with my birthday! I loved it! Thank you so much for the birthday package! Especially thank you for that Duck Dynasty card! That's one of my favorite quotes, so I was super happy to get that! {Uncle Si talks about how he can make a chicken pot pie with a bunch of random items. . . and a woodpecker!} I also really enjoy the Despicable Me sheets! I'm making good use of them! Also, that scripture case really works well, and comes in handy! Thank you a ton!!! Also, I got a package with a bunch of letters from the Primary kids in the Princeton Ward. Can you please tell Sister Malinka {Priamry President} thank you for that? Can you also tell Grandma and Grandpa Hawkins thank you for their card? Thank you a ton for making my birthday amazing! I hope the Princeton Elders enjoyed my birthday as well. {Jacob's family held a birthday party in his absence with the local Elders as guests of honor.}

Awesome Princeton Ward Elders

So on Thanksgiving we had a training as well from President Weidmann. It was wonderful! We talked a lot about a missionary campaign that all the missionaries in the world will be using. It's called, "He is the Gift". It's a campaign to help people refocus on the true meaning of Christmas. It's a wonderfully, powerful short little film. It's only about 3 minutes, but every time I see it, I feel the Spirit very strong. I know that in today's age, a lot of people associate Christmas with presents, Santa Claus, black Friday, cyber Monday, small business Saturday, and tons of other worldly things. These are all nice traditions and all, but they are not the true meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas is to have a time when we can focus on Jesus Christ. It's a wonderful time filled with a wonderful spirit. I would encourage you to watch the film at <christmas.mormon.org> It will bring a special spirit into your day and you will be filled more with the Spirit. I'm very grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, that we can overcome everything. I know that God lives and that He loves us! In this short film it has three steps. (1) Discover the Gift, (2) Embrace the Gift, (3) Share the Gift. I would encourage you to watch the film, to learn more about the Savior and how He can help you. Afterward I would encourage you to accept Christ into your lives. Show your love for Him by taking hold of the Gift in your life. Take advantage of that love and happiness that comes to us. And finally, I'd encourage you to share this Gift with someone. It's super easy to share on Facebook, or on other social media sites, or on an email. It's becoming easier and easier to share the Gospel with more and more people in today's age with all the technology that we have. I know that this is true and that we have been blessed abundantly in our lives!

 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)

Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers! Ju dua shumë! Javë të mbarë! Kaloni mirë. 

Me dashuri të madhe, Elder Watson

Oragami White Shirt
Chocolate candy with jelly beans and pop rocks inside!
Father and Son reunited at the Mission Conference!
Birthday Celebration. What up with that hat?
Elder Watson with his "Birthday Kek"!
Nice party! Still an interesting hat!
Durrës District in their District t-shirts.
Decorating the Christmas Tree!