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, December 22, 2015

14 December 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for writing every week even when I don't have much time to write and explain what's going on. Today we planned more time to email, but then all of the computers were filled up with little kids playing video games online. I'm glad to hear that everything is going well. Rachel, that's awesome that you're having so many concerts and things like that for band and choir. I really enjoyed all of the concerts I had in school as well! That's too bad that there isn't any snow in MN right now! We went to Bondsteel, an American Military Base near Ferizaj, Kosovo, a couple weeks ago and they had a little snow. I nearly cried I was so happy. I went and made a snowball. I think the Major thought I was a little crazy, but I think he understood when I told him I was from Minnesota and hadn't seen snow in nearly 2 years. Everything is great! Ju dua shumë!

Love, Elder Watson

So just a little background about our Thanksgiving Skit: the Church has produced some videos linked with Preach My Gospel to help us learn how to be better missionaries. However, sometimes it's a little sappy because it's filmed like a reality TV Show. So in order to increase missionaries' desires to watch the District more, the Church released the District 3 and experimented with some different filming styles.

With these links, be sure to download them from Dropbox before you view them, they'll work better if you do.

Monday, December 7, 2015

7 December 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry I have literally only two minutes today. Things are going well. We had an awesome P-day in Prishtina today. It was quite the adventure. We got back really late because buses aren't the best here, so my time is running really short. I'm healthy, I love it. I love the Christmas season! I know that Jezus {his Albanianized spelling} is the Christ and that this is a wonderful time to remember His birth and sacrifice.

Love you!

Elder Watson

Monday, November 30, 2015

30 November 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for the emails that you write weekly! I really enjoy being able to hear about what's going on back home. I'm glad to hear that you had a good Thanksgiving. Zach {Crook from the Princeton Ward} told me about his mission call {Mexico Monterrey Mission}! That's super awesome! He got the second best mission call in the world!

We have some Christmas decorations at our house. It's only a small Christmas tree, but at least it's something. We've listened to Christmas music already, well we started the day after Thanksgiving. But I enjoy Christmas music, so that's all good. I love how the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has so many Christmas albums! My birthday was pretty great! We had Church which is always super awesome. And then we had a super awesome district lunch. We had... Wild Rice Soup! It was super good, I got really trunky eating it. Yeah, it turned out that good! We also had a really good cake from an American Sweet Shop in a nearby town. With the storm that came through last week it caused the Church basement to flood quite a bit, so that took a lot of time out of our days, cleaning all of that up. But everything is all good now.

Mission Conference was great! Yeah, we have a talent show and we get an amazing Traditional Thanksgiving dinner, but the main focus of it is to learn about the new Christmas Initiative by the Church, "A Savior is Born". If you haven't seen it yet, go to <> and watch it! It's an amazing way to spread the message of the birth of the Savior! Watch it. Love it. Share it! Be sure to share it with everyone that you possibly can!

#ASaviorIsBorn #NjëShpëtimtarKaLindur

I'm sorry, I'm super, super short for time today. Thank you for all of your birthday wishes and prayers! Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur.

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Flooded Church basement.
We had our Mission Conference at a club in Tirana.  It was a
cool setting, but kinda' weird for a Mission Conference.
With the Abrahamsons--from MN!
My MTC group at the Mission Conference.
23 November 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for keeping in touch every week, I really enjoy hearing about what is going on back at home. Sorry, I don't have a whole lot of time to email today, so I'll try to write as much as possible in the time that I have. We had a pretty busy P-day today. We were busy preparing for the Thanksgiving Mission Conference that'll be this Thursday. I'm super excited. I'll show you more about the skit we'll do soon. This week was pretty good. The temperature has dropped quite a bit and snow is falling in the mountains. I love the look of snow on the mountains!! I'm so excited to see snow again! Hopefully in the next couple of weeks snow will start falling here. It's nothing like back home, I've heard, but they still get a decent amount here in Gjakova. We had a pretty big windstorm that came through Gjakova this weekend and it caused a bit of damage. We're fine and the members are fine too. It was super noisy though. All night our windows were howling like crazy. It got so bad that I spent about half an hour duct-taping them so they'd be quiet. It muffled the noise quite a bit. The handyman's secret weapon! {Red Green would be so proud!} When we went out the next day, there were so many leaves and lots of debris everywhere. Tons of windows on shops were broken. We didn't have power through Church, so that was a little interesting. Haha, what can you do?

Elder Harline is super awesome with the language! He speaks super well for only knowing Albanian for a couple months! He's from Lindon, UT, and he's fresh out of high school. It's so weird that he graduated this last summer. I was in Gjakova when he graduated. Woah, I feel old saying that. Charmander is a super solid investigator. He's accepted all of the commitments we've given to him and he's progressing to his baptismal date; however, the biggest problem we're facing is finding a way to baptize him by immersion without dousing his tail, he is fire type you know. We know he'll do well with the baptism by fire, but we're a little worried about the baptism by water... 

We'll go down to Tirana on Thursday for Thanksgiving and for my birthday, we'll probably just do a special lunch with the district and that'll be about it. It falls on a Sunday, so we'll also have Church. Hopefully the Sisters will enjoy my birthday for me. Haha. You'll have to send me pictures of them eating my cake and opening my presents. Haha. {The Princeton Ward Sisters will celebrate Jacob's birthday with his family this year.} I was looking forward to going out with the Elders when I got back, but I guess I'll have to wait a bit. 

So this past transfer I've been studying a ton about the Restoration of the Gospel and about the Prophet Joseph Smith. I came across one of his quotes that I absolutely love! I'll share it with you:

"The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

I really love this quote and the desire it gives me to devote myself to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I love serving as a missionary and I love serving the Lord! Things are going great here in Gjakova. Say hello to everyone at family Thanksgiving. Also tell Grandma Hawkins happy birthday for me. I didn't forget, I just forgot during our email time, but I wished her a happy birthday. Elder Harline is my witness.

Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi mirë!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson
16 November 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It's really awesome to hear from you every week. Yeah, last week was pretty crazy! It was super awesome getting to go to Macedonia though. The bus system is not very reliable here. We were told the times for the buses, but then we got there and found out that the buses just decide to go when they want. We missed nearly all of our buses only by five minutes, and we were on time for what they told us. It was pretty frustrating! Oh well, we got to go see Skopje and eat Burger King. I had a Double Whopper and a fountain drink and I nearly cried! Drinks from the fountain just taste so much like America! Every time we missed our bus, we said, "At least we got Burger King" that made it a bit less frustrating. It was a fun p-day.

Dad, that's awesome that you got a deer! That's super awesome that it was an eight-pointer too! Rachel, that's awesome that you were able to go to the Temple for the first time this week! I always love going to the Temple. I'm really excited to go back to the Temple after my mission! That's super awesome that the Wirths {friends from TX} had their baby on 11/11!

On 11/11 we were actually at a baptism. So on 11/11 we had halfway training in Tirana with all of the trainees and the trainers. So we carpooled down to Tirana with Elder Guymon and Elder Mero, missionaries from Prishtina, so we traveled back up with them, obviously. Elder Mero is from Canada, but he's actually Albanian. He lived in Tirana when he was 1-3 years old and then he left to Canada. In high school he learned about the church and then got baptized. Elder Mero still has a lot of family living here in Albania. His grandma was actually taking lessons from the missionaries when he got his mission call. So on 11/11 after halfway training, we went over to the other church building in Tirana, and watched the baptism of Elder Mero's grandma. It was a really awesome experience! It was really cool for him to baptize his grandma. That was one highlight from our week.

Another huge highlight of the week was this last weekend. So there is a member here in Gjakova named Burim. Burim is the first member of the Church in Kosovo, I believe. He was introduced to the Church through a member who has a music organization here in Gjakova. He wanted to get baptized, but back then there was no Church in Kosovo. So he waited and waited until the opportunity came to be baptized. He was finally baptized in 2006 in Slovenia. He's a super awesome member with a super awesome story that I can't do justice to in the time that I have to write today. However, he has been inactive for at least the past six months. This last week he was contacted by a member in Albania for him to take part in an interview talking about the history of the Church in Kosovo. Talking about the history of the Church really reignited his testimony. He has the calling as the Branch Mission Leader, and so on Saturday morning he came to the meeting and we discussed what we can do to forward the work along. He also came back to Church Sunday for Sacrament meeting. He also drove out to a village 15 minutes away to pick up an investigator family that was having an issue with their car. I was talking with him and he said, "With my return to Church, I'll help all the others return!" He's super awesome! He has such a fire inside him now to do everything he can for the Church. It was a huge answer to many, many prayers. I feel super excited and super hopeful for the future of the Gjakova Branch! It was such a wonderful weekend that everything else that happened during the week pales by comparison!

Thank you for all of your many prayers and thoughts. Ju dua shumë. Javë të mbarë. Kalofshi bukur!

Me dashuri, 

Elder Watson

Pictures from Skopje.  There are a TON of statues.
If you ever get lost, don't tell someone to meet you
by a statue of a man on a horse.  There's one on EVERY
street corner--NOT an exaggeration.

Role plays where Elder Harline and I teach our investigator,
Lunch a couple of days ago.  Don't worry, it wasn't dead for
long before we ate it!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

9 November 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Sorry I don't have too much time today. We went to Skopje for P-day and the bus system isn't the best. But I'm alive and well, things are going good. I can't complain! I'll write more next week and send pictures from Skopje.

Elder Watson
PS-I had Burger King today and nearly cried!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

2 November 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for writing to me every week. So you had the time change this past week? We had that a couple weeks ago here in Kosovo. It's getting darker earlier and it's super annoying for working. It seems a lot later than it actually is. That's really awesome that Daniel Crook {from the Princeton Ward} will be heading to the MTC this week. I'll bet that he's excited, but a little nervous, about that. It'll be a wonderful opportunity for him. Sorry, just a heads up, time is really short today for email. We were tied up with something a little bit earlier and so we didn't get a whole lot of time for email. Okay, so a quick run down of the highlights of this week. On Thursday, we had a Mission Conference with Elder Johnson of the Seventy. We went down to Tirana for that and it was a wonderful experience! He talked about how we can recognize and understand the Spirit more in our lives. On Friday night we had our Halloween party at the Church. It was a lot of fun. On Saturday, Elder Frroku ended his mini-mission so we went down to Tirana to transfer out. My new companion is a fringo {greenie}! That's right, I'm a dad again. I've adopted him into the Foster Family Line. His name is Elder Harline and he's from Lindon, Utah. He's super cool. The only weird thing is that he graduated high school in 2015. I was a senior when he was a freshman! Crazy! But we get along great and he's super awesome!

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and thoughts! Everything is going well, but time is out. Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

26 October 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for writing to me. I really appreciate it. I really enjoy hearing about what is going on back at home. So here the weather has only been down into the 50s or so, but everyone is freaking out! I was wearing short-sleeves for most of the week and people were freaking out. They were telling me I was going to die, yet I live. But now President Weidmann sent out the text changing it to winter dress, so short sleeves are now a thing of the past. That's a really awesome challenge that Bishop Izzo gave! {Each family in the ward is to find an individual or family to invite to meet with the missionaries.} I hope that you'll be able to find someone to refer to the missionaries. Getting referrals from members is pretty much the best thing since sliced bread! There was a talk we studied as a mission a few months ago that was amazing! Essentially it was the precursor to Preach My Gospel. It was from President Hinckley in 2000 or 1999 called "Find My Sheep, Feed My Lambs". It is super awesome! I'll just listen to that talk at times during lunch just because it's so awesome. Maybe it could help you find a way to invite a friend.

This week has been pretty good. The weather has been nice and cool, something I've really enjoyed, but the others in the district haven't enjoyed it quite as much. We had daylight savings time this week, so that was a nice surprise to get an extra hour of sleep. This week I went on an exchange within our district. I was with Elder Simons for the day. It was super awesome to be with him. We found out that we have a TON of similarities. It's awesome to get to serve around someone from my MTC group. I actually haven't served around a whole lot from my group, but it is super awesome to serve around Elder Simons. He's super awesome. This week also had its ups and its downs. It seems like nearly all of our work has disappeared in the past week. So we've spent a lot of time contacting and finding people. However, sometimes these things just happen. Before in my mission I would think that maybe it was a punishment because I wasn't as diligent with something or I would have other thoughts like that. But as my mission has gone by, I've been able to see that there are ups and downs in missionary work. Sometimes the Lord gives you rough situations and trial to prepare you for something else in the future. Sometimes the Lord uses these difficulties to give us a chance to prove our dedication to Him. Things are a little slower now, but things are still awesome! I love being a missionary here in Gjakova. And I love being able to invite others to come unto Christ, even when they don't accept it.

Thank you for all of your love and prayers on my behalf. Ju dua shumë!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

19 October 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for writing to me every week! I really appreciate hearing about what's going on in your lives. Yeah, there are quite a bit of gypsies in Albania and Kosovo. A lot of them that were here during the summer have gone back down to Albania for the winter. It's still pretty nice weather here. I was talking to a guy last night that said it'll get a lot colder next week, so I might have to finally get out those long-sleeve white shirts and get those ready. 

This week was good here in Gjakova. The biggest thing that happened this week was General Conference! It was awesome to finally see it in Church. During the past few weeks, I had downloaded it and had listened to it during lunches and at night before bed. I really enjoyed doing this because when we were watching the sessions at church, I was able to gain a deeper understanding and personal meaning from those talks. It was a testimony to me of the importance of the words of living prophets. It was such a wonderful personal experience to take part in General Conference. It was also a great opportunity for the members that came as well. All those that I talked to were glad they came and learned a lot! It was all around wonderful! Everything is going well here in Gjakova. Elder Frroku is doing well. This upcoming week is his last full week on his mini-mission, so I'll be getting a new companion in about a week and a half. It'll be interesting to find out who my new companion will be. 

This is a piece of a talk that Elder Richard G. Scott gave, that President Weidmann sent to me today in my weekly email. It is a wonderful message that talks about the importance of the basics:

In early life I found that I could learn gospel teachings intellectually and, through the power of reason and analysis, recognize that they were of significant value. But their enormous power and ability to stretch me beyond the limits of my imagination and capacity did not become reality until patient, consistent practice allowed the Holy Spirit to distill and expand their meaning in my mind and heart. I found that while I was sincerely serving others, God forged my personal character. He engendered a growing capacity to recognize the direction of the Spirit. The genius of the gospel plan is that by doing those things the Lord counsels us to do, we are given every understanding and every capacity necessary to provide peace and rich fulfillment in this life. Likewise, we gain the preparation necessary for eternal happiness in the presence of the Lord. A testimony is fortified by spiritual impressions that confirm the validity of a teaching, of a righteous act. Often such guidance is accompanied by powerful emotions that bring tears to the eyes and make it difficult to speak. But a testimony is not emotion. It is the very essence of character woven from threads born of countless correct decisions. These choices are made with trusting faith in things that are believed and, at least initially, are not seen. A strong testimony gives peace, comfort, and assurance. It generates the conviction that as the teachings of the Savior are consistently obeyed, life will be beautiful, the future will be secure, and there will be capacity to overcome the challenges that cross our path. A testimony grows from understanding truth distilled from prayer and the pondering of scriptural doctrine. It is nurtured by living those truths with faith anchored in the secure confidence that the promised results will be obtained. I am reminded of an experience that occurred on a nuclear submarine some years ago. A nuclear submarine is different from a regular submarine in the sense that it has an extraordinary power plant, and those who laid the foundation for the development of those power plants did it in such a secure way that, unlike normal craft, a nuclear sub has the ability to go at its highest speed, called flank speed, without any difficulty. If you get on a normal submarine—a diesel boat—and it is up at nearly flank speed, everybody is on watch, wondering what is going to get carried away first and what is going to break down. Not so in a nuclear plant because they are so carefully designed. It takes hours to build a standard ship up to full power, but in a nuclear plant, as fast as the helmsman can turn the throttle, the plant follows and gives greater compulsion. On one occasion during the shakedown trials—the time when a submarine is put through all of its paces to make sure that it has been built according to specifications before it is delivered to the navy—a nuclear submarine was at full submergence status going at flank speed as the most critical test of acceptance trials. Everyone knew that if they went very much deeper, the pressure of the ocean on the outside of the hull would collapse the bow and the crew aboard would be lost. The helmsman noted that there was a slight upturn on the submarine, so he tilted the planes downward to correct that. The submarine started to become level. At that time, there was a power breakdown, so the submarine continued at flank speed going deeper and deeper, and there wasn’t any way to change the pattern of the planes. Panic, understandably, broke out among the crew members because they knew that in very few seconds their lives would be taken by the water rushing through the crushed bow. There was, however, a petty officer in the engine room pulling himself along the floor. He reached into a cabinet and turned a switch, activating an alternative power supply that saved everyone’s life. Later on, during an investigation of the incident, the petty officer was asked, “How did you know what to do?” Can you imagine him pulling the manual out and starting to read? He said, “I don’t know, I just did it.” As they questioned him further, he said, “Now, I know why I did it. We went to prototype school, and we went through these exercises that trained us how to react when an emergency came. It was so much a part of me that I didn’t realize that it came from training.” That is how to live successfully in this world today. Learn how to live the commandments when there is no pressure on you. Develop the standards and obedience by making correct choices repeatedly and you will develop the character that will sustain you when pressures from Satan come into your life. The principles of the gospel will have become such a part of who you are that they will produce miracles.

Thank you so much for the love and prayers that you give to me. Ju dua shumë. Javë të mbarë. Zoti ju bekoftë!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

For General Conference, I baked some cookies for the missionaries and
others that came.  I quadrupled the recipe!  This is what happiness looks like!
For P-day, we went hiking at a park that had waterfalls near
a place called Mërusha.  It was really pretty and a lot of fun.

12 October 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for writing to me. I really enjoyed hearing about your experiences from this last week. I'm glad that you had a good week. Whoa, Oreo churros sound AMAZING! {You can get them at Taco John's.} I've been missing the Fall colors. There are some changes in the leaves here, but most trees are pines so they don't really change. I really miss the North Shore {of MN, along Lake Superior} with all of the changing leaves. It's such a pretty view! Here it's been... well I don't know what the temperature has been, even if I would have known I still wouldn't have understood because it's in Celsius. I'm still horrible at the metric system. But it's been "colder" by some people's opinion, but it's perfect weather if you ask me! Everyone else is out in sweaters and jackets, and I'm loving it in my short-sleeves! It'll be a hard change to switch to long sleeves, but I know that the change is coming soon. I'm super excited because we get snow here in Gjakova. I'm super, super, super excited to see snow again! Yeah, I've also heard that there's a TON of fog in Gjakova during the winter, so I'm excited to see that too.

Rachel, congratulations on being called as the first counselor {in the Beehive presidency}! That's wonderful! I hope you enjoy it. Having a calling is a wonderful way to learn and to help others! I'm glad that you're still loving volunteer work, Mom. It really is a wonderful thing! That's one thing that I've learned during my mission. Through volunteer work, or service, we can learn a ton and gain a lot, maybe not in money, but in experience and love. 

Elder Frroku doesn't speak English, but we're working on that together. So this last week when we had zone conference in Prishtina, I translated for him. Man, it's so hard translating when people just talk and go on without a break. It tired my brain! After four hours of that, my mind was totally burned out! This week was pretty awesome. One awesome thing that happened was with Dardan! So Dardan really wants to get baptized. Dardan also wears an earring, so we felt prompted to give a lesson on dress and appearance. I wanted to talk to him about it before his baptism, but I was a little hesitant. I was a little afraid that maybe he might get offended, or he might misunderstand and be slightly offended. However, I knew that it was something that we needed to do. So we had a lesson where we read from "For the Strength of Youth" and listened to the talk from President Gordon B. Hinckley where he gives the counsel on piercings and tattoos. The commitment that I was thinking of giving to him was to pray to know if he needed to remove his earring. During the lesson, we got to the part that talked about body piercings. When we read the section from "For the Strength of Youth" Dardan stopped, reached up, took out his earring, and threw it in the garbage can in the corner of the room. When he did that I was stunned! I was thinking, "I thought that only happened in movies or stories." But nope, it actually happened! It was a wonderful way that Dardan showed the Lord his determination and his desire to follow Christ, through the counsel of living prophets. It is so awesome to work with Dardan! He is so prepared to receive the Gospel. He is struggling a little bit with the Word of Wisdom, but he's setting goals for how he can overcome that.

Thank you for all of the love and support that you send to me! Thank you for all of your prayers and help! Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson
5 October 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for writing to me every week. I really appreciate hearing about everything going on at home. That's awesome that Daniel {Crook, Arizona Tempe} and Michael {Thomas, Dominican Republic} got their mission calls! That's super exciting! Tell them congratulations from me! I haven't gotten to see any of General Conference yet. Here in Gjakova we'll be holding it on the 17 and 18 of October. It's still a while away, but I'll download it in English so I can listen to it in our house. I heard about the new Apostles! That is super exciting! I remember when we met Elder Rasband during that one training. I don't remember it super clearly, but I remember standing up to shake his hand.

This was a good week here in Gjakova. So I got to meet my new companion. His name is Elder Frroku. He's from Mirëdita but is a student in Tirana where he met missionaries and was baptized. It's really cool because he was baptized this last January by Elder Simons who is also in our Gjakova district. Elder Frroku is really awesome. He was a very strong Catholic before he met with the missionaries, so his testimony of the Savior is huge! He is really excited to go on a mission of his own after he is a member for one year. Right now he'll only be here for a month for a mini experience. He is learning a ton and is really awesome. We get along really well together and we're seeing success in our missionary work here. This last Wednesday, we got a call from the APs telling us to come down to the trainer/trainee meeting. (The meeting where the brand new missionaries get paired up with their trainers.) I was kinda' surprised that we would be going down there. But we drove down to Tirana for the meeting. It was a really awesome meeting! We got to see the new missionaries and their excited, but kinda' nervous, faces. They are really awesome. I was talking with one of them and I told him that I was from Minnesota and he asked if I lived near Pine City. I was blown away that someone from Utah knew where Pine City was. He told me that he had a brother serve a mission there a while ago. Small world. It was really cool to see them come in and be paired with their trainers. Another instance of how small this world is. This week Elder Frroku and I were street contacting and he ran into someone he met on the bus a couple weeks ago. They start talking in Albaian and I noticed that the man didn't sound Albanian from the way he spoke. As it turns out he's an American working with a charity organization in Kukës, Albania. As it turns out, this guy is from... drum-roll... Minnesota. He's from Detroit Lakes. I was blown away! So we took a picture together. It was just a week full of crazy connections.

It is awesome to see how the Lord works with His children. I'm so grateful that He has given us prophets and leaders to guide us and to teach us His will. I haven't had the chance to see conference yet, but I'm super excited to hear it, because I know that the words that are spoken there will guide us and give us the direction that we're searching in our lives. In the past little while I've been studying from the Doctrine and Covenants, and I've been able to see more clearly how the Lord directs us through revelation. The Lord really does love us and really does want us to still have His word and to still walk in His path. I know that the men that the Lord has given us are inspired men to lead us and guide us in these latter days!

Thank you so much for all of the love and support that you give to me. Thank you for all of your many prayers on my behalf! Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur! Javë të mbarë!

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson

Elder Frroku taking a selfie.
Minnesotans in Gjakova!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

28 September 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for writing to me this last week. I really appreciate hearing about how your week has gone. Mom, I want you to know that I didn't forget that it was your birthday this last week, when you're emailing as a missionary you just don't have enough time to type everything that you want to type. I hope that you had a wonderful birthday! I hope that you really enjoyed it! Your birthday here in Gjakova was pretty interesting. It was the Muslim holiday Kurban Bajram and everyone was celebrating. I guess it's the equivalent to Christmas for us. It was a slower day. It was a little harder to meet with people or to do missionary work, but it was still a pretty good day. 

Rachel, that's awesome that you might be able to get your braces off this year! That'll be exciting! I hope that everything goes well so that it can happen! Wow, I bet you are really sore with all that swimming! {Two swim meets in one week.} This last week we played soccer with some of the members and man was I sore afterwards! I feel your pain, literally. That's cool that you had the Primary program this week. Those are always fun to watch. They had one when I was in Durrës, so that was fun to see.

It is so awesome working with Dardan! He is the most prepared person I've ever had the chance to work with on my mission! This last week we talked about the Temple and he loved it to say the least. He's so excited to learn anything he can about the Gospel. It's awesome because he doesn't just have a focus on baptism, but he sees wonderful things that will come to him after baptism. He sees the Priesthood, and he sees the Temple. It's so awesome that he has the eternal perspective! I don't think I've ever had another investigator where I feel the Spirit so strong as I do with Dardan. He is super awesome! He is a "new creature" as the scriptures would put it because of the Gospel. I can't even begin to express how awesome he is.

This week was also transfers. I kinda' already knew that I was staying in Gjakova so I wasn't really surprised to hear that. However, my new companion will be a mini-missionary named Elder Froku from somewhere in Albania. A mini-missionary doesn't mean that he's a midget, but it means that he's only serving for a temporary time here in this mission. I don't know who he is, and neither does anyone else that I've talked to. So I'm excited to meet him. Elder Cani will be leaving to 4th Ward in Tirana. It will be sad to say goodbye to Elder Cani. I've really enjoyed my time with him. I've really enjoyed being able to serve with him. I've learned a ton from him! He's an awesome missionary!

As with nearly every other week, I'm out of time. Sorry I can't type faster. Thank you for all of the love and guidance that you give to me! I really appreciate all of your prayers and thoughts. Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur. Javë të mbarë.

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson
21 September 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thanks for writing to me every week, I really appreciate it! Rachel, I hope that you had a very Happy Birthday! Man, you had a lot of parties and celebrations this week! Woah, you sure raked it in! Lucky! Maybe you called that one picture "Potterlock" but I think another word for it could be "SherHarry". Haha. {Rachel received a winter pea coat that has a high collar, similar to the one worn on the show Sherlock.  She modeled it with a Gryffindor (Harry Potter) scarf.} That's cool that the door was heart-attacked! {YW taped hearts to the front door to welcome Rachel into the program.} I hope your movie activity this weekend goes well! I hope that you're enjoying swimming.

Yeah, it's not cold yet here. Summer came back for a visit and it's been really hot this last week. However, today and yesterday it has been raining, so it's been a bit cooler, which is super nice!  

Yeah, that family history thing is kinda' cool {Ancestry DNA testing}, but how much can you really tell from someone's loogie? Plus, I want to know, Dad, who in our family is from Afghanistan? I haven't heard their story at family reunions? Haha.

We have been blessed abundantly with being able to meet with a new investigator daily. His name is Dardan and we've been meeting with him for about two weeks. When he first met with us, he was really struggling with identity issues and anxiety. However, we've been able to see a huge change in him in just two weeks. Now he has so much hope in his life. He has so much desire to learn everything that he can about the Gospel. We had invited him to be baptized on the first lesson, but he said that he wasn't ready. He didn't feel like he could make that commitment. We promised him that as he continued to learn about Jesus Christ that he would naturally have a desire to be baptized by Restored Priesthood authority. We talked about baptism again in later lessons, but he still felt the same. Last night when he came to have a lesson with us, he told us that he was walking home from Church thinking about the things that he learned, and the idea came to him strongly that he should be baptized. Now he's looking forward to his baptism with excitement. I can honestly say that the Dardan we are teaching now is a different person than the Dardan that came to meet with us two weeks ago. This is only possible through the True, Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has been wonderful to feel the Spirit testify so strongly in the lessons that we have given. It is amazing how much the Gospel can really change us!

Thank you for all of the love and support that you send me. Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur. Gëzuar Bajramin! Javë të mbarë.

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson

The office just wanted us to let you know, again, that the address was changed a while ago. They've been having problems with getting mail addressed to the old address. Here is the correct address:

Adriatic South Mission
Attn: Jacob Andrew Watson
P.O. Box 2984
Blvd. “Gjergj Fishta”, Qendra “Alpas”,
Shk. Nr. 5, Apt. Nr. 14,
Tirana, Tirana, 1000, Albania
14 September 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for writing to me each week. I really appreciate hearing about what's going on back in Minnesota. I'm glad to hear that everything is going good.

Haha, yeah Rachel, it's hard getting up in the morning. If there's one thing that I've learned on my mission it's that if you want to get up early, you have to go to bed early. It's not as fun, but it works. Rachel, I hope you have a happy birthday on Sunday! I'm excited to hear about it next P-day. Woah, you're getting old! You're already at Young Women's age? I remember when you just started going to Activity Days, woah, time goes by fast.  You'll have to tell me what it feels like to be old.

That's cool that the missionaries stopped by for a visit this last week. It's always awesome when we can stop by a member's house and they let us in. That's kinda' funny {that they were interested in my mission}, because I'm really curious to find out what it's like to be a missionary in Minnesota. That's one of the first things I want to do when I get back, talk with the missionaries and learn about the Minneapolis Minnesota Mission.

So here in Albania, they have something called "tullumba" essentially it is a churro, saturated in sugar water and then sold in a plastic container filled with...even more sugar water. The first time you eat one you're like, "this is pretty good." But by the time you finish it you are thinking, "I seriously regret that decision." I used to like tullumba at the beginning of my mission, but I can't stand them now.

This week was a good one for Elder Cani and I. We were blessed with being able to teach a bunch of lessons this week. We've been blessed abundantly in the past couple weeks with being able to find and teach some really awesome people. There is this one investigator, named Dardan, that is really searching for the truth. He has struggled with anxiety and depression in the past, and he's hoping to overcome these problems through the Gospel. We've only met with him twice up until now, but we've already seen a change in his appearance. He looks happier and he has more life to him. As part of one of our lessons, we watched the Mormon Message, The Hope of God's Light, one of my favorites by the way! That video touched him and it gave him so much hope. It is awesome to see that because the Gospel really can help us through whatever problems we may have in life! It was a really awesome week to be a missionary in Gjakova!

This week the Kosovo District was invited to take part in Stake Conference in Tirana, Albania. So on Sunday we got up at about 3:30 a.m. and began our journey at 5:00 a.m. for Tirana. It was an awesome conference! All of the talks were inspiring and uplifting! Elder Baum of the Area Seventy came and gave a wonderful talk. I really enjoyed being able to go to Stake Conference. It blew my mind when they announced how many missionaries were serving from the Albania Tirana Stake. There are 26 currently on missions! That's so awesome! Also at conference, I was able to say hi to and meet a lot of the members that I have worked with before in Durrës and Lushnjë. It was funny because nearly all of the Durrës members thought that I had finished my mission, so when they saw me they were surprised. I was really happy to see all of them there at conference and still being strong in their faith. It made me think a lot about when Alma and the sons of Mosiah we reunited during one of their missionary travels (See Alma 17:2). That's kinda' how I felt when I saw everyone and heard that people had accepted callings, or had received the priesthood, or other things like that. It is always so awesome to reunite with loved ones and see that they are still doing well!

Thank you for all of the love and support and prayers that you say on my behalf. Ju dua shumë! Kalofshi bukur! Javë të mbarë. Ju bëftë mirë tullumba!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

7 September 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for writing to me every week. Mom, Dad, and Rachel, I'm glad that you had a fun time at the State Fair. That's really cool that you ran into lots of missionaries there! It's always really cool for us when we run into members from other cities or other countries. It's always fun to talk with different members. I bet they were all really happy to go to the State Fair on their P-day. I know I would be! Is it possible to go to the State Fair and not eat anything on a stick? I wonder how many of those sticks they use during the course of the fair. I've heard the name Abrahamson but I haven't met them at all.  {Sister missionaries that we met at the fair mentioned that a couple from their ward had just left for the Adriatic South Mission.}  I don't know if they've arrived in the country or not. Hopefully I'll be able to meet them soon. That's really cool that they're Minnesotan! Haha, that's funny that Rachel has Mark {one of Jacob's former baseball coaches} as a teacher. Yeah, hopefully you didn't ruin her chances of a good grade in that class right then {by mentioning that Mark had coached Jacob several years ago}. That's cool that Wes and Becky are celebrating their anniversary. Be sure to tell them congratulations from me. Say hi to Kayla from me. Also tell Grandpa Watson happy birthday for me!

Sorry, I don't have a lot of time left to email. Today for P-day we went to Prizren again, and we didn't catch the bus back to Gjakova that we wanted, so we didn't get as much time to email as we would have hoped. But this last week was really good. We had zone training this last week, which is always awesome! The training that we received was really good, and it was really awesome to see missionaries from Prishtina and Skopje. A missionary that I served around in Durrës for a while, Elder Muncy, got transferred to Prishtina and so it was really awesome to see him again. It's really awesome to see missionaries progressing and growing so much during their missions. I've seen it a ton in Elder Keck, but that's because I got the chance to serve with him when he was fresh from the MTC. I've also known Elder Muncy for most of his mission, so it's awesome to see all of the progress that he's made in his mission. I think that seeing progression in other people is one of the most wonderful aspects of missionary work. This week what really stood out to me as I was working with the branch members here in Gjakova. This week I was able to see some of them bear their testimony in Sacrament meeting on Sunday when they've never done that before. I've also been able to see members change their lives and repent to live the Gospel more fully in their lives. I've seen members accept callings and start doing everything that they know how to do to fulfill their callings. It has been one of the most fulfilling things that I've witnessed on my mission. It is wonderful to see people progress in the Gospel and become more like the Savior. It's wonderful to see them applying the Gospel in their lives even when it is difficult. It gives me so much joy and happiness to see the Gospel making positive changes in the lives of others!

Thank you so much for all of the love and support you send to me. Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur. Javë të mbarë.

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson
31 August 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for writing to me each week. I really enjoy hearing about what's going on back at home. Mom, Dad, and Rachel, that's cool that you will have gone to the State Fair by the time you read this. I hope you had a good time! Okay, I'll have to go to the State Fair the next year so that I can actually remember it and enjoy it. Can you imagine if Sweet Jacob's teamed up with Sweet Martha's? ...Minnesota isn't ready for that yet!  {Jacob makes some really good chocolate chip cookies.  Sweet Martha's are the excellent chocolate chip cookies at the MN State Fair.}

Woah, Rachel, you get to choose your classes for 7th grade? Things have changed. That's cool. Hopefully you can get into some fun classes. Mom, do you have to wear glasses when you drive, or are you still okay to do that without glasses? Haha, Brian Regan once talked about how one of his friends only had to wear glasses when he drove, so Brian made the comment that he should have just got a prescription windshield. I don't know where that came from, but there you go. This week I was thinking a lot about Brother McCabe. How is he doing? Be sure to say hi to him for me! Give him my best wishes!

I don't know at all how long I'll be in Kosovo as the whole visa requirement doesn't really have any issues for the missionaries anymore. The mission office has taken care of all that. So I could see President Weidmann leaving me to finish my mission here in Gjakova. On the other hand, I could be transferred tomorrow. With President Weidmann, you never know. It keeps you on your toes. For example, one of the sisters here, Sister Pierce, got a transfer call on Saturday night to go to Vlorë, and it isn't normal transfer time, so you can never really know what to expect.

This week was pretty good for Elder Cani and I. A couple highlights that we had from this week happened this last weekend. So occasionally a senior couple from Prishtina, the Hyrdicks, will come down to Gjakova just to see how things are going. They'll come to Church with us and give us help and counsel and stuff like that. So Saturday, because Sister Hydrick is the mission nurse, we had a health night activity at the Church. It was awesome! All of the members loved it! Sister Hydrick talked about hygiene, dieting, and the Word of Wisdom. All of the members talked about how much they loved it. It was a fun interactive lesson that helped benefit the members a ton. It was a pretty fun activity. Also, we had a really awesome Church service on Sunday. I don't know why it was so good, but you could just feel the Spirit there very strong. So that was the first highlight, the second happened after Church on Sunday. So earlier on in the week I had talked to a man on the road about his family and ways that he could strengthen family relationships. He accepted a lesson and he brought his family to the Church. All together 11 people showed up. Several of them were very young children but it was still a good lesson. We watched the Restoration film and they really enjoyed it. They said that we should go over to their house later on in the week, so on Sunday we went over. We showed up at their house which is in a village about 10 minutes away from Gjakova. We were sitting at a table in their yard just talking with the father, his brother and some other men in the family. After a little bit the kids asked if they could invite the neighbor kids to come over. We said yeah, so they ran off. After 5 minutes, they came back with half of the village! Over 25 kids came. They were just pouring out of everywhere! We got them sitting down and started talking to them about Jesus. They sang some songs about Jesus that they had learned before and they were really well behaved! It was like teaching a Primary lesson! All of them were begging us to come back to teach them more, so we set up a time to go back. They told us that not all of their friends could come, so they wanted to invite them next week too. I'm really excited to see how it goes. It was a really cool experience. During that lesson it made me think of when Christ said suffer the little children to come unto me. It was really cool. I could understand a little bit more about the love that Christ has for little children. Throughout the scriptures Christ makes that love apparent several times. It is so wonderful to have a Savior that loves us so much! Understanding more about the love that Christ has for us helps us show that love to others as well. It helps us become better people. It helps us to know how to help others. I know that God loves us and He has given us so many things to show us His divine love for us. I know that as we read from the scriptures and we pray, we can understand more about this love of Christ, which is called charity. In Moroni 7 and 1 Corinthians 13 it teaches us a ton about charity and its importance. Paul teaches us that it doesn't matter if we have all the knowledge in the world or if we are the best at something, but if we don't have charity it doesn't really matter. If we don't have charity we are nothing. Let us learn more of the Savior and His Life to understand more how we can show charity to all those around us!

Thank you for all of your prayers and thoughts and support. I really appreciate it. Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur. Javë të mbarë!

Me dashrui,

Elder Watson

A couple of pictures of the branch activity.
We talked with a guy in Gjakova who owns his own printing shop.
We gave him a Book of Mormon, and he said he would give us each
50 pass along cards.  Here's mine.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

24 August 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for writing to me every week. I really enjoy hearing about what's going back home. That's crazy that you've been having so many storms. That's cool that the ward had a daddy-daughter camp out. I always enjoyed the father-son camp outs when I was younger, so I'm glad that they had a great time. Oh man, hopefully we're still Icelandic. Even if the DNA test results say otherwise, I'm still going to be Icelandic. Woah, it's time for the MN State Fair already? Wow. Hey, I noticed that I've never been to the State Fair. If I have I was super little {He was!}, so it's like saying how I've been to Disney World. {Mom was pregnant with him the last time the family went to Disney.} Now I've noticed that you've gone last year {It was actually two years ago when he was at BYU.} and plan to go this year. Did you not want to take me? Were you afraid that I'd embarrass you? Haha, I'm just kidding, I thought that it was a funny connection. Rachel, I heard this one guy quote Benjamin Franklin once when he said, "Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise." So do you want to be healthy? Do you want to be wealthy? Do you want to be wise? Then you know what you must do. So I guess the opposite of this would be, "Late to bed and late to rise makes a man sickly, poor, and stupid."

So this week was pretty good for Elder Cani and I. We were blessed to be able to teach many lessons this last week. We're working with a couple different people. It's kinda hard working in Gjakova because people are very Muslim, and if they aren't Muslim they're very Catholic. So it's hard to get people to be interested to meet again. However I love serving in Gjakova. I honestly love coming to Church and seeing the members. Because the Church has only been in Gjakova for about two years, and it's been a branch for only one, every time we go to Church I can just envision more the early saints of this dispensation. It has really opened my eyes and given me a better perspective. Really the only difference is the year isn't 1831 it's 2015, but the same challenges and problems that the early saints faced are being faced by the members of this branch. It's difficult for them at times, like it was for the early saints, but I know that wonderful, great blessings are awaiting them from their Father in Heaven. I really love serving here in Gjakova, I've learned so much here. Over the course of my mission I've really come to love the restoration of the Church. It's the thing that I talk about the most with people, but I've really come to love all of the sacrifices and troubles that the early saints suffered in the past to give us what we have today. I'm especially thankful for the Prophet Joseph Smith. I can't wait to meet him after this life! He's done so much to help us understand and come closer to Christ. He's given us so much to have a clear and better understanding of the doctrines of Christ's Church. He's given us so much, and I'm very grateful for him. Now, don't think that I'm glorifying or shouting praises to Joseph Smith, I just have so much love and respect for him because he clarified the way so that we can know Christ. And Christ is the focus of it all! Nothing can or will ever superceed the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. There is no possible way to express my feelings accurately for Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. Without Him we would all be lost. Let us learn more about His life, characteristics, and attributes in order to come closer to Him. I know that as we come closer to the Savior, we see His Hand in our lives even more. We see, and receive, many blessings from Him. I know that as we learn more about Him, we will learn more about those things that we must do to come closer to Him and to receive Eternal Life, or the greatest gift that God can give to us. But it requires our action. It requires work on our end.

Thank you all so much for the love and the support that you give to me! I really appreciate it! Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur! Javë të mbarë.

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson