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

Monday, January 26, 2015

26 January 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for the weekly emails! I really appreciate it! It's always wonderful hearing about what is happening at home. I can't believe I'll hit my one year mark this week! The time has flown by so fast! There is this one family we visit here in Durrës and they have a daughter on a mission. They said that the time has flown by like crazy. They tell us that their daughter describes the first half of your mission as climbing up a ladder, and the second half is the slide down. She'll be getting home in February. It just hit me the other day that February is only a few days away! It'll be awesome to be here when she gets back home! 

It's been a lot warmer here, lately. This last Saturday we were playing futboll with some of the young men and we were playing in shorts and t-shirts. It was pretty warm. Wow! Rachel, you had quite the week! {Rachel had to go to the eye doctor, getting new glasses which she has to wear all the time, and the orthodontist, getting more brackets on her teeth, last week.} That's great that Uncle Jerry and his family are doing well! Give them my regards.

So this week we were blessed by the Lord in so many ways! Probably the biggest blessing this week was Besa got baptized!! We've had some issues with scheduling her baptism, so it was a wonderful relief when everything came together beautifully for her baptism. It was such a beautiful event! She was very happy afterward. Then again on Sunday when she was confirmed, she was super happy as well! In Sunday school that day, she also talked more than she ever had before and she gave wonderful testimonies of everything! I was super happy that she was baptized and confirmed this week! President Weidmann came to her baptism and he actually performed the ordinance. He said he was really nervous because he was going to do it in Albanian. He did very well! He didn't have to read anything or to have any help! He had everything down in Albanian! It was very beautiful! He was very happy after the baptismal service as well. His daughter actually returned from her mission this week. She was in the Salt Lake Temple Square Mission. She got to Albania on Thursday, and on Thursday night she came to Durrës with her parents to see Besa's baptism! She said it was a good transition from being a full-time missionary back to "regular" life. This week we also had interviews with President Weidmann. I love having interviews with him so much! He's such an amazing man! I really look forward to working with him. That's one of the greatest things I've noticed from being in a leadership position. I really love getting to work with President Weidmann on a much closer level. He's so inspiring! I always look forward to and get excited about interviews with him! 

I've been seeing the Hand of the Lord more and more in my life every day! I absolutely love being a full-time missionary. Of course, at times it's difficult, but it's such a rewarding experience! You get to see the Gospel making a bigger change in your life and in the lives of others! I've seen the Gospel change people's hearts and I've seen them come and get baptized to make sacred promises with God. I've seen the change that comes from baptism in the lives of many individuals. I've kinda' explained the happiness I have seen in Besa after her baptism, and I've seen similar changes in the lives of many others! I've also seen the changing power of the Gospel in the lives of other missionaries. I've seen missionaries that have struggled with things in the past, become strong and be wonderful examples toward other missionaries. The blessings of being a full-time missionary aren't just for the person serving. They are for those whom the missionary serves, as well of the lives of everyone that will interact with that person in the future. It also brings blessings to those that know the missionary as well. It may not be possible to see the blessings that come from it in the present, but many years down the road we'll understand those blessings more fully!

I thank you very much for your prayers and support. I could not do this without your help! Ju falendëroj shumë! Ju dua shumë! U nglifshi shëndosh!! U bekofshit me paqe, lumturi, dhe ndhimë qiellore!

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson

Eating bugaçe.  You can see the pain and fear in my eyes!!
We were contacting in the rain and a Bentley drove by.
Besa finally got baptized this week!!!!!  Yeah!

Monday, January 19, 2015

19 January 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you very much for the emails you send me every week. I really appreciate them, and I look forward to reading them every week. Wow! That's awesome that Rachel finished all her homework so much time in advance for once. I don't think that I ever got a field trip for finishing Study Island before. Study Island was new when I was in school. I don't know if we ever had required homework for Study Island, it was something more like we had time in school to do it. Wow, Rachel, sounds like you have quite the week scheduled with the eye doctor and the orthodontist! Mom and Dad, that's awesome that you were able to run into those people from Eau Claire! That's super awesome! {At the Temple, we ran into people from a ward Dawn attended when she was growing up. It is always a small world where the church is concerned!} I hope the Pinewood Derby {in the Princeton Ward} goes well. I'm still kinda' bummed that my steel car axle is broken. *sigh* oh, well. I still get excited about Pinewood Derbies! That should be a fun experience.

When I was back home I never really heard about exchanges with the missionaries, but now exchanges are such a common thing. It's weird going a few weeks without an exchange actually. Speaking of exchanges, we had one this last week. I stayed in Durrës and Elder Roemer went to Elbasan. It was really awesome to work with another missionary for the day! When I drove to Elbasan to pick up Elder Roemer, we ate something called bugaçe. It's like bread, soaked in melted butter, and filled with byrek dough, soaked in butter, coated in salt, and then dipped in melted butter. It's so much... Most people only get half of a bun, but the other elders told me that for the first time, you have to get a whole. So I got it. And I ate it. And I regretted it. But I loved it!! It's weird because the ONLY place to get bugaçe is in Elbasan. No one else has it. Crazy huh?

This week Elder Roemer and I had an amazing week! We were blessed by the Lord so much! We were able to teach tons of lessons this week. We reached 20 lessons! For the first time in my mission! It's super difficult, but possible. I was really happy to finally reach that goal! The Lord has blessed us so much in this work during the week! I'm super excited about missionary work here in Durrës. It's also really awesome to be a zone leader, because you get to hear how all the missionaries in the zone are doing during the week. It's awesome to hear their success stories and to encourage them! There is one area that has normally been a harder area to work, but we've seen so many miracles happening in the Lord's work there. It's super awesome to see that! Do you remember Esmeralda? The girl that got baptized in October? She's super awesome still. She actually has a calling as a Relief Society teacher! And she's been bringing her two younger sisters to church for quite a while. Both of her younger sisters accepted a baptismal date this last week. They are super solid and I'm excited to see them progress to baptism! They should be getting baptized at the end of February! The youngest one, Alketa, is only 10 years old, but she's read until the middle of 3 Nephi already! When she said that in our lesson all of us were super surprised. I thought she misunderstood the question and she had just picked a chapter at random and had read it. But she said no. She has read from the beginning until that point! It's so awesome. Those girls are so prepared for the Gospel already. It was a great testimony builder to me that the Lord is working with people and He's doing His work as well. The Lord has hastened His work, and I believe that He's still hastening it, and that He'll be hastening it until the end. It's like that last leg of a race, it's a full out sprint until the end now. We're seeing that in so many ways. We're seeing it through people that are prepared for the Gospel, through the means we have to do missionary work (He is the Gift, Because of Him, Social Media, etc.) I've really seen that the Lord is willing to work with us, as long as we are willing to work with Him. When we keep His commandment, when we study the Holy Scriptures, when we obey with a willing heart and exactness, that is when the Lord is most willing to give His help. He won't give us the same amount of help if we are just sitting around lazily, as He would if we are "always abounding in good works" (Mosiah5:15). I've seen the love that the Lord has and I know His mighty hand is still stretched out toward us. All we have to do is reach out. The way we reach out is through obedience and good works. I'm very thankful for the opportunity that I have to be a missionary here in Albania. I know that this IS the Lord's work, and that we are blessed greatly when we join in.

Ju falënderoj shumë për lutjet tuaja dhe për dashurinë tuaj. Unë ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur. U bekofshit me mrekuj në jetët tuaja! Javë të mbarë!

Me Dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson
12 January 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for your emails! Like I say every week, I really look forward to reading your emails on P-day! Things have been going well here this last week. In the past couple days, things have warmed up quite a bit. It's been a nice comfortable temperature, about the low 50's F. It's been very pleasant here. I'm sorry to hear that the weather has been so cold in Minnesota this last week! It sounds like I'm going to freeze to death when I get back home! That totally sounds like Cambridge-Isanti, never closing school, even when the temperature is hovering around the -30 F mark. I'm sorry that you had to deal with that cold! Wow, so many other things were cancelled, but school continued on. Ashtu është jetë. Ça me ba. I'm glad to hear that there is a warm up on the way! I hope that it'll stay around for a bit. Just remember that in a few months, you'll be complaining about how hot it is. Minnesota's like that. I hope that this upcoming week will be better with higher temperatures. Yeah, each one of the missionaries got one of those Christmas cards as well! {The mission sent out Christmas/New Year's cards that had photos of the missionaries in each district.} I hope you enjoy it! I actually got a Christmas card from the Junckers in the mail. It was really nice to get that. Also, some other missionaries have sent out some Christmas cards, so I have a collection of them on my wall. Rachel, I'm glad that you're enjoying reading the Hobbit. When I read it for the first time, I actually thought it was kinda' boring. But I've repented of that and now I can't wait to read it when I get back. I'm glad that there aren't any movie theaters here in Durrës, because I haven't seen anything about the Hobbit. If I was seeing that all around, that would make me pretty trunky. One of my friends from BYU is on his mission in Mexico and he said that right outside of the window of his apartment, there is a huge movie poster for the Hobbit. He says it's been tough. I hope you enjoyed the film. I'm excited to see it when I get back. Speaking of things like that, I actually found the first Lord of the Rings book today! I was super happy! I've been searching for about 2 months now! Now I just need the Hobbit, and my search will be complete.

Yeah, so the creation of the Durrës Zone is pretty exciting! Before, we were part of the South Zone (Durrës, Elbasan, Lushnjë, Fier, and Vlorë). The zone was getting too big, so they split off the Durrës Zone from the South Zone, and the Tirana Zone. So now there are four zones in the mission (Vlorë, Durrës, Tirana, and Prishtina). We have about 20 missionaries in our zone. With more missionary companionships being added to the different cities, and the opening of a new city to missionaries, they reorganized the layout of the zones. It's a really exciting thing! This week we actually had our first zone training. We talked about some different aspects of missionary work, and presented the goals for the zone and the mission. It was a very spiritually uplifting experience! The new mission goal for convert baptisms this year is super awesome! The goal is "four baptisms per companionship per transfer" (a three month period). It's a very large goal! But I'm very excited about it. I know that it's possible if we work with the Lord. Our goal for last year was 300 convert baptisms for the year. At the end of the year, we had 244 convert baptisms. When you hear that, you might think that we fell super short. However, President Weidmann was telling us about the experience he had speaking with the Area Presidency about this goal. They were super surprised and they said, "honestly, we didn't think that you'd break 200." So this just goes to show the miracles that are possible when we work hard with the Lord. Afterwards, President Weidmann shared a wonderful testimony of how he came to this number. The Spirit filled the room and he told us that he has received a confirmation from the Spirit that this goal is possible. He also talked about how the Spirit testified to him about us as missionaries, and how we are capable of much. After this meeting, he asked us to pray about these goals for ourselves as well. I prayed about it and I have received a confirmation of the Spirit that this is a possible goal. It has led to a lot of enthusiasm in our Zone. I'm very grateful for this so much! I know that as we continue to be obedient and work with the Lord in setting our goals, this goal will be reached. I'm very excited for what this year has in store!

I know that the Lord loves us very much. He has given us so many blessings. All we need to do is look around us and we see the blessings that He has given us. He's given us families, the earth, friends, scriptures, prophets, and His Son Jesus Christ. I'm so very grateful for a loving Heavenly Father that blesses us in every little thing we do right. I know that we all gain blessings from our obedience to the Gospel. I really like Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21. It talks about the connection between blessings and obedience. I know that this is true. I've seen so many blessings come into my life from obedience to the Gospel!

Thank you for all the love and support you give me! Ju dua shumë! Kalofshi mirë. Javë të mbarë! U ngrofshit!

Me Dashuri,

Elder Watson

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

5 January 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for writing to me every week! I really look forward to the time I have to read what you have been up to each week! It sounds like you've had a pretty chilly, but good, week. It's been quite chilly here as well. It's only in the lower 40's but the wind coming in off the sea, and the humidity, combine to make it pretty chilly. Also, here they don't have central heating in homes. We have a space heater and that's about it. So inside it's still pretty chilly. All the houses here are made out of concrete. Elder Roemer and I decided that if we introduced insulation to Albania, we'd become multi-millionaires! But all-in-all things are quite well here. One of the members here in Durrës told us that this year has been the coldest year in about 10 years. Also, one missionary told us that at this time last year they were out at the beach in shorts playing football, so this is just an Albanian cold snap I guess. We had a lesson with a family last night and they said that next week it's supposed to get super cold. It's supposed to drop below -15C {5°F}, but I'm not quite sure because I've heard a couple different things about the upcoming weather. Haha, that sounds like Rachel. {Even though she had a two-week school vacation, she procrastinated a writing assignment until the last minute.} How big was her assignment that she had to do? 

Yeah, so not a whole lot happened this last bit of the week. Probably the coolest thing that happened this last week was last Thursday evening. After emailing, we had quite a while to work without having any lessons planned. It was pretty cold, so not many people were out in the street, so we decided to go tracting, which is not something I readily suggest. Don't get me wrong, just tracting isn't my favorite finding method. I haven't found much success from tracting in my mission, so I'm not always excited when we have to do it as a last resort. However, we decided to go tracting. We picked an apartment building and we walked in. We took the elevator up to the top floor and started knocking on doors. The first door was opened by a man. He said that he was expecting friends to come over at any minute, but he said we were welcome to come back one day. I was actually very surprised with how friendly he was. We walked down the hall and we knocked on the second door. A man opened the door and we told him that we were missionaries. He said that he was Muslim, but then he said, "But it's a new year, so come in." So we sat down with him, his wife, and his two daughters. We talked about the Book of Mormon with them, and it was a very good lesson. We told them where the church was and they recognized it when we described it. They talked about how they always thought that it was a really beautiful building and they wondered what it was for. I was very happy with that lesson! I was very happy that we were accepted into someone's house to speak more about the Gospel. A plus about tracting on New Year's Day is that when you knock on someone's door, even if they aren't interested, they'll give you some leftover candy. We got so much candy and food from tracting on that day! It was almost like Halloween!

I'm very grateful for this experience, not because of the candy or anything like that. I'm grateful because the Lord knew that my confidence in tracting had been wavering. I believe that He led us to that apartment building so that we could have that wonderful lesson with that family. In doing so, we introduced a family to the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, and at the same time, my confidence in tracting was strengthened. Now I've been a lot more willing to go tracting when we have to. I'm very grateful that the Lord cares for us enough that He'll give us successes like this in order to keep our minds and hearts open. When we close our minds or our hearts to something, we start to hinder the Work of God instead of pushing it along. I'm very grateful for a Loving Heavenly Father that cares about us and knows what to give us when we need something. I know that He knows all of us personally, and that He will bless us as long as we strive to keep His commandments.

Thank you so much for your love and support! I couldn't do it without you! Ju dua shumë! Kalofshi bukur! Javë të mbarë. Gëzuar vitin e ri, për shumë vjet! 

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson

1 January 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Yeah, it was really good to skype with my family last week! And it was really good to read your email this week! I really look forward to reading your emails every P-day. I'm glad that you got to have some snow on Christmas! This last week, we have been having a cold snap here. It's not as cold in Minnesota, but it's dropped below 0C a few times. It gets a little chilly contacting people outside at night. Yeah, my body has become acclimated to weather here, so this chilly weather feels pretty cold. Don't make fun of me. So our baptism wasn't able to happen here last Saturday. We got a text from her Friday morning saying that she wouldn't be able to be baptized on Saturday. This scared Elder Keck and I. We tried calling her, but her phone wasn't on. We couldn't get a hold of her all day! However, we were finally able to get a hold of her the next morning and we found out that something happened with her work which is requiring her to work from early in the morning until late at night until the end of the year. So we're planning her baptism for another Saturday soon. She'll be an amazing January baptism! Dad, I hope you had a great birthday! I hope that you have fun playing with all of your new toys {from Christmas}! I'm glad you survived the craziness of all the grand-kids being there!

So transfers happened this last week. I'm still here in Durrës. I thought that I was leaving because I've been here before. However, I'm still here in Durrës with a new companion, Elder Roemer. Elder Roemer is from Alamo, Nevada. He is one missionary group ahead of me, so he's been on his mission about three months longer than I have. Elder Keck thought that he was staying for sure, so he was really surprised when he got his call to go to Lushnjë! I was kinda' jealous. He'll have a lot of fun there. The really surprising thing that happened with this transfer is that a new zone was created. It's called the Durrës Zone and Elder Roemer and I are the Zone Leaders. It's kinda' scary because neither of us know what we're doing and we need to figure it out on our own. It's really exciting, but also kinda' scary at the same time. The Durrës Zone consists of three cities, Durrës, Elbasan, and Shkodër. It's a little weird, the layout of the cities, but it'll be exciting to go to the different cities to do exchanges and interviews and things like that. Transfers are always kinda' crazy, and at the beginning you don't really know what to expect because you've grown so close with your districts. But I'm sure that we'll have a great district here in Durrës!

It was also kinda' crazy this week as well, because it was New Years. Christmas isn't celebrated very much here, New Years is the big celebration. Fireworks are sold on every street corner and it gets SUPER crazy here. There aren't any restrictions on what can and can't be used, so you'll see little kids walking around with Roman Candles and firecrackers. A lot of time, kids will throw firecrackers at your feet to scare you. So we had to be inside our house by sundown. So Elder Roemer and I chilled out and got to know each other more during the course of the night. We also had a xhaxhi photo shoot. They're all things that older men (xhaxhi) do here in Albania. We had fun acting out some of those things. 


It was New Years, however, we had to be in bed at 10:30 as usual. So when midnight rolled around, we were awoken by all the fireworks. From bed I could hear fireworks blowing up right outside of our house, so that was kinda' crazy. I can't imagine what it would be like out on the streets during that time. Oh! Also this week, there was an earthquake here in Durrës! It wasn't very bad. It was pretty calm, but it lasted for about 10 seconds. It took me about five of those seconds to realize what was happening! It was pretty crazy! Tons of crazy things happened this week! What a way to close out a year!

All the time I've been a missionary I've learned a lot about humility. As you do something for a while, you tend to get into routines and it's easy to think you know how things work. However, everyone that comes out on a mission should come out to do the Lord's will, not our own. I've learned a lot about humility and relying on the Lord in missionary work. I know that the Lord is willing to work with us, if we are willing to work with Him. I'm very grateful for the Gospel and the ability we have to be blessed because of the Gospel in our lives!

Gëzuat vitin e ri! Edhe për shumë vjet! Kalofshi mirë! Ju dua shumë!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Elder Watson and Elder Roemer
Today we went on an adventure. . .
. . .climbing a pretty large hill near Durrës. . .
. . .and exploring some old war bunkers.