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, May 26, 2015

25 May 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It sounds like you had quite the eventful week! Wow, Rachel has been going to a lot of reward parties lately! It seems like she goes to one every week! That's awesome to hear that she's doing so well in school. Keep it up Rachel! Woah, did David Letterman really retire or is he going to pull a Jay Leno and come back after a couple months? Haha. I guess it's a good and a bad thing that you've been getting so much rain. It's good that you're getting that rain for the crops, but I guess it could be pretty annoying with all of the projects that you have going on. Woah, Monday is Memorial Day? I did not know at all. It's crazy how fast time is going by! Dad, I hope everything is going well with planning the encampment, and I hope everything goes well with repairing the light {a solar light that needs to have the base welded back on}. That's kinda' nice that Wes, Phil, {his brothers} and Grandpa are living in, relatively, the same area. That's awesome that the Curtis's {a senior couple from the Princeton Ward} got their mission call to St. Louis. And that's really weird that Josh (Braman from the Princeton Ward} will be getting home soon. Time is moving really fast! Things are going well here in Gjakova, it's different than in Durrës, but it's still good. The branch here is really small. The last couple weeks we've had about 16 people in church. There are about 40 baptized members here in Gjakova, but there are a lot of less active members, so that's why not many people come to church regularly. Besides the missionaries, there are maybe one or two active Priesthood members. The branch is really small here, but with time it will grow. I haven't noticed a lot of jasmine growing around here. Then again, I am in the city most of the time and there aren't many growing things in the middle of the city. However, I haven't really been looking for jasmine. But I'll keep my eyes open for them and I'll let you know if I notice it.

So this week was a little bit of a slower week for Elder Baker and I. We have been hunting for a house for Elder Lesi and Elder Asler and we spent a lot of time doing that. We've also had a lot of jobs to do at the church this last week. So we didn't have a lot of lessons that we taught, but we were busy all of the time. This last week there was a Kosovo District Fireside in Prishtina, so we got to go to Prishtina and hear a special presentation. We heard from Brother and Sister Givens. They are authors and they have written many books on the topic of religion. They came to Prishtina from England and talked about the Restoration of the Gospel. It was an amazing talk! The Spirit was so strong in that little Prishtina chapel. It was such a wonderful experience. I'm sure that the members from Gjakova, that went, were uplifted because of it. It was also awesome to go to Prishtina, because I got to see all of the members from Prishtina again! It was awesome to see them doing well and still strong in the Gospel! It was a really awesome night all around. Because of the lateness of the fireside, we stayed with some other missionaries overnight and then we traveled back in the morning. We stayed with the zone leaders, Elder Temple and Elder Rasband. It was really fun to see them as well.

This week my testimony of the Restoration of the Gospel was strengthened. I guess because we had the fireside and talked about the Restoration, that caused me to think about it a bit more this last week. It is just so amazing that our Heavenly Father loves us so much to give us all of the amazing things that He has given us. I'm very grateful that the Lord has given us the Book of Mormon, so that we can know if the Restoration really happened or not. Over the course of my mission, my testimony of the Book of Mormon has been strengthened so much that I can't even imagine going one day without reading from its pages. I love that book so much, and I know that it truly is the word of God revealed to us in these last days!

Sorry, I don't have more time to write today, but I'm doing well and things are going great here in Gjakova! Thank you for your thoughts and prayers! Ju dua shumë! Kaloni mirë! U nglifshi shnosh!


Elder Watson
18 May 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It sounds like you had a pretty good week this last week. Dad, I'm glad to hear that everything went well with planning things out at Many Point. That's really awesome that you were able to have a blood drive at the Chapel! I'm glad to hear that it went well. Wait, is there a Walmart in Princeton? That's so awesome that Brother Magdanz got baptized!! That's awesome that he had so much support at his baptism. Tell him, "Urime" from me! It's cool because we also had a baptism here in Gjakova on Saturday too! That's crazy that Valerie {Ostvig from the Buffalo, MN Ward} is already back from her mission! Wow, you are really having crazy weather there. Hopefully everything will warm up and even out.

So this week was pretty busy for me too. Yeah, it feels like forever since the last time we skyped. (Wow, that was only just over a week ago). So leaving Durrës was a little hard. It was hard to say goodbye to all of the members. They are really awesome in Durrës! We had some awesome lessons with them after our P-day was over. The drive from Durrës to Tirana was pretty crazy because we fit in four elders in the car as well as two of the elders' luggage. Needless to say, it was a tight trip. It was a fun trip from Tirana up to Kosovo. We drove up in a mission vehicle. It was probably a 3 hour trip from Tirana. I traveled up here with Elder Asler, one of the elders from my MTC group. The trip through northeastern Albania is such a beautiful drive! It's amazing! I can't even describe how beautiful it is! Things are going well here in Gjakova. Gjakova is a pretty small town. There's about two major roads that run through it. It's maybe a little bigger than Lushnjë. It's interesting because Gjakova is about the same size of Lushnjë, but it reminds me a lot more of Shkodër. I've already learned where the important places in the city are: the apartment, the church, the grocery store, and the good restaurant. There are six missionaries here in Gjakova, Elder Baker (from Texas) and I (from you know), Elder Asler (from Croatia) and Elder Lesi (from Durrës), and Sister Davis (from Utah) and Sister Pierce (from Oregon). It's awesome to have Elder Lesi because he's such a hard worker and we talk about Durrës a lot together. We have a pretty awesome district here and things are going really well. The branch here is really small. Last week we had 17 people in church (including missionaries). However, you have to remember that Gjakova has only been open to the gospel for 3 or 4 years. We had an activity on Friday night and so we were able to make friends with the ward members. We went to a hill nearby and played some games and had some snacks. It was a nice little activity. So things are going a little slow because there were two elder areas in Gjakova a while ago, then for the past couple weeks it was only one area, so now we're splitting apart the one area back into two areas so things are moving slow, but they'll pick up. So this Saturday, we had a baptism at the church. A man named Patriku got baptized. He's such an awesome loving man! He's lived in Germany for many years, so he has a German accent when he speaks Albanian, and he also speaks Geg Albanian so it was super difficult to understand him for the first couple of days. It's fun trying to get used to the Geg again. I'm slowly getting back into the swing of it. But anyways, back to Patriku. He's such an awesome man, and the Gospel has changed his life a ton. He loves coming to Church and he loves the Gospel so much. I actually had the privilege to confirm him on Sunday! It was an awesome experience for all! Here in Gjakova, we're also four elders in one apartment which makes things a little interesting. So we're looking for a new apartment for one of the companionships. On Saturday night we were in our apartment talking and then Elder Baker looked over at Elder Asler and I and said, "Hey, you guys are giving talks tomorrow because you're new." Oh the joys of serving with the branch president. Haha. It was actually really good and I enjoyed the opportunity to speak in Sacrament meeting!

This week I was reminded of the power of the Priesthood. This past week I've been reading and studying a lot about the Priesthood and what it really entails. It's humbling that God would trust us so much to give us the ability to hold His holy Priesthood. For the past little while in my mission, I've served in a pretty large ward where a lot of the other members take care of things like the Sacrament. However, moving to a smaller branch has given me the opportunity to be able to exercise my Priesthood even more. I was honored and humbled that this last Sunday I was able to bless the Sacrament, as well as giving the Gift of the Holy Ghost to Patriku. I was able to feel the Spirit of the Lord close as I was officiating in those Holy Ordinances. I'm so grateful that the Lord has given us the ability to serve others in the Church through the Priesthood. I know that blessings come to us all because of the Priesthood.

Thank you for all of the love and support that you send to me! Ju dua shumë. Kaloni mirë. U nglifshi shnosh. Javë të mbarë.

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Three photos from a branch activity in Çabrati.
Parking lot outside of our apartment--traffic jam.

Monday, May 11, 2015

11 May 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

It was really good to Skype with my family last night! I'm glad to see that they are all doing well. Mom, I'm glad that you had a good Mother's Day. Dad, that's cool that you get to go up to Many Point {Boy Scout Camp} this week. I hope that everything will work out great with the logistics stuff there at Many Point {for a multi-stake Encampment in June}. That is still super crazy that Elder Josh Braman {from the Princeton Ward} is going to be home in a couple weeks! I can't believe it. Yeah, that would be awesome if Josh was able to go because he'd be an awesome help there at the Encampment. Give the Elders {in the Princeton Ward} my regards. That sounds like a really good goal, to make Sunday services that much more reverent. Yeah, I think people being on their phones during church is a problem that's everywhere in the world, but I think that really focusing on keeping the chapel a sacred place will be an amazing change. Here when we have mission meetings, President Weidmann has asked us to be there in our seats, studying from the scriptures and praying, fifteen minutes before the meeting beings. It really brings the Spirit into the meetings a ton! It's something that has really helped me to feel the Spirit and to get more out of the meeting as well. It's really awesome!

So yeah, I'm getting transferred from Durrës, and I'll be going to Gjakova in Kosovo. I'm really excited to go back up to Kosovo, but I'm sad to leave Durrës. The members are so awesome here! I've been blessed a TON to have been able to serve here in Durrës for nine months overall. I really hope that I'll get to come back, but my chances are really slim now. It was really hard to say goodbye to all of the members on Sunday. I'll miss them a ton, but I know that the Lord will take care of them. In Sacrament meeting on Sunday, I got to see one of my recent converts give her first talk in Sacrament meeting! It was really awesome to see her do that and she did a really great job. It's funny, she speaks English pretty well, but she's still learning. So she told me that I'm really serious all the time, and she asked me how you would call someone like that in English. I told her that you call them "a boss." So ever since then she's been saying, "Elder Watson, you're a boss." It's been pretty funny! Also this Sunday, there was a Stake Leadership meeting, for what I'm not really sure, but there were a couple people that came down from Gjakova. So I was able to meet them on Sunday for the first time before I go up there. I'm excited to go up there, those members were really awesome, so I'm excited to meet the other members up there later on in the week.

This week we had a Combined Zone Conference for the three zones in Albania. We had the meeting in Tirana, and it was an awesome meeting! It was awesome to be trained by President Weidmann and the Assistants. We got some new pass-along cards too! The pass-along cards were about prophets and another about the Book of Mormon. I'm really excited to use them in contacting people! This week President Weidmann also came to Durrës to do interviews. I love interviews with President Weidmann because I learn so much! He helps me to constantly improve and become a better missionary. We spent a lot of time studying about the Priesthood and what all it entails. We were only able to talk about a small portion of it, but I learned so much from our little discussion. One thing that he told me really hit me, he said, "Elder Watson, there is so much in the Gospel, and we use so little." There really is a TON in the Gospel, and our Loving Heavenly Father has given us all of these things to us so that we can improve and come closer to Him. This interview with President Weidmann really gave me a greater desire to study, in depth, the scriptures and to really understand all of the wonderful and miraculous blessings the Lord has promised us through the Restored Gospel. God has given all of these things to us for a reason, so we should learn how to use them!

Thank you for all of the love and support you give to me! Ju dua shumë. Nuk bëj dot të gjitha këto gjëra pa ju. U nglifshi shnosh. Zoti ju bekoftë!

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson

Elder Watson with Elder Cani, also from the Durrës Ward.
Father and Son together, again,  Elder Keck and Elder Watson.
Football with the youth.
With Andi Lila, who served a mission to Utah a couple of years ago!
With Brother Toçi, one of the first members of the church in Durrës.
The Durrës chapel.
A P-day grill out!
Looks good!

Monday, May 4, 2015

4 May 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for the emails you write to me every week! I really appreciate hearing what is going on back at home. Wow, sounds like you had a pretty awesome week. That's super awesome that Brother Magdanz will be getting baptized! That made me really happy to hear that! That's crazy that Josh {Braman} will be home {from his mission} so soon! It just seems like he left not so long ago! Man, time really does fly! Elder Clawson is dying this transfer. He has until the end of June. It'll be really crazy when he leaves. It'll be really weird. It's interesting because some people have their trainer when they're relatively young still in the mission, and some have a trainer that is in his dying transfer. So some missionaries rarely hear from their trainer after that transfer, and some get to spend more time with them. I'm really happy that I got trained by Elder Clawson and that I had a chance to serve around him again in Prishtina. He's super awesome and I'll miss him when he's gone. Wow, yeah, the world is really small when you're at the temple. It seems like every single time that you go, you meet someone that you haven't seen in a long time! That's really awesome that you got another flag pole and you have the Icelandic flag flying now {at home in Isanti}.

Today for P-day we played football. We played American football, which always gets a lot of head turns from passers-by. It was pretty fun, but it was pretty hot today so we didn't play too long. We went and got ice cream afterword and hung out at one of the other elder's houses. It was a pretty good relaxing day today. It's starting to get hotter and hotter here. We've been wearing short-sleeve shirts for about a month and it has been needed. I'm not excited for the summer. Here in Durrës it is better than in other places, because Durrës gets a lot of wind off of the sea during the summer, so it's a little bit nicer. A little... It's kinda' weird because at this time last year, I was here in Durrës being trained by Elder Clawson. It's weird to think that I am here now and was also here a year ago too. The only time period that I haven't experienced in Durrës is July to September. However, I don't think I'll be lucky enough to stay that long. I really love it here in Durrës! I'm glad and happy that I've been able to stay here this long in Durrës. I'm kinda' worried because this next week is the Mini-Transfer, and I think that I'll be leaving. However, with President Weidmann, you can never predict what will happen.

This last week has been pretty awesome. We were blessed with being able to find quite a few new investigators this last week. Quite a few of them were found through our recent converts. It's really awesome when investigators already have a friend in the Church. I've seen that the investigator has a lot more interest, and they have a friend that'll be with them every step that they take. A lot of the time, people think that everyone in the Church is just like missionaries. However, when investigators meet more frequently with other members of the Church, they understand that members of the Church are just normal people that do normal people things. So having a member in the lessons of other individuals is really important. The sooner the better! So whenever you see a new face at Church say, "Hi" to them and get to know them. Let them know that we're friendly normal people. A couple of the people we're working with were at the baptism of a recent convert, and that's kinda' how their interest in the Church began. Getting people to baptismal services has done miracles in my mission! It is a wonderful experience and wonderful first impression to the Church! I would really encourage you to reach out to those new investigators that come to Church. Get to know them, and ask the missionaries how you can help them fellowship new investigators in the Church. If you're able to be involved in the Spiritual progression of someone, it's an amazing experience! I'd highly encourage you to help out the missionaries in your ward with helping their investigators have friends in the Church! I know that the Lord will bless you a ton if you do this!

Thank you for all of your love and support that you give to me! Thank you for your prayers! I couldn't do this without your support. Ju dua shumë! Javë të mbarë! Do shihemi të dielën!

Me dasuri,

Elder Watson

Saturday, May 2, 2015

27 April 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for the letters that you send me every week. I really appreciate them, it's always good to hear about what's going on back home. That's crazy that Sister Kenfield moved. She was really awesome! One day after seminary she told me about a clip that she saw on BYUtv and she thought I'd like it. It was a video about someone in the BYU Marching Band. At the end of the video it talked a little bit about how to apply to the BYU Marching Band. If she didn't tell me about that clip, I probably wouldn't have thought of auditioning to the BYU Marching Band! She was a really awesome Seminary Teacher too! Rachel, I'm glad that you did well on your MCA! What kind of motors did you make in science class? I didn't like The Grapes of Wrath mainly because I had to spend my summer reading it for high school. I hope you like it more than I did. Woah, there are a ton of babies being born in the Princeton Ward recently!  {One more baby, a boy, born this past week. That makes three within two weeks, plus one more to a friend in a neighboring ward.}

So this week was more of a slow week for Elder Roemer and I. We're dealing with a problem that most missionaries would die for. We don't really have many investigators, because we've baptized all of our other ones. We've been so blessed recently with many prepared individuals that have accepted the Gospel wholeheartedly! We've been able to work with a ton of really awesome people recently, and I'm really grateful for that. So we've been doing a lot of finding and contacting this last week. We have quite a few potential investigators that we'll be meeting with this upcoming week. All of our recent converts are really awesome with inviting others to learn about the Gospel. This last week we had a lesson with Enkeleda and we talked about the Restoration and we watched the Restoration Film. After that lesson we talked about her friends that she invited to her baptism and we challenged her to invite them to come to the Institute Center here in Durrës and to watch the Restoration Film with us. At church on Sunday she told us that she talked to her friends and that she and five others would come to the Center on Tuesday to watch the Restoration Film with us. I was blown away that she had invited so many of her friends to learn more! Our other investigators also have a strong desire to share the Gospel with others around them! This week we also had an exchange with the APs. I was with Elder Stewart here in Durrës. It was really crazy because he was one of the missionaries here when I was being trained. It was really awesome to spend a day with him. He is such an awesome and dedicated missionary. He is able to get nearly every person to stop and talk to him on the street. I have no idea how he does it! It's like magic! It was really awesome to serve with him for a day. I learned a lot of stuff from him.

So this week I learned a lot about faith. I love how faith is a principle of power and action. It was because of the faith of individuals that Christ was able to heal them. It was by faith that Peter walked on the water. It was by faith that the Brother of Jared saw Jesus Christ. And it was by faith that Joseph Smith received an answer to his prayer. I've also been reading in Jesus the Christ a bit recently and I'm reading that part that talks a lot about Christ and His miracles. It talks about how Christ was in a place where the people had little to no faith and they we hard in their hearts. It talked about how Christ left that area, unable to work any miracles among them. I'm sure Christ would have loved to perform miracles there, to heal the sick, to give the blind sight, to give the deaf hearing, and so on. However, because the individuals were so hard in their hearts He couldn't perform any miracles among them. Faith always precedes the miracle. We read a ton in the Book of Mormon about how some individuals, like Laman and Lemuel, had seen angels and had experienced the power of God countless times in their lives; however, they always had doubts again afterward. That's due to the lack of faith that they had in the first place. If they would have had faith in God, those miracles they saw would have strengthened their faith. Due to their lack of faith and their hard hearts, they didn't gain anything from those miracles which they had experienced. We all need to have faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is the first step of the Gospel. We must have faith in order to gain those blessings that come from the Gospel. As Alma taught, if we can no more than desire to believe, we need to let this desire work in us until we have space within us to believe (See Alma 32:27). I know that when we have faith in Christ we receive many blessings in our lives. I've seen them personally in my life, and I know that you'll see them in your lives as well!

Thank you for the love and support that you send to me! I couldn't do this without you. Javë të mbarë. Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur. U nglifshi shnosh.

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson
20 April 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for the letters you send to me each P-day! I really enjoy reading them! Thanks a ton! That's cool that the {Princeton Ward} Primary had a missionary theme! Hopefully the kids got excited about missionary work! Wow, you're having some crazy weather differences. It's been pretty nice here. I've been wearing short sleeves for about two weeks now, and I'm thankful for that! Some days are pretty hot. And we haven't even got to summer yet... Rachel, I hope that you have fun with all of your tests this upcoming week. Make sure you get good rest and don't sweat it. I'm sure you'll do great! Mom, that's cool that you were able to go back to SFAS {local elementary school} and to give a presentation! Is there any teacher there from when I was going to school there? That's crazy that Sister Kenfield is moving! That'll be a strange change in the ward. Wow! That's crazy, there was a baby boom in Princeton this week! {Two babies born, both girls, two days apart!}

This week was pretty awesome for Elder Roemer and I. The weekend was the main highlight. So this last weekend, the stake had a missionary weekend. They had an activity similar to the MTC experience. However, it was only a few days instead of a few weeks (or months in my case). The members that took part really enjoyed it. There were about 40 young people there from all around Albania taking part in the activity. They had classes where they learned doctrine and teaching methods, and then they had a part where they went out and applied it. The missionaries took turns going out on splits with the members and taught lessons to people with them, or tracted, or street contacted. All in all, the activity was a huge success. All of the members loved it and it was an awesome experience for us missionaries, and members of the Durrës ward as well (the activity was held here in Durrës, so we helped out with it quite a bit). Also on Saturday, there was a baptism! We planned everything out with the Stake President so that the baptism was part of the activity. It was cool that they were able to take part in so many different aspects of missionary work! Hopefully, it increased their desires to prepare for and serve a mission! So back to the baptism, Luli and Gjeni got baptized on Saturday!! It was really awesome! It was a really nice and spiritual service. They were both really excited about baptism! They were really emotional during the service. It was really cool to see how pleased they were with it! Sunday was also another spiritual day for them, because they received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. They were really looking forward to that! That was one thing they were really looking forward to. They also got confirmed with one other new member. Her name is Ermira Zyko. She had been taught by missionaries in Tirana, but she was moving her residence here in Durrës. So President Weidmann told us to plan her baptism and that we would be doing her recent convert lessons. She was baptized one week before, but due to General Conference she wasn't confirmed that week. It was really awesome to get to know her as well. She's really awesome too! After church she was talking with the bishop about how she could pay her tithing. It was really cool to see how right away after baptism, she was applying those things that she had learned before. She's really awesome! And also Luli and Gjeni are super excited about temple work! They've been calling us a ton to talk about how they can prepare to go to the temple quickly. It's really awesome to see the desire they have to continue to learn and soak up anything else that they can learn. All three of them are really awesome!

This week I've been reading a lot in the book, Jesus the Christ. It's such an amazing book! Reading that book has helped me to understand the life and teachings of Jesus Christ that much more. It has also increased my desire to learn and study, even more in depth, about Christ. All of us have a wonderful opportunity in this life to decide who we will become. I'm grateful that Heavenly Father sent His Only Begotten Son to show us the way and to give us a perfect example. I'm grateful for the Holy Scriptures, and for the opportunity we have to study from them daily. I know that as we study from the scriptures daily, that we'll learn how to become more like Christ. We'll learn how to become better people. I know that when we put forth the effort to learn more about, and become more like, the Savior Jesus Christ, we will be blessed abundantly. We will develop a personal relationship with God and we'll feel our faith in Him grow!

Thank you for all of the love and support that you give to me! I couldn't do it without you! Ju dua shumë. Javë të mbarë. Kaloni mirë! U nglifshi shnosh!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

After Luli's and Gjenji's baptism.
P-day at the beach, building sandcastles.