Contact Elder Watson

Jacob will be unable to read this blog during his mission. If you wish to contact him, please use the information below.
He may not be able to respond directly to each letter or e-mail, so check back weekly to learn of his progress!

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

Thursday, July 16, 2015

13 July 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for writing to me every week! That's awesome that the Encampment went so well! I was glad to hear more about it.

This week has been full of trips and little work that comes up here and there as a missionary. Elder Cani and I have been looking for a new house this week and we found a gem! I'm surprised at how nice this house is! It rivals the Lushnjë Palace for niceness! We also had Zone Training this week in Prishtina. It was really awesome that I got to see some of my missionary friends from other cities there. Guess what! Nope, but you were close. Elder Keck is the new Zone Leader in Prishtina! They grow up so fast! It was really awesome seeing him grow so much over the time that he's been here in his mission. This week I've really been thinking about that. All of us are little in comparison with God, however, during our lives we grow dramatically (physically and spiritually). I'm sure that God is really happy when He sees us growing closer to Him spiritually. All of us are either growing or shrinking (in a spiritual sense) there is no standing still. That's why it's so important that we read our scriptures, go to church, and pray daily. I know that when we do these things, we come closer to God and He's pleased with our progress and improvement!

Sorry this email is so short. The power in Gjakova has been on and off a ton today so I haven't had a whole lot of time to write. Ju dua shumë. Zoti ju bekoftë. Javë të mbarë. Kalofshi bukur!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Monday, July 6, 2015

6 July 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

The Albanian missionaries here, Elder Cani and Elder Sadiku, were called to the Adriatic South Mission. There weren't any branch activities for the 4th of July in Gjakova, but we did celebrate together as a district. Sunday afternoon we closed our fast with an American 4th of July meal. We had hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, watermelon, and the like. It was awesome! It tasted like liberty and justice, with a nice aftertaste of freedom. Dad, how did the Encampment go? Was there anything that was a big hit with the kids? Was there anything that you liked in particular? That's cool that they made a video of the camp with interviews and stuff. I really liked watching the video they made when I was there! It was a ton of fun! I wish I had a copy of that! Woah, Rachel, I didn't know you were practicing your pyro skills. I'm impressed. Nice work! That's super awesome that Josh {Braman, who just returned from his mission} got called as the ward mission leader! Having a good one of those is super helpful for missionaries!! Josh will do a great job! He's super awesome!

This week was pretty awesome! Elder Cani and I are doing awesome together! We've been working hard together! Elder Cani is super awesome. Because he's from Durrës and I've served there for such a long time, we talk a ton about fun things to do in Durrës. This week we were also blessed with the ability to have an investigator accept a baptismal date! It was awesome to see him make the decision to come closer to Christ by doing something. At the end of our lesson together, he told us that he would like us to go and teach the rest of his family. It was an awesome lesson where I could see that he understood the importance of Priesthood Authority. So almost a year ago when Elder Roberts (hereafter referred to as Berti) gave his dying testimony at Zone Conference, he said something that really stuck with me and with some others. Berti was talking about those individuals that sometimes we don't like being around. Sometimes there's a member that gets on our nerves or some things like that, but Berti said that we have to remember that "someone loved them first." Berti went on to talk about how there was that first person, maybe a missionary or a friend, that introduced them to the Gospel. Someone cared about them first to help them come closer to Christ and to enter into a covenant with Him. That really stuck with me. It was reinforced last week when we had mission conference. Elder Price quoted Berti and gave an awesome testimony. This week this phrase has been coming back to me. This last week I had a lot of work to do for the Gjakova Branch, and I found myself starting to get a little frustrated with some people. However, this phrase came back to me and from that moment onward I could feel myself being more patient. I felt as if the Lord was telling me about how much patience He has when He works with me and I don't do things right. All of us, as imperfect human beings, make mistakes and are in our own stage of progression. However, the Lord is patient with us and keeps giving us extra chances. So why, then, are we so impatient with others? This really hit me this week, and I know that all of us can work on the Christ-like attribute of Patience. I know that it takes a while to develop it, but I know that the Lord wants us to develop this attribute. I'm so grateful that our Loving Heavenly Father loves us so much to give us extra chances and restarts!

Thank you so much for the love and support you give to me! I couldn't do this without you! Zoti ju bekoftë! Javë të mbarë. Rakela, luaj me shkrepës, do të përmirësohesh! ;)

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

4th of July meal.
Elder Watson and Elder Cani a couple of months ago at a zone
conference in Tirana.  "Our appearance hasn't changed that much."

On the 4th of July, Elder Cani and I were street contacting.  Across the street there was a guy who
ripped down a flag of a political party here in Kosovo and replaced it with an American flag.  This
guy really wanted to rip down that other flag.  It took him about half an hour to do it all.  He used a
pole and rope to pull himself up and plant the flag up there.

Friday, July 3, 2015

29 June 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you for writing me each week. I really enjoy hearing about what's going on back at home. I'm glad to hear that everything is going well. Things are going well here in Gjakova. It is really different being the Branch President. There are a lot more responsibilities! I've been studying out of the Handbooks trying to figure out what to do. So far, things are going pretty well! So the Church has only been in Kosovo for about five years now, and the Church started off in Prishtina, the capital. Gjakova was opened a few years later. I think the Gjakova Branch has been in existence for about two or three years. So it's a very new place for the Church. That's crazy that the Encampment for 2015 has finally come! The last time there was an Encampment I was 14, and that's where I met Joe {Patino}; and now both of us are on missions! Crazy!! I hope that it'll be an awesome adventure and that everything will go off without a hitch. (Whoa, I didn't know that I still knew that phrase!) Mom, about that wood chuck you trapped under the deck, how much wood has he chucked? As far as I know, we don't have any activities set for the Fourth of July. Which is sad. We might just have a special lunch together with the missionaries. I'm sure that celebrations will be a lot bigger in Prishtina. I remember my last Fourth of July in Prishtina, and it was super awesome! The weather here in Gjakova has been a little cooler in the past week. It's been rainy on and off. It's been a nice relief from the super hot and humid weather we've been having in the past weeks. I'd say that it' been in the mid 80s to low 90s for the most part during the time I've been here. It's a little annoying, but oh well, it's summer.

So this last week was really busy for us. On Wednesday, we had a Mission Conference in Elbasan, Albania. It was a long trip. We had to get up at 4:00AM in order to get there on time. And I had to drive There and Back Again... haha. It reminded me a lot of work. Waking up super early in the morning to have a long commute. However, Elbasan is a little bit farther than Minneapolis (by about three times). It was a pretty awesome conference. All of the dying missionaries gave their dying testimonies at this conference. It was really sad because it was my trainer's group. It was so sad seeing all of them give their last testimonies. It was really emotional! I'm going to miss all of them so much! I can't believe that they are really leaving. It still doesn't seem quite real yet. It was also really sad because Elder Smoot, from my group, ended up giving his dying testimony as well. He's been having some health issues so he has to go home early. It was sad to say goodbye to him as well. Elder Baker and his group fly out on Wednesday. On Tuesday they are going down to Tirana to have their final interviews and last supper, then they'll be gone. Whoa. It'll be a sad day. So with the missionaries leaving, transfers will be happening. My new companion will be an elder named Elder Cani. Elder Cani is from Durrës and I worked with him and his family quite a bit. I'm really excited to get to serve with him! He's already an awesome guy! I'm really excited to serve with him. There will be a lot of changes in the Gjakova District. Only Sister Pierce and I are staying, the other four missionaries are leaving. We'll have two Albanian missionaries in the district, so that will be pretty awesome. The other elder is Elder Sadiku from Elbasan. I'm really excited for this new transfer! It's kinda' funny (and scary) because elders in the Adriatic South Mission have seven full transfers in the country (one transfer is spent in the MTC, and our transfers are a three month cycle) so a lot of elders compare where they are in the scheme of things as a week, however, I like thinking about it more as the Seven Seals from the Book of Revelation. So it's crazy because this week is the opening of the Sixth Seal. It's crazy how fast time is passing by! However, I know that the Lord will help me to use the time that I have left to its fullest potential! This week there were a ton of birthdays in the mission! And two of them were in the Gjakova District. Elder Baker had his birthday on Friday and Sister Davis had hers on Saturday. It was quite the week! We had a lot of fun celebrating their birthdays with them!

That's really sad to hear that the US Supreme Court ruled that all states need to allow same sex marriage. One thing that my mission has taught me is about loving everyone and not judging others. A lot of time people think that with topics such as same sex marriage, if you're not for it, it is because you hate them or you want to discriminate against them. That isn't the case at all! My mission has taught me a lot about how to love others unconditionally. Christ was the perfect example for this. Christ frequently spoke out against, and warned about the consequences of, sin. One of the laws that God gave to man was about marriage and the importance of the family. God has taught us that the marriage that God ordains is between one man and one woman. By believing this, I am in no way expressing hatred toward any individual. God has given us the freedom to act how we will, and by believing this I am exercising my God-given right of agency. On my mission I've had the opportunity to teach a few individuals that are homosexual. They are wonderful people and I've had many wonderful conversations with them as friends. However, I know that God's laws are always right. He had given His Law and that's final. I know that we must keep the Lord's commandments to be entitled to His blessings (see D&C 130:20-21). I know what the Lord has commanded us, and I know that it is right. I know that the Lord also asks of us to love one another (see John 15:12). I know that, as we continue to love everyone as Christ loved us and to keep His commandments, we will be blessed abundantly in innumerable ways!

Thank you for all of the love and prayers and support that you give to me! I really appreciate it! Zoti ju bekoftë. Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi bukur. Puç puç.

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Goodbye, Dad!  With Elder Clawson . . .
and Elder Price . . .
and Elder Richards at mission conference, all headed home.
I see dead people!
On the way to Junik, a village near Gjakova.
It's very common to have traffic jams because
of people herding animals.
On the road to Peja, there is a sign with a penguin on it.
I have no idea what it means.
We haven't seen any penguins, as far as I remember!
22 June 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you very much for the emails that you send me each week! I really appreciate them and look forward to reading them! Dad, Happy Father's Day! I hope you had a really great day! Thank you for all that you have done, and for everything you do, to take care of us! Thank you a ton! I love you! Wow, you guys spent a lot of time travelling around this last weekend! Sound like things are still keeping you busy, even during the summer. Dad, that's awesome that you were able to work in Psych into your talk. That's crazy to hear about everything that's been going on in Cambridge. I was looking on a few weeks ago at the ward directory and I don't recognize a whole lot of names in there. So I'm sure that the Church and the city will be completely different when I get back!

Things are going a little slow here in Gjakova. It seems that missionary work just tends to slow down at this time of the year. It's weird, but after a while, you can start to see trends in the rate of missionary work. So Elder Baker and I have been doing a lot of contacting this week. The Muslim holiday of Ramadan has also started this last week, so people are a lot less inclined to speak with us; however, we're still staying strong. We're looking at ways to remain hopeful and effective during this more difficult time of year. This upcoming week we have a Mission Conference in Elbasan in Albania, so we'll get to spend a lot of time travelling, but I'm always happy when we'll have meetings like that. They are very spiritual. This last week in Gjakova was a little interesting. So Elder Baker has been serving as the Branch President here in Gjakova, however, he will be leaving next week, so about on Thursday, President Weidmann came up to Kosovo to meet with him and to talk about the Branch and things like that. After that meeting, President Weidmann asked to meet with me. So we started off talking about missionary work, and the district. Then he extended the calling to me as Branch President of Gjakova. I was kinda' surprised, but also at the same time I could kinda' see it coming. So this last Sunday, President Weidmann reorganized the branch here. Needless to say, I've spent a lot of time studying from the Church Handbooks to know what the heck I'm doing. Even though this calling is something new and foreign to me, I know that the Lord qualifies those whom He calls. I've been thinking a lot about 1 Nephi 3:7 where Nephi shows his faith in the Lord by knowing that the Lord wouldn't give him something impossible to do. I also know that the Lord will help me to serve in this calling. I am humbled to have this opportunity to serve in this calling. I know that it will be a good experience for me to develop the Christlike attributes of love, patience, and humility. I'm grateful that the Lord has trusted me with a calling such as this. I know that the Lord will never lead His people astray, so I know that the Lord will help me out in the things that I don't know how to do.

Thank you for all of the love and support that you give to me! I couldn't do any of this without you! Ju du fort. Javë të mbarë. Kaloni mirë. Zoti ju bekoftë. U nglifhsi shnosh!

Me dashuri,

President Watson (jk I'm still Elder Watson)

Here in Kosovo, there are a TON of t-shirts that don't make any sense!!!
I saw this shirt and was determined to buy it.  Elder Baker thought it was
pretty funny, so he bought one, too.  We also bought a couple other shirts
that are really funny like these.

Today for P-day, all of the Kosovo missionaries went to a place called
Valbona.  It's a matural park in Northern Albania.  It was really pretty
there, so we had fun just going around and exploring.