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, 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
17 Aug 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for writing me each week. I really enjoy hearing from you and what is going on back home. That's cool that you had the stake service project this week. It sounds like you had a good time. 

When we have missionary meetings, we normally travel there by makinë. However, the makinë that we have is an Opel Corsa (5 seater) so there isn't enough room for all of us. Because the makinë is the sister's makinë they use it both ways and we elders will get to ride in the makinë with them one way and the other will take a bus, then on the return trip we'll switch. Prizren is a pretty big city. It's pretty popular for its castle. There's only one castle, but it's pretty big so we explore different parts of it when we go there on p-days. However, I'd have to say that Prishtina is more of a tourist city. This last week has been really hot, so the weather has been normal. However, on Sunday there was a pretty big rain storm that came through and it broke the humidity and heat. So now it's a lot more comfortable. 

Yeah, I'm learning a ton on my mission. I knew that I would learn a lot and grow, but never this much! It's crazy! I love it! I'm really grateful that the Lord has given me this wonderful opportunity to serve Him in this capacity! My mission has taught me a TON about the importance of callings. It makes me so happy when I see a member fulfilling their calling. It's wonderful! Remember that callings come from the Lord, but we just hear it from the mouth of the Bishop.

This last week was an awesome week. We were blessed with the opportunity to teach a ton of people this last week. It's amazing how much you see and recognize the Hand of the Lord during your mission. It's awesome to see those small and subtle, but powerful things happening in your life, or the lives of others. The Lord really is in charge of this work. It's His work. He's the one who directs it, we just need to follow His lead. We need to be obedient and listen to His call. I've come to know that the closer we are to the Lord, the closer we can bring others. It's kinda' like we are in math class. I can't teach you linear algebra when I've only made it to geometry. Or I can't teach you Shakespeare when my reading level is Magic Tree House (no insult to Magic Tree House intended, I love those books!) In order for us to help others come closer to Christ, we need to come closer to Him ourselves. How do we come closer to Christ? We come closer to Christ through our obedience and applying the commandments that He has given us. We have to remember that we don't gain a witness until after the trail of our faith (see Ether 12:6). We need to walk first by faith and obedience to our Heavenly Father, and then comes the testimony; then comes the blessings of Heaven; then comes true conversion. In order for us to truly be converted to the Savior Jesus Christ and His Gospel, we need to be obedient and loyal to Him. There was a quote I read in the Liahona a while back that I really liked. It said, "We aren't obedient because we cannot see. We are obedient because we can see." Obedience doesn't mean blind obedience to what others tell us. The Lord tells us repeatedly, "ask and ye shall receive; knock and it shall be opened unto you" (see pretty much any page of the scriptures, you can find it pretty quick). If we have a question about a commandment or why we should do something the solution is simple. Ask the Guy who knows it all. Ask God. He'll answer. He can't lie, so don't worry about getting a fake answer. He won't lead you astray, because He loves you. I've personally done this and I know that God answers our prayers. He gives us those answers because He loves us. When we receive answers to our questions we come closer to Christ, and when we come closer to Christ we can then help others come closer to Him and taste of the blessings that come from the Restored Gospel.

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

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

10 August 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for emailing me every week. I really appreciate getting to hear from you every week. That's really exciting that Rebekah was born this week! Tell Phil and Mirtha congratulations for me! That is pretty crazy that the elders left and now you have sisters {in the Princeton Ward}. It's kinda' weird, because I forgot that you only have one set of missionaries. Most places here in my mission have multiple sets of elders and then another set of sister missionaries.

This last week was pretty busy. So first off in the week we had Zone Conference in Prishtina. It's always super awesome when I get the chance to go to Prishtina, I love it there! It's always awesome to see the members there in Prishtina and get to talk with them again. It seems like whenever we have a missionary meeting in Prishtina that a ton of the members show up to say hi to all the other missionaries. The conference was really good over all! We learned a ton about ways to find people to teach and how to help people come closer to the Savior through baptism. It was a really awesome conference. It was also super awesome because for lunch they had the Himalayan place in Prishtina cater. Man did I miss chicken tika masala! It was so good!! This last week we also had an audit conducted on the Gjakova Branch. It was interesting sitting through an audit because I've never been through one before. I learned a ton! It wasn't as long, or boring, as I thought it would be, so that was a plus! We also had an activity this weekend where we watched 17 Miracles with the branch members. It was really successful! The Spirit was really strong and it touched the hearts of everyone that was there. It also touched me really hard. I've seen that movie before, but it really touched me after not seeing it for so long. It's amazing all of the sacrifices they made in order to receive the blessings of the Gospel. It really puts things into perspective. This week we also had a disappointing moment. We ran into Gembi in the road and we talked with him. He told us that his dad was against him learning from us. You could tell that he was really upset. However, with his family being Muslim, they aren't really happy with him learning about the Church. We're trying to meet with Gembi's father just to talk with him and get to know him so that he can see that we're two normal people and that the Gospel will bless the life of his son. So we're continuing to pray for Gembi, but there's not really much more that we can do.

Also this week at Zone Conference, we talked about what it means to be a successful missionary. We talked a lot about how baptisms and obedience are not connected. Some missionaries that are exactly obedient sometimes have very few baptisms over the course of their mission, whereas some disobedient missionaries will have a ton of baptisms over the course of their mission. We just have to remember that whatever the Lord calls us to do, we need to do that and not be discouraged. This kinda' relates to what I talked about last week, about how I know that I'm being blessed for the work that I'm doing. I may not be blessed in baptizing hundreds of people, but I know that the Lord's promises will be realized in the future. Sister Weidmann shared a story that relates to this, and I want to share it with you:

A man was sleeping at night in his cabin when suddenly his room filled with light, and the Savior appeared. The Lord told the man he had work for him to do, and showed him a large rock in front of his cabin. The Lord explained, that the man was to push against the rock with all his might.
This the man did, day after day. For many years he toiled from sun-up to sun-down, his shoulders set squarely against the cold, massive surface of the unmoving rock, pushing with all his might. 
Each night the man returned to his cabin sore, and worn out feeling that his whole day has been spent in vain. Since the man was showing signs of discouragement the adversary decide to enter the picture by placing thoughts into the man's weary mind: "You have been pushing against that rock for a long time, and it hasn't budged. Why kill yourself over this? You are never going to move it." Thus giving the man the impression that the task was impossible and that he was a failure. These thoughts discouraged and disheartened the man.
"Why kill yourself over this?” he thought. I will just put in my time, giving just the minimum effort; and that will be enough." And that is what he planned to do, until one day he decided to make it a matter of prayer and take his troubled thoughts to the Lord.
"Lord" he said, I've labored long and hard in Your service, putting all my strength to do that which You've asked. Yet, after all this time, I haven't even budged that rock by half a millimeter. What's wrong? Why am I failing?"
"MY friend, when I asked you to serve Me – you accepted. 
I told you that your task was to push against the rock with all your strength - which you've done. Never once did I mention to you that I expected you to move it. Your task was to push. And now you come to Me - with your strength spent, thinking that you've failed. But is that really so?"
"Look at yourself. Your arms are strong and muscular. Your back sinew is mighty. Your hands a callused from the constant pressure; and your legs have become massive and hard. Through opposition you've grown much and your abilities now surpass that which you used to have. Yet you haven't moved the rock. But your calling was to be obedient and to push and to exercise your faith and trust in My wisdom. This you’ve done. I, my friend, will now move the rock.”
At times, when we hear from God, we tend to use our own intellect to decipher what He wants. What God ACTUALLY wants is just simple OBEDIENCE and FAITH IN HIM. By all means, exercise the faith that moves mountains, but know, that it’s still God who moves the mountains.

P.U.S.H. = Pray Until Something Happens! 

When everything seems to go wrong, just P.U.S.H. - When the job gets you down, P.U.S.H. - When people don’t react the way you think they should, P.U.S.H. - When the people just don’t understand you, just - P.U.S.H."

Let's remember to keep PUSHing no mater what comes! Thank you for the love and support you give me! Thank you for all your many prayers! Ju dua shumë. Kaloni bukur! Javë të mbarë.

Me dahsuri,

Elder Watson

Inside the new apartment.  Sweet!

View from the spacious balcony!

Views from a castle in Prizren.

Friday, August 7, 2015

4 August 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you all for emailing me every week. I really appreciate hearing about what is going on back at home. Because we had issues with power yesterday, president gave us permission to email today during lunch. Mom, that's cool that you were able to go out and teach with the elders. It's always really awesome to have members help us out in these lessons. I'm sure that the elders are really appreciative with your help. Dad, that's awesome that you saw the Dukes. I was actually thinking about them this last week, so be sure to say hi to them from me. That's also really awesome that Josh {Duke} has submitted his mission papers! That's really cool. I was really happy to hear that! That's really awesome that {cousin} James {Porter} was ordained a Priest! Wow, he has a lot of things going on now: ordained a Priest, driving test, Eagle project. He'll be pretty busy. But that's really awesome! That's exciting that Phil {brother} and Mirtha {sister-in-law} will be having their baby soon! Wow, be sure to tell {cousin} Ian {getting married} congratulations from me!

So this week had it's ups and downs for Elder Cani and me. I've come to discover that the hardest thing about missionary work is respecting other people's agency. It's really annoying, and frustrating at times, when people say that they'll meet with you and they don't show up. It's difficult when you set up five lessons in a day and every single one of them falls through, but there's really nothing that can be done about that. We just need to continue working hard and being obedient, and then we just need to wait and see the blessings of the Lord unfolded before us. This week we had a really awesome lesson with a young man named Gembi. He's about 15 and he's a really awesome kid. He said that he was really touched by how he saw us contacting on the road in the middle of the day when it's super hot and no one was listening to us. He said that he wondered why we were still doing what we were when no one was listening to what we had to say. So when we met with him, he knew that what we had to say was important. It was a very spiritual lesson and it was really awesome. He understood everything that was said. He really understood the importance of the Restoration of Priesthood Authority. So when we invited him to be baptized, he was willing and excited to accept. It was really awesome to see the determination that he had to read and find out for himself if the Book of Mormon is true. It was a really awesome lesson that was the highlight of the week. After that lesson, it was as if all of the other hardships of the week never happened. It was really awesome! I'm really excited to see how Gembi turns out. I'm really excited to teach him more about the Gospel.

That's one thing that I've learned a lot about throughout my mission. I've learned about the blessings that we can receive when we are obedient. Maybe we don't see those blessings come to us immediately, but those blessings promised to us will come in the Lord's timing. The Lord promises us in Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 that He is "bound" when we do what He says. He lets us know that those blessings will come to us because of our obedience, we just need to be patient and accept His timing. I have seen this a ton in my life, especially in my mission. I've seen that when I am obedient I am blessed. Maybe I'll still have people reject the message I'm sharing; maybe people will still not show up their lesson; maybe people will still swear at me and tell me to get out of here; maybe it will still be in the high 90s and super humid, but I know that I'm being blessed. Maybe I'll receive those blessings later on in my life when I need them more; maybe my blessing is gaining a stronger testimony of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ; or maybe I'll be able to find someone who will accept the Gospel and get baptized. I don't know how God works in everything that He does, that's why He's God and I'm not, but I do know that God doesn't lie. I know that He will bless us when we are obedient to His commandments. I know that the Lord does bless us for our obedience in many different ways.

Thank you for all of the love and support you give to me. Thank you for all of your prayers! Ju dua shumë. Kalofshi mirë. Javë të mbarë. Hajt pra, ju përshëndes. Tung!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson
3 August 2015

Hey, just a heads up. We've been having some problems with power and I don't know if I'll be able to get off a full email before it runs out again. So if I don't get an email in know that I'm good, healthy, obedient, and all that jazz. Things are going great in Gjakova!

ju dua!

-Elder Watson
27 July 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

Thank you so much for emailing me every week. I really appreciate hearing what is going on in your week. Rachel, that's exciting that you'll be on the swim team for school. In our mission, we don't call new missionaries greenies, we call them "fringo" I don't really know what it means, but it means pretty much the same thing, a new person. That's interesting that you have a fringo in the {Princeton} ward. No way, so that means that he graduated in 2015? That's super weird! That's super awesome that the Dehns are going to England for a trip! I was actually thinking of the Dehns this last week, so tell them hi for me! That's awesome that Newel {Hirst} is on his way to his mission! Occasionally, I look on at the missionary stuff for our stake, and it's so awesome to see everyone that is serving! This last Sunday we actually had a big focus in all of the classes on the family. It is such a simple topic, such a simple solution to so many problems, but it's something that just keeps getting overlooked day after day. 

Today for P-day we spent nearly the entire day moving. It was annoying, and I'm super tired because none of the elevators worked in any of the apartment buildings, but thankfully we were only on the second floor of our new apartment. (If you didn't know, the second floor in Europe is the equivalent of the third floor in America. The floor you enter is Floor 0). Transfers are one thing, and moving houses is another! With transfers, you only have to worry about your personal things and you can easily move them around; however, with moving houses, you have to take in account everything else, especially when everything in the house belongs to the mission. It was such a pain to pack everything and move it, but we finally did it! If it wasn't for our district, we would still be moving stuff. The district here is really awesome because they sacrificed their time on P-day to help us move our apartment, that's really sweet!

This last week was really awesome! It wasn't because of the fact that I saw 5 Lamborghinis and a couple Maseratis, but that was really cool too. I'm actually hoping to run into one of those guys while they're getting out of their car and try to sweet talk them into letting me take a picture sitting behind the wheel. Anyway, back on track, this week was really awesome--not for any one thing, but just in general we could see the Lord's Hand more abundantly in our work. This week we were really blessed with being able to meet with a ton of new people. It's been really awesome! There wasn't just one specific instance that made it awesome, but just in general everything seemed to go a lot nicer this week! It seems that every week my testimony grows more and more about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the Prophet Joseph Smith. It just pains me when people don't understand the importance of the Restoration or when they choose to reject the message. I know that the Gospel was Restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. All we need to do is to read the Book of Mormon and pray to Heavenly Father, and He will let us know if it's true or false. It's that simple. We just need to be humble and give it a try. I've done it and it's worked for me. I've seen others do it and it's worked for them. It simple, it works for all of us.

Thank you for your prayers and thoughts! Ju dua shumë! Kalofshi bukur! Javë të mbarë! Ju përshëndes!

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson
20 July 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

I saw a poster for the Minions movie when I was in Prishtina. I have a feeling that most people just watched Despicable Me for the minions, so I could imagine that it was pretty popular. That's crazy that you've been having so many storms in MN! It's been super hot here the past while. This last week it was in the mid-upper 90s all week. So it's fun dealing with all of that. We should be moving to our new apartment next Monday. It's a really nice apartment. It has a really nice huge balcony, so we're going to get/make (whatever is easier) a grill so we can grill out some days. I'm really excited about that.

So this last week was a little interesting because on Friday was the Islamic Holiday of Bajram. It's about the equivalent of Christmas. So there was absolutely no one out on the streets during the day. At night, about 7:30 PM there got to be quite a few people outside, but they didn't really want to listen to us. With the heat, mixed with Ramadan and Bajram, it was a pretty slow week. However, this week we were able to meet with a couple new people. It was really awesome because the few people that we met with this last week have a ton of potential. After each lesson with them, I felt really hopeful and optimistic about them. Nearly all of them expressed interest in wanting their families to learn about this too. I thought it was really awesome how when an individual finds something he likes, he naturally wants to share it with others that he loves. And it's the same with the Gospel! I think that's really awesome. This last week I actually had the opportunity to meet some English speakers. First off, there is a man living here in Gjakova from England who works with the YMCA association here in Kosovo. I've seen him around the city quite a bit and he stood out as not being Albanian, so this week I got the chance to talk with him and he's a really cool, respectful guy! It was nice just to have a pleasant conversation with him, and to start building a relationship with him. Also, this last Saturday night, we were contacting out on the road and I saw this guy coming up that didn't look Albanian. However I still said "hi" to him in Albanian. He looked at me and said, "I'm sorry I don't speak Albanian." So I said, "That's okay, because I speak English too!" It really startled him and he stopped and we talked for a while. He, also, was from England and he was travelling through the Balkans. We started talking just about his trip and how that was going. After a while he asked me why I was here in this little town in Kosovo. So we started talking about the Gospel. He told me that he was Atheist, but he liked the idea of a church coming together to help each other. Even though he didn't believe in God, he was still interested in talking to me on the matter of religion, and we ended up talking for about 20 minutes. It was awesome because I was able to help clear up all the misconceptions and false information he had heard about Mormons before. When he left he thanked me for my time, and he told me that there was a lot more to Mormonism than he had realized before and that he'd have to check it out some more. Even though I'll probably never see him again, I felt really happy about the conversation that we had.

This week I've started studying, more in depth, the Doctrine and Covenants, and it has really strengthened my testimony of prophets. It's just so comforting to know that God is still speaking to us in these days through His authorized servants, the prophets. I can't imagine how different life would be if the heavens were closed, if there weren't prophets, and if God didn't talk to us anymore. I really love how the Book of Mormon describes God as being the "same yesterday, today, and forever" and that His course is "one eternal round" and that "there is no shadow of changing" in Him. It's so wonderful to have the words of prophets in ancient times, like those that are recorded in the Bible and the Book of Mormon, but it's comforting to know that there are prophets on the earth today that give us specific counsel for the specific challenges that we face in these days. To me it's so comforting to know that God hasn't stopped sending prophets. It's comforting to know that He still loves us and He still wants to communicate with us. I'm so grateful that the Lord has restored His gospel to the earth again through the prophet Joseph Smith. And I'm so grateful that we are led by the living prophet Thomas S. Monson and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. Isn't that comforting to know? I know that if we follow their words, that we will not go astray!

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

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson