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

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

26 October 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

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

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

19 October 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson

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

12 October 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson
5 October 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson

Elder Frroku taking a selfie.
Minnesotans in Gjakova!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

28 September 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson
21 September 2015

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

Me dashuri të madhe,

Elder Watson

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

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

Dear Family and Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Me dashuri,

Elder Watson