Monday, September 30, 2013

Does anybody know how many weeks I've been out for?

Hola a todos!

First off, Estrella had her baby 2 nights ago! A beautiful baby boy! We haven't had the chance to go over there and see them because both Hermana Arevalo and I have been pretty sick, but sometime this week we'll get to say hi and ooh and ah over his beautifulness!!

So, on Wednesday we got to go to the Visitor's Center! We went with Estrella, Yamiko, and Yasury and their daughters, and Hermana Correa and Hermana Faw (the other companionship we live with) took a 17 year old investigator named Alex! It was so amazing. We didn't spend a ton of time because the pregnant ladies can't spend a lot of time walking around, haha, but we did get to show them around the visitor's center and walk around the temple a bit. The display on families there is so great, it had everybody teary-eyed! And they loved the Cristus too. Overall it was amazing!

Then later this week we had a lesson about chastity and the Word of Wisdom. We were a bit afraid of offending them, since they all have children and no spouses, but everything went really well! They really liked everything we taught, and Yasury was so great in the end. We asked them to commit to living the law of chastity, and she frankly said, "Well we obviously haven't been living it before, but we're ready now." And they all agreed. It is so amazing to see the changes people are willing to make for the gospel!

Their baptisms have been postponed, though. But for good reasons! Yasury's daughter, Yasury, (Hna Arevalo calls her Yasury pequenita, haha), is turning 8 on October 5th and wants to be baptized too! And Yasury wanted them to be baptized together. So we're going to have a baptism after Conference!

Speaking of Conference, I am so excited! I loved the Relief Society broadcast. The messages were mostly centered on making and keeping covenants, which I don't think I have a huge problem with, but it seemed like every word was made for me. I really loved it a lot. Especially Sister Reeves, the second counselor. She said something along the lines of, "Is this what the Lord wants me to think about myself? Or is Satan working against me?" I love that! We always think we're so unworthy to do anything, like pray or study or take the sacrament, but that's not how Heaveny Father wants us to think about ourselves. Everybody remember that!

What else happened this week... Like I said, we were both pretty sick! We caught a nasty flu. But mom, you'd be very proud! I used the home remedy of hot lemonade and honey. It helped a lot, both our throats and our spirits :) We've been working a lot with less-actives, and the other day we stopped by a less active family's house, the Riveras. They weren't home, but we remembered that other less-actives lived on the other side of the complex, so we thought we'd give it a try and knock on their door. A woman named Isabel and her husband Daniel live there with their granddaughters, and they haven't been to church in about a year. It breaks my heart, because they used to love church, but from one thing or another, Isabel has been really offended by basically the whole branch. She was really happy we stopped by, though! She said nobody has visited her for several months (partially why she's offended), and was glad that we dropped by to say hi. She dumped her whole story on us, and I couldn't understand everything, but I could tell she's not very happy with the church, and I was worried she was really hard-hearted and wasn't going to listen to us. But Hermana Arevalo shared an experience about pride, and you could just see Isabel physically soften! Hna Arevalo didn't like slap her in the face to tell her to get over herself, but used so much love and was really able to open Isabel up to the idea of change. So great!

Well that was probably really confusing, haha. Isabel talked really fast, so I probably didn't catch everything that happened, but we're excited to go back and chat with her about going to the temple and stuff. Don't ever give up on anybody! They can change!!

Anyways, I love everyone! I'm almost out of time, so everyone have a good week!
Love love love
Hermana Watkins

Monday, September 23, 2013

Week 10?

Haaay everybodaaay!

What has even happened this week? I can hardly remember 2 days ago, haha.

Let's see... We started teaching Maria! She lives in the trailer park, and has 3 kids and a boyfriend. We talked with her for about an hour. We sat down in the living room, and she just opened up to us about her life and her concerns right now and how she's been searching for a church, or some kind of guidance in her life, and felt really good the one night we stopped and chatted with her. Hermana Arevalo talked with her again, but I was on an exchange, so I didn't get to be there. But we're going to teach her again tonight, so that will be exciting! She's definitely ready for the gospel, and she really loves the Book of Mormon and prayer. The hard thing is, she doesn't have a car, like tons of other investigators, so we basically are begging people in the ward to take her and her kids to church. But hopefully she'll make it next Sunday!

Also, Isis Xochihua, 2 houses down, is the 12 year old daughter of Lucero, the woman we've been teaching, and she is super interested in our message! She has been asking and asking to go to church (they don't have a car either, and rides are scarce, haha). So we're excited to go back and teach her! We didn't know she was so interested because she's kind of shy and has to take care of her younger siblings a lot, so we haven't really had the opportunity to speak with her. But we're also headed over there tonight, so hopefully it works out!

Who else... We've visited a less-active family, la familia Cobarubias, a bunch of times this week, and they're really progressing! They watched the movie Together Forever (again, I was on exchanges, so I missed out!), but they really liked it! We're working on teaching them about the temple and encouraging them to prepare to attend. So exciting!

So yeah, lots of good stuff has been happening this week! I have to say thanks for all the love I get from you guys! Dad sent a 52 oz bag of peanut m&ms that the elders next door loooved (they only have ancient boxes of mac and cheese to eat, haha), and Tam sent me a postcard made from an old cake mix box. Very creative! So thanks for all the words of encouragement and love! Much appreciated :)

I'm out of time! I love you all! Remember that Heavenly Father loves each one of you!
AND SEND ME LETTERS! It's so fun to get letters!
Love love love
Hermana Watkins

Monday, September 16, 2013

I don't know how many weeks I've been here for. It feels like I've been serving forever!

Okay! Where to start... I honestly don't even remember what happened 2 days ago. But I'll try!

First off, we have a few miracle investigators! We had Zone Training on Tuesday, I think, and an Elder had a referral for us, who wanted to be contacted on Thursday. So we head over there, and Thursday was wrong (obviously that Elder was an English speaking Elder or something) so we didn't have time to teach, but we invited them to our ward party on Friday night (Fiesta Patrias - Mexicans party hard!). The amazing thing is that they came! It's two sisters and their sister-in-law, Yasury, Yamiko, and Estrella. They have four daughters between the three of them, with 2 on the way! And they are so super nice. They had a ton of fun at the party, so we made sure to invite them to church on Sunday. And guess what, they came to church too! All three hours! And they really liked it a lot. I didn't get to talk to them a lot about it (I was playing the piano during sacrament meeting, yikes!), but Hna Arevalo said Yasury had some great questions about the sacrament and it's meaning, and Estrella really liked gospel principles class. Success! And we haven't even had the chance to teach them yet! But we're going to have FHE with them tonight at the ward mission leader's house, so we're super excited for that.

What else happened this week... We were riding along after stopping at a less active's house, and a guy getting into his car in his driveway called out to us, "Hey, are you guys church people? You should talk to Molly, she's right over there!" Turns out Molly is his girlfriend that's standing in her doorway, and she says, "Sure! Come on in!" She was super nice, we both liked her right away. We were getting to know her and were getting ready to introduce the first lesson, when she kind of just stopped us and asked us for help with her family. She really opened up and really trusted us, even though we had just met her. And then Hna Arevalo was so great, she just shut the pamphlet, put it in her bag, and started teaching about prayer and fasting and the power that those have in our lives. It was a really powerful experience. I can't wait until we go back to teach her!

Okay, food update: We eat dinner at a member's house every night at five. ALL THE FOOD IS SO GOOD AND I EAT SO MUCH. It's great, hahah! The other night we had enchilada-type things (same flavors, just stacked up like pancakes instead of rolled up). Last night we had tostada things that were kind of barbeque-y and spicy and sooo good. And we had tamales filled with chicken and potatoes and peppers and it was SOO good. The members really know how to cook, haha. And a new favorite: Arroz con leche! Except without the raisins. Its so yummy! I love all the members, they love cooking and watching us eat, it's so great!

Basically being a missionary is great and I absolutely love it! There have been some hard days this week, but we are trying our best to be diligent, and we can really see miracles that come from trusting in the Lord.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot Maria! We were confirming an appointment con la familia Xochihua at the trailer park 2 nights ago, and as we were leaving, we noticed a woman sitting on her front steps with her kids, so we went to talk to her. She had so many questions about the Book of Mormon, and we taught her about specific prayer, which she was shocked about but was pretty excited when we invited her to pray tonight. We just had such a good conversation with her, and I feel really good about going back to teach her this Tuesday. So exciting!

ALSO, we met some Jehovah's Witnesses last night! They were a little intimidating, but they were very nice to us. She tried to give us their magazine-preaching thing, which we declined, but she invited us back to teach her about the Book of Mormon, and she wants to teach us more about the Bible. So we'll see how it goes!

That's mostly the exciting stuff from this week. I love you all, I hope everyone has a great week too!!!

Love love love
Hermana Watkins

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week one is done!!

This has been a week of firsts. I even made a list!

1. I played rugby for the first time (District sports on Saturday mornings). It was touch rugby, and we had to wake up a half hour early to play. I'm not quite sure yet if its worth it, haha.

2. I ate 3 taquitos de carnitas without even thinking about it or asking what's in them! There were definitely some fatty pieces that kinda grossed me out, but it was super delish. Also, I'm eating a lot more salsa, but I need to learn to deal with the salsa picante.

3. I've been riding for muchas horas on a bike in the sun, and I'm actually enjoying it! Yesterday was the first day that my bottom didn't hurt as much as it usually does, haha. And I think I'm losing weight, which is a wonderful side blessing! Or I'm just neutral, because I eat so much at the member's houses (they all love to cook super delicious food, it's been quite difficult).

4. I painted a wall! We were doing service for la familia Pineda in our ward, so we just threw some tshirts on over our dresses and started painting! Hermana Correa got some paint on my head, but luckily it was water based or something like that, so it came out when I showered, haha.

5. I lost my shoe twice in one day while biking! I honestly don't know how or why that happened, haha. I had to stop and run back to get it in front of lots of cars, how embarrassing!

6. I've been attacked by a dog! But by attacked, I mean we were riding through a trailer park and a dog came screaming out of a trailer for my bike and was going in for the kill when I think I accidentally ran over its toes. Oops. Bottom line, trailer park dogs and cats are evil.

7. We got rejected twice. Two doors closed on our faces! That was kind of hard, and a shock to me. It's so sad! I just want everyone to listen! Our message will help them so much!

8. The great thing is, for every rejection, we have a great contact. Just yesterday, a door was literally slammed in our faces, just after we had gotten the referral from some members down the street. We were pretty sad, but we turned our bikes around and continued up the road. There was a guy sitting on a bench who we stopped to talk to (Hna Arevalo is so good about talking with everyone!), and he was so interested it was unbelievable! He basically ate up our words and asked where our church was so he could come on Sunday. It was so great! And I actually got to give him the Book of Mormon this time! Usually Hermana Arevalo does most of the talking and I jump in when I feel I'm ready (which I'm getting so much better with spanish, it's great!), but this time I just whipped it out of my bag and gave him Alma 36 and taught him about repentance. It was so cool!

So that was one of the best lessons for me this week: for every rejection, there's someone waiting around the corner, ready to accept our message. It is so hard to have a door closed in your face. But we must always keep going! There is always someone else who wants and needs what we have to offer them. We must always remember that in the work.

Another thing that has helped me a ton: there have been times, just in the first week I've been here, when I think the work is harder than I can bear. It's so hard to keep pedaling when it's 4 pm and we're hot and sweaty and tired, and everyone we talk to waves us off. In these moments, the thoughts come that remind me how easy it would be to quit and go home. There is a nice bed waiting for me and food and friendly people and lots of comfort. But in these moments, I think of Christ, our Savior. Think about what He actually did. He SUFFERED for us, and then He DIED for us. And what He had to do was a million times harder than riding a bike in Phoenix in September and talking to people. He was completely submissive to the will of Heavenly Father. He knew what He had to do, and He did it. So I ask myself: If Christ could suffer through all He did, and end up being crucified by His persecutors, can I ride my bike for a few more hours tonight? Can I say hi to someone and ask them how their day is going? Can I give someone a tiny piece of paper with a picture of Jesus on it? Of course I can!

That has been the most encouraging thing for me this week. I did not know what I was getting into when I first got to Arizona. I had absolutely no idea how hard missionary work actually is. We're emotionally and physically exhausted all the time. We're getting rejected. People laugh at us. But I've learned, just in the past week, that all of this is absolutely worth it. This whole time I didn't know how hard it would be, but I also didn't realize how HAPPY I would be! I didn't know it was possible to be so happy just serving others, especially on a bike in 100 degree weather. I am so happy! We ride around singing and talking to people and practicing our spanish and teaching, and it has made me happier than anything in my life has ever made me. I'm so incredibly grateful that I decided to serve a mission! There's so much more for me to learn and do and say, and I've only just barely begun, but I can't wait for all the trials and obstacles and miracles and normal things I will see. A mission is the best thing I've ever done with my life, and I can't wait for the rest of it.

Whew, sorry, I didn't know I was gonna get all journal-y! But I can testify that what I've learned is true. The gospel is true, and Heavenly Father truly loves all of us so much. I'm so grateful for all of this, and that I have the chance to share it with everyone every day! I love the gospel and I love being a missionary!

And I love you all! Have a fantastic week, everyone!

Love love love

Hermana Watkins

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


Everybody, I'm alive! In case anyone was wondering, haha.

I'm in Phoenix! And it's HOT. Mi companera se llama Hermana Arevalo, from El Salvador! Our branch is called Camelback 1st, and we met the branch president last night (but I already can't remember his name, haha). I think it'll be fun! We're living with another companionship, Hermana Correa and Hermana Faw (who was in the CCM with me). Our apartment is actually super nice!

And a surprise of the past two days: We're gonna be biking! We have a car to share between the two companionships, but we're not going to be using it very much, so we're off to buy some bikes today!

The first two days were CRAZY, but so good. We got off the plane and went to the Mesa Temple Visitors Center, which was so beautiful. It's the second most productive visitors center in the world, after Salt lake, which is crazy! Then we went to the mission office and ate some lunch and packed an overnight bag. Can I say how great it was to have a baked potato with BACON and broccoli and a roll and a salad? Mexico was great, but I LOVE american food!

They let us take a nap, then we had a little bit of training and getting to know President Sweeny and his wife (they are great, but don't worry, padres, they're not as good as you!), and then we went CONTACTING! That was crazy. I went with Hermana Wheelwright (also from the CCM), and we walked around with a sister who had been in Arizona for only 6 weeks! She was a pro, though. We talked to a guy sitting outside his trailer and gave him a book of mormon, and then to some other guys who were a little drunk but nice, haha. All hispanics are so nice! They'll listen to whatever you have to say and joke around and are so friendly. Our experiences sounded better than some of the english missionaries, who said that all the white people just ignore you, haha.

So yeah! We stayed the night at a member's house, got up the next morning, and took a written driving test (I still need to figure out how to order my driving record!!). Then we did some training, and right before lunch, they announced our companions and areas! We had to chill for a bit and wait for Hermana Correa to be certified with her driving, but then we headed back to our area and went to a dinner appointment! It was with Hermana Toledo, who is blind and lives by herself, but can do everything on her own! She had some Little Cesars and spaghetti for us (american food, sooo good!), and then she played the guitar, so great! We are going to sing Mas Cerca, Dios, de Ti in 2 weeks at a fireside, so we were practicing for that! After that, we went to a branch correlation meeting, where we met the President and others from the branch. That was kind of hard cause it was super long and sooo hot in the Presidents office, and I was really tired and having a hard time following the spanish. But everyone was so nice! I'm excited to get to know everyone better on Sunday.

Basically that's been our first two days! We're whitewashing, so Hna Arevalo doesn't really know this area, but apparently we have 13 investigators, so we're gonna do some visiting and teaching tonight, so exciting! I'll let you all know how it goes :)

Basically, I'm terrified, so everyone keep me in your prayers! Hopefully I won't die of heat exhaustion before I get to do some work, haha!

I love you all! Everyone have a good week!

Hna Watkins

Sunday, September 1, 2013

last week at the CCM!

Well well well, look who´s starting their last week at the CCM!

Can anyone believe it?!?! I definitely can´t. Last night I was just laying in bed thinking about Arizona and what it might be like, and it hit me that a week from yesterday morning, I will be in Arizona!! I am BEYOND excited! These last few days are getting harder, when all I want to do is get out of here and teach real people, so I´ve really got to try to push til the end. But we´ve got in-field training on friday, I need to do lots of packing on Saturday, and then Sunday is my last day with my branch and district! The hardest part will definitely be leaving all the people I met here. You grow to love everybody sooo much, especially when you feel like the past 6 weeks have been an eternity and you´ve known them forever.

Speaking of forever, we got to go to the temple again today! It was very nice, just like before, but we got less time to take pictures or sit in the Celestial room. But it has been so cool to be able to go to a temple in Mexico! That´s something I never thought would happen, haha.

Another thing I never thought would happen was that I´d have to give 3 TALKS out of the 6 Sacrament meetings I´m here for (and 2 of them are fast sundays, so unfair). Basically every time we walk out of sacrament meeting and shake the branch presidency´s hand, President de Hoyos is like "heh heh heh, Hermana Watkins" with a huge smile on his face. I think he thinks its funny to watch me stand on my toes at the pulpit every sunday, so rude (it doesnt move and there´s no step, so nobody can see me unless Im on my toes!). Haha in all honesty, it´s been great practice and Im super grateful. But really, 3 times?? None of the elders in our district spoke once! Haha I guess that´s what you get for being prepared.

No food update this week... they have started making the same things over again, so I don´t have as many chances to be adventurous! But Tuesday is pizza day, and they´ve started giving us pepperoni! (But I have to say, Im super jealous of all the missionaries that get layovers in Texas or something so they can get McDonalds or Cinnabon... I am going straight to Phoenix, so I don´t get that chance! I guess it´ll just have to wait, haha.)

I still just can´t believe I will be in the field in 6 days! Where did all the time go?? Every day feels like forever, but each week just flies by. Just the life of a missionary, and its wonderful.

Guys, being a missionary is great. Nothing new has happened and our schedule hasn´t really changed, but each day is wonderful. The MTC is an amazing place, and Im so grateful I have gotten to learn so much about the gospel and how to be a missionary at the CCM. Everyone should get to come here. It´s so great.

Verse of the week: Mosiah 2:41. We´ve been working on how to teach the commandments and help people make commitments (1 Nefi 3:7 is also great). They are great reminders of the blessings we can recieve by keeping the commandments. We can obtain a state of never-ending happiness! So incredible. So if anyone is ever gonna teach someone about the law of chastity or the word of wisdom any time soon, use these verses!

Les amo a todos! Tengan un buen semana!

Hermana Watkins