Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas in 'Nam!

Merry Christmas From Nagoya Japan! Love y'all!

Me as Santa san for the kids.

Ho Ho Ho! This is Santa san writing all the way from Japan!
I was just dressed as the big guy for 2 hours taking pictures with and giving gifts to the very little children (and their moms) at the church. It was tiring and fun. I've worked with kids a lot this weekend between the kids eikaiwa and the Christmas party and today. I think Japanese kids are the cutest! One little girl today even came up and talked to me a few times, but I had no idea what she was saying, lol, so dorbs!

Well this week was awesome, the Zone Leaders came to Nonami to help us find some investigators, and I got to work with my trainer elder TuAkoi. It snowed that day too so it was just like old times. We split into 2 pairs and walked and took trains to every hot spot in the area and covered a lot of ground. We knocked on doors and OYMed to people of all sizes, yes. And after much failure, we saw the miracle. The fruits of faith and works and a bit of kokan magic; we found 2 new investigators, my first ones in Nonami. It was a simple meeting of two random people, but it could have an eternal impact for many of God's children.
Me as Santa san for the kids.

Then on Saturday we had the Branch Christmas party. We put on a show with our Kid's Eikaiwa students and sang a song with another member, Soma shimai. Many people who were not members of the church or haven't been in a long time came and we had a huge feast. (So huge that they gave the left overs to us and they cover the tables of our apartments). Elder Tanner and I put on Santa suits and handed out candy to everyone there! It was so much fun.

  Arisaka Branch President came up and shared his testimony of the Savior and the true meaning of Christmas, and some musically talented members sang, in English, "What Child is This?" The Spirit of Christmas filled the room. Simply a fantastic and way fun evening.

  I know that Christ is the Savior, the gift that keeps giving. And He appeared to everyone including to us, and if you look around you you will see Him, in your family, your friends, the folks on the street, because we were created like Him. And He gave all He had for us. We missionaries have been studying "The Living Christ", I encourage you all to give that a read. I to testify that He is the light and life of the world, and He lives.
Santa Claus is commin'

   Well this week I look forward to Skype calling my family in SC. Being a missionary on Christmas is kind of sad, being away from family and stuff, but it is also a great opportunity to spread Christmas spirit in the most straightforward way there is.

 Well, Merry Christmas everyone, and have a happy new year!

Love and cheer,
Santa san
Santa bros!

Santa bros!
Presents for all!
Photos with kids

Photos with kids
Takatsuka Reindeer

Church Christmas feast on Saturday!

Kids at Christmas party!
Senkyoushi presents!
Santa san came!

Santa san came!
Who's back in black?

I got to kokan with my trainer! Soo awesome!

I got to work with my trainer elder TuAkoi.

Tanner wearing a stocking (he's special) lol!
found it at a store, lol!

Every Elder ever loves my Grandma for this reason.

Pooh and Kamen Rider together

Zone leaders making smores at the apartment.

Bedwell choro and Laumatia's smores.

Smores are very rare in japan.

Snow in Nonami

Very rare here, it was gone the next day.

Our new investigator!

For Grandaddy Parker

Thursday, December 18, 2014

From 19 to 20

Me and Elder Moretti who's going home to Brazil soon. He was my Zone Leader for most of my mission.

Year Mark! I can't believe how fast this is all going. It has been a crazy ride. So as y'all know I like to take a look back at things and see what we've learned. There is a lot this time. Perhaps more than I can cover in one email. But I will, as I always say, share the highlights.

   Dec. 9, 2013, I left my family at the Charlotte Airport bound for Salt Lake. I had no clue what I was in for. I took a grand tour of Salt Lake City with my friends, The Belcher Family. John Belcher dropped me off at the MTC Dec. 11th and I was thrown into a room with 12 of the strangest dudes ever for 9 weeks. Boy the MTC was long, but full of characters that kept things interesting and moments of Spiritual confirmation that I've never felt anywhere else. I knew that the gospel was true.

   Then on Feb 11 we took a long plane trip and landed in Nagoya Japan with bean-chan Japanese and a fire in our hearts. There I met President and Sister Yamashita and my trainer and hero Elder Tu'Akoi.

   I got off the train in Nagano and spent the first week of my mission shoveling snow off the church parking lot. I was in Nagano for 4 transfers with 3 companions. Elder Tu'akoi taught me how to dendo, but he also helped me find out who I was as a missionary. We had many great times then with Sisters Nielson and Avarell and that crazy man Ezaki Kyoudai. They were some of the greatest friends I've ever had.

Elder Chiba was my first and so far only Japanese companion. He taught me patience, haha, and I learned some Japanese along the way, we had fun together. And Elder Yamada taught me perhaps too many things! But most of all he taught me that the most important thing for anyone to know before you leave is that you love them. And every person is there for a reason that only God knows. It was hard especially saying goodbye to my favorite place and Sister Nielson as she went home to the states. But I felt that I had done something to help my friends there. And they truly changed me.

Then these past 3 transfers I partied in Seto, in the heat of August. I lived with Elders Wheeler and bean Laumatia. It was hard, but after awhile things began to change. I worked with Elder Jackson and we found 5 investigators together. He taught me the importance of having fun while working. Then old friends came back as my old buddy from Nagano, Elder Beck came to help "Spread that Gospel!" He helped to prepare me to finally be a Sempai. We thought I might train, but he trained instead and I got Elder Laumatia who was already with me when I got there! We taught many lessons and strengthened the members dendo fire. Seto is were I learned about being a Christ-like  leader and  teacher and also how to seek and find revelation.

   And now after one crazy year I find myself white washing in Nonami, I still don't know why I am here or who we need to find, but I know that the Lord will guide us. To be honest it is hard to keep going when you don't see success. But on my year mark, when we went to the Mission tour with Elder Ringwood of the 70, I realized, as if I'd forgotten recently, that I am not alone.

   I saw most of my past companions and many of my good friends, some I'd seen recently, some I hadn't seen since the very beginning. And they spoke to me and gave me words of encouragement, they told me they believed in me and that they pray for me. As we sang together I felt that warm feeling in my heart and I knew that God is indeed mindful of us "wanderers in a strange land" as Ammon said, and that we are an Army of God prepared in the pre-exsistence. I felt as though I was surrounded by angels. And all of us are united for the cause of Christ, in the Japan Nagoya Mission, we are one.

  Elder Ringwood talked of many things, but when he spoke of miracles he told us that there are many, seen and unseen, and of the fact that we chose to give our hearts and serve God for 2 years, he said "You are the miracle." Over all else I have a testimony that miracles still happen and they are all around us. Some are so big that we don't even notice them. Some we don't even know about. And I may not know who I've helped and I have yet to see a baptism, but God knows who needs me and who I need. And for 1 year he has placed me with a set of people who I never would've met if it hadn't been for Him working through a wise and inspired Mission President.

   I miss my family and friends, but they too, even far away, have seen miracles this year. And in 1 year from now I we will be together again and see each other differently than before. I am thankful for this opportunity to serve and look forward to another year of miracles.

Until then my friends, thanks for the memories!

Elder Cullen E. Watkins

Happy Birthday to my buddy Graham Cook and Uncle David!

Dinner with Elder Smith!

8 Elders boarding the subway for the Mission Conference

Old comp Elder Jackson!

Bills and Smith after 1 year

Elder Bills =)
Elders Tu'Akoi and Moretti Translating and my companion Elder Laumatia with Elder Orellana

My old comp Elder Yamada with Elder Takayama
All the Missionaries at Meito church

All the Missionaries at Meito church

The Japan Nagoya Mission Meito, Okazaki and Shizuoka Zones

The Japan Nagoya Mission Meito, Okazaki and Shizuoka Zones


Meito Elders table

Beck's table

Yamada's table

The old Seto gang

Shimai Table :)


They meant Rice. Aww

Member's pet bunny rabbit, soo cute!