Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Spirit of God Like a Fire is Burning!

Me, Williams, and Brown

Featuring Elder M. Russell Ballard! But first, here's the results of Transfer calls;
Elder Tanner is going to be a new Zone leader in Yokkaichi
Elder Nilsson is coming to be with elder Dana
And Me and Elder Tallent are the same.
Elder Schuh from my MTC District! Long time no see.

This is the first time since I was transfer 2 that nothing has happened to me. Strange but good I think. And now I'm Transfer 10. Yikes, double digits. Also I will miss my buddy Elder Tanner, but he's gonna be an awesome Zone leader.
Well there were a lot of spiritual experiences for me this weekend. A Filipino member who has been really sick and not able to attend church, asked us to give her a Priesthood blessing. We went with another priesthood holder and a sister to visit and give this blessing. Because she spoke English we were able to bless her in English. I was on an exchange with young Elder Dana and he did the first part of the blessing, and for the first time, I did the second part in which I have to give a blessing as directed by the Holy Spirit. I was nervous, but as I spoke I knew that what I was saying was what this member needed. She was very nice and glad that we had come.
 The next day I found myself in a similar situation were one of my fellow missionaries had asked me to give them a blessing to help them. I was again nervous as I'd only done this type of blessing one time very earlier on in my mission, but I felt good that my friend trusted me enough to ask, and again I followed the spirit. We are so blessed to have the Priesthood.
  Friday morning was the big day, Mission Conference. There is always a special feeling that comes when the missionaries gather and meet again after what seems like many years to us. This time everyone in the whole mission was gathering, and an excitement, similar to what I felt once in the MTC, was in the air that moment as we anticipated an Apostle of the Lord to come into our chapel. It was a little squished with almost 200 missionaries. And then we stood in reverence as Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the 12 entered the room and said "Ohayo gozaimasu."
Me and my Yamada!

  He was accompanied by Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the 70, Bishop Gary A. Stevenson the presiding Bishop and former Nagoya Mission President, Elder Aoyagi of the 2nd Quorum of 70, and President Yamashita of the 1st Quorum of 70 and our Mission President, and their wives. They lined up in front and we all got the chance to shake their hands. It was cool to shake another Apostles hand, but even better was as I sat back down and watched a very new elder walk up to them with at cast over his arm, and later a sister pushing her companion in a wheelchair toward them. "Put that thing in hyper speed" Elder Ballard called out haha. It was interesting to see how these missionaries looked as though they'd been in an actual battle, but they seem to act as though it's nothing, still dendoing anyways.
  There was a lot of great instruction and it was so simple, they taught us the importance of the restoration, helping others understand, inviting, and the power of testimony. But the most spiritual part for me, was at the very end after the closing hymn, when Elder Ballard came up and asked President and Sister Yamashita to bear their testimonies to us. It was a rare occasion to be gathered all together as a mission and hear from them for one of the last times. I felt their love for us as if we were their own children.
   Sunday we had the big Stake Conference at Okazaki city hall. Many of my old friends, members and non members, from my last area Seto were there. It was so good to see them and they remembered me and my name, I wasn't sure if some of them would, but it was so good to see them together at this special event. Elder Ballard spoke with a translator standing next to him and gave a great testimony. Then everyone in the Nonami Branch and some of the missionaries sang 2 songs, the ending song being "The Spirit of God" Hymn #3. That song is so climactic and filled the whole place with the spirit. It was a great time indeed.
Well that's six paragraphs. We are looking forward to working harder this transfer. Already my 3rd in Nonami so there must still be work for us to do here. Let's see some more miracles!
Love you guys, keep it classy,
Elder Watkins
Elder Smith losing some pounds. 

Elder Moulton and Elder Jones from Fujieda staying the night.

All Zones and all missionaries at Meito Church.

Everyone getting seated.

Elder TuAkoi and Elder Vaughn, been a long year since I last saw these guys together from my original district. 

A bit crowded.

Elder Tanner talking to his old trainer afar off.

The Yamashitas greeting everyone.

Missionaries in front of Meito church for a photo op.

Tallent and Klien's doki, the "Lost Boys."

Elder Mueller

Elder Laumatia

The Matsumoto Elders

Walking back to the eki

Mako chan from Seto!

My man Koike Kyoudai from Seto!

Gathering of the Nagoya East Stake of Zion in the Okazaki City Hall.

Elder Takayama

The stand where Elder Ballard spoke.

My old friends from Seto! The Nojimas.

Doggie that lives across from Nonami church.

My Mabodofu, best one i made yet.

A planner that Elder Yamada made for me and all his comps.

Planner I made for Elder Tanner.

The Tanner Planner I made.

Red Rangers representing my 2 years in Japan, Tokkyu #1 and Aka Ninja.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

1 Year in 日本!

Funny things at the Kondos.


1 year ago I stepped off the plane and into a new world that would change EVERYTHING I knew. Oh my gosh how the places I've been and people I've met have taught me so much! Particularly the examples of the Saints here were the church is small, but their faith is strong. My whole outlook on living a Christian life has switched perspectives seeing how these members press forward with what they do.
Funny things at the Kondos.

   I still remember exactly what we did those first few days. My first walk about snowy Nagano, my trainer trying to get me to talk to people, chasing him to the eki to get to ZTM on time, meeting the sisters, Branch President, and members, and shoveling that parking lot. I couldn't comprehend at the time the adventures that I would have.

   My companion and I were sharing stories and experiences from our pasts. Elder Tallent's story sounds like a really cool movie. It is interesting how a mission takes stories so different and unique and connects them. Each of us is indeed a story, and the gospel, no matter to what degree, is THE story that connects us all. From South Carolina to Japan, to Brazil, Australia, Utah, and Canada, billions of stories with the same beginning, with Heavenly Father.
Elder Tallent and his box of valentines love <3.

   I am so glad that Japan is a part of my story. It's cool, funny, exciting, delicious, bland, hard, hilly, hot, cold, and full of love. My new home away from home.

    This weekend is the big one, an Apostle of the Lord is coming to speak to us. While that's going on, we also have Transfer calls, wow that was fast. Please pray for that as well. I believe that this will be a spiritually uplifting and power packed weekend indeed. We are all excited for it. No idea how transfers will go, but I believe that our President will be guided by the Lord to make wise decisions.

   So here's to one year in the land of the rising sun! いちごいちえ! HOIZA!

Celebrating 1 year in Japan with Domino's Pizza!

Cheese stuffed crust mmm! Reminds me of Grandma's house.

And Ice Cream!

(Tanner ate half of it) (it was scary)

Tanner after eating too much!

Tanner after eating too much!

Elder Dana and a lady on the train taking a snooze.
Exploring A different neighborhood.

Exploring A different neighborhood.

Klien, Tallent, and Nakahara Choro tachi at Zone Interviews.
New Ninja Rangers!

New Ninja Rangers!

Mt Fuji ice cream made by TuAkoi.

Celebrating Elder Tanner's Birthday after DTM.

Elder Bed taking our picture.

Choro tachi at Shyabu shyabu for Elder Tanner's Birthday DTM.

My Title of Liberty, it says "Every Person, Every Place, is 4 a Reason Only God Knows Nihon 2015".

My personal valentines treat #senkyosh #31flavors.

Sort of commemorating going to Baskin Robbins 1 year ago when I first met Nielson and Avarell and getting snowed in at Nagano. Good times.

More ice cream fun!

Members gave us chocolate too!

Tallent's valentines package of kisses.

How did this happen?

Tanner and I spotted this on our kokan.