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Brrr. Its cold!

Sorry I couldn't write last P-Day (Wednesday). My district wanted to play football.... in the snow. It snowed pretty heavily, more especially out in Aurora than here in Denver, so we ended up playing football for about 3 hours in 5-6 inches of snow. I wore six layers, so I was perfectly fine temperature-wise, but having a blizzard of icy crystals slamming you in your unprotected face made playing offensive into the wind very hard.

After football, bike repairs for my comp (he broke his crank arm bolt while tightening it, leaving it wedged in his bottom bracket), and getting new glasses for Elder Gonzales (he broke the last pair in the previous week's football game), we got no time for email, shopping, or cleaning. Good thing we overshopped the week before, and the members feed us well here! =)

So other than the increasing snow that greatly decreases our efficiency, there's not much else to report. The work is going at a fairly steady pace-- still trying to find anyone sincerely interested in the message we have to share. Our investigator pool is pretty tiny, but we're making some progress with several.

Konstantin will be glad to know that the Colorado School of Film is in my area-- right off of Lowry. We've talked to several students attending there, and met a really cool kid who's studying to be a producer. We met him tracting (knocking doors), and he was willing to geek out with me about AfterEffects and Andrew Kramer's vicopilot.net tutorials-- made me feel like I was at work at Tekelec psyched out about new videos all over again. =) on the religious note, he has a friend serving a mission in Brazil and is very familiar with the Church. We'll be stopping by his place often for a quick lesson, and a warm place to stay a moment.

Right now it's snowing again. Our Zone Leader called a few minutes ago and said our bikes and cars were parked because of ice and snow on the roads. Stink; that means we'll have to call and bum rides off members so we can get to our appointments.

But the snow may be a blessing today. One investigator that the area West of us is working with has just been evicted from his apartment and is really down on his luck. With the snow, the city might hire him for $20/hr today for snow removal. We're praying for him to be able to get that job for a while.

So, all my Priest Quorum buddies have finally gotten their mission calls! Yay! Congrats to John for going to my hometown of Mesa, AZ. I listened to the weather a few days ago: the temperature waking up was 22 here, while in Mesa, it was 84. Boy, does that sound nice.

OK, so I have to end with a funny story from the MTC I just remembered. Another Elder, not from our mission, found a snail outside the building. He kept it for a few days as a pet, feeding it chocolate and dunking it in water occasionally, and named it Elder Snail. A few of the Elders strongly considered that Elder Snail should be put out of his supposed chocolate-diet misery inflicted by this Elder, and wanted to select Elder Snail as a candidate for the next projectile launched down the hall from our giant elastic exercise bands that no one uses for exercise (see a previous entry for a more detailed description of the creativity of 19-yr-old guys and a giant elastic band).

They decided that that would make too much of a mess, though, and elected to follow his owner's suggestion. You see, his girlfriend has this thing about snails-- that the pictures of them are cute or something, so he decided she would appreciate Elder Snail as a pet from her thoughtful boyfriend. He somehow got a hold of a Tiffany's ring box, and put the snail with some water and malted milk balls (for nourishment), and mailed it to her. A week and a half later, he received a letter back saying:

"Thanks for your most recent package. I saw the Tiffany's box and got all excited, and opened it to find that you had sent me a limp, dead snail. Thanks.... I guess. But, you're right, after I doused it in some water, it perked right up."

Gives a whole new meaning to "snail mail, huh?

Anyway, that's all for today-- have a good week, and I hope to have some more news for you all next week: transfers are in 8 days. Enjoy everything.

Attacked by dogs

Whew, another P-day! Our Church building was built in the 1920's and is the oldest LDS Church building in Colorado. As such, it is really unique in its construction, and there is a labyrinth of tunnels and passages for maintenance underneath, including a coal chute where it is rumored that a hobo died long ago. Having keys, we missionaries decided it'd be fun to go exploring the tunnels. As I was inching through the dusty crawlspace, a familiar phrase entered my mind: "You are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike." I know, I'm a really old-school nerd.

Well, this week was pretty interesting. I had my first dog attack. We approached a very calm-looking house during tracting. There was a huge wooden fence around the perimeter, but we didn't notice any "Beware of Dog" sign, so after waiting a moment, entered, latching the gate behind us with its huge wooden bolt. When we got halfway across the giant lawn (these were affluent people), a small Toto-like canine came tearing out of the backyard, barking its brains out, but not exactly the most menacing mongrel you've seen; we were just about to turn around... when the Husky came out.

I realize that the Husky is not the biggest breed in the world, but when it's bolting at you, snarling and booming, it suddenly looks a lot like the Beast from the Sandlot.

It's funny how athletic a fairly sedentary nerd can be when properly motivated. I was tired, freezing, and my movements were hampered by 6 inches or more of heavy coat (it was 25 degrees), but in the blink of an eye, I had cleared 20 yards of ground, as well the 5 1/2 foot fence in a single bound and found myself lying on my back on the gravel outside the premises. My companion says it was the most amazing thing he had ever seen.

Another interesting incident that occurred this week was last night following a dinner appointment. We had been warned by a rather drunk but nice guy on Colfax to watch ourselves North of 35th Avenue-- up near Stapleton because it was all dangerous gang turf. He was right. After the dinner appointment, we biked to a bus stop, and a guy followed us over there, yelling and screaming and cussing up a storm about how we were "fake" and "occultists." He told us if he ever saw us in his neighborhood again, he and his buddies would shoot/stab/maim/ whatever us.

The funny thing is, we have another dinner appointment at the same place tonight, so we'll see how it goes.

In better news, we have 2 great new investigators that I'm pretty hopeful for. They are pretty solid, and one has even accepted a baptismal invitation. I hope they continue being as solid as they are so far.

Well, that's about all for now. I know the Church is true. I took the promise in James 1:5 to heart, and I have definitely seen the blessings resulting therefrom. As a missionary and a servant of the Lord, I invite everyone to do the same, that is, to pray and ask God about the validity of the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Prophet Joseph Smith. I promise that God answers our prayers, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Keep up the good fight on the home front =)

--Elder Watkins

Week 2 in Denver

Hey! Well, it looks like I've survived to week 2 in the Mile High city! General Conference was awesome, as usual =). For those who don't know, General Conference is a semiannual broadcast from the leaders of our Church: the men we believe to be Christ's Apostles and Prophet on the Earth today.

At any rate, it was amazing as usual. I especially like Elder Holland's amazing talk... well, more like testimony of the Book of Mormon. I wish I could use the same boldness and powerful Spirit that he used when I'm talking to people here! How is it that we bear the same testimony as the Apostles, but they always sound better than we do?

Well, its starting to get nippy here. I'm told that 31 degrees is "nippy"-- it doesn't get "cold" here until it gets down to where it's 20 degrees at noon, and snowing with high wind. As it is now, I need to figure out how to get a waterproof coat.

We still have no really progressing investigators, though we're averaging 20 or so new investigators (mission slang: "gators") per week. Apparently they have real lives, and thus can never actually be home for the appointments they committed to. So, we end up spending a lot of the time finding people by talking on the streets instead of actually teaching. Oh well, it's still good. Those who know me will be happy to learn that I now have a good tan from all that time outside talking.

I'm also glad to be able to use my Spanish. Half of our conversations are in español, the celestial language. My poor companion can't keep up in those discussions. Hispanics account for half or more of our new investigators, but we have to turn them over to the Spanish elders. ¡Qué lástima!

Well, I hope everything's going well on the homefront. There's another Elder here from Morrisville serving-- his name's Elder Sax-- it's kinda funny to reminisce about the "old days at home"-- it sure doesn't feel like one month ago!

I know that the message I'm sharing is true. I may not be able to phrase it as powerfully or poetically as Elder Holland, and I may not have a perfect knowledge, but I do know that God lives, and that He sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for our sins, so that we can return to live with Him again. I know that Christ's Church has been restored to the Earth again through the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that the same power, authority, and foundation of revelation is present on the Earth today. It truly is a miracle. I know that the Book of Mormon and the Bible are the Word of God, and that if we read and pray about them with real intent, that we will know they are true. I wish everyone a good next week, be they at home, or school or Tekelec =).

I say these things and bear my witness that Jesus is the Christ, in His name, amen