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Merry Christmas!

Hello all:

Hope you are all having a beautiful Christmas and holiday season-- it's snowing pretty well here, so it looks like we'll have a white Christmas! We were joking with an investigator that people would be less afraid to talk to us if they knew we were humans with a soul and a sense of humor, so we were thinking about getting some cheap Santa hats to wear while knocking doors. To our surprise, she loaded us up in the car, and drove us straight to Wal-Greens to buy some! =)

Things are going great here-- I am now serving in the Willow Creek Ward, which is in the Denver Stake in Englewood, CO. My new area has lots of ups and lots of downs, primarily because it's very hilly =). My legs are sure getting a workout! Our borders are (in case my cartographically-inclined father is interested) Holly on the West, I-25 on the East, Belleview on the North, and County Line on the South.

A downside to my new area is that the city planners work for Garmin, and to increase dependency on GPS devices, they named all the streets variations of the same few names. For example, there's a Niagra Ct, Niagra Ln., Niagra St., Niagra Ave., Niagra Pl., Niagra Blvd, etc, etc. It's pretty confusing, but still I'm picking up the area pretty fast. It's rather large and boy do I miss buses!

Oh, we had two baptisms the day before I came in-- two husbands in (formerly) part-member families. I've been getting to know them really well, and they are wonderful people. We have a few serious investigators that we're working with and for whom we have very high hopes.

I've noticed that I've begun to put more trust in Moroni's promise and am more bold in sharing it. Most people are very surprised when I tell people straight up that God WILL tell them whether or not our message is true.

It must be either true or it is not, and we literally call God as our witness to testify of the truths we proclaim. If someone studies our message out and prays sincerely about its veracity, they must receive and answer. Either God will tell them this is the Church of Jesus Christ restored to the Earth in the last days, and the Kingdom of God, or else He will must them that it is all a load of bologna and the most blasphemous sham created by charlatans "out of whole cloth" that the world has ever seen.

I know that Jesus Christ lives, that He was born as recorded in the Bible and the Book of Mormon: in a humble site in the outskirts of Jerusalem. He was born a prince to live as a pauper, and He knows what we got through. he is our strength and our hope. May we always remember to rely on Him I pray, in His name, even Jesus Christ, amen.

FYI-- as of Dec 29, 2009, all mail and packages should be sent to 999 E. Tufts Ave., Cherry Hills Village, CO 80113. Thanks.

Bow Now Brown Cow

Hello everyone!

I hope you all are enjoying your holiday season! It's been warming up a bit here-- as high as 45! I never thought I would consider 32 as nice, warm weather, but a dip into the -15 range will change your mind really quick, I guess.

So I'm getting transferred-- don't know where to yet-- I'll find that out on Thursday morning at the transfer meeting. I knew I would get transferred from the start of this transfer because starting to love your area and the people in it is the first sign that you'll be transferred. I've really come to love the people in the Crestmoor Ward, and I hope to see them again. It hurts to leave them-- there are some really nice families, and I really don't want to give up our two solid investigators.

But, as far as transfers go, I'm hoping for Grand Junction since I know so many ward members from there. Gotta learn this Colorado geography!

We had a great Christmas devotional last Thursday-- I really love our President and his wife-- they really do care for us-- they and the Assistants and Office Staff spent a long time knitting over 200 dark wool beanies by hand for every single missionary! It was touching to see all the work they put in for us!

I have been reading Jefferey R. Holland's talk "Safety for the Soul" from last General Conference a lot. His testimony is really powerful. We showed it to an investigator recently, and we're including it as lots of our discussions about the Book of Mormon.

I know the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and that this Church is true. I love it with all my heart, and I can't wait to tell people about it in a new area.

May God bless you all and have a wonderful Christmas!

--Elder Watkins

3 months

Wow-- has it really been a whole 3 months out on a mission? Wow-- it sure doesn't feel like it.

Well, my predictions for an arctic winter are coming true. Worked all day yesterday outside in the single digits, and woke up today to a balmy -16 degrees. Brr! It's a really weird feeling to walk outside and instantly feel your nose hairs freeze! Hopefully temperatures will approach freezing toward the end of the week. Luckily I have 5 layers, and have found creative ways to keep my hands warm.

Well, I am excited to announce that we now have an investigator with a baptismal date! She is pretty solid, and actually takes the commitments we leave to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it.

It's funny that we never have to worry about whether people will receive an answer-- just about whether they will take the few minutes out of their lives to read and ask God. It really is remarkable how complete the promise is. If people will sincerely read scriptures from the Book of Mormon, and humbly pray and ask God if it is true, they WILL receive a witness from God-- a spiritual litmus test, I guess.

The only problem is, 9 times out of ten, people don't even bother to crack open the book, let alone read a few verses, and so they never know. But if the commitment of reading for five minutes is too much for them, they certainly are not ready for the other commitments this Church and God expect of its members.

Transfers are next week-- I'm pretty worried-- I've really come to love the people here, and the ward members especially. We have an eternigator that I really want to continue to visit, and I want to see our baptismal date investigator progress more. I'm starting to learn the ward members' names and coming to know them well. President, if you're reading this, please don't transfer me!!! =)

But, from what I've heard, coming to love an area is the first sign of a definite transfer. Oh well-- I'll go where the Lord wants me to go, I guess.

Thank you everybody for all your letters and packages-- my poor companion is tired of throwing letters at me. =)

I know this Church is true, and that anyone who will test its fruits (the Book of Mormon, modern revelation, etc), and prays sincerely to God, asking if it is true, will receive an answer. We literally call God as our witness to the truths we proclaim and the principles we teach. God bless you all. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

The Church is true... and so is Google

Well, it's been another week. It's crazy how time goes here. It's cold, too. Today, there's a high of 22 and a low of... 3. Tomorrow, high of 18 and a low of 2. Brrrr!

Well, I have exciting news to announce: Pres. Monson must have heard my grumblings while knocking doors and my suggestions and have taken my advice to heart: the Church is ditching the ineffective, unreliable Novell client email system that runs the current myldsmail.net service, and switching to...... GMAIL! That's right, Google hsa signed over a copy of its apps to Church servers, and within a month I will be back at home in a familiar inbox.

Also, it's rumored that this new myldsmail.net service will soon be opened to Church members worldwide, if you're interested in signing up.

Unfortunately, the rest of the missionaries responded to this news with blank stares, and when I excitedly explained to them why it was so awesome... they continued with the blank stares, once again pointing out the fact that I am the new mission geek.

Well, on other notes, I hope everyone's holiday season is going fantastic. It's great to the decorated houses (though there are very few primary-colored C9 bulbs-- sorry, Dad). There is a HUGE population of Jews roundabouts, so it's not exactly all around, but the ones that are decorated look awesome!

We're still working with some OK investigators, but still we're getting in 30+ hours of tracting per week-- ouch. Oh well, the work is good and the Church is true, so it's worth it. Well, I miss you all and I'll write later.

Happy Holidays!