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My very last blog post from Colorado

Hello all:

I can't believe this is my last P-Day. What a scary thought that is! In a few short days, I will hit my 2-year mark, and return home. From what others have told me, it sounds like a very interesting time to return to the East Coast-- earthquakes and hurricanes? Sounds fun.

Though in my heart, I can't grasp the fact that I'm nearly through, my mind is very aware of the quickly ticking clock, and even the most innocuous things pellet my thoughts with how little time I have left. Here are some examples I've noticed:

I have less days left than the number of:
  • Calories in 3 jellybeans
  • Fingers
  • Hours in one general conference
  • Books in the Books of Mormon
  • Companions I've had
  • Transfers I've been out
  • Ties I have
  • Baptisms on my mission (thankfully ☺)
Trunkie? No. But very aware that I only have a few precious days left to finish the Lord's errand here. I pray I can be aware of the opportunities all around me as I finish "the best two years of my life." Next time I write, it will be from North Carolina.

I witness the world that the Gospel is true. The Book of Mormon is "the most correct of any book on earth." Our Savior lives, and He guides His Church.

" The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done. "

Of that truth I bear my testimony in the name of that Master, whose name I will wear for at least a few more days, even Jesus Christ, amen.
Elder Watkins
Colorado Denver South Mission
999 E. Tufts Av.
Cherry Hills Village, CO 80113

Touching Lives

Hello all:

Things have been going great. Pres. Maynes conducted a special training for us on Thursday. It was fantastic. This mission is definitely going to grow a lot in the next few years under his leadership. I love this mission. It's the most rewarding work in the world. The thrill or participating in the salvation of God's children is immeasurable.

Yet how quick we are to forget that feeling of that success. It's hard to keep in mind the baptisms, the reactivations, and the subsequent joy of the work while you're rejected at every turn by non-members and less-actives. But as long as we can keep those joys in mind and "remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men" (Moro. 10: 3), then nothing can keep us from spreading our fire to the rest of the world.

I've learned that it's all about desire. When a desire for something becomes strong enough, we invariably act on it. Our choices are determined by what we desire most. Many less-actives and investigators we work with have somewhat of a testimony, and a desire to repent and receive the blessings of activity in the Church, but when 9:00 Am Sunday morning rolls around, they discover that their desire to attend Church is superseded by their desires to watch TV, sleep in, take a trip, run errands, or even lounge about in laziness. Their desires for the eternal joy of Gospel faithfulness are superseded by their desires for the fleeting pleasures of the world.

For almost two years of my mission, I have been educating, instructing, and teaching pure doctrine-- giving others the" know-how" of achieving eternal life, but for some reason, it never has seemed to work. Now I know it is not a problem of simply education; rather, many do not act because they do not have a sufficient desire. Instead of simply teaching lessons and refreshing doctrinal understanding, we need help strengthen their desires to receive blessings.

On a personal level, my desire has changed on my mission. I started out with simply the desire to "be an obedient, hard-working missionary and to do my work and gain my reward." Now I have a desire to "invite others to come unto Christ" and share the blessings to eternal life. How tragic that it's taken almost two years to realize that! Luckily, I still have a few moments left. We can get a few more investigators. We can help a few more less-actives. Maybe we can have a few more baptisms.

But one thing's for sure-- we can touch a few more lives.

New (and final) companion

Hello All:

Transfers were on Tuesday. I'm staying here in the Eagle Valley Ward with a new companion, Elder Isac Valdes Tolentino, from Coahuila, Mexico. He's been out a little longer than a year, and his English is only slightly better than my Spanish. It makes for a good companionship; we get to translate for each other a lot.

The work is going great. This past week, it has really picked up. We taught 22 lessons, and had a few families with whom we've been working for a while attend church on Sunday! We've also picked up a few former investigators missionaries taught here a year ago. The Spirit is with us, and we're excited to see the blessings that the Lord has for the people in this area... and for us, too! =)

Pres. Maynes came to our area on Sunday to perform interviews as he does every other transfer. Mission Presidents are really good at a lot of things, but they're best at expressing sincere love. He gave us some good instruction to help us become the best we can be this transfer, and we both have personal goals to work on.

Here's a bit of Scriptural insight I gained as I read in the Book of Mormon this week:

Certainly we all remember the fantastic missionary companionship of Alma and Amulek. I want to emphasize for a moment the way Amulek refers to his "trainer" and "senior companion" when he speaks of Alma in Alma Chapter 10. As he recounts his angelic ministration, and the blessings that always attend someone who houses missionaries (v. 7 and 11), he refers to Alma with great respect and reverence, calling him "a prophet of the Lord," "a holy man," and "a chosen man of God."

Not long afterwards, times get very rough, very quickly, and Amulek sacrifices everything he owns for the Gospel of Christ: "all his gold, and silver, and his precious things... for the word of God, he being rejected by those who were once his friends and also by his father and his kindred" (Alma 15:16).

Following their mission, the believers' martyrdom, the total rejection of God by the city of Ammonihah, and the establishment of the Church in nearby Sidom, Alma compassionately "took Amulek and came over to the land of Zarahemla, and took him to his own house, and did administer unto him in his tribulations, and strengthened him in the Lord" (Alma 15:18).

Seven years later on another mission, this time to apostate Zoramites in Antionum, Amulek refers many times in his preaching to Alma in Chapter 34:

And as ye have desired of my beloved brother that he should make known unto you what ye should do... (v. 3)
And ye also beheld that my brother has proved unto you... (v. 6)
My brother has called upon the words of Zenos... (v. 7)

No longer does Amulek refer to Alma solely as "a prophet of the Lord," "a holy man," and "a chosen man of God," but rather, his "beloved brother."

To missionaries, Elder Jefferey R. Holland gave this advice:

These people are not lifeless objects disguised as a baptismal statistic. They are children of God, our brothers and sisters, and they need what we have. Be genuine. Reach out sincerely. Ask these friends what matters most to them. What do they cherish, and what do they hold dear? And then listen. If the setting is right, you might ask what their fears are, what they yearn for, or what they feel is missing in their lives.

I promise you that something in what they say will always highlight a truth of the gospel about which you can bear testimony and about which you can then offer more... If we listen with love, we won’t need to wonder what to say. It will be given to us-- by the Spirit and by our friends. (Preach My Gospel, p. 185)

As missionaries, home and visiting teachers, leaders, and friends; whether within the membership of the Church, or with our non-member associates, I hope we can all follow the example of Alma, strengthening and comforting our brethren and sisters. Then we will no longer be just their Bishop, their home teacher, or their missionary, but their "beloved brother" ... or sister. We must love those we serve. Like Alma, may we all seek to listen, learn from, and love those we are "called to serve" or to serve with, in whatever station we may be in, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.