Monday, August 25, 2014

Week 26 - New Adventures :)

Hello my cute family. :)
It is so fun to hear from all of you guys and hear how you guys are all doing. I am so blessed to have the most supportive and and loving family in the world. Thank you for all the prayers and support, I am so grateful for you guys.

This week has been really awesome. It has been a total whirlwind and has been quite the adventure. It was sad for me to leave LaPorte, because I loved it so much. But I am so grateful to be serving here in Gurnee. I love it here. :) We have 16 missionaries serving here in the area and it is so much fun to get to serve around so many missionaries. The ward is honestly such a blast. A large majority of our ward are super young families who have just moved here for med school and they are so darling. :) We have a few families that are pretty established and have older kids who have been here for awhile but most of them have brand new families and are so much fun. It has been a blast to get to know them. Heavenly Father has absolutely been looking out for me, He has been helping me feel comfortable and at home here in this area. It has been the coolest miracle, but honestly for majority of the members that I have met I have known someone that they know from home and It has been so much fun. :) Almost every time someone has said "Oh! You're from Layton? Do you know...?" "woah. :) ya! I totally know them." I have loved it. :) I feel like every time I started to feel a little out of place I would find someone that I knew. It has been such a tender mercy.

Dead bird on porch - Door knocking in Gurnee
We are doing a lot of finding in this area and it is a lot of fun. :) I am learning to talk to everyone and to be looking for opportunities all around me to share the gospel with my brothers and sisters around me. We had to take our car into the shop and while we were there waiting the cutest girl in the whole world came up to us and started talking with us. We talked with her for a solid hour and she was just so kind to us. :) She was really interested in us as missionaries and was asking us a lot of questions about what we do and why we do it. It was incredible to testify to her about Jesus Christ and about how his church is on the earth again today. We were able to teach her about the restoration and she was hanging on every word that we were saying.
:) When we were done talking with her use thanked us for talking to her and sharing with her the things that we love and the truths that are so special to us. She wasn't interested in taking a Book of Mormon or coming to church with us, but while we were talking to her I had the strongest feeling that she might not be ready to accept the gospel now, but in the future she will. We were there at that time to plant a seed and to introduce her to this truth. I know that one day she will remember the spirit that was there when we testified to her and she will want that feeling again. :) It was awesome.

Carwash - then it rained :)
We had a super fun finding activity this week was so much fun. :) We had a free missionary car wash at the church Saturday morning. All of the missionaries in the area were here on Saturday and we would wash people's cars while we would give them tours of the building. We were super excited for it, but then we realized that the high school swim team was having a car wash just down the street from us, and most of the cars were going there. Haha it was pretty funny. :) we had missionaries who were outside waving signs to help people want to come to our car wash when the swim team started doing the same thing. It was pretty funny. :) So for almost the whole day we were competing for cars to wash with the swim team. :) But it actually turned out to be the most awesome miracle. We had a few less cars than we would have hoped for or expected to have but every single person who came to get their car washed, and who was able to come inside the building was totally interested in hearing about the gospel. They were anxious and excited about the message that we had to share. :) We had a table that had Books of Mormon, Restoration pamphlets, pass along cards, and DVDs ready for people take. :) Many of the people who came into the building said "Thank you! See you tomorrow at church" :) It was amazing to see Heavenly Father placing these people in our paths so that they could learn more about how Christ's church is on the earth.
I loved the car wash and had so much fun serving the community and getting to be with so many missionaries. It was such a fun day. :)

Sister Boyd and Sister Watts
 Sister Boyd and I have been trying really hard to work with the members more so that we can help the area to progress. :) We have had some incredible lessons with members and the spirit has been so strong. It has been so cool. :) I love my mission so much and it has been so incredible to talk about the experiences that I have had with so many of the members. One of the Scriptures that I love to share with the members is Helaman 6:3 "Nevertheless, the people of the church did have great joy because of the conversion of the Lamanites. And they did fellowship one with another, and did rejoice one with another, and did have great JOY." My mission has brought me so much joy and has helped me feel a happiness that I have never felt before. I love it with all of my heart and I am so grateful that I am getting to serve here, it is the greatest blessing that I have ever had. Wh

ether we are teaching lessons, planting seeds, reactivating less active members, or seeing baptisms it doesn't matter. :) I am here to do the Lords work and I am happy and grateful that he has asked me to help him I love you guys so much. :) Have an incredible week!! Thank you for everything!

LOVE, Sister Watts

Goodbye to Sister Raccuia
Sister Clark
Goodbye to Jen and Sister Raccuia

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Week 25 - Christ has changed lives

Corn :)
Well. :) This is totally crazy. But I am getting transferred! It am honestly kind of bummed out leaving his area, because it is so amazing. I love everything about LaPorte. I love the area, I love the people I love the work, I love the ward. Everything. :) I can't imagine a better place for me to have started my mission. Heavenly Father absolutely knew what I needed when he sent me here, and I know that Heavenly Father still knows what is best for me! I am going to serve in the Gurnee 2nd ward with Sister Boyd. I don't know anything about the area or my new companion, so I'm am so excited to just jump right in and get to work!

 President told me on Tuesday that I was going to get transferred. So I have had a lot of time to think about and reflect on the last SIX MONTHS I have been here. :) I  have made friendships that will last forever, I have been blessed with experiences I will never forget, and I have learned lessons that will last a lifetime. We went and said goodbye to K** (our apartment manager) and it was awesome. She told me that she hasn't opened up to anyone like she did me in years. She wrote me a letter and told me how she considered me
one of her best friends and she wants to stay in touch forever. She was so tender. I love her, but I had no idea that we had done something so special. I was way happy. :) Then as soon as I saw J** at church on Sunday she immediately burst into tears. She told me that she had found out Saturday night and has
totally cried herself to sleep. It was so tender!! M****** was very tender too. She came up to me absolutely bawling after relief society and said "you're leavening??" Ahh. I just hugged her so tight. I told her it was o.k., she would get another missionary and She said "Well ya, but sister watts, you are special. I love you and will miss you so much." Bishop was pretty sweet too. So was our ward mission leader. They were all just so nice."

Singing at the park with Bobby and Steve
One of the things that I have felt so grateful to watch since I have been here is how incredible, real and powerful the Atonement of Jesus Christ is. Because of Jesus Christ we can change and become more of the person who Heavenly Father wants us to be. That is so hopeful. :) We make mistakes every day and have moments every day where we need the atonement, but because of Christ we can ALWAYS find peace and happiness and hope. I just wanted to talk a little but about how. I have seen peoples lives change because of Christ. :)

First. :) My cute friend M****** I love her so much. She is the very first person I ever met in the field. I remember the first time. I went over to her home I sat on her floor and listened to her talk about all of the things in her life that were so hard. She told us about how much she was struggling, how alone she felt, and listed off things that I had never imagined someone needing to go through. As an intimidated and scared brand new missionary I sat there and the entire time I had to fight back tears because I was so amazed and overwhelmed at the weight she had to carry every day. M****** was baptized a few months ago and the change that. I have seen has been remarkable. Every single aspect of her life has improved and is becoming better because she is embracing and loving the Gospel. :) She honestly just shines.
She has a temple recommend, she is reading the Book of Mormon, she looks forward to coming to church, and she participates when she is there. And has found a new perspective and has found hope when she was feeling absolutely hopeless. It has been an absolutely unreal and drastic transformation, and it was only possible because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. :)

Last Crochet Project - LaPorte
Second. :) M***. I love M***. :) She was baptized on the same day M****** was. I didn't help teach her at all before she was baptized, but since she has joined the church the elders have handed her off to us and I am so grateful they did. She is amazing. She is about 75 years old has has been a widow for about the last 5 years.  She was telling their chiropractor about how lonely and depressed she was all the time. She was just so sad. Her doctor was able to testify to her about the restoration the gospel and she was baptized 3 weeks later. AMAZING. But the coolest part about M**** conversion is that it has absolutely changed her. She is different. :) Everywhere she goes people tell sphere that she is so much happier and that they haven't seen her this full of hope and joy in years. She has struggled with depression her whole life, but since she has joined the church her doctors have taken her off of her medicine and she is totally happy and alright. :) She is incredible and an absolute miracle.
Friday Night Boys

I think one of the experiences I will forever be grateful for and just cherish with all of my heart is the opportunity I had to help and teach the P****** family. :) When I first got here they weren't coming to church and weren't showing a whole lot of interest in being active. Their marriage was struggling, they were having a hard time financially, and in almost every area they were just not totally ok. They have come leaps and bounds. :) L**** was baptized, sister P****** received her endowments and went to the temple, and now their whole family is preparing to be sealed together forever. It is an absolute
180 and has been the most humbling thing to watch them absolutely embrace and cling to the gospel and as a result Heavenly father is blessing them more than they or I ever could have imagined. We were teaching Brother P****** this week and we were talking about the word of wisdom. He has always struggled with that and has never totally embraced that commandment. While we were talking with him he said "you know sisters, not only has me preparing to go to the temple helped me quit smoking, but it has absolutely taken that desire away from me. I don't even want to smoke anymore, that desire is gone." We were so amazed. :) The spirit was so strong and we were able to testify to him about how powerful the atonement is. Not only can it heal us from the guilt, sorrow, and sadness we have felt but it can and will help us find the most happiness we could imagine. :) There family has changed and they are seeing the amazing blessings that are literally being pored out on them.

Saying Goodbye
And last. :) I have been so amazed and grateful for the opportunity we have had to teach and learn from B**** He is really special and I have loved watching his heart be softened and his life change. I will never forget the moment we had with him last week because it was so profound. It was little, but it was powerful. I know that Heavenly Father loves and celebrates our little victories as much as our big ones. These are just a few examples of the big drastic changes I have seen. There have been little but no less special changes that we see and are absolutely thrilled about every single day. I know that the gospel brings more happiness than we could find in another way. It is the key to true joy. The blessings that Heavenly Father wants to send us are priceless. :) I feel so grateful to have been able to serve in this area and see these miracles. :)

I will be forever grateful for the amazing lessons and priceless things I have learned while I have been here. I am so grateful for the ways that my testimony has been strengthened in almost every aspect. I love this gospel and I know that it is absolutely true. I love my mission and I love my savior more than I could ever say. And I love you guys. :) Thank you for all of the love and support that you have shown me over the past 6 months. I can't believe how fast it has gone and how incredible it has been. I wouldn't trade this time for anything. I love it with everything that I am. 
Thank you for everything. :) I LOVE YOU. :) Love, Sister Watts
LaPorte Giant

Monday, August 11, 2014

Week 24 - I love this :)

This week was so awesome. :) Super busy, exciting, and just filled with some incredible experiences! I love everything about what we are doing right now. :) We are just working hard and having a ball. 
I love getting to serve

We had a super fun activity this week. :) Sister Raccuia and I organized a Blood drive that we had at the church, and it honestly couldn't have gone any better. It was awesome. :) A few weeks ago we were here at the church e-mailing and the cutest  lady came and knocked on the door and asked us if we would ever want to do a Blood Drive here in the church, we thought it sounded like a cool idea so we swapped information and just started planning! It was a blast. Our ward was super receptive and was so eager to donate and to serve. We were here for most of the afternoon on Wednesday so we could help make sure everything went ok. I even got to donate, which was awesome! I have heard lots of horror stories about people who faint after they donate or just feel super woozy, but I was able to donate and I felt totally fine after. :) There were so many people that came, it was so fun! We had a lot of members come. We had a few less actives who came, that we were totally shocked and beyond excited about having them in the building again. And a ton of people that just walked in and wanted to donate. :) We were able to hand out a lot of pass along cards and we got to talk to lots of people about the gospel. We put together these cute thank you baskets for all the workers that had a Book of Mormon in it, a thank you card, a restoration pamphlet, a card and some other fun things. :) It was really fun, and turned into this awesome service project that helped us share the gospel. 

My Minions :)
We had this really interesting and really eye opening experience this week. We have been teaching this guy named Brother W*****. :) He is so darling and is honestly just the best old man. We go over there every Sunday night and it is awesome. We have had some cool lessons with him lately that have just been super solid. He was raised super super Lutheran and is pretty firm in what he believes and where he sits, so it makes us meeting with him really fun. :) We wanted to create some common ground with him. So the only way that he would let us come over and talk to him about what we believe is if he got his chance to tell us a little bit about what he believed. :) So we told him that we would go to one of the bible studies that they have in the middle of the week. We were a little nervous about it and didnt know exactly what to expect, but it ended up going really well. :) The class was all about how the bible got here and how it was translated and all that fun stuff. So nothing super doctrinal. There was something at the very end that the pastor said though that just really hit me he said "It is impossible to be completely christian. We do not have the fullness of Christs teachings and the things he set up while he was here. We have to struggle to believe and we need to fight to find our own interpretation of the truth." Ahhhh. It was torture to have to stay quiet in our seat. We aren't allowed to proselyte near (haha or in) other churches. But I so badly wanted to stand and say that we have the fullness of the gospel!! Christ has restored the church that he established when he was on the earth, and it is HERE.  We have living prophets and apostles who lead and guide our church under the direction of Jesus Christ himself. We have the Book of Mormon that further testifies of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have the priesthood power that he used while he was on the earth so we can baptized and make covenants with our father that are solid and lasting. Christs church is here. We absolutely dont have to struggle! :) I was so grateful in that moment for all of the restored truths that we have and that we are so grateful to know. I wish we could have told them all about the truths that we love. It was hard to watch them accept the fact that they dont have the fullness when they absolutely could. :) 

Service with a smile!
Sister Raccuia and I have been working on a piano duet for a while that we got to play in church on Sunday. :) It was so much fun, and everyone was so kind about it.  Brother W***** said after we were done "If you were in my church right now we would have given you a standing ovation." haha :) One of the counselors in the Bishopric stood up after we played and was totally emotional and just bore his testimony about how music brings the spirit so strong. It was a really fun way to serve our ward and I think they really appreciated it. :) We are going to record it and post in on FB this week hopefully. :) I am so grateful that I have have learned how to play the piano! We get to play all the time! A lot of times while we are at church we have to go on splits so that we can play for all of the different auxiliaries. Sister Raccuia will go play in primary while I go play in priesthood and then we meet up for the closing song in relief society. :) haha it is so much fun. 

I had one of the most special moments from my whole mission this week. :) We have been meeting with this man named B***** for the whole time that I have been here. His wife is a super active member and is just amazing. :) We go over there for dinner every week, and we absolutely love it. When we first started going over every time we would start to shift in to lesson mode B***** would get up and leave and we would end up teaching her less active kids. But over the last few months we have really started to notice a difference in B*****. :) First he started sticking around for the lessons and then he started to participate in the lessons. He is so incredible and we have come to love him so much. We have transitioned into teaching him and he is being really receptive and open to the things that we are teaching him. :) A few weeks ago we invited him to read a chapter out of the Book of Mormon. Over the years and years that him and his wife have been married he has never shown any interest in reading and has never accepted one of our invitations.. but this time... HE READ. :) We were so happy. We walked in this week and as soon as he saw us he started telling us all about what happened in that chapter and what he learned from it. It was a complete and total miracle. :) We were able to have a really powerful lesson with him and we just testified to him that we absolutely knew that God loved him, that He was aware of him, and that He could help him with anything. It was so incredible and the spirit was so strong. We invited him to read one of my very favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon (3rd Nephi 17) and he accepted again! When we were about to leave we asked if we could have a closing prayer. His 3 year old grandson, Nephi was really excited and said "I want to say to say the prayer" so he jumped up onto B*****'s lap and said "Pappa help me." :) B***** has never said a prayer out loud so he looked at me and said "You better help me too." So with total awe of what was happening and with tears in my eyes I told B***** what to say, then he told Nephi, and Nephi said the prayer. :) It was a short and tender prayer, but it was one of the most powerful moments I have ever been in. After we said "Amen" B***** said "That was the first prayer I have ever said" and then he just sat there for awhile, totally silent and on the verge of tears. This totally gruff man who is a Vietnam vet, a heavy drinker and smoker, and has never showed any interest in the gospel before just sat there and cried in his seat. The spirit absolutely amazing and just beyond powerful. I love being a missionary and watching the miracles that happen every single day. We get to watch the power of the atonement work absolute miracles! Christ did what he did so that we can change, and it is beyond amazing to watch that process so up close and personal. This gospel is all about change and I feel so grateful that I have gotten to watch the change that has taken place in B*****. :) I love him and his family so much. My mission is the most incredible experience I have ever had, and I am more grateful for it than I could ever say. I love getting to serve. :) 

I love you guys so much and I love getting to hear from you so often. :) It helps me more than I could ever say. Thank you for all the kind words, the amazing experiences you share with me, your examples, your support, and prayers. I LOVE YOU. :) I have the best family and friends in the whole world. Thanks for everything.
Love Sister Watts!! 

Missionaries don't back up

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Week 23 - I love being a missionary!

Hi my sweet family and friends. :) I sure love you guys so much and think about and pray for you OFTEN. I love my mission with all of my heart and I am so grateful for all of the support and love that I am shown from you guys. So from the bottom of my heart, thank you. :) I feel so blessed to have some of the most amazing friends and family out there. 

As usual we had an incredible week this week. :) I feel like I always have such a hard time deciding what I want to share with you guys every week because we really see miracles every single day and are so blessed with some incredible people that we are working with. :) I feel like our teaching pool has just skyrocketed these last few weeks, which has been so much fun! We are staying super super busy and are just teaching a ton. I love it.:)   This week was just a lot of fun! We had so many different things this week that made everything such a blast. :) 

On Tuesday we were able to go on exchanges again! I love going on exchanges! Every single time we go on an exchange I feel like I learn so much! I got to go to Hyde Park with Sister Bradley on this exchange and we just had a ball. :) I absolutely love being in the city. I love the energy, the excitement, the people, and the culture. Honestly everything about the city is just so much fun. :) I am loving my time here in LaPorte and I wouldn't trade it for the world, but I am crossing my fingers that one day I will get to serve in the city. :) We were able to teach some incredible lessons to some very special people. One of my very favorite lessons that we were able to have was with a girl named J*****. :) She has been dating a member for a while but hasn't ever really wanted anything to do with the church. Well, they invited us over for dinner and we were so excited about it. :) After dinner she said that she had a lot of questions. I was a little nervous about my ability to answer some of the questions that she was asking us so I said a little prayer that I would be able to answer her questions simply and in a way that the spirit could touch her heart. And the spirit absolutely did that. :) I was able to answer her questions in ways that she needed to hear, and in ways that were totally passed MY ability. I was absolutely given the words to say and I was able to testify to her by the spirit. :) It was so powerful and was such and incredible feeling. :) I was so grateful that Heavenly Father answered my simple prayer so immediately and powerfully. I have seen that happen time and time again as I have been a missionary. It is amazing to me the miracles that continue to happen as we put the Lord in charge of our work. Sister Bradley called me last night to tell me that J***** came to church yesterday and has been reading the Book of Mormon quite a bit. I was so happy. :)

Thursday was a total blast. :) We had a sisters conference all day and it was just so much fun! We honestly had a ball. :) It was so much fun to be will all of the sisters in the mission and to just listen to all of the incredible talks and devotionals. It was such an uplifting meeting and so many of the things that were said I felt like were directed right at me. I absolutely loved it. :) We talked a lot about how to "become" and it was awesome. It gave me so much comfort and direction. We don't have to be perfect at everything right now, but as long we are constantly working on becoming more like our Savior and are moving forward the atonement will make up for the rest. While we were at Sisters Conference we met up with our "mini missionary" Sister Daulton. :) Our stake did this awesome thing this week where every companionship of sisters in the stake had a laurel come and be a missionary with us from Thursday to Sunday night. :) It was so much fun to have her with us. She is totally darling and just so excited about missionary work. We had a really busy week and she just kept right up with us and was a total champ about everything that we did.  
Finished the Book of Mormon!

We went to the farmers market like usual this Saturday and had an incredible experience. :) We love our Saturdays so much. S**** is doing awesome and is reading and loving the Book of Mormon, and B**** couldn't be any better. He is such an incredible kid and we love getting to be with him every week. He is really starting to love the songs that we sing and more and more often B**** says "I love that one" after we finish a song. It is so cool. :) We had been singing for about 45 minutes when a man named Matt came over to us and asked if we could talk to him for a little bit about what we believed. :) So of course we jumped on the opportunity to talk to him about Jesus Christ and this special message that we have for the world. After we had talked for about 30 seconds we could tell that he had come over just to argue with us. He mocked our testimonies of Jesus Christ and then started to tell us that we were wrong for believing in the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the restoration of the gospel. We did our best not to argue with him, but we just told him about the things that we loved and the truths that we cherish. :) We invited him to read the Book of Mormon and as tenderly as we could bore our testimonies to him. The whole time that we were talking to him B**** stood firm with us and never left us. He defended us and defended his beliefs in the most humble and genuine way. We were all so grateful for him standing up for what he believed with us, it was the coolest thing. :) That experience was honestly very draining so After Matt left we all sang 'I am a Child of God" and it was so powerful. It instantly brought the spirit so strong and was just a tender testimony builder to all of us that what we know is truth and the message that we share is absolutely from God. :) Although we didn't change his mind or anything like that it was awesome to see Tender mercies come from this expirience. There were so many blessings and the miracles that came from that moment with Matt that I dont think could have happened any other way. We realized after that we have never really testified to Bobby about the things that we know because every time we are with him we are singing. After Matt left B**** opened up to us like never before and stated asking us all these questions about what we believed.Getting to talk to him about the gospel was absolutely priceless. :) He was so excited and engaged in what we were talking about. Before we were even able to offer him one, B**** asked for a Book of Mormon and told us that he totally wanted to read it. :) God works in mysterious ways and it was amazing to watch everything unfold in such a perfect way. 

I Love Being a Missionary
We really just had a fun week. :) Lots of appointments, lots of people who are really progressing, lots of fun. :) Sister Daulton said something that I absolutely loved. Every time we were about to go do something, or we were coming back from an appointment or something she would say "ahh. I love missionary work. This is so much fun." and it is honestly so true. :) I love getting to serve as a missionary and I absolutely love my calling. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father redirected my path so that I could come and serve my savior. I am so grateful for the lessons that I have learned on my mission and I wouldn't trade these experiences I am having for anything in the world. I love being a missionary. :) 

Thank you so much my sweet family. :) I LOVE YOU.

-Sister Watts