Monday, July 27, 2015

Led by the Spirit

I have reflected many times on the simple declaration made by Nephi: "I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I would do." This week I had one such experience.

On one drizzly day this week, Hermana Dempsey and I became frustrated ​as, one by one, each of our plans fell through. We had several hours at our disposal and nobody to visit. So we sat down and tried to formulate a plan. One name, Romina, a less active sister, came to my mind, but I dismissed it because she lived far away and we would have to take a bus to get to her house, and the last few times we had tried to visit her, she hadn't been home. I didn't even mention it to my companion. Eventually we came up with some sort of plan which basically consisted of just walking without a real destination in mind. Or maybe we had a destination, I don't remember now.

After walking several blocks, my companion gave up. "I'm tired of walking in the rain," she said. "We're just going to take a bus." Once again, Romina's name nudged my mind. Now that taking a bus was an option, I was more willing to listen to the prompting. My companion agreed to the idea, and we went to visit Romina. We found her at home and had a lovely visit with her. When we left, we had a little bit of time left before our last appointment of the night. I suggested that we poke our heads in at a little kiosko nearby where, earlier in the week, we had met a very friendly woman and her cuñada (sister-in-law) who was visiting from the south of Argentina. 

We found Catharina and Teresa in the little kiosko, and they promptly invited us in. Catharina immediately set about making us tea (herbal, of course) and sandwiches, serving us as if she were our own mother because, she explained, her children were living far away and she hoped someone would mother them while she couldn't. (I certainly felt that this loving sister was an answer to many prayers offered by my dear parents.) While she served us, we talked with Teresa. And as we talked with her, we learned the real reason we had been led to that place that night.

Teresa recently suffered a tragedy in her life that left her at once both widowed and childless. As she told us about her only son, only ten years old when death claimed him, she could not contain the tears. She wept, and we wept with her. We talked about God's plan, about the resurrection, about the promise that we can live with our families forever. We testified of God's love for her.

When we left, she thanked us sincerely. We promised to send the missionaries to her home, that she might have access to the healing power of this marvelous gospel.

How grateful I am that God sees fit to use us, weak and wicked though we are, to bring about this glorious work. As the prophet Isaiah declared:
And he hath made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand hath he hid me, and made me a polished shaft; in his quiver hath he hid me.

I ever pray that I may be a polished shaft in the quiver of the Lord, an instrument in His capable hands.

All my love,
Hermana Watts

Hermana Dempsey

Hermana Watts

Monday, July 20, 2015

The Power of the Word of God

We've had a roller coaster of a week here in Eldorado. My poor companion has been really sick this past week. (We think she has a parasite. We named it José Manuel, or Manny for short.) So we haven't been able to get out much. But in the precious hours we have had to visit with investigators and members, we have had some very precious experiences. Let me tell you about one of them.

Elsa is a single mother who lives with her fourteen-year-old daughter Rocío in a cozy wooden house with a wood-burning stove (a blessing for two cold, wet missionaries). Elsa was baptized a few years ago into an Evangelical church, and she is anxious to see her daughter baptized as well. Rocío goes to a religious school and loves to learn about the doctrine. Both are very receptive to our message.

Last Sunday while we were visiting them, we learned that Rocío was beginning her two-week winter vacation. "What are you going to do with all that time?" we asked. "Not much," she responded.

I had just shared with them my testimony of the Book of Mormon, how when I was twelve years old, my young women's president had challenged me to read it in two weeks to begin my summer vacation, how those two weeks (and some 2-3 days) had changed my life, how I know with a certainty of the power and truthfulness of the book. With that thought in mind, I suggested a similar challenge to Rocío. "After all," I told her, "you have two weeks and not much to do." To make the challenge seem a little more reasonable, we shortened it a little - rather than read the entire book, they would just have to read through the book of Mosiah (not quite halfway). Elsa and Rocío both eagerly accepted the challenge.

We returned Wednesday evening, and there was a noticeable difference in the countenances of these two women. They seemed happier; there was a light in their eyes. Excitedly, they told us that they had read the first 15 chapters of the First Book of Nephi! They told us everything they had learned - they were especially captivated by Lehi's vision of the tree of life.

And now, as the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just—Yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them—therefore Alma thought it was expedient that they should try the virtue of the word of God.

As the Book of Mormon teaches us, the word of God is powerful to work a mighty change in the hearts of men. I have seen it in myself, I have seen it in my companions, I have seen it in my family, and I have seen it in the people I teach as I labor here in the Argentina Posadas mission. If you have not read it yet, I would invite you to do so. And when you do, in the words of the prophet Moroni, "I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, if these things are not true." I promise God will answer such a prayer, if asked with a sincere heart and real intent. He did for me.

Hermana Watts

Monday, July 13, 2015


I just wanted to share a brief thought that has been going through my mind this week. We spent a lot of time this week knocking on doors in the rain to look for people to teach with very little success. One day, I felt I had reached my limit. I was cold and wet and exhausted. Each of the (3) people who had let us in that day had told us bluntly that they were not interested in our message. As I entertained discouraged thoughts and feelings, the words of one of my mother's favorite songs came to my mind: "Even though it all went wrong, / I'll stand before the Lord of song / with nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah."

What a beautiful word. Hallelujah.

I love my God. He knows my sorrows and He sees my efforts. He knows perfectly how to succor me in my afflictions. Hallelujah!

All my love,
Hermana Watts

Pictures from Oberá (Elena's last area):

Hermanas Cuero, Watts, Monsivais, Finlinson, Quispe, and Aquino
Zona Garupá (most of them....)

Familia Rivero (Matías, Angeline, Antonela, Araceli, Cesar y Cesar Jr.)

Our Investigadora Susana

Stefani (a menos activo) with her brother Paul and her children Facundo and Chiara (#3 is due September 2; upon my suggestion, she is considering the name Stephen)  [Hermana Watts's brother, Stephen, was born on Sept. 2]

Our branch president (Presidente Antunes) and his family: Facundo, Leonel, Paolo, y Rosi 
Pictures from Eldorado (Elena's current area):

The view from my pension (four floors up!):

I have a story about this construction site...):

The Río Paraná: Look!  You can see Paraguay from here! (Hint: it's just across the river)

My beautiful companion and I

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Road to Eldorado

(Oops. Is that title a copyright infringement?)

This week has been crazy because we had transfers in the mission. I thought I was going to be in Oberá for a long time, but turns out the Lord has other plans for me. I've been transferred to the lovely city of Eldorado, right up near Iguazú in Argentina. My new companion is Hermana Dempsey, from Louisiana. She is darling! She still has traces of her cute little southern accent, which makes speaking Spanish fun.

Eldorado is COLD. Maybe it's just the time of year, but I have seen the sun only once since arriving here. It rains almost every day. Nevertheless, it is a beautiful city, and I have already had the privilege of meeting several precious children of God.

The members here are wonderful! I think we have had a member accompany us every day since coming here. Members are so important in the work of salvation! When a member shares a heartfelt testimony, the Spirit is able to carry that testimony straight to the heart of the investigator. Every investigator needs a friend who can answer their questions when the missionaries aren't there.

I was going to send pictures, but I forgot my camera cord. So you will have to wait until next week. :(

I know that God lives. We are His children. He has a plan for each of us, and His hand is evident in our lives. Trust Him!

Hermana Watts

Q & A

1.  How do you get to your new area when you are transferred?  (We had a mission van driven by the AP's that would come around and pick up and drop off missionaries.)

Generally, all the missionaries who are being transferred meet in the bus terminal either in Posadas or Encarnación. There they find their new companion and travel to their area together.

2.  Do you travel with a companion to your new area?

Yes, Hermana Dempsey had to come to Posadas to drop off her previous companion, and we traveled together back to Eldorado (about 4 hours in the bus.)

3.  Tell us about Eldorado.  I read that it is the third largest city in Misiones (First - Posadas, Second - Oberá).  Does it feel smaller than Oberá or about the same?

Eldorado is beautiful. It's right across the river from Paraguay. It's a fairly big city, but it does feel smaller than Oberá. We have a lot of walking to do!

4.  How many missionaries are in Eldorado?

There are two branches in Eldorado, and each branch has its own set of missionaries. Our branch used to have two sets, but now it's just us.

5.  What's the funniest thing that has happened lately?

 The funniest thing....hmmm. I got us lost the other day! We were contacting houses and had about an hour before our next appointment, and I said, "let's try this road," thinking it would eventually lead us back to our appointment. Well, it didn't. It only led us to a bunch of super chuchi houses and a dead end. Oops!

6.  How have you felt the Hand of God in your life lately?

We visited a menos activo Friday night - a family that Hermana Dempsey has been working with since she got here. We had a really spiritual discussion with them, and on Sunday, they came to church! Hermana Dempsey said that it was the first time she had seen the mother in church in all the time she's been here in Eldorado (about 5 months). Definitely the influence of God working a change in that sister's heart.

7.  When is Argentina's Independence Day, and how is it celebrated?

I am actually not sure. Do you want to look that one up for me on Google? There was a big celebration May 25 and we sang the national anthem in church, but I don't know if it was Independence Day.  (May 25th is the anniversary of the 1810 May Revolution, also called Day of the First National Government.  Independence Day is July 9th, so we should get a report on it next week.)

8.  How did Argentina take their loss to Chili in the Copa America?

As missionaries, we don't watch the Copa America. . . . but that night, EVERYONE was watching it. We would walk by businesses that were showing it on TV and the little stores would be full of people watching the game. I imagine they weren't too happy when Argentina lost . . .