Faith, hard work and learning things about yourself

Dear Everyone,

THANK YOU! Thank you for your letters, your e-mails, and especially for your prayers! Sometimes (and by sometimes I mean all the time) missionary work is really hard and it is soo comforting to know that there are people praying for me. It makes it easier to trust in the Lord. Trust has been something that Heavenly Father really wants me to work on; so he is giving me lots and lots of opportunities! 
So the work has been pretty slow the last couple of weeks. Lots of knocking doors. Lots of Catholics who are “all set”. It’s funny because tracting is actually pretty fun now. We like to come up with different comebacks to people’s responses. We are able to make it fun so that it’s worth it. 
Something cool that happened this week:
We have a mission devotional every month where converts of the church get up and tell their story and bear their testimony. Sometimes they are super funny and sometimes they are just super spiritual. Well we got this potential investigator to come with us. His name is Walt and he is like 80 something years old. (He’s the one who took us to Detroit). A devout catholic. He is sooo cute and sooo nice! At the devotional our stake president spoke and he taught the restoration at the pulpit and bore a very powerful testimony of the Book of Mormon. It was so good! Walt had to leave right after so we didn’t get a chance to talk to him much. But we had a lesson with him on Sunday. And we were planning on just going over the restoration again briefly. But we ended up talking about the Book of Mormon. He is really into history so Sister Goodman gave him the background of it and how it came to be. He was really interested and we bore testimony and he has committed to read it! We then asked if we could come back and teach him and he said “Sure, I’ll never become a convert but you are welcome anytime.” That’s what he thinks. Heavenly Father has some great plans for this guy, and we are going to show him what he can have! 
My testimony of the Book of Mormon has definitely grown this week. Everything seemed to revolve around it and it gave me so much comfort. Read it. It’s a good book. We are giving our investigators, less actives, and recent converts this BoM challenge. We will be doing it with them. Its where we have to read the whole Book of Mormon in a month. Feb 1-Mar 3. It’s gonna be so fun! Feel free to join in!
The church is true! I love you sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo much!! 🙂
Love, Sister Watko

Goodbye Sister Cutler…Northville and I will miss you.

I wanted to put a little bit of Mom’s email in so that everyone would have a bit of context around Aubree’s reply.

Dear Sister Aubree,
Well… What’s the transfer news?  I know you don’t want Sis. Cutler to go but for her sake I kind of hope she gets to.
So how is the work going?  Have you been able to light a fire under those lazy ward members?
:).  It’s so hard for us non full time missionaries to feel like it is our “job”.  Which it is of course.  You asked us to tell you our missionary experiences and I’m sorry to say my world is very limited. I know this isn’t helpful to you missionaries but for me, as a mother, I call my children “small investigators”.  (I don’t know why I’m using so many quotes today :/).  I’m trying to do for my kids everything you are doing for your investigators so that they can gain their own testimonies.  But, I will keep my eyes open and look for other opportunities and then try to be brave! 🙂
Big news in the ward this week is that Brother Christensen has been called to be the Mission President in the Ecuador Quito mission. So hard to see them go but so happy for them and those lucky missionaries.  Katie is in for quite the experience isn’t she!?
Just wanted to give you a heads up on what you will be getting from Courtney this week.  She wants to send you letters but she doesn’t know what to write.  Since you both like to color, I suggested she color half a picture and send it to you to color the other half.  Dad is worried you don’t have time to color.  She’s really excited about it, and hopefully it isn’t a problem.  Jackson turned seven last week! Can you believe it?  We spent the day with them that day.  He is such a cute stinker.
Can’t think of anything else.  I love you so much.


So transfers…. I’m staying in Northville…. Sister Cutler isn’t. I’ll be ok… I think… I’m happy for her, but I feel like being selfish right now, so yeah. I’m glad I’m staying here though! Watching her say goodbye to everyone made me really sad and It’s going to be hard when I have to. So, mostly I’m happy 🙂
Congratulations Christensen family!!!!!!!!!! That is so exciting!!!!!!! How’s Katie doing? The Gerber’s daughter visited for Christmas (She just graduated high school, so a little older than Katie) and she LOVED having her parents be mission presidents. She said it was just the coolest experience ever. Especially because she was leaving on her mission in like 2 weeks. I’m so excited for them!!!!
So things that happened this week:
-Roger: Our eternigator. We had a super spirit filled lesson on Saturday and we asked him to be baptized (again) and his response was “most likely yes”. Dumbest answer. He has a problem with the word yes. One time I asked him if he knew the Book of Mormon was true and he sad “I have no reason to believe it’s not” and I said “You know you can say yes.” And then he said “ok, yes I do”. So anyway, he is praying about February 15 which he will hopefully commit to this week. It’s sad because Roger has been through so many missionaries, but Sister Cutler has been his longest one and he is really bummed that she’s leaving. But he still has me, so he’ll be fine :).
-Sharon and Martin: Sharon is an investigator and her husband Martin is a less active member. And he committed to quit smoking on Friday! So Us, Sharon, the bishop, and the ward mission leader all fasted on Friday for him. I’m anxious to see how he’s doing. We have been texting him twice a week to encourage him, but he never texts back. That’s not surprising though. He usually doesn’t.
-The Pan family: They are from China, here for work. They have been brainwashed and don’t believe in anything. Until now! We taught them about God and how much they are loved by him and then the dad prayed!!! After no belief in God whatsoever, He talked to God and asked if He was there! Talk about the spirit exploding in the room! It was awesome. They are friend’s of the Bauss’ so they were there and they bore testimony of knowing and praying to God. It’s amazing how small that belief seems, but how much of an impact it can have in so many people’s lives.
-Hannah: We went to a singles ward with her on Sunday. She hasn’t come to church since she was baptized so we thought it would be a good idea to go with her to check out the singles wards. Yeah, no. SOOO awkward! There was like 10 people there all hovering over her and the rest of them didn’t even acknowledge her. I don’t think that’s going to reactivate her. We’re going to try out the other one next week so prayerfully that one is better.
Those were the most eventful things that happened this week. It was a really good week. I’m super stressed about taking over Northville, but Sister Cutler is talking me through it and telling me everything I need to know, so I will be fine. I’m excited for this next transfer to do great things!
One thing I learned/relearned this week: The Lord’s work is really the Lord’s work. It is so divine and inspired. He knows what He is doing.
I gotta run. I love you all soooo much! Write me letters! The church is true!
Love, Sister Watko
P.S. I usually have time at night to do whatever, so coloring should be fine. That’s so cute!!

Coldest temperatures in decades

Below is a safety email we received from the Mission about the severe weather and the safety of our missionary.

Dear Parents,

 I am sending this at the request of President and Sister Gerber. 

 We are experiencing severe winter weather here in Michigan with heavy snowfall and subzero temperatures.  Because of that, some public buildings such as libraries are closed.  If you did not receive an email from your missionary yesterday, that is probably why. 

President and Sister Gerber want to assure each parent that they are vigilante in safeguarding the well-being of all missionaries.  During subzero temperatures, they are instructing missionaries to remain in their apartments, especially those assigned to bicycle areas.  Those assigned to car areas may leave their apartment only if they have a teaching appointment and roads are clear and safe.  After the appointment, they are to return to their apartment.  Each missionary is counseled to drink lots of water, keep feet, hands, neck and head covered and dry.  They are to layer clothing, wear proper foot gear that does not fit tightly when wearing layers of socks.  Gloves should be insulated and dry and at times.  Hats to cover head and ears, and scarves to cover neck and nose/face will retain body heat.  Sisters are encouraged to wear leggings to protect shins and knees. 

The missionaries have been taught the warning signs of frostbite, how to prevent it, and what action to take should they see these signs. 

The mission monitors the weather constantly and has published to each missionary what action to  take depending on temperature as well as wind factor. 

When confined to their apartments, missionaries are to use their time studying and planning so that once the weather cooperates they can return to normal proselyting prepared, rested and ready to go. 

The best support parents can give their missionary during cold weather is prayers for their safety as well as determining what you can do to support the missionaries in your area when bad weather strikes.  And, of course, ways that you can help hasten the work on the home front. 

Polar vortex….Brrrrrrr!

Image: Pedestrians cross a street in Detroit on Monday (© Joshua Lott/Getty Images)

Mommy! And Family!

It is captain literally freezing! We have gotten stuck in the snow twice now! I’ll send pictures later of the sisters dumping me in the snow. I’m pretty good in clothing. I just layer A LOT! I won’t get frostbite so you don’t have to worry. So momma, I was actually going to bare my testimony at church yesterday too! But church was cancelled. So I didn’t get to. And now I don’t know if I can get the courage back up to do it next week. But I’m so proud of you! I can just picture you rambling right now… ;). Just kidding, I’m sure you did great. Congratulations on your calling! Great attitude! You’ll do fantastic! Nana: no, the package wasn’t smashed. Thank You Thank You! I love those little cookie things!!!!!! I love you 🙂 Sorry girls you have to go back to school. Kids here have snow days for the next couple of days. Lucky! Everyone keeps telling us to stay inside because of the weather. Silly people, missionary work never stops!! 
So the beginning of the week started out really good! I don’t know if I ever told you this, but the Northville sisters and the Livonia sisters live together. So Sister Cutler and I live with two other sisters. Anyway, they have been having a really hard time lately and we wanted to do something to help them. So we called president and asked if we could go on exchanges. So on Wednesday, I went to Livonia with Sister Kunzler and we found them a new investigator, we went to a less actives house, and visited a member who has been struggling. It was really cool to be without our trainers for a day. (Don’t get me wrong, I love Sister Cutler with my whole heart it was just nice to have a change for a day). Sister Kunzler was in the MTC with me so we have become really good friends! It was a really really good day! I got to help her get out of a funk and we just worked super hard the rest of the day. It was awesome!
The rest of the week. Wasn’t too good. Our ward is being really frustrating. Nobody wants to change. We are trying to get them excited about doing missionary work, but nothing seems to be working. Yet anyway. I’m working on patience. The area will pick up eventually. Sisters here usually stay about 6 months, so I’ll be here for a while. Transfers are next week. Sister Cutler has been here for 7 months, so I’m thinking she’ll be gone. But ya never know! 
Something I learned this week (or relearned): You have to do things you have never done to get results you’ve never gotten. Change is good. Change is repenting. I’m doing my best to be a better missionary and to be more Christlike. I’ve almost been out for a whole 12 weeks! 
Funny story of the week: So we went to a members home yesterday and Sister Cutler was so excited because she loves this family. Side note for later: Their last name is Calder. So we go in and share a cute message with all the little kids, get them excited about being missionaries some day, and then the dad asks Sister Cutler to say the prayer before leaving. So President Gerber once told us that it is super important for us (missionaries) to say prayers at members houses because we have the power to unlock the windows of heaven. Pretty cool right? So Sister Cutler begins and she says “We are so grateful that we could come to……………….” And she forgets their name! We were there for an hour and she forgot their name! Next to me, as she is paused, the little boy is whispering “Calder! Calder!” But she couldn’t hear him, so then she just continues “……..this families home” and then everybody is just laughing now. It was sooo funny!!!! I couldn’t stop laughing for the next hour!
Well, I should get going. I love you all soooo much! Please write me! 🙂 
Love, Sister Watko 🙂

Christmas in Michigan AND we got to Skype with Aubree (Sister Watko)


It was soooooo fun to see you!!! I love you guys soo much! Seriously, thank you for your support. I know missionaries who don’t have it, and I am so blessed. So things that happened the rest of the week…

– So the day after Christmas we didn’t have much to do. So we went knocking! For 3 hours straight! Not much was happening. Until half way through the 2nd hour. We met this guy and he was on the phone. But he said to come back a 5:00. So that’s what we did. We met at a coffee shop cuz we couldn’t go in his house. But none of drank coffee so that was good :). Anyway, he said he travels a lot for work. (He helps dentists with their businesses). A lot of his clients are members and he says that there is always some kind of light about them. And we said well we know the truth and it makes us happy! So we taught him the restoration and told him we would bring him by a Book of Mormon. And then he said.. “So what’s the next step?” So that would have been when we invite him to get baptized… but we don’t. We just invite him to church. And he said sure I can make it. It was really cool to just see how much the Lord is preparing people. All those members in Tennessee, and Ohio, and Indiana, and other places had an impact on him and I guess now is his time to receive the gospel!

– So our stake president is HUGE on missionary work. Mostly on member missionary work. This next year every single meeting anyone is ever having will be about doing missionary work. The first presidency is really pushing it. Our stake has a really low retention rate too. It’s sad. We get baptisms but then they all go inactive within about a month. So our goal these next two weeks is to get the members excited and to help them do missionary work! When converts have the support of the ward they are much more likely to stay active. And so by getting the members involved more, the Lord will bless us with more baptisms. We are hastening the work!!

Two weeks until the end of the transfer. It went by sooo fast! 18 months is short for how much work there is to do. I’m trying my hardest to make the best of it! Thank you so much for everything everybody! I love you!!! Happy New Year!

Love, Sister Watko

P.S. Share with me your missionary experiences!

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