hey all you people on the other side of the world....this is going to be a a little bit more of a sadder entry because, alas, it is my last one that i am going to be making here in the Chile Santiago south mission. believe me. a lot of you have been asking me if i am nervous or if i am excited to go home or if i am ready to take on the world, and in reality, i am DEATH scared. now i have to stop contacting people and teaching people regularly and scheduling citas and putting baptismal dates with people and WORK IN THE REAL WORLD. TAXES? WHAT THE HECK ARE THOSE THINGS?? its goin to be a ride that is goin to be necessary after the mission. still scared though haha.
the mission in of itself is a time for people to find themselves, i have found. it is a duty, as men, to go on the mission and serve with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. obviously, i wanted to go on the mission in the beginning!! there was a very large rough spot in my life right before coming out where i thought that the mission wasnt even worth it, and that there was no point in going to another part of the world and teaching about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. i honestly thought that it would have been better for me to stay home and study and not even try to go out and serve. with the help of some amazing friends that i had previous to the mission, as well as some leaders that helped inspire me to open my mission papers, i decided to serve! fun fact, i decided to serve a mission at about 16 years old.
you would think that before coming out to eh mission, you would have literally so many baptisms that you couldnt count. you would think that people would politely tell you no thank you and say goodbye to you nicely to reject the message that you teach. you would also think that the majority of people would listen to you when you start a contact. thats how i thought at least. i was so excited to get 100 baptisms in my mission!!
when i first got to the field, i was in emotional distraught. i didnt even know how to speak language, the way chileans speak is SUPER different from literally the rest of the world, and i had no idea about the culture. when i looked up santiago, i thought i was going to be serving in a part where it was comparable to new york, with tall buildings and a lot of people and commotion and fashion and museums and art. all that is part of the central part of santiago. you should have seen the look on my face when i got put in my first area!! i got put in one of the worst neighborhoods in the mission, where there were 2 roomed shacks on the side of the road and innumerable amounts of drug deals everywhere. it wasnt a poor part of santiago tampoco, but it was bad enough to shake my perspective on what my mission was goin to be like. i was spat on, people threw rocks at us, discriminated us for being foreigners, pastors attempted to fight with us to prove that their church was right, cursed at, given the finger, etc. i was not in the mission that i created in my head. rejection was a common theme and even when i tried to ask them what their favorite food, they always had a confused look on their face because they couldnt understand my SUPER bad gringo accent. it was awful at the beginning!
while serving here in santiago, it was SUPER hard for me to really understand the reality of what it meant to be a missionary and to get around all the bullying that people would do us! the thing that i had to learn quickly was that even though in the face of these trials in the mission, god is always goin got be with you and will always be pendent of what is going on. it was hard for me to accept this helping hand. a lot of the time i rejected it and thought that i could get a better accent myself. i also thought that i could have done contacts by myself, (obviously with my companion, but i i thought about the best way to say something them to them without the help of the spirit, which is a super bad no no) or could get the goal of 100 baptisms myself. THIS IS FALSE DOCTRINE AND I CAN PROMISE ALL OF YOU READERS OUT THERE THAT GOD IS THE ONLY WAY THAT WE CAN BE SUCESSFUL IN THIS LIFE. i was quickly humbled at the beginning of my mission and i later then realized that in this life, if i, or you dear reader, want to be a successful later day saint, if you want to be able to be changed just a smidge to be in the lords path, if you want to be at least a missionary that can extend baptismal invitations at the right time and have the gift of discernment, then you have to be humble enough to accept that type of help and literally let go of what you want to do. it doesnt matter what you want to do. it sounds really brutal when i type this to all of you, but its true! obviously you can have likes and hobbies and things to have fun during this life. god didnt set man on earth to be miserable obviously. however, when we do what god wants us to do, we will then be even happier. you wanna know why though? its cause he knows better than we do, so whatever revelation he gives us on what we should do with our lives and whatever commandment has been placed in our life, we have to do it, because he knows our spirits better than what we know. the concept of change in general is a super crazy concept. biologically, us as humans have to change and adapt to situations and have cell deaths in our body because cells get old and they die. if we literally sat in one place for he rest of our life, we would die. if our cells didnt reproduce in the right way, or kill off cancerous cells, we would die. we have to change to survive biologically! jesus christ is the only way that we can change spiritually in this life. without him, we cannot experience those drastic changes in ourselves that we so desperately want. without the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, you and i literally cant do the little things in order for great things to pass. without Jesus Christ, being the head of this wonderful church, you and i would be left in the dirt for the jaws of hell to swallow us up. i am so grateful to have served a mission, especially this part of the world, where i could change. i am not saying that i have changed my way of being tampoco. i still love photography, i still love music and math and science and dressing like im from the 90s and whatever. i still love to look at the cotton candy pink skies and think that i am in a music video, i still love cooking and love studying about how to do derivatives and titration reactions (no, i didnt ever touch that type of material on the mission, but i still love it nonetheless) and acquiring new traits! i did, however, change on a level more drastic than what i ever could have thought of.
i have become more dependent on the spirit. i developed a profound love for the scriptures and have seen the power they have in order to change lives. i have grown in my testimony about the church as a whole and about how Joseph Smith was the prophet of the restoration. i now know with a surety that the sealing ordinances of the temple are true and they are powerful. i know that i will see my family in the life to come if i am obedient to the commandments and if i follow my savior. i have learned how to use the atonement in my life on a daily basis and have seen the power of Christs descent and partaking of all the sicknesses and temptations and sins of the world. i know with a surety that this is the only true church on the earth. i know that this is the church that not only saves lives, but changes them in a way so perfectly that makes us like our savior, but not like the same average joe person. i know that this is the only church with a diversity that is shown through the many wonderful talents that we can acquire with the spirit. i know that this is the only church where god can show his love fully. i know that this wonderful church is true.
now, for all of you that want to serve missions, and want are thinking about if you want to serve. im not goin to sugar coat is, its hard. it is not for a person that doesnt have a testimony of the church already. if you come out on the mission without a testimony of the book of mormon, its going to be way harder to tell people that you know that the church is true. find a love for the book of mormon because in reality, that tool that god has given us is the only way that we are going to be to saved in this life. learn how to have a daily scripture feast. (my president would always say that you have to have a scripture feast because if you just read the book of mormon and dont take anything from the chapter you have read, then why the heck are you reading the book of mormon. you need to feast on the words of christ and take something out of it to build your testimony).
this is it kids, for the last time, BUT i hope to see all of you when i get home so i can hug you and talk to you face to face!!! excited for the next adventure!!
Elder Karson Wattles
Chile Santiago South Mission
apartado postal No. 544
San Bernardo, Chile