Elder and Sister Watts

Elder and Sister Watts

Hill Cumorah Visitors' Sites Mission Statement

"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."
3 Nephi 5:13

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Monday, January 18, we entered the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT at 10:00 AM and were impressed with the organization and kindness of those greeting us and starting us on our missionary journey.

We had lunch in the cafeteria with 2,200 other missionaries. Next we met with all of the new senior missionaries. There are about 50 of us all together. The Provo MTC Mission Presidency with their wives were all present, along with a couple called the Senior Missionary Coordinators, Elder and Sister Buchanan. We received some inspirational messages and general information about meetings, health, etc. Steven was assigned to be a District Leader and we have two other couples in our district. One couple in our district is going to Nauvoo and the other is going to Australia.

This is a picture of our district. The Mertins are at the left. They both quit their jobs and left their youngest daughter, 19 with their other daughter and her husband to go on this mission. They will go back to work when they return home. They are going to Australia. The couple in the center is Elder and Sister Wilcox. They both lost their spouses after 50 years of marriage and have been married 18 months. They are going to Nauvoo on a restoration mission. Elder Wilcox is a bricklayer and Sister Wilcox will work in the historic sites.

Here we are in the traditional spot for pictures at the MTC - out in front by the sign. One day, while we were at the MTC Post Office we ran into Laura Mitchell from the Tickle Creek Ward. It was fun to see someone from home.

Here is Steven outside our room at the MTC. We stayed in the Jacob Hamblin Building, but some of the senior couples had to stay at a nearby Motel 8 because they are remodeling the building.

These two pictures show our room. We had about as much space to live in as our bedroom at home, though there was a common "family room" downstairs that the senior couples could use to study or use wireless internet. There were often 7 or 8 couples using the internet at a time in the evenings. We were in class all day from 8:00 AM til 5:00 PM and then had reading assignments in the evenings.
It is fun to visit with other senior missionaries, learn of their lives, and where they will be serving.

The highlight of the day Tuesday was attending the Tuesday Evening Devotional with 2,200 other missionaries. The senior missionaries didn't have to stand in line and had reserved seating in the front. We were able to sit in the second row. It was powerful to sing prelude hymns with all of the missionaries and especially touching to sing Called to Serve with them. We were blessed to hear from a general authority and his wife. Elder David Evans of the First Quorum of the Seventy and his wife spoke. His wife spoke about the blessings of obedience and Elder Evans emphasized using the Book of Mormon in our Gospel study and teaching and in our lives. We thought it was a very spiritual experience to be with so many missionaries and feast on the words of Christ as shared by the general authority.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


From the time we received our call until the time we left home we had two weeks and two days. It was an intense time for us. We had many tasks to complete such as: paperwork for our mission, clothes to purchase, a home to prepare, packing, goodbyes, etc. We made lists and more lists. It seemed like the more items we checked off, the more we added. However, we were blessed with the help from good friends and wonderful family members, and we made it! We are required to bring a car on our mission, so we packed the PT Cruiser with 18 months worth of belongings and headed to Utah.
Mostly we had good weather on the two day trip. When we arrived in Utah we visited both sets of our parents, some of our siblings, and our daughter Telaina and her family. As the time drew close to enter the MTC (Missionary Training Center) we were both somewhat apprehensive. To be honest it is difficult to go on a mission. It is hard to leave friends and family, especially when two new grandchildren are soon to be born. It is hard to go to new places and do new things, unsure that one can succeed. However, we know that we are doing the right thing. We know our families will be blessed for our service and we love Heavenly Father and our Savior, Jesus Christ. We feel blessed to be able to serve in this way.
Anyway, we experienced the “tender mercies of the Lord” just the day before entering the MTC. It was Sunday, January 17. I loved Elder Bednar's talk a few years ago about "tender mercies of the Lord" and since then I have tried to be more aware of them. Well, we were going to go to church at 11:00 with Steven's mother, but she wasn't feeling well, so w
e went to an 11:00 meeting at the Mutton Hollow Building, near where we were staying with his sister Judy and her husband, Drew.
The wonderful thing was a returned senior missionary couple spoke. When introducing them, the counselor in the bishopric said that his parents were on a mission and it had been such a blessing to his family. He encouraged other seniors to go on missions. The Spirit was so strong while the couple spoke, it was comforting to us as we were somewhat apprehensive about entering the MTC the next day. At the end they said that they finished their mission in August and then in October went to Palmyra for a visit. They talked about how wonder it was. Now some may say that is a coincidence, but I testify that it was the "tender mercies of the Lord," sending us comfort.

Sunday, January 24, 2010


On Sunday Morning, January 10, Steven and I were set apart as full time missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were set apart by President Richard Hansen. All of our Oregon family members were present except Michael and baby K., who were at a family baptism.

The blessings given to us as we were set apart were very special and dear to our hearts. I truly felt the mantel of missionary rest upon me. It was a warm, comforting feeling; very welcome after two frantic weeks of preparation.

After the setting apart, now Elder Watts and I went to Oregon City with our son, Slade, his wife, Heidi, and their children to attend their Sacrament Meeting. It was a special meeting because their four wards were being divided into five wards. All members of these four wards were in attendance, as well as the stake presidency and other stake leaders. The entire chapel, cultural hall, and overflow rooms were full. One story by the Stake President touched my heart. President Lundgreen said that before the meeting began a young priesthood holder came up to him and expressed his concerns about making a mistake while administering the Sacrament. President Lundgreen told him, “As long as your are on the Lord's errand and doing His will, He won't let you make a mistake.” I thought, that applies to us and our mission. It was comforting!

Saturday, January 23, 2010


We received our mission call on December 26, 2009. Here's how it happened. I (Michele) was on my way to the play, A Christmas Carol, in Portland. On the way I passed our mail-carrier. I called Steven to tell him if the mission call came to call me. I went to Alisha's first and while I was there Steven called. He said one word, “Bingo!” I said, “I'll be right home.” So as quick as I could return home we opened our call. We were delighted to discover we were called to serve in the New York, Rochester Mission with a special assignment to labor in the historic sites in Palmyra and the surrounding area. We will rotate between the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center, the Smith Farm, including the log home, the frame home and the Sacred Grove, the E.B. Grandin print shop where the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon were printed, and the David Whitmer home, 27 miles out of Palmyra, where the Church was organized.
In the winter, when things are slower, we will also proselyte. On our preparation days in the winter we hope we can work in the Palmyra Temple as ordinance workers. We worked hard to learn how to administer the temple ordinances and we don't want to forget them. We will also have a calling in our ward or branch.
One thing we have learned since we have been at the Mission Training Center is that there are not coincidences. God's hand is in this work and our callings to serve. We truly believe that. While Elder Watts was serving as Stake President he met all of the Oregon Portland Mission Presidents. However, we both grew to know and love President and Sister Weston while they served here. We kept in touch with them each Christmas. Then, in September, Paul and Nancy Hansen and three of their daughters took a trip back east and during that trip they went to Palmyra. They ran into the Westons, who were serving as the Directors of the Hill Cumorah Visitors Center. The Westons asked about us and, finding we were soon planning to leave on our mission, gave the Hansens a business card and told them to tell us to call them, they would love to have us serve our mission there. Well, we thought that sounded fun, but we set the card aside and didn't call because we planned to write on our papers that we would serve where ever we were needed.
Two weeks later we were in the Salt Lake City Airport after having attended October Conference. We ran into Elder Gary Stewart, who had been an Area Authority Seventy when Steven was Stake President. We began talking with him about our mission and the conversation the Hansen's had with the Westons. We told him we didn't call the Westons and he strongly urged us to call them and to request Palmyra when we submitted our papers. He said the Brethren like the senior missionaries to request where they want to go. That way they will be excited about their missions and perhaps encourage other seniors to serve. After that conversation we called President Weston. We were so happy to renew our acquaintance again with him and his wife. We expressed a desire to serve at Hill Cumorah and he said he would call Mission Headquarters and have them flag our application. And the rest is history. We feel so blessed to be able to serve a mission and are looking forward to many wonderful experiences.