Called to serve in the Adriatic North Mission.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Guess what? Eastern Orthodox people don't celebrate their Christmas until January 7th! So, while I could say Merry Christmas, I'm going to wait a titch bit. We as missionaries in cities where Orthodoxy is the primary faith have the choice as to when we will celebrate Christmas this year. My district chose to do it on the 7th. I'm way excited to see what they do here in Banja Luka. The city is already beautifully decorated with lights and little shops. And, in the end, it doesn't really matter when we celebrate, as long as we make sure to take the time to gather as a family (if that's an option) and commemorate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ.

So, we had our zone conference in Zagreb last Thursday and Friday. We went caroling in downtown Zagreb! At the conference (it was the Bosnia and Slovenia zones combined) we got split into groups and each group had a poster that said #SpasiteljSeRodi (#ASaviorIsBorn) and our Christmas website and we scattered and sang Christmas carols in Croatian, and people were videotaping us and taking pictures, and it was awesome! I don't think the church has ever gotten this much attention in these countries. People seemed to really like it. I liked it. And we got to run around a little bit and see the city (it's my favorite city EVER, so that was awesome) all decked out for Christmas. We had good meetings at the mission home too and also did a talent show! My district sang a rendition of "The Coventry Carol" and "What Child is This" that worked out pretty nicely.

I love this mission so much. I love how personal it is. We're a pretty small mission, so you really get to know and love everyone, missionaries and members. It's kind of like how we build our church buildings. I have this theory that religions model their churches after their views on God. Some religions build huge, breathtakingly ornate structures that almost demand silence and respect when you enter their doors. In my mind, they represent God as a beautiful, unreachable Being whom we both love and fear. Other faiths do not have physical churches, but rather consider religion to reside solely in the heart. This to me is a depiction of God not of substance, but rather as an idea that is both everywhere and nowhere simultaneously. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, our buildings are not immense and ornate, but they are still clean, real, and holy. God is over all, but He is our friend. He is perfect, and while we are not, we can still have a personal relationship with Him. We have divine potential. We have individual worth. But along with our inner worship of our Heavenly Father, we are part of something bigger and better. Our friends and family worship with us in these sacred buildings and provide support, love, and encouragement as we try to live our faith the best we can. I am so thankful for that.

I love you all, and hope you have a wonderful Christmas! Tell someone you love them.

Сестра Ватс

Friday, December 11, 2015

Okay, good people! Transfers were posted last Thursday. The jig is up! I found out where the Lord wants me for the next 9 weeks. Guess where: here in Banja Luka still! No surprise there. I will, however, again be a Sister Training Leader, hence the "fire pot" comment coined by our dear President Grant.

My new companion will be Sister Vukorepa. I know her pretty well, and she seems to be one groovy sister. She finishes in 9 weeks, too, so it looks like this will be my second time shipping off a home-bound sister missionary. I said a tragic goodbye to Sister Marlow this morning (she will be missed), and now I am spending the day with Sister Lee from Sarajevo until Sister Vukorepa arrives in BL tomorrow morning. Yay! We have fun. 

In other news, we had three investigators at church yesterday, and while the meeting could have gone a LOT smoother, it was cool to hear as one of them talked about how much of a miracle it was that he'd met our elders. Apparently he had been really depressed one day when he ran into them on the street, and they helped him to realize that maybe God really was looking out for him. It was pretty cool.

I know there are other interesting things that happened to us this week, but sometimes when I sit in front of the computer to write them down, my brain stops working. Just goes to show that too much technology fries your brain. Remember that, kids!

Alright, I'm done. I hope your week is spectacular.

It's almost Christmas!

Sestra Watts

Friday, December 4, 2015

We celebrated Thanksgiving with our Canadian senior couple (bless their hearts), so I had to pay a little tribute.

It was just another normal week in the ANM, with such adventures as Thanksgiving, accidentally finding an ex-suitor of Sister Marlow's, prosthetics, eating district lunch at a grocery store cafeteria, and having 4 wonderful investigators come to church on Sunday, where Sister Marlow and I gave talks. 

Instead of going into all that, however, this week I want to focus on a really important event in history; that is, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. And, instead of elaborating with my own words, I am going to defer to the internet on this one. 

The Church released some amazing things yesterday in relation to Christmas and what it means for us. I hope you find a few minutes to take a look and watch the videos:



It's the Christmas season! Enjoy it.

Sestra Watts
Sister Marlow and I preparing to walk 40 minutes holding our Thanksgiving pies in plastic bags.

Monday, November 16, 2015


This week I was on an exchange. It feels like forever since I've been on one of those. I had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be with the famed Sister Peterson, who happened to come out at the same time as me. We finally had the chance to get to know each other this week, though, since she was in the other Croatian-speaking district in the MTC, and we did not mix with that district (I'm kidding; we just had a bit of a rivalry is all). She is a wonderful soul.

So, because we had an exchange with the sisters in Tuzla, we drove and met them halfway in a town called Doboj at the beginning and end of the exchange. Now, on the way to Doboj to pick up Sister Peterson, Sister Marlow and I spotted a turkey farm. This is significant because it is almost impossible to find whole turkeys in the Balkans. We joked about buying a turkey and saving it until Thanksgiving so we could do the holiday the right way. Then, when the exchange came to a close and Sister Marlow and I were once again reunited, we were feeling pretty adventurous (or stir-crazy on account of being 4 hours in a car), so when the sign for turkeys rolled around the corner, we pulled over and got out of the car. After making a quick phone call to our senior couple to get permission to buy a turkey for our district's Thanksgiving celebration, we were promptly greeted by an elderly lady whose hands indicated that she had just come from doing something, don't ask me what, that your typical privileged American would probably consider beneath them. Man, I love these people. Anyway, we relayed to the woman our desperate need for a turkey, and she called for a man to come help us. The man then told us that the smallest turkey he could give us was 9 or 10 kilograms. 

Now, you have to remember that this story is about two helpless, patriotic, young girls who simply wanted to pay tribute to the stars & stripes with a good ol' Turkey Day turkey. So when the helpful gentleman offered us a plucked and cleaned 20 pound fowl, we accepted before we knew to what we were agreeing. We were later informed by our beloved Sister Varty that 20 pounds of meat is adequate to feed about 40 average humans. At that point, however, there was nothing we could do, as the beast had already been carried (or maybe I should say forklifted) into the trunk of the car, and the money transaction completed. Unapologetic, we arrived home to tackle our next obstacle: fitting our new friend into the freezer. Thank goodness ours is larger than that of the average Bosnian resident, or it would have been a real struggle. Now, we just need to wait patiently and refrain from buying too much ice cream since we're tight on storage spacet. It was a successful day!

I've enclosed a picture of me and Sister Marlow at the turkey farm. There were... a lot of live turkeys there. You only see a few. It was terrifying.

The church is good and true! Missions are a lot of fun in every way! 

Sve najbolje,
Sestra Watts

The sunset over the Vrbas river in Banja Luka on Sunday night.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

This is some artwork in Banja Luka. There are so many walls here with HUGE murals on them.
 This one's really small, and really pretty compared to the rest. Some ten story apartment buildings have a whole
 side wall dedicated to the weirdest paintings. I'll get pictures of those later. The poem says
 "Spiders in the corners, don't worry. I won't sweep you."

Attention, everyone! I went to Sarajevo on Saturdayy! The most historically awesome town around. We had zone conference there, which made it so we didn't get too much time to look around, but afterwards Sister Marlow and I got permission to go out on the town for an hour as dinner break before we started the 4 hour drive home. It's a gorgeous city. You're just going to have to take my word for it though because both of us completely forgot to take pictures. All I have from that day is of the two of us at McDonalds for breakfast (breakfast included chicken nuggets and french fries-- desperate times...). But trust me, it was amazing there! We drank out of this sketchy fountain downtown because legend has it if you drink from there, you will one day return to Sarajevo. I am not sick yet, so I think it was okay water. They also were selling so many beautiful Muslim scarves and rugs and a million other cool things. We also had some of the best burek in the country. I love Bosnia a lot. Oh, and the conference was good too :)

Another highlight of the week is that one of our investigators told us she wants to get baptized once she confirms that this church is true! We've been teaching her for a few weeks, and she loves the church a lot. She was even friends with Kresimir Cosic, the first member in the former Yugoslavia. We're really excited because she will obviously come to know it's true if she's sincere-- and she is! That's a big blessing.

Okay. You all stay strong and keep believing.

Sestra Watts

Monday, November 2, 2015

We did a humanitarian project for the refugees on Saturday with some members. This is me with soap.
Hi everyone! Did you know that the internet is one of the Church's best proselyting tools? People are reading about the Mormons all day everyday on any number of websites and blogs, and some of them are actually finding accurate information! The Church has spent a lot of time trying to correct the rampant hordes of false information that is so prevalent on the world wide web. They are doing such a good job, too. I really feel strongly about the admonition to not put your trust in amateur bloggers and wikipedia articles. That being said, I know that my letters get posted on a blog every week. That means that you probably shouldn't trust me; however, it DOES mean that I get to refer you to beautiful, official websites about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints that have so much more validity than I do. Just a few examples are:

And so much more! Please visit them and see what there is to be seen that is true and good in this world! I'm sorry if this sounds like a commercial, but I only write things that I care about in these letters. The Church is true! 

My week was a fantastic one. If you hadn't already guessed, some of it involved witnessing a very good presentation on flooding the earth with wholesome technology. Internet devices have so much capacity to do good things, but also the raging tendency to tempt people with so many terrible things. Resist the temptation! Stick it to the man! Watch a Mormon Message, or a Ted talk, or do family history work or something. Keep your life clean and free of internet baggage. You don't need that bringing you down. Little phone games are as pointless as a dewlap on a moose's neck. Don't give in!

Okay. That's my rant for today. Missions are the best! Superlative intended!

Lijepi pozdrav,
Sestra Watts

Monday, October 26, 2015

Hello everyone! 

The only thing I can remember about last week was the fact that we probably tracted more than I ever have before in a week. It was awesome. Friday was an interesting day. All we had planned for the day was to go out and find people to teach. It was really hard to get out the door, but we prayed a lot and went out there anyway. The first several hours were pretty bleak and by dinner time, we were not looking forward to going back outside. But we prayed again and set off to knock on some doors in search of the prepared. It was probably the one of the funnest/funniest nights I've had in a loooong time. First of all, we met a really cool couple that were slightly older with a perturbed teenage granddaughter that let us in to teach them. I don't think they'll get baptized, but the old man was hilarious and gave me marriage advice (he told me to NEVER marry someone shorter than me, or else I'll have to kiss his forehead goodnight) and really liked the Book of Mormon. So you never know.

Then we knocked on the this one door, and the woman took a pretty long time to answer. When she finally did, all we saw was a wet, shampoo-lathered head poke around the door, and we already knew we were in for a fun experience. The head in question turned out to be a really nice woman who would probably have loved to talk to us, had she not been momentarily occupied. So Sister Marlow handed her our card, and she took it with a sopping arm that appeared from behind the door. It could have been a lot more scarring of an experience; nevertheless, I'd still have to rate it on the awkward level of your average colonoscopy. We said our goodbyes and hurried on to the next door.

Our third interesting encounter was actually a little miracle. It was a young man who told us that he'd actually just barely run into the elders down in Podgorica, Montenegro about 3 days prior, and had received a Book of Mormon from them! We told him those people were our friends (they're in our same mission), and asked if he was interested to learn more. Even though he wasn't, he promised he would read the whole book. We're hoping he realizes how true it is! 

Our final tender mercy for the night was accidentally ringing the doorbell of one of our English class students! She was so excited to see us, and let us in for some kolač (little cake treats). She's actually 7th Day Adventist, so it was cool to talk to her a little bit about living in a predominantly orthodox society. 

The Lord hears your prayers, and He answers them, if not in the way you'd expect! I know that more than ever before. I also know that He has a really good sense of humor. 

I hope you all have a great week! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Beautiful Bosnian countryside.

You know when scientists are growing bacteria in a petri dish and they take a swab of it so they can put it under some tests and see what the little germs are doing? I feel like that is the nature of my weekly emails home. There is no way I can write about all the amazing or not-so-great things that happen in my day to day life, but I hope that the sample that you do get is a good representation of my life here in the Balkans, and through that, you can conclude that my mission as a whole is the best thing that ever happened to me. 

Last week involved a very good combined zone conference in Belgrade, Serbia (I got to go back!) with special guest Elder Charles, of the Seventy, and his wife. They are a delightful British couple with an amazing conversion story. If you want to see some pictures of the event, go to: 

I don't think it will be in English, but you can still look at the pictures. You should probably like the page, too. 

Oh! Yesterday, we met this fantastic couple who invited us into their house so we could teach them about the Restoration of the Gospel. We had a happy time, and then they told us that we should teach their grandson, too! He's been having some health issues lately, and they think this would be really good and lift his spirits. We're pretty excited about that. 

I'm going to jump on the bandwagon and share this really great scripture with you that has been circulated throughout the mission today. It comes from 2 Kings 6:15-17:

And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do?
And he answered, Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.
And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.

"...they that be with us are more than they that be with them." We, every one of us, are surrounded by heavenly people who are helping us every step of the way. I pray that the Lord opens my eyes so that I never forget how supported I am. I know that we are loved by God and by His Son, Jesus Christ. They want us to succeed! 

Have a blessed week.

Monday, October 12, 2015

My week in a nutshell:

Monday: scrambled around trying to get stuff clean and done for transfers. Had a beautiful lunch with one of my favorite Americans from the embassy as a goodbye. Bought a jacket for like 16 dollars from a china shop (best things ever) that will hopefully be thick enough for the winter. 

Tuesday: DROVE ALL DAY from Beograd to Tuzla, Bosnia to meet with like half the sisters in the mission and switch people. There I found my new companion, Sister Marlow, and we drove to Banja Luka safely. I was a little nervous because people tell scary stories about the roads here, but they weren't even bad. Bosnia is gorgeous. The drive was so scenic, hills and trees everywhere. 

Wednesday: Taught English at a rehabilitation center for kids. It was the coolest thing ever! They were so cute and we traced one of them and labeled the clothing/body parts. One of the girls told me I look like an actress from the films, but she couldn't remember which. It's funny because balkan people tell me that seriously all the time.

Thursday: Taught regular English at the church (a small, rented flat with two levels) and met a ton of really cool people. English classes are always hilarious. You just get so many different types of people with varying levels of English skills. We also met our elders, who are Elder Swink (he's been out 4 months) and his brand new trainee Elder DeLeeuw (pronounced Dih Loo -- it means "The Lion" in Dutch). They are also hilarious. I forgot how crazy it is to be a new missionary. Just a deer-in-the-headlights look constantly.

Friday: District meeting. Nothing too crazy.

Saturday: We showed the Sunday morning session of General Conference at the church and the mother of our most recent convert showed up, and she loved it! It was a great day. It was hard to watch President Monson speak. This time we watched it with a Serbian translation (last week in Belgrade was in Croatian because the Serbian doesn't get translated live), and the lady translating choked up at the end and of course I started crying too since I'm a sympathy crier. But all was well.

Sunday: I got to meet a lot of the members, and I gave my second talk ever! The branch has an average attendance of about 5 minus the missionaries, so we get asked to speak a lot, apparently. I talked about good works and following the pattern of service that Christ showed us.

It was a good week! I love Sister Marlow a lot, and we are going to work really hard so she doesn't even think about going home in two months. Čućemo se!

Sestra Watts

Monday, October 5, 2015

I have finally gotten the ability to send pictures, so I'll just do a few snapshots from the last few months.
 These are my favorite people, the Raičević family.They are always all talking at once and they are the funniest people ever! I call Sister Raicevic my Serbian mother, but she could never replace you, mom!

 Me and Sister Derenthal on the exchange, 
and me with my American food from one of our embassy families!
 They got us taquitos!!

ATTENTION: I am serving in Banja Luka, Bosnia (technically Republic of Serbia, but Bosnia) as of tomorrow,Oct. 6. I'm torn apart to be leaving Belgrade, but the Lord has something in mind for me in another land, I suppose. I'll be with the magnificent Sister Marlow, who finishes her mission in 9 weeks! aka I will be her last companion. Hopefully. You never know. I'm really excited to see new things and meet new people (except let's be real, I meet new people every day anyway regardless of where I am) and be a missionary still. I love being a missionary. It's really hard. But it's better than anything else I could be!

My last week in Serbia was a delight. Sister Derenthal and I were on an exchange together (see Karlovac, Transfer 2)! We still love each other a lot and got to catch up on 6 months of mission, and we've both grown a lot. I love her and am so happy for the stellar missionary she is!

Also, what about General Conference?? I think that every time I find more and more excitement in watching our inspired leaders speak the words of the Lord to us. I found so many things I need to work on, and instead of being completely overwhelmed, I am grateful for the opportunity to improve myself and be more what my Heavenly Father wants me to be. He knows best and He loves me!

I'll try to keep you all more posted in the following weeks. We've had some busy p-days these past couple transfers :D

I love the gospel. I am grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. I am overwhelmed at the thought that He pleads for me with the Father, and that He wants so badly for me to return to live in His presence forever. I love the fact that I can share this message of hope with everyone I meet. The church is true!

С љубављу,
Сестра Вац

Monday, September 28, 2015

First off, I'm sincerely sorry that I don't have the capacity to attach pictures to my emails today, because I would love for you all to see what Sister Berrett and I did today:
For the last few weeks it has been continually impressed upon the minds of Sister Berrett and I that we are in desperate need of haircuts. Today we finally succumbed to the impression and, as a result, I got a haircut after ten months of avoiding the scissor. What made this even so fantastic, however, was that we were accompanied by our favorite member/Serbian mother, Sister Raicevic. It's a known fact that anything done with Sister Raicevic turns into a party. So we got the full treatment, with shampoos, cuts, blowdries, and a whole lot of styling. You will see pictures later. The cool thing about Serbia is that there is a hair salon on every corner and the average price of a haircut is about 4 to 5 American dollars. And they are not bad cuts, either. So we treated ourselves and had the time of our lives. Don't worry though, I only got a trim.
Also, one of our investigators agreed to get baptized! I told you all about him last week, I think, the one who lives really far away. He is the most spiritually prepared person I've met here. He teaches himself more than we teach him. It's been a really cool experience to teach him, albeit over the phone. Hopefully (fingers crossed) missionaries will be down there to meet him this week, and then things will really get moving!
We find out about transfers on Thursday, and then everybody moves starting next Monday. The last week of the transfer is always chaotic. We'll see what happens! I've already been in Belgrade 4 months (two transfers), which is the typically amount a missionary stays in a city here. I could get the boot! Stay tuned.
Read your scriptures!

Monday, September 21, 2015

I am so sorry that it's been a while since I've written! I am not even going to try to summarize everything that's happened to me in the past few weeks, nor will I probably even hit all the highlights. 

First of all, if you love me, you will go to and make it the homepage of your web browser. Yes, I know it is in Serbian. We are trying to get the good name of the church out there in these countries because our web presence is not so redeeming and mostly false. Just a suggestion.

Okay... let's see. We have been teaching this really, really cool man who is actually like 3 hours from Beograd and we teach over the phone. We didn't really ask for it, he found us and asked if he could get baptized. So we'll see where that goes. He is so, incredibly sincere. And not too far from Sofia, Bulgaria, so he could go to church there.

We're also teaching the coolest lady who is a pilates instructor up the street. She's awesome and when we contacted her on the street she told us it must be God's will that she learn from us because she normally never, ever walks down that street but just felt like she should that night. Cool stuff! The church is true.

We've celebrated 3 birthdays in the past two-ish weeks (mine, Sister Berrett's, and our Serbian mom Sister Raicevic's) which has involved a lot of home-cooked Serbian specialties from Sister Raicevic. I had lost some weight at the beginning of the transfer but now I have probably gained it all back. Life is good!

We had a cool zone conference last week... I don't really know what else to say about that. But it was really, really cool.

I noticed something cool in the Bible the other day. John 11:39 says that when Jesus was raising Lazarus from the dead, He commanded those who were there to move the stone from the place of Lazarus' burial. Isn't it interesting that when He was about to raise the dead He did not simply exert His power to move the stone without asking others to do so? This shows me that, although God is a god of miracles, He also requires us to put in some effort to do what we can first. He will not do anything that is unnecessary. We must first trust in Him and be His tool by doing what we can to help others (aka removing that stone) and then He will step in and do the real miracle.

Have a wonderful week.

Sestra Watts

Monday, September 14, 2015

Dear wonderful, amazing parents,

We had an amazing week this week, Sister Berrett and I. We started teaching a man named Goran who actually lives in Pirot, which is southern Serbia, 4 hours away by bus, but he found us online and referred himself, so we're doing over the phone lessons! He is an hour away from a city called Nis, which has a few members in it who watch our Beograd sacrament meeting via broadcast and bless the sacrament themselves, so we're going to try to get him down there for church. He is honestly the most sincere investigator I've ever known. On our first phone call he asked what he needs to do to get baptized, and yesterday he told us all these times when he felt the Spirit (i.e. at our church in Sofia, Bulgaria, or when he read about us online) and RECOGNIZED it! He is so cool. We are praying that the Lord clears a way for him to get baptized and attend church regularly. We have been very open with him from the start by letting him know that it will be hard because he needs to commit to coming to church. He's willing! I'll update you on that.

We ALSO met this really cool woman named Gordana who agreed to meet with us on Saturday. We invited our member Sister Raicevic to come on the lesson, but she didn't get there till we had already finished! It was the best lesson though. Gordana agreed to keep on taking the lessons, too! And she invited us to her pilates class. We might not be able to resist.

So yeah, we're pretty happy. I was happy when we weren't teaching people, too, for the most part (it was an acquired feeling), but life is just so much better when people actually want to hear what you have to say. Thank you for your prayers, and I love you both so much. 

I promise I read both of your emails and printed them off so I could fully appreciate them. SO cool mom got to go to MN. Weird about the Torontos. Weird. Now we have to go celebrate Sister Berrett's birthday (which is tomorrow) by stuffing our faces at the Raicevic's house. Of course. 

P.S. I am so sorry I haven't been sending pictures this transfer. The internet place we go to and the computer at the church don't let me upload pictures! Ugh. I want you guys to see the Raicevic family so bad. They are the best.

Vasa cerka

Monday, August 24, 2015

I am going to be a little bit coarse here and start out with the announcement that a middle aged crazy man almost relieved his "waters" all over Sister Berrett the other day. We were talking to this woman on the street, and all of the sudden this man walks between us and starts... yeah. Long story short I whisked Sister Berrett right out of that situation (the other woman had just told us she wasn't interested anyway) and let's hope the man was very drunk and very ashamed of himself. Good times.
The weather was an absolute delight this past week, with mid 60s temps in midday, and delicious rainfall after dinner and all throughout the night basically every single day. We pretty much ran to get out the door every day and soak in the cool before the 90 degree weather comes back as forecast for this week. We talked to a lot of really cool people. There was this one small family that we talked to for a really long time, and I really thought they had a lot of potential, but then it turns out they're from a village 200 km away and we don't have the church out there. We gave them information though, and who knows, one day they might be our first baptisms in that small town of southern Serbia --you know, when the Mormons take over the world and everyone starts converting :) Get ready, nonbelievers! It's hard to resist the true church.
I was also on the B.E.S.T. exchange with my MTC companion Sister Washburn last week! I can't even TELL you how much both of us have grown since those first 9 weeks of our mission. Her -- and hopefully my-- Serbian has skyrocketed in the last several months. It was the most surreal experience to be together again, but this time doing real missionary work in real, live Serbia. Unforgettable. I love that woman.
Alright, I think that's it from me. Live it up out there. Life is good, the church is true (promise!), your family is essential to your happiness, and you are more loved than you think.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Dobar dan!
I'm going to start this one off with a fun little thing that happened this week that I probably think is a lot funnier than Sister Berrett does.
Background: We buy bottled water here. It's just a precaution, and it barely makes a dent in our budget because you can buy a big old 6 liter thing of water for about 80 cents and that will last us about 2 days. Typically we buy a few of those on pday and they last us the week.
This week, we happened to be running out of water on Saturday, and seeing as we couldn't purchase water on Sunday and we definitely wouldn't make it without, we ran to the shop up the street and quick grabbed a jug that wasn't our normal brand, but we were in a hurry so we took it. Come Sunday morning, I open up the bottle and start pouring myself a glass of what we THOUGHT was nice, NON-carbonated water--- then I saw the bubbles. Turns out, we had accidentally bought carbonated water. I'm okay with that since I was blessed to acquire a taste for the stuff; however, Sister Berrett absolutely LOATHES it. So poor her had to drink milk all day in the heat and fill up her tiny bottle at the church whenever she had the chance. The end.
Friday was the best zone conference I've ever had. I probably say that every time we have a zone conference, but I'm SERIOUS this time. Top 2 highlights: at the end of the meeting, President opened the time up for us to share our testimonies. The Spirit was so strong strong in that room as both people I knew well and some I barely knew got up and shared what they believe and what brings them hope. Then at the very end, we sang a song from the LDS Children's Songbook simply entitled, "Baptism." We had to sing it twice because some of us (I won't mention names...) were crying too hard to get through it the first time (Note: it is a tendency for some people to cry when they feel the Holy Spirit very strongly; it's a joyful cry, not a sad one, like seeing a baby born or something). It was a very sweet moment.
The other day we met the best couple while we were in a park. We talked to them about prophets and the Book of Mormon and they basically accepted everything. They are the most hipster Serbs I've ever met, too, which I absolutely loved. Plus, the woman had curly blond hair, so I couldn't NOT love them. I am excited for them and hope we get to teach them more!
Okay that's enough of me. You all keep living your lives.
Ooh! Let's get a fraza dana up in here today:
Haos (house [but the h is harsh sounding, don't know how to describe it]) -- Literally, "chaos," but the kids use it fairly often as a kind of filler type word, like we say "crazy" or when somebody says/does something cool/legitimately crazy.
Sestra Watts

And in her email to mom in response to the arrival of our Serbian exchange student:

Wow, you guys look like you're already having a blast with Suncica. Good! She's the coolest. Tell her I say hi too. But don't let her teach you any Serbian. I want to come home and talk to her and have you guys not know a thing we're saying. 

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Okay, this title seems pretty intense, but it's just that with every companion I have, we eat completely different things. With Sister Kawai, it was a lot of rice. Sister Berrett and I are now in the process of figuring out what our go-to will be when it comes to lunch and dinner breaks, so stay tuned for any updates.
Hey! I am now with my new, beautiful companion, Sister Berrett. She is fresh out of Rijeka, Croatia, and ready to tear up Belgrade with her love of missionary work and all things gospel. I am really excited about this transfer, and you all can expect at least a few baptisms to come from these next two months.
This past week was another Mission Leader Council, and we focused a lot on finding faith in our goals to find people ready to accept the gospel and enter the waters of baptism. We talked a lot about how we go about developing faith in our ability to succeed as part of that. One of the things that I decided I want is to hear more stories from others who have served missions or participated in missionary work.
That being said, will anyone reading this who has served a mission/ been a member missionary in any way send me a story of success, or when you've seen the promises of the Lord fulfilled in your life? Thank you. Send them directly to me at
I want you all to know of my love for Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. After everything else in the world falls apart, they will be there with open arms to welcome us into their rest.
Have a wonderful week.

(And here portions of a couple of emails from the past few weeks when she only had time to write to her parents)

Aug. 3

Just so you know, I'm in Zagreb right now (naturally) and I potentially don't have a lot of time to email (of course).

We found out about transfers last week, and I am thankfully staying in Belgrade. My new companion is Sister Berrett! We're already friends because I saw her at MLC a lot, but I don't know her very well. From what I hear though she is an excellent missionary and she works hard and talks to everyone. I am really excited to serve with her. Sister Kawai got sent off to Zadar again. I'm in Zagreb as part of the transfer travels, I actually drove up here with Sister Chauncey, the sister from my district who's going home TOMORROW. We've been together since last night (Sunday), and it has been really cool to talk to her about her mission and everything that she has learned. I was afraid that all her talking would get me thinking about going home, but she's actually inspired me to work harder while I'm here instead. But yeah we had a long time to talk because the drive to Zagreb is about 4 hours. 

I'll hopefully have time to email you all in a few hours when things settle down for the day, but I thought I'd fill y'all in really quick just in case. 

July 13

First of all, DON'T FREAK OUT. I know that it is past curfew and it's not even p-day anymore technically. It's been an insane day. Even more so than normal.

So on Friday we get a call and find out that Sister Hertz, who's serving in Novi Sad, is getting kicked out of the country because of visa problems. So President had to rearrange the companionship situations a little bit in the mission. Sister Kawai and I did not get moved, but we were asked to be a taxi for the entire day today for moving sisters. So last night we drove down to Novi Sad, stayed the night there with Sister Hertz and Washburn, then took both of them and headed to Sremska Mitrovica (2 hour drive). There, we met Sisters Deschler and Kropushek, took Sister Kropushek and left Sister Washburn in Sremska with Sister Deschler. Then we crossed the border into Croatia and went to Osijek (2 hours), where we left Sister Hertz to be in a trio with Sister Derenthal (my old companion-- it was SO good to see her again) and Sister Lee. So now it is just me, Sister Kawai, and Sister Kropushek in the car. We drive all the way through northern Croatia and cross the border into SLOVENIA, and land in Ljubljana (4 hours). There had been a trio splitting their time between Ljubljana and Kranj because they were short a Slovene sister, so Sister Kropushek got moved allll the way up there to even out the companionships. The crazy thing is, Sister Kropushek has 3 weeks left of the mission and doesn't know a bit of Slovene. What's wonderful about it though is that her grandfather is originally from Slovenia, so she has the chance to look up tons of relatives, living and dead, while she's there. It was especially nice for Sister Kawai and me as well, seeing as we'd never set foot in Slovenia, and it is the most beautiful country in southern Europe. We honestly felt like we were driving into Narnia on that border cross.

At this point it's almost 8 pm, so President, having foreseen the insanity of asking us to drive back to Beograd tonight (probably 6 or 7 hours from Lake Bled) invited us to stay at his home in Zagreb (2 hours) and email y'all, sleep, and then drive back in the morning.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Most of what I want to say to y'all is about yesterday (Sunday) because it was the coolest day of the week.
But first, I had an amazing exchange with one of my favorite sisters (I'm allowed to pick favorites, right?), Sister Chauncey, who goes home in a WEEK and you wouldn't even know it she's so dedicated to working hard. She's one of the nicest, smartest, funniest, beautifulest (I KNOW that's not a real word) people I've ever met. So attention, all of my friends that go to BYU-Idaho, please date her. She'll die if she knows I wrote this, but that's okay. I don't lie. So anyway, I missed Sister Kawai, but exchanges are fun because you get to work with someone that you're not typically with, and you get new ideas for how to teach/ find people to teach.
Alright. Yesterday, first of all, was a blast because we went to church. I know people typically don't describe church as a blast, but I truly have realized that Sundays are the best day of the week, strictly because going to church is so good. It's good for the soul. It also doesn't hurt that we were in charge of the primary yesterday ("primary" means Sunday School for children under 12) and we probably have the cutest kids ever in Beograd. It was weird, too, though, because all the native children were gone on vacation, so everyone there was English-speaking, whether they were here because their parent(s) work at the American embassy or they were just passing through. So we sang English songs and taught an English lesson about Jesus and -- wait for it--- how to be a missionary! I don't know how much they got out of the lesson (I'm not used to teaching people besides adults O.o), but Sister Kawai and I sure had a grand old time.
We also had a successful day outside of church. We decided to focus on talking to couples and families, and the first couple we stopped on the street agreed to come have a tour of our church while we told them about what we believe! They asked a lot of questions. They were foreign, too, so we did the whole thing in English. WEIRD. I spoke English way too much yesterday.
Also, we got to teach a lot about how our church came about and what we believe to yet another couple that we stopped on the street. We tend to try to do that kind of thing a lot, but this conversation was just so good and so inspiring for everyone involved. I don't know how to describe it. We have high hopes for those two.
Alright you all. Have a great week.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Hi friends.
I would like to formally apologize for not having written a mass email in approximately forever. We finally have a day to relax! The past few Mondays have been pretty insane. Two weeks ago we were in Zagreb for another MLC, and last week, Sister Kawai and I were responsible for driving a ton of people around 3 different countries because SOMEONE had to get kicked out of Serbia (cough cough sister hertz), so things had to get rearranged a bit. It was a ton of fun. Not a lot of people can say they spent quality time in 3 different countries in one day, I don't think.
But yeah. As for big news, I got a nice blister on the back of my foot again. These things tend to happen fairly often, since we seem to find ourselves walking a lot, to make a vast understatement. My goal is to come home with dark brown skin and the ugliest, knobbliest feet you'll ever see.
There's only two more weeks till we find out about transfers. Time just gets faster the longer I'm here. I'd like someone to explain the science behind that. And then tell me how I can counteract it, thanks.
Peace and blessings!
Your Sestra

An excerpt from a letter to mom:

Throughout my entire mission, I have found myself thinking about Mummi (Finnish grandmother) a lot more than I ever have. These past two weeks I have especially felt that she is more present in my life. At MLC President told us something that Elder Eyring said at the funeral for President's mother (how neat that President Eyring spoke there-- it's okay though, Elder Nielsen at Pappa's funeral was amazing too) directed towards the grandchildren of the deceased. He said that now that their grandmother has passed, she has the chance to check up on her grandkids even more so than she did in mortality. I never knew, or rather realized, that Mummi and Pappa could be so involved from the other side. I find that I wonder a lot more now about what Mummi experienced on her mission and in her life in general, since she is my closest related convert to the church, and my life has now become entirely focused on the conversion of myself and others. I also recognize that I am the only granddaughter to this point who has served a mission. I hope that what I am doing is making her happy. Even more so, I hope that what I am doing is making the Lord happy. I have to constantly remind myself that even though it's hard, it is not the hardest. I don't remember which, but one apostle said that we did not come here to fail, but to succeed gloriously, or something like that. 

Monday, June 29, 2015

Sorry I missed writing last week! I happened to be... busy...of course...
No, but seriously, these past two weeks have been haos (that means "chaos" in Serbian. Neat, huh?). Two weeks ago Sister Hertz and I had a jolly good time together in Novi Sad for two days. I was with her till Wednesday morning, which also happened to be her birthday, so I cleverly schemed with the elders in her district and made her a cool picture collage thing of our friendship (which consists of the MTC and our random exchanges together-- our friendship has been short, but altogether magical). She loved it, of course. Then when our real companions came to pick us up we had a delightful lunch of homemade tacos with random, year-old Taco Bell taco seasoning that we found in their pantry. Hence our domestic photo-op. What a day.
Other big event of the fortnight; our two day zone conference in Zagreb was a raging success. I don't know if I mentioned that in my last. President brought all the zones to Zagreb (at different times, naturally) for zone conference this month as a rare treat. It followed a similar format to MLC, in which the first day was p-day, so we were allowed to come up early and do all sorts of activities, like volleyball, basketball, tennis, and your general assortment of card/board games. We enjoyed ourselves and partied immensely, and then had a wonderful, spiritual party during the meetings. And by party, I mean that we talked and shared and laughed and cried and learned a lot, but we didn't scream or yell or dance, or whatever else you do at real parties. Everyone had good things to say, and we all came out of there with renewed energy and desire to work harder and more effectively. At least, I'm assuming everyone else felt that way. I sure did.
Did you know that last Wednesday, June 24th was exactly 9 months to the day that I entered the Missionary Training Center? That means I am basically halfway through this miraculous journey that they call a mission, but which I'm more inclined to call "intensive life skills training" because I have learned more in the past 9 months about what and who I want to be than at any other time in my life.
Alright. That's enough from me. Uzivajte (enjoy)!
Sestra Watts

(Here is an excerpt from Rina's email to her family. It has some interesting information about her actual mission work. Having served a mission in Finland, I can totally relate to the slowness of the work and the lack of people to teach. In some countries people get baptized every week or every month, but in some you might have one or two of the people you are teaching get baptized your whole mission, or maybe even no one. But you still are serving people and teaching them good things and learning a lot yourself.  --Tiina)

It has been a good few days since I last emailed you all. Zone conference, as you might have already heard from my mass email, was fantastic. I don't know if I told you this, but we are not teaching anyone here in Beograd right now, at least not seriously. It was like that when I came, so we have been working really hard to try to build up a teaching pool, but so far our efforts haven't yielded much fruit. I am used to coming into areas with no investigators (it's what I've done in both of the other cities, too), but still, the first little while before things pick up are extremely difficult, and for some reason, this time the empty period has lasted longer than I'm used to. It has really been a growth experience and continues to be. I have never contacted so much in a single day. There were a few days this week where our entire day was filled with finding, be it tracting, contacting, or a few other attempts to shake things up in our search for the elect. At one point we went and read the Serbian Book of Mormon by the river out loud and then waited to see if anyone would stare at us, with the idea that when they did, we would invite them to learn more. There weren't many people out that day. Another time we took off our watches and called it our "tract till we drop" time, with the idea that we could tract for hours on end since we had so much time to fill. It was a good time of the day, but for some reason no one was home. So we contacted instead. 

The strange thing about all of this is that even though I've never spent this much time doing the nitty gritty, I don't hate it. I've come to enjoy contacting, and I've come to realize that the more people I talk to and have a good conversation with about the gospel, the happier I am. And I am learning more about the worth of souls, too. It's easy in a mission like this to make excuses for not having baptisms by saying things like, "the people are colder here" or "tradition is so deep that no one will listen to us," but in reality, I have never met kinder people than the ones I have met on my mission. Balkan people look out and care for each other in a way that I still don't fully comprehend. There is an endless amount of love beneath their battle-worn skin. What could be stopping me from finding the ones who will listen is that I don't rely on the Lord enough to help me get through, past the cultural boundaries and into their hearts. In reality, all humanity is the same in that we all seek happiness and love. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the epitome of both of those things. So I am really working to develop that Christ-like love for all of God's children and figuring out how to share that with others. It requires a lot of prayer and focus on my studies. I am thankful and happy, despite the fact that sometimes I am also really sad and disappointed. 

Tell the family that I love them, and it was good to see everyone last week! Thank you for your prayers.
I love you! Bog s tobom!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Cao, friends!
It's blazin' hot out there! I think I've lost more weight from sweat than an Atkins diet could ever do for a person.
Belgrade continues to be an adventure. We've taken to contacting sometimes in the center of town, and at certain points during the day you can barely breathe there are so many people, most of them tourists. We don't spend a whole ton of time there though because if you stop walking you get trampled. No bueno.
Also, Mission Leader Council was inTENSE, and that's putting it lightly. You ever go to a meeting and feel completely chastised and imperfect, but also 100% inspired to do better and work harder? That was MLC. I can't even put it into words.
Today for our free day, the sisters from Novi Sad are coming to chill with us, and we're going to do everything Beograd has to offer! And, in case you were wondering, the sisters in Novi Sad are Sisters Hertz and Washburn, who happen to be two of my favorite people in the world. Sister Washburn and I were companions in the MTC and we roomed with Sister Hertz and her comp, and we all got along famously well, so let's just say I am a little bit excited. And then at day's end I got back to Novi Sad to be on an exchange with Sister Hertz (this is actually my second one -- remember? #tbt to when I was in Karlovac and she in Rijeka), and it will be glorious and we will work our hind ends off.
So yep. Things are good here. Y'all stay wonderful. God be with you.
Sestra Watts

Last week before district conference, President called us and asked for a favor. We were told to go to the church, grab a chair for each of us, and sit in an empty parking space out front until Elder Boom from the 70 got there. Parking is really scarce in front of our church, so it made some sense, but we still felt a little foolish when people would pass by and obviously wonder why two nicely dressed people were on the street in comfy relief society chairs. Just another day in the #ANM
Sister Chauncey, one of the other sisters serving in Belgrade (we go way back-- she was in my last zone and I'm friends with her sister) knows me INCREDIBLY well and bought these tissues for me on a whim. I have yet to use one.