Called to serve in the Adriatic North Mission.

Monday, February 23, 2015


I'm in Rijeka right now, and it is just gorgeous. A little cloudy and rainy, but the sea and the beautiful houses and buildings and mountains are just a dream. I'm dropping off Sister D for an exchange, and then me and one of the sisters from Rijeka are going back up to Karlovac tonight. It'll last till Wednesday. Today we're going to ride bikes along the pier! Goodness, my life is so weird. Never in my life would I have thought that I'd be here in Croatia, preaching the good gospel day and night and then riding bikes along a pier during my free time. Croatia is great, especially in Karlovac, because you live within 75 minutes of the sea and the mountains, and then bustling, huge, old, beautiful Zagreb is 45 minutes the other way. 

This past week was really good. It is always hard work, but we got to know some really awesome people. On Friday, we met a woman on the street named Dubravka (sweet name!) who is in her 30s-ish and has a huge dog and wears army style boots and has the longest hair you will ever see. She is one of the coolest people I've talked to here, and she wants us to come over and teach her more about the gospel! I love when things like that happen. People are so cool, and I get to talk to all of them! Or at least, I try to.

The elders asked a man to get baptized this week, and he said yes! We are all pretty excited. It is so sweet to see how people's lives change so much for the better when they make Jesus Christ the focus. I'm so glad that I am here and get to be a part of that. 

I'm sorry I don't have any intense stories to tell you this week. I'm kind of glad about that, honestly. Missions are crazy enough without people almost getting killed on highways in front of our eyes. 

Fraza dana time!
Nemam pojma (nay-mahm poy-mah) - "No idea." Sometimes when we try to talk to people with our limited Croatian skills, they say this to us and hang up the phone/walk away. But we keep going. Because it's worth it.

Miss you all! Have a fantastic week.
Sestra Watts

Monday, February 16, 2015

Good morning, America!

This week was a blast. It went by pretty quickly, too. Tuesday was another Zone Conference, held in Rijeka! That's the other coastal town. It was beautiful. We talked a lot about being bold and direct and making sure that people know that we are missionaries for Jesus Christ, and that we don't mess around. It was really good. I think a lot of us needed that reminder. Sometimes we get really focused on not offending people that we don't realize that we could be missing finding the people who will listen and love our message because we weren't open enough with them.

Also, we set up a hot chocolate stand for a few hours on Friday and Saturday to advertise for our free English classes, and we found out that Croatians are crazy. We were in the dead center of town, with really busy foot traffic, and hardly anyone cared about our FREE hot chocolate or our FREE English classes. In America, and especially at BYU, if you say the word free, people will trample themselves trying to get to your table. Still, we talked to a lot of people that day about English and even some about the gospel, so I'd call it a success. Plus, I drank a lot of hot chocolate. Bonus.

This week we also had a lesson with a man who has met with the missionaries a lot in the past. Like, off and on for several years. He is very acquainted with the church, and he loves it, but for some reason he is hesitant to commit himself to it. Our meeting was actually arranged by him, though, which was cool. And he said that he is determined to follow the teachings of the church now, and that he is set on reading his Book of Mormon and praying every day. We're pretty excited. We think this might actually be his time. 

And now for yet ANOTHER crazy story.

On Friday night, we were walking home from knocking door to door, when we noticed this man several meters ahead of us just collapse onto the snowy sidewalk. We rushed up to see what was wrong, and found him moaning and muttering things we didn't understand. He noticed us, and I guess he knew we were from America because he started to speak English. We helped him up with the help of two men who had been walking by, and he walked a few steps. Then he began to climb the short wall separating the sidewalk from the highway! He almost made it onto the street before I yelled at him to stop. He did. So then we told him we were going to go home now, and that he should do the same. He just kept telling us not to leave, but we were getting the creeps, since we were now alone on the sidewalk and it was almost 9:00. So we walked away. We got about 50 meters away when we turned and saw that he had succeeding in climbing the wall and was now doing this horrific zombie walk (arms outstretched and everything) all over the highway! It's a good thing there were only a few cars out, and they saw him enough ahead of time to avoid hitting him. That's when I called the Emergency Help line. Long story short, after a 10 minute phone convo, it was determined that Emergency Help was not going to do anything about the situation. At this point, the man was back on the sidewalk and making good time walking away from us, so we headed home. 

What a day.

Okay! This has been another installment from the life of Sister Watts!

Now for the fraza dana:
Za babino brašno (zah bah-bee-noe brah-shnoe) -- Literally, "for granny's flour." It's what kids say when people say "Zašto?" (why?) because it rhymes. Basically, it means nothing. It's like when people ask why and you just say because. 

Have a good week!
Sestra Watts

Monday, February 9, 2015

Sis Derenthal and I on one of the 3 days when it snowed literally all day.
Bok svima!

Another good week in the bag. Mission Leadership Council was a veritable success, I would say. Sis Derenthal and I got a lot of good ideas about ways that we can improve our work and be better examples to the people around us. We've put some into action, and it has been going well. I expect more success this week.

The first thing I should let you all know is that from Thursday to Saturday last, it snowed 15 inches. Thursday was really really wet, and for one reason or another we ended up walking in it for 3 hours straight. We were tired, but I think our boots got the worst of it. They did not hold up. We are now having to wear plastic bags on our feet inside the boot so the water/snow doesn't soak through and make us miserable. It's been worse, though. We're happy. We may buy new boots, we may not. Life goes on. We did a lot of shoveling on Friday, going around town and offering to help people out. It was a really rewarding experience.

The Kupa rijeka (river)

Next, I don't know if I already said this, but I am now the pianist for our branch (congregation). Sister Walker was before, but since she left, no one else knows how to play piano at all. It's a good experience, even though there have been some incredibly embarrassing moments when I either play all the wrong notes or neglect to play any notes at all. Hopefully this will help me improve my playing though. One of our less active members actually knows how to play the piano, so this just gives me renewed determination to help her come back :)

And now for the funny story. Last night we were going from door to door, as is our tendency, and one lady answered the door who appeared to be in her 60s. Before we could say anything, she gets really excited and says, "mačke!" which, literally, means "cats!" We're a little perplexed, since we are probably not cats. Then she asks where we're from and when we say America, she gets even more excited, and calls back to two other old-ish ladies to come to the door. They all seem pretty enthused about the fact that we are obviously "mačke," despite our undoubtedly bewildered faces. Then -- this is the best part -- the ask us if we'll sing for them. We say we don't know any songs in Croatian, but they are persistent, and say we can in English. So, like the clever, sweet mačke that we are, we sing "Nearer, My God, to Thee." They loved it. They tell us to wait, and then disappear behind the door. They come back with a handful of coins. At this point we have accepted the fact that don't have a trace of an idea as to what is going on, but we're not about to accept a handout (despite our stirring performance), so we start to protest. That is when they notice that we're holding something, which was our trusty copies of the Book of Mormon. They ask us what it is, and when we tell them, their eyes get all wide and they start laughing and yelling and just all-around freaking out. That's when they start apologizing to us, saying there has been a huge mistake, and that this whole time, they thought we were mačke! Mačkice! (kitten) They apologized loudly and repeatedly, and then sent us on our way. 

So. Funny story, right? These ladies got us confused with cats, right? It wasn't until we talked later to one of our native friends who is fluent in English that we found out that "cat" is what some people call young girls who they find hot. Kind of like where we get the word "catcall." But in this situation, the ladies thought we were these women who dress up in costume and go around door to door singing to people. They are most often gypsies that do it, and then they ask for money. How funny is that?

Anyway. I just thought that would brighten everyone's day. It definitely did ours. Just goes to show that missionary work is the best thing you could ever do. Who doesn't want to have a spiritually and humorously rewarding 18 months in a foreign place?

I think this letter is long enough, so I am going to end with a good fraza dana and leave you to your lives. This one I got from the Croatian grammar book, it's a 19th century poem by Tin Ujević:
Plačimo, plačimo u tišini, 
Umrimo, umrimo u samoći.

Let us cry, let us cry in silence,
Let us die, let us die in solitude.

Please don't take this poem too seriously. I just thought it was a good example of Croatian grammar so I wanted to share it. Plus it's funny. Have a good week!

Sestra Watts
                                 A couple of things I have made on P-day.

Ummmm yeah. Me cutting Sis Walker's hair at Mission Leadership Council...
I really only cut like a couple chunks. She let me do it to fulfill my dreams,
 and then a sister who knew what she was doing took over.

Monday, February 2, 2015


This one will be short, since we're going into Zagreb for p-day and Mission Leadership Council soon. I'm excited for that! Sister Derenthal and I are going to have a great time being Sister Training Leaders together, I can already tell. 

Annnd... I'm finally back in Karlovac! For those of you who have been keeping track of my posts, this might be kind of confusing, because I should have been in Karlovac all last week too, since I didn't get transferred, however, as always, there is never a dull day in the Adriatic North Mission. Last Monday Sis Walker and I got a call from the assistants to the president that I would be sent to Zadar (coast!) for the week, because a sister there was still waiting for her visa, and couldn't leave until she got it. So I was in Zadar for a week! It was definitely warmer than Karlovac, but also really windy. But I loved it.

So essentially, that was my week! I'll have more time to write next week, hopefully. Maybe. 

Sister Watts
Sister Watts is officially trained with a very official certificate
 Dad will be jealous about this one, we visited Krešimir Ćosić's grave when we were in Zagreb last week.