Called to serve in the Adriatic North Mission.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Hi everyone!
Short one this week.
Highlight: yesterday we were approaching people by the lake and a man totally came to US and asked us what we believe. He said that he saw us talking to people and knew we were Mormons and thought to himself, If they walk by me I will talk to them. And then we walked by him! He met the missionaries a couple years ago, but he told us that back then he wasn't in the same place spiritually that he is now, and that he wants to know what we believe. We talk about a myriad of different things, with him asking questions the whole time, and came to the conclusion that this man is already a Mormon, just without the essential element of having been baptized as such. He knows the Bible and loves it, and lives the doctrines in it. He is a truth seeker and said he will read the Book of Mormon, and if God tells him that it is true he will join our church! Smartest man I've ever met.
I've come to appreciate the ability to receive personal revelation more than any time before. I love that in our church we know that God still speaks personally and individually to us, His children. I have been reading in the Book of Mormon, towards the end, when the prophet Mormon is telling us in our day that God has not ceased to be God. In the Bible it says that He is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and so Mormon reasons that if God is unchanging, then why would he cease to perform miracles and revelations among His children? The answer is that He hasn't. I know that He continues to bless us in the same ways that He blessed His followers of old. I know that we can find answers to our personal, specific questions through studying His word and through prayer. I know that if we ask God, having faith and a sincere desire to know, if something is true or right or if we ask Him to help us, that He will answer us. That He will help us. That no matter what we do or who we are, that His love is present and unfailing, and that His arm is reaching out continually. It's us that pull back from Him, and not the other way around.
I wish you all a wonderful week, and I hope more than anything that you are happy!
Fraza dana:
Sretno! (sret-noe) -- Literally, "happily" or "luckily", but they use it as a way of saying "good luck!" Also sometimes just used as a parting "goodbye".
Vaša Sestra

Sister Durfee did my hair real fancy on Friday!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Sister Durfee and I made dandelion crowns at our member friends' (Luka and Krešimir) house on the mountain before we hiked to the castle last Monday. They live with their grandpa, and he likes to give nicknames to the missionaries he likes. He called me "Sofia Loren," after his mom! Luka told me that that is a big compliment. If I have no other talents, mine is that I tend to win over the old people.

Hello, good people!
I know I say this a lot, but this week was crazy! It started with hiking to a castle on Monday, and then Tuesday was a fantastic Zone Conference, at which Sister Durfee and I provided a delicious lunch that took wayyy too much work. 

Friday we traveled out to the most beautiful village just outside of Zagreb to visit a less active member. Sister Durfee and I both fell in love with the place and I am tentatively making plans to move there to raise my future children. I'm sorry I have no pictures of that. But just trust me, it was magnificent.
Then Saturday we got this call. It was a middle aged man looking for a woman named Violeta. After I told him he had the wrong number, he asked me what MY name was. I said Sestra Watts. He asked me why I was named Sestra, so I naturally told him about my being a missionary. I found out he lives in Zadar. I get real excited because we have missionaries there! So I said I could give his number to the elders there if he wanted. He said something like this (but in Croatian, naturally): "Well, I am actually more interested in the FEMALE kind of missionaries... but if I'm ever in Zagreb, or you're ever in Zadar, we should definitely meet up and go out for coffee." UMMMMMM...
I was about to tell him that we don't drink coffee in our church, but he interrupted and said something (I think he asked me if my accent was from Poland? That was a compliment.), and then the convo ended. Thank goodness.
THEN. We get a call the next day from, you guessed it, my Zadar friend. In essence, after 5 minutes of trying to end the phone call without being completely rude and making it so he'd just call right back anyway, he told me that he was probably going TO FALL IN LOVE WITH ME BECAUSE OF THE SOUND OF MY VOICE. I am not making this up. I thoroughly shut him down, do not worry. But I definitely have not gotten that before.
Anyway... life is so good other than that. I am so happy to say that I am happy. The work here is so hard, but so worth it. I never thought something so hard would be so good. Everyone should really think about serving a mission. It changes your life in so many good ways.
Hope you all have a marvelous week.
Sestra Watts

Us following the 6 Zagreb elders, who are driving what we lovingly call "the box." Isn't Zagreb beautiful though?

Here's some more from her letter just to her parents:

Bok tata i mama,
Yeah, I actually definitely did run into some Finns. Yesterday at church! Two girls were visiting from Finland because one of them had served in Croatia 5 years ago! So she brought her sister and they're vacationing here and visiting stuff. They didn't know who I was but a member Jasna warned me they were here so I went up to them and said "tervetuloa" and they loved it. We have some mutual friends from Festinord, one being Mattias Wiklof, Kirsti's son! 
Ooh! Yesterday I also met the Ostarčevićes! The husband was Krešimir Čosić's best buddy who played basketball with him. Now they do translation work for the church and live in America, but they're here for the summer! I cannot remember their first names for the life of me, though. I wanna say Brat Ostarčević's first name is Mišo or something. Anyway. They're in charge of the Krešo memorial basketball tournament. Oh! I figured out how the tournament works. So each country (out of Slovenia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Croatia) gets one team. Missionaries are technically not invited to participate, but Bosnia was desperate for players so President is letting two elders play. The real point of the tournament is more just for the memorialism, so I think the games are only 12 minutes or something. But anyway. President isn't bringing in all the missionaries like someone told me. HOWEVER. We as Zagreb missionaries will be enlisted to help out in whatever way they need us, so I'll probably most definitely get to go! And Krešo's son, Krešimir, will be playing on the Croatia team! I am SO excited. Then after the game is a fireside! Basically the church is going to get a whole heap of good publicity and interest, and they know it.
Also, Sister Durfee and I were volunteered by our senior couple to sing a musical number in church yesterday, so we sang an a capella version of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief (in Croatian, and we arranged it ourselves. It was actually pretty cool, if I do say so myself). Sister Ostarčević afterwards told us it was really good, and that they are looking for someone to do a special musical number at the Krešo fireside, and she is thinking about having us do it! Ahhhh! I would just die!
On a similar thread, my patriarchal blessing talks a lot about using my musical talents to bless the lives of others. I decided I need to work on that more a little while ago, and now I have been given so many opportunities without even seeking them out. That's pretty neat. 

Anyway. This week was pretty great. We contacted a mother and teenage daughter yesterday, who were Croatian, but actually lived in Toronto, Canada for 10 years. They let us teach them a 10 minute version of the Restoration, and the daughter took a Book of Mormon, and seems pretty interested. She also said she for SURE will come to English class because she misses speaking English a ton. We're excited. She is pretty cool. And she sounds completely American. 

Okay, well, I did a longish one because I am writing this to both of you. Love you both, and I'm so thankful that you guys are so faithful and raised us right.
Have a wonderful week!
S ljubavlju,
Vaša kćer

Monday, April 13, 2015

Sister D and I on our last day together, 2 weeks ago 
There is 1 Burger King in all of Croatia I think, and it was on our way from Karlovac to Zagreb.
 Naturally, we had to try it. Just once. It was actually pretty okay.
You know how there was always a street named after me in Sweden, Finland, and Germany? Well, I found a SQUARE in Zagreb! Katarinin Trg mean's Katarina's square. Woot. Also, I don't have time to write a mass letter. Post all these pictures and tell everyone I'm doing great!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wasn't General Conference amazing? I loved it. We didn't get to see the Sunday night session because of the time difference, but the rest were faaaantastic. I love conference.
Zagreb is honestly the absolute BEST! It's sooo much bigger than Karlovac. Unbelievably. We take trams everywhere and see people all the time. And there are so many members! It's great.
I don't have a whole lot to say. This past week was just a big flurry of trying to figure out what the heck I'm doing in Zagreb before my new companion comes tomorrow and I have to know things! Sister Lee, my companion for this week, has been great. She is a blast. We just talk and laugh and have a great time.
Watch General Conference if you haven't! Please!
Okay. Fraza dana:
Sretan uskrs! - (sreh-tahn oos-kerss) Happy Easter!
Sestra Watts

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Hi everybody.


We found out about transfers last Thursday, and after a magnificent 4 months in my first area, Karlovac, I am finally leaving the town of 4 rivers, destined for the magical mountain-enclosed metropolis of Zagreb, Croatia. Annnnnd I'm whitewashing it.

For those of you not well versed in Mormon mission lingo, a whitewash is when the president of the mission decides, through inspiration from the Lord, to remove a missionary companionship from an area and to place two completely different missionaries in their place. Most often, one missionary will stay, and one new one will come and learn to navigate the city and get to know the members of the church there and the people they are teaching, with the guidance of the one who has lived there previously; however, on rare occasions, and for a wide number or reasons that sometimes only the Lord knows, mission presidents will remove both missionaries and place two new ones in their stead to fend for themselves.

With that definition in mind, it is fair to say that I am not exactly whitewashing Zagreb. I will have a week's time, starting tomorrow, to serve with a sister who has been serving in Zagreb previously, and to learn the tram systems and where important places are, and to familiarize myself with the members and the like. After a week I will then be with my rightful companion, who has never served in Zagreb, and I will be responsible for getting us places successfully. We are also both going to be Sister Training Leaders once again. I am so, incredibly EXCITED. I love when stuff gets shaken up like this! Sister Durfee (my future companion, who's been in Beograd, Serbia this transfer) and I are going to have a great, sometimes confusing time together. And there are apparently FIFTY active members of the church there! I never thought I would rejoice at the idea of 50 people coming to church when I was raised seeing around 4 times that many at church back home, but things are different here. I can't wait.

And now, not to leave you on a depressing note, but one of the less active members, with whom we've worked very regularly, called us on Friday to tell us that she has decided to go back to her Evangelical roots and no longer be a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. We were heartbroken, but we know that each has their choice and we cannot tell anyone what to believe. I just do not see how someone can belong to the true church of Jesus Christ, and receive a witness from the Holy Spirit that it is true, and choose to leave it. But it is not my place to ask. I can only love her and pray for her, and respect her decision. Suffice it to say, however, that Sister Derenthal and I definitely went home that night and ate ice cream and watched seminary videos like we'd just gone through a terrible break-up.

On THAT note, I hope you all have a fantastic week, and that each and every one of you watch as much of General Conference this weekend as you can. If you don't know what that is, go to this link and learn about one of my favorite times of the year:

Love you all!
Sestra Watts