Called to serve in the Adriatic North Mission.

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!

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