Called to serve in the Adriatic North Mission.

Friday, February 19, 2016


We're a week into our new transfer now, and I suppose it would be good to announce that I am training a new sister. She's fresh out of the States, and doing a real good job of making me realize what an old geezer I am. It's kind of embarrassing. But anyway, her name is Sister Barnes, and the only thing you need to know about her is she has curly hair... so, naturally, we get along GREAT. 

So yeah so I went up to Zagreb last week to get my beautiful new companion, and we've just been doing hardcore missionary work ever since. I am impressed with the drive and determination of Sister Barnes. It can't be easy to come out here and not be used to the language or culture. She's an all-star.

And then we stood in front of a mirror and realized how different we are in height.

The church is so true it's insane. 

Happy Late Valentine's Day! 

Sestra Watts

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rina didn't write a letter to the world this week, but here are parts of her letter to us.

Attention, parents! I have not been transferred to Slovenia. Seeing as this week is the first of a new transfer, travel plans to get all missionaries to their respective locations can get pretty creative. With that in mind, I only ended up in Slovenia for a couple of days to help people get to where they need to be. We got to Celje, Slovenia Sunday evening, had an amazing p-day in this town called Ptuj (great name, I know) where we saw some things celebrating the chasing away of winter. They have a huge parade (it was Sunday, we didn't see it) where they dress up like CRAZY and go insane. I got to try on one of the headdresses. It's very traditional. And then we had the three hours Monday night of missionary work in Slovenia, which was SO HARD. I think it was worse than being a new missionary. I was with Sister Yardley (from my MTC group, she's also a Croatian speaker) and then a Slovene missionary Sister Redding. Sis Redding barely taught us a few opening phrases in Slovene before we were out the door talking to people. The languages are similar, but they're not THAT similar. Especially the shorter, common phrases that you have to use. It was the most intriguing thing because we understood maybe half of what they were saying (I'm not sure how we understood because I don't remember any specific words, it just kind of made sense-- WEIRD) but we had absolutely NO idea of how to respond, so did our best and then turned to Sis Redding and she'd take over till the end. It was sooooo fun. And also I have a huge appreciation for how far I've come in this language. Crossing the border back to Croatia was the biggest relief. I can communicate here!

Okay. Now for the big news: I'M TRAINING! Finally! My last chance! We have two Serbo-Croat-speaking sisters coming in, and I get one of them! Sister Yardley has the other one. I'm staying in Banja Luka (it'll be my longest area-- 6 months by the end of the transfer) and am also still a Sister Training Leader. That is what MY trainer did when she trained ME, so I think that's sweet. President told me like a month ago I'd be training, but he pretty much swore me to secrecy. I'm so excited! As I type I am sitting in the mission office in Zagreb, and the missionaries' plane will land any minute and then they will come to meet us! I couldn't be more excited. I'm a little nervous, but I know I won't ruin her. 

Our investigator is still amazingly on target for baptism. She came to church on Sunday and President Grant was visiting, and he thinks she's in for sure. She loved church. And TWO of our members, having heard last week that she was on date, felt inspired (without conversing with each other beforehand) to bear amazing testimonies about baptism and their own conversion. I cried because it was so wonderful to see the members get excited. I've never experienced that before. Another amazing thing is that one of those members, has recently been reactivated, and now wants to receive her endowments in the temple in the spring. President Grant asked us sisters to teach her temple prep, and she's so excited, and we're so excited too! ALSO, Sister Varty (the senior sis) bore her testimony in Serbian because on Saturday for our hour of language instruction with them we taught how to bear testimony. We mostly just gave them phrases to say (kind of rote), but in recent weeks we've also been doing a lot of grammar, so imagine my surprise when Sis Varty gets up and bears a completely UNIQUE testimony with sentences that she had made up entirely on her own, correct grammar and all. I also cried at that. The members LOVED it.They need to see that the missionaries try.

Okay. Sorry if I'm giving you a lot of information at once, but one last thing. Literally 10 minutes ago I was talking to Sister Halling, a senior office sister, and she saw the picture of mummi you sent me and asked who she was. I told her about her, and her being from Finland, so she mentioned the recent area authority visit from a Finn (whom I did not meet). Then she told me that her husband's cousin actually baptized that area authority about 40 years ago! So I said what years? And she said '75-77. His name is Dean Halling. Isn't that when Pappa served as president?? I told her about that too. I don't know. That's pretty cool, huh?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Can you believe I've been in three countries in the last two weeks? #smallmissionlife

Two weeks ago was MLC in my favorite place, Zagreb. We watched the coolest live broadcast from Salt Lake City which was streamed to every single missionary in the world. It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, that's for sure, to receive specific training directly from living prophets and apostles. I may have cried a little bit. 

Then last week we got surprised with the go-ahead from President to take a lovely little trip down to southern Serbia (where missionaries and Mormons do not exist) to do some hardcore family history work for Sister Vukorepa (if you didn't already guess, that name definitely originates in the Balkans) for a day or two. She's got a ton of ancestors from this little village right outside of Niš, Serbia, so we got to spend some time in this archive in Niš looking at old records, searching for her family names. You can't find this stuff on the internet. Her family tree on is thriving now. And then we actually went to the aforementioned village and had this HUGE dinner with Sister Vukorepa's cousins! I've never eaten so much meat and bread in my life. Worth it!

We also passed through Belgrade on the way down, and I got to see some of my favorite people while in town. That big, old, beautiful city still holds a place in my heart. Some of my fondest memories took place there.

You're probably wondering how we managed to get any work done here in Banja Luka the last couple weeks. Do not worry, though, we still had plenty of time to teach and preach on the streets of Bosnia. We also put an investigator on date for baptism for February 27th :) we're really excited for that.

Phrase of the day:
Na vrh brda vrba mrda (roll your "r"s and make your "h"s like a cat's hiss. Also, "a" is pronounced "au" like "authentic") -- Something like, "On the top of a hill, a willow sways." It's a tongue twister.

God be with you!
Sestra Watts

P.S. Happy Black History month!