Serving in the Sydney North Australia Mission

Monday, October 21, 2013

Taree, Australia!!!

Dear Family,
Australia is amazing!  It is so warm here!  It is spring time, almost summer and it is beautiful.  Every morning we wake up to hundreds of tropical birds flying around.  Kookaburra - Joseph that licorice you love, is the bird on the package and is the loudest most beautiful bird you’ve ever seen!. Cockatoo's also are so pretty and are everywhere!  The food is pretty normal to America.  They have Macca (McDonalds) Hungry Jacks (Burger King) and a few other places.  But we eat heaps of fruit!  It is so amazing here!  A traditional meal for tea (Dinner) is sausages, fruit, bread and hopefully nutella.  They also eat vegemite :( and then fruit drinks.  It really isn't too different from the U.S.  But really it is beautiful here and we are in the REAL Australia.  The City has heaps of ethnicity.  It is the Melting pot of the world.  Taree is a really nice town with about 20,000 people. Really nice shopping area's and places to go. It is also kind of in the  country.  We have Koala's and Kangaroo's haha they are so cool!  The people out here are real Aussie's. As real as they get so the accent is VERY strong.  I am starting to not even think about it anymore though it’s great!  One interesting thing here is that Australia closes down from 4-6pm.  Literally nothing is open during those hours.  Everyone goes home or something!  So at 6 o’clock when we are going to get dinner, all the shops and most gas stations are closed!  I thought that was pretty strange.

My companion and I are serving in a branch.  We have about 6 pages of members but on average about 20-35 people come.  The area we are covering has heaps of old people.  Everyone is old!!!! hahaha  We have some great friends that are these old Grannies and always call us and give us drinks and just chat with us. I love it haha

Our first day in the area we didn't have that much to do so we just started visiting less active members and got to know the area.  The second day we decided to fast because we needed investigators and people to teach.  That morning we fasted and prayed to find someone to teach and baptize.  We stopped by the Lewis family, a less active family with about 6 kids.  We got talking to the dad who is 6 foot 3, 330 pounds, massive beard, long hair to his back, and hadn't showered in weeks.  His BO was beyond belief.  He was the nicest/ strangest man I have ever met but he is great.  We sat outside and to our disadvantage the wind was coming right at us the whole time.  His BO for one hour was plowing into our noses!!!  But it was worth it because at the end he told us he has a son that is getting ready to be baptized.  He is 10 years old and "they hadn't gotten around to it" Crazy!!  How do you not get around to Baptizing your son!? haha  We met with the son (Samson) and are going to baptize him in the next month!  What a miracle!  The following day we met a family of three – Dad, Mom and daughter that are not members.  The Dad has read the Book Of Mormon 3 times and has been "waiting" for missionaries! So we have a Tea Appt with them tonight!  Heavenly Father has this area planned out for us and we just need to exercise our faith and he will deliver people for us to teach!

Last night we had Tea with the Smith Family.  The Smit’s are a husband and a wife around mom and dad’s age.  They have 4 kids that have served missions and gotten married and moved out. The dad has Huntington’s disease.  They are literally the nicest, most loving, hard working, dedicated couple in this Branch.  The Husband with this disease is so amazing.  He built his home which is beautiful.  It is on a 10 acre lot with the most amazing view.  The entire time we were eating I was just crying inside for him.  To go through life like that, not able to talk at all, shaking and making weird sounds, is awful.  My love for him was so strong and I told him we would rebuild his deck for him because he was looking for help. That night I prayed and cried for him. (Something I get from MOM!!)  But just knowing people go through these trials in life and can't express themselves or anything. My love for mentally challenged people has always been so strong and I can't wait for the Resurrection and when I can hug him and have a real conversation with him.  It just made me really think of how blessed I am.  My life is amazing and I have such amazing support.  He really inspired me and I really felt like our spirits connected.  I will always remember him and how I felt in their home.

Alright, one last fun thing we did this week.  To get away from sad but amazing experiences like the one I just told you about, we went to a hub market!  It was at this place kinda like the fairground in Farmington, just heaps and heaps of shops and stores of everything in the world.  Down about 50 shops was a table, with two white missionaries talking about the Gospel!  Hahahah yes that was us!  We set up an information booth with all this stuff!  It was pretty fun and we have some ideas for next month’s market.  It was a great way to just get out and have people see us and for us to talk to people. 

Everything here is going so well and we are working very hard!  The members love missionaries and especially the less actives!  

I just want you to know how much I love all of you and I think about you every day. I think of the things you are doing and pray for you daily!  Keep asking questions and things you want to know!  My Companion is the best.  He has 6 months left on his mission and is just like Riley.  It keeps me working hard and happy.  I love you guys so much!  Enjoy every minute you all have to be together and say hello to my Indy Girl and Sugar Bea!!

Have a great week and God be with you!!

Love, Elder Watts

Thursday, October 10, 2013


We received the following letter from Alex's mission president:

Brother and Sister Watts

Elder Watts arrived in the Australia Sydney North Mission safely.  Thank you for entrusting him into our care for the time of his mission.  Sister Howes and I are mindful of the great trust you have placed in us by sharing your son with us.  When he arrived, we met him at the airport and took him to the mission office, where he was introduced to the office staff and some of the other missionaries.  This was then followed by lunch and orientation.  We will email a picture of your wonderful missionary with us.

Elder Watts' companion is Elder Imeson from the United States.  They will be serving in the Coffs Harbour Zone.

Please note that all mail is to be sent to the Australia Sydney North Mission Office:

Elder Watts  
PO Box 2723
Calingford Court 
NSW 2118, Australia

We are sending a map of the mission which you may want to keep so you can see where your missionary is serving at any time.  Our mission is considered to be one of the most beautiful in the world.  I am aware that the Lord blesses the families of missionaries in many special ways.  As your son serves, you will find that to be very true.  Your support is greatly appreciated.  You may contact the mission president, should the need arise, at 2010151@ldschurch.org at any time.  Missionaries are allowed to send and receive email.  They check it at the local library on preparation day, which is usually Monday but can change depending on weekly circumstances.

Warmest Regards,

President Philip F. Howes

Here are a few pictures the mission secretary sent us:

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Visa has arrived

Dear Family!!

What an amazing past week I have had! I don't know where to start! I guess to answer some questions quick…. I got one package with all the food!  So helpful Mom!!  Thank you!!  The Tiki Cup was awesome and a surprise haha

Today we got to go to the Salt Lake Temple.  It is so beautiful but I was so nervous I would run into people in SLC!!  I sat in the Celestial room and had the most mixed emotions of my life.  I remember sitting in the same room with Riley and mom.  So weird, but awesome!!  I have a really cool picture of me and Riley in front of the temple.  Now it is Elder Ramirez in Riles place haha.

Wednesday night I wrote in my journal, "I feel like I am going to get my visa soon."  The next morning I got a call from the mission office and they told me I had received my visa.  So amazing how the Lord had told me in my mind that I was leaving!  I leave Tuesday, Oct. 8 at 7:00pm.  I bought a calling card in the MTC, hopefully with enough time on it for the airport when I call. I will call you when I am in LA at about 9:30 pm.  Hopefully that all goes as planned but just be prepared for me to call at a random time in case I have a delay or something.  But I am so excited!!  A little nervous to go to a whole new area and meet all these new people but it will be awesome!  Everyone I talk to says Australia is amazing!

Yes I am sooo sad to leave!!  We have 6 baptisms in the next 4 weeks!!  People that would not even listen to the missionaries all of the sudden would and just crazy stories like that.

General Conference will be awesome!  Ralph works at the DI and said he got a new suite to look "fly" for General Conference.  I have a few people that I plan to keep in touch with when I return home in 2 years.  I can't wait for you all to meet Ralph and some others when I get home.  I really got so lucky to be able to go to the Temple and be at General Conference before I leave.

I have two really cool stories that happened about 1-2 days ago. We were riding our bikes down the street and this lady we passed yelled at us to come over.  She told us she has two little kids ages 1 and 2.  She is covered in tats and is a shorter half Hispanic woman.  We set up an appt. to go meet her and one of her friends.  Later that night we find out she is from west valley just needing to get away.  She skipped her BAPTISM date to move and asked us if she could be baptized!!  Does that happen??? NO!  So that was really cool and we are working with her and she is planning on being baptized next month.
Next story, Sunday night we meet with one of 5 Ward Mission Leaders. He tells us about this random lady who walks into the church and says that God told her to come here. We got her address and headed over a few hours later. Her name is Hazel and she has had a very, very rough life. She said the first time she didn't cry in the last 3 weeks was Sunday morning when she had this feeling to go to Church. It happened to be an LDS church.  She said she needs god in her life and we put her on date to be baptized! 2 miracles occur in 2 days!  What a blessing that is. I know all mission work doesn't just appear to us like that but in this case it did.

Thank you all for your emails and support! I couldn't do it without all of you!  It has truly been a blessing to serve in SLC and be able to develop the relationships that I have developed.  The Testimony I have gained and the knowledge that I have will be awesome to take to Australia and get to work.  I wouldn't change a second of the Mission or rather be home.  This is amazing and such a great opportunity I have.  I am having the time of my life and I am only In SLC!  Wait til Australia!! hahaha 

Thank you so much for everything.  I am looking forward to working hard this next week and leaving the mission with a lot of baptisms and the opportunity to share the Gospel.  I love you all more that you can imagine! Have an amazing week!!

Love, Alex