Monday, November 1, 2010

Love, Kristen - Week 1

(Sidenote from Kristen's Mom: When she wrote her first email to me, she said she had 26 minutes left to write this one!! Look how much she grateful this girl can write! :)

Kamusta Pamiliya! (Hello Family!)

This email is for everyone (for Mom to post on the blog) but I wanted to make sure you all got it personally.

So I've only been in the MTC for less than a week, but it already feels like I've been here at least two weeks. That's not to say that it's been bad, because it certainly hasn't been--it's just a completely new schedule and new lifestyle to adjust to. One thing I've learned is that one really doesn't understand just how busy a missionary is until you are one yourself. So, college students, I'm sorry, but you have no idea :). That's coming from a former (and future) very busy college student. Our schedules are planned for us by-the-minute, and we are expected to be early to every single meeting. We get little to no personal time. That's why us newbies are all so excited for P-Day. We're learning quickly that our time is not ours, but the Lord's, and we're each striving to make sure we use the Lord's time to the fullest and not waste any of it.

Anyways, the first day of the MTC was a whirlwind, but it was so fun and so exciting! When my parents dropped me off, I honestly didn't feel sad, only excitement. That may sound horrible, but it's true. And really, there was no time to even feel sad. The elders who took my suitcases walked with me to my residence hall where a bunch of sisters were waiting for new sisters. One of them shook my hand and told me that her name was Sister Wiseman, and she then took both of my suitcases and rolled them into the residence hall, and despite my attempts to take at least one of them from her, rolled them down the hall, to the sister who had my key, and then we got in an elevator, up to the 3rd floor, and she rolled both of them down to my room. I was the first one who arrived, so I got first dibs on a bunk, and chose the top one closest to the window :). I made to start unpacking, but Sister Wiseman told me I'd have time later and we hurried to get everything else we needed, including my name tag.

When one of the workers at the MTC put my name tag on, it was a neat feeling. It was like, it's official, I'm a missionary now :). I wish you could have been there for it Mom :).

The whole day, us new missionaries were herded around like cows. Everyone was so nice and helpful though. I met my companion, Sister Lyman, and the rest of my district (6 other elders). We got to know one another a little, and found out that all of us are going to the Philippines Iloilo Mission!! So Sister Lyman and I will be able to travel together!

That night we had our first encounter with investigators, but we were in a large group of about thirty missionaries. The "investigators" were of course members of the church and volunteers, but they were such GOOD ACTORS!!! They never broke character once!! And they were so convincing! And it was all impromptu. I was so amazed and impressed. I got a chance to talk with one of them about why he had stopped seeing the missionaries before, and found out more about his family and how his wife had been in and out of the hospital. Although it wasn't a real situation, it was still very neat to experience, and I felt a sincere desire to help him with what he was going through. It was very cool.

My companion, as I mentioned before, is Sister Lyman, and she is awesome!! She has been such a strength and support to me the last few days as I've adjusted to the new schedule, and I hope that I've been the same to her. She's taught me a lot about patience, as sometimes meetings can run over time and cut into the little personal time that we have, and that can really irritate me. And it irritates Sister Lyman too, but she bears it all with a big smile on her face, while I tend to scowl. Haha. I'm learning, and Sister Lyman is a very good example for me.

Tagalog is a challenging language, but it's coming along. I'm grateful for the years I've taken with studying Spanish, and the little experience I had with Russian. Tagalog is similar to Spanish in grammar structure (similar, not the same, so it's still a little challenging), and while there are Spanish and Tagalog words that sound the same, they're still different. Studying both Russian and Spanish have taught me good study skills for learning a new language too, and also because I'm used to learning different languages I think I catch on a little quicker than some people in my class. But that just means I get to help others, which I enjoy. They help me too, by letting me practice on them. Already I've learned how to bear a simple testimony in Tagalog and door approaches. I'm still a little slow, but I'm getting faster :).

Elder Ball is the district leader and he's great! His companion is so supportive of him too. It's great to see them work together as a team. I've come to love the elders in my district. They are all so funny!!! We were all so quiet the first couple of days, but then we played a game together, and we really got to know each other well yesterday outside the temple, and during district unity time. We told unique things about ourselves and some funny stories. I told about my love of penguins and my stuffed animal penguin collection at home (30 penguins at least!) and they were all amazed. I told them too how I would sometimes use penguins to prank Bryant and they thought that was funny.

I'm the senior companion, which doesn't mean much because Sister Lyman and I are on the same level, but I do lead our companion study session and make final decisions. Sister Lyman and I work well together so it's pretty easy.

Sister McDonald and Sister Salway are our roommates and it's lots of fun!

So, like I said earlier I'm learning more and more that this time is not mine, but the Lord's. All of my time is truly dedicated to him. The MTC is wonderful, but it certainly can be overwhelming sometimes. The second day, I was having such a GOOD day! Everyone I saw was happy and smiling and cheerful and kind, and by the time Sister Lyman and I went to our branch meeting on Sunday, I was thinking to myself, "Disneyland has nothing on the MTC. They think they're the happiest place on Earth? Ha! The MTC is the happiest place on Earth!" Well, it was then that the Lord saw fit to try me. The branch meeting, which was only supposed to be about 2 hours long, with interviews going on in the middle of it, ended up being THREE HOURS long and completely took away Sister Lyman and my companion planning time, and was very much threatening to cut into the time we have to get ready for bed. The last twenty minutes I didn't absorb a thing. I was so irritated and so preoccupied with thoughts of getting out of there. My patience was so tested. I was very much tempted to tell Sister Lyman we were leaving early. I didn't, but I was tempted. On the walk home I vented, and Sister Lyman agreed wtih me but still had a smile on her face. That night I prayed and thought while the lights were out, and couldn't belive how my mood had changed so rapidly. I felt prompted to remeber how I was on the Lord's time, and that while the MTC would be very difficult at times, I would have the strength and faith to do those things the Lord requires of me. I felt peace and went to sleep.

There have been other times when I've felt tried and my patience pushed, but I'm getting better and know that it's for my own good. I know this is the Lord's work. I'm excited to be going out to the Philippines soon!

So funny story, I had 8 seconds left, signed my name, went to send it, and the computer logged me out. I ran out of time!!! So I sat and waited for everyone else to be done to see if anyone had ANY minutes left at all. Luckly Elder Tran in my district had five minutes left that he didn't need. So I'm using his minutes. And luckily LDSMail saves your work everyon 5 seconds. Oh so grateful.

Okay, don't want to lose this. I have four minutes left, but I'm sending it now to be safe. Thank you eveyrone for all of your love and support.

Love you all!
Sister Danner