Monday, November 8, 2010

Love, Kristen - Week 2

Kamusta lahat! (Hello everyone!)

This week was fantastic!! I love being a missionary! The spirit is so strong here at the MTC and so many amazing things have happened this week. Two amazing individuals came to speak to us this week, Elder M. Russell Ballard and Sherri Dew, and my district also watched a talk given by Elder Holland in class. His talk was given at the MTC some time ago though, so it was still as though he were speaking directly to us. For those of you who don't know who these people are, Elder Ballard and Elder Holland are members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and General Authorities in the church, and Sherri Dew is a prominent LDS author and has written several books, including the biographies of two prophets. It was wonderful to hear from all of them, and to be in the presence of an apostle. Elder Ballard spoke on being excellent communicators, something we talk about a lot in the MTC. However, the way he explained it was so pristine and clear, and we all felt the spirit strongly as he spoke to us. I wrote about it in my journal, and I look forward to talking more about it when I come home. Elder Holland spoke on "The Miracle of a Mission" and gave us encouragement, advice, and told us his mission story as well, and how much it meant to him. Sherri Dew spoke on many things, but what I remember most from her talk, is when she testified of Jesus Christ and his love for each of us. It was wonderful.

We also did a lot of role playing this week as far as teaching goes. The first time was on Monday, where we went on "Zone Exchanges." Us younger missionaries were paired up with some of the older missionaries (or those who had been here longer) and taught lessons about the gospel to each other. I was a little nervous the first time, but as I began teaching, even though it wasn't for real, I still felt the spirit leading me in the discussion and bringing back to my memory those things that I had studied. It was amazing, and I found ways to also relate and explain things to the "investigators" in a way that they would understand (such as relating enduring to the end to a game of football =D). We also taught in the TRC this week, and practiced our Tagalog door approaches with some people from the Philippines, and then taught them the first lesson on the Restoration to them. It was wonderful to be able to talk with someone from the Philippines, to listen to their accent, and learn just a bit more about their culture. More teaching was done this week, but those two were the most significant for me.

Also! I saw Hermana Brittany Beecher as she was moving in!!! Hermana Beecher was my roommate during my Freshman year, and it was so good to see her again! She's going to Missouri, Spanish Speaking. Oh she'll love it! I was sooo happy to see her again! I ran up and gave her a big hug! We've seen each other in passing during the rest of the week too. I'm so happy that she's on a mission, as I know that she's planned to serve one her whole life, and has always had the desire to do so.

This week I'm reading the book "Our Search for Happiness" by Elder M. Russell Ballard. I love it. I would invite anyone who just wants a better understanding of the LDS church, and why it's members do some of the things we do (send missionaries out to the world, don't wear the cross, etc.) to read it. It was written for this purpose--to help others understand the church, and not to convert people to it. Although, Elder Ballard does admit in the beginning that he would be less than honest if he didn't say he would be pleased if this did happen. But again, that is not the intent. It is very well written, and very clear on many subjects. It's only 125 pages long too, and is a small book. So again, I'd invite anyone who wants to understand the church better, members and non-members alike to read it. I know that I've learned a lot.

Tagalog is coming along quite nicely. I'm so grateful too. I seem to be catching on very quickly. The one thing I struggle with is vocabulary. A lot of the words sounds the same :). Sister Lyman seems better at that. However, I'm better at sentence structure. We're able to help each other in those aspects, although she's been getting on herself a lot for not picking up the sentence structure. I hope to find ways this week to encourage her and support her as she tries to learn the language. It is difficult. However, it is worth it. A lot of the words also sound like spanish words but are spelled differently. For example: trabajo (sp) and trabaho (tag). That's nice though. I am worried about my English spelling though. Already, I'm beginning to spell words with hard c's with a k. For example: "cat" would be spelled "kat" in Tagalog. Also "Chocolate cake" is pronounced the same and means the same thing, but is spelled, "Tsokolat keyk." (Ts=ch) So yeah, everyone be nice about my spelling the first couple of weeks that I come home :).

I also want to add that I LOVE the culture and diversity here!!! Not only do I hear several different languages being spoken a day, and am spoken to in several different languages a day, but I love meeting people from different countries and cultures and learning about them! For example, in my zone alone we have someone from Kentucky (I'll explain), a couple Samoans, and a Hawaiian (again, I'll explain). The elder from Kentucky is in my district, his name is Elder Waggoner, and oh my goodness, I love it when he speaks! He has a wonderful Southern accent, and says the funniest, but sincerest things, such as "What in the sam hill are you talkin' about?", "wrastle" instead of "wrestle", and things like "That's like a dog in a barrell with a porkchop." He just says those things too, not even for our enjoyment. He also threatens to "hog tie" the other elders when they playfully give him a hard time about something, and we can tell by his eyes that he actually knows how to do it :).

The Samoans are the happiest people in our district I think. Their culture is so interesting too. They're very thoughtful of others, so they're very kind. They also love to have fun, and are SO GOOD at volleyball! I always want to be on their team. They hate going to bed, or at least one of them does, because as he said, in their culture they don't go to bed at night because of the tourists. They just stay up and hang out with them. I admire them very much too because they have to learn English when they get here, and then learn Tagalog (or any other language) from English. I wish I could explain more, but there's not enough time. They're wonderful people though.

Sister Faumina is from Hawaii, but she's definitely Polynesian, and told me she's actually from Samoan desent. She told me about the food in Hawaii, a bit about the language, and told me more things about Samoans. She also told me stories about her dad climbing coconut trees, and how she was always so embarassed, haha. I think that'd be so cool!

Well, my time is about up. I love you all. Thank you for your love and prayers and letters!! Seriously letters can make or break a day. Please remember to write.

Also, to college students, no one complained to me about this, but I do want to apologize if I offended anyone by saying you have no idea how busy we are. It's true missionaries are very busy, BUT I had no right to say you had no idea, as I'm sure there are those of you who are just as busy. So I'm sorry if I offended anyone.

Amy! Tell me how you did at State!!! And how LC did!!

Okay, got to go. Love you all!

Sister Danner

P.S. Note from family: Jason said he is going to work on his coconut tree climbing skills.