Monday, December 27, 2010

Love, Kristen, Week 9 - Still in Provo!

Hi Everyone!

I hope that you all had a very Merry Christmas!! Or as they say in Tagalog, Maligayang Pasko!! I had a good one here. Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and his wife, Wendy Nelson, came and spent the weekend with us. That was really great. Elder Nelson is so fun and so is Sister Nelson. I wrote my family a letter about it, and if they'd like to share it with all of you, then they're certainly welcome to.

Well, it's been an emotional weekend, but I'm doing good. I'm NOT sad that I'm not going to the Philippines. I'm disappointed, yes, but I know that I'll get there eventually. No, what I'm sad about is having to say goodbye to my district earlier than expected. I know that if I were leaving with them, it'd only be about 48 hours from now that I'd have to say goodbye anyways, but well, I'd rather say goodbye in the Philippines after having one last adventure with them, than here in the MTC. But you know, it's going to be okay. We're all such good friends, and I love each and every single one of them, but I'm supposed to stay here. Sister Lyman and I are having a hard time with saying goodbye to each other. We've become so close. We had our last companionship prayer last night and started crying. We ended up staying up an extra half hour just talking and trying to comfort one another. I have no doubt that there's going to be some more hard times today.

But there are blessings to be had. Those who are leaving are sad that I am not coming, but those who still have some weeks to go are happy that I'm staying. It's nice to be so loved, haha. The all-elder district that I will be joining later tonight is really excited to have me in their district. More than anything, I think they're just happy to be getting a sister ;). Elder Hong and Elder Simmons (Zone Leader and District Leader) came and talked to me the other day to let me know on behalf of their district just how excited they are for me to be with them, and to see if there was anything that they could do for me. That was really nice of them. I'm excited to get to know all of them. It'll be good.

My new companions will be Sister Decker and Sister Budge. They're six weeks behind me, so I won't be joining their class, but I will do gym time with them (although I won't be going to gym because of my wrist), possibly companionship study if our schedules line up to do that, and whatever other things our schedules allow us to do. Each district (class) has a different schedule. I'll be a "solo" sister, which means that I don't have to always be with them. I can be with two elders if I'd rather. Or I can even be by myself on certain occasions, but I kind of doubt that'll ever happen. Anyways, it'll all be worked out. I'd like to say that I'm excited to be with them, I mean we're roommates, and so they're both great girls, but it'll take some getting used to to be in a threesome, and I'm going to miss Sister Lyman like crazy.

Thank you for the rush of dearelders on Wednesday! A couple even sneaked in on Thursday, haha. I loved it. I read all of them too. Sorry if I stressed any of you out. Turns out you actually had an extra three weeks to get them in :). But thank you. It was really wonderful to get so much mail. I'll write all of you back soon. Promise!


MTC Mailbox # 175
2005 N. 900 E.
Provo, UT. 84604

All right. Now, I don't want anyone feeling sorry for me. Really, the worst will be today when I have to say goodbye to my good friends. After that it can only get better. I've been given two priesthood blessings this weekend. One I asked for right before I went to get the MRI, and in it I was told that Heavenly Father has a plan for me and that He will make that plan known to me very soon. The second was a blessing of healing, and for that I asked each member of my district, besides Sister Lyman, to participate (although she did get to participate by holding a card so that one of the elders would know how to properly anoint the oil). I was promised to be healed and that in fact it was the Lord's will that I be healed. Then I was promised some other amazing things. I know I'm supposed to be here. It's hard right now, but I know that it will be okay. I just need to put my trust in the Lord. Each day I remind myself that I need to choose my attitude. If I choose to be happy, then I will be happy. If I choose to be miserable, then I will be miserable. It's okay that I feel sad that my friends are leaving. That's only normal. But, I can choose not to dwell on it. I know that I'll see them again. In fact, the other day I was just seeking some comfort, and found that scripture in Doctrine and Covenants that says, "Thy trials and thy afflications shall be but a small moment..." I kept reading on a little ways and soon came to the verse that says, "Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again." That verse brought so much peace and comfort to me. I know that my wrist will heal. It's only a matter of time. But I didn't know if I would ever see my friends again. We're all going to the same mission, my district, and also Sister McDonald and Sister Salway, and some other wonderful people in the zone. That verse brought me comfort though. I know that I'll see them again, and what a wonderful reunion it will be when I do. They've been such an amazing support to me during this small trial of mine. When the elders in my district gave me the blessing, I felt the spirit so strongly, and felt of their faith that I could be healed. When Sister Lyman and I were talking last night, she said that she too felt the spirit, but that more than that she also felt the great love those elders have for me, and that we all have for each other as a district. She said it was so powerful. I don't know how much more I can express to you all how much I've come to love my district, and how close we all are to each other. We've had hard times every now and then, but when it comes right down to it, we really love each other and will always be there for one another. I have their emails, and will be emailing them as soon as I can to let them know that the doctor's have given me clearance and that I'm on my way :). Sister Lyman and I may email just a little bit between all of that too :).

Well, that is all I have to say. Really, please do not worry about me. I am sad today, but I know that I will be happy. Even now I'm feeling comfort that everything will be okay. I know that the Lord has a plan. I'm on His timetable, not mine :). There's something that he needs me to do here.

I love you all!
Sister Danner

P.S. From Kristen's Mom: Thanks so much for those who sent Dear Elder letters at the last minute last week, when we thought she would not receive them past Wednesday, and before we knew she would not be leaving today for the Philippines. I was so happy to read that she was flooded with letters from so many of you! Thank you!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Love, Kristen's Mom :-) - week (I think 8 and a half)

It was so great to hear Kristen's voice today! Unfortunately, she was calling to let us know the MRI done on her wrist today showed a compressed fracture that is still healing. Her departure date is now tentatively January 17th. We got to talk to her for over an hour (we think they forgot about her :-) Haha). She was in good spirits and has faith that she will go to the Philippines when she is supposed to be there. She trusts Heavenly Father's timing. She does not seem sad at all to not be home for Christmas(not that she doesn't miss home and us, of course, but she feels she is where she is supposed to be and is happy), and is looking forward to the two devotionals they will have at the MTC on Christmas. She is looking forward to seeing who will be speaking to them.

So, with the departure date change, all letters will still get to her next week, and you can use the MTC address still to write to her. I know she loves hearing from family and friends.


P.S. She also spoke to us in Tagalog and she sounded was pretty cool. Of course that is coming from someone who doesn't know what Tagalog should sound like, but it wasn't English! :-)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Love, Kristen - Week 8


Well, surprisingly, I really don't have too much to say this week...although we'll see if I really stick to that as I get going. Things are starting to wind down, and we're making final preparations to leave. Our flight plans came on Friday, which I won't give any details about on here for safety reasons, but I'll for sure let you all know how they went after I get to the Philippines. Surprisingly we've all still been able to focus in class and during study times. But when we get a free moment, we for sure talk about our excitement to be in the Philippines in a week and a half! :)

I'm not sure if my mom updated my blog with how my doctor's appointment went on Wednesday, concerning my wrist, but just in case she didn't, I'll let you know that the doctor took an x-ray and they did find a small hairline fracture. It's not very impressive though, so they didn't put my in a cast, but told me that I need to keep my brace on 24/7 and use my left arm as little as possible. He scheduled an appointment for me this Wednesday to come back for a check-up to see how it's doing, and if it's progressing in the healing process, and I'm having less pain, he'll clear me for the Philippines. My wrist has been feeling great. Still a little sore sometimes, but I can use it to do just about anything (I'm just not lifting things with it really, because he told me not to) and so I think I'll be good to go on the 27th.

REMINDER: The MTC is not going to be accepting any local delivery services after Dec. 22nd. This means no dearelders will be printed off after 12:00pm on the 22nd. I won't get any on the 27th...I won't be in the MTC when they arrive. I don't know what exactly this means for US Postal packages, but just to be safe, try to get any here by the 27th. Thank you so much to those who sent me packages this week by the way!! I really appreciate it and it made me so happy to get a package from you!! So thank you. It was very thoughtful of you. But yes, just a heads up. I would hate for anything to get left behind.

We've been really emphasizing teaching and speaking in Tagalog as much as possible our last week. Sometimes this is frustrating for me, because I honestly get annoyed with Tagalog sometimes. I'm pretty good at it, and in fact my district is always telling me how I'm the best one at it in our class, but I'm not feeling the same love for it that I felt for Spanish. I'm really having to learn to love it. It's a neat language, and a pretty language, so I'm not sure what my problem is, but I think part of it is that I like it when people just get their points across to me, and with Tagalog it can take people so long to get their points across because they are so slow at thinking up words and phrases. So it's definitely a test of my patience. But you know, I need to get over that because pretty soon, it'll be me speaking super slowly and others will have to exercise patience with me, as I will probably not speak a word of Ilonggo once I get to Iloilo.

However, I have had some amazing experiences with Tagalog when I let go of my pride. We teach in all Tagalog now, which is an amazing thing in and of itself as we've only been learning it for 2 months. Sometimes it can be hard to get into the teaching appointments though because in the back of your mind, you know that they're fake, that the people you're teaching have already accepted the gospel into their life. When I think like this and allow my pride to take over, I have a very difficult time thinking up Tagalog words and phrases--even though I know that I know them. It is not smooth and the lesson is pretty much a flop because the spirit is not there. However, when I view the person I'm teaching as a child of God and like someone who I could potentially meet on my mission, and feel a sincere desire for them to come unto Christ through the restored gospel, then Tagalog seems to just flow out of my mouth. Please don't misunderstand me--my Tagalog is still broken...I don't suddenly begin speaking fluently--, but I am able to recall words and phrases and correct grammar structures much quicker and easier and I can feel the spirit helping me. It's an amazing experience, and I can tell that the people who I am teaching, even though they're already members of the church, are touched in some way.

Yesterday Ted Gibbons, who is apparently a prominent actor and writer within the church, came and performed a 45 minute monologue during our Sunday Fireside last night. He told the story of Joseph Smith's martyrdom from the point of view of Willard Richards, one of the men who was with Joseph Smith in Carthage Jail when he was killed. Richards is the one who had bullets fly all around him, but received only a couple of grazes by bullets--not a hole was in his garment. He told us his own conversions story, how he came to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, specific quotes, exact times, every date, every event leading up to the martyrdom. It was an amazing thing to witness.

I'm out of time!

From Kristen's mom: Kristen only has 30 minutes a week to write this, so unfortunately sometimes she doesn't get to complete her thought. That is what happened today.

Love you!
Sister Danner

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Love, Kristen - Week 7 and a half

I went to a hand/wrist specialist today and met with the Physician's Assistant, Reese Blackwell, who felt around in my arm and wrist. He seemed to really know his stuff. Anyways, I was most tender in the area between the end of the ulna bone and the bone right above that (I believe the first two letters are st, but I could be wrong). The bone that most people break in the wrist is fine. They took some x-rays (as it's now been six days since the injury date) and when they pulled them up on the computer, there did appear to be a hairline fracture in the ulna bone. It's very slight though and difficult to see. The doctor, Dr. Richards, was not that impressed with it, and neither was Blackwell. They are unsure if it is a hairline fracture or just a line in my ulna bone (apparently sometimes bones get lines in them), but because they are unsure, they are going to treat it like it's a fracture and meet with me again in a week to make the final call about whether or not I can leave on the 27th. For that meeting, I'll see only Dr. Richards (I don't think Blackwell wants to make the final call--I don't blame him), and then we'll see what happens. For now I am to wear my brace (which is basically like a cast) at ALL TIMES even in the shower. I am not to pick anything up, carry anything, and am really only allowed to write and type GENTLY. He'd prefer it if I weren't lefthanded, but that's something I can't control. So yeah, no aggressive notes whatsoever. If I come back and it looks better and I'm not in any pain they'll clear me. But if I am in pain they'll probably hold me back until I'm healed.

The District President told me that if the latter happens, they'll hold me here an extra week or two (probably two at the most, as that's probably all the time it needs to heal if it's not fine by next week) and then they'll call my mission president in the Philippines and ask when he wants me there. Usually the mission president wants the missionary on the next flight out. Sometimes they want to wait an extra day or two. It'll depend. However, I'm praying that I'll be okay to leave on the 27th. If I'm not, then obviously there's something more that I need to do here. Heavenly Father has a plan. Right now I just need to trust Him. I'll get to the Philippines soon enough.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Love, Kristen - Week 7

Kamusta Lahatsa!

Well, this week definitely had it's ups and its downs. Thankfully more ups, but the down is pretty bad. I injured my left wrist playing volleyball this week and I'm waiting to see what the doctor says about how it's healing to know if I'm still going to be able to leave in two weeks or not. I'm frustrated because I was not doing anything stupid while playing--the ball was served and I went to bump it over with my arm, but couldn't get under it in time, and so ended up bumping it with my wrist instead (thankfully the ball went over and the other team didn't get it, so we got a point, but I'm hoping my sacrifice wasn't so great). When the impact was made on the wrist, it hurt, but it felt like something that I could just shake off. So I shook my wrist a little, and continued to play. The ball never came to me again, and after a few minutes I noticed the pain increasing, so I went upstairs to run around the track, figuring it wouldn't be a good idea to continue with volleyball.

I did some running on the track and then on the eliptical as well. The pain did not go away though, but continued to increase. I went downstairs to wear Sister Lyman was and told her I wanted to go see the athletic trainers and possibly the doctor as my wrist really hurt. We went to the trainers and they had me roll my wrist, and felt around, and finally decided to simply ice it for ten minutes and see what happened. I did not like that at all. The first half of icing is painful as your entire arm is being numbed up. Ugh. The last half was whatever, but I hated that first half. Anyways though, the pain was still there after the icing and so we visited the doctor. He guessed it was badly sprained but sent me to the health clinic the next morning to get it x-rayed to make sure. He also gave me a brace to rest my wrist in.

All day my wrist was throbbing and the next morning it was still hurting. I couldn't even write or grip anything without a lot of pain. The x-rays were taken though and when I visited the doctor later that day, he told me that he hadn't seen any fractures, and that the wrist was probably just badly sprained. I told him it hurt pretty badly in a certain area and showed him where it was swollen. He thought it might just be ligaments or something though and so told me that they were going to get me into physical therapy. I was releived that my wrist wasn't broken, but frustrated with the thought of having to take time out of my study/classes to go to physical therapy. I said I'd be fine with just going to the athletic trainers during gym, but he wanted me to go to a professional.

Later that day I was eating dinner when "the voice" (intercom system) came over the cafeteria and said, "Sister Kristen Danner please come to the front desk." It is an exciting thing to get your name called down, and so I punched my right arm in the air and said, "Ayos!" ("Great!) and Sister Lyman and I headed down to the front desk. They said the doctor wanted to speak to me, and called him, and then had me talk to him over the phone. He told me that the radiologist had taken a look at my x-rays and believes he saw a small fracture in the area where I complained of it hurting so bad. They want to send me to an orthopedic surgeon to be sure. So this morning, Monday. I headed over to the scheduling office and they made the appointment for Wednesday at 8:30.

The interesting thing is though, my wrist has not been hurting very badly these last 2 days. I've been able to move it without pain, unless I move it a certain way then there's pain in that one area, and can grip just fine now and write as well. I can type this email without any pain and don't even have the brace on (gets in the way). So in my mind I'm fine to go to the Philippines in two weeks. But we'll see what the orthopedic surgeon says. The doctor here thinks I'll be okay to go in two weeks, but worse case scenario I'll have to stay an extra week or two. So please if you wouldn't mind, keep me in your prayers. I really want my wrist to heal so that I can leave in two weeks. The MTC is wonderful, but I'm ready to go and start teaching.

Well, now that that's over, let me tell you some of the GOOD things that happend this week. The first is that Sister Kathy Christofferson (Elder D. Todd Christofferson's, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, wife) came to speak to us in Relief Society yesterday. She told us about Mary and the Savior and here's one thing that she said that really stuck out to me. Everything else was excellent too, but this really made me think: Jesus Christ was born in a stable, extraordinarly humble circumstances, especially for the Son of God. For Mary, the timing of his birth could probably not have come at a less convenient time. However, it needed to happen that way, for probably several reasons, but also because half way across the world a group of believers in the Americas were going to be put to death if the sign of his birth was not given THAT night. They needed him to come and He came. Mary could not have known about this, and perhaps it wasn't until she reached the other side of the veil when she realized why Christ needed to be born the very night that he was. It made me think about how sometimes I don't understand the big picture behind everything, why certain things happen at certain times, but that God does, and it may not be until I reach the other side of the veil that I completely understand the reasons for everything. And that's okay. Everything will work out just as it should.

After Relief Society, we were invited to go back and meet Sister Christofferson and so Sister Salway, Sister McDonald, Sister Lyman, and I all headed back to meet her. We waited in line for a little while, and then she greeted each of us with a hug and talked to us about where we were going. When we told her the Philippines, she expressed her excitement for us and told us that she had been to Manila before and what a beautiful place it was that we were going. She was so warm and friendly, and gave me an extra side hug before she said goodbye to us. She was just so nice and a wonderful lady and it was an honor to meet her.

Sister Lyman and I signed up for a "progressive investigator" this week in the T.E. so that we could experience what it may be like to prepare for a specific person, meeting with them consecutive times, and preparing them to come unto Christ through baptism. We wanted to do this in Tagalog, but unfortunately there's only one teacher in the T.E. who speaks Tagalog, and we could not meet with him enough (we do meet with him once a week to practice the lesson we'll be giving in the TRC though, as we do want to practice teaching in Tagalog as much as possible). So we're teaching in English, and we met with him for the first time on Friday. It was an amazing experience. I know that Brother Savage is not a real investigator, that he is already converted and in fact an RM, but the spirit was still there and so strong as we talked with Brother Savage, or "Kostiya" (Russian name...the investigator that he plays) and found out his needs and concerns and helped him better understand his relationship with God, as that is what he seemed to really stand in need of. The spirit was strong as we talked with him and as he talked with us, and by the end we committed him to simply pray to God and ask for help with his upcoming finals, and see if his mind wasn't a little more clear as he took them, and if he could feel that someone was truly listening. We told him that God really does care about him, and knows him, and is aware of him, as he is each of his children. By the end, Kostiya (and Brother Savage himself) seemed very touched and we hope that he'll follow through on his commitments so that we can teach him more when we come back. And I hope to have many real experiences like this in the Philippines. I may not be able to bring everyone to baptism that I meet, but I at least hope to help everyone feel God's love for them in their life so that they can eventually down the road decide to be baptized into his true church and receive all of the many blessings and eventual exaltation that come from that.

I hope to have enough time to write this next part. I found out why "Tagalog" is called "Tagalog." Near Manila there is a river that ancient people lived next to. When others came to the Philippines and discovered these people they were called "The People from the River" and they spoke "The People from the River" language. This phrase translates to "Taga-ilog" in Tagalog, "Taga" meaning "from" as in where someone is from, and "ilog" meaning "river." Eventually the language was shortened to Tagalog. Isn't that so cool??? I love learning things like that!

Well the church is true. I love it. I can feel God's love for me and for others every day. I know that we are his children and that he loves us very much.

Have a great week!!

Sister Danner

Monday, December 6, 2010

Love, Kristen - Week 6

Hi Everyone!

Well these weeks are starting to fly by. On Tuesday I could not remember how long I'd been in the MTC. I looked at my roommates and said, in all seriousness, "How long have we been here?" They stared at me a moment and then laughed, and said "Five weeks as of tomorrow." So insane. Three weeks til I leave for the Philippines!!! As of tomorrow my district and a couple others who arrived the same day will be the oldest in the zone! That's weird to think about. We're saying goodbye to some good friends today. None of them are going to Iloilo. We will miss them. We write notes in each others journals though, so it helps, and I know we'll all see each other again someday, in this life or the next.

This reminds me. December 22nd is the LAST day the MTC will accept packages before Christmas. So if you're planning on sending me one, please make sure it gets to me before then, as I leave Decemeber 27th.l I don't know about letters. Better safe than sorry. Also, I hope I don't hurt anyone's feelings, but please don't send me food for Christmas. I'll only have a few days to eat it, and my bags are already at the weight limit. I don't want to have to leave it behind. Letters and pictures are PERFECT! Please don't feel obligated to get me anything. I would just love to hear from everyone for Christmas :). (NOTE FROM KRISTEN'S MOM: I will be sending a package to her at the end of this week or beginning of next week if anyone in the CDA area would like to send their letter or Christmas card in our package. I guess our family will just have to eat the yummy treats we were going to send....)

This week was all about Tagalog. We had three "English Fast" days, where we only spoke Tagalog the entire day (very difficult actually. We're not bad at Tagalog, but we certainly can't express ourselves the same way as in English, so it can be quite frustrating, and we're actually pretty quite most of the day, haha). We also taught the First Lesson (The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ) in all Tagalog in the TRC this week. Sister Lyman and I taught Jason Pagaduan again! I love teaching him. He's super nice, but a very good investigator. At the end of our lesson to him, he told us that we did a good job, and that we actually did better than last time--and last time we taught him in English! haha. At first I didn't know how to take that, but then I thought about it and realized we had improved really. We may not have had as nice of a vocabulary, and yes, our Tagalog was broken, but we still focused better on Jason's needs as an investigator (he wanted to better understand the apostasy and restoration), we asked better questions this time, and we used more and effective scriptures. Also, because our Tagalog is limited, we were forced to keep the lesson simpler. He also felt the spirit as we recited the First Vision to him in Joseph Smith's own words (in Tagalog), and bore our testimonies with conviction. So, yes, again, our Tagalog was broken, but because we knew that what we were saying was true, the Holy Ghost was able to bear witness that what we were testifying of was the truth.

I'd like to share a journal entry that I wrote last night. I simply want to testify of what I know to be true. I wrote last night these words: "All week my thoughts have been turend to the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is something that I have gained a stronger and deeper testimony of. Every time I hear the First Vision (, whether in person or in a movie, in English or Tagalog (the only two languages I've heard it spoken in so far), read or recited, spoken or written, I feel the Holy Ghost and I know that it is true. He did in fact see God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, and they did in fact speak to him. I finished reading Joseph Smith History today and by doing so, have gained more knowledge and appreciation for the prophet Joseph Smith. He truly was a prophet of God, and through him, God restored His true Christ upon the earth today. Revelation was given, priesthood was restored, and the gospel began to be spread throughout all the Earth. Shall I not go on in so great a cause?

I love this gospel. Everything about it is the truth--the truth in it's fulness and glory. Other churches DO teach the truth, but only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches it in it's fulness. Oh the peace and joy this gospel brings to me. Never before have I been as happy as I am now on my mission. I'm learning more about what it means to have the Holy Ghost as my CONSTANT companion. He teaches me daily, constantly, and only when I choose to be in a bad mood and think unkindly of others for whatever reason, does he leave me. When this happens, I do all in my power to change my attitude so that I can have the Holy Ghost with me once again. I need him with me if I am going to accomplish anything in this work. I love this gospel, and have a great desire to share it with everyone, especially those whose hearts are open to it and ready to listen."

Again, that is what I wrote, and I hope it can be of benefit to someone, whether already a member of the church or not. That is why I'm serving a mission though. It's not to have some cultural experience in the Philippines, although I certainly do hope that happens as well :). It's to teach others the truths that I cherish--that God lives and loves us. That he called a prophet to restore the gospel in it's fullness after it was taken off of the Earth with the death of the apostles, and that he has called a prophet today, President Thomas S. Monson to lead and guide this church. I know this to be true. I know also, that the Book of Mormon is the word of God. I've read it, and prayed about it, and asked God sincerely and with real intent of receiving an answer, if it was true, and received a confirmation that it is. I also know the Bible to be the Word of God, inasmuch as it is translated correctly. I hold it in just as high regard as the Book of Mormon and study from it daily as well. I love those two books that God has given us to be able to learn of him.

I'm so excited to leave the MTC and start teaching people. I hope though that I can be of service still to God, my Heavenly Father, while I'm in the MTC, and help my fellow missionaries in whatever way I can. I love being a missionary. It is a great privelege and a marvelous work that I get to take part in. I am so grateful to everyone who helped prepare me for this time in my life so that I could go forth and share it with others.

I know this church is true. Plain and simple, I know this church is true.

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week!!! Thank you for all of your letters, prayers, and support! They mean so much to me.

Sister Danner