Monday, January 31, 2011

Love, Kristen - Week 14


This week was better. Thank you for the letters. It looks like mail takes about a month to get here. I still haven't read them. It's been a crazy day. But I appreciate it. Mail here is extremely expensive so know that I will write you back, but how soon is going to be based on how much money I have at the end of each month. I'm sorry. But I do love mail, and it really helps me a lot, so please keep writing me. Especially the happy things. It helps me when people are happy. If you're miserable, I'm sorry. That's all I can do about that though. Pray and ask God for help.

I'm sorry if my tone is tense right now. I have had a good week. But I'm going through a bit of a trial right now with my companion that I'm hoping will get resolved soon. I'm just kind of angry at her right now to be honest. But moving on...I want to talk about the good parts of this week.

I love, love, love our investigators. I love tracting. I love going out and finding people. I am so happy when I get to go out and teach the gospel! My language skills are not perfect, but they are getting much better, and I am beginning to understand people already. Heavenly Father has really blessed me. Sometimes I understand more details of what they're saying, and sometimes only the general topic. And they're speaking Aklanon, not Tagalog. The gift of tongues is real. I'm working on making it even better though. I feel strongly like I need to keep learning Tagalog. Every time I pray that's the answer that I get. So I'm still studying Tagalog and speaking Tagalog. People understand me too. I'm not so fluent that I'm confident in teaching an entire lesson or anything, but Sister Sablan will put me on the spot to explain a scripture or to bear my testimony about something, and I usually do all right. But my very, very, very favorite thing in the world is teaching The Restoration!! I looooovvveeee telling the Joseph Smith story!! And Sister Sablan lets me do it every single time and I am so grateful to her for that. I do it in Tagalog, but the people still understand me. Actually, people up here are very, very smart. They understand Tagalog and all the other languages spoken on this island. But anyways, I tell the story in Tagalog, simply and understandably, and I loooovvvveee seeing the light that comes into their eyes at the end. Oh and especially when I recite the first vision!!! It's so amazing and wonderful! This gospel is so true! The Holy Ghost really does bear witness that Joseph Smith is a prophet called of God to restore Christ's true church to the earth again!! It touches that light of Christ already in them and it's so incredible to see. I love it.

A few of our investigators are sick right now so they weren't able to come to church yesterday, but two did, and they liked it. One wants to be baptized. We have three people committed for baptism right now. I'm happy about that, and we'll keep working with the others. So far everyone likes our message. We did have one retention this week, my very first, but that's just the way it goes sometimes I guess. She said that she knew everything that we had taught her was true, but that she's happy with her own religion. It seems strange, but people do have their agency.

I think I painted a weird picture of the Philippines in my last email. The people here ARE fascinated by my white skin, and there are some that are a little more confident in letting me know that they think I'm beautiful, but for the most part Filipinos are very respectful, and actually quite shy. But they do stare. The children like to wave at me and follow me around. Teenagers will say whatever they know in English ("Hello!" "Where are you going?" "You're so beautiful!!" "Good evening!") or just the whispered, "Kana, Kana, Kana," Haha. For awhile it was driving me crazy, but thanks to another white american elder here, Elder Workman, I've accepted the fact that they're going to treat me like a celebrity. It was so funny. His companion, Elder Ahquin, is our district leader. Elder Ahquin was helping another sister out, and Sister Sablan had me go to Elder Workman for language help. He said, "What is keeping you from talking to everyone?" And one of my replies was, "They treat me like a celebrity. And, I don't want to encourage the boys who like me just because of my white skin."

He wrote that down, then continued asking me what was stopping me. Then a little later we talked about each thing and in response to the one I mentioned above he said, "Sister, you don't want them to treat you like a celebrity. However, you need to accept the fact that to them, YOU ARE ONE. But, you need to remember that you are not a celebrity of the world."

"Of course," I replied.

"So, what do you do? You wave to them, smile, talk to them. You have so many opportunities to talk to people because you are white!"

"All right, all right. I'll accept the fact that they're going to stare and treat me different, but I'll turn them into teaching opportunities."

"Right. Now, you don't want to encourage the boys. Sister, there's something you should know about boys. We don't get discouraged."

I groaned. Then I looked him straight in the eye and said, "Why? Why don't you take no for an answer?!"

He smiled. "It's because of the 'What if?' We know it's never going to happen, but it's all about the fantasy. Maybe someday I'll meet Megan Fox right? No, it's not going to happen. However, sister, you are first of all, a sister. Not only are all sisters beautiful, but they have a sort of glow about them. On top of that, you're a different race. They can't help but notice you. And then on top of THAT, you can speak their language!!! Oh sister, they're going to fall in love with you!"

I groaned again.

"But, what do you do when this happens?"

"I do not know."

"You go talk to them!!"


"Yes! You go up to them. Say hello. Give them a pamphlet! Give them your phone number! [Sister Sablan told me later that we do not do that]. Let them know who you are, and that you're not going to be all buddy-buddy with them, but go talk to them. They need the gospel too! One of our investigators who's about to be baptized started being taught by us because she was attracted to my white skin. I've set the boundaries, and she knows that. But anything can be turned into a teaching experience. Don't be stupid of course. If they're drunk or just messing around, don't talk to them. But if they're just noticing you and trying to get your attention, go talk to them."

I laughed. "All right. I'll try it."

And well, no, I have not had to talk to any horomonal boys yet, I still sort of ignore them because it's weird, but I have embraced the fact that I'm white, and have been friendly to people all week. They do love the fact that I'm white, and love it even more when I wave to them and talk to them. So it's been good. The attention is always appropriate. Mostly it's really just staring. Sometimes they'll want to shake my hand. But it's all good.

The Philippines is gorgeous. We went on a hike today to a waterfall and it was amazing!! There's nothing like it at home. I took pictures and if I ever figure out how to upload them I will. I just don't know how to do it on these computers. The hike was kind of rough. We hiked through rivers and over small boulders, and through cobwebs, but we survived. In the end the waterfall was definitely worth it. 8 sisters, 2 elders. Yep, that's our district. Those patient, patient elders :). They had two rules: no whining, and no they were not going to carry our stuff for us. Haha. We did pretty good at following the rules. There was a little whining about going through cobwebs, but I think that's understandable.

Some areas we tract in are really beautiful too. My very favorite is Mobo. If I ever have to live in the Philippines, I'm living there. It is jungle like, but not so deep jungle like that you feel like you're isolated from civilization. It's just peaceful and relaxing and very beautiful. I have pictures too. Later, later.

One of the most fun things though is either taking a couple boats to cross the Aklan rivers to get to our investigators in Bachao Norte, or crossing over the rickety bamboo bridge to get there. It's always an adventure. The first boat we take is one that you have to stand up on. A raft is basically placed over this canoe like thing, and you just find your balance as they row you across it. The second one is a canoe with a motor. It's all an adventure and very beautiful. It's a little on the expensive side though, so ever since Sister Sablan and I discovered the bamboo bridge from Numancia to Bachao Norte we've been taking that. It is a little scary, but it is safe, and we're getting faster now as we cross it. The water below us is deep enough that it wouldn't hurt if we fell, but not so deep or has so strong a current that we'd drown. Not by any means. We'd just get laughed at like crazy. Sister Sablan is still scared though, but she takes comfort in the fact that I've lifeguarded for many years.

For awhile I didn't use my alarm clock, because roosters and caribou would wake me up each morning. But now I'm beginning to sleep through them. That was interesting though.

Basically, I'm beginning to love the Filipino way of life. They're a very creative, yet simple people. They're poor, but they're pretty happy. They're extremely smart, but they just don't have opportunity. As far as being an American goes, and having to get used to laundry by hand, limited running water, bucket showers, dirt, etc. it's been a huge adjustment. But I had my interview with President Pagaduan this week, and I didn't even bring up any of this as a concern. I actually didn't even know it was bothering me. But he is so inspired. Towards the end of my interview, he paused, and I could tell he was listening to the spirit. He then little by little said this to me, "I think it's important to remember too that the Savior was born in a manger. He grew up without many of the things that he perhaps would have liked or even deserved. He lived a very humble life. And he was a king! And yet, he never complained or wished for more. He simply lived the life that His father wanted him to live."

It was exactly what I needed to hear. And I didn't even know it. I really am so used to the comforts of life, and now that many of them had been taken away from me, I was unhappy. I didn't know it was bothering me though until President Pagaduan said that. I thanked him very much, and ever since that, cold bucket showers haven't been so bad :). Washing clothes by hand hasn't been so bad either. Nothing has been so bad anymore, because Christ didn't have any of the things that I'm used to. He lived a simple life. He preached the gospel to people every day. He went about doing good, and what Heavenly Father wanted him to. And now I have the chance to live the kind of life He did. Simple, yet wonderful. No, I will not be perfect like he was, or anything even remotely close. But I get the chance to experience a small part of what He experienced every day. And I'm so grateful for that opportunity.

I know that this church is true. I know that this gospel is "the way, the truth, and the light," because it is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that families can be together forever. I know so many wonderful things, and I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I have to go share with others. Crossing bridges, riding trikes, travelling by boat, learning a new language, getting used to a new culture...all to see the light come into others eyes when they hear the restored gospel for the first time...and then again every time we go back. It is hard, very, very hard, but it is sooo worth it.

I love you all! I'll write more next week!
Sister Danner

Monday, January 24, 2011

Love, Kristen - Week 13, From the Philippines! :-)


I am in the Philippines! I'm up here safe and sound in Kalibo. Oh wow, it's been an adventure. I'll start with the flights. Nothing too crazy happened, but I do have a good story about sharing the gospel with someone, and just my excitement and all that stuff. It'll be good :).

All right, SLC to San Francisco was pretty normal. I sat next to someone who was a doctor and we talked a bit. I thought about bringing up the gospel but it just didn't feel quite right, so I didn't. He was nice though and so it was cool.

From San Francisco to Hong Kong I was just so excited. I slept maybe the first four hours. Maybe. Probably less. Then after that I just kept watching the airplane on the monitor. That made time go by kinda slow but I was just so excited. I wanted to know where we were at all times. I would turn it off to make me stop watching it, then 10 minutes later I'd turn it back on. The poor man sitting next to me. He was trying to sleep. I also had a window seat and I looked out the window a lot. Mostly just ocean. But anyways, I kept turning the monitor on and off about ten hours into the flight because I was trying to wake up the two men sitting next to me. I was in the window, then one was middle and one was aisle. They were both sleeping, and I needed them to wake up so that I could get past them and use the rest room. There was no leg room. I'd have to crawl over them, which is of course forbidden as a missionary and in society in general. So, I kept flipping my monitor on and off and moving around. After awhile it worked and I immediately asked them to move. Haha. They did after about 5 min. They were pretty sleepy. So anyways, that all took place, and then we all came back. I reached down to get something in my bag and the man sitting next to me was getting ready to watch a movie. I suddenly had the distinct impression to open my mouth. I looked over at the man as he was about to put his headphones on, and he saw me watching him. He asked me if this was my first time out of the country. Well, I'm just going to make a really long story short. We talked for four hours, and after he told me about his job and his family, he asked me why I was heading to China. I said it was to catch a flight to the Philippines. He asked why. Well, that opened up a good gospel discussion :). I told him to teach people about Jesus Christ, and he just sort of nodded and wasn't really interested. Just sort of like any other Christian religion. Then I said, "And about the restoration of his gospel." I had his full attention. I told him about Christ's church when it was on the earth and how after the apostles died, the world went into an apostasy. Yes, good people tried to keep Christ's original church on the earth, but without that revelation how could they? Others formed their own churches. I then told him about Joseph Smith, and about his confusion about which church to join. I told him how Joseph Smith read James 1:5 and decided to act on James' promise. I recited to him the First Vision, and bore him my testimony. Throughout all this the man would stop me occasionally to ask a question, but he was very attentive and listened to me intently. At the end, he had a lot more questions. He told me why he's never believed in religion. He'd grown up in Taiwan where they worship their ancestors or something, or at least his parent's religion did. He said that never made sense to him. His wife is Muslim, which he respects. But to him religion is not logical. We talked a long time. He expressed concerns he has as a parent. Although I'm not a parent, I was able to help him because of my parents good example. I'm really cutting out a lot, but that's for time's sake. We just talked, and the last hour he slept, but I pulled out two pass along cards. I wanted one with the Book of Mormon on it, but didn't have one. So I pulled out one with the SLC Temple and another with Christ giving the sermon on the mount. On the back was the Holy Bible offering a free copy and another with information about

When he woke up, I said, "I know you're not religious, but I'd like to offer you these two cards and to learn more."

"I'll take those," he said.

He likes France's architecture so I told him that the SLC temple was designed after some buildings in France. Then I bore my testimony to him about how we also believe the Bible to be the word of God. I told him that he could also get a free copy of the Book of Mormon by calling that number. I said we know that this message is so true and we want everyone to have it so much that we give stuff out for free. I told him that I didn't just believe I KNOW that these things are true. That really struck him. He put the cards in his jacket pocket, then took them out again two minutes later. He looked at the picture of Christ for a long time. At the end of the flight he turned to me and said, "Thank you very much. Perhaps I will look into Mormonism. Best of luck to you in the Philippines." I smiled and thanked him, and thanked him for telling me so much about his job and his family and that I loved talking to him. It was a great start to the mission.

Hong Kong was boring. I'm sorry. It was boring. Foggy day. Or smoggy. Not sure. Couldn't see the mountains. Security so low key. No machine guns. Nothing. But hey, I was in China :).

Oh, I also saw Japan and Taiwan as I flew to China. That was pretty cool :).

Manila was insane. Not like Elder Waggoner's insane, but oh wow. We got in that Taxi and I thought I was going to die every five seconds. They drive soooooooooo crazy here!!!! Cutting each other off like nobody's business!!! And it was sweltering hot. The humidity was intense. The poor elders in their suit coats. Oh wow. And everyone stared at me in the airport. Everyone. It was really weird.

I got to Iloilo and was amazed at the beauty. Everything is run-down, but the vegetation is incredible. And the animals--I've never seen such funny looking creatures. Like white cranes or something but they're not cranes.

I was picked up by the office elders and taken to the office. Then they took me out for my first Filipino meal. I had pork and rice. It was delicious. I hate pork in America, but this stuff was good. I then had an orientation with them and that was nice.

I met President Pagaduan that night and was pretty out of it because of jetlag. He was like, "What kind of mission do you want to have?" and I replied with something like, "A good one." Oh geez. So out of it. But he's soooo nice and warm and friendly and completely understood. He shared a spiritual message with me and it was really wonderful. I love him already. I also love Sister Pagaduan. She's so great. Oh I love her. She spoke Tagalog to me. She told the office elders to stop it with the Ilonggo and that I couldn't understand them. We went to the mission home and had dinner and it was delicious. We had mangoes. I thought they tasted weird but everyone else liked them.

Then I spent the night in the Sisters apartment in Iloilo. Sister McDonald was there!!! Oh it was so great to see her again!!! I loved it! We caught up. I had my first cold shower. But hey, at least it was a spout. It wasn't so terrible. I'll tell you more about the kind of showers I take now in a minute.

I rode a jeepney, actually two, the next morning. That was fun. I was so happy. I was finally here!!

The zone leaders for Kalibo and I rode a bus up to Kalibo on Friday. I met Sister Sablan, my trainer, once I got there. She's really nice and patient with me as I adjust to everything. We have a really nice apartment. Sorry to disappoint :). No creepy crawly things and no rats!!! Americans would still think we're really poor, but compared to Filipinos we live really well. That night we went around and met the members and Sister Sablan showed me the area. We rode a trici-cab. That's our main form of transportation here. It's a motorcycle attached to this metal carriage like thing. Yeah, it doesn't looks safe, but it is. You'd be amazed how many people can fit into one of those things.

I'm in the city, but one area, Mobo, is very jungley. Oh it's sooooo beautiful!!! I don't even know what kind of trees they are. They're like palm trees, but they're not. More like giant tulips, bu you can't see the flower. We tracted there Saturday and I loved it. No one said no to us all day. Apparently we were really blessed. That doesn't happen every day Sister Sablan said. Oh, she's from Seattle, but is Filipino desent. She speaks very good Tagalog and Ilonggo.

So Saturday was good. We have four new investigators who may progress. We'll visit more people we found tomorrow.

So, I'm white. I get stared at everywhere I go. Filipinos up here are very honest and up front. Yeah, they can be pretty harsh. I'm struggling with the members, especially bishop. I gave my first talk in Tagalog yesterday, my first Sunday here, and well, I guess it didn't go over so well. People were imitating my accent all throughout sacrament meeting. And apparently Bishop loves English and was hoping I'd give it in English. He was pretty rude later. I was kind of taken aback. He called later and sincerely apologized though so I'm working on forgiving him. He really hurt my feelings. One lady though thanked me over and over again for giving the talk in Tagalog and told me how talented I was and how much she appreciated me trying. So I like her.

I'll be honest, adjusting is pretty difficult. I'm a minority, probably the only blonde person for miles. My apartment--we have running water, but if one faucet is on, none of the others will work. We do have pure water though. But yeah, that's really frustrating. My shower is a bucket. It's cold. It can feel good though, but that first dumping is ugh... just cold. It's very dirty here. The people don't really give me a chance to speak to them because I'm a white American. They call me "Kana." (Amerikana). The boy teenagers try to get my attention, one man blew me a kiss this morning, and I'm just learning to deal with it all. However, there are good things. The people basically live in tree houses. No joke. The houses are built up off of the ground in case of floods. So that's an adventure getting into their homes, but it's lots of fun. The kids are so great. And so smart. I speak Tagalog to them and they speak Tagalog back, even though the native tongue here is Aklanon. Oh they are so cute. And they love my white skin. I get so much attention. The adults want me to speak English, but the kids love my Tagalog and are just so adorable. I love them.

All right, I have to go. I hope I'm not forgetting anything to big. OH!!! I'm with Elder Waggoner right now!! We all went to lunch together. And I saw Elder Lowry this morning and Elder Light was at lunch too. Oh I love Elder Waggoner! And all his hillbilly sayings. "Up a creek" "That hurt my noggin" "Crampin' my style." Oh I've missed him. He and Elder Light told me about their first few weeks here as a white American and it helped me a lot. So wonderful!

Oh Iloilo Mission's scripture is Joshua 1:9. I don't think it's an accident that I was sent here :).

Have to go! Love you all!
Sister Danner

Monday, January 17, 2011

Love, Kristen - Week 12 (ILOILO bound tomorrow!)

Hi Everyone!!

Well, tomorrow is the big day!!! I'm flying to the Philippines!!! I'm going with my elders, some elders in the other zone, and two other sisters who I will be companions with until we reach Manila. Then I'll hopefully travel to the next terminal with my elders who also have one more plane to catch to Bacolod. I'm not going to give any more details of my flight plans right now for safety reasons, but I'll be sure to let you all know how it goes in a week from now :).

This week the MTC changed presidency. It's no longer President Smith and his wife and his counselors and their wives, but President Brown and his wife, etc. President Brown is really funny and I think those coming in will really like him.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland came and spoke to us on Tuesday night when the change was made. As usual, he did an amazing job. He loves missionaries so much. And it was again one of those life-changing talks. He spoke a lot about Peter, and when Jesus Christ told him to "feed his sheep." He said that Peter's calling as an apostle was a forever calling. Likewise, our calling as a missionary is a forever calling. That really struck me. Yes, I'll be released in about 15 months, but I am a missionary forever. The Lord will expect it of me--and I'm excited to continue on with being a missionary as a member of the church after my mission. President Holland spoke on a lot more, but that's just one of the things that stood out to me the most.

Speaking of missionary work, I love hearing your missionary stories :). Thank you to those of you who have written to me and told me about that. I really do love it. I love letters period, but it makes me so excited when I hear about missionary work going on back at home, or in other areas of the country. Thank you for doing so. Keep it up. I know that Heavenly Father will bless you for sharing His gospel with others.

So, I already know that my first area in the Philippines will be Kalibo, a small city north on the island of Panay. In this area, one of the elders apartments has rats in it. I do not know how--probably some holes in the wall or something. I found out this information from the parent of said elder. Well, my parents discovered this too, and my dad said to my mom, "If Cinderella can name her rats, then Kristen can too." I laughed when I read that. I plan to buy a big bat when I get to the Philippines. And then, this is how it'll go down.

"Gus gus...gus gus..." BAM!!! I hate rats. I plan to buy mouse traps too. Haha, it'll be fine. I'm not worried about it. I know that the Lord will take care of me, and help me take care of myself too. No one worry about it. I'll let you know if there even are rats in my apartment once I get there. There may not be. But if there are, I have a plan :).

All right, well, I need to start wrapping this up. So I'll just end with my testimony that I know that the Lord has a plan for each and every single one of us. I know that he listens to and answers our prayers. We are His children and He loves us. He wants us to come to him each day and talk with him--tell him how our day went, what we are grateful for, and what we stand in need of. He will answer our prayers according to His own will and His own timing and we need to trust Him. All things will work together for our good. They're almost never in the way we planned or expect or want, but they are always in the Lord's way, and His way is the best way.

Three weeks ago I was praying fervently that my wrist would be healed so that I could leave with my district for the Philippines. But Heavenly Father said, "No." At first I did not understand why I was being asked to stay. My desire to go serve His children in the Philippines was a righteous desire, wasn't it? Why was my wrist not better? I wonder if I felt a little bit of what Joseph in Genesis (Joseph with the coat of many colors) did when his brothers sold him into Egypt. Why did God allow that to happen? Joseph desired, I'm sure, to be with his family, especially his father. He may have even desired to help his brothers. And yet the Lord said, "No," and sent him to Egypt. And what happened in the end was for everyone's good--many people, including Joseph's family, were saved from the seven years of famine in the land. And Joseph worshipped the Lord because of it.

Likewise, I've learned that my staying here was not only for my good, but for others good. Many people have expressed their gratitude that I've stayed, and I can see how the Lord worked through me to help others. The Lord has also taught me so much. I have a greater understanding and love for Tagalog now. I've learned more about the Filipino culture, and what to expect when I get there. I've also learned to love another culture thanks to the Tongans. Much more has happened, particularly in my own spiritual growth, but unfortunately I do not have time to go into it. But I'm grateful the Lord had me stay here an extra three weeks, and I hope I can take what I've learned and use it to the best of my abilities in the Philippines.

One last thing. My district and I sung in Sacrament meeting yesterday. We sang "God be with you till we meet again," in English, Tongan, and then Tagalog. It was symbolic of us all coming together from different places, and now leaving to go to one place with one purpose :).

Love you all!
Sister Danner

Monday, January 10, 2011

Love, Kristen, Week 11 - One more thing from Kristen today (see below for two more entries today)

Kristen wants those who she needs to write back to know she has taken special care to rest her left arm before seeing the doctor, so no letters have been written today (she is left handed). Today is her preparation day, so Monday is the day she writes letters. She will write back to you as soon as she has the time. You know Kristen, she loves to write, so that letter will come, it will be just a little longer than usual this time.

Love, Kristen, Week 11 - Later the same day - ILOILO BOUND!!!!

CLEARANCE!!!! I'm leaving!!! I met with the district president, and he'll call President Pagaduan in an hour to make sure it's okay for me to leave with the elders on the 18th! Whoot!!!

Love, Kristen - Week 11 (Check back later today for an update on her wrist)


I hope that everyone had a great week! Thank you so much to everyone who wrote to me! I got so many letters this week! It was wonderful to hear from you all. I'll write you back as soon as possible too. My doctor's appointment on Wednesday was cancelled because the doctor was sick, and so I'm going in today at 2:00. Hopefully I get clearance from the doctors, but if not, then the Lord has yet another plan for me than I have for myself. My wrist feels great though, so hopefully everything is okay. I'm anxious to start the work in the Philippines.

My mom sent me a calendar for Christmas, with pictures of the family and some of my friends, but also some quotes as well. The quote for January is "Don't count the days, make the days count." I don't know how she knew that I would need that one for this month, but it has helped me so much. At first it was difficult not to count the days until the 17th in the beginning, but after about three days, I stopped counting, and started focusing on others and my purpose in being here. And that made all the difference. I still don't know how many days it is until the 17th...although it's the 10th, so I guess it's 7. But I didn't even think about it until I wrote that! Let me tell you about my week. Oh it's been so good.

I love the MTC, not only because of what I learn here, but because of the many different cultures that are here (remember, I'm from Idaho). Latter-Day Saint Youth from all over the world come here and I am always so thrilled when I get the opportunity to talk to someone from a different culture and learn more about them and the way they think. For example, we were told in class that Filipinos do not understand sarcasm. It is just not built into their culture or language. Well, I think it's safe to say that that goes for perhaps every Asian culture. I was standing behind two elders in line at the Bookstore, waiting for my turn to print off some pictures. One was from South Korea and the other was from China. I'd met them before on one of my doctor outings (one had to get his glasses fixed so they were both in the shuttle too). They recognized me and asked how I was doing and if I'd been delayed. I told them that I had. Then I switched topics and asked how they'd learned English. They both told me that they had learned it here in the MTC, and had not spoken it at all before they came. I was soooo impressed! Their English is so good! And I'm pretty sure they've only been here two months! I complimented them, and they thanked me, and then went back to my wrist. The Elder from South Korea asked: "How are you, staying here an extra week?"

"It's okay," I replied cheerfully.

"Oh okay. Wait...was that sarcasm?"

I laughed. "No, no. I'm really okay."

I just thought that was funny and interesting, because anyone who had grown up in the US would have immediately known that I was being sincere. I didn't have the "sarcastic tone." But someone from a country where they don't speak sarcasm would obviously have a harder time picking that out. I just thought that was interesting.

Then, I'm getting to know so much about Tonga, not only from the four Tongan elders in my district, but also from Sister Latu, a Tongan Sister in another zone. Sister Latu has become very sick this last week. She has some sort of stomach virus that is making it difficult for her to breathe. The cold, dry air is also affecting her (it's affecting Elder Lasalosi as well). She had an episode in the TRC on Thursday, and one of the teachers hurried to get me, to see if I could stay with her and the EMS personell so that her companions, who had been missing so much class as it is, could come back to class. I said of course, and hurried over to the TRC. Sister Latu was concious but clearly having difficulty breathing. They were asking her questions, and she was having a difficult time replying. Her English is excellent, but they were asking her to describe her pain, and I thought that maybe she was having a difficult time speaking English period right now. I know I would be if I were in a foreign country--speaking my second language, I mean. I'd want to speak my first. So I told one of the teachers that she speaks Tongan, and he went to get two Tongan elders to help her out. They were able to talk to her, and get more information. She said that she wanted to go to the hospital, and so they put her and I into a shuttle, and took us to the Emergency Room.

She began feeling better and could walk around, but her chest was still in a considerable amount of pain. To make a long story short, they finally decided to take a chest x-ray on her, and she and I walked to the x-ray area. They put her in the room, talked to her a moment, and then began closing the door. She started freaking out, and yelled at me, standing down the hallway a little, "Hey! Why you leaving me?! Come back here!"

I hurried inside and was about to tell her I was just going to stand outside because of the radiation, but then the thought occured to me that she didn't know what radiation, or an x-ray was. I looked at her and asked her if she knew, and she said no. She had no idea what was going on. I looked around at the huge x-ray machine and realized just how scared she must be. I would be pretty freaked out if I didn't know what an x-ray was. At that moment the x-ray tech walked in, and I asked him to explain to her what was going to happen. He told her that they were going to take a picture of her insides, her lungs and her ribs, and reassured her that she would not feel any pain. She didn't completely trust him, but because I was there, she went along with it. They managed to get two pictures ( I stood in the back room with the tech, out of the way of the radiation), and diagnosed her with swelling of the cartilage. Of course she had no idea what that was, and so when the nurse who married a man from Tonga, tried to translate, it came out wrong, and Sister Latu's face fell. I think they told her she was going to die or something. She was all, "Ofu [whatever she said]. What the heck?!"

So the nurse called her husband, and he translated for her. Haha. It turned out just fine.

The doctor at the MTC did not agree with the diagnosis though. He's convinced it's a stomach problem. I don't know. Sister Latu had another episode on Saturday. I've been with her all weekend so that her companions could go to class. I've done lots and lots of studying :). But Sister Latu and I have had a chance to talk too. She's told me more about Tonga, about how when she wants a chicken, she doesn't go to the store, but goes outside and kills one! I asked her about "The Other Side of Heaven," and asked if it was true that she couldn't pronounce "Grover." She prounounced it, and it really did come out like "Kolipoki." It is so interesting. I love Sister Latu. She is so strong to be going through this and insists on not going home. She is getting better. Please say a prayer for her if you get a chance.

Well, so I can update on my wrist later, I'll end this now. I have 2 minutes. Love you all!
Sister Danner

P.S. From Mom: For those who have not seen "The Other Side of Heaven" it is a movie about a missionary who traveled...I guess to Tonga (although I thought it was somewhere else, but I am not great an remembering details of movies, so..)....and his name was Elder Grover. Everyone there called him Kolipoki. It is a great movie if you haven't seen it.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Love, Kristen - Week 10


Well, this week was very difficult at times, with my district leaving and me missing them a lot and having to get into a new routine, but it was also full of lots of joy as well. I know this is where I'm supposed to be, and I'll leave for the Philippines in due time. Yes, it's true that the MTC is no longer a new experience for me, and yes, I am soooo itching to get out there, but all in due time, all in the Lord's time. Thank you for the letters of support I received this week. They were greatly needed and I appreciated them so much.

Right now I am extremely happy though. I received an email from Sister Lyman!!! She's doing so well over in the Philippines, and she met my trainer who is apparenly very nice and great. She told me to keep learning Tagalog because I can use it in my lessons. I've been told that they do understand Tagalog in Iloilo, but they do not really speak it. So they'll reply in Ilonggo. That's just hear-say though and we all know how that goes. BUT, Sister Lyman told me that she's pretty sure in my first area they speak Tagalog!!!! So it's not a waste for me to learn it! I never thought it was to begin with, but it does cross my mind every once in awhile. I'm also getting really good at it. I love being able to review what I've learned the last three weeks, especially since my first last three weeks I didn't put my heart and soul into it because I was certain I'd be switching over the Ilonggo soon, and the stuff we were learning was pretty advanced. But now that I have this extra time I'm going to review it, and I've felt a great need to get good at it. I thought it might be because there would be someone on the plane ride from Manila to Iloilo or something that I needed to communicate with, but it turns out I may need it for my first area. Anyways though, it was so great to hear from her! I miss her lots. We really were a great team. I love Sister Budge and Sister Decker, but Sister Lyman and I really were a great team, and I'm not with Sister Budge and Sister Decker all the time so it's not really the same. Anyways, I was happy to hear from her.

Also, quick shoutout to Brother Welch if he reads this! I got your email, but of course can't email you back! CONGRATULATIONS though!!! She said yes!! Haha, I'm sooo happy for you, and am so excited to see you this week and get the details!! And you must sign my journal while we are both still here!

Anyways, so back to this week. As I said in the beginning, it was very difficult to let my district go. I cried for about two days. I know that sounds stupid, but I really came to love them, and was so sad that I had to stay behind and miss out on taking such a great adventure with them. I felt horrible because I could tell my sadness was affecting my new district and my new companions. Everyone knew that I didn't want to be here. I prayed A LOT and asked for help though because I knew I was supposed to be here. The real trial came when the doctor told me that I may not be ready to leave by January 17th. He was actually very rude about it. He must've been in a bad mood though because later that day he called me back down to his office, and we talked, and I asked him to tell me what the heck a compression fracture even is because NO ONE was giving me any details! He explained everything to me, and I asked him how likely it was I'd be ready to leave by the 17th. He said it was very likely. I set up an appointment to meet with the wrist specialist this Wednesday morning to make sure everything is healing correctly. He didn't think it was necessary, but I all but demanded it. It's my wrist, and if I want to make sure it's healing correctly then I can. I wasn't mean, just very determined to get my way. Anyways, my wrist hasn't hurt in days, and I'm hoping I'll get to take my brace off this Wednesday and start Physical Therapy. I'm not going to hope too much though. Apparently my fracture is very weird and rare and it just takes time to heal.

I bore my testimony in sacrament meeting yesterday. I wasn't sure what I wanted to say, I just knew that I wanted to get up and bear it. I hadn't done so the last two Fast Sundays and I figured this was probably my last chance to do so in the MTC. So I got up with just a few minutes left, and bore a brief testimony about how I know this church is true and that I was so grateful for it. It helps me to keep things in perspective so much when I'm having a bad day. I bore my testimony on how I knew that I had a purpose here, and that I was sure I was here to help others (I strongly feel that), but also to continue to learn and improve myself. I told my new district of all elders how awesome they are. They all smiled and blushed and chuckled and looked away. I said that they may not think they are, but I know they are. They help my testimony grow so much each day, and I can tell that they're all here for the right reasons. I bore my testimony on how much we can learn while at the MTC, and that although my time here is technically up, I'm still learning every day. I again said that I love this gospel, and I sat down.

People thanked me afterwards for my testimony, and President Stott came up to me and Sister Decker and Budge and said, "Sister Danner, thank you so much for your testimony. I think you're here for a two-fold purpose. One is to help yourself. There are still things the Lord needs you to learn before you are sent out into the field. And the second is to help those elders in your district. They've already told me how much you help them stay focused just by being there and being an example."

Sister Decker then chimed in, "And to help the sisters! We need her!"

Sister Budge then said how happy they were when they found out I was staying. They were so happy they got to keep at least one of us from the departing group, haha.

I was really surprised. I hadn't felt like I'd affected anyone this week, but was pleased to learn that I had. I said thank you, and President Stott shook my hand and said, "You're needed Sister Danner." It was really nice to hear that.

So, I'm here to help others. My district is great. They take such good care of me. The elders are not happy with the fact I only have one coat and walk around in crocs (they're comfy!) and always offer me sweaters and jackets. I didn't take them up on it until this morning to walk to the temple early in the morning. Oh it was so good to go to the temple this morning when I thought my last time was 2 weeks ago! But anyways, half of the elders are Tongan and half are American. I love all of them. I LOVE hearing about the Tongans culture. One day I was asking one of them questions, and one of them overheard and said, "Hey! Do you want to see Tonga?" I replied, "Yeah I want to see Tonga!" We got on to the google earth area (we've figured out how to do that), and he showed me his old school that the church built there, his old homes, the temple, a church, the prince's palace, and the other islands, and the places to swim. He took me on a whole tour. It was wonderful! The Americans and Tongans unfortunately don't really get along for some reason, that I think is deep-rooted and I'm trying to figure out, but I love them all and I think am starting to bring them together. Hopefully, hopefully.

I'm learning so much about focusing on needs when I'm teaching and not lessons. I got to teach Kostiya again this week, my progressing investigator, and learned that while I'm skilled at teaching and helping people understand difficult concepts, I do not teach according to my investigators needs! Kostiya understood everything, but did not really learn because I did not focus on why he hasn't prayed yet or any other deeper concerns. So that is what I'm going to work on this week. I hope to meet with Kostiya again soon.

Out of time. Love you all!
Sister Danner

P.S. Regarding her visit with the doctor....She is SO her mother's daughter! Haha!
Suzie :-)