Monday, January 10, 2011

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.