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