Monday, February 28, 2011

Love, Kristen - Week 18


Well this week brought something different every single day, so I think I'll just go over the highlights with you. Monday night I tried a couple of new foods: Lumpia, which is like rice and pork all rolled up in this eggroll like thing, but it's not an eggroll. It's really good though. And then the other was Cheese Ice Cream. Yes, cheese ice cream. It was scrumptious! So good. There's bits of cheese in it, kind of like the oreos in Cookies n' Cream, and then the ice cream part is just delicious. Elder Light, another American, was there at FHE as well, and I looked at him and said, "Why don't we have this in America?! This is excellent!" He was like, "I know, right?" And the Filipinos who over heard us just laughed and told us all about the other good foods they have. I still need to try jackfruit, and they are insisting that I try Balut (fertalized, COOKED, duck egg). We shall see :).

Tuesday I lead our area which was a lot harder than I thought it would be. It was actually what we call a "panted" day (no one is home) for the most part, so I was discouraged. I tried to channel the spirit to know where to go, but was just so frustrated that I couldn't. I told Sister Sablan that I just needed to walk a little, so we did. After that, I was okay. We went back and found one new person to teach, and other investigators were at home. We had four teachings that day, which isn't bad. I have a lot more respect for Sister Sablan now though--she leads everything--the area, teaching, planning, etc. It's hard! So I was glad she gave me that opportunity to learn and be humbled. She's planning on having me lead again this week, and hopefully it goes smoother :).

Zone Conference was Wednesday! I played the piano!! Yes, some members in our zone wanted to sing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" and I volunteered to accompany them on the piano. It was either that or sing, haha. But I really enjoyed accompanying them. I usually get sooo nervous when I accompany people, but this time I didn't feel nervous at all. I was able to relax and just play, and it felt GREAT! So that was a lot of fun for me, to be able to use my talent that way. I was also asked to share my testimony on Preach My Gospel, which I was nervous about, but then I got up there and the words just started to flow. I mainly said how thankful I was for it, for all of the advice it gives in doing missionary work (really, it's a culmination of years and years of missionary work, and advice from prophets, apostles, and other RM's), and how I was so grateful that we weren't doing memorized lessons anymore. We can just share from the heart and as the spirit directs. How neat is that?! I shared that I knew that this is the way the Lord wants His work done now and that I was grateful to be part of it. I gained many more insights from Zone Conference too, such as how to receive blessings (must do the thing upon which that blessing is predicated) and how to replace "comfort bits" from home (hot water, grass, cats) with new comfort bits (hot air, ...still working on the other two). Sister Pagaduan spoke on that and it was really helpful. I'm doing sooo much better than I was my first few weeks, but there's still plenty of things to adjust too.

Which brings me to this! I meant to talk about it at the end, but now seems like a good time to talk about it. I've lived in the Philippines now for a month and a half! That's so long, and not very long at all at the same time. And I'm telling you, all of you back home, I'm living on the other side of the world in every meaning of that phrase! Things are sooo different here! What you see when you look out your window, how you wash your clothes, how you shower, how you get home, how they eat, how they think...everything! Even missionary work is different here. I'm not knocking doors, like I would be in America. That's rude here. If we want a new investigator, we have to hope that someone is standing outside their house so that we can talk to them, and hope that they're not busy too because sometimes they really hate it when we interrupt them. We really have to listen to the spirit. Or, when we have investigators who expect us, we stand outside their house and yell, "Tagbalay!" (People!--Aklanon) or "Tao po!" (People!--Tagalog). Then when we get in, we teach from pamphlets. It helps them to see a picture. I don't know why. They're super smart here, but to be engaged in the lesson, it really helps them to have something to look at. We usually leave a Book of Mormon after 2-3 lessons, not 1. It seems to go better that way. We usually just give them a pamphlet to read first, and then if they keep that commitment, then we give them a Book of Mormon. So even that's different from what I was expecting.

I'm really not sure how to describe the Philippines. It's just different. The roads, the driving, the transportation (metal carriage like things attached to a motorcycle, remember?) , the shopping, the policemen at every store. But you know, it's so fun!! And I'm different too. I'm starting to realize that I'm different. I'm beginning to adopt their culture. I'm thinking differently. "Sister Danner in America" is gone now. She lives in the Philippines. And she'll come back to America, but she'll be different, but for the better. There's some things here that are so hard to see, that I wish I could change, but I learn from them, and so do the people. Sometimes it's hard for me to change. I like the way I did things in America (opening cans with a can opener instead of a knife), or walking down the street with a smile always on my face, because the people here now know me. They see me every day. They know who I am. And I represent the church to them, and in some ways Jesus Christ, because our message is about Him. And if I don't look happy, why should they listen to us? Why should they accept Him and the gospel and the peace and "happiness" I promise it will bring them, if I don't look happy? So it's all about forgetting myself for Him, and how can I expect people to change their lives for Him if I can't? So that's what I learned this week. I had a good week, I promise, but that's definitely something that I learned.

Some more fun things: Bishop and I now have a good relationship with each other. He's apologized to me A LOT for that first Sunday and we've finally established that I've forgiven him. He knows how much I want to learn the language too, so he's speaking to me in Aklanon now. However, he still likes to practice his English, so sometimes he'll speak English and I'll speak Tagalog/Aklanon as much as I can. We were doing this the other day when he said, "Sister Danner, I just have to tell you, you are not as white as you were when you got here. Your cheeks are now this pinkish/whiteish color, which means that you are getting sun, and the rest of your face is darker. Sister Danner, you're getting tanner!" Hahahaha. It made me laugh pretty hard. Sister Danner you're getting tanner. That's pretty good. But I am darker. It is wonderful too. I've always been super white! It's nice to be getting a tan. Don't worry, I'm taking care of my skin, it's fine. It just sort of comes with working out in it all day.

Another fun fact: Yesterday it probably dropped to about 70 degrees and I was FREEZING!!! Seriously, so COLD! And I've only been here 6 weeks! Home is going to be rough when I return in about 14 months (?). I don't even know how I'm going to handle it. Today is pretty cold too (again, about 70 degrees probably). I might wear a sweater to FHE tonight. We always get invited to FHE's with members, but tonight it's a less-active and we're hoping it really goes well. This family really needs to be reunited together. Wish us luck! :)

All right, I am out of time. Just one last little message though: Look for the small miracles during the day. Don't get frustrated when the big ones don't happen. We're having a hard time with some of our investigators, and getting them to progress, and get to church. We had about 10 commit to come to church, and only one came. But you know, that one man we only taught one brief lesson to, and he's 50 years old, has no family, and is very independent. But he came, and he made a friend, and seemed to really enjoy what he was learning. We could have been frustrated that the other nine didn't come, but instead we chose to focus on the one that did, and the small miracle that that was. Another small miracle was that that little girl is still reading the Book of Mormon, and not only that, but she's now labeled it as hers and has tabs for 1 Nephi, 2 Nephi, 3 Nephi, and 4 Nephi. She really likes Nephi. I don't think she realizes 3 and 4 are different people, but that's okay. So again, we could be upset that her mom still doesn't have time for us to teach her, but instead we choose to rejoice in the faith of this little girl. We're praying about what we can do for her too, to get her to baptism even though her parents aren't progressing. The mom likes us, but she's too busy, and we haven't even met the dad. We will see, and I'll keep you posted.

But yes, the little miracles. The little day to day miracles. Focus on those, be grateful for them, do your part, and let God do the rest.

Thank you for all your letters, love, prayers, and support! It really does mean the world to me!

Love you all!
Sister Danner