Monday, March 14, 2011

Love, Kristen - Week 20

Hi Everyone!

Well it sounds like things have been crazy in the world what with the Tsunami in Japan and everything. I was told that it reached the coast of California too. Wow. I really only have what people tell me, so please send me information on what's going on. Here people have just been talking about it. I'm in no danger down here in the Visayas. Actually, my island, Panay, is probably the most protected island in the Philippines. So no one here is worried about it hitting. We have been getting a lot of rain though, and people here are just flabbergasted, because it should be smoking-hot summer right now and it keeps raining! They say it's very weird. I guess the weather is just doing strange things all over the world. Keep praying for the Japanese people though. I can't even imagine what they must be going through right now.

It's been a strange week in the mission. I haven't told you all this because I thought it was nothing, but about every week so far I've been sick at least one day. For awhile Sister Sablan and I thought I was just adjusting, but it's steadily gotten worse. It's very strange though--I get dizzy, and then I'm not dizzy. I get a fever, but it comes and goes. I get a stomach ache, then I'm fine. I'm super, super tired, and then I'm fine. We've been working with Sister Pagaduan, and she finally told me that I need to just go to the doctor.

Here's the thing though. She's been telling me that for weeks and I haven't listened because I've been scared of the doctors here. I had to stay in the MTC for three extra weeks because the doctor in the MTC told me that health care here was so bad that the church had to build a hospital in Manila. So they kept me. So, if there's no good health care why would I want to go to a doctor here? I'd rather just suck it up and try to get better on my own.

Finally though I had to. So Tuesday I decided to go to the doctor and see what it was like. I went in with a skeptical attitude. When I met the doctor (just sat in her office and told her what the problem was) I wasn't impressed. She told me it was poor nutrition and I told her that I eat all the time. She asked what I eat and I said bread, rice, fruits, and veggies. And I eat a lot of them. She basically told me to eat more rice and wanted to do a couple blood tests on me. I said no way and paid for the consultation and walked out. (Note from Mom: Kristen fainted during a blood draw last summer...she is terrified of them...seriously)

The next day Sister Sablan and I headed to Iloilo. Sister Pagaduan is a nurse back in Manila and she's gotten to know some of the doctors here, so I felt more comfortable with that, plus I've heard good things about the hospital in Manila. When we arrived though, instead of heading straight to the doctor's President Pagaduan wanted to interview Sister Sablan and then me. He was concerned about why I was not trusting the people in my own area. When he interviewed me, he told me that I might not have all the conveniences I like, but that the people here are still alive and so the doctor's must be okay. I told him that may be true, but then explained what the doctor in the MTC told me about the church building a hospital in Manila. President was shocked. I said, "Yeah, that's why they kept me there three extra weeks!" He took a few seconds and then gently said, "There is no truth to that at all."


"No. I've worked in the church for many years now in engineering. The church does not build hospitals. Who told you that?"

So I told him the story. He thanked me for telling him and then said he would clear up that rumor as soon as possible and asked for the doctor's name. President then started talking about how there are so many misconceptions about the Philippines, and I have to say he is entirely correct. He dislikes the Missionary Mom site and says that many misconceptions that he hears about stems from that site. Toilet paper for one thing--- it is true, some businesses do not have toilet paper in their bathrooms. That is probably to save money. People buy their own toilet paper and carry it around. They have cars here in the Philippines, and nice houses too. Not everyone lives in nice houses--there are very poor people here. I don't have time to paint a complete picture, but President and I talked about the misconceptions, and I left the interview feeling much more confident about the doctor's appointment.

The next day I went to the hospital in Iloilo and was impressed with everything I saw. My doctor alone was extremely competent and confident. Sister Sablan thinks she's worked in places besides just the Philippines, but regardless, she knows her stuff. I walked in and she said, "I think you have Sinositis."

"You haven't even asked me a question yet!"

She asked me a series of questions, checked my breathing and my heart rate, looked up my nose, and said, "Yes, I'm certain you have sinositis." She then explained exactly what that is.

Apparently the maxillary sinus on my left side is clogged and she believes it has been for years. It has only gotten worse now because there is more pollution in the air, especially in the city part of Kalibo. She explained that since the fluid cannot properly drain from my sinus, it is using another route, and emptying into my ear, which causes sudden dizziness because my equilibrium is suddenly off, and sudden fatigue as well. She says people with this condition generally have dry eyes (yep) and a random, though consistent, cough (yep). She says people with this condition are often suddenly irritable (yep) and dislike hard foods (i.e. meat--I dislike the texture. Except chicken. I just hate the taste of chicken). She explained everything clearly and concisely and I was very impressed. She answered all of my questions. It all just makes sense. So she prescribed me with an anti-biotic, nasal spray, and something else. I don't even know what it does, but it must be working because I'm feeling much, much better. It's taken a few days for the medicine to kick in, but today I can breathe. I don't know how to describe it. It's just so much easier to take in breath. I didn't even know I've been breathing funny, but apparently I have been. So it's all good, no one worry. I'm going back to her this Thursday for a follow up check-up. She says she's going to cure me of everything. I said if she could cure my dry eyes alone I would love her, and she was like, "Okay, let's do this." By the way, her English was excellent. She had me do an x-ray (state of the art machine, totally fine, my wrist would have been FINE, but it's okay I was where Heavenly Father wanted me to be), and yep, it definitely looks like Sinositis, although she'll wait two days for the official lab results from the....what do you call it...x-ray doctor.

So like I said it took awhile for the medicine to kick in so after arriving back in Kalibo, I was still not feeling up to going out to work even though I really, really wanted to. But every time I tried, the dizziness and fatigue would hit again. So Sister Sablan got people to stay with me, one of which was Ate Herjane again. She is awesome. I wish I could have more time to tell you about her. She just loves everyone unconditionally though, and she has a great desire to help the missionaries. She wants to be one herself someday. She drew me a picture of the penguin when I was feeling a little sad and useless as a missionary, and made me feel so much better. After that, I said, "You like pasta?" and so we cooked some pasta together. She chopped up the veggies and I made the sauce. She thought our knife was too dull though so she quickly ran home across the street to get a hasaan (or rock to sharpen knives with). She was gone maybe two minutes and I watched her out the window. I was fascinated by this and took a picture. Later that night she drew a picture of all of us missionaries and I included that one too. She's so cute. I told her I have lots of cats so she drew, "Bahay ng pusa ni Sister Danner," (Sister Danner's cat's house). Sister Sablan has a dog so that's what the other house is of.

Another person who stayed with me was Nanay Edith. She stayed with me twice. She's so sweet. She made me salted green mangos to cure my fever and stomachache (it actually worked too!) and then the next day she brought me Sprite and Oreos. The first night, her daughter and some friends showed up. It was quite a party. I included a picture of everyone. Ate Herjane had just gotten back with Sister Villaester, so Sister Villaester took the picture and Ate Herjane sat next to me. I prefer the first picture (the brighter one) and dislike the contrast in the second one, and was about to delete it when I noticed that Ate Herjane was doing something distinctly Filipino to me. She was giving me the "gwuapo/guwapa" sign. It means "Handsome" for a boy and then "Beautiful" for a girl. Haha. She's so funny.

Sunday I was able to go to church and also work one appointment. Then we had to go home because I was going in and out of dizziness during the appointment. But I was feeling better. Tatay June was at church again. Third week in a row he's shown up on his own. He's so strong. He lives in a rough part of town, but he's determined to make this change for the better. One more week at church and he can be baptized. I have no doubt he'll do it. I hope I can have the health to go visit him this week because he is just awesome. Nanay Sol was not at church because she was feeling pains. She's 61 so it's a little rougher for her. She's still progressing wonderfully though and I know she'll be baptized someday.

So basically, it's been a crazy week, but I'm still learning lots and still seeing the tender mercies of the Lord. For one thing, he lead me to President who cleared up the misconceptions I've heard, and then he lead me to a doctor who can cure me, and then while waiting for that doctor I was actually feeling really bad about being sick and not working when I had a feeling of peace come that told me I was once again exactly where Heavenly Father wanted me to be. Right after that, a lady came up and read my name tag, asked about our church and I got to teach her!!!! Sister Sablan helped, but I was mainly the one teaching. Right there in the hospital. It was fantastic. She lives in Antique, but I gave her a pamphlet, answered her questions, Tagalog seemed to flow naturally from my lips, and it was just a miracle. The lady spoke pretty good English, but I just kept replying in Tagalog for some reason, and then she started speaking in Tagalog back because I was speaking well enough that she trusted me. I was so happy. Then, after the doctor I've been blessed to be able to be with people in my home who speak Tagalog/Aklanon and help me practice the language. I've gotten to know a couple ward members better, had more time to study, and really think about my purpose as a missionary.

President Pagaduan knows I'm facing a lot of trials right now with the work (we're opening an area) and with the language and with my sickness. But he told me in our interview, "Someday you'll look back and be grateful for all of these trials that you're going through right now, and you will understand why they were necessary. It may not be for many years from now. It may not even be until the next life. But someday, you will know, and you will be grateful."

It's true. We don't know why we have to go through certain things sometimes, but Heavenly Father does, and I'm telling you all, all we have to do is put our trust in Him and everything works out. I've never received help so quickly as when I just put my trust in Him and know that He is there to support me and that He wants me to be happy. He wants all of us to be happy because we are His children and He loves us!

So let's be happy. Even during the hard times. It's our choice. Yeah, it can be tough to be happy, it can be hard to find the joy (believe me, I know), but there's always hope. The unfailing source of our hope is Jesus Christ and what He did for us through His atonement. Let's look to Him and live (here in this life, and in the next).

Press forward with faith. And I'll do the same.

I love you all!
Sister Danner