Monday, April 4, 2011

Love, Kristen - Week 23 (Hospitalization number 2 was week 22, no email that week)

Hello Everyone!

Well, I hope you all had a great week and enjoyed watching General Conference. I slept through it as it was about 12:00am here when it started, but thankfully there's a rebroadcast for the Philippines on the 9th and 10th :).

So as I'm sure all of you have heard by now because of my mom's proficiency on the computer, I just got out of the hospital for the second time. Here is the story real quick:

When I first got out of the hospital things were going pretty well, although I was still feeling nauseous and all of the medicine they had me on was having weird side effects, such as nausea and dizziness, and the inhaler started giving me small, but noticeable palpitations. Sunday I started really feeling sick again, and Monday morning I could hardly get out of bed for more than three minutes before I felt super sick and had to lie down again. The symptoms began to get worse and worse (short breaths, fever, nausea, dehydration, no appetite,...just did not feel good at all), and we tried to contact my doctor but she could not entertain a phone call. Sister Pagaduan told me to go to the emergency room. Sister Llagas quickly packed a bag for me and herself and we took a taxi to the emergency room.

In the emergency room, I gave them my information and told them what the problems were. I told them that the inhaler I'd been on had been giving me palpitations. They took me to the back and hooked me up to an ECG and all of the symptoms hit worst right then. I guess it's good I was hooked up to the ECG although I have no idea what the results were. They gave me an I.V. and hydrated me and gave me dextrose. They asked if I would like to be admitted and I said yes.

More lab tests followed over the next few days and to be short in writing they found that I had a parasite--an amoeba and also E.Coli. They gave me medicine and I am feeling better now. I hope to not be going back to the hospital any time soon. Thank you so much for all of your prayers! I have no doubt they helped me so much in recovering. I'm feeling stronger right now than I have in weeks. The medicine they gave me is working wonderfully and I'll be able to go back to the work tomorrow.

I've learned so much through this whole process; mainly that Heavenly Father is always there for us, always ready to comfort us. He lets us go through trials for our good and this trial has definitely been for my good. I've had a lot of time to think and evaluate myself as a missionary and I have seen the areas where I need to improve and have made a big commitment to do better. Through this trial I've developed a love for the people. I know it sounds strange, but being in Iloilo, in a new environment, and around new sisters has given me a much needed new perspective. Being so close to being sent home has given me a greater desire and appreciation for the ability to do this work. I'm not going to take it for granted anymore. I'm going to work harder (although, I promise to take it easy while I recover, but more diligent and dedicated to this work), be nicer, and really give of myself. I've realized that I truly need to sacrifice of myself more. Before I sort of always expected people to adjust for me. It's hard to explain exactly what I mean, but basically I need to adjust for them now. I sort of expected a lot and was disappointed when I didn't get what I wanted. It's difficult to explain, but through this whole process I really have gained a greater love for the people.

I know that Heavenly Father gives us challenges to teach us and to test our faith and see if we can be proven faithful. I started becoming bitter in the hospital about how unhealthy I was and started wondering why I had to go through this! Why wasn't my health better? Why is there even filthy water in this country? Why can't the water in the missionary homes at least be pure? I started to complain a lot. Then I began reading Our Heritage and in 1 Nephi when Nephi and his family travel through the wilderness and suffer many afflictions to get to where the Lord wants them to go. The scriptures and Church History started to come alive to me. The Lord will always try his people to test their faith and prove their faithfulness to Him and to their leaders. Some will give up, but others will make it through and be refined. I learned so much from the example of Nephi and the early saints. It's easy to complain against the Lord and against our leaders when things go wrong, but if we let ourselves, we can experience the change of heart that Heavenly Father wants us to. I know he's changed mine. I've grown closer to Him through this trial. At no point during it did I ever feel forgotten or alone. I knew He was always with me and that He always understood. I knew my Savior knew what I was going through and that I could depend on Him even when I felt that there was no one else. Heavenly Father always sent me the right people at the right time and many, many times sent me the Holy Ghost to comfort me. Each time this happened I knew everything would be okay. I just needed to trust him. I've been able to see my shortcomings in the mission--how I've held back my heart from the people so many times. I've done the work, but I haven't yet really given of myself, and I've had the chance now to repent of that and tomorrow I'll get to start that sacrifice for them. I'm so much determined to do better and am so grateful for this second chance that I've been given. I'm happier now than I've been in a long time. My spirit has been fed and my body has been now strengthened. And only through the Savior could that happen.

I've seen the Lord's hand in my life as I've worked to become better spiritually and physically, as I've repented of my shortcomings and moved on. Friday I was nervous about heading back to Kalibo. What if another health problem happened and I needed to be in the hospital again? There is a hospital in Kalibo, but I've never been there and don't know if it's good or not (I'm sure it's fine, but it's only natural to worry). I prayed about it and had a very strong feeling that I needed to go back to Kalibo though and so I told President Pagaduan that I wanted to go back to Kalibo. We packed my things and I was able to drive up to the junction between Roxas and Kalibo with President and his family, which was a nice experience. Elder Ahquin and his companion came and got me. It was 8:00 at night and we thought that the last bus heading to Kalibo had left already and that President would have to drive us all the way to Kalibo (they were heading to Roxas for a meeting the next morning), but then we found out that a bus in Iloilo had been delayed and would be arriving at 8:15. Just another tender mercy of the Lord's and it strengthened my testimony that I"m really supposed to be back in Kalibo.

I was able to attend Tatay June's (Brother June now :D) baptism on Saturday which was such a blessing. I only taught him twice, but am looking forward to being a big part of his retention, although his faith is so strong, I don't think we're really going to have any problems with that. Brother June was so excited on Saturday! He is clean-cut now and when I saw him I said: "Tatay! Gwapo ka!" (You look great!). He replied, "Siyempre! Brand new start!" (Of course!) He kept saying that to me over and over again--a new beginning, brand-new start, born again. His baptism was so touching--the Spirit was so strong-- and afterwards when he bore his testimony he said how grateful he was to have found Jesus Christ’s church on the earth today. He told the story of when we first met him and it was interesting to hear it from his perspective. He was sitting with his friend, Tatay Joel, just getting ready to leave, when he saw Sister Sablan and I walking towards them.

"Oh look, there's an American coming this way," he had said, referring of course to me.

"Stay with me! Stay with me!" Tatay Joel had said, "They're coming to visit me!"

"What? No, they're your visitors!"

"No, no. Stay! They want to share a message about God."

And so Tatay June had stayed and as we taught him about the restoration of Christ's true church on the earth, and especially when we invited him to church on Sunday, he said that he'd been reminded of a promise he'd made to God when his mom was sick--that if God spared his mother's life, he would return to church. His mom healed, but Tatay June forgot his promise, until we came and taught him. And although he works every night from 10:30pm-6:30am as a cop at a slaughterhouse, he came to church the next morning at 8:30am and stayed all three hours because of his commitment to God. And as he learned he developed a testimony of the church's truthfulness and is so grateful to Heavenly Father for his second chance.

The next day Brother June was confirmed a member of the church and received the Holy Ghost. His blessing was amazing, and I am so happy for him. He'll be ordained a priest in the Aaronic Priesthood next week and be able to pass the sacrament. After he received the Holy Ghost and was sustained and welcomed into the church, he sat back down grinning from ear to ear, shaking people's hands as he went back to his seat, a new light in his eyes. It was such a blessing to be able to see that and be a part of it.

The Lord is so merciful. I was also able to attend Ward Council Meeting (I think that's what it's called in English) to help the ward develop a ward mission plan. The ward has improved so much since I left. Visiting teaching has started and home teaching has begun to be emphasized. The ward is more reverent and on time. It's great to see their progress!

All right, I'm out of time. Love you all! Thank you again for your prayers!

Sister Danner

NOTE FROM MOM: Kristen did send some photos and I will post those later today, if they aren't here when you are reading this.