Thursday, December 23, 2010

Dec 20 - Snow By the Sea

Stretan Božić!

I hope you are happy and well! What are you going to do for Christmas? We are having a great week! We are going to see the rest of the missionaries here in Croatia on the 23 in Zagreb. Then the 24th we are going to go and visit some cute older people that we do service for. When we asked one couple if we could come on Christmas Eve the wife started to cry and was really happy. Then we laughed because she cried about it. But it always feels good to do something nice for someone and see them so happy. Then our Christmas consists of eating with the elders, place and time. We are having French toast breakfast and a turkey dinner. It will be nice! We are going secret Santas between the four of us and I can't believe that no one has spilled who they have yet. At random times during the day Sister Laws will all the sudden ask, "who do you have?" For example,
Me- "Oooo, do you want to get this new kind of cereal this week, it's even on sale?"
S. Laws- "Who do you have?"
It is usually followed with an excited looking face and then when I don't answer she just laughs and then we move on till the next time she randomly asks. It's great! I told her that I was going to tell her while she is sleeping who I have. One night she passed out really fast, and I said, Sister answer....I have blah blah blah and then I giggled as quiet as I could and then fell asleep. So technically speaking, she already knows.

It has been exceptionally cold and then BAM, it snowed! We were teaching English class and all of the sudden I look out side and yelled, "Snijeg Pada!" (it's snowing) then we all ran to the window like five year olds, even though all our students are retirement age. It was great. We waited for Spanish students after but no one came obviously. It was fun just watching the snow fall. We sang xmas songs and if we didn't know the words we just mumble sang till we knew a word, like this, I'll be home for Christmas hummrammnummm ram num. Now I am hoarse from all the singing. Not really. We made a little snow man and then I got hit in the head by some punk kid who threw a snow ball at me. So in return I rubbed snow in his face and made him cry...okay not really. I just went wahhh and we laughed and kept walking. I hope he ate yellow snow!

I am reading in the New Testament about when Paul wrote to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 15) about the resurrection. He says that if we don't believe in the resurrection than our faith is in vain. He said as in Adam all die and in Christ we are all made alive. That is more than just metaphorical speaking, what a wonderful blessing to know that He came, that He came and then he fulfilled all he came to do and was resurrected to bring us the gift of life. How exciting it is to know that the things we do here are preparing us to be together forever. I am grateful for our Savior and I am grateful for His love for us.

Merry Christmas!
Sister Dillender

Dec 13 - Sub Way Sandwich

So this is going to be a short one today sorry! I have to tell you about my amazing dream last night! (Don't get excited)

I was in a room full of people. This person came in and shot me in the back but no one seemed to care or think it was a big deal because I kept doing things like I normally do. No one called the ambulance and we had to wait for the meeting or whatever was happening to be over before this guy, apparently I knew really well, could take me to the hospital. I kept crying and wondered why it didn't hurt and that this must not be a big deal. I was then waiting on the side walk out in front of Grandma Ray's house for this guy to pick me up. I kept crying and wondering why no one cared that some guy just shot me in the back. But the best part is that I laid down on the side walk to wait for him and the only thing I had for a pillow was my hot subway sandwich. But I was kind of hungry too so every now and then I would grab it take a bit and then cover it up and use it as a pillow while crying. Ha ha ha. I hope this isn't sad to you, I thought it was very funny and every time I think of it I start to laugh!

I am enjoying the Christmas season and we are trying to think of new things to say to people for Christmas When we are at their door or on the street. It is so nice to have this time of year on us. I love doing lessons according to Christ's birth and remembering the great day of Hope. I wonder where we all were when He was born? I know we were all cheering and so excited. I was reading about charity in 1 Corinthians and I was thinking about how grateful I am that Christ had enough charity to do what He said he would do and be what He said He would be. He truly is our Savior and Redeemer!

I will talk to you before Christmas but have a very merry one!
Sister Dillender

Dec 6 - Marinating in Salsa

Bok svima!

Here are some questions my mom asked I thought you all would like to hear them.

How are you're C'mas plans going? Good. No, not really we haven't been planning, just singing Christmas songs and talking about it like it's the end of the world and this is the last thing we are going to celebrate. Do you get to share any C'mas with the members, or with other people you're trying to contact? No, but we are going to have a branch activity for it. The plans are still up in the air but I will let you know how awesome it will be. Oh, and if you have any ideas of what 10 or 12 people can do together for fun and games around Christmas let me know! You had said that you really enjoyed Easter in Croatia, because the people celebrated the Savior so much with the holiday. What is C'mas like? Well, I don't really know what it is so much about here. Obviously the day that Christ was born, but I think people are more excited about it just being the Christmas season. There are decorations and Christmas trees up, including ours :). A lot of people have been setting off fireworks and we asked a couple Croats that we know and they said, oh I don't know, people are just excited that Christmas is coming. Do they have a Santa figure, or do they celebrate the spiritual side more? Well they have a St. Nicholas that looks like the pope but with long hair and a beard so it's really just a pope like Santa and it looks awesome. Today on the way to emailing there was this pope looking Santa guy dressed up and standing in the back of a wagon being pulled by a donkey with a guy with devil horns and a big stick behind him. The Santa guy would give people and mostly kids candy and if someone wasn't holding a baby then the Satan guy would swipe them with a stick. Yeah I almost wet my pants on the way over here. The best part is when the donkey got scared and wouldn't walk. The driver had to get out and pull it, but the Santa-pope wasn't ready for it, and then FELL OFF THE WAGON!!!! His wig almost came off, but his pope hat went flying. I started crying because I was laughing so hard. Actually I am crying right now just remembering all of that. What about C'mas traditions, like C'mas trees, and lights, and caroling? All the same! Are you going to make C'mas dinner with some of the other missionaries, or do you go to members homes, and 'feast' with them?¨ I think we will leave the turkey up to Elder Bachynski again, since he passed the really tasty turkey test for Thanksgiving. But we will definitely reel in the Elders for a Christmas day dinner. I know you're going to have a get-together with the Mission President, and some of the other missionaries; what's that going to be like? We have Zone Conference every month like I talked about before. So this month it is pushed back till the 23rd so we can all be together right before Christmas. I don't really know what we are going to do for it, but I hear that it will be great. So if you sent letters or packages I will get it the 23rd which will be perfect so I can save it for Christmas day wohooo.

We were teaching a lesson last night about family prayer and I talked about how much I feel that family prayer has helped my family. We all have our problems but I know that one is NOT that we all love each other. I feel like family prayer has been a uniting force for us and has given us an unseen help through the years. Sometimes we had family home evening, sometimes we did scripture study, but we always, always had family prayer and I am so grateful for it. I feel like it has always been such a nice time to be together as a family just for a little bit. It didn't matter where anyone stood with God because at the time we all stood together and thanked him. I am so grateful for my family and the love that they show toward me.

So when we go door to door we have decided to have new approaches when people open the door. This is what we do, we look at the last name on the door, then look in the dictionary that would be close to the name and link it to the gospel. For example, one person's last name meant to marinate, so we decided to say, when we marinate in the gospel then we become nice and tasty....and then Sister Law's finished with and then Satan comes and burns us in the fiery pits of hell. Ha ha ha I laugh so much. The other one was blacksmith and she thought of, God is a blacksmith and made us in his own image. Well that last one is a lot funnier in Croatian standing in front of someone's door.

I hope you all are well and I miss you!

s ljubavi,
Sestra Dillender

Nov 29 - Thanksgiving Hurts!

Dobar Dan svima!

I forget every year why I think Thanksgiving is a hard holiday to have. I stuff my face like a fat kid in a room full of candy and then feel the pain affects of it afterward. Oh well at least it was fun and worth all the pain I went through. So this is how it went down. First off, we got some good recipes from family members and then we just split the menu and went on our ways cooking. Sister Laws and I made FOUR pies! Yeah! They were good too. We made mom's cherry pie, apple pie, cheese thing pie, and Elder Rhodes mom's chocolate pie. We weren't going to and then he was really sad so we did it as a surprise. We weren't going to because we didn't know what corn starch is in Croatian. But we put our faith to the test and randomly found some and considered it a sign. We made some roles too and they were awesome!!!! Oh and to remind you it was all made from scratch even the pie crust, thank you thank you. All the pies were great except for the cheese thing one, it ended up tasting like plain egg pie, and so we didn't really eat it. Remember when I made the chemical pumpkin muffins mom? I accidentally put in table spoons of baking soda and powder rather than tea spoons, ha ha even Vanna wouldn't eat it. I found a muffin with a bite taken out and next too it the chewed up, undesired piece in the trash can.
Anyway, the Elders did the turkey, stuffing, potatoes and gravy. They did an excellent job too!

So we sat around the table at the church and pigged out. Elder Bachynski used a towel as a bib since it's the only thing long enough for him. Then we made grateful plates and wrote all the things we are grateful for on them. I will send pictures of them next week, it was great. We then had pie and I almost burst. I was in so much pain. We finally finished the left-overs Sunday and now we just have to finish the pie.

We bring lunch to elderly people every Tuesday and Friday. Everything about service is sooooo great. I love the people we bring food to. They are so great and fun to talk to. They all are around ninety and are so cute and grateful. This week we went over to this couple’s house and we talked to them for a while. At the end the wife pulled off her one glove she was wearing and told us about a disease she has, she asked what to you call it in English and her husband said, "herpes". Obviously she doesn't have an outbreak right now, but told us how it has hurt the circulation in her hands. Then right when we were going to leave she grabs my hand with her HERPES HAND. Fortunately it was my left hand, so I didn't have to touch anything until we got back to the home with the kitchen we bring the lunches from and wash and scrub. All day I would threaten the Elders by saying. "if you don't give me that Book of Mormon I am going to touch you with my Herpes hand." they would always comply.

Well I hope your thanksgiving was wonderful and I miss you all so much!
s ljubavi,
Sestra Dillender

Nov 15 - I Need Thanksgiving Recipes

Dobro Dan! Dobrodošli! Dobro, Hvala,

That didn't even make sense but it will be funny to read it when I am back home looking back at these. I wonder about how many things I read that I will regret saying :). Mostly just he embarrassing things.

Well, Thanksgiving is coming and we are planning our meal out for what we are going to do. If you have any good recipes then please email me, but you have to email it by next Monday because that is the last time I will look at it until Thanksgiving comes. Oh, and if you want to send anything to me hand written, this especially goes out to my fan club, please send it to my home address here in Zadar because I won't be getting any letters from the mission home until Christmas time, literally until two days before Christmas. Here is my address, (Lynny don't put my address on the blog, there are a lot of creeps out there)…………………..

But don't worry that is not saying hat you have to send me something just in case if you wanted to and you wanted it to come fast than Christmas.

So I brought a little bit of Dillender fun to Family Home Evening on Monday night. We have it as a branch and one week the Elders are in charge and the other week we are in charge. For the lesson we read about when Peter walks on water to Christ and how sometimes like Peter, we are all ready and willing to follow him and we are walking on water. But then sometimes the storms we see look like too much and we start to sink. But fortunately for Peter and for us, Christ is always there to catch us, all we have to do is to take His hand. then after we had the lesson, we played a Dillender classic.....LOADED QUESTIONS.....I didn't translate it to Croatian, but if I did I would say something like Punina Pitanje ha ha ha that is weird, that's like filled questions. Whatever! It was really funny, but I didn't bring up anything like carnies, hairspray, hallmarks or PMS because I thought the first and last would be a bit inappropriate. It is always more fun inserting inside jokes when you 1) Don't have to translate them, and 2) the people hearing it are on the inside of the joke.

So Sister Fitzsimmons left a bunch of clothes and I feel like all the women in Croatian are having a field day with them. On Sunday, Two girls from the branch and Sister Laws and I were all wearing something from the pile she left. We were like, "Sister Fitzsimmons still lives on least in Zadar.....where she never served." We miss you! Don't worry we miss you too....Melinda....not Sister Whitaker...weird!

So we had language class sign ups and Elder Bachynski ate all our Nutela and we had to buy some more this week. We had palačinke, aka crepes and they were really good. We just put chocolate Nutela in them and crushed Butterfingers, aka 8 thousand calories each and only Sister Dillender is going to get fat off of them. Also when I say crushed butter fingers I mean, we would hand the fun size butterfingers to the Giant, aka Elder Bachynski and he would crush them in one motion with his fist that is the size of our face. Actually we made hand Turkeys for our Thanksgiving decorations and Elder Bachynski's hand is literally bigger than my face....I measured! But to end this paragraph, the classes are really fun and we have a good group for both of them.

Well I hope that you are doing well and I wish you a very Happy week!
s ljubavi,
Sestra Dillender

Nov 2 Stretan Svih Sveti

Bok svima!

Yesterday was all Saints Day, so I wasn't able to write since all the big stores etc were closed down. We went to a graveyard and it was nice to look around. I have always found them so peaceful to go to.

This week has been so nice for me here. I got to see the sea organs, where the waves come up and push air through a few holes in the ground and make....well organ noises. I get to see the sea and the islands. When I look it almost looks like I am looking at the bay area with San Francisco on one side and Oakland on the other, but really it's Zadar on one side and the island on the other. It is very beautiful and the weather is so nice. It is so warm here that we only wear our sweaters mostly.

So we will be starting our language classes next week and Elder Rhodes and I will be teaching Spanish together. I hope a lot of people will come. I think they will because the closest thing is Italian. I am glad that he will be teaching with me since he is amazing at the language and can explain everything way better than I could. We pass out flyers and I usually pass out the whole stack sometimes to people when I freak out and I can't separate the flyers. But that is okay, maybe they will give it to their friends.

Well sorry this is a lame letter this week I don't really have much to say right now. I will tell you about our mini Halloween party next week. I have no time right now, so I will write more next week. Sorry! Bye!

Sister Dillender

Monday, November 8, 2010

November 8th, 2010

Bok Svima,

I hope that you are doing well! I hope you don't mind getting this email also, so just let me know if you don't want to get the mass emails that I send every week.

Anyway, on to business, I went to Zone Meeting in Zagreb last week where all the missionaries get together in Croatia for training and guess what! I was the part of the Zadar Sisters. It was so great, I know that doesn't mean anything to you but when I look back on this and read this I will know exactly what I mean. Well, Anu will understand....weird.....I keep wanted to say Sister Fitzsimmons. I'm A ZADAR SISTER! There are only four of us now and we had breakfast together in my old apartment right before the meeting. It was so nice to be together and we shared funny stories of the week before.

At the meeting Elder Jacobsen shared a scripture James 1:22 where it talks about not just being hearers of the word but doers also. A few scriptures after talks about how a man who is only a hearer is like a man who sees himself in a mirror and when he is gone from the mirror he forgets himself. Uh there is a lot of paraphrasing there, but I think of that in our everyday life. It is one thing to hear the word of God and be edified by it, but what is it worth if we don't make ourselves better by it. We know that Christ didn't do anything save it were to Glorify the Father and for the salvation of others. What is the point of having great words if we don't take it to heart and make ourselves better with them. I like the quote that Rachie sent me when she said, "If we want to talk to God, we pray. If we want God to talk to us, we read the scriptures." It is true, and I love that we are not alone but have a Father who loves us and is guiding us...if we let Him.

Speaking of Spiritual things....we had a Halloween party that wasn't a Halloween party. Some people think that it is worshiping the devil so we just had a party the day before Halloween. Elder Bachynski made an indestructible piñata and by the time people beat it open the candy was all powder and sprayed all over everyone....well not everyone. We still ate it anyway. The only dressing up I did for Halloween day was when I dressed up like Elder Bachynski. I put his suit coat on and stood on a chair and said a couple of funny quotes that he said before. Yes he was still taller than me.

Sister Laws and I are so full of the spirit that we usually think of things at the same time or tend to put on the same kind of outfits, but the other day we were lacking in unity and I couldn’t understand the words coming out of her mouth. This was our conversation:

I put on my clothes for the day which was a sweater and a long sleeve button up. We had just finished making a cake for Rafaela's birthday.
S. Laws: "Aren't you going to bake in that?"
S. Dillender: "Uh are we going to make some more treats for Rafaela?"
S. Laws: "No! Aren't you going to cook in that!"
S. Dillender:"Oh, do you want to have lunch now?"
We are cracking up at this point.
S. Laws: "NOOOOOO! Aren't you going to be hot in that today?!"
We just laugh and I realized how dumb it was to winter it up in a not wintry city. So I changed so I wouldn't figuratively bake or cook.

The other great story for the week was when we were stuffing mailboxes with free language class flayers in the dark at 8 at night. We walk into this yard area and were looking for a mailbox in the dark. I start to hear a dog bark and growl so I say lets go and book it. I look to my left and see this BIG DOG running at us and don't even to see if my companion is following. We round the corner and some other dogs bark at us too and run half way down the street, realize the BACHYNSKI sized dog is not following us (must have been chained) and realize that we are not going to be eaten alive and stop in the middle of the street and keel over laughing. I can't believe that I had my first stereotypical missionary story...being chased by a dog.

I hope you are all well and I hope this letter makes up for the lame one I wrote last week!

Svako Dobro!

Sestra Dillender

October 25th, 2010 - I Am On The Coast Again! AHHHHHHHHHHHH!

I am sorry that I was not able to write last week and that you probably had a very sleepless week. But I will tell you the events of last week so you can sleep better this week. First off, not including last week, I miss you all very much and I think of you often, even if you think oh she isn't saying that to me, but I do think of you. I think of my family and friends all the time and how grateful I am to have the people in my life that I do. Thank you for how much better you make my life.

Okay last week. Here in this mission, I may have stated before that president calls each companionship and tells us what is happening to us during transfers. So that is only about fifteen calls to have to make every two months. So Monday night president calls all of us missionaries. Unfortunately Sister Whitaker and I were in French class and the Elders were all doing some class too at the church. No one was able to answer, but since we all had a miss call from President Hill, we knew! So the frenzies started. He finally called Sister Whitaker and I and asked if we were home. We of course did not lie and said no. Well to make a long story short I had to wait forty five minutes before I got home to find out what was happening to me. As you know I wanted to stay in Zagreb. I felt like I was understanding the city and the branch better and I really wanted to be with Sister Stratton a while longer. I thought that Heavenly Father was preparing me for this.....well, I pretty much knew when he wanted to talk to all four of us that it meant I was leaving to Zadar. I was so sad and frustrated (I mean who isn't when they are hungry) but by the time I was home, I realized how much I didn't want to go. When we got home, he called us and told me that me and my MTC companion Sister Nelson will be switching. Since Sister Whitaker and Sister Fitzsimmons were already packing I started that night. I woke up the next morning so excited to go and so happy that the Lord is in charge of where we go and not me. I realized the only reason why I wanted to stay was because it was comfortable and I was used to it. Plus I wanted to prove the Elders wrong because they all thought I was leaving to Zadar, because that is how I am. But I have been excited all week for this new change and now I am HEREEEEEEE! AHHHHHH I get to see the water again and not just a river! You can look up Zadar on google. What I have seen is a friggin paradise and is great. My companion sister Laws is amazing and I already knew her from before and so are the other two Elders serving here. Elder Rhodes and I served four months together in Zagreb and he is like a brother to me. Oh my gosh is that guy funny! His companion who I already knew is elder Bachinski. One exciting fact is that no one will bother us down here because he is 7 feet tall. Case in point last night when they were helping me home with my luggage one guy started to get in Elder Rhodes face and probably say something....not nice. But right before he looks up and sees Elder Bachinski and the guy just walks away and it made my day. Plus the other upside is that Elder Bachinski single handedly; well two handedly carried two of my bags weighing literally 90 pounds. I am so grateful for people that are bigger than me and willing to serve. We all played Frisbee this morning and my team had the height advantage.

Many people have asked me about Halloween and they don't really celebrate it of course but we are doing some little fallish activities together in our branches. Plus I am not going to let Halloween let me by with out some decorations. Unfortunately they are all in the Zagreb apartment, but we will make some today too. I will tell you more about the city next time since most of the last 24 hours of me being here has been me sleeping and it hasn't even been 24 hours yet.

Just for something a little spiritual I have been reading a lot about how when we pray we should pray with the Holy Spirit because he will guide us to know what to pray for. I love that our Heavenly Father really is our father and knows us better than we know ourselves. I am grateful that He wants to bless us and he wants and needs us to ask. I love how is says in Mathew 7: 7-11 if ye being evil know how to give good gifts, how much more willing is your father who is in Heaven? I had been praying to be with Sister Stratton and when I realized that He knows better than me, I started praying to be prepared to do what I need to. Well guess what, I am not only prepared to be here, but I am more than happy, I am on cloud nine when I walk around. I love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and I am so grateful to know of His mercy and how to live back with our father in Heaven again.

I love you!

S ljubavlju,
Sestra Dillender

October 11th, 2010 - Living Up My German Ancestry

Bok, Hallo, Bonjour, Moi, Hola, GUTEN TAG!

I just wanted to write all the languages I am learning and exposed to while out here, Croatian, French, Finnish, Spanish and German. Oooo I feel so multicultural right now! I get to learn French while Sister Whitaker teaches her French classes and I get to learn very important things to say like, Je suis desole, mais je dois partir, I am sorry but I have to go. I also got to learn Finnish from Sister Fitzsimmons, and when I say Finnish I mean really important phrases like, Elat hattarassa, you live in cotton candy, aka dream land. And our cutting board had some German on it that I could understand thanks so Herr Stehr and having to learn the accusative prepositions, ohne dich ist alle doof, with out you everything is stupid! I know I am so 80 million lingual right now. Just kidding obviously. Right now actually I feel that my language is really bad and I am quite embarrassed how not far I have gotten in Croatian, but now that I am sufficiently humbled I can maybe get better as I work harder. Work Work Work! I'll just keep practicing my 7 cases, enclitics, three genders, imperfect and perfect verbs and just plain old speaking.....sometimes I wonder why Spanish was ever hard.

Enough of that, now on to why serving with sister is so great. (other than we eat bullets, please refer to the previous email) For district meeting every week we have someone who is player of the week. Wait I think I already described player of the week. Okay well it's pretty much that last time I got a coconut and had to break it open with my BARE aka BEAR HANDS! Moving on so I gave player of the week to The Elders Padley, referring to the companionship of Elder Pashce and Hadley (one time I accidentally called them Padley and then we made it a title). I gave it to them for yadi yadi yada reasons, but the important part is what I gave. We can't have pets while on a mission, but I am pretty sure President will approve of my egg carton made Caterpillar. We made it a sisterly group effort by decking her out with eye lashes, legs and everything. Then we made life easy on the Elders and made a home for her from a shoe carton with a blanket and feeding box. I was going to get them pringles but this was, for obvious reasons, a lot better. All four of us sisters laughed hysterically and they laughed out of shock. But I know they liked it and I know they won't throw it away....for a while anyway.

But I have moved on from making pets to Halloween decorations. (what else am I going to do between 9:30 and 10:30?) You know that old saying, "you can take the girl out of America, but you can't take America out of the girl" and when I say America, what I really mean is Halloween. So we have pumpkins, drawn ones and ones made out of old toilet paper rolls, and signs, and the best.......VAMPIRE PROTECTION! I found a Stake! So I carried it home with me and wrote Vampire Protection and directions on how to use it on the back. The other sisters laughed and said I can't believe you brought it home, but they won't be laughing or thinking it was silly to bring home when they have to use it. Don't worry they are familiar with the system of how it works.

Enough of the nonsense, I got to enjoy my German Heritage this past week. For Zone Conference Elder Schutze came down, and he is an area authority from GERMANY! I met him the night before Zone Conference while he was eating ice cream. He shook my hand and I said who I was. Then I said, I think my last name is German. He says in his German accent, "oh yes it is, where is your family from?" .........uhhhhhhh.......... I didn't know so I said so. He was jokingly appalled and said, "What is the purpose of the church?" again....uhhhhh..... so he said, "1. Proclaim the Gospel!, now what is number 2?" ....uhhhhhh...I never felt so brain dead in my life. So he said, "2. Perfect the Saints. Now what is the third?" I don't think I have to write now what was in my head because I think it is more than obvious, so he moves on from my blank stare and said, "3. Redeem the dead. Now what are you going to do when you get home?" I thought quick and said, "perfect the saints!" Then he turns fully toward me and says loudly in the best German accent I have ever heard, "NO! REDEEM THE DEAD, YOUR GERMAN ANCESTRY!" We all had a good laugh and the next day in Zone Conference he went to write the purpose of the church on the white board and made me look really smart by asking me to say it. But beyond how funny he was, he really helped a lot. He is amazing and I really admire him. He helped the church grow in Germany when there were only few members and is a true pioneer.

I read Elder Bednar's conference talk from 2007 and he talked about clean hands and a pure heart. We can learn to better glorify our works for our Father in Heaven (Clean hands) and make ourselves better through the redeeming love of our Savor (pure heart). I am so grateful that the Lord speaks to us today through prophets and He wants us to be successful and happy. I am sorry if you are looking for missionary success stories, but my success story is watching all of God's creation go around me and realize I am part of a bigger picture. The Lord loves His children!

I hope you are happy and healthy and well!

Sister Dillender

October 4th, 2010 - The Way It Is

The Mission President:
Leaps tall buildings in a single bound,
Is more powerful than a locomotive,
Faster than a seeding bullet,
Walks on water,
Associates with God.

The Assistants to the President:
Leaps short buildings in a single bound,
Is more powerful than a switch engine,
Is just as fast as a speeding bullet,
Walks on water if the sea is calm,
Talks with God.

The Zone Leader:
Leaps short buildings with a running start and favorable winds,
Is almost as powerful as a switch engine,
Is faster than a decelerating bullet,
Walks on water i a n indoor swimming pool
Talks with God if special request is approved.

The District Leader:
Barely clears a mud hut,
Loses tug of war with the locomotives,
Can fire a speeding bullet,
Swims well,
Is occasionally addressed by God.

The senior Companion:
Makes high marks on the wall when trying to leap tall buildings,
Is run over by locomotives,
Can sometimes handle a gun without inflicting self-injury,
Dog paddles
Talks to Animals.

The Junior Companion:
Runs into buildings,
Recognizes locomotives 2 out of 3 times,
Is not issued ammunition,
Can stay afloat with a life jacket,
Talks to walls.

The Greenie:
Falls over doorsteps when trying to enter buildings,
Says, "look at the choo choo!"
Wets himself with a water pistol,
Plays in mud puddles,
Mumbles to himself.

The sister Missionary:
Lifts buildings and walks under them,
Kicks locomotives off the tracks,
Catches speeding bullets with her teeth and eats them,
Freezes water in a single glance,
Knows God.


Sister Dillender

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

September Kristy Letters

Sep 6th


So I hope you were not all wondering where I ran off to since I didn't write a big letter last week, because I know you hang on all my letters every Monday. Don't worry, I know you didn't notice, I wouldn't either if I didn't have a designated time every week to just write emails.

So as I have told you, there are four of us ladies all stacked into one apartment in one big city. For us that is big since there are only six sisters in Croatia. Sister Whitaker and Fitzsimmons are on this last final stretch and I am literally half way through my mission, okay not for another week, I will report when I am half way.

I can't believe that I am almost half ways done, I mean when am I going to change for the better, become this amazing missionary and proficient at the language? Wait, I still am the same person just with a name tag and a big responsibility to fill. But you know I am happy to do it. Comparing this to a marathon I do see the mile marks and I will see a big difference once the race is over. But right now I am at a Gatorade stand checking out the flavors and have to catch up to the other three sisters - Ah!

I remember when Becky came down to San Francisco for her marathon and it was such a sight to see. I made her signs the night before and we got all my running stuff ready to do the end with her. When we went to Union Square in the morning before day break, I could barley recognize the place because of all the people. When I went to stand on the side line to watch the beginning I kept choking up, how lame. A half an hour later the last person went over the start line and I rode the bus back to Grandma's with all the bums. Mom and I planned out where she would be in a half an hour, an hour etc. The first stop we came and saw all these people running. We got out walked over and watched people grab water, Gatorade, there were cheer leaders and other people with signs. I couldn't see Becky, but I grabbed my sign anyway and jumped and cheered....and felt like an idiot... until I saw BECKY! I gave her a big hug and I was so proud of her. It was just when every one was splitting off for the half marathon and the full. I finally got to meet her at the end and run with her until my legs felt like they would fall off. It was such a sight to see! But I say all of that because that is how I feel here. I think of my family that was there to see me off and I think of the people far and close by running with me on the way. But the best part is to think of the people that are going to be there at the finish line!

I have been meeting a lot of friends on the way and one of them is my Chinese friend....uh I can't spell his name but it sounds like, okay here goes just sounding it out, chee-pie (like chia pet and pie). This is obviously way too difficult for me to say and spell so I have Americanized his name and he is now T-pain. I think he will be very happy with this name and I am too because it is way easier to say. I asked him how to say a lot of things in Chinese and he taught me some things. The conversation goes like this, (english translation because I can't spell it)

T-pain: Hello
Sister Dillender: Hello, How are you?
T-pain: Good and you?
Sister Dillender: Good thank you.....good bye!

And then he tells me I speak Chinese and I say, "T-pain no I don't, I don't even speak Croatian." He is a very humble and amazing person. He plays the bassoon for the Croatian symphony here and is 6'4'' and the son of a professional Chinese basketball player...I think he was professional, oh you know how missionaries like to exaggerate. He is so humble that he says he doesn't play the bassoon well. So I don't ask him if he can do things I just assume he is amazing at everything, because he is, I mean he is T-pain!

Thank you for all your emails I love them. You all are so good to me and I am grateful for all your prayers and support.

Puno Hvala,

Sestra Dillender

Sep 13th

Dear loved ones,

I am a big jerk! I thought I would get that settled really fast, just because I thought you might be wondering. So many people tell me," oh you have such a great attitude and you are so positive." Well, all I have to say to that is, ha ha ha, just ask my companions if that one is true. I really am a jerk, but I am working on it and working on it by having a better attitude.

Oh, if you were here with me right now and could see the person I am. I mean I don't do everything wrong but sometimes I do think of pizza when people talk to me, or I do role my eyes when people make fun of me, and sometimes I just don't care what's going on. But you know what, the Lord loves broken things and so the Lord loves me. Fortunately there is the Atonement to fix and repair me. I had a very humbling week last week, so I am very down. But you know when you are on the bottom there is nothing else but up.

But there were highlights last week, like when we helped an old drunk guy home. We watched him walked all crazy pushing his bike. We asked if he needed help after we watched him almost fall over on the side walk. He held my arm and Sister Whitaker pushed his bike. As he slurred a bunch of Croatian words at me I thought of, not pizza, but about Christ. He told the Pharisees, what need do the whole have of a physician? He came to heal physically and spiritually. He spent his life with the mean, meek and lowly and I can spend a little of my time with people that need help too. I was happy to be his servant and do something that is out of my comfort zone. Plus we were rewarded by watching him go, "Čekaj malo, Čekaj!" (Wait a second) and then he would hold on to the bike with two hands explain that his hip hurts and then do some squats and say, "ovako" (like this) AHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Like squats are going to help a hurting hip. The Lord sends blessings in so many ways, that night in a funny story. So sometimes when we are walking we do a few lady like squats and keep going, just kidding. But we walked him safely to his gate and then home where I promptly washed my arm and hands.

Hopefully when you see me next I will be a better person. I know that our Savior makes broken things new again and He can do that for me too. I know you are seeing this as a positive attitude, but really it's just hope and faith in our Redeemer. Don't forget the eternal perspective and remember your blessings... and to do a few squats when the going gets tough.


Sister D, D as in Dirtbag.

Sister Dillender

Sep 27th

Hello my friends,

I am a much happier person and I want you to know that when you pray for me I really feel it. I hope you know that you help me more than you know. Honestly even when you think good thoughts of me I am sure that it helps me in some way, so thank you for all you do for me.

I thought I would share just a few things with you this week, one of them being that I received a coconut. We have a "district meeting" every week where all the missionaries get together in the district and plan for the week and go over other things. So one of the things we go over is player of the week. Player of the week is something that someone did well that week. The person who had player of the week the week before looks to see something that someone did well and then gives them a candy or something and says why they choose them for player of the week. But lately it has been, who hasn't had it in a while and what can we make up to say that they deserve it? So Elder Hadley presented me with a coconut and said because he heard I played Frisbee well the day before for p-day. It was nice of him to think of me. Anyway he and Elder Pasche said that they couldn't get it open and they had been banging it on the cement trying to get it open. So I said okay we will have to try after district meeting. So we take my little coconut friend and I go out to the cement, put my arms and the coconut far above my head....Jump.....and put my whole body into throwing it on the cement. You know what that devil of a coconut did? It shattered into pieces. Sister Whitaker and I laughed and laughed that on the first try I managed to shatter the coconut and Elder Pashce and Hadley just stood there. I told them they just need some pent up estrogen to get the job done. Then we all enjoyed the coconut...not really it was kind of gross.

So I am officially half way done with my mission! I can't believe how fast that time is going though. It is all going so fast that I feel like I have to sprint to keep up with it. I saw pictures of my family and I was blown away by what my nieces and nephews look like. They are so stinking cute and so stinking big! But I have been working on my last half of the mission goals so that I can better the Lord's time. Here are some of those goals:

1) Have the whole New Testament memorized by heart. In Croatian too.
2) Get proposed to.
3) Get through with only using one umbrella
4) Watch a chicken fight. (we have chickens in the back of our house.)
5) Loose 50 pounds……
and lastly
6) be the most popular girl in Croatia

I hope that you can help me with them like talking me up to Croatians on the Internet, or sending me weight loss pills or pretty much a parasite in a pill. No, but I really did make more goals to maximize my time out here. I am so grateful for this experience to be here and I can see so many things that I have been learning.

I hope you are well and happy!

Sister Dillender

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Aug 23, 2010

Dragi Obitelj i Prijatelji moji,

I know that I have promised you information on what is going to happen for transfers. I know they are not exciting for you, but they are for me and I love to hear where everyone is going. We make transfer predictions all the time since there are only 25 and three coming (in Croatia). Don't worry, I don't get distracted. Since there are not many of us, President just calls us all a couple of nights before and lets us know what is happening to us. But this time for our Zone meeting he introduced the Box B. He said Box B was used in the early days in the church where the presidency would just call out where missionaries were going at the pulpit from Salt Lake City. So after telling us that he said that is what we are going to be doing today and then says, " We will be starting right now" ha ha. A rush of excitement came over the room and I quickly grabbed a pen and paper to write down who is going where. So he started with Zagreb. Everyone is staying the same except for Sister Fitzsimmons who is going to be training Sister Stratton the new one in Zagreb. Then he said, "Sister Dillender, you will be with Sister Zagreb." AHHHHHHHHH! YAAAAAAY! He said, “So that means that all four of you Sisters will be in that apartment." Everyone is talking and laughing and then I yell, "WAIT! Can we stay up past ten thirty?" We all just laughed and President just shakes his head...and laughs.

But then the next most exciting part was where the 7 footer was going to go. So a little later President says, "Elder Rhodes you will be training Elder Bakinski." We didn't know what the 7 footers name was since we always just refer to him as that, so we were all left wondering if he was the tall one or not when president says, "Elder Rhodes stand up! Elder Lee, stand on your chair.!" Elder Rhondes stands up to his tall frame of 5'6'' and Elder Lee, next to him stands on his chair, towering about 18 inches over him. Then president says, " the new companionship in Zadar." We all laughed and so did Elder Rhodes. They are going to be such a great sight. He really is 18 inches taller than him and Elder Rhodes is one of the two shortest missionaries in this mission. HA HA HA HA HA! The nice thing for the 7 footer is that in Zadar most men reach at least 6'5'' and it's not uncommon to see 7 footers. He will feel right at home.

I was reading over some of my old Zone Conference notes from when Elder Causse was here. The part that really stood out to me was when he was talking about planning being a sacred part of the day. He told us to be specific in what we do. So Sister Fitzsimmons and I decided to do that and before we left the apartment to do go talk to people we prayed for a lady to be interested and want to learn more and give us her phone number so we could get a hold of her. The first person was a rude old lady the second was a rude old guy and the third was a lady who wanted to give us her phone number. We told her about family history and offered her a chapel tour. She said that would be great and told us that we can make an appointment with her, so, we asked for her phone number and she was happy to give it. She actually asked if we live close by because she sees us walking here all the time. We walk home that way everyday and I wonder what kind of an impression she got from us. Well it couldn't be that bad since Sister Fitzsimmons and I are best friends and we are usually running for the tram anyway. But the faith building exercise for me was : THE LORD BLESSES THE FAITHFUL!

I am sorry I don't have much time to write beyond this today. But from now on I will still have stories of Sister Fitzsimmons plus two more sisters. It's pretty much going to be a party every day!

s ljubavlju,
Sestra Dillender

Aug 23


I just also wanted to let you know if you wanted to send something not via email you can send it to my apartment, and I will be there at least until October 24 and if it comes later the other sisters can give it to me:

Sister Babe
Hermanova Ulica 13 H
10000 Zabreb

The name you send it to is very important by the way!

If you send it to the Sovenia address it just goes to the mission home and takes a little longer to get to me because we wait for them to come down to Croatia so they can give it to us. But either address you have is a good one just the Zagreb one is faster.

Hvala ljepo!

Aug 16, 2010

Hello my loved ones,

This week has been a very long week for some reason, but not at all bad just really long. There have been a lot of changes in the mission since I got here and one of them is that there wouldn't be anymore Zone Conferences, where all the missionaries get together once a month in the country. We talk about a lot of good things that really help us and boost our morale. Plus, my favorite part of Zone Conference is hearing from President and Sister Hill. They truly are amazing and I am so happy every time we get to see them. But then we heard that for the next six months there will be Zone Conferences here in Europe every month, yay! It's nice to see the other four sisters in the country, swap stories and have a little bit of girl time. I love the ones that are here and it's always so fun to see them. But I am happy that I get a few more Zone Conferences before I go home.

Oh here is something funny, sometimes Sister Fitzsimmons talks about wanting to see an Asian person because we never see Asian people here, and then we see one that day. The other day was no exception. In the morning she talked about how she wanted to go to Asia just to see an Asian person. Later around lunch time we were talking to this really nice lady on the street, when all of the sudden this huge swarm of a Japanese tour group surrounded us and the guide was saying something in Japanese. We started laughing sooooo hard just because of the irony of it all. ha ha Heavenly Father even gives us things we don't ask for in prayers. He really knows the desires of our hearts ;) he he, but he really does.

I feel like a mission is the funniest thing I have ever done in my life. I feel like I am laughing all day long, you would think I would have stronger abs by now. I feel like there are so many funny things that happen everyday and there hasn't been a day that has gone by that I haven't had to bend over and put my hands on my knees for support. You know m,e I love to laugh, so Heavenly Father does send us what we want.

Thank you so much for all your emails and letters of love and encouragement. I always here what I need to every week. I love you!!!

Sister Dillender

Aug 9th, 2010

Aug 9th

Dear loved ones,

Since yesterday was my dad's birthday, I thought I would write him a letter to show how much I appreciate him.

Dear Daddy,

First off I would like to say that I miss you dearly! I thought of you all day yesterday and I thought you probably don't care to celebrate your day of birth into mortality, but I wanted to celebrate who you are. Yesterday, Sister Fitzsimmons and I made a cake in honor of you and we both blew out the candles together. It was really tasty and we ate it at ten o'clock at night (since that is after proselyting hours). It was fun to have a party for you and we didn't even care about the few extra calories :D.

After we got home from church we were really tired. I thought as a present I would try to work as hard as you do. So, instead of taking an extra hour to weekly plan we went out and talked to a lot of people. No one was interested but we did talk to a group of six crazy old ladies. They complimented us on how modest we dressed and they were really fun to talk to.

Being out here is so much different than I thought it would be. But I am so glad I came and I am staying out here. Sometimes I wonder what my purpose is, or if I am even being what the Lord needs me to be. But you know what, I read your old notes and your favorite scriptures and quotes you wrote down all the time. They help me more than you probably know.

I miss not being able to just walk in the room and ask you questions or get your advice on something. I miss hugging you and holding your hand. I even miss the garlic fries and the Giants games we went too. But I know it's worth it to be here and to get help from you in other ways.

As I wear my badge I think of the two names I wear over my heart. I wear Christ's and yours. It's such an honor to represent my Savior and it's such an honor to represent you. Every time I think about chickening out on doing something I just remember how much I want to live up to both the names I wear and it gives me a lot of courage. I wish you could hold my hand through a lot of these things, but that wouldn't help me grow at all. Instead Sister Fitzsimmons holds my hand till I can do it myself :).

I think of the person you are all the time. Don't get me wrong, I want to be like my Savior and I don't think of you more than Him, but you are just such a great example of Him. You show me what discipline is, how to wade through adversary, use faith to bring about miracles, love people, and lead by example. I am so privileged to know you!

Just to walk down memory lane a bit, I remember driving home with you one time. We were driving up Wallace road and you were telling me about how we lived with our Father in Heaven before we came here. That He knows us and loves us. I remember feeling so strongly that that is true and praying to Heavenly Father to never let that feeling fade away. I love all the simple moments we have together. Like the time we went to Sausalito before a Giants game and had dinner in a restaurant on the Bay. Then we took the Ferry back over to San Francisco and watched a game. I don't even know if they won or lost, I just remember how it felt to be with you.

I hope you are proud of me. I know you love me and are always praying for me. I feel your love and I feel your support. I really need that! Thank you for being what I need and I am more than grateful to say I am your daughter. I just want to wish you a very Happy Birthday or Stretan Rođendan, and know that I am grateful for you.

I just can't wait to see you again! I love you!

Your Sister Dillender

Monday, August 2, 2010

July 2010 Emails

July 12, 2010

Hello my dear ones,

I tried to make the font different....but sometimes it's better to give in than to fight....because otherwise I would have to pay for a new computer. Don't worry I would have taken off my missionary tag before throwing the monitor and computer.

Anyway, on that note, the Wanilla dream team is doing well. We just finished a very slow week, but onto a good one....with three appointments set up already (yahooo for a mission in Croatia). The members don't have a dinner calendar or anything so all the appointments we have we get ourselves. In this mission the missionaries still give the new member lessons and they are the only ones who want to meet with us. We like looking for tourists and talking to them because they are so nice and all know Mormons. So when we are having a down day we look for tourists to talk to because they are the only ones that don't hate us. We met these two girls from Belgium last week and talked to them for a long time about the church. It's nice because now they will be so much more open to talking to the missionaries when they go back home because now they have some kind of a connection with the church that interested them. Another reason we like to hit up foreigners, foreigner=English.

Every Friday we have aktivnost where we play games and have refreshments. We invite investigators and other people to it and members sometimes come. Last Friday was so good because two people came that we haven't seen in a long time and there were a lot of members wohoooo. I got to practice a lot of Croatian and I realize how bad I am at it and then I got that epiphany solidified when I had to give a talk in church last Sunday. I am not good at all and it's really annoying. But the members liked the talk. I had prepared it a while ago and I prayed about what to speak on and that it would be what someone needed to hear. I feel like a lot of people really connected with it and I'm happy for that. I also played the piano for Relief Society because after Sister Thompson left we don't have a piano player. So when I said "played" I mean just one song one was as bad as my Croatian.

My Birthday was so good! We went to eat cheese cake and contacted alllllllll daaaaaaaay. But it was really fun anyway and I had such a good time being with Sister Fitzsimmons. We did go to this Mexican restaurant and it was very tasty. Then we ended the day by going to McDonalds for dinner and German happened to be playing Spain (world cup games). We found out Spain ended up winning and went on to win the world cup last night. But don't worry, Germany still came in third. I mean come on I am a missionary in Europe during the World Cup that only comes around once every four World Cup, I'll be 28.....Weird!

I wanted to ask everyone who reads these to tell me some things that they would like to hear me say. Every Sunday night I make a list of the week that you would maybe like and I find myself always racking my brain. I'm sure some things will be new to you that are old to me, but I can't think of them. So just let me know if you ever think of anything.

Thank you again for all the support and love!
Sister Dillender

July 19, 2010

Bok svima,

I hope you are all doing very well this week! We had a normal week...but what was not normal is that we went through three rolls of paper towels wiping our sweaty faces. Last week was plus 40 (aka 100 degrees) and probably about 90 percent humidity. The reason why I know this is because I carried a San Francisco zoo key chain in my bag that has a thermometer on it...and a compass just so we always know the mission home is north (so we can run away in a different direction.) I keep the key chain in an outside net pocket of my bag so it can get the actual heat. The key chain has Celsius on one side and Fahrenheit on the other. I also know it was so humid because I had a constant layer of sweat between my skin and my clothes. I don't really know how humid it was but I felt like I was walking around in soup all week and I thought I was breathing water instead of air. But Sunday and today has been so nice and a lot of breezes. I think this week will be a lot cooler.

Last district meeting was very funny, Sister Fitzsimmons and I and we have been giggling about it all week. There are six elders and us in the meetings. The elders talked about how we are all depressed and bad missionaries for about an hour. They gave three different conceits comparing missionary work to three different kinds of sports, and didn't realize they all said the same thing. The best part is that their solution to be better missionaries is....suck it up. I wanted to say don't put me in your crap missionary pile, maybe you don't work but Sister Fitzsimmons and I work our butts off, but I didn't. I started to say something about making steps to being a missionary we want to be, but then I realized that they already know it's about goals, they just want to vent. I do like that Elder Pasche ended district meeting on looking at our goals and reevaluating them or having a commitment to look over them again. It really was a nice ending to a testosterone filled venting session. District meeting wasn't bad, just very funny.

We prayed on Saturday that we could get enough contacts to fulfill the standards of excellence, and that we would be able to teach a lesson. When we got home and at the end of the day we had one contact over what we needed to get for the standers of excellence, even though it was a slow Saturday and a lot of people were gone. Earlier that day when we were leaving Maksimir park, a man selling something asked us if we were interested and we said no. Then Sister Fitzsimmons said, "but are you interested in...." He said he was very catholic but started asking a lot of questions. She pretty much taught him the first lesson because he used way too big of words for my Croatian vocabulary and I couldn't really understand him. We talked for a long time. He was very nice but it was obvious he just wanted to tell us we were wrong. At the end he says, "At the judgment, God will say leave me I don't know you." And Sister Fitzsimmons laughed and said, "yeah but that's not going to happen to us." She is so funny. The whole situation could have turned to bashing very easily, but she is so good at stating facts about the truth instead of arguing.

Also in Maksimir Park we started talking to this guy and at the end of our spiel, he says in English, "sorry I don't speak Croatian." Well you know how much we love foreigners. Turns out he is from Sweden. I thought I would look extra American if I said, "I LOVE SWEDISH FISH!" But I didn't. Then as we were talking to him his friend comes out from the bushes and joins our conversation....needless to say we did not shake his hand. I don't blame him though because I have no idea where the closest bathrooms are either.

We get to go and have exchanges with some Sisters that serve in a city close to us. We are doing the exchange from Friday to Saturday. I am excited because I love my girl time. I love the Sisters here and I wish I got to spend more time with them than the elders, but I guess if it was that way then a mission wouldn't be hard. We get to see them all once a month for zone conferences, but it just goes by so fast.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and are very happy and healthy.
s ljubavlju,
Sister Dillender

Thursday, July 1, 2010

June photos - from Croatia

Note the little dog in the bushes sleeping, we call him our little dog.
On our way to finding a less active with my really good milka bar.

With the Thompson's two grandaughters that came here to visit them in Zagreb. This is in the back of the chapel.

Sister Fitzsimmons and I near the Babic' place.

Sister Whitaker and I practicing numbers because they are rediculous in this language. This is in one of the rooms at the church.

Photos from Croatia - June 2010

All above photos are at Plitvica.

This photo was taken after we arrived home from tracting in the rain.

June 14th through June 28th - 2010

June 14, 2010


First of all sorry to all those who may have written to me and I was not able to write back. I have less time than usual today because we went to a wonderful place called Plivička Lakes. I spelled it wrong to a few people already, oops. It was an amazing sight to see. There were a lot of waterfalls and beautiful green lakes everywhere. I thought I was in paradise, especially since the sun was shinning and it was a beautiful day too. It was fun to go with the Elders and hike around. My favorite part of the day way when Sister Fitzsimmons almost fell into the water. Actually my favorite was a dialog that went like this between elder Matson and Elder Pashce:
E. Pasche: "This reminds me of scout camp. Did you have a really hard core scout group?"
E. Matson: "Yeah we would go cliff diving and ...."
E. Pasche: "No I mean like did you have a really intense scout group."
E. Matson: "Oh! yeah man, we would go on camp outs all the time and...."
E. Pasche: " No, I mean was it really intense like...
E. Matson: "Dude what do you mean."
E. Pasche: "I mean, like did you wear your scout shirts all the time and stuff."

I started laughing and stopped listening after that, well they were laughing a lot too. Anyway, I will send pictures next week.

This week end was so much fun! We had Zone Conference on Saturday and then the next day we had District Conference. For both, Elder Sterri, an area seventy from Norway came. He said so many things that Sister Fitzsimmons and I really needed to hear. It was a Zone Conference better than others. Darija who was going to get baptized decided not to and it was hard for us to hear. It made us wonder what we are really even doing here. Elder Sterri taught us about the Faith clock. We read through Alma 32:27 ( I think it's verse 27) and we talked about all the things that we need to do to have faith. Then in the next verses it describes what the Lord does. From 12 to six it's our part and then from six to 12 the Lord does his part. It is a great way to show us that we and investigators go half way and then the Lord does the rest. I realized me being here is to help me, my companion and others work their side of the clock. When people decide to get baptized or become active etc it's not me and my success or my doing, it's the Lord. My success comes from doing my part and doing what I can.

So at the end of this week all our senior couple is going to leave and there will be none to replace them, therefore I am officially the oldest missionary in the mission, well starting now and especially July 7 when I will be 24. Ha ha, that is ridiculous. We had seven countries in our mission Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia. Only Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia are open to missionaries though. But since May, our mission is only these three that are open to missionaries. So this is a little piece of church history I get to be here for.

I was going to talk about District Conference but I will talk about it next week. Sorry I don't have much time! Thank you for the letters, support, prayers and financial help! I miss you all and think of you often!

s ljubavlju,
Sister Dillender

June 21, 2010

Bok svima,

I hope everyone finds themselves doing well. I miss you all a lot, especially lately. The past few days it has been raining a lot and it feels like the fall in Oregon and you know what the fall in Oregon brings....Halloween. I feel like it is the Halloween season right now, but it's the end of June. I can't believe it. I just feel bad for all the tourists I see walking around in the windy rain. Actually, after our English class on Thursday, we got caught in a thunder and lightning storm. By the time we got home we literally looked like we had just gotten out of a pool. It was a great missionary moment and so we took pictures. The week was topped off when we went out contacting on Saturday and got stuck in the rain again on our way home. We didn't look like we just got out of a pool but we did look like buckets of water were splashed on us. We took pictures again. It's nice that it was always on our way home and in clothes that are very okay to get wet.

We had district conference last week and it went well, as I think I mentioned. I just wanted to say a little more about it. Since there are only branches in Croatia, all the branches make a district and President Hill (mission president) is over the district and the District leader. President and Sister Hill came to our chapel in Zagreb (there is only the one) and so did as many members as could from all over Croatia and all the missionaries. It was great to see the chapel so full, I wish it was like that every Sunday. President Thompson and his wife just went home to Oregon. They were a senior couple here and President Thompson was the District President. Elder Sterri who is an area authority from Norway came and spoke in our Zone Conference for the missionaries and in District Conference. It was a great, but tiring week end. Those who only spoke English, gave their talks in English and there was a translator who stood up there with them. They would say a line and then the translator would translate the line. This is what they do for every talk that is given in English. The translator is usually a Croat because most of them here in Zagreb speak English better than I do.

So transfers are upon us once again. I think I said already, but transfers here are nine weeks because we don't get as many missionaries as other places, so that means that Sister Dillender gets to serve a 19 month mission ;). First off for me I get the best situation possible, I get to stay here in Zagreb with Sister Fitzsimmons. YAHOOOOO! I am glad that we will get to have at least one more transfer together before she goes home in October. Sister Nelson, my MTC companion, is going to get Sister Laws (who is on her second transfer now) in Zadar (which on the coast). Now this may not be a shock to you, but to those who have served a language speaking mission...this is huge. Sister Nelson and I can only understand about fifty percent of what goes on since we are starting our fourth month and so Sister Laws who is starting her second obviously doesn't understand much either. I talked to Sister Nelson yesterday and asked her how she feels. She said the first day she was thinking, "Okay I can do this" the next day she was freaking out and the third day she was numb. Ha ha! I am just laughing because I am not in the situation, ah! She is a wonderful missionary and is going to do so well. Their language is going to go out the roof especially with all the blessing that are going to fall on them.

I feel like every Sunday we get to see the fruits of our labor. If we didn't work hard it shows in sacrament and no one came and we have nothing to do. But when we do work hard our Sundays are sooooo busy and it's so nice. I feel like this week our fruits showed and it was so nice to feel really busy. Most of the people that come aren't even directly related to us and what we did, but the Lord blesses us when we do our part. I know I mentioned this last week, but it is hard to go on each day wondering why you are here when no one is interested, but then you get that one person who is. Even if that interest doesn't last, it is such a nice high and it makes every thing worth being here. Then we trudge through the next weeks still on the high, until the next one comes a long. It's a hard mission in the sense of just looking all the time and it's not rude, but common to ask do you have any investigators? It's nice to have a great companion and have this time to learn and grow. Ha ha just for fun you can see how much different our mission is from Mexico where Sammy Ray is serving and here are some stats:

Lesson taught in a week
Croatia: 8-15 Leon Mexico: 45-60

Contacts a week (which is going out and talking to people on the street or tracting)
Croatia- 140-200 Leon Mexico- 13

We all have our challenges in a mission!

I love you and I will talk to you next week. Thank you for all your letters and love, I am so happy here and I hope you are happy too!

s ljubavlju,
Sister dillender

June 28, 2010

Hello everyone!
So this has been a very slow week. We usually teach four language classes a week and it takes up four hours each week. But this week we don't have them and we are starting over with the seven weeks again. We have been giving out flyers like crazy and dropping them on a bunch of trams. So without our four extra lessons last week, it felt very looooooong. But on Wednesday, we went out and hit the town going crazy on the flyers. It was so fun to be doing that with Sister Fitzsimmons, she is such a good missionary and we always laugh at all the awkward moments. It was such a good feeling too to be working extra hard and the joy that comes when Heavenly Father says well done. I obviously wasn't perfect at it, but with extra effort comes extra joy.

Yesterday President Hill came for interviews and it was so nice and needed! He told me all the things that I needed to hear and now I feel like I am so much more stress free! I realized that it is more and more the perfect mission for me. A few weeks before I received my mission call I was reading preach my gospel. I realized that the selfish reason I was going on a mission was to know my Father and Savior better. It's funny because when I opened my mission call and saw Slovenia/Croatia I was so excited to learn a Slavic language and I couldn't believe that He was giving me exactly what I wanted. Now that I am here and learning, I can't believe that He really is giving me exactly what I wanted, just not on a superficial scale like I thought before. What a perfect mission this is to know Him better!

Just a funny little side story that I thought was hilarious was when Sister Fitzsimmons and I were walking home. We always walk by our neighbors chickens and we realized that recently some of the chickens had some babies, but they are not babies anymore but not full grown chickens yet. They were running around all together and I said, "Look it's so cute to see teen-ager chickens. I haven't really seen this stage before, only a chick and a full grown chicken." Then Sister Fitzsimmons adds with her dry humor, saying under her breath, "Yeah look at them running around flirting with each other." I laughed so hard. You have to hear her voice and it just came out of no where ha ha. You see why I love serving with her!!!!!!

Again, as usual, thank you for all the letters. I am so happy to hear how you are doing and I am so happy that I have email to keep in touch! I love you all!

Sestra Dillender

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

June 7, 2010

What do you call a person who doesn't know the Star Spangle Banner? Not American.

This past week in district meeting we had the Star Spangle Banner as a closing song. The good thing is that we are all Americans, except for my halfie friend and companion Sister Fitzsimmons. But to my horror, everyone started grabbing at the hymn books to find the song. I yelled, "No you do not need to open the Hymn book for this song!" Like my name is Shaniqua from Oakland. The elders just looked at me and just made excuses for it, they just did it out of habit. We all had a good laugh and in the end we all put our hands over our hearts, especially during the prayer when Elder Robinson thanked Heavenly Father for America and every thing about her. It was funny, but not sacrilegious. These poor Elders miss the mother land :).

Well, one of our investigators has decided to get baptized. We are so excited for her. She is so happy now and has a sort of a peace about her. The only hard part is she always feeds us and makes food for four. We end up shoveling our faces so she will not think that her excellent cooking is bad. Now we are meeting with her twice a week, and twice a week we have to shovel our faces. But I'm not going to complain about good food, since what the Lord giveth, he also taketh away. She is so good to us, really. For Easter she had us over and said, "Today I am your family." We had a great meal and a great lesson about the Resurrection.

I have been reading the Hymns a lot lately. I really miss poetry, and I really miss singing hymns in English. I have been reading the song, "Jesus The Very Thought of Thee" on page 141 a lot. I'll share my favorite verse:

O hope of every contrite heart,
O joy of all the meek,
To those who fall how kind thou art,
How good to those who seek.

Okay one more verse I love,

Jesus the very thought of thee,
With sweetness fills my breast,
Far sweeter great thy face to see,
And in thy presence rest.

I just love the Hymns and there are a lot more I read often. What I love about poetry is that something new always pops out and it just gets better and better the more I read it. I have been memorizing them so I can think about them in the trams or just sometime during the day. I feel such a peace when I read and think about them and also hum the tune in my head.

We talked to the Elders in our district this week about our concern that we don't feel they have confidence in us as missionaries. They are so wonderful and afterward I felt such a weight lifted from my shoulders and freedom to feel their confidence in us and to be the missionary I want to be. Sister Fitzsimmons and I are not looking forward to this transfer ending because we have such a good time together and with our dear Elders. But Sister Fitzsimmons didn't get my joke when I said to everyone, "I'm really glad that we are learning to work together because this is going to help your wifies, this will help Sister Fitzsimmon’s husband, and it will help my colleagues."

We went group contacting in a park last Saturday. Elder Pashce and I were going around and talking to people and here are our favorite quotes from the day:

-What church does the devil go to?
-Christ was a communist
-Man is God

We still haven't figured out what church the devil goes to, other than his own church.

Well I will be sending some pictures today, they will be great. I love you and thank you for your emails. Just to let you know, if you write me I will write you, but if you don't this is all you get! My email is

I also cannot and don't check my regular email, or my blog site. Thank you Lynny for putting this up for me. So if you comment on anything, I won't see it till July 2011. Thanks everyone for the support and love!

s ljubavlju,

Sister Dillender

May 31, 2010 - Church in Zagreb

Hello Everyone,

Monte Picasa came and did some training at the American Embassy. But while he was here he took some pictures of all the branches he visited. The first bunch are the Zagreb branch where I serve. (you will obviously see me in the pictures with the elders I serve with here). I thought you would like to see them. You can read his letter and at the end of his letter is a place where you are invited to look at his photo album. I hope you enjoy!

Dear President and Sister Thompson, Elders, Sisters, beloved members of the church in Croatia, and their friends and family,

My wife Sandi and I, and our good friends Tony and Cathy Hall, had the great blessing of visiting Croatia recently and meeting the most wonderful missionaries and church members while there.

By way of introduction, we all live in Boise, Idaho, where Tony and I work for the United States Attorney's Office. Tony and I traveled to Zagreb, Croatia in early May in order to teach Croatian prosecutors for the United States Department of Justice. Because we arrived on a weekend, Tony and I wanted to attend church at the Zagreb branch.

After getting some general idea of the branch's location, we embarked on a train that was supposed to take us near it. After riding for some time, we became worried that we had missed the church. Just then, a young women got on the crowded train. Her wonderful spirit immediately identified her as someone we needed to talk to, and is it turned out, she was indeed on her way to the same location. She led us off the train and to the chapel where we met the rest of the members, the missionaries, and Elder and Sister Thompson. Elder Thompson was serving as the District President at the time.

I can't begin to explain the spirit that was in that little church. Tony and I enjoyed three hours of meetings and then stayed and talked with the members and missionaries for some time after. (See attached pictures). At the risk of leaving someone out, I won't try to mention each missionary by name, but they were all wonderful, and their families should be very proud of their faithful service and the love shown to the people of Croatia.

As we left the church, the missionaries inquired about the rest of our trip. When we explained that our wives would be arriving in the next few days, and that we would be traveling to the Dalmatian Coast, we were told that we should visit the little branch in Zadar where 8 members resided. We were given the name and phone number of Elder Hadley in Zadar.

Our wives arrived mid-week. By Friday, we were ready to leave Zagreb, but were still trying to decide our route of travel. Because of the wonderful stories that we shared with Sandi and Cathy about our visit to the Zagreb branch, they were very anxious to make sure that our travel plans would allow us to be in Zadar on Sunday. Consequently, we changed our itinerary, forgoing a trip south to Dubrovnik and spending our time in Trogir and Split instead.

(As an interesting side story, before we left Zagreb, Tony, Cathy, Sandi and I were making one more visit to the main square in Zagreb when we ran into President and Sister Thompson, their son, and two grandchildren. Because of this wonderful and miraculous reunion in a city of almost one million people, our wives were able to meet some of the wonderful people they had heard about. Again, pictures are attached.)

We arrived in Zadar near sunset on Saturday night and had the chance to talk to Elder Wood on the phone. He assured us of the meeting times and the location of the house where they met. The next morning, we used the GPS in our rental car in an attempt to find the church, but again, we seemed to be lost until we saw some young ladies walking down the sidewalk ahead of us. One of us mentioned that it looked like the Relief Society headed towards the church. As it turned out, it was the Sister missionaries and a wonderful young lady who they had invited to church for the first time.

The church in Zadar is held on the bottom floor of a small apartment building. We immediately were welcomed by the wonderful people in the branch, some investigators, and of course, the missionaries. This happened to be Mothers Day, and the presence of Cathy and Sandi seemed to be especially appreciated by the missionaries (who would be calling their mothers shortly after the meetings ended.)

The Spirit of the Lord was again powerful as this little group met to partake of the sacrament and learn the gospel. It would take me an hour to explain everything I felt, and every conversation I had. Instead, I intend to send this email to my wife, and Tony and Cathy, since I am quite sure they will want to add their own thoughts about the experience.

Again, we took group pictures after church. Because photography is my serious hobby, I was carrying a large number of lenses which I exchanged frequently as we took pictures. About 10 minutes after leaving the church (headed north towards Istria) I received a phone call on my cell phone which I did not answer (despite my wife's insistence that the call may be "important.") Two hours later, I realized that I was missing my 15 mm lens, which would be important to me the next day when we arrived in Pula. I immediately called Elder Hadley and Woods, who assured me that they had found my lens and had tried to call us right after church. I asked anxiously about the possibility of sending the lens via Fed Ex or UPS, and was told that these services couldn't help me under the circumstances. Instead, the Elders told me that they would contact a bus driver who would be driving all the way to Pula the next day. They told me that this bus driver would then be met by the missionaries in Pula.

The next afternoon, as soon as we pulled into the parking lot of a wonderful Roman colosseum in Pula, we called Elder Champion and Warren. Within 10 minutes, they arrived with a strange package of plastic bags, tape, and a scarf that carefully protected my lens. It had been wrapped and sent by Elder Woods and Hadley. What a blessing this was, and quite a miracle. I took a few pictures of the Pula Elders near the colosseum on their prep day.

The attached pictures are a few memories of missionaries and members who we had a privilege to meet. Because of the difficulties of handwriting, I hope that I have properly discerned the correct email addresses of all of you. If you find that someone has not received this email as intended, please forward as necessary.

To the members of the church in Croatia, we admire your faith and dedication to the Lord. You are making history there, and we will continue to pray for your welfare. To the many wonderful Elders and Sister Missionaries, thank you for your service, for your love of the Savior and his church, and for the people of Croatia. May Heavenly Father continue to bless you in your missionary efforts. To President and Sister Thompson, we believe that you are now back home in Ontario, Oregon, where you are missing the missionaries and members you lovingly served. May God bless you and your family as you return to life at home.

To my wife, Sandi, and good friends Tony and Cathy, thanks for sharing this wonderful place with me. Please feel free to hit "reply to all" when you want to share your thoughts about these wonderful people.

Since I took about 4,000 pictures of Croatia, I will be sending additional pictures of the country at some point, and I will try to include all of you. But this will take some time. Croatia is a beautiful country filled with walled cities, cathedrals, castles, ancient ruins, mountains, and green rolling hills. Two weeks was not nearly enough time to see all of it. The people there are also wonderful, and made our trip all the more enjoyable.

Although we saw many interesting things of historical value, and saw many beautiful sites, our best experiences were with the missionaries and valiant members of the church. I hope you enjoy the attached pictures of them.

Monte Stiles
Boise, Idaho

You are invited to view Monte's photo album:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

May 24th, 2010


So I have a few good stories for you this letter. P.S. My mom only said sissies proof read, and I'm no sissy.

First of all, this week we were heading out to go to this insurance place. On the way down we saw there was a package and then I read my name on it. I was so excited! But then I also read Fitzsimmons and couldn't understand why it had both our names until I realized....Sister Fitzsimmon’s dad sent me a package! I was so excited. When we came home for lunch I opened it and he sent a suomi (means Finland in finish) t-shirt and these salmiakki chocolate bars because Sister Fitzsimmons told him I like those. He wrote that a little bird had told him I like the chocolates and wanted to send me something of Finland. I can't believe how nice and funny that was. It totally made my week and I wear the t-shirt every day when we come home. We took pictures because Sister Fitzsimmons has the same one and I will send some next week.

Also on our way to the insurance we thought we would stop at this Pekarna (bakery) to see if one of our English class students works there. Her name is Dragica (Drag-ee-tsa) and we told her that we wanted to stop by her work and she was telling us where it is, but we couldn't figure it out. So we thought she might work at this one close to us. We stopped in and asked if a Lady name Dragica works there. The two ladies that were working there looked at us weird and I know they were thinking that we were gospel stalking Dragica. So they called her up and we were hoping that it was the same one we were looking for. The ladies looked at us very eerily and then Dragica comes through the door sees us and yells with a loud smile, "Eh, BOK!" the two ladies were all smiles too and we all talked for a little bit. She is so fun to have in the English classes and she wants to hear so much about the gospel and is so grateful to us for teaching English. She makes me so happy.

This really isn't a story but Sister Fitzsimmons said a blind lady in Rijeka used to call her Sister Fifymon because she couldn't read her name or hear very well. Ha ha, so I call her fifymon all the time.

So I have been here in Croatia for three months now and on a mission for five. Weird. I still can't speak or understand very much...but I can ask for the bathroom no problem and tell people I'm tired and hungry. Baby steps through the essentials. I've started reading my Book of Mormon in Spanish and then in Croatian and it helps to learn in Croatian a lot. I am trying to learn to separate the languages so that my mind can switch to one or the other. Right now, when I try to speak Spanish it comes out Spanish and Croatian and I don't even realize it most of the time.

Well, I read in the end of Mark today when Christ was being taken away from the Garden of Gethsemane after being betrayed by Judas. It says that a disciple came in a loin cloth took hold upon them and then ran away naked (that really is in the end of Mark). Ummmmmm, so what I got from that is when we are immodest we can't really do much and then get embarrassed in the end. I'm just being stupid today, what I really got out of my personal study today was something out of reading about the widow's mite. I read in Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage about it a little more. He said that we can see it's not about quantity but it's about the quality that we give the Lord. As I am here I can give a lot of things or I can give my heart and only I and my Savior and Father know what was given.

I hope you are happy and healthy, I hope you remember your Savior, and I hope you can give to him some quality everyday! I love you and think of you often, if you are reading this email, than yes I really do think of you often!

Volim Vas,

Sister Dillender

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

May 3 and 17, 2010

May 3, 2010
Dobro Jutro! (good morning)

So Sister Laws came last Tuesday! It was such a crazy week, just to put that out there. She is so nice and easy going and super cute. We were all in District Meeting when we heard a lot of noises in the hallway of the church. Then Sister Thompson (senior couple here) said, "she's here". We all just look at each other in silence and then Elder Matson half yells, "look at us, get it together guys." and we all scramble around to clean up the candy wrappers and make the table look nice. So President Hill walks in with her and we meet her. I am so happy to have her here. We talked for a while all of us and I got to ask her a lot of questions about the MTC since I just left from there two months ago. She stayed overnight with us and the next morning President and Sister Hill took them both up to Vraždin (I keep mixing up ž, and š in the name Vraždin, sorry). Since Wednesday it has been just me and Sister Fitzsimmons and I'm not going to lie, it has been.........AH-MAY-ZING! She is such a good friend and missionary. She has been carrying me through my first two months here and has been so wonderful. It's so funny that we spend twenty four hours a day with each other and still don't have enough time to say all the thing we want to. She is just so wonderful and I wake up so happy and excited every day.

We are doing a lot better with having more people to meet with this week and we are so excited! We started our next set of language classes and already have four investigators out of them, well, all of us missionaries and hopefully more to come. My Spanish class had about thirty people come which is awesome because most usually have ten at the most. I hope at least half keep coming though, there are a lot of young adults in the class, so that would be great.

So we went to Darija's house last week and we talked about the atonement and repentance. The best part was when Sister Fitzsimmons finished saying all this great stuff about how repentance is a changing process and a great opportunity for us while we are here on this earth. It was quite and Darija looks at her and smiles and says, "what's your Zodiac sign?" ha ha. So we talked about that for a little while. Needless to say, Darija is a wonderful investigator and loves hearing about the gospel, she loves it, but it still is just talking time for things to click into place. My sign is Cancer if any of you were wondering.

We have Zone Conference this week and I am so excited because my battery is running a little low and it will be nice to have a recharge. Fortunately I have Sister Fitzsimmons to keep it recharged too, so I am doing well.

I'm sorry I don't have much to say this week but it was a really long weird week. But I will have more to say next week! Thank you again for all the emails and prayers. I feel so loved and blessed!

I love you,

Sestra Dillender

May 17, 2010

Hello loved ones,

This week in Croatia has been on the not so sunny side, and I do mean weather. I hate the rain, but I do love my rubber boots. They are one of the best purchases I made before coming here. It was raining really hard the other day and Sister Fitzsimmons and I got stuck in a mud puddle. So no big deal, we just stomped our feet to get the chunks off our boots and then went to a puddle to wash off the mud. We were standing there swishing our feet around in a puddle to our ankles when Sister Fitzsimmons stops, looks at me and with a straight face says, "I have a hole." ha ha. Nothing like a puddle to show you have a hole in your boots by getting your socks wet. Also, there is nothing like a mission to show me my holes, and I feel like my socks are soaking.

We went over to the Thompson's last night with Maja (incase you forgot, the Thompsons are the senior couple here and Maja is our new member, well technically the Lords new member). We watched Elder Uchtdorf's talk in a CES fireside last year. Maja loved it and she heard a lot of things she said she needed to hear. I on the other hand heard everything and most of it was very inapplicable....for example finding your eternal mate. It's nice not to think about if someone could ever like me enough to put up with me all the time. Instead I get to relish in the fact that Sister Fitzsimmons has to like me and if she leaves me she's going back to Finland. Too bad marriage isn't like that, "ha ha You have to be with me companion, because the Lord said". Well, that is just another reason why God's thoughts are higher than my own.
But we only have the Thompsons for another five weeks then they go back home to Eastern Oregon, while we are trying to manage without them here. They have not only been invaluable to the people here, but for Heavenly Father as well. I truly love them and I am so happy that I got to serve with them....what am I talking about, I still have five weeks left.

Speaking of time, I have been on a mission for five months and three in the country. What have I learned? Well here is a list:

-Elders are still 19 and 20, if you get lucky they are 21
-how to make a lazy eye
-Croats are happy when it's sunny
-I love American food
-root bear isn't as good as I remember
-I still can't explain that my last name isn't Dillinger
-everyone looks better in white
-Finns are passive aggressive and know where you sleep
-There are only two types of people in the world, those you love and those you don't know yet

I know you and I love you and I thank you individually for making me who I am today....well only the growth parts of me not the annoying parts.

Volim Vas jako puno! I love you all so much!

Sestra Dillender