Friday, April 23, 2010

Photos from the field...

Maja's baptism day; me, Maja, Sister Fitzsimmons, Sister Whitaker

From right to left: Sister Whitaker, Sister Fitzsimmons, Maja, Elder Matson, me and then Elder Rhodes at Maja's baptism

At the zoo by the petrified lion.

All the sisters here in Croatia. Starting from the left: Sister Nelson (my MTC companion), Sister Carter (who has been here the longest and we think she and the new sister coming in a few weeks will open a new city to sisters), me, Sister Fitzsimmons (the one from Finland), and Sister Whitaker....and a bunch of 19 year old boys in the back...oh I mean missionaries.

All three of us with Elder Causse at Zone conference. Like I said last week, he was amazing. WOW! he was so good and said and taught a lot of things that I needed.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 6th, 12th, and 19th letters

Kristys Brother Lynn here, I was on vacation for a couple weeks and am finally back to upload Kristy's letters - so here are the last three she sent, separated by the date she sent them out. I will also figure out how to upload some of her photos to her blog - enjoy!

April 6th
Hello to my dear friends and family,

I miss you all so much and think about how weird it is all the time remaining until I get to see you again. But at the same time, I am grateful because I have a long way to go to become a good and better missionary. I can't wait till I get better at being a missionary and can actually be a useful servant. I try everyday and it will pay off...eventually. The language will eventually come, and I will get better at thinking of others over myself and...well, there's a lot.

Conference blew me away being a new missionary. It was so special to see President Monson and hear what he and the others had to say. I have been testifying about him for weeks to people at their doors, on the streets, and even to our whatever Croatian gets out, and then it was a huge blessing from Heavenly Father to watch him speak! I watched conference through new eyes and with a new heart and I am so grateful for that opportunity. I think of how much better next conference will be in October when I am even deeper in the work.

I love to see how the Lord answers prayers! We live by train tracks and I love to lay coins on the tracks and get them squished. But lately, they get lost or....I personally think people take them...lame-o's. So we were walking up the bitty trail to cross the tracks and I said a quick prayer, oh please bless a train to come so I can squish this quarter. We got up and crossed over and as we were heading back down we saw a train coming way off in the distance. I ran up and put a few coins down and ran back. It was a little caboose. When it passed I had four perfectly squished coins and they looked better than I thought they would. I was thinking about it all day. I felt Heavenly Father's overwhelming love. I asked for a train to squish coins, I mean come on, He has so much more to do than send a train. But the lord loves us, He loves us so much He wants to even give us the little things that will bring us joy. In Matthew 7: 7-11 it says “ye being evil know how to give good gift how much more your father in heaven being perfect give greater gifts.” I'm sorry I had to paraphrase that. But Sometimes I think we forget He isn't just God, He is our Father.

The biggest part that has been growing in my testimony has been the love I feel that Heavenly Father has for me and all His children and how much Christ loves us and a better understanding of the atonement. When I say understand these things, I don't mean facts, I mean truly start to understand. We lived with our Father and we knew all of these things before we came. I feel that every time we read our scriptures, go to church, and serve others it brings us closer to our Heavenly Father by chipping away at this veil of forgetfulness. It's a blessing sent from all those who are providing a way for me to be here and my Heavenly Father to thin this veil.

Since that day with the train, the Holy Ghost has helped me remember so many things that I have asked for and received the same day. So I thought for conference I would use prayer again. I asked Heavenly Father if we could have someone to take to conference. Saturday came and at the end of an appointment with one of our investigators we asked her about baptism. She avoided the question...little awkward, not going to lie....but then we invited her to church. Well, she was going to a catholic church...awkward again...then we invited her to conference and explain what it was. She was so excited and said she would love to come on Sunday. Wait it gets better. As we were leaving she said, oh my friend is coming up (Darija lives in an apartment building on the 16th floor) just wait so she can meet you. So guess who else we invited to conference and said she would come? So Sunday night for conference Darija and Božića ( Dar-ee-ya, ž is a sh but with a 'z', Bo-zh-ee-ch-a) came. What a blessing it was to have them there. The Lord truly answers prayers.

Conference was different here. We watched Saturday morning session live, it was six pm for us. They show it through the Internet and people who can't understand English wear a head set for translation. The translations come from Salt Lake where former missionaries translate and this Croat couple, well they all switch off every conference. So we only got to see Sunday and Saturday morning sessions because of the time difference. But President Hill wants the missionaries to be able to see the rest of conference so we get to catch up some time.

This week is going to be such a fun week. We had a P-day today on Tuesday because all the stores are closed here after Easter. Croatia is 90 percent Catholic, maybe even a little more. The nice thing about Catholic countries is that Easter is a big deal, well Christ's atonement is a big deal. So with all the stores closed, we used yesterday as a regular day and today is p-day. We are going to a castle near Vraždin. I am excited the Thompsons, the senior couple here, the four elders and us three are all going. Well with that many missionaries concentrated together there must be someone who needs the gospel up around that castle :), just kidding.

Here is the Mission address if you want to send anything, some people have been asking for it and I keep forgetting. I think an international stamp is 98 cents from the states to Slovenia. We get mail from the mission home quite a bit so I don't have to wait once a month. Transfers are coming up in two weeks so I will give you my home address after that.

Sister Kristen Dillender
Molekova Ulica 3
1211 Ljubljana Šmartno

I also want to thank you all so much for the letters and even just prayers and support; it is more helpful than you think. I miss you and love you so much and pray for you always (and we all know how the Lord loves to answer prayers :)


Sister Dillender

April 12th

Hello my ljubljeni obitelj i prijatelji,
(my loving family and friends)

It is so good to get your letters thank you again for them!

So I gave my first talk in Sacrament last Sunday and it went well..because it was all written out and all I had to do was read it, and I did. People kept saying, “Oh you did such a good job!” But every time I thought, "why all I did was read at the pulpit for ten minutes!" But it was straight to the point and clear, which not many people do, oh and there wasn't any false doctrine...which some people do...gulp! Let's just say fast Sunday’s are very interesting.

So I have a good story for you this week. The zone leaders went on exchanges last week down in Zadar. Elder Rhodes said there was this group of guys and they started yelling at them. Then they got up on this little hill and started throwing rocks at them. He said the rocks just kept falling around their feet and never hit them. He said, it was so cool I felt like Samuel the Lamanite! Ha ha. But the Lord truly protects His missionaries!

I hope this story doesn't scare mom but here goes. So I was reading in Alma right were it talks about how Ammon, King Lamonhi and his wife were all fallen to the earth and one of the men who was at the waters scattering sheep wanted to kill Ammon for killing his brethren, but he fell dead when he raised his sword. Then Mormon added in there that Ammon was protected because the Lord promised his father He would keep him safe. So I started thinking about all the time I may have been protected because of the faith of my parents (and family who prays for me :). Later that week I almost got hit by a car twice because they were running red lights, and all I could think about was my mom and dad praying for me by name. Thanks for your prayers!

We have Zone Conference every four weeks and we just had ours last Thursday. I loved it, I felt like my missionary battery was running low and now it is fully rejuvenated again. Having Zone Conference so often was truly inspired! We talked a lot about goals and the language. I always love hearing from my mission president and his wife. They are so wonderful and I feel like I have known them for so long. They are both so warm and friendly and are hard workers. There are seven Serbian Elders so they come to Zone Conference with us (the Croats) and it's nice to have them there. Slovenia has its own conference. The Serbs have it really tough, there are so few in Serbia for a reason, and I really admire their strength. Also, we heard about how there aren't very many missionaries that are going to be going out in the next few years. Each mission has what is a compliment which means how many missionaries a mission needs. Our mission (all three countries) started with 80 and now the new compliment is 46. We are going to get really close with our companions. There are three sisters going home this year and only one is replacing them, and when Sister Nelson and I go home, hopefully there will be some sisters to replace us so there isn't just one set in the whole country.

Anyway, a lot of people asked about Easter. I love that Catholics spend more time on the Christ part of Easter. Easter has held a new meaning for me these past almost three years now. When the scriptures speak of Christ breaking the bands of death, or the sting of death being swallowed up in Christ, it just means so much more. I am so grateful that Christ loves us so much to ransom us from our sins and provides a way for us to be with our loved ones once again! He truly does love us, and I truly do love Him!

For Easter we had normal church and then later we went to the Thompson's home (a senior couple here in Zagreb who I love very dearly and are invaluable). All of us missionaries were together and we had a pot luck. It was so yummy, especially since we were all fasting up until that point. Then after we went and watched the Sunday morning session at six pm.

Maja's baptism was wonderful! While I watched her standing in the water I felt the spirit burn in me of the truthfulness of the gospel. She is such an inspiration to me and has helped me and my testimony more than I think I have or ever will help hers! This week she faced her parents yelling at her for three hours. They are so ashamed that she is not going to be Catholic. To them, not being Catholic means not being Croatian. When Croatia first broke off, the Pope recognized them as a nation, and so it is very important to Croats to be Catholic. I am so happy for her, because ever since she decided to get baptized, she has been walking on clouds. She also is the reason why I wrote the subject title the way I did in the email. She asked us, "What do you do for food, do you go home and cook?" Then she said, "No, No you don't need to. Your missionaries, you just live off of love and air and..." she went on but we laughed a lot. So now when we have to make food for events we always say, "do we have enough rainbows for that recipe? What about gum drops and blue skies?" We love her!

Well, we are having a good time together, especially since last week all we do is run for buses and trams. But we only have a week and a half together. On the 23rd, I think is the transfers. People have let some stuff leak out so I am pretty sure what is happening with half of us sisters, but I will tell you next week when president tells us.

I love you and thank you for all your prayers and emails!

s ljubavlju,
(with love)

Sestra Dillender

April 19th

Hello all again,

I hope you got the pictures from last week! The computer was acting weird so I am not sure if you got them, so let me know and I will send them again to people who haven't gotten them.

I never know exactly what to say so if you have anything in particular you want me to say just ask because I am running out of ideas.

Okay but first thing is first, I have news about transfers. So I am staying here in Zagreb with Sister Fitzsimmons (the crazy fin) and Sister Whitaker is going to open a new city to sisters in Vraždin. Sister Whitaker is so excited. She is also training the new sister, Sister Laws there too. So she will be having fun with her hands full.

I am so excited to be here with Sister Fitzsimmons. I love her so much and she is an amazing missionary. I learn so much from her everyday and she is a wonderful friend also. She goes home in October and I secretly hope that I get to serve with her until she goes home, well now the secret is out. She works so hard and is so personable and friendly, and totally hot. Ha ha, we always tell her she looks like a hot finish snow white. That is why when we go contacting, we have her stop people! No I'm kidding, well about her stopping people.

Last week we worked really hard to get our numbers up for contacting. We have been having a hard time with opening our mouths to strangers, but the Lord has blessed us so much. The highest we've gotten was 34 one week, but last week we worked our touches off and stopped 201 people. It does help that the weather is nice and people are out walking and that we have English flyers to pass out. With the flyers we tell people who were are and why we teach free language classes. I feel our efforts are being paid off. Three new people came to church yesterday and all the sudden I can understand so much more. I keep forgetting that contacting isn't just character building, but that the Lord blesses us with success when we work hard. I owe a lot of our success to how hard Sister Fitzsimmons worked though. She was stopping people all over the place and was so bold but at the same time so personable. I love how she can talk to people so they see that we as missionaries are real people and not just robotic nuns. Each conversation we have with people is so exciting and so up lifting for us and them. See what I mean when I say I am excited to work with her!!!

A funny story! We were waiting for the tram and this lady had her small dog just walking around while she was talking to some one. This other lady comes up and picks up the dog and starts walking away. The lady walked after her and yelled, "EXCUSE ME, WHERE ARE YOU TAKING MY DOG!?!" It was so awkward, and the lady stopped and weirdly said something about thinking it didn't have an owner. It was so weird, but we couldn't believe we almost watched a dog napping. But a cool thing here is that so many dogs roam free, owner or not and they are all so nice and well trained! I haven't seen one dog be mean or annoying and no one had dogs on leashes, it's amazing.

Well, I hope you are all doing well! I will send you pictures maybe today or next week. I love you all and I hope you are happy and well!


Sestra Dillender