Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Final Letter to My Mission President

Hello My Wonderful Family that is now spread across the entire world,

I hope that you have all had a great week!!!  I haven't heard very much
from you guys this week but I assume that is because you guys have been on
planes and have not had much access to internet and so.

This week has been a week of wonders!!  I love being a missionary because
of the chances that I have been able to have to see the hand of the Lord in
my life and in the lives of others.  I had to share a written something
with my mission president this week and I thought that I would share it
with you guys too!!

It has been quite an eighteen month adventure here in Belgie and Nederland.
With every new day came a new challenge that gave me and others I have had
the opportunity to work with, to learn and grow. At the beginning of my
time here I thought that one day I would master the task of being a
missionary, but what I have learned is that the Lord always has another
trick up His sleeve that I have had to learn to adjust to. I can't say that
I have accomplished the goals that I was determined to reach the day I left
Denver Colorado, but I have learned that my goals then were not anywhere
close to what the Lord expected of me. I have experienced much here, the
good, the bad and the ugly. I can not say that any perticular experience is
more precious to me than the other. However, there is an emotion, or
feeling that comes when you realize that you were just able to be a tool in
the Lord's hands. That moment when you know that you were led by the Spirit
to touch another persons life. That feeling, or knowledge is the most
precious thing I could have ever found while serving in Nederland. It
happened many times and the more I longed for that feeling, the more the
Lord blessed me with it. I felt it in Den Haag as I was able to work with
Ans Jansedn and witness her conversion process, I knew then I was a tool in
the Lords hands. I felt it in the town of Dordrecht as I was able to
witness changes in members lives like Madeleine Speksnijder and the Ampem
family, as well as investigators taht only needed a crazy/fun personality
to get them moving again. I knew then that I was a tool in the Lords hands.
I felt it in the small branch of Genk as they were so grateful to have
missionaries and really it was our presence that gave them enthusiasm and
increased their gratitude for the gospel. I knew then I was a tool in the
Lords hands. I felt it in Turnhout as Sister Clement and I were able to
find those who were searching for the truth, like Isaac, one of the most
prepared people that I know. I knew then that I was a tool in the Lords
hands. I was blessed to receive this feeling the most in the city of
Apeldoorn. I longed for it more. I wanted to see that my time here was not
a waste. I felt it as I was able to kneel down in prayer with Danielle
August and share a testimony building experience. I felt it every Sunday as
I was able to sit by a new member and learn about them and their lives and
just be a friend. I felt it as the youth began to make changes in their
lives, to begin their conversion process. I felt it as weeping parents came
up to me and thanked me for serving a mission, expressing their gratitude
for the changes they were seeing in their children. I felt it as I was able
to witness a ward gain hope for the future. I know now that I am still a
tool in the Lords hands.

I know with all of my heart and soul that Jesus Christ is my Savior. I know
He loves me because I have felt Hes love. I have seen His hand in my life
and am grateful for it. I have gained a firm and abiding testimony of the
Restoration of Gods church here on the earth. I believe that Joseph Smith
is a true prophet of God and that through him, God and Christ were able to
bring forth the fulness of the gospel. I believe the Book of Mormon to be
the word of God. I love the wisdom, comfor and knowledge that I gain as I
study its words. I know that the Atonement is real and that it is not only
applicable to our sins, but to every feeling of pain or joy we will ever
have. I know that it may take a lifetime to grow a strong, living tree of
faith, but I am grateful for the growth that I have seen during my time
here. It came through small and simple experiences, feelings that I was
being used as a tool in Gods hands. Seeing the results of that work has
become the foundation I need for the future. I love being a missionary.

I really do love being a missionary!!  There was one super big miracle that
happened this week with one of our investigators.  His name is Sam.  I
think that I have told you guys about him before, but he is a young single
adult who is really starting to make progress to change his life and it is
probably the coolest thing to witness.  I love being able to see how the
gospel of Christ works in the lives of others and that our Heavenly Father
is truly mindful of every single one of His children.

This week, Sam had three appointments with us, came to the JoVo activities
both times, came to the pancake breakfast that we as missionaries threw for
the ward and was held back from coming to church because of an epeleptic
seizure.  But the fact that he is coming with us and reading and actually
making changes in his life is amazing.  I think I told you guys about how
he decided that he was going to stop soccer at the end of the season and
that was just one of many steps that he has taken to come closer to

I want to share an experience with you that happened just yesterday.
Because Same was unable to come to church, we decided to see if we could
stop by and see him and see how he was doing.  It was a really great lesson
because we were able to talk to him about the ressurection and how, when we
are ressurected, we recieve a perfect body without the problems that he has
now.  We were also able to talk about the rest of the plan of salvation and
he had many questions about that because his uncle had just passed away.
This is where the cool part of the lesson comes in.  We had two joint
teaches with us and as one of them was able to bear his testimony about the
priesthood and the power that it has to bind on earth as well as in heaven,
something really amazing happened.  Once our joint teach was done, both
Sister Brophy and I tried to say something.  I let her go and realized once
she reached word 3 that she was saying exactly what I was thinking in my
mind.  I turned to her and said,'SHUT UP!'  We both started freaking out,
but then were able to offer to Sam that he could receive a blessing to help
him with the problems that he was facing.  He took right up on that offer
and one of our joint teaches was able to give him a priesthood blessing
right then and there.  It was the coolest thing that I have probably ever
seen.  Sam felt the spirit super strong.  He described after the blessing
that he could feel a certain power that came into him as soon as the hands
were placed on his head.  That experience was cool for many reasons.  But I
know that that will help him to be able to understand how God speaks to Him
and there were many comforting words that were given in that blessing that
will help him for the rest of his life.

Sister Brophy and I have decided that we have taken the whole idea of
companionship unity to an extreme....but that is ok.  We like it that way,
especially if we can have experiences like that!!

I love you guys!!  I can't believe that I will see you in a week!!  My mind
is blown.  Don't worry, there will be one last episode in the life of
Zuster Israelsen in Nederland!!  So keep following!!

Ik hou van jullie allemaal!!

Zuster Israelsen

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Listening is Powerful, Walking in Groningen Means I Have Set Foot In Every City Grandpa Israelsen Served In! And Ik hou van jullie allemaal!!

Why Hello There Wonderful Family that is Mine,
How are you guys doing?  I thought it was a little bit of a bummer this week because due to message sending failures, I was not able to read everyone's letters.  I hope that your weeks were exciting though.  Ours certainly was.  The work has begun to explode here in Apeldoorn, Sister Brophy and I don't know what to do with ourselves...sometimes we have so many appointments that we forget to schedule in lunch....until we get hungry and then take the time to eat.  It is crazy.  And a miracle to see the change that has come upon this place since I came here 5 months ago.  That is also crazy to say, can you believe that I was actually able to stay in an area for more than 3 months.  I never thought that was going to be the case.
We have had the priviledge to find many new investigators in the last two weeks and are teaching up a storm.  It is amazing to see how the Lord does His work.  Sometimes, we wonder why He waits for so long to let us see so much success when we feel as though we are working the same as we always have.  it is also amazing to be able to get to know the children of God that live here in the Netherlands.  These have been many people that I have had the priviledge to meet and to teach, but one cool guy that we found this last week is named Peter.  He is a man in his 60's and is super smart and knows a lot of random facts about the bible.  I loved the first appointment that we had with him because he felt the need to let us know everything that he knew.  Some of the things may or may not have been completely made up, but for the most part, he knows his stuff.  I always find myself a littlr frustrated after lessons where either the investigator or less-active memeber just talks most of the time, where they feel like they are the teachers.  But I learned a lesson this week.  Our first appointment with Peter, he had to share everything with us, he literally did not stop talking, except to be able to sip his coffee.  We were really annoyed, we laughed a little because of some of the things that were said, but were frustrated becaue we didn't feel like our time was spent in a good way.  We made another appointment because we felt that he needed to at least hear the Restoration, and this time, he sat there.  He listened and soaked in every piece of information that we were able to teach him.  We didn't understand what the change was that came over him, but we were able to teach him and he has become a really serious investigator.  What made the difference?  I didn't know for a while.
We also had an appointment with a less-active member this week.  It was the first time that we had met with her and the same thing happened.  She talked our ears off.  Mostly about really random things, but we let her talk.  We tried to teach a gospel principle, but she was just loving the opportunity to talk to someone and boy did she take advantage of that.  But, she asked us to come back at the end of the week to visit her again.  We did, even though we were again really frustrated about the fact that we were not able to teach anything.  She too, at our second appointment seemed to be hanging on our every word and is committed to trying to come back to church, to overcome her addictions again and get back on the path to eternal life.  What made the difference?
I have learned this week, that people don't care how much you know until they know how much you care.  These people that we have had the opportunity to work with, needed first someone that was willing to listen to them.  To love them and support them in the hard times they were having and just to have someone love them enough to give 45 minutes of their time to visit with them and listen to their story.  How important is it to learn how to listen?  We are taught to learn to listen to the spirit?  Why?  Why does that make a difference?  Is that any different than listening to the people around you that you love?  Should it be?  I have come to the conclusion this week that we need to work on both.  That the Spirit can speak to you as you focus on the needs that the person is telling you about.  The Spirit is able to help you and inspire you as you love the people that are around you.  How can you learn to listen to the people around you better?  Is there something in your life that you can change to be able to have that love in your life?
I went on an exchange this week to Groningen.  Grandpa, you can now be proud, I have set foot in every city that you served in and literally walked in your footsteps!!  Cool, huh?  But we had a blast.  Zuster Johnson and I had a really fun time up there.  I do have to say that I am super grateful that I was taught how to fix a flat tire as a child, Jake, that may be one thing that you want to freshen up on.  I hav met too many missionaries that have no idea how to do that.  Zuster Johnson saw it as inspiration that I was able to come and help her to fix her tire.  We were also able to meet with an amazing member family!!!  With Maartje and her kids.  We laughed so hard that we almost cried!!  It was a blast!!  If I had more time I would say I wanted to serve in Groningen!!  We also had a super huge miracle lesson.  We went langs de deuren and met this lady who said she only spoke spanish.  The only thing I know how to say was the name of the church....I could have maybe given her a swimming lesson.  But I said what I knew and she let us right in.  I think that she thought we spoke spanish.....but we had an interesting lesson where we were able to teach her the Restoration.  It was a miracle and she is now investigating.  I love being able to witness those sorts of miracles!!! 
I have learned that time is a precious thing.  Make sure that you enjoy the moment that you are in.  You won't get that moment back.  There is no use letting little things annoy you because once you do, you lose a moment to be happy, a moment to make a difference, a moment to be a missionary.
I hope that you all have a wonderful week!!!  And that you keep posting those two sentence testimonies on facebook and sending them to each other!!
Ik hou van jullie allemaal!!
Zuster Israelsen

Do I Keep Learning the Same Lesson, No Hot Water and Two Sentence Testimonies

Hello there!!  I can't even begin to tell you people how much I love you!!  That is something that I am very grateful for that I have gained on my mission, more love for you.  It is crazy to think that even though we are hours and miles away, that our family bond can grow even closer.  I guess that is the point of eternal families!!  It is never ending, even if you are far away.  The trick is learning how to be able to show our love whether or not we live in the same home or can only email once a week!! 
Mom, you sent me an email about Elder Nye last week.  And coincidentally this morning, I was able to welcome him into the mission via telephone.  I gave my good friend Elder Eastmond a call who has been in Eindhoven for a week and he lives in the same apartment as Elder Nye.  So that was pretty cool.  He told me to tell Aunt Kris hi. 
This week has been amazing.  However, just like always, nothing really happened to our plans.  We wanted to be able to meet and help our investigators who are preparing for baptism this week, but due to deaths in the family and spring trips somewhere else in the world, that ended up not being possible.  On Tuesday, we realized that this was going to be a long week of finding.  Which is sometimes fun!!  I learned a lot this week, sometimes I wonder if the Lord feels like He has to keep teaching me the same lessons because I always forget.  That is a problem that I think a lot of us have.  Even the people in the Book of Mormon have a really hard time remembering the spiritual experiences that they had and also the reason why they believe and why the gospel is important to them.  I am in the middle of the war chapters of the Book of Mormon, super fun I know.  I have been learning a lot actually.  I have been thinking a lot about how the Book of Mormon was written for our time and put together by a man who was given the ability to see what was going to happen in our times and what we would go through.  I would imagine that that would be a huge responsibility, one that I would want to do really well.  I imagine that I would carefully read the records that I had and would carefully find those that would be applicable to the people in the time to come.  I imagine that Mormon and Moroni did the same thing.  I think that every word, reguardless of if it is just talking about how people attacked one city or another, is applicable to us today.  (Maybe I should pay more attention to what happens in every city in the Book of Mormon and then things would make a little more sense when it comes to the war chapters)  But the story I would like to share with you today is the story of the Title of Liberty.  We all have spiritual experiences.  Many of us have been able to recognize them and realize why we really believe what we believe.  Why our families are impoartant to us.  Why we are here on this earth and why we want to learn and grow.  The people in the time of Captain Moroni had a hard time remembering what those were.  Many of the Nephites, the people who had made the covenants and had followed Christ, turned away and became the greatest enemies to the righteous.  And as Moroni sees this, he becomes so upset he rents his clothing.  He has been able to remember the way that he can always remember the things that he has been taught from our heavenly father and he finds a way that he can help those who are struggling to remember.  He makes the title of liberty.  What sorts of things make up your title of liberty?  Who do you fight for?  Can you remember those things when the time comes that battle begins? 
The battle began on Tuesday.  We ended district meeting and figured out that we had a long week of finding.  A battle that we had seen before in our lives here in Apeldoorn.  To be honest, we were not very happy, and even maybe a little grumpy.  We were tired of fighting this same battle. It felt like we were alone and that we were not able to do the work that the Lord expected of us.  I mean, he had given us two people who were ready for baptism and it felt as though we were not really worthy or able to take care of them in the way that the Lord expected of us. I am not exactly sure why, but the Lord decided to bless us right away that day.  The third door that we knocked we were let in.  We were able to teach a nice couple the Restoration and find two new investigators.  It was amazing to see that the Lord was really working in their lives.  They told us stories about how they have come across and been helped out by mormon missionaries three times in their lives and that those young men had really left an impression on them.  So when we came on the door they were super ready and excited to talk and get to know what it was that motivated those young men to be as nice as they were.  We were reminded that day that no effort is wasted.  I was able to write that on my title of liberty.  I was also reminded that the Lord never forgets His children and that He blesses His missionaries in His time.  Tuesday was maybe to help us remember.
Wednesday, yet another battle began that I have also faced in the past....we had no hot water....no warm water....just ice cold water.  We may or may not have actually rebelled and not taken a shower for a few days.  I was reminded of the sense of humor that the Lord has.  I was also reminded that He always provides people and things in our lives that are always there and willing to help in times of need, we just have to be ready to ask.  I was also reminded that the cold water here is extremely cold....:D
On Thursday, we headed out for yet another full day of finding.  I was reminded that morning in scripture study that just like Alma says, 'It is enough to know(maybe a horrible translation) that the state of the spirit between this life and the resurrection....' (Alma 42...I think)  It was enough for me to know that the Lord had blessd us on Tuesday.  That He had given us the fruit of our labor.  It was enough for me to know that no effort is wasted.  It was enough for me to know those things to be motivated to get out the door that day and really serve the people here in Apeldoorn.  We went the whole day with what seemed like little to no success, until that evening.  We were doing bell-ups....one of my least favorite activities of all times....but it was enough for me to know....:D   We went through a set of bell-ups and came across a man who was in the middle of a bible study with friends, after a few minutes of discussion, they invited us back to their next bible study.  We were a little schocked, but took it as a blessing.  We went back later in the week to their bible study, we were given a chance to preach our word.  We were fairly surprised, but taught the Restoration.  At the end of the meeting, we had two of those people come up to us and give us their number and ask us when we could teach them more.  I was reminded that the Lord does His work in His own way.  I was reminded of how grateful I was that I had done the work to learn the lessons so that I could be prepared to teach that group of people who were obviously very knowledgeable about the bible.  I was reminded of the spirit and how he is the guy that converts those whom we teach. 
It truly has been a week of battle, of wonders and of reminders.  Reminders that help me to know and strengthen my testimony.  At Stake Conference this weeked, President and Sister Robinson gave a talk about two sentence testimonies.  Short, but powerful experiences that we can share with people anywhere and anytime.  They are things that remind us of those things that we have learned and inspire others, like Captain Moroni did, to learn more and embrace their faith or even to develop faith in the first place.  They are super simple, but meaningful ways to help us and others, our own titles of liberty.  The first sentence is an experience.  An example of an experience in my week.  " The battle began on Tuesday.  We ended district meeting and figured out that we had a long week of finding.  A battle that we had seen before in our lives here in Apeldoorn.  To be honest, we were not very happy, and even maybe a little grumpy.  We were tired of fighting this same battle. It felt like we were alone and that we were not able to do the work that the Lord expected of us.  I mean, he had given us two people who were ready for baptism and it felt as though we were not really worthy or able to take care of them in the way that the Lord expected of us. I am not exactly sure why, but the Lord decided to bless us right away that day.  The third door that we knocked we were let in.  We were able to teach a nice couple the Restoration and find two new investigators.  It was amazing to see that the Lord was really working in their lives.  They told us stories about how they have come across and been helped out by mormon missionaries three times in their lives and that those young men had really left an impression on them.  So when we came on the door they were super ready and excited to talk and get to know what it was that motivated those young men to be as nice as they were." I could shorten this experience to this,'there have been times in my life that I have felt like I was going through trials that I didn't deserve, things that keep bugging me in my life and make me feel as though I am alone and not worth the time of others.'  The second sentence is the feelings and principle of the gospel that we used or saw in our lives that really helped us to get through those times.  Our testimony that the gospel actually works.  The testimony from my week,'  It was amazing to see that the Lord was really working in their lives.  They told us stories about how they have come across and been helped out by mormon missionaries three times in their lives and that those young men had really left an impression on them.  So when we came on the door they were super ready and excited to talk and get to know what it was that motivated those young men to be as nice as they were.  We were reminded that day that no effort is wasted.  I was able to write that on my title of liberty.  I was also reminded that the Lord never forgets His children and that He blesses His missionaries in His time.  Tuesday was maybe to help us remember.''  That is obviously also more than a sentence.  I can shorten that to be,"But by living the standards of the gospel and doing the things that I have been asked to do by the Lord, He blessed me and reminded me that I am not alone and that I am worth it.'
Two sentence testimonies can be our titles of liberty.  They can be something that a family member, friend or other needs in their life.  They are simple and easy to share.  Have you read a scripture this week that really helped you?  Have you seen a mormon message that you really liked because it reminded you of an expereince that you have had?  Have you read a talk that touched you or you think would be perfect for another family member who is struggling with that principle and you have no idea how to help?  How hard is it to click 'share' or to give a link on facebook and before you post it, put your two sentence testimony on there, as a title of liberty for those who are in need?  For yourself in the future?  Why wouldn't you do it?  I challenge each of you, whether you think you can or not, to try it.  Share a two sentence testimony online and see what kinds of friends you can gain in the battle against the Lamanites....or the battles that you face in oyur life. 
There was a time in my life that I felt lost, that I did not know what to do and could not find my way.  Through reading the Book of Mormon, I was able to find peace and direction that has helped me to become the person I am today.
I love you all!!  Don't forget to tell me about your experience with your two sentence testimony!!! 
Have a great week!!
Zuster Israelsen

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Apeldoorn Unitl I Die! Grandpa Israelsen and President Van Rij, My Last Zone Conference and The Power of Prayer

Oh my goodness. This week has definitely been interesting.  The week before transfers is always a little weird because you never know what is going to happen.  We have been super busy and just having a fun time.  We taught 7 lessons with a member present this week, that may not sound like a lot to some of you...but it is.  We have four progressing investigators as of right now and the work is starting to pick up here in the Belgium/Netherlands mission. 
So, I just want to fill you all in on what is going down.  The mission is starting a facebook and mormon.org campaign.  They have been given permission from Salt Lake to start their own facebook page and they are also making a separate mormon.org and sort of lds.orgwebsite for just Nederland.  They have been seeing a lot of success in Gent, Belgium with this idea and it is coming to a Nederland near you!!  It is amazing to see how the Lord is using the internet to do His work.  I am always amazed at the people and referrals that come from this campaign and I am excited for the future that the mission has.  Nederland is ranked third in the world when it comes to internet usage so the fact that we are now reaching out through the devices that everyone uses everyday, the work is going a lot faster.  I love it!!  And it is also cool because I am learning ways that I can continue to be a missionary when the time comes that I will no longer wear a name tag.
This week, I met a President Van Rij.  Grandpa Israelsen, he served with you and Earl here in the mission 60 years ago.  He only had good things to say about you and loves you very much!!  I was supposed to do the groetjes!!  It is such a privilege to be able to meet people that you have served with.  They all love you and remember you.  It is a wonderful thing!!
I also had my last Zone Conference this week.  That is weird to say....and I don't really like it.  But I learned a lot.  Specifically from Sister Robinson.  She talked about the doctrine of simple things.  I have been learning a lot lately about how we, as missionaries, are really just the tools in the Lords hands to do His work.  I am a small and simple thing.  I am not very good at being a sales woman, I am not good at a lot of the things that are asked of us as missionaries, but that is the sweet, sweet thing about small and simple things.  They are small, simple and do not have much significance.  Small things are not always recognized by people on the street or given much attention.  Small things are not meant to be flashy, perfect and shiny.  Small things are there and the Lord will never forget about them.  Small things are the means by which He is able to work because those things that are small and recognize that they owe everything to God are those who become great.  It has been really cool to be able to look back at the time that I have had here in Apeldoorn and love every moment of it.  But also to recognize that I really did not do a thing.  All I did was try.  All I have done is my best and the Lord has been able to use me and my personality to touch the lives of many others.
I have learned a lot about the power of prayer this week.  I love prayer.  I don't think that I have ever been able to say that more than I have on my mission.  But specifically this last week.  We have been studying humility together as a mission this week in the Book of Mormon and it always amazes me how the prophets are able to know their limits and to rely on the Lord and on others.  I decided that I was going to consciously rely on the Lord this week.  I have been carrying around a lot of...I guess you would call them...guilty feelings.  I can't really describe what I have been feeling.  But it seems like through the entire time I have been here, I have not been able to accomplish a lot because I have not been able to do things perfectly.  It's like I have tried to get straight A's all of my life or something.  But here, there is no such thing as an A.  There is only my best effort.  But because we, as people, try to hold ourselves to perfection, or because we compare ourselves with others around us who have more skills than us, we feel inadequate.  I have been able to really kneel down and have a personal conversation with my Heavenly Father.  I was able to tell Him all of the things that I feel like I have not been able to do well, or the things that I am still struggling with.  But I have also bee able to talk with Him about those things that I have been able to see that have brought success.  I have felt His love as He has assured me that everything I have done and been through in my time here has been worth it and for a purpose.  And just because I may not be able to see my success as other missionaries may be able to see theirs, I have still been able to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.  I was blessed with the remembrance of many instances that I was able to say or do small and simple things that really made a big difference to those that I was serving.  And, in sacrament meeting, I was able to feel those feelings of guilt or inadequacy leave.  I know that I am not perfect, but I also know that since I have been here, I have given it my all.  I have put forth my best effort.  I only know that because I was able to really see the power of prayer in my own life. 
What was beautiful, is that I have also really been able to see that change, or that realization come into the lives of a few of our investigators.  We had two investigators say their first prayers ever this last week.  What an amazing experience it is, to sit there and listen as someone offers up their first, simple prayer to God.  What is beautiful is that God works through simple things, and simply because they are willing to try, He is able to make a big difference in their lives.  I have seen them feel the spirit.  They have received a confirmation that God is there and that He cares about them. 
I challenge you to think about your life.  Do you feel alone?  Inadequate?  Lost?  Do you feel as though no one cares?  Or that you are not doing anything worth while?  Do you have other feelings of anger, hatred, depression etc?  How could prayer help you?  It has helped me to let go of the fact that I am not perfect, to realize that all I can do is my best and that God loves me enough to pick up the slack.  That is what I have been struggling with the most and I have felt the relief and peace and happiness that comes from the power of prayer.  Pray you guys!! 
We also celebrated some Valentines Day goodness.  Sister Brophy and I spent many nights after the hours of 9.30 cutting out hearts.  We spent our Valentines day Heart attacking the members in Apeldoorn.  We got caught a few times...sad day...mostly by the little children (aka Mikki and Kevin)  But it was a party.  We also were able to set two baptisimal dates with two of our investigators.  We were feeling the love for the members and also from God!!! :D
Ok....so I have been waiting until the end to tell you guys what is happening with transfers.................drum roll please........

I AM STAYING IN APELDOORN UNTIL THE DAY THAT I DIE!!!!  I am so grateful for this opportunity!!  I love this place and can't wait to see what the next six weeks hold in store!! 
I love you all!!  I hope that you have a great week!!  Don't have too much fun!!
Zuster Israelsen

Best Efforts Do Not Mean Perfection and Have the Kind of Patience That Abinadi had for Noah!

Rachel!!!!  How did it feel to be in Allstate?  Was it amazing?  That dress you were wearing....I wore that same kind for Latter-day Voices!!  I wasn't really able to listen to the song because I am in the middle of the library but I am sure that it sounded absolutely amazing and I can't wait to hear the whole cd in a few months!!
Elizabeth!!  Thank you for your letter!!  Was the creme bule delicious?  Did you save me some?  Or are you going to take me there when I get back? 
I can't believe that Jake is 19.  I feel so very extremely old. 
This week was crazyness!!  I have been learning a lot about being able to work and also to feel satisfied with the work that you put in.  I think that most of the time in my life I really like to make sure that I do things perfectly.  That is, however, not the way that you learn.  I have learned a lot with my district this transfer about our best efforts in comparisson with the efforts that we put in.  one thing that has really struck me this week is that my best efforts do not mean perfection.  It simply means that I am doing everything that I can do achieve the things that I would like to achieve.  I think that I have always misunderstood that.  Mom and DAd, you guys have always said that we just have to do our best, I guess my mind said that means I must be perfect.  I have been learning about this skills that I lack and how I can become better.  But that I have to measure the success or the things that I do with who I am and what I know at that moment and just leave the rest to the Lord. 
Our Best Efforts - Our Effort = Regrets
If we are doing our best, working as hard as we can, the best that we know how, then we will have no regrets when we get to the end. 
We learned this week about what that has to do with confidence.  A confident person knows his/her limits.  A confident person know who they can rely on for help and who they can ask to help them with the things that they do not understand or are not very good at.  A confident person is humble, teachable and wants to learn and take the advise of others.  Are you confident?  Do you see those things in your life?  If not, what can you do to take a look at what you are doing and change?  How can you learn more about yourself?  How can you realize what your shortcomings are and ask for help?  Do you do that?  Are you willing to do that? 
I can honestly say that I can't answer all of those questions right now.  On my mission I have learned more about myself and who I want to become.  I have been able to see how my companions have helped me and filled in the spaces that I have in my life, the things that I am not yet good at doing.  That is why the Lord puts people into our lives.  We are to learn from them, lean on them and love them  But we need to also make sure that we are relying on the Lord for our most support.
We had a super cool miracle this week.  Sometimes, I really hate the fact that things don't happen when you feel like you are working super hard for it.  I guess I like to see immediate results...that is a flaw of mine.  But on Wednesday, we spent literaly the entire day finding people.  Knocking doors, talking to people on the street, running people down.  And we did not find a single potential that day.  It felt a lot like our first day of the cards where everyone rejected us.  So, we went home pretty wet and discouraged.  Thursday, we had another one of those days planned.  Both of us weren't extremely pleased, but we got out there and went to work.  We prayed harder that day that I think we have as a companionship because it was raining again and we were just hoping that someone would let us in so that we didn't have to go home as wet as the day before.  We picked a street.  And started knocking.  Guys, you will never guess what happened next.  The FIRST door.  A woman named Marisol answered.  She is from Columbia.  She speaks spanish(I knew I brushed up on the good ol' spans before I got called to go to Nederland.)  She said,"you guys are mormons?  Come on in" We went one for one that day.  She is a new investigator and is super extremely positive!!!  It is a beautiful thing when you are given a blessing from your heavenly father.  But also humbling.  I am learning to realize that the Lord has a time table of His own that I have to be ready to accept it and not angry when it doesn't come in my time. 
So, you will never guess who had a birthday on Friday.  My companion.  She has the same birthday as Jake!!  So Jake, I did celebrate your birthday!!  We went and got real pannekoeken with the family Feith and had cake and everything.  It was a beautiful thing.
In the Book of Mormon this week we have been studying Patience.  One thing that I really enjoyed about my study was the fact that I saw that patience is merely an understanding.  Think about it.  If you understand someone, their background and where they are coming from in a situation, then it is a lot easier to have patience when things don't really go the way that you had planned.  Abinadi had that kind of patience for Noah.  He understood what was going to happen.  That doesn't mean that he wasn't upset, but he didn't go out there and start a fight because they were too stubborn to listen.  Kind Mosiah made sure to be able to explain himself when he put out the idea to have judges in place of a king so that the people could be patient with the situation and the process of change.  If you find yourself angry or frustrated with a person or situation, ask yourself what kind of questions you could ask them so that you can understand more of where they are coming from and through tht understanding, you will gain patience.  I tried it this week and it totally worked!!
Zuster Israelsen

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

50 Mormon.org Cards Every Day! Exercise Faith and Mosiah 4

Well...I just typed a whole letter to you guys and then the computer crashed....so I am going to do it again and hope that it is as good as the last one. 
I am so bummed that the Broncos lost the super bowl.  I have been talking a ton of crap here for the longest time and I don't think that I am ever going to live it down.  I guess I should have learned my lesson a long time ago...but I do learn from the best...thanks dad!! 
Jake!!!  You turn old this week!!  And by old, I mean 19. I hope that you have a great birthday and that you do something fun like eat way too much ice cream at Angies or something.
This week has been crazy.  Sister Brophy and I are extremely tired but it was all worth it!!   I can't remember how much I told you about our goals for this last week.  But we set a goal to get out 50 mormon. org cards in the hands of other people every single day this week.  At first, we thought that it would be a relatively easy goal to achieve, but after our first day, we realized that we were in for a very long week.  We had to contact around 80-100 people a day to be able to hit our goal because as soon as you start talking to people they give you the card back.  It was so way not cool and it was really frustrating because we were not seeing very much success at all for a very long time.  Until about Thursday. On Thursday, we ran into a man named Sam.  He is super cool and we set an appointment with him on the next day.  We got a joint teach. Had a lesson and he now is preparing to be baptized in March!!!  That was a huge miracle for us this week!!  We also found a very wonderful jovo girl named Petra.  She is super smart, super cool and super curious to find out more about what we believe in and about the church.  She really wants to see if this could be something for her.  In the last few days we have been able to set a lot of appointments and get things set up pretty amazingly here in Apeldoorn. 

I learned a lot about faith this week.  I think that for a very long time I have had a inaccurate definition of faith and how we can use it is our lives.  I have learned a lot about how faith needs to be centered in our Savior Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.  I think that I used to define faith as getting out there and doing the work because that is what has been asked of us.  So I have been doing that my entire mission.  The problem is, is that I don't do things perfectly.  I get really down on myself too when I don't do things well.  I beat myself up because I am not doing the work that is expected of me as a missionary.  I saw that a lot this week as we tried to get talking to people.  I think it was about Wednesday that I saw that I was looking at things in the wrong way.  And we saw a very distinct change in our success, at least I did.  I had been contacting people and contacting people but was super angry and frustrated by the end of the day because I was unable to make any appointments with the people that I had talked to.  That really got to me.  And I started to think about it.  I realized that I was only using a portion of faith and that my definition needed to change.  I needed to have trust in my Savior and let Him help me and my efforts.  i realized that faith is getting out there, doing the work, but then asking the Savior for His help when you come too short.  That happens everyday.  I got down on my knees and really had a long conversation with my Heavenly Father.  I let Him know the efforts that we were putting into the work and that I realized that I could not do it without the Savior.  I do not have the ability to do things perfectly and that I need to accept Him in my life and ask for His help.  I was reading in Mosiah 4 this week with the mission book of mormon challenge.  And it really hit me.  King Benjamin talks about how we are less than the dust of the earth.  I think I am beginning to understand what that means.  I felt it in the first half of my week.  I was getting out there, doing the work, but nothing was coming of it.  I was not worth anything.  I am not worth anything without the atonement of Christ.  As I decided to apply the atonement in my life, at that moment my work and life became of worth.  It was exciting and I have been happier the second half of this week that I have for a very long time.  I learned that in order to exercise faith we need to:
1. get out there and work
2. realize that what we do is not perfect
3. Ask heavenly father for help and for forgiveness for our shortcomings and for help to overcome them
4. trust in the savior that he will make up for everything that we were not able to do. 
I challenge you all to read Mosiah 4.  And then to really reflect this week on your life. Are you satisfied with the work that you do everyday?  Is it what the Lord expects from you?   Do you realize that what you are doing is not perfect and that you need the help of the Savior?  Do you understand what it means to apply the atonement in your life?  Are you happy and feel successful?  If not, ask yourself why.  Ask yourself how you can become better, how you can apply the atonement in your life and how you can trust in the savior.
Why should you do that?  Because that is what brings happiness.  That is what helps us to progress.  As we realize that we need His help, we become more humble and willing and able to learn.  We also gain joy.
I hope that you all have a wonderful week!!
Rachel, have fun at Allstate.  Make sure and get a cd so that I can listen to it someday!! 
Keep on smiling and having fun!!
Ik hou van jullie!!!
Zuster Israelsen

Sunday, January 26, 2014

CSI Door Approach, Miracles and Tell Me the Blessings You See

Hello my WONDERFUL FAMILY!!!!!!!
Oh my goodness, it seems that everything back there at home is just getting more and more exciting!!  I can't believe that Jake is getting his mission call this week!!!  I almost started jumping up and down here in the library I was so excited.  I am more than positive that he will be called to the Belgium/Netherlands Mission.  Mom, everyone tries to guess what their system is down there in Salt Lake City but I have never heard of the Domestic/Foreign calls thing.  I think that they put the missionaries where they are inspired to send them and if it does end up being Belgium/Netherlands then we will know that they were truly inspired.  :D  But really, Jake, you will love where ever you are called because you will be serving with the people that you need to.  I am so excited and super mad that I have to wait until Monday to know!!
This week has been super amazing!  It is super cool to see how the Lord is there, ready to bless you as you are doing your best to be obedient and serve Him and the people around you.  On Monday, we had the opportunity to give a Family Home Evening lesson at the Bishop's home.  I love that family and we talked all about the temple and how important it is for everyone.  That was a super cool experience because as everyone went around and had a chance to share why the temple was important for them, the spirit just got stronger.  It was a great way to start our proselyting week.
After such an amazing spiritual experience, Sister Brophy and I were ready to hit the town.  So we did.  We went and looked up a potential investigator whose name is Samantha.  She was found while the Elders were here doing a blitz and finding in the city for with us for a couple of hours.  We went by and she was at home!!  That was miracle number one for the night.  Then, we were able to teach her an entire Restoration lesson.  That was amazing.  She kept asking questions that just led into the next part of the lesson.  She is really searching for something.  I think that the coolest part of the lesson was when we taught the first vision.  After Joseph Smith was quoted, there was silence.  The spirit was so strong.  I almost started crying, and we all know how much I like doing that.  We set a baptisimal date with her for February 15.  We are super excited and have been thanking the Lord all week long.  
The coolest thing is that the miracles did not stop there.  Sister Brophy and I have set a few really high goals for the transfer and are working super hard to contact as many people as possible and get the work moving.  We literally come home exhausted every single day, but the Lord has been blessing us so much it has been so totally worth it.  And with every blessing, you just feel like you need to get back out there and work some more because you owe Him more work after He blessed you!!  It is a super amazing feeling.  
Who Knew CSI Would Get You In?
We went finding, like I said.  All week.  I have knocked so many doors and talked to so many people this week it isn't even funny.  But finally, on Saturday night, the magic happened.  We stopped this guy on the street, he didn't seem to understand us very well and speaks turks....unfortunately one of the languages I don't speak.  But he understood us enough to tell us his daughter was Christian and gave us her number.  REFERRAL!!  And we have a return appointment with her this next week.  Then, we went door knocking....at 8 PM....my favorite time.  NOT.  But we did it anyway.  8.30.  Walked up to a door, I could see through the window that the lady was watching CSI...one of my favorites.  Rang the doorbell.  Got ready for a normal door contact.   Suddenly, what came out of my mouth?  Not 'we are here to share the Book of Mormon.' But,'Hey, I couldn't help but see that you were watching CSI.  That is one of my favorites ever!!' She continued to laugh and tell us that she has had the elders on the door many times in the last few years and that she didn't have any interest in what we had to say.  But she said that we were welcome to come in and watch CSI.  So what did I say.....'OK' So we went in.  Ended up having a lesson and a return appointment for next week. 
Sister Brophy and I were flying high.  We were really pleased with our work and the success that we had seen.  Sunday night came around....8PM, what do we get to do?  Door knocking.  We went again.  Randomly, and awkwardly talked to this man who was opening up his door to go in.  Turns out he had spoken with the Elders three years ago in another city.  He had moved and hadn't heard anything from them.  He invited us right back. 
This week was definitly one of miracles!!  I love being a missionary and being able to witness and see the blessings that the Lord gives me in my life.  Tell me the blessings that you see around you this week!!
I love you!!
Zuster Israelsen