Monday, December 31, 2012

Christmas 2012 in Delft

Hallo Familie!!!

PRETTIGE NIEUW JAAR!!!! It's New Years Eve!!! I am so excited!! I can't believe that it is already 2013.....well almost. We have to be in our apartment by 4PM this afternoon because of how crazy it gets here for new years. People take any chance to be crazy here in the Netherlands and I guess this is a good excuse. There have been fireworks going off for the last week like crazy!! Like real fireworks, the ones that the fire department sets off on the Fourth of July. They are super cheap here and readily available to everyone that wants them. So we have to be in because of that, because people make huge bonfires with all of their Christmas trees in the streets know....when people celebrate in a country where everything is legal....everything is used to help them celebrate. We have been told that there is no way we are going to sleep tonight because it is just going to be ridiculous outside, so Sister Nielson and I are going to have a movie night!!! Yeah...we are going to watch all of the DVDs we use for proselyting "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration", "The Testaments"....etc. It's going to be a party!!

Christmas Eve was SO COOL!!! We went to Delft because it was out P-Day. Delft is probably my favorite place we have been to yet. It is so pretty!! Really most of the pictures that you are going to find on the internet of the Netherlands are of Delft....unless you are looking for flowers....because that is in a completely different place. There is this super old church there that is absolutely gorgeous. We didn't have time to take the tour of it this last week....but we plan to very soon. They will even take you up to the very top where all of the bells are!! I'm going to feel like the Hunchback of Notredam!!!! The pictures that are attached are of the centrum. In every city in the Netherlands they have a centrum where most of the stores are and a lot of the big touristy shops are.

But Delft is way cooler that Den Haag because it is old. It really looks like Europe. Everything that you picture when you think of Europe is there in Delft!! I am so happy that it is in my area!! We have plans to make it down there at least once a week. It's hard because it's about an hour bike ride.

Oh, and I saw my first cheese wheel factory place!! It was way cool!!! There is a picture of that too!!!

We were also invited over the Stake President's home for Christmas Eve dinner and celebrations. The Oddens are really a super great family!!! We love them a lot!! We had these spicy meatballs that were really delicious!! Unfortunately...I can't speak Dutch well enough to catch the name of them....but that's ok. I am getting the recipe from Sister Oddens this next week!!! But it was just way fun. All of the Elders from Den Haag were there and also the Senior couple. We sang a bunch of Christmas songs....everyone in the Oddens family can play a different instrument so it really was a house full of music. And we had ROOTBEER FLOATS!!!! That was truly amazing because there really isn't Rootbeer here. If you want have to go to the USA store and everything is really we don't go there very often. And the people here hate rootbeer. Can you imagine? I guess their cough syrup is flavored like rootbeer so they think that they are being forced to have medicine in a soda form. It really is very depressing. They gave all of us gifts!! I got my first really warm scarf which I am really extremely grateful for.....I didn't bring any scarfs if anyone is wondering....they are necessary!!

On Christmas, we started our day with the Mule Family. Their son is in France serving a mission so they had all of us over. They are from Fiji and they are probably the coolest family you will ever meet!! They don't speak Dutch at all but their English is really good!! The Breakfast was amazing and we went and caroled to all of their neighbors. Sister Mule was way too excited about it and made everyone come out of their apartments and hear us sing. It was really cold, but super fun. Then, we spent the afternoon at the Seiter's home(they are the senior couple) and we played games and watched some church movies. Really...we were just killing time until we could go to the Prosmans. The Prosmans have a son serving a mission in England. And all of the little kids in their family really miss him so they were extremely excited to have the missionaries over to their house for Christmas. They kept telling us that we are now siblings because they were missing their brother too. It was really nice. We played a ton of board games with the kids, we sang a bunch of songs, we were allowed to watch animated PG movies so we got to watch Despicable Me!!! and for dinner we had Gormet(spelling?) Apparently it is really Dutch. So they just put a bunch of food on the table that isn't cooked. Meats, veggies, cheese, whatever. And they have these things where everyone can cook. They have two like frys things and the other slow cooks it. Everyone got to sit down, make what they wanted to eat and enjoy each others company it was super fun. The best part of my day of course was being able to talk to all of you wonderful people!!! I love you so much!!! It really was exactly what I needed. I needed to talk to my family!!!

Jake, I am so proud of you!!! I am so glad that you are going to be an Aggie!!! I brag about you everyday to my mission president because he is also an Aggie!!! I told me that you made the right decision because that is the only school that you are going to get the smarts you need!! About housing, everywhere is good. The older places like Moen are not so pretty and really small. Ok, everything is really small, but I suggest either the student living center(by the institute) or either Bullen or Merrill. The other Freshman housing is like a 15 minute walk away from campus. But those three places are'll have more roommates in case you have a problem with one, and you will be on campus. Also, you just make this Ciara thing seem, you know, no big deal. I have some information for you broski. It's a big deal and I expect more info even if I haven't met her!!!

Rachel!!! You Passed LIFEGUARD TRAINING!!!! Now you can have a real job....that isn't just picking up everyone's trash that they purposefully leave there for you!!! YAY!!! Are you excited!!

Elizabeth!!! Keep working on memorzing those articles of faith!! I am doing the same thing right now....but in Dutch. For Christmas, I got a lot of stuff. I got to talk to you!! And then I got some CDs, a beautiful dress, a lot of chocolate from members and some hand warmers!! Those were the best thing!!! They are keeping my hands nice and warm here on the cold days!! I have heard that Wreck it Ralph is really get those jobs done so that you can go!!

Mom, The only people I have heard from while I have been here is you, Grandma Gail, Allysa, Belen and Elder Butler. I think that letters are taking weird amounts of time to get here because of the holidays so I'm not too worried. I also don't get a ton of time to write on Mondays so I can only respond to two or so people a week. The dress fits perfectly!! I even wore it this week....but I didn't take a picture. I'll be sure to do that soon so that you can see it on me!! And we are also going to a Van Gogh thingy not this week but next!!! They have a huge art museum here in Den Haag so we are going to go there and check it out!! And when it comes to printing these costs like 5 not really. I have enough time to read them and respond too so don't worry about it.

Dad, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!! GELUKKIG VERJAARDAG!!! You are getting very old my man!! I hope that you have fun on your trip and aren't eating too many reese's pieces....because I don't think that they are going to have the 'peace' effect that you are expecting.

Send Mandy and Cami my love. I heard about Mandy through Sister Stout this week and I hope that little Marshall is holding in there!! If he is anywhere close to being as tough as his parents he is going to be just fine!!

Ok, so they have 3 Christmas days here. RIDICULOUS!!! I really don't understand how society survives here because everything closes down on the holidays. And I mean EVERYTHING!!! No grocery stores or anything!! But anyway. We did a service project as a Zone and we went to an old folks home and sang to them. Apparently I have been dubbed as the music missionary. I don't know how that came to be....but there really isn't very much talent in our zone when it comes to singing. Elder Maughn told the people who work there that we were a professional choir because no where else was going to let us come....and so....I was put in charge the day of to come up with a performance that would please a king. I didn't do it....but we did have a lot of fun. You should have been there for out attempt at singing the 12 days of Christmas. HILARIOUS!!! One of the Senior Couples recorded us and we are going to get a DVD of it here soon that I will send home!!

We have had a really fun and successful week here!! We got a new investigator, another progressing investigator who is now in date for baptism, and Ans Jansen accepted the Word of Wisdom and is now living it!! That was a crazy lesson, we were really scared that she would be done after that lesson because in our first meeting she went on about how ridiculous all of our rules are so it really was a miracle!! We have exchanges this week and a lot of appointments planned so I am excited!!

I love you and miss every last one of you!!! Have a great week and a Happy New Year!!

Zuster Megan Israelsen

Monday, December 24, 2012

Christmas Eve 2012

Hello Family and Friends!!!

First off, I want to wish everyone a PRETTIG KERSTDAG!!! It is Christmas Eve!!! I really miss you guys, the chinese food I know you will eat today, and all of the festivites. But we have a great week planned as missionaries with a lot of members in the ward. We are also taking a trip to Delft today for P-Day to do a little bit of touristy things before Christmas!!!

First things first, please give the ward the mission home address. We won't know our new addresses for out new apartments when we transfer until we get there. But the mission home address will never change!!! Also, I will leave the judgement up to you about which picture you will give them for the plaque!!! I trust you and I am really not good at picking things like that!

So this week, I had my first ever Turkse Pizza. They are delicious!! They are made by the same people that make the Doners that Jake tried in Downtown Denver. They have a tortilla(which is better than a I'm not really sure what it is) and they have this amazing sauce that they put on it. Then you can choose whether or not you want spicy sauce(of course!) and a salad type thing on it and then your choice of meat. They are delicious!! I love them and my companion and I are planning on getting one a week until one of us is transfered. So Turkse Pizza is a winner!!(Picture attached)

We also got some crazy news from President and Sister Robinson this week. We found out that on May 1 we have 9 sisters coming into the transfer later we have 15 new sisters coming into the mission and about 4 leaving. So....since we only have 15 sisters right now and we are losing 4. We will all be training at least two other sisters at the same time. I have decided that it is probably time to learn Dutch because otherwise I am never going to survive trying to keep track of two new sisters....teaching lessons and trying to arrange everything in Dutch. So I am really working hard on it!!

I also had my first Zone Conference. I loved it!! It was four hours where I got to sit down and learn from Sister and President Robinson. They are really amaizng people and I am so excited to be able to learn from them for the next year and a half. We talked about working smarter and not harder. We have found that knocking doors and street contacting are really not successful in the Netherlands. It is definately a miracle whenever we are able to find someone on the street who is really sincere. So, we have decided that we are working with the members. Our main focus right now is serving the members. We all know how hard it can be to continue to be strong in the faith when there is so much crazyness going on around us. And really, we as missionaries are no different than the members. We, along with the members, have been called to do missionary work in the area of the Netherlands. And the leaders here have the keys over missionary work. So why work harder than we need to? We need to work smart, create a realationship with the members so that they can feel comfortable with us and so that we can help them to do the missionary work that the Lord has prepared this area for!! We are working on building a new stake by December 2013 and through the members this can and will happen!!

We had another baptism this week. Her name is Jade and she is from China. We have an Elder in our ward who is fluent in Chinese and he also learned Dutch to come here on a mission. So it was really cool!! I heard my first blessing in Chinese on Sunday. Never thought that would happen here in the Netherlands but I have decided that anything in possible!!! She is really a sweet girl and she speaks pretty good English!! She will be here in the Netherlands for at least another year studying so we are really excited to see what cool things she will continue to do!!

Ok, so I just have to say....that I am really tired of fireworks!!! It is ridiculous here!!! People can get fireworks all over the place. And they aren't the little wimpy things that we can get in America. They are ridiculously big!! And they explode them all night long!! It drives me crazy and it has even gotten worse now that the kids are out of school for break!! But we have also been told that because of the fireworks and other crazy things that go down on New Years that we have to be in our apartments by 4 in the afternoon. We are going to be watching movies and eating a lot of junk food as we listen to the chaos outside!!

Our investigator, Ans Jansen, has set a goal to be baptized on January 26!! That was really a miracle because she even told us that she wouldn't set a date. That she thought it was too much pressure so we haven't pushed the matter, but she came to Jade's baptism and she just leaned over and whispered to me,"Dat is echte doop!!! Ik wil dat voor mij. Mischien de 26 van Januari'?" I was just a little excited!! She already has a testimony of the gospel and she is realy moving forward!!! I really love her and she looks out for us so much!! In January we are going to go on a tour of Den Haag with her so that we can see all of the tourist spots in Den Haag!! She is so excited to show us around her home!! She doesn't have any kids so she has kind of taken us in as her own!!

But, the most exciting part of my day was yesterday. I MET BERTIE'S FAMILY!! That's right dad, the real Bertie who stayed with Grandma and Grandpa Israelsen!! I met her husband and all of her children!! They are so excited!! It was the first time that I was really able to talk to them and their family and they almost died when they found out that I was Glen and Ruth's granddaughter!! They really love Grandma and Granpa!! They told me that I must say hi and that we are going to get together sometime soon and share pictures and stories and take a big picture so that they can see all of the little grandkids and everyone. Broeder Van Oudheusden gave me his email because he would like to hear from Grandpa and Grandma!! So here it is: So please let Grandpa and Grandma know!!! They really love our family and it is so cool to know that someone else knows my family back in America!!

Sorry this email is a little short today....but we have to get going because the email place is closing down for Christmas Eve!!! I Love all of you and I can't wait to be able to skype you tomorrow!!

Mom, I will call you. I am not sure what profile I will be using because I don't know the name of their profile...and I will call. I am calling at 7pm my time which will be around 11 am your time. It may be a little later than 11 because we will be coming from an appointment but we will be able to talk!! We get an hour tomorrow so I will see you then!! Also, I love the Blog!!! It looks amazing!!! And today I will be taking real pictures in Delft so you will have more things to see when I email next week!!

Ik hou van jullie!!! Ik wens jullie een prettige kerstdag!!!

Zuster Israeslen

Monday, December 17, 2012

Daily Schedule

Hello Familie!!!

This week has totally been crazy!! I will begin my letter by answering your questions!!

Here is a picture of the bike garages in Delft. It's crazy how many bikes they have here...and that isn't even the biggest bike garage I have seen. A lot of people ride their bikes to the train station and then park it there. The bike garage in Rotterdam is four stories high. CRAZY!!!

Mom: White-washing is when both you and your companion are brand new to an area. Usually they keep at least one sister (or elder) in an area and transfer another one in....but not this time. There were three sister cities that white-washed this last transfer. I guess they are trying to prepare everyone to get ready to open up new areas because by April we will be doubling the amount of sisters in our mission. That's right. We are going from 15 sisters to 30 sisters. That means by April I will be training someone new. A new 19 year-old-ish young sister who is joining the work!! CRAZY!! But yeah. It's been pretty interesting white-washing because both of us are pretty lost all of the time!! Luckily we have a GPS on the phone we have...but we still get lost at least once a day.

Money here is kind of crazy. We have a card that we get from the mission that has our MSF(missionary funds) that they put into an account every month. We get 160 Euro each month to pay for things like travel, food and other necessary items. We don't spend too much money on travel though because we have bikes and because we eat with members a lot we don't spend too much money on food...but we still have the money in case of emergency. Like for new bike tires. I inherited a bike from a sister who went home the same day I came in and it's old but it works. The tires are just really bad so I have to get new ones so that I can stop having flat tires all of the time. I went in today to exchange the money I came here with the the exchange rate is really bad. I got about 207 Euro from the $300 I came with. But that's ok. The big sales are coming in January so I am waiting until then to get my souvenier from Den Haag/Delft.

We are eating really well. There are a lot of Indonesian members, African members, Philipino members and Dutch members so we get a large variety of things. My favorite thing that we have had so far is ollebollen. It is a delicious doughnut type thing. But it is way better than a doughnut. I really can't describe it...but it is delicious. Also, the juices here are TO DIE FOR!!! But for real!! I have no idea why....but they really are. The food here is really just great. The cheese here is way better than anything we have in America and when you can get fresh bread it is really a wonderful day!!!

My companion and I are really getting along great!! We have different personalities but she really likes sports. Actually she trained for the Olympics in speed skating and she quit because she decided that she needed to go on a mission!! Yes, she knows Apollo Ohno!! Yeah, there are naturally some things that we have to get used to about each other but President Robinson is really good at putting people together that will get along and help the work move forward together!! My companion has been out for about 11 months and she tells my everyday that she is glad she has a greeny to help her to continue to be enthusiastic about the work. It is hard here in the Netherlands because there are maybe one person out of the thousands you talk to every week that wants to talk to you.

Our ward is the largest in the Netherlands. We have maybe 350 members in our ward but only 150 that show up consistently every week. The missionaries here in the Netherlands are following the plans that the stake presidents have put forth for missionary work here in their area. President Oddens has come out with a program called 'Finding the One'. The missionaries are working really hard with the members to make this work. We are encouraging the members to find an inactive member that they can help rescue and then we have what we call the snowball effect where we go with them to that less active member and we find new investigators at every single inactive member we go to. We try to meet with 4 active member families a week and then the following week go with them and start to fellowship the inactive member they have selected. From our efforts this last week we now have 4 potential investigators where we had 0 the following week. It really is an inspired message and the members have been committed to it so they are working really hard to help us too. They see that the missonaries are not just here to get baptisms but we are here to support the members and help keep those who have already made the decision to follow the Savior.

I don't really know about the crime here in Den Haag. I know it is a lot safer than a lot of other areas in the Netherlands. Sisters aren't even allowed in the Northern part of the Netherlands like Leyliestad is the most dangerous place. Elder Muse, he is from my MTC group, is serving there and he has already been attacked...his bike stolen and his companions bike set on fire. His companion actually knows Taylor Israelsen and told me to tell her Hi for him. His name is Elder Shoemaker. (yes....I asked him if me makes shoes....he didn't think that was funny.) But yeah. We haven't had any problems so far with crime.

Sinterklaas(their Christmas) was fun. It really is just Sinterklaas(or Santa Claus) and Zwarte Pete going through the streets and giving out gifts and things. Zwarte Pete is my favorite because he just causes mischief all day. It's almost like April Fools but he pulls all of the pranks. The streets are still covered in the small ginger cookies he throws everywhere. We didn't get to see very much because we were studying most of the time they were in the streets. And also....Sinterklaas actually makes his first appearance in November.

Our typical day.....

6:30: we get up and exercise. We like to go for walks/jogs in the morning to help us wake up.

7:00-8:00: Prepare for the day

8:00-9:00:Personal Study

9:00-10:00:Companion Study

10:00-11:00: Language Study

11:00-2:00: Appointments/finding

2:00-3:00 Lunch

3:00-4:00: 12-week training. They have a training program that I go through with my companion and I am supposed to be ready to train at the end of 12 weeks

4:00-9:00:Appointments/Finding/Dinner Appointments

9:00-9:30: Dailiy Planning

9:30-1030: Prepare for Bed

10:30: bed

So this week....we had another baptism in our ward. We have 6 missionaries in our ward and the District Leader and his companion found a cute little Philipino lady this week....taught her everything this week...and she was baptized on Saturday. It was really a miracle. Her name is Sara and she returns to the philipines this week. She wanted to be baptised before she went home and so it was approved. It was SO COOL to see that!!

I extended my first baptisimal invitaion to our only investigator this week. She accepted and we are working toward January 26 for her to be baptised. She came to church this Sunday and she is already loving it. It is so cool to see how much our Heavenly Father really does prepare people to hear the gospel and helps us to find those who are ready. Everything we teach her she just knows and feels is true!!! It really is a blessing.

I am using my Spanish skills here....who would have thunk? We have a family that we are teaching from the Dominican Republic so I am learning and speaking Dutch and Spanish at the same time. I guess that really isn't abnormal. Elder Andrews learned French here as well as Dutch...there are a lot of people who are from other places that live here in the Netherlands. That makes it really cool and also really hard to communicate. Next...I need to learn Polish because we run into a ton of polish people here who don't speak English or Dutch.

I met Zuster Stout yesterday!! I already LOVE her!!! She is SO funny and she really just made me feel welcome into the mission. Actually, earlier this week she randomly called us here in Den Haag on a day that I was really having a hard time and made me feel so much better. I love Sister Stout!!! I hope that I am able to serve with her before she heads back to the United States!! (There is a picture of me, her and her companion Zuster Rigdon attached)

I also have a picture of our laundry. I was really sad because I came here and we have a washer...but no we have to hang everything up. I thought you would like to know. I do loads of laundry many times during the week so that I can keep up and have dry clothes. And mom, I wear my other skirts too. It's's really cold here right now so it is nicer to have longer ones to that I don't die. But I have biked with every type of skirt I have here and they all work. Also...I haven't taken very many pictures....I'm still trying to get into the swing of things and I forget all of the time. But I promise...I don't wear those very often.

I a really loving it here. It is so hard to learn a new language but I am holding up alright. It gets better and better every day!! Jake, I think my English is getting better because I don't have ea foreign companion so we still speak Dutch...but when we speak English it is real English!!

I love being a missionary and I love it here in the Netherlands!! I can't wait to talk to you soon!! I hope you have a great week!!! Keep me updated!!

Zuster Israelsen

P.S. We have arranged to skype at the senior couples home here in Den Haag. I will be skyping at 7 pm my time which is 11 am your time. I think I am just going to use their account so I know that it works from here in the Netherlands.. If you can send me the account name you will be using. I get to email before I skype on Monday (my pday) and Christmas is Tuesday. So I can add you. Have the computer open and signed in a little early. I have an hour to skype that day!!

I need to think about where the kindle charger is....and I didn't have any problems with it so I hope you can get it fixed. Look in my backpack....under my window sear.


Sunday, December 16, 2012



It feels like forever since I have been able to talk to you!! I hope everyone is doing well and that there hasn't been anything really crazy that has happened in Colorado in the last week. Mom, I saw Sister Robinson yesterday and she told me the story about you not hearing anything. The President asked that we not contact our families until P-Day because it costs 2 euros an hour to email for the he told us he would get a hold of you. I guess there was a little bit of confusion because I thought he was going to e-mail you....when in reality he was just going to post on the blog. So I'm sorry if you thought that something horrible had happened to me. I promise I am here and I am safe and sound.

I AM FINALLY IN THE NETHERLANDS!!!! I can't tell you how cool it is to actually be in the country I have been trying to picture everyday of my life for the last 6 or so months.

My first day, it was really crazy. We were all really super tired but we had to make it through a day of excitement before we were allowed to sleep. When we came off of the plane we had to find our way around the airport and the only thing I remember is that everyone was speaking some really weird language that I was sure that I had never heard in my entire life. When we finally got through customs and got our luggage, we found President and Sister Robinson along with the assistants to the President. We asked what was going on....and I remember Sister Juchau asking what everyone was speaking around us.....President just giggled and said, "Sister, that's Dutch." Now I really know how Elder Calhoun felt when he said,"Elder, that ain't the language they taught me in the MTC." It really isn't. In the MTC, everyone has the same accent and we talk really slowly. Here, everywhere you go, there is a different accent. Even people in Delft have a different accent than those in Den Haag....let's just say that church this Sunday was interesting. The first thing we had to do was go to the mission office and start filling out paperwork so that we could become legal here in the Netherlands. That took a really long time....ok, maybe only like an hour but it was crazy. We then had a meeting with the government official in Leiden(where the mission office is) and we signed into the country. It was pretty fun....but also really stressful becasue it was all in Dutch. Ok, really, everything here is in Dutch....and I have to get used to it or something :D. Then, we went to the delicious restaurant with the pannekoeken. OH MY GOODNESS!! I knew that there was a reason I suffered through the MTC was to get here. The Dutch food is SO good!! Words cannont explain how amazing the food is here. It is so cool because our ward is full of people who are not from the Netherlands, but all sorts of different places. We have at least one eating appointment a day. But two days this week we had 3 in a row. The ward is really really generous and so cool!! My favorite member so far is Sister Mule. She is from Fiji and she has been here for 5 years. She only speaks English(so we really get along) But she is also so very funny!! It was the coolest thing to see her at church on Sunday because people would say something to her in Dutch and she would do her best to respond in a Dutch accent. It's pretty funny. I can't really explain it, but on Christmas I will let you hear what her mock Dutch accent sounds like. We then spent the rest of the day in the mission home. We had dinner, a testimony meeting and opened up our first area calls for our mission(GO DEN HAAG!!!) The next day I met my trainer, and we traveled to Den Haag. I found out that I have a lot to learn...mostly with the public trasportation and biking here in the Netherlands. The first time on a tram....I got separated from my companion. They have these things called OV-chipkards that you have to sign in and out when you get on and off the tram or else you have to pay a huge fine. And so...she didn't remind me, I got distracted...and then came the moment that we had to get off of the tram....and I couldn't find my chip to get off. It was a little ridiculous. But I survived.

I also learned that biking's not like biking in America. My first day here....we only had one bike and we were white-washing Den Haag(which means both I and my companion are new to the area...she has never served in this area) so we didn't know where to go to get a bike. My companion told me that I had to 'achter-op'. That means that you have to sit on the back of someone's bike while they ride it. Sonds easy enough right? The answer is is ridiculous. There is this timing thing that you have to get down. You have to wait until they get going....then you have to slide on(not jump) and then balance yourself on the bike. The thing is.....I can't do it. We have to practice today while I can wear pants....but yeah. I have to learn because if there are ever problems with our bikes that is what we have to do. We definitely crashed our first time trying to 'achterop'. Also, if you think that the bike paths are good in Colorado, you are mistaken. They have a whole marking system on their streets. One for cars, one for bikes, and one for pedestrians. Each one has stop lights and it is really intricate. It is crazyness!!! I am still trying to get used to riding a bike in a skirt, following the markings on the road, and the cold weather with a lot of rain!!! I'll get the hang of it here soon though(I hope) I saw a family the other day. A mom had five children on her bike achterop-ing. Please don't ask me how they do it. I have no idea. It really is amazing!! I will be sending a picture as soon as I get one. (I kind of forgot about my camera this last week.)

The culture is definitely different here. I have a lot to learn. My trainer, her name is Sister Neilsen, she tells me somthing everyday that I need to change so that I don't look like an American. It's probably a good thing I have her around because otherwise I would look like a little tourist for the rest of my life here. My first area is Den Haag. Our area is really, Really big. We have 4 other elders in our city and we cover Den Haag as well as the surrounding cities like Delft(don't worry mom....I will be going to the Delft china place soon and I will get something cool....that you will be able to see) Den Haag is the third largest city in the Netherlands and it is where Parliment and Royalty reside and work. It is super cool. The architecture here is unbelieveable!!! Every single building is different. And the huge skyscrapers in the city are so cool!!! I love just being able to look around and see the history of the place and also how creative all of the buildings are!!

I had my first baptism this Saturday night!!! Her name is Sandra N.(I can't spell her last name) She is from Poland and she is 17 years old. She is seriously one of the coolest people I have ever met before in my life!! Her conversion story is so cool and my goodness, she is just so strong. Half of the ward came to her baptism on Saturday night(that is how supportive this ward is of missionary truly is amazing) and her mother came. The fact that her mother was there really meant a lot to her because her mom wasn't really all that happy that she was being baptized. We met her for the first time on Friday night and we had a dinner with her and a member family (the Scherfs(Bro. Scherf is the ward mission leader)) and then took her to young women's. She really just loves the people of the ward and is already become a missionary. She gave us a referral yesterday for her friend that she wants to hear the gospel. It is really amazing to see how the gospel changes lives and I can't wait to learn more about her as we teach her the new member lessons.

Ok....I did take one picture for you this week. One thing that I find really, Really cool and interesting here is that they use the canals as (kind of what we would call) trailer parks. They have boat houses....that don't look like boats. They are all super nice houses. I just blows me away that people will live in them during the winter because I feel like they would be super cold because fo the water underneath.....but I guess people are used to being cold here. They also stake as much as they can on the canals. It was only cold enough the first few days I was here for that hopefully the ice comes back and I can take pictures of the people skating. They really have a lot of skills when it comes to biking and skating etc. It is really cool to watch.

It rains EVERY SINGLE DAY!!! It really makes doing my hair difficult because I have to bike and try to have nice hair at the same time. And I also found out that the power here was way too powerful for my blow dryer and it kind of killed I will be buying another one today. The power is really powerful here, even with a converter, so everything gets more powerful. It's crazyness!! The power is crazy strong, but the water pressure is horrible. I found out today that we have a tiny water heater that heats on the when we take showers in the morning....we have literally ten drops at a time come out of the faucet. It's a little hard to wash my hair in these circumstances...but I am surviving. I am just happy that I have a shower to enjoy....unlike those who go to weird countries.

The Dutch people are super nice. And they are really appreciative of our efforts to learn their language. One person I talked to on the tram this week told me that it really is remarkable that we are trying because everyone here has to learn English so that they can communicate with the rest of the world and we can just get by with speaking English. So since we are trying a lot of people are willing to talk with us on the street...but not so much let us into their homes. We are working hard, just got ourselves really organized with a lot of really high goals so it should really be an amazing week!!

I love you so much!!! We do get to skype here in a week or so!!! I can't wait to be able to talk to all of you!!

I am having a blast!! It is really hard, especially since I can't speak Dutch yet, but I am just trying to take it day by day and push through!! I know that I will bless my life as well as the lives of so many others by being here on a mission!!! I mean, we are trying to grow another stake here in the Netherlands!!! Only 428 more baptisms to go!!!

Ik hou van jullie!!
Zuster Israeslen

P.S. Mom, my p-day is on a monday so you should probably email saturday or sunday night. There is an 8 hour difference. Also, I need to know when you would like to skype on Christmas. I have heard that we have the ablility to skype for sure at our morning I will find out more but I would like to hear your input!! I love you!!!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Mom Got Desperate and Struck Gold!


Megan flew to the Netherlands on Monday and after checking email all week, I finally got desperate on Saturday and started checking the internet to see if I could find a phone number or email address for the mission home (thank goodness for boolean searches!). I struck it rich and found a blog written by the mission president's wife Zuster Robinson. There were pictures and some information about her arrival on the blog. I was relieved to see her looking so happy and to know that she made it to Belgium. Here is a link to that blog and the post about the new missionaries.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Thanksgiving with Elder Holland

Hallo Mijn Geliefde Gezin en Vrienden!

Hoe gaat het met jullie?!?! Ik ben heel goed en ik heb einige vier(4) meer dagen in de MTC!!! GEK!!! Het is belagelijk. Ik heb heel veel dingen ik moet vandaag doen!! Deze week was heel goed en ik ben heel blij dat ik een zendelinge zijn!! In de volgende week, zal ik heel lekker voedsel eten, mischien heb het heel coud, en zal op een fietz elkedaag!! Het zal heel mooi zijn! Hoopelijk ik kan met de mensen in Nederland praten!!

(How are you all? I am very good and I have only four more days here in the MTC. Crazy!! It is ridiculous!!! I have a lot of things I have to do today!! This week was very good and I and very happy that I can be a missionary!! Next week I will eat delicious food, maybe be very cold and will be on a bike every day! It will be a very beautiful thing. Hopefully I can talk with the people in the Netherlands!!)

Thanksgiving here was surprisingly awesome!! :D I was a little bummed that I didn't have my full P-day, but it was totally worth it because we got to do so many cool things. First, Elder Holland came and spoke to all of us missionaries. The first thing that came out of his mouth was that he was adopting all of us on the spot...we had no say in the just happened....sorry family. :D But his whole family came, and he had a few of his grandchildren sing and play piano. It was really cool to meet the Holland family, but my favorite part was when he spoke to us. He taught me that I need to be more grateful for everything in my life. I take it for granted that I have so many things and I don't say thank you to anyone enough for all of my good fortune in life! I think that the one thing I take for granted the most is that I am lucky to be a member of the church, to have been born in the fullness of time to parents who faithfully live the gospel. Think about it. How different would your life be if you had no hope of ever knowing who Heavenly Father is and that he really has a plan for us, to live without the priesthood in your life and be feel guilt at every corner because you don't know how to apply the atonement to your life!! I am truly thankful for everything that my Heavenly Father has blessed me with! This past week I have also gained a real testimony that Heavenly Father does answer our prayers if we are faithfully following His commandments and really pondering and thinking about everything that we need or want to know in our lives!! I have seen it this last week as I get ready to go to the Netherlands. I am so excited and yet so very scared because, let's face it, I can't speak Dutch. I have felt a lot of anxiety and I have really just been freaking myself out, but as I have prayed for strength and help with the language, and I have kept my rigorous study schedule in place and continued to better myself, I saw the Lord bless me in a lesson this week. It was really the answer I needed. I still, to this day, have no idea what in the world came out of my mouth(my teacher/ investigator) was even really surprised. The Lord blessed me with an ability beyond my own to speak the language and to express my testimony the way I have wanted to since I came here. I can't do it right now, nor will I be able to do it tomorrow. But I know that as I continue to try my best and be diligent in my studies everyday, that the Lord will bless me when He really needs my testimony. I am in His service and the only way I can do this is through Him!!

Also, on Thanksgiving, we got to watch 17 Miracles and we were all given popcorn for the movie!! I don't know what it is with me....but I am really not the person to cry in a movie....but every single one of the sisters in our district were almost dying because of the movie. I felt really bad....but I just had to laugh because, I mean, the pioneers went through a lot and all...but it's a movie :D That was really nice to have this week. A day to really be thankful and also be able to sit back a little bit and enjoy the moment. I am sad that I was not able to be at Kris's house and try the new Thanksgiving delights. I have to say, that you have one more Thanksgiving to perfect these delicious food you best get on it :D

We learned the Dutch birthday song!!!! (The real one....I found out that we have been pronouncing it wrong for a very long time....and I will be fixing this when I come home) But here it is....

Er is er een jarig, hoera, hoera!
Dat kan je wel zien dat is hij/zij.
Dat vinden wij allen zo prettig, ja, ja
en daarom zingen wij blij
Hij/zij leven land hoera, hoera
Hij/zij leven lang hoera, hoera
Hij/zij leven lang hoera, hoera
Hij/zij leven lang hoeraaaaaa

Lang zal je leven
Lang zal je leven
Lang zal je leven in de gloria
in de gloria


It is probably really cool and it makes me smile every single day. Since we have learned it...two of our teachers have had birthdays so we have had a lot of opportunity to practice it!!

On Sunday, I got to listen to Elder Brooks Butler sing a song with his cousin in front of the entire MTC!!! It was a beautiful thing!! I really love being able to see him everyday and I love being able to hear his voice and imagine all of my wonderful opera moments with all of my beautiful friends!!!

Also on Sunday, my companion and I got to watch 'Legacy' with a companionship of Elders in our district. My favorite part of the movie(other than remembering all of the times Jake was so upset that we were watching it AGAIN as children) was that Elder King did his best to make sure that we were all still being missionaries and at every single point that someone was going to kiss another person....he covered every single persons eyes. I am still to this day not sure how he managed to help three other people out....but he was. It was extremely funny!!

This week has really been the slowest week that we have had here at the MTC.....I think it is because the real deal is so close, and we are all so ready to go, but it makes having to be in class for 9 hours a day pretty tough. I am not sure if I was ever really excited for anything before.....maybe you have seen this.....but I can't really be quiet about the things that I get really excited for....and maybe people get tired of hearing about it. Yeah...well I may not have ever done th is before...but that is what it happening right now. But our entire district is on the train and every other group of missionaries around us is really tired of us!!

Ok. So here is probably the most ridiculous thing that happened this week. Yesterday, we were getting ready to sing a Christmas hymn. I was taking forever to find my hymn book and everyone else started singing. It was a wonderful rendition of 'Joy to the World' in Dutch.....but as I turned to the hymn....I realized that something was so very, very wrong. Zuster Juchau....bless her little heart...tried so hard to get everyone started that she didn't look at the music....and everything fell apart when they reached the lyric "Gloria".....It was a crash and burn as everyone started to give her an evil glare and then proceed to sing 'Angels we have heard on High' directly afterward. It was really funny and also sad because everyone now makes fun of her every single day!!

Ok, so I am now going to bear my testimony in that in the can see how much better my Dutch is getting :D

Ik weet dat de Kerk van Jezus Chrisus van de Heiligen der Laatste Dagen waar is. Ik hou van deze kerk en weet niet waar ik nieuw zouden zijn als ik niet deze kerk en evangelie in mijn leven had. Ik geloof dat Joseph Smith een profeet was. En dat door hem, onze Hemelse Vader hersteld de volheid van het evangelie. Ik ben heel dankbaar dat ik de gelegenheid heb om het evangelie te leren en te houden. Ik geloof dat door Jezus Christus we naar God kunnen terugkeren. God heeft een plan opgesteld waarmee we naar hem kunnen terugkeren. Jezus Christus staat centraal in deze plan. Hij heeft voor ons gestorven. En door zijn lijden, we kunnen van onze eigen zonden bevrijd!! Ik dank mijn Hemelse Vader voor zijn plan. Zonden zijn plan, wij kunnen geen gelluk in onze leven hebben! Ik zeggen deze dingen, in de naam van Jezus Christus, Amen.

Ik hou van jullie!!! Jullie zijn heel geweldig!! De naast keer it zal tot jullie schrijven, ik zal in Nederland zijn!!(the next time I write to you, I will be in the Netherlands!!!)

Zuster Israelsen

P.S. Mom, I have to buy a calling card today...and I am not sure how many calls I get in each call. I might just buy two so that I can call my siblings....but I don't know where they are going to be and what they are going to be doing. I would like to talk to them if I can...but I also get to call home on Christmas....we may even be able to you should start figuring out that camera thing. Let me know if they are going to have time to talk on Monday. If not...I can just send my love through letters and talk to everyone on Christmas!! You are wonderful...and I just got a slip for a I hope it is from you!!! I love you and I can't wait to talk to you on Monday!!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

November 22, 2012

Hallo Mijn Geliefde Familie en Vrienden!!!

Gellukig Thanksgiving!!! I hope all of you are eating a ton of delicious turkey, real pie and are having a wonderful time with your families. I love Thanksgiving!!! It is a beautiful time for us to be grateful for the things that we have been so graciously given from the Lord!! I am so thankful for the opportunity He has given me to serve a mission, the ability He has given me to learn a language and be able to pick up faster on it than I have ever picked up anything before in my entire life, and I am grateful for the amazing people He has given me in my life to help me to get to where I am today!!!

Family, I am so grateful for you!!! I hope you have had an amazing trip to Utah. I hope Jake had fun taking the ACT again!! I also hope everyone had a fun time in the car!! Ik hou van jullie heel veel!!! Jullie zijn mijn lieflings mensen in de gehele wereld!! Dankjeveel!! Jullie hebben alles voor mij gedaan!! Ik ben heel dankbaar voor jullie en mijn leven is heel mooi omdat jullie in mijn leven zijn!!

Ok, so an update on this week. To be honest, it is getting to the point that when I return to my room at night I can't really remember what has happened that day because the days are always the same here. I mean, we do the exact same thing everyday....every week....and the only thing that is different are the funny things that my district and I end up doing throughout the day....but I'm getting old and can't always remember! THANKSGIVING!!! And it is also supposed to be my P-Day(notice the key word...supposed) I do not have a P-day this week because it is Thanksgiving. They didn't change our schedules so we just don't get the time to go to the temple or anything else(really naps are great!!) So, because of this, I am currently in the laundry room and have been for about an hour and a half. We had to get up extremely early to be able to get our laundry done. yes mom, I sacrificed sleep so that I could smell good and be presentable, please be proud of me!! But I am really excited for the things they have planned for us today. They have an apostle coming to speak to us, we are doing a service project with a Muslim organization, and we get a 'Thanksgiving Dinner'. It really will be a great day!!

I have learned this week that I am very stubborn. (ok, I knew this before....but it really hit home this week for some reason) I have learned that in order to have a good relationship with someone and be able to spend all day with have to let them be right some of the time!! I really had to focus on that this week. It is especially hard when your schedule and life basically depend on the other person, but you have to trust that somehow they have made it this far in life and that they can make right decisions(even if it is just when we end up going to the international office during the day!!) It really is a very big thing that I have to learn and I have noticed a difference in my companionship because I have tried to be more polite and let her make decisions without me fighting her on what is going on. She is happier, I am happier and things are really starting to pick up within our companionship!! I have realized that this is probably a really good thing for me to learn now so that I can have a happy family in the future....I guess the Lord has a plan for everything.

This last week, my friend Sister Chelsea Shumway came into the MTC!! I literally see her everyday because her classroom is in my hallway, she has my same schedule, and she lives down the hall!! It is an amazing thing to see the difference between our first week here in the MTC and now. I feel like I have grown up a lot here and have learned so much. As I have been around Sister Shumway, I have been reminded of the most frustrating time in my life, the first week as a missionary. There are so many things to worry about. A language? am I reaching right? what is going on here!!! It really is a little ridiculous but it is a rewarding experience and I wouldn't trade it for anything in the world!!

Our new Dutchie is really great. His name is Elder Endicot and he is from Hooper, UT. He went to Utah State for a year before coming out here. so now I am no longer the lone Aggie!!! We were supposed to get two....but one didn't we have one!! He is really overwhelmed!! But my favorite thing that we get to do with him during the week is he writes sentences of things that he wants to be able to say to his investigators and we get an opportunity to correct him and to explain to him why things are the way they are in Dutch. I love it because I am able to learn exactly where I am with the language and what I have really mastered and the things that I still need to work on!! It really has helped me to set new goals and get better at studying!!

One frustrating thing about this week though, is that there are way too many people here in the MTC....there is no way to really play volleyball or anything here because there are literally 20 people in line on every court. I have actually started running laps(I know....shocking!!) But it is true. I have found that I feel a lot better(especially my tummy and this with this MTC food) when I do this. So even though I hate running....I do it anyway!! I hope that biking will have the same result in the Netherlands...but we will see.

Ok, so the most exciting part of my week came yesterday!!! WE RECEIVED OUR FLIGHT PLANS!!!! I am really going to the Netherlands!!! AHHHHHHH!!! I am so excited!!! With this amazing event, we were also told that our last English endowment session would be this next week and that when we are allowed to go to the temple in Den Hague...we will be doing our sessions in Dutch!! Crazy, Right?!?! But really exciting. It also made me realize that I actually have to pack and get ready to travel....again. But such is the life of a missionary. Ok, here are my flight plans:

We leave Salt Lake at 11:11 AM on December 3,
land in Detroit at 4:42 PM.
We then have a 2 ish hour layover and leave Detroit at 6:10 PM...and
arrive in the NETHERLANDS at 8:05 the morning of December 4.

We get an opportunity to call home sometime during that day. I have two options family, so communication is necessary. I have that morning....I think, as long as security is quick, around 9 or 9:30 until I fly out....or during my layover in Detroit. I just have this feeling that we really need to try for the morning option just in case my flight is late or there are reasons that I have to run from one gate to the next in Detroit...but dad, you let me know. We could even talk twice if we needed to. We are technically allowed an hour to talk to our if we need to split it up, we can. I was thinking I would call you quickly in Detroit anyway to let you know that I have made it!! I would really like everyone to be there so that I can talk to everyone!!! So, yeah...communication :D

We had our last TRC last week and I met my second cousin. Remember how Grandma Anderson kept saying that I had a cousin in the mission? Well....I did but he came home 3 weeks ago. He went and talked to Grandpa Israelsen and came to the TRC just to meet me!! It was a really amazing experience. He said,"Zuster Israelsen, I really love the people in the Netherlands. Work hard for me and learn to love them as I do!!" And I intend to do that!! If you have an opportunity to talk to Matt J. He is an amazing second cousin and I am so happy that I had the opportunity to meet him and to serve in the same mission as he did!!

We learned the ABC's in Dutch this week!! (like the song ok :D) The alphabet part looks the same..but is pronounced differently. Here it is:

A B C D E F G, H I J K L M N O P, Q R S T U V W, X Y Z doen ook nog mee, Als je goed hebt opgelet, ken je nu het alfabet!!!

This next week we are going to learn the whole birthday song!! And when I come home we can really sing our Dutch birthday song!!! I can't wait!!!

I love being a missionary, and most of all I really love Dutch. As hard as it is to learn a different language, I still love it. I am beginning to think in Dutch and answer to people who don't even speak the language in Dutch!! I really am thankful that the Lord has given me this opportunity and I can't wait to spend the rest of my life being able to learn Dutch and speak with people that I wouldn't be able to communicate with without the blessing of a language!! Ik HOU van het Nederlands!!! Ik HOU van zendelingen werk!! Ik HOU van het evangelie!!

Ik HOU van jullie!!! Ik heb een meer week in de MTC!!! Yahoo!!!

Keep the letters coming!!! I love all of you so much!!!

Zuster Israelsen

Thursday, November 15, 2012



This week has been quite an adventure. I have done and learned so much it is crazy!!! I love all of the time that I get to spend learning the gospel!! There really is so much to learn and I have found that I am learning more than I ever have in the past. Part of it is that I am studying more gospel doctrine on a regular basis that I have in the past but it is also because we try to study for our investigators. It's like I take a new outlook on things. I begin to have their same questions and then my study is way more enlightening because I am not learning the gospel as it relates to the beautifully amazing Zuster Israelsen, but I am learning it through others eyes!!! It's pretty much extremely awesome!!

So this week I received my mission t-shirt. Our entire district ordered them(and they were only like $8 mom :D) But they have the flag of the country we are going to on them as well as some information. It's really cool cause (well in Dutch it says) The Netherlands: land of the tulips. Yeah, it is a beautiful thing!!! And I wear it to bed every night to give me hope of actually getting to the country someday!!! Which, by the way, only 19 more days!!!! (Yes everyone(especially Allysa) the countdown is back!!!)

Oh, the doctors can't figure out what is wrong with Zuster Nogueira, and she hasn't fainted for a I think that they have given her permission to keep her call....but now it is up to the priesthood to make the we are still waiting.

My favorite part of my day, well besides bed time at the very end of the day, is being able to see Elder Brooks Butler. I see him every single day...and we have yet to take a picture together.....but we will make it happen. It is always an interesting meeting when we do see each other. Because neither one of us will speak in English. I speak in Dutch and my companion(or another Dutchie) translates for me and he speaks whatever crazy language he is speaking (I can never remember the name) and his companion has to translate for him. It's probably the best thing I have ever seen in my life!!! It is too much fun to speak in Dutch. One of our teachers told us the other day that the Germans consider Dutch a dirty language and sometime after World War 2 the Dutch started to spit more as they talked(mostly with the gutteral sounds) just to rub it into the Germans faces.....or more for the Germans to FEEL the dirtyness of Dutch :D I have a feeling I am really going to get along with the Dutch people :D

This week, one of the Elder's moms sent each and every single one of us a package. It was so cute. And the beehives in her ward helped her out. It was so nice and she sent us a real lunch in the packages(well was still sack...but better than MTC food) and it was delicious!!! Go Elder Muse and his mom!!! ALSO, my favorite package arrived yesterday!!! Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!!! For the package with the fiber one bars and the fruit snacks!!! Now I can have food that I know I won't regret later. I even had a Fiber one bar today for breakfast!!! Delightful!!!

On Friday, we had TRC again. And there was this ridiculous snowstorm so many of the volunteers could not come. So we had appointments with three companionships in a room...which was a little weird. BUT Sean Lundgren was there. The great thing is, is that this summer when he would speak to me in Dutch I couldn't understand a word. But now, he can't do anything about it!!! I am just that good :D I can even pick up better on his sarcasm in Dutch!! Yes, my life as I know it is changing!!

So, here at the MTC, there are a lot of things that are new and crazy that are thrown at you that can get you down. I have found that in recent weeks I have been focusing a little too much on the negatives like, "I can't speak Dutch, I feel like I don't know the gospel at all" And you have many opportunities to compare yourself and sometimes lack of progress with other missionaries. I cam to the conclusion that this was not the way to live life. Life is supposed to be happy. I am supposed to be here to serve the Lord, but also, isn't this a gospel of happiness? How am I supposed to proclaim the gospel of happiness if I am not happy myself? I came to a conclusion, and mom I am sure you will be happy about this because your influence really has rubbed off on me, but I have been writing down every single good thing that happens to me within a day. Whether it is that there was just enough chulula sauce left for my breakfast potatoes to me learning and mastering a principle of the Dutch language. I have really seen the change in my life. I am happier, and I am more willing to accept the Lord's timeline (especially with the Dutch)

One of the great things that happened this week was during gym. Now, the field is closed because I guess there is snow.....but I'm not sure i belive them because I can't go and actually see for myself....I guess I am going to have to have faith. But because the field is closed everyone during our gym time is in the gym. There are a billion people who like to play volleyball(myself included) so there is a little bit of a rotation line. This last week the Elders started having this push-up/sit-up/wall sit competition. I was reserved for the Elders in our district but I gladly inserted myself into said competition. The Elders still don't understand how I can do real man push-ups and keep up with a few of them as we continue to strengthen our upper body. Elder Liang said,"Sister are a beast....I mean...I know you are a girl and all...ok you are a womanly beast" That was the best compliment yet because it reminds me of what Jake would say. :D

We finally got new sisters into our zone!!! They are all English speaking and two of them are going to Salt Lake South and two are going somewhere in California.....It is a beautiful thing to have new sister faces around, more sisters we know in Relief Society, and not only four sisters in sacrament meeting!!! I love them all and we get to leave on the same week....I think.

I also had to say a very hard goodbye this week. Sister Kat Harward left for Italy!!! It was so sad to see her go!!! It was probably my favorite thing to see her beautiful face, share inside jokes and just be friends!!! She left on Tuesday and I told her she had to be safe and that hopefully we could write each other for the rest of this adventure!!! But I also got to say a very happy hello to Sister Chelsea Shumway. She is going to Norway and guess what?!?!? The Norwegians have the same exact schedule as I do and they reside just down the hall!!! I am so glad that I will continue to have friends here at the MTC and I hope to be able to support her the way that Sister Kat Harward supported me!!!

Ok, I know I kept talking about the Cream Soda tree before my mission and that I was so excited to go and see if it really exsisted. And I am here to tell you folks....that it does!!! It is a real thing!!! The Elders in my district and I went to the bookstore and bought a cream soda, took it to the tree that everyone always points at and compared the smell of the tree. We have three different people do it, and everyone knows that by the word of two or three witnesses shall the word be established. So it is real!!! I just thought you would like to know!!

Also, I figured out how to get all of the conference talks online in Dutch and I can also listen to them in Dutch. It is really helping my accent to come along(so I don't sound like Elder Calhoun when I get to the field) and it is super cool to see how much I actually understand already!!! I can read in Dutch!!! (well at least modern Dutch....we are still working on the scriptures) But if you would like to hear what I am going to sound like when I come home....just go onto to, find the liitle world at the top and select 'Nederlands' It's a great experience!!

I am loving being on a mission. I am learning how to exercise faith and trust in the Lord to help me when I am in need and I am just loving it!!! This experience is going to helpme for the rest of my life and I am so grateful that the Lord has given me this opportunity. I am so grateful that He trusts me enough to go out into the world and represent Him!! I LOVE THIS GOSPEL!!



Zuster Israelsen

November 8, 2012


I have officially been in the MTC for more than a month!!! CRAZYNESS!!! I am so ready to get out of here though. (Not because I am fluent in the language by any means....) BUT I am a little tired of doing the same thing everyday. So now....just 4 more weeks until I freeze to death in the Netherlands!!

So this last week, they forced us to move rooms. It was rude. Apparently there were problems with the fire alarms on our floor.....but I think it was because they wanted to make it absolutely impossible for sisters to get a shower in the morning. It is literally a race to the bathroom every morning here in this new building. Unfortunately I have a problem with the getting out of bed before 6:00 I usually end up waiting for a shower. Now I really understand how annoying it is when you have people taking 20 minute showers (sorry mom and dad! I promise I will be better) This also became a huge problem this week because, as a district, we set our new goals for the week. We have been having a really hard time getting everyone into the classroom at 7:00 in the morning like we have been asked to do. (Let me just say that the Elders are always there after the we totally win!!) But we made a goal for everyone to get into the classroom at 7:00....the only problem that we have done that before and it hasn't worked. So this time....we decided to add a punishment to anyone who is in the classroom after 7:00(according to Elder Jex's atomic watch) That punishment is known as the CRACKED WHEAT FIASCO!!! Yeah....if you are late in the have to eat cracked wheat, and only cracked wheat for breakfast. Some would say,"Oh, that's not that bad....all you have to do is put brown suger in it." My friends, it is that bad. Even with the brown sugar, it is that bad. BUT we can't have brown sugar with it either. I WILL NOT be eating cracked wheat at any time in my life. It is all of the sisters have been getting up at 5:30 to make sure that we get there on time!!

Also, I asked Sister Juchau where her dad served....and also his first name but I can't remember that off of the top of my head. He served in I don't know if Uncle Steve served with him but she is writing home to see if someone she is closely related to knows Uncle Steve.

This last week we had TRC again. I love TRC. This week we taught Sister Hoole(yes she is Elder Hoole's vrouw!!) She was super nice and spoke a lot more Dutch than her husband. I really like these experiences where you get to meet people who are actually from the Netherlands and you get to learn how nice and understanding they are. And also how much they want to help you. I also got to teach Brother Kromenhoek. This man is notorious for mumbling and absolutely no missionary can understand what in the world he was when we found out we had him....we were really scared. BUT I felt super cool because I understood almost every word he had to say (I think it is because I am used to listening to Sister Raun....she mumbles a lot) and we had a great lesson!!! I look for Sean Lundgren every week at the TRC....but I haven't seen him yet. should get Sister Lundgren on that :D

Our teacher, Broeder Robinson, had this really sweet activity for us this last week. There are so many weird rules in the Dutch of them being whether or not you use 'zijn' or 'hebben' in a past tense conversation and we can't seem to remember which verbs go where. So, he came up with a song, with actions, that we all had to get up and do by ourselves. It goes like this:

zijn gestorven

zijn geworden

zijn gelopen

zijn geweest

zijn gegaan


zijn gefiest

zijn gekomen

And yes...everyone who knows me, knows I have a competitive side! We made it into a competition. We timed ourselves to see who could say the words and do the actions in the fastest amount of time. Unfortunately....there is walking and sitting and things that aren't very easy to do in a skirt required so the sisters haven't quite figured it out yet. But I hold the record for the sisters with 4.0 seconds and Broeder Robinson holds the male record at 2.8 seconds. (But he speaks Dutch people!!! Don't be dissapointed in me yet!!)

I had my first mission conference this last week. It was super cool. I have started to learn more about how the spirit speaks to me to let me know what it is the Lord has to tell me with reguards to a lot of things in my life as a missionary and beyond. I noticed this last week that I was listening the the talks that were given, I really was, but when we had our reviews as a district I did not have anything similar written down as the rest of the district!! Ever since I have realized this, I have tried to go into the meeting with ears for the spirit. I have learned so much more through him than I ever will by listening and taking maticulous notes on a million talks. I have realized that while I haev been here, there are a lot of expectations. And it seems like everywhere you turn, there is something or someone there reminding you of all of the things you need to do in your life, of all of the things you need to change. The problem starts when you have an expectation of yourself to be perfect(*guilty) and feel like you need to change everything at once. But as you listen to the spirit you learn that there is only one thing you can focus on at a time. You can only learn line upon line. That's why we attend the temple throughout our life, that is why we go to church every week, that is why we study our scriptures(and Dutch) everyday. Because we can't learn everything at once and we can't expect that of ourselves. That has helped me a lot this week as I have really focused on learning about one aspect of the gospel for myself and focusing on one thing the the language that I want to master by the end of the week.

My Denver North Elders left me this week. That was really, extremely sad because I got along really well with them and also....they were really good at volleyball and they liked having me on their team(that made me feel cool!!) So momma, if you see an Elder Wiggins or and Elder Flemming, say HI for me and feed them some really good food :D Also, they really like deep, dirty secrets you can get about the mission president(don't worry President Toombs....I didn't have any) just a warning though. :D

This week we had to become investigators ourselves. We all now have three progressing investigators and we are teaching another missionary. It is really cool because we are getting more practice with the language, but also, we get to kind of feel what it is like to be an investigator in the church. I have learned more about teaching by being the investigator and seeing what techniques really work to help me learn the gospel for myself and not just having someone tell me about it. I related this back to my lifeguarding bear with me for a minute :D

When a little kid is drowning in the deep end, as a lifeguard, I don't stand up and point and tell them what they must do in order to get to safety. I am not there to yell at them and demand that they go there in order to be saved. Rather, I jump in with them. I go where they are and we get to the wall together. This is how the gospel should be taught. It is not me telling them everything that is a part of the gospel, but rather, it requires me to jump in to where they are. Try to see how they feel and we experience the gospel together to help both of us get to the wall safely.

So....this is probably the best thing that happened to me this week. We have a new district of Dutchies coming in next week and the Elders decided that they wanted to scare them half-to-death(as if the fact that their teachers are only going to speak to them in Dutch isn't scary enough) But they have begun to write a RAP in Dutch that they will perform for the new district. Our entire district is involved in this whole process. There are actions, We though a couple *Woorde*'s out there(translates into WORD for those of you who don't speak Dutch :D) It is probably the best thing of my entire life!!! Rachel, it seems I will be making the NMN Rap record before you get there....sorry. You snooze, you lose :D

I love you all!!! Keep writing!! If you don't, I will surely be one of those awkward missionaries that no one wants to talk to when they get home :D

Ik hou van jullie!!! Jullie zijn geweldig en mooi!!!!

Tot Ziens,

Zuster Israelsen

P.S. Mom, I can't get pictures through DearElder....and I got a short email from you today...or someday.....I am not sure waroom it did not work....but I would really like some hard copies so that I can see your beautiful faces everyday instead of just when I can get on the computer. Also....can I get one of those pretty family pictures we took.....or something :D..... that would be beautiful.

For Christmas....I am not sure what I want to do. I have a bit of room in my suitcases...I found that out because of my moving adventure....but yeah...I don't know what you want to do...

And if you send something this week.....I would really like some fiber one bars....the food here is not making me a happy camper. And also.....I don't know me :D I like food, stamps and things that show your love :D which is everything!!!

Ik hou van jullie!!! I will be sending pictures later today.....and also....I will be writing each of you a look forward to more!!!

Tot Ziens!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

HOI!!! How is my favorite family this fine week?

This week has definitely been filled with adventure. The first exciting thing that has happened is that the new English speaking Elders in our zone are serving in the DENVER NORTH MISSION!!!! That's right. I get to train the little elders all about my wonderful home in Colorado. But apparently....all they want to know about is President and Sister Toombs and also if the members serve good food for dinners. (I told them that my mom was the best cook in the entire state.....PRESSURE!!! :D) I will have a picture for you...hopefully in the next few days. (They aren't very good at remembering our designated picture time every week so I will work on that!)

On my last P-Day, I got to go to the temple. And the coolest thing in my life happened!!!! I was able to do temple work for a Sister from THE NETHERLANDS!!!! Yeah, I'm super cool, and I could actually pronounce her name!!! The temple workers just looked at me....then at the card....and then at me again and simply said,"You're serving in the Netherlands aren't you..." Apparently the Dutch names are some of the hardest for them to pronounce when they are performing the temple ordinances. It was really exciting to be able to experience that!! I have only ever heard, and known one person who has been called to be in Public Affairs. (Yes mom, it's you) I remember thinking that it was a made-up calling when you first got it BUT...I have found out that it is really a world-wide phenomenon. They have missionaries that they call to be public affairs missionaries around the world. There is a couple here in the MTC who are getting ready to be the public affairs missionaries in my mission AND the cooler thing is that they already speak Dutch. I have had a lot of practice with them during meals and have learned a lot of non-gospel vocabulary so that I can speak like a real person when I get out to the country and not just have a 'missionary vocabulary'. They leave today I am very sad. But I also thought it was way cool!!!

Some of you may remember a young lad named Cody Johnson. Yeah, he is finally here in the MTC. I see him around at least once a day! He tries to speak in Spanish while I respond in Dutch(that is the plus side to understanding what he is saying in Spanish....he has no idea what I am saying. I could be telling him that he is funny looking and all he could do is smile and nod :D) We took a map picture but unfortunately I did not have my camera with you should definitely bug his dad to get a copy of it.....or I could try to snag him again...since we have a billion more weeks here.

Every week, we have the opportunity to go to what they call the TRC(don't ask me what that stands for....cause I have no idea) BUT we get to teach members who speak Dutch and practice what it would feel like to be in a members home. This last week was Zuster Nogueira and my first time being able to attend and we were way nervous. We had only ever spoken in Dutch to our teachers and the senior couple....we were ready to be made fun of. But once we stepped inside the first door, we knew we would be ok. We taught Brother Hoole. He is from the Netherlands and came to the United States in 1957. He is a way cool guy and he is super funny. But what is so great about being able to teach him is that he speaks what we call 'Neder-Engels'. He can't remember every word in what he doesn't remember...he just speaks in English. So even if you get lost in a conversation he will throw out an English word and then you can catch right up!! The second person we taught was Sister Christiansen. She served her mission in the Netherlands and she served with Sean Lundgren!! Once she knew where I was from she immediately asked if I knew him and then started talking about all of the crazy things that he did, but also what a great missionary he was. It was pretty cool to have common ground with her....but she was not as nice and did not speak any English...but somehow we managed!!

Zuster Nogueira has fainted four times in the last week. It's getting worse and there are still no answers to what is going on. Everyone is trying to be positive and help her to think that there is no possibility for her to go home or to change her mission.....but she sees right through it. She even said to me the other day that she would rather them tell her now that she was going to be sent home rather than to get her hopes up. It's super hard and they can't really do anything until they find something wrong. She has a heart monitor on right now and it sends the results through a cell phone directly to the cardiologist so hopefull something will come from that so she can have some answers.

Our teacher, Brother Robinson, is pretty much really cool. One of the best moments this week was one night he brought in all of his art to show us. He is trying to get into the graphic design program at BYU and he is way good!!! It was super cool to see how creative people can be and really how talented they are!!! We decided that he has to take a picture of us missionaries and make it into an art project and then hang it up in the MTC because of how beautiful we are. (We are still working on convincing him)

We have come up with different ways to entertain ourselves this last week. We have been giving each other riddles and math problems to try and figure out. Zuster Juchau ALWAYS has issues with figuring them out and it is probably the funniest thing to watch her try to come up with answers. It usually takes her the entire day and it is always at the front of her mind. We have also come up with a competition for everyone to start speaking 100% Dutch. We all must speak in Dutch, and then if we speak in English....we have to add a tally on the board for ourselves....each tally is equivilent to 5 sit-ups and the person with the most tallys at the end of the day gets to wear our dunce cap for 15 minutes the following day. The dunce cap is not very attractive and is definitely incentive to speak in het Nederlands!!

So Halloween was yesterday. I had two friends come into the MTC. Elder Butler and Elder Taylor. I have not seen either one of them but I hope to in the very near future!! But the cool part about yesterday is that every single person in our district got a package with something different for Halloween. Zuster J. got candy bags for everyone, Zuster Raun got pumpkins for everyone to decorate....etc. We had a district Halloween party!!! And we all had the very best costumes because we dressed up as missionaries!! (I know, we are living on the wild side!!!) It was super fun. But we ALSO got a package from the assistants to the president in the Netherlands. They sent us a bunch of cool Dutch-like pamphlets and such but they also sent us STROOP WAFFELS!!!! Yeah, that's right!!! They are delicious and were a beautiful gift (especially since this MTC food is driving us crazy!!)

This last week I was reading in Alma 27:26-30. Being on a mission is rough and sometimes I feel like I am a horrible person because I am frustrated and sad and upset a lot of the time. Partly because I hold myself to a high standard, but also because of how often I miss class and feel as though I am falling behind or that my companion and I are going through rough times. As I read in this scripture I realized that it is ok to feel that way. It is normal to feel that way. But it is how you deal with those feelings is what matters. Satan knows exactly how to push my buttons. He is super mad that I have made the decision to go on a mission because I might touch just on person's life and change their eternal outcome. So the mission is going to be a challenge. Just because I am here in the MTC doesn't mean that Satan can stop working on me but I can, and have chosen to overcome his influence. It is normal to have feelings of doubt and there are going to be trials on my mission (like there were for the sons of Mosiah) But I can do it!!! I am here for a reason!!

Ik hou van jullie!! Jullie zijn heel mooi en heel leuk!!!

I love it when you write me!!! So keep it up!!! are a beautiful thing. PLEASE send me some :D

Tot Ziens!!!! (of tot volgende week :D)

Ik hou van jullie!!


Zuster Israeslen

P.S. Mother. Dankuwel for all of the beautiful things that you sent me this week!!!! I was truly a wonderful occassion to receive everything I had asked for and then some delicious treats!!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! I really love the halloween toys (they definitely keep me entertained!!) And who ever had the idea to put in the fruit snacks is definitely my favorite!!! I have needed some fruit snacks and good tasting food for a while!!! U bent heel mooi!! But for real!!! Thank you!!! I love you!!!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Hello Outside World!!!

It has been another crazy week here at the MTC. Can you believe I am half-way done with my stay here!!!! (Well almost!!!) That is so crazy!!

So I have one thing to say reguarding the whole 'you must wear a skirt thing'. I am so tired of it already!!! I can't believe that I signed up for a year and a half of this crazyness!!! I have decided that I will never be ok with any type of dress-like clothing EVER!!! And I will definitely go back to my jean wearing days as soon as I get home!!!

So, this week the Zusters in our district were talking about the Elders in our district....we decided that each of them can be described as one of the Avengers and they now all have code names. I though you might want to know what my district is like it goes!!

Elder Chantry: Captain America. He is a clean-cut, moral following guy who will fight if he has to to keep the peace...but he would rather not!

Elder King: Black Widow. He is able to manipulate the words of the district to make everything we say fifty times more funny and he also has mad-like flipping and twisting and black widow skills.

Elder Staley: Iron Man. He is smart. Knows he is attractive and is full of himself. (He is still a very nice guy!! Don't get me wrong)

Elder Liang: The Hulk. He is probably the most patient person I have ever known. He puts up with the things that his companion does that aren't quite obedient and continues through life without a word about it. But, we haven't seen him blow yet.....We have a feeling that it is going to be epic!

Elder Jex: Thor. He's just Thor. We see most of his ability to fly and save the world of men in our volleyball games. He has the Thor hammer down pat.

Elder Muse: Hawk Eye. (Now these are Sister Juchau's Words.....not mine) He is useless but attractive.

These Elders are probably some of the funniest, most crazy, and cool Elders I could have asked for!! They are all here for the right reasons and I am so happy that I get to spend 8 hours a day in a classroom with them.

So, Zuster Noguiera and I had a really cool experience the other day. We were in Coaching Missionary study with Brother Wells. We have been having a really tough time being able to teach together and be albe to work off of what the other said. Brother Wells asked us to share our testimony and explain why and how we know everything about a certain topic to each other and then he had us teach him. It was probably the coolest thing ever to see how both of our experiences in life, though they are extremely different, were able to play off of each other and build an environment where the Spirit could truly reside (it was even in Dutch!!!) I am so grateful to have learned this and as Zuster N. and I share our testimonies with each other our companionship is also growing closer than I ever though possible(especially with the language difference).

Zuster N. fainted three times on Monday.....this is getting a little ridiculous. I don't know why the doctors haven't found anything yet because we have been in there for tests almost every single day since we have been here in the MTC. They also keep waiting to make the decision of whether or not she is going to stay on a mission, or if they are going to re-assign her to a mission in the states, or keep her in the BEL-NETH mission. She is getting really tired of this crazyness. She told me yesterday that she would rather know now that she was going to be doing something different than to continue to learn Dutch and then randomly be an English speaking missionary. She is on a heart monitor right now and they want her to faint while she is wearing it so that they can get a more accurate reading. We have spent the last three days either in the clinic all day so that she can sleep while I attempt to teach myself Dutch, or we have been in the hospital meeting a billion new doctors. I guess we will see how it goes but right now it isn't looking very bright.

Our district decided that we were going to have nightly devotionals so that we can have something great to pick us up after long, disappointing days. (Which there are a lot of around here) it is probably my most favorite part of the day because everyone gets to share their testimonies with each other and we have grown a lot closer because of it!! I LOVE my district. They keep me going and help me out even when I have to miss a lot of class. And it is so nice to be able to learn more about them, their families and their testimonies!!!

So, we have investigators here at the MTC. We are teaching two right now. (They are both our teachers acting like investigators that they had on their missions) We have taught a total of 3 lessons combined over the last two weeks because we are never in class BUT, we already have one committed to baptism and we are hopefully teaching again tonight. It's way cool to teach. It's super hard to teach in a language that you still don't really understand, but the best part about it is that you get to learn more about your teachers and see and feel their love for those they taught on their missions. It just makes me even more excited to get into the field so that I can meet people that I will remember for the rest of my life. I am so excited!!

On Sunday, Ann Dibb came and taught Relief Society. (For those of you who don't know, she is President Monson's daughter....yeah, it was a surprise to me too) But she left a few moments at the end of her talk for us to ask any questions that we had about President Monson. One sister asked if there were any rumors that Sister Dibb wanted to clear up about her father. Sister Dibb's response was,"It really bugs me when people say,"I can't believe a man of 80+ years would still dye his hair so that he can try to look professional.' That really bugs me because all of the hair upon his head is still naturally brown. The Prophet does not dye his hair you young sisters!! But I, on the other hand, pay big bucks to keep my natural brown" That was probably the best moment of Sunday. It had us sisters laughing for the rest of the day!!! So just you remember that the Prophet does not dye his hair!!

The food really driving me crazy. It is time for some real chocolate, some homemade rolls, real meat and less grease!!! Don't get me wrong, I am very appreciative of the food that I am given to eat....but I can't wait until I can select the food I want to eat for myself and plan my own meals!!! It will be a glorious day when that happens!!!

I LOVE THE PICTURES THAT EVERYONE SENDS!!! They are probably the best part of my week!!! (Along with the letters!!!) Please keep them coming!!! If you don't, I will end up being one of those awkward missionaries when I come home because no one is keeping me up on the real world!!!

Ik hou van jullie!!!

Zuster Israelsen

P.S. Mom, I am positive that I don't have my USU hoodie.....I looked again. I am pretty sure that I left it in my closet....on one of the shelves. It may be inside out and therefore unidentifiable from a distance, or someone(*cough *cough Rachel) 'accidentally took it' But even if you can't find west side story hoodie...or wicked or really any nice and attractive hoodie you can find would be fabulous(even though I would prefer the USU one :D)

P.P.S. Rachel, als u wilt het Nederlands te translate is niet so goed vor grammatica of zin structure. Mijn lerars lachen weneer zij kijken uw letter en zeide," Dis is niet goed nederlands, maar es heel plezier!!!" Ik hou van u Rachel :D

Ik hou van jullie!! Mijn familie es geveldig!!!