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.