Monday, January 7, 2013

Happy New Year 2013

Hello My Beautiful Family!!!

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!!! Oh my goodness. It was seriously crazy here. Don't worry mom, we were totally safe. But it did sound like World War III was starting just outside our apartment the entire night. It really was a smart thing that we were inside at 4 because that is when it started getting dark and people started to set off their fireworks. And they were HUGE fireworks too!! It was kind of fun to watch those go off the whole night. The coolest part was at midnight because everyone, and every city, set off fireworks. It was literally a fourth of july finale for an hour straight!! It was way cool....and way loud so there was no way to be able to sleep through the whole thing.....but that's ok....maybe when I come home I will be able to catch up on my sleep!!

But what is really strange about here, is that when there is a holiday, it is literally a holiday. Not a single person is out and about. Not a single store is open. There is absolutely NOTHING going on. So our day on January 1 was pretty interesting because we couldn't get in with any members....inactives and there was no one on the street to contact. But we were able to come up with some good ideas for us to work more closely with the ward to be able to do more work through them. And so that we can work with them to a specific goal!! WE are thinking about organizing a church open house. Most people around here don't even know that our church building is a church....because it isn't huge and fancy like all of the other churches here in Europe. And also people are really curious about what really goes on within church, why we go to three hours of church every sunday and why it is so important to us. So right now, that is what we are doing to work with the members so a single goal that we can all succeed at!!

We found a super cool inactive family this week. They are from Pakistan and they are trying really hard to learn English and Dutch. We found out that they are inactive because the husband has school on Sunday and the wife is super scared to try to take their four kids to church on the tram alone. So we are really working with their family to try and help them to come back to church. And they live right next to some really awesome families in our ward who had no idea that they were just down the street! They have four kids and two of them are old enough to be baptized but haven't been yet. The last time we went over to their house this week the 11-year-old told us that she had read two whole chapters in the Book of Mormon. And she asked us if she can be baptized like her parents because she really feels special when she reads the Book of Mormon and that it is familiar to her!! SOO COOL!!! So we are working right now to help her prepare for baptism!!

We also had sister exchanges this week. After this week, I have officially worked with all of the sisters currently in the mission who are not American. This time, I got two of them at a time. Sister Palenikova(from Slovakia), and Sister Omazopia(from Nigeria) came here to Den Haag on exchange. That was probably the scariest day of my entire life because I had to lead everyone around Den Haag. And the hard part about that is, is that I have been so focused on learning the language, getting to know the people and making sure that I don't die on my bike that I haven't been paying a ton of attention to where we are going and what streets we are I had to look at the phone and bike at the same time to get these sisters to all of our appointments. I think that is more dangerous that texting and driving and I plan never to do that again. But somehow we got everywhere safely....there were almost a few biking incidents(mostly because sister omazopia had a bike with back brakes that she wasn't used to) But it was a great day!! I had a ton of fun!!

That day we also learned that Ans has totally given up everything, coffee, tea and alcohol!!! She is truly converted!! I am so excited for her baptism! The ward just loves her and there are so many people planning on coming to her baptism it isn't even funny. What is also way cool, is that we are going to have 4 baptisms in the ward this month!! All of the companionships have really seen some miracles and you can just see how the Lord prepares people to accept his gospel. One of them is even going to be baptized in the ocean....we will see how that goes :D I think it's crazy because the ocean is most likely freezing....but he is going to do it anyway. It will be a cool experience to watch....while I am dry and in five layers of clothing. But actually it hasn't been too cold here. I think it is warmer here than it is in Colorado...which is weird. But all of the Dutch people keep telling me that the coldest part of the winter is in February!! But the sales have started here and we are all going to the huge Den Haag centrum to buy super nice coats and other warm clothes that I will need this winter and also the next one I have to suffer through :D

We are also working with a 7-year-old young lady who is getting baptized this next week. It is kind of weird here, but the familie in the church like to have the missionaries over to teach their kids the lessons so that they can have a little bit more of a one-on-one....I thought that is what FHE is for but it is still cool to be able to work with her and her siblings are really into learning from us it is a really cool experience for their family!! Her name is Phebe Bidjai....actually...she is Jack and Bertie's oldest granddaughter(I think they have a few grandsons that are older). But she is so excited!! And Jack made sure to let me know that we are going to take a huge family picture so that I can send it home for the Israelsens!! Cool Huh!?!? And it is also really cool to see the missionary work Phebe is doing. She has invited all of her friends at school to come to her baptism and a ton of them are coming with their parents!! She is really something else!!

We also met with another less-active sister. Her name is Sister Van der Nat. She is 71 and she had a strok three years ago and since then has been confined to her home. Her daughter just passed away from a stroke and she can't go to her funeral because it is in we went over there and she told us that her favorite things were praying and singing. So I spent 30 minutes singing to her. She was so grateful!! It was so cool!! I am starting to see that the Lord really gave me the ability to sing so that I could give others the opportunity to feel the spirit. Those who are unable to attend church and also active members. Everyone needs an opportunity to feel the spirit and music is a universal language. It doesn't matter if I sing in English or Dutch....everyone can understand it!!

I am bummed that I couldn't send pictures....but for sure next week!!

I love you all!! I hope you continue to have an adventure expecially since you have to go back to school this week!! And Mom, I am praying that you will be able to get a snow day this year :D so let's hope!!

Ik houd van jullie!!!

Zuster Israelsen

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