Monday, March 25, 2013

Lunch in a Castle, Transfers, A First Prayer and I Determine My Happiness!

Hello my Wonderful Family!!

First off, Emily Israelsen....CONGRATULATIONS!!!! You are going to love being a missionary and you are going to have a blast in Chicago!!!

Jake, your butterfly race is AMAZING!!! DUDE!!! You are rocking it!!! How much longer do you have to hit state time? Is it the knome power at work here? I think that may be the secret!! Also, I am so disappointed to hear that you aren't having any issues after getting your wisdon teeth out!! I had such a hard time and it is so not fair that you are mostly ok!! (Don't get me wrong....I am glad that you are ok :D)

Elizabeth, How did your play go? Did you have a party being a pirate? Tell me all about it!!

Rachel, where have you been all of my life? Suddenly you get cast in a one act and I don't matter anymore? :D Please tell me all about your one act....are you a drunk character again? How is school going?

So this week was definitely a crazy one!! Our P-Day was supposed to be full of packing and getting Zuster Hinchcliff ready to enter a scary place called Amsterdam, but it go taken over by us trying to help an investigator receive a blessing. A couple of Elders who live in Apeldoorn let us know of one of their investigators who was having a lot of health problems who wanted a blessing....I thought it was weird that they were contacting us too....until they explained that the investigator was returning to live with her mother in Sliedrecht(which is in our area). So we went through a lot of stress to get two priesthood holders all the way over to her house....but then....we realized that she doesn't speak Dutch...or English....but some sort of random language from the Congo(no, it's not French either) So that was fun. And it just so happens that there is a member in our ward who is from the Congo...and no one could ever figure out what language he spoke....until we called him and he was able to translate all of the stuff for was a crazy Monday. But it was fun too!!

On Tuesday, we had District Meeting. And since it was the last meeting of the transfer, District Leader Shoemaker decided to take us to a castle to have our district lunch together. It was delicious food and it was cool because I got to know the Elders in my district a lot better than I did before. So don't judge, but I had only had one other meeting with all of them so this was like my only chance. It was so fun!! And eating in an old castle....what can get any better than that?!? My district was Elder Hijer, Elder Davis, Elder Ombach, Elder Shoemaker and Zuster Hinchcliff...but now a few people have changed around.

Transfers were ridiculous. We didn't have any members in our ward who were available to help us transport luggage from one place to we ended up having to drag Zuster Hinchcliffs four suitcases, and her bike for an hour and a half to the nearest train station. Don't ask me how she got four suitcases....but she did. I guess you get more stuff the longer you are on a mission(I promise I won't do that!!) And then, we were stuck in Rotterdam Centraal for two hours waiting for all of the missionaries to actually get there. It was snowing hard core, so the trains weren't riding as often and were really unreliable!! Anyway, transfers are a little stressful.

My new companion is Zuster Townsend. She is from Salt Lake City(born and raised) and she is a Star Wars fan. Like, super hard core. I thought I was a Star Wars fan....but no....not compared to Zuster Townsend. I don't even know how to handle it!!

Also, I had to take over Dordrecht. I didn't realize what that entailed until Wednesday....when I had to lead around everywhere the entire day. I still have to lead everywhere because my companion has no idea where she is going. I didn't think that I had any idea where I was going, but I guess I do because we haven't gotten lost yet!! I feel pretty proud of myself. I didn't think that I was going to be able to do it. It is also really hard because, suddenly I am the one who has to make all of the phone calls and find all of the joint teaches....I think that someone is trying to prepare me for the in a month....when I will most likely be training. It is nice to actually know that I can do at least a little bit of it without breaking down!!

Thomas, our investigator, he is just so cool!! This week was a really good week for him. First, he was able to get into the school he really wanted to get into. It is apparently super hard to get in and he was the only one selected from the 300 applicants for this next year. And they are letting him begin now...which is a huge thing!! So, that was pretty cool but the COOLEST THING is, is that he said his first prayer this week!! We asked him what it felt like, and he said it felt like he was talking to a wall....which is understandable....but we assured him that if he would continue to show the Lord that he really wants to build a relationship with Him, that it will start to feel less like talking to a wall and more like a conversation with someone who loves you. He is a super cool kid and is really trying his best to understand everything that we teach and what in the world is going on :D

We had another investigator tell us yesterday that she did not want to meet with us anymore. I never thought that being on a mission would be this hard. You think beforehand of all of the people that you are going to be able to help and all of the members you will be able to help and the growth of the church that will happen. And what you don't realize is that you are going to really, Really love those that you teach. From the very first lesson with them, you begin to be able to feel of Heavenly Father's love for them and that in turn becomes what you feel. And then, this whole agency thing comes into play, and these people you love, who you just want to see happy and progressing to eternity with their families....don't want it, or don't think that it is the right path for them. It really tears you apart. I am beginning to understand how Nephi felt, being able to see that his posterity was not going to follow the ways of the Lord. It is devastating, but there is still hope, a light at the end of the tunnel because the Lord will give His children a second chance. In the case of Nephi, it is the Restoration and in my case, it is me knowing the Plan of Salvation and that we will always have our ability to choose and to learn!!

I determine my happiness, I determine my success and dertermination. This is a principle I have struggled with my entire life. I always thought that others were the cause of why I was unhappy, but I should always be able to rejoice, no matter what is going on around me because I know the truth and I have a hope and something to progress to for eternity!! I love this gospel!!

Here we come up to Easter, and I would like to leave all of you with a thought. First, think about a scar that you have on your body. What comes to mind when you think of this scar? For me, it's a story of running and cracking my head on a brick wall. I remember the people associated with this scar, what I was doing and how I felt when it happened. Then, turn to 1 Nephi 21:16. this is the Lord speaking and he ways to us,"Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me" Our Savior also has scars. These scars remind Him of us. We are able to live again because of the sacrifice that He gave for us, and because He lives again!!! Let us not forget what Easter really means. Remember what the Lord has done for you and the happiness that His sacrifice and atonement brings into your life!!

I love you all!!

I hope that everyone has a wonderful week!!!

Don't have too much fun without me!! :D

Zuster Israelsen

P.S. I don't know if I am going to be able to e-mail next week. We are still trying to figure out stuff but it is second Easter out here and the Dutch take every single holiday seriously....and that means that there will be no stores, libraries or anything open. So we are trying to get something figured out. I will make a way to send you a little something!! :D I love you so much!!!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Lieke, Kinderdijk, FHE, Zone Conference and Baptisms

Hallo Mijn Geweldig Familie!!!

I hoop dat alles goed is en dat iedereen een goede week hebben gehad!! I mis jullie heel veel, maar ik ben blij om hier in Nederland te zijn!! Ik heb heel veel deze week gedaan en ik hoop dat ik kan alles hier op schrijven!! Elizabeth, ik wens je heel veel success met jouw 'pirate play' deze week!! Ik denk dat je zal geweldig zijn!! Jake, goed werk met zwemmen!! Ik vind jouw gezicht in jouw 'chant' heel mooi!! Rachel, ik hoop dat alles goed is met school en dat repetitie is niet TE lang elke dag!! Mum en Pap!! Jullie zijn geweldig!! Dankjewel voor de brieven die je aan me stuuren elke week!! Ik ben heel dankbaar voor hun!! Ik hou van jullie allemaal!!

So, like I said last week. I went to Kinderdijk on Monday!! I love P-Day because I get to do things like that!! I learned a lot about how they develop the land here in the Netherlands. Because, you know....most of it should be underwater. And it's not. At first I thought that it was just magic...but it turns out that I was wrong!! It was way cool to learn how they made the dijks here!! Most of them that are still standing are super from when people first started to live here!! It's crazy!! We also learned that if there is ever a storm more than a category 2, that the Netherlands would be in serious trouble because their dijks are not built for that kind of weather. Anyway....the coolest part was seeing the system that they developed to be able to get the water out of the places that they want to live. They have the Molens, or windmills, and they all have different purposes, but most of them here in Nederland are there for the sould purpose of pumping water out of a certain area. So what they would do, is they would first build a dijk and stop the flow of the main river into the area, then, they would build up three or more layers of land with more dijks and canals and they would place molens there to pump the water from one level or canal to the next until it would eventually be emptied into the main river. I think that it is totally amazing!! We went a little too early to be able to go in a tour a molen from the opens the first of April....but it is still cool!! Most of the molens here are still in operating order and they have people who live beneath them!!! It is super cool and Kinderdijk is amazing because there are like 20 or more in one little area!! I love the Netherlands!!

Also on Monday, we had a super cool dinner appointment. We had an appointment withthe Van Dalin familie(mom, zuster Van Dalin is super cool...and she has a cooking blog where she tries a new recipie every day or so and then reports on it...she is also the public affairs person here and should try to look her up if you can!! Because she is teaching me how to cook Dutch food and all of the recipies are there on her website that I want to have when I get home!!) Anyway, at our appointment, they had invited some of their friends who are non-members to join us. We had a delicious Dutch meal and then we had Family Home Evening together. We were in charge of the lesson and for some reason we felt the need to talk about our body is a tempel. It was a really great lesson and Zuster Van Dalin requested that I sing because she had heard things from the Den Haag I did...and it was a really great experience. The family is now a new set of investigators for the Sijkenisse Elders!! Super cool huh? I thought so!!

I got to go back to Den Haag for a day!!! That was super cool!! It was also really scary because Zuster Raun and I were put on exchanges with each other....the problem is, is that we both speak about the same amount of dutch(like none) and we had four appointments that day all in Dutch!! So that was interesting, but i did get to see Ans Jansen again!! And also Sandra!! My two favorite new members in Den Haag ward!! It was a beautiful thing!! Zuster Raun and I didn't even get lost!! And that is saying something because Den Haag is a big city....and let's be honest....I was really in a fog the entire time I was there and didn't really remember where anything was!! So, that was a cool day!!

We also said goodbye to the Roberts family this week. They are the super cool people who let us live in their house here!! I love them, but they moved back to the United States so that they could be with their family that is there....I guess that is important or something. But I am glad that I am going to be able to see them again when I go home!! They even speak Dutch!! The ward threw a party for them on Wednesday and we had a super cool experience with Thomas that day as well!! We taught him the Plan of Salvation with a bunch of JoVos present. He really love the youth here and is excited to be making friends. But is was super cool to have a lesson with him about the Plan of Salvation because that is what he has had questions about for his whole life. He asked a lot of questions and even got a little emotional because he felt as though we were ansering his questions and calming his fears!! It was a super sweet experience!!

We also had another really cool joint teach this week with the Bishop's wife. I love that woman!! She speaks French and Dutch and English. And our investigoator speaks French. She really was an answer to our prayers!! She helped us out so much!! Her name is Lieke and I have made the decision that one of my children will be named Lieke. One because it is a cool name, and two because if they can be as cool as Lieke Van Wermiskerken....they will get really far in life!! Anyway, we saw a huge miracle with our investigator when she was there. He actually made a real plan to quit smoking and we found out on sunday, that we weren't the only ones following up with him on his progress, but that Lieke had been calling him daily to see how he was doing and how she could help!! So cool!!

We also had Zone Conference this week!! I got to go to Antwerpen!!! (That's in Belgium!!) I got to spend the day with Z. Stout, Z. Juchau, E. Lind, E. Ipsen and E. Pits. Most of whom were in the MTC with me!!(except for Z. Stout!) I love zone conference because you get to learn straight from President and Zuster Robinson what the Lord expects of you and what we can do to become cooler missionaries and more effective servants of the Lord. This time, we talked a lot about becoming personable and being able to relate with people better and quicker!! I loved it!! Also, I love the mission!!

I found out that day that Elder Ombach is one super cool guy!! I will have to send you a picture of him!! The coolest thing about him is his laugh and he is now in my district!! I love getting to know the missionaries in our mission so much!! There are so many cool people in the world!!

Yesterday, we went to Gouda again for another baptism that they had down there. Those two missionaries are rock stars!! But what was cool about it was that we had two investigators come and they both felt something supedr special!! I love baptisms!! The Spirit is always so strong and it helps not only me to be strong, but our investigators to feel what they could potentially feel all of the time, if they make the decision to do so!!

Also, we got transfer calls last night. I am staying here in Dordrecht....but Zuster Hinchcliff has been transferred to Amsterdam. My new companion is going to be Zuster Townsend!! I am so way excited!! Here we go for another ride. I don't have to move now...but in two weeks I do because the Roberts are gone they are kicking us out of the house. much for staying in the same city :D

I love being a misisonary!! It's a lot of hard work but it is definitely worth it!!
I love you all!! Tot volgende week!

Zuster Israelsen

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dad's Bad Advice, Investigators, Biking With An Umbrella and Rotterdam


I hope that everyone has had a great week!! It has been a crazy one here in the Netherlands. The weather is literally driving me crazy!! I have learned how to ride a bike while holding an umbrella!! Yes, I am THAT cool!!! And I haven't done my make-up in a week because as soon as I go outside I just have another shower pour on my there isn't really any point anyway. I know....maybe not the most attractive thing, but better that than a black pool running down my face!!

We had a lot of activities this week that we had to go down to Rotterdam for this week!! One of them was Family Home Evening for the JoVos and it was Elder Van Overbeeks birthday!! They had a party for him, but it was a cool party because they made it a big thing so that the missionaries could invite their investigators to come. He did a great job and made sure that everyone felt welcome. We had four investigators that came!! That was super cool!! But the best part was the spiritual thought that he had for all of us. He had Madeleine and I sing "O my Father" for everyone and he talked about why he made the decision to go on a mission!! That was super cool. The spirit was super strong and out investigators thought that it was an amazing activity. They thought it was great because they were able to see that the LDS people are normal people, that they can have fun but also feel the super strong spirit even when they aren't in the church services!! It was an important experience for me too because I really felt the spirit really strong. It's hard to serve a mission and talk to everyone that you come in contact with, especially when they are mostly very negative. There are a lot of times that you second guess what you know, that you become discouraged, or doubtful. And it is spiritual experiences like this specific activity that remind me of why I made the decision to come out here in the first place. I have a firm testimony of the gospel and I want to share it with others. I know that through the gospel I have become more happy that I could have ever imagined!! It really is a huge blessing in my life!!

District Meeting this week was super cool!! We set super high goals for this transfer!! I think that it is always better to have high goals and do your best to reach them. In Preach my Gospel it says, "If you lower your expectations, your effectiveness will decrease, your desire will weaken, and you will have greater difficulty following the Spirit." Our district has made the decision to have our expectations for ourselves and also our investigators high. If our expectations for our investigators are high, our expectations for ourselves will also increase because we will be doing everything that we can to be able to help them to progress and if we are doing that then we will be able to reach our high goals. We have a goal to contact 1000 JoVos by the end of the month.....and you think that is's not when you are in appointments all day everyday....but we have set our expectation and because of that, we spend every moment that we aren't in an appointment contacting as many people as possible!! Just one example!! So remember, set your expectations high, then it will be easier to work toward your goal and actually make progress!!

As part of our contacting efforts this week, we attempted to sing at people's doorsteps. I remember Dad telling us the stories about his companion that would sing "We thank thee o God for a Prophet" and that every time they managed to get into the door. Dad, I don't believe you anymore......I tried this technique on about 10 doors this specific day....and not a single one of them were pleased. And I am pretty sure that your companion hadn't ever had voice lessons before.....but I could be mistaken......I just thought that it would be a good idea...and it ended up being more of a joke than anything!!

We have seven progressing investigators right now in our lives. So we are pretty much booked solid all of the time!! It's a super cool thing to be busy, but there are some days that I would like to sit down for three minutes. But with one of our investigators we were able to have a super cool appointment with him this week!! President De Jonge(the stake president) he speaks French and so does our investigator. So he came along with us to our appointment and we had a really great lesson and figured out ways to be able to help Sana to quit smoking. He knows that the Book of Mormon is true and he has a desire to be baptized but this one thing is really holding him back!! But it was really great for him to be able to hear a testimony in French and to feel the spirit really strongly in his mother tongue!! It was suepr cool!!

Also, in our contacting efforts, we have found a NEW INVESTIGATOR!!! His hame is Thomas and he is 18 years old. He is cool!! He is studying to be an artist. And not any random type of artist, but one that would work for I guess that would be an animator.....? Ok, I really don't know any more words in English....I guess. So yeah. He is from Belgium and is a super cool kid!! We love his Flams accent and he loves the fact that we teach him interesting things that help him to feel better about himself and what will happen after this life.

Also, I have decided that I have fingers of steel...because my fingers were so strong that I broke through the wires on my bike brakes.....both of them in the same day!! So, I have to fix my bike....and I don't know how to do I am trying to learn how to use tools....Jake, I think that that would be a good thing to learn how to fix everything on your bike so that if you don't have problems or have to pay someone else to do it. Anyway....that is my bike adventures this week!!

Also, we tried to make bread this week....and it didn't kind of exploded in the kitchen and it was crazyness!! But it still tasted I guess that's good!! I should have learned how to do that too....cook.....that would be some good skills to have when I was away from home!!

I love the mission!! And I love being able to see the people here in the Netherlands be changed through the Atonement of Christ. It is a beautiful thing!!

I love you all!! I miss you too!!

Can't wait to hear from you again!!

Tot ziens!!
Zuster Israelsen

Monday, March 4, 2013

Mastering Dutch, Frikandele, and Investigators


Hoe gaat het met jullie?!?!?! Ik moet zeggen dat ik jullie heel veel mis!!! Elke avond kijk ik naar de fotos van jullie en elke keer ik lach!! Wij zijn heel grappig!! Ik hou heel veel van jullie en ik hoop dat jullie veilig en gezond zijn!! Ik hoop ook dat iedereen heel goed in school is!! En dat jullie worden niet TE gek zonder ik!!

That is just a little taste of my Dutch. It's still not perfect but everyone here is really surprised at how much I understand and how much I can speak. I still sound like Elder Calhoun though....because I am more focused on understanding and making sense than what I sound like. Don't you worry!!! I have a goal to have a Dutch accent by the time I come all won't be able to understand my English....and then you will see how ridiculous my life has been!!

I have officially hit my 5 month mark on a mission. Isn't that weird? It feels like just yesterady that I was in the MTC wishing that I would be able to come here to the Netherlands!! Tomorrow....I will have been here in the land for 3 whole months!!! That is CRAZY SAUCE!! But for real!! The time really does move fast....and d-day(aka....when all of the new sisters come into the mission) just keeps getting closer and closer. May 1 here we come!! I am hoping that my Dutch will be good enough to be able to help those coming in to learn and feel comfortable!! I hope that I can also help them to have a blast while here in the Netherlands....because...come on!! We are in the land of the tulips....aren't we?

Doordrecht is SUPER COOL!! It's a lot less busy than Den Haag was but I like the change. I feel like I am going to be able to get to know and work with this ward a lot faster than Den Haag. I feel bad for missionaries in the states because their wards are so HUGE!! That's what Den Haag was like, but active members here in the Den Haag about 50....or so. I love it here though!!

I had a really cool experience this last week. I had my first yorkshire pudding. You might be asking yourself,"What in the world?!?! I thought that you were serving in the Netherlands." Yes, ladies and gentleman....I am indeed serving in the Netherlands. BUT there is this super sweet familie in our wijk. The Van Bieman familie. The husband is Dutch and he runs all of the church financial stuff for Belgium and the Netherlands and his wife is WELSCH!!! Super cool huh?!?! They both served their missions in England(different places at different times) But they met randomly outside of the London,England tempel after their missions!! They are a super cool familie and their kids have Dutch accents when they speak Dutch but Welsch accents when they speak English!! We got to hear a lot of super cool and really hilarious mission stories and we have another dinner appointment with them next week!! We have decided that we love the Van Biemans(even though they have a dog the size of a horse....I am not kidding. I will take a picture next time and then you will see why I was afraid that he was goint to bite my head off!!)

We also live with the coolest JoVos(Young Adults....or jongevolwassenen in Duth) EVER!!! I really love being in a home with them and being able to have someone else to talk to at the end of the day!! They are also super good at coming on joint teach with us!! Especially Madeleine!!! This last week she saved us more than once and she is also making sure that we are eating only the most delicious foods here in Nederland!! This last week she had us try a Frikandele. It's this super huge braught (sp?) with curry, onions and other delicous ingredients on top!! It was super good and it made me really happy because we had forgotten to schedule in dinner that day.....(we have a goal not to do that again this week) Anyway, I really love her so much and I am glad that we are now best friends/roommates!!

We had a special zone training this last week. So, our mission president came into this mission and his way of doing missionary work is to follow the keys of the priesthood. And the men who have the keys over the actual missionary work in the any given area are the Stake President and Bishops. So, our special zone training was to receive the Rotterdam Stake mission plan for this coming year. I think that it is a really cool idea to get the missionaries and ward members to work more with one another. The plan, simply put for the missionaries is: Every member an investigator. We are to go and meet with at least one member a day to build relationships with them and help them to continually build their testimonies. The gospel is a pattern of living that doesn't end after you are baptized, or married or wat dan ook. It is something that should always be a part of our lives, but sometimes we forget about it and we need help to have a continuous living testimony. And the plan for the members is: Every missionary a child of our family. So they are supposed to treat us like their children. It's a cool idea....I don't know how they are going to treat me like their child.....but it is a cool idea. It helps everyone see that they have a role to play in this exciting work of the Lord!! I LOVE MISSIONARY WORK!!

Also, we found an American Candy Store!!! It is a beautiful thing that we have found!! I got some Runts....and the candy man(is now our best friend) is ordering Dr. Pepper for my companion and I...and he is also going to get goldfish(Zuster Hinchcliff really misses them) So that was a way cool find this week!! It made us both so very happy!! I think that I may have to get some Reeses!!! Spannent!!

So, we have a lot of investigators!! But we have two really solid investigators that we are working with! I really just love them!!

One is named Merel. She is super smart!! I am not cool enough to be able to answer her questions. Everytime she reads something....there is something that she has a question about and I don't even know if I could answer them well enough in English to satisfy her needs. But, so here's the cool story, the whole time that we have been meeting with her she hasn't understood why Jezus Christus is so important in everything. She thinks that people really don't put enough emphasis on Heavenly Father. So, when she prays, she prays in the Name of Peace.....BUT this week has been really cool for her. Somehow, we were able to help her see that the baptism she has had was not complete because she didn't receive the Holy Ghost. That was a miracle!! Then, we had an appointment with another investigator and we had been looking for a joint-teach for five days and no one could come, so she volunteered. We were a little afraid, but in this lesson, she prayed in the name of Jezus Christus, and she helped us teach a really powerful word of wisdom lesson!! She bore her testimony and everything!! That was super cool!! But the coolest part of this week was during sacrament meeting, she got us to bear her testimony and she told everyone there that she was finally beginning to realize how important Christus is in her life. And that He is a centraal part of Heavenly Father's plan for us!! It was a week full of miracles with Merel!!

And Sana, the man from the Ivory Coast. We had the word of wisdom lesson with him and Merel this week. He finally admitted to us his problems with the word of wisdom and he told us that he is at a place in his life that he is ready to stop smoking and drinking!! That was a really cool lesson that we had together!! And we made a plan with him to help him to quit so that he can be baptized. So we are putting together service projects every day to get him out of his house!! I love working with Sana!! He is a super cool guy!!

Also, I had my first Fufu ever this week. The Ampems are a family from Ghana and they had me eat this stuff with my hands....and I had to eat the bones was yummy but it was also weird.

Really, I just love being here and able to do the work of the Lord!! It is so amazing to be able to see the difference in the lives of others when they embrace the gospel in their lives!! It is so cool and it helps me to realize that if I continue to better myself through the gospel and do those things that I am asked to do that miracles in my life can happen!! It is a beautiful plan that our Heavenly Father has given to us!!! I LOVE IT!!

I love you all so much and I miss you!!
Take care of each other!!
Tot Volgende Week!!

Zuster Israelsen

P.S. The picture of me and my companion on by the water is when we are actually on the water bus!!! I love the water bus!!

Church in Building used by Nazis in WWII, Apartment in the Attic, Doordrect and Amsterdam

February 25, 2013


I love you guys so much!! I love the opportunity to be able to write to you every week and update you on all of the crazyness that is going on!! It really is the only thing that seperates the days and the weeks because everything just blends together!! This week has been super crazy and I am just loving life as a missionary!!

This week started out with me actually becoming a legal resident here in the Netherlands. I had to pick up my verblijfsvergening, which is my ID so now I don't have to carry my passport around with me all over the place. That is a nice thing because I have been worried about losing that the entire time I have been's a worry of mine. But now, I just have this little card....I might end up losing that easier than my passport, but I guess we will see.

But Pday was super exciting because we got to go to Amsterdam!!! I love Amsterdam!! It is a super cool city!! I thought Den Haag was big, but I walked out of the train station and my breath was taken away. Amsterdam is super pretty. The buildings are really old and it is super cool!! I mean, we were in the nice parts of Amsterdam....I have heard what goes on there. But we went to the Hard Rock Cafe there and it was DELICIOUS!!! It was the first real hamburger I have had since we have come here!! I miss my good old burgers, but It was a beautiful thing to be able to enjoy something normal. We don't really buy meat very much here because it is super expensive so I got the biggest burger that I could afford because I miss my red meat!!

On Monday night, and part of Tuesday I was able to say goodbye to some of the members of the Den Haag ward because I think that they are super cool and they helped me out a lot while I was there in that city!! It was super sad to leave, and we were super busy so I didn't really get a lot of time to pack, so everything just kind of got thrown into my suitcases(one of those things was my camera....and I still have not had enough time to dig it out of my I don't have any pictures this week....I am so sorry!!! I will make it up next week!!) And on Tuesday, we had five different appointments with people that we had finally found!! It took us so long to build up an investigator pool there in Den Haag, so I was sad to leave right when we had people to teach, but I know that the work is still going forward there and that they are going to rock it!!

So, I am now here in Doordrecht. Doordrecht itself, is a super small town. It is the oldest harbor town in the Netherlands and it is super special because it didn't get bombed down in World War II. It is super cool and super cute!! The architechture of the town is so old and it is picture perfect Europe!! We have a super huge church called 'Grote Kerk'. It is super huge and they are restoring it right now, but one of these days we are going to get inside and tour it so I am excited!! Our area is super huge and it is pretty much a lot of little islands seperated by huge huge canals!! The bridges to cross over them are super huge and it is a killer to have to bike up them!! We do it at least five or six times a say!! BUT we found this super cool thing that is called the Water Bus. Pretty much, it is a boat that we can get on and take our bikes and then they take us where we need to go. And it is super cool to be on a boat. Don't worry, it is totally allowed, President actually asked us to use that more than biking on the bridge because the bridge is more dangerous!! So I get a boat ride a few times a day, There aren't very many missionaries who can say that, now are there?

Our living arrangements here are pretty cool. So the Bishop made an apartment for the missionaries in his attic, and now we have three Young Women who are return missionaries who live here with us. First, we have Elizabeth, she is American and her dad was the bishop(he got released on Sunday). She is super cool and served her mission in Greece!! Then, we have Madeleine. She is Dutch and she served her mission in California. She loves musicals and she is helping me to know what Dutch musicals I should look up when I go home!! And then we have Tatiana, she is Russian and served her mission in Russia!! She is super cool! I love all three of the girls, it is a little weird though because I feel like I should just be in college while I am around them, but it really nice to have them around too because they really know this area better than I ever will!!

In Doordrecht, we have a ton of investigators, we have five progressing investigators as well as others on top of that. We are super busy, all of the time!! I love all of the investigators I have met so far, but I haven't even been here long enough to have had a meeting with all of them!! It is super cool to see that change and to learn to love people as soon as you meet them!! I love it!!

Our church building is probably the coolest thing I have ever seen in my entire life. Zuster Hinchcliff and I have decided that this next week, we are going to make a video tour of the building so that we can show you all of the cool things!! But it is a super huge, super old house that the Nazis used in World War II!!! I think it is super cool!! Oh my goodness, it made me so happy to be able to see that!! The bishop took us on a tour yesterday....and they even have vaults in the basement where the kept prisoners of war and things!!! It is super cool!! And it really just makes the whole ward feel more like a family because we meet together in a home!! I love it!!

Yesterday, it was a crazy Sunday, because they called a new bishop in the ward, so I still don't really know who is a real member of the Doordrecht ward because there were a ton of stake leaders and their entire families!! But it was an exciting day at church, in an old historical building!!

Ok, so I know you are going to ask I will now tell you about Zuster Hinchcliff!! She is super cool!! She is from North Carolina. She attends BYU....I am still trying to decide if I can forgive her for that mistake....but she will probably win me over here soon. She is super loud and crazy and fun!! She uses the phrase 'turns out' all of the time. She has man like legs from biking everywhere here in Doordrecht! and she bakes delicious cookies!! I will tell you more about her as I get to know her more. But I really do love her and we are getting along quite nicely!!

You all are super lucky!!! Because of a snow storm, you got to have no church yesterday....we also had a snow storm, but naturally, I just got to hop on my bike and bike through a blizzard :D I did survive though so that is the good news!!

I love you all and I hope that you have a wonderful week!!! You are always in my prayers!!

Zuster Megan Israelsen