Sunday, May 19, 2013

Genk, Limburg, Helpful Members, Don't Let Your Dog Kill Us, Zuster Brown is Going Places and The Wallet Disaster

 Ok, disclaimer again, I am still on a French keyboard.  I tried again to figure out how to switch it over, with no luck.  So i guess for the time that I am in Belgium, we will be hoping that I can figure out the keyboard, and if I make mistakes, we will hope that you have enough skills to be able to read my mind!!
It was so wonderful to be able to talk and see everyone yesterday!!  It was exactly what I needed to be able to keep going here.  Genk is a rough place right now, but I am not letting my hopes get down.  I am here for a reason, it just might take a little bit of time to figure out what that reason is.  I love all of you so very much and I pray for you daily!!  Keep being my amazing family, ok?  And don't change too much, DEAL?  

Ok, so here is the update about the week.  As you know, our first week in Genk was quite an adventure.  One without keys, hot water and physical limitations.  This week, everything has started to settle down and we have realized how few people we really have to teach, almost none.  There are a few people here who have been taking lessons from the members for a very long time, but they are not ready or willing to commit to anything like baptism.  So really, we have a clean slate.  And like anyone else, I say if you are starting with a clean slate, that means you will have a restful first p-day.  That was a lie.  All of the members, ok, so like two of them, were so concerned when they heard that we didn't yet have curtains, or hot water, they came over and just started fixing everything.  don't get me wrong, we were very grateful....but we barely had time to get anything done.  Lamesauce!!!  But now we won't have to worry about anything in the apartment for a very long period of time(knock on wood!!!)
We have finally figured out the bus and trains here.  I wouldn't say quite yet that I am a master....but I am getting there!!!  This week, we only got off at the wrong stop, took the wrong bus, or our train only got delayed a total of four times!!!  That is what I call success!!!  Quite literally!!  We found out though, that it takes us exactly two hours to get to the closest missionaries here.  In other words, let's hope there is not a catastrophe because we would be stuck in the middle of farm town, unable to move.  Comforting, right?  What make it better, is that we are only 45 minutes from the closest member of the church!!  Yahoo!!  But of course, as soon as we start to figure out the trains, something else has to go wrong.  I feel so bad because I am not able to help my companion out more, but her first few weeks here have been crazy!!!  We are still dealing with the aftermath of the wallet disaster(as i have now dubbed it)  Even today, I had to sweet talk the librarian to give her a new library card so that she could email.  (boy am I glad that mom is a librarian and I have been practicing the librarian sweet talk my entire life!!)
We did actually get a lesson in this week though!!! which was a miracle!!!  There is a less-active family named the Onates.  One day, we went to visit them and they asked us to come back the next day.  So we did(since we didn't have any other plans) and they had invited three non-members to be there with them.  Rafael and momma onate are the less-actives.  And Rafael brought his girlfriend, and momma onate invited over her nephews.  We haven't been able to set up a return appointment with them yet, but we had a powerful Restoration lesson and Zuster Brown did an amazing job!!!  She recited the first vision perfectly in Dutch and the spirit was super strong!!!  Nina, Rafael's girlfriend, really responded as soon as Zuster Brown started talking.  i have a super good feeling about her!!   Zuster Brown is going places and so is Nina.  Our miracle of the week!!!
Also, I am really tired of people thinking that we are jehovah's witnesses.  Even the members, the less-active members, that we are looking up have done everything including sending their big dogs after us screaming"we are mormons go away!!"  To which we respond as we are running away from the scary jaws of death,"we are too!!! we are the missionaries!!! Please don't let your dog kill us!!!"  That is how long it has been since the missionaries have been in this area.  We have made a bunch of appointments with these less-actives who are glad to see that there are still missionaries around.  We have asked that they keep their dogs outside when we come over though :)
We are in the farmland of Limburg.  I have stood in front of more doors in the past week than I have in my entire life.  One thing that we have noticed though is first, that most of these doors would qualify to be on monsters inc!!!  Second, that I have seen more round doors with handles in the middle here than I have watching all three extended versions of the lord of the rings.  now i know where JR Tolkien found his idea for the Hobbits, here in the small land of Limburg, Belgium!!!
Also, we had another miracle.  We got a map of the area finaly from the members yesterday!!!  Now we can figure out where in the world we are without difficulty!!!  I no longer have to ask a million people, " where is this street?"  and having people respond saying, " i don't know. Just use your GPS;"  Guess what.... don't have one :)  But now I have a map!!  I was so happy i almost started to sing about a map like Dora.  But gladly I didn't go that far!!!  
Mom, like we talked about yesterday, here is what I got from the inside of the skirts...  I don't know if it is what you need or it it makes sense.  These are the easiest to bike in and I spend most days in these two skirts so a few more would be welcome!
These numbers inside:
Lands End
Also, I love the blouses....I attached a picture.  And the travel smith dress, the red one....I wear it all of the time too.  i could use another one if that is possible :)  
I love all of you so much!!!  I also miss being dry for more than 20 minutes at a time :)  i guess that is what i asked for when i prayed for spring to hurry up and come here.  I think I like the winter.....I haven't decided quite yet!!!  
Send me pictures of everything!!!  I would kill for real copies of Jake's graduation and Elizabeth's continuation....and Rachel's first day as a lifeguard :).  i am so excited for you all to go to China!!!  it is going to be an adventure!!!
Zuster Israelsen
P.S.  the pictures of the random walkways with trees is the space we walk between to get from one house to the next.  It is a little bit of a fairy tale sometimes.   
P.P.S.  We are in aggie country.  I see blue and white everywhere I go.  It has something to do with their soccer team or something!!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Genk, No Hot Water, French Keyboards, Transfer with Zuster Brown, Baptism

Hello my wonderful Family!!!!
So, since I am now in Belgium.....they use French keyboards and no one here at the library can tell me how to change it so my letter is going to be a little shorter today because I have no idea where the key thingys are. It is driving me crazy!!!  i feel like an old woman who has to use two fingers to type a letter.  RIDICULOUS!!!!!! 

Anyway.  We did figure out a way to skype you next week.  We will be going over to a members home and my companion will go first at 6 PM and I will skype at 7 PM our time.  Which, if my math is right, the 8 hour time difference makes that 11 AM your time.  I do not know whose skype account I will be using but if I remember right, the thing is ColoradoIsraelsens.  If that is not it; you have to make another one zith that thing because that is what I will use.  
So this week has been a little crazy!!!  First, we had Queens day in the Netherlands.  Everyone was out partying and not a single person wanted to talk to us, so we got to experience the day as we tried to do the work.  We also had a lot of work to do updating the area book and such since I was leaving to another country and we are not able to call each other over the border for infor,ation because it costs way too much!!!  and I also had to finish packing....which was ridiculous.  I have to dejunk while i am here in Genk.
Transfer day was completely ridiculous.  We had a trainers meeting, which by the way, I am totally not qualified to do this!!!  But that was way long, and then we had to travel all of the way to Belgium, with just me and my companion  and all 6 of our bags and my bike.  let me just tell you that on a train that is not easy, especially when you have to change trains a lot!!!  by the way, my new companion is Zuster Brown.  She is coincidentally Taylors friend that I wrote for a while.  I also found out that all of the sisters that just came into the field were all following my blog to get ready for the mission.....that was awkward!!! 
Genk branch is super tiny.  There were literally ten people in sacrament meeting this week.  To open a new area has been super stressful.  Especially since the busses and trains here are ridiculous:  I can not even explain my frustrations about it.  They do not even announce the stops so if I even have an idea of where I am going then I am never going to get there anyway!!!  we live pretty close to the church, but our area is so huge.  To get to the closest member it is an hour bus ride, which means 2 or so by bike.  Needless to say, we do not bike that much.   What is most frustrating is that we do not even have a map of the area ane no warm water in our apartment.  I am about to go on shower strike!!!  It is not like anyone here would notice anyway....I mean, they do not even use deoderant.  Dad, you asked if there were any missionaries in our district close by, and the answer hour and a half by train.  So no.  But, they have tried to do some work here in our area before we came.  They did enough work to have a baptism this weekend but that was our only investigator, who is now a member.  So we are starting fresh. 
Ok, I am so sorry that this email is so short.  I am trying so hard, but it is just frustrating me to do this :).  So I am going to send you pictures so that you can see more of what is going on.  i can not wait to talk to you next week!!! And I will be sure to try and figure out hoz to change this keyboard for next week!!! Or just get better at it.  jake, have a great last few days of high school!!!  I love you all so much!!!!
Zuster Israelsen