Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Zone Conference, Trains, Greenies and Doing your Best to Become the Person the Lord Expects You to Become

I can't believe that another week has come and gone here in Belgium.  Time seems to fly by....but the days are super long!!!  This week has been a particularly crazy week.  We have been on a train more this week than I ever wanted to be in my entire life!!!  But that's ok, they were all for good reasons and I got a lot of language study done while there was no one on the train...and my companions got a lot of sleeping done :D

On Monday, we had P-day.  It was pretty restful, we just deep cleaned the apartment and got everything ready for a third sister to come and hang out with us.  It was cut a little short because we had an appointment in Beverlo....which is two hours away from our place.  We went and had dinner with the Vankerckhovens and then, Zuster Vankerckhoven took us to pick up the third bed that was donated by President Huysmans.  That took a while because he live like 45 minutes away from her...and so really, besides the spiritual thought that we were able to share with the family, our day was spent getting a third bed for little sister Packer. 
On Tuesday, we got up, got ready and left right away to be able to get to Leiden to pick Zuster Packer up.  We finally pulled into Leiden at about 1:30.....so a five and a half hour trip.  We were able to do some training with President and Zuster Robinson, they got us some delicious wok lunch!!!!(it seriously was the best!!!)  and then, we got back on the train.  the best thing about relying on the trains to get places....is that when you are trying to make it home on time, there is always a huge problem.  On this particular day, there was an accident with a train or something that prevented any trains from leaving Den Haag and going south.  I have no idea how we made it home that day....but we did.  Sister Packers stuff and all.
On Wednesday and Thursday we had exchanges with the Sisters in Breda.  Zuster Nielson and Zuster Brown came here to Genk and Zuster Packer and I went to Breda with Zuster Hoff.  It was an interesting day because none of us knew the city and I was there with two completely new greenies.  And Zuster Packer was extremely jet-lagged.  But somehow we got through and we had Kapsalons for dinner!!!! yummy turkish food!!! 
Thursday night, we made our way up to Leiden again and we stayed over in the mission home over night because we had zone conference the next day on Friday.  It was a party in the mission home. It was the first time in the entire time that Zuster Robinson has been here that she has had a full house of sisters.  It was crazy, and I am not sure that President was entirely used to it.  He was definitely not used to all of the giggleing.  I do have to say though, i love going to the mission home because there is always delicious food and the beds there are definitely the most comfortable in the entire mission!!!
Friday's Zone Conference was so amazing.  It was the biggest zone conference this mission has ever seen with 80 full-time missionaries in attendance.  It was crazy!!!  But the spirit was so superly amazingly strong!!!  We talked a lot about the WHY of missionary work.  Since I have been here, they have been really focused on how to get things done, how to see success, how we can keep track of everything that is going on, how we can be successful missionaries.  But now, the focus is changing.  The why is really what we as missionaries need to develop and learn because it is the why that motivates us to work on the hows to accomplish the whats.  ( I am sorry if my English is hard to understand)  It was an amazing conference that really helped me to begin to reflect on what I need to do to be able to be more personally converted and love the work and the people here.  One of the most depressing things happened though.  Zuster Hinchcliff gave her departing testimony.  I love that sister and I think I have learned more from her than any of my other companions!!!  I miss being around her everyday and listening to her pieces of wisdom.  She left me with one more on Friday.  She said,"My mission has not been what i would call picture perfect.  But it has been the ideal experience for me to be able to learn and grow, to become the person that the Lord expects me to be."  She challenged me to make my mission ideal, and I have extended that challenge to make my life ideal.  It is a decision.  I challenge all of you to think about that this week.  What does it mean to make something ideal?  What do you think would be ideal for you?  Have you asked Heavenly Father?  Are you grateful for the experiences you have that are helping to make your life the ideal experience for you?
I love you all!!!!  I miss you a lot!!!  I hope that you are all taking care of each other and doing your best to become the person the Lord expects you to become!!!
Tot volgende week!!
 I love you!!!
Zuster Israelsen

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Remember, Brussels, Waterloo, Dumb Belgium Buses and Two To Train at Once!

This week has been super crazy!!!  It started with our trip to Brussels and Waterloo!!!   Tha was an amazing trip put together by Elder Ombach the best tour guide I have ever met in my entire life!!!  He had never been to either of the places before, but he led us as though he knew both cities like the back of his hand.  Mom, I think that we need to bribe him to come with you two when my mission is over because of his skills, although, I am sure that mom can do the same thing!!
Anyway, first we went to Brussels and got to see all of the crazy old and beautiful buildings that are there!!!  It is truly amazing!!  I was reminded this week of where I am and how much culture and history there is here.  We are used to just thinking back until the Revolutionary War, but this place goes back so much further, it blows my mind!!!  

The buildings in Brussles are amazing!!!  And it was fun to go there with a big group of missionaries!!!  We ate waffles, got some Belgian Friets and were on our way to Waterloo!!! 

Waterloo was pretty cool.  We learned that we got out at the wrong train stop....and that we had to walk forever to get to the actual monument.  It literally took an hour and a half to get there.  We kept seeing this big hill(to them here it is a mountain)  with a weird looking thing on top, but as we got closer, i realized that the weird looking thing was our destination.  The battle field, looks like a field.  It was interesting to see, but my favorite part were the museums and the films that President Robinson let us see.  I actually learned about the battle and the significance of everything that went on.  I love learning about those kinds of things.  It was a super cool day!!!! 
On Tuesday, we went to Turnhout for our district meeting.  We have spent one day in every city in our district to help everyone out.  Especially to help the elders out with their female potentials because it is hard to find joint teaches here in the small branches we are working in.  I learned that Elders never really grow up.  Elder Nelson decided that he wanted to squat Elder Shoemaker.  And the result of his actions was me, bettering my sewing skills.  I didn't think that i would ever be fixing up a pair of pants on my mission.....but I guess that is what you get when you are working with Elders.  We also had the biggest Donors I have ever seen in my entire life!!!!  They were delicious, but i think that the Elders got sick afterward, because they all got the extremely huge ones!!! 
We also had exchanges this week!!!!  I got to hang out with Zuster Neilson for a day!!!!  That was super cool!!!!  it was way cool to be able to see how much progress I have made since day one with my trainer.  My Dutch has gotten a lot better, my ability to get around has gotten a lot better and my ability to teach has also improved!!!  It was a great day!!!!  Besides the dumb Belgian buses, i always get lost at least once when we are looking up a new person!!! 
We got to meet with a less-active who was referred to us by the Knoop family.  Her name is mary Satory and somehow, because of the crazy buses, we were able to catch her home and really brighten up her day.  She has been struggling and you could tell that she was searching for something in her lilfe but she couldn't remember what that was.  I think that is why on the Book of Mormon, every single prophet uses the word REMEMBER.  We all can receive spiritual light and inspiration and revelation, but if we aren't doing our part to remind ourselves of what we have learned and what we have done, then we will fall away as quickly as the people in the Book of Mormon.  That's why, when I come home, I am going to have pictures, flags of the countries I have served in hanging up in my room, as a reminder of what I have done and what i have promised myself to do and be after this experience is over. 
Also,  I have a huge blister on the bottom of my foot from our Waterloo trip.  I wore through my shoes, literally all of the way through them.  And, they don't have mole skin over here.  So, I have had to perform surgery a few times to try and drain it enough to be able to put this thing that they do have on it....it's not working very well....mostly because I don't get a day to be off of my feet.  It has gotten bigger than the one in the picture, Jake, don't forget to take mole skin with you, and don't be afraid to buy new shoes when yours are wearing through.
We also had another miracle this week!!!!!  We actually had an investigator come to church!!!!  His name is kambala and he is from Ghana.  He came on the bus from Hasselt all the way to Genk, paying with the money he has saved up for three weeks to come.  It was the coolest thing to see him there and everyone just loved him right off of the bat.  I love seeing that!!!  oh, it was beautiful!!!
Ok, that is really it for the week.  But we did get transfer calls!!!!!  I will be training two people at a time.  Zuster Brown and I will remain companions here and in a week we will get another greenie!!!  She has to stay another week in the MTC, I heard because she was getting too competitive in volleyball and ended up injuring herself.  I think that we are going to get along just fine :D  But President isn't having us leave Genk, he doesn't think that it is wise to white-wash right after they open.  I personally think that he trust me too much with this situation.  I have no idea how I am going to train two people at once who are both on different levels, it will be interesting!!
I love you all so much!!!  
 Love you!!!!
Zuster Israelsen

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Janky Shoarma, Book of Mormon will testify about Jezus Christus in the same way the Bijbel does and Real Hamburgers

So, last P-Day was another crazy Belgian holiday, where everything was closed.  So, we stayed home the whole day.  I have learned that that is no longer possible in my life.  I don't think that I will be able to stay home because you get so very bored with nothing to do.  Part of my bordness factor would probably be that we don't even have the church dvds to watch here...no couch, just a hard tile floor and no games.  Zuster Brown had a billion letters to write...But I don't.  I have heard that I have a stack waiting for me at the office though...too bad that is five hours away. 
Anyway, after a P-Day of staying home, we had to get up at 5:30 to be able to get to our district meeting on time.  Travel here in Belgium is ridiculous!!!!  And also, we don't have any trains that really go anywhere directly from Genk, so...yeah.  District meeting was super fun though!!!  We did a visualization(sp?) where District Leader Shoemaker played music and read a scenario to us where we had to answer specific questions to ourselves.  It was cool, I think that we were supposed to learn about humility...but we made it a little too light hearted.  But it was Zuster Stout and Zuster Palenikova's last district meeting ever!!!  They are probably my favorite people in the world and I am so sad that they are leaving us with all of the elders!!!  But i am so happy that they can now go home and see their families and go back to real life.  We had a party on their last day!!!!  We went out to eat and had janky shoarma.  I think that it is delicious!!! more of that turkish food!!  I am definately going to take you guys there when you come.  It was good.
We have actually been able to have lessons with investigators this week.  Mostly because we are actually finding people.  We had an appointment with Chris, that we were super early for with a member named Helen Snow.  she is super amazing!!!  We learned from her how to actually talk to every single person on the street.  I mean, we talk to a lot of different people, but she was literally talking to everyone!!!! So that was cool.  We also had a great lesson where we were able to teach about the importance of the Book of Mormon and the difference between it and the Bijbel.  Chris wouldn't read it before that lesson because he wasn't sure about if it was really the word of God, but we were able to show him that it really does testify about Jezus Christus in the same way the Bijbel does. 
Also, we have found a lot of potentials this week.....but most of them are men, who end up flirting with us....so we drop them.  We ahve decided that it is my green raincoat, that is what does them in.  Every time any of these circumstances arises, I am wearing that coat....we think that it is time to go shopping. 
I got to go back to the Netherlands for a day this week!!!! Hallelujah!!!  We went on exchanges and I got to go to Heerlen for a day with Zuster Stevens!!!  She is also from Colorado and is super cool!!!  We also got to eat American food that day because the ward there is an army ward(mostly) and we had a great dinner appointment with real hamburgers!!!  I also had a best two years experience in their apartment.  They literally only have a hose for their shower.  I knez that you wouldn't believe me, so I took a picture!!! 
We had a miracle come from exchanges though.  They found a 19 year old young woman, named Stephanie.  They gave her a Book of Mormon and set up another appointment for the next day.  We went to our appointment, taught the restoration and commited her to baptism.  We now have a baptisimal date.  She is super cool and we just love her!!!  The Lord really does bless you when you are dilligent.  But just like we learn in Mosiah 26, the Lord only answers you AFTER you ask in faith and faith requires action on our part. 
We have found 3 new investigators this week.  Two of which are Muslim.....so we will see how that goes!  They are super open and interested to learn so we are willing ot teach them. 
In sacrament meeting this week, I was asked to translate.  I thought that it was going to be from Dutch to English, which is doeable.  But no.....it was from english to dutch from the pulpit.  Ummmmm that was the crazyest experience of my life.  I don't reccommend it.  I was thanked by a lot of people and told by the english speakers that I had done a good job, but i definately had help from the Lord because the person who was speaking used a bunch of intelligent words that I have never learned, ever, in my mission.  So, I was way nervous but was blessed!!!
Anyway,  that was my week, nothing too exciting, besides the new investigators!!!  I hope that you are all having a great week!!!!  With summer vacation and everything!!  Please don't do anything too crazy or fun without me....like go to China or anything!!! 
I Love you!!!


Zuster Israelsen