Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Giant Donors and "They even had a Book of Mormon that they had been reading and they didn't know what church they needed to talk to about the stuff inside!!"


Ik hoop dat jullie allemaal een geweldige week hebben gehad!!  Ik hou van jullie zo veel en ik mis jullie ook!!!  Het klinkt zoals het een leuke week was met Matt en Becca en hun gezin in Colorado!!!  Ik hoop dat ze van Garden of the Gods en Red Rocks hadden genieten!! 

What a crazy week it has been!!!  I am tired of being transferred already!!!  It is so not cool to have to lug all of your stuff with you onto the trains here in Belgium and the Netherlands.  Try having a bike too....it's ridiculous!!  So, last P-Day was just hectic.  We all had to pack all of our stuff and do all of our laundry...it was a little ridiculous.  I had to be packed by Tuesday morning because we were having district meeting in Turnhout....so I just took all of my stuff with me there so that I didn't have to deal with it on Wednesday. 
For our districts last lunch...we all got giant donors from the giant donor place in the middle of Turnhout!!  I was the only sister to be able to take on the challenge!!!  Just look at the pictures....It's huge!!

 And, since Zuster Brown and I are training, we had to both be in Leiden by 9:30 in the morning on Wednesday.  We...in order to make that work from Genk, we had to go and stay the night in Breda!!  I got to stay one more night with my favorite trainer in the world!!  Zuster Nielson goes home in three weeks and I am really not excited about that!!  I may just cry!! She is my best buddy!!!  I am going to have to find a new one...untiI get home that is!!  

So on Wednesday, we welcomed 29 new missionaries into our mission.  To put that into perspective...that was half of the mission just a few years ago.  So for us to have that many people come in at once is plain ridiculous!!  I am not sure what we all are going to do!!  Zuster Robinson told us all that by September, more than half of our mission will be on transfer 4 or less....I was just starting to feel like I knew what I was doing on Transfer 4...so you can imagine how hectic things are around here!!  

I am loving the new branch already!!  I followed familie Vankerckhoven from Genk all the way here to Turnhout!!  On our first night here we ahd a dinner appointment with the Van Gijsel familie!!!  They are super cool!!  She is the Stake young women's president and he is the stake young men's president!!  They have three boys and a daughter who is on vacation for two months with friends of theirs in the USA.  It was so nice to feel welcomed by that familie!!  They are super fun and love music and sports so there is always plenty to talk about!!  

On Thursday night, we had the opportunity to eat at the Arts family house!!!  Zuster Arts is the Relief Society President!!  She has two little boys and I just love their familie!!!  The coolest miracle happened right before we got to their house.  We were contacting families that day...and there were like none on the street!!  But just a few doors down from the Arts, there was a familie right outside.  Zuster Clement went right up and just contacted them, we had an appointment yesterday and talk about people who were ready for the gospel!!!
They even had a Book of Mormon that they had been reading and they didn't know what church they needed to talk to about the stuff inside!!  That was so cool!!   Also that evening, we were invited to the Relief Society activity and we were super excited!!!  We were talking about it ever since we came into the town just to find out that it was a movie night....I think that the members need a talk about what the missionaries are allowed and not allowed to do :)

My new companion is Zuster Clement.  She is from Lindon Utah and studied at BYU for Biology.  She doesn't enjoy all of my Utah State stuff, but has come to accept that it is a superior school ( I think that she is afraid that if she doesn't agree with me as her trainer that something really bad will happen)  She is really tall.  She used to play basketball, sometimes I ask her how....like when she falls down the stairs in our apartment :)  She is really excited to share the gospel and tries her best to talk with people on the street even though she can't understand most of what they say back.  I hope that this transfer with her will be a good one.  She is having a rough time adjusting to the life here just like every missionary does but other than that, everything is going well.  

Well...there has to be at least one thing that goes wrong while I am starting up in a new city.  Den Haaf, I got lost the first day.  Dordecht, my companion lost me again!!  Genk...well that was just a nightmare on the train and not having keys to our apartment or foode.  In Turnhout, our washer is completely broken.  I have no idea how or why but it is...  So Zuster Israelsen is hand washing things.  We have tried to find a laundromat today....there isn't one.  So we have to wait until Wednesday....Hopefully I can make it through the next few days!!  

Mom....I unfortunately do not really have any ideas of how to learn a child's prayer.  If I was there I would teach it to them in Dutch.  Dad, tell President Toombs that I am doing well even though I have been bnished to Belgium!!  Tell him that he may be dissappointed in my Vlaams accent when I get back!!  

I love you all and I miss you so much!!  I hope that everyone stays safe!!  Jake, that means no more battle wounds no matter how cool they look.  Rachel, don't do anything crazy while you are driving and trying to keep people safe at Water World and Elizabeth, that means do not get any older!!!  

Ik hou van jullie allemaal!!  Ik hoop dat jullie een goede week hebben!! 

Tot Ziens!!

Zuster Israeslen

Monday, July 22, 2013

Transferred to Turnhout, Belgium, Interviews, Miracles and Mission Wide Deep Cleaning Day!

 Oh HALLO!!! 
 What a crazy week it has been here in the Belgian realm of the world!!!  I can't believe that this week is a new transfer.  I almost don't even know what to do with myself!!!  It is ridiculous!!  Time just goes by so fast I can't even believe it!! 
Rachel, that is a pretty impressive tan line, it almost rivals my watch tan line that I am seeming to develop here.... :)   Dad, I am sorry that you are in pain, I hope that Mom put you in a dungeon like they do here on the mission if you have any problems medically.  Also, don't try to be brave and stop taking pain killers when you obviously need them.  Just read Doctrine and Covenants 10:4 and follow the footnotes to Mosiah.  I had to study that when I was out of commission and learned that making sure that you are healthy is a part of being dilligent, even if that means you have to stay in bed on happy pills!!  

You also asked about the crowning of the new king.  I actually had no idea that it was happening until yesterday, when it happened.  Queen's day(which is now kings day) in the Netherlands was a much bigger deal!!!  But everyone did put out their Belgian flags which I would have done if I had known.  Yes...I have one of those!!
So this week.....I was still stuck inside for Monday and Tuesday.  On Monday we had a mission wide deep clean of our apartments.  And it was supposed to be a DEEP CLEAN!!  My companions took it a little overboard and used a lot of bleach...We may have breathed in a few too many fumes...but it was a good day.  Helen Snow came and stayed with me again on Tuesday so that my companions could go out again!!  I think that was the best part of this whole foot thing.  I was able to see my companions succeed even though they were scared out of their minds.  That made me so happy!!!   I was a proud mamma every night when they came home and told me all of the cool things that they were able to do that day!!  They are two outstanding missionaries!! 
We had interviews on Wednesday along with district meeting!!!  That was a party!!  I love having interviews with President and Sister Robinson.  It feels like a life talk when you go in there and you learn more about yourself, check in and make new goals for the upcoming quarter!!!  I especially like the talks with Sister Robinson, she always has great insight and knows just what to say!! 
 We have had a week full of miracles!!!  We have had great appointments with K and A.  Our two African friends who have been taking the lessons together.  K has been on date for a while and really progressing everyday toward baptism.  We found out last week that he was living with a girl who promised to help him out and that he was being forced to drink coffee and that he had made the decision to move out.  (good thing)  But it is hard for him to find a place, so that is really the only thing that is holding him back.  This week though, we gave a lesson to A and K about the temple and how that is the goal and that if we are able to go there, that our families are able to be together forever.  Both of them felt the Spirit so strongly!!  It was a beautiful moment and they are both committed now to be baptized on the 17 of August.  They are working on signing a contract for an apartment together, they both came to church together on Sunday and they are reading the Book of Mormon together.  I have loved seeing how amazing K's reading has become since he started to read the Book of Mormon.  I think that is one of the greatest miracles for him, he is becoming literate because of his efforts to read the Book of Mormon, it is so amazing!!!
We also had great finding experiences this week.  In district meeting we were told to go out this week expecting miracles.  I think that before I would just go out and work my hardest knowing that if the Lord wanted something to happen that it would.  But this week we went outside with a goal, we expected to find three families by the end of the week.  Three families that would be willing to listen to our message.  We went outside and contacted every family that we came in contact with.  And guess what?!?!  We now have three appointments this next week with three families that all three have three children around the age of baptism!!!!  So cool!!!!  Because we went outside, expecting that the Lord would bless us with that miracle and we went out in full confidence that it would happen and did our best to bring it to pass, the Lord provided the miracle!! 
I love it here in Genk!!!  I didn't have such a hot time at the beginning but now I have grown to love Belgium and the people here.  I love it!!!  And I am sad that this week I have to leave....
I have been transferred....Yup, I am following the two transfer pattern still.  My fourth city will be the city of Turnhout Belgium.  I am not moving too far away so that is fun!!!  I have been asked to train again....I don't know who keeps thinking that i am qualified for such things but it is happening. I will be serving alongside Elders who are placed in Geel only a 20 minute bus ride so that will also be fun!!  The crazy part about this transfer is that...both of my companions are being transferred as well!!!  WHAT!!!!  That is what I said too!!
Z. Brown has been asked to train and is opening up the city of Almere for sisters!!!  She is going to do great up there in Nederland!!
And Z. Packer has been transferred to Drodrecht, Nederland!!!  She is going back to one of my favorite places ever and I will be sending my love through her to all of the members!! 
Elders are coming here to Genk to whitewash.  Hopefull they will have a party and take care of my small little Genk branch!! 
They have also opened up a 5th Zone and plan on opening up another next transfer!!!!  I am telling you, this place is exploding aith missionaries!!!!  I can't believe it!!  
To be honest though, I am just glad that I still get to enjoy Belgian waffles for a little while longer!!!  I just have to make sure and get back up to Nederland for Ollie bollen season!!!  
I love you all!!  I hope that you have a great week!!!  Tell Matt, Becca and family that I love them!!  
Don't have too much fun without me!!!  But make sure that you have at least a little bit of fun!!!
Zuster Israelsen

Monday, July 15, 2013


Hello my Wonderful Family,
I love you all!!!  I am so happy that everyone wrote me a letter this week!!!  It made my day!!  Also, I loved that video of Sister Bradfield!!!!  She looks like she is doing amazingly and that she is loving it there in New York!!! 

So, this week.....Remember how I emailed you on Monday and said that we had a crazy week ahead of us?  I didn't know how crazy it was going to be, until about 4 o'clock PM on P-day.  We were running for a bus....we had an appointment.  We were running, I see Sister Brown running the wrong direction to stop the wrong bus, Sister Packer is just booking it to a destination that she doesn't know, and I am running...in a skirt and shoes that have no ankle support and suddenly, my foot disagreed with the cobblestones and.....

I found myself sprawled across the concrete!!!  And a sudden, very sharp pain in my ankle area arose.  I immediately got up and hobbled my way to the bus, because there was no way I was missing my appointment with a Belgian family!!!  We made it to the station, and my ankle was about four or five times the size it was supposed to be.  The bus ride was only two minutes, mind you, to our next bus but by that time, there was no way that I was making another two hour journey to their home. I ended up at the station for about 45 minutes with my foot up in the air and a cold Fanta from the vending machine on my foot.  We waited for that long for instructions from Sister Robinson because you know....that is mission policy.  And then we attempted to get home.  It was not a pretty sight.  And we made it about twenty feet, when a nice man who was there with his family pulled up and told us to get into his car so that he could take us home.  He wasn't having anymore of it.  So we get home and I crawl onto the top bunk.  Br Peters cme over with a tube sock like thing to put onto my foot for support and I just assumed that I was good to go. 
So Tuesday, we went to district meeting and to all of our appointments that we had, walkingmind you!!!   And Wednesday, we made a trip all the way up to Leiden for Sister Packer and Sister Brown's legality.  Spending most of the day on my foot. 
On Thursday, Sister Nielson showed up with her companion for exchanges and took one look at my foot and asked me if I had elephantitis.  My foot was huge and she called President and Sister Robinson immediately.  (Mind you, I wSorry, this computer is going crazy!!

I was just following orders)  From Thursday on, I have been confined to my room with my foot above my heart.  Aparently, I sprained it really, really bad.  I injured all three ligaments that hold my ankle together and then proceeded to walk on it.  Not Smart.

The doctors have told me that I have to stay in for two more days and then I can start to put weight on it.  I have been trying to figure out European crutches...but they are weird.  So yeah, that is my life this week.

I spent a lot of time with a member named Helen Snow, who came to be with me while my companions went outside!!!  So the work is still moving forward!! 
One thing I have noticed is that once something really good is coming your way, something always gets in the way that tries your patience.  I have seen it with my foot, but also with our baptisimal date K.  He is facing a lot of adversity right now and we are just trying to help him stay strong and continue to develop his faith in Christ!!!  We also have a lot of other investigators that we had first appointments with this week so that was super exciting!!  I am loving being a missionary, I think that I have had more hours of personal study this last week than I ever thought I would have on my mission, but it has been a very good and rewarding time.  I have also been able to catch up on the thank you notes that we have been making for the members in our branch!!!  I love being a missionary and I am super excited to be able to get back out into the real world and do the work on the street with the people!!! 
A scripture that has given me the push to follow doctors orders in DC 10:4.  Part of diligence is to keep yourself healthy enough to do the work!!!  So.....keep yourselves healthy!!!! 
I love you all!!!  I miss you so much!!! 
Enjoy the progressing pictures of the progress of my foot!!!  It gets pretty with lots of colors!!! 
Zuster Israelsen

I really am fine.  It is getting a lot better, so don't worry about it.  It's like dad always says,"if you're going to injure yourself, might as well do it right!"

Monday, July 8, 2013

Antwerpen, Have More FUN!. Title of Liberty, Missing the Reunion but LOVE being a Missionary.

Ik hou van jullie zo veel en ik ben zo enthusiast om jullie elke week te schrijven!!!  Het is een van de beste momenten ven mijn hele week!!!  Ik hoop dat jullie een goede week hadden en dat alles loopt goed!!!
This week has been super crazy!!!  There were way too many adventures that occured, some of which we wish hadn't have happened.  But you know....that is missionary work!!!  It is always on the move, whether or not you want it to be!!
This week, we had a district P-Day in Antwerpen!!! Can I just say that that is one of the coolest cities that I have ever seen!!!!  It was so much fun to be able to walk through the streets of Antwerpen, to see all of the cool old buildings and hang out with the district!!!  We went under this janky tunnel that goes underneath the river to the other side....It was kind of scary....if you have ever been the Belgium, you know that everything here works, it's just....how do you put it....it's just Janky.  It scares you sometimes because it doesn't look safe....but you have to just go for it anyway!!!  It was a super fun day!!!  We got to see the cathedral, a lot of old statues, the city center, a palace and we also got to play soccer!!!  It was a good day!!! 
I realized though that day, that sometimes I forget to have fun and just go with the flow!!!  I had so much fun on Monday that I decided that I needed to also do that every other day that I am here.  It is important for me to be diligent, obedient and do the work but there is also a big factor called everyone's free agency.  Most of missionary work is dependant on the free agency of others.  I can sit around and be mad and stressed out because someone doesn't show up for an appointment or because your investigator that you know has a testimony decides that he doesn't want to investigate anymore.  But I can only control so much.  i have to be able to control also how much fun I am able to have.  So here come 9 months full of fun and adventure!!!
In district meeting this week we got to make our own title of liberty.  Something that would help us to remind ourselves why we came here and to help us even though there are hard times.  Moroni and the Nephites did not have an easy time when they had to make their title of liberty, nor did they have an easy time afterward but they were able to remember the Lord and everything that he has asked them to do.  They were able to remember the Lord and everything that He had done for them.  They were able to remember their purpose and their goal.  I chose to put down a saying that Dad says all of the time....but I translated it into Dutch.  "Onthou wie je bent, en waarvoor je staat!!"  "Remember who you are and what you stand for"  I have thought a lot about that saying this week.  I also wrote the names of everyone in the family on there.  I realized that right now in my life that I am a child, I am a sister, I am a missionary.  And that I am here proclaiming a gospel that brings us happiness and my happiness comes mostly from the fact that i know that I can continue to be a child of my parents, a sister to my siblings and a missionary to the world for eternity.  It doesn't end here!!!
So, on Saturday, we woke up and got a very weird text on our phone telling us that our service was no longer going to work and that we needed a new sim card......uhhhhhhh.....we didn't have a new sim card.....and ten minutes later....we had no service.  Let's just say it was an interesting day.....Apparently the mission was switching providers in preparation of the whole new movement on the missionary technology movement(which we have no idea when it is coming here) but the company ended our service too early.  It was ridiculous and the poor Zone Leaders had to drive all night long all over Belgium to be able to deliever the new sim cards that had to travel from the office....crazyness, but now we have a phone again!!  
Church was one huge miracle this week.  We had 3 investigators in sacrament meeting.  I know that doesn't sound like a lot....but it is for us in our mission.  Three people choose to come and to be able to feel the Spirit in church!!!  It was amazing!!!  One of which just looked up our church online and just showed up.  I have heard of those kinds of stories but have never witnessesed one until yesterday!!!  It was beautiful.  The baptism that we had planned for this upcoming Saturday has been postponed.  I have never had coffee in my life, but apparently it is really addicting!!!  I am super grateful for the Word of Wisdom!!!  And we are working on helping K to be able to quit!!!!  He always tells us," I will do it!!! small small"  So we know that eventually it will happen.  He was able to receive a blessing from a member in the Branch yesterday and I have faith that the Lord will help him!!!!  K is a fantastic man and he is so converted to the gospel, he just has one more small hill to climb!!  
Has everyone seen the Missionary Broadcast called :Hastening the Work?   If not, you need to get online right now and watch it!!! You especially Jake.  This is going to be in place when you are called out on a mission and you are going to be able to touch people in so many different ways than you ever imagined!!!  Missionary work is hastening and it is not just the work of the missionaries that needs to be done.  The work cannot be done without the entire team, the entire body of Christ working together for the same goal.  There are no longer 'missionaries' and 'members' but gewoon Sons and Daughters of Christ working together to help people come unto Christ!!!  My testimony of this principle was strengthened as I was able to listen to the Prophet and Apostles help us to learn and understand our role, each individually in the work of salvation.
Mom, I just had the thought....I have AP Bio credits that should cover that Bio class....I know...random.  
This week looks like it is going to be crazy as usual!!!  I hope that everyone had a great time at the reunion and that there wasn't too many crazy things going on without me!!!  I love you all and I only ask that you make sure to take care of each other so that i can come home and give you all a huge hug!!! 
Don't have too much fun at work and at Mathinasium you crazy siblings of mine that for some reason I don't hear from :D  That's not true, Jake is pretty good at writing me.....come on sistuhs!!!! 
I love being a missionary!!!  I am grateful for the opportunity that the Lord has given me to serve Him in this very special part of the vineyard!!!!  I love it here in Belgium and the Netherlands!!
Tot volgende week!!!
 Ik hou van jullie allemaal!!!
Zuster Israelsen

Monday, July 1, 2013

Street Contacts, New District, Elders Cook?, and 5 new Investigators from One Contact!

Hello My Wonderful Family!!!!

I seemed to miss you all more than normal this week!!!  I love you all and I hope that everything is going well with work and play!!!  Dad and Elizabeth, I am super excited for you and that you get to go to the family reunion this year!!!  Make sure that you give everyone a huge hug for me!!!  And tell them I will see them next year and that I am grateful for all of their love and support.  Mom, thank you for all of the work that you have done to help me out!!!!  With school and clothes!!!!  I am super grateful!!!  Rachel and Jake, don't get too rich as you work your lives away!!! 
This week was pretty uneventful.  We did a lot of stuff and found a lot of people who are ready to hear the gospel.  We actually found 5 new investigators this week all because we contacted one person.  I love seeing people who are touched so much by the Spirit of one lesson that they go out there and share what they have found with their friends!!!  It is amazing.  Yes, most of them are of African descent and the branch doesn't auite know how to handle it.  None of them speak Dutch so it get pretty interesting on Sundays. 
We did learn this week that we are not allowed to let Zuster Brown decide who we are going to contact on the street.  There has been this huge party here in Genk this last week.  It is called Genk on Stage and they had live music on five different stages all week.  So, naturally that means that there are going to be people who have had a little too much to drink there having a party.  Well, Zuster Brown thought that contacting a sweet looking old man with a dog would be a good idea.  It took a very quick, sour turn to where the sweet old man walked away and suddenly we were talking to all of his friends who had had ten too many.  It was the most awkward experience of my life.  I don't think I have ever been flirted with more in my entire life than at that moment.  Needless to say, we quickly left and decided to go to Hasselt instead. 
We had our first district meeting as a new district this week and it was a party.  It was kind of joke to watch the elders try and cook for lunch.  They were even doing something simple....pancakes and bacon.  And somehow they made it go really badly.  It was pretty funny and the important thing is that somehow all of the ingredients were there so it tasted ok.
We learned this week that our city is awkwardly small.....We will contact someone and then walk in a completely different direction and then suddenly ten minutes later that same person, who said no to us five minutes earlier, is there again.  It happens all of the time....The best is when you run into people a few days after you have tried to talk to them....It's a little ridiculous. 
This week was a super sad one because one of the four active families in our branch moved away....We spent two days over at their house trying to help them to pack and get everything moved.  They still aren't 100 percent done, but they are getting there.  We will really miss the wonderful Vankerckhoven family!!!  They were amazing leaders here in the branch and were pretty much the primary.  Everyone will miss them, but we hope that they will love it in Turnhout. 
Our investigator, K, is doing really well.  He is right on track to be baptized in two weeks!!!  We are loving working with him and to see the changes he is making in his life!!!!  It really is amazing!!!  I love being able to see the atonement work in the lives of others.  Sometimes it is hard to recognize that it is working in your life too, but when you get to help someone else come closer to Christ, then you see real evidence and it strengthens your testimony of the healing power of the atonement!!! 
I love you all!!!  I am getting ready to go to Antwerpen for a district P-day which we hope will be super fun!!!  Please have an amazing week!!!!  I love you!!

Zuster Israelsen