Monday, September 23, 2013

A Day in the Life of a Missionary, 5 Investigators and Winter is Coming


Oh my goodness, how has it been another week already?!?!  I can't believe it.  I am starting to get really sad when it is P-day again, because that means it is one less week that I am able to be a missionary.  My lovely companion likes to remind me that I am so very old and that sith everyday I get closer to dying.  She also likes to let me know that I need to learn new tricks...apparently I am an old dog!!

I am going to answer your questions now...Because I always forget to do that.

First off, I did get all of the birthday gifts!!  I love them all!!  I wear the new clothes very often.  It is so nice to wear them because they don't feel like they are going to fall apart!!  ;D  We had lunch for my birthday with the Elders and had a party with Familie Van Gijsel.  I think that Emilie, their daughter, tried to send you guys a picture through facebook of blowing out the should let me know if you got it or not.  It was a good day, but didn't really feel like a birthday just because we were doing normal missionary things. 

Dad, a normal day of missionary work.... get up really early.  I know that you guys think that 6:30 is sleeping in, but when you work so hard never feels like you get enough sleep.  

Then, you try your best to get the blood pumping.  One thing I think is super funny is that my companion and I are really clumsy when we are sleepy, so we pretty much fall on our faces trying to go up the stairs of our apartment where the excersise area is.  

Then, you have studies. That is my favorite part of the day.  That view has definately changed.  I remember being in Den Haag and not even being able to stay up for personal study.  I had to try different techniques to stay awake.  I even think that I tried the toothpick thing fro Dads commercial and it didn't work!!  But now, I can't get enough.  One hour for personal study is definately too short!!  There is so much to learn and I have really developed a love for the scriptures.

Then the rest of the day.  You are either out on the street knocking doors and contacting people or you are teaching lessons.  Personally I like teaching lessons better because you actually get to see the difference you are making, but I have grown to love contacting people as well.  it is really fun to be able to meet so many people!!  And get to know more about their culture!  

I also love the moments that I get to spend with the members!!  A lot of people think that the missionaries like to just come over for dinner.  But that is really not the reason they like to come over.  The members are people that you can also create a relationship with.  They are your friends!!  You can help them and they can help you.  If a missionary comes into your home just for food, something is wrong.  The food is an awesome bonus.

I also have grown to love planning.  I like being able to feel concrete for the next day and having back up plans in case something falls through.  it feels good to have a plan. 

My companion is adjusting.  She feels bad about the language but she is doing very well in that aspect too!!  She loves the people here!!  One thing she is having a little bit of a hard time with though is the free agency of others.  Because you do build relationships with people and then they choose not to follow the lessons anymore, or not to talk to you anymore and that is always super hard.  

I will have to look at my luggage....I have no idea what kind it is.  

And you should definitely go to conference because then I may have an opportunity to see you!!  :D  And it will be super cool to be able to be in the same room as the prophet and apostles!!  I want to go some time when I get back!!

So, I am loving life as a misisonary!!  I can't believe how fast time has flown!!  

This week was a little rough.  It started out super amazingly with a birthday party at Familie Van Gijsel.  It was super fun and they worked so hard to make sure that it was a special day!!  Dinner was delicious, the dessert was too!!  and we were able to have Gezins Avond with them!!  I love that family!!  They have helped me and my companion to feel right at home here in Turnhout!!  They are amazing!!  

Our district has an operation.....operation E.C.H.T. F.U.N.  Which stands for Encouraging, Complimentary, Humurous, Tactful, (i can't remember f....) Unified, Ninja.  Pretty much, we are the most unified district in the mission.   I love working with them and we try and help each other succeed and be motivated.

Oh, dad, you asked if I see President Robinson.  No, I am in the boonies of the mission.  I only get to see him if there is Zone Conference.  I do email him every week, and we haven't yet received the new program for missionaries but we have been hearing rumors that it is coming soon!!  I am excited because it will really help us!!  

Oh, and also, Zuster Arts made me Cheesecake this week!!  I love that woman!!  The ingredients for Cheesecake do not all exsist here, but she made them herself!!  it was a very, very beautiful thing!!

We had kind of a rough week.  Most of our investigators were sick, so we spent a majority of our time on the street trying to meet new people and find new was also really raining a lot outside!!  But we didn't see very much success numbers wise.  On Saturday, we were feeling like failures because everyone canceled for Sunday for church and to be able to go and see a baptism. 

But the last minute before the last hour of church ( sacrament meeting) we had 5 investigators show up!!!  Two of which were people that we had just met on the street!!  It was a beautiful day and also, both of the people who canceled for the baptism decided to come and we were able to help them see how beautiful the covenant they are preparing to make can be.  At this poing it looks like we will be having a baptism the week after conference....fingers crossed!!  

I love being a missionary!!!  I miss you guys, but I have realized that the time to be out here is really too's almost winter again.....that is so not cool!!

I hope that everyone has a great week!!  Don't have too much fun with out me!!  Do well in school!!

Rachel....keep up the good singing!! 

Ik hou van jullie allemaal!!

Tot volgende week!!
Zuster Israelsen

Birthday Card Confetti Gets Us in the Door! Brazilian Food and Sewing

Hello There,

I know, I know....I am now officially old.  It is so not try not to remind me!!

Anyway, this week has been full of miracles.  The first is that somehow I was able to copy all of my pictures from my infected memory card through the DVD player in the apartment to my USB and now there is no more virus, so I will be catching up on sending you pictures....maybe next week when I have more time!!  But that made my life so happy!!!  

Also, there was a miracle in being able to recieve the birthday card from you my wonderful family.  I guess I should have let you guys know....but I have started to write in European numbers.  Well, actually, I guess that has been for about a year now(crazy) but otherwise people can't tell the difference between a 7 and a 1.  The only problem with that is, is when I send you guys a letter my 1 looks like a 7 in Amerikanse.  So my letter got sent to the neighbor who lives in 27, not 21.  Who just happens to be a very old Belgian lady who does not read or speak a lick of English.  It was so funny, so the other day we rode up on our bikes to come and eat lunch and there she was trying to get a hold of someone inside....and she told us a 20 minute story about how she recieved a letter in an ancient tongue and that she figured that it was something for one of us....So, we went over to her house, I got the card....she told a big story about how she had to clean up confetti(thanks mom) and we actually started to teach her.  Her husband just passed away and we were able to teach her the plan of salvation.  We have another appointment this week!!  Super cool!!  Thank you for the bithday card!!!  You guys got us the best referral I have ever recieved!! 

We also had a super cool miracle with a super member present involved. know how I was called Dutch speaking...well two of our investigators are from Brazil...There is a problem here.  But fortunately, we have people in the Branch who the wife is from Brazil and the husband is Dutch, so they both speak Dutch and Portuguese.  So the Van Dan Bergs invited us and also our investigators over for a lesson and dinner.  It was the coolest thing that I have ever experienced.  I am starting to be able to understand a little bit of Portuguese(yes Shawn, you can be proud) and I was also able to eat some real Brazilian food!!!  I didn't think that it was ever going to happen!!  I have been waiting all of my life, but now.....I am very happy that I was called to serve in a place where there is real chocolate!!! 

We also had exchanges this week.  Zuster Kohlert came here to Turnhout with me and we didn't have any appointments.  I don't know if I ever told you guys about how we are trying to contact people here in the smaller towns, but we are putting out a letter of introduction and then a few days later coming back and following up.  It seems to get us a lot more positive contacts on the door, people don't think that we are JW and also they politely tell us no instead of slamming the door in our face.  Zuster Kohlert and I got to talk to 23 such families, but potential investigators yet.  

We also had a Naaien activiteid.  That means a sewing activity.  yay, my favorite!!  But I went and was able to learn a lot of new words, get to know the Zusters in ZHV(relief society) and we also had a couple of investigators come.  It was pretty cool....but I threw my attempted masterpiece away....It was just too embarassing!!  

It was Isaac's birthday this week and the members have started to love him so much that one member family threw a birthday party for him!!!  We had a pizza party dinner, lots of cake and then everyone who was present got together and we read a chapter out of the book of mormon!! It was fantastic and he just loved it!!  He is so excited to get baptized next month!!  And we are also excited!!  It is so cool to be able to witness someone come closer to Christ, someone who never knew Him before!!  I can't even describe how cool it is and how much it builds your own testimony!!

Donors for My Birthay
Church this week was amazing!!  We had three investigators come to church which is SWEET!!!  And we also got some exciting news.  The Branch Misison Leader was changes.  Usually callings don't effect missionaries too much, but this changes our entire lives here in Turnhout.  I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to serve with Broeder Van Der Waard, but now our branch mission leader is now Broeder Arts.  So pretty much, we work with the Arts family a lot because he is the ward mission leader and she is the relief society president!!  Crazy cool!!

Dad, I was super excited to hear about your missionary experience!!  it really is very easy to be a member missionary, we just have to open our mouths!!  I will be praying for you and also for your collegue.  

Rachel,  I hope that you keep yourself safe and don't do anything too crazy!!  
Elizabeth, have fun at school and don't forget to smile!!  And have a lot of fun!!  

Mom, I love you so much!!  I miss you and I hope that you have a good time at work this week!!  don't drive yourself too crazy!!  

Jake, have fun at school.  Do your best with school and with your calling, but don't stress yourself out!!

I love you guys!!
Ik hou van jullie!!

Tot volgende Week!!

Zuster Israelsen

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Turnhout, 7 Hours a Day on Family History, A Family Mission Plan, I Chose Hope!

Where have you guys been all of my life?  Actually, it feels like just yesterday that I was able to talk to you, and we are again!!  I can't believe it!!  Time becomes this really weird thing out here in the mission field, you actually have no idea what is going get yourself busy, and then there is nothing that you can do....and before you know it, it is Monday again. 

This week is transfers and there are a lot of crazy things going on in the mission.  We are done with the huge wave of sisters for now, but on Wednesday, we have 30 elders coming into the mission.  It is going to be insane!!  I am staying here in Turnhout, and boy am I grateful!!  I love this branch and all of the people that we are able to work with here!!  The members and investigators are pretty much amazing! 

Mom, to answer your questions, yes I did get the money, thank you!!!  I am saving it for my birthday and Sister Clement and I are going to do something special.  I think that we are going to spend the day in Antwerpen, but we are not 100 percent sure yet.  

I can't believe that you all are in school again.  BUMMER!!  But I hope that everyone is having a good time and isn't stressing too much!!  Or too little....(Jake)

We have had a lot of things going on this week.  Sister Clement and I are working with the branch to organize a family history night in the church.  We made a goal about a week ago, prayerfully, that we would be able to baptize a family of four by the end of September.  We made a plan and one part of that plan is to invite people to learn about family history.  So, the branch is getting excited and helping us with that!!  There is a member named Sister Smets.  She was the very first member ever to be baptized in the Turnhout branch.  That is super cool and she has been able to watch the branch grow.  The lady also spends at least 7 hours a day working on her family history.  And, another cool fact, she has so many names that she has filled the Den Haag temple and two others that are close by.  She is now trying to figure out how to send the names to Utah.  But she is going to put the evening on and teach it!!  It is going to be super cool!!

We have seen a lot of progress with a few of our investigators this week.  This branch, once sister Clement and I made this goal and started to share it with them, have really stepped up.  I don't think that we have had to call more than one person to set up a joint teach!!  That is rarely heard of!!  But there is a particular family who have taken their steps to get working together.  The Van Gijsels have put together a family mission plan that reflects the stake and branch plans.  They have put together a study program with their family to learn the lessons in Preach My Gospel so that when they all share a Book of Mormon with someone by the end of the year, that they know what to say!!!  It is super cool and we get to participate in their family home evening every week.  Their daughter, Emilie, just got home from her vacation in America and she is preparing to be able to serve a mission!!  So she is really loving this opportunity and so are we so that we can work together with the branch and help their friends come unto Christ!!

One super cool thing that we were able to do this week is to go to a stake activity.  They organized a familie dag in Herentals, where the entire stake was able to come together and hang out in the wildernis.  They had a BBQ, lots of games, and just a super cool party!!  The coolest part was that I was able to see two investigators from Genk and the entire Genk Branch!!  Oh man, I miss them so much!!  But it is super cool to know that the Elders haven't ruined everything down there :D  We also had two investigators who were able to come with us and they both had a party.  They both made similar comments, they said,"I want to be a part of this.  I want to have a support system like this.  I feel at home with these people."  I love it when that happens!!  Oh man, it has been a good week.  

I am loving my study of the Book of Mormon, I have chosen the attribute of Hope.  How is everyone else doing on that?  I know that Jake has started and that Mom and Dad are committed, but what kinds of things have you learned?  Right now, I am trying to identify a pattern that the prophets follow to develop hope so that I can better apply it into my life.  I feel like sometimes the difference between hope and faith is a little bit difficult to understand, but that is why you study, right? 

Today, we were able to have a zone p-day and we had a huge nerf gun war. Yes, that is right!!  I had so much fun!!  I can' even begin to explain how cool it was!!  I love being a missionary and working with the amazing missionaries that are also called to this mission!!  

Being a servant of the Lord is probably the coolest thing that you could ever do.  It is probably also the hardest thing that you could ever do.  I think that it is mostly because you work so hard and people still have the ability to choose.  Darn that agency thing.  But it is also the best and most greatest gift that our Heavenly Father has given us.  The trick in life is to learn about how we can stay on the path and not waver.  To choose to be righteous, to choose eternal life and liberty instead of captivity and death.  

I sure do miss you guys.  I think that it gets worse when I see Jake at Utah State and want to be there with him, and that I hear that everyone else is having a party at school!!  I miss going to school, but I will have all of the time in the world to do that when I get home.  I only get to be a missionary once. 

I love you all!!  Please have a great week!!  Don't do too much fun things without me...but don't forget to have fun too!!  

I love you!! 

Zuster Israelsen

The picture thing isn't working.  We are emailing at a janky place in Antwerpen.  I will send double the pictures next week.