Monday, November 25, 2013

Spiritual Experiences, Transfers and Football!

Hello there my WONDERFUL FAMILY!!!
I love hearing about everyones lives!!  It is so crazy to hear about how many people are going on missions!!  Good luck Bobby!!!  You are going to be an amazing sister!!!  The people don't understand what they have in store!! 
I love each and every one of you.  It is weird, because you know that you love your family and you know that your whole life, but you really realize it when you are on a mission.  You have so many cool spiritual experiences and you just want to share them with your family and the people that you love!!
Dad, you asked me to share the most spiritual experiences that I have had over the last two months.  I think that is the hardest question that anyone could have ever asked me....but I will name a few.
1. About two months ago, Isaac was investigating the church and we had a lesson with him.  I can't remember what we taught him in the lesson, I just remember when we taught him how to pray.  He said his first prayer with us in the middle of the relief society room in Turnhout.  It was the most simple and yet the most sincere prayer I have ever heard.  The spirit was super strong but the coolest part was that he felt it.  We all had a spiritual confirmation that Joseph Smith was a prophet that night.  It was the coolest thing ever. 
2. This last week, I have been trying more to rely less on myself and what I know I can do and rely more on the Lord.  Three seperate times, Sister Thorley and I had 15 minutes here or there where we needed to know where to go.  We decided to say a prayer on the street and ask the Lord.  And three seperate times numbers popped into my head.  To be honest, at first I thought it was crazy and that there was no way that there would be someone in number 25 that wanted to hear the gospel, but there was Phun.  Then the second time, there is no way that the person in number 45 would want to hear the gospel.  Walid and his roommate have an appointment with us this week.  And the family in number 108, no way.  And yet a third time it was true.  My testimony that the Lord leads His missionaries when they turn to Him and seek for His help, I gained it.  This week was a week of miracles.
3. In Turnhout, in the middle of a park, we met an investigator who has had problems with the word of wisdom his entire life.  That day I knew that what I was saying was something that I would never have said in my entire life.  And that the Lord was putting words into my mouth simply because I was opening it.  Vahid is now on the track to be baptized.  He heard the words that were meant specifically for him and felt the spirit.
4.  About two weeks ago, I got to sing in sacrament.  I felt the spirit so strongly mostly because I knew that the voice that was coming out should not have been as powerful or as nicely defined because I haven't been able to practice.  But the most important part was being able to see the change that came over the people as they were listening.  They were able to feel the spirit and they were able to see a change.
Really what I have learned is that the most spiritual experiences I have had on my mission is when the Lord has used me, has let me be an instrument in His hands to be able to touch the lives of others.  My testimony of missionary work and the love that the Lord has for each and every one of His children is there now.  I know that He loves us.  I know that He is there for us and I know that he wants us to succeed. 
I have also come to learn that as we follow the keys of the leaders in our area, that we gain more success.  We become the people that the Lord wants us to become.  I have thought back a lot on what I have done with the information from general conference in the past.  I used to think that it was nice....but there is information to apply in our lives there.  Everything that the stake president, or bishop or other leaders in the church ask us to do is inspired.  It is much like when we ask our investigators to do things  We ask people to change and apply things into their lives.  If we aren't willing to do that also, then we are not continually becoming converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ.  I have learned that as we have been asked to follow the stake plans that have been given to us by the stake presidents.  We have started to really follow the mission plan very closely as a companionship and we are starting to see a lot of real success. 
I am so grateful for my mission and that I get to get up and serve the people of the Netherlands and Belgium every day.  I would never trade this for the world.  I am so grateful for the knowledge I have gained thus far and cannot wait for the time to come!!
Also, it is transfers this week.  Sister Thorley is going to Amsterdam and my new companion is Sister Andersen....I don't know anything about her.  But she should be pretty cool.
I love you guys so much!!
I miss you and hope that you have a great thanksgiving!!  We had a turkey bowl today and I totally kicked some elders butts playing football :D
ik hou van jullie allemaal!!
Zuster Israelsen

Deventer, Anjewierdens, Assen, Sinterclaas Journal

Man do I love you guys!!  I love hearing about your lives every week, sometimes I feel like I am missing out on a lot, but at the same time, not.  I am glad that everyone is having an exciting time with Swedish librarians, new companies and lots of meetings, ender games movies, ALSTATE CHOIR!!  and USU basketball games!!
I love you guys!!
This week was a crazy one!  We had our last FHE activity with the Anjewierdens, they were the senior couple that worked in Deventer.  It was a big party and there were like a billion people there.  But it was really hard to say goodbye, we are all missing them right now but we know that they are happy to be home with their kids and grandkids too.
On Tuesday, I went on exchanges to Assen.  It is a little city on the edge of the map that I am not sure many Dutch people have heard about, but it was fun.  We were able to teach a lesson to a woman there and seriously when we walked into her house it felt like I was walking into Ms. Roman's house.  She had a yellow lab, it smelled like it even and she looks just like her.  She also does was a really weird feeling but a super cool lesson because she is really sincere.  She is acutally a self-referral from  (Does everyone have one of those?)  Anyway, it was one of the coolest Plan of Salvation lessons that I have ever been a part of.  The spirit was super strong and she felt as though the puzzle she has been trying to put together for a very long time is beginning to be completed(her words).  Cool huh?  I think that it  is super amazing how the gospel can do that for people.  I think that sometimes we forget that what we have been taught since we were little can mean the world to other people, that it can make a huge change in their lives.  We are still changed but we do not always see the changes that are made. 
On Wednesday we had a super cool day.  Our dinner appointment was a hoot!!  It was with Familie Feith!!  We had a party, but the coolest part was that we were able to have Zwarte Pete make a present for us.  Go to google and look up the sinterklaas journal.....I am not sure what it is called, but it is super fun!!  I love the Feith family and we were able to challege them to make a family mission plan.  They are super excited to do just that so that they can help us missionaries.  Their daughter Mariska is looking in to going on a mission and we are helping her with part of her plan to have at least one joint teach a week!!  We just have to find those appointments. 
We had a really cool experience also that day.  We were finding literally the entire day....only a dinner appointment.  Sometimes those are the longest days!!  But we were in an area and knocking doors....after having the door slammed in our face for the 30th time or so....we decided to say a prayer.  We asked the Lord where we needed to go because we knew that there had to be at least one person in that neighborhood who would want to hear the gospel.  After the prayer, we were led to a least favorite place.  But we proceeded to bell the different apartments....on the last bell a man answered and let us upstairs.  We started to talk to him on his doorstep and he asked if we could come back with a book of mormon in his language so that he could actually read it.  He is from pakistan.  So that was pretty much amazing.  I think that the Lrod was trying to show me that if I just trust in him that He will lead us to where we need to be.  I just need to make sure to ask and be willing to go where ever He leads. 
We also set a baptizimal date this week!!  We finally made an appointment with a family that we had met a week ago, and they loved the Restoration.  That was probably one of the coolest lessons that I have been in on my mission.  Their entire family participated.  Even the little kids.  They were super excited and when Sister Thorley quoted the first vision, there were tears in the mom and dads eyes.  We are super excited to be able to work more with family Kear!!  They were our blessing this week!! 
Ok, so you guys keep telling me that I don't tell you enough about my companion.  So here it goes.  She is pretty much awesome.  She is from Lindon Ut.  She grew up playing lacrosse and is probably just as compatitive as I am.  She is a film major at BYU and can quote movies even better than Jake can(which is impressive....i know!!)  She is also a sucker when it comes to dares.  The other night at a members house, we were having dinner and Elder Muse dared her to have the dog(Sido, who loves whipped cream) lick whipped cream out of her mouth.  Well....after 15 minutes of figuring out what exactly she was going to get for this act...she did it.  it was gross...I have a movie....I can't bleive that she did that...I am still giving her a hard time and am still disgusted!! 
The coolest experience this week was on Sunday.  I was able to sing for everyone and it was really cool.  There has never been so many people who have come up to me and thanked me for singing.  The amersfoort ward is having a hard time because their bishops wife has lung cancer and they are all extremely sad.  But they were all touched and super grateful.  I am super grateful for the ability that the Lord has given to me to be able to sing.  It is truly a gift that blesses not only my life but the lives of others.
You guys are almost to Thanksgiving and we are almost to Sinterklaas!!  Crazy huh?  Pretty soon we will be skyping!! 
I hope that you all have a fantastic week!!  I love you so much!!
Zuster Israelsen

Count Your Blessings and Dutch Primary Program

Oh my goodness I miss you guys so very much!!  I think that it gets harder when it gets closer to the holidays...especially since there isn't even Thanksgiving out here.  Who does that?  I think that it is crazy!!  What is everyone's plan for Thanksgiving?
I am sorry to hear about all of the problems with the bathroom downstairs. I think that contractor is ridiculous.  But that is just me....
I am excited for you guys to come and pick me up but at the same time I am not ready to be done with my mission yet.  I can't beleive that I only have like Fiver more months left.  Where has the time gone?  It feels like yesterday that I walked up the hallway at the Denver Airport and said goodbye to all of you.  Crazyness!!
This week has been the week of counting the many blessings that I have received.  I was having a hard time last week because we haven't been able to see very much success.  But Sister Thorley and I made it a goal to write down all of the blessings that we have seen.  It really helps.  Blessings can be big and small.  I think that the problem most of the time is that we think that all of our blessings should be super huge and the only ones that we see are the big ones.   But I have been able to see more of the Lord's hand in the work this week because we have done this.  I love the Lord and I know that He is mindful of all of us.  If we are willing to open our eyes and just see the blessings that He has given us we will be happier but we will also see that the Lord is pleased with the work that we have done.  I challenge everyone to try that this week.  Try just counting your blessings.  Write them down everyday.  I know if you do this, you will grow closer to our Heavenly Father.
Speaking of challenges, how is it going for everyone with the Book of Mormon challenge?  How far is everyone?  What have you learned?
I was really blessed this week to get some news from the sisters in Dordrecht.  I got to hear a lot about people that I taught while I was there.  People who told us that they were no longer interested in our message.  I got a call because Sister Packer was wondering about one of our investigators  Apparently she has been coming to church every week for a few months and they just found out a week or so ago that she is not a member because she went up to them and asked them if it would be possible to get the lessons from them again.  That was super cool.  It made me even more excited to get out and do the work because I have been anble to influence people even if they did not accept the gospel while I was there, the seen is still planted.
We have been blessed to find many new potential investigators this week.  We have had a few cool experiences with that.
The first, was a refferal from the Gouda sisters.  Apparently the lady named Rachelle contacted them while they were sitting on the train.  She gave them her name, number and address before the sisters were able to say a single thing.  We got the refferal and were super excited, we called the number and it didn't work.  Well, we were pretty depressed, but we said, 'Hey, we have her address, why don't we try to look her up?''   Well....she lives in a little town callem Almen.  Never heard of it?  Me either.  But, we got information from a JoVo on how to get to the town and just tried it.  We got there, no map of the way to get a we asked a few random people on the street, eventually a very nice Dutch woman let us in, use her ipad to look it up and gave us tea.  We had a nice chat.  Then, on the way out to the Cattle ranch that apparently this African woman lives at(that is never trut) We took some pictures thinking that there was really nothing that was going to come of it.  We walked up to the first cattle ranch and there was a Dutch man on a riding lawn mower....we thought that there was no way we were talking to a lady named Rachelle, asked him if she lived there.....and she does!!  WHAT?!?!  We were totally taken aback.  But we were able to give a first lesson and she is now interested in learning more.  When we gave her the Book of Mormon, she gave us more kisses and hugs than I think I have ever received in my entire life!!
The second experience happened just yesterday!!  We had an hour between a dinner appointment and ward choir practice, so we went to knock some doors.  We came up to this one door and knocked.  A big, tall, scary Dutch woman came to the door.  Now, usually when this happens....I get scared and just hope that they turn you down nicely because that doesn't always happen.  But when we started to talk to her about the Book of Mormon, her angry stare turned into a smile.  She told us that she had been to the Visitor's Center in St. George and that she had received a Book of Mormon from them.  She also knows a few members of the church that live in her area very well. We had a really pleasant conversation and we made an appointment for this next week with her entire family.  She has a husband and three children and they are looking for something that can help their family stay close even though their kids are growing up and we assured them that we could help.  It was super cool!!
We had a super good church service this week!!  It was the KPA programma or in other words, the Primary Program!!  It is probably my favorite sacrament meeting of the year and it is even cuter when you have little Dutch kids singing.  The translations for some of the songs are just hilarious.  I have decided that translating music is like squeezing all of the toothpaste out of a tube and then trying to get it all back doesn't work very well...but it was still cool!! 
I also got to go to institute this week.  With three sets of missionaries in the city we have to take turns of who gets to go to JoVos and it was out turn.  They are studying the Book of Mormon and it was the week of Jakob 5.  The teacher, Broeder Noot, is probably one of the most intelligent people that I have ever met!!  I learned a lot from his lesson, but the coolest part of institute was that I received the compliment of a lifetime.  Remember how I said that Broeder Noot is probably one of the smartest and most accomplished people that I have ever met?  Well, he came up to me after the lesson and told me that my Dutch is super impressive.  He asked me how I was able to learn the language so well and I didn't really have an answer for him, I just memorize Preach my Gospel like President Robinson told me to....and it works.  That was a very nice end to my day that day!!
I hope that you guys all have a fabulous week!!!  I love you so much!!  I would like to be able to hear a little more from Rachel, Eliabeth and Jake....I know you guys are busy....but I am your sister!!  :D 
Dad, don't have too much fun at work.  Mom, I love you!!  I will get you some information next week of some people that I would like to visit before I go home so that you can contact them...I don't really know what your plans are....but I will send that to you next week.
Don't have too much fun!!
Remember who you are and what you stand for!!
Onthou wie je bent en waarvoor je sta!!
Zuster Israelsen

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Found Grandpa's Writing in a Book! Another New Area, Vlaams Accent, And Back on a Bike Again!

Hello My Wonderful family!!

I have to warn you.  If anything is weird on this email, please don't judge me.  I have just returned to the normal american keyboard and it is giving me a run for my money.  I am having a harder time than I thought I would.  

Anyway, I am missing Belgium a lot.  I never thought that I would.  There were many times I just thouht, 'well, if I was in Nederland' and now I am back and the only thing I want in the world is to go back there.  Mom and Dad, if you guys pull out on this picking me up thing I am going to be seriously upset because otherwise, I am never going to get back there.

My last day in Belgium, we had our district meeting in Genk.  I got to see both of my Belgium cities for the last time on Tuesday!!  I loved having Elder Chantry as my district leader!!  District meetings were always super opbouwend and we always had great conversations.  This week we talked a lot about diligence.  I am sorry to say that I really needed that talk.  It seems to be so hard for me to move on at transfers.  Especially for the last two areas.  Being the first sisters in the area is always super fun, but also, I have been able to see people prepare for baptism and get ready to make that covenant but I dont get to see them take the last step.  I think that is super hard for me.  It has been a long time since I have been able to see that, but I am glad for Kambala(in Genk) and Issac(in Turnhout) they are rocking it and are going to be great members of the church.

My last meeting with Isaac was on Tuesday night.  We taught him about the priesthood.  That man is going to be an Aaronic priesthood holder in three weeks.  He is really scared but also excited.  I am so excited for him.  The look that investigators get in their eyes when they learn more truth and they are feeling the spirit, nothing can compare to that.  I will never forget the people I have had the opportunity to teach!!  

I love the new area I am in, I's no Belgium, but it is still cool.  I am serving in Deventer which is a part of the Apeldoorn ward.  There are four elders that serve in our ward and us two sisters, there is also a senior couple that takes care of the JoVo centrum here!!  It is super fun!!

My new companion is sister Thorley.  She is also from Linden Utah.  She went to the same school as Sister Packer and Sister Clement.  She is studying film at BYU(don't worry, she already knows that that is the wrong school) She is the second of four.  She is super funny and is a super hard worker.  She is on transfer three so we are still working on Dutch, but I have never seen anyone understand maps and how to get around better than this girl, I am glad she is my companion because we never get lost!!

Well, life is kind of interesting here right now.  The city was just opened 12 weeks ago...and there are literally no investigators. feels like I am starting over again.  We have spent the last three days contacting people on the street and have found a total of 3 potentials.  It's rough.  And people keep looking at me like I am crazy.  I asked the bishop after I gave my testimony in church on sunday why everyone is avoiding me and looking at me funny.  He said it's because I speak with a Vlaams accent and I use vlemish words. They think I am is not cool.  The Dutch people have a hekel for Belgians.  Anyway, to make the situation a little more awkward, the building is being remodeled in Apeldoorn so we are meeting aith the Amersfoort ward.  Guess who has no idea who is a member of the ward she is serving in and who is not?  This girl right here.  The only time that I am able to get to know people in the ward is when they invite us over for dinner, and because there are 6 missionaries, I am not sure how often that is going to be.  But that is ok.....the Lord will give me a way to be able to get to know the people here.  

One family I met, is the Vreven familie.  They are super cool and the coolest part is that he has written a book about the history of the church in the Netherlands and Grandpa is in it!!  He is in it!!!  They have a whole section about the floods in Nederland, and the article that grandpa wrote, except translated in Dutch, is in there!!  I requested a copy!!

Also, I am back in the bike again....guys, I never knew how out of shape I was....It is sad.  Apparently the Belgian waffles were really not a good thing for my life.  But now that I am back in the Netherlands, the story is the same.  They sent me back right at the beginning of Olliebollen and stroop waffel season.  I may be three sizes bigger when this is all said and done!!  

I am really excited for the work that the Lord has for me here in Deventer, I hope that I am able to live up to His expectations and be able to be the missionary that He expects me to be.  

We get to go to the temple this week!!  Tomorrow actually!!  I am super excited about that!!  It has been so long since the last time I was able to go!!  

I am praying for everyone back home. I love you guys!!  Please take care of everyone for me!!  Don't do anything too crazy, everyone needs to make it for just a few more months at least so that I can give everyone a great big bear hug!!

Ik hou van jullie!!  Tot volgende week!!

Zuster Israelsen

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Nothing is to Hard for the Lord, Halloween in the Netherlands Too, Deventer, Nederland Transfer Just in Time for Olliebollen Season!


Oh my goodness, it has been such a good week and it has gone by so very fast it isn't even funny!! We have done a lot of work here in Turnhout and we are really enjoying it. The Lord has blessed us and blessed us more than we desearve this last week. We had a ton of success!!

It sounds like everyone back at home is busy and maybe going a little bit crazy!! Elizabeth, I hope that you feel better!! It is no fun to be sick. Rachel, don't stress too much about your play!! I am sure that you are going to be great!! Dad, don't work too hard....ok? Mom, I hope that you have a more restful week planned this week. It sounds like a lot of stress for one week!! Jake, Don't go crazy about midterms!!

Guys, Isaac is going to be baptized!!! I am so excited!! He had an interview with the Branch president and they set an exact day and time. The guy is so cool!! I am so blessed to be able to teach him!! He came from no Christian background to making the decision to be baptized. Now that is faith. I hope that someday I can develop faith like his because it is super cool to see and his faith can move mountains!!! So two weeks everyone!!

Oh, one cool thing that I started doing two or so transfers ago was writing down one thing everyday that I learn from someone specific in my area or someone I am working with. It is probably the coolest thing that is in my journal. Acutally, the reason I am talking about it is because I read through it this morning. It is super awesome!! And you remember why you love certain people so much!!

We have met a lot of interesting people this week on the street. Apparently, the celebrate Halloween here too. Well, we have met a lot of people dressed up like witches and other scary objects, people dancing in the middle of the street in costume, and other weird things. The weirdest thing though, was that we tried to talk to someone who looked normal on the street. She didn't look very happy, so we tried to cheer her up. We asked her about her religion....guys.....she is a witch. Like, that is what she believes in....and the reason she was unhappy was because of the witches dancing through the was just weird.

We had a super cool district meeting this week!! We talked about the stuff that President talked about during Zone Conference. We in the mission are going through a Total Mind Shift. We are following steps that President has given us so that we can become better missionaries and more effective here in Belgium and the Netherlands. The steps are:
1Realize that nothing is too hard for the Lord.
2 The Silver Bullet is the Holy Ghost.
3 Find-Teach-Baptize
4 Ask the Lord to Give me success
5 Know that the Field is White
6 Set Spiritual Goals.

I love these steps and I see the blessings that have been coming here in turnhout because of them. We have been working really hard to set spiritual goals daily for our numbers and the Lord blessed us with 4 new investigators this week!! None of them were the people or potentials that we thought they would be. They were actually all brought to us by other investigators. I love that!! I love being able to see the love that our investigators gain from the gospel and of the gospel that they want to share it with others!! Isn't that how we as members should be? I need to be better at that when I get home!!

We have had another week full of super member presence!! Mom, this is something I want to do the entire time I am home for the summer!! The progress you see in your investigators when they get to spend an evening in the home of a member is just miraculous!! I am so grateful for the members here who are so missionary minded!! have some kind of good news but news that is also a little bit of a bummer.

We got transfer calls this morning....And I have been transferred to Deventer, Nederland. This is a bummer because we have two baptisms here in Turnhout in the next three weeks. I am really bummed about that. I haven't been able to see a baptism of someone I have taught since Ans Jansen in Den Haag. But I am hoping that life in Deventer will prove to be swell.

My new companion will be Sister Thorley. I don't really know a lot about the city or anything. I just know I have to get up there on Wednesday. I am excited to be back up in the Netherlands for olliebollen season though. I was getting a little bit worried.

It seems like the Lord doesn't want to keep me in an area for more than two transfers. I am not really sure why....but maybe that will be different these last 4.

I love you all and I miss you a lot!! I am really excited for this transfer because I get to go to the temple!! It seems like it has been forever!!

Don't go to crazy by being too busy!!
Ik hou van jullie!!
Zuster Israelsen