Sunday, February 23, 2014

Apeldoorn Unitl I Die! Grandpa Israelsen and President Van Rij, My Last Zone Conference and The Power of Prayer

Oh my goodness. This week has definitely been interesting.  The week before transfers is always a little weird because you never know what is going to happen.  We have been super busy and just having a fun time.  We taught 7 lessons with a member present this week, that may not sound like a lot to some of you...but it is.  We have four progressing investigators as of right now and the work is starting to pick up here in the Belgium/Netherlands mission. 
So, I just want to fill you all in on what is going down.  The mission is starting a facebook and campaign.  They have been given permission from Salt Lake to start their own facebook page and they are also making a separate and sort of lds.orgwebsite for just Nederland.  They have been seeing a lot of success in Gent, Belgium with this idea and it is coming to a Nederland near you!!  It is amazing to see how the Lord is using the internet to do His work.  I am always amazed at the people and referrals that come from this campaign and I am excited for the future that the mission has.  Nederland is ranked third in the world when it comes to internet usage so the fact that we are now reaching out through the devices that everyone uses everyday, the work is going a lot faster.  I love it!!  And it is also cool because I am learning ways that I can continue to be a missionary when the time comes that I will no longer wear a name tag.
This week, I met a President Van Rij.  Grandpa Israelsen, he served with you and Earl here in the mission 60 years ago.  He only had good things to say about you and loves you very much!!  I was supposed to do the groetjes!!  It is such a privilege to be able to meet people that you have served with.  They all love you and remember you.  It is a wonderful thing!!
I also had my last Zone Conference this week.  That is weird to say....and I don't really like it.  But I learned a lot.  Specifically from Sister Robinson.  She talked about the doctrine of simple things.  I have been learning a lot lately about how we, as missionaries, are really just the tools in the Lords hands to do His work.  I am a small and simple thing.  I am not very good at being a sales woman, I am not good at a lot of the things that are asked of us as missionaries, but that is the sweet, sweet thing about small and simple things.  They are small, simple and do not have much significance.  Small things are not always recognized by people on the street or given much attention.  Small things are not meant to be flashy, perfect and shiny.  Small things are there and the Lord will never forget about them.  Small things are the means by which He is able to work because those things that are small and recognize that they owe everything to God are those who become great.  It has been really cool to be able to look back at the time that I have had here in Apeldoorn and love every moment of it.  But also to recognize that I really did not do a thing.  All I did was try.  All I have done is my best and the Lord has been able to use me and my personality to touch the lives of many others.
I have learned a lot about the power of prayer this week.  I love prayer.  I don't think that I have ever been able to say that more than I have on my mission.  But specifically this last week.  We have been studying humility together as a mission this week in the Book of Mormon and it always amazes me how the prophets are able to know their limits and to rely on the Lord and on others.  I decided that I was going to consciously rely on the Lord this week.  I have been carrying around a lot of...I guess you would call them...guilty feelings.  I can't really describe what I have been feeling.  But it seems like through the entire time I have been here, I have not been able to accomplish a lot because I have not been able to do things perfectly.  It's like I have tried to get straight A's all of my life or something.  But here, there is no such thing as an A.  There is only my best effort.  But because we, as people, try to hold ourselves to perfection, or because we compare ourselves with others around us who have more skills than us, we feel inadequate.  I have been able to really kneel down and have a personal conversation with my Heavenly Father.  I was able to tell Him all of the things that I feel like I have not been able to do well, or the things that I am still struggling with.  But I have also bee able to talk with Him about those things that I have been able to see that have brought success.  I have felt His love as He has assured me that everything I have done and been through in my time here has been worth it and for a purpose.  And just because I may not be able to see my success as other missionaries may be able to see theirs, I have still been able to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.  I was blessed with the remembrance of many instances that I was able to say or do small and simple things that really made a big difference to those that I was serving.  And, in sacrament meeting, I was able to feel those feelings of guilt or inadequacy leave.  I know that I am not perfect, but I also know that since I have been here, I have given it my all.  I have put forth my best effort.  I only know that because I was able to really see the power of prayer in my own life. 
What was beautiful, is that I have also really been able to see that change, or that realization come into the lives of a few of our investigators.  We had two investigators say their first prayers ever this last week.  What an amazing experience it is, to sit there and listen as someone offers up their first, simple prayer to God.  What is beautiful is that God works through simple things, and simply because they are willing to try, He is able to make a big difference in their lives.  I have seen them feel the spirit.  They have received a confirmation that God is there and that He cares about them. 
I challenge you to think about your life.  Do you feel alone?  Inadequate?  Lost?  Do you feel as though no one cares?  Or that you are not doing anything worth while?  Do you have other feelings of anger, hatred, depression etc?  How could prayer help you?  It has helped me to let go of the fact that I am not perfect, to realize that all I can do is my best and that God loves me enough to pick up the slack.  That is what I have been struggling with the most and I have felt the relief and peace and happiness that comes from the power of prayer.  Pray you guys!! 
We also celebrated some Valentines Day goodness.  Sister Brophy and I spent many nights after the hours of 9.30 cutting out hearts.  We spent our Valentines day Heart attacking the members in Apeldoorn.  We got caught a few times...sad day...mostly by the little children (aka Mikki and Kevin)  But it was a party.  We also were able to set two baptisimal dates with two of our investigators.  We were feeling the love for the members and also from God!!! :D I have been waiting until the end to tell you guys what is happening with transfers.................drum roll please........

I AM STAYING IN APELDOORN UNTIL THE DAY THAT I DIE!!!!  I am so grateful for this opportunity!!  I love this place and can't wait to see what the next six weeks hold in store!! 
I love you all!!  I hope that you have a great week!!  Don't have too much fun!!
Zuster Israelsen

Best Efforts Do Not Mean Perfection and Have the Kind of Patience That Abinadi had for Noah!

Rachel!!!!  How did it feel to be in Allstate?  Was it amazing?  That dress you were wearing....I wore that same kind for Latter-day Voices!!  I wasn't really able to listen to the song because I am in the middle of the library but I am sure that it sounded absolutely amazing and I can't wait to hear the whole cd in a few months!!
Elizabeth!!  Thank you for your letter!!  Was the creme bule delicious?  Did you save me some?  Or are you going to take me there when I get back? 
I can't believe that Jake is 19.  I feel so very extremely old. 
This week was crazyness!!  I have been learning a lot about being able to work and also to feel satisfied with the work that you put in.  I think that most of the time in my life I really like to make sure that I do things perfectly.  That is, however, not the way that you learn.  I have learned a lot with my district this transfer about our best efforts in comparisson with the efforts that we put in.  one thing that has really struck me this week is that my best efforts do not mean perfection.  It simply means that I am doing everything that I can do achieve the things that I would like to achieve.  I think that I have always misunderstood that.  Mom and DAd, you guys have always said that we just have to do our best, I guess my mind said that means I must be perfect.  I have been learning about this skills that I lack and how I can become better.  But that I have to measure the success or the things that I do with who I am and what I know at that moment and just leave the rest to the Lord. 
Our Best Efforts - Our Effort = Regrets
If we are doing our best, working as hard as we can, the best that we know how, then we will have no regrets when we get to the end. 
We learned this week about what that has to do with confidence.  A confident person knows his/her limits.  A confident person know who they can rely on for help and who they can ask to help them with the things that they do not understand or are not very good at.  A confident person is humble, teachable and wants to learn and take the advise of others.  Are you confident?  Do you see those things in your life?  If not, what can you do to take a look at what you are doing and change?  How can you learn more about yourself?  How can you realize what your shortcomings are and ask for help?  Do you do that?  Are you willing to do that? 
I can honestly say that I can't answer all of those questions right now.  On my mission I have learned more about myself and who I want to become.  I have been able to see how my companions have helped me and filled in the spaces that I have in my life, the things that I am not yet good at doing.  That is why the Lord puts people into our lives.  We are to learn from them, lean on them and love them  But we need to also make sure that we are relying on the Lord for our most support.
We had a super cool miracle this week.  Sometimes, I really hate the fact that things don't happen when you feel like you are working super hard for it.  I guess I like to see immediate results...that is a flaw of mine.  But on Wednesday, we spent literaly the entire day finding people.  Knocking doors, talking to people on the street, running people down.  And we did not find a single potential that day.  It felt a lot like our first day of the cards where everyone rejected us.  So, we went home pretty wet and discouraged.  Thursday, we had another one of those days planned.  Both of us weren't extremely pleased, but we got out there and went to work.  We prayed harder that day that I think we have as a companionship because it was raining again and we were just hoping that someone would let us in so that we didn't have to go home as wet as the day before.  We picked a street.  And started knocking.  Guys, you will never guess what happened next.  The FIRST door.  A woman named Marisol answered.  She is from Columbia.  She speaks spanish(I knew I brushed up on the good ol' spans before I got called to go to Nederland.)  She said,"you guys are mormons?  Come on in" We went one for one that day.  She is a new investigator and is super extremely positive!!!  It is a beautiful thing when you are given a blessing from your heavenly father.  But also humbling.  I am learning to realize that the Lord has a time table of His own that I have to be ready to accept it and not angry when it doesn't come in my time. 
So, you will never guess who had a birthday on Friday.  My companion.  She has the same birthday as Jake!!  So Jake, I did celebrate your birthday!!  We went and got real pannekoeken with the family Feith and had cake and everything.  It was a beautiful thing.
In the Book of Mormon this week we have been studying Patience.  One thing that I really enjoyed about my study was the fact that I saw that patience is merely an understanding.  Think about it.  If you understand someone, their background and where they are coming from in a situation, then it is a lot easier to have patience when things don't really go the way that you had planned.  Abinadi had that kind of patience for Noah.  He understood what was going to happen.  That doesn't mean that he wasn't upset, but he didn't go out there and start a fight because they were too stubborn to listen.  Kind Mosiah made sure to be able to explain himself when he put out the idea to have judges in place of a king so that the people could be patient with the situation and the process of change.  If you find yourself angry or frustrated with a person or situation, ask yourself what kind of questions you could ask them so that you can understand more of where they are coming from and through tht understanding, you will gain patience.  I tried it this week and it totally worked!!
Zuster Israelsen

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

50 Cards Every Day! Exercise Faith and Mosiah 4

Well...I just typed a whole letter to you guys and then the computer I am going to do it again and hope that it is as good as the last one. 
I am so bummed that the Broncos lost the super bowl.  I have been talking a ton of crap here for the longest time and I don't think that I am ever going to live it down.  I guess I should have learned my lesson a long time ago...but I do learn from the best...thanks dad!! 
Jake!!!  You turn old this week!!  And by old, I mean 19. I hope that you have a great birthday and that you do something fun like eat way too much ice cream at Angies or something.
This week has been crazy.  Sister Brophy and I are extremely tired but it was all worth it!!   I can't remember how much I told you about our goals for this last week.  But we set a goal to get out 50 mormon. org cards in the hands of other people every single day this week.  At first, we thought that it would be a relatively easy goal to achieve, but after our first day, we realized that we were in for a very long week.  We had to contact around 80-100 people a day to be able to hit our goal because as soon as you start talking to people they give you the card back.  It was so way not cool and it was really frustrating because we were not seeing very much success at all for a very long time.  Until about Thursday. On Thursday, we ran into a man named Sam.  He is super cool and we set an appointment with him on the next day.  We got a joint teach. Had a lesson and he now is preparing to be baptized in March!!!  That was a huge miracle for us this week!!  We also found a very wonderful jovo girl named Petra.  She is super smart, super cool and super curious to find out more about what we believe in and about the church.  She really wants to see if this could be something for her.  In the last few days we have been able to set a lot of appointments and get things set up pretty amazingly here in Apeldoorn. 

I learned a lot about faith this week.  I think that for a very long time I have had a inaccurate definition of faith and how we can use it is our lives.  I have learned a lot about how faith needs to be centered in our Savior Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.  I think that I used to define faith as getting out there and doing the work because that is what has been asked of us.  So I have been doing that my entire mission.  The problem is, is that I don't do things perfectly.  I get really down on myself too when I don't do things well.  I beat myself up because I am not doing the work that is expected of me as a missionary.  I saw that a lot this week as we tried to get talking to people.  I think it was about Wednesday that I saw that I was looking at things in the wrong way.  And we saw a very distinct change in our success, at least I did.  I had been contacting people and contacting people but was super angry and frustrated by the end of the day because I was unable to make any appointments with the people that I had talked to.  That really got to me.  And I started to think about it.  I realized that I was only using a portion of faith and that my definition needed to change.  I needed to have trust in my Savior and let Him help me and my efforts.  i realized that faith is getting out there, doing the work, but then asking the Savior for His help when you come too short.  That happens everyday.  I got down on my knees and really had a long conversation with my Heavenly Father.  I let Him know the efforts that we were putting into the work and that I realized that I could not do it without the Savior.  I do not have the ability to do things perfectly and that I need to accept Him in my life and ask for His help.  I was reading in Mosiah 4 this week with the mission book of mormon challenge.  And it really hit me.  King Benjamin talks about how we are less than the dust of the earth.  I think I am beginning to understand what that means.  I felt it in the first half of my week.  I was getting out there, doing the work, but nothing was coming of it.  I was not worth anything.  I am not worth anything without the atonement of Christ.  As I decided to apply the atonement in my life, at that moment my work and life became of worth.  It was exciting and I have been happier the second half of this week that I have for a very long time.  I learned that in order to exercise faith we need to:
1. get out there and work
2. realize that what we do is not perfect
3. Ask heavenly father for help and for forgiveness for our shortcomings and for help to overcome them
4. trust in the savior that he will make up for everything that we were not able to do. 
I challenge you all to read Mosiah 4.  And then to really reflect this week on your life. Are you satisfied with the work that you do everyday?  Is it what the Lord expects from you?   Do you realize that what you are doing is not perfect and that you need the help of the Savior?  Do you understand what it means to apply the atonement in your life?  Are you happy and feel successful?  If not, ask yourself why.  Ask yourself how you can become better, how you can apply the atonement in your life and how you can trust in the savior.
Why should you do that?  Because that is what brings happiness.  That is what helps us to progress.  As we realize that we need His help, we become more humble and willing and able to learn.  We also gain joy.
I hope that you all have a wonderful week!!
Rachel, have fun at Allstate.  Make sure and get a cd so that I can listen to it someday!! 
Keep on smiling and having fun!!
Ik hou van jullie!!!
Zuster Israelsen